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Question and Answer
Q. 125. What is Brown Carbon (BrC)? Why it is in news?
Ans. Among the many contributors to climate change are aerosols in the atmosphere. These tiny particles suspended in the air come from many sources, some natural and some man-made. Some aerosols are organic (containing carbon), while others are inorganic. Most aerosols reflect sunlight, and some also absorb it. Many of these nanoparticles have severe health effects in addition to climate effects.
Black carbon particles (a component of soot) originating from combustion processes have been known for some time to absorb sunlight and warm the atmosphere.
More recently, “brown carbon” (light-absorbing organic carbon) has attracted interest as a possible cause of climate change. This class of organic carbon, known for its light brownish color, absorbs strongly in the ultraviolet wavelengths and less significantly going into the visible. Types of brown carbon include tar materials from smoldering fires or coal combustion, breakdown products from biomass burning, a mixture of organic compounds emitted from soil, and volatile organic compounds given off by vegetation.
Brown carbon contributes +0.25 W m-2 or about 19% of the total atmospheric absorption by anthropogenic aerosols, while 72% is attributed to black carbon and 9% is due to the coating effect of sulfate and organic aerosols on black carbon. Brown carbon needs to be considered in global climate simulations.
A study of IIT Kanpur has highlighted that Brown Carbon has the potential to warm atmosphere by absorbing light. When compared to Black Carbon, Brown Carbon has 10 times more mass; Black Carbon has 50 times more absorption capacity than BrC. Both of them are absorbers, contributing in the warming of atmosphere.
Q. 124. What is Hyperloop? How does it work? What speeds are proposed?
Hyperloop is a proposed mode of passenger and freight transportation that propels a pod-like vehicle through a near-vacuum tube at airline speeds. The pods accelerate to cruising speed gradually using a linear electric motor and glide above their track using passive magnetic levitation or air bearings. The tubes can go above ground on columns or underground, eliminating the dangers of grade crossings. It is hoped that the system will be highly energy-efficient, quiet and autonomous. Tesla and SpaceX's Elon Musk has started the building revolution for this new train system dubbed Hyperloop. It will mean getting from LA to San Francisco in under 30 minutes.
It's based on the very high speed transit (VHST) system proposed in 1972 which combines a magnetic levitation train and a low pressure transit tube. It evolves some of the original ideas of VHST, but still uses tunnels and pods or capsules to move from place to place. One of the biggest problems with anything moving, is friction, both against surfaces and the environment the pod is moving through. Hyperloop proposes to move away from traditional wheels by using air bearings for pods instead. This will have the pod floating on air. It's similar to maglev in which the electromagnetic levitation of the train means there is no friction like a traditional train that runs on tracks. This is how current maglev trains can achieve super speeds, like the 500km/h maglev train in Japan. The Hyperloop will be built in tunnels that have had some of the air sucked out to lower the pressure. So, like high altitude flying, there's less resistance against the pod moving through the tunnel, meaning it can be much more energy efficient, something that's highly desirable in any transit system.
Hyperloop is being proposed as an alternative to short distance air travel, where the system will be much faster than existing rail networks and much cleaner that flight. Speeds of over 700mph are suggested for journeys, but there are practical implications that have to be considered on a short stop-start journey, such as the acceleration and deceleration sensation that passengers would go through.
Q. 123. The National Commission for Women was set up more than two decades ago with what objectives? Has it lived upto the promise?
Ans. The National Commission for Women was set up as statutory body in 1992 to:
review the Constitutional and Legal safeguards for women ;
recommend remedial legislative measures ;
facilitate redressal of grievances and
advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.
