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24 June 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Mission Indradhanush for Banks

Mission Indradhanush is a 7 pronged plan launched by Government of India to resolve issues faced by Public Sector banks. It aims to revamp their functioning to enable them to compete with Private Sector banks.

Problems faced by Indian banks

  • According to Economic Survey 2015, Indian banks face problems on both the policy and structural sides.
    • Policy issues- Banks face what has been termed as ‘double financial repression’- issues with policies of Statuary Liquidity Ratio and Private Sector Lending policies
    • Structural issues- Governance issues, rising stressed assets (Non- Performing Assets) and lack of diverse funding sources for infrastructure

Problem of NPAs

  • high percentage of NPAs in bank due to following reasons
    • overleveraged balance sheets- overenthusiastic borrowing and lending
    • stalled projects leading to stressed assets for banks
    • faulty reporting mechanisms leading to worsening of situation before NPAs are reported
    • nexus between bankers and corporates- deliberate defaulting
  • ways out
    • Government has allowed loans to be converted into equity
    • better reporting mechanisms for stressed assets leading to early detection and resolution
    • re-capitalisation of banks in short term but within a transparent framework
    • recovery of companies and writing off of bad loans to be done checking financial viability of companies and after ensuring efficient corporate governance
    • stalled projects- can be tackled via re-negotiation; removal of bottlenecks; ensuring better financial viability of projects; long-term-development of a corporate bond market

Components of Mission Indradhanush

  • Mission Indradhanush is a 7-pronged plan to address the challenges faced by public sector banks (PSBs). Many of the measures taken were suggested by P J Nayak committee on Banking sector reforms as indicated.
  • The 7 parts include appointments, Banks board bureau, capitalisation, de-stressing, empowerment, framework of accountability and governance reforms (ABCDEFG)
  • Appointments - separation of posts of CEO and MD to check excess concentration of power and smoothen the functioning of banks; also induction of talent from private sector ( recommendation of P J Nayak Committee)
  • Bank Boards Bureau - will replace the appointments board of PSBs.
    • It will advise the banks on how to raise funds and how to go ahead with mergers and acquisitions.
    • It will also hold bad assets of public sector banks.
    • It will be a step into eventual transition of the bureau into a bank holding company. It will separate the functioning of the banks from the government by acting as a middle link.
    • The bureau will have three ex-officio members and three expert members, in addition to the Chairman.
  • Capitalisation
    • Capitalisation of the banks by inducing Rs 70,000 crore into the banks in the next 4 years
    • Banks are in need of capitalisation due to high NPAs and due to need to meet the new BASEL- III norms
  • De-stressing
    • Solve issues in the infrastructure sector to check the problem of stressed assets in banks
  • Empowerment
    • Greater autonomy for banks; more flexibility for hiring manpower
  • Framework of accountability
    • The banks will be assessed on the basis of new key performance indicators. These quantitative parameters such as NPA management, return on capital, growth and diversification of business and financial inclusion as well as qualitative parameters such as human resource initiatives and strategic steps to improve assets quality.
  • Governance Reforms
    • GyanSangam conferences between government officials and bankers for resolving issues in banking sector and chalking out future policy.

An assessment and success so far

  • The key performance indicators devised for PSBs if implemented well would establish a credible system of holding PSBs accountable just like present in any MNC or private sector organisation.
  • Mission Indradhanush focuses on setting up a transparent a quick-paced hiring mechanism which can allow smooth functioning of the PSB.
  • Opening up the top positions in PSBs to private sector candidates can bring in the much-needed fresh outlook
  • De- stressing bank assets is very much needed in view of the rising NPAs
  • Bank Board Bureau has been formed with former Comptroller and Auditor-General of India Vinod Rai as its first Chairman
    • It will select the heads of public sector banks (even from the private sector, if need be) and aid them in formulating strategies to raise additional capital. It will select and appoint non-executive chairmen and non-official directors.

