IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 25th January 2019
South Asian Nitrogen Hub (SANH)
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Pollution
- 18 Indian institutions is part of South Asian Nitrogen Hub to study nitrogen pollution.
- South Asian Nitrogen Hub (SANH) – group of 50 research institutions from United Kingdom and South Asia to assess and study the quantum and impact of “nitrogen pollution” in South Asia.
- SANH project has secured £20 million (about ₹200 crore) from the U.K. government.
- Nitrogen particles make up the largest fraction of PM2.5
- While Nitrogen is the dominant gas in the atmosphere, it is inert and doesn’t react. However, when it is released as part of compounds from agriculture, sewage and biological waste, nitrogen is considered “reactive”, and may pollute and even exert a potent greenhouse gas (heat trapping) effect.
- Agriculture remains the largest contributor to nitrogen emissions followed by sewage and organic solid wastes.
- Nitrous oxide (N2O) is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide but isn’t as prevalent in the atmosphere. However, this is poised to grow.
- In the future, reactive nitrogen pollution will be a matter of significant global discussion.
- NOx emissions in India grew at 52% from 1991 to 2001 and 69% from 2001 to 2011.
Report on AQIS’s growing influence
U.S.-based think tank report has pointed that –
- Growing incidents of violence against Muslims in India and attacks in the name of “cow vigilantism”, help Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) to recruit cadres.
- The report titled ‘AQIS — The Nucleus of Jihad in South Asia’ asserts that the rise in inter-religious clashes in India due to a changing political discourse had resulted in further divisions between Hindus and Muslims.
India and South Africa relations: Red Fort Declaration
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and the World; International Relations
- India, South Africa to revise 22-year-old Strategic Partnership
- The Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa, called the Red Fort Declaration, was signed in March 1997 by the then South African President Nelson Mandela and former PM H.D. Deve Gowda.
- Three-year plan of action on security cooperation, trade and investment, tourism, harnessing the ‘blue economy’, maritime cooperation, agriculture, science and technology projects.
- South African defence firm Denel was barred from doing business in India since 2005. Denel was finally removed from the blacklist in September 2018 after the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a closure report and the Supreme Court subsequently dismissed corruption charges against the company.
1. Person in news: Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani
Award in news: Ashok Chakra
- Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani – has been posthumously awarded ‘Ashok Chakra’, India’s highest peace time gallantry award for his role in a counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir last year.
- He is Kashmir’s first Ashok Chakra awardee and was also awarded Sena Medal for gallantry twice in 2007 and 2018 for his acts of valour.
- The award to be presented by President Ram Nath Kovind to Lance Naik Wani’s wife Mahajabeen at the Republic Day parade.
2. ICICI Loan scam
Part of: GS Paper III and Ethics paper – Corruption; Unethical practices by Private Sector
- CBI booked Chanda Kochhar, the then managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Bank, for sanction of credit facilities in violation of RBI rules, which caused a loss of ₹1,730 crore to the bank.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
TOPIC:General studies 3
- Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
- Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Scientific Temper in India
- There were disgraceful remarks and controversies regarding the Indian Science Congress (ISC) sessions recently.
- Bizarre and unscientific claims are not gone very well with scientific community.
- There are demands for policy change, which will include stipulating a process of selection of speakers and scrutinizing the content of their speech.
- Questions are raised – Whether the nation is undermining its scientific temper?
Do you know?
- ISC has traditionally been a forum where research that is grounded in rationality has always been given a hearing.
- In a country where vast majority of Indian educational institutes actively discourage learning and research, ISC is the only venue where scientists meet their peers and get affirmation of their work.
- Scientific temper, a term first used by Nehru in 1946, is a way of life which uses the scientific method to question, observe physical reality, test, analyse and communicate.
Scientific Temper @Independence
- After independence, the need for scientific temper was considered to be important. For Jawaharlal Nehru, scientific temper did not mean that everyone had to study science; rather, it was a way of thinking, a way to break the hold of superstitions by applying rationality and thought.
- Therefore, the Constitution framers even felt that scientific temper should be protected as a fundamental duty. Well-being of the common man is vested in scientific temper.
- The onus was on Educational structures to spearhead the transition of the nation from a people stifled by the medieval darkness of the British to a people united in the pursuit of knowledge and a search that would bring prosperity in its wake.
Scientific Temper @Now
Unfortunately, that vision of the giants of our freedom struggle is not being met today.
- Even those educated in the best institutes in the country never lost their superstitions. They studied modern science, used modern devices, achieved material prosperity and yet held the most regressive views.
- ‘God-men’ catering to the educated middle class have used the power of the media and social media to spread their superstitions and broadcast messages that should have been laughed at by those at the kindergarten level.
- Funding for science is inadequate, management of science is problematic, and the university system has failed.
- Teaching has become a political game in schools, with facts changing according to the government of the day.
Emphasis on Science may not show immediate results, but will finally result in the upliftment of the country.
India needs not only “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan (hail the soldier, hail the farmer)”, but also “Jai Vigyan (hail science) and Jai Anusandhan (hail research)”.
India’s journey so far:
- India is among the top 10 countries for scientific research.
- There have been many indigenous programmes in scientific research. In space missions, India is counted among the top six in the world.
