IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 29th April 2019
Tannery industries shut to prevent their effluents from contaminating the Ganga
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and ecology; Pollution
- Kanpur contributes the highest pollution load among all of the cities of Uttar Pradesh, which itself accounts for 75% of the pollution load in the Ganga.
- Consequently, Kanpur has garnered about ₹1,000 crore of funds — more than any other city — from the ₹20,000 crore-plus Namami Gange Programme, the government’s flagship programme to clean the river.
- NGT and CPCB had pointed out that chromium content from tanneries lead to contamination of river Ganga.
About Namami Gange Programme
- The government launched the Namami Gange Programme, an integrated conservation mission with a budget of Rs. 20,000 crore to accomplish the objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation and rejuvenation of the Ganga.
- The project covers eight states and seeks to fully connect all 1,632 Gram Panchayats along the Ganga to a sanitation system by 2022.
- It is a flagship programme of Government of India with a renewed impetus to decrease river pollution and conserve the revered river ‘Ganga’.
SC: filthy language not criminal intimidation
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Polity
- Supreme Court recently held that – ‘abusing a person with filthy language alone does not constitute the offence of criminal intimidation’.
- The judgment held that – the threat must be with intention to cause alarm to the complainant to cause that person to do or omit to do any work. Mere expression of any words without any intention to cause alarm would not be sufficient to bring in the application of this section.
- In other words, intentional insult must be of such a degree that it should provoke a person to break the public peace or commit any other offence. The mere allegation that the appellant came and abused the complainant does not satisfy the ingredients of criminal intimidation.
Srinagar-Leh NH open for traffic after 4 months
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Geography
- The 434-km strategic Srinagar-Leh National Highway, connecting the Kashmir Valley with the Ladakh region was thrown open after being closed for over four months due to heavy snowfall.
- Zojila Pass, at 11,516 feet above sea level, connects the picturesque Kashmir Valley with the cold Indus valley desert through the 434-km long Srinagar-Leh road.
- Border Road Organisation was involved in the snow clearance operation.
Do you know?
- Zojila: Asia’s longest bi-directional road tunnel
- Zoji La will provide all-weather connectivity between Ladakh and Kashmir.
- It is said to be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel
- Situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway
- The project, on completion, would lead to enormous boost in employment as local businesses will get linked to the national market and the beautiful region is able to receive round-the-year tourist traffic.
- It will also be of strategic value to the armed forces.
- Part of Bharatmala project
- The government has set an ambitious target of construction of 35,000 km of national highways in the next five years involving an investment of Rs 5,35,000 crore under Bharatmala.
Karnataka’s Ishad mango is becoming rare
- Karnataka’s local mango variety called Ishad, the pulp of which has been extracted for over a century for making value-added products, is facing the threat of becoming rare in its homeland, Ankola.
- Reason for this – competition from hybrid varieties.
- The production of pulp dropped from 20,000 tins a year a decade ago to between 10,000 to 12,000 tins now, owing to shortage of mangoes, as the trees are becoming rare.
- The mango has two variants — Kari Ishad, which has thin skin, more pulp and is sweeter, and Bili Ishad, which has thick skin and has less pulp and sweetness.
TOPIC: General studies 3
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
- Impact of Climate Change and Global Warming
Why the world needs to deal with climate change, now?
The below article focuses on –
- All types of disastrous impacts of climate change or global warming on all forms of life on planet Earth.
- What environmental calamities are currently happening and what are very likely to happen in the future if ‘climate change’ is not tackled in right earnest with all urgency?
- We are aware that nothing is being taken seriously by the world political leaders and particularly rich nations (esp. US President Donald Trump), even though it is their rampant overconsumption, pollution and food wastage over more than 150 years (since the advent of the Industrial Revolution) that has greatly contributed to climate change.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently reported that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2018 rose by 1.7% to 33.1 billion tonnes from the previous year—the fastest since 2013.
We had earlier covered (in our previous DNAs’) about the latest UN report ‘Global Environment Outlook 6 (GEO 6)’
- According to GEO 6, the current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under Paris Agreement (2015) are just a ‘third’ of carbon emissions mitigation required to keep the average global temperature rise below 2 degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels.
- It means even if NDCs are fulfilled, the temperature will still shoot up to 2.7-3 degrees and may even go beyond 3 degrees with the US withdrawing from the agreement.
- The report emphasises adverse health impacts for all people in the world (1,000 crore by 2050) due to environmental degradation of atmosphere, land, oceans and biodiversity, which would be of irreversible nature.
Status of India
- India may fail to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) despite its many national action plans to achieve them.
- About 60 crore people in India depend on perennial rivers, which are in jeopardy due to glaciers receding and the ground water resources too being adversely affected.
- If the world fails to keep the temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius, rivers of the world (such as Yellow, Ganges, Yangtze, Yamuna and Mekong) would shrink. There would be more uncontrollable droughts, floods, intense landslides and avalanches.
- India is likely to see the greatest extremes because of its vulnerability and crores of Indians would have to move.
- The vast areas of Indo-Gangetic plains will become non-liveable by the middle and the end of this century.
- A rise beyond 1.5 degrees would mean heat waves, heavy rainfall, water shortage, reduced farm output, coral bleaching and sea levels rising.
