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Q.1) What are the reasons of urban flooding in India? Discuss the mechanism available to deal with urban flooding and why it has proved to be ineffective in times of need? GS-3

Answer: Urban flooding is the inundation of land or property in more densely populated areas, caused by rainfall overwhelming the capacity of drainage systems, such as storm sewers.

Reasons for urban flooding:

Leaving aside the natural causes like torrential rainfall and lack of natural water bodies in many urban areas, man-made factors play a major role in urban floods. These are:

  1. Urbanisation and increasing pressure on land. The urban areas are highly dense making them more vulnerable to disasters like floods.
  2. Land use changes life levelling, deforestation.
  3. Settlements along flood plains
  4. Poor infrastructure to dispose municipal solid wastes and for drainage of sewage water.
  5. Urban heat islands and micro-climate changes in urban areas

Mechanisms to deal with urban floods:

  1. The NDMA has the responsibility of laying down policies, plans and guidelines for DM and coordinating their enforcement and implementation for ensuring timely and effective response to disasters.
  2. The DM Act 2005 has mandated the constitution of NDRF for the purpose of specialised response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster.
  3. All States and UTs will be required to train some personnel of their existing armed police battalions in DM, as they are critical first responders.
  4. Ministry of Water Resources and Central Water Commission have been the nodal ministry and agency for dealing with Floods, focusing on riverine floods affecting large extents of rural areas.
  5. NDMA decided to address urban flooding as a separate disaster de-linking it from Floods and evolved separate guidelines. Taking into consideration the fact that stormwater drainage system is one of the important components of UFDM, it is allotted to Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD).
  6. IMD is the custodian of rainfall data in India.

Why it is not effective:

  1. Most of the times, urban infrastructure does not include risk planning. Many local bodies fail to meet the infrastructure requirements, leave aside the disaster preparedness.
  2. The communication networks often fail due to lack of sufficient awareness and preparedness among the officials from top to the local levels.
  3. The NDRF teams are not sufficiently manned to meet the emergencies across the country. Most of the state governments failed to develop their own standalone forces as instructed by the DM Act.
  4. The IMD data is at a more broader level and not specific to localities. This creates challenges in assessing the risks at a particular location at a time.
  5. Rapid urbanisation has made the urban planning limited and inefficient in response.

 

Q.2) Discuss the causes and implications of falling Rupee value at present in India. GS-3

Answer: Rupee crashed to a historic low of above 70 value recently.

Causes:

  1. Turkish crisis – the ongoing fall in the value of Turkish lira has resulted in the fall of many global currencies. This is due to the defaults of
  2. Rising oil prices – India imports more than 80 percent of its crude-oil needs.
  3. US monetary tightening – moves by US Federal Reserve to lift interest rates and end its “quantitative easing”. Thus it reverses the flow of relatively cheap dollar-denominated loans.
  4. Rising protectionism in the form of tariffs by US on steel and aluminum imports and possible US trading restrictions on countries trading with Iran.
  5. Investors – Foreign portfolio investor (FPI) outflows due to the need to gain from a strengthening dollar.

Implications:

  1. Imports – a weaker rupee will not favour all sections of Indian industries as those which rely on imported raw materials, component parts and machinery will face increases in their manufacturing costs in rupee terms.
  2. Exports – weaker rupee is seen as a favourable factor for exports as it will make the country’s products competitively cheaper in the world market.
  3. Oil imports will get costlier. This could lead to inflation.
  4. Inflation – a weaker rupee could lead to higher inflation under conditions of increases in import bills of crude-oil, commodities, electronic items and engineering equipment.
  5. The current level of forex reserves about $402 billion would not cover import costs for a year.

 

Q.3) National Health Protection Mission provide an overarching framework for health protection but need an infrastructure upgrade to function properly. Explain. GS-2

Answer: The NHPS will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families and approximately 50 crore beneficiaries. It provides coverage upto 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization.

It provides the framework for health protection:

  1. Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country and a beneficiary covered under the scheme will be allowed to take cashless benefits from any public/private empanelled hospitals across the country.
  2. It will be an entitlement based scheme and entitlement is decided on the basis of deprivation criteria in the SECC database.
  3. The beneficiaries can avail benefits in both public and empanelled private facilities.
  4. In partnership with NITI Aayog, a robust and interoperable IT platform will be made operational which will entail a paperless, cashless transaction.

Why it needs an infrastructure upgrade:

  1. Majority of the families will be rural and the secondary and tertiary public hospital infrastructure suffers from severe efficiency and accountability problems.
  2. Though national schemes on health provide a framework, execution lies with State governments. These state governments often do not have the necessary infrastructure in place to implement the schemes.
  3. There are problems with the distribution of hospitals, which are mostly concentrated in urban areas and in few developed states.
  4. The existing human resources are limited. To achieve a modest doctor-to-population ratio of 1:1,000, India will need 2.07 million more doctors by 2030.
  5. Even the recommended funding of 2.5% GDP on public health is not met by successive governments.
  6. There is still a lack of regulation on the pricing of drugs and services provided by private healthcare providers across the country.

 

Q.4) Highlight the need for National security reforms and restructuring in India and discuss the steps taken by government towards this goal. GS-3

Answer:  Need for national security reforms and restructuring:

  1. Increasing threats from the northern and western border. This is understood from the Doklam crisis and cross border infiltration and attacks at Pathankot and Uri.
  2. Rising cyber threats and need for a cyber warfare in times of contingency.
  3. Failure to build a robust defence-industrial base.
  4. Lack of long term strategic planning to build military capabilities.
  5. India’s growing geopolitical presence and super power ambitions need a different set of defence infrastructure.

Steps taken so far:

  1. The new Defence Planning Committee(DPC) was created to create a coherent plan for national defence which integrates all national forces and addresses all threats.
  2. The new Defence Procurement Policy gives a boost to domestic production of arms and enables technology transfer.
  3. The reform initiatives in army were recommended by a committee headed by Shekatkar. They include:

a) Better utilization of Supply and Transportation echelons and Animal Transport Units.

b) Closure of Military Farms and Army Postal Establishments in peace locations.

c) Enhancement in standards for recruitment of clerical staff and drivers in the Army.

d) Improving the efficiency of the National Cadet Corps.

e) Redeployment of Ordnance echelons to include Vehicle Depots, Ordnance Depots and Central Ordnance Depots apart from streamlining inventory control mechanisms.

f) Optimization of Signals Establishments to include Radio Monitoring Companies, Corps Air Support Signal Regiments, Air Formation Signal Regiments, Composite Signal Regiments and merger of Corps Operating and Engineering Signal Regiments.

 

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