CAO Daily Editorial analysis for UPSC IAS 25th-December, 2017

Current Affairs Only Daily Editorial Analysis for Competitive Exams

25th Dec, 2017


Technology alone isn’t the solution {Environment}


To tackle air pollution, we also need to reimagine and rethink our use of urban space.

Urban air pollution

Urban air pollution refers largely to the mixture of gases and small particles in the lowest hundred or so metres, a result of human activity associated with vehicles, road dust, domestic cooking and heating, power plants and other industries nearby, diesel generator sets, and the open burning of waste.


In Delhi, in recent weeks, concentrations of particulates below 2.5 thousandths of a millimetre in size, which settle deep in the lungs, were 22 times the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard.

In November 2016, they were 16 times the standard.

Gases responsible for pollution

  • Polluting gases are mostly colourless and odourless and include carbon monoxide, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, ozone, and volatile organic compounds.
  • Air pollution depends on meteorological factors, but primarily on how much is emitted.
  • In principle, the amount of pollution from each brick kiln, truck or two-wheeler, car, power plant or field can be estimated.

Emissions intensity

  • Technological
  • Non-technological elements.

Policies needed

Using the best available technologies for various sources is absolutely essential, it is just as important to take back urban space for use by people, not their machines.

There are also opportunities to reduce polluting activities in other sectors such as power generation and industrial production.

There are many examples of successful policies in transport, urban planning, power generation and industry that reduce air pollution

  • for industry:clean technologies that reduce industrial smokestack emissions; improved management of urban and agricultural waste, including capture of methane gas emitted from waste sites as an alternative to incineration (for use as biogas);
  • for transport:shifting to clean modes of power generation; prioritizing rapid urban transit, walking and cycling networks in cities as well as rail interurban freight and passenger travel; shifting to cleaner heavy duty diesel vehicles and low-emissions vehicles and fuels, including fuels with reduced sulfur content;
  • for urban planning:improving the energy efficiency of buildings and making cities more compact, and thus energy efficient;
  • for power generation:increased use of low-emissions fuels and renewable combustion-free power sources (like solar, wind or hydropower); co-generation of heat and power; and distributed energy generation (e.g. mini-grids and rooftop solar power generation);
  • for municipal and agricultural waste management:strategies for waste reduction, waste separation, recycling and reuse or waste reprocessing; as well as improved methods of biological waste management such as anaerobic waste digestion to produce biogas, are feasible, low cost alternatives to the open incineration of solid waste. Where incineration is unavoidable, then combustion technologies with strict emission controls are critical.

Guideline values

10 μg/m3 annual mean
25 μg/m3 24-hour mean

20 μg/m3 annual mean
50 μg/m3 24-hour mean

In addition to guideline values, the Air Quality Guidelines provide interim targets for concentrations of PM10 and PM2.5 aimed at promoting a gradual shift from high to lower concentrations.

Flawed, in the name of indecency {Telecommunication}

Why in news?

On December 11, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued an advisory to television channels banning all “advertisements of condoms which. could be indecent/inappropriate for viewing by children” between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Why the advisory was issued?

The advisory was issued because it came to the notice of the Ministry that “some channels” were carrying “advertisements of condoms repeatedly which are alleged to be indecent especially for children.

Why it is flawed?

  • In a famous case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Potter Stewart once said that while it is difficult to define the meaning of hardcore pornography.
  • When different people see the same condom advertisement, many may disagree over whether it is “indecent”.
  • Some may find it funny or informative, while others may consider it obscene or distasteful.
  • The word “inappropriate” used in the Ministry’s advisory is even more vague than the word “indecent”.
  • The Ministry has also made the fatal mistake of bracketing all “children” into the same conceptual category. What is suitable for viewing by a 17-year-old boy may not be appropriate for a three-year-old girl, and both may be considered “children”.

Narrow focus

Television programmes shown even in the early hours of the morning can now be recorded on a digital video recorder and watched at three in the afternoon. Pornography is freely available on the Internet.

Do we really need to shield the teenager, who knows how to illegally download the popular HBO series, “Game of Thrones” (which has nudity and extreme violence), from comparatively tame condom advertisements?


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