In keeping with its mandate, the Commission initiated various steps to improve the status of women and worked for their economic empowerment during the year under report. The Commission received a large number of complaints and acted suo-moto in several cases to provide speedy justice. It took up the issue of child marriage, sponsored legal awareness programmes, Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats and reviewed laws such as Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, PNDT Act 1994, Indian Penal Code 1860 and the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 to make them more stringent and effective. It organized workshops / consultations, constituted expert committees on economic empowerment of women, conducted workshops / seminars for gender awareness and took up publicity campaign against female foeticide, violence against women etc. in order to generate awareness in the society against these social evils.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) is a statutory body of the Government of India, concerned with advising the government on all policy matters affecting women. It was established in 1992.The objective of the NCW is to represent the rights of women in India and to provide a voice for their issues and concerns. The subjects of their campaigns have included dowry, politics, religion, equal representation for women in jobs, and the exploitation of women for labour. They have also discussed police abuses against women.
Q. 122. Critically analyse the philosophy behind the no detention policy under the Right to Education. Is the dropping of the policy the right remedy for the deteriorating learning outcomes in the schools?
The Central Advisory Board for Education (CABE) recommended dropping no-detention policy. This controversial policy is widely being blamed for deteriorating learning levels across schools in India.
Section 16 of the RTE mandates that no child can be detained in a class until the completion of his/her elementary education. The corollary of this is continuous and comprehensive evaluation prescribed in Section 29 (h).It is aimed a progressive and holistic evaluation framework, enunciated in the National Policy on Education, 1986 and also the National Curriculum Framework, 2005. The reasons for NDP are: Examinations are often used for eliminating children who obtain poor marks. Once declared ‘fail’, children either repeat grade or leave the school altogether. Compelling a child to repeat a class is demotivating and discouraging.NDP and CCE are based on sound principles of pedagogy and assessment, recognised world-wide. They are thus a welcome change to the exam-centric culture prevalent in Indian schools. There are also very strong equity considerations behind the NDP policy, especially for children from low-income families, and girls. Failure for these children implies dropping out. Besides, research evidence indicates that detention of students by a year or more does not improve learning. Geeta Bhukkal Committee admits it.
However, after the RTE was enacted ,learning outcomes continued to dip, the NDP and CCE policies came under attack; students become lackadaisical as there is no longer a fear of failure, parents are no longer strict with their children, teachers are struggling to maintain discipline, attendance has dropped and so forth. Schools complained of poor performance in class IX because of students becoming used to automatic promotions. Geeta Bhukkal committee reported that no-detention demotivates students, and increases the burden on teachers.
However, poor learning outcomes are the product of many factors: stipulated pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) did not prevail; acute shortage of qualified teachers; Teacher training programmes must be revised in line with the requirements of CCE. These issues need to be addressed for learning outcomes and the blame should not be put at the doorstep of the NDP only.
Q. 121. What is net neutrality? How neutral should Net be? What arguments are being advanced to regulate it? Evaluate the same.
Net Neutrality means an Internet that enables and protects free speech and expression It means that Internet service providers should provide us with open networks — and should not block or discriminate against any applications or content. Without Net Neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the Internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP could slow down its competitors' content or block political opinions it disagreed with. ISPs could charge extra fees to the few content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. This would destroy the open Internet.
In India there is an opinion that the profitability of the ISPs requires them to treat some sites preferentially. They will pay the ISP but the consumers are provided free digital services to access these sites. Thus, the ISPs can raise money and built infrastructure to continue to supply quality services. It can partly break down the digital divide. The counter opinion is that such discrimination works against those sites- usually the start ups- that do t pay. They will be slowed down. Access to such applications will be chargeable. They can not come up commercially as a result. Such regulation can also have undemocratic effects.
Q. 120. Ministry of External Affairs seeks to recruit laterally. What will be the impact? Suggest more such reforms.
The Ministry of External Affairs has decided to take academics and private sector candidates in its Policy Planning and Research. It represents a significant movement towards a more interactive, open-minded approach on augmenting capacity and innovation within the Ministry of External Affairs. It is good that boundaries between the MEA and the world outside are made less rigid so as to permit innovative thinking in various areas, political, economic, developmental and cultural.
Over the last few years, particularly since 2010, the MEA has inducted into its offices at headquarters, deputationists from other central services of government.
A carefully calibrated expansion in the scope of lateral entry would be an appropriate strategy to infuse fresh talent into the country’s bureaucratic system.
