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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 27th July, 2016

  • July 27, 2016
  • 6
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs July 2016, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 27th July, 2016

 

NATIONAL

 

TOPIC:

General studies 1

  • Post-independence consolidation and reorganization within the country.
  • Working of Indian Democracy towards Social empowerment, communalism, regionalism & secularism.

General studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population

 

Assessing the workings of Indian Democracy

No attention given to the workings of Indian democracy

  • Unlike the Indian economy, which receives periodic attention and reforms (mostly during critical moments defined by food shortages and foreign exchange outages), the workings of Indian democracy have not received a single one.
  • This reflects that there are no desires to expand the horizons of the workings of democracy.

The neglect is clearly visible in every angle from which the country has been approached, by the observers located both within and without its society.

  • The rulers of the western world often criticize and rate India’s conditions poorly, especially for its deviance from the apparently superior norms of a free-market architecture.
  • However, India’s nationalist elite in contrast to above arguments traces the causes and effects that India face today to western hegemony (leadership or dominance).

But both lose the narrative by refusing to see that its condition is related to the failings of its democracy, which in one dimension has remained more or less unchanged since 1947.

“This dimension is that the majority of the population has been left with weak capabilities”.

“Capabilities are what enable individuals to pursue the lives that they value”. This, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has suggested, is true freedom and should therefore be the focus of all developmental effort.

 

People are incapable and unfree after Independence

  • The idea of development should not be narrowed down to economistic or political definitions rather it should expand its horizon to include building capabilities.
  • It is irrelevant to it whether we have more or less of the state or the market or whether we insert ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ into the Constitution so long as large sections of our people are unfree in the sense that they cannot lead lives that they value.

Jawaharlal Nehru expressed in his famous speech – “He sees Indian Independence as an opportunity to build a “prosperous, democratic and progressive nation and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman”.

B.R. Ambedkar had defined democracy as a means to bring about a significant change in the living conditions of the depressed without resorting to bloodshed.

Concerns:

However, Indian democracy has failed to fulfill the vision and expectations of these India’s founding fathers. As a matter of fact, it has done far worse.

  • In the past year it appears to have added heightened violence towards the marginalised to its sedentary character.
  • With recent one being the incident in Gujarat, where 4 Dalits were stripped in full public view, beaten up for skinning dead cow.
  • By assaulting them for undertaking it, not only has their dignity been denied but their livelihood snatched away. In any civilised society the perpetrators of this crime would not just be grasped by the long arm of the law but publicly shamed.
  • Gujarat is of course only one of the sites of violence against Dalits. It is important to recognise that it has been widespread across northern India and not absent from the south either, with Tamil Nadu featuring prominently. It is also important to recognise that acts of violence against Dalits are not of recent origin. Their oppression is systemic and deeply rooted in India.
  • Even the states that are long-ruled by parties with leadership drawn from the middle castes have witnessed violence against the Dalits for some time. When in power, middle caste-based parties have replaced their invective towards the top of the caste pyramid with suppression of those at its bottom.

Caste still very much matters to Indian citizens even in the modern world, though one must point out that different groups of citizens have different reasons for maintaining the system of caste.

The upper castes want to keep caste alive to oppress the lower castes thereby maintaining their domination. It is very interesting to note that the lower caste groups, who are supposed to hate the caste system, also want to use their caste identity to gain benefits in the corridors of power and politics and, at the same time, they want to put a stop to the caste oppression imposed upon them by the upper castes. It is an ironical and interesting situation of the Indian society in modern India.

So what can we do now?

  1. The task should be to shape the Indian democracy. Its goal must now be redirected towards human development while ensuring the security of all vulnerable groups.
  2. This should be done in harmony with growing a strong economy. In fact, a strong economy, including a vigorous market, is one element in furthering development as the expansion of freedoms.
  3. The empowerment of the marginalised in a society can come about only via direct public action to build their capabilities.
  4. A genuine commitment to socialism would help here.
  5. Reorienting public policy (as explained below)

The roots of democracy lie not in the form of Government, Parliamentary or otherwise. A democracy is more than a form of government. It is primarily a mode of associated living. The roots of democracy are to be searched in the social relationship, in the terms of associated life between people who form a society”. — Dr. Ambedkar

Reorienting public policy

India today hosts the world’s largest number of the poorly educated and prone to poor health, a development disaster in spite of being the world’s third-largest economy in purchasing power terms.

