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Current Affairs 14 May 2024

  1. China Surpasses US as India’s Largest Trading Partner
  2. Demographic Shifts in India’s Religious Composition
  3. Indian Space Situational Assessment Report 2023 (ISSAR)
  4. Himalayan Magpies
  5. Indian Ocean basin-wide (IOBW) Index
  6. Mammoth Carbon Capture Plant


Context:

According to data released by the Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI), China has emerged as India’s largest trading partner in the fiscal year 2023-24, with two-way commerce totaling USD 118.4 billion. This marks a narrow overtaking of the United States, whose two-way trade with India amounted to $118.3 billion during the same period. The shift reflects a dynamic in bilateral trade relationships, with China reclaiming its position as India’s top trading partner after the US held the position in the preceding two fiscal years.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding India-China Bilateral Trade Dynamics
  2. India – US Bilateral Trade
  3. Trade Relations with Other Countries (2019-2024)

Understanding India-China Bilateral Trade Dynamics

Overview of Bilateral Trade:

  • India’s bilateral trade with China in FY24 amounted to $118.4 billion.
  • Imports from China increased by 3.24% to $101.7 billion, while exports rose by 8.7% to $16.67 billion compared to FY23.

Trends in Exports and Imports:

  • From FY19 to FY24, India’s exports to China experienced a slight decline of 0.6%, reaching $16.66 billion.
  • Conversely, imports from China surged by 44.7% during the same period, reaching $101.75 billion.

Major Imports from China:

  • India primarily imports electrical and electronic equipment, engineering goods, chemicals, plastics, and textiles from China.

Major Exports to China:

  • India’s major exports to China include engineering goods, agricultural products, ores and minerals, chemicals, and petroleum products.

Trade Balance Imbalance:

  • The trade balance heavily favors China, with the trade deficit expanding from $53.57 billion in FY19 to $85.09 billion in FY24.
Reasons for High Trade Deficit:
  • India relies on Chinese imports to meet domestic demand and preferences, contributing to the widening trade deficit.
  • India’s exports mainly consist of primary commodities, while Chinese exports are dominated by machinery, chemicals, and technology.
  • India’s pharmaceutical industry heavily depends on China for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), further exacerbating the trade deficit.
  • Limited market access for Indian agricultural and competitive products in China hampers export growth.
  • India’s reliance on critical products from China, such as telecom components and lithium-ion batteries for EVs, contributes to the trade deficit.
  • This dependency on China poses economic and national security risks for India.

Mitigation Measures:

  • India has implemented measures like production-linked incentive schemes (PLI), anti-dumping duties, and quality control orders to reduce dependence on China.

India – US Bilateral Trade:

  • In FY24, India-US bilateral trade reached $118.3 billion, with exports decreasing by 1.32% to $77.5 billion, and imports dipping by 20% to $40.8 billion compared to the previous fiscal year.
  • Over the past five years, trade with the US exhibited positive growth, with exports increasing by 47.9% to $77.52 billion and imports growing by 14.7% to $40.78 billion, resulting in an expanded trade surplus for India to $36.74 billion.

Trade Relations with Other Countries (2019-2024):

  • The UAE emerged as the third-largest trading partner of India in 2023-24, with trade valued at USD 83.6 billion, followed by Russia (USD 65.7 billion), Saudi Arabia (USD 43.4 billion), and Singapore (USD 35.6 billion).

With Russia:

  • Exports witnessed a significant increase of 78.3% from $2.39 billion to $4.26 billion, while imports surged by 952% from $5.84 billion to $61.44 billion, resulting in a widened trade deficit from $3.45 billion to $57.18 billion.

With Saudi Arabia:

  • Saudi Arabia’s exports more than doubled, increasing by 107.9% from $5.56 billion to $11.56 billion. Imports grew by 11.7% from $28.48 billion to $31.81 billion, leading to a slight reduction in the trade deficit from $22.92 billion to $20.25 billion.

With UAE:

  • Exports to the UAE rose by 18.3% from $30.13 billion to $35.63 billion, while imports increased substantially by 61.2% from $29.79 billion to $48.02 billion. This shift turned a marginal trade surplus of $0.34 billion in FY19 into a deficit of $12.39 billion by FY24.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

A recent analysis by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (PM-EAC) reveals that between 1950 and 2015, the percentage of Hindus in India has decreased by 7.82%. Conversely, the percentages of Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs have shown an upward trend during the same period, highlighting significant demographic shifts in India’s religious composition over time.

Relevance:

GS I: Population and Associated issues

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Findings of the PM-EAC Report
  2. Demographic Patterns and Their Relevance

Key Findings of the PM-EAC Report:

Global Trends:

  • In 38 OECD countries surveyed from 1950 to 2015, 30 experienced a significant decrease in the proportion of Roman Catholics, the predominant religious group.
  • The majority religious population declined globally by an average of 22% from 1950 to 2015.
  • OECD countries saw a steeper decline, with an average reduction of 29% in majority religious populations.
  • In Africa, animism or native religion, which was dominant in 24 countries in 1950, lost its majority status by 2015.

