Q. While the presence of women in Indian freedom struggle started in 19th century itself, Gandhi’s ideas revolutionised the role and participation of Indian women in the national struggle. Comment
Indian women despite the various social hindrances and struggles played a momentous role in the country’s freedom struggle. The valour of Rani Lakshmi Bai and Begum Hazrat Mahal during the 1857 revolt became tales of inspiration to numerous generations of freedom fighters.
In fact, even before that, in 1817 Bhima Bai Holkar through guerrilla warfare proved to be a challenge to the British colonisers. The Swadeshi movement saw numerous women out on the streets protesting against Curzon’s policies with many joining in with the extremists as well.
Over time as the Indian freedom movement became more structured and coherent it changed the form of women’s participation.
With the coming in of Mahatma Gandhi, both the role and participation of women was truly transformed. This could be noticed on numerous fronts.
Firstly, the Gandhian movement based on the ideas of truth and satyagraha changed the nature of the movement. By taking it away from violence and being inherently masculine, it invoked the feminine by differentiating the sin from sinner and progressing on the path of non-violence.
From individual acts of heroism, widespread participation of women in the movement became more usual.
Women were encouraged to relinquish foreign goods and spin Khadi, the latter being the most essential part of their work.
In setting up the first non- cooperative movement of 1921, Gandhi formed a program for women, whereby, they would contribute towards the movement from their homes in this manner. Over time, women grew out of passive, supportive roles to being active leaders of Gandhian movement.
Women under Gandhian movement were encouraged to embody the virtues of the mythological Sita-Draupadi and their participation was seen as a sacrifice required for the cause of the country. Dandi March in 1930, the start of the civil disobedience movement, by revolting against the salt laws, combined the public and private sphere wherein a cause closely associated with people’s daily lives also helped women feel more associated with the movement. Women like Khurshedben Naoroji, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, Sarojini Naidu were closely associated with the struggle.
Quit India Movement saw women even with the Gandhian struggle enter a move revolutionary role. Women participated in the initial strikes and demonstrations in cities, were among the radical students who organized peasant movements, and, when protest was suppressed, joined the secret underground activities like Usha Mehta running underground radio in Bombay.
While the Gandhian movement increased the role and participation of women, women throughout various parts of the country contributed to India’s independence such as Rani Gaidinliu in Manipur and surrounding Naga areas, Annie Besant being one of the early women leaders or Madam Cama unfurling Indian flag of independence at the Stuttgart conference adding to the diversity and strength of the struggle.
Q. Discuss the relevance of Gandhian DPSPs in today’s context.
A. Gandhian principles in the DPSPs are based on Gandhian ideology. They represent the programme of reconstruction enunciated by Gandhi during the national movement.
They are as follows:
i. Art 40 – to organize village panchayats and enable them to function as units of selfgovernance a. This has been enshrined in the Constitution via the 73rd Amendment Act, and has now become an integral part of the very conception of democratic polity in our country b. Finance Commissions and other reform commissions suggest measures to make panchayats financially and administratively independent
ii. Art 43 – to promote cottage industries on an individual or cooperative level a. This is essential to increase livelihood opportunities at the grassroots, to promote self-reliance and to make people economically independent
iii. Art 43B – to promote formation and autonomy of co-operative societies a. This has been made a part of the Fundamental Rights wide the 97th Constitution Amendment Act, 2011
iv. Art 46 – to promote the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society and protect them social injustice a. This has been one of the biggest agendas of post-independence India b. GoI has come up with several Fundamental Rights, schemes, programmes and acts, to ensure upliftment of the weaker sections of the society c. Even today, when a vast majority of the SCs and STs suffer from educational and economic backwardness and are unable to compete with the rest of the society, it is imperative that the State takes up the matter on a mission mode, keeping the Gandhian principle hugely relevant.
v. Art 47 – prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs
a. This has been the case with Gujarat and other states have tried it infrequently
b. This remains relevant in a country like India wherein a considerable number of people end up in poverty due to indiscriminate consumption of intoxicants. c. Also, this disturbs the social fabric of the country
vi. Art 48 – to prohibit the slaughter of milch and cows and improve their breed
a. This is one of the most emotive issues we face as a society, today
b. This essentially instructs us to protect our animals as we are predominantly an agricultural economy in terms of the number of people dependent on it
c. Also, improving the breed of cattle on modern, scientific lines has been taken up on a priority basis in India
All these go on to show that the Gandhian principles enshrined in the DPSPs are not just as relevant but Probably more relevant today than they were at the time they were constituted.
