1.Groundwater depletion is a serious threat to the environment. What are the causes of groundwater depletion? Discuss the risk associated with groundwater depletion. (GS Paper-1, Geography) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Discuss the causes of groundwater depletion
· Explain the effects of groundwater depletion
Groundwater depletion has been caused by human actions. During the past two decades, the water level in several parts of India has been falling rapidly due to an increase in extraction. Groundwater crisis is not the result of natural factors.
Causes of groundwater depletion
- The number of wells drilled for irrigation of both food and cash crops have rapidly and indiscriminately increased. Groundwater depletion is a pressing challenge for India. Groundwater played an important role in sustaining India’s green revolution. The high-yielding varieties (HYV) crops, which have increased agricultural productivity, depend on the timely application of water. This led to a spurt in groundwater structures with enterprising farmers making technological and institutional innovations not only to extract groundwater, but also to transport it to the fields of other farmers – giving rise to flourishing groundwater markets.
- India’s rapidly rising population and changing lifestyles has also increased the domestic need for water, which is one of the major reasons of ground water depletion.
- The water requirement for the industry also shows an overall increase. Intense competition among users as an agriculture, industry, and domestic sectors is steadily lowering the groundwater table.
- Unlike surface storage, the groundwater is slow in accumulation. Groundwater has two components- a static part, and the other is dynamic, which comprises annual additions due to recharge. The quantum of yearly use needs to be limited. During deficit years, however, a part of static component is drawn for use expecting recuperation during the next surplus year. The use of such water, which is not being recharged under the current climatic regime, is termed groundwater mining. Ideally, the age of groundwater used should be as young as possible. Greater the age means longer the period for which mining has been carried out.
Risks associated with groundwater depletion
- Falling water tables in several states now threaten agricultural sustainability. This has been encouraged by policies for cheap electricity and the absence of a property rights structure for water withdrawals.
- During rainy season, availability of water from precipitation is far in excess of natural and man-made holding capacity which results in floods. During the non-rainy period, high evaporation rates coupled with high water demands cause drought conditions requiring import of water. Flood and drought thus constitute the extreme manifestations of hydrologic cycle. The situation is exacerbated due to depleting forest cover in the country.
- A lack of groundwater limits biodiversity and dangerous sinkholes result from depleted aquifers.
- The supply of groundwater is not unlimited, and it is not always available in good quality. In many cases, the abstraction of excessive quantities of groundwater has resulted in the drying up of wells, salt-water intrusion and drying up of rivers that receive their flows in dry seasons from groundwater.
- As large aquifers are depleted, food supply and people will suffer.
2. What are the merits and demerits of Indian secularism? How is Indian secularism different from the notion of secularism in the west? (GS Paper-2, Polity) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Explain Indian secularism and its merit and demerit
· Discuss Western idea of secularism
· Differentiate between Indian and western secularism with examples
Religion has always been an integral part of Indian society. Taking cue from the tradition Indian secularism allow state to interact with religions without bias towards anyone. For example, Article 27 mandates that no citizen would be compelled by the state to pay any taxes for promotion or maintenance of particular religion or religious institutions. This is referred as secularism of inclusion where State and religion work in harmony.
Inclusive secularism – merits
- It helps state – citizen interaction to take place at deeper level
- Better social realities can be captured by the administration.
- Gives venue for religious equality with assistance of state. Especially vital for India, a country that has had brutal religious conflict in its past
- It leads to leads of religion based politics, which allow use of religion a tool to influence voters. Also gives rise to communal politics.
- Historically religion has been used as a tool for groping power. Its electoral aspects were exploited by British in Acts of 1909, 1919 and continued even in 1935. Success of Muslim League in 1937 election further strengthened the concept.
Western idea of secularism:
- In west secularism means state separate from the religion. It’s secularism of exclusion where functions of state are devoid of service of any religion and, in the same manner, religion will not interfere in the affairs of the state. Like in France, the census doesn’t record religion of the citizen.
- Similarly, the state cannot aid any religious institution. It cannot give financial support to educational institutions run by religious communities. Nor can it hinder the activities of religious communities, as long as they are within the broad limits set by the law of the land. For example, if a religious institution forbids a woman from becoming a priest, then the state can do little about it.
- Indian secularism is fundamentally different from Western secularism. Indian secularism does not focus only on church-state separation and the idea of inter-religious equality is crucial to the Indian conception.
- The advent of western modernity brought to the fore hitherto neglected and marginalised notions of equality in Indian thought. It sharpened these ideas and helped us to focus on equality within the community. It also ushered ideas of inter-community equality to replace the notion of hierarchy. Thus Indian secularism took on a distinct form as a result of an interaction between what already existed in a society that had religious diversity and the ideas that came from the west. It resulted in equal focus on intra-religious and interreligious domination. Indian secularism equally opposed the oppression of dalits and women within Hinduism, the discrimination against women within Indian Islam or Christianity, and the possible threats that a majority community might pose to the rights of the minority religious communities. This is its first important difference from mainstream western secularism.
- Connected to it is the second difference. Indian secularism deals not only with religious freedom of individuals but also with religious freedom of minority communities. Within it, an individual has the right to profess the religion of his or her choice. Likewise, religious minorities also have a right to exist and to maintain their own culture and educational institutions.
- Since a secular state must be concerned equally with intra-religious domination, Indian secularism has made room for and is compatible with the idea of state-supported religious reform. Thus, the Indian constitution bans untouchability. The Indian state has enacted several laws abolishing child marriage and lifting the taboo on inter-caste marriage sanctioned by Hinduism.
