Weekly Current Affairs Mains( 7th to 13th October, 2018)
Topic : Green Mobility
Topic in syllabus: GS III- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
Green mobility refers to all those mobility options that emit lower emissions – in terms CO2 g/km than pure Internal Combustion Engine vehicles – through the use of alternate fuels, drive-train technologies or other measures
- Bio-fuel and Methanol based mobility
- Compressed Natural gas (CNG) based mobility
- Electric and Hybrid Mobility (xEV)
- Hydrogen energy and fuel cell based mobility
Benefits from Green Vehicle
Reduce India’s oil dependency:
- The shift from petrol and diesel fuelled vehicles will reduce India’s dependence on oil and the cost of import.NITI Aayog has estimated that India can save up to ₹4 lakh crore by rapidly adopting EVs.
Address the issues of climate change:
- Electric Vehicles would reduce vehicular emissions and will address the issue of air pollution as well as be an end-to-end solution to address the issues of climate change by cutting down greenhouse emissions. India can save 64% of energy demand from the road sector for passenger mobility and 37% of carbon emissions in 2030
- The Government will help establish charging stations to start with and later through franchisee model, create jobs for lakh of entrepreneurs to establish charging stations across the country.
Cheaper in price:
- The electric vehicles will be cheaper and the operating costs will also reduce, which will be an economic incentive for the public to buy the same.
- Recent findings have shown that several EV features can improve safety. EVs tend to have a lower centre of gravity that makes them less likely to roll over. They can also have a lower risk for major fires or explosions and the body construction and durability of EVs may make them safer in a collision
- The central government and some states offer tax credits and deductions for driving green vehicles, which will further reduce the cost of buying such a vehicle
- In 2013, Government of India launched a National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020. It aims to achieve national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles in the country. It targets 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards
- FAME I (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (hybrid &) Electric vehicles in India) : The objective of the scheme to support the hybrid or electric vehicles market development and its manufacturing eco-system in the country in order to achieve self-sustenance in stipulated period. It also seeks to provide demand incentives to electric and hybrid vehicles from two-wheeler to buses.
- Automotive Mission Plan 2026: It aims at making the Indian Automotive Industry among the top three of the world in engineering, manufacture and exports of vehicles & components; growing in value to over 12% of India GDP and generating an additional 65 million jobs
- Green Urban Transport Scheme: Under this scheme, government aims to launch eco–friendly transportation facilities in urban areas
- India’s Electric Vehicle (EV) Mission 2030: Government plans to have an all-electric fleet of vehicles by 2030.
- FAME II scheme: it was scheduled to be launched at the inaugural session of “MOVE”- a global mobility summit in September 2018 but put on hold. There is a shift in the government direction. Rather than spreading it to a pan-India basis, the government now wants to concentrate on creating pilot projects in populated and polluted cities that have a large vehicle base for easy transition. Also, the programme needs to give time to automakers
Scheme will provide incentives based on technology.An inter-ministerial panel including NITI Aayog has decided that subsidies will be provided for all categories of Electric Vehicles (EV) under FAME-II.
- No permit required:Recently Government announced that no permits would be required for vehicles running on alternative fuel, including CNG, ethanol and EVs
- Collaboration with other nation:India does not produce lithium or cobalt which is essential for production of lithium-on battery. Government now working to acquire mines in Latin America and Australia. Also India collaborate with Latin American countries to upgrade its technology for production of ethanol.
- Energy Efficiency Services Limited, a government firm, has put in motion plans to procure 10,000 e-vehicles. EESL aims to lease these vehicles out to government departments so as to replace their existing fleets of petrol and diesel vehicles.
- The Centre has begun pilot projects in this regard, having already installed 25 charging stations in Bengaluru, and planning to expand this to other metros.
- Fortum India inaugurated a 22 KW AC charger on a pilot basis in Delhi, and the company said it was looking to install up to 160 charging stations over a year in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. The parent company FortumOyj also signed an agreement with government-owned NBCC (India) to bring cloud-based back-end infrastructure for electric vehicles to India.
- Reliance Energy is working on a third-party business model to provide charging station facilities for electric two-wheelers and four-wheelers in public places, parking plazas near highways, and offices and malls.
- Maharashtra has a policy which aims to make the State’s transport system go electric by 2030 and create five lakh jobs with a ₹25,000-crore investment.
- Recently, Andhra Pradesh CM flagged off an eco-friendly battery car at Mangalagiri in Guntur district. The vehicles are being launched by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC), the Mahindra Electric and the Zoomcar.
Challenges in adopting green vehicles in India:
- Lack of clarity on Government strategy for green mobility: The Draft National Auto Policy highlights that Policies and announcements by different government ministries and supporting bodies in the recent past are not aligned on the green technologies
- Low demand: Large-scale adoption of green mobility options is limited by consumer concerns regarding technical performance of vehicles, reliability and dependability, limitation on range and refuelling options, higher upfront costs etc
- Limited Infrastructure: Current public infrastructure for Electric Vehicles is limited to cities and selected clusters.
- Limited supply of vehicles and components: Manufacturing capacity in India for electric vehicles is much lower than that of USA and China.
- Funding constraints: There are financial limitations in the automobile industry. Electric vehicles have high initial capital cost. For example: Batteries for electric vehicles are 40-50% more expensive than regular ones and India is dependent on imports from China
NITI Aayog Recommendations:
- NitiAayog recommends that to push EVs, the government must subsidize the EV industry while penalizing conventional cars.
- It calls for lowering taxes and interest rates for loans on EVs while limiting the sale and registration of conventional cars, and using taxes from diesel and petrol car sales to create electric charging stations.
- It also suggests the government open a battery plant by the end of 2018.
Draft National auto Policy
- It seeks to rollout a comprehensive long-term (10 year) roadmap that will define the emission standards applicable after BSVI with a target of harmonizing with the most stringent global standards by 2028, across all vehicle segments.
