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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 03 April 2024

  1. Will India Experience more Heat Wave Days this Summer?
  2. Time to Root out Corruption


Context:

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) declared higher-than-average heat wave conditions for various regions of India on Monday. These conditions are affecting the southern, central, eastern, and northwestern parts of the country. This announcement coincides with India’s ongoing struggle to meet its electricity demand.

Relevance:

  • GS-1- Important Geophysical Phenomena
  • GS-3- Climate Change

Mains Question:

What defines a heat wave and how does the IMD forecast heat wave days across different regions of India? Discuss the factors behind the rise in heatwave occurrences in India. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

More on the Electricity Demand:

  • According to a Reuters analysis, India experienced the sharpest decline in hydroelectric power generation in at least 38 years.
  • Consequently, hydroelectric output is expected to remain low in the upcoming months, leading to increased reliance on coal.
  • This shift comes at a time when India has committed, under its Nationally Determined Contributions as part of the Paris Agreement, to reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 45% by 2030 compared to the 2005 level.

What’s the forecast according to the IMD?

  • The IMD’s forecast indicates that most of India will encounter above-average maximum and minimum temperatures. While the El Niño event, known for causing reduced rainfall and heightened temperatures in India, has weakened since the start of the year, moderate El Niño conditions persist in the equatorial Pacific, resulting in increased sea surface temperatures.
  • This alteration in heat distribution affects air currents above the ocean. Given that the Pacific Ocean covers nearly a third of the Earth’s surface, fluctuations in its temperature and wind patterns can disrupt global weather systems.
  • January 2024 was recorded as the warmest in 175 years, as noted by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with an overall elevation in the average global land and ocean surface temperatures.
  • However, the El Niño event is expected to diminish in the upcoming season. Some models even suggest the potential emergence of La Niña conditions during the monsoon period, which could amplify rainfall across South Asia.

What defines a heat wave?

  • A heat wave is characterized by a period of exceptionally high temperatures. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) identifies a heat wave when the maximum temperature at a weather station reaches a minimum of 40 degrees Celsius in plains areas and at least 30 degrees Celsius in hilly regions, with a deviation of approximately 4.5-6.4 degrees Celsius from the normal maximum temperature.
  • Additionally, the IMD may declare a heat wave if the actual maximum temperature surpasses 45 degrees Celsius, and a ‘severe heat wave’ if it exceeds 47 degrees Celsius.
  • Beyond these numerical thresholds, a heat wave can be described qualitatively when the air temperature becomes dangerously high for human health. Heat waves in India typically occur between March and June, with the peak often observed in May.

What’s behind the rise in heat wave occurrences?

  • According to a study published in the journal PLOS Climate in April 2023, heat waves worldwide are becoming more frequent, severe, and deadly due to the effects of climate change.
  • Utilizing data from April 2022, the study highlighted that abnormal temperatures resulting from climate change could significantly impact over 90% of India.
  • This escalation in both the frequency and intensity of heat wave days can impose substantial costs on various aspects such as livelihoods, food production, and the spread of diseases, as emphasized by the study.
  • The World Health Organization warns that higher temperatures can lead to heat stress and even fatalities among humans.
  • Additionally, the ongoing El Niño weather phenomenon contributes to elevated temperatures, further fueling the increased incidence of heat waves.

What steps has the EC recommended to mitigate the impact of heat waves?

  • As India prepares for general elections spanning from April 19 to June 1, coinciding with the summer season and the potential occurrence of heat waves, the Election Commission (EC) has issued guidelines to address the impact of high temperatures during the voting process.
  • These guidelines include carrying water bottles and taking measures to shield oneself from direct sunlight. It’s important to note that heat can pose a significant risk even outside of formally declared heat wave conditions if the wet bulb temperature exceeds 30-35 degrees Celsius.
  • The wet bulb temperature represents the lowest temperature at which a surface can be cooled by water evaporation, or in simpler terms, the lowest temperature at which sweating can effectively cool the skin.
  • Crossing this threshold can lead to severe health consequences, even during brief periods of inactivity in normal environmental conditions.

Conclusion:

Preventive measures such as ensuring access to water, providing oral rehydration solutions (ORS), offering shaded areas, particularly in public spaces, and implementing flexible working hours in workplaces, along with making special provisions for outdoor workers, can help reduce heat-related deaths. It is essential for local administrations to proactively enforce these measures, with oversight from higher authorities, to ensure their effectiveness.



Context:

In recent months, a dominant topic in the Indian media has been ‘Corruption’. Extensive scandals, investigations by central agencies, public demonstrations, and anti-corruption movements have consistently drawn attention across various media platforms, government circles, and public and private conversations. Civil rights activists have exerted significant pressure on the government to enact robust anti-corruption legislation and enforce it vigorously nationwide.

Relevance:

GS4- Probity in Governance, Challenges of Corruption

Mains Question:

Discussing the factors that drive people towards corrupt practices, highlight the legislative and regulatory framework prevalent in India in this regard. What more can be done to minimise corruption in India? (15 Marks, 250 Words).

