Highlights from the 'Indian Nitrogen Assessment', the first ever quantitative assessment of reactive nitrogen in the Indian environment Agricultural soils remain the largest contributor of nitrogen emissions Others: 12% Residential and commercial activities: 6% Chemical fertilisers used in Agriculture: N20 emissions break-up 5 Burning of crop residue in most parts of North India is one of the main sources of nitrogen emissions. AFP Waste water: 12% Source: Indian Nitrogen Assessment Menace of nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollution
Life in plastic As a major producer of plastic waste that ends up in the oceans, India is arguably the best place to host World Environment Day. Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan has said the government means business, and the UN theme, "Beat Plastic Pollution" will not remain an empty slogan. His claim would have inspired greater confidence had India taken its own rules on waste management seriously. Both the Solid Waste Management Rules and the Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2015, which built on previous regulations, mostly remain on paper. State governments have simply not given them the necessary momentum, and the producers of plastic articles that are invariably used just for a few minutes have shown little concern about their negative environmental impact ONot every piece of plastic collected by the system is scientifically processed. It is no surprise, therefore, that the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system is on the UN map of 10 rivers worldwide that collectively carry the bulk of the plastic waste into the oceans. The effects are evident: they threaten marine life and the well-being of people, as microplastics are now found even in drinking water
In their response to the crisis, communities and environmentally minded individuals are ahead of governments and municipal authorities They segregate waste, compost at home, conduct "plastic free" social events and help recover materials that would otherwise just be dumped in the suburbs and wetlands. But, valuable as they are, voluntary efforts cannot achieve what systemic reform can It is the Centre's responsibility to ensure that the Environment (Protection) Act, the overarching law that enables anti-pollution rules to be issued, is implemented in letter and spirit DIdeally, regulation should help stop the manufacture of single-use plastic articles such as carry bags and cutlery, and encourage the use of biodegradable materials. There is a challenge here, though. The provisions of the Plastic Waste Management Rules require manufacturers of compostable bags to get a certificate from the Central Pollution Control Board, but this has not stopped counterfeit products from entering the market Local bodies mandated under rules to ensure segregation, collection and transfer of waste to registered recyclers have spectacularly failed to fulfil their responsibilities. The State Level Monitoring Committees provided for under the rules have not been made accountable The waste management framework is dysfunctional.
MicroPlastics/MicroBeads Issues With Microplastics OMicroplastics measure less than five non-biodegradable Uflow through sewers to seas/oceans and add to milimetres. The microplastics or microbeads found in personal care products are alwavs smaller than one milimetre. Microplastics or Microbeads are plastic pieces or fibre which is very Once they enter water bodies they accumulate as small, generally measuring less than 1mm JUse personal care products like toothpaste, body creams, clothing and industrial use. the huge chunk of "plastic soup" in the environment. increase water pollution have a potential to disrupt the aquatic ecosystem act as carriers for other pollutants the food chain. water treatment filtration system as well. U They carry carcinogenic chemical compounds in Due to their small size they pass through waste OThey have an ability to spread easily Their unregulated production and use aggravates and provide silky texture and colours to the product. Thus adding visual appeal of the cosmetic products. the problem There is an international campaign demanding ban on Microplastic.
Risks associated with exfoliating agents used in personal care products has alarmed green panel What are microbeads? Why is it used? o Microbeads have been used to replace natural exfoliating materials. Microspheres in different colors add visual appeal to cosmetic products because of which their usage is becoming more rampant O Microbeads are plastic pieces or fibre measuring less than 1 mm What are microbeads made o Microbeads used in personal care products are mainly made of olyethylene (PE), but can be also e made of polypropylene (PP) polyethylene terephthalate (PET) polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) What are they mainly used in? o They are widely used in cosmetics as exfoliating agents and in personal care products such as toothpaste, as well as in biomedical and health science research. In layman's language, these microbeads are so small that a person can barely feel them. Their roundness and particle size create a ball-bearingwhere they contribute effect in creams and lotions resulting in a silky texture and spread ability What is the danger from them? Microbeads-largely Microbeads are also non-biodegradablelikely to be transported flow through sewer to wastewater treatment systems and end upplants. Due to their in seas and oceans, proportion passes through to the huge chunk of the filration system plastic soup in the environment and enters aquatic environments
Familiar moorings [Editorial 1] Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore O In the past few months, the government has shifted considerably in its signalling, with Mr. Modi visiting China and Russia for informal summits with Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, respectively The fact that these visits have taken place at a time the U.S. administration has sharpened its aim at China and Russia with sanctions and threats of a trade war suggests Mr. Modi is also attempting to moderate India's strategic posturing on the global stage, and striving for a more balanced approach in what it increasingly sees as an uncertain world India has also maintained its commitment to relations with the U.S. in order to build a "free and open" Indo-Pacific region, maintain the "international rules-based order", and work together to combat terrorism and terror financing as they have done more recently at the UN and the Financial Action Task Force. [7 7 ] Meanwhile, India's membership of both the Quadrilateral (with the U.S., Japan and Australia) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (the Russia-China-led grouping of Central Asian countries, whose summit Mr. Modi will attend this week) is also an indicator of the new balance that New Delhi seeks. It is significant that in Singapore Mr. Modi chose the platform of the Shangri-La Dialogue of defence leaders of the Asia-Pacific region to emphasise Indian "strategic autonomy"
A failure of governance [VVI GS4 Ethics, Conflict of Interest] Let us recount the salient facts in brief. OIn April 2012, ICICI Bank made a loan of 3,250 crore to the Videocon group. Ms. OMr. Gupta's letter to the PM had said that Ms. Kochhar's husband had had a business OThere would thus be a clear conflict of interest[GS4 Ethics] in Ms. Kochhar being party OThe issue at the heart of the controversy is simple enough: did Ms. Kochhar disclose Kochhar was the bank's CEO at the time. partnership with the Videocon group prior to the sanction of the ICICI loan to the sanction of a loan to Videocon. the conflict of interest to the board and recuse herself from all matters concerning Videocon? If she did not do so, it is sufficient ground for the board to ask Ms. Kochhar to step down as CEO. The board of ICICI Bank has ordered a probe into allegations levelled against its CEO, Chanda Kochhar. OThese constitute lapses in governance at a bank that has been characterised as "systemically important" by the regulator.
