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India must have a contingency plan for El Niño

GS Paper- I

Context– According to NITI Aayog, Indian agriculture is robust to El Nino shocks.


  • India has seen four decent monsoons in a row, and the prospect of a fifth average monsoon this year appears bleak due to El Nio.
  • In this regard, scientists recently discussed El Nio’s influence on India’s monsoon and emphasised the importance of having a contingency plan in place to reduce the damage to the agriculture sector.
  • El Nio is a phenomena caused by anomalous warming of the ocean surface, which causes changes in wind patterns and impacts weather throughout the world.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States has predicted that El Nio conditions may materialise this year.
  • While the first estimations of El Nio’s influence on India’s monsoon are predicted in April, the impact may occur in the latter half of the monsoon season in August-September.
  • The latest incident in India was La Nia, the colder counterpart of El Nio, which corresponded with below-normal rainfall.
Possible Impacts on India
  • El Nio can cause below-normal rainfall, causing droughts and crop failures in India’s agricultural sector.
  • Because of the resilience of Indian agriculture, the percentage of crop influenced by rainfall is progressively diminishing.
  • To deal with the effects of El Nio, the Indian agriculture industry is becoming more robust.
  • To mitigate the consequences of El Nio, policymakers should establish protections against over-reliance on rainfall.
Contingency plans
  • It is critical to emphasise three aspects of rainfall: timing, total quantity, and dispersion.
  • A district-level contingency plan should be in place.
  • If the advent of rains is delayed, seeds of late planting varieties should be available.
  • The government should implement water conservation and management measures, as well as continuously monitor the monsoon while preserving water bodies.
EL Nino
  • It is caused by an anomalous heating of the ocean surface, which causes a shift in wind patterns.
  • It has an influence on weather all around the planet.
  • It happens every 3-6 years and lasts 9-12 months.
  • It may trigger droughts, floods, and temperature shifts.
  • It has the potential to cause below-average rainfall, which will have an impact on India’s agricultural industry.
La Nina
  • El Nio is the colder counterpart of this occurrence.
  • It happens when ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific fall below average.
  • It has the potential to cause above-normal rainfall in India.
  • The recent El Nio event in India in 2018 coincided with below-normal rainfall.
Steps taken by the government to reduce the effects of El Nio:
  • Mission Sarovar, Amrit: The government is planning to build 75 ponds in each region to help lessen reliance on rainfall.
  • Fasal Pradhan Mantri Bima Yojana is a crop insurance plan introduced by the government to safeguard farmers against crop loss caused by natural disasters such as droughts, floods, and other weather-related occurrences.
  • The Soil Health Card programme seeks to promote soil testing and equip farmers with the knowledge they need to effectively manage their crops during droughts and other weather-related occurrences.
  • The National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas seeks to develop sustainable watershed management methods in rainfed regions in order to increase soil moisture and agricultural water availability during dry seasons.
  • The National Food Security Mission aims to boost agricultural output in rainfed regions by using better farming methods and utilising modern technology.
  • The National Agricultural Insurance Program compensates farmers for agricultural losses caused by natural disasters such as drought and other weather-related occurrences.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana seeks to encourage the optimal use of water resources in agriculture, as well as to boost water usage efficiency in response to drought and other weather-related crises.
  • The Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana plan intends to encourage agricultural development through a variety of measures, such as the promotion of rainfed agriculture and the employment of new technology to boost crop output during drought seasons.
Way ahead
  • Overall, the government is launching a number of programmes to assist farmers in dealing with the effects of El Nio and other weather-related occurrences.
  • There is a need to encourage sustainable agricultural techniques, improve water usage efficiency, and provide financial aid to farmers in the event of crop loss in this respect.

Source – The Hindu


Draft policy for Indian communities displaced by coastal erosion

GS Paper- III

Context- The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has received the final comments on the draught of India’s first national strategy for the mitigation and rehabilitation of persons impacted by river and coastal erosion.

