IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 1st Sep 2020

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.– Paulo Coelho

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020.

EDITORIAL HUNT #119 :“Environmental Issues and Forest Rights

Environmental Issues and Forest Rights

Jayanthi Natarajan

Environmental Issues and Forest Rights

Jayanthi Natarajan is a political activist and a former Union Environment Minister


The environment is a national issue


To view environment protection through an ideological or political lens will only spell its doom

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : 3 : Deforestation : Forest Rights : Decentralisation


There is a critical need to harmonize the working of the central, State, and local governments on environmental issues and forest rights . Discuss -(GS 3)


  • Latest Report EPI 2020
  • Challenges
  • Way a head . Let us dive in !


To politically weaponise environmental issues is unproductive and unacceptable.

Environment issues are currently at the centre of a heated debate.



  • UNPLEASANT NUMBERS: To express shock at India being ranked at “177 out of 180 countries” in the Environmental Performance Index Report.
  • RECENT RANKING : In the June 2020 EPI Index, India’s rank stands improved at 168, not 177 which is the 2018 rank.

The Environmental Performance Index has been developed by two U.S. universities (Yale and Columbia) in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and European Commission.

The available ranking shows India at 118 in 2006, 123 in 2010, 155 in 2014 and 177 in 2018.

  • MESSAGE CONVEYED : Thereby giving a message opposite to that sought to be conveyed, regarding our standing at 177 in 2018.

EXPERTS OPINIONS : The 2008 ranking suggests that wealth is a major determinant of environmental success.

  • Any balance between the environment and development needs to be struck within India and based on our priorities, and not some international index.


  • CRONY CAPITALISM : Preoccupation with “crony capitalism” and implementing “ease of doing business” to the detriment of the environment is hazardous.
  • UNREASONABLE LINKS : The link between the great winter smog and pollution in North India, and the present draft EIA draft is not reasonable.
  • DIFFERENT STANDS : In point of fact, the winter smog and pollution in North India exemplify the anomalies of federalism, where the imperatives of the Centre and States differ.
  • LAWS IN LINE : There are also problems of environmental laws which are effective in principle, against point sources like industries.
  • LAWS OUT OF THE BOX : But there are no such rules against agriculture-related pollution such as stubble burning or public usage pollution relating to vehicular and household sources.

Undoubtedly, big industry has erred grievously in polluting our environment, and the government needs to take stringent steps against violators.

  • STATE SUBJECT : ‘Forests’ was a State subject until transferred to the Concurrent list by the 42nd Amendment Act.

However, de facto, the powers of the State governments continue, which is why, State governments hesitate to fully implement the Forest Rights Act.


  • CONCERNS : Deforestation ought to be a primary concern of any right-thinking government.
  • CLEARANCES : Forest clearances for mining and industries, while major, are not the only causes of deforestation.
  • DEMOGRAPHIC PRESSURE : Population pressure due to which the slash-and-burn (or jhoom cycle) has reduced in forest areas from 17-20 years to two-three years giving no time for forest regeneration.
  • LAND DIVERSION : Creeping conversion of forest to cultivated land are both major drivers of deforestation.
  • TIMBER DEMAND : There is also the increasing use of timber for household and industry purposes.

However, while diversion of forests for mining and industry is regulated by law and challenged in courts, the other major drivers are not even discussed.

  • NIRMAL GANGA : ‘Nirmal Ganga’ can be achieved by zero discharge of effluents and domestic sewerage.
  • AVIRAL GANGA : But ‘Aviral Ganga’ can only be achieved by constant balancing between irrigation needs of agriculture and potable water for cities on the one hand and the environmental flow of the river on the other.

      IASbhai Windup: 


  • The balance of imperatives between the environment and poverty eradication has to be acheived.

Also intelligence, monitoring and compliance with law are vital dimensions of environment preservation.

  • To address environment protection from the standpoint of ideological or political mooring is to sound the death knell of our environment.
  • The environment is a national issue which requires the unwavering participation of all governments, and all citizens, regardless of political affiliation.
       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Environmental Issues and Forest Rights

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