Part of: GS-Prelims
- Bihuis a fast-paced, extremely joyful dance, hailing from the state of Assam.
- It is performed by young girls and boys during the festivals of Bihu, Assam’s three important agricultural festivals – Bhogali/Magh Bihu (January), Bohag/Rongali Bihu (April), and Kongali Bihu (October).
- Marks the beginning of Assamese New Year.
Part of: GS Prelims
Context: Four persons were arrested for allegedly raping a Bengal monitor lizard in Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (STR) in Maharashtra.
Bengal monitor lizard
- Distributed widely in the Indian Subcontinent, as well as parts of Southeast Asia and West Asia. Mainly a terrestrial animal, and its length ranges from about 61 to 175 cm (24 to 69 in) from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail.
- Young monitors may be more arboreal, but adults mainly hunt on the ground, preying mainly on arthropods, but also taking small terrestrial vertebrates, ground birds, eggs and fish.
- Although large Bengal monitors have few predators apart from humans who hunt them for meat, younger individuals are hunted by many predators.
- Known as bis-cobra in western India, Goyra in Rajasthan, guishaap or goshaap in Bangladesh and West Bengal, goh in Punjab and Bihar, as ghorpad in Maharashtra and as Thalagoya in Sri Lanka
- A clan in Maharashtra called Ghorpade claims that the name is derived from a legendary founder Maratha Koli leader Tanaji Malusare who supposedly scaled a fort wall using a monitor lizard tied to a rope.
- The Bengal monitor’s belly skin has traditionally been used in making the drum head for the kanjira (known as Dimadi in Maharashtra), a South Indian percussion instrument.
Part of: GS-Prelims and GS – III – Economy
Context: A total of 61 applicants has been approved.
- Government approved PLI Scheme for Textiles products for enhancing India’s manufacturing capabilities and enhancing exports with an approved financial outlay of Rs 10,683 crore over a five-year period
- Government reduced import duty of cotton to zero
- Objective: To help India regain its historical dominant status in global textiles trade.
Key features of the scheme
- The incentives shall encourage investment in new capacities in man-made fibre (MMF) apparel, MMF fabrics, and 10 segments or products of technical textiles.
- The scheme shall help attract investment of more than Rs. 19,000 crore, creating an additional 7.5 lakh direct jobs.
- There will be two levels of investment with different sets of incentives.
- In the first category, any person or firm can invest a minimum Rs. 300 crore in plant, machinery, and civil works to produce the identified products to ensure eligibility for the PLI.
- In the second category a minimum investment of Rs. 100 crore would make an individual or firm eligible to apply for the incentives.
- Priority would be given for investment in aspirational districts, tier-three, tier-four towns and rural areas.
- The scheme is expected to benefit States such as Gujarat, U.P., Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Andhra, Telangana and Odisha.
- Applicants would have two years as investment period and 2024-2025 would be the ‘performance’ year. The incentive flow would start in 2025-2026 and extend for five years.
Significance of the Textiles Sector
- Textiles & garments industry is a labour intensive sector that employs 45 million people in India.
- It is second only to the agriculture sector in terms of employment.
- It contributes 2.3% to Indian GDP, 7% of Industrial Output, 12% to the export earnings of India and employs more than 21% of total employment.
- India is the 6th largest producer of Technical Textiles with 6% Global Share, largest producer of cotton & jute in the world.
- Technical textiles are functional fabrics that have applications in industries such as automobiles, civil engineering and construction,
- India is also the second largest producer of silk in the world and 95% of the world’s hand woven fabric comes from India.
- Two-thirds of India’s textile exports now are cotton based whereas 66-70% of world trade in textiles and apparel is MMF-based and technical textiles.
ENVIRONMENT/ ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE
- GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
- GS-3: Indian Economy and its challenges
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) on climate change has delivered a wake up-call to narrow the widening “adaptation gap” and build resilience against “unfamiliar” climates.
Climate Change and Indian Agriculture
- Climate change already has evident effects on crop production & productivity with increasing frequency & severity of extreme weather events & unpredictable rainfall.