- Coastal nations and agricultural economies like India, already facing climate extremes, would bear the greatest burnt.
Linkage between climate change and social tensions
- Another aspect of severely adverse impacts of climate change – it will lead to conflicts among civilian population the world over.
- World Meteorological Organisation in its recent annual report has particularly focused on this issue of linkage between climate change and social tensions creating imbalances and instability in many parts of the world in the future.
- This is because climate change adversely affects agriculture, fishing, etc, and thus livelihood; coastal areas get submerged due to rise in sea levels and water scarcity is created.
- All this induces migration to other parts of the region or urban areas, leading to riots over limited resources.
- Rebel activities and Maoist movements may gain momentum because of climate-related impact on livelihood pushing up migration of civilians to cities, adding to strife.
- To conclude, rich nations must sufficiently enhance their existing NDCs. They have the financial power to do so.
- India and China should combine efforts and play strong leadership role by bringing all nations on a common platform at COP 26 in 2020, which would a critical moment for our planet.
- This is the only way to save humanity.
Connecting the dots:
- Critically analyze why the world needs to deal with climate change in right earnest with all urgency.
- Critically evaluate the emerging trends in global climate change negotiations. Is the world heading in the right direction in its fight against climate change? Critically examine.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
- Role of Constitutional bodies (Election Commission) and Judiciary (Supreme Court); Elections
Role of Judiciary in ensuring Free and Fair Election
- Free and fair election is the bedrock of democracy, as it legitimates the democracy through citizen’s right to vote.
- Democratic legitimacy is periodically renewed and the foundations of the republic remain stable with the exercise of the citizen’s right to vote and voting must take place as part of a free and fair election, which is ensured by Election Commission of India and complemented and enabled by the Supreme Court, where ECI lacks power and political will does not want reform due to parochial narrow political gain.
Enabling role of Supreme Court to Free and Fair Election:
In many judgments over the years, the court has set out the enabling conditions that guarantee that voting remains a meaningful activity.
For example –
- SC had held that the citizen’s right not to be arbitrarily denied the vote. Therefore, the court has held that voting is a fundamental freedom guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
- The right to know (thus, requiring compulsory declaration of certain information by candidates) and
- The right to a secret ballot (that has prompted the court to order the inclusion of a NOTA, or None of the Above option).
From the above judgments and ruling, the Supreme Court has reminded us many times, public faith in the electoral process is crucial to the continued survival of republican democracy, and it is these institutional safeguards that come together to ensure it.
However in recent conduct of Indian courts reveals an unfortunate gap between judicial rhetoric and actual enforcement.
Judicial Inaction in ensuring Free and Fair Election:
Electoral Bond issue:
- The electoral bond scheme allows limitless, secret donations to political parties, including (and especially) by corporations.
- It strikes a dagger through the heart of the right to know, because it denies to voters the knowledge of who funds the people who ask for their vote.
- The electoral bonds scheme was challenged immediately after it came into force; the Supreme Court, however, held off on hearing the case until a few weeks ago, and then it postponed the case to after the elections, citing a paucity of time.
- In the meantime, significant sums of anonymous donations have come in through electoral bonds, and an overwhelming percentage of them have gone to the ruling party.
Totaliser Machines Case and Right to Secret Ballot:
- Scholar Mukulika Baneriee had pointed out as early as 2017, and as journalist Ishita Trivedi demonstrated more recently, political parties are now able to determine voting outcomes at the level of individual booths because of the use of EVMs without totaliser machines.
- This destroys the very concept of the secret ballot, and makes threats to distorting the electoral process.
- However, when in 2018 a case was filed before the Supreme Court asking for the use of totaliser machines in elections — that would restore the secrecy of the ballot — the court dismissed it without even according it a hearing.
Freedom to Vote:
- The issue of voter deletions surfaced late last year, especially in the context of Assembly elections in Telangana, where the Election Commission of India (EC) itself admitted to the existence of the problem due to unaudited software to cleanse the electoral rolls.
- Accordingly, a case has been filed before the High Court, asking that the EC be required to reveal the source code of the algorithm it was using, and open it up for auditing.
- Months have passed, the general election has come, but the High Court has failed to decide the petition.
- With recent electoral issues it seems that judiciary have dodged and ducked the issues, instead of solving them.
- While in popular imagination, the primary role of the courts is to protect the fundamental rights of individuals against the state, another — equally critical — task of courts is to ensure that the ground rules of electoral competition, which are necessary to ensure free and fair elections, are maintained.
- This, therefore, is an arena where courts have to be even more vigilant than usual, because what is at stake is the foundational legitimacy of democracy itself.
Connecting the dots:
- Analyze the complementary role of Supreme Court in ensuring free and fair election along with Election Commission of India.
- Illustrate the contribution of Election Commission and Supreme Court in strengthening electoral democracy in India.
The government’s anti-corruption scorecard
An ineffectual angel
The government’s anti-corruption scorecard
Women don’t need saving
From Plate to Plough: Cow and cane
Farm production: Are we growing enough pulses?
Cyberspace danger: Can we really prevent internet fraud?
The case against Chinese apps eyeing Indian smartphones