IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 30th August 2018
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Disaster Management; Science and Technology
- India is set to get more disaster warning systems along its coasts. The new systems will keep an eye out for tsunamis and storm surges.
- O-SMART (Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science) – is being piloted by the Union earth sciences ministry.
- O-SMART will provide economic benefits to a number of user communities in the coastal and ocean sectors, namely, fisheries, offshore industry, coastal States, defence, shipping, ports, etc.
Other key missions –
- strengthening of Ocean Services for fishermen,
- setting up marine observatories for monitoring marine pollution,
- setting up Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Plant (OTEC) in Kavaratti,
- acquiring two coastal research vessels,
- continuation of ocean survey and exploration of minerals and living resources,
- technology development for Deep Ocean Mining and manned submersibles; and
- the setting up six desalination plants in Lakshadweep.
Do you know?
- India already has a tsunami warning system in place.
- Implementation of O-SMART will help in addressing issues relating to Sustainable Development Goal-14, which aims to conserve use of oceans, marine resources for sustainable development.
- This scheme (O-SMART) also provide necessary scientific and technological background required for implementation of various aspects of Blue Economy.
Exercise Peace Mission 2018
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – International organization; Multilateral organization; International Relations; Security
- Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Peace Mission 2018 Exercise was held in Chebarkul, Russia.
- Military contingents of the all eight SCO member nations (China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, India and Pakistan) participated in this Exercise.
- The Peace Mission Exercise focused on anti-terror operations.
Do you know?
- This was the 5th edition of SCO Peace Mission Exercise.
- India participated for the first time.
- The Russian Army has the major participation of 1700 personnel followed by China with 700 & India with 200 personnel. Pakistan contingent comprised of 110 members.
- The SCO Peace Mission Exercise takes place every two years.
- The previous editions of this exercise were mainly limited to Central Asian nations. But due to the entry of India and Pakistan (in June 2017), SCO’s counter-terrorism mission now has been expanded to South Asia.
Rajiv Gauba Committee on incidents of lynching
Part of: GS Mains III – Internal Security; Violence
Panel headed by Rajiv Gauba has submitted its report on measures to check incidents of lynching.
According to the report,
- In May and June, more than 20 people were lynched based on fake posts or rumours floating on various social media platforms.
- Social media platforms needed to act in a “time-bound” manner.
- Social media platforms should be made accountable for not blocking malicious posts and videos when brought to their notice and an “FIR could be lodged against their country heads” for not complying with government orders and they could be prosecuted under law.
- Creation of a portal where people can report such videos and content and that will be forwarded by the National Crime Records Bureau [the nodal body] to the States concerned for appropriate action.
- Officer in each district at the level of Superintendent of Police and special task force to be set up to gather intelligence, and closely monitor social media contents to prevent mob attacks on people on the suspicion of being child-lifters or cattle smugglers.
- A survey by BARC India has found that 95% of homes in the five southern States have a TV. As per the Broadcast India (BI) 2018 Survey, the number of individuals owning television sets in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala is 259 million, an increase of 8% from 2016.
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- India and its neighbourhood- relations
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Challenges at BIMSTEC
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit in Kathmandu, will be another milestone for India after the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit hosted by it in 2016, as the grouping has gradually emerged as a key vehicle to take forward India’s regional, strategic and economic interests.
Stagnation of SAARC
- Stagnation of SAARC limited both, the scope of India’s growing economic aspirations as well as the role it could play in improving regional governance.
- At the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu, in 2014, India proposed the SAARC Motor Vehicles Agreement. However, this could not progress due to resistance from Pakistan.
- This compelled Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) to sign the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement in 2015.
- Pakistan also opted out of the ambitious SAARC Satellite project proposed by India, leading to a change in its name to the South Asia Satellite.
- There is a tendency in some quarters to see India’s interests in BIMSTEC as part of its strategy to isolate Pakistan and position BIMSTEC as an alternative to SAARC. The above instances suggest otherwise.
