Tuesday, March 29, 2016

[Editorial # 89] Brinkmanship over a limited dispute : The Hindu

[Following editorial has been published in The Hindu on 29th March 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer-writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]


The Centre should step forward and bring both Punjab and Haryana, ruled by the BJP and an ally, to the negotiating table to resolve the crisis over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal

Contemporary India illustrates the tragic paradox of farmers’ politics: they get divided just when they need to unite the most. The last few years have witnessed a deepening of the agrarian crisis in India. This is the moment when all agrarian classes need to come together. Instead, we have witnessed in recent times several attempts to pit one section of the peasantry against the other: communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, the Gujjar-Meena caste clashes in Rajasthan and the recent Jat and non-Jat divide in Haryana. It may not be a simple case of “divide and rule”, but someone does stand to gain by keeping farmers divided.

The latest episode in this unfolding tragedy is the Punjab-Haryana dispute over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. The unpopular governments of Punjab and Haryana and discredited politicians on both sides are suddenly back in the reckoning. This must be seen as the new business model of politics: how to turn a small and resolvable dispute into an impossibly large tangle, and then use brinkmanship to milk the situation for maximum political gains.

Playing the water card

The “SYL dispute” has exposed the weakness of the entire edifice of constitutional governance in our country — elected governments, constitutional authorities, political parties, autonomous bodies and even the judiciary.

The Parkash Singh Badal-led government in Punjab is arguably the State government most despised by its own people across the country. Facing an electoral rout, the ruling Akali Dal has played the water card again to distract voters from growing anger against its mis-governance. And it seems to have succeeded, at least for the time being. It managed to get the entire political establishment to first back a law — the Punjab Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal Land (Transfer of Property Rights) Bill, 2016 — de-notifying the land taken for purposes of building the canal. The Supreme Court frowned at attempts to fill the half-built canal with earth even before the law could be signed. The Punjab Assembly retaliated on March 18 by passing a most unusual resolution that in effect declared that it would not let the canal be built, no matter what the Supreme Court orders in this regard.

The Haryana government, that faced a crisis of legitimacy on account of its failure to protect life and property during the recent agitation over reservation, has suddenly found an opportunity to present itself as the guardian of farmers in distress. Successive State governments that did little to take the available water to the arid region in south Haryana can now present Punjab as the main culprit.

A web of deceit

The Central government has been neither fair nor firm in its role as arbiter and facilitator in this dispute. Initially, Indira Gandhi’s government was partisan. Ever since the advent of militancy in the 1980s, successive Central governments have ducked the issue and shirked their constitutional responsibility. Delaying tactics were used to put the Eradi Tribunal into cold storage. When the Congress government in Punjab passed a law — the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 — that unilaterally terminated earlier agreements, the United Progressive Alliance government meekly referred it to the Supreme Court and left it at that. Both instances do not make the judiciary look too good either. It is intriguing that the Supreme Court did not take up a Presidential Reference for well over a decade and has now started hearing the case in an election year in Punjab.

The worst example of hypocrisy was practised by political parties. No party in Punjab had the guts to call the Akali Dal’s bluff. The national parties just gave up the pretence of being national. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in Punjab proposed the provocative resolution to the Assembly; the BJP government in Haryana called it unconstitutional. The Congress in Punjab backed the Akali Dal in its antics, while its leaders in Haryana staged a protest outside the Punjab Assembly. The Aam Aadmi Party was of course different. Here, the same leader spoke in different voices. Arvind Kejriwal declared in Punjab that he was against SYL since the State had no water to spare. Back in Delhi, he was for fair share to every State and warned against playing politics with water! Is there a way out of this web of propaganda, deceit and hypocrisy? I believe this is a limited and resolvable dispute provided we agree on some basics.

Water use and requirement

First, we must acknowledge that water is a real issue for all the States. The farmers of Punjab have a genuine concern. Their agriculture has come to be largely dependent on canal irrigation. The prospect of a reduction in water for irrigation is cause for concern, especially in the Malwa region. Similarly, we must acknowledge that farmers in Haryana and Rajasthan have legitimate needs. The Green Revolution patch in north Rajasthan is entirely dependent on water from the Ravi-Beas. Agriculture in south Haryana continues to be rainfed; parts of this region face a drinking water crisis.

