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Current Affairs 03 June 2024

  1. India to Resume Wheat Imports and Remove Import Tax
  2. Record Forest Fires in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest Due to Drought and Climate Change
  3. Djibouti Launches Pilot Program with GM Mosquitoes to Combat Malaria
  4. ED Arrests Uttarakhand Resident for International Drug Trafficking
  5. India Reaffirms Support for Two-State Solution in Israel-Palestine Conflict
  6. 60th meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies
  7. Agnikul Cosmos and the Agnibaan Sub Orbital Technology Demonstrator (SOrTeD)


Context:

India, the world’s second-largest wheat producer, plans to resume wheat imports after a six-year hiatus to replenish depleted reserves and control rising prices, following three consecutive years of disappointing crops. The country is likely to remove a 40% import tax on wheat, permitting private traders to purchase from countries like Russia, albeit in small quantities.

Relevance:

GS III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Wheat
  2. Reasons for India Resuming Wheat Imports
  3. Potential Implications of the Decision
  4. Food Corporation of India (FCI)

Wheat

Importance:

  • Second most important cereal crop in India after rice.
  • Main food crop in the north and north-western parts of the country.

Type:

  • Wheat is a rabi crop that requires a cool growing season and bright sunshine at the time of ripening.

Historical Impact:

  • Success of the Green Revolution significantly contributed to the growth of Rabi crops, especially wheat.

Optimal Growing Conditions:

  • Temperature:
    • Sowing: 10-15°C
    • Ripening and Harvesting: 21-26°C with bright sunlight.
  • Rainfall: Around 75-100 cm.
  • Soil Type: Well-drained fertile loamy and clayey loamy soils, particularly in the Ganga-Satluj plains and the black soil region of the Deccan.

Top Producers:

  • World (2021): China, India, and Russia.
  • India (2021-22): Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab.

Indian Wheat Production and Export:

  • India is the world’s second-biggest wheat producer after China.
  • Despite its large production, India accounts for less than 1% of the global wheat trade as a significant portion is kept for domestic use to provide subsidized food for the poor.
  • Top Export Markets: Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

Reasons for India Resuming Wheat Imports

Production Decline:

  • India’s wheat output has decreased over the past three years due to adverse weather conditions, resulting in a significant reduction in wheat yield.
  • The government projects this year’s wheat harvest to be 6.25% lower than the 2023 record production of 112 million metric tons.

Reduced Stock Levels:

  • By April 2024, government wheat reserves have plummeted to 7.5 million tons, the lowest in 16 years, largely because over 10 million tons were sold to control domestic prices.

Procurement Deficit:

  • The government’s wheat procurement target for 2024 was 30-32 million metric tons, but only 26.2 million tons have been acquired so far.

Increasing Prices:

  • Domestic wheat prices have remained above the government’s minimum support price (MSP) of 2,275 rupees per 100 kg and have been rising.
  • To address this, the government removed the 40% import duty on wheat, enabling private traders and flour millers to import wheat, mainly from Russia.

Potential Implications of the Decision

Domestic Market Effects:

  • Removing the import duty is expected to boost wheat supplies in the domestic market, helping to curb price increases.
  • Lower import costs can assist the government in replenishing depleted wheat stocks, enhancing food security by providing a buffer against unexpected disruptions in domestic production.

Global Market Effects:

  • Although India’s expected import volume (3-5 million metric tons) is relatively small, it could lead to an increase in global wheat prices due to the current situation of high prices driven by production issues in major exporting countries like Russia.
  • India’s import needs are unlikely to have a significant impact on the global market, as larger exporters will continue to have a more substantial influence on global wheat price trends.

Food Corporation of India (FCI)

Statutory Basis:

