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Current Affairs 09 January 2024

  1. Maldives Government’s Suspension of Deputy Ministers
  2. Child Marriage in India: Lancet Study Findings
  3. India-Pakistan Nuclear Information Exchange
  4. Intersection of Privacy Rights and Section 132 of Income-Tax Act, 1961
  5. India’s GDP Growth Projection for 2023-24
  6. Hog Deer
  7. Sponge Farming


Context:

The Maldives government suspended three deputy ministers after they took to social media to make derogatory remarks against PM Modi.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Context Overview
  2. About Lakshadweep
  3. Significance of Lakshadweep for India
  4. Tourism Dependency in Maldives
  5. Challenges: Anti-India Sentiments in the Maldives

Context Overview

Trigger: Social Media War
  • It all commenced with a series of posts on X from the Indian Prime Minister, emphasizing tourism in Lakshadweep islands.
  • Shortly after PM Modi’s post, notable Maldivian social media users engaged in a contentious exchange, responding with offensive, racist, xenophobic, and derogatory comments.
    • These comments specifically targeted Indians in general and the Indian Prime Minister.
  • Notably, three Maldivian Ministers were among those participating in this social media confrontation.
Allegations Against India by Maldivian Social Media Users
  • A subsequent development unfolded as some Maldivian social media users accused India of attempting to rival their nation as a preferred tropical vacation destination for travelers.
    • These posts further fueled a surge of racist remarks against both Indians and Indian tourists who choose the Maldives as their travel destination.

About Lakshadweep

Introduction

  • India’s smallest Union Territory, Lakshadweep, is an archipelago consisting of 36 islands covering an area of 32 sq km.
  • It is a uni-district UT comprising 12 atolls, three reefs, five submerged banks, and ten inhabited islands.
  • The capital is Kavaratti, also serving as the principal town of the UT.

Geographical Location

  • Positioned between 8º – 12º 13″ North latitude and 71º – 74º East longitude, Lakshadweep lies 220 to 440 Kms away from the coastal city of Kochi.
    • The maritime boundary between the Maldives and Minicoy (India) runs through the Eight Degree Channel.
    • The Nine Degree Channel separates Minicoy from the main Lakshadweep archipelago.

Coral Atolls

  • The islands are predominantly coral atolls, characterized by coral reefs surrounding a lagoon.

Demography

  • As of the 2011 Census, Lakshadweep has a population of 64,429.
  • Over 93% of the indigenous population are Muslims, primarily adhering to the Shafi School of the Sunni Sect.
  • Malayalam is the predominant language, except on Minicoy where Mahl is spoken, written in Divehi script (also spoken in the Maldives).
  • The entire indigenous population is classified as Scheduled Tribes, with no Scheduled Castes in the Union Territory.

Climate

  • Lakshadweep experiences a tropical climate, characterized by warmth and humidity throughout the year.

Significance of Lakshadweep for India

Strategic Location

  • Lakshadweep’s proximity to major international shipping routes enhances India’s strategic maritime influence.
    • The Nine Degree Channel serves as a crucial passage for shipping between the Middle East, Europe, and Western Asia with Southeast Asia.

Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

  • The islands contribute to India’s EEZ, providing rights over the exploration and use of marine resources in the surrounding waters.
    • Due to Lakshadweep’s proximity, India gains access to 20,000 square kilometers of sea, including fisheries, oil and gas exploration, and other economic activities.

Maritime Security

  • The Indian Navy and Coast Guard utilize the islands as a base for enhancing maritime security.

Economic Significance

  • The scenic beauty of Lakshadweep positions it as a notable tourist destination.
  • The islands contribute significantly to India’s fishery resources.

Biodiversity and Marine Life

  • The coral atolls and surrounding waters of Lakshadweep host diverse marine life, including coral reefs and various fish species.

Tourism Dependency in Maldives

  • The Maldives relies significantly on tourism, with the industry contributing to over 28 percent of its GDP.
  • Official figures from the Maldives’ government consistently place Indian tourists among the top ten nationalities visiting the island each year.
  • In 2023 alone, Indians constituted the largest group of tourists, totaling over 200,000 travelers, followed by tourists from Russia and China.

