India sends notice to Pakistan to amend 1960 Indus Water Treaty
GS Paper I
Context:India has stated its intention to amend the 62-year-old Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with Pakistan.
Why India issued notice to Pakistan?
Unwanted issues over Indian hydropower projects: India noted Pakistan’s unwillingness to settle disputes over the Kishenganga and Ratle hydropower projects in Jammu and Kashmir.
Dragging arbitration: India objected to Pakistan’s “unilateral” decision to seek arbitration at The Hague.
A foul cry: Pakistan’s effort to press the World Bank for the establishment of a Court of Arbitration went contrary to the World Bank’s pre-existing route of dispute resolution through a “neutral expert” selected by the World Bank.
Renegotiating the IWT: The decision to notify Pakistan is a significant move that might lead to the unravelling and renegotiation of the water-sharing pact.
Why is Pakistan objecting?
Back in 2006, Pakistan objected to India’s development of the 330 MW Kishenganga hydropower plant on the Jhelum River.
It then opposed proposals to build the 850 MW Ratle Hydroelectric Project on the Chenab River.
Given that the Jhelum and Chenab were “western tributaries,” India and Pakistan disagreed on whether the technical specifics of the hydel projects were in accordance with the treaty.
What is Indus Water Treaty (IWT)?
The Indus Waters Pact is a water-distribution treaty negotiated by the World Bank and signed in Karachi in 1960.
This deal granted India dominion over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers in India: the Beas, the Ravi, and the Sutlej.
Pakistan was granted jurisdiction over three “western” rivers in India: the Indus, the Chenab, and the Jhelum.
Basis of the treaty
Equitable water-sharing: Following India’s division in 1947, dividing the Indus river system was unavoidable.
Empathizing with the Partition: The sharing formula created after lengthy talks split the Indus system in half.
Why is India rethinking on this treaty?
Mostly in favour of Pakistan: It may have appeared equitable, but India relinquished 80.52 percent of the overall water flows in the Indus system to Pakistan.
Unnecessarily generous: It also paid Pakistan Rs 83 crore in sterling to assist build replacement canals from western rivers. Such generosity from an upper riparian is remarkable.
Reclaiming riparian rights: In exchange for entire rights on the eastern rivers, India gave up its upper riparian status on the western rivers. The availability of water was important to India’s development aspirations.
What were the rights accorded to India?
The pact permitted India to use the water from western rivers for restricted agricultural purposes.
Unrestricted commercial use: It granted electricity generation, domestic industry, and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish cultivation, and so on.
It establishes exact regulations for the construction of every water or hydel project.
Addressing Pakistan’s concerns: The accord also grants Pakistan the ability to object to designs of Indian hydropower projects on the western rivers.
Significance of the treaty:
A testament to peaceful coexistence: It is a treaty that is frequently referenced as an example of the potential for peaceful cohabitation that exist despite the problematic relationship.
Many battles: It has survived three important conflicts.
Most successful bilateral treaty: It is considered widely as an example of effective conflict settlement between two countries otherwise stuck in a hostile relationship.
Why has the treaty survived?
It is for India’s benevolence on Pakistan for sharing waters from its own rivers.
Water freedom: India has abstained from weaponizing water. Pakistan cannot exist in the absence of this pact.
Significant reliance Pak economy: The Indus and riparian rivers provide water for over 80% of Pakistan’s agriculture.
Floods and droughts will starve poor Pakistanis while their rulers continue to live in luxury.
Credibility of India: Backtracking on the deal might harm India’s reputation as a trustworthy global partner who honours bilateral accords.
Why should India rethink?
Terrorist blow: PM Modi’s words “Blood and water cannot flow together” are relevant.
A tit for tat: If India so desires, it may either flood or drought-starve Pakistan by refusing to sign this pact.
India’s position as a responsible upper riparian adhering to the treaty’s stipulations has been noteworthy.
However, India should reconsider or renegotiate this deal.
Terrorism affects Indians in the same way that water affects regular Pakistanis.
Source – The Hindu
GS Paper III
Context:A flurry of recent research have revealed that an in-body mechanism known as immunological imprinting may be rendering new booster vaccinations significantly less effective than predicted for coronavirus infection.
What is Immune Imprinting?
Immunological imprinting refers to the body’s tendency to repeat its immune response depending on the initial variety seen.
When our body encounters a newer or somewhat different variety of the same disease, it does so through infection or immunisation.
