IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 12th August 2019
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Uber for tractors
Part of: Mains GS-III – e-technology in the aid of farmers.
- Government to launch app to aid farmers where expensive agricultural equipment can be hired through the mobile application.
- Successful demo runs has been conducted in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab
- A laser-guided land leveller harnesses technology to accurately flatten a field in a fraction of the time used by a traditional oxen-powered scraper; Happy Seeder aims to prevent stubble burning that causes air pollution and Solar dryers can help farmers process and preserve their produce
- Farmers can save precious groundwater and increase productivity by 10 to 15% by using such farm equipment.
- The hurdle? Such hi-tech machines cost at least ₹3 lakh, way beyond the reach of the average small farmer.
- There are now more than 38,000 custom hiring centres (CHCs) across the country, which rent out 2.5 lakh pieces of farm equipment every year.
- Ministry of Agriculture plans to launch a new mobile app to efficiently connect farmers with these CHCs, just like Uber connects you to cabs
- The Ministry’s app will also create an invaluable database for policy-makers, who can track the use and cost of equipment.
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS I – Resource distribution
- Joint Forum for People’s Democratic Rights, a civil society group, is protesting against Uranium mining in Nallamala ranges in Andhra Pradesh.
- Protestors say Uranium mining in the forests would inevitably damage the delicate ecology of the region, and claimed that Chenchu tribes of the region would be immediately affected.
- The waste is generally buried inside the earth. However, protestors allege government is doing a sub-par job at management and the waste is exposed to human beings and ecology
- The rains in Nallamala will inevitably end up in Krishna River. If any of the waste washes down into the river, it will pollute the river to a large extent
Do You Know?
- Jaduguda in Singhbhum Thrust Belt (in the state of Jharkhand) is the first uranium deposit to be discovered in India in 1951.
- Only 3% of power in the country is provided by uranium.
- Largest viable deposits are found in Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada.
- The Chu-Sarysu basin in central Kazakhstan; Olympic Dam and the Ranger mine in Southern Australia are some of important mines in world.
- High-grade deposits are only found in the Athabasca Basin region of Canada.
Reusable Launch System
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS III- Science and technology
- Chinese start-up LinkSpace completed its third test of a reusable rocket RLV-T5 in five months, stepping up the pace in the race to develop a technology key to cheap space launches
- The reusable design of its next-generation rocket could lead to a predicted cost reduction of 70% (from $25 -30 million to $4.25 million)
- China envisions constellations of commercial satellites that can offer services ranging from high-speed Internet for aircraft and rural areas to tracking coal shipments and commuter traffic.
- LinkSpace’s test flight came on the heels of a historic delivery of a satellite into orbit last month by privately owned Chinese firm iSpace.
- SpaceX (US private firm) has already used recoverable rockets on a number of orbital missions since a historic launch early in 2017
Do you know?
- ISRO’s Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstration Program (RLV-TD) is a series of technology demonstration missions that have been considered as a first step towards realizing a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle.
- ISRO’s TSTO fully re-usable vehicle has different approach from SpaceX & Blue Origin.
- ISRO’s approach to a reusable launch vehicle is a winged body space plane.
- Whereas SpaceX and Blue Origin are recovering and reusing stages of their existing rockets, in order to reduce launch costs.
Kajin Sara lake
Part of: GS Prelims
- A newly-discovered lake in Nepal is likely to set a new record of being the world’s highest lake
- As per the measurement of the lake taken by the team, it is located at an altitude of 5,200 metres, which is yet to be officially verified. It is estimated to be 1,500-metre-long and 600-metre-wide.
- Currently Tilicho Lake holds the title of the world’s highest lake. it is situated at an altitude of 4,919 metres in Nepal.
TOPIC: General Studies 3:
- Conservation, Environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
- Water Pollution, Wastewater management
Water governance strategies
- Individual States need to assume the responsibility for managing water resources in their territories
- India’s cities are running out of water, coupled with Chennai’s drinking water woes, made the ‘crisis’ viral, raising questions about the quality of the discourse and choice of water governance strategies in India.
- Indian cities are running out of groundwater
- A delayed monsoon or a drought, combined with compelling images of parched lands and queues for water in urban areas raise an alarm in the minds of the public.
What does the statistics says?