- Introduce a composite criterion based on length and CO2 emissions to classify vehicles for taxation
- Adopt reduction in CO2 through Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations
- Define a roadmap for harmonizing key standards and testing methods with global benchmarks
- Define a list of target technologies in the areas of green mobility, emission control, safety etc. With corresponding components and equipment that will be eligible for import duty reduction
- Conduct a detailed study on requirement of public infrastructure for Green Vehicles to determine the quantity, density and mix of green mobility infrastructure required in the country as per target adoption plans.
- It also proposes creation of a nodal body with a two-tier structure having an Apex Body supported by the National Automotive Council (NAC).
International Best Practices
China has focussed on the use of electric buses as a catalyst for EV penetration. It is the largest electric bus manufacturer in the world, with most in use in the country. In 2016 about 80,000 electric buses were added to China’s roads.
The Netherlands has captured the EV market using a simple yet well-crafted strategy of creating charging infrastructure and encouraging investment in charging technology by providing incentives to EV buyers. Netherlands has the densest charging infrastructure in the world and is a major exporter of this technology.
Steps to be taken
- Consumer awareness of the benefits of electric vehicles along with incentives for purchase in the initial years is important to boost adoption.
- India should reduce dependence on imports for electric vehicles and components by developing the domestic supply eco-system
- There is a need to improve infrastructure facility- Better charging facilities, efficient electric transmission infrastructure. State and city-level players need to be involved so as to address several technical and infrastructural needs.
- The automotive industry, government and various stakeholders need to collaborate and invest for achieving India’s target for green mobility
- Green Urban Transport scheme should be implemented effectively. India should first target making public transport green and then target private cars
Q. What is meant by the term Green Mobility? What initiatives have been recently taken by the Government towards achieving green mobility in India?
Topic : Sustainable Agriculture:
Topic in syllabus: GS III Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers
The concept of sustainable agriculture gained prominence since the publication of the Brundtland Report in 1987. Sustainable Agriculture involves the processes that would enable to meet the current and long term societal needs for food, fiber and other resources, while maximizing benefits through the conservation of natural resources and maintenance of ecosystem functions.
Principles of Sustainable Agriculture:
The three main principles of sustainable agriculture are:
- Environmental sustainability: through e.g. protecting, recycling, replacing and maintaining the natural resources base such as land (soil), water and wildlife
- Economic sustainability: through e.g. improving soil management and crop rotation which raise yields
- Social sustainability: through upholding social justice and cultural cohesion
Benefits of Sustainable Agriculture:
- Environmental Protection: Sustainable Agriculture emphasizes on methods and processes that improve soil productivity while minimizing harmful effects on the climate, soil, water, air, biodiversity and human health.
- Saving Energy: It emphasizes to minimize the use of inputs from nonrenewable sources and petroleum-based products and replace them with those from renewable resources
- Food security: It seeks to ensure that the basic nutritional requirements of current and future generations are met in both quantity and quality terms.
- Economic profitability: It not only ensures sustainable increase in agricultural production but also reduces the agricultural sector’s vulnerability to adverse natural conditions (e.g. climate), socioeconomic factors (e.g. strong price fluctuations) and other risks.
- Economic and social equity:
- It seeks to ensure long-term employment, an adequate income and dignified and equal working and living conditions to people involved in agriculture value chain
- It also focuses on local people and their needs, knowledge, skills, socio-cultural values and institutional structures.
Different Methods of Sustainable Agriculture:
- Crop Rotation: It involves the systematic planting of different crops in a particular order over several years in the same growing space. It helps in maintaining nutrients in the soil, reducing soil erosion, and preventing plant diseases and pests.
- Planting cover crops: Cover crops are planted during lean season times when soils might otherwise be left bare. These crops protect and build soil health by preventing erosion, replenishing soil nutrients, and keeping weeds in check, reducing the need for herbicides.
- Biointensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM): It emphasizes the prevention of pest problems with crop rotation; the reintroduction of natural, disease-fighting microbes into plants/soil, and release of beneficial organisms that prey on the pests. Chemical pesticides are not used.
- Agroforestry: It involves the growth of trees and shrubs amongst crops or grazing land. Agroforestry systems can combine both agriculture and forestry practices for long-lasting, productive, and diverse land use.
- Permaculture: The concept of permaculture was developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 70s and early 80s. It is the design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems.
- Organic Farming: It is a type of farming which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) and to the maximum extent feasible rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection.
- LEISA (Low External Input sustainable Agriculture): It uses low synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Yields are maintained through greater emphasis on cultural practices, IPM, and utilization of on-farm resources and management.
- Zero Budget Natural farming: The phrase ‘Zero Budget’ means without using any credit, and without spending any money on purchased inputs. ‘Natural farming’ means farming with Nature and without chemicals (FAO). It is a set of farming methods first introduced in Andhra Pradesh.
- Biodynamic agriculture: It considers farm as a living system. The system puts great emphasis on the integration of animals to create a closed nutrient cycle, effect of crop planting dates in relation to the calendar, and awareness of spiritual forces in nature.
- Conservation Agriculture: Conservation agriculture is a farming method that largely forgoes tillage and involves permanent organic mulch cover and extended crop rotation.
Issues with sustainable agriculture:
- Organic farming and food security: Switching to organic farming typically leads to a sharp drop in yields compared with intensive farming with rising world population; there is a growing debate over our ability to sustain the population. Therefore, organic farming alone will not be able to feed the world in its present form but will instead have to be combined with other sustainable production methods.
- Feasibility of conservation agriculture for soil management: The absence of ploughing as in case of conservation agriculture requires changes to weed management, use of herbicides and also special machinery for sowing. Smallholders in developing countries face a challenge to adopt conservation agriculture. Thus such practice has been concentrated predominantly in North America, Europe and Australia.