Challenges: Anti-India Sentiments in the Maldives

  • In 2020, the India Out campaign emerged initially as on-ground protests in the Maldives, later spreading extensively across social media platforms.
  • By the second half of 2021, it evolved into an active and visible political campaign.
  • Supporters of the campaign claimed it originated to protest what they perceived as Indian military presence in the country, actively targeting all aspects of India-Maldives bilateral relations.
  • In December 2023, during the COP28 climate summit, President Muizzu announced that the Indian government had agreed to withdraw its soldiers from the Maldives.
    • These soldiers were stationed in the country to operate and manage two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft provided to the Maldives by India.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

A study published in the Lancet Global Health on December 15th, 2023, reveals that one in five girls and one in six boys in India are still getting married below the legal age of marriage. The study compiled data from five National Family Health Surveys spanning from 1993 to 2021.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights from the Report
  2. Child Marriages in India
  3. Why should the minimum age of marriage for women be raised?
  4. Schemes/Policies to stop girl child marriage

Key Highlights from the Report

  • Call for Urgent Action
    • Researchers emphasize an immediate need for strengthened national and state-level policies to eliminate child marriage by 2030.
  • Regional Disparities
    • Substantial variation exists in the prevalence of girl and boy child marriages across states and Union Territories.
  • Trends Over Time
    • All states, excluding Manipur, witnessed a decline in the prevalence of girl child marriage between 1993 and 2021.
  • Statistics in 2021
    • Researchers estimate 13,464,450 cases of girl child marriage and 1,454,894 cases of boy child marriage in 2021.
  • Concentration in Specific States
    • Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra account for over half of the total burden of child marriages in girls.
    • For boys, Gujarat, Bihar, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh contribute to over 60 percent of the burden.
  • Notable State-Specific Findings
    • Jharkhand experienced the largest percentage increase in headcount (53.1%) between 1993 and 2021.
    • Most states and Union Territories observed a decrease in the headcount of girl child marriages during this period.
    • Uttar Pradesh led in the most substantial absolute decrease, contributing to about one-third of the all-India decrease in girl child marriage headcount between 1993 and 2021.
    • West Bengal saw the largest absolute increase, with over 500,000 more girls married as children.
Child Marriages in India:
  • From 2005-2006 to 2015-2016, the number of child marriages in India went down from 47.4% to 26.8%.
  • In the last five years, it has gone down by 3.5% points, and the latest data from the National Family Health Survey-5 show that it will be 23.3% in 2020-21.
  • There is a growing trend for the number of child marriages to go down, but 23.3% is still a worryingly high number in a country with 141.2 crore people.
  • According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), eight states have a higher rate of child marriage than the national average. West Bengal, Bihar, and Tripura are at the top of the list, with more than 40% of women aged 20–24 married before they turned 18.
  • Some states, like Madhya Pradesh (down from 32.4% in 2015-16 to 23.1% in 2020-21), Rajasthan (down from 35.4% to 25.4%), and Haryana, have seen a drop in child marriage.
Global Scenario:
  • UNICEF says that 12 million girls get married when they are still young every year.
  • Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 is to get rid of all harmful practises, like child, early, and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
  • Legal Intervention in India:
  • There are several laws, such as the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2006 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act of 2012, that are meant to protect children from violations of their human rights and other rights.
  • The Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, wants to raise the age at which women can get married from 18 to 21.

Why should the minimum age of marriage for women be raised?

  • Lack of access to education and jobs: Because women get married at a younger age, they have less access to education and jobs than men.
  • Women who get married at a young age often can’t go to school or get a job.
  • If the minimum age for marriage goes up, more women will go to college and work instead of getting married.
  • Effects of early marriage on the health of women and children: o Getting married and having children at a young age has a big effect on how well mothers and their children eat and on their overall health and mental health.
  • Young mothers have a higher chance of having problems with their reproductive health, being malnourished, bleeding after giving birth, and getting sexually transmitted diseases.

