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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 1st April 2022

  • IASbaba
  • April 1, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Vanniyar quota

Part of: Prelims and GS II – Policies and interventions 

Context: The Supreme Court has confirmed that the grant of 10.5% internal reservation to Vanniyakula Kshatriya community violates the fundamental rights of equality, non-discrimination and equal opportunity of 115 other most backward communities (MBCs) and de-notified communities (DNCs) in Tamil Nadu.

What is Vanniyar Movement? 

  • Vanniyars are one of the largest and most consolidated backward communities in Tamil Nadu.
  • They had raised massive protests in the mid-1980s demanding 20% reservation in the state, and 2% in central services.
  • During agitation from September 17 to 23, 1987, many protesters were killed. 
  • Split of OBC quota: In 1989, the OBC quota was split into two: Backward Castes and Most Backward Castes. 
  • Vanniyars were categorised among the MBCs with 107 other communities, with 20% reservation.
  • Three decades later, the state government passed a Bill, and the current government has implemented it with a Government Order ensuring 10.5% reservation for Vanniyars within the 20% MBC quota.

News Source: TH


New genus of parasitoid wasp

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Environment 

Context: A new genus of Braconid wasp has been named ‘Atree’, after the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), a leading research institution and environmental think tank based in Bengaluru. 

  • This is said to be the first time in India that an institute has an eponymous insect genus.
  • The development comes with the discovery of a new species of wasp, Atree rajathae and two other already known species. 
  • The newly described species is a parasitoid wasp. 
  • An ATREE statement explained that parasitoids are the most important natural enemies of other insects, and humans exploit this behaviour for the biological control of crop pests.

News Source: TH


Irrawaddy dolphins

Part of: Prelims and GS III – Environment 

Context: The dolphin population along Odisha’s coast and in its waterbodies has increased but the number of Irrawaddy dolphins in Chilika lake has fallen.

Irrawaddy dolphins:

  • Endangered  — IUCN
  • Living in brackish water near coasts, river mouths and in estuaries in South and Southeast Asia
  • Found in – Ganges, Mekong and Irrawaddy river system

Chilika Lake:

  • Chilika Lake It is largest coastal lagoon or brackish water lake in India and Asia and second largest lagoon in the world

News Source: TH


(Mains Focus)


POLITY/ SECURITY

  • GS-2: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure.

Assam-Meghalaya boundary dispute resolution

Context: Two months after signing a draft resolution on January 29, Assam and Meghalaya partially resolved a 50-year-old dispute along their 884.9 km boundary. 

  • An agreement in this regard, termed historic, was signed between Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Meghalaya CM Conrad K. Sangma in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah.

How did the boundary dispute start? 

  • Meghalaya, carved out of Assam as an autonomous State in 1970, became a full-fledged State in 1972. 
  • The creation of the new State was based on the Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969, which the Meghalaya government refused to accept. 
  • This was because the Act followed the recommendations of a 1951 committee to define the boundary of Meghalaya. 
  • On that panel’s recommendations, areas of the present-day East Jaintia Hills, Ri-Bhoi and West Khasi Hills districts of Meghalaya were transferred to the Karbi Anglong, Kamrup (metro) and Kamrup districts of Assam. 
  • Meghalaya contested these transfers after statehood, claiming that they belonged to its tribal chieftains. 
  • Assam said the Meghalaya government could neither provide documents nor archival materials to prove its claim over these areas. After claims and counter-claims, the dispute was narrowed down to 12 sectors on the basis of an official claim by Meghalaya in 2011. 

How did the two governments go about handling the issue? 

  • The two States had initially tried resolving the border dispute through negotiations but the first serious attempt was in May 1983 when they formed a joint official committee to address the issue. 
  • In its report submitted in November 1983, the committee suggested that the Survey of India should re-delineate the boundary with the cooperation of both the States towards settling the dispute. There was no follow-up action. 
  • As more areas began to be disputed, the two States agreed to the constitution of an independent panel in 1985. Headed by Justice Y.V. Chandrachud, the committee submitted its report in 1987. Meghalaya rejected the report as it was allegedly pro-Assam. 
  • Following more disputes and resultant violence, the two governments agreed in January 1991 to jointly demarcate the border with the help of the Survey of India. About 100 km of the border was demarcated by the end of 1991, but Meghalaya found the exercise unconstitutional and refused to cooperate. 
  • In 2011, the Meghalaya Assembly passed a resolution for central intervention and the constitution of a boundary commission. 
  • The Assam Assembly retaliated with a resolution to oppose the move. But the Centre made the two governments appoint nodal officers to discuss the boundary dispute to minimise the points of difference. 
  • In 2019, the Meghalaya government petitioned the Supreme Court to direct the Centre to settle the dispute. The petition was dismissed. 

How was the ice broken? 

  • In January 2021, Union Home Minister urged all the north-eastern States to resolve their boundary disputes by August 15, 2022, when the country celebrates 75 years of Independence. 
  • It was felt that the effort could be fast-tracked since the region’s sister-States either had a Bharatiya Janata-led government or that of its allies. 
  • In June 2021, the two States decided to resume talks at the CM level and adopt a “give-and-take” policy to settle the disputes once and for all. 
  • Of the 12 disputed sectors, six “less complicated” areas — Tarabari, Gizang, Hahim, Boklapara, Khanapara-Pilingkata and Ratacherra — were chosen for resolving in the first phase. 
  • Both States formed three regional committees, one each for a district affected by the disputed sectors. These committees, each headed by a cabinet minister, were given “five principles” for approaching the issue. These principles are 
    • historical facts of a disputed sector
    • ethnicity
    • administrative convenience
    • willingness of people 
    • contiguity of land preferably with natural boundaries such as rivers, streams and rocks. 
  • The committee members conducted surveys of the disputed sectors and held several meetings with the local stakeholders. 
  • On January 29, the two governments signed a draft resolution prepared on the basis of the recommendations of these regional panels. This paved the way for the March 29 closure of the six disputed sectors. 

