Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – October 17

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Q.1) Mumbai recently saw nearly 300 mm of torrential rain in 24 hrs this year. It led to flooding,water logging, and traffic halts. In this context, discuss the various deficiencies in the urban infrastructure and suggest some measures to be taken in this regard. Also throw some light on the disaster preparedness in India? (GS-3)

Ans:

Recently, torrential downpour in Mumbai led to large scale flooding in the city. During the natural calamity, transport systems were unavailable through parts of the city as trains and roadways were shut. Power was cut-off from various parts of the city to prevent electrocution. With latest technologies in hand, what are the possible challenges that the country is facing.

What are the deficiencies in the  Urban Infrastructure?

  1. Unplanned urbanisation, complex habitations, unauthorised colonies, building in low lying areas, drainage congestion -silt/plastic/waste  has lead to choking of drainage of channels.
  2. The drainage infrastructure is out-of-date which was built in the colonial era and nothing substantial has been done to change it to suit the modern requirements.
  3. Poor urban planning and urban governance-lack of powers to the local bodies & lack of mayor’s empowerment who happens to be a mere figurehead.
  4. The municipal corporations have not been working efficiently in metro cities, and they seem to lack to motivation for the application of technology despite the proliferation of technology like remote sensing satellite, better weather predictions etc. (Satellite images of vulnerable/low areas)
  5. There is no linkage between forecast of rainfall and probability of flooding in the urban centres.

What are the immediate measures to be taken?

  1. Today, India has technology to delineate and map the drainage systems.
  • Satellite imagery data through Indian satellites and Ministry of Urban Development has launched the National Urban Information System to geo-reference natural drains.
  • This technology should be used and delineate the drains and include them in City master plans and should not allow any construction or unauthorised activities in such areas.
  1. The municipalities have to be empowered and all the intertwined issues have to be integrated in to the municipalities concerned.
  2. The planning to tackle the probable flood situation should start two months prior to the beginning of rainy season.
  3. The country needs a new modelling which would link flooding with rainfall.
  4. The country also needs to make the cities climate change resilient and post -disaster re-construction and relief.
  5. Moreover there is a need for pre-monsoon planning & precautions and water-centric approach in development process.

What is the scenario of disaster preparedness in India?

The various technologies to enhance the efficiency of the disaster risk management efforts by the country are as follows:

India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF): The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), formed in 2006, is a specialised force constituted for the purpose of specialist response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

  • India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is going to conduct a disaster management exercise with BIMSTEC countries.
  • The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) involves Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
  • The main focus of the BIMSTEC DMEx-2017 will be on haring best practices on all aspects of disaster risk reduction, strengthening regional response and coordination for disaster management among the BIMSTEC member countries.

National Disaster Management Authority: National Disaster Management Authority, abbreviated as NDMA is an agency of the Ministry of Home Affairs whose primary purpose is to coordinate response to natural or man-made disasters and for capacity-building in disaster resiliency and crisis response.

NDMA was established through the Disaster Management Act enacted by the Government of India in December 2005. Its primary purpose is to coordinate response to natural or man-made disasters and for capacity-building in disaster resiliency and crisis response.

NDMA, as the apex body, is mandated to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for Disaster Management to ensure timely and effective response to disasters. Towards this, it has the following responsibilities:

  • Lay down policies on disaster management;
  • Approve the National Plan;
  • Approve plans prepared by the Ministries or Departments of the Government of India in accordance with the National Plan;
  • Lay down guidelines to be followed by the State Authorities in drawing up the State Plan;
  • Lay down guidelines to be followed by the different Ministries or Departments of the Government of India for the Purpose of integrating the measures for prevention of disaster or the mitigation of its effects in their development plans and projects;
  • Coordinate the enforcement and implementation of the policy and plans for disaster management;
  • Recommend provision of funds for the purpose of mitigation;
  • Provide such support to other countries affected by major disasters as may be determined by the Central Government;
  • Take such other measures for the prevention of disaster, or the mitigation, or preparedness and capacity building for dealing with threatening disaster situations or disasters as it may consider necessary;
  • Lay down broad policies and guidelines for the functioning of the National Institute of Disaster Management