  • The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the NDMA to develop a policy based on the findings of the 15th Finance Commission.
  • In this context, the NDMA has organised national-level discussions with various stakeholders, including central ministries, state government agencies, and non-governmental organisations.
  • India is vulnerable to a variety of natural and man-made calamities, posing considerable difficulties to disaster management.
  • Until far, most policies in the nation have exclusively addressed relocation following severe, rapid-onset calamities like floods and cyclones.
Major highlights:


  • The report of the 15th Finance Commission allocated Rs 1,500 crore for 2021-26 for erosion mitigation initiatives under the NDMF.
  • Over the same time, Rs 1,000 crore has been given under the NDRF for the resettlement of displaced individuals impacted by erosion.
  • Except for the northeastern states, which must pay 10% of state money, both programmes ask state governments to contribute 25% of expenditures on a cost-sharing basis.
  • NDMA will manage mitigation and rehabilitation allocations and costs under the NDRF and NDMF.
Implementation and institutional mechanisms
  • District disaster management authorities (DDMAs) would execute measures with the assistance of other district agencies and a panchayat-level committee.
  • DDMA will draught mitigation and rehabilitation plans and submit them to SDMAs for review by the NDMA and approval by the home ministry’s high-level committee for funding disbursement.
  • Under the supervision of state and national equivalents, DDMAs will be in charge of organising, monitoring, and assessing initiatives.
  • NDMA will consult and underline the need of having qualified disaster management specialists on all teams.
Challenges and recommendations
  • The policy covers erosion-related displacement but not displacement induced by eroded material deposition or soil piping.
  • Financial distribution under policy is not yet apparent; money are being provided to states on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • During allocation, population density should be taken into account.
  • Central agencies’ risk assessments should be made available to SDMAs in GIS formats.
  • The policy calls for the mapping of fallow lands for rehabilitation, including involvement from impacted and vulnerable people.
What is NDMA?
  • The National Disaster Management Authority is India’s highest disaster management authority.
  • It is led by India’s Prime Minister and includes a Vice-Chairman, nine members, and a CEO.
  • It was founded under the Disaster Management Act of 2005 and offers disaster management recommendations to numerous entities.
  • It is in charge of developing and carrying out disaster management strategies at the national, state, and district levels.
Importance of disaster management in India
  • Disaster management may assist in reducing fatalities and minimising the effect of catastrophes that result in loss of life and property, as well as long-term health repercussions.
  • Disaster management may assist in reducing the economic effect of catastrophes that have a large economic impact, such as loss of property and infrastructure, lost productivity, and interrupted supply networks.
  • Good disaster management can aid in limiting the consequences of climate change, which has increased the frequency and severity of natural catastrophes.
  • It can aid in the resilience of infrastructure that is prone to natural catastrophes, such as roads, bridges, and buildings.
  • Disaster management may aid in the coordination of relief operations and the distribution of aid to those in greatest need.
Challenges of disaster management
  • Despite frequent catastrophes, there is still a lack of preparedness at all levels of government and society, resulting in reaction time delays and insufficient resources to cope with disasters efficiently.
  • Several places in India lack basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and communication networks, making it difficult to access disaster-affected communities.
  • India is one of the world’s most densely populated countries, which can make evacuations and relief activities more challenging during calamities.
  • With the rising danger of climate change, India is facing more frequent and powerful catastrophes such as floods, droughts, and cyclones, placing pressure on the country’s disaster management systems to adapt and respond efficiently.
  • Coordination between diverse entities participating in disaster management, such as the government, NGOs, and international organisations, is sometimes lacking, resulting in duplication of efforts and inefficiencies.
  • Despite the rising frequency and severity of catastrophes, disaster management financing is frequently insufficient, limiting the resources available for planning, response, and recovery operations.
Way ahead
  • In India, disaster management has a number of issues, including insufficient resources, inadequate infrastructure, limited awareness and education, weak institutional ability, insufficient coordination and communication, and insufficient research and innovation.
  • Continuous development and innovation in disaster management, based on the best available science, technology, and practises, as well as integrating all stakeholders in a participatory and inclusive manner, can help to change the scenario.