  • The FCI was established under the Food Corporations Act 1964.
  • It operates under the Department of Food & Public Distribution within the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
Primary Functions:
  • Procurement: Acts as the nodal agency for procuring wheat and paddy at the government-declared Minimum Support Price (MSP) to protect farmers’ interests and encourage agricultural production.
  • Storage: Stores the procured food grains in scientifically managed warehouses across the country to maintain buffer stocks and ensure availability during lean periods.
  • Distribution: Efficiently distributes food grains to state governments for further distribution through the Public Distribution System (PDS), ensuring access to essential food items at subsidised prices for vulnerable sections of society.
  • Price Stabilisation: Helps stabilise food grain prices in the market by regulating procurement and distribution, preventing undue price fluctuations.
  • Monitoring: Closely monitors food grain stocks and their movement throughout the country to identify potential shortages and ensure timely corrective measures.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has experienced its largest forest fires on record in the first four months of 2024. These fires have been fueled by a record drought in the Amazon region, driven by the El Nino climate phenomenon and global warming, leading to extremely dry conditions.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Facts About the Amazon Rainforests
  2. Causes of Amazon Forest Fires
  3. Advantages of forest fires
  4. Disadvantages of forest fires
  5. Forest Fire Vulnerability in India
  6. Ways to mitigate the risk of forest fires

Key Facts About the Amazon Rainforests

Geographical Span:

  • The Amazon rainforests span across 8 countries, covering an area twice the size of India.
  • These rainforests occupy about 40% of Brazil’s total area, bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north, the Andes Mountains to the west, the Brazilian central plateau to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

Characteristics:

  • They are large tropical rainforests covering the drainage basin of the Amazon River and its tributaries in northern South America, encompassing an area of 6,000,000 square km.
  • The region is very wet, receiving more than 200 cm of rainfall annually, either seasonally or throughout the year.
  • Temperatures are uniformly high, ranging between 20°C and 35°C.

Global Distribution:

  • Similar tropical rainforests are found in Asia, Australia, Africa, South America, Central America, Mexico, and many Pacific Islands.

Biodiversity and Cultural Significance:

  • These rainforests are home to more than 400 different indigenous groups, with around 300 indigenous languages spoken, highlighting significant cultural and linguistic diversity.
  • Despite covering only about 1% of the Earth’s surface, the Amazon rainforest is home to 10% of all wildlife species on Earth.

Environmental Importance:

  • The Amazon rainforest plays a crucial role in curbing global warming by absorbing vast amounts of greenhouse gases.

Causes of Amazon Forest Fires

Human Activities:
  • Slash-and-Burn Techniques: Farmers and ranchers use slash-and-burn methods to clear land for cattle grazing or agriculture. After cutting down trees, they intentionally set fires to remove remaining vegetation and prepare the land, which can spread uncontrollably during dry seasons.
Natural and Climatic Factors:
  • El Nino Events: Research indicates a connection between El Nino events (periods of warmer Pacific Ocean temperatures) and increased fire activity in the Amazon. The peak fire season often coincides with El Nino events, such as the severe fires in 2019 and 2023 linked to El Nino-related droughts.
  • Climate Change: Rising global temperatures and altered weather patterns due to climate change increase the risk of fires in the Amazon by creating drier conditions.
Accidental Causes:
  • Ignitions: Accidental ignitions from discarded cigarettes, sparks from machinery, or lightning strikes also contribute to forest fires.
Economic Factors:
  • Global Demand for Food: Increasing global demand for food, particularly meat, has led to Brazil becoming the world’s largest beef exporter and the second-largest exporter of soybeans, mainly used for livestock feed. This demand drives further deforestation to meet export needs, increasing the risk of fires.

Advantages of forest fires:

  • Some species of trees and plants have adapted to thrive in the aftermath of fires. For example, some pine trees rely on fires to open their cones and release seeds.
  • Forest fires can help to clear out dead wood, brush, and other debris, reducing the risk of future fires.
  • Fires can help to promote new growth and biodiversity by creating openings in the forest canopy that allow sunlight to reach the forest floor, stimulating the growth of new vegetation.

Disadvantages of forest fires:

  • Forest fires can destroy habitats and negatively impact biodiversity by killing animals and plants that are unable to escape the flames.
  • Smoke from fires can cause respiratory problems and other health issues for humans and animals.
  • Forest fires can damage or destroy homes, buildings, and other infrastructure, and can pose a significant threat to human safety.
  • The release of large amounts of greenhouse gases during forest fires can contribute to climate change.
India’s Initiatives to Tackle Forest Fires
  • National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF) was launched in 2018 to minimise forest fires by informing, enabling and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivising them to work with the State Forest Departments.
  • The Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme (FPM) is the only centrally funded program specifically dedicated to assist the states in dealing with forest fires.

