IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 27th June 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
54 nations back India for UNSC non-permanent seat
Part of Prelims and Mains GS II International Relations
- India has won the unanimous support of all countries in the 55-member Asia-Pacific Group at the United Nations in support of its bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC) for a two-year term in 2021-22.
- The development is particularly significant given that Pakistan and China, both countries with which India has had diplomatic challenges at the UN, supported the move.
- India will need the vote of two-thirds of the 193 UN General Assembly members to win a non-permanent seat on the UNSC.
- India has been keen to hold the seat in 2021-22 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Independence in 2022.
- It will be hosting the G-20 meeting in New Delhi in 2022.
India and U.S. resolve to work through their trade differences
Part of Prelims and Mains GS II International Relations
- India and the U.S. resolved to “work through” their differences.
- Issues discussed were including tariffs and counter-tariffs imposed by both the countries on each other in the past year, as well as the U.S.’s specific concerns with India’s proposed laws on e-commerce and data localisation, on price caps and market access.
- Both sides had come away with a “better understanding” of each other’s concerns on a wide variety of issues besides trade, including energy, defence, investment concerns and people-to-people contacts, as well as the growing conflict in the Gulf with Iran and the peace process in Afghanistan.
- India will take its decision on the purchase of the Russian S-400 Triumf anti-missile system in its own “national interest”.
- India’s concerns over growing U.S.-Iran tensions and their impact on India’s energy security were also raised.
- India has zeroed out all oil imports from Iran since the U.S. sanctions deadline ran out on May 2, it has maintained a cordial and close relationship with the Iranian government.
75 student satellites may fly to space as India turns 75
Part of Prelims and Mains GS III Space research
Up to 75 tiny satellites built by students of Indian universities could fly to the skies between late next year and 2022 in batches.
Seventy-five by 75:
- This is the dream project that the Indian Technology Congress Association (ITCA) has conceived to celebrate the nation’s 75th birthday. That is also to be the year of Gaganyaan, the first trip of Indian astronauts to space.
- Students of participating institutions would come from different disciplines and get to build nano satellites weighing between 3 and 12 kg. They may demonstrate a novel concept, science experiment, or technology in orbit.
- The ITCA, a technology promotion body based in Bengaluru, has roped in around 40 engineering colleges to form a consortium. It is also in the midst of discussing launch contracts with the Indian Space Research Organisation and working out Israeli finance for its ‘75 Student Satellites Mission 2022′.
- For the colleges, it can mean a branding exercise and a permanent ground infrastructure on their premises.
- For the students, an out-of-the-world learning experience, exposure to an elite job market, and a chance to turn entrepreneurs who can attract space majors, with frugal satellite services.
- Space-based solutions reach people in remote areas where many other technologies do not reach or work.
- Students can learn to design small satellites that can offer simple, meaningful, and low-cost solutions to soldiers, farmers, boatsmen, forest personnel, or students.
- ISRO wants to offload satellite assembly to the private sector.
- In the last three to five years, other countries launched about 3,500 student satellites that demonstrated innovative technologies; another 2,500 could be in the offing.
- Indian universities have so far built and launched only nine satellites of fleeting lifespans.
Centre set to roll out ‘Jal Shakti’ scheme for water-starved areas
Part of Prelims and Mains GS III Space research
- The Centre is set to initiate the Jal Shakti Abhiyan to ramp up rainwater harvesting and conservation efforts in 255 water-stressed districts from July 1, 2019.
- Though water is a State issue, the campaign will be coordinated by 255 central IAS officers of Joint or Additional Secretary-rank, drawn from ministries as varied as Space, Petroleum and Defence, etc.
About ‘Jal Shakti’ campaign
- The campaign seems to follow the model of last year’s Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, where central officials monitored the implementation of seven flagship development schemes in 117 aspirational districts across the country.
- The campaign will run from July 1 to September 15 in States receiving rainfall during the south-west monsoon, while States receiving rainfall in the retreating or north-east monsoon will be covered from October 1 to November 30.
- The Jal Shakti Abhiyan would aim to accelerate water harvesting, conservation and borewell recharge activities already being carried out under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme and the Integrated Watershed Management Programme of the Rural Development Ministry, along with existing water body restoration and afforestation schemes being undertaken by the Jal Shakti and Environment Ministries.
- Progress would be monitored in real time through mobile applications and an online dashboard at indiawater.gov.in
- A major communications campaign on TV, radio, print, local and social media will be carried out, with celebrities mobilised to generate awareness for the campaign.
General studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General studies 3:
- Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
- Water Pollution, Wastewater management
Tackling water-crisis being faced by India
- Chennai has been in the news recently for its water crisis. Scuffles and suffering have been reported from different parts of the city.
- Water crimes in Ranchi have also hit the headlines.
- Cities in Madhya Pradesh have seen stabbings and killings over water, and the police has been called upon to guard water tankers and water sources.
- The 2030 Water Resources Group on “Charting Our Water Futures” set up by the erstwhile Planning Commission in 2009 had projected that if the current demand pattern for water continues, by 2030, the available water will meet only about half of India’s demand for water.
- The Niti Aayog has projected that the groundwater of 21 cities will run out by 2020 (that is, next year) and the cities include Bengaluru, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad.
- The BBC in February 2018 listed 11 cities most likely to run out of water. This list included Bengaluru.
Insufficient usage of water:
Water scarcity in India has come about not so much from insufficient supply as from the way in which we manage the water we have.
- Agriculture uses 78 per cent of India’s water, and uses it very inefficiently. About two-thirds of water used for irrigation comes from groundwater.
Huge electricity subsidies for farmers to pump groundwater and the fact that groundwater is largely unregulated have led to a steady explosion in groundwater use through tube-wells for irrigation over the past several decades.