We must also acknowledge that the water requirement is overstated by all parties to the dispute. What is stated as “need” is not the minimum requirement for growing crops suited for this agro-climatic zone, but for water-intensive crops unknown to this region. Ecologists have long been warning us about unsustainable water-use practices in this region.

Second, we must recognise that both Punjab and Haryana have a legitimate grievance. Punjab feels, rightly so, that the Indira Gandhi government’s Ravi-Beas settlement of 1976 was unjust. The people also feel that the shares agreed to by the Chief Ministers of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan in 1981 did not fully reverse this injustice. The farmers in Haryana feel that whatever was agreed to on paper has been denied to them in practice. Protracted cases, interminable tribunals and, finally, a blunt refusal to implement any settlement have denied them of their due share.

Third, we must note that this sense of grievance and mistrust has led leaders on both sides to inflate the quantum of difference. In the heat of the dispute we forget that there is no dispute about the use of Sutlej waters. There is a real but fairly delimited dispute about water from the Ravi-Beas. It was agreed upon right from the beginning that the pre-existing usage of water by Punjab and Rajasthan (2.3 and 1.1 MAF [million acre-feet], respectively) would not be touched. The dispute is about the quantum of extra water available for distribution and about the share of the respective States. The most conservative estimate of available water was 15.9 MAF in the 1955 agreement. The most generous, and latest, estimate is 18.3 MAF in the Eradi Tribunal report of 1987. The difference in the share allotted to Punjab is fairly limited: the most unfavourable award of 1976 gave Punjab 22 per cent, which was revised to 25 per cent in the Chief Ministers’ agreement of 1981 and further revised to 28 per cent in the first report of the Eradi Tribunal. There are differences here, but we are not looking at impossible differences.

Finally, there are settled legal principles and institutions to resolve a dispute like this one. As a riparian State, Punjab has first right to use river water, but Punjab, or for that matter any other State, does not own the water that flows through its territory. It was the India-Pakistan Indus Water Treaty (IWT) of 1960 that gave India the exclusive right to use the entire waters of the Sutlej, the Ravi and the Beas. Haryana was a part of Punjab and was thus a riparian State when the IWT took place. The division of the State in 1966 does not take away that status. India got the share of river water that it did in the IWT because it successfully claimed water for canal irrigation projects in the desert area of Rajasthan. So, Haryana and Rajasthan have justified claims accepted by the Supreme Court and the Eradi Tribunal.

Let us also agree that no State government can unilaterally abrogate all the agreements, good or bad, which its lawful predecessors had entered into. And no one can refuse to obey the orders of the highest court of this land. Such actions are plainly unconstitutional.

For a political resolution

How do we go ahead? The resolution should ideally take a political route. Leaders and parties from Punjab must step back from the extra-constitutional path of unilateral action and instead negotiate on the share of Ravi-Beas water. Leaders from Haryana must step back from their demands of a share of water; instead, they should focus on swift and assured implementation of whatever is agreed upon. The Centre should step forward and bring both States, ruled by the BJP and an ally, to the negotiating table. The Prime Minister must work towards a a fair settlement.

Alternatively, the resolution could take a legal route. Let the Supreme Court quickly dispose of the Presidential Reference. If the court finds the 2004 Act unconstitutional, it must take up the contempt petition against Punjab for violating its orders on completing the SYL canal by 2003. Let the court also take a view on the latest Bill of the Punjab Assembly and the filling up of the SYL canal. Finally, let the vacancy in the Ravi-Beas Tribunal be filled and let it submit its final report, which shall be binding on all parties. There is no reason why all of this cannot be completed within a year from now.

Of late, there has been loud talk about nationalism. A true measure of nationalism may not be the height of a flag mast. The real test of nationalism or otherwise of our leadership is in the will and wisdom that it demonstrates in resolving a dispute like this one.