- Issue with small land holdings: Many scholars, environmentalists advocate that cultivation based on small holdings is more sustainable and less polluting than intensive, industry-based production models. However, environmentally harmful farming methods are not only characteristic of industrial or intensive large agricultural businesses; smallholders can also damage the soil and the environment due to lack of knowledge and access to modern sustainable techniques.
- The debate on use of HYV seeds: High yielding hybrid seeds have been known to pose threat to not only human and environmental health but are also economically unsustainable for farmers. However, given the growing concern over food security, these seeds are crucial to enhance productivity.
- Use of chemical pesticides: To completely do away with chemical pesticides may not be a feasible idea given the growing incidences of pest attacks and consequent loss of crop. The amount of chemical pesticide used should be kept to a minimum, and less harmful agents should be used.
Sustainable Agriculture in India:
- National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture: It is one of the 8 missions outlined under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). It aims at enhancing agriculture productivity especially in rainfed areas focusing on integrated farming, soil health management, and synergizing resource conservation.
- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): The scheme aims at promotion of commercial organic production through certified organic farming y involving group of farmers (cluster farming)
- Network Project on Organic Farming of ICAR: It aims at evaluating the relative performance of location-specific, important cropping systems under organic and conventional farming, and assesses agronomic efficiency of different production systems.
Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative: It is a method of sugarcane production using less seeds, less water and optimum utilization of fertilizers and land to achieve more yields.
System of Rice Intensification (SRI): It is an agro-ecological methodology for increasing the productivity of irrigated rice by changing the management of plants, soil, water and nutrients. It is a low water, labor-intensive, method that uses younger seedlings singly spaced. Kadiramangalam System of Rice Intensification, a variant of SRI, is practiced in Cauvery delta region in India.
- Rising population and degraded ecosystems have increased resilience on intensive, conventional (use of HYV seeds, chemical fertilizers) and deforestation.
- 2. There is lack of capital among the large sections of agricultural community (small and medium farmers) for transition to sustainable agricultural production.
- There is lack of access to information and technology to improve agriculture practices, processing and marketing agricultural products.
- Lack of economic incentives to switch to sustainable farming which makes farmers apprehensive of the returns.
- There is inadequate public policy and basic infrastructure to promote adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.
The Indian government should strive to achieve goal of sustainable agriculture at war footing through policy changes and support to various stakeholders in light of the mounting climatic challenges and food security issues. This would make India self-sufficient and climate secure in the longer run, while enabling economic, environment and social sustainability.
Q. What is sustainable agriculture? How can India achieve the goal of sustainable agriculture in the wake of mounting climatic challenges and food security issues?
Topic : Sexual harassment
Topic in syllabus: GS II- 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.
Country and Nations which do not respect women, have never become great nor will ever be in future”. – Swami Vivekananda
As India embarks upon the #MeToo movement, here is an overview of the issue of sexual harassment at workplace in India.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is a behaviour with a sexual connotation that is abusive, injurious and unwelcome and makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated.The International Labour Organization (ILO) recognizes sexual harassment at workplace both as an aspect of gender discrimination and as a form of violence against women. Sexual harassment at workplace can be of two types:
- Quid pro quo (this for that) harassment: There is a promise of a work-related benefit, or the threat of a work-related sanction, in exchange of sexual favours
- Creation of a hostile work environment based on sex: actions/ behaviours which make working environment hostile for female employees
- Since 2015 till July 2018, a total of 1631 cases have been filed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
- There is a wide disparity among states, with Uttar Pradesh accounting for nearly 25% of all cases, followed by Delhi (16%)
Impact of Sexual Harassment at Workplace:
- It violates a woman’s fundamental right to equality (Article 14), right against discrimination (Article15) and right to life (Article 21) guaranteed by the Constitution of India
- Sexual harassment at workplace creates an insecure and hostile working environment for women which impedes their capacity to perform at work.
- It also adversely affects the social and economic growth of women and hinders women empowerment. A study led by the ILO found that lewd behaviour and threatening at workplaces were the most well-known reason women left the workforce in Uttar Pradesh.
- Sexual harassment also puts them through physical and emotional suffering. Experiences of sexual harassment can contribute to “sexual harassment trauma syndrome”.Further, harassment victims often experience secondary victimization when attempting to deal with the issue through legal or institutional means.
Indian Legislation against sexual harassment at workplace:
- Before 1997, women experiencing sexual harassment at workplace had to lodge a complaint under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with the ‘criminal assault of women to outrage women’s modesty’, and Section 509 that punishes an individual(s) for using a ‘word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman’.
- In 1997, the Supreme Court passed a landmark judgment in the Vishakha case, for the first time defined sexual harassment and imposed three key obligations on institutions — prohibition, prevention, redress. The Supreme Court directed institutions establish a Complaints Committee, which would look into matters of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.
- In 2013, The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act was passed. The main objective of the Act was to implement the Vishakha guidelines and to ensure access to a safe workplace by woman.
Issues and Challenges:
- Lack of Awareness: The efficacy of anti-sexual harassment provisions depends largely on the awareness of the employees in an organization. However, studies conducted on occurrence and dynamics of sexual harassment at workplace noted that most of the employees including members of ICC are not aware of what amounts to sexual harassment.
- Apathy of organizations: Many organizations have not constituted a ICC. Further, women rights activists point out that organizations generally view sexual harassment cases from the perspective of their public image and not as a breach to individual employee’s breach to dignity and safety. This often leads to hushing up of cases.
- Reporting of cases: A survey conducted by Indian National Bar Association revealed that nearly 70% of women did not complain about sexual harassment at workplace due to fear, embarrassment, lack of confidence in complaint mechanism, unawareness, and due to stigma attached to sexual harassment.