3. Discuss the various actors responsible for increasing water demand in India.
(GS Paper-3, Environment) (250 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Briefly define soil erosion
· Outline main factors responsible for increasing water demand
· Explain with examples
· Briefly conclude with suggestion
Water is one of the important renewable natural resource, no one can survive without it either humans or animals. India is rich in terms of different natural resources, water is one of them. Water comes from different sources such as precipitation, surface water and ground water, which play an important role in India’s supply of water. India receives 70% of surface water in the form of rain (monsoon) during three to four months.
Although India has sizeable water resources, the country faces huge challenges in the water sector as the distribution of water varies widely by season and region. Water Resources are the prime input to the growth and prosperity of the nation. It has been found that the demand for water is increasing substantially due to increasing population, growing urbanization, and rapid industrialization combined with the need for raising agricultural production.
Following factors for responsible for increasing water demand are as follows:
- Expansion of irrigation
- Increasing demand by industry
- Rising demand due to growing population
- Increasing water use due to changing life style
(a) Expansion of irrigation
India is an agricultural country hence plenty of water is needed for irrigation. There has been a rapid increase in the irrigated area in India since independence. Thus the demand for irrigation in India has been increasing continuously. The reasons for the increasing demand of irrigation are:
- Regional and seasonal variation in the distribution of rainfall.
- Uncertainty of rainy season.
- Growing demand of water for commercial crops.
- Changing cropping pattern.
More efficient and environmentally sound irrigation technologies can greatly reduce water demands and waste on fields by delivering water more precisely to crops. For example, low pressure sprinklers (allows 80% of water to reach crops) and micro-irrigation (delivers small amounts of water precisely to crops). Israel now treats and reuses 30% of its municipal sewage water for crop production and plans to increase their percentage to 80% by 2025.
However, many of the world’s poor farmers cannot afford most of the modern technological methods for increasing irrigation and irrigation efficiency. Instead, they use low cost traditional technologies which use up huge amount of water.
(b) Industrial use of water
Most industries require water at various stages of production of goods and products.
Water is used in industries in both consumptive and non-consumptive ways. Be it agro based industries (cotton, textile, jute, sugar and paper) or mineral based industries (iron, steel, chemical and cement). Water is needed in large amounts during the production process or as heat exchanger for cooling various machine parts which get heated up during the production process.
In power plants water is used as a power source as well as a cooling agent. The ore and oil refining industries use water in various chemical processes.
(c) Rising demand for growing population
Population of India has been increasing continuously and it has increased three times since independence. Due to this increase in population, the demand for water has increased. We need water for drinking, for flushing or draining sewage or human waste, domestic use, irrigation, industries.
- Rising demand for water due to growing population is a single most important factor leading to water scarcity in our country and elsewhere.
- It is becoming impossible for the state to supply clean drinking water to its people.
- Most other human activities like washing, cleaning, cooking, flushing of waste etc. require water.
(d) Changing life style
- Industrial development led to economic development. Purchasing capacity of individuals has increased. Thus the life style of people changed and the standard of living has gone up.
- Large number of attractive appliances, gadgets and fittings for kitchen and bathroom are available in the market and people are generally tempted to use them, for example taps and showers are designed in such a way that large amounts of water come out when they are turned on. Washing machines and dishwashers use large amounts of water but are convenient and suit the present day life style.
- Lot of water is used for recreational purposes like ‘water parks’ are becoming extremely favourite place for people to enjoy holidays. Most of the sports or games here require huge quantity of water. Although much of the water used in various water games are actually recycled and reused.
- Water in the reservoirs is used for recreational purposes –boating, swimming and angling etc. Golf is becoming a very favourite sport and many golf courses are coming up at various places. Golf courses use excessive amount of water for its maintenance. Private and public gardens too require water for their maintenance.
The supply of water is inadequate compared to its growing demand in our country. The per capita availability of water is also continuously decreasing. Therefore Sustainable development and efficient management of water is an increasingly complex challenge to India.
4. Explain the four Cardinal virtues according to Plato. (GS Paper-4, Ethics) (150 words)
Structure of the Answer
· Explain the meaning of cardinal values
· Point out four cardinal values of Plato
· Elaborate these values by highlighting their importance
Reference: Lexicon’s Ethics
The four virtues which Plato described in book the Republic were later called the cardinal virtues. The word ‘cardinal’ is a derivative of the Latin word ‘cardo’, meaning a hinge, and the cardinal virtues are the virtues by which the moral life is supported as a door is supported by its hinges.
Plato describes the four cardinal virtues in the Republic:
- Wisdom (calculative) – see the whole
- Courage (spirited) – preserve the whole
- Moderation (appetitive) – serve the whole
- Justice (founding/preserving virtue) – “mind your own business” i.e. “tend to your soul”/”know yourself”
Plato defines how an individual can attain these virtues:
Wisdom comes from exercising reason; courage from exercising emotions or spirit; moderation (sometimes “temperance”) from allowing reason to overrule desires; and from these, justice ensues a state in which all elements of the mind are in concord with one another.
Justice is described by Plato to be the founding and preserving virtue because only once someone understands justice, can he or she gain the other three virtues, and once someone possesses all four virtues, it is justice that keeps it all together.
Courage is the virtue that will be found in Kings and Queens. Wisdom will be found in the Philosopher Kings and Queens and the guardians. Moderation and justice will be found in all of the above and the artisans.
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