Source – The Hindu

Four-day workweek

GS Paper- III

Context – Much has been made of a big breakthrough in one of Britain’s largest-ever experiments with a four-day workweek. Sixty-one firms participated in the six-month trial, with 56 opting to continue with the programme and 18 making it permanent. The Autonomy-supervised 4 Day Week Worldwide experiment aims to enhance work-life balance by enabling employees to work four days instead of five with the same remuneration and responsibility.

Advantages of implementing a four-day workweek
  • A healthy work-life balance can also help professionals have a more positive attitude towards their professions since they can return to work rested. This can assist individuals in being productive and enthusiastic while at work.
  • Employees that have more free time may be more content with their employment and more engaged at work.
  • Providing a four-day workweek may make organisations more appealing to potential workers, and employees who have a better work-life balance may be less likely to skip work or leave their positions.
  • According to several research, shorter workweeks can actually increase production since people may be more concentrated and effective throughout their work hours.
  • A professional’s commute to work is reduced by working four days a week. This is beneficial to the environment because most automobiles emit harmful pollutants.
Possible drawbacks
  • In some sectors or job types, such as those that demand shift work or have stringent deadlines, the benefits of a four-day workweek may be restricted.
  • Workers may feel pressured to perform the same amount of work in less hours, resulting in a heavier workload and the possibility of burnout.
  • Some employees may struggle to retain attention and productivity during extended workdays. This might result in a decline in overall production and work quality.
  • If businesses close for an extra day each week, it may be more difficult to offer customer service or maintain consistent operation hours.
  • Employees’ salary may be reduced as a result of a shortened workweek, which may be a disadvantage for individuals who rely on their income to fund living expenses.
Examples of businesses/organizations exploring a four-day workweek
  • Microsoft Japan, In 2019, the tech titan performed an experiment in which staff worked a four-day week and reported a 40% improvement in production.
  • A number of firms and organisations in Iceland have experimented with reduced workweeks, including the country’s government, which is investigating a four-day workweek for public officials.
  • Unilever New Zealand recently stated that it will experiment a four-day workweek for all of its employees, and the country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has previously shown support for the proposal.
  • The Spanish government has suggested a three-year experiment of a four-day workweek in order to improve work-life balance and productivity.
In India, is a four-day workweek feasible?
  • A four-day workweek’s viability and impact in India would be determined by factors such as industry type, labour demography, and cultural norms. Establishing a four-day workweek in India will need careful consideration of a number of considerations.
  • With the advent of remote work and a greater emphasis on work-life balance, a four-day week option might be beneficial to increasing productivity while improving work-life balance in the corporate sector.
  • India’s labour laws and regulations are complicated, yet employees are well protected. Any modifications to work arrangements, including a four-day workweek, must conform with these regulations and preserve employees’ rights and benefits.
  • Any decrease in working hours, for example, would need to be supported by sufficient remuneration and benefits to ensure that employees do not suffer financial losses.
  • The viability of a four-day workweek would be determined by the individual demands of various businesses.
  • While certain knowledge-based businesses, such as manufacturing or healthcare, may be well-suited to a four-day workweek, industries that require continuous operations or shift labour, such as manufacturing, may encounter substantial obstacles in adopting a reduced workweek.

Before introducing a four-day workweek in any company, it is critical to thoroughly analyse the possible benefits and drawbacks. Depending on the exact work arrangements and the demands of the employees and customers, the impact may vary.

Source – Indian Express


UPI: Internationalization of Digital Payments

GS Paper- III

Context – The Union government announced India’s first cross-border real-time payments system connection on Tuesday, with the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) integrating with Singapore’s PayNow payment system.