Way ahead- issues and challenges

  • A Comparison with recommendations of P J Nayak Committee report suggests that the extent of capitalisation into the public sector banks is not sufficient to overcome the problem of NPAs and to achieve Basel –III levels of tier-I capital.
  • The measures involved in Mission Indradhanush have already been around for some time. Thus, the real reform would be in proper implementation of the suggested measures.
24 June 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog
  • The Issue at hand
    • Instances of man-animal conflict involving damage to crops and property and even loss of life, have been increasing.
    • This prompted Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC), in June 2015, to ask states to send proposals to declare wild animals ‘vermin’ for specified period in a given area.
    • As a result of these consultations, the Union Environment Ministry issued a notification declaring the Nilgai in Bihar, monkey in Himachal Pradesh and wild boar in Uttarakhand as vermin.
    • The matter has been a point of clash between the Ministry and wildlife activists. Wildlife activists, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, and other concerned groups criticised the government for allowing such a move. A plea to stay the notification has been rejected by the Supreme Court.
      • The apex court, however, issued a caveat saying the culling of wild animals can take place only when they enter areas of human habitation and they cannot be hunted in their homes.
    • However, the issue has triggered a wider debate on the correct means to resolve man-animal conflict.
  • Legal provisions
    • Wildlife laws divide species into ‘schedules’ ranked from I to V.
      • Schedule I members are the best protected, in theory, with severe punishments meted out to those who hunt them.
      • Wild boars, nilgai and rhesus monkeys are Schedule II and III members — also protected, but can be hunted under specific conditions.
      • Crows and fruit bat fall in Schedule 5, the vermin category.
    • Existing legal provisions for objective management of man-animal conflict:
      • Section 11(1)a of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) authorizes chief wildlife warden to permit hunting of any problem wild animal only if it cannot be captured, tranquillized or translocated.
      • For wild animals in Schedule II, III or IV, chief wildlife warden or authorized officers can permit their hunting in a specified area if they have become dangerous to humans or property (including standing crops on any land).
      • Section 62 of Act empowers Centre to declare wild animals other than Schedule I & II to be vermin for specified area and period.
    • The notification by the Union Environment to declare wild boar, rhesus macaque, and nilgai as vermin means reprieve for those who kill these animals in the specified areas for a year after these notifications, from the jail terms and fines that hunting these animals typically invite
      • Wildlife laws also consider hunted wildlife as ‘government property’ and impose restrictions on how these carcasses must be disposed. Once slotted as vermin, these animals, in the words of a wildlife conservationist, are “open season” and could become easy game for hunters as well as traders in meat
  • The overall debate
    • The issue has triggered a debate on whether it is the correct way to resolve man-animal conflicts.
    • The killing of wildlife that causes damage to crops, may seem necessary to avert economic losses and save lives but doesn’t hold ground on environmental and moral pedestrals.
    • Rationale for culling
      • The animals cause damage to life and property. The damage to crops result in huge economic losses.
      • The population of some species has been booming. Hence, the instances of man-animal conflict has been increasing.
    • Opinions against culling:
      • Need to explore the reasons for man-animal conflict first and tackle them
        • Habitat loss: Deforestation and lowered green cover in cities has been driving animals into crop fields and human dwellings in search of food.
        • Fall in predator population: Fall in population of predators such as tigers and leopards leads to a consequential rise in population of herbivores such as nilgai and deer.
        • Drought: If natural calamities such as drought affect human beings, so is the case with animals in the forest. Drought dries up availability of food for foraging driving wild animals into nearby crop fields and human dwellings in search of food.
        • Humans feeding animals: The feeding of animals by tourists changes the feeding habits of animals who henceforth loose the hesitance in approaching humans for food; reason for many attacks.