Schemes/Policies to stop girl child marriage:

  • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY) – SSY was started in 2015 to help girls.
  • It encourages parents to invest and save money for their daughter’s future education and wedding costs.
  • Balika Samriddhi Yojana – The Balika Samriddhi Yojana is another programme run by the central government to help girls from poor families.
  • This plan makes sure that girls get into and stay in elementary and secondary schools.
  • It tries to help a girl’s child do well in life and gives them a better education.
  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao is the most popular programme for helping girls.
  • This plan is a way to honour girls. Its name, Save the Girl Child, Educate the Girl Child, means exactly what it says. It believes in empowering women and making an environment where everyone can do that.
  • The goal of this plan is to keep girls safe before and after they are born.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

India and Pakistan recently exchanged lists of their nuclear installations and facilities through diplomatic channels in New Delhi and Islamabad, adhering to the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between the two countries.

Relevance:

GS III: Energy, GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack Against Nuclear Installations and Facilities
  2. Key Disputes Between India and Pakistan
  3. Pathways to India-Pakistan Dispute Resolution

Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack Against Nuclear Installations and Facilities

  • Origins: The agreement was signed on December 31, 1988, by the then Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan and Rajiv Gandhi of India.
  • Enforcement: It officially came into force on January 27, 1991.
  • Historical Context: The recent exchange marks the 33rd consecutive sharing of lists between the two nations, with the inaugural exchange occurring on January 1, 1992.
Background
  • Trigger Event: The negotiation and signing of the agreement were prompted, in part, by the tensions arising from the 1986-87 Brasstacks military exercise conducted by the Indian Army. Operation Brasstacks took place in the Indian state of Rajasthan, near the Pakistan border.
Mandate
  • Notification Requirement: The agreement mandates that both countries inform each other about nuclear installations and facilities covered under the agreement on January 1 of each calendar year, fostering a confidence-building security environment.
  • Inclusions: The term ‘nuclear installation or facility’ includes nuclear power and research reactors, fuel fabrication, uranium enrichment, isotope separation, and reprocessing facilities. It also encompasses any other installations involving fresh or irradiated nuclear fuel and materials in any form, along with establishments storing significant quantities of radioactive materials.

Key Disputes Between India and Pakistan

Kashmir Conflict
  • Violations along the Line of Control: Frequent breaches of the Line of Control, resulting in casualties and heightened tensions.
  • Unresolved Demilitarization Calls: Outstanding demands for demilitarization on both sides of the Line of Control, impeding progress towards a peaceful resolution.

Terrorism Challenges

  • Cross-border Militant Infiltration: India’s accusations of Pakistan-backed militants crossing the Line of Control for terrorist activities.
  • Divergent Designations of Terror Groups: Differences in designating militant organizations as terrorist entities, hindering counter-terrorism cooperation.
  • Civilian Toll from Terrorism: Terrorist attacks causing loss of innocent lives and exacerbating animosity between the two communities.
Water Sharing Disputes
  • Dams Construction Dispute: Disagreement over the construction of dams and hydroelectric projects on the Indus River and its tributaries, impacting water flow and usage rights.
  • Implementation Issues of the Indus Water Treaty: Varied interpretations and implementation challenges regarding water allocation and dispute resolution mechanisms.
Trade and Economic Strains
  • Trade Barriers and Tariffs: Impediments from restrictive trade policies and high tariffs affecting cross-border trade and economic connectivity.
  • 2019 Trade Halt and Tariff Imposition: Pakistan’s cessation of trade with India in 2019 and India’s imposition of a 200% tariff on Pakistani imports impacting economic relations.
  • Limited Cross-border Investment: Political tensions and security concerns acting as deterrents to investment and joint ventures between businesses in both nations.
  • Dependency on External Trade Routes: Relying on trade routes outside the region increasing costs and reducing efficiency for both economies.
Regional Geopolitical Concerns
  • China’s Influence in Pakistan: Growing Chinese investment and presence, exemplified by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, raising concerns for India regarding strategic alliances and the regional balance of power.