Questions

1  What are other major water disputes between different states of India?

2. What are the main rivers of Haryana and Punjab?

3. What is meant by irrigation? What are major methods of irrigation in India ?

4. What are the provisions of Indus water treaty?

5. What are the challenges being faced by the farmers of Punjab? 

6. Mention an international treaty of water sharing by India other than IWT?

7. What is article 262?



Monday, March 21, 2016

[Editorial # 88] Increasing the cost of violation is the only way to tackle food adulteration : The Economic Times

[Following editorial has been published in The Economic Times on 21st March 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer-writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]

Nearly 70% of the milk in India is adulterated. This, simply, is not acceptable. The government has said that a new scanner has been developed for quick detection of adulteration, and is now working towards developing a portable test kit based on this technology. While this development will help improve detection, addressing the problem of adulteration of this essential food item will require changes in the regulatory and legal framework and the manner in which the food safety administration discharges its duties.

The adulteration of milk can be grouped into two broad categories: contamination arising from poor hygiene, handling and packaging; and deliberate addition of water to increase the quantity and, along with the water, other substances that mask the dilution, such as urea, detergents, shampoo, caustic soda, hydrogen peroxide and oil, which apparently enhance viscosity, never mind if the milk is transformed into a poisonous cocktail. This is an egregious violation and must attract stiff penalties: jail terms and heavy fines, besides closure of offending units. Identifying the point of adulteration is crucial. Therefore, testing must be made mandatory across the supply chain, from the primary collection point to the processing and packaging plant. No producer or aggregator will be able to sell without a test. Each unit should be required by law to submit its daily test results, and these should be publicly available. This will make it possible to identify the source of adulteration. Adulteration must be made a cognisable offence.

The only way to tackle adulteration of essential food items like milk is to increase the cost of violation. Failure to do so will mean continuing to expose the millions of Indians, particularly children, to a public health time bomb.

Questions:

1. How much is the annual milk production in India? How much is Per Capita Availability of milk in our country? Which are the top 5 milk producing states of India?

2. What is the composition of milk? What are various tests to find out adulteration in milk?

3. What is meant by adulteration? What are common food adulterants?

4. What are various legal provisions for checking adulteration in food?

5. What are the harmful effects of food adulteration on human body? 

6. Mention a few international standards in the area of ensuring food safety?

7. Who regulates food safety standards in India? How does is enforce food safety standards?

8. What are the challenges in maintaining food safety standards in a country like India? How can they be tackled? 



Friday, March 18, 2016

[Editorial # 87] Be bold in revisiting the sedition law : The Hindu

[Following editorial has been published in The Hindu on 18th March 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer-writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]

The government’s admission in Parliament that the present definition of ‘sedition’ in the Indian Penal Code is too wide and requires reconsideration, is the first indication that the fallout of the Kanhaiya Kumar episode has had a chastening effect on the ruling party. There seems to be a realisation that invoking the draconian penal provision against students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University was an act of overreach by the Delhi Police. Further, legal luminaries had pointed out that the essential ingredient of sedition — an imminent threat to public order — was absent in the case. Opinion is growing that the relevant provision, Section 124-A, has no place on the statute book. While Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured Opposition members that an all-party meeting on the issue would be convened after the Law Commission submitted its report on the matter, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju made a pointed reference to concerns that the definition of ‘sedition’ was very wide. He also sought to clarify that he was not discussing the merits of the case against JNU students or defending the action of the Delhi Police, indicating a significant political climbdown. In other remarks, Mr. Rijiju recalled that the Law Commission in its 42nd Report had rejected the idea of repealing the section altogether. A look at the 1971 report shows that in fact it wanted to expand the term relating to exciting “disaffection towards the government established by law” to cover disaffection towards the Constitution, Parliament, the government and legislatures of the States, and the administration of justice.

In penal law, vague and ‘over-broad’ definitions of offences often result in mindless prosecutions based merely on the wording of the act that seems to allow both provocative and innocuous speeches to be treated as equally criminal. While upholding sedition as an offence that fell under the ‘public order’ restriction on free speech, the Supreme Court ruled that it ought to be invoked only if a particular speech or action had a “pernicious tendency to create public disorder”. Words such as “excites or attempts to excite disaffection” or “brings into or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt” are unacceptably vague, and the further explanation that ‘disaffection’ includes “disloyalty and all feelings of enmity” compounds the problem. The provision in effect appears to demand ‘affection’ towards the government, except for a general exception allowing disapproval of governmental measures. Two High Courts had declared Section 124-A unconstitutional before the Supreme Court upheld the section in 1962 in Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar. The Law Commission, while revisiting the issue, should take into account recent developments, especially the flagrant instances of misuse of the sedition law and the tendency to invoke it against those involved in strident forms of political dissent and scathing criticism of governments. One way to limit its mischief is to narrow the definition; but a more rational and constitutional option would be to scrap the provision altogether.

