Air India inks Landmark Aviation Deal
GS Paper- II
Context- Tata Group’s Air India contracts the largest ever purchase for Airbus and Boeing jets to modernise its flight capacity.
About Air India:
- Air India has recently signed memoranda of intent with Airbus and Boeing for 470 new aircraft, including 70 wide-body planes for long-haul operations.
- The orders include 40 Airbus A350, 20 Boeing 787, and 10 Boeing 777-9 wide-body jets, as well as 210 Airbus A320 and A321neo single-aisle planes and 190 Boeing 737 MAX planes.
- This transaction has the potential to be one of the largest ever conducted by a single airline in terms of volume, easily exceeding $100 billion at list prices, including options.
- The first new planes will be delivered in late 2023, with the majority following in mid-2025.
- The agreement was proclaimed as a sign of closer cooperation between the countries by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, and French President Emmanuel Macron.
- Earlier, Tata Group and Singapore Airlines signed the Vistara agreement to integrate Air India, with Vistara expected to be completed by March 2024.
- India has the world’s fastest-growing aviation sector, and this agreement would help the government achieve its objective of making India a $5 trillion economy.
Important features of Aviation Deals
- This is the most new aircraft ever bought by an Indian airline.
- The agreement comes as India faces political pressure from the West over its purchases of Russian oil, and there is a push to enhance domestic production as part of a larger supply chain reconfiguration following the Covid epidemic.
- The Air India-Airbus agreement is a “landmark agreement” and a “major milestone” for India’s strategic alliance with France.
- The Air India-Boeing agreement for “over 200 American-made aircraft” is estimated to support “over one million American jobs across 44 states,” demonstrating the strength of the US-India economic alliance.
Aviation Industry of India
- Notwithstanding its losses, the Indian aviation industry continues to draw investments from both the public and private sectors.
- IndiGo now holds a 58.8% share of the Indian Airlines market, followed by Vistara (10.4%) and Air India (8.4%).
- After China and the United States, India has the world’s third-largest air passenger market.
- India’s passenger traffic amounted for approximately 189 million in FY22 alone, with domestic passenger traffic accounting for more than 166 million and foreign passenger traffic accounting for 22 million.
- The Indian aviation sector is predicted to reach 400 million passengers per year in the next 7-10 years, with the government projecting that the number of air travellers would reach 40 crores by 2027.
- Domestic airlines have continued to add new aircraft to their fleets despite the pandemic, and the entire fleet size is set to nearly quadruple to 1,200 in five years.
- Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) prices account for over 45% of an Indian airline’s operational expenditures, and fuel costs for Indian airlines are much higher when compared to their worldwide rivals.
- Nearly 35-50% of Indian airlines’ operational expenditures are dominated by US dollars, and the rupee’s devaluation has a negative influence on an airline’s bottom-line development.
- The Indian aviation business is extremely competitive, with both established firms and new entrants competing for market share.
- The government has lifted the ceiling and floor on airline rates, potentially sparking a pricing war among the industry’s heavyweights.
- The number of functioning airports in India is limited, and the current infrastructure is being strained as aviation traffic grows rapidly.
- Because of the epidemic and growing operational expenses, Indian airlines have suffered huge losses in recent years, resulting in increased debt levels and losses to numerous Indian aviation corporations.
- The Indian aviation business is subject to several rules and policies, which frequently have an influence on airline expansion and profitability.
Importance of Aviation sector
- The aviation industry supports various other businesses like as tourism, hospitality, and trade, and it contributes considerably to the country’s GDP through producing jobs and stimulating economic development.
- It is critical for the development of isolated and rural areas since it connects India’s immense geographical breadth, allowing people and products to travel rapidly and effectively across the nation.
- With the world’s rising globalisation, the aviation industry has emerged as a major facilitator of international trade, investment, and cultural interchange.
- The aviation industry allows military personnel and equipment transportation, aids in disaster relief operations, and serves as a platform for surveillance and information collection.
- The Indian aviation industry is critical to the country’s economic development, social development, and national security.
- The agreement would be crucial in linking India to the rest of the globe, promoting economic and cultural interaction.
Source – The Hindu
Exercise ‘Dharma Guardian’
Context- The exercise ‘DHARMA Guardian-2023’ was held in Belgaum, Karnataka, between India and Japan.
- The exercise was intended to share operational experiences and improve interoperability in the planning and execution of diverse operations in forest and semi-urban/urban terrain.
- The year 2022 also commemorates the 70th anniversary of the two nations’ diplomatic relations.