Pathways to India-Pakistan Dispute Resolution

Building Confidence Measures
  • Enhanced Communication Channels: Establishing secure and direct communication channels at various levels to facilitate open dialogue and crisis management.
  • LoC De-escalation Strategies: Implementing and reinforcing ceasefire agreements, reducing troop deployments, and establishing joint mechanisms for investigating violations along the Line of Control.
  • People-to-People Initiatives: Encouraging cultural and academic exchanges, organizing sports events, and fostering joint initiatives addressing shared challenges such as climate change and healthcare.
Addressing Core Issues
  • Resolution of the Kashmir Dispute: Pursuing a just and enduring solution to the Kashmir issue through dialogues that consider the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and respect international legal frameworks.
  • Combating Terrorism Together: Intensifying collaborative efforts to dismantle terrorist networks, addressing financing and ideological sources, and ensuring accountability for past acts of terrorism.
  • Water Cooperation Measures: Implementing the Indus Water Treaty effectively, sharing data transparently, and exploring joint water management projects for mutual benefit.
Regional and International Cooperation
  • Promoting Mediation Through Regional Forums: Facilitating talks through regional forums like SAARC to seek solutions acceptable to both India and Pakistan.
  • Balancing External Influences: Navigating relationships with external powers like China and the US to ensure they contribute positively without jeopardizing bilateral progress.
Fostering Public Understanding and Support
  • Media Responsibility: Encouraging responsible media coverage, avoiding negative stereotyping, and highlighting positive stories of cooperation and shared history to foster public understanding and support for dispute resolution.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The pivotal ruling in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India, 2017, established the fundamental right to privacy in India. Despite this, apprehensions have arisen regarding the implications of Section 132 of the Income-Tax Act, 1961, which appears to confer extra-constitutional powers. These powers, aimed at income tax searches and seizures, raise concerns as they may encroach upon the fundamental rights of citizens, sparking a debate on the balance between privacy rights and statutory authority.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Section 132 of the Income Tax Act, 1961: Overview
  2. Challenges Surrounding Section 132 of the Income Tax Act, 1961

Section 132 of the Income Tax Act, 1961: Overview

Historical Context and Replacement
  • Introduction in 1961: Section 132 was introduced as part of the Income Tax Act, 1961, replacing the Taxation on Income (Investigation Commission) Act, 1947. The latter was invalidated by the Supreme Court in Suraj Mall Mohta vs A.V. Visvanatha Sastri (1954) for unequal treatment, violating Article 14 of the Constitution.
  • Origin of Search and Seizure Powers: The original income-tax law in 1922 lacked search and seizure powers.
Empowering Tax Authorities
  • Purpose: Section 132 empowers tax authorities to conduct searches and seizures without a prior judicial warrant if there is a “reason to believe” that a person has concealed or evaded income.
  • Scope of Search Powers: It grants authorities the power to search buildings, places, vehicles, or aircraft based on suspicion of hiding financial assets.
  • Seizure Provisions: The section allows for the seizure of books of account, money, bullion, jewelry, or other valuable items discovered during the search. Additionally, tax officials can seize such items found in the possession of any person during a search or survey under the Act.
Case Related to Section 132

Pooran Mal vs Director of Inspection (1973):

  • Constitutionality Challenge: The constitutionality of Section 132 was challenged in this case.
  • Supreme Court’s Upholding: The Supreme Court upheld the law, referring to its earlier judgment in M.P. Sharma vs Satish Chandra (1954), emphasizing the essential nature of search and seizure powers for social security, regulated by law.
  • Privacy Rights Consideration: The court noted that the Constitution does not recognize a fundamental right to privacy akin to the American Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.
  • Evolution of Judicial Perspective: While M.P. Sharma was initially relied upon, the Court’s perspective has changed, formally overruling M.P. Sharma. The right to privacy is now deemed intrinsic to the right to personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution.