It is suggested that some young officers should be permitted to work outside government – in corporates and nonprofits – for short periods enabling important exposure to new ideas and innovative management techniques and providing more energy, talent and dynamism in the functioning of the ministry. Even more importantly, there should be a much more active interchange of officers between the Ministries of External Affairs, Defence, Home Affairs, Finance and Commerce given the critical and interlinked nature of the areas of policy they deal with.
The MEA could also take from state governments as the role of such governments in the execution and determination of foreign policy is becoming more substantive and important.
Q. 119. Describe the unprecedented migrant crisis that the European countries faced. What are the political consequences of the crisis?
Ans. The European migrant crisis arose through the rising number of migrant arrivals in 2015 – a combination of economic migrants and refugees – to the European Union (EU) coming across the Mediterranean Sea and Southeast Europe from areas such as Africa, and the Middle East. Around 270,000 illegal migrants have reached Europe’s shores so far this year, more than in the whole of 2014, itself a record year.
Italy, and, in particular, its southern island of Lampedusa, receives enormous numbers of Africans and Middle-Easterns transported by traffickers operating along the ungoverned coast of the failed state of Libya.
In Poland; 70% oppose taking in asylum-seekers from Africa or the Middle East.
Slovakia wants Christian refugees only. Ban-the-burqa debates have sprung up in the three Baltic states.
As the European Union struggles with migration, northern and eastern members are becoming increasingly wary of issues regarding migration, with politicians increasingly expressing comments seen as racist. Populist parties with anti-immigrant ideology are on the rise: Sweden Democrats, a nationalist party with neo-Nazi roots, topped a poll in Sweden. Some Finnish MPs called on their countrymen to “defeat this nightmare called multiculturalism.” Those countries in the EU that resent common immigration policy may leave the Union.
Brexit is also cited as an outcome of the fears.
Q. 118. What is "blue economy"? How is it important for India? How is Prime Minister Narendra Modi pursuing it?
India realizes the importance of oceans, more particularly the Indian ocean. While security in the region remains a major concern, another way to integration is cooperation in the development of a blue economy.
PM Modi, in his recent visit to Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, urged for cooperation in blue economy, which is a multi-disciplinary approach for the exploitation of hydrocarbons and other marine resources; deep-sea fishing, preservation of marine ecology, mitigating climate change by addressing environmental issues and disaster management.
With its advancement in science and technology, India is in a position to lend expertise in deep sea bed activities, hydrographic surveys and weather predictions. India has a long record of hydrographic surveys of Seychelles and Mauritius.
Mauritius and Seychelles made a strong case for blue economy for their national development strategy. They want sustainable exploitation of living and non-living marine resources and deep seabed minerals to enhance food and energy security. However, these countries are constrained by a number of technological and investment and look towards India for support.
PM Modi, in his recent visit signed agreements on hydrographic survey with Seychelles. He signed MoU on ocean economy with Mauritius. With Sri Lanka, setting up of a joint task force on ocean economy was decided. During his address at the Bangbandhu Convention Centre of Dhaka University on the last day of his two-day official visit on in June to Bangladesh, PM Modi stressed the need for the two countries to work on 'Blue Economy.'
Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) need to play active role too.
India, being a major littoral state in the Indian Ocean, needs to take additional initiative.
Q. 117. What is VoLTE?
VoLTE (Voice over LTE) is the next evolution in wireless calling. The VoLTE technology platform allows users with a compatible phone to place and receive calls over the LTE network instead of the traditional voice network. Before VoLTE, only data was transmitted over the LTE network, and voice calls were carried over the HSPA network. In May 2014, Singtel introduced the world's first commercial "full-featured" VoLTE service in Singapore. Reliance Jio announced commercial launch of 100% VoLTE service without 2G/3G based services in India on 5th Sep 2016.
Difference Between 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE and VoLTE1G, 2G, 3G and 4G are simply increasing ‘generations’ (that’s what the G stands for) of technology used in mobile devices. The first generation (1G) was analog whereas 2G began the trend for digital transmission. 3G was an evolution over 2G mostly because data bandwidth was improved and users could then enjoy faster streaming and browsing. Voice calls could’ve been potentially better too, but not like what we will now see with 4G.
