Heatwaves in India
GS Paper I
Context: This year, India has experienced a significant increase in heat waves. According to recent IMD data, the sweltering summer heat has already begun. The heat wave is expected to become worse if the current record high temperatures are any clue. Dehydration, heat exhaustion, and more serious disorders like heatstroke are all caused by increased temperatures. They also have an impact on the environment and the economy.
What is Heat wave?
- A protracted spell of unseasonably hot weather is known as a heatwave.
- Heatwaves may happen in humid or dry regions and often linger for several days or weeks. They may be identified by temperatures that are much higher than normal for that time of year in that place.
- This is due to the fact that climate change is raising global temperatures. Heat waves and other extreme weather conditions are brought on by the planet’s warming. India is particularly susceptible to these occurrences due to its topography.
Heatwaves in India:
- Heat waves often occur in India from March through June, and in a few unusual instances, they can even last into July.
- Throughout the northern sections of the country, there are often five to six heat wave episodes every year.
- Events can extend for weeks, happen back-to-back, and have a significant population effect.
- India is particularly susceptible to these occurrences due to its topography.
Some of the hottest summers on record in recent years that India has experienced:
- The hottest temperature ever recorded in the nation, 51 degrees Celsius, was recorded in Phalodi, Rajasthan, in May 2016.
- In 2021, the hottest day in India was May 22, when Barmer, also in Rajasthan, had a temperature of 48 degrees Celsius.
- Jaipur faced a severe heatwave in 2022. Rajasthan’s capital set a record for the month of April with a temperature of 45 degrees Celsius.
- In recent years, early summer temperatures in India’s well-known hot cities, including Delhi, Agra, Pilani, and Rohtak, have reached as high as 43 degrees Celsius.
Climate change and Heat waves:
- Increasing heat waves: The frequency, severity, and length of heatwaves throughout the world are all closely correlated with climate change.
- Heatwaves are growing more intense and happening more frequently as the Earth’s temperature continues to warm.
- This is due to global warming, which is changing the atmosphere by increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases, which trap heat and raise temperatures.
- Heatwaves are also lasting longer due to climate change. Heatwaves persist on average 2.5 days longer now than they did in the middle of the 20th century, according to a research in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
The Socio-economic impact of heat waves:
Impact on Health:
Heat-related conditions like heat exhaustion and heatstroke are on the rise, especially in susceptible populations including the elderly, kids, and outdoor labourers.
Heat waves can also make pre-existing medical conditions, such cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, worse.
Impact on the environment:
One of the largest issues is the depletion of water supplies. As temperatures rise, water sources are drying up, causing crises in many regions of the nation.
They need more air conditioning to stay cool, which uses more power. As a result, there is a rise in the usage of fossil fuels, which seriously worsens air pollution.
Impact on agriculture:
- Environmental impact then causes agricultural issues, including failed harvests and farmers trying to earn a livelihood.
- This is a major issue considering that agriculture employs over 40% of India’s population.
- It has already been reported from Punjab and Western Uttar Pradesh that the early warmth has hampered wheat crop development and would likely have a 20% negative impact on the harvest.
Impact on growth:
- Healthcare expenses for diseases brought on by excessive heat can be high, especially for underprivileged people who may not have access to cheap treatment.
- Heat waves can also lower worker productivity, which can have an effect on economic expansion.
What can be done to deal with such problems?
Raising public awareness is important because it will inform people about how climate change will affect their health, the environment, and the economy. Public campaigns, educational institutions, and the media may all be used for this.
Boost the usage of renewable energy; India has come a long way in this direction. Yet there is still a lot to be done. The government might provide financial incentives for people and companies to purchase renewable energy resources, such solar panels. This would boost economic growth, create new employment, and lessen the effects of increasing temperatures.
Improved rainwater collecting, more effective irrigation systems, and the use of reclaimed water for non-potable uses are all examples of better water management. This will lessen the impact of rising temperatures on agriculture and help save water supplies.
Investing in infrastructure that can endure extreme temperatures might entail developing roads and other structures that can tolerate high temperatures as well as creating more energy-effective cooling systems.