The phenomenon was originally discovered in 1947, when scientists noted that “patients who had previously had flu, and were later vaccinated against the current circulating strain, developed antibodies against the earlier strain.
It was regarded as the “initial antigenic sin” at the time, but it is now more frequently recognised as imprinting.
How imprinting works for immune system?
Imprinting serves as a database for the immune system, allowing it to respond more effectively to recurring infections.
When our bodies are initially exposed to a virus, it develops memory B cells, which circulate in the circulation and swiftly make antibodies whenever the same strain of the virus infects us again.
The issue arises when the body encounters a similar, but not identical, form of the virus.
In such instances, the immune system activates memory B cells rather than creating new B cells.
This results in cross-reactive antibodies, which bind to characteristics prevalent in both the ancient and new strains.
Are the booster doses completely useless?
These cross-reactive antibodies provide some resistance to the new strain.
They are, however, not as effective as the ones made by B cells when the body first encountered the virus.
How to circumvent immune imprinting?
Several active investigations are now attempting to develop a solution to imprinting.
Some experts believe nasal vaccinations may be more effective than injectable immunisations in preventing illnesses.
Despite bearing some imprint of previous exposure, they believe the mucous membranes will provide greater protection.
Researchers are also investigating if spacing out coronavirus vaccination injections on a yearly basis may assist with imprinting.
Source – The Hindu
Nari Shakti at the parade
GS Paper I
Context:It was heartwarming to see women leading several of the contingents in New Delhi’s 74th Republic Day march. Their presence was encouraging and something that future generations of females should strive to replicate. While much was made of the accession of female fighter pilots, it is unclear how many more have been added since then.
Nari Shakti at the parade:
Nari Shakti dominated the 74th Republic Day parade, with women officers leading the marching contingents of the armed forces, CRPF, Akash missile system, and Army’s Daredevil squad.
The world’s first female armed police battalion: In a first, the marching contingent of the CRPF, which has the distinction of forming the world’s first women-armed police battalion, was entirely made up of women this time.
BSF women on the borders: For the first time, BSF women troops in colourful uniforms posted near Pakistan’s desert border marched as part of the camel contingent.
Light on whether induction of women is mere tokenism?
Chances for women: One of the most significant recent developments is the expansion of opportunities for girls and young women at Sainik schools and the National Defence Academy.
As there are more women on the field, there are less logistical issues: Once they put on the uniform and there are a lot more women on the pitch, the logistical concerns will fade away.
Promotion to the position of colonel: The recent announcement that women are being considered for promotion to the rank of colonel and, ultimately, command units is extremely empowering.
The military continues to be an outstanding example: the military is an amazing place for women to work, and it is the service’s obligation to uphold that faith.
Women in commands: Significance:
Leadership opportunity: Despite working at the grassroots level as junior officers, women officers had previously been denied the opportunity to demonstrate their leadership abilities since they were not authorised to command a unit.
Gender parity: Most crucially, it equalises female officers with male colleagues.
Earlier promotions were staff appointments, which are more administrative in character, rather than command appointments, in which an officer leads troops on the ground.
Benefits following a permanent commission: Women officers with a longer career in the Army will be considered for promotions, even to the rank of Colonel and higher.
How are women still discriminated?
Women are still barred from serving in key combat arms such as infantry, mechanised infantry, and armoured corps.
The Indian Army does not allow women to engage as foot troops in border warfare.
Much of this opposition originates from previous incidents in which male troops were kidnapped as prisoners of war and tortured by the enemy.
However, the Army has lately agreed to allow women to join the Corps of Artillery, a combat support arm.
What more needs to be done?
Promoting Gender Equality at the Parade: Having women’s contingents during the parade with the Nari Shakti theme is a fantastic idea. However, we must avoid referring to this as an opportunity that has been provided to them.
Obstacles to gender equality in frontline forces: The cautious and steady recruitment of women into positions below the officer level in a paramilitary force like the Assam Rifles is a long way from allowing women to serve on the front lines, as in the Kumaon Regiment, for example. The regiment’s war cry is Kalikamata ki jai, but that’s where it ends.
The military, like every other institution, is a mirror of society, and it, too, is vulnerable to reform and change for the progress of society as a whole.
We must advocate for this while also supporting Captain Shikha Sharma, the first woman in the Daredevil squad, who exhibited her abilities so smoothly during the parade.
Nari Shakti was well-represented in the Republic Day procession. However, much more has to be done to include women in the force the day after R-Day.