Defence Relations between India and Japan
- The India-Japan Military and Security Partnership is a key pillar of bilateral relations. It has grown in strength in recent years as a result of rising convergence on strategic concerns and the growing importance of a shared perspective on issues of peace, security, and stability.
- India and Japan engage in extensive Tri-Service Exchanges, which result in frequent armed forces staff discussions between the two nations.
Indian Navy and JMSDF participate frequently in
- Bilateral exercises such as JIMEX, Bilateral Maritime Exercises and Passage Exercises.
- Multilateral exercises such as MILAN, MALABAR
- Every year, the Indian Army – JGSDF participates in the bilateral exercise Dharma Guardian.
- The first ‘Veer Guardian’ mission took place in 2023, requiring meticulous preparation and skillful execution by the air forces of India and Japan.
The Importance of Japan
- Japan’s industrial prowess can aid the establishment of India’s domestic defence sector.
- India may benefit from Japanese experience in border infrastructure construction.
- Japan provides significant developmental aid to India for certain initiatives. As an example, consider the Bullet Train Project.
Convergent Factors :
- An open and prosperous Indo-Pacific is critical for both nations’ prosperity and well-being.
- India and Japan are concerned about China’s expanding military capability and aggression in territorial issues.
- As America’s future position in Asia becomes more uncertain, the two countries must work together to maintain and sustain the rules-based order in their region.
By focusing on shared interests, the Indo-Japanese partnership has the potential to transform the Asian landscape and contribute to a more open and stable Indo-Pacific.
Source – The Hindu
Unique Ring found around a Dwarf Planet
Context- Scientists have discovered a ring in the Kuiper Belt around the minor planet Quaoar.
- A ring was discovered far further away from the planet than typical in a recent investigation conducted by Bruno Morgado of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and Bruno Sicardy of the Paris Observatory.
- The ring is located well beyond the Roche limit, which is a mathematically established distance beyond which rings are not supposed to exist.
- The discovery defies explanation and may require astronomers to reconsider the principles that govern planetary rings.
- Quaoar is nearly half the size of Pluto and circles beyond Neptune, with an estimated radius of 555 km.
- The dwarf planet passed in front of four stars, allowing researchers to witness the eclipse shadows and starlight fading before and after the star blinked out, indicating a ring covering part of the light.
How was the ring found?
- The ring was discovered via a process known as stellar occultation, which happens when a bright star passes behind a planet.
- Quaoar is around 4 billion kilometres from the Sun and half the size of Pluto.
- It has a moon named Weywot, which is too tiny and far away to be seen directly.
- Quaoar was spotted using Earth-based and space-based telescopes over three years (2018-2021).
What is the Roche limit?
- Rings surrounding a celestial body are not meant to exist beyond a mathematically set distance.
- It is named for the French astronomer Édouard Roche, who found the limit in 1848.
- The Roche limit applies to any planet and the celestial bodies that orbit it.
- It is the shortest distance at which a heavenly body disintegrates and becomes a ring.
What exactly is the Kuiper Belt?
- It is an area in the outer solar system beyond Neptune’s orbit that is home to several tiny, ice objects.
- Gerard Kuiper, who postulated the existence of this area in 1951, is honoured with its name.
- The Kuiper Belt is thought to be the origin of numerous comets that pass through the inner solar system on a regular basis.
- Pluto, Eris, Haumea, Makemake, and numerous more prominent objects are found in the Kuiper Belt.
- The study of the Kuiper Belt and associated objects gives significant information about the solar system’s early history and creation.
What makes Quaoar’s ring unique?
- The ring is 2,500 miles from Quaoar, which is 1,400 miles beyond than predicted from the Roche limit.
- At such a distance, the researchers believe that ring particles should have collided to produce a moon.
- The distance between Quaoar and its ring begs the issue of how the ring has remained steady.
Possible explanations for Quaoar’s far-out ring
- The astronomers believe that Quaoar’s moon, Weywot, or another unknown moon supplies gravity that keeps the ring steady.
- Another possibility is that the ring particles collide with each other in such a way that they escape condensing into a moon.
- The finding of Quaoar’s ring opens the prospect of discovering other rings around smaller planets in the solar system’s farthest reaches.
- The discoveries may force us to reconsider planetary ring rules and broaden our understanding of planetary ring systems.