What exactly is the Universal Payments Interface? (UPI)

  • UPI is India’s mobile-based rapid payment system that allows users to make round-the-clock payments instantaneously by utilising a Virtual Payment Address (VPA) that they construct.
  • It avoids the possibility of the remitter disclosing bank account information.
  • UPI allows users to send and receive money and supports both person-to-person (P2P) and person-to-merchant (P2M) payments.
What is PayNow?
  • In Singapore, it is a quick payment mechanism.
  • It offers peer-to-peer money transfer services, which are offered to retail clients in Singapore through partner banks and Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NFIs).
  • It enables users to transfer and receive quick money in Singapore from one bank or e-wallet account to another using only their cellphone number, Singapore National Registration Identity Card (NRIC)/Foreign Identification Number (FIN), or VPA.
Overview: Remarkable success of UPI
  • The implementation of UPI in 2016-17 resulted in a significant shift in the country’s electronic payments ecosystem.
  • This payment infrastructure, together with the JAM trinity of Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, and mobile phones, has been important in allowing the phenomenal expansion of digital payments in the country, assisted by a favourable regulatory framework.
  • Several RBI surveys over the years have shown a considerable growth in digital payments transactions in the country, with per person digital transactions increasing in both value and volume.
  • During the epidemic, contactless payments also increased. According to another study, about one-third of the families polled transacted online for the first time during the shutdown.
Statistics for instance:
  • In January 2023, around 8 billion transactions were carried out on the UPI network, with a total value of nearly Rs 13 lakh crore.
  • In instance, just before to the epidemic, 1.3 billion transactions were processed over the UPI network, totaling Rs 2.1 lakh crore.
  • The ease of real-time money transmission, the zero-cost framework for users, and the quick growth of acceptance touch-points have all aided in its broad adoption. This has also contributed in the acceleration of financial inclusion by giving low-cost access to financial services.
 “UPI Lite”
  • UPI Lite is a wallet functionality found on prominent digital payment applications such as Paytm, Freecharge, MobiKwik, and others.
  • The functionality will let you to make near-real-time small-value payments without an internet connection using money stored in your wallet.
  • In phase one, UPI Lite will process transactions in near offline mode, i.e. debit offline and credit online, and eventually, in complete offline mode, i.e. debit and credit both offline.
How is the interlinkage benefit users?
  • Funds in bank accounts or e-wallets may be moved to/from India using only the UPI ID, cellphone number, or Virtual Payment Address (VPA), which is essentially the address to or through which UPI money transfers can be made.
  • Both inner and outgoing remittances will be quick with this payment option.
  • Account holders of partnering banks and financial institutions in India and Singapore are eligible to use this facility for remittance transactions.
Participating banks in India and Singapore:
  • Axis Bank, DBS Bank India, ICICI Bank, Indian Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, and State Bank of India are Indian banks (SBI). The UPI-PayNow interconnection will expand to include additional banks and financial organisations in the future.
  • DBS Bank Singapore and Liquid Group (Non-Bank Financial Institution) are chosen from Singapore.
  • Major payment solutions such as PhonePe and Google Pay are not covered by this framework. These platforms may eventually be placed within this framework, assisting in their wider acceptance.
The daily transaction limit:
  • Banks in India have not yet informed about any transfer limitations.
  • It costs Rs 60,000. (around SGD 1,000). DBS clients can initially utilise PayNow-UPI to send funds up to SGD 200 per transaction, with a daily limit of SGD 500.
  • There has been no information concerning restricting cash sent to India via Liquid Group (Non-Bank Financial Institution).

The interconnection of UPI and PayNow represents a watershed moment for cross-border transactions. Not only India, but the entire globe, has seen how UPI has transformed the landscape of domestic digital payment infrastructure. With this exciting development, we should expect a similar upheaval in the cross-border payments market. This globalisation of the digital payment architecture will assist reduce both the cost and the time required for such transactions, benefiting migratory workers, students, and professionals, among others.