- Victimization: Victimization in sexual harassment often occur during retaliation and due to third party hostility. However, the 2013 law is silent on victimisation and has neither any preventive provisions nor any remedies for the same
- Inclusion of action for false and malicious complaints and evidence: Women are penalised and have to bear the threat of punishment in case they are unable to prove their complaint. This further acts as a deterrent in filing complaints. The provision has been largely criticised by activists and legal experts and even the Verma committee had advised its deletion.
- Issues with ICC:Most of the committees lack people who have knowledge about legal technicalities involved in conducting the inquiry, cross-examinations and its importance.
- Unorganized sector:The lawinadequately addresses the plight oflarge numbers of women in the unorganised sector who continue to suffer worse conditions of work and harassment without access to legal measures. Further, the LCCs are not formulated or do not function properly in most of the districts.
- Employers Liability:According to critics,the law is silent on the employer’s liability in cases except to the extent of setting up a committee and facilitating the holding of an inquiry. There are no prosecutions in case of a failure to provide a safe environment at work.Further, the act does not authorize employer to take suomotu cognizance of acts of sexual harassment at workplace. Thus, the law predominantly focuses on redressal and not prevention or prohibition of such acts.
- Not Gender Neutral: The law against sexual harassment at workplace has been criticised for not being gender neutral. It does not take into account sexual harassment faced by men, trans-gender and transsexual individuals.
- Organisations should focus on gender diversity at a workplace not only in terms of increasing numbers of women but also ensuring a safe working environment for them and that their voices are heard.
- It is important for organizations to educate their employees on proper conduct at the workplace, conduct regular training and aware about severe repercussions of any unwelcome behaviour. Women employees should be made aware of their rights and about what constitutes sexual harassment at workplace
- Organizations need to tighten their internal processes to respond to sexual harassment complaints and take the requisite steps to appropriately respond to such cases through ICCs
- Concerned state governments should take urgent steps to examine the establishment and functioning of LCCs and address issues of sexual harassment in unorganized sector.
- The issue of sexual harassment cannot be addressed by mere enactment of laws. Sincere efforts need to be made in overcoming stereotypes, narrow-mindedness and gender biasness. A more gender-neutral approach needs to be taken to address sexual harassment.
Q. Sexual harassment of women at workplace has emerged as one of the major causes of concern for India. Discuss the steps to be taken at individual, societal, organizational, government and community level to deal with issue.
Topic: Forest Fires in India
Topic in Syllabus: GS-3 – Disaster Management
According to a joint report by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and World Banktitled “Strengthening Forest Fire Management in India” 60% districts in India are affected by forest fires each year.
The National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), India defines forest fire as an unclosed and freely spreading fire that consumes the natural fuels. When a fire burns out of control it is known as Wild Fire. There are two types of forest fire:
- Surface Fire– A forest fire may burn primarily as a surface fire, spreading along the ground as the surface litter on the forest floor and is engulfed by the spreading flames.
- Crown Fire- The other type of forest fire is a crown fire in which the crown of trees and shrubs burn, often sustained by a surface fire.
Statistics: Forest Fire in India
Vulnerability:According to 2015 Indian Forest Survey report, 64.3% of forests in India are prone to forest fires. Out of these, the fire prone areas that fall under heavy fire incidence class are 2.4%, moderate class are 7.49% and mild are 54.4%. Tropical thorn forests, tropical dry deciduous forests and sub-tropical broadleaved hill forests are more prone to forest fires
Overall Trend and Pattern of Forest Fire:
According to the report titled Strengthening Forest Fire Management in India
- At least 60 per cent of districts in India are affected by forest fires each year
- Top 20 districts in terms of fire frequency are located mainly in the Northeast
- The top-20 districts in terms of burnt area are mainly in Central India.
- Districts experiencing widespread and frequent forest fires include areas of dry and moist deciduous forest in the borderlands of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Telangana that are affected by fire on a nearly annual basis
According to Forest Survey of India,
- More than 95% of forest fires in India are man-made
- India has recorded a 46% increase in the number of forest fires from 2003-2017
Recent examples of forest fires
Causes of Forest Fire and Factors influencing the Behaviour
Fig: Topography, weather, and fuel (the corners of the triangle)—influence the potential for intensive fire behaviour and spread. At the centre of the triangle are people.
- Weather:Fire intensity and behaviour are intricately related to weather and climate.Seasonal weather patterns influence the onset, duration, and severity of the fire season. India’s monsoons are largely responsible for the seasonal nature of forest fires in India. For most parts in India, forest fires peak during the dry months of March or April before the arrival of the monsoon.
- Topography:Local topography influences the difficulty of fire prevention and suppression and can raise the potential for out-of-control fires. Steep slopes and rugged terrain are more prone to fire and prevention is also difficult in such areas. States in which fires tend to occur in the most rugged terrain include Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, and Uttarakhand.
- Fuel:Fuels determine the potential for fires to ignite, grow, intensify, and spread. Combustible material in forests includes grasses, ground litter, small shrubs, living and dead trees, and decomposing humus in soils.
Natural:Lightning and volcanic explosion are natural causes of forest fires.
For example: According to the report, a record number of wildfires in Canada’s Northwest Territories in 2014, and in Alaska in 2015 were resulted due to lightning
- Negligence: negligent use of fire (during agricultural burning of on farmlands near forests, clearing of paths through forests, burning weeds and bushes on privately-owned lands next to reserved forests) is one of the prime reason for forest fire. Further, accidental fires break out due to campfires and cigarette butts
- Collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs): According to the World bank report collection of NTFPs was the main cause of forest fire Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Telangana. People in Central India burn to aid in the collection of flowers from the mahua plant, during collection of tendua leaves for bidi making etc.
- Shifting Cultivation (Jhum): Jhum cultivation is the primary reason for forest fires in north-eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura, and also in Odisha.
