Pulses: The sustainable crops
GS Paper- III
Context- At its 73rd session in December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the request made by the Government of Burkina Faso regarding the annual observance of World Pulses Day on 10 February, building on the success of the 2016 International Year of Pulses, with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) playing a leading role in the campaign.
World Pulse Day 2023 Theme
The theme of World Pulses Day 2023 is Pulses for a Sustainable Future, emphasising the importance of pulses in encouraging justice and creating opportunities for livelihood, both of which are critical components of sustainable agrifood systems.
Major pulses that are grown in India: Tur, urad, moong, masur, peas and gram.
- In a vegetarian diet, pulses are the main source of protein.
- All of the pulses described above (excluding tur) are leguminous crops that help restore soil fertility by fixing nitrogen from the air.
- Most of these crops are produced in rotation with other crops.
- Pulses require less moisture and may live in dry environments.
- Important Production Zones: Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Karnataka are the primary pulse producing states. It accounts for around 11% of total planted area in India.
- India is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pulses: India is the world’s greatest producer and consumer of pulses. About 25% of the world’s pulses are generated here.
Why pulses are important?
- Pulses have a lower water footprint than other food crops and are more resistant to drought and other climate-related disasters, making them an important tool for adapting to and mitigating climate change.
- They also improve the quality of life for farmers in water-stressed areas.
- Pulses can serve to raise production and improve the resilience of agricultural livelihoods in a variety of farming systems, including agroforestry, intercropping, and integrated farming systems.
- The global pulses sector, which deals with the production and trading of pulses, is also a helpful influence in assuring the stability of regional and global supply chains, allowing consumers to acquire healthful meals, and supporting the sustainable use of natural resources.
- Pulse grains have been named a “Most Valuable Player” in the prevention of obesity, the reduction of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, and the promotion of a diverse microbiome in children who are at risk of stunting during the first 1,000 days of life.
- Pulses are an excellent alternative for those with low protein diets since they offer two to three times as much protein than cereals.
- They lower the need for fertiliser throughout the agricultural cycle and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by fixing atmospheric nitrogen.
- Many pulse crops have evolved to grow in dry conditions and can survive drought stress better than most other crops, which is a considerable benefit in a changing climate. As a result, fulfilling SDGs 2, 3, and 13 demand for improved human health, sustainable agriculture, food security, and climate action.
Pulse consumption in India
- India is now the world’s largest producer and consumer of pulses, however due to inadequate output to fulfil demand, imports are required.
- Imports have regularly fallen since 2014-15, in line with the government’s efforts to increase pulse output to fulfil domestic demand.
- The Government of India is conducting the National Food Security Mission-Pulses initiative in 644 districts across 28 states and union territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to improve pulse production.
- The Government of India’s food security programmes provide half of the recommended dietary protein need for children, teenage females, and pregnant and lactating mothers.
- To prevent malnutrition, pulses can be included to cereal-based diets. There is evidence to suggest that those who consume pulses on a regular basis are more nutrient-secure.
- As an example: During the epidemic, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana distributed 5 kg of rice/wheat and 1 kilogramme of chosen pulses to the needy.
- The PDS should sell pulses at reduced costs as a matter of policy to boost their accessibility and affordability to the disadvantaged population.
- Some states, notably Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh, have had success with the Public Distribution System in distributing pulses (PDS).
With constant government efforts, India is getting closer to Aatmnirbharta on pulses. It is critical to improve knowledge about the benefits of consuming high-macronutrient pulses for both sustainability and nutritional needs.
Source – The Hindu
Air Pollution in Mumbai
GS Paper- III
Context- Anthropogenic emissions are at the heart of environmental challenges such as climate change and air pollution. During the peak winter months of November to January 2022-23, air quality in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, deteriorated dramatically, providing a taste of what Delhi faces on a regular basis.
Mumbai’s air quality has deteriorated.
- Mumbai saw 66 bad and extremely poor air quality days out of the previous 92 winter days in 2022-23, compared to just 28 on average over the previous three years. Furthermore, it only had one day in the allowed limit (NAAQS) this year, compared to the prior average of 15 days.
- The number of good days has decreased, while the number of bad days has climbed by 135%, leaving locals more choked and breathless than they have been in years.
- On numerous days during these months, Mumbai’s air quality was worse than that of Delhi.
- These conclusions are based on SAFAR, India’s first indigenously produced forecasting system.
What prompted this unique occurrence in Mumbai?
- Air quality deteriorates mostly as a result of manmade and natural pollutants, as well as meteorological manoeuvres.
