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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 7 & 8 March 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. China Approves first downstream dams on Brahmaputra
  2. UNDP proposes Temporary Basic Income for Women
  3. Proposal to dump inert waste in Asola Bhatti Sanctuary
  4. Ocean Currents Slowing down due to Climate Change

CHINA APPROVES FIRST DOWNSTREAM DAMS ON BRAHMAPUTRA

Context:

A draft of China’s new Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) has given approval for the first dams to be built on the lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo river (Brahmaputra is known as Yarlung Zangbo in Tibet), before it flows into India.

The lower reaches refer to the sections of the river in Tibet before it flows into India.

Relevance:

GS-I: Geography (Important Rivers, maps), GS-II: International Relations (India’s relations with neighbors), GS-III: Disaster Management (Earthquakes)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About China’s proposals to exploit Brahmaputra
  2. Concerns raised by India regarding Brahmaputra and China
  3. Important Issues with Construction of Dams in the Brahmaputra basin
  4. About Yarlung Tsangpo and the Brahmaputra

About China’s proposals to exploit Brahmaputra

  • Recently, Chinese State-owned hydropower company (POWERCHINA) signed “a strategic cooperation agreement” with the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) government to “implement hydropower exploitation in the downstream of the Yarlung Zangbo River” as part of the new Five-Year Plan (2021-2025).
  • The recent Chinese Five-Year Plan’s backing for the projects also suggests that a number of long-pending proposals from Chinese hydropower companies to build dams on the lower reaches, including near the border with India, may be given the green light.
  • The Five-Year Plan not only calls for “building a hydropower base on the lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo river”, but also for “clean energy bases” in the upper and lower reaches of Jinsha river
  • The project is also listed along with the Sichuan-Tibet railway and the national water network along with other major projects on construction of coastal nuclear power plants and power transmission channels.
STUDY ON CHINA DAMS BRINGS THE BRAHMAPUTRA INTO FOCUS - Legacy IAS Academy
1st December 2020 Current Affairs - Legacy IAS Academy

Concerns raised by India regarding Brahmaputra and China

  • Indian officials have said the dams are not likely to impact the quantity of the Brahmaputra’s flows because they are only storing water for power generation.
  • Moreover, the Brahmaputra is not entirely dependent on upstream flows and an estimated 35% of its basin is in India.
  • India does not have a water-sharing agreement with China, but both sides share hydrological data.
  • India will continue to raise the issue of river waters in the Brahmaputra with China, as that appears to be the only methodology to ensure what happened on Mekong does not happen on Brahmaputra.
  • Dams on the lower reaches and at the Great Bend would raise fresh concerns because of the location across the border from Arunachal Pradesh and the potential impact downstream.

Important Issues with Construction of Dams in the Brahmaputra basin

  1. The location of the dams also poses a risk as the Himalayas are one of the most vulnerable to earthquakes and seismic activity. – The 1950 earthquake just south of the McMahon Line was of 8.6 magnitude. It was the largest continental event ever recorded, and devastated Tibet and Assam.
  2. Landslides resulting from earthquakes pose a significant threat. For example, the 2015 Gorkha earthquake of magnitude 7.8 in central Nepal resulted in huge losses in the hydropower sector and the resultant landslides wiped out several dams and other facilities.
  3. Brahmaputra basin is one of the world’s most ecologically sensitive zones and is identified as one of the world’s 34 biological hotspots. – This region has several species of flora and fauna which are endemic to only this part of the world – like the Kaziranga National Park houses 35 mammalian species out of which 15 are listed as threatened in the IUCN Red List.
  4. Massive amounts of silt carried by the river would get blocked by dams leading to a fall in the quality of soil and eventual reduction in agricultural productivity.
  5. In the past – during the 2018 Doklam border standoff between India and China, China stopped communication of water flow levels from its dams, effectively rendering India blind to floods during the standoff. So, it should be recognized that there is the potential to significantly change the flow rate during times of standoffs and high tensions.

About Yarlung Tsangpo and the Brahmaputra

  • The Yarlung Tsangpo is the upper stream of the Brahmaputra River located in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China.
  • The Yarlung Tsangpo River is the highest major river in the world.
  • Major tributaries of Yarlung Tsangpo include Nyangchu River, Lhasa River, Nyang River, and Parlung Tsangpo.
  • Brahmaputra is a perennial river and is flooded twice annually. One flood is caused by the melting of the Himalayan snow in summer and the other due to the monsoon flows.
  • The river is in itself dynamic as frequent landslides and geological activity force it to change course very often.

