CAO Daily Editorial analysis for UPSC IAS 16th-January, 2018

Current Affairs Only Daily Editorial Analysis for Competitive Exams


16th Jan, 2018

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A new weapon in the carbon fight {Climate change}

(The Hindu)


Context

The ability of soils to sequester carbon as a win-win strategy must be recognised by policymakers
Tradition way of tackling climate change
 Policy is usually focussed on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the electricity sector, transport and industry.

What is the new weapon?

Soils can serve as a sink for carbon dioxide since atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have crossed 410 parts per million and oceans are already turning acidic.
 Besides, increasing soil carbon offers a range of co-benefits and this would buy us time before other technologies can help us transition to a zero-carbon lifestyle.

Highlights

Carbon pools on earth are found in the earth’s crust, oceans, atmosphere and land-based ecosystems. Soils contain roughly 2,344 Gt (1 gigatonne = 1 billion tonnes) of organic carbon, making this the largest terrestrial pool.
 Soil organic carbon (SOC) comes from plants, animals, microbes, leaves and wood, mostly found in the first metre or so.

Merits

• Increasing SOC through various methods can improve soil health, agricultural yield, food security, water quality, and reduce the need for chemicals.
• Changing agricultural practices to make them more sustainable would not just address carbon mitigation but also improve other planetary boundaries in peril
such as fresh water, biodiversity, land use and nitrogen use.

SOC (Soil Organic carbon) approach

• It includes reducing soil erosion, no-till-farming, use of cover crops, nutrient management, applying manure and sludge, water harvesting and conservation, and agroforestry practices.
• In contrast, it has been estimated that SOC in India has reduced from 30% to 60% in cultivated soils compared with soils that are not disturbed.

Soil and agriculture

  • After the changes undertaken as part of the Green Revolution, crop yields increased for several decades, but there has also been a dramatic increase in the use of chemicals — pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.
  •  Still, agricultural yields have begun to drop in many places for a variety of reasons primarily related to degraded soils.
  • India has a large number of successful sustainable agricultural practices that are consistent with ecological principles.

Enabling a form of super surveillance {Public Policy}

(The Hindu)


Context

The Aadhaar project falls short in limiting biometrics collection to voluntary choice and in guaranteeing data protection, this article talks about origin and growth of Aadhar card in India.

Why in news?

 On Wednesday, January 17, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court is scheduled to commence hearings on a slew of petitions.

Few question to be discussed

• What really is Aadhaar all about?
• Is the machinery that supports it constitutionally sustainable?
• How does the creation of a central identity database affect the traditional relationship between the state and its citizens?
• What, in a democracy, ought to be the role of government?

Aadhar

• The Aadhaar project (although the christening of it came later) was put in motion through an executive notification issued in January 2009, which established the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
• The UIDAI’s task was to conceive a scheme that purported to identify residents using biometric information — including, but not limited to iris scans and fingerprints — and to provide to people a “unique identity number”.
• This, the state told us, will enable it to ensure a proper distribution of benefits and subsidies, by plugging age-old leakages in delivering welfare services.
• A mountain of data was collected without any safeguards in place.
The project lacked any legislative sanction

Matter of concern

  • Whether the state can at all compel a person to part with his or her biometric information without securing the person’s informed consent.
  • The surveillance apparatus that the Aadhaar Act creates.
  • The third raises questions over the level of exclusion caused by the use of Aadhaar, for example, concerns over the extent to which the programme meets its purported objectives.
The degree of protection offered to the data that the UIDAI collects, stores and operates.

Imperilling access to welfare

The Aadhaar programme possesses the capacity to exclude individuals from welfare schemes, as opposed to aiding a more beneficial delivery of benefits.

How?

Given that Aadhaar is being seeded with public distribution schemes, the likelihood of people being denied basic welfare services, therefore, increases in manifold ways. The elderly and people involved in manual labour are but two groups of people whose fingerprints are difficult to record accurately, imperilling, thereby, their access to state services.
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