- The explanation for the abrupt increase in Mumbai’s current pollution cycle is part of a bigger meteorological phenomena that needs to be investigated further. According to research, the rare triple drop in La Nina caused by climate change has played a unique impact.
- Scientists have determined that climate change is causing extreme weather, ecological changes, and human displacements, but the relationship to air quality remains unclear.
Enhancement of value
- Emissions cannot be caused by the weather or climate.
- Some cities, such as Delhi, are at a disadvantage because they are landlocked.
- However, coastal cities such as Mumbai benefit from natural cleaning.
- Stronger surface winds promote quicker dispersion and wind reversal cycles of powerful sea breezes, which wash contaminants off the land.
How this phenomenon has played an unusual role?
- This phenomenan has resulted in a shift in wind patterns impacting Mumbai, with regular calmer wind periods and delayed cleaner sea wind reversal throughout the region.
- This, in turn, impacts the city’s natural cleaning mechanism by slowing the spread of pollutants and trapping freshly created high-flying dust emissions.
- The import of transboundary pollution from more contaminated locations owing to changes in wind patterns is also adding to the agony. All particle sizes (coarser and finer) have increased.
- It is scientifically sound to conclude that dust emissions are responsible for the majority of the present deterioration in air quality. Many renovation and building projects are underway across the city. As a result, the rise is attributed to increased emissions at the source, which typically consist of PM 2.5 from transportation (31%), industry (20%), and resuspended dust (15%), among other minor sources.
- The fight against air pollution is lengthy and arduous, but success is unquestionably attainable.
- Some of the immediate solutions include installing green curtains around building sites, frequently spraying water on truck tyres and trash before loading and unloading goods, and maintaining smooth traffic flow to avoid snarls.
- Transitioning to electric cars, tackling solid waste management, dumping sites, and industrial toxin control are all initiatives that will help us attain improved air quality in the medium run.
We must first recognise the problem before we can remedy it. Acting together and bolstering the battle against air pollution should be the order of the day. The problem is not urgent at the moment, but it is a clear early indication of the impact that climate change can have. As a result, rather than searching for quick fixes, we must address the core source of the problem, human emissions.
Source – The Hindu
India- France: Expanding strategic partnership
GS Paper- II
Context– The 25th anniversary of India and France’s strategic alliance (January 26) provides a significant occasion for both countries to reflect on their relationships. The time-tested strategic alliance, signed in 1998, has gained pace over shared principles and ambitions of peace, stability, and, most crucially, strategic autonomy. There are no substantial differences between the two countries.
France is India’s greatest foreign investor.
- France has emerged as India’s most important commercial partner, with annual trade of $12.42 billion in 2021-22.
- It is India’s 11th largest foreign investor, with a total investment of $10.31 billion from April 2000 to June 2022, accounting for 1.70% of total foreign direct investment inflows into the country.
France a key defence trading partner of India
- France has developed as an important defence partner for India, becoming the country’s second largest defence supplier between 2017 and 2021. With critical defence purchases and growing military-to-military contact, France has emerged as a vital strategic partner for India.
- For example, the French Scorpene conventional submarines are being produced in India under a 2005 technology transfer deal, and the Indian Air Force has received 36 Rafale fighter fighters.
- In addition, the Tata company has partnered with Airbus to produce the C-295 tactical transport aircraft in Vadodara, Gujarat. In a joint venture with France, this line is intended to be expanded into other commercial and military aircraft manufacture.
- Regular joint exercises- These ties are strengthened further through a solid network of military discussions and frequent joint exercises Varuna (navy), Garuda (air force), and Shakti (army).
- The French Ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenain, has stated that France is a willing partner for India as it builds its national industrial foundation for the defence sector and vital strategic defence projects, emphasising the importance of the defence collaboration.
- India and France are Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific resident powers. The importance of the Indian Ocean Region was evident during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to New Delhi in 2018, when both nations’ leaders hailed the Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region, which outlined a framework for boosting ties.
- In terms of operations, Franco-Indian joint patrols in the Indian Ocean reflects New Delhi’s intention to work with like-minded countries to expand its presence in the Indian Ocean.
- Maritime security has gained traction as both nations explain their shared goal for a free, fair, and open Indo-Pacific. Both countries want to provide all-encompassing solutions for maritime security, regional collaboration, and climate change adaptation.
- Both nations are concerned about China’s development and aggressive behaviour, both locally and worldwide, and have promised to working together to ensure that the Indo-Pacific region is not imbalanced.