Questions:

1. What is Indian Penal Code? When was it codified? 

2. Section-124 A of IPC has been associated with India's freedom struggle. Find out how.

3. Why is it being said that the definition of "Sedition" is too wide under IPC?

4. What is a Law Commission? Who all are the members of this Commission? What are the various roles of this commission?

5. What are various verdicts given by High Courts and the Supreme Court with regards to sedition?

6. Edmund Burke once said "Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny"? Comment on this statement giving examples from Indian judicial system.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

[Editorial # 86] A new chapter in Myanmar

[Following editorial has been published in The Hindu on 17th March 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer-writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]

The election of U Htin Kyaw as Myanmar’s President is a watershed moment in its history. Mr. Htin Kyaw’s government would be its most democratic administration since 1962 when the military seized power. During this period, the generals ran a repressive regime that denied the people even basic democratic rights and isolated the country internationally. For Myanmar’s pro-democracy camp, the election is a moment of joy, and sorrow. Finally a legitimate, democratic government is in place, but there is deep disappointment at the fact that Aung San Suu Kyi, their “rightful” leader, could not become the President. A provision in the military-era Constitution bars Ms. Suu Kyi from assuming the highest office as her children are foreign citizens. Her National League for Democracy (NLD) lacks the parliamentary power to rewrite the Constitution. Efforts by Ms. Suu Kyi to reach a settlement with the generals did not bear fruit either. It was against this background that she nominated Mr. Htin Kyaw, an economist and writer she has known from her early school days, as the party’s presidential candidate. Ms. Suu Kyi has made it clear that she will be in control of the government, irrespective of her constitutional status.

While the formation of a democratic government is clearly a firm step forward, the new government faces an uphill task. Primarily, it has to address the deep economic problems. Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia. In the years of isolation under the junta, economic growth stagnated, trapping millions in acute poverty. Getting the economy back on track is no easy task, and Myanmar will need regional and global assistance. Besides, though the generals have agreed to civilian takeover of political power, they still wield enormous influence over Myanmar’s institutions. One-quarter of seats in both Houses of Parliament are reserved for the military. This prevents any constitutional amendments without the military’s approval. The military also has direct control of three key Ministries: defence, home affairs and border affairs. Two recent actions of the military indicate it is still not ready to cede influence over institutions completely. The first is its refusal to let Ms. Suu Kyi become the President. It knew that if Ms. Suu Kyi, hugely popular at home and widely respected abroad, becomes President, that could expedite the country’s transition into a full democracy. Second, by successfully getting Myint Swe, a controversial retired general who served the previous junta, elected as one of the two vice-presidents, the military has sent a clear message to the government that it is not going to completely stay away from power. But the good news is that the balance of power has clearly shifted in favour of the pro-democracy camp after the November elections. Ms. Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw will have to tread cautiously but purposefully to build on the democratic gains, and expedite Myanmar’s transition into a full democracy.

Questions:

1. It is said that Burma (present day Myanmar) was a part of British India and was administered by the same government which administered mainland India? Is it true? If yes then why was it separated out of India?

2. Why is the recent Presidential election of Myanmar being considered as a watershed moment in the history of the country?

3. What is understood by a military rule? How is it different from a democratic government?

4. Mention a few nations which has been through military regimes? What were the effects of such regimes on those nations?

5. Who is Aung San Suu Kyi? What are her contributions towards establishing Democracy in Myanmar? Why did she not run for the post of the President in the recent elections?

6. What are the issues currently being faced by Myanmar? 

7. "Establishment of democracy in Myanmar is in the interest of both India and the world." Comment.





