UPSC IAS Interview 2017-18

Gearing up for E- Needs: Internet Protocol Version Change

By- Alkesh Tyagi,Dy. Director (C&IT), PIB

After the telecom revolution it is now the turn of e-initiatives to change the life of common Indian. The day is not far when the common man will be able to access and process all his needs and deeds from his desktop, laptop or palmtop.

The Government is making all efforts to translate the dream of paperless governance into a reality. Over 671 million telephone subscribers, 20 million Broadband connections and 3G services are expected to be rolled out by the end of 2010, targeting 40% rural teledensity and Broadband connectivity to all Gram Panchayats by 2012. Plans are also afoot for delivering financial services using mobile technology. These factors clubbed with e-governance initiatives i.e. mandatory e-delivery of identified services are going to further enhance the magnitude of e-demands.

Of 1100 citizen and business centric services targeted for delivery, over 600 services of various Departments of Central and State Governments are now available online-any time, anywhere. With the number of mobile subscribers likely to exceed one billion by 2014, the system has to gear up for the situation.

Keeping this in view, the Government decided to facilitate the use of Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6), the Internet technology take Internet to 1.1 billion people, in the country in June 2009. After a year in July 2010, the Government has released the roadmap for Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) deployment in the country in a time bound manner. It has also decided to form an IPv6 Task Force in Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode for timely implementation of IPv6 in the country. This roadmap and the formation of the IPv6 Task Force together would enable Indians citizens to start using IPv6 services by March 2012. For this all Telecom and Internet Service providers are required to become IPv6 compliant by December-2011. For smooth and timely transition from Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) to IPv6 by stakeholders, procurement of IPv6 complaint equipments is being ensured , awareness being created and methodology being worked out for transition from (IPv4) to IPv6.

Need for Change
Growing demand for new addresses globally and expanding communication networks have necessitated timely action and implementation of new strategies to handle ever increasing e- traffic. Other countries including USA, EU, Japan are deploying IPv6 today.
Like a telephone has to have a number for getting connected, a computer has to have an IP address to participate in a Information Communication Technology ICT) network. Traditional communication networks are undergoing a big change and moving into the era of Internet protocol (IP). Nowadays, technology is changing rapidly and the Internet protocol is slowly evolving as the global standard for communication. In future all networks and services will converge to packet based networks running the Internet Protocol. This is very much evident in the deployment of Next generation Networks (NGN) by our service providers, which is the future of telecommunications. The transition to IPv6 is required because in the near future IPv4 addresses will not be available for penetration of broadband and other IP based services. Therefore, IPv6 addresses will be the only choice left.

Various Greenfield applications especially in areas like electricity generation and distribution, telemedicine, healthcare, tele-education would accelerate their penetration through the deployment of IPv6. Internet Protocol is a connection-less protocol, in contrast to so-called connection-oriented modes of transmission. Because of this faults like data corruption, lost data packets, duplicate arrival and out-of-order packet delivery; meaning, if packet ‘A’ is sent before packet ‘B’, packet ‘B’ may arrive before packet ‘A’ may occur. To streamline these reliability issues the successor Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is being deployed actively worldwide.

What is Internet Protocol?
The Internet Protocol (IP) is one of the determining elements that define the Internet. The Internet Protocol is a protocol used for communicating data across a packet-switched internetwork using the Internet Protocol Suite. IP is the primary protocol in the Internet Layer of the Internet Protocol Suite and has the task of delivering distinguished protocol datagrams (packets) from the source host to the destination host solely based on their addresses. For this purpose the Internet Protocol defines addressing methods and structures for datagram encapsulation. The Internet Protocol specifies that each communication device on a network should have a unique address to communicate globally with other devices on the Network. This unique address is known as IP address.

IP Address
An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a numerical label that is assigned to devices participating in an ICT network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication between its nodes. The IP address performs 3 main functions of communicating, “Who”, “Where” and “How” on the packet network.