- In September 2022, India and France agreed to establish an Indo-Pacific Trilateral Development Cooperation Fund to encourage long-term creative solutions for the region’s countries. The two countries have joined forces with the UAE to provide marine domain awareness and security from the east coast of Africa to the far Pacific.
Other areas of cooperation
- France was one of the first countries to negotiate a civil nuclear agreement with India. Following the 1998 nuclear tests, Paris also played a significant role in reducing India’s isolation in the non-proliferation system.
- France supports India’s application for permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council, as well as its admission to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, as a sign of growing collaboration.
- Climate change is an issue that is important to both countries, and India has backed France in the Paris Agreement, indicating its strong commitment to minimising the effects of climate change. In 2015, New Delhi and Paris established the International Solar Alliance as part of their collaborative efforts to combat climate change.
- As the international geopolitical system has become more complicated, both nations have tried to expand and widen their collaboration.
- The connection between India and France is based on shared values and ambitions.
- Both have emphasised the need of preserving strategic autonomy while sharing a common awareness of global dangers in a variety of fields.
- A high-level India-France political discussion on defence, marine, counterterrorism, and the Indo-Pacific is now underway.
- They are currently moving forward with collaboration in areas like as digitalisation, cyber security, green energy, a blue economy, ocean sciences, and space.
India and France are aware of each other’s interests and dependencies, whether with regard to China or Russia. There is tremendous room for future collaboration in the context of a lengthy strategic alliance, a shared aim in expanding strategic autonomy and boosting resilience.
Source – The Hindu
No Rationalization of GST structure for now: Revenue Secretary
GS Paper- III
Context– The long-awaited simplification of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime’s multiple rate structure is currently off the table and unlikely to happen in the near future.
What exactly is GST?
- GST, which went into effect in India on July 1, 2017, is a comprehensive indirect tax that applies to the whole country.
- It is charged at the time of supply and is determined by the point of consumption.
- For example, if a product is made in state A but consumed in state B, the income earned by GST collection is attributed to the state of consumption (state B) rather than the place of production (state A) (state A).
- Because GST is a consumption-based tax, manufacturing-heavy states have lost income.
What are GST Slabs?
- In India, the four primary GST slabs include about 500 services and over 1300 items.
- There are five main tax rates: zero, 5%, 12%, 18%, and 28%, with a cess on some’sin’ items in addition to the 28%.
- The GST Council revises the products under each slab rate on a regular basis to reflect industry requests and market developments.
- The revised system guarantees that basic commodities are taxed at lower rates, while luxury goods and services are taxed at higher rates.
- Tobacco items, vehicles, and aerated beverages are subject to the 28% rate, as well as an extra GST compensation cess.
Issues with GST structure
- The GST system is highly complicated and difficult to grasp, which has caused consternation among both businesses and consumers. As a result, the cost of compliance and administration for enterprises has risen.
- One of the biggest problems with the GST system is the disparity in rates between commodities and services. This has increased the cost of compliance for firms since they must know the relevant GST rate for each product and service.
- The dual GST system in India has caused confusion and difficulty for firms that must deal with both the national GST (CGST) and the state GST (SGST). This has also increased the expense of compliance for enterprises.
- The GST system has resulted in the problem of cascading taxation, in which taxes are collected at each point of the supply chain, raising the cost of products and services.
- Because the applicable taxes are not explicitly reflected in the invoice, the GST system has resulted in a lack of transparency in the pricing of products and services.
- In order to work correctly, the GST system needs a robust infrastructure, which is not always present in India. This might cause filing delays and other problems.
Why should GST slabs be rationalised?
- From the perspective of enterprises, there are simply too many tax rate slabs, exacerbated by anomalies in the duty structure across their supply chains, with certain inputs charged more than the finished output.
- This has been the case since the implementation of the GST system in July 2017, when the effective GST rate was reduced from the intended revenue-neutral rate of 15.5% to 11.6%.
- The combination of the 12% and 18% GST rates into a tax rate less than 18% may result in revenue loss.
Benefits of GST rationalization
- GST slab rationalisation simplifies the tax system and makes it easier for businesses to comply with the law.
- It also contributes to ensuring that the tax burden is distributed evenly and that the income earned is utilised effectively.
- Finally, simplifying GST slabs leads to more effective tax collection, which helps firms decrease compliance costs.
- Rate rationalisation is most likely the most significant’reform’ necessary to make the GST regime more efficient.
- When the process is over, it is believed that the GST would be a less complex system that will not only make compliance easier but will also increase tax collection.
Source – Indian Express
Assessing Marine Protected Areas
GS Paper – III
Context- Specialists recently emphasised the need of assessing the efficiency of Marine Protected Areas.