Source – The Hindu
Goswami Tulsidas (1511–1623)
GS Paper I
Context:Tulsidas has sparked debate since parts of his verses (Chaupai) are cited in the Ramcharitmanas.
Who was Tulsidas?
Tulsidas, a Brahmin whose real name was Ram Bola Dubey, is thought to have been born at Rajapur beside the Yamuna, which is now part of the Banda district.
He wrote the Ramcharitmanas on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi, starting on Ram Navami day in 1574 and finishing it over the next few years.
Tulsidas lived during the reign of Emperor Akbar, and some think he corresponded with Abdurrahim Khan-e-Khanan, Akbar’s general Bairam Khan’s son.
The poem was composed in the 16th century in the Awadhi dialect, which is mostly spoken in the regions of Lucknow, Prayagraj, and Ayodhya today.
It was written in the Avdhi language. The religious chant ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ is included.
It is broken into seven chapters (Kand), which describe the tale of Lord Ram from his birth to his ascension to the throne of Ayodhya.
Why is Ramcharitmanas so famous?
The Ramcharitmanas is based on the Ramayana, the famous epic of sage Valmiki.
It is the holiest book in the Indo-Gangetic area, as well as one of the world’s most widely read sacred books – according to one estimate, Geeta Press (Gorakhpur) has sold about 7 crore copies.
Throughout the Hindi heartland, “Ramayan” commonly refers to Ramcharitmanas.
Tulsidas popularised the narrative of Lord Ram because he wrote in the regional dialect that most people knew.
Tulisdas and political controversies:
While Lord Ram is described in the Ramcharitmanas as maryadapurushottam, the embodiment of righteousness, his actions have been criticised by anti-Brahmin activists such as E V Ramasamy Periyar.
“I shall have no confidence in Rama and Krishna, who are thought to be incarnations of God, nor shall I worship them,” one of the 22 promises Dr. B R Ambedkar issued to his followers while joining Buddhism in October 1956.
In politics, non-upper caste assertion has occasionally shown itself in criticism of the Ramcharitmanas.
Critics have used these sections of the poem to accuse Tulsidas of being anti-upper castes and women, as well as a proponent of Brahminical dominance.
Source – Indian Express
Inclusive Circular Economy
GS Paper III
Context:The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India recently started a campaign to promote a more inclusive circular economy.
As part of its sustainability commitment, UNDP has created this campaign to promote an inclusive circular economy.
The initiative is an expansion of an existing collaboration under UNDP’s flagship Plastic Waste Management Programme.
The initiative focuses on:
End-to-end management of plastic waste by encouraging trash segregation at the source, collecting segregated garbage, and establishing Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) to recycle all types of plastic waste along the value chain.
In partnership with Hindustan Unilever Limited:
The collaboration with HUL will aid in the development of Urban Local Bodies’ capacity to implement the MRFs or Swachhata Kendra model for plastic and dry waste management in other cities.
Segregation at source:
The initiative will also reach out to 100,000 households for source segregation to guarantee improved waste management and recycling of plastic trash.
Significance of the project:
The plastic waste management initiative offers an innovative multi-stakeholder approach in which municipal corporations, corporations, SafaiSaathis, and citizens collaborate to make cities cleaner and greener.
Plastic waste is one of today’s most pressing issues, and this programme covers it.
The programme also provides a secure income and decent living to SafaiSaathis, the face of the country’s trash management system.
Environmental pollution & Climate change:
Millions of tonnes of plastic garbage are lost to the environment or are transported thousands of kilometres to be burnt or deposited.
Plastic, which is derived from petroleum, also contributes to global warming.
When it is burnt, its poisonous components are released into the atmosphere, where they accumulate in biotic forms across the surrounding ecosystems.
When burnt, it emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, increasing carbon emissions.
Soil, water & ocean pollution:
Plastic remains untreated in a landfill for years.
Toxic chemicals from plastics leak and seep into groundwater, eventually moving downstream into lakes and rivers.
Because of the existence of microplastics in the soil, plastic leaking also causes soil contamination.
Rivers and lakes also transport plastic garbage from deep inside the earth to the sea, making them significant contributors to ocean pollution.
Plastic trash degrades the visual value of tourist attractions, resulting in lower tourism-related income and significant economic expenditures associated with site cleaning and upkeep.
The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016:
It explicitly states that urban local bodies (ULBs) shall prohibit the use of less than 50 micron thick plastic bags and the use of recycled plastics for packing food, beverages, or other eatables.