Allotment of IP Addresses
Various organizations control the allocation of these IP addresses. The apex body in the world for Internet Standards is Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). It allocated these IP addresses to Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). IANA is the entity that oversees global IP address allocation and further allocates these addresses to the Regional Internet Registries (RIR), which further allocates them to Internet service providers (ISPs), also sometimes referred to as an Internet access provider (IAP), and other organizations. In case of India, the addresses are allocated by APNIC, the RIR that allocates IP and AS numbers in the Asia Pacific region

History of IP versions
In May 1974, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) published a paper authored by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. The paper entitled “A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection” described an internetworking protocol for sharing resources using packet-switching among the nodes. A central control component of this model was the “Transmission Control Program” (TCP) that incorporated both connection-oriented links and datagram services between hosts.
This Program later evolved into Transmission Control Protocol at the connection-oriented layer and the Internet Protocol at the internetworking (datagram) layer. The model became known informally as TCP/IP and formally as the Internet Protocol Suite.

The first major version of addressing structure, now referred to as Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) is still the dominant protocol of the Internet. It is perceived that IPv4 is very robust and has been around for quite sometime, maybe around 25 years now but it has many limitations too. It has a limited addressing space of only 32 bits and the free pool of IPv4 addresses will be exhausted very soon. The IANA pool is likely to exhaust by October-2011. As far as India is concerned, the addresses are allocated by APNIC and currently we have approximately 18.5 million unique IPv4 addresses. It is estimated that within a year’s time about 60 million new addresses will be needed for various broadband and e-governance initiatives.

IPv6 is the next generation Internet Protocol with improvement over the initial version of IPv4. It is a scalable Internet technology with a potential to help the Internet reach 1.1 billion people of India. The role of IPv6 is not limited to Internet access alone but it is important in Defence, e-Governance and other crucial government projects. IP security in IPv6 provides end-to-end security implying that data is secured from the originating workstation through various routers of the Internet to the destined workstation. IPv6 has 128 bits as compared to the limited addressing space of only 32 bits in IPv4. The new Internet protocol will give practically unlimited addresses besides a host of new and advanced features for running the future communication networks.

The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 in the country is of critical concern in view of the changing ICT scenario in the country. The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is not simply a protocol upgrade. It involves hardware changes also in addition to software. Moreover, it cannot be done overnight. It needs time; therefore both IPv4 and IPv6 will co-exist for many more years to come.
(PIB Features)

Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (SABLA)

By - Smt. Anita Patnaik, Freelance Writer

Empowerment of adolescent girls is one of the top most priorities of the Government. The Cabinet approval for the expansion of the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) is another move in this direction. The scheme is being implemented through Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) projects and Anganwadi Centers in 200 select districts across the country for empowering adolescent girls in the age group of 11 to 18. The Cabinet approval followed the recommendation of a Group of Ministers (GoM) aiming at enhancing their nutritional and economic status. Under the scheme, adolescent girls will be provided Take Home Ration. There is also a provision in the scheme that if any state insists on providing hot cooked meal, standards should be set for the same. In addition, the Women and Child Development Ministry will explore feasibility for implementing Conditional Cash Transfer scheme as an alternative of adolescent girls in 100 more districts. Around 92 lakh to 1.15 crore adolescent girls of 11 to 18 years per annum are expected to be covered under the scheme during the Eleventh Plan.

Salient Features

50:50 per cent sharing between the Centre and the States of nutrition provision (600 calories and 18 to 29 gram of protein) at the rate of Rs.5 per beneficiary per day for 300 days a year for 11 to 14 years out of school girls and all girls in the age of 15 to 18 years. A provision of Rs.3.8 lakh per ICDS project per annum has been made for various components of the scheme like training kit at each Angawadi center, National Health Education, Life Skill Education, purchase of Iron Folic Acid Tablet for mothers. Continuation of Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY) in remaining districts from funds of SABLA and utilization of savings available under KSY and RGSEAG-SABLA in 200 districts are the other salient features of the Scheme.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has formulated the SABLA scheme to address multi-dimensional problems of adolescent girls between 11 to 18 years. An allocation of Rs.1,000 crore for the scheme in 2010-11. The Government has approved a cumulative 7075 ICDS projects and 14 lakh Anganwadi Centres across the country. Of these, a total of 7012 projects and 13.67 lakh AWCs have been sanctioned as on 31st of May 2010. Out of the approved ICDS, 6560 are operational. Keeping in view the expansion under the Scheme, the allocation for ICDS was enhanced from the Budget Estimates of Rs. 6,705 crore to Rs. 8162 crore for the year 2009-10. For the year 2010-11, an allocation of Rs. 8700 crore has been made, which is higher than the allocation of the previous year.