Source – Indian Express

India’s Rich Biodiversity Needs Science Based Implementation

GS Paper- III

Context- The amount and variation of our biological richness, known as biodiversity, is critical to the planet’s future. India now contains 17% of the world’s human population and 17% of the global area in biodiversity hotspots, putting it in a position to lead the way for the world to become biodiversity champions.

What exactly is the 3030 pledge?
  • The value of our planet’s biodiversity was emphasised heavily during the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada.
  • On December 19, 2022, 188 country representatives adopted an agreement to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by conserving 30% of the world’s land and 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, known as the 30×30 pledge.
Government’s efforts, Programs with potential
  • Green Growth was named as one of the seven goals, or Saptarishis, in the Union Budget 2023. The emphasis on green growth is good news for India’s biological richness, as the country is losing natural assets such as soils, land, water, and biodiversity.
  • The National Mission for a Green India seeks to restore damaged lands and conserve existing wooded areas.
  • The Green Credit Programme aims to incentivise ecologically sustainable and responsive behaviours by businesses, people, and local governments.
  • The Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats and Tangible Incomes (MISHTI) is especially relevant because of the tremendous role of mangroves and coastal ecosystems in climate change mitigation.
  • The Prime Minister Programme for the Restoration, Awareness, Nourishment, and Amelioration of Mother Nature (PM-PRANAM) for lowering synthetic fertiliser and pesticide inputs is crucial for agricultural sustainability.
  • The Amrit Dharohar plan is anticipated to improve biodiversity, carbon stock, eco-tourism potential, and revenue production for local populations by encouraging effective use of wetlands. Amrit Dharohar, with its emphasis on sustainability through balancing conflicting needs, will promote aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem services if applied in letter and spirit.
  • For example, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change recently intervened to prevent the drainage of Haiderpur, a Ramsar wetland in Uttar Pradesh, to protect migrating birds.
Programs must be science-based
  • It is vital that these initiatives adapt to the present status of biodiversity in the country through evidence-based implementation.
  • A science-based and inclusive monitoring programme is essential not just for the effectiveness of these activities, but also for the documenting and distillation of lessons learned for national and worldwide replication.
  • New goals and programmes should employ current conceptions of sustainability and ecosystem value that take into account ecological, cultural, and social components of our biological riches.
  • With explicit system limits, prioritisation of benefits to resource people, and fund-services (rather than stock-flows) as the economic underpinning for producing value, various sustainable bio-economies have immense potential.
  • The future of our wetland ecosystems will be determined by our ability to sustain ecological flows through reductions in water use in key sectors such as agriculture by encouraging changes to less-water intensive crops such as millets, as well as investments in water recycling in urban areas using a combination of grey and blue-green infrastructure.
  • In terms of the Green India Mission, implementation should prioritise ecological restoration above tree planting and select areas where it may contribute to ecological connectivity in landscapes disrupted by linear infrastructure.
  • The selection of species and density should be guided by available knowledge and data on resilience in the face of coming climate change, as well as synergies and trade-offs in terms of hydrologic functions.
  • Site selection for the mangrove effort should also be carefully studied, with a stronger emphasis on diversity of mangrove species while preserving the integrity of coastal mudflats and salt pans, which are particularly vital for biodiversity.
  • In response to these needs, we hope that the government will immediately launch the National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Wellbeing (Mission to green India’s economy, restore natural capital, and make India a global leader in applied biodiversity science), which has already been approved by PM-STIAC.
Grey and Blue-Green Infrastructure
  • Traditional man-made infrastructure, such as buildings, roads, and bridges, that are meant to deliver human-made services such as transportation, water supply, and waste management, is referred to as grey infrastructure.
  • Blue-green infrastructure is intended to mirror the activities of natural ecosystems including wetlands, rivers, and forests in order to deliver services such as stormwater management, water purification, and carbon sequestration.
  • Example: It consists of, Green roofs that offer insulation and absorb rainfall, rainwater harvesting devices that gather rainwater and recharge groundwater Metropolitan parks and green spaces that enhance air quality and serve as wildlife habitat Wetlands and retention ponds are used to filter pollutants and store extra water during floods.
  • Durable and robust, Blue-green infrastructure is frequently seen as a more sustainable and resilient alternative to traditional grey infrastructure since it may assist to minimise the effects of climate change, reduce urban heat island effects, and improve the quality of life for city dwellers.
Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC):
  • PM-STIAC is a high-level advisory group that advises India’s Prime Minister on science, technology, and innovation.
  • Advises the Indian Prime Minister on science and technology policy, identifying developing areas, suggesting missions and initiatives, and boosting science and technology’s efficacy in addressing national concerns.
  • The Prime Minister appoints the council’s members, who are distinguished scientists, technicians, entrepreneurs, and policymakers.
  • PM-STIAC also functions as a venue for academic, industrial, and government players to connect and collaborate on science and technology projects.
Local community involvement
  • Each of these programmes must include local and nomadic communities where they will be executed.
  • These communities’ traditional knowledge and traditions should be incorporated into implementation strategies.

