25 April, 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu
- Groundwater depletion may reduce winter cropping intensity by 20% in India Page 10 - (Geography and Environment)
- Chances of infection after vaccination Page 11 - (Science and Technology)
- Reforms in the National Pension System page 13 - (Economy)
- IISc teams develop oxygen concentrators, ventilators Page 10 - (Science and Technology)
- Justice N.V. Ramana is CJI Page 06 - (Polity and Governance)
UPSC Current Affairs: Groundwater depletion may reduce winter cropping intensity by 20% in India | Page 10
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper I & III – Natural resources, Economy
Sub Theme: water resources and agriculture| UPSC
Overexploitation of groundwater and intensive irrigation in major canal commands has posed serious problems for groundwater managers in India. Depletion of water tables, saltwater encroachment, drying of aquifers, groundwater pollution, water logging and salinity, etc. are major consequences of overexploitation and intensive irrigation. It has been reported that in many parts of the country the water table is declining at the rate of 1-2 m/year. At the same time in some canal commands, the water table rise is as high as 1 m/year. Deterioration in groundwater quality by various causes is another serious issue. Increased arsenic content in shallow aquifers of West Bengal reported recently has created panic among the groundwater users. Summed together, all these issues are expected to reduce the fresh water availability for irrigation, domestic and industrial uses. If this trend continues unchecked, India is going to face a major water crisis in the near future. Realizing this, the Government of India has initiated several protective and legislative measures to overcome the groundwater management-related problems but, due to the lack of awareness and political and administrative will, none of the measures has made any significant impact. This paper highlights the critical issues and examines the various schemes related to groundwater development and management.
Why is it that we neither understand nor prioritise groundwater in our policies?
This is largely because of two reasons: Groundwater is invisible—it is literally not visible to the eye because it is well below the ground. What is out of sight, is usually out of mind! Groundwater is also a highly complex subject that is governed by many ‘conditionalities’. It is this ignorance, by both users and people in governance, that has contributed to the situation we find ourselves in today.
Moreover, groundwater education still focuses largely on ‘exploring’ new sources of groundwater that will lead to the ‘development’ of groundwater resources. The subject of groundwater in aquifers is often considered quite complex as compared to providing groundwater supplies from wells, even if these wells continue to become deeper and deeper as groundwater levels decline. In the gap between supply on one side, and demand on the other, we are losing out on components of groundwater management from many systems of education delivery.
We need a demystified but correct understanding of aquifers (underground rocks that are sources of groundwater), their properties and how they are used, so that we can make the critical mass of users and decision makers understand them and act on them appropriately.
If you were to state, simply, the primary issues when it comes to groundwater in India, what would they be?
There are basically three issues. The first is depletion. Our wells and springs are drying up, and as a consequence of this depletion, our groundwater quality is also deteriorating.
When there is less water in an aquifer, the concentration of ions increases. When aquifers get recharged sufficiently, contaminants are diluted. Whether it is groundwater use in agriculture or in domestic supply, serious issues of contamination like fluoride and arsenic, which are no longer isolated cases and are found across large regions of the country, must be addressed. This contamination is the second problem, and it is very often related to the first problem of depletion.
The third, which is not readily perceived as a problem, is that of the increasing disconnect between groundwater and ecosystems, particularly due to the environmental impact of depletion and contamination. As a consequence of large-scale groundwater usage for human needs, the value of the service that aquifers provided to the environment—say to river flows—has significantly reduced.
How then, do we solve the problem in its entirety, at scale?
Broad brush approaches implemented at scale will not work. Let us consider an example: you have a new idea to solve a groundwater problem, and it has five critical elements. The district you are working in has 20 talukas. You cannot implement all five components of your idea in those 20 talukas. So, what will you do? You will likely take the easiest option and leave the rest. This doesn’t work out since the complex natures of aquifers and human behaviours cannot be solved with a broad brush of a simple, big ticket solution. You need an appropriate (scientifically validated) and acceptable (communities must be able to agree and co-operate in implementation) solution to make impact.
Alternatively, you might choose to implement all five ideas in one village of each taluka, where they are possible to implement. But then scaling-out such solutions becomes challenging.