- Experts are urging a greater examination of the quality and effectiveness of MPAs, underlining that a real assessment of their development can only be made with a thorough grasp of baseline data.
- Currently, just 6% of the ocean is recognised as Marine Protected Areas, of which only 2.4% is totally and entirely protected, while the remaining 3.6% is protected to varying degrees.
- To meet the 30% protection objective, there is an urgent need for a large increase in the development of additional MPAs during the next seven years.
Status of MPA in India:
- India has a huge and diversified maritime ecosystem that supports a wide range of fish, animals, birds, and other marine critters.
- Recognizing the crucial importance of the maritime environment, India has built a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) aimed at protecting and managing its marine resources in a sustainable manner.
- Marine protected areas (MPAs) are geographical areas designated in India for the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity.
- These places have been designated to safeguard and preserve their distinctive ecosystems and the animals that rely on them.
India has enacted legislation for coastal and marine conservation including:
- Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
- Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991
- National Biodiversity Act, 2002
- The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 provides for the establishment of protected areas by state governments.
- Examples of important MPAs in India: Gulf of Kachchh Marine National Park, Gulf of Mannar National Park, Sundarbans National Park and Wandoor Marine National Park.
Importance of MPAs
- MPAs provide critical habitat for threatened and endangered species such as fish, marine mammals, birds, and other sea creatures.
- MPAs safeguard vital maritime habitats including coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds.
- MPAs can assist to guarantee that marine resources are managed responsibly and that future generations have access to them by safeguarding marine ecosystems and species.
- MPAs can assist to minimise the effects of climate change by protecting marine ecosystems and the animals that live in them, which play an important part in controlling the Earth’s temperature and weather patterns.
- MPAs can give both economic and commercial benefits, such as enhanced tourist and recreation possibilities, as well as higher fish stocks and improved water quality.
Challenges of MPAs
- Regulation enforcement within MPAs can be difficult, especially in isolated and poorly monitored areas.
- It makes it difficult to prevent illicit fishing, poaching, and other activities that have serious consequences for marine life and ecosystems.
- MPAs may occasionally interfere with the lives of local fishing populations and other coastal users.
- MPAs need substantial resources for successful management, such as financing for monitoring, enforcement, and research.
- There is a scientific gap in our understanding of the diverse marine ecosystems and the animals that inhabit them. This makes it challenging to successfully manage MPAs and establish conservation plans that are scientifically sound.
- The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a worldwide convention ratified by 196 nations, including India, with the goal of conserving biodiversity, encouraging sustainable use of its components, and guaranteeing equitable benefit sharing from genetic resources.
- Previously, the CBD’s 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) in Kunming, China in 2021 stressed the importance of marine protected areas (MPAs) in protecting marine biodiversity and supporting sustainable use of marine resources.
- MPAs are essential for preserving India’s unique marine heritage and maintaining coastal populations. However, the successful operation of MPAs is critical to their effectiveness.
- Despite these limitations, there is growing acknowledgement of the value of MPAs in maintaining and managing India’s maritime resources in a sustainable manner.
- Greater coordination between government agencies, academic institutions, and local communities is required to tackle these obstacles.
Source – Indian Express
Article 356 of the Indian Constitution
Context- The Prime Minister recently raised in Rajya Sabha the Union Government’s previous abuse of Article 356.
What exactly is Article 356?
- Article 356 of the Indian Constitution provides for the installation of “President’s Rule” in a state and the removal of an elected administration in the event the constitutional machinery in the state fails.
- The President may assess whether the constitutional machinery has broken down at any moment, either following receipt of a report from the Governor or on his own initiative.
- Ground: Article 356 authorises the President to withdraw to the Union the administrative and legislative functions of any state “if he is persuaded that a situation has arisen in which the governance of the state cannot be carried on in line with the provisions of the Constitution”.
- Duration of President’s Rule: A state’s President’s Rule can be enforced for six months at a time for a maximum of three years.
- Every six months, Parliamentary permission will be necessary to reinstate President’s Rule.
- Article 356 was inspired by Section 93 of the Government of India Act, 1935, with the exception that the President, rather than the Governor, is conferred with the stated power. For the British, this clause provided for a “managed democracy,” in which the British rulers might wield ultimate authority whenever they saw fit.
Need of the Article 356
- Although several members of the Constituent Assembly were strongly opposed to the inclusion of article 356 (draught article 278) because it purported to reincarnate an imperial legacy, it was thought necessary in light of the problems that the Indian republic was expected to face soon after independence.