A whistle-blower. DOn March 28, the Chairman of ICICI Bank's Board, M.K. Sharma, issued a statement expressing the board's full confidence in Ms. Kochhar. OIn April, media reports said that Mr. Sharma had carried out an internal inquiry in 2016 itself and had found no evidence of wrongdoing on Ms. Kochhar's part. End of story, or so the ICICI Bank board would have liked. However, the controversy would not die down. Investors and media analysts have been relentlessly pressing the board for a better response. Following charges made by a whistle- blower, the board has now authorised the chairman of the Audit Committee to select an appropriate person to head an independent probe. Sharp questions Three questions arise. OFirst, after having stood steadfastly by its CEO for over two months, why has the board opted for a probe now? OSecond, is a probe by an outsider required at all? Third, should Ms. Kochhar continue in office during the period of the inquiry?
It is not necessary to establish a quid pro quo in the relationship for the board to decide whether Ms. Kochhar should step down. That is a separate matter to be pursued by the law enforcement authorities. Non-disclosure of conflict of interest and non-recusal are grave enough lapses. No deep probe, no forensic analysis, no great legal expertise is required to answer the elementary question posed above. The board of directors is perfectly competent to answer it by having the relevant documents placed before it. OThat is what the board should have done in March when the controversy erupted OThe drama that has unfolded since is uncalled for and could have been avoided if only the board had done the right thing earlier Some of the other arguments made in defence of the CEO amount to a red herring drawn by interested parties For instance, Mr. Sharma has defended Ms. Kochhar on the ground that ICICI Bank had assumed a share of only 10% of the total loan given by a consortium of banks and the loan itself had been made in accordance with the bank's norms o This does not wash. It is not that a conflict of interest arises only when a loan is made in violation of norms; the conflict does not go away even when the loan decision is in conformity with norms. o The conflict of interest does not end with the sanction of a loan. o It extends to post-loan monitoring and the readiness of the lender to exit a relationship where problems are brewing. o It applies also to recognition of a loan as a non-performing asset and steps taken to effect recovery. O It was incumbent on Ms. Kochhar to have distanced herself from all matters related to Videocon.
Now that the board has decided to have a comprehensive probe, one that could stretch over several weeks or months, Ms. Kochhar's status during the period is an important issue. The board has denied having asked Ms. Kochhar to go on leave. It has said that her current leave had been planned in the normal course. Does this mean that she will continue to helm the company on her return from leave? O If yes, it is a highly unsatisfactory state of affairs. O Just think of the plight of those reporting to Ms. Kochhar and the morale in the organisation in general when its CEO is the subject of an extended probe O The correct and proper course would be to ask Ms. Kochhar to step down as CEO until the probe is completed.
A tale of two countries [GS1 Post Independence India] Carved out of the same political fabric in 1947, India and Pakistan were expected to be identical twins. .Soon after Pakistan's creation, power gravitated to the office of the Governor-General or President outside the control of Parliament. This trajectory reached its zenith with the assumption of power in 1958 by Army Chief Ayub Khan. Since then, the military has called the shots in Pakistani politics. India launched itself on a very different route. The Constitution was framed in record time, powers of the different arms of government were clearly demarcated, and above all the armed forces were made subject to civilian authority. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made it very clear in the context of the Menon- Thimayya differences in 1959 that, regardless of the merit of the case, "civil authority is and must remain supreme". This doctrine of civilian supremacy is one of Nehru's greatest gifts to the nation.
What is disturbing is how much India has begun to emulate Pakistan. OAs the Indian army has become increasingly engaged in domestic order maintenance, its footprint in domestic politics has amplified. political. DAll this is bound to whet the officer corps' political appetite. ruling party has pursued majoritarian policies and legitimised rhetoric OServing generals have taken to making statements that border on the ORetired officers have entered the political arena in droves. The Indian state's commitment to the secular ideal has eroded as the bordering on hate speech. OThe vision of a "Hindu rashtra" is gaining increasing acceptability. Unless this exclusivist trend is reversed, India may descend down the same road that Pakistan has done, to its great detriment.
B.Tech NIT Allahabad. Scored 136 & 120 consecutively in UPSC Prelims. YouTube Channel "Crackers' IAS Academy". Telegram - CrackersIASAcademy