- The main motivation for India to push BIMSTEC is thus not Pakistan; rather, it is in the country’s interest to ensure that the region does not lag behind and that an unstable neighbourhood does not drag its growth.
- India’s desire to link South Asia to the economically dynamic Southeast Asia is also part of this strategy.
- The rationale behind making the BIMSTEC mechanism work is to reassure South Asia that the region can work together to achieve common goals with India playing its due role.
Do you know?
- The BIMSTEC is a regional organization comprising States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity.
- This sub-regional organization came into being on 6 June 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
- It constitutes seven Member States: five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand.
- The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people which constitute around 22% of the global population with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.7 trillion economy.
A few challenges
- There will be challenges for India from both within and outside. These will pose policy dilemmas.
- India is currently the largest contributor to the BIMSTEC secretariat’s budget. India’s annual contribution was Rs. 2 crore (or 32% of the total secretariat budget) for 2017-18.
- With the secretariat planning to strengthen its capacity by increasing human resources and the number of officials representing each member state, India may need to consider allocating more resources.
- India’s generosity would be a key test of its commitment to the subregional grouping.
- Another issue would be for India to counter the impression that BIMSTEC is an India-dominated bloc, a problem that it faced for a long time in SAARC.
- In reality, the suspicion was mutual in SAARC — while India was wary of the smaller neighbours ‘ganging up’ against it, the smaller neighbours were worried that closer integration might lead to India’s domination.
The China question
- Another strategic challenge for India is that China has long desired to be part of the SAARC grouping.
- Some SAARC members also have their own interests in bringing China into the equation: they want it to balance India’s dominance.
- China has observer status in SAARC. When this was given, it only increased the demand to make China a full member of SAARC.
- India will have to carefully navigate the emerging regional geopolitics, as many of the elements that made SAARC hostage to political rivalry and turned it into a defunct mechanism can re-emerge in BIMSTEC.
- Today, most of the smaller neighbours are more willing to engage so as to benefit from India’s economic rise. Nonetheless, for internal political reasons, the same issue may re-emerge and pose hurdles in the progress of BIMSTEC.
- To moderate such suspicions, India will need to show sensitivity to the concerns of smaller neighbours.
Connecting the dots:
- For India, BIMSTEC is a desirable alternative to SAARC. Comment.
Note: To know more, click here More About BIMSTEC
TOPIC:General Studies 3
- Climate Change
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
- Disaster Management
A people’s campaign to rebuild Kerala
- The material loss due to the Kerala floods has been estimated at Rs. 26,000 crore, but beyond this there has been an immense loss of natural, human, and social capital for which no estimates are available.
- The immediate task in the State is relief and rehabilitation, but it is crucial to simultaneously identify the root causes of the havoc.
The root causes
- There is no doubt that the short-sighted attempts in building man-made capital (buildings in hilly forests, encroachments on wetlands and rivers, and stone quarries) while ignoring the attendant degradation of natural, human and social capital have played a significant role in exacerbating the problem.
- The root causes prevail throughout the Western Ghats and, indeed, the rest of the country.
- The first is the flouting of laws that have been established to safeguard natural capital. The Shah Commission inquiring into illegal mining in Goa observes that mining beyond permissible limits has caused serious damage to water resources, agriculture and biodiversity.
- The Second, ignoring serious degradation of human capital in terms of health and employment. In the case of the Plachimada panchayat in Palakkad district, overuse and pollution of water resources by the Coca Cola factory has resulted in losses to the tune of Rs. 160 crore.
- Third, scientific knowledge and advice has been continually disregarded. In the case of the proposed Athirappilly hydroelectric project, an analysis by the River Research Centre showed that the project document had seriously overestimated the availability of water.
- Fourth, there has been serious erosion of social capital. For instance, Anoop Vellolippil, a staunch anti-quarry activist engaging in a peaceful demonstration, was killed by those allegedly employed by quarry owners.