The state needs to actively take measures to fulfil the ambitions and promises made under the Gandhian ideals of the directive principles.
Q. Cultural diversity between as well as within countries is as essential for humankind as biodiversity is for nature. Do you agree? Discuss.
– What is Culture and Cultural Diversity
– Necessity of Cultural Diversity and Why shall we preserve it
– What can be done to Preserve the Culture
What is Culture:
Culture is regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.
Defining Cultural Diversity:
Culture takes diverse forms across time and space. This diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and plurality of the identities of the groups and societies making up humankind.
Necessity of Cultural Diversity:
Cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature. It aspires to have greater solidarity on the basis of recognition of cultural diversity, of awareness of the unity of humankind, and of the development of intercultural exchanges.
Thus, Cultural diversity acts as a source of:
– Exchange of ideas
Why shall we preserve it:
The common heritage of humanity needs to be recognized and affirmed for the benefit of present and future generations because:
– In our increasingly diverse societies, it is essential to ensure harmonious interaction among people and groups with plural, varied and dynamic cultural identities as well as their willingness to live together.
– Policies for the inclusion and participation of all citizens are guarantees of social cohesion, the vitality of civil society and peace. Thus defined, cultural pluralism gives policy expression to the reality of cultural diversity.
– In dissociable from a democratic framework, cultural pluralism is conducive to cultural exchange and to the flourishing of creative capacities that sustain public life.
– Cultural diversity widens the range of options open to everyone; it is one of the roots of development, understood not simply in terms of economic growth, but also as a means to achieve a more satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence.
– Globalization, facilitated by the rapid development of new information and communication technologies, though representing a challenge for cultural diversity, creates the conditions for renewed dialogue among cultures and civilizations.
UNSECO and The Member States have committed themselves to taking appropriate steps to disseminate widely the “UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity”.
What can be done to Preserve the Culture:
Culture is at the heart of contemporary debates about identity, social cohesion, and the development of a knowledge-based economy, it can be preserved as follows:
1. Raising awareness modalities and patterns of cooperation, that are most conducive to the safeguarding and promotion of cultural diversity.
It also includes promoting through education an awareness of the positive value of cultural diversity and improving to this end both curriculum design and teacher education.
2. Involving the various sections of civil society closely in the framing of public policies aimed at safeguarding and promoting cultural diversity.
3. Recognizing and encouraging the contribution that the private sector can make to enhancing cultural diversity and facilitating, to that end, the establishment of forums for dialogue between the public sector and the private sector.
4. Protecting and extending Rights to culturally diverse as well as minority groups.
5. While ensuring the free flow of ideas by word and image, care should be exercised so that all cultures can express themselves and make themselves known.
6. Harnessing technology to spread awareness.
7. Strengthening capacities for creation and dissemination worldwide.
8. Fostering the exchange of knowledge and best practices using international platforms like UNESCO.
Q. ‘To ensure protection of ecologically sensitive areas and flora and fauna, the government has asked states as well as NHAI to avoid building highways through wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, unless absolutely unavoidable.’ In the light of the above statement, critically discuss the ecological impacts of highways and other linear projects passing through protected area network of our country.
Ecological Impact of Linear Projects
Rail lines, roadways, canals and electricity cable networks occupy pride of place in India’s rapidly growing infrastructure. These seemingly innocuous lines, together called linear intrusions, are cutting up wildlife habitats and affecting wildlife conservation. To ensure protection of ecologically sensitive areas and flora and fauna, the government has asked states as well as NHAI to avoid building highways through wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, unless absolutely unavoidable. To have minimum impact of highways on the protected eco-sensitive area, the implementing agency should consider to spare sanctuaries/national parks at the planning stage and wherever possible take a bypass/detour. The government has issued guidelines to avoid road alignment through national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, even if it required taking a longer route.
Linear Projects are the arteries of our nation but they possess ecological challenges as well, especially when they are passing through forests – Deforestation and habitat destruction- Linear felling of trees for roads and rails leads to widespread deforestation, causing loss of plant species and animal species dependent upon them.
Effects mobility – of animals especially keystone species like Lion, tiger who depend on mobility for their food.
If these keystone species are harmed, it may affect survival of the whole ecosystem.
