1. Acid rain has been shown to have adverse impacts on forests, freshwaters and soils, killing insect and aquatic life-forms as well as causing damage to buildings and having impacts on human health. Discuss the harmful effects of acid rain. (GS Paper-1, Geography) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Introduction: Briefly define acid rain
· Discuss the harmful effects of acid rain
· Conclude with possible solutions
Acid rain refers to any precipitation (rain, fog, mist, snow) that is more acidic than normal. Acid rain is caused by atmospheric pollution from acidic gases such as sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen emitted from burning of fossil fuels. Acid rain is formed when the air that contains acidic gases emitted mostly from power plants industries and automobiles, combines with the rain drops.
Harmful effects of acid rain
Acid precipitation affects both aquatic and terrestrial organisms. It also damages buildings and monuments.
(i) Effects on aquatic life
The pH of the surrounding or medium is very important for metabolic processes of aquatic organisms. The eggs or sperms of fish, frogs and other aquatic organisms are very sensitive to pH change. Acid rain kills their gametes affecting the life cycles and productivity. Death or their inability to increase in numbers affects aquatic food chains in acidic water bodies, causing severe ecosystem imbalances. Acidic lake waters may kill bacteria/microbes/planktons and the acidic lakes become unproductive and life less. Such acidic and lifeless ponds/lakes adversely affect fisheries and livelihood.
(ii) Effect on terrestrial life
Acid rain damage cuticle of plant leaves resulting etiolation of foliage. This in turn reduces photosynthesis. Reduced photosynthesis accompanied by leaf fall reduces plant and crop productivity. Acidic medium promotes leaching of heavy metals such as aluminum, lead and mercury. Such metals when percolate into ground water affect soil microflora/ micro fauna. The soil becomes lifeless. Absorption of these toxic metal ions by plants and microorganisms affect their metabolism.
(iii) Effects on forests
Acid rains damage forests and kill vegetation and causes severe damage to the landscape.
(iv) Effect on buildings and monuments
Many old, historic, ancient buildings and works of art/textile etc. are adversely affected by acid rain. Limestone and marble are destroyed by acid rain. Smoke and soot cover such objects. They slowly dissolve/flake away the surfaces because of acid fumes in the air. Many buildings/monuments such as Taj Mahal in Agra have suffered from acid rain.
(v) Human health effects
Acid rain does not directly affect human health. The acid in the rainwater is too dilute to have direct adverse effects. The particulates responsible for acid rain (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides) do have an adverse effect. Increased amounts of fine particulate matter in the air contribute to heart and lung problems including asthma and bronchitis.
Any procedure that shall reduce, minimize, or halt emission of sulphur and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere shall control acid rain. Use of low sulphur fuel or natural gas or washed coal (chemical washing of pulverized coal) in thermal plants can reduce incidences of acid rain.
2.Biggest strength of Indian constitution is its organic nature. The rigidity of doctrine of basic structure goes against the spirit of this living document. Comment. (GS Paper-2, Polity) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Discuss how Indian constitution is a living document.
· Explain doctrine of Basic Structure
· Point out the issue of confrontation or cooperation or both between doctrine of basic structure and organic nature of Constitution.
· Present argument in favour of or against the statement as per your stand
Organic means having characteristics of living organism, like growing, developing as per environment. Indian constitution has demonstrated living characteristics in two main aspects.
- First is organic structure. It has a unique blend of rigidity and flexibility shown in article 368 it has been able to judiciously expand itself as per the requirement of time. Its expansion form originally 22 parts and 8 schedules to 25 parts (Part IV A, IX A and XIV A being added) and 12 schedules depicts the structural liveliness.
- And second in language. From perspective of language, the constitution has kept itself open to various interpretations. The framers of constitution were wise to let the future generation translate the law as per the contemporary situation.
Thus Indian constitution is living not just in size but also in voice.
Doctrine of Basic Structure:
Supreme Court enacted doctrine of basic structure in keshavnath Bharti case 1973. It creates inviolability of certain sections and ideals of constitution that is anything declared as basic structure can’t be amended by legislature.
Since its inception basic structure had made many constitutional amendments redundant, 99th constitutional amendment being the latest victim. It has limited the ability of legislature to amend the constitution. And being an ill-defined and ever expanding doctrine, it has no check.
Growing constitution since 1973:
72 constitutional amendments have taken place. This shows that major portion of the constitution was amended after the doctrine came into picture. The doctrine hasn’t affected the pace of amendments rather it has created a new mode of check and balance. It has reduced the discretion of the legislature and ensured that the spirit of constitution remains vigilant.
Effects of doctrine:
The doctrine has affected the constitution leaving many constituents of the constitution being viable only on paper and not on ground like the 9th schedule and the 99th constitutional amendment. Greater impact of doctrine is therefore not on the organic nature of constitution but on the separation of power. Being a living doctrine it has impact the way constitution evolves but hasn’t hampered the process of evolution.