      • Removal through capture or killing may not prevent recurrence of conflicts and may even exacerbate them.
      • Few recent studies show that a large proportion of man-animal conflicts are a result of accidental encounters with species such as elephants and bears.
      • When animals are hunted, some will be shot several times causing tremendous pain, but many others escape with one gunshot or flesh wound, and die later slowly and in unimaginable agony from blood loss, gangrene, starvation or dehydration. When mother animals are killed, orphaned babies are left behind to starve.
      • Provisions to allow wild animals to be killed can also be easily misused and contribute to the illegal wildlife trade. There is already a huge black market for nilgai body parts such as skin, teeth, nails and meat in Uttar Pradesh and wild boar are often used for meat.
      • Need for a policy and scientific management of wild animals : The time has arrived for a nation-wide policy framework to manage human-wildlife conflict. Scientific management of wild animals should necessarily involve population control.
  • Way Ahead
    • There is a need to balance interests in the resolution of man-animal conflicts. Certainly damage to life and property needs to be avoided but destroying the wildlife and environment is not the way out. Hence, culling must be restrained and only the last resort.
    • There are a number of other more innovative solutions to the problem rather than culling, such as
      • Ensuring human safety by adopting measures to reduce human injuries and fatalities due to wildlife. These include deploying animal early warning systems, providing timely public information on presence and movements of species such as elephants to local people to facilitate precautionary measures
      • Attending to health and safety needs that reduce the risk of wildlife encounters.
      • Housing improvements and provision of amenities such as lighting, indoor toilets, and rural public bus services help reduce accidental human deaths.
      • Improving livestock corrals can reduce livestock losses and carnivore incursion into villages
      • better garbage disposal and avoiding deliberate or accidental feeding of animals reduces risks associated with wild animals like monkeys.
      • Use modern technology such as mobile phones for SMS alerts, customised apps, automated wildlife detection and warning systems
    • Crop damage by wildlife may occur when animals enter crop fields because of habitat alteration and fragmentation, because crops are edible, or because the fields lie along movement routes to forest patches or water sources.
      • For this, site-specific scientific information is needed which helps design targeted mitigation with participation of affected people.
      • This includes supporting local communities to install — and, more important, maintain on a sustained basis — bio-fencing and power fencing around vulnerable areas
      • Solutions such as adequate fencing, noisemakers, and repelling animals naturally from farms through the use of chili plants or other such means can be tried. In Africa, for example, the planting of chili plants around crops was found to be successful in addressing conflict with elephants.
    • Crop insurance for wildlife damage, which the Environment Ministry recently recommended can be included in the National Crop/Agricultural Insurance Programme
    • Any scientific management policy for wildlife must be adapted to the population dynamics of the wild animal and be region specific. Not all animals that come across as populated and create nuisance for humans, may be in need of culling, experts note.
    • Long term population dynamics- A study of long term population dynamics is necessary. The reason for man-animal conflict may not be an increase in population but might be something altogether different. Hence, reducing population doesn’t tackle the conflict.
      • For eg, the “south Indian monkey” are believed to be highly populated in Karnataka and created nuisance for tourists but a recent study had shown that the population of bonnet macaques had declined by 60 per cent between 1989 and 2009.
      • Hence, the reason why monkey population was observed to be declining and increasingly attacking humans for food in Karnataka was that fruit-bearing trees in Karnataka’s cities were found to be disappearing.
    • In the end, opinion among experts is unanimous that scientific monitoring of wild animals must be extended outside the reserved forest area and if necessary, animal census be conducted outside protected areas to understand why certain species are entering into greater conflict with humans
24 June 2016 K2_CATEGORY IAS Blog