Loss of biodiversity due to accidents- Hundreds of animals are also killed in road and rail accidents, causing loss of animal species. Various birds have been electrocuted by high tension power lines. The road passing through Kaziranga National Park, for instance, is the reason for deaths of many animals, including rhinos, from road accidents. A similar problem was being faced in Mudumalai, Bandipur and Nagarhole sanctuaries where night traffic has been prohibited to allow clear passage to animals and avoid accidents. Even a small stretch of road passing through a corridor can have a larger impact on animal dispersal, movement and could affect an entire landscape. Vulnerability to PA – Less than five per cent of India comes under the PA network, and these are already fragmented by roads, canals, railways lines and reservoirs. Effective protection cover would barely be two per cent. National parks and sanctuaries are the last refuge of endangered and, in some cases, endemic species.
Increase in pollution – Emission levels are expected to increase with the increase in vehicle numbers. There are changes in water quality, soil profile, increase in wastes, etc. It also contributes to noise, light and air pollution.
Increased man- animal conflict – The loss of habitat makes the animals to migrate to other places, sometimes they enter into villages thereby leading to Human-animal conflict. For example, the frequent destruction of crops by elephants and Nilgai can be attributed to this phenomena.
Poaching becomes easier – Development of linear infrastructure increases vulnerability of wildlife for poaching and other illegal acts (animal trafficking). However, such infrastructures are necessary in India for its growth and development
Mitigation should be focused on achieving explicit conservation goals within clear timeframes, to be integrated in the broader ‘green infrastructure development’ approach. These goals should be informed by the significance of affected biodiversity, priority of conservation goals and the values of natural systems to affected communities. Use of the SMART approach is recommended to evaluate the likely effectiveness of alternative mitigation strategies or measures: ‘SMART’ refers to measures that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Mitigation should aim to address not only direct ‘footprint’ impacts on natural systems, but also ecological effects caused by the development of linear infrastructure which may only be manifest in decades to come, affecting regional populations of wild animals.
Linear constructions should be undertaken only when absolutely necessary. If it is absolutely unavoidable, all necessary clearances required under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Forest Conservation Act 1980 and Environment (Protection) Act 1986 should be obtained before any work is undertaken in such areas. This should be followed up with mitigation strategies to protect the biodiversity there. The management of the existing roads in PAs should be done in order to minimise their detrimental effect on the surrounding ecology. Night traffic (from dusk to dawn) should be banned while allowing passes for communities living within a PA and also regulate traffic volumes in day time, applying speed limits and constructing speed-breakers to reduce animal mortality, ban vehicles from stopping or littering in PAs.
Other measures like having check posts, building underpasses for animals so that their natural paths are not interfered with, should be mooted to safeguard protected areas. Identification of sensitive natural environments in the early planning stage so that alternative routes, changes in width of the road can be examined. Provision of wildlife underpass and hydraulic structure Tiger Corridors, Elephant corridors, etc should be encouraged.
Hence, though the building of rail and road are important for the inclusive development of our country, but it should not be detrimental to our long term ecological sustainability.
SCI & TECH
Q. What is a gene drive? Examine the opportunities and challenges of this advance in genetic technology.
Recently, DNA alteration of a small group of mosquitoes was undertaken so that they no longer carry malaria parasite. A unique process called ‘gene drive’ was put to use.
It is a genetic engineering technology through which a particular trait drives on to the entire population. Naturally, the probability of a genotype being passed is 50%. This possibility is increased using gene drive technology.
Public health and biodiversity and ecosystem conservation are two main areas where gene drive technology has potential applications.
• Vector Control: One potential application of gene drive is to reduce the burden of vector borne diseases like dengue and malaria which cause more than 7,00,000 deaths annually
o For malaria, a gene drive system can be introduced into a mosquito species reducing their capacity to transmit malaria
• Eradicating invasive rodents: Biodiversity can be protected by reducing population of invasive species on islands. Invasive species are the 2nd greatest cause of plant and animal species loss globally.
o Currently, rodenticides are used but they are costly and the process is complicated. Gene drive methods present a potential alternative in this regard. (The Predator Free 2050 Project by New Zealand govt to eliminate invasive mammalian predator species will use gene drives as a part of its efforts)
• Generations to spread through populations: The total time depends on reproduction cycle of organism, no. of gene carrying individuals introduced, efﬁciency of drive etc.