Source – The Hindu
Purse Seine Fishing Gear: A Questionable Fishing Method
GS Paper- III
Context- Subject to certain conditions, the Supreme Court of India has authorised purse seine fishing gear to be used beyond territorial seas (12 nautical miles) and within Tamil Nadu’s Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles). Nevertheless, the interim order focuses on controlling fishing through administrative and transparency measures rather than addressing conservation measures and UNCLOS duties. The usage of purse seine fishing gear poses a threat to traditional fishermen and jeopardises their livelihoods.
What is Seine fishing gear?
- Seine fishing gear is a form of fishing equipment used to catch vast amounts of fish.
- It is made out of a long net that is suspended vertically in the water using floats and weights. The net is then dragged through the sea by two boats known as seine boats. The boats approach each other, drawing the net between them and capturing fish.
- Seine fishing can be done in a variety of methods, such as purse seining, beach seining, and boat seining.
- The type of seine fishing gear used is determined by the size of the target fish and the location of the fishing activity.
About United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
- UNCLOS is sometimes known as the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty. It went into operation and became effective on November 16, 1982.
- It establishes standards for enterprises, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources, as well as defining states’ rights and obligations in relation to their use of the world’s seas.
- International Law Commission, International Seabed Authority, and Commission on the Boundaries of the Continental Shelf
Conservation and conventions
- Under UNCLOS Articles 56.1(a) and 56.1(b)(iii), coastal nations have sovereign rights to guarantee that the EEZ’s living and nonliving resources are utilised, protected, and managed, and that they are not overexploited.
- Foreign warships may enter the zone at the discretion of the coastal state and are subject to its rules and regulations.
- To prevent overexploitation, coastal States shall define the total permitted catch (TAC) in the EEZ based on the best scientific evidence available (UNCLOS Articles 61(1) and (2)).
- The SBT’s core is TAC and allocation distribution among SBT parties, which are extremely important from the standpoint of general fisheries conservation.
What are the concerns over the move?
- Just limiting purse seiner fishing to Monday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (as stated in the Court decision) is insufficient without controlling the fishing tactics utilised.
- International legal initiatives are increasingly shifting away from the usage of large-scale pelagic nets. The enormous size of purse seine nets (2,000 metres in length and 200 metres in depth) provides for maximum capture for purse seiners while leaving insufficient catch for conventional fisherman.
- TAC and catch quotas are intended to encourage fishermen to follow sustainable practises while ensuring maximum sustainable production (MSY). TAC and catch quota implementation may meet scientific ambiguity over acceptable limits to ensure MSY.
- The Court’s final decision should include non-selective fishing practises by purse seiners that result in bycatch of other marine living species (which can include endangered species) as a potential cause for trade embargo.
- The Supreme Court should look at the duties resulting from multilateral and regional accords, which are intended to bring in sustainable fishing methods over time, allowing a shared resource such as fish to be organically renewed.
Notwithstanding the best conservation measures and fishing method control implemented by the authorities, dealing with the infinite nature of the oceans, which makes a shared resource such as fish open for exploitation by anyone, will be a difficulty. The notion of Garrett Hardin, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’, which argues ‘Freedom in a commons brings devastation to everyone’ should educate all “fishermen, notably the purse seiners of Tamil Nadu, that they must collaborate in complying with conservation regulations.
Source – Indian Express
Parliamentary Constituencies (PCs) and The Data Gap
Context- Parliamentary constituencies (PCs) in India serve two functions: they are geographical and administrative policy units led by democratically elected Members of Parliament (MPs), The PCs demand fast and readily available data on crucial population health and socioeconomic well-being concerns. The lack of such data at the PC level makes it difficult for MPs to adequately engage with their constituents in order to meet their needs and ambitions.
Parliamentary constituencies (PCs)
- Geographic regions or districts are referred to as PCs. Each parliamentary constituency is represented by a Member of Parliament (MP), who is elected in a general election by the inhabitants of that constituency.
- The number of seats assigned to each state is determined by its population.
- The MP is responsible for representing their constituents’ interests and concerns in Parliament, as well as taking up problems concerning their growth and well-being.
Who generates data on parliamentary constituencies?
- The Election Commission in India is in charge of giving timely statistics on Computers. The ECI collaborates with numerous government departments and organisations, as well as local governments, to gather and verify data on demographics, geography, and other aspects pertinent to constituency delimitation.
- The process of delimitation, which entails dividing each state into a set number of seats based on population and other factors, is carried out on a regular basis by the ECI to guarantee fair and equitable representation in the Lok Sabha.
- In addition to the Election Commission, many government organisations and ministries, including as the Census of India, NFHS, and the Ministry of Home Affairs, may be engaged in generating statistics connected to PCs.