- Burning to Deter wildlife:People burn pine needles, cones, weeds, and so on during the dry season to keep away wild boars, birds, and leopards which may ignite forest fires.
Impact of Forest Fire:
- Cleaning up forests of dead and decaying matter and help forests to regenerate
- Maintaining ecosystem balance by removing diseased plants and harmful insects
- Loss of forest cover, timber resources and associated economic cost:
According to FSI, the annual forest loss because of fires is estimated at Rs 440 crore. However, this estimate only account for the replacement cost of the seedlings and does not include the losses to biodiversity, timber, carbon sequestration capacity, soil moisture and nutrient loss.
- Degradation of water catchment areas:
Forest fires result in the chemical and physical changes in upper layer of soil and make it impervious thus reducing water infiltration. Further, the removal of litter decreases water holding capacity of soil and most of the rainwater is washed away removing top fertile soil of the forest resulting into loss of soil fertility.
- Loss of wildlife:
Forest fires lead to wildlife habitat destruction, decline in wildlife population and also post fire the food resources for the wildlife decreases. For example, in the 2012 forest fire in UltaPani Forest in Assam, the number of butterfly species declined to 30 from 200. Further, recurrent forest fires in the same area can lead to modifications in the ecosystem thus adversely affecting the biodiversity in the area
- Change in micro climate of the area:
Forest fires may change the micro climatic conditions by changing soil moisture balance; temperature increase. Further, smoke and dust in the area reduces visibility and also adversely affect the health of wildlife and human population inhabiting near the forest.
- Forest Fire and Climate Change:
- The increased average annual temperatures due to change in land use (e.g. decrease in water resources) and climate changehave resulted in below-average rainfall in many areas which has elevated the risk and severity of forest fires.
- According to a study, increased temperatures and resultant aridity have increased the number and spread of forest fires in USA in last 30 years.
- Further, forest fires also impact climate change. When a forest gets burnt, the stored carbon is released into the atmosphere which further aggravates warming of the atmosphere. Forest fires emit black and brown carbon which absorbs solar radiation and heats up the atmosphere. It further results in changes in rainfall pattern.
- Many scholars have advocated the concern over recurrent forest fires in Himalayan forest region and its impact on Himalayan glaciers. According to a 2010 study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, from 1990 to 2010 snow cover over the Himalayas decreased by 0.9% to aerosols and black carbon from different sources in India had been responsible for 30% of the decline
- MoEFCC and World Bank report states that forest fires in India threaten India’s ambition to expand its forest and tree cover by 2030 to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tons of CO2 equivalent
- Invasive species: forest fragmentation, along with forest fire make forest ecosystems more vulnerable to invasion by alien species; e.g., lantana which in turn, fuel further fires
- Socio-economic impact:Loss of livelihood for tribal people and the rural poor- In India, nearly 300 million people are directly dependent upon collection of non-timber forest products from forest areas for their livelihood.
Forest Fire Prevention and Management (FFPM) and Government Initiatives
National and state forestry policies provide the overall framework for fire prevention and management.
- MoEFCC guidelines:
MoEFCC issued a set of national guidelines for forest fire prevention and control in 2000. These guidelines call for:
- identification and mapping of all fire prone areas,
- compilation and analysis of database on forest fire damages,
- development and installation of Fire Damage Rating System and Fire Forecasting system,
- all preventive measures to be taken before the beginning of the fire season
- National Master Plan for Forest Fire Control:
The main objectives are:
- To strengthen the organizations responsible for forest fire management
- To coordinate international transfer of technology and training in the field of forest fire management
- Creation of a strong database for: number of fires, area burnt, damage to flora and fauna, effect of fire on land and soil and measures taken
- Assessment of ecological, social, and economic impact of fires
- Strong national extension strategy for people’s awareness and their participation in forest fire management through Joint Forest Management and NGOs
- Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme:
In 2017, Intensification of Forest Management Scheme was revised and replaced as Forest Fire Prevention & Management Scheme. The main objectives of the scheme are as follows:
- Minimise forest fire incidences and help in restoring productivity of forests in affected areas
- Encourage partnership with forest fringe communities for forest protection
- Prepare fire danger rating system and devise forest fire forecasting system
- Forest Survey of India has developed Pre Warning Alert System. It gives alerts to state forest departments based on parameters like forest cover, forest types, climatic variables (temperature, rainfall) and recent fire incidences over the area
- NDMA Guidelines:
Major recommendations include:
- Incorporate Forest Fire Prevention and Management (FFPM) in existing policy and planning documents
- Establish National Forest fire Knowledge Network
- Capacity building of forest officials for better use of early warning systems
- Assess risk and prepare vulnerability and risk maps
- Document national and international good practices and utilise them for making forest fire management more effective and practical
- Increase community awareness
Draft National Forest Policy, 2018: It calls for safeguarding ecosystems from forest fires, mapping the vulnerable areas and developing and strengthening early warning systems and methods to control fire, based on remote sensing technology and community participation.
Issues and Challenges:
- Lack of appropriate policy: In India there are no clear guidelines for forest fire management. In November 2017, National Green Tribunal (NGT) had asked the Environment Ministry to evolve a national policy for prevention and control of forest fires. However, no progress has been made so far.
- Lack of funding: the allocation of funds to the states for forest fire management is largely insufficient. Further, a large amount of the money allocated under the forest management schemes are not released
- Early Warning: Unlike western countries, forest fire in India is largely man-made which makes it difficult to predict
- Emphasis on response only: with regard to forest fire management in India, the emphasis has been predominantly on response after the disaster. There has been less focus mitigation, preparedness, human resource development and awareness generation. Also, Post-fire management is not being treated as part of the FFPM process
- Lack of community participation: In most of the Indian states, community participation in forest fire management has been poor
- Lack of manpower: Lack of manpower hinders clearing of fire lines and also affects the patrolling of forest areas.