South Asian Region:

  • Majority religious groups are increasing in countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Afghanistan, while minority populations have significantly declined.

Findings for India:

  • The Hindu population in India declined by 7.82% according to the 2011 census, accounting for approximately 79.8% of the population.
  • The Muslim population increased from 9.84% to 14.095%, and the Christian population increased from 2.24% to 2.36%.
  • Sikh population rose from 1.24% to 1.85%, and the Buddhist population increased from 0.05% to 0.81%.
  • The Jain and Parsi community populations decreased, with the share of Jains dropping from 0.45% to 0.36%, and the Parsi population declining by 85% from 0.03% to 0.0004%.

Total Fertility Rate (TFR) Trends:

  • India’s TFR is currently around 2, close to the preferred TFR of 2.19, indicating a reliable indicator for projecting population growth.
  • TFR for Hindus decreased from 3.3 in 1991 to 1.9 in 2024, while for Muslims, it declined from 4.4 in 1991 to 2.4 in 2024.

Social Equality in India:

  • Despite global demographic shifts, minorities in India experience equal benefits and live comfortable lives.

Demographic Patterns and Their Relevance:

Definition and Scope:

  • Demographic patterns refer to systematic variations and trends observed in human populations.
  • These patterns emerge from the study of population dynamics, including birth rates, death rates, migration, and population composition.

Importance:

  • Predicting Population Trends: Demographic data helps predict population growth or decline by studying birth and death rates over time.
  • Planning and Resource Allocation: Crucial for planning infrastructure, healthcare, education, and social services based on population needs.

Understanding Population Changes:

  • Identifying Factors: Investigates the causes behind population changes, such as economic development, education, healthcare, and cultural norms.
  • Consequences Analysis: Examines workforce dynamics, dependency ratios, and implications for social security systems.
Policy Formulation and Implementation:
  • Healthcare: Age-specific health needs are understood to allocate resources effectively and provide appropriate healthcare services.
  • Education: Demographics guide educational planning, including the provision of school infrastructure and teacher recruitment.
  • Urban Planning: Population distribution influences city infrastructure, housing, and transportation planning.
  • Ageing Population: Policies are developed to address the needs of elderly citizens, including pensions, healthcare, and social support systems.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently published the Indian Space Situational Assessment Report (ISSAR) for 2023. This report offers a detailed analysis of India’s space assets and assesses their vulnerability to potential collisions in space. The ISSAR provides valuable insights into the current state of India’s space infrastructure and aims to enhance the country’s ability to manage and safeguard its assets in the increasingly crowded space environment.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. ISSAR 2023 Report Highlights
  2. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
  3. Way forward

ISSAR 2023 Report Highlights

The ISSAR 2023 Report highlights several key points regarding India’s space activities and contributions to international space sustainability efforts:

Global Launches and Contributions:

  • A total of 3,143 objects were added globally in 2023 from 212 launches and on-orbit breakup events.
  • India contributed significantly with the launch of 127 satellites by the end of December 2023.

Success of ISRO Launches:

  • All seven launches of ISRO in 2023 were successful, placing a total of 5 Indian satellites, 46 foreign satellites, and 8 rocket bodies into their intended orbits.

Indian Space Assets:

  • India had 22 operational satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 29 in Geostationary Orbit (GEO) as of December 31, 2023.
  • Three active Indian deep space missions were highlighted: Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter, Aditya-L1, and Chandrayaan-3 Propulsion Module.

Space Debris Management:

  • ISRO conducts Collision Avoidance Maneuvers (CAMs) to safeguard its operational spacecraft in case of close approaches by other space objects.
  • A significant increase in the number of CAMs conducted by ISRO in 2023 was noted, with 23 CAMs carried out compared to 21 in 2022 and 19 in 2021.
  • Eight Indian satellites were successfully re-entered in 2023, demonstrating ISRO’s commitment to responsible space debris management.

International Cooperation:

  • ISRO actively participates in international fora such as the Inter-Agency Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), contributing to discussions and guidelines on space debris and long-term sustainability of outer space activities.
  • ISRO chaired the 42nd annual IADC meeting in April 2024 and contributed to the revision of IADC space debris mitigation guidelines.

Space Debris Challenge:

  • The report acknowledges the challenge of space debris, with 82 rocket bodies from Indian launches remaining in orbit and fragments from a 2001 PSLV-C3 mishap still contributing to the total.

 Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

Origins and Mandate of ISRO:

  • ISRO, a key component of the Department of Space (DOS) under the Government of India, traces its roots back to the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) established in 1962 by Dr Vikram A Sarabhai.
  • Established on August 15, 1969, ISRO expanded its scope from INCOSPAR to harness space technology for national development.
  • In 1972, ISRO was integrated into DOS with the primary objective of developing and applying space technology to meet diverse national needs.
Functions and Centres of ISRO:
  • Satellite launch vehicles like PSLV and GSLV are developed at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram.
  • U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), Bengaluru, is responsible for satellite design and development.
  • Integration and launch operations occur at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota.
  • Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Valiamala & Bengaluru, focuses on the development of liquid stages, including cryogenic stages.
  • Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, handles sensors for communication and remote sensing satellites, along with application aspects of space technology.
  • National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad, manages the reception, processing, and dissemination of remote sensing satellite data.