The VoLTE tech provided by Jio is completely IP based, meaning even voice calls connect over data network.
Q. 116. Preamble to the Constitution of India promises dignity of citizens. What does it mean and what has been done in this direction by the State?
Ans. Ethical and political discussions use the concept of dignity to express the idea that everyone has an innate right to be valued, respected, and to receive ethical treatment. In politics it is used in the context of the treatment of oppressed and vulnerable groups and peoples. Supreme Court held that right to life guaranteed under Art.21 of our Constitution means life with dignity. Fundamental Duties under Article 51A exhort Indian citizens “to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women”. Abolition of untouchability (Art.17), abolition of child labour (Art.24) are also examples of enabling dignity to the lives of the oppressed and the vulnerable. In 2011, hearing a petition on behalf of Aruna Shanbaug, the Supreme Court ruled “passive euthanasia” may be allowed in specific cases so that some people can “die with dignity”.
Preamble to the Constitution, FRs and DPSPs assert human dignity and in its pursuit promise justice- social, political and economic.
Many Supreme Court verdicts support human dignity, the latest being making the unwed mother legal guardian of the child. The rights that were drawn from Art.21- right to life- are all meant to enhance human dignity- for example, right to elementary education.
Q. 115. When can national emergency be imposed under the Indian Constitution? Do you think Art.352 can be invoked in the present day world?
National emergency can be declared when there is a threat to national security due to external aggression or war or armed rebellion. It was declared thrice so far- 1962, 1971 and 1975. National Emergency can be declared again if a threat occurs to national security. It may happen from external sources or from inside the country. However, according to many, the invocation of Art.352 (National Emergency) in 1975 was avoidable. Its enforcement also left many democrats disappointed as democratic freedoms were unnecessarily suspended.
Following reasons make repetition of such miscarriage difficult:
Constitution has been comprehensively amended to prevent misuse of powers by the 44th Amendment Act
Judicial review powers have been strengthened by making it mandatory that the Union Cabinet in writing should recommend the imposition
President of India also may assert his power under Art.74
Parliament is given special powers in terms of majority required to ratify the imposition- special majority
Lok Sabha may initiate its revocation
Civil society is strong
Global pressures may mount unlike last occasion when India was not globalized
Social media and public opinion are very effective in enforcing responsive governance
Lessons have been learnt from the past experience
Q. 114. Compare and contrast the veto of the President of India with that of his counterpart in the United States of America.
Ans. President of India is a ceremonial institution while the American President has real powers. The veto powers of the Indian President are absolute (rejection), suspensive (returning the Bill for repassage after which it is binding on the President to assent to it) and pocket veto which is not giving a decision as there is no time limit for giving the decision. There is a consensus of opinion in India that Presidential veto is exercisable only on the advice of the Council of Ministers (Art.74) as ours is a British type of Westminster system of parliamentary democracy.
After the Congress passes a bill, the President may take no action on the bill for ten days. It then becomes law. Congress must be in session for a bill to become law in this way. A bill dies after ten days if the President ignores it while Congress is not in session. It is called pocket veto. Congress cannot override a pocket veto. Thus, it is an absolute veto.
Second, the president can issue a regular veto, sending a message to Congress that the bill is unacceptable. Congress can override a presidential veto when at least two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and Senate vote to do so. The bill becomes law after a Congressional override.
Q. 113. On what important issue was the 262nd Law Commission report issued? What were the recommendations and grounds for the same?
Ans. The 262nd report of the Law Commission recommended that the death penalty be abolished for all crimes except for terrorism related offences and waging war. The commission came to this conclusion based on the following reasons:
Death Penalty as a Deterrent is a Myth.
Arbitrariness in sentencing in Capital Offences leading to a high number of rejections (more than 95%) of trial court decisions in higher courts.