- The authors of the Constitution were painfully aware that the security of the nation and the stability of its politics could not be taken for granted.
- The great differences in social, economic, and political life, as well as the diversity of languages, race, and area, were predicted to bring many tough situations to the new republic.
- However, Dr. Ambedkar overruled these arguments by arguing that no provision of any Constitution is free from misuse in and of itself, and that the mere prospect of abuse cannot be used to justify not including it.
- We should anticipate that such items will never be implemented and will remain a dead letter. If they are put into action, I hope the President takes the necessary safeguards before suspending provincial governance.
Misuse of Article 356
- While the Constitution intended for Article 356 to be used only in extreme cases, central administrations have regularly exploited it to settle political scores.
- Under some conditions, the President’s Rule has been extended for much longer lengths of time in the past. For example, due to rising militancy, Punjab was placed under President’s Rule from 1987 to 1992.
- According to the Sarkaria commission, the usage of Article 356 has increased over time.
Supreme Court’s Observations
- The S R Bommai administration in Karnataka was deposed by the Centre in 1989.
- The Supreme Court held in its decision that Article 356 can be invoked in situations of physical breakdown of the government or when there is a ‘hung assembly,’ but that it cannot be used without first giving the state government a chance to prove its majority in the House or without instances of violent breakdown of the constitutional machinery.
- A hung Assembly occurs when no single political party has a majority; it is often referred to as a scenario in which there is no general control.
- The arbitrary application of Article 356 has been significantly limited since the verdict.
Relevant Committees/Commissions with respect to Article 356
- Views of Sarkaria Commission on Article 356: The founders of the constitution anticipated that these provisions would be invoked only in severe instances, as a final option after all other remedial measures failed.
- The Commission then stated that “failure of constitutional machinery” might be evaluated under four headings: (a) political crisis, (b) internal subversion, (c) physical collapse, and (d) non-compliance with Union Executive constitutional orders.
National Commission to Review the Constitution’s Workings 2001:
- The commission indicated that while the moment for deleting Article 356 has not yet reached in the constitutional evolution, appropriate adjustments can assure the Article’s correct application.
Source – Indian Express
Facts for Prelims
Dwarf planet Quaoar
Context: The European Space Agency’s Cheops telescope has found a ring around Quaoar, comparable to Saturn’s ring.
- It is a dwarf planet discovered in 2002 in the Kuiper belt, a region of frozen planetesimals beyond Neptune.
- It has a diameter of around 700 miles, which is one-third that of Earth’s moon and half that of Pluto, the dwarf planet. It has a little moon known as Weywot.
What makes a ring around Quaoar so unusual?
- Quaoar is placed outside the Roche limit, which is the point at which particles should easily collide (because to the gravitational field) around a celestial body to create a moon.
Ring system in our solar system:
- Saturn has the most extensive ring system in our solar system.
- The non-planetary bodies Chariklo and Haumea, as well as Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune, are all enormous gas planets.
- They are all within the Roche range.
Context: Dickinsonia fossil unearthed two years ago has now been revealed to be an imprint of a ruined beehive.
- In 2021, researchers claimed to have discovered three fossils of the 550-million-year-old ‘Dickinsonia’ on the roof of the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters, around 40 kilometres from Bhopal.
- It is said to be the oldest animal on the planet.
- It is a basic animal genus that has gone extinct (animals which have radial symmetry in their body)
- The animal is thought to be a connection between early basic creatures and the Cambrian Period expansion of life.
- Dickinsonia fossils have previously been discovered in Australia, Russia, Ukraine, and China.
About Bhimbetka Rock Shelters caves
- It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with human habitation evidence extending back about 1 lakh years. It encompasses the Paleolithic and Mesolithic epochs, as well as the historic epoch. It displays the oldest signs of human life in India as well as relics of the Stone Age dating back to Acheulian antiquity.
Nord Stream gas pipelines
Context: According to a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, the bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines was carried out on orders from the United States.
- The bombing had a negative impact on the EU’s energy supply, heightened geopolitical tensions between Russia, the US, and the EU, and caused environmental difficulties as a result of the gas leak.
Nord Stream (literally ‘North Stream’):
- It is a network of offshore natural gas pipes in Europe that runs from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
It consists of two main projects:
- Nord Stream 1 began operation in 2011 from Vyborg in northern Russia near Finland.
- Nord Stream 2 connects Ust-Luga in northwest Russia with Estonia. The pipeline (due to be finished in 2021) was constructed to increase yearly capacity but has yet to be put into operation.