Q.2) Explain the growth of India’s peacekeeping operations. Discuss India’s contribution at peacekeeping and the challenges that India faces to maintain it. (GS 2)

Introduction

  • India is the largest growing troop contributor, having provided almost 200,000 troops in nearly 50 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions over the past six decades, including 13 of the current 16 missions.
  • India with time has developed a well-rounded policy, created the necessary infrastructure, and developed clear policies for participation in UN peacekeeping operations.
  • In recent decades, along with Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal, India have collectively contributed some 40% of all UN peacekeepers.
  • India is also taking lead in setting training standards and contributing to establishing norms. It has a well-established training center and facilities under the Center for UN Peacekeeping located in Delhi.

History of India’s contribution at Peacekeeping

  • India has been actively contributing to the UN peacekeeping missions since independence in different forms beginning with a medical mission in Korea.
  • India participated militarily with a medical unit and later provided a Custodian Force for the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission.
  • India also contributed significantly to the Indo-China Supervisory Commission deployed in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam from 1954 to 1970.
  • Ever since military personnel began to be deployed for peacekeeping, India has been a key contributor beginning with 1956 Arab – Israeli war.
  • The success of UNEF-1 led the Security Council to readily accept a request by the Congo in 1960 for intervention on attaining independence from Belgium. India’s contribution towards ensuring peace in Congo proved vital to the country’s stability after decolonization.
  • India’s contribution is not only reflective of the objectives set out in the UN charter, but also has generated goodwill in different parts of the world especially in the developing world.

What are the challenges in front of India?

  • Sovereignty is being challenged by norms such as Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
  • India has a role to play regionally as well as globally. India should get its political, diplomatic and military acts together, and must continue to be proactive in terms of demanding greater participation in decision making.
  • There would be situations where even bilateral participation might be called for. Behavioural changes including change in style of leadership will then become necessary.
  • There is a compelling need for a sizeable Rapid Reaction Force for the purpose of intervention, stabilization, deterrence and disaster response among others.

What should India do?

  • India should continue to strengthen existing cooperative mechanisms with regional and global players.
  • Joint working groups comprising diplomats and military personnel should be set-up to interact with multilateral forums, and exchange knowledge and perspectives.
  • As the mandate of peace-keeping expands, India should share its expertise and experience, and play its part in realizing the core objective of the UN Charter – maintenance of international peace and security.

Q.3) The Election Commission of India (EC) had recently favored simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. What is the significance of simultaneous election? Discuss the major problems with the present multiple election system? (GS-2)

Significance of simultaneous election:

Stability in governance

  • Simultaneous elections shall ensure stability and lesser disruptions in the normal functioning.
  • Continuous election has an impact on the functioning of essential services. The rallies and the like do cause traffic problems as well as loss of productivity.

Reduction in Expenditure

  • It would reduce the massive expenditure that had shot up to Rs4, 000 crore in 2014.

Model Code of Conduct

  • Elections in states lead to the imposition of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) that puts on hold the entire development programs and activities.
  • If all elections are held in one particular year, it will give a clear four years to the political parties to focus on good governance.

Unnecessary usage of resources

  • Multiple elections unnecessarily exploit resources needed to conduct elections. Simultaneous elections thus saves resources both manpower and resource deployment

Less time consuming

  • Multiple elections in a year lead to time consumption as the whole process of conducting elections is repeated.
  • Simultaneous elections undoubtedly shall consume less time as compared to the existing system of conducting elections

Major problems with the present multiple election system

Model code of Conduct

  • The argument against multiple elections is the Model Code of Conduct, that prevents the government from initiating new projects and ultimately reduces the development work.

Important news gets concealed

  • It affects stability and economic development as announcements are more for the vote bank than the development of nation.

Continuous process

  • With such a deep branched governance structure and multiple tiers of government, every year elections are conducted
  • There are frequent elections in one or more states and if the elections to the local bodies are included there is no year without some elections taking place.

Disrupts the service sector

  • Over a crore government employees, including a large number of teachers, are involved in the electoral process.
  • Thus, the continuous exercise causes maximum harm to the education sector

Security Concerns

  • Security forces also have to be diverted for the electoral work even as terrorism remains a strong threat to India.
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