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Current Affairs 18 January 2022 for UPSC Exam | Legacy IAS

CONTENTS

  1. PM Gati Shakti
  2. World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda 2022 summit
  3. Inequality Kills: A study of the new OxFam report
  4. Volcanic Eruption in Tonga
  5. 2021 sixth warmest year since 1880

PM Gati Shakti

Context:

Union minister for road transport and highways said that state governments will have to cooperate, coordinate and communicate with the Center to fast-track the implementation of the ambitious Prime Minister Gati Shakti National Mission Plan to achieve the USD 5 trillion target by 2025.

Relevance:

GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure (Industrial Policy, Government Policies and Initiatives), GS-III: Indian Economy (Growth and Development of Indian Economy)

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. About PM Gati Shakti Yojana 2021
  2. Significance of PM Gati Shakti

About PM Gati Shakti Yojana 2021

  • PM Gati Shakti Yojana 2021 is a 100 lakh crore national infrastructure master plan that would provide a leap to Atmnirbhar Bharat and provide multimodal connectivity to boost the infrastructure development of the country.
  • This Masterplan will bring together 16 Ministries and seven core infrastructure sectors, on a single platform in order to synergise project planning across stakeholder ministries for avoiding duplication, plug gaps and expedite clearances at the right time.
  • Gati Shakti Scheme was launched with the aim of achieving three basic goals namely:
    1. Seamless multimodal connectivity for facilitating easy movement of goods & people,
    2. Improved prioritisation, optimal usage of resources, timely creation of capacities, and
    3. Resolution of issues like disjointed planning, standardisation & clearances. This project would help in the improvement of National Infrastructure by lending them more money and providing them with more speed.
  • It seeks to attract investment from worldwide to improve the infrastructure in India and will provide new direction & fresh momentum for overall infrastructure development in India and the scheme will also create employment opportunities for the youth.
  • The projects under the $1.5 Trillion National Infrastructure Pipeline would be included under PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan.
  • Private players would also get a boost to invest in National infrastructure as easy clearances and monetary help would be available to them.
  • This project would also provide last-mile connectivity to economic zones in a definite timeframe.

Significance of PM Gati Shakti

  • India’s projects were earlier a victim of interministerial delays, multiple stakeholders and a culture to work in silos. This led to cost overruns and hampered decision making, in turn, delaying the projects and development for good. The Gati Shakti Master Plan would cut down such loopholes and consolidate the infrastructure projects in some specific corridors without getting into various long timed approval processes.
  • There would also be a geographic information system (GIS) enabled digital platform under Gati Shakti that would be useful for gathering relevant information on any regions topography, satellite images and physical features. This would help the ministries to save funds and approve projects timely as well.

-Source: The Hindu


World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda 2022 summit

Context:

PM delivered State of the World special address at the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda

Relevance:

GS II- International relations, Important International institutions.

Dimensions:
  1. Highlights of State of the World special address
  2. About Davos Agenda 2022
  3. About World Economic Forum (WEF)

Highlights of State of the World special address :

  • Delivering a special address to the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda 2022 summit, PM said Indian doctors and health professionals are winning the confidence of the world with their excellence.
  • He highlighted that, In COVID times, India being third largest pharma producer in the world, followed the vision of ‘One Earth, One Health’, is saving crores of lives by giving essential medicines and vaccines to many countries.
  • He added that India has utilised the period of the pandemic for introducing “reforms”, stating that India’s actions have placed a major example before the world. India is trying to conclude Free Trade Agreements with many countries in the world and claimed that the spirit of entrepreneurship is at a high among the youth.
  • He stressed for Zeroing-in on to the consumerist tendency of “use and dispose” for changing this trend by launching a global peoples movement.
  • He also spoke about the values that the Indian democracy has brought to the world which is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for more than two years.
  • India, he said is committed to reducing interference by the government in business and new areas are emerging for investment. “India has deregulated several sectors like drones, space, geospatial mapping. India has carried out big reforms in the outdated telecom sector,” 
  • Referring to the principles of Mission Life that he had presented at the COP26 summit,  He highlighted the throw away culture and consumerism have made climate challenge even more serious. It is very essential that we move from today’s take, make, use and dispose economy and move towards a circular economy

About Davos Agenda 2022

  • The WEF summit, often referred to as the congregation of the rich and powerful, is an annual event held at the ski resort of Davos in Switzerland, which sees the participation of world leaders, politicians, economists and business leaders.
  • The forum originally set out to promote this idea that businesses should serve society as a whole.
  • The WEF said ‘Davos Agenda 2022’ will be the first global platform for key world leaders to share their visions for 2022 and it is being convened on the theme of ‘The State of the World’.
  • The gathering of the world’s rich and powerful, held every year in Davos, the Swiss ski resort town, will also open its doors virtually for everyone across the world online and through a network of more than 400 hubs globally.

About World Economic Forum (WEF)

  • The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.
  • It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests.
  • The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance.