Survey On Malnutrition

Malnutrition is the key issue. The National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) has carried out sample surveys on diet and nutritional status of rural (2005-06) and tribal population (2007-09) in 9 states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal. As per the report of 2001-03 by the Registrar General of India on causes of deaths among 0 to 4 years due to nutritional deficiencies is 2.8 per cent. As per the National Family Health Survey, the underweight children below three years of age has declined from 42.7 per cent in 1988-99 to 40.4 per cent in 2005-06. However, there has been an increase in the anemia levels as anemia in children (6 months to 35 months) has risen from 74.3 per cent to 78.9 per cent. Similarly in women aged 15 to 49 years, the anemia has increased from 51.8 per cent to 56.2 per cent. Though malnutrition is not a major cause of infant death, it can increase morbidity and mortality by reducing resistance to infections. As per the Sample Registration System (SRS), Registrar General of India, the infant Mortality Rate has declined from 57 per thousand live births in 2006 to 53 per thousand live births in the year 2008.

A number of measures has been taken by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare like Supply of Vitamin-A supplementation for children till the age of 5 years, Iron Folic Acid supplementation for children up to 10 years, pregnant and lactating women, promotion of iodized salt, zinc supplementation for treatment of diarrhea in children above two months.

Combating Malnutrition

The problem of malnutrition is a multi-faceted and multi-sectoral in nature requiring coordination and convergence between the different sectors and at all levels. The Government, which has been according high priority to the overall issue of malnutrition and particularly in respect of children, adolescent girls and women is implementing several schemes, which have an impact on the nutritional status of the people. These schemes besides ICDS projects include, Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY) and Nutritional Programme for Adolescent Girls (NPAG), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDM), Drinking Water and Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), Swarjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) and Public Distribution System (PDS). The ICDS scheme provides a package of six services – supplementary nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, nutrition and health education, immunization, health check-up and referral services. Three of the services (immunization, health check up and referral services) are delivered through the public health system of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The Government has taken various steps, which include universalisation of the scheme with special focus on SC/ST and minority habitations, revision in cost norms as well as the Nutritional and Feeding norms of the Supplementary Nutrition component of ICDS. The Centre has adopted the standards proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 15th of August 2008 to identify malnutrition in children. The National Nutrition Policy of 1993 and the National Nutrition Action Plan of 1995 envisage establishment of State Nutrition Councils in the states. This has been emphasized during the meetings held with the States. Recently, the Chief Secretaries of all states have been addressed to ensure that the State Nutrition Action Plans factor in the availability of services provided at AWCs under the ICDS and also ensure that expansion is undertaken in a manner that it meets inter-alia the nutritional and health demands of the beneficiaries particularly the marginalized sections in areas having high incidence of poverty and deprivation. The Women & Child Development Ministry has considered a Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme for Maternity Benefits called Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) on a pilot basis to provide cash transfers to pregnant and lactating women in response to fulfilling specific conditions. The objective of the scheme is to improve the health and nutrition status of pregnant and lactating women. A budget allocation of Rs.390 crore has been made for the scheme during the current financial year. (PIB Features)

Trans Fatty Acids : Harmful Effects on Human Health

By- Dr. Santosh Jain Passi and Ms. Swati Bhardwaj

India is undergoing rapid dietary transition. High economic growth has resulted in a burgeoning middle-class having greater access to commercially available foods, including fried and baked food items. Most of these foods contain high amounts of Trans Fatty Acids (TFAs), particularly if cooked in vanaspati (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) which is often preferred for its low cost and longer shelf life. TFAs can adversely affect cholesterol levels, predispose the individual to diabetes, coronary heart disease and may also affect many of his body organs.

Trans fatty acids or Trans fats are the most harmful type of fats which can have much more adverse effects on our body than any other dietary constituent. These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally thus in our diet, these may be present as Artificial TFAs and/ or Natural TFAs. Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter. In our diet the major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.

TFAs pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats. While saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to protect us against heart disease.

Trans fats consumption increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It is also associated with a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, infertility, certain types of cancers and can also lead to compromised fetal development causing harm to the yet to be born baby.

Despite their harmful effect the reason why food manufacturers frequently use them because TFA containing oils can be preserved longer, they give the food the desired shape and texture and can easily substitute ‘Pure ghee’. Further, these are comparatively far lower in cost and thus add to profit/saving.

The most common dietary source of Trans fats is the partially hydrogenated vegetable fat commonly known as ‘Vanaspati Ghee’/Margarine. Since partially hydrogenated vegetable fat (Vanaspati/Margarine) is rather high in TFA, all food items prepared, baked or fried by using Vanaspati/Margarine contain TFA. These include: Cakes and Pastries; Patty, Rusk; Fried Aloo Chaat , AlooTikki (prepared in ‘Vanaspati’), Sweets (Mithai) (prepared in ‘Vanaspati’), Cookies / biscuits, French fries, Potato chips, Bhatura, Samosa, Parantha, etc.

Strategies to limit Trans Fat intake through food is by avoiding use of “Vanaspati Ghee” or margarine in kitchen, heating the oil for very long time or re-using the same oil for frying. So also avoiding the use of ready to use (instant) mixes for preparing foods as they have a greater chance of having Trans fats and checking the Nutrition Facts label on packaged food items for their TFA content if indicated.

If a label says “0” trans fat, it can still contain 0.5 grams trans fats per serving or less.

While some developing countries have laid down norms for TFA content of food, India has yet to pass/implement the regulation regarding the TFA containing fats or the TFA content of commercially prepared food items. Therefore, the responsibility lies with the consumers to safeguard their interest.

Harmful Effects of Trans Fats on Human Health

Studies across the world indicate that:

• TFA raise the VLDL, LDL-c, Triglyceride, Lp (a) lipoprotein and Free fatty acid levels on the other hand it lowers the LDL-c particle size and HDL-c levels. All these contribute to raising the risk of heart diseases.

• Intake of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils contributes to the risk of myocardial infarction

• TFA promotes systemic inflammation which increases the C-reactive protein leading to thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), diabetes, and sudden death due to heart failure.

• TFA causes endothelial dysfunction (by increasing circulating bio-markers including soluble inter cellular adhesion molecule1, soluble vascular-cell adhesion molecule1 and E-selectin) which is a key step in the development of atherosclerosis

• TFA have been found to increase insulin resistance and seem to have a unique cardio-metabolic imprint that is linked to insulin-resistance and metabolic-syndrome pathways.

• Consumption of trans-unsaturated fatty acids has shown to increase the risk for ovulatory infertility.

• TFA compromises fetal growth and development.

• Dietary TFA can also lead to neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline in later life.

(National Nutrition Week is observed from September 1-7)

India Marching towards Global knowledge hub

By - V. Mohan Rao, Freelance Journalist

India is gradually marching ahead to become a knowledge hub in the world thanks to various measures taken by the Government through its Literacy Mission and reforms in the education sector. Realizing that creation of new knowledge and its dissemination are critical to the progress and development of the society, the government has been taking effective steps like strengthening of existing higher educational institutions as well as creation of new knowledge based intuitions, striving quality and excellence in research both in public sphere as well as by not-for-profit private initiative. Putting its Literacy Mission high on agenda, the Government has initiated a number of measures including the adoption of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education, to achieve higher literacy rate in the country. Constant efforts are also made to recasting of the National Literacy Mission to focus on literacy of women, reduction in the drop out rate of children at school levels and introduction of public private participation in the school education.


The Act has come into force with effect from 1st of April 2010. It has been enacted to provide free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. The provisions of the Act provide that with a view to prepare children above the age of three years for elementary education and to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years. Under the Integrated Child Development Service Scheme (ICDSS), over 3.5 crore children between the age group of 3 to 6 years are being provided pre-school education in the Anganwadi Centres.


Saakshar Bharat, a new variant of the National Literacy Mission has been launched in September 2009. The Mission was rolled out in 167 districts targeting over 30 million adults predominantly belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Minorities and other disadvantaged groups. It aims to provide literacy, basic education, skill development and continuing education to adults, especially women in rural areas. During 11th Five Year Plan, Saakshar Bharat aims to impart literacy to 70 million non-literate adults at an estimated cost of Rs.5,257 crore. It has been launched primarily to bridge the gender gap with the aim of achieving 80 per cent literacy at the end of 11th Plan. Under Adult Literacy programme, a total 597 districts across the country have been covered so far.


Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is the national flagship programme of the Government being implemented throughout the country. The World Bank provides financial assistance for implementation of SSA as sector wide support. The World Bank has reimbursed Rs.2736 crore during the last three years. During the 11th Plan, several schemes for strengthening existing higher educational institutions for enhancing access, quality, equity and relevance have been launched. A Task Force of eminent experts appointed by the Government has circulated a draft Bill for an overarching promotional and regulatory authority. The Government also proposes to set up 14 universities for innovation across 11th and 12th Five Year Plan to make India a global knowledge hub and set benchmarks for excellence for other institutions, synergizing teaching and research.


The Government has constituted a National Advisory Council (NAC) on 8th of July 2010 to over the see implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act. For 2010-11, a central budget allocation of Rs.15,000 crore has been made for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the main vehicle for implementation of the provisions of RTE Act. The 13th Finance Commission has given Rs.24,068 crore for the period 2010-11 to 2014-15 for elementary education.


As per the 2001 Census, the literacy rate in 7 plus age group was 79.92 per cent in Urban areas and 58.74 per cent in rural areas showing a gap of 21.18 per cent between urban and rural literacy rates in the country. According to UNESCO Global Monitoring Report 2010 on literacy in the age group of 15 and above, India with 66 per cent occupies second position among its neighbouring countries. Sri Lanka tops with 91 per cent of literacy rate.


As per a study by the National Sample Survey Organisation in 2009, estimated 81.50 lakh children representing 4.28 of the child population in the 6 - 13 age group as school dropouts. The Government adopted a multi-pronged approach for reducing drop out rates. The Government has also taken several measures to strengthen the Mid Day Meal Scheme.


The Government is planning to raise the Gross Enrolment Ratio in Higher Education from the present 12.4 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020. As per estimates, the country needs 27,000 additional colleges and over 24,000 technical colleges. The Knowledge Commission has estimated that 1500 universities would be needed as against the present 504 university level institutions. For achieving capacity expansion in higher education, the Government plans a mix of initiatives in stepping up public investment, encouraging not-for-profit private participation and public private partnerships. (PIB Feature on International Literacy Day 8 September)

Mercury- Environmental Implications and Toxicity

By - Smt. Kalpana Palkhiwala,Dy. Director(M & C),PIB

Mercury is the only liquid state metal, which finds very wide commercial application in industries, electrical appliances, mercurial catalysts, healthcare sector for extensive , seed treatment, laboratory reagents etc. Because of extensive use in thermometers, sphygmomanometers, dental amalgams, agriculture for seed treatment, as laboratory reagents etc. Because of extensive commercial use, the mercury consumption in the country is quite high. The Mercury Cell process based Chlor-alkali industries are one of the major users and thus prime source of mercury release to the environment along with the coal-fired thermal power plants, plastic industries, pulp and paper industries, discarded medical instruments, used electrical appliance, electronic waste, certain pharmaceuticals and agricultural products.
The mercury is highly toxic in both forms elemental and compounds; irrespective of whether inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin. The microbes convert inorganic mercury of aquatic environment into methyl mercury and various organic mercury compounds. These compounds may be bio-accumulated and bio-magnified in food chain, particularly in the body tissue of fresh water and marine organisms and consequently get transferred to human beings. The Environmental issues of elemental mercury and its various forms, their toxico-kinetics and human health impacts have been widely documented. The mercury compounds are recognized as cumulative poison and are potent neuro and nephro toxic substances. Alkyl mercury has been known to cause permanent mental retardation.