To regulate plastics in India, it established the idea of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility).
EPR refers to a producer’s obligation for ecologically sound product management till the product’s end of life.
Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022:
The EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) standards, in conjunction with the restriction of specific single-use plastic goods.
It prohibited the manufacturing, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic with a thickness of less than 75 microns.
The items that will be banned are:
Earbuds with plastic sticks, balloon sticks, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, and knives, straw, trays, wrapping films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns, and stirrers.
Commodities produced of biodegradable plastic will be exempt from the prohibition.
Source – Indian Express
Liquefied Natural Gas
GS Paper III
Context:The European Union (EU) is reducing its reliance on Russian gas by quickly increasing Liquefied Natural Gas imports (LNG).
What is LNG?
LNG is natural gas that has been converted to a liquid condition (liquefaction) by extreme cooling to around -161 degrees Celsius (-259 Fahrenheit). This liquid gas is 600 times smaller in volume than water and weighs half as much.
LNG is a compressed fossil fuel made almost entirely of methane.
Liquefaction is the process of converting anything solid into liquid. LNG is frozen before being converted to liquid form.
Applications include power generating, energy storage, transportation, and industrial use.
Greater fuel efficiency: Because LNG has a larger energy content per unit volume than natural gas in its gaseous state, it can store and transmit more energy in the same space.
Energy security is improved since LNG may be stored and utilised as needed, minimising reliance on a single source of energy.
LNG may be carried by ship, providing greater flexibility in sourcing and delivery.
LNG requires less storage space on a vehicle than CNG and has an energy density comparable to diesel fuel.
Lower carbon emissions: When burnt, LNG emits less CO2 than coal or oil.
High production costs: The process of liquefying and shipping LNG is costly.
Environmental impact: The extraction, liquefaction, and transportation of LNG can have serious environmental consequences, such as greenhouse gas emissions and damage to surrounding ecosystems.
Leaks and spills: Because LNG is highly combustible, there is a danger of leaks and spills during transportation.
Little infrastructure: There is currently limited infrastructure for LNG storage and delivery, making large-scale implementation problematic.
Natural gas resources are not uniformly spread around the world, therefore LNG will not be a solution for all countries.
Reasons for EU shift towards LNG:
Energy source diversification: The EU is aiming to diversify its energy sources in order to minimise reliance on a single source of energy and increase energy security.
Supply Security: Because LNG may be imported from a range of nations, the danger of disruption to gas supply in the case of political disputes or other disturbances is reduced.
Reducing reliance on Russia: Europe is aiming to lessen its reliance on Russia as its primary natural gas supply, and LNG allows countries to import gas from other sources.
The shale gas revolution in the United States has made LNG exports more competitive and accessible to the European market, resulting in increased imports of LNG from the United States.
The EU has been investing in LNG terminals and other infrastructure to import and transport LNG, making it a more feasible choice for the area.
Increased demand for natural gas: As the world shifts toward greener energy, natural gas, which is regarded cleaner than coal or oil, is becoming a key transition fuel.
Source – Indian Express
GS Paper I
Context:Recently, Indian researchers discovered 92 Titanosaur nests and 256 fossilised eggs in Central India. Titanosaurs are the world’s biggest dinosaurs.
About the Study:
The researchers discovered six distinct egg-species (oospecies), suggesting that titanosaurs were more diverse than skeletal remains from this location suggest.
The scientists deduced from the architecture of the nests that these dinosaurs buried their eggs in shallow holes, similar to modern-day crocodiles.
A rare example of “egg-in-egg” suggests that titanosaur sauropods possessed a reproductive system similar to that of birds and may have placed their eggs sequentially, as observed in contemporary birds.
The existence of many nests in the same region shows that these dinosaurs, like many modern birds, engaged in colonial nesting behaviour.
This study’s findings contribute greatly to palaeontologists’ knowledge of how dinosaurs lived and developed.
Fossils in Narmada Valley:
Captain William Henry Sleeman discovered dinosaur bones near Jabalpur in 1828, which became the first dinosaur-related find.
The Lameta Formation in central India is well-known for dinosaur bones and eggs from the Late Cretaceous Period, which lasted from from 145 to 66 million years ago.
It is one of the world’s largest dinosaur hatcheries, along with previously discovered dinosaur nests in eastern MP’s Jabalpur, located in the upper Narmada Valley, and Gujarat’s Balasinor, located in the west.