Reports published by WEF:

  1. Energy Transition Index.
  2. Global Competitiveness Report.
  3. Global IT Report (WEF along with INSEAD, and Cornell University)
  4. Global Gender Gap Report.
  5. Global Risk Report.
  6. Global Travel and Tourism Report.

-Source: The Hindu


Inequality Kills: A study of the new OxFam report

Context:

“Inequality Kills: The unparalleled action needed to combat unprecedented inequality in the wake of COVID-19” is a report released in January 2022 by Oxfam, a U.K.-based consortium of 21 charitable organisations that have a global presence.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Poverty, Hunger and Employment, Important reports regarding those issues)

Dimensions:
  1. Highlights of the report
  2. What is the “Inequality Kills” report?
  3. Why does the report say that inequality kills?
  4. How does the report propose to rectify global inequality?

Highlights of the report:

  • The report points out a startling statistic: 160 million people were rendered poor during the pandemic, while the ten richest people doubled their fortunes since the start of the pandemic. Therefore, extreme inequality should be seen as a form of ‘economic violence’.
  • The report also argues that the climate crisis is undergirded by inequality between countries. It points out that the “wealthiest 1% of humanity are responsible for twice as many emissions as the poorest 50%”.

What is the “Inequality Kills” report?

  • The report argues for sustained and immediate action to end the pandemic, address global inequality and initiate concerted measures to tackle the climate emergency.
  • The central argument of the report is that inequality is a death sentence for people that are marginalised by social and economic structures and removed from political decision making.
  • Holding governments to account the report identifies “vaccine apartheid” (unequal access to vaccines between countries) and the lack of universal vaccination programs in many countries as a cause of the emergence of multiple new strains of the coronavirus that has led to the continuation of the pandemic.
  • It also demonstrates how emergency government expenditure (estimated at $16 trillion) that was meant to keep economies afloat during this crisis, inflated stock prices.
  • This resulted in billionaires’ collective wealth increasing by $5 trillion during the pandemic. Identifying this process as “the billionaire variant”, the report says that this vertical aggregation of global wealth into the hands of a few is “profoundly dangerous for our world.

Why does the report say that inequality kills?

  • For the writers of the report inequality is not an abstract theory. Instead, they see it as institutionalised violence against poorer people.
  • The report categorically states, “Extreme inequality is a form of ‘economic violence’—where structural and systemic policy and political choices that are skewed in favor of the richest and most powerful people result in direct harm to the vast majority of ordinary people worldwide.”
  • The report identifies higher inequality with more crime and violence and less social trust.
  • The report demonstrates how lockdowns led to an increase in violence against women worldwide. However, the report says that the problem runs a lot deeper as 13 million women have not returned to the workforce and 20 million girls are at risk of losing access to education.
  • This means that the goal of gender equality has suffered a huge set back which will take at least 135 years to correct. To summarise, women who were already unequal before the pandemic are now more unequal because of increased economic inequality.
  • The report also argues that the climate crisis is undergirded by inequality between countries. Extreme neoliberal models of economic growth have led to a skewed system of carbon-intensive production, that favours richer countries while shifting the risk onto poorer countries.
  • The report shows how poverty, caused by rising inequality, also leads to hunger and deaths due to hunger. For instance, 369 million children have reportedly lost access to school meals during the pandemic. For millions of these children this was their most nutritious meal of the day.

How does the report propose to rectify global inequality?

  • It urgently asks for “vaccine recipes” to be made open-source so that every qualified vaccine manufacturer can manufacture them.
  • In doing so the monopolies over vaccines held by pharmaceutical giants and anchored in place through the World Trade Organisation, to end.
  • The report then asks for governments to “claw” back the wealth from billionaires by administering solidarity taxes higher than 90% especially on the billionaires that have profited during and because of the pandemic.
  • In addition to this, the report asks for permanent cancellation of tax havens, progressive taxation on corporations and an end to tax dodging by corporations.
  • The report then suggests that all of this regained wealth be redirected towards building income safety nets, universalising healthcare for everyone, investing in green technologies and democratising them, and, investing in protecting women from violence.
  • The report advocates for redistributing power along with wealth by strengthening workers’ unions, boosting political representation of marginalised groups, and asserting human rights.

-Source: The Hindu


Volcanic Eruption in Tonga

Context: 

Recently, a volcano erupted in the southern Pacific Island of Tonga, which triggered Tsunami waves around the Pacific.

Relevance: 

GS – II, Physical Geography, Volcanoes

Dimensions:
  1. About Volcanic eruption in Tonga:
  2. About Undersea Volcano
  3. About Tonga Island
  4. About the Ring of Fire
  5. Why are there so many volcanoes in the Ring of Fire?