India’s intensifying heat wave is a significant issue that requires prompt attention. Rising temperatures have substantial effects on our health, the environment, and the economy. But, it is feasible to lessen the effects of increasing temperatures and guarantee a sustainable future for the nation by putting the appropriate plans in place.
Source: The Hindu
SDGs: India’s Progress Analysis
GS Paper III
Context: According to a recent study that was published in The Lancet, India is not on track to meet 19 of the 33 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators. Access to essential services, wasting and overweight children, anaemia, child marriage, partner abuse, cigarette use, and modern contraceptive use are among the crucial off-target indicators.
Districts that did not reach the SDG target by 2021 but saw enough development between 2016 and 2021 to do so by 2030.
Districts that did not meet the SDG target by 2021 and either had a decline in conditions between 2016 and 2021 or an improvement that was not significant enough. These districts won’t achieve their goals by 2030 if any of these patterns continues.
Indicators demonstrate improvements in lowering teenage pregnancies, female cigarette usage, multifaceted poverty, teenage sexual assault, and expanding access to electricity.
Additional work is required to improve access to essential services, provide women with health insurance, and reduce anaemia in pregnant women.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
The SDGs, sometimes referred to as the Global Goals, are an international call to action to eradicate poverty, safeguard the environment, and guarantee that everyone lives in peace and prosperity.
With a goal of achieving a better and more sustainable future for all, the UN established the SDGs in 2015. As part of the 2030 Framework for Sustainable Development, the 17 SDGs went into effect on January 1st, 2016.
One of the signatory nations, India, has pledged to carry out these objectives by the year 2030.
The SDGs have the potential to change the domestic spending priorities of the countries over the next fifteen years, even if they are not legally obligated and have already established themselves as international commitments.
Countries are expected to take ownership and establish a national framework for achieving these goals.
Targets set for each of the SDGs:
No Poverty: By 2030, end severe poverty worldwide, which is presently defined as a daily income of less than $1.25.
Zero Hunger: By 2030, eradicate hunger and provide year-round access to safe, wholesome food for all people, especially the underprivileged and those in vulnerable situations, such as babies.
Quality Education: By 2030, all girls and boys must complete primary and secondary education that is free, equitable, and produces learning results that are both relevant and efficient.
Women’s Equality: Put an end to all prejudice, violence, and harmful behaviours that are directed at women and girls worldwide. Make ensuring that women have equal chances for leadership at all levels of political, economic, and public decision-making, as well as full and effective involvement.
India’s progress towards achieving SDGs so far:
- India has made great strides in eradicating poverty, with the country’s rate falling from 21.9% in 2011–12 to 4.4% in 2020. This development is a result of the government’s initiatives to offer social security programmes and financial inclusion.
- India has made strides towards achieving SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), with the prevalence of undernourishment falling from 17.3% in 2004–06 to 14% in 2017–19. Its development has been facilitated by government programmes including the PradhanMantriGaribKalyan Anna Yojana and the National Food Security Act.
- India has achieved progress towards achieving SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), with the maternal mortality ratio falling from 167 per 100,000 live births in 2011–13 to 113 in 2016–18. Its development has been facilitated by government initiatives to improve healthcare delivery and access.
- SDG 4 (Quality Education): With an increase in the gross enrollment ratio for primary education from 93.4% in 2014–15 to 94.3% in 2019–20, India has achieved progress in enhancing access to education. Its development has been aided by government programmes like the Right to Education Act and the SarvaShikshaAbhiyan.
- SDG 5 (Gender Equality): India has improved gender equality, as evidenced by the rise in the sex ratio at birth from 918 in 2011 to 934 in 2020. Its development has been aided by government programmes like BetiBachaoBetiPadhao and the Maternal Benefit Program.
Recent findings by National Family Health Survey:
- At a compounded annual average rate of 4.8 percent from 2005 to 2011, multidimensional poverty decreased. From 2011 to 2021, the rate more than doubled to 10.3 percent annually.
- There are some problems with the 2011 child mortality data, but the pace of reduction for each of the 10 MPI index components from 2011 to 2021 is much higher than it was from 2005 to 2011.
- Typical decrease in all indicators: The average, evenly weighted fall for nine variables was 1.9% annually in 2005–2011 and 16.6% annually in 2011–2021, a pace that was more than eight times greater.