• Gene drives cannot alter asexually reproducing populations such as bacteria and viruses
• Some types of alterations would need to be continually reintroduced. For instance, a driven trait that is somewhat harmful to the organism will eventually break. New drives would be needed in that case.
• There is a worry that removing a species from the food chain could have unintended consequences.
• Genetically modiﬁed crops can be contained but animals carrying gene drives are mobile. One country’s decision to use gene drives could impact the neighbours.
• There could also be nefarious uses of the technology. A mosquito, engineered to inject toxins, could be used as a weapon.
Though it is a welcome step, sincere caution must be taken in this regard. Following safety measures can be put in place :-
• We can begin studying how the alteration might affect the ecosystem by releasing a lot of organisms that have alterations but not the drive, ideally in a contained setting.
• Driven alterations can be reversed with another drive. If something goes wrong, reversal drive can be quickly released
• Population can be immunised against gene drives if we’re concerned about drive affecting a particular set of population.
In this way, adequate optimisation can be done to make the best use of this technology
Q) “The Himalayas are highly prone to landslides.” Discuss the causes and suggest suitable measures of mitigation?
What is a Landslide:
What is a Landslide:
A landslide is defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope. Landslides are a type of “mass wasting,” which denotes any down-slope movement of soil and rock under the direct influence of gravity.
Almost every landslide has multiple causes. Landslides can be initiated in slopes already on the verge of movement by rainfall, snowmelt, changes in water level, stream erosion, changes in ground water, earthquakes, volcanic activity, disturbance by human activities, or any combination of these factors.
Himalayan region is situated at the confluence of the Indian plate in south and the Eurasian plate in North and hence it is highly geodynamic. This instability throughout the year, coupled with anthropogenic factors, makes it prone to landslides which are large scale hazardous movement of rock and debris down the slope of a mountain.
Himalayan landslides can be attributed to the fact that Himalayas lies at the convergence zone of two lithospheric plates, i.e., Indian plate in the south and Eurasian plate in the north. Thus geologically, it is considered very active.
Himalayan regions are prone to frequent earthquakes leading to loosening of soils that further leads to landslides.
Himalayas haven’t yet reached its isostatic equilibrium and hence under constant influence of earthquake which can trigger landslides.
Himalayas are mainly composed of sedimentary rocks which can get disturbed under slightest of stress and slide down.
Himalayas are loftier than other mountain ranges and have greater slope due to which soil once loosened, triggers a full blown land or mud slide.
Himalayas have numerous rivers and streams which can carry large amount of debris with them. Sometimes they loosen up big boulders and parts of mountains and bring them down with themselves.
Himalayas have large amount of snow which can become unstable due to heat from sun and trigger landslides (avalanches).
Construction activities like road and tunnel construction not only loosens the soil, but they also require blasting due to which the mountains become really fragile and prone to landslides.
Global warming has led to quicker melting of snow and more percolation of water within the underlying surface of hill.
Inappropriate agricultural practices like shifting or jhum cultivation, which require clearing of forests for agriculture, makes top soil prone to movement by removing the trees which bind them.
Himalayas being source of many rivers has lead to construction of multipurpose dam projects which has affected the already fragile Himalayas.
Himalayan region is centre of huge diversity when it comes to trees & this diversity has led to discriminate chopping of trees leading to soil erosion which in turn leads to Landslides.
Illegal mining & Industrial activities too have contributed a lot when it comes to reasons of landslides in the region.
A vulnerability mapping to have advance preparedness along with integrated efforts to it through LSZ mapping
Identifying Eco Sensitive Zones and enforcing appropriate legislations.
Limiting the construction activities and using equipment or technology that do not increase the stress.
Building catchment areas to capture extra rainfall water.
Afforestation, controlled grazing and scientific capacity increasing to top soil cover.
Constructing Engineered Structures for the preventing soil erosion and in turn landslides.
Mock drills towards evacuation during landslides in the highly vulnerable areas to minimize loss of life.
Spreading awareness towards the causes,vulnerable areas and training the steps for evacuation at both individual and community level through specific camps and campaigns. Including third party like NGO;s for the same.
Constructing a permanent assessment team comprising scientists & geologists that would look into the matter.
An integrated and dedicated tri pronged approach towards improving advance preparedness, limiting the stress factors and early evacuation through community, state and central participation can be substantial in reducing the effects of landslides in Himalayan region.