Geographical Variations in imposition of death penalty: NCRB data points to geographical variations. Compared to the rest of the country, a murder convict in Kerala is about twice as likely to get the death sentence; in Jharkhand is 2.4 times. This number for Gujarat is 2.5 times, for West Bengal 3 times, for Karnataka 3.2 times, for Delhi 6 times.
Existence of social and economic bias.
Recent Political Developments like Tripura Assembly’s resolution and demand from various political parties for the abolition of Death Penalty.
International Developments: At the end of 2014, 98 countries abolished death penalty for all crimes. 7 countries have abolished it for ordinary crimes and 35 countries have abolished it in practice or de facto (executions did not take place). 58 countries have retained the death penalty including India.
The Commission in the 262nd report recommended various provisions for police reforms, witness protection scheme and victim compensation scheme.
Q. 112. Why is the land reclamation program of China in the South China Sea controversial? How do you account for the protests of some countries in the region? What is Indiaâ€™s stand?
Ans. In 2014, China drew increased international attention due to its dredging activities within the Spratlys, amidst speculation it is planning to further develop its military presence in the area. In April 2015 satellite imagery revealed that China was rapidly constructing an airfield on Fiery Cross Reef within the Spratlys. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims on Spratlys islands.
China says the outposts will help with maritime search and rescue, disaster relief and navigation that other countries can use.
Coming in the wake of China declaring an air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, over the East China Sea recently and territorial claims, the island building activity is worrisome.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion ship-borne trade passes annually.
Reasons for land reclamation
unexploited minerals and oil and gas and fisheries
increasing the country’s security by dominating the maritime approaches to its long coast
securing sea lanes to the open Pacific
answer to US rebalancing
India shares the concerns expressed by our ASEAN colleagues. Freedom of navigation in international waters including in the South China Sea, the right of passage and overflight, unimpeded commerce and access to resources in accordance with the principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, are issues of concern to us all. India hopes that all parties to the disputes in the SCS region will abide by the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and work together. PCA in 2016 July declared the Chinese claims- nine dash line- illegal. ( Read Current Affairs Notes 2016 November)
Q. 111. Centrally sponsored schemes should be so structured and financed that it mixes the goals of efficiency and autonomy well. What do you understand by it?
Ans. Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) are schemes that are implemented by State governments of India but are largely funded by the Central Government with a defined State Government share. Some examples of such schemes are Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. These schemes are meant to bring about national standards in conception and implementation of developmental schemes. However, there are many issues of concern: proliferation of CSS, top down approach, provision of flexibility to States to mould schemes according to local requirements, flow of funds, accountability, involvement of PRIs etc. Restructuring of the CCSs need to address these issues.
Untied funds must be transferred to States wherever feasible without losing sight of uniform national development.
The number of centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) should be reduced to 30 from 72.
Increase the share of flexi funds to 25 per cent from the current 10 per cent-funds that can be used according to local priorities.
Union Government should undertake Zero Based Budgeting exercise at least once every five years in consultation with the States.
PRIs must be involved.
Social audit must be made compulsory.
Q. 110. Recent developments in Ukraine are a defining moment in the post-cold war era. Give reasons for the assertion.
Since the beginning of 2014, Ukraine was engulfed in disturbances followed by pro-Russian unrest in some south-eastern regions, a standoff with Russia regarding the annexation of Crimea and a war between the government and Russia-backed separatists in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine. Russian take over of Crimea led to western retaliation in the form of sanctions that weakened Russian economy. Military tensions also escalated as there were fears that Russia would break Ukraine and may even occupy some former soviet satellites. Western hostility drive Russia closer to China that is threatening to polarize global politics. Nato became activated. There was a threat to Russian cooperation in global hotspots like Afghanistan, Iran and Syria.
Russian response by way of counter sanctions is part of the reason for the recession in the EU.
A section of experts believes that Cold War 2.0 has begun. While in general it is true as the tensions are unprecedented, in a technical sense, it is not as the world is closely integrated now and ideology is absent unlike in cold war after the second world war between USA and ex-USSR. It is a multipolar world now characterized by globalization without any iron curtain.
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