Quarter century has been spent focussing on India’s economic architecture in the name of ‘economic reforms’, but still majority of Indians is still below poverty line and think twice to travel in third tier AC on the Indian Railways.

  • It would be profitable if the government now devote the next decade to mounting an assault on human deprivation.
  • The development of the capabilities of India’s women, Dalits and deprived should merit the first draft of attention and resources thus expended.
  • For a democracy to be complete, something more than just focus on the individual is necessary as members of a democracy must engage with one another.
  • India has failed to nurture individual and collective capabilities. There has been far too little effort in public policy to create spaces where citizens interact freely and peacefully.

Therefore, public policy should engineer spaces where Indians can meet on the basis of a participatory parity. Widespread public services from schools and hospitals to parks and crematoria are one way to bring individuals together as they struggle from birth to death in this country. Repeated interaction in public spaces would make us realise our common humanity and enable us to see any residual identity for what it really is.

Conclusion

The need of the hour is that we, Indians, regardless of caste, ethnic religious and regional identities, should aim at creating an egalitarian society for the future of India and develop some universal values upon which the edifice of the idea of India can stand with pride and glory.

“A person’s worth is determined by his knowledge and capacity and the inherent qualities which mark his conduct in life.”

The four fold division of castes’ says the Creator in the Bhagavad Gita, “was created by me according to the apportionment of qualities and duties”. “Not birth, not sacrament, not learning, makes one dvija (twice-born), but righteous conduct alone causes it.”

“Be he a Sudra or a member of any other class, says the Lord in the same epic, “he that serves as a raft on a raftlesscurrent, or helps to ford the unfordable, deserves respect in every way.”

“The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires change of heart.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Connecting the dots:

  1. Indian democracy has failed to fulfil the vision and expectations of the India’s founding fathers. Do you agree with this view? Give arguments in favour of your answer.
  2. Highlight with suitable examples why there is a need for periodic attention and review of the workings of Indian democracy on the lines of Indian economy?
  3. The empowerment of the marginalised in a society can come about only via direct public action to build their capabilities. Do you agree? Critically examine the statement.
  4. Essay: “The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires change of heart.”
  5. Essay: “A person’s worth is determined by his knowledge and capacity and the inherent qualities which mark his conduct in life.”

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Environment and Ecology, Bio diversity – Conservation, environmental degradation, environmental impact assessment, Environment versus Development

 

Looming water crisis

(ill)Usage of water

  • Water was seen as a key requirement for agricultural sector until a decade ago
  • The focus was to invest in irrigation infrastructure à to reduce the dependence of farmers on rains + meet rural drinking needs
  • Green Revolution stressed the increased usage as well as secured storage of water for HYV seeds.
  • Not exactly as planned: Marred with inadequate investments and poor planning and maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure, water problems persisted
  • Result: canal irrigation was much less effective than planned.
  • Negative impact: Farmers used groundwater excessively as there was no groundwater extraction regulation. Free or cheap electricity accelerated usage of tubewells and electric pumps to lift underground water.
  • Since 1970, 80% of the addition to net irrigated area has come from groundwater.
  • Cheap water = rampant water waste:
    • Water has not been economically priced in India.
    • Water intensive crops are grown in water scarce areas
    • Punjab- rice, Maharashtra- Sugarcane etc
    • These are further contributing to declining water tables

 

Urbanisation and water problems

  • Urbanisation is gathering momentum
  • Urban has only one-third of population, yet the share of urban GDP in total is almost two-thirds
  • Projected urban changes: 600 million population and share to GDP 75% by 2031
  • However, Unplanned urbanisation has highlighted the water problems faced in urban India, in past decade: Declining water tables + water pollution
  • Possible solution
    • Improving agriculture water efficiency and releasing water from it. (Agriculture counts for 80% of total water use in country)
    • Recycling water
  • Recycled water: drinking water, sewerage and wastewater treatment, stormwater drains and solid waste management be planned and managed in an integrated manner.
  • However, recycling has a fragmented approach.
  • Some services are managed in silos, some by ULBs and some by Parastatal institutions (Metro Boards) of state governments
  • Solid waste management is under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and also under AMRUT. Also, it is a part of city development plan in which all activities are attached.