- Climate Change: The forest fire management in India do not include climate change aspects in planning, policy formulations and implementation stages
- Canadian Forest fire Danger Rating System:
The system collects data on fuels, weather, topography, foliar moisture content (how much moisture is in the leaves and pine needles), and type and duration of prediction. The data helps managers of various fire agencies determine the areas that are most vulnerable to fires and allocate their resources accordingly. Further, the Canadian Forest Fire Behaviour Prediction (FBP) System helps managers assess how far a specific fire can spread and its severity.
- Role of forest community: Best Practice in India:
Bilapaka village in Mayurbhanj District of Odhisa:
The villagers have set up the BilapakaJangalSurakshyaParichalana Committee (BJSPC). The villagers have developed an effective warning mechanism and a process to immediately stop small fire incidents
- Policy:At the national level, a cohesive policy or action plan should be formulated to set forth the guiding principles and framework for FFPM. The policy and programmes for forest fire management should incorporate the dimension of climate change
- Management: Forest fire prevention and management practices used by state forest departments also need to be strengthened
- Funding and Human Resource: Greater funding for construction of watchtowers and crew stations and for frontline officers and seasonal firewatchers to spot fires is needed. Further, adequate training should be provided to field officers, seasonal firewatchers, and community volunteers involved in firefighting.
- Technology:Modern firefighting techniques such as the radio-acoustic sound system for early fire detection and Doppler radar should be adopted.
- Data and information: There is a need to support forest fire management through improved data and research to fill critical knowledge gaps
- Awareness:Awareness generation for forest communities and visitors is important to prevent loss of life and injuries. Further, regular drills on escape methods and routes based on forest types should be conducted.
Q. What are the causes of forest fires in India? Discuss the impact of forest fires and measures to prevent forest fires.
Topic: Gaganyaan 2022
Topic in syllabus:GS III Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Why in news:
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Russia’s Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities (ROSCOSMOS) have signed an MoU to work together for Gaganyaan.
- As per the MoU, ROSCOSMOS has offered ride to Indian astronaut short visit to International Space Station (ISS) on board Soyuz spacecraft for short training mission in 2022.
- It is India’s first manned space mission. Under it, India is planning to send three humans (Gaganyatris) into space i.e. in low earth orbit (LEO) by 2022 i.e. by 75th Independence Day for period of five to seven days.
- India plans to build a crew vehicle that can accommodate 2 or 3 astronauts and human rate its GLSV Mk-III launcher.
Recent technological advancements:
In what appears to be a preparation for the Gaganyaan mission, ISRO recently conduced its first ‘pad abort’ testthat was successful.
- The ‘pad abort’ test or Crew Escape System is an emergency escape measure that helps pull the crew away from the launch vehicle when a mission has to be aborted. The test was conducted at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
- The Pad Abort Test demonstrated the safe recovery of the crew module in case of any exigency at the launch pad.
A manned space mission is very different from all other missions that ISRO has so far completed. In terms of complexity and ambition, even the missions to the Moon (Chandrayaan) and Mars (Mangalyaan) are nowhere in comparison.
- For a manned mission, the key distinguishing capabilities that ISRO has had to develop include the ability to bring the spacecraft back to Earth after flight, and to build a spacecraft in which astronauts can live in Earth-like conditions in space.
- If India does launch the Gaganyaan mission, it will be the fourth nation to do so after the United States, Russia and China.
Q. India is preparing to launch its first manned space mission in 2019. Comment on the role of ISRO in India’s development in space research over the decades.
Topic : Rohingya issue: The road to deportation
Topic in Syllabus: International Affairs
They are an Ethnic group, mostly Muslims. They were not granted full citizenship by Myanmar. They were classified as “resident foreigners or associate citizens”.
They speak a dialect of Bengali and not Burmese. Ethnically they are much closer to Indo-Aryan people of India and Bangladesh than to the Sino-Tibetans of the Country.
They left Myanmar in large numbers, first in 2012, during the first wave of organised attacks against them by the army. Last year, lakhs of them took shelter in Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh.
Since 2012, 5 lakh Rohingyas have taken shelter in Saudi Arabia. There are around 40,000 Rohingyas in India, of which around 5,700 are in Jammu. (more vulnerable for getting recruited by terrorist organisations”.)
Now the seven men being sent back had been held in prison since 2012 for illegal entry. Indian Government has described illegal Rohingya immigrants as posing a national security threat, and ordered state governments last year to identify and deport them.
Concerns with regard to Illegal Migrants:
An illegal immigrant can be:
A foreign national, who enters India on valid travel documents and stays beyond their validity or a foreign national, who enters without valid travel documents.
Illegal migrants “infringe on the rights of Indian citizens” and are “more vulnerable for getting recruited by terrorist organisations”.
Section 3(2)(c) of The Foreigners Act, 1946, gives the Central Government the right to deport a foreign national.
India is not a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and it does not currently have a national law on refugees.
In 2011, the Union government circulated to all states and Union Territories a Standard Operating Procedureto deal with foreign nationals who claimed to be refugees.
However, the power to identify and deport foreign nationals, who are in India illegally has been delegated to State Governments / Union Territories and the Home Ministry’s Bureau of Immigration.
Customary International Law:
The International Court of Justice Statute defines customary international law in Article 38(1)(b) as “evidence of a general practice accepted as law.” This is generally determined through two factors: the general practice of states and what states have accepted as law.
Customary International Law, has been crystallised as a result of the practice of the States.
Some scholars argue that, the principle is so well enshrined that it constitutes a peremptory norm from which no derogation what so ever is permitted.
India’s tough stand on deporting Rohingyas back to Rakhine State in the midst of the ongoing violence has evoked criticism from national and international human rights activists.