- This eventually leads to local food supply disruptions and negative impacts on rural incomes and poverty.
- Climate Change adversely impacts on availability and prices of food, exacerbating undernourishment in the country.
- As nearly 86% of Indian agriculture is small-holder agriculture and a significant part of it is subsistence agriculture adaptation to climate change is an issue of survival.
- Any response to climate change has the challenge of ensuring adequate food supply while at the same time conserving natural resources and ecosystems.
- Development plans in the agriculture sector focussing on soil and water management, crop diversification, cropping system optimisation, risk sharing (co-investment, community engagement), risk transfer (crop/livestock insurance), and improved localised forecasting and agro-advisory is required to optimise mitigation benefits.
- Also, it is essential to design policies and strategies especially focussing on small and marginal landholders.
- Agriculture being a State subject under the Indian Constitution, State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) need to be developed that is in sync with SDGs.
- It is also equally important to periodically review, update and integrate the agriculture, forestry and land use component in the SAPCCs.
- Adaptation measures pertaining to impact of natural disasters in agriculture and allied sectors need to be embedded in the disaster management plans prepared by district administration.
- Along with development of adaptive crop varieties, it is important to provide the supporting infrastructure including water supply, power and physical connectivity on which agricultural value chain depends.
- The financial needs of adaptation in India (2015–2030) in key climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and water resources is estimated at $206 billion (at 2014–2015 prices). Therefore, large and continued financial investment from government & private sector is required towards this purpose.
A pro-active adaptation approach in agriculture is needed, streamlining efforts and resources on climate and disaster resilience to reduce risk exposure, limiting impacts, and preparedness in coping with disasters.
Connecting the dots:
- Paris Climate Deal & India’s progress
- Glasgow Summit: Achievements & Disappointments
- IPCC report on Climate Change
- GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
- GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements.
Context: A recent leaked document has revealed that the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific has reached a deal with China which outlines an unprecedented level of security cooperation.
- This is the first deal of its kind for Beijing in the region.
- This has raised alarms in US and Australia, which have extensive stakes in the South Pacific.
What are the contents of the proposed deal and why are they controversial?
- The document ‘Framework Agreement between China and Solomon Islands on Security Cooperation’ was leaked through social media on March 24.
- It created a huge controversy domestically as well as internationally because it has the potential to disturb the established security mechanisms in the South Pacific region.
- The document explicitly enables China to send its “police, armed police, military personnel and other law enforcement and armed forces” to the islands
- on the Solomon island government’s request, or
- if China sees that the safety of its projects and personnel in the islands are at risk.
- The document also provides for China’s naval vessels to utilise the islands for logistics support.
- There have been speculations that China might be building its next overseas naval base in Solomon Islands after Djibouti, which was also incidentally referred to as a logistics support base.
- Dismissing the prospects for any foreign military base, the government of Solomon Islands affirmed the finalisation of the draft of such a deal.
- The deal is not yet signed and it is not fully known whether the provisions mentioned in the leaked document are present in the final draft.
What is the rationale for the Solomon Islands’ increasing proximity to China?
- The Solomon Islands is part of the ethnically Melanesian group of islands in the Pacific and lies between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.
- The islands, which were initially controlled by the British Empire during the colonial era, went through the hands of Germany and Japan and then back to the U.K., after the Americans took over the islands from the Japanese during World War II.
- The islands became independent in 1978 to become a constitutional monarchy under the British Crown, with a parliamentary system of government.
- Nevertheless, its inability to manage domestic ethnic conflicts led to close security relations with Australia, which is the traditional first responder to any crisis in the South Pacific.
- The Solomon Islands had cultivated strong ties with Taiwan, which ended with the emergence of the current government in Solomon Islands.
- In 2019, the new government headed by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare switched Taiwan for China. This was supposedly after Beijing offered half a billion U.S. dollars in financial aid, roughly five times what Taiwan spent on the islands in the past two decades.