- Urban India’s inefficiency in water use arises from inadequate, old and dilapidated distribution networks, inefficient operations, inadequate metering, incomplete billing and collection, and a general state of poor governance.
- Another source of inefficiency comes from not treating wastewater and using the recycled water for specialised uses such as horticulture, and also for flushing toilets. Under-pricing of urban water also contributes to wasteful use. If something is under-priced, users will use more of it.
Access to treated tap water is available to only 62 per cent of urban households (Census 2011). Those who are unconnected to the piped network have to rely on buying water from tankers at exorbitant rates.
This leads to increasing but unaccounted use of groundwater by extensive digging of borewells to meet the demand deficit.
- Expanding pipeline coverage to the “unconnected” population.
Expansion and renovation of the infrastructure of the distribution network.
- Additional supplies of water, especially because the groundwater that is currently being used to supply this population is expected to dry up.
- Pricing water is important both for demand management and for economic viability of water delivery systems. Even if the capital cost of the infrastructure is made available either through National Missions or public-private partnership, the operation and maintenance cost of running the system (and in the case of PPP, a large part of the capital cost) will have to be recovered through user charges.
- Mobilising more supply of water from basic natural sources. Only then can greater connectivity result in piped water delivery to all in urban areas. The mobilisation of additional supplies poses a major challenge since the natural recharge zones are increasingly eroded because of unplanned urbanisation.
- Dealing with the supply constraints arising from the neglect of the rivers, lakes, ponds and other waterbodies in and around our cities that feed the reservoirs which are the bulk sources of water.
These water bodies need to be protected from encroachment so that our catchment area for water storage and rainwater harvesting is not reduced. Strict vigilance on land-use planning and building permissions in our cities , warrant removal of existing encroachments will help.
- An important role has to be played by the state governments concerned, including ensuring compliance with the environmental guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and the National Green Tribunal.
- Above all, increased water-use efficiency in agriculture is critical to release water supply from agriculture for other uses.
Issue of poor quality of water:
The quality of water issue is also very significant because of its serious implications for public health.
- Only about 30 per cent of the municipal waste water or sewage is treated and the rest is released untreated into the rivers and/or the ground.
- Because of the density and concentration in urban areas, contamination from wastewater happens much faster.
- Ensuring that untreated sewage is not dumped into open stormwater drains through which it is carried and discharged into water bodies.
- Surveys of groundwater in recent years show higher and higher levels of microbiological contamination. It is essential to ensure that the wastewater is treated before it finds its way back into our basic source of water and contaminates it.
Reshaping water governance will require state governments and local governments to take coordinated action in a federal system. What is needed is a political compact between the Centre and states to jointly address the challenges of saving India’s water, while actively involving local governments and engaging with the communities of water users.
Connecting the dots:
- The water crisis is here and it is taking its toll in rural as well as urban areas of India. Reshaping water governance is needed. Comment.
TOPIC: 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 by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions
- Issues and policies related to health
Universal access to public healthcare
Government’s flagship health insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat, officially called the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), has been widely lauded since it was launched last year. Various states are in the process of rolling it out.
It aims to pick up the illness bills of 500 million of the country’s most vulnerable.
The sorry picture presented by Bihar in dealing with a deadly encephalitis outbreak among children of poverty-stricken families, attention has been drawn back to the ramshackle state of public healthcare facilities. These remain abysmal in most parts of the country.
- Severe shortage of medical personnel, including doctors and nurses, as well as a dearth of hospitals and hospital beds. This shortage is especially stark in rural areas.
- In many places, primary health centres, community health centres, and sub-centres are located too far from people’s homes. Even in the big cities, patients often have to run from one hospital to another in search of a particular facility or a bed.
- Private facilities are the preferred option for most, if only because of treatment is assured. The poor, however, typically find themselves shut out not just by steep prices—which Ayushman Bharat expects to overcome—but also invisible class barriers.
Way ahead: Free or nominally priced public services as a right
- Making public health services so easily accessible and of such reliable quality that only the well-off opt for the extra comfort of private sector facilities. Achieving this would be a long haul, no doubt, but several middle-income countries have done it. The government needs to upgrade healthcare infrastructure in the country at two levels.
- Ensruing that the quality of public healthcare services can be trusted by everyone, regardless of socio-economic status. Quality signals are best sent out by celebrities and public representatives using these facilities themselves.
- The authorities must ensure that enough healthcare centres or hospitals are operational across the country within reasonable reach of residential areas— urban and rural. Along with the number of hospitals, the number of beds also needs to rise sharply.
The financial pooling of illness risks is all very well, but the wherewithal to deal with illness itself must come first.
By budget figures of the last fiscal year, India spends just a shade over 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare. This includes central expenditure on the Ayushman Bharat scheme. The Interim Budget for this year upped the percentage, but only slightly. The government set a goal last year of 2.5% of GDP by 2025. For progress to be made towards that objective, however, this year’s budget need to pencil in a significant hike in the country’s health outlay.
Healthcare needs to be fixed in mission mode. Every child’s life claimed by a treatable disease is one life too many.
Connecting the dots:
- Healthcare needs to be fixed in mission mode. Ensuring universal access to public healthcare and upping the health budget is needed.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Project “Seventy-five by 75” is related to
- None of the above
Q.2) Consider the following statements
- In India, Water is a State subject.
- Jal Shakti Abhiyan will be coordinated by central IAS officers drawn from ministries as varied as Space, Petroleum and Defence, etc.
Select the incorrect statements
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Scoring on health
Negotiating the forks in the road of diplomacy
RCEP next steps
The educations system needs change, not fine tuning
Let’s politicise heatlh