Contention of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
It appealed to India to stay the repatriation. The Indian Government says, the men who belonged to Rakhine Province requested the Myanmar Government in 2016 to issue them documents to return to their Country.
But, UNHCR says a lot has changed since then and the important aspect is ethnic cleansing took place in 2017, which saw nearly a million flee to camps in Bangladesh.
The seven men, who had been imprisoned in Assam since 2012, were denied the opportunity to make an informed decision in the current conditions.
UNHCR strongly feels the current conditions in Rakhine State are not conducive for safe, dignified and sustainable return for the Rohingya.
Has India sent back any other foreigners as well?
Bureau of Immigration data show approximately 330 Pakistanis and approximately 1,770 Bangladeshi nationals have been repatriated during the last three years.
On February 24, 2016, the government told Parliament that in 2014, West Bengal had arrested 3,724 foreign nationals under various sections of The Foreigners Act, 1946, and for violating Immigration Control Rules and Regulations, followed by Tripura (1,713), Tamil Nadu (639), and Maharashtra (228).
Way Forward: Need for enhanced Indian diplomatic efforts:
India has a stake in the security conditions in upper western Myanmar adjoining the Naga self-administered zone where the Khaplang faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim operates.
The success of India’s diplomacy will lie in the extent to which it can induce Naypyitaw to take a long view in the interests of its own political stability, internal security and social harmony.
If such a process can be initiated with the help of Indian diplomacy, the Rohingyas would be able to come out of the genocidal situation in which they find themselves at present.
A modicum of understanding prevails between New Delhi and Naypyitaw with a view to ensuring that the internal security environment in India`s north-eastern states is not jeopardised by the activities of the Khaplang group in Myanmar.
ASEAN, India and Bangladesh need to discuss the Rohingya crisis together to work for an optimum solution to the problem. The first step would be to convince the present government in Myanmar about the benefits of well-coordinated cooperation between ASEAN members, India and Bangladesh to tackle the issue.
Q. India has recently sent back some Rohingya immigrants to Myanmar in the wake of threat to national security. Discuss the challenges faced by India from illegal immigrants and ways to tackle the problem.
Topic: The diaspora and disasters
Importance of Diaspora to India:
The Indian Diaspora is a generic term to describe the people who migrated from territories that are currently within the borders of the Republic of India. It also refers to their descendants.
The Diaspora is currently estimated to number over twenty million, composed of “NRIs” (Indian citizens not residing in India) and “PIOs” (Persons of Indian Origin who have acquired the citizenship of some other country).
The Diaspora covers practically every part of the world. It numbers more than a million each in eleven countries, while as many as twenty-two countries have concentrations of at least a hundred thousand ethnic Indians.
Indian Diaspora played a crucial role in rehabilitation of Kerala Floods:
There is Department of Non-Resident Keralite Affairs, headed by the Chief Minister.
Department of Non-Resident Keralite Affairs looks at the welfare of the 3.4 million migrants globally, in addition to nearly 2 million internal migrants within India. Malayalis, who moved from Kerala permanently with their family and live within the country or abroad number around 2 to 3 million, since the formation of the State in 1956.
Kerala floods displaced over a million people. It directly affected over a sixth of the state’s total population.
The losses are calculated to be more than the state’s annual plan. In 2017-18, Kerala’s annual plan outlay was Rs. 26,500 Cr. The contributions to Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund crossed more than Rs. 1,680 Cr.
Remittances received in Kerala accounted for approximately Rs. 85,000 Cr in one single year.
Union Minister KJ Alphons has announced that Indian diaspora residing in China’s Shanghai has contributed Rs. 32.13 lakh to the Chief Minister’s distress relief fund for Kerala floods.
Kerala Migrants data:
According to the KMS (Kerala Migration Survey) 2018, there are over 2.1 million Malayali emigrants globally and 1.3 million return migrants.
The Department of Non-Resident Keralite Affairs, headed by the Chief Minister of Kerala, looks after the welfare of the 3.4 million migrants globally, in addition to the nearly 2 million internal migrants within India.
These are Keralites who have direct connections to their households — fathers, mothers, spouses, and, in some cases, elderly children.
Role played by the Diaspora at the time of Disaster Response:
In a globalised world, the international dimensions of disaster response and recovery, and the significant policy role played by the diaspora can be critical.
For example, after the earthquake in 2010 in Haiti, the Haitian diaspora in the U.S. served as a conduit for doctors, nurses, engineers, educators, advisers and reconstruction planners.
Haitian-Americans continue to be vital in long-term recovery — as supplies, remittances, sharing human and financial resources, lobbying governments, international organisations and corporations for disaster reliefand redevelopment funding, and in facilitating eased travel restrictions.
In Nepal, after the 2015 earthquake, the Non-Resident Nepali Association collected $2.69 million, mobilised over 300 volunteers including doctors and nurses, and pledged to rebuild 1,000 disaster resilient houses.
In the Tsunami in South Asia (2004) and the Pakistan earthquake (2005), diaspora and migrant remittances flowed generously, demonstrating the counter cyclical nature of remittances.
In Kerala, the migrant community and diaspora moved swiftly to organise an Internet-driven response.
Diaspora can play an important role in India’s quest to be a knowledge power and a developed country.
By sharing and re-sharing vital information on affected regions and people, supplies, and precautionary measures (on social media platforms), Diaspora were instrumental in expanding the flow of information that would later be used by politicians, private and military rescue operations, and relief workers.
India must follow a robust and flexible policy in order to leverage the strengths of Diaspora and minimize the possibilities of any negative fallout.
As the diaspora is one of the greatest assets of Kerala, communities should improve relations with diaspora groups. Return migrants should also act as liaison agents.
Diaspora communities will also inevitably shape political and economic responses to a disaster.