Forest Fire Vulnerability in India

  • Forest fire season in India is from November to June
  • Council of Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) report notes a tenfold increase in forest fires over the past two decades in India
  • More than 62% of Indian states are prone to high-intensity forest fires according to CEEW report
  • Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Telangana, and Northeastern states are most prone to forest fires
  • Mizoram has the highest incidence of forest fires over the last two decades with 95% of its districts as forest fire hotspots
  • ISFR 2021 estimates over 36% of the country’s forest cover is prone to frequent forest fires, 6% is ‘very highly’ fire-prone, and almost 4% is ‘extremely’ prone
  • An FSI study found nearly 10.66% area under forests in India is ‘extremely’ to ‘very highly’ fire-prone.

Ways to mitigate the risk of forest fires:

  • Prevention: One of the most effective ways to mitigate forest fires is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This can be done by creating fire breaks, clearing debris, and reducing the amount of flammable material in the forest.
  • Early Detection: Early detection of forest fires can help prevent them from spreading and causing more damage. This can be done by installing fire detection systems, using drones or satellite imagery, and training local communities to report fires quickly.
  • Fire Suppression: Fire suppression is a critical component of forest fire mitigation. This involves using firefighting equipment such as helicopters, water tanks, and fire retardants to put out fires.
  • Forest Management: Proper forest management practices can also help mitigate the risk of forest fires. This includes thinning out dense forests, creating fire-resistant vegetation, and reducing the amount of deadwood and other flammable materials in the forest.
  • Community Education: Educating local communities on the risks of forest fires and how to prevent them can also be effective in mitigating the risk of forest fires. This includes providing information on safe campfire practices, prohibiting the use of fireworks in fire-prone areas, and encouraging the use of fire-resistant building materials in areas at high risk of forest fires.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Djibouti, an East African nation, is taking a bold step in the fight against malaria by deploying genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes. This pilot program, launched in May 2024, represents a significant milestone in the battle against this deadly disease.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why Use Genetically Modified (GM) Mosquitoes for Malaria Control?
  2. Malaria

Why Use Genetically Modified (GM) Mosquitoes for Malaria Control?

Purpose and Engineering:

  • GM mosquitoes are developed in laboratories with two specific genes: one that limits female offspring survival to adulthood and a fluorescent marker gene for identification in natural settings.
  • They are designed to decrease the population of female Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes, which are primary vectors of malaria. This strategy aims to disrupt the malaria transmission cycle.

Rationale for GM Mosquitoes:

  • Djibouti has seen a significant increase in malaria cases, attributed to an invasive mosquito species, Anopheles stephensi, which has adapted well to urban environments like Djibouti City.
  • Traditional control measures such as insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor spraying are losing effectiveness due to growing mosquito resistance.

Mechanism of Action:

  • Only male GM mosquitoes, carrying the self-limiting gene, are released. When they mate with wild female A. stephensi mosquitoes, their female offspring inherit the gene and fail to survive to adulthood.
  • This method aims to reduce the female mosquito population over time, thereby decreasing malaria transmission rates.

Environmental Concerns and Challenges:

  • There are concerns about unintended ecological impacts of releasing GM mosquitoes.
  • Potential issues include the evolution of unforeseen survival skills or adaptability, similar to resistance observed in Bt cotton, where GM mosquitoes might develop resistance to gene-editing mechanisms.
  • Mosquitoes play a role in pollination by consuming nectar, and their population decline could affect plants dependent on them.
  • Reducing mosquito populations might disrupt local food webs and biodiversity.

Malaria:

  • Malaria is a disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite.
Transmission through Mosquito Bites:
  • The Plasmodium parasite is primarily transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
  • These Anopheles mosquitoes are often referred to as “night-biting” mosquitoes because they are more active and likely to bite between dusk and dawn.
Variety of Parasites:

While there are many types of Plasmodium parasites, only five of them cause malaria in humans:

