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Current Affairs 23 May 2024

Contents:

  1. BIMSTEC charter comes into force
  2. RBI’s record Surplus Transfer
  3. Hubs of organised financial crimes
  4. Formal recognition of Palestine
  5. Amazon forest witness largest blazes on record
  6. Spain becomes member of International Solar Alliance

BIMSTEC Charter Comes Into Force


Context:

The BIMSTEC charter comes into force, and thus the grouping acquired a ‘legal personality’ status.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests, Important International groupings), Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. About BIMSTEC
  3. History of Formation of the BIMSTEC
  4. Significance of BIMSTEC
  5. Strategic Significance for India

Details:

  • The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) has acquired ‘legal personality’ status after a historic first charter of the grouping came into force on May 20. BIMSTEC will now be open to new members and observers.  
  • This will enable the grouping to enter into structured diplomatic dialogue with other groupings and countries.
  • The entry into force of the BIMSTEC Charter reaffirms India’s commitment to a prosperous, peaceful and sustainable neighbourhood.
  • BIMSTEC reflects the synthesis of our Neighbourhood First and Act East policies

About BIMSTEC

  • The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organisation of seven nations of South Asia and Southeast Asia:
    • Bangladesh
    • Bhutan
    • India
    • Nepal
    • Sri Lanka
    • Myanmar (South-east Asia)
    • Thailand (South-east Asia)
  • Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are the member states dependent on the Bay of Bengal.
  • Its members lie in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity. BIMSTEC not only connects South and Southeast Asia, but also the ecologies of the Great Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal.
  • Fourteen priority sectors of cooperation have been identified and several BIMSTEC centres have been established to focus on those sectors.
  • The permanent secretariat of the BIMSTEC is in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • The BIMSTEC uses the alphabetical order for the Chairmanship which has been taken in rotation commencing with Bangladesh (1997–1999).

History of Formation of the BIMSTEC

  • In 1997, a new sub-regional grouping was formed in Bangkok under the name BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
  • Following the inclusion of Myanmar on 22 December 1997 during a special Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, the Group was renamed ‘BIMST-EC’ (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand Economic Cooperation).
  • In 2004, at the first Summit the grouping was renamed as BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.

Significance of BIMSTEC

  • BIMSTEC acts as a platform for intra-regional cooperation between SAARC and ASEAN members.
  • Around one-fourth of the world’s traded goods cross the Bay of Bengal every year.
  • Important Connectivity Projects related to BIMSTEC
  • Kaladan Multimodal Project – links India and Myanmar.
  • Asian Trilateral Highway – connecting India and Thailand through Myanmar.
  • Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement – for seamless flow of passenger and cargo traffic.

Strategic Significance for India

  • BIMSTEC Enables India to pursue three core policies:
    • Neighbourhood First- primacy to the country’s immediate periphery;
    • Act East- connect India with Southeast Asia; and
    • Economic development of India’s North Eastern states- by linking them to the Bay of Bengal region via Bangladesh and Myanmar.
  • India has moved from Look East Policy to Act East Policy and Indo Pacific cooperation through its diaspora, culture and connectivity. This has led to India’s goodwill in the region.
  • Allows India to counter China’s creeping influence in countries around the Bay of Bengal due to the spread of its Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Physical connectivity with BIMSTEC would also help India integrate itself with ASEAN’s Master Plan of Connectivity 2025.
  • A new platform for India to engage with its neighbours with South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) becoming dysfunctional because of differences between India and Pakistan.
  • BIMSTEC suddenly received special attention as New Delhi chose to treat it as a more practical instrument for regional cooperation over a faltering SAARC.

-Source: The Hindu


RBI’s Record Surplus Transfer


Context:

The Reserve Bank of India’s board on recently approved the transfer of a record ₹2,10,874 crore as surplus to the Union government for the accounting year 2023-24.

  • The latest transfer by the RBI is more than double the ₹87,416 crore that it had transferred in FY23.

Relevance:

GS III- Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. RBI pause repo rate hike
  2. Reasons for the pause in policy rate
  3. Instruments of Monetary Policy
  4. About Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

RBI pause repo rate hike:

  • The pause in repo rate hikes comes after the RBI increased the key interest rates six times since May last year.
  • The consensus view among analysts is that this could well mark the end of the current rate tightening cycle.
  • RBI governor Shaktikanta Das stressed that the pause was “this meeting only” — and that MPC could start cutting rates from April 2024.
  • The pause has been triggered by turbulence in the global macroeconomic and financial climate.

Reasons for the pause in policy rate:

  1. Inflation:
    • While it was over 6%, the upper limit of RBI’s tolerance band in February (at 6.44%), it is expected to come down this year.
    • MPC’s resolution expects it to be 5.2% for the entire year (2023-24), and 5.1%, 5.4%, 5.4%, and 5.2% in each of the four quarters.
    • Increasing Crude oil prices and than expected winter crop on account of recent weather events could aggravate inflation.
  2. Growth:
    • MPC marginally increased its growth forecast for 2023-24 from 6.4% to 6.5%, with an estimate of 7.8%, 6.2%, 6.1%, and 5.9% across the four quarters.
    • A great barrier to this are all global — geopolitical tensions and a churn in the global financial market.
  3. Financial Stability:
    • Recent developments in US and European banks have sent shock waves through the global financial system, raising prospects of a 2008-style global financial crisis.
  4. Apart from these reasons, a rapid rate tightening since May has increased interest rate by 2.5 percentage points. It has affected retail borrowers, hence the pause should provide some relief.  