Wednesday, March 16, 2016

[Editorial # 85] A good omen : Business Standard

[Following editorial has been published in Business Standard on 15th March 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer-writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]

The Real Estate Bill, which Parliament passed into law on Tuesday, contains several provisions which aim to protect homebuyers from unscrupulous builders. At the moment, there is great opacity in the sector. Buyers suffer because they often don't know the relevant details of the project, including the state of various government approvals and the legal status of the land. Under the new law, builders will have to register all projects with the authorities and disclose all details. And they can start construction only after they have got all the approvals. Builders will have to deposit 70 per cent of the money received from buyers in an escrow account which can be used only for the project for which money has been raised. In the past, builders have used money raised from buyers to buy land for new projects. As the market turned sluggish, and cash flows got constrained, this led to a lot of projects getting stuck, which put the buyers in a spot. The new rule should end this malpractice.

Moreover, builders will need the concurrence of at least two-thirds of the homebuyers before altering a project. This safeguard has been introduced after it came to light that builders had added extra floors without taking the buyers into confidence. In two cases, the courts disallowed such constructions after the residents complained. Not only is such construction unfair to the original buyers, who are forced to share the infrastructure with more people than initially promised, but it also poses a safety risk. There are other buyer-friendly features in the new law. Misleading advertisements are punishable with a fine and even imprisonment, and buyers will be charged only for the carpet area and not the common areas which are often included under the guise of "super area". Moreover, the new law covers residential as well as commercial real estate. Though the perception is that the residential market is where the rot lies, the commercial market is no less in need of a clean-up. Even in the commercial market, one big reason for corruption in the sector is the maze of laws in every state. Builders often need to pay speed money to negotiate these laws and get the clearances. In any market, this means that construction can start at least two years after the land has been acquired. This adds to the builder's cost, which he then tries to recover from his unsuspecting buyers. While the new law will help deal with errant builders, there is also the need to simplify these rules if the Augean stables need to be cleaned. Accountability is needed for bureaucrats as well as builders to fix the sector.

Importantly, the passage of this Bill marks one of those rare occasions when the Treasury and Opposition benches have buried their differences for the sake of legislative reform. In the version drafted by the Manmohan Singh-led government, the Bill had suggested that the money deposited in the escrow account should be 70 per cent. Given the high price of real estate, the Narendra Modi government had said 50 per cent should be enough. In a model case of co-operation, the government has, at the Opposition's request, returned the bar to 70 per cent. It is to be hoped that more examples of such forward-thinking bipartisanship will be on display in the ongoing session of Parliament.

Questions:

1. What are the problems being faced by Real Estate buyers? 

2. What was the need of The Real Estate Bill which was passed by the Parliament recently?

3. What are the salient features of the Real Estate Bill?

4. What is the share of the Real Estate sector in India's GDP?

5. What is meant by an escrow account? Explain with examples?

6. What all permissions are needed to start a real estate project? 

7. Why is the Real Estate Sector considered to be inflicted with corruption? 

8. "Burying of differences between the Treasury and Opposition benches could both be healthy as well as a dangerous sign". Comment (200 words)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

[Editorial # 84] Good to Go : The Indian Express

[Following editorial has been published in The Indian Express on 15th March 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer-writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]

On Sunday, after a hat-trick of wins, Google’s AlphaGo programme surrendered a game of Go to a human, South Korea’s Lee Se-dol. The news made waves in Korea, which read it as a reaffirmation of the anthropocentric universe. That’s because Korea is mad about Go, with 24-hour TV channels covering tournaments non-stop. At first, the significance of the series of human-computer Go games in Seoul was not appreciated in the rest of the world. Computers have repeatedly defeated chess grandmasters, right, so what’s the big deal?

The deal is actually remarkably big. Chess is a relatively limited game, and computers win because they can visualise the whole decision tree of a game from opening gambit to checkmate, while humans are more likely to lose the plot. Go is the world’s most statistically complex game, with millions of possible outcomes. It is useful to think fuzzily about 20 moves ahead, not to the end of the game, and that gives humans an edge over machines, which are traditionally exact. In short, a programme is unlikely to defeat a human. But AlphaGo, a project of Google’s artificial intelligence company DeepMind, won three games straight. Was it, Asimov forbid, thinking like a human?

But it’s just a game, right? It is, and weirdly enough, many aspects of human behaviour can be modelled as maximisation games. The possibilities for deep, human-like intelligence in autonomous connected devices are both amazing and fearsome. Autonomous devices are deployed in a wide range of formats, from the home thermostat to complex weapons systems. The possibility that machines can think like humans, and better than us, raises humankind’s second-oldest anxiety after the fear of death: The rise of the machines. For now, it’s only a game, and the machine has won 3:1. Humans can be sporting about it.