- Decline in consumption inequality: From 2011 to 2021, every single household survey and study shown a drop in consumption inequality. This is in line with the result that highly inclusive growth occurred between 2011 and 2021.
The research gives policymakers a useful tool to fill in the gaps and concentrate on the metrics that need greater attention, enhancing the welfare of its residents and fostering a sustainable future for all.
Source: The Hindu
Making India Earthquake Prepared
GS Paper I & III
Context: India should be alarmed by the devastation brought on by earthquakes in Turkey. States in the Himalayas have reported earthquakes over the past three weeks. Geologists have also issued a warning about a potential large earthquake in the Himalayan region. In this regard, the Delhi High Court requested a status report and action plan on the structural safety of Delhi’s buildings from the state administration. The court’s worries about the vulnerability of over 58 percent of the Indian subcontinent to earthquakes require a legislative response instead.
How do earthquakes happen?
The Earth’s crust and upper mantle are made up of sizable solid plates that may move in relation to one another, according to the theory of plate tectonics.
Earthquakes can happen when faults near plate borders slip.
The focus or hypocentre of an earthquake is the location on Earth where the rupture first occurs.
The epicentre is the location on Earth’s surface that is immediately above it.
What is missing in India’s policy on earthquake preparedness?
Nowadays, policy is mostly concerned with structural details: This involves defining the size of the structural members—columns, beams, etc.—as well as the specifics of the reinforcements holding these components together, all in accordance with the National Building Codes.
Although reasonable scientifically, this perspective on seismic readiness is limited:
It disregards structures that were built before such rules were released in 1962. These structures make up a sizable portion of our cities.
It bases its enforcement procedures only on punishment and violations, presuming their infallibility.
It regards earthquakes as an issue with specific structures, as though they exist and function entirely apart from the rest of the urban environment.
What needs to be done?
Policy for Preparation at Building and City Scales: As a result, earthquake preparedness must operate at both the size of individual buildings and that of entire cities. Furthermore, we need to consider it from the perspective of policy rather than merely legal compliance.
Requirement for Comprehensive Policy: At the level of building specifics, we must develop a mechanism for adapting existing structures and more effectively enforcing seismic rules. Even while there have been political discussions and sporadic retrofitting initiatives, we still don’t have a complete policy.
A policy should include two measures:
Retrofitting Buildings to Seismic Codes:
- to establish a system of tax- or development-rights-based incentives for seismic retrofitting of one’s building.
- A system of incentives like this will promote the development of the retrofitting sector and create a pool of qualified individuals and organisations.
Improving Seismic Code Enforcement:
- by using a similar strategy to ensure greater enforcement of seismic codes. The 2014-launched National Retrofitting Initiative was a start in the right direction.
- The Reserve Bank of India gave banks instructions to refuse loans under the programme for any construction work that does not adhere to the requirements of earthquake-resistant design.
Case study: Japan
Governments and politicians ought to be aware enough not to take haphazard actions. An significant opportunity for worldwide information sharing on earthquake preparation is provided by programmes like the continuing Urban 20 conference. The directives from the Delhi High Court should serve as a reminder to include an earthquake preparedness policy in urban regeneration initiatives like the Smart Cities Initiative. A bold, radical, and transformational strategy is needed to develop an earthquake preparation policy.
Source: The Hindu
Forest Cover Data
GS Paper III
Context: India’s total green cover is now 24.62% “on-paper,” up from 19.53% in the early 1980s.
Defining Forest and Tree Cover:
- The yearly Status of Forest reports are released by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) in 1987.
- India, regardless of land use or ownership, includes any plots of one hectare or more that have at least 10% tree canopy density in its calculation of forest cover.
- This disregards the standard set by the United Nations, which excludes forest areas that are primarily used for agriculture and habitation.
How are forests categorized?
- There are four different types of woods, according to the Indian Forest Survey. As follows:
- Forests that are extremely dense (with a canopy density of at least 70%) (added since 2003)
- Medium Density Forest (tree canopy density of 40 per cent or above but less than 70 per cent)
- Public Forest (tree canopy density of 10 per cent or above but less than 40 per cent)
- Scrub (tree canopy density less than 10 per cent) (tree canopy density less than 10 per cent)
- New classification: NOT a forest (single trees or tiny clumps of trees under 1 hectare).