Flow of the Brahmaputra

  1. Originating at Angsi Glacier in western Tibet, southeast of Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, it later forms the South Tibet Valley and Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon before passing into the state of Arunachal Pradesh, India.
  2. When leaving the Tibetan Plateau, the River forms the world’s largest and deepest canyon, Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon.
  3. Downstream from Arunachal Pradesh the river becomes far wider and is called the Siang.
  4. After reaching Assam, the river is known as Brahmaputra.
  5. From Assam, the river enters Bangladesh at Ramnabazar.
Brahmaputra dam not to affect India, says China - World - DAWN.COM

-Source: The Hindu


UNDP PROPOSES TEMPORARY BASIC INCOME FOR WOMEN

Context:

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s latest report: “Protecting Women’s Livelihoods in Times of Pandemic: Temporary Basic Income and the Road to Gender Equality” – Temporary Basic Income (TBI) for poor women in developing countries can help millions of them cope with the effects of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Relevance:

GS-I: Indian Society (Issues related to women and challenges to women empowerment)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the TBI Scheme proposed by UNDP
  2. Why is such a TBI for women necessary?
  3. Way Forwards: Other recommendations of UNDP apart from TBI
  4. India’s initiatives:

About the TBI Scheme proposed by UNDP

  • A TBI for millions of the world’s poorest women will help them cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and alleviate the economic pressures they face every day.
  • The large-scale TBI scheme proposed by UNDP in a policy brief showed that a monthly investment of around 0.1% to less than 0.3% per cent of a developing countries’ gross domestic product (GDP) could provide reliable financial security to more than 600 million working-aged women living in poverty.
  • The benefits of such a meaningful investment could not only help women and their families absorb the shock of the pandemic, but also empower women to make independent decisions about money, livelihoods and life choices.

Why is such a TBI for women necessary?

Impact of Covid-19:

  • Women have been hit harder than men by the pandemic, losing income and leaving the labour market at a greater rate.
  • Many women faced a huge increase in care work at house due to school closures, overwhelmed health systems, and the increased needs of older people.
  • Also, there was an alarming global surge in domestic violence while support services for women at risk face cuts and closures.

More work and Less salary:

  • On an average, women spend 2.4 more hours per day than men on unpaid care and domestic work.
  • Among people who participate in the paid economy, women spend an average of 4 hours more per day than men on paid and unpaid work combined.

Issues with policies:

  • Beyond complex gendered norms, some of the economic vulnerability imposed on women also comes from policy and political decisions that have persistently deprived them of compensation in the form of equal pay, paid maternity leave, universal health, unemployment and care benefits.
  • Only one in ten countries and territories have policies addressing women’s economic security needs, according to the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker by UNDP and UN Women.

Way Forwards: Other recommendations of UNDP apart from TBI

  • Beyond reconciling paid work and family responsibilities, governments must address other sources of the gender pay gap such as horizontal and vertical segregation in the labour market. (Horizontal segregation can be broadly defined as the concentration of men and women in different kinds of jobs. Vertical segregation denotes the situation whereby opportunities for career progression for a particular gender within a company or sector are limited.)
  • The response should include anti-discrimination laws and affirmative action initiatives.

India’s initiatives: Click Here to read more about the Steps taken by Ministry of Women and Child Development

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine


PROPOSAL TO DUMP INERT WASTE IN ASOLA BHATTI SANCTUARY

Context:

The Supreme Court-mandated Ridge Management Board has decided to constitute an expert committee to look into the proposal of dumping inert (non-reactive) waste in the mines of Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary (Delhi).

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Waste Management, Conservation of Environment and Protected sites of ecological and environmental importance)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Inert waste?
  2. What is the Delhi Ridge?
  3. What is the Ridge Management Board?
  4. About Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary

What is Inert waste?

  • Inert waste is waste which is neither biologically nor chemically reactive and is waste which will not decompose or decompose very slowly.
  • Inert waste includes, but is not limited to: construction and demolition material such as metal, wood, bricks, masonry and cement concrete; asphalt concrete; metal; tree branches; bottom ash from coal fired boilers; and waste coal fines from air pollution control equipment.
  • These wastes usually don’t pose a threat to the environment, or the health of animals or other people and will not endanger the quality of watercourses.
  • However, when there is a large amount of this type of waste, it can become an issue as it begins to take up a lot of space.

What is the Delhi Ridge?

  • Delhi Ridge, sometimes simply called The Ridge, is a ridge in the National Capital Territory of Delhi in India and it is a northern extension of the ancient Aravalli Range.
  • The Delhi Ridge acts as the green lungs for the city and protects Delhi from the hot winds of the deserts of Rajasthan to the west.
  • It is also responsible for earning Delhi the tag of the world’s second most bird-rich capital city, after Kenya’s Nairobi.
  • It lies in the Northern Aravalli leopard wildlife corridor.
  • The ridge consists of quartzite rocks and extends from the Southeast at Tughlaqabad, near the Bhatti mines, branching out in places and tapering off in the north near Wazirabad on the west bank of the river Yamuna.
Delhi Ridge - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

What is the Ridge Management Board?