  • Plasmodium falciparum: Predominant in Africa, responsible for most malaria-related deaths worldwide.
  • Plasmodium vivax: Mainly found in Asia and South America, causing milder symptoms but capable of remaining dormant in the liver, leading to relapses.
  • Plasmodium ovale: Less common, usually found in West Africa, can stay in the liver for several years without causing symptoms.
  • Plasmodium malariae: Rare and primarily found in Africa.
  • Plasmodium knowlesi: Extremely rare, found in parts of Southeast Asia.
Transmission Process:
  • When an infected mosquito bites a person, the Plasmodium parasite enters the bloodstream and eventually travels to the liver.
  • The infection develops in the liver, and then the parasites re-enter the bloodstream and invade red blood cells (RBCs).
  • Within RBCs, the parasites grow and multiply. Periodically, the infected RBCs burst, releasing more parasites into the bloodstream.
  • If another mosquito bites a person already infected with malaria, it can become infected and subsequently spread the parasite to other individuals.
  • Notably, malaria does not transmit directly from person to person. It relies on the mosquito vector for transmission between humans.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested a resident of Uttarakhand for allegedly operating an international drug trafficking group. He has been booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The accused is said to have managed a global dark web enterprise that distributed fentanyl and other dangerous drugs to communities across America, including all 50 states, as well as Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Dark Web
  2. Data Governance Provisions in India

Dark Web:

  • The dark web comprises unindexed sites accessible only through specialized web browsers, forming a smaller but concealed part of the internet.
  • It requires special software, configurations, or authorization for access, making it intentionally hidden and challenging for average users to reach.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Data Breach:
  • PII includes information that can identify an individual, ranging from direct identifiers like passport details to quasi-identifiers.
  • Threat actors on the dark web claimed to possess PII of 815 million Indians, including Aadhaar and passport details, sourced from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Data Source and Authentication Challenges:
  • The threat actors did not disclose how they obtained the data, posing challenges in identifying the data leak’s source.
  • Claims of a 1.8 terabyte data leak from an unnamed “India internal law enforcement agency” by a threat actor named Lucius are yet to be authenticated.
India’s Cybersecurity Landscape:
  • India, a rapidly growing economy, ranked 4th globally in malware detection in H1 2023, exposing the vulnerability of its digital infrastructure.
  • Unrest in West Asia contributed to an increase in cyber attacks, elevating the risk of digital identity theft as threat actors exploit stolen identity information for various cyber-enabled financial crimes.

Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002

  • According to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002, Money laundering is concealing or disguising the identity of illegally obtained proceeds so that they appear to have originated from legitimate sources.
    •  It is frequently a component of other, much more serious, crimes such as drug trafficking, robbery or extortion.
  • Money laundering is punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 7 years and Fine under the PMLA.
  • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is responsible for investigating offences under the PMLA.
  • The Financial Intelligence Unit – India (FIU-IND) is the national agency that receives, processes, analyses and disseminates information related to suspect financial transactions.
  • After hearing the application, a special court (designated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act PMLA, 2002) may declare an individual as a fugitive economic offender and also confiscate properties which are proceeds of crime, Benami properties and any other property, in India or abroad.
  • The authorities under the PMLA, 2002 will exercise powers given to them under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.
    • These powers will be similar to those of a civil court, including the search of persons in possession of records or proceeds of crime, the search of premises on the belief that a person is an FEO and seizure of documents.

Recent Changes Made Under the PMLA

The Indian government has made several changes to the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act (PMLA) to plug loopholes and comply with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regulations. Some of the key changes are:

  • More disclosures for non-governmental organizations by reporting entities like financial institutions, banking companies, or intermediaries.
  • Definition of “politically exposed persons” (PEPs) as individuals who have been entrusted with prominent public functions by a foreign country, which brings uniformity with a 2008 Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular for Know Your Customer (KYC) norms and anti-money laundering standards for banks and financial institutions.
  • Inclusion of practicing chartered accountants, company secretaries, and cost and works accountants carrying out financial transactions on behalf of their clients under the ambit of the money laundering law.
  • Widening the list of non-banking reporting entities to allow 22 financial entities like Amazon Pay (India) Pvt. Ltd, Aditya Birla Housing Finance Ltd, and IIFL Finance Ltd. to verify the identity of their customers via Aadhaar under the ambit of the money laundering law.