Satellite imagery used for precision:
- The forest cover was calculated using satellite pictures at a 1:1 million scale up until the mid-1980s (SFR 1987).
- The minimum mappable unit size was subsequently decreased from 400 to 25 hectares when the resolution increased to 1:250,000.
- India’s forest cover grew from 19.53% in the early 1980s to 21.71% in 2021.
- In 2001, the scale was increased to 1:50,000, reducing the unit size to 1 hectare, and using totally computerised interpretation.
Accounting losses in forest cover:
- Decline is visible in satellite images: Using satellite photos, the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) calculated changes in India’s forest cover.
- Accordant to official data, deforestation Government records indicate that 42,380 sq. km. of forest land, or almost the size of Haryana, was diverted for non-forest usage between 1951 and 1980, despite the lack of accurate statistics on encroachment.
- matched data: The forest cover in India was “reconciled” in 1987 at 19.53% by the NRSA and the newly created FSI. The NRSA determined that the thick forest cover had decreased from 14.12% in the mid-1970s to 10.96% in 1981 and reconciled it to 10.88% in 1987. The FSI did not oppose this result.
What about Total Recorded Forests?
- Registered Forest Area is the term used to denote area that has been declared as forest in India’s tax records or under a forest legislation.
- Due to the existence of woods on the land, these places were once listed as forests.
- Recorded Forest Areas, which are divided into Reserved, Protected, and Unclassified woods, make up 23.58% of India.
- Around 2.44 lakh sq. km. (bigger than Uttar Pradesh) or 7.43% of India’s historic natural forests have been destroyed, making up nearly one-third of the country.
- Even though the forest department has planted a lot since the 1990s, the total area of thick forests in Registered Forest Areas in 2021 was just 9.96% of India.
- Since the FSI reported 10.88% thick forest in 1987, there has been a tenth slide.
- Due to the inclusion of commercial plantations, orchards, village cottages, urban housings, etc. as dense forests outside Registered Forest Areas, the loss is concealed. Natural woods do not expand as quickly.
- Unavailable plantation data: The percentage of plantations in the remaining thick forests inside Registered Forest Areas is not specifically disclosed by the FSI.
Why are plantations not an alternative to forests?
- Compared to mature natural forests, plantations may develop far more quickly. Moreover, this implies that plantations may meet new carbon objectives more quickly. However they cannot be classified as forests for the following reasons:
- Lack of biodiversity: Since they have naturally evolved to be varied, natural forests sustain far greater species. Simply defined, it has a wide variety of plants that can support many different species.
- Plantation forests are not sustainable because they have identically aged trees, are more vulnerable to fire, pests, and diseases, and frequently obstruct the natural regrowth of forests.
- Limited carbon storage capacity: Because natural forests are older, they contain more carbon in both their bodies and the soil.
How accurate are these estimations?
- The National Forest Inventory (NFI) program’s reference data are gathered from the ground and compared to some interpreted data by the FSI.
- It claimed to have achieved an overall accuracy of 95.79% in 2021 when distinguishing between forests and non-forests.
- The exercise, however, was restricted to fewer than 6,000 sample points due to the scarce resources.
What led to such decline in forest cover?
- Agricultural expansion
- Infrastructure development
- Mining and industrial activities
- Illegal logging (for timber)
- Climate change and natural disasters
- Aggressive conservation policies and programmes: To encourage the sustainable use and management of forests and trees, the government must increase its forest conservation policies and programmes.
- Participation and empowerment of local people in forest management and conservation can help to advance sustainable practises and improve local populations’ standard of living.
- sustainable methods for managing forests The productivity and resilience of forests may be improved by promoting sustainable forest management techniques including agroforestry, silvopasture, and mixed-use landscapes.
- Monitoring and enforcement of forest conservation laws and initiatives can be improved by utilising technology such as blockchain, geographic information systems (GIS), and remote sensing.
- Through adopting sustainable habits, supporting programmes for forest conservation, and spreading knowledge about the value of forests for the environment and people, individuals and communities play a critical part in maintaining forests and trees.