There are thus no big-ticket solutions in groundwater. All the same, it is necessary to work at the micro level even though it is challenging to engage with policy makers who would rather have groundwater solutions that run across large swathes of the landscape; many of them would prefer solutions at scale that create a buzz in the short-term rather than an impact in the longer-term.
Given these inherent challenges, what is it that India needs to do?
If we are to address our water problems, there are a few things that the country needs:
Aggregate micro-level solutions to construct a larger picture that can inform policy
Groundwater in India is rather disaggregated in terms of its occurrence, usage, and problems. Hence, we need disaggregated approaches leading to customised solutions that are appropriate to locations and situations of groundwater problems. Further, it is important to pull together these smaller solution pieces to construct a larger picture. This is the reason why we need practitioners who have worked on the ground and attempted to solve the problems, to be actively involved in policy framing; else, things will not change and the divide between policies, and practices on groundwater management will only continue to widen further.
Stronger public institutions dedicated to groundwater management
Additionally, we have an institutional vacuum when it comes to dealing with groundwater. Let us consider an example from Maharashtra. More than 80 percent of Maharashtra’s rural drinking water supply comes from groundwater wells. Protecting and sustaining this source is a function of how groundwater is used in agriculture so that drinking water supply in the villages of the state remains secure.
UPSC Current Affairs: Chances of infection after vaccination | Page 11
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III – Science and technology
Sub Theme: vaccination programme I Public Health | UPSC
UPSC Current Affairs: Reforms in the National Pension system | Page 13
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims economy I Mains – GS Paper III – Indian economy
Sub Theme: social security I NPS | UPSC
About National Pension System
What is it? Pension cum investment scheme to provide old age security to Citizens of India. Regulated by Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA)
Who can Join? Any individual citizen of India (both resident and Non-resident) in the age group of 18-65 years
- Government Sector
- Central Government:
The Central Government had introduced the National Pension System (NPS) with effect from January 1, 2004 (except for armed forces). All the employees of Central Autonomous Bodies (CABs) who have joined on or after the above-mentioned date are also mandatorily covered. Central Government/CABs employee contributes towards pension from monthly salary along with matching contribution from the employer.
- State Government: Even State Governments have adopted this architecture.
- Private Sector (Non-Government Sector):
- All Citizens of India: Any individual not being covered by any of the above sectors has been allowed to join NPS 2009 onwards.
Pension Schemes for the Unorganised Sector
Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan
What is it? : Voluntary and contributory pension scheme--> 50:50 contribution by subscriber and central Government.
Eligibility: Unorganised Workers--> Less than Rs 15,000 monthly salary and in age group 18-40 years.
Minimum Assured Pension: Rs 3000/- per month after attaining the age of 60 years.
Family Pension: Death of Subscriber --> 50% of the pension to the spouse
Contribution by Subscriber: Depends upon age of entry.
Ministry: Labour and Employment
Atal Pension Yojana
What is it?: Guaranteed pension of Rs.1000 to Rs.5000 (depending upon contribution) receivable at the age of 60 years.
Eligibility: Primarily focussed on Unorganised workers ( But any Indian Citizen in the age-group 18 to 40 years can join through their savings bank account or post office savings bank account)
Government Contribution: 50% of total prescribed contribution up to Rs 1000 per annum. 2 Conditions:
- Available only for a period of 5 years.
- Subscribers should not be Income tax payers or covered under any existing schemes.
Ministry: Ministry of Finance
UPSC Current Affairs: IISc teams develop oxygen concentrators, ventilators. I Page 10
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III – Science and technology
Sub Theme: scientific institutions| UPSC
It’s only a little bigger than a computer monitor, yet as cases surge and with oxygen cylinders in short supply across several states, the concentrator is among the most sought after devices for oxygen therapy, especially among patients in home isolation and for hospitals running out of oxygen.
An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that concentrates oxygen from ambient air. Atmospheric air has about 78 per cent nitrogen and 21 per cent oxygen, with other gases making up the remaining 1 per cent. The oxygen concentrator takes in this air, filters it through a sieve, releases the nitrogen back into the air, and works on the remaining oxygen.
This oxygen, compressed and dispensed through a cannula, is 90-95 per cent pure. A pressure valve in concentrators helps regulate supply, ranging from 1-10 litres per minute.