The financial transactions covered under the money laundering law include buying and selling of any immovable property, managing client money, securities, or other assets, management of bank, savings, or securities accounts, organization of contributions for the creation, operation, or management of companies, creation, operation, or management of companies, limited liability partnerships, or trusts, and buying and selling of business entities.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, India reiterated that it was one of the first countries to recognize Palestine and has long supported the two-state solution to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Israel-Palestine Conflict
  2. Emergence of Hamas and the Oslo Accords
  3. Territorial Disputes of Israel with Neighboring Countries
  4. Evolution of India’s Relationship with Israel
  5. Impact of Assault on Israel-Saudi Arabia Ties
  6. Way Forward

About the Two-State Solution:

  • The two-state solution is seen as the most viable path to achieving peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • It envisions the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel, providing both groups with their own sovereign territories.
Origins of the Two-State Solution:
  • In 1947, the United Nations proposed a plan to partition Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem under international administration. The Jewish leaders accepted the plan, which allocated them 56% of the land.
  • The state of Israel was declared on May 14, 1948. The following day, five Arab states launched an attack. The ensuing war concluded with Israel controlling 77% of the territory.
  • Approximately 700,000 Palestinians were displaced, many fleeing to neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as regions like the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
  • During the 1967 war, Israel captured the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from Jordan and took Gaza from Egypt, thereby gaining control over the area from the Mediterranean to the Jordan Valley.
  • Today, Palestinians remain without a state, many living under Israeli occupation or as refugees in adjacent countries.

The Israel-Palestine Conflict

Origins of Conflict:

  • The conflict traces its roots back to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, where the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour expressed official support for the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine.

Creation of Palestine:

  • In 1948, Britain, unable to quell Arab-Jewish violence, withdrew its forces from Palestine, leaving the responsibility of resolving competing claims to the newly formed United Nations.
  • The UN proposed a partition plan to establish independent Jewish and Arab states in Palestine, but it was not accepted by most Arab nations.

Arab-Israel War (1948):

  • Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 led to attacks by surrounding Arab states. Israel ended up controlling about 50% more territory than originally envisioned by the UN partition plan.

UN Partition Plan:

  • The UN partition plan saw Jordan control the West Bank and Jerusalem’s holy sites, while Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip. However, it didn’t resolve the Palestinian crisis, resulting in the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 1964.

Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO):

  • Founded with the goal of freeing Palestine from Israeli rule and Jewish dominance, establishing Muslim Brotherhood dominance in the Arab world.
  • The United Nations granted PLO observer status in 1975, recognizing Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

Six-Day War (1967):

  • Israeli forces seized the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt.

Camp David Accords (1978):

  • The “Framework for Peace in the Middle East,” brokered by the U.S., laid the groundwork for peace talks between Israel and its neighbors and a resolution to the “Palestinian problem,” although this remained unfulfilled.

Emergence of Hamas and the Oslo Accords

Founding of Hamas (1987):

  • In 1987, Hamas, a violent offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was founded. It sought to fulfill its agenda through violent jihad and is regarded as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
  • In 2006, Hamas won the Palestinian Authority’s legislative elections, leading to its control of Gaza and the expulsion of Fatah in 2007, resulting in a geographical split in the Palestinian movement.

First Intifada (1987):

  • The First Intifada (Palestinian Uprising) began in 1987 as tensions in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza reached a boiling point.
  • This uprising evolved into a small war between Palestinian militants and the Israeli army.

Oslo Accords (1993):

  • In 1993, Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Oslo Accords. The agreements led to both parties officially recognizing each other and renouncing the use of violence.
  • The Oslo Accords also established the Palestinian Authority, which was granted limited autonomy in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza (2005):

  • In 2005, Israel initiated a unilateral withdrawal of Jewish settlements from Gaza, while maintaining tight control over all border crossings, effectively imposing a blockade on the region.

UN Recognition (2012):

  • In 2012, the United Nations upgraded Palestinian representation to that of a “non-member observer state.”

Territorial Disputes of Israel with Neighboring Countries

West Bank:

  • The West Bank is situated between Israel and Jordan, with its major city being Ramallah, the de facto administrative capital of Palestine.
  • Israel took control of the West Bank during the 1967 war and has since established settlements in the region.

Gaza:

  • The Gaza Strip is located between Israel and Egypt.
  • Israel occupied Gaza after the 1967 war but transferred control of Gaza City and day-to-day administration in most of the territory during the Oslo peace process.
  • In 2005, Israel unilaterally removed Jewish settlements from Gaza, although it retains control over international access to the territory.

Golan Heights:

  • The Golan Heights is a strategically important plateau captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 war.
  • Israel effectively annexed the territory in 1981.
  • The USA has officially recognized Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as part of Israel in recent developments.