- As the money from China flowed in, so did the adverse impact to the local population from Chinese businesses, Chinese labourers for Chinese infrastructure projects, as well as a perceived preferential treatment for Chinese interests .
- The switching of diplomatic relations along with the general dissatisfaction with the government, led to widespread Opposition protests and riots in Honiara in November 2021.
- Strikingly, these riots targeted Chinese assets in addition to government property.
- The government has also notably mentioned that the move is aimed at diversification of its security partnerships, taking aim at its longstanding security dependence on Australia.
Why is China interested in the Solomon Islands?
- The Pacific islands are among the few regions in the world where China has competition from Taiwan for diplomatic recognition.
- China considers Taiwan to be a renegade territory awaiting reunification, and opposes its recognition as an independent state on the international stage.
- Hence, any country which has to officially establish relations with China will have to break diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
- The Solomon Islands was one among the six Pacific island states which had official bilateral relations with Taiwan. However, in 2019, the Solomon Islands, along with Kiribati, switched allegiance to China.
- The small Pacific island states act as potential vote banks for mobilising support for the great powers in international fora like the United Nations.
- Moreover, these states have disproportionately large maritime Exclusive Economic Zones when compared to their small sizes, the reason why these ‘small island states’ are seen also seen as ‘big ocean states’.
- Solomon Islands, in particular, have significant reserves of timber and mineral resources, along with fisheries.
- But more importantly, they are strategically located for China to insert itself between America’s military bases in the Pacific islands and Australia. This is especially significant in the current scenario, given the emergence of the AUKUS (Australia, the U.K. and the U.S.) which seeks to elevate Australia’s strategic capabilities vis-à-vis China through Anglo-American cooperation.
- Nonetheless, the anti-China nature of the 2021 riots in Honiara turned out to be the immediate trigger for Beijing to ramp up its security cooperation with the Solomon Islands.
What does this mean for the established geopolitical configuration in the region?
- The Pacific islands, in the post-World War II scenario, were exclusively under the spheres of influence of the Western powers, in particular the U.S., U.K., France and the regional heavyweights, Australia and New Zealand.
- All of them have territorial possessions in the region, with the three nuclear powers among them having used the region as a nuclear weapons testing ground.
- The smaller island nations of the region are heavily dependent on them, especially Australia as it is a resident power.
- This established power structure in the region is being increasingly challenged by China through the steady displacement of Taiwan and the cultivation of economic and political clout.
- Its proposed deal with the Solomon Islands has added a security dimension to its fast-growing profile in the region.
- Australia has reacted with boosted finances, and by extending its current security mission till 2023 when the islands will host the Pacific Games.
- The U.S. has responded by considering reopening its embassy in islands after a long 29-year gap.
- New Zealand has shed its typical restraint about China and has criticised it for attempting to militarise the Pacific islands.
- Significant discontent has been brewing within and among the Pacific island states against China’s economic inroads and its adverse impact on their vulnerable economic and political systems. The riots in Honiara is only the recent one in the region which has an anti-China tint.
The geopolitics of the region is undergoing an unprecedented flux in tandem with the larger shifts in the Indo-Pacific, suggesting an intensification of regional great power rivalry and domestic volatility for the Pacific island states in the coming years.
Connecting the dots:
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1) Which of the following statements is/are correct?
- Bohag Bihu is a sowing festival.
- Kati Bihu is an animistic festival linked with crop protection and plant and crop worship.
- Bhogali Bihu is a harvest celebration.
Select the correct code:
- 1 Only
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.2) The ‘Sahyadri Tiger Reserve’ is spread over which of the following states?
Select the correct code:
- 1 Only
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- All of the above
Q.3) Consider the following statements about ‘Solomon Islands’.
- It is located south of Australia
- It is located in the Polynesia subregion of Oceania.
Select the correct code:
- 1 Only
- 2 Only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
ANSWERS FOR 15TH APRIL 2022 – TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On World Bank forecast for India:
On RBI and Inflation:
On hate speech: