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Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – May 19

1. Developments in the solar space will help India meet its energy demand in a more environmentally sustainable manner. Discuss.(GS 3)

Live Mint

Yes:-

  • Tariffs in the solar space have declined significantly over the years and it will make India’s energy consumption mix more environment friendly.
  • India’s plan to ramp up solar power generation to 100 GW by 2022 is among the largest in the world. It will help bring sustainable, clean, climate-friendly electricity to millions of India’s people.
  • India’s plans to virtually triple the share of renewable energy by 2030 will both transform the country’s energy supply and have far-reaching global implications in the fight against climate change.
  • If India achieves 175GW renewable energy target by 2022, it will likely overachieve the INDC target for the next six years.
  • India is already planning to develop one of the largest solar parks in the world.
    • The 2 GW park in the southern state of Karnataka is expected to generate enough electricity to power nearly 1 million households.
    • The park’s supply of clean, renewable solar energy will help reduce CO2emissions by 20 million tons a year, and save 3.6 million tons of natural gas which is used to generate electricity.
  • With around 300 days of sunshine every year, India has among the best conditions in the world to harness solar energy. The rapid expansion of solar power can improve the quality of life for millions of Indians, especially for its poorest citizens. It can also create thousands of jobs in the solar industry and underpin progress in all areas of development, helping the country fulfil its dream of becoming the ‘India of the future.

No:-

Many challenges remain which are:-

  • The latest rates in the solar power space are among the lowest in the world; it remains to be seen if they can be sustained in the long run.
  • In this scenario, it will have to front-load the renewable capacity, while renewable energy technology and price would still be evolving. Actual production from these additional capacities is unclear due to uncertainties in the capacity utilisation factor in renewable energy.
  • As pointed out by many analysts,capital funding required for such renewable energy capacity expansion remains a big challenge.
  • The power yield from the planned ten-fold increase in solar energy on an average will be as little as 20% of the total capacity, making little difference to India’s emissions.
  • Despite the government schemes providing up to 30% subsidy) for rooftop solar and attractive feed-in tariffs offered by state regulators, the lofty cost of rooftop solar panels overrides the tangible benefit in the eyes of customers
  • It remains to been seen as to how low the solar power tariff can go and whether producers are actually able to deliver at that rate on a sustainable basis.

What needs to be done?

  • So far, much of the clean energy promotion has come from the Centre and often adopted by states through political delegation.
  • If India is to achieve its global commitment on energy transformation, it needs to promote bottom up planning and execution, at least at the subnational level.

2. Discuss the governance structure in a district. What are the functions of a District Planning Committe?(GS 2)

Indian Express

Governance structure in a district:-

  • District has been the basic unit of administration in India since ancient times.
  • India has a democratic welfare state which involves wide scope of activities for the development
    of the people and the nation as a whole.
  • District administration, is that part of public administration which functions in the territorial limits of the district.
  • A district is placed under the charge of a District Officer called the District Collector orDeputy Commissioner, the king-pin of our administration. He is the chief representative of the government in the district.
  • For administrative purposes the district is divided into subdivisions, Tehsils, Parganas or Circle or Ferka and the village is at the lowest level.
  • The sub division is headed by SDO –
    SDM/ Assistant Collector. He performs revenue as well as law and order functions in his
    sub divisions.
  • He is a link between the district collector and the tehsildar in revenue matters and DM and the Station Police Officers in law and order matters.

Positives:-

  • The Planning Commission did look at the sub-district or block/taluka
    • It had devised a criteria to rank blocks by their development indicators both infrastructural and in terms of human development.
    • This influences the choice of blocks for many centrally-sponsored schemes.
      • For the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), an elaborate method of participatory planning was developed and used to prepare the first list of 250 blocks.
    • Though this was the first attempt at such an elaborate exercise involving villagers, local administration officials and elected representatives, it did provide encouraging results.
    • This led to a better mix of asset creation under the MGNREGA, based more on the needs of people and local geographies.
    • The National Rural Livelihood Mission also works around this list of blocks. So there has been a clear policy to look beyond districts.
  • According to the gram panchayat development plan, the gram panchayat and gram sabhaprepare a budget based on the needs of the community, and get funds based on the area and the population. This is a paradigm shift in India’s development policy framework.

Concerns:-

  • There are neither structures nor any specific persons with roles specified for planning at levels of administration below the district.
  • Given this variation, schemes designed in Delhi based on the ‘one size fits all’ model lose all momentum when they hit ground zero.
  • The Fourteenth Finance Commission provided a platform to move into decentralised planning at the gram panchayat level. This gave rise to the ‘gram panchayat development plan’, meant to provide the necessary space for decentralised planning at smallest unit of governance.
    • The gram panchayat development plan, however, is facing the same fate as most other central or state government programmes.
    • In general, gram panchayats only get funds which are earmarked for a particular scheme or programme.
  • Capacity building for the people responsible for this transformation, however, has not been a part of the process.

Functions of District Planning Committee:-

  • To prepare 20 years perspective plan, mission and vision for the district based onthe study of the existing problems and growth potential of both the rural and
    urban areas of the district.
  • To prepare 5 Years development plans based on the above perspective plan
  • To prepare annual plans.
  • To prepare projects and schemes.
  • To co-ordinate between the rural and urban local bodies on consensus building for the overall development of the district.
  • To conduct expert studies in the direction.
  • DPC has a major role in preparing, scrutinizing and scanning of various plans ofthe rural and urban areas.
  • The DPC has to undertake studies and workshops on development indicators inthe district such as:-
    • Admission of school children or school drop outs,
    • Road lengthand quality of road
    • Availability of safe drinking water
    • Health indicators such as IMR/MMR, AIDS, malaria, etc., Based on the indicators, the local bodies would be able
    • to prepare and implement the development plans.

There is a very real need to work on governance structures at the sub-district and gram panchayat level. New, smaller governance structures need to be enablers of decentralised planning. Certainly the NITI Aayog has a crucial role to play in this. Strong, decisive leadership with a wide mandate is a requirement for such transformation.

3. What is the role of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee? Discuss the concerns being raised against the cultivation of GM Mustard.(GS 3)

The Hindu

Role of genetic engineering applications committee:-

  • It is established under Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
  • It is the apex body for approval of activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recom­binants
  • It is also responsible for ap­proval of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered organisms and products including experimen­tal field trials.
  • To adopt practices for restriction or prohibition,sale,import and use of GMOs both for research and applications under EPA.
  • To approve for conduct of large scale field trials,evaluation of large scale field trial data and final approval for release of transgenic crop into the environment
  • To authorize large scale production and release of GMO’s and products there of into the environment
  • To authorize agencies or persons to have powers to take punitive actions under the EPA.
  • To permit the use of GMO’s and products thereof for commercial applications

Concerns against GM mustard are:-

·          Mustard cannot be naturally hybridised because it is a self-pollinating plant having both male and female reproductive parts in a single flower.

·         Hence there is no natural hybridization system in mustard, unlike in, say, cotton, maize or tomato.

·         The main reason for its objection is in use of GM technology for hybridisation involving use of alien genes.

·         Though GM technology is already commercialised in India through Bt cotton, it is argued that cotton is not a food crop whereas mustard is largest edible oil yielding crop of India. Its introduction may adversely affect human and animal health.

·         It is also argued that the reason for increased imports of edible oils is because of reduction in import duties and that in turn discouraged domestic production by companies. It resulted in reduction of cultivation of the crop by farmers.

·         There was similar opposition to introduction of Btbrinjal, another GM crop approved by the GEAC in 2009.

·         When sustainable farming and low-input agriculture are becoming the buzzwords, crop varieties that will end up doing more harm to the environment and crop fields is not understable. GM mustard will require almost double the quantity of fertiliser and water.

·         GM mustard can affect honeybees directly and indirectly through effecting flowering and pollen production. Protease inhibitors have proved detrimental to the longevity and behaviour of bees.

 

What is therefore needed is an independent biotechnology regulatory authority, a single organization that will replace the multiple committees. This authority would deal with the use of all GMOs in agriculture, pharmaceutical and biodiversity sector

 


 

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