About Corruption:

  • The Transparency International released the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2023.
  • The index indicates that the management of corruption has either remained static or deteriorated in most countries over the past decade. In 2023, India’s Corruption Perceptions Index stood at 40 points.

What constitutes Corruption?

  • Corruption entails dishonest conduct by individuals in positions of authority, often beginning with the inclination to exploit public office for personal gain.
  • It is regrettable that corruption has evolved into a habitual practice for many. It has become so deeply ingrained in society that it is now perceived as a societal norm. Consequently, corruption signifies a breakdown in ethical standards.

What Drives Individuals to Corruption?

Heightened Desires and Indulgence:

  • The origins of corruption do not stem from external circumstances; rather, they reside within the psyche or the character of the human spirit.
  • It begins with a desire that entices individuals to seek more, accumulate more, and acquire greater wealth, assets, power, and fame in pursuit of happiness.
  • Once initiated, corruption sets off a cycle of detrimental patterns, continuously fueling itself with heightened desires and indulgence.
  • This relentless pursuit is bolstered by a transient sense of euphoria and empowerment, subsequently leading to feelings of emptiness, insecurity, and despair, which further compel individuals to engage in corrupt practices.

Misunderstanding of One’s True Identity:

  • This entire process originates from a fundamental misunderstanding of one’s true identity. As individuals erroneously believe that their self-worth is contingent upon wealth, position, status, fame, or authority, they strive to construct identities based on these superficial attributes.
  • Over time, these fabricated sources of self-worth inevitably crumble, instilling fear that drives individuals to fiercely protect and reinforce these false support systems, fearing a loss of identity if stripped away.

Spiritual Standpoint:

  • From a spiritual standpoint, it is posited that vices such as greed, ego, lust, anger, and attachment emerge from bodily consciousness— the mistaken identification of the self with one’s physical appearance, role, and possessions.
  • This ignorance and these vices begin to corrupt the soul, contaminating every aspect that emanates from it, including thoughts, emotions, actions, and habits. Thus, it could be argued that in contemporary times, almost all human souls have been tainted to some extent by corruption.
  • Consequently, it is imperative to recognize that corruption is a profound spiritual affliction, remediable solely through spiritual awareness and empowerment.

Legal and Regulatory Frameworks for Combating Corruption in India:

Legal Framework:

  • The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, prescribes penalties for corruption committed by public servants and those involved in abetting corrupt acts.
  • The 2018 Amendment criminalized both the acceptance of bribes by public servants and the giving of bribes by any individual.
  • The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, aims to prevent money laundering and prohibits the use of proceeds of crime within India.
  • The Companies Act, 2013, addresses corporate governance and the prevention of corruption and fraud within the corporate sector, with a broad definition of fraud that constitutes a criminal offense.
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860, contains provisions that cover bribery and fraud, including offenses related to criminal breach of trust and cheating.
  • The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988, prohibits individuals who acquire property in another person’s name from claiming ownership of it.

Regulatory Framework:

  • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, establishes Lokpal at the central level and Lokayuktas at the state level, functioning as ombudsmen to investigate corruption allegations against certain public officials.
  • The Central Vigilance Commission oversees vigilance administration and provides advice and assistance to the executive on corruption-related matters.
  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1952, enhanced the punishment specified under Section 165 of the IPC to three years from the existing two years.
  • Amendments made in 1964 expanded the definition of ‘Public Servant’ under the IPC and ‘criminal misconduct,’ making possession of assets disproportionate to a public servant’s known sources of income an offense.

Addressing Corruption:

  • Amidst this ongoing struggle, it’s crucial to recognize that activism and political awareness alone cannot effectively address the issue of corruption.
  • Laws and regulations may deter individuals in positions of authority from engaging in overt acts of bribery, fraud, and corruption, but they cannot eradicate the root of the problem itself.
  • Individuals must awaken to their true selves and adhere to their innate values of peace, purity, love, and joy.
  • As we turn our attention inward and gain awareness of our authentic identity and inherent qualities, we naturally begin to express and embody them in our daily lives. By empowering ourselves in this manner, we find contentment and fulfilment.
  • Individuals who undergo this self-empowerment are immune to the allure of sensory attractions and desires.
  • It is only when we are disconnected from our true selves that we experience inner emptiness and seek external stimuli to attain happiness or validation.
  • The 2nd ARC proposed the establishment of a code of conduct for public officials and employees to foster ethical behavior.
  • Encouraging government departments to adopt citizen charters can enhance accountability and improve the delivery of public services.
  • The 2nd ARC suggested utilizing media platforms and educational institutions to raise awareness about the adverse impacts of corruption and the significance of ethical behavior.
  • Strengthening the role of parliamentary committees in scrutinizing government operations and expenditures can aid in identifying and preventing corruption.
  • The 2nd ARC recommended a comprehensive digital overhaul of government processes to minimize human intervention and opportunities for corruption.

Conclusion:

In a state of soul consciousness, we effortlessly recognize our virtues and comprehend the law of cause and effect— the law of karma. It’s crucial to remember that a soul that is grounded in its spiritual identity will never engage in corrupt behavior, understanding the inevitable consequences of such actions leading to suffering and moral decline. This realization and lived experience liberate us from the clutches of corruption.


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