The Supreme Court mandated the Delhi Government to constitute a Ridge Management Board for protection of the Delhi Ridge through their orders in the M.C. Mehta case 1987, and the Ridge Management Board was established in October 1995.

About Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Asola-Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary lies on the Southern Delhi Ridge of Aravalli hill range, one of the oldest mountain systems of the world, on Delhi-Haryana border.
  • An area of 1km around the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in Gurugram and Faridabad is an Eco-sensitive zone, where activities such as commercial mining, setting up of industries, and establishment of major hydro-electric projects are prohibited.
  • The Asola wildlife sanctuary has both floral and faunal diversity in form of wide variety of trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses along with large numbers of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and dragonflies.
  • Sanctuary comprises around 200 species of resident and migratory birds.
  • Wildlife habitats inside the sanctuary act as a water recharge zone for Delhi, Faridabad and Gurugram.
Dumping Inert Waste in Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary

-Source: Indian Express


OCEAN CURRENTS SLOWING DOWN DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Context:

New research reveals that the Earth’s major ocean currents are slowing down due to changing global weather patterns.

Relevance:

GS-I: Geography (Climatology, Important geographical phenomena and Impact of Climate Change)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Ocean Currents?
  2. Factors responsible for Ocean Currents
  3. The Slowdown of Ocean Circulation: How is it happening?

What are Ocean Currents?

  • The movements of water in oceans can be categorized into currents, waves, and tides. Among these, ocean currents are the large masses of surface water that circulate in regular patterns around the oceans.
  • Depending upon their temperature, ocean currents can be classified into warm currents and cold currents.
  • Warm currents flow from equatorial regions towards the polar regions and hence have a higher surface temperature. These currents flow in the clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere and in the anti-clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere.
  • Cold currents flow from polar regions towards the equator and have a lower surface temperature. These currents flow in the anti-clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere and in the clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere.
Ocean Currents - Get Into Geography

Ocean conveyor belt:

  • All of Earth’s oceans are interconnected by a global circulation system sometimes called the ocean conveyor belt, and officially known as thermohaline circulation.
  • The global network of ocean currents transports heat from warm equatorial seas to colder polar waters.
  • The system consists of warm surface currents and cold deep ocean currents.
The Decade After Tomorrow | The Political Climate

Factors responsible for Ocean Currents

  1. The Planetary winds: The strongest evidence of prevailing winds on the flow of ocean currents can be witnessed in the North Indian Ocean where there is a change in the direction of ocean currents with a change in direction of the monsoon winds.
  2. Temperatures: At the equator, since the temperature is higher the ocean water gets heated up, making the warm water lighter which rises while at the poles, cold water is denser and sinks. Warm water from the equator slowly moves along the surface towards the poles, while the cold water from the poles slowly creeps along the bottom of the sea towards the equator.
  3. Salinity: The density of water also depends on its salinity and the salinity of water varies from place to place. Waters of low salinity flow on the surface of waters of high salinity while waters of high salinity flow at the bottom.
  4. The Earth’s Rotation: Under the action of Coriolis force, the movement of ocean currents in the northern hemisphere is in the clockwise and in the southern hemisphere it is in the anti-clockwise direction.
  5. Obstruction from land: A land mass obstructs the direction of flow of ocean current and divides the ocean current which in turns flow in a different direction.

The Slowdown of Ocean Circulation: How is it happening?

  • The slowdown of ocean circulation is directly caused by warming global temperatures and has been predicted by climate scientists – the slowdown is likely not a natural change but the result of human influence.
  • The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) transports water across the planet’s oceans, including the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian. The region contributing to the slowdown is the North Atlantic, according to the research.
  • If this Atlantic overturning circulation breaks down all together, this will lead to a strong cooling around the northern Atlantic, especially into Europe, into the kind of coastal areas of Britain and Scandinavia.
  • In this part of the ocean, the Greenland ice sheets are melting, contributing to both a rise in sea levels and serving to reduce the speed of the circulation.
  • Ice melting in Greenland and the heavy rainfall over the North Atlantic induced by climate change has affected the salinity and density of the waters.
  • As warm water currents move north, they typically turn back south as it gets cooler and heavier.
  • Added freshwater from the melting ice is causing this turn to be slower because of reduced salinity.

-Source: The Hindu

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