About Volcanic eruption in Tonga:

  • It is an Undersea Volcanic Eruption consisting of two small uninhabited islands, Hunga-Ha’apai and Hunga-Tonga.
  • The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano has erupted regularly over the past few decades.
  • Huge volcanic eruptions can sometimes cause temporary global cooling as sulfur dioxide is pumped into the stratosphere. But in the case of the Tonga eruption, initial satellite measurements indicated the amount of sulfur dioxide released would only have a tiny effect of perhaps 0.01 Celsius global average cooling.
  • The eruption altered atmospheric pressure that may have briefly helped clear out the fog in Seattle, in the United States.
  • The waves crossed the Pacific, drowning two people in Peru and causing minor damage from New Zealand to Santa Cruz, California.
  • The US Geological Survey estimated the eruption caused the equivalent of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.
About Undersea Volcano
  • The undersea volcanic eruption happens in a volcano which is located under the ocean surface. There are an estimated one million undersea volcanoes, and most of them are located near the tectonic plates.
  • Apart from lava, these openings also spew out ash. These deposit on the ocean’s floor and lead to the formation of sea mounds – underwater mountains that are formed on the ocean floor but do not reach the water surface.

Fuel-Coolant Interaction

  • If magma rises into sea water slowly, even at temperatures of about 1200 degrees Celsius, a thin film of steam forms between the magma and water. This provides a layer of insulation to allow the outer surface of the magma to cool. But this process doesn’t work when magma is blasted out of the ground full of volcanic gas.
  • When magma enters the water rapidly, any steam layers are quickly disrupted, bringing hot magma in direct contact with cold water.
  • It is akin to weapons-grade chemical explosions.
  • Extremely violent blasts tear the magma apart.
  • A chain reaction begins, with new magma fragments exposing fresh hot interior surfaces to water, and the explosions repeat, ultimately jetting out volcanic particles and causing blasts with supersonic speeds.

About Tonga Island

  • The Tonga Islands occur along the Ring of Fire, a perimeter of heightened volcanic and seismic activity that encircles the Pacific Ocean basin.
  • Geologically the Tongan islands are of two types: most have a limestone base formed from uplifted coral formations; others consist of limestone overlaying a volcanic base.
  • Tonga is a Polynesian country and also an archipelago consisting of 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited.
  • In 2010, Tonga took a decisive step away from its traditional absolute monarchy and towards becoming a fully functioning constitutional monarchy, after legislative reforms paved the way for its first partial representative elections.

 

About the Ring of Fire

  • Many volcanoes in the Ring of Fire were created through a process of subduction. And most of the planet’s subduction zones happen to be located in the Ring of Fire
  • It is a string of at least 450 active and dormant volcanoes that form a semi-circle, or horse shoe, around the Philippine Sea plate, the Pacific Plate, Juan de Fuca and Cocos plates, and the Nazca Plate.
  • There is a lot of seismic activity in the area.
  • 90 per cent of all earthquakes strike within the Ring of Fire
Why are there so many volcanoes in the Ring of Fire?
  • The tectonic plates move non-stop over a layer of partly solid and partly molten rock which is called the Earth’s mantle.
  • When the plates collide or move apart, for instance, the Earth moves, literally.
  • Mountains, like the Andes in South America and the Rockies in North America, as well as volcanoes have formed through the collision of tectonic plates.
  • Many volcanoes in the Ring of Fire were created through a process of subduction. And most of the planet’s subduction zones happen to be located in the Ring of Fire
What is subduction?
  • Subduction happens when tectonic plates shift, and one plate is shoved under another.
  • This movement of the ocean floor produces a “mineral transmutation,” which leads to the melting and solidification of magma – that is, the formation of volcanoes.
  • Basically, when a “downgoing” oceanic plate is shoved into a hotter mantle plate, it heats up, volatile elements mix, and this produces the magma.
  • The magma then rises up through the overlying plate and spurts out at the surface.

-Source: Indian Express


2021 sixth warmest year since 1880

Context: 

The global surface temperature for 2021 was the sixth-highest since record keeping began in 1880, according to scientists from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Relevance:

Facts for prelims

Details:
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in a separate analysis of global temperature data, said 2021 is at par with 2018 as the sixth warmest year on record.
  • December 2021 global surface temperature tied with 2016 as the fifth-highest in the 142-year record.
  • The average temperature across global surfaces was 0.84 degrees Celsius (°C) above the 20th century average. This was the sixth highest among all years in the 1880-2021 record.
  • The annual global surface temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.08°C per decade since 1880. Since 1981, the average rate of increase is more than twice that rate (0.18°C).
  • The year 2021 began in the midst of a cold phase El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) episode across the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, which developed in August 2020.
  • Record-high temperatures over land surfaces were measured across parts of northern Africa, southern Asia and southern South America in 2021.
  • Record-high sea surface temperatures were observed across parts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
  • The upper ocean heat content (the amount of heat stored in the 0-2,000 metres depth of the ocean) was record high in 2021, surpassing the previous record set in 2020.
  • Antarctic sea ice extent during December 2021 was 3.55 million square miles, according to an analysis by the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

-Source: Down to Earth


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