Will the partial settlement impact border disputes elsewhere in the Northeast? 

  • According to the partial boundary deal, Assam will get 18.51 sq. km of the 36.79 sq. km disputed area while Meghalaya will get the remaining 18.28 sq. km.
  • There is no clarity yet on the villages or uninhabited stretches that would be divided.
  • Also, some political parties and community-based groups in Meghalaya are unhappy about acceding any part of the disputed areas to Assam. Reactions are similar in Assam. 
  • But officials in Assam said it was better to let go of areas where they did not have any administrative control rather than “live with an irritant forever”. 
  • However, residents in the other six disputed sectors — Langpih, Borduar, Nongwah, Matamur, Deshdemoreah Block I and Block II, and Khanduli — feel the “give-and-take” template could spell disaster for them. The fear is more among non-tribal people who could end up living in a “tribal Meghalaya with no rights for us”. 
  • According to a paper tabled in the Assam Assembly in August 2014, six neighbouring States control 77,531.71 hectares of Assam land. Apart from Meghalaya, the other States are Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and West Bengal. 

Connecting the dots :


AGRICULTURE/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • GS-3: Indian Agriculture & challenges associated with it.

Decarbonising Indian agriculture

Context: In 2016, agriculture and livestock emitted 407,821 Gg of CO2e, around 14% of total emissions. Out of this, 61.3% is linked to livestock. 

Apart from livestock, the major constituents of agriculture GHG emissions are 

  • rice cultivation (17.5%)
  • fertiliser application (19.1%)
  • field burning of agricultural residues (2.2%). 

Why decarbonisation of Agriculture is a tricky issue in India?

  • India, with 1.75 million sq km arable land and a 300 million cattle population has 160 million rural households with agriculture being the main source of livelihood. 
  • Hence, decarbonisation has to be carefully calibrated to avoid an adverse impact to over 120 million marginal farmers who are still in the ‘survival phase’ of their socio-economic development

What pathways can be used for decarbonising agriculture?

Deep decarbonising pathways would include 

  • reducing biogenic methane from cattle and rice cultivation
  • inculcating resource efficiency by reducing consumption of irrigation water, chemical fertilisers, and energy as well as farm waste processing
  • reducing waste in the food supply chain
  • building climate resilience through deploying automation and technology. 

The following factors are critical for both decarbonisation and sustainability:

Soil
  • Fertile soil enhances farm yields and incomes apart from being a carbon sink. 
  • Healthy soil holds more moisture and soil conservation methods reduce erosion. 
  • The co-products of biogas/biofuels plants are compost/bio-char, which enrich soil, mitigate environment pollution, and displace chemical fertilisers
Freshwater
  • Agriculture consumes over 80% of freshwater in India, making conservation critical. 
  • Micro-irrigation with automation and adoption of low water-intensive species and farming practices is essential. 
  • Areas under water intensive crops must be reduced through crops diversification, examples being oil seeds, pulses, horticulture, and forage crops.
Alternate cropping:
  • This contributes to GHG mitigation and is an emerging area in climate-smart farming. 
  • For example, seaweed cultivation as additive to cattle feed reduces biogenic methane emissions, improves feed quality, and enhances milk production
Agro-forestry:
  • Trees act as windbreaks, reduce soil erosion, enrich soil, and filter water. 
  • Studies suggest that 5% increase at 5 yearly intervals to the existing 16 mha area can help mitigate India’s projected emissions.
Bio-energy from farm waste
  • Manure-based community biogas plants can support clean cooking and distributed power. 
  • India’s National Policy for Biofuels/ SATAT scheme set a medium-term target of 15 million tonnes of bio-CNG. 
  • BECCS (Bio Energy with Carbon Capture & Storage) involves capturing CO2 from bioenergy plants and permanent storage. This will lead to carbon removal as well as negative emissions.

Way Ahead

  • Sustainable agriculture pathways will require significant capital, but a large portion could come from repurposing existing subsidies. 
  • Climate finance and patient capital will be needed for areas having longer gestation period, viz biogenic methane mitigation, agro-forestry, etc.
  • Coordinated and action-oriented implementation and appropriate institutional architecture from the Centre to states to districts or agro-zones is needed.

Connecting the dots:

  • National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC),
  • National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA)

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1 Vanniyars are one of the largest and most consolidated backward communities in which of the following state of India

  1. Karnataka 
  2. Tamil Nadu
  3. Andhra Pradesh 
  4. Both 1 and 2 

Q.2 What is the IUCN status of Irrawaddy dolphins?

  1. Endangered 
  2. Critically Endangered
  3. Vulnerable 
  4. None of the above 

Q.3 Where is Chilika lake located?

  1. Rajasthan
  2. Assam
  3. Odisha
  4. Delhi

ANSWERS FOR 1st April 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 B
2 A
3 C

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