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The Hindu Editorial

27-February-2024

1. Drop the ‘garland model’ to let science in India blossom

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies
This article highlights issues in Indian scientific conferences, crucial for UPSC due to its connection to S&T development, a key national focus area.
Context
  • This article argues that scientific conferences in India need to be modernized to be more inclusive, equitable, and aligned with contemporary scientific practices.
 Reimagining Scientific Meetings in India  The Role of Scientific Meetings:
  • Scientific meetings or conferences are crucial for researchers to share and discuss their findings.
  • These meetings often include presentations, talks, and expert interactions on various scientific topics.
The Standard Academic Meeting Model:
  • Traditionally, a core group of organizers, often a scientific society, takes responsibility for planning, inviting experts, disseminating information, and managing finances.
  • Invited speakers, typically leading researchers, and other researchers paying a fee participate in these meetings.
Modern Trends in Scientific Conferences:
  • Contemporary conferences emphasize non-hierarchical interactions, career-stage equity, diversity, and sustainability, in addition to scientific discourse.
  • India hosts numerous scientific conferences across various fields, organized by scientific communities and societies.
Challenges with Scientific Conferences in India:
  • Outdated Bureaucratic Frameworks:
    • Conferences often involve institute administrators and hierarchical organization of organizers.
    • Proceedings feature lengthy talks by administrators, late starts, and segregated seating.
    • Gift-giving rituals and religious ceremonies are prevalent.
  • Lack of Inclusivity and Diversity:
    • Scientific programs may lack gender and diversity representation, featuring all-male panels and focusing solely on “women in science” without addressing broader issues.
Examples of Reimagined Conferences:
  • No Garland Neuroscience (NGN): This prioritises scientific content and discussions while maintaining a simple, cost-effective approach.
  • Young Investigators’ Meeting (YIM): This series focuses on scientific networking and mentorship among life scientists, promoting features like alphabetical speaker lists, round-table seating, gender equality, and open interactions.
The Need for Revamp:
  • The persistence of outdated practices hinders scientific progress and fosters inequities.
  • Reimagining conferences could promote inclusivity, accessibility, and sustainability.
  • This revamp would signal India’s commitment to contemporary scientific practices and global collaboration.
Conclusion:
  • Revamping scientific conferences in India is necessary to foster a more inclusive, equitable, and progressive scientific culture.
  • This change would not only benefit the Indian scientific community but also project India as a leading player in the international scientific landscape.
Practice Question:  Critically evaluate the current state of scientific conferences in India, and suggest reforms to enhance their effectiveness and global competitiveness (150 words/10 m)

2. An expansive land management policy is overdue

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government policies
This topic is crucial for UPSC as it addresses land degradation, a critical environmental issue linked to agriculture, climate change, and sustainable development – key UPSC areas.
Context
  • This article discusses the importance of sustainable land management in India, highlighting challenges and proposing solutions like multi-stakeholder platforms and a landscape approach.
 The Importance of Sustainable Land Management Practices in India  Land: A Multifaceted Resource:
  • Land is crucial for human activities, providing ecological, economic, social, and cultural services.
  • However, overlooking its multi-dimensionality leads to land degradation and environmental issues.
Global Context:
  • Land degradation costs the world an estimated $6 trillion annually.
  • The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14) and the IPCC highlight the need for land management solutions.
  • The FAO report, “State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture,” urges immediate action for sustainable land management.
Challenges in India:
  • India faces land management challenges due to its large population and limited land resources.
  • Arable land and forest cover are limited, while 30% of the land is already degraded.
  • Development needs, population growth, and rapid urbanization create pressure on land.
  • This leads to competition, land-use conflicts, and compromised environmental functions.
  • Climate change presents additional challenges.
Current Practices and Challenges:
  • Land management is:
    • Sectoral, with each department having its own approach.
    • Primarily under the purview of State governments.
  • Cultural land is privately owned, with land-use decisions resting with the owner.
  • Challenges include:
    • Knowledge gaps
    • Short-term planning bias
    • Fragmented approach
    • Lack of action for unforeseen events
    • Regulatory barriers
Proposed Solutions:
  • Multi-stakeholder platforms:
    • Establish platforms at district and sub-district levels involving various stakeholders.
    • Leverage Article 243ZD(1) of the Constitution for district planning committees.
  • Landscape approach:
    • Gain insights into land potential and allocation for appropriate uses.
    • Facilitate evaluation, negotiation, and decision-making.
    • Integrate climate change considerations for combined benefits.
Institutional Support:
  • Science and global experience support integrated landscape management.
  • The European Landscape Convention emphasizes the importance of landscape for well-being.
  • The U.K. Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology highlights the need for better land management policies.
  • Indian parliamentarians can initiate discussions for long-term sustainable land management practices involving all stakeholders.
Conclusion:
  • India needs to prioritize sustainable land management practices by fostering collaboration, adopting a landscape approach, and seeking institutional support.
  • This will ensure long-term environmental and economic benefits for the nation.
PYQ: The effective management of land and water resources will drastically reduce the human miseries. Explain. (200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2016)
Practice Question:  Elaborate on the challenges faced by India in implementing sustainable land management practices. Suggest comprehensive solutions to address these challenges. (250 words/15 m)

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