Nature, Occurrence, Distribution
Mercury is the only element, which is liquid at ambient temperature and sometimes called Quicksilver because of its silvery white appearance. It rarely occurs free in nature and is mainly found as bright red crystalline solid Cinnabar ore (HgS). Mercury is a heavy, odourless, lustrous liquid metal that sinks in water. It is mobile, ductile and converts into malleable mass on being solidified at -39o C, which may be cut with a knife.
Mercury has very wide commercial and industrial applications. It is an excellent conductor of electricity, therefore it is widely used in electrical apparatuses i.e. meters, switches, batteries etc. Being highly mobile, it cannot be disintegrated into harmless components. In the industrial processes, mercury is actually not consumed, therefore whatever mercury is used comes back with wastes, effluents, air emissions or in the products. The mercury hazards have been recognized since last few decades due to environmental awareness. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of the mercury used in the industrial processes literally vanishes into various environmental components.
Chlor-alkali industries had been the major source of mercury release to the environment till sometimes back, because of obsolete technology. However, now all of the Chlor alkali industries except few are based on upgraded advanced and cleaner Technology viz. Membrane Technology which does not use mercury in the process.
The average concentration of mercury in the earth’s crust is about 0.07 mg/kg. More than 90% of the world’s supply of mercury is provided by seven countries: USA, Spain, Yugoslavia, Italy, former Soviet Union, China and Mexico.

Existence of Various Forms of Mercury In Environment
Mercury and its compounds exist in the environment in two forms, inorganic mercury and its compounds and organic mercury and its compounds. The inorganic mercury is available either in mercurous (Hgo) or mercuric (Hg2+) form, while organic mercury is covalently bonded with alkyl or aryl groups.
The metallic mercury when enters in the aquatic environment, the bacterial action converts it slowly to methyl mercury, both the methyl mercury ions (CH3HG+) and Dimethyl mercury (CH3)2Hg are formed. Mercury is particularly dangerous in organomercury compounds. The inorganic mercury directly accumulates in body tissues, while organic mercury in form of aryl salts of mercury, breaks down into organic mercury in the body tissue. The alkyl salts of mercury, particularly methyl mercury is able to diffuse easily through the membranes and spread throughout the body.

Mercury Trade in India
Mercury is not geologically extracted in the country, but imported for commercial uses. Mercury and mercury containing wastes are included in the waste streams of the Basel Convention on trans-boundary movements of hazardous waste and their disposal. In order to control the movement of Basel wastes, the export and import of mercury bearing wastes has been banned under Schedule 8 of the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Amendment Rules, 2003. But elemental mercury and mercury containing equipments are continued to be freely imported.

Global Production of Mercury
Mercury is Natural component of the Earth, with an average abundance of approximately 0.05 mg/kg in the Earth’s crust, with significant local variations. The ores of mercury, which are mined generally, contain about one percent mercury.

Natural Sources of Mercury
Mercury can be found virtually in all geological media in small, but varying concentrations. The major sources of mercury are the natural degassing of the earth’s crust i.e. evaporation from soil and water surfaces, degradation of minerals and forest fires. Elemental and oxidized forms of mercury are being continuously added to the environment due to their volatile nature. Several cycles are involved in the transport and distribution of mercury in the environment. The global cycle involves the atmospheric circulation of elemental mercury vapours from sources on that also transport the mercury to streams and lakes through surface.

Anthropogenic Sources of Mercury
Industrial use and commercial products containing mercury are recognized as significant sources of mercury release in the environment. Air emissions from coal burning power plants, incinerators, and hazardous waste combustions are the major contributors of mercury. Mercury is also contributed directly from municipal and industrial sits, hospitals, dental clinics, and wastewater and from breakage or disposal of mercury contains products such as fluorescent lights, thermostats and thermometers. There are three major sources of anthropogenic release of mercury which include mobilization of mercury impurities, intentional extraction and use of mercury and waste treatment and cremation, etc.
Coal-fired power generation and heat production, energy production from other fossil carbon fuels, cement production (mercury in lime), mining and other metallurgical activities, and petroleum production are sources of mobilization of mercury impurities.
Chlor-alkali production, products such as thermometers, manometers and other instruments viz. electrical and electronic switches containing mercury, use of fluorescent lamps, instruments and dental amalgam fillings, etc., and use of batteries, fireworks and laboratory chemicals form the source from intentional extraction and use of mercury.
Waste treatment and cremation, etc. activities include municipal, medical and hazardous wastes incineration, landfills and recycling and storage.