State of water delivery

  • It is deficient
  • 62% urban households have access to treated tap water
  • Little over 50% households are directly connected to piped networks
  • two hours per day is water availability to connected household
  • 33% of urban household has piped sewer system
  • 40% dependent on septic tanks
  • 13% still defecate in open

Drains

  • Inadequate and ill-maintained stormwater drains
  • Natural drains provide exit to stormwater including flood water. But, either they are encroached or carry sewage.
  • Natural recharge zones not taken into account in urban planning
  • Wastewater treatment has been neglected even when it is important to keep rivers and groundwater clean

Sewage treatment capacity

  • Sewage or waste water treatment capacity is only 37% of the total need of the country. Actual treatment is even lesser- 30%
  • It is sometimes redundantly utilised where treated waste water is discharged in drains where it mixes with untreated sewage flowing in natural stormwater drains.
  • The polluted mixture is discharged in river
  • CPCB observation supplements it: Out of total pollution in rivers, 75% is from municipal waste and 25% from industrial effluents.
  • Groundwater survey: high level of microbial contamination from municipal sewage
  • WHO: Effect of polluted and unsafe water and poor sanitation facilities has led to increased water-borne disease in India. This causes serious public health issues.

 

Water market

  • When water policies fail to deliver their goals, the private players fill in the gap by creating water markets
  • Water tankers become critical source of water availability, which in turn become extremely expensive.
  • Even here, the groundwater is extensively drawn to meet the demand deficit
  • Tanker mafias are known to exist in Delhi!

Hence, though it is generally not realised but India’s water crisis is graver than energy crisis.

Alternative energy sources:

  • Solar and wind energy
  • Gradually becoming cost effective

Alternative water sources:

  • Desalination
  • Very expensive

Conclusion

Groundwater realities:

  • India is largest user of groundwater in world, surpassing china
  • The groundwater abstraction is at 251 cubic km per year (China has its half)
  • Groundwater use is in excess to what is being recharged
  • Situation is grim in four northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi
  • NASA assessment: The decline in water table of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi is at an average rate of 4 cm per annum.

12th Five Year Plan

  • Has called for a paradigm shift
  • Has proposed a comprehensive programme for the mapping of India’s aquifers as a prerequisite and a precursor to a National Ground Water Management Programme

Aquifer Mapping and Management

  • Launch of Aquifer Mapping and Management project
  • Objective: to prepare Management Plans in consultation with stakeholders and State Governments and then identify the recharge and other measures to replenish the declining trend of groundwater
  • The mapping would assist in estimating the quantity and quality of groundwater in an aquifer and would help in assessment of sustainable level of groundwater extraction
  • Also help in making the India climate change resilient.
  • An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing rock, from which groundwater can be extracted.

Groundwater governance

  • Governed by British common law sanctified by the Indian Easement Act of 1882
  • In this, landowner has the absolute right to draw any amount of ground water from under the land owned by him.
  • Water being a state subject, the centre’s attempt at legislative reforms has focused mostly on allocation and setting up a public regulatory authority for groundwater regulation and management.
  • Central government is expected to bring out a national water framework bill and a model groundwater bill.
  • The need is to address the challenge of equitable access and aquifer protection and move away from focus on link between land ownership and control over groundwater.
  • Groundwater has to be treated as a common pool resource only for public good.

Connecting the dots:

  1. Water should be transferred to concurrent list. Critically Analyse

 

Related articles:

World Water Day (March 22nd) – The importance of Water Management

Draft water bills: Address gaps through comprehensive research agenda

India is the biggest virtual exporter of water

 

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