According to a 2015 report by the WHO, concentrators are designed for continuous operation and can produce oxygen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for up to 5 years or more.
At 90-95 per cent purity, is the oxygen from concentrators pure enough?
It is, however, not advisable for ICU patients.
Concentrators can be attached with multiple tubes to serve two patients at the same time, but experts don’t recommend it since it carries risk of cross-infection.
How are concentrators different from oxygen cylinders and LMO?
Oxygen concentrators are the easiest alternatives to cylinders but can only supply 5-10 litres of oxygen per minute (critical patients may need 40-50 litres per minute) and are best suited for moderately ill patients.
Concentrators are portable and unlike LMO that needs to be stored and transported in cryogenic tankers, need no special temperature. And unlike cylinders that require refilling, concentrators only need a power source to draw in ambient air.
How do they compare with cylinders in terms of cost and maintenance?
While at Rs 40,000-90,000 concentrators are more expensive than cylinders (Rs 8,000-20,000), it’s largely a one-time investment. Apart from electricity and routine maintenance, there’s little by way of operational cost, unlike cylinders that involve refilling costs and transportation.
What is a ventilator?
A ventilator is invasive, as a tube is introduced into the lungs through the patient's mouth and throat. The other end of the tube is attached to a machine that pushes air in and out of the lungs. The process of the exchange of gases between lungs and ambient air is known as ventilation in respiratory physiology.
The ventilator mimics respiration and aids in breathing. In most cases, the machine completely takes over breathing so that the patient can rest and allow their body to heal.
The machine has various settings that can be adjusted to control lung pressures, oxygen concentration, and duration and frequency of breaths to cater to individual patients' needs.
Oxygenation, on the other hand, is an artificial process of providing oxygen when a patient's organs or tissues are in a state of hypoxia (that is, when there is a deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching these areas). Oxygen supply alters the concentration of oxygen in the air we breathe. This means that instead of the normal 21%, a higher percentage of oxygen can be provided to the patient. The patient is still responsible for his/her own breathing. Unlike the ventilator, oxygen therapy will not aid in respiration.
Oxygenation also refers to the treatment of a patient by combining medication and other substances with oxygen. The treatment is a non-invasive measure to aid breathing. There are no tubes that are introduced into the body, as oxygen is given via a face mask or nasal cannula.
UPSC Current Affairs: Justice N V Ramana is new CJI | Page 06
UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Judiciary and Governance
Sub Theme: CJI I Supreme Court | UPSC
Appointment of Chief Justice of India
Context: N V Ramana has been appointed as 48th CJI of India by the President of India.
All about CJI
Appointment: CJI is appointment by the President of India. Appointment to the office of the Chief Justice of India should be of the senior most Judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office. Whenever there is any doubt about the fitness of the senior most Judge to hold the office of the Chief Justice of India, consultation with other Judges as envisaged in Article 124 (2) of the Constitution would be made for appointment of the next Chief Justice of India.
After receipt of the recommendation of the Chief Justice of India, the Union Minister of Law and Justice will put up the recommendation to the Prime Minister who will advise the President in the matter of appointment.
- He should be the citizen of India.
- He should have been a judge of a high court (or high courts in succession) for five year or,
He should have been an advocate of a high court (or high courts in succession) for ten years or,
He should be a distinguished jurist in the opinion of the president.
Oath: Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall, before he enters upon his office, make and subscribe before the President, or some person appointed in that behalf by him, an oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule.
Tenure: tenure of CJI is not fixed under the constitution. However, maximum age to hold the office is 65.
Salary and allowances: under article 125, salary of the CJI is determined by the Parliament. This salary is specified in the second schedule of the constitution. Salaries and allowance of the CJI cannot be varied to their disadvantage after their appointment (except during Financial emergency).
Other provisions: a CJI cannot plead or practice law in any court or before any authority across India.
Removal: CJI like any other judge of Supreme court will be removed by the order of the President. This order should be passed after an address by both House of the Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) supported by a majority of the total membership of the house and by a majority of not less than two-third of the members of the house present and voting.
The Judges enquiry act (1968) regulates the procedure relating to the removal of a judge of the supreme court including CJI by the process of impeachment.