Mercury in Atmosphere and Aquatic Environment
The atmospheric chemistry of mercury involves several interactions such as gas phase reactions; aqueous phase reactions (in cloud and fog droplets); partitioning of elements and oxidized mercury species between the gas and solid phases and partitioning between gas and aqueous phase.Methyl mercury can be formed in the environment by microbial metabolism. The efficiency of microbial mercury methylation generally depends on factors such as microbial activity and the concentration of bio available mercury, which in turn are influenced by temperature, pH, redox potential and the presence of inorganic and organic agent.

Mercury in Soil/Sludge and Food Chain
Soil contamination could be caused either by direct dumping or land filling of mercury contaminated wastes. Mercury in water body sediments may indicate the history of contamination. The concentration of mercury in Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) composts is usually very low and thus there is little likelihood of significant transfer of mercury to other environmental components.
Mercury enters into the terrestrial food chain by way of seed eating animal species, resulting in increased level of mercury in tissues and eggs of predatory birds, singing birds and rodents. Some parts of mercury also enters via plant in lonic, complexes and gaseous form through leaves and roots. Human beings can be affected on consumption of contaminated plants and animals on setting the mercury poisoning. (PIB Features)

Mahatma Gandhi – a Protagonist of Peace

By Nirendra Dev, Special Representative with ‘The Statesman’,New Delhi.

The second day of the month of October presents yet another occasion to a grateful Nation to recall the teachings of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. The advent of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on the Indian political horizon posed enough reasons to excite as well as attract hundreds of Indians towards him and – more towards his ideology, which later came to be called the Gandhian Philosophy. It is indeed amazing that the personality of Gandhiji gripped the imagination of millions of his countrymen and in later stage an overwhelming number the world over.
It was to his unique credit that in a world marred by violence and man-made hatred, Mahatma Gandhi stands firm as a man of universal goodwill and a protagonist of peace. What is more striking is that Gandhiji emerged during his life time as a torchbearer of peace, even today he continues to surprise mankind with his non-violent methods of resolving conflicts. To many, it is not merely a strange phenomenon that a Nation subjected to colonial rule put up a strong resistance against the British hegemony with non-violence as a principal tool under a frail looking leader like Gandhiji. What is stranger still is the magic spell of success his methodology continues to have.
Can there be any denying the fact that ‘non-violence’ and the message of peace is still a familiar catchword among the world leaders to settle any international or bilateral dispute? It goes without saying that it is never possible to evaluate how much India and the world owes to Mahatma Gandhi, the holy mascot of peace.
A peace – however with a difference! This is what the protagonist was himself to say: “I am a man of peace. But I do not want peace at any price. I do not want the peace that you find in grave”. This is precisely an element that gives a suitable clause about Gandhi as a ‘man of peace’. This is only to underline that despite being a crusader of peace, Mahatma Gandhi was not just cut out to be someone who would or could accept anything or everything in the name of a peace deal.
Gandhiji’s definition of peace was not without struggle. In fact, he had led brilliantly in fight against apartheid in white-ruled South Africa. Consequently on his return back home in 1915, Gandhiji took on the mantle as a social reformer with campaign against untouchability and other social vices. Later he extended this yardstick to political sphere and in the long run took his message of love, peace and mutual adjustment to the cause of Hindu-Muslim harmony.
His ‘Ram dhun’, the popular devotion number, ‘Ishwar Allah tera naam’ is still the nation’s best hymn for Hindu-Muslim peace. This brings us into debate what was then ‘peace’ to Gandhiji. Well, one can say that the highly upheld ‘Peace’ was not an end by itself to him. Rather it was only a sort of a means to ensure better welfare for the mankind.
Mahatma Gandhi in real sense was a harbinger of truth. In fact, he even had said that ‘Truthfulness is more important than peacefulness’. In this context, the following words of the Mahatma, as quoted from ‘Young India’ newspaper are quite relevant. Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Though we sing – all glory to God on high and on the earth be peace — there seems to be today neither glory to God nor Peace on earth”. Mahatma Gandhi wrote these words in December 1931. He died 17 years later in January 1948 to an assassin’s bullets. It indeed was tragic that a saint of universal peace and non-violence fell a victim to violence and hatred. But even today in the circa 2010, Mahatma Gandhi’s words of 1931 holds true.
The world is today faced with plethora of conflicts – of all types. Therefore, we see Gandhi’s emphasis on universal brotherhood and peaceful co-existence has all time relevance. His teachings are therefore the most upheld principles of patriotism as also on ways and means to end various global conflicts. In fact, a true testimony of Gandhij’s teaching lies in the fact that mere “good ends” do not justify ‘bad’ means. The world over therefore, today the emphasis is on human dignity and upholding the values of natural justice.
It is obvious that in today’s world, nothing seems to be permanent except the ‘crisis of peace’ – and nothing would be a better tribute to this man than to re-dedicate ourselves towards the cause of ‘peace’ and mutual tolerance. Here lies the relevance of Gandhism. (PIB Features)