The right of local communities
- It must be acknowledged that it is local communities that have a genuine stake in the health of their ecosystems and an understanding of the working of the same.
- The current system of protecting natural resources through negative incentives in the hands of a coercive and corrupt bureaucracy must give way to positive incentives that can be monitored in a transparent fashion by all concerned citizens.
- Gadgil panel proposes several such incentives — for example, payment of conservation service charges for protecting important elements of biodiversity such as sacred groves (called Sarpa Kavus in Kerala), and payment towards soil carbon enrichment by switching to organic farming.
- The government must reassure its people that it will no longer continue the policies of development and conservation by exclusion, and that it will respect the right of local communities to decide what kind of development they want and what kind of conservation measures they would like to see put in place.
- The government must implement the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments in letter and spirit.
- It must empower local bodies at the ward, gram panchayat, and town and city levels to prepare reports on the status of the environment and to decide on how a substantial portion of the budget should be spent on the basis of these reports.
- It must set up Biodiversity Management Committees of citizens and empower them to document the status of the local ecosystems and biodiversity resources, and regulate their use.
- They must be given powers to levy collection charges for access to biodiversity as well as to intellectual property relating to community knowledge.
- In particular, it must accord the Biodiversity Management Committees a central place in the preparation of environmental impact assessments and ensure that these assessments begin to reflect the true state of affairs instead of being the uniformly fraudulent documents that are being submitted today.
- It must fully implement the Forest Rights Act and empower not only tribal, but all traditional forest dwellers to control, manage and market non-timber forest produce.
- It must stop distortion and suppression of all environment and development-related information and begin uploading information suo-moto on websites, as the Right to Information Act demands.
- It must initiate building a public and transparent database on environmental parameters drawing on the environment status reports, People’s Biodiversity Registers, community forest management working schemes, and environmental education projects undertaken by students.
- Equipped with this information and all pertinent documents such as from the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, the Kasturirangan Committee, and the Oommen V. Oommen Committee, the State government should ask local bodies about the levels of ecological sensitivity in different parts of the landscape on the basis of topography, hydrology, land use and vegetation, regardless of ownership of the land.
- The local bodies should provide suggestions on appropriate management regimes for regions of different levels of sensitivity.
- The government should begin to proactively use modern technologies, including smartphones, in a user-friendly manner so that all the inputs from the various local bodies are transparently available to all citizens.
- Citizens can then assist in the task of integrating all this information and come up with appropriate conservation and development plans that are properly fine-tuned to locality- and time-specific ecological and social conditions.
- A new approach is needed that enhances the sum total of man-made, natural, human and social capital.
- This will be a broad-based inclusive approach to conservation and development, and will be in the spirit of the People’s Plan Campaign of the 1990s in Kerala, which was spearheaded by the State Finance Minister, Thomas Isaac.
- There is need to renew the spirit of the People’s Plan Campaign rather than seek to bury it. Only then can the people rebuild nature and society and assure for themselves a sustainable and safe future.
- If such a progressive approach was embraced, then we will be much better equipped in the years to come to moderate, if not fully prevent, the kind of havoc that visited Kerala recently.
Connecting the dots:
- Briefly analyse the role of local communities in environment protection and disaster management.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Consider the following about O-SMART:
- It is a mission to promote millet cultivation ‘as we move towards climate-smart agriculture in the wake of frequent droughts’.
- The mission is being piloted by the Union earth sciences ministry.
- Implementation of O-SMART will help in addressing issues relating to Sustainable Development Goal-14
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
- 1 and 2
- 1 and 3
- 2 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.2) Exercise Peace Mission 2018 is concerned with which of the following?
- India and Russia
Q.3) Which of the following statements are correct regarding Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS)?
- It is a permanent organ of BRICS
- It serves to promote cooperation against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism.
Select the code from following:
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.4) Which of the following countries is not member of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)?
Q.5) Which of the following countries is not a member of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)?
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