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Q.1) Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has recently released the “Draft National Forest Policy, 2018” for public comments. Mentioning its key features, write how it is different from National Forest Policy 1988. What are the concerns raised over it? (GS – 2)

Introduction:

  • The previous NFPs were focused on production and revenue generation of forests (NFP, 1894 and NFP, 1952) and environmental stability and maintenance of ecological balance (NFP, 1988).
  • Draft NFP, 2018 talks about climate change mitigation through sustainable forest management.
  • The overall objective and goal of the present policy is to safeguard the ecological and livelihood security of people, of the present and future generations.
  • Draft NFP, 2018 contributes to the forestry-related Nationally Determined Contribution Targets and by integrating, “climate change mitigation and adaptation measures in forest management through the mechanism of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus) so that the impacts of the climate change is minimised”.
  • The draft policy document also talks about degraded land and how it can be improved by undertaking afforestation activities using public private partnership models.
  • The document also proposes creation of a community forest management mission for the community resource management under Forests Rights Act.

“Draft National Forest Policy, 2018” different from National Forest Policy 1988:

  • Currently, the “National Forest Policy of 1988” is the primary document that drives India’s forest outlook.
  • This dates back to the times when climate change was a vague  concept, and even before economic liberalisation was undertaken.
  • While Forest Rights Act was passed in 2006, a comprehensive new forest policy that covers the new evolving concerns was needed.
  • Hence, the present draft on climate change concerns has factored in climate change concerns and management plans forest and wildlife.
  • It also talks of “safeguarding the livelihood of forest dependent people” and envisions raising the country’s forest cover from 25% to 30% of its land area.

Concerns:

Methodological weakness:

  • It persists with the methodological weakness of the “Indian Forest Survey Reports” of the past 30 years that conflate plantations with forest cover.

Monoculture and biodiversity loss:

  • It talks about improving the productivity of forest plantations by the intensive scientific management of commercially important species.
  • While it does mention native plants like bamboo, it also stresses the need for plantations of exotics like eucalyptus and casuarina.
  • These provisions seems to disregard the compelling evidence that plantations are no substitute for natural ecosystems that with good biodiversity.
  • Ecologists affirm that nurturing natural ecosystems comprising of indigenous species are key for ecological sustainability and for climate change mitigation.
  • Also, a 2015 study in Nature had cautioned against “promoting intensive forestry for maximum timber yield under the flag of climate change”.

Q2) The world’s cities occupy just 3% of the Earth’s land, but account for 60-80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions. What are the threats faced by urban centres from climate change. Suggest strategies for sustainable development and adaptation to climate change in your answer. (GS- 3)

Introduction:

  • Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time.

Threats faced by urban centres from climate change:

  • One of the alarming prospects of climate change will be its impact on the rise in sea level.
  • Changes in precipitation patterns and water cycle will increase the already existing problems of water supply and quality in urban areas, especially in big cities.
  • Climate change is expected to increase environment-related diseases.
  • Global warming will be felt more in cities because of the “urban heat island effect” that makes cities warmer than their surrounding.
  • Storms, floods, cyclones, coastal flooding that are expected to be more frequent put infrastructure at great risk.
  • Climate change related drought and floods are expected to foster rural to urban migration, increase overpopulation of cities and the proportion of poor and vulnerable people living in urban areas.
  • Cities form the center of the economy in many countries, so climate change’s impact on urban populations also damages the nation.
  • Climate change will affect more the poor people who constitute between a quarter and half of Indian cities.

Sustainable development and adaptation to climate change:

  • Adaptation seeks to lower the risks posed by the consequences of climatic changes.
  • Adaptation measures may be planned in advance or put in place spontaneously in response to a local pressure.
  • They include large-scale infrastructure changes such as:
  • Building defences to protect against sea-level rise and
  • Improving the quality of road surfaces to withstand hotter temperature.
  • Behavioural shifts such as:
  • individuals using less water,
  • farmers planting different crops and
  • more households and businesses buying flood insurance.

Q.3) Write short notes on

‘Beauty premium’ in Economics (GS-3)

  • Beauty premium refers to the incremental income that people who are physically attractive earn when compared to others who are considered less attractive.
  • The beauty premium has been attributed by researchers to a variety of reasons, including psychological biases that affect employer choices while hiring workers.
  • Workers and managers who are physically attractive may be considered more honest and competent at work than others.
  • Some researchers, however, have denied the existence of the beauty premium in the labour market.
  • They argue that wage differences can be explained by factors other than physical beauty.

Bharat-22 (GS-3)

  • Government of India is set to launch its second ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) Bharat 22.
  • It will comprise 22 stocks including those of central public sector enterprises (CPSEs), public sector banks and GOI’s holdings under the Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India (SUUTI).

ETF:

  • Exchange Traded Funds are index funds that offer the security of a fund and liquidity of stock.
  • Much like index funds they mirror the index, commodity, bonds or basket of assets.
  • Their price changes daily as they are traded throughout the day.

Bharat 22:

  • The ETF will have a diversified portfolio of companies from six sectors (Basic Materials,
  • Energy, Finance, FMCG, Industrials and Utilities).
  • The new ETF will help government sell equity stakes in state-run firms and also help in achieving its objective to raise Rs. 72,500 crore through disinvestment in the current financial year.
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