- Niti Aayog report says that 21 major cities are expected to run out of groundwater as soon as 2020, affecting [nearly] 100 million people
- The report’s central goal was to propose a tool, an index, to monitor the States’ water resource management strategies and provide the necessary course-shift, beyond supply augmentation approaches.
- The report may have had a lofty goal of promoting ‘cooperative and competitive federalism’ but was, in reality, a desperate move to engage with the States, in the absence of any substantive leverage to influence their approaches to water resources management.
- For almost two decades, the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has been reporting on the increasing number of over-exploited blocks across India, the ‘dark’ category blocks. The recent annual book of CGWB has reported 1,034 units, out of the 6,584 units it monitors, as over-exploited.
- Similarly, a recent report by the Central Water Commission, prepared in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), asserted that India is not yet in “water scarcity condition”. But it is certainly in a “water-stressed condition”, with reducing per capita water availability.
Certain steps need to be taken to ensure a more useful and productive discourse about water governance challenges
- India needs to reconsider the institutional processes for dissemination of knowledge about water resource management. There is a certain amount of danger inherent in the casual manner in which knowledge about water resources is legitimised and consumed, particularly in these days of ‘viral’ information
- We need to recognise the crisis is not as much of scarcity as of delivery. The challenge is to ensure an adequate access to quality water, more so in urban areas where inequities over space and time are acute.
- We need to also realise that with the country’s rapid urbanisation, demand cannot be met by groundwater reserves alone.
- The urban needs, which underpin much reporting on ‘water crises’, need to be met by robust long-term planning and preparation for droughts and other contingencies.
Responsibility lies with States
- We need to reconsider our approaches to water governance.
- We must recognise that the fulcrum of change and action is with the States.
- For long, water resource departments in States have continued to follow the conventional approaches of supply augmentation.
- The challenge is that of reorienting themselves towards deploying strategies of demand management, conservation and regulation.
- The Centre has to work with States towards an institutional change for the necessary course-shift.
‘Composite Water Management Index’:
- This index is an attempt to budge States and UTs towards efficient and optimal utilization of water and recycling thereof with a sense of urgency. The Index and this associated report are expected to:
- Establish a clear baseline and benchmark for state-level performance on key water indicators
- Uncover and explain how states have progressed on water issues over time, including identifying high-performers and under-performers, thereby inculcating a culture of constructive competition among states
- Identify areas for deeper engagement and investment on the part of the states.
Major Issue: Data and centre-state and inter-state cooperation are some of the key levers that can help address the crisis. Data systems related to water in the country are limited in their coverage, robustness, and efficiency.
- Limited coverage: Detailed data is not available for several critical sectors such as for domestic and industrial use, for which data is only available at the aggregate level and lacks the level of detail required to inform policies and allocations.
- Unreliable data: The data that is available can often be of inferior quality, inconsistent, and unreliable due to the use of outdated methodologies in data collection. For example, estimates on groundwater are mostly based on observation data from 55,000 wells, while there are 12 million wells in the country.
- Limited coordination and sharing: Data in the water sectors exists in silos, with very little inter-state or centre-state sharing, thereby reducing efficiencies.
The Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) is a major step towards creating a culture of data based decision-making for water in India, which can encourage ‘competitive and cooperative federalism’ in the country’s water governance and management.
- The Finance Minister, in her budget, repeatedly stated that the government will work with States to address India’s national water security challenges. Let us hope that the government intends to strengthen federal governance of water resources towards long-term water security.
Connecting the Dots:
- To solve the growing water crisis, the solution that is proposed and pushed by world bodies such as WTO and IMF through international agreements is privatisation of water. Do you think India should also privatise its water? Critically analyse.
- Many parts of the country are facing severe water crisis and drought conditions. There are many traditional water harvesting and conservation practices in various parts of India which can be employed locally to fight the ongoing crisis. Can you identify few such practices? Also mention the states where they are more prevalant.
General studies 2
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- India and the World
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
General studies 3
- Role of external state and non-state actors (extremists) in creating challenges to internal security.
- Security challenges and their management in border areas
J&K and the world
- India’s strategies for internal security, territorial defence and diplomacy will have to act in unison
- As Pakistan mounts a political offensive against India’s decision to alter the status of Jammu and Kashmir, there will surely be international ripples. The Indian diplomatic objective is to get the rest of the world to live with the new reality in Kashmir, if not accept it.