The linking of social capital between diaspora, civil society organisations, advocacy groups and government institutions, although necessary during rehabilitation, is bound to lead to unanticipated and undesirable outcomes.
t least temporarily, the State may witness higher rates of emigration among the common people as they try to mitigate losses caused by the floods.
For example, the KMS shows that migrants use over 40% of their remittances in purchasing land, construction and repayment of mortgage debt.
Finally, there is a need to investigate the relationship between rehabilitation and migration further.
To conclude, the communication and transportation revolution and the global reach of media are creating a major change in the nature of relationship between the Diasporas and their country of origin.
Q. Discuss the role played by diaspora globally during disasters. Explain with suitable examples from India and other countries.
Topic: Helping the invisible hands of agriculture
Topic in syllabus:
- GS III- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Since 2017, October 15 is celebrated as Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Diwas in India. UN observed this day as International Day of Rural Women by the United Nations.
In 2016, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare decided to take the lead in celebrating the event, recognising the multidimensional role of women at every stage in agriculture from sowing to planting, drainage, irrigation, fertilizer, plant protection, harvesting, weeding, and storage.
This year, the Ministry has proposed deliberations to discuss the challenges that women farmers face in crop cultivation, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries.
The aim is to work towards an action plan using better access to credit, skill development and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Women in Agriculture:
- The Agriculture Census (2010-11)shows that out of an estimated 118.7 million cultivators, 3% were females.
- According to Oxfam India, women are responsible for about 60-80% of foodand 90% of dairy production, respectively.
- Similarly, out of an estimated 144.3 million agricultural labourers, 6% were females.
- According to Census 2011,there has been a 24% increase in the number of female agricultural labourers between 2001 and 2011.
- As per Census 2011, out of total female main workers, 55% were agricultural labourers and 24% cultivators.
- Participation of both men and women in agriculture has declined, but the rate of decline has been faster among men than it has among women.
- Decline among womenhas been specifically in relation to their roles as cultivators, however their numbers as agricultural labourers have increased.
Women’s work goes on Unnoticed:
The work by women farmers, in crop cultivation, livestock management or at home, often goes unnoticed.
Rural women are engaged in agricultural activities in three different ways depending on the socio-economic status: They are work as:
Agricultural Labourers or as Cultivator doing labour on their own land or as Managers of certain aspects of agricultural production by way of labour supervision and the participation in post-harvest operations.
Attempts by the government to impart them training in poultry, apiculture and rural handicrafts is trivial given their large numbers.
In order to sustain women’s interest in farming and also their uplift, there must be a vision backed by an appropriate policy and doable action plans.
While the “feminisation of agriculture” is taking place at a fast pace, the government has yet to gear up to address the challenges that women farmers and labourers face.
Issue of land ownership:
The biggest challenge is the powerlessness of women in terms of claiming ownership of the land they have been cultivating.
In Census 2015, almost 86% of women farmers are devoid of this property right in land perhaps on account of the patriarchal set up in our society.
Notably, a lack of ownership of land does not allow women farmers to approach banks for institutional loans as banks usually consider land as collateral.
As of now, women farmers have hardly any representation in society and are nowhere discernible in farmer’s organisations or in occasional protests. They are the invisible workers without which the agricultural economy is hard to grow.
A declining size of land holdings may act as a deterrent due to lower net returns earned and technology adoption.
Solution for land ownership Issues:
Research worldwide shows that women with access to secure land, formal credit and access to market have greater propensity in making investments in improving harvest, increasing productivity, and improving household food security and nutrition.
Provision of credit without collateral under the micro-finance initiative of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development should be encouraged.
Better access to credit, technology, and provision of entrepreneurship abilities will further boost women’s confidence and help them gain recognition as farmers.
The possibility of collective farming can be encouraged to make women self-reliant. Training and skills imparted to women as has been done by some self-help groups and cooperative-based dairy activities (Saras in Rajasthan and Amul in Gujarat).
These can be explored further through farmer producer organisations. Moreover, government flagship schemes such as the National Food Security Mission, Sub-mission on Seed and Planting Material and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana must include women-centric strategies and dedicated expenditure.
Female Farmers: Labour Intensive Tasks as well as Household Activities:
Female cultivators and labourers generally perform labour-intensive tasks (hoeing, grass cutting, weeding, picking, cotton stick collection, looking after livestock).
In addition to working on the farm, they have household and familial responsibilities.
Despite more work (paid and unpaid) for longer hours when compared to male farmers, women farmers can neither make any claim on output nor ask for a higher wage rate.
An increased work burden with lower compensation is a key factor responsible for their marginalisation.
Gender-Friendly tools and train Women Farmers about Innovative Technologies:
It is important to have gender-friendly tools and machinery for various farm operations. Most farm machinery is difficult for women to operate.
Manufacturers should be incentivised to come up with better solutions. Farm machinery banks and custom hiring centres promoted by many State governments can be roped in to provide subsidised rental services to women farmers.
Women generally have less access to resources and modern inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) to make farming more productive.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation says that equalising access to productive resources for female and male farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5% to 4%.
Krishi Vigyan Kendras in every district can be assigned an additional task to educate and train women farmers about innovative technology along with extension services.
As more women are getting into farming, the foremost task for their sustenance is to assign property rights in land.
Once women farmers are listed as primary earners and owners of land assets, acceptance will ensue and their activities will expand to acquiring loans.
Then they can decide the crops to be grown using appropriate technology and machines, and disposing of produce to village traders or in wholesale markets, thus elevating their place as real and visible farmers.
To achieve the full economic benefit from employment, rural women should be provided a greater choice over their occupations so that they are not forced to do the work left behind by men.
It is thus important to have overall women empowerment through education, awareness and doing away with gender biases.
Q. Women play a multidimensional role at every stage of Agriculture. Analyse the issues and challenges faced by women in the field of Agriculture especially with regard to land ownership and income.