Current based PRELIMS QUESTION 20 April 2020

1. Consider the following statement regarding the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
1. The NCAP is envisioned an action plan with 2019 as the first year and would be a review every five years.
2. The NCAP is envisaged as a scheme to provide the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution.
3. It aims to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20%-30% in at least 102 cities by 2030.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3


  1. Answer-a
    National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):
    Achieve a national-level target of 20-30% reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by between 2017 and 2024.
    Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will execute this nation-wide programme in consonance with the section 162 (b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1986.
    The programme has been launched with an initial budget of ₹300 crore for the first two years.
    The plan includes 102 non-attainment cities, across 23 states and Union territories, which were identified by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on the basis of their ambient air quality data between 2011 and 2015.
    Non-attainment cities are those which have been consistently showing poorer air quality than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These include Delhi, Varanasi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Noida, Muzaffarpur, and Mumbai.
    As part of the programme, the Centre also plans to scale up the air quality monitoring network across India. At least 4,000 monitors are needed across the country, instead of the existing 101 real-time air quality (AQ) monitors, according to an analysis.
    The plan proposes a three-tier system, including real-time physical data collection, data archiving, and an action trigger system in all 102 cities, besides extensive plantation plans, research on clean-technologies, landscaping of major arterial roads, and stringent industrial standards.
    It also proposes state-level plans of e-mobility in the two-wheeler sector, rapid augmentation of

charging infrastructure, stringent implementation of BS-VI norms, boosting public transportation system, and adoption of third-party audits for polluting industries.
Various committees: The national plan has proposed setting up an apex committee under environment minister, a steering committee under-secretary (environment) and a monitoring committee under a joint secretary. There would be project monitoring committees at the state-level with scientists and trained personnel.
Benefits of the programme:
NCAP has certainly helped kick start the much-awaited good practice of setting air pollution reduction targets. The biggest advantage of such targets is that it helps decide the level of stringency of local and regional action needed for the plans to be effective enough to meet the reduction targets.
Need of the hour:
The MoEF&CC, as a nodal central and apex agency, will have to flex its authority to ensure all NCAP indicators are integrated with multi-sector and inter-ministerial programmes to align with the air quality target and objectives.
NCAP should not become only a top-down prescriptive approach. In fact, within the federal structure, NCAP, while ensuring compliance, will also have to create enough room for tighter action that can be even stronger than the common minimum national programme as defined by NCAP.
State governments and city authorities should be encouraged and enabled to take those extra steps to meet local targets. City-wise air quality targets will clearly show where much deeper cuts will be needed for hotspot and stronger regional action.
NCAP will also have to join all critical dots with clarity. For instance, in case of vehicular pollution, the main body of the plan has ignored mobility, transportation and urban planning strategies, though fortunately, the indicative broadsheet of action at the end has listed public transport, transit-oriented development policies, and non-motorised transport. But these will have to be detailed out with clear pathways and milestones and integrated well with the NCAP strategies.
NCAP will also have to be more nuanced and adopt appropriate approaches for small and big cities according to their dominant pollution profile while several strategies may remain uniform.

2. Consider the following statements regarding the World Air Quality Report, 2019.
1. This Report was released by the pollution tracker IQAir and Greenpeace.
2. India accounts for two-thirds of the world’s most polluted cities.
3. Bangladesh emerged as the most polluted country for PM 2.5 exposure followed by Pakistan, Mongolia, Afghanistan and India.
Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 3 only
(b) 2 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

2.  Answer-d
India was the fifth most polluted country in 2019 with Ghaziabad in the National Capital Region ranking as the most polluted city in the world, according to a global compilation of PM2.5 particulate pollution data by a company that primarily works on air filtration.
India accounts for two-thirds of the world’s most polluted cities, 21 of the most polluted 30 cities; 14 of the highest 20; and 6 of the highest 10, in the 2019 World Air Quality Report released by the pollution tracker IQAir and Greenpeace.
The ranking is based on a comparison of PM2.5 levels.
Among countries, when population is taken into account, average PM2.5 pollution is highest in Bangladesh, followed by Pakistan, while India is at number 5.
While cities in India, on average, exceed the WHO target for annual PM2.5 exposure by 500%, national air pollution decreased by 20% from 2018 to 2019, with 98% of cities experiencing improvements.
These improvements are believed to be largely a result of economic slowdown, according to IQAir.

3. Consider the following statements regarding the Kartarpur Sahib.
1. The gurdwara in Kartarpur stands on the bank of River Ravi, about 120 km northeast of Lahore.
2. It was here that Guru Nanak assembled a Sikh community and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539.
Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

3. Answer-c
Kartarpur Corridor
India and Pakistan have signed an agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur corridor. The agreement is valid initially for five years.
Either party can terminate the agreement at any time by giving notice of one month to the other party of its intention to terminate this agreement.
Also, the pact could be suspended in case of exigency or persistent violation of its provisions.
The Pakistan side has agreed to make sufficient provision for langar and distribution of prasad in the Gurdwara premises.
On Indian side, the entire required infrastructure, including the highway and the passenger terminal building are near completion for timely inauguration of the corridor.
It would remain open throughout the year.
Kartarpur Corridor
The Kartarpur corridor connects the Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in Narowal district of Pakistan with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in India’s Punjab province.
The agreement will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims who would just need a permit to cross over to Pakistan.
The corridor was built to commemorate 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism on 12th November 2019.
Guru Nanak
Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti is observed on the full-moon day in the month of Katak to celebrate the birth of Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539).
He advocated the ‘Nirguna’ form of bhakti. He rejected sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, austerities and the scriptures of both Hindus and Muslims.
He set up rules for congregational worship (sangat) involving collective recitation.
He appointed one of his disciples, Angad, to succeed him as the preceptor (guru), and this practice was followed for nearly 200 years.
The fifth preceptor, Guru Arjan, compiled Baba Guru Nanak’s hymns along with those of his four successors and also other religious poets, like Baba Farid, Ravidas (also known as Raidas) and Kabir, in the Adi Granth Sahib.
These hymns, called ‘Gurbani’, are composed in many languages.
Kartarpur gurudwara is the revered shrine about 4km across the border where Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 18 years of his life.