Questions:

1. What is Google's AlphaGo programme?

2. What is meant by Artificial Intelligence? Give some examples of AI in action in our day-to-day lives?

3. What are some examples of latest advancements in the field of AI? Where does India stand in this field?

5. What is the history of game Chess? Where was it invented? Who currently is the world champion in the game of Chess?

6. "The possibilities for deep, human-like intelligence in autonomous connected devices are both amazing and fearsome". Explain (200 words)

7. What is Turing's Test? What is the purpose of such tests?

8. "The ethical dilemma of bestowing moral responsibilities on robots calls for rigorous safety and preventative measures that are fail-safe, or the threats are too significant to risk."Comment (200 words)



Monday, March 14, 2016

[Editorial # 83] Transparency at any cost : The Hindu

[Following editorial has been published in The Hindu on 14th March 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer-writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]

The shutdown of the 220 MW Unit-1 of the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station located in Gujarat’s Surat district following leakage of heavy water used to cool the nuclear reactor, on March 11, the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in Japan, is at once a reminder of the inherent risks associated with operating nuclear reactors and the importance of augmenting safety mechanisms. Unlike the Fukushima accident, rated seven (the highest level) on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, where meltdown of the core of three reactors occurred due to the failure of the cooling system, it is reassuring that the safety systems of the KAPS reactor worked as intended, including the backup cooling systems, thus preventing any cascading event leading to radioactivity release outside the plant. While this may be a “rare event for a functioning plant” that happened for the “first time” in India, it is a cause for concern that the magnitude of the coolant system failure was “significant”. That the reactor has been shut down and an independent assessment of the safety situation at the plant is being undertaken by scientists from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board evokes confidence. The second unit here has remained shut since July 2015 for maintenance. While the AERB has maintained its independence in terms of its risk assessment and management functions, there is no room for complacency. It must be borne in mind that collusion between the Japanese government, the country’s regulator and the operator had led to many violations that were detrimental to the environment and human health.

Given the heightened fear of nuclear energy in India following the Fukushima disaster, the only way AERB officials can reassure the public and win confidence is by being more transparent with its findings, however grave they are, and by taking all necessary steps to ensure that similar events are averted in the future. Just as lessons learnt from the Fukushima accident led to an enhancement of the level of safety of the backup systems in reactors that are under construction in India, lessons from this incident should be put to good use. These steps are indeed warranted as India plans to increase the installed nuclear power capacity from the current 5,780 MW to 10,080 MW by the end of the Twelfth Plan (2017) and 20,000 MW by 2020. Also, India gave an assurance in Paris that by 2030 it would reduce carbon emissions relative to its GDP by 33-35 per cent from 2005 levels and also generate 40 per cent of the country’s electricity from non-fossil fuel-based sources, using among others the solar, wind and nuclear options. While India has positioned itself as a leader in the renewable energy sector by playing a pivotal role in the creation of the International Solar Alliance, the nuclear space is plagued by delays in completing the construction of reactors, as seen in the case of Kota in Rajasthan (RAPP 7 and 8) and at Kakrapar (KAPP 3 and 4). Whether public sentiment supports fresh nuclear reactor proposals would depend on how well the AERB fulfils its tasks.

Questions:

1. How is Nuclear power generated? What all materials are required for Nuclear Power generation?

2. What is the total installed capacity of Nuclear Power in India? What is its share in total capacity of renewable sources of energy and total installed capacity  (renewable + non-renewable)?

3. Which agency/organisation in India is responsible for operating nuclear power plants in India? How many nuclear power plants are currently operating in India?

4. What are some drawbacks of Nuclear Power generation? Mention a few cases of nuclear plant disasters?

5. What is meant by cooling process in a nuclear reactor? What are various types of coolants used in Nuclear Power Plants?

6. What is Atomic Energy Regulatory Board? What are its roles and functions?

7. Why has India not been able to exploit nuclear power for electricity generation despite having significant knowledge of technology needed for the same?

8. What are the various stages of India's Nuclear Program? What is the current status of development of the same?