Each of the aforementioned projects has the potential to significantly enhance the status of our nation’s biodiversity if implemented in accordance with the most recent scientific and ecological understanding.

Source – Indian Express


Facts for Prelims

Sansad Ratna Awards

Context- The Prime Minister recently thanked Members of Parliament who would get Sansad Ratna Awards in 2023.

  • Inspired by former President APJ Abdul Kalam’s teachings, the Sansad Ratna Awards were established in 2010 to recognise and felicitate the top-performing MPs based on their efforts in the legislative body.
  • The judging committee, comprised of distinguished Parliamentarians and representatives of civil society, selects recipients based on an MP’s cumulative performance in Parliament, as measured by the number of questions asked, private members’ Bills proposed, debates launched, attendance, money used, and so on.
  • The Prime Point Foundation, not the Government of India, bestows the Sansad Ratna Awards.


Context- The Mukaab – Arabic for “cube” – is Saudi Arabia’s next ambitious proposal to restructure its capital city, Riyadh.

  • The Mukaab is one of the enormous architectural projects planned and implemented by Saudi Arabia as part of its Vision 2030, which aims to revolutionise the country’s economy and lifestyle.
  • It will be 400 metres tall, broad, and long, with enough space to house 20 Empire State Buildings.
  • The Mukaab’s cubic design will maximise space use.
Architectural Style
  • The Mukaab will be built in the modern Najdi architectural style, which is a spin on the ancient Najdi architectural style from the Najd area of the Arabian peninsula.
  • This architectural style has been refined through centuries to be best suited to the region’s desert climate; its design concentrates on organically managing the climate inside the structure.
Najdi Architectural Style
  • Najdi architecture is one of Saudi Arabia’s most common architectural styles.
  • The necessity to adapt to the scorching desert environment, the desire for privacy in residential buildings, and the requirement to employ locally accessible materials such as mud brick, stone, and wood are all aspects in Najdi architecture.
  • Najdi structures in modern adaptations are distinguished not only by their use of traditional materials, but also by their use of thermal and environmental features.

Whale Stranding

Context- Pilot whales were recently stranded near the shores of Kalpitiya, a town on Sri Lanka’s west coast.

Pilot Whale
  • Pilot whales got their moniker because it was originally thought that each observed group was led by a pilot or leader.
  • Pilot whales are divided into two species: short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), which live mostly in tropical and warm-temperate regions, and long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas), which live in cooler seas.
  • These and other huge dolphins are also referred to as blackfish.
  • They are extremely gregarious and may remain in their birth pod for the rest of their lives.
What is Whale Stranding?
  • Whale stranding occurs when whales become stranded on land, generally on a beach.
  • The majority of stranding episodes involve single creatures, although mass stranding’s involving hundreds of marine animals at a time can occur.

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