Evolution of India’s Relationship with Israel

India’s Stand on the Israel-Palestine Conflict:
  • India initially opposed the UN’s partition plan in 1947, reflecting its own recent experience of independence.
  • India recognized Israel in 1950 but was also the first non-Arab country to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinians.
  • India recognized the statehood of Palestine in 1988.
  • In recent times, India’s policy has shifted toward dehyphenation, maintaining a balancing act between its historical support for Palestine and its friendly ties with Israel.
  • India advocates a Two-State Solution and the right to self-determination for both Israel and Palestine.

Impact of Assault on Israel-Saudi Arabia Ties:

  • Hamas’ assault on Israel may have disrupted efforts to bring Saudi Arabia and Israel closer, along with other countries interested in normalizing relations.
  • Hamas emphasized threats to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the Israeli blockade on Gaza, and Israeli normalization with regional countries.
  • Dehyphening Saudi Arabia from Israel could promote the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda and territorial sovereignty in the Arab and Middle East region.
  • The normalization of ties between regional powers and Israel may strengthen Israel’s position regarding Palestinian territories.
  • Ties with UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc., could facilitate infrastructure development and create inter-dependence among these countries, affecting the Palestinians.

Way Forward:

  • A balanced approach is essential to maintain favorable relations with Arab countries and Israel.
  • Recent normalization agreements, such as the Abraham Accords, are positive steps, and regional powers should work toward peace.
  • India, as a member of multilateral organizations, should cooperate with relevant parties to achieve security and stability in the Middle East and West Asia.
  • India’s role as a mediator in the Israel-Palestine issue should be promoted through platforms like the United Nations Security Council and the Human Rights Council.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

As the world prepares for the 29th Conference of Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC later this year, the Delhi-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has urged developed countries to fulfill their financial commitments in combating climate change. Additionally, the 60th meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB60) is scheduled to take place in Bonn, Germany, from June 3-13, 2024.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the 60th Meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB60)
  2. About the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)

About the 60th Meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB60)

  • The mid-year climate conference, known as the 60th meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB60), will gather countries that are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • A significant portion of the approximately 6,000 attendees will consist of national delegates and representatives from civil society.
  • This gathering acts as an important interim event between the 28th Conference of the Parties (CoP) in Dubai and CoP29 in Azerbaijan, setting the groundwork for the next phase of global climate negotiations.
  • The conference will feature the first Annual Global Stock Take (GST) Dialogue, which aims to share effective strategies and lessons learned on how countries are integrating GST outcomes into their NDCs, fostering collaborative learning and progress towards meeting the Paris Agreement’s objectives.
Key issues to be addressed include:
  • Climate finance
  • Advancing the next round of national climate action plans (Nationally Determined Contributions – NDCs)
  • Ensuring timely submission of countries’ plans
  • The inaugural Biennial Transparency Reports
  • Developing National Adaptation Plans
  • Accelerating climate action through a just transition
About the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)
  • The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is a research organization dedicated to public interest, located in New Delhi.
  • CSE focuses on researching and communicating the urgency of sustainable and equitable development.
  • It functions as a think tank on environment-development issues in India, drawing attention to poor planning, climate changes impacting India’s Sundarbans, and advocating for policy reforms and better implementation of current policies.
  • The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has recognized CSE as a “Centre of Excellence” (CoE) for sustainable water management.

-Source: Down To Earth



Context:

Chennai-based start-up Agnikul Cosmos has successfully launched the world’s first rocket powered by a fully 3D-printed engine, named the Agnibaan Sub Orbital Technology Demonstrator (SOrTeD).

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Details

  • Objective: The primary goal is to conduct a test flight to showcase the company’s internally developed technologies and collect critical flight data.
Significant Achievements:
  • The launch took place from a private pad (Dhanush), marking several firsts for the Indian space ecosystem.
  • It is the first homegrown rocket powered by a semi-cryogenic engine and features the world’s first single-piece 3D-printed engine.
  • Propellant: The rocket uses liquid oxygen and kerosene as propellants.
  • Support: The launch was supported by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe).
3D Printing
  • Definition: 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, involves using materials such as plastics and metals to transform computer-aided designs into real three-dimensional objects.
  • Contrast to Subtractive Manufacturing: Unlike subtractive manufacturing, which involves cutting or hollowing out a piece of material, 3D printing adds material layer by layer to create the final product.

-Source: The Hindu


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