- India’s performance in science and technology has been impressive. The establishment of a chain of institutes and organisations such as Indian Institute of Science Education and Research and ISRO is a major indicator.
- Indian participation in mega projects like Large Hadron Collider and gravitational wave observatories under LIGO is noteworthy. However, India is lagging behind when it comes to investments in science proportionate to its GDP. We fare poorly when compared with developed economies.
The way ahead:
- Science has always been universal and neutral.
- Pseudo-intellectuals and people with unscientific beliefs should avoid looking at science through the prism of religion and beliefs.
- Role of media – Media should focus on important papers rather than on unimportant issues.
- Revamping the education system to include more stress on science application and to develop scientific temper in children.
- Encouraging students to research and write scientific articles and conduct experiments and reading in their field of competence to develop their scientific abilities and increase the scientific desire to know the cause and effect of different phenomena.
Connecting the dots:
- Essay – India needs not only “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan (hail the soldier, hail the farmer)”, but also “Jai Vigyan (hail science) and Jai Anusandhan (hail research)”.
- Discuss why developing a scientific temper is essential for Indian democracy to flourish?
- Do you think our society lack scientific temper? Examine why blind faith and superstition are so prevalent. Discuss what needs to be done to enhance the scientific temper and knowledge among citizens.
TOPIC:General studies 3 and 4
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Infrastructure: Energy
- Disaster and disaster management.
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
- Ethics – Unethical practices in private sector; Humanity and Compassion
Illegal mining and related concerns
- Official statistics indicate that there were more than 82,000 instances of illegal mining in 2010
- About 30 per cent of the 374 candidates who contested the elections were either owners of mines or have stakes in the largely unregulated coal mining and transportation industry.
- Key Indian public institutions have broadly failed to oversee and regulate mining firms.
- International law obliges India’s government to protect the human rights of its citizens from abuses by mining firms and other companies.
- India has laws on the books that are designed to do just that, but some are so poorly designed that they seem set up to fail.
- Others have been largely neutralized by shoddy implementation and enforcement or by corruption involving elected officials or civil servants.
- The result is that key government watchdogs stand by as spectators while out-of-control mining operations threaten the health, livelihoods and environments of entire communities.
- Indiscriminate mining of coal persists (especially in Meghalaya) despite April 2014 National Green Tribunal ban
- Ruinous effects on the environment and human life
- Primitive and hazardous method of mining for coal
- Unethical practices in private sector (lack empathy and humanity)
- Ecological impact: acidic discharge from the mines pollute nearby rivers (examples – three rivers in the Jaintia hills: the Myntdu, Lunar and Lukha); leaching of heavy metals; impacts drinking water and irrigation (traces of iron, manganese and aluminium)
- Dangerous mix of bad policies, weak institutions, and corruption
- Government oversight and regulation of India’s mining industry is largely ineffectual
- Even legal mine operators do not comply with the law and respect human rights
- Poor disaster preparedness: Delay in rescue operations; no one person or agency to coordinate the rescue mission
- Case studies of iron mining in Goa and Karnataka illustrate failed regulation, alleged corruption and community harm.
- Mines operating with the approval of government regulators are able to violate the law with complete impunity.
The way ahead:
- Strict implementation of environmental laws
- Afforest the abandoned mines
- Corporate social responsibility – Construction of hospitals and schools by mine owners
- Regular raids/ checks by security personnel, armed guards, law and order authorities of the concerned State Government.
- Strict environmental clearance process by Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports
- Ministry of Coal has launched the Coal Mine Surveillance & Management System (CMSMS) and ‘Khan Prahari’ mobile application – for reporting, monitoring and taking suitable action on unauthorised coal mining activities.
Connecting the dots:
- Despite NGT Ban, indiscriminate mining of coal still persists. Why? Discuss its impacts and shortcomings.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
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Q.1) South Asian Nitrogen Hub is an initiative funded by –
- United Kingdom
- South Africa
Q.2) Which among the following are the major sources of Nitrogen pollution?
Select the correct answer using code below
- 1 and 3
- 1,2 and 3
- 2 and 3
- 1,2,3 and 4
Q.3) Agriculture is one of the largest Green house gas contributors on earth. Which of the following statements are correct regarding this?
- Cattle rearing is responsible for release of a large amount of Methane in atmosphere.
- Use of manure in soil leads to production of Methane and Nitrogen oxides.
- Burning of crop stubble release a large amount of CO2 and soot in air
- Clearing space for agriculture leads to deforestation and hence global warming.
Select the code from following:
- 1,2 and 3
- 2,3 and 4
- 1,3 and 4
- All of the above
Q.4) Nitrogen gas forms 78% of the earth’s environment. Which of the following statements are correct about atmospheric Nitrogen?
- It creates an inert environment in atmosphere. If Nitrogen is not present, Oxygen would react violently and oxidize (burn) carbon and other elements.
- Nitrogen adds mass to air and helps in maintaining atmospheric pressure.
- Nitrogen is taken up by humans through respiration from the atmosphere which helps in building of amino acids and proteins.
- Some plants have the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen with the help of bacteria.
Select the code from below:
- 1,2 and 3
- 2,3 and 4
- 1,2 and 4
- All of the above
Season’s worst: on the influenza outbreak
Checks and balances
An inside problem
Schools without a difference
A quiet courage
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