Challenges Surrounding Section 132 of the Income Tax Act, 1961

Proportionality and Doctrine of Proportionality Principle
  • Potential Breach of Doctrine of Proportionality: Section 132, while not formally challenged, raises concerns about a potential breach of the doctrine of proportionality principle.
  • Evolution of State Power: The state’s power to search and seize is no longer seen as a simple tool of social security but is now subject to the doctrine of proportionality. This requires that its use must align with a legitimate aim, be rationally connected to its objective, have no less intrusive alternatives, and strike a balance between means chosen and rights violated.
  • Wednesbury Principle Reliance: The Supreme Court, in the case of Principal Director of Income Tax vs Laljibhai Kanjibhai Mandalia, 2022, indicated reliance on the “Wednesbury” principle, treating search opinions as administrative rather than judicial. The Wednesbury principle allows quashing decisions deemed so unreasonable that no sensible authority could ever make them.
  • Post-Puttaswamy Critique: Critics argue that, post-Puttaswamy (a case emphasizing the right to privacy), the Wednesbury rule should have no place, especially when fundamental rights are involved, and executive action should strictly conform to statutory law.
Right to Privacy Concerns
  • Fundamental Right to Privacy: The right to privacy, a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, includes protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, along with confidentiality of personal information.
  • Intrusion without Consent: Income Tax searches, without individual consent, often based on vague grounds, pose a potential for abuse and intrude on individuals’ privacy.
  • Lack of Safeguards and Oversight: Inadequate safeguards and oversight mechanisms contribute to potential misuse, lacking stringent protections for individuals subjected to Income Tax searches.
  • Duration and Conditions of Searches: The Gujarat High Court’s scrutiny of a raid, where individuals were allegedly held in virtual detention for days without proper safeguards, underscores concerns regarding the duration and conditions of such searches.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The First Advance Estimates (FAEs) from the Government of India indicate a projected GDP growth of 7.3% for the current financial year (2023-24). This growth rate, slightly surpassing the 7.2% recorded in the previous year (2022-23), offers an optimistic outlook for India’s economic trajectory.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Estimates Overview
  2. India’s GDP Estimates: Analysis and Factors
  3. Contributors to India’s Growth

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Estimates Overview

Release Timeline
  • First Advance Estimates (FAE): The FAE is unveiled at the end of the first week of January annually, providing the initial growth estimates for the ongoing financial year.
Subsequent Releases:
  • Second Advance Estimates: Expected by the end of February.
  • Provisional Estimates: Anticipated by the end of May.
  • Revised Estimates: Over the next three years, MoSPI will release the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Revised Estimates before settling on the “Actuals”/final GDP number.
Significance of FAEs
  • Data Source and Extrapolation: FAEs rely on the economic performance data available for the first 7-odd months of the fiscal year. These figures are extrapolated to generate an annual overview.
  • Budget Foundation: FAEs assume particular importance as they are the last GDP data released before the Union Budget for the forthcoming fiscal year, typically presented on February 1. They serve as the foundation for budgetary numbers.
  • Contextual Significance for 2024: This year’s FAEs gain added significance due to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in April-May 2024. While a full-fledged Union Budget may not be presented, the FAEs still play a pivotal role in shaping economic considerations.
  • Insight into Government’s Economic Performance: The FAEs for this year provide a comprehensive snapshot of economic growth, offering insights into the economic trajectory during the ten years of the present government.

India’s GDP Estimates: Analysis and Factors

Overview of GDP Data
  • Projected GDP by March 2024: The chart indicates India’s real GDP is expected to reach nearly Rs 172 lakh crore by the end of March 2024.
  • Growth Trajectory: The growth journey is highlighted, starting from Rs 98 lakh crore when Prime Minister Modi assumed office for the first time, reaching almost Rs 140 lakh crore at the beginning of his second term.
  • Annual Growth Rate Surprise: The estimated 7.3% growth rate for 2023-24 exceeds expectations, presenting a substantial upside surprise. Initial projections anticipated growth between 5.5% and 6.5%, showcasing the strength of India’s economic recovery.
  • Deceleration in Second Term: Despite the positive outlook, there is a noticeable deceleration in growth during the second term of the Modi government compared to the first. The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) drops from 7.4% (2014-15 to 2018-19) to 4.1% (2019-20 to 2023-24).
  • Impact of Initial Slow Growth: The poor growth rate in the first two years of the current government’s term, particularly a contraction of 5.6% in 2020-21 post-Covid, significantly influences the overall growth trajectory.

Contributors to India’s Growth

  • Four Main Engines of GDP Growth: India’s GDP growth is determined by four primary contributors on the demand side of the economy.
    • Private Final Consumption Expenditure (PFCE): Contributes nearly 60% to GDP.
    • Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF): Accounts for around 30% and involves investments in boosting the economy’s productive capacity.
    • Government Final Consumption Expenditure (GFCE): Comprises about 10% of GDP.
    • Net Exports: Reflects the net spending resulting from imports and exports.
Performance of Each Component:
  • Private Consumption Demand: Expected to grow by 4.4%, showing a muted performance compared to previous terms, particularly the first term.
  • Investment Spending: Grows by 9.3% in the current financial year, signaling optimism, but concerns remain about a significant portion coming from the government.
  • Government Spending: Grows at a slow rate of 3.9%, indicating weaker growth compared to private demand.
  • Net Exports: Despite showing a negative sign, indicating more imports than exports, the drag effect has increased by 144% in the current year.
Concerns and Considerations:
  • Inequality Impact on Consumption: Growing inequality contributes to muted private consumption growth, especially in rural India.
  • Government Spending: Despite disruptions due to Covid, government spending has barely grown in the second term, raising concerns.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

In a significant discovery, the hog deer has been spotted for the first time at the Rajaji Tiger Reserve.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Hog Deer: Overview and Distribution
  2. Rajaji Tiger Reserve: Key Features

Hog Deer: Overview and Distribution

Behavior and Social Structure

  • Typically a solitary creature, occasionally seen in small groups during abundant food conditions.
  • Primarily sedentary, displaying minimal migration patterns.
  • Males exhibit territorial behavior, marking their area with glandular secretions.
  • Sexual dimorphism is evident, with females being slightly smaller and lacking antlers.

Geographic Range

  • Native to India, including the Himalayan foothill zone and Southeast Asia (Burma and Thailand).
  • Introduced by humans to Sri Lanka, Australia, and the United States (Texas, Florida, Hawaii).

Habitat Preferences

  • Generally found in dense forests but observed in clearings, grasslands, and wet grasslands.
  • Habitat choice influenced by seasonal variations and food distribution.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Endangered
  • Wildlife Protection Act 1972: Scheduled I

Rajaji Tiger Reserve: Key Features

Geographical Spread

  • Encompasses three districts in Uttarakhand: Haridwar, Dehradun, and Pauri Garhwal.
  • Situated along the Shiwalik ranges’ hills and foothills.

Historical Background

  • Formed in 1983 by merging Rajaji Wildlife Sanctuary with Motichur and Chilla wildlife sanctuaries.
  • Named after the renowned freedom fighter Rajgopalachari, also known as “Rajaji.”

Ecological Significance

  • Located in a transition zone between temperate western Himalaya and central Himalaya, fostering species diversity.
  • Diverse forest types, ranging from semi-evergreen to deciduous, classified as Indus-Ganges Monsoon Forest.

Flora

  • Rich vegetation includes Rohini, Palash, Shisham, Sal, Sandan, Khair, Arjun, Baans, Semul, Chamaror, and more.

Fauna

  • Home to diverse wildlife, including Tigers, Asian Elephants, Leopards, Jungle Cats, Himalayan Black Bears, among others.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Warming oceans forced women in Zanzibar to switch from seaweed to climate-resilient sponge farming to stay afloat.

Relevance:

GS III: Agriculture

Sponge Farming: A Sustainable Business Venture

Introduction

  • Emerging as a new environmentally friendly business opportunity.
  • Sponges are living animals with loosely arranged cells surrounding a fibrous skeleton.

Physiological Features

  • Specialized cells with whip-like tails act as microscopic pumps, drawing water into the sponge’s body.
  • Sponges create a habitat for various animals, plants, and microorganisms, fostering mutual symbiotic relationships.

Global Presence

  • Sea sponges inhabit oceans worldwide, constituting 20% of the global silicon biological sink.
  • Unique pumping mechanism purifies ocean water by removing impurities, including sewage.

Unique Characteristics

  • Resilient to climate change, requiring minimal maintenance.
  • Commands premium market prices compared to seaweed.

Reproduction and Regeneration

  • Most sponges are hermaphrodites, facilitating self-propagation.
  • New sponges emerge from small buds, ensuring independent growth.
  • Damaged or fragmented sponges exhibit remarkable regenerative abilities.

Commercial Applications

  • Used for bathing and hygiene due to natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, resisting odors.
  • Plays a crucial role in combating climate change by contributing to the carbon cycle.
  • Sponge skeletons break down into silicon particles, supporting diatom growth, which absorbs CO2 through photosynthesis.

-Source: Down to Earth


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