Issue with timely and accessible data of the PCs
- The 543 PCs in India demand timely and easily accessible data on population health and socioeconomic well-being. Such information is currently unavailable at the PC level.
- The Government of India launched the NDAP in 2012 in an effort to make statistics on population health and well-being more available. Nevertheless, district-level data, which has emerged as an important input for policy discussions, does not provide the PC with the same data.
- The district and PC boundaries do not correlate directly to one another. Districts and PCs overlap, and a district may cross with sections or the totality of many PCs.
- Just around 28 PCs have the same geometry as the districts, while districts cross PCs in a variety of ways in the remaining PCs.
- This misrepresents the quantity and character of constituents and makes it difficult for MPs to adequately execute their constituent obligations.
The significance of timely and up-to-date district-level data
- District data that is up to date aids in improved resource planning and allocation, including financial and human resources.
- For example, if data reveals that a specific district is experiencing a doctor shortage, officials might dedicate additional resources to solve the issue.
- Data that is current and accurate assists policymakers in designing and implementing policies that are more tailored to the requirements of individual districts.
- For example, if data reveals that a given area has a high prevalence of malnutrition, officials can create and implement a nutrition programmecustomised to that district.
- District data that is regularly updated aids in tracking progress and analysing the efficacy of policies and initiatives undertaken in individual districts. If evidence demonstrates that a specific policy is not yielding the anticipated outcomes, officials can make the required changes or adjustments.
- District data that is up to date can assist in recognising developing concerns or challenges. The Covid epidemic was an excellent example of crisis management at the district level. This information can assist policymakers in taking early and appropriate action to address the issue.
What needs to be done?
- MPs must be provided with accurate facts pertaining to the populations for which they have been elected. MPs must properly communicate with numerous district administrations in order to act efficiently and independently.
- To strengthen coordination between district administration and elected representatives, the Ministry of Rural Development issued an order in 2016 requiring all states and union territories to form a District Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DDMC), which would be led by district MPs. The DDMC is in charge of improving the efficiency with which central schemes are implemented and monitored. Nonetheless, the data still applies to districts rather than Computers.
- A new interactive PC data tracker built by Harvard University’s Spatial Insights Lab has supplied data on critical demographic, health, and well-being estimates for each of the 543 PCs for the first time, including a fact page for each Computer. The basic data for the PC dashboard comes from the NFHS-4 and NFHS-5 (2019-2021).
- The approach that powers the PC tracker closes the current PC data gap. The tracker translates current NFHS survey clusters into PC border maps using GPS coordinates, from which indicator prevalence estimates for each PC are calculated.
- To allow MPs to serve their constituents efficiently and independently, the data gap at the PC level must be bridged.
- The new interactive PC data tracker will help MPs identify and prioritise the topics that are most important to their constituents.
- A more long-term approach would need the availability of all datasets linked to population health and socioeconomic well-being at the PC level.
In recent years, political politicians in India have had a larger role in expressing and influencing the policy agenda. Providing timely and regular data on population health and well-being concerns to PCs may create a lot of symmetry and synergy between districts.
Source – Indian Express
Vibrant Villages Programme Gets An Upgrade
GS Paper- III
Context- The Indian government has pledged a major amount of funding to enhance infrastructure and living conditions in communities near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. The government would invest Rs 4,800 crore on infrastructure development and job creation in districts bordering China under the “Vibrant Villages” initiative.
What is the Vibrant Villages programme?
- The Vibrant Villages programme is a government project aiming at developing infrastructure and generating job opportunities in communities located along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
- The initiative would spend Rs 4,800 crore to renovate 633 villages spread across five states: Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Union Territory of Ladakh. Residential and tourism centres will be built as part of the concept.
- The initiative seeks to improve the living standards of border residents as well as the security situation along the LAC with China.
- The Vibrant Villages initiative attempts to replicate what is offered in communities across the LAC by providing better infrastructure like as schools, 24 hour power, and additional 4G communications towers in border regions.
- The Vibrant Villages programme is part of a larger Indian government plan to improve border security with China. Investment in expanding infrastructure and generating employment opportunities is a critical step towards improving people’s living standards in border communities and boosting security along the LAC with China.
- The concept is modelled after the Chinese military and civilian authorities’ efforts to create permanent population settlements along the LAC on their side of the border.
What is the upgraded plan?
- The objective is to renovate 633 villages in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and Ladakh, as well as the Union Territory of Ladakh. Nearly a third of the budget will be spent on road construction in border areas. A new 4.1-kilometer all-weather tunnel will connect Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, easing army transportation.