3.Examine how human activities can accelerate soil erosion. (GS Paper-3, Environment) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Briefly define soil erosion
· Outline main human activities that accelerate soil erosion
· Examine these human activities in detail with examples
Soil erosion is the displacement of the upper layer of soil; it is one form of soil degradation. This natural process is caused by the dynamic activity of erosive agents, that is, water, ice (glaciers), snow, air (wind), plants, animals, and humans.
Certain human activities accelerate soil erosion. Intensive agriculture, deforestation, roads, anthropogenic climate change and urban sprawl are amongst the most significant human activities in regard to their effect on stimulating erosion.
Deforestation includes cutting and felling of trees, removal of forest litter. Browsing and trampling by livestock, forest fires, also leads to cause deforestation etc. Deforestation leads to erosion. Deforestation further leads to land degradation, nutrient and the disruption of the delicate soil plant relationship.
Agriculture is a major human activity that causes soil erosion. Crops are grown, harvested, land re-ploughed, exposed to wind and rain intermittently. All this prevents replenishment of moisture. Agriculture also causes the worst type of soil erosion on farmland in the form of wash-off or sheet erosion. On the arid and semiarid areas, sand blows and sand shifts act in a similar fashion as sheet erosion does, where water is the chief agent. Consequently, a creeping effect of desertification sets in and the fertility of the land is lost progressively.
The following agricultural practices can lead to accelerated soil erosion:
- Tilling or ploughing increases the chances of erosion because it disturbs the natural soil surface and protective vegetation.
- Continuous cropping: Continuous cropping of the same land and extending of cultivation of marginal and sub-marginal lands encourages soil erosion.
- Cultivation on mountain slopes: Cultivation on mountain slopes without appropriate land treatment measures such as bounding, terracing and trenching cause soil erosion and loss of soil nutrients.
- Monoculture: Monoculture refers to the practice of planting of the same variety of crop in the field. Monoculture practices can lead to soil erosion in three ways.
(i) A monoculture crop is harvested all at one time, which leaves the entire fields bare exposing it to both water and wind.
(ii) Without vegetation natural rainfall is not retained by the soil and flows rapidly over the surface rather than into the ground. It also carries away the top soil which results in soil erosion and degradation.
(iii) In the event any disease or pest invades the field, the entire crop is usually wiped out leaving the bare soil susceptible to water and wind.
- Overgrazing: It means too many animals are allowed to feed on a piece of grassland. Trampling and grazing by cattle destroys the vegetation of the area. In the absence of adequate vegetative cover the land becomes highly susceptible to both wind and water erosion.
Soil erosion also occurs due to economic activities. The extraction of useful natural resources such as metals, minerals and fossil fuels etc., from the land causes serious disturbance to the land leading to soil erosion and drastic changes in the landscape.
Soil erosion may also occur because of various developmental activities such as housing, transport, communication, recreation, etc. Building construction also promotes soil erosion because accelerated soil erosion takes place during construction of houses, roads, rail tracks etc.
The construction of such facilities causes massive disturbance to land, resulting in soil erosion and disruption of natural drainage system.
4.What do you mean by social justice? Discuss the importance of social justice in India.
(GS Paper-4, Ethics) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Explain the term “social justice”
· Discuss the importance of social justice in India
· Give examples to explain your points
Reference :Lexicon’s Ethics
The concept of social justice is a revolutionary concept which provides meaning and significance to life and makes the rule of law dynamic. When Indian society seeks to meet the challenge of socio-economic inequality by its legislation and with the assistance of the rule of law, it seeks to achieve economic justice without any violent conflict. The ideal of a welfare state postulates unceasing pursuit of the doctrine of social justice.
In simple terms, social justice refers to justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. It aims to meet the challenge of socio-economic inequality by rule of law.
Importance of Social Justice in India
Social Justice takes within its sweep the objective of removing all inequalities and affording equal opportunities to all citizens in social affairs as well as economic activities.
Equality: We should shift from equality of outcomes to equality of opportunities.
Peace and Order: If the majority disregards smaller sections in the community, it drives them to rebellion.
Dignity: To ensure life to be meaningful and liveable with human dignity.
Mitigate Sufferings: It is a dynamic device to mitigate the sufferings of the poor, weak Dalits, tribals’ and deprived sections of the society.
Human Resources: It will help in the conservation of human resource by provision of health and education facilities.
Freedom to form political, economic or religious institutions: It will help to eradicate the challenges of caste system, untouchability and other discrimination in the society.
Improved status of women: Ill practices of dowry, female foeticide would decline. It can also address the issues declining sex ratio and limited education opportunities for girls.
Legal Justice: It means that the system of administration of justice must provide a cheap, expeditious and effective instrument for realization of justice by all sections of the people irrespective of their social or economic position or their financial resources
Social justice is a dynamic tool to improve the conditions of the marginalised sections of the society. If implemented in letter and spirit can help ensure human dignity and equal opportunities.
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