- This is not the first time that India has created new facts on the ground. India’s Pokhran tests of 1998 come readily to mind. It took about 10 years for the international system to move from a very harsh initial reaction to lifting by 2008 the four-decade-old nuclear blockade against India.
- India’s diplomatic response must be at multiple levels. One is the legal dimension. Realists might scoff at legal niceties. But legal arguments are important and Delhi must present a solid legal brief about its actions, since there is little international understanding of the complex historical evolution of Kashmir.
- Traditionally, Pakistan has been good at mobilising opinion in these quarters, especially in Britain and Europe. India has done quite well in the US over the years, where it has outsmarted separatist propaganda backed by Pakistan.
The question of “Internationalisation”:
- Pakistan loves the idea and India deeply resents it. Going to the UNSC has been the instinctive first reaction of Pakistan. But neither Pakistan’s faith in the UN nor India’s concerns stand up to close scrutiny.
- The UN’s ability to impose solutions on disputes between nations has rarely been impressive. But for India taking the Kashmir question to it, there was no way the UN would loom so large on Kashmir.
- Pakistan’s proclaimed faith in mediation is touching because there is no evidence that third-party involvement in the Kashmir dispute has benefited Pakistan. Consider, for example, Islamabad’s efforts to mobilise the international community for mediation in the Kargil War two decades ago. It ended up in the US compelling Pakistan to accept the sanctity of the Line of Control.
Bilateralism is the key to outcomes on the multilateral domain.
Consider the five permanent members of the UNSC.
- China is a party to the dispute on Kashmir twice over. The border between India and China in Ladakh is disputed; China also occupies a piece of Kashmir that Pakistan ceded to it in 1963. China is certainly part of India’s Kashmir problem. China, however, has problems of its own in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Beijing surely knows that those living in glass houses should not be throwing stone
- Russia, once upon a time, was India’s go-to veto-wielder at the UN on Kashmir. Delhi too has stood by Moscow when it is in some difficulty. In recent times, Russia has drawn closer to China and is often tempted to take “even-handed” positions between India and Pakistan. But dispelling all doubts, Moscow has come out last week in support of India’s Kashmir move.
- Over the last two decades, France has emerged as a reliable strategic partner — a sort of “new Russia” for India. In recent years, it has played a key role in the FATF as well as the UNSC on terror-related issues. Delhi can certainly bank on political support from Paris at the current juncture.
- When it comes to Kashmir and Pakistan, Britain is always suspect in Delhi’s eyes. There is speculation that London played a key role in facilitating the current US reset on Pakistan. As Britain defines its post-Brexit global strategy, Delhi must encourage London to take into account its long-term interests in India and end its persistent ambiguity on Kashmir.
- In the end, though, it’s really the US that has the most important role in shaping the international reaction to the developments in Kashmir. For nearly two years, it’s been the relentless pressure from Washington that has forced Pakistan to count the costs of its support for terrorism. And it is the US decision to quit Afghanistan that seems to have emboldened Pakistan to ramp up pressures on Kashmir.
Connecting the dots:
- Discuss the UNSC members stand on recent developments in Kashmir?
- Discuss India’s strategies for internal security, territorial defence and diplomacy?
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements
- Farm equipment like laser-guided land leveller, happy seeder and solar driers can save precious groundwater and increase productivity by 10 to 15%
- Ministry of Rural development plans to launch app to aid farmers where expensive agricultural equipment can be hired through the mobile application
Which of the statement(s) given above is / are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.2) Uranium deposits are located at which among the following places in India
- Mahadek Basin in Meghalaya
- Singhbhum belt in Jharkhand
- Bhima basin in Karnataka
- Aravallis in Rajasthan
Select the correct answer from the codes given below.
- 1,2 and 3 only
- 2,3 and 4 only
- 1,2 and 3 only
- 1,2,3 and 4
Q.3) Consider the following statements about Reusable Launch System
- The system could reduce the cost of launching satellites by nearly 70%
- ISRO has already used recoverable rockets on a number of orbital missions like Mangalyaan and Mission Shakti
Which of the statement(s) given above is / are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.4) Kajin Sara lake is located in which country?
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