Introduction : The article explains the lightning phenomenon and its various types.

  • It is a frequent occurrence, and accounts for the largest number of accidental deaths due to natural causes every year — still, lightning is one of the least studied atmospheric phenomena in India.
  • Safety measures and precautions against lightning are not publicised the same way as those for other natural disasters like earthquakes.
  • How lightning strikes
    • Lightning is a very rapid and massive discharge of electricity in the atmosphere, some of which is directed at the earth’s surface.
    • These are generated in moisture-carrying clouds about 10-12 km tall. The base of these clouds is typically 1-2 km from the Earth’s surface, while the top is 12-13 km away. Temperatures at the top are –35 to – 45 °C.
    • As water vapour moves upward in the cloud, decreasing temperatures causes it to condense.
    • The heat generated in the process pushes the water molecules further up. As they move beyond zero degrees, water droplets change into small ice crystals.
    • As they continue to move up, they gather mass — until they are so heavy that they start to fall.
    • This leads to a system where smaller ice crystals move up while bigger crystals come down. The resulting collisions trigger the release of electrons, in a process very similar to the generation of electric sparks.
    • The moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons, as a chain reaction ensues.
    • The process results in a situation in which the top layer of the cloud gets positively charged while the middle layer is negatively charged.
    • In little time, a huge current, of the order of 105 to 106 amperes, starts to flow between the layers. It produces heat, leading to the heating of the air column between the two layers of cloud. It is because of this heat that the air column looks red during lightning.
    • The heated air column expands and produces shock waves that result in thunder.
  • From cloud to Earth
    • Earth is a good conductor of electricity but is electrically neutral. In comparison to the middle layer of the cloud, however, it becomes positively charged.
    • As a result, a flow of current (about 20-15%) gets directed towards the Earth as well. It is this current flow that results in the damage to life and property.
    • There is a greater probability of lightning striking tall objects such as trees, towers or buildings. Once about 80-100 m from the surface, lightning tends to change course to hit the taller objects.
    • This is because travelling through air, which is a bad conductor of electricity, electrons try to find a better conductor, and also the shortest route to the relatively positively charged Earth’s surface.
  • Lightning deaths
    • The electrical energy, after hitting a tree or any other object, spreads laterally on the ground for some distance, and people in this area receive electrical shocks.
    • It becomes more dangerous if the ground is wet, or there is conducting material like metal on it.
  • Prediction and precautions
    • Predicting a thunderstorm over a very precise location is not possible. Nor is the exact time that it is likely to strike.
    • People are advised to move indoors in a storm. Moving under a tree or lying flat on the ground can increase risks. Even indoors, electrical fittings, wires, metal and water must be avoided.
    • The most lightning activity on Earth is seen on the shore of Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. At the place where the Catatumbo river falls into Lake Maracaibo, an average 260 storm days occur every year, and October sees 28 lightning flashes every minute — a phenomenon referred to as the Beacon of Maracaibo or the Everlasting Storm.
    • The reason probably lies in the topography of the spot: winds blow across Lake Maracaibo which is surrounded by swampy plains and connected to the Gulf of Venezuela/Caribbean Sea by a very narrow strait.
    • The Maracaibo plain is enclosed on three sides by high mountain sides into which air masses crash.
    • The heat and moisture picked from the swampy plains creates electrical charges and, as the air is destabilized at the mountain faces, thunderstorm activity results.
    • Direct Strike: Occurs most often in open areas; not very common, but the deadliest.
    • Side Flash (Or Side Splash): Occurs when lightning strikes a taller object and some current jumps on to the victim, who ends up acting as a “short circuit” for the energy. Generally occurs when the victim is within a foot or two of the struck object.
    • Ground Current: When an object is struck, much of the energy travels outward in and along the ground surface. This is ‘ground current’, and anyone close can be a victim.
    • Conduction: Most indoor lightning casualties and some outdoor casualties are due to conduction. Anyone in contact with anything connected to metal wires, plumbing, or metal surfaces that extend outside is at risk.
    • Streamers: Not too common. “Streamers” develop as the downward-moving leader approaches the ground. Typically, only one of the streamers makes contact with the leader as it approaches the ground and provides the path for the bright return stroke; however, when the main channel discharges, so do all other streamers in the area.

Question:Lightning is a frequent occurrence, and accounts for the largest number of accidental deaths due to natural causes every year, still, lightning is one of the least studied atmospheric phenomena in India. Explain its mechanism and its different strikes.

Suggested approach:

  • Explain the mechanism of lightning.
  • Different strikes.
  • Safety measures needed to avoid deaths.


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