Gandhi’s Economic ideas in today’s context

By - Ikshula, Freelance Writer

The world today faces challenges of different forms ranging from ecological disaster to terrorist violence and from deaths from malnutrition to problems emanating from plenty. The world, whether it is the affluent North or the developing South, seems to be running in a mad race. Two separate races, almost oblivious of each other, are going on simultaneously on the world map – one race is of affluent people who are clamouring for more and the other is for mere survival where people are striving hard to make both ends meet. And this is where Gandhiji’s ideas hold great value for today’s world – his emphasis on ‘aparigrah’ (non-possessiveness’) and his idea of ‘Swaraj’ under which each individual, he thought, would be enabled to control his or her life independent of state power and where villages/gram sabhas would be self-dependent and self-sufficient.

“Our Earth has enough for everyone’s need but not for anyone’s greed” – This is what Mahatama Gandhi said almost a century ago and there is no doubt that this holds good today. Gandhiji’s famous Talisman that you recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man and consider whether your act is going to be of any use to him, should be our Mantra. And this talisman should be our philosophy of life if we have to achieve the larger objective of ‘Swaraj’ and inclusive growth.

Human happiness was the main criterion for Gandhiji and he thought that progress should be measured in terms of human happiness. He did not believe in the modern view of an affluent society in which material development is the sole criterion of progress. He supported the concept of ‘SARVODAYA’, the greatest good of all. His vision of Swaraj was a society in which every man would have dignified life, and equal opportunities to grow. He envisaged a society in which economic progress and social justice would go hand in hand.

As our late Prime Minister and a Gandhian, Morarji Desai wrote in an Essay “Gandhiji And the Destiny of Man” that Gandhiji demonstrated to the world the strength of man’s invincible soul when it was pitted against physical force or military might; of moral values as against material ones; and of service and sacrifice as against selfishness and acquisitiveness. He taught us the beauty of truth and the sublimity of the human spirit.

Gandhiji was not opposed to material prosperity nor did he reject the use of machines in all circumstances. He felt that machinery should save time and labour for all. He did not want man to become a slave of machines and lose his identity altogether; he wanted machines to be for man, not man for machines.

In Gandhi’s own words: “Economic equality is the master-key to non-violent independence… A non-violent system of government is clearly an impossibility so long as the wide gulf between the rich and the hungry millions persists. The contrast between the palaces of New Delhi and the miserable hovels of the poor, laboring class cannot last one day in a free India in which the poor will enjoy the same power as the richest in the land.”

As a Gandhian scholar Sunil points out in one of his recently published articles that the high consumption levels being presently practiced and espoused, cannot be available to the whole humanity. Even where available and achievable, the cult of consumerism has not made the life and society happier and healthier. It has brought its own distortions and social crises. And worse, it has brought the ecology and environment of the earth to the brink of disaster.

If we go by Gandhian view, the villages will have to made self-dependent economic units. No doubt that a significant part of the village population has to be diverted to industries. But those industries will be small unit, labour-intensive and mainly village based. Villages and small towns have to be again made centre of development. For inclusive growth, we will have to promote the industries which provide employment in rural areas and bring prosperity and basic facilities to villages.

The National Employment Rural Guarantee Scheme is a concrete step in this direction. The Scheduled Tribe and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006, has been rightly hailed as landmark legislation. However, there is a need to do much more to achieve the larger objectives like inclusive growth and to eliminate hunger and malnutrition from the country. Since Gandhi, one of the greatest leaders of mankind, was born here, we should ensure that the ‘the face of the poorest and the weakest remains at the centre of our planning and development. (PIB Features)
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