Way forward

  • Establishing a Global Framework for Space Traffic Management (STM): Standardizing procedures for collision avoidance and inter-operator coordination.
  • Promoting Responsible Space Practices: Advocating for debris mitigation measures and sustainable satellite deployment.
  • Encouraging Innovation in Space Technology: Fostering advancements in active debris removal and on-orbit servicing technologies.
  • Facilitating International Collaboration: Sharing resources, expertise, and data for enhanced space situational awareness.
  • Reviewing and Updating Space Regulations: Adapting regulations to meet evolving space sector needs and raising awareness about space sustainability.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, the enchanting Himalayan magpies have garnered increased attention as researchers delve deeper into their habitats and behaviours.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Key Points About Himalayan Magpies:

  • Corvidae Family and Magpies: Magpies belong to the Corvidae family, known for noisy, inquisitive birds like crows, jays, and ravens, often associated with folklore.
  • Appearance and Habitat: Striking in appearance, Himalayan magpies are noticeable species found in the region, classified as “least concern” on the IUCN Red List.
  • Species Diversity: Blue magpies, gold-billed magpies, and red-billed magpies are common in the Himalayas, each occupying different altitude zones.
  • Distribution: Gold-billed magpies inhabit higher altitudes, while red-billed magpies are found at lower heights, often near human settlements.
  • Observation Corridors: Trekking corridors in Western Sikkim offer prime sightings of magpies, attracting bird enthusiasts and tourists.
  • Nesting and Behavior: Magpies build nests in rhododendron trees using twigs and grass, displaying varying social behaviors from solitary to flocking.
  • Threats and Conservation: Human encroachment in forested areas poses challenges to magpie habitats, and sustainable tourism practices are crucial for their conservation.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

According to the study, the Indian Ocean basin-wide (IOBW) index exhibits a close association with dengue outbreaks in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About Indian Ocean Basin-wide (IOBW) Index:

  • Representation: The IOBW Index reflects average sea-surface temperature fluctuations across the tropical Indian Ocean.
  • Predictive Indicator: It serves as a crucial indicator for forecasting the scale and timing of dengue outbreaks in various countries.
  • Hemispheric Association: The index demonstrates a stronger correlation with the Southern Hemisphere compared to the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Regional Impact: Its influence on temperatures is particularly significant in tropical areas, impacting dengue incidence rates in regions like Brazil.
  • Seasonal Trends: Dengue epidemics peak in the Northern Hemisphere from July to October and in the Southern Hemisphere from February to April, corresponding to respective summer periods.
  • Incidence Amplitude: Higher positive IOBW index values correlate with increased dengue incidence rates, while lower values correspond to reduced incidence.
  • Teleconnections Influence: The connection between Indian Ocean temperature and dengue outbreaks is likely due to teleconnections, which transfer heat and moisture across vast distances through atmospheric patterns.

Key Facts about Dengue:

  • Causative Agent: Dengue is caused by the dengue virus (DENV).
  • Transmission: It spreads to humans primarily through bites of infected female mosquitoes, notably the Aedes aegypti species.
  • Severity: Severe dengue, also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, can lead to significant complications such as bleeding, shock, and even death.
  • Geographical Distribution: Dengue is more prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions.
  • Symptoms: Common symptoms include high fever, headaches, body aches, nausea, and skin rash.

-Source: The Hindu



Context:

Recently, the world’s largest facility designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere started operations in Iceland.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About Mammoth Carbon Capture Plant:

  • Size and Location: The Mammoth carbon capture plant is the largest facility of its kind and is situated on a dormant volcano in Iceland.
  • Operational Launch: Recently launched into operation, Mammoth is renowned for its capacity to capture carbon dioxide.
  • Significance: Referred to as “Mammoth,” this plant marks Climeworks’ second commercial direct air capture (DAC) facility in Iceland and surpasses the scale of its predecessor, Orca, initiated in 2021.
Functionality:
  • The plant employs advanced technology to draw in air and chemically extract carbon dioxide from it.
  • Extracted carbon dioxide can be stored underground, converted into stone, or repurposed for various applications.
  • Partnership: Climeworks collaborates with Icelandic company Carbfix to sequester captured carbon by transforming it into stone beneath the Earth’s surface, leveraging Iceland’s abundant geothermal energy to power the process.
What is Direct Air Capture?
  • Definition: Direct air capture (DAC) is a technology designed to extract carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, regardless of location.
  • Differentiation: Unlike traditional carbon capture methods, which are typically deployed at emission points like industrial plants, DAC enables CO2 extraction from any location.
  • Carbon Utilization: Captured CO2 can be permanently stored in deep geological formations or utilized for various purposes, offering flexibility in carbon management strategies.

-Source: Down To Earth


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