Source: Indian Express
Role of Whip
GS Paper II
Context: The purpose of this article is to demystify the term “whip” and clarify its significance and role in Indian state assemblies and the legislature.
Who is a Whip?
- A whip is a party official whose responsibility it is to maintain party discipline in the legislature.
- This entails making sure that party members vote in accordance with the party programme rather than their personal ideologies or the wishes of their supporters or voters.
- Whips are the “enforcers” of the party.
- They make an effort to make sure that lawmakers from their own political party participate in voting events and cast ballots in accordance with party policy.
- Voting against party policy might result in a member “losing the whip,” or being expelled from the party.
Whips in India:
- The British colonial occupation of India is where the idea of the whip originated.
- Every major political party picks a whip who is in charge of maintaining order and appropriate behaviour inside the party.
- They typically instruct party members to vote in accordance with the wishes of more senior party members and to adhere to the party’s position on particular topics.
What happens if a whip is disobeyed?
- If a legislator disobeys the party whip, disqualification procedures may be initiated, unless there are at least 2/3 of the party’s members in the house who are disobeying the whip.
- The Speaker/Chairman of the house makes the determination of disqualification.
Limitations of whip:
Whips cannot order a Member of Parliament (MP) or Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to vote a certain way in various circumstances, such as presidential elections.
Types of whips:
- The party may issue one of three sorts of whips or instructions:
- One-line whip: A one-line whip is used to notify party members of a vote. It gives a member the option to abstain if they choose not to support the party position.
- Two-line whip: Members are instructed to be present in the House at the time of voting by use of a two-line whip.
- Members are given a three-line whip, instructing them to vote along party lines.
Need for Whips:
- Political parties are governed by the concept of collaborative decision-making, which leads to the requirement for a whip.
- Fulfill election pledges: The whip makes sure the party’s programme is pushed and its election promises are kept, which is crucial for a healthy democracy to operate.
- Maintaining policy coherence requires the party to function as a unit and make sure that its members cast votes in unison on crucial legislative issues.
- Handle divergent viewpoints: The party may experience discord and disruption as a result of disputes and divergent viewpoints on certain issues.
- Maintain party discipline: Political parties select whips who are in charge of maintaining party discipline and making sure that all members vote in accordance with the party platform in order to prevent such instances.
- So, the whip’s duty is essential to upholding party discipline and ensuring that parliamentary business runs smoothly.
- Without a whip, it would be impossible for parties to control how their members voted, which might result in parliamentary inefficiency and stagnation.
Source: Indian Express
Facts for Prelims
- The Government e-Marketplace (GeM) celebrates “SWAYATT’s” achievement.
- Promoting “Start-ups, Women and Youth Advantage Through eTransactions” (SWAYATT) on GeM is the goal of this campaign.
- It debuted in February of this year.
- To encourage the inclusion of diverse seller and service provider categories on the GeM platform.
- It fosters the participation of the MSME sector and start-ups in public procurement and makes it easier for women and young people to become registered makers and dealers.
News Broadcasting and Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA):
- The NBDSA has requested that footage of specific programmes be removed after determining that they violate the Code of Ethics, Broadcasting Standards, and Special Guidelines. This request has been made to News18 India, TimesNow, and Zee News.
- The News Broadcasters & Digital Association created the NBDSA as an impartial organisation (NBDA).
- The News Broadcasters & Digital Association, which was established in 2007 and was originally known as the News Broadcasters Association, is a private organisation that represents several Indian current affairs and news television broadcasters.
- It defends all of its members from anyone engaging in unfair or unethical behaviour.
DNA vaccine against dengue:
- The first and only DNA vaccine candidate for dengue in India has showed excellent results, which is a significant advancement in the field of DNA vaccination research.
- An antigen-coding DNA sequence is injected into an organism’s cells as part of a DNA vaccination to elicit an immunological response.
- ZyCoV-D, created by ZydusCadila, is the only DNA vaccine ever licenced for use in an emergency against COVID-19.
- because it is brought on by four serotypes of closely similar viruses, DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4.
- The way they each interact with the human blood’s antibodies varies. A person who contracts DEN-1 is thus permanently immune to it but not to the other three serotypes. All serotypes must be targeted by the ideal vaccine.