- Tourism and athletic activities are planned in these locations to provide locals with a source of income.
- Moreover, the government would invest Rs 1,800 crore to build seven additional battalions of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), totaling 9,000 people who will be stationed alongside the Army along India’s borders with China.
What are the concerns for India?
- China’s territorial claims and military buildup in the region have long alarmed India. India sees the expansion of Chinese communities along the LAC as part of China’s greater effort to bolster its influence in the area, which might endanger India’s national security.
- India is worried that China’s communities established along the LAC have a dual function, serving as both civilian settlements and military outposts. As a result, these communities provide China an advantage in terms of strategic advantage and army deployment in the region.
- China has made regular intrusions into Indian territory in the region, raising tensions between the two countries. Concerns have been raised about the building of Chinese settlements near the LAC, which might be used as bases for future incursions into Indian territory.
- Because these places are environmentally vulnerable and prone to landslides, flash floods, and earthquakes, India has raised worry over the environmental impact of China’s building of communities along the LAC. Infrastructure construction, such as roads, tunnels, and buildings, can have a significant influence on the region’s ecology and ecosystem.
What are the challenges for developing villages along the LAC?
- High-altitude topography, rocky mountains, and extreme weather conditions define the places along the LAC. These variables offer considerable hurdles to infrastructure building and service delivery in these locations.
- Many border disputes and wars have occurred in the LAC border region between India and China. To secure the safety of local people and government facilities, developing communities in this region necessitates resolving security problems.
- Infrastructure and facility development in border regions may have a negative influence on the environment, including the destruction of natural ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity. Mitigating these repercussions is critical for the long-term development of these regions.
- The success of the Vibrant Villages initiative is dependent on the collaboration of border communities. Developing trust and partnership with these communities is critical to the success of the programme.
China’s foray in Arunachal Pradesh emphasises the current threat that India confronts along the Ladakh-Arunachal border. India can no longer afford to squander time while the PLA decides when and where to attack the nation. Building lively settlements and developing infrastructure are critical steps towards improving security and living conditions in border areas. Notwithstanding progress, India needed a more comprehensive defence policy involving all levels of government to guarantee its territorial integrity.
Source – Indian Express
Facts for Prelims
Context: The NCP leader has warned his party members not to put on bawdy public exhibitions in the guise of Lavani, a traditional folk song-and-dance performance in Maharashtra.
Lavani’s sensuous element has long been frowned upon.
What exactly is Lavani folk art?
- The term Lavani derives from ‘Lavanya’ means beauty.
- Lavani is a traditional folk art form in which women dancers wear nine-yard-long sarees in brilliant colours, make-up, and ghunghroos and perform on a stage in front of a live audience to dholak rhythms.
- Lavani has a long history as an indigenous art form, and it was most popular during the Peshwa reign in the 18th century.
- The most popular sub-genre of Lavani is the Shringarik (erotic), in which the lyrics are sometimes taunting, with sensual dance moves and subtle gestures used to communicate erotic meaning.
Context: Mammatus Clouds was just named NASA’s Picture of the Day.
About Mammatus Clouds:
Mammatus is a cellular pattern of pouches hanging beneath the base of a cloud, usually a cumulonimbus raincloud, although they can be linked to other types of parent clouds as well.
How are they created?
Mammatus clouds are typically associated with huge cumulonimbus clouds. Mammatus is often formed by turbulence within a cumulonimbus cloud.
Curb fake e-commerce reviews
Context: The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution scheme- Conformity Assessment Scheme on IS 19000:2022 was developed with the goal of certifying processes related to the collection, moderation, and publication of online customer reviews in accordance with IS 19000:2022 in order to prevent the publication of fake or misleading reviews.
- Last year, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) produced IS 19000:2022, which applies to firms that publish consumer evaluations online and provides mechanisms for verifying customer posting ratings.
Marine Spatial Planning Framework
Context: Puducherry has created the country’s first Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) framework to combine expansion with sustainable ocean resource management.
- It is part of the Indo-Norway Integrated Ocean Initiative deal.
- The beaches of Puducherry and Lakshadweep have been chosen to trial the MSP concept in 2019.
What is Marine Spatial Planning framework?
- It gives guidelines/methods for successfully planning human activities for sustainable marine exploitation while meeting ecological, economic, and social goals.
- The UNESCO International Oceanographic Commission offers nations with recommendations for ecosystem-based MSP.
- Significance: MSP would serve as a critical governance instrument in assuring the creation of a blue economy marked by sustainable and equitable ocean resource management, instead of an ecologically unsustainable “brown economy.