4. Consider the following statements regarding the Antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
1. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change in ways that render the medications used to cure the infections they cause ineffective.
2. AMR is facilitated by the inappropriate use of medicines, for example, using antibiotics for viral infections such as the flu.
3. India launched the global antimicrobial surveillance system (GLASS) in 2015 to work closely with WHO collaborating centres and existing AMR surveillance networks.
Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?
(a) 2 and 3 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

4. Answer-b
Antibiotics are remarkable drugs capable of killing biological organisms in one’s body without harming the body.
These are used for everything from preventing infections during surgeries to protecting cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
India is the world’s largest consumer of antibiotics. India’s excessive antibiotic usage is leading to a powerful never before seen mutation within bacteria.
Drug resistance happens when one overuses antibiotics in the treatment of humans, animals as well as plants.
When a new antibiotic is introduced, it can have great, even life saving results but only for some time. After that, the bacteria adapt and gradually the antibiotics become less effective.
Antibiotic resistance has the potential to affect people at any stage of life. When a person is infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria, not only the treatment of that patient becomes difficult, but antibiotic resistant bacteria may spread to other people as well.
When antibiotics do not work, the situation may lead to more complicated diseases, the use of stronger and expensive drugs and gradually more deaths caused by bacterial infections.
The spread of antibiotic resistance worldwide is undermining decades of progress in fighting bacterial infections. A recent example to take into account is the emergence of the drug resistant tuberculosis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017, around 6 lakh cases globally were resistant to the most effective first line drug and 82% of these people had multidrug resistant TB.
New resistant mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening the ability to treat common infectious diseases resulting in prolonged illness, disability and even death.
Antimicrobial Resistance
The term antibiotic resistance is a subset of antimicrobial resistance or AMR which is the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of medication.
Antimicrobial resistant-microbes occur naturally and are found in people, animals, food, and the environment (in water, soil and air). They can spread between people and animals, including from food of animal origin, and from person to person.
AMR is facilitated by the inappropriate use of medicines, for example, using antibiotics for viral infections such as the flu.
Inadequately treated sewage waste containing resistant bacteria which mixes in the environment also magnify the burden of AMR.
Poor infection control, inadequate sanitary conditions and inappropriate food handling encourage the spread of AMR.
In 2015, WHO launched the global antimicrobial surveillance system (GLASS) to work closely with WHO collaborating centres and existing antimicrobial resistance surveillance networks.
As members of GLASS, countries are encouraged to implement the surveillance standards and indicators gradually based on their national priorities and available resources.
Recently, the United Nations (UN) has begun considering the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to be at par with diseases like Ebola, HIV.
India’s action plan for AMR
A national policy for containment of AMR was introduced in 2011. The policy aims to understand emergence, spread and factors influencing AMR.
To set up an antimicrobial program to rationalize use of antimicrobials and to encourage the innovation of newer and effective antimicrobials.
In addition, some major action points identified in the national policy are:
o Establishing an AMR surveillance system.
o To strengthen infection, prevention and control measures.
o Educate, train and motivate all stakeholders in the rational use of antimicrobials.
o Providing sanitation, clean water and good governance.
o Increasing public health expenditure and better regulating the private health sector.
WHO’s take on antibiotic resistance
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world.
The alarming rate at which bacteria are becoming resistant has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to identify AMR as one of the top ten threats to global health.
The world body recommends that countries must prioritize their national action plans to scale up financing and capacity building efforts, put in place a stronger regulatory systems and support awareness programmes for responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials by professionals in humans, animals and plants health.
In addition, countries must invest in ambitious research and development technologies to combat AMR.
The WHO also suggests a number of steps that can be taken at various levels to reduce the impact and also limit the spread of this resistance.

5. Consider the following statements regarding Assam Accord.
1. Clause 6 of Assam Accord was inserted to protect, preserve and promote the culture and heritage of the Assamese people.
2. The entrants between 1961 and 1971 were denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.
3. This was a Memorandum of Settlement signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.
Which of the following statements is/are correct?
(a) 2 and 3 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Assam Accord
The Assam Accord was a Memorandum of Settlement signed by the Governments of India and Assam, and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) in New Delhi on August 15, 1985.
All those foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship, including the right to vote.
Those who had done so after 1971 were to be deported.
The entrants between 1961 and 1971 were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.
For recognition as citizens, the Accord sets March 24, 1971 as the cutoff date.
As per clause 15 of the Assam Accord the “Ministry of Home Affairs” is the nodal Ministry for the implementation of the various clauses of Assam Accord.
To implement the various Clauses of Assam Accord a new Department has been established in the name of “Implementation of Assam Accord Department” during the year 1986.
The Implementation of the Assam Accord Department “only monitors” the works implemented under various clauses of the Assam Accord.
Clause 6 reads: “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.” However Clause 6 of the Assam Accord has not been fully implemented even almost 35 years after the Accord was signed. So the Cabinet recently approved the setting up of a High Level Committee to suggest constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards as envisaged in Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.