Instruments of Monetary Policy

There are several direct and indirect instruments that are used for implementing monetary policy.

  1. Repo rate
    • The central bank has retained the repo rate – the rate at which the RBI lends funds to banks – at 4 per cent to boost growth.
    • This means banks won’t hike lending and deposit rates and EMIs on loans will remain unchanged.
    • The RBI has reduced key policy repo rate by 115 bps to 4.0 per cent and reverse repo rates by 155 bps to 3.35 per cent since February 2020.
    • Banks had since then reduced their interest rates (both deposits and lending) significantly.
    • The large size of the FY23 market borrowings, and with no progress on the inclusion of Indian debt market in the global bond indices, might have prompted the RBI to delay the liquidity normalisation in an effort to keep the cost of large borrowings programme under control, said an analyst.
    • It also retained the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate, and kept the Bank Rate unchanged at 4.25 per cent.
  1. Reverse Repo Rate: The (fixed) interest rate at which the Reserve Bank absorbs liquidity, on an overnight basis, from banks against the collateral of eligible government securities under the LAF.
  2. Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF): The LAF consists of overnight as well as term repo auctions. Progressively, the Reserve Bank has increased the proportion of liquidity injected under fine-tuning variable rate repo auctions of range of tenors. The aim of term repo is to help develop the inter-bank term money market, which in turn can set market based benchmarks for pricing of loans and deposits, and hence improve transmission of monetary policy. The Reserve Bank also conducts variable interest rate reverse repo auctions, as necessitated under the market conditions.
  3. Marginal Standing Facility (MSF): A facility under which scheduled commercial banks can borrow additional amount of overnight money from the Reserve Bank by dipping into their Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) portfolio up to a limit at a penal rate of interest. This provides a safety valve against unanticipated liquidity shocks to the banking system.
  4. Corridor: The MSF rate and reverse repo rate determine the corridor for the daily movement in the weighted average call money rate.
  5. Bank Rate: It is the rate at which the Reserve Bank is ready to buy or rediscount bills of exchange or other commercial papers. The Bank Rate is published under Section 49 of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. This rate has been aligned to the MSF rate and, therefore, changes automatically as and when the MSF rate changes alongside policy repo rate changes.
  6. Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR): The average daily balance that a bank is required to maintain with the Reserve Bank as a share of such per cent of its Net demand and time liabilities (NDTL) that the Reserve Bank may notify from time to time in the Gazette of India.
  7. Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR): The share of NDTL that a bank is required to maintain in safe and liquid assets, such as, unencumbered government securities, cash and gold. Changes in SLR often influence the availability of resources in the banking system for lending to the private sector.
  8. Open Market Operations (OMOs): These include both, outright purchase and sale of government securities, for injection and absorption of durable liquidity, respectively.
  9. Market Stabilisation Scheme (MSS): This instrument for monetary management was introduced in 2004. Surplus liquidity of a more enduring nature arising from large capital inflows is absorbed through sale of short-dated government securities and treasury bills. The cash so mobilised is held in a separate government account with the Reserve Bank.

About Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

  • The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is the body of the RBI, headed by the Governor, responsible for taking the important monetary policy decisions about setting the repo rate.
  • Repo rate is ‘the policy instrument’ in monetary policy that helps to realize the set inflation target by the RBI (at present 4%).

Membership of the MPC

  • The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is formed under the RBI with six members.
  • Three of the members are from the RBI while the other three members are appointed by the government.
  • Members from the RBI are the Governor who is the chairman of the MPC, a Deputy Governor and one officer of the RBI.
  • The government members are appointed by the Centre on the recommendations of a search-cum-selection committee which is to be headed by the Cabinet Secretary.

Objectives of the MPC

Monetary Policy was implemented with an initiative to provide reasonable price stability, high employment, and a faster economic growth rate.

The major four objectives of the Monetary Policy are mentioned below:

  • To stabilize the business cycle.
  • To provide reasonable price stability.
  • To provide faster economic growth.
  • Exchange Rate Stability.

-Source; The Hindu


Hubs of Organised Financial Crimes


Context:

Three south-east Asian nations emerge as hubs of organised financial crimes.

Relevance:

GS III: Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Financial crimes encountered in the recent past
  3. Challenges of Cyber Security in India
  4. Preventive Measures

Details:

  • Around 50% of the financial frauds that target India originate from the three south-east Asian countries of Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
  • Many web applications that are involved in such frauds involve Chinese connection.
  • As per the complaints received on the national cybercrime portal , in the past four months of the year alone, Indians had lost over ₹1,776 crore in 89,054 cases of financial crimes such as digital arrest, stock market scams, investment scams and romance or dating scams.
    • It is significant to note that not all of such complaints were converted into First Information Reports.

Financial crimes encountered in the recent past:

Digital Arrest:

Overview:
  • Digital arrest is an emerging cybercrime tactic utilized by fraudsters to deceive unsuspecting individuals and extort money through digital means.
Modus Operandi:
  • Cybercriminals impersonate law enforcement officials, such as police, Enforcement Directorate, or CBI, tricking victims into believing they have committed a serious offense.
  • Victims are coerced into believing they are under “digital arrest” and must remain visible on platforms like Skype until demands are met.
  • Fraudsters threaten prosecution unless victims pay a significant sum of money.
  • Victims may be manipulated into self-arrest or self-quarantine, believing they cannot leave their homes without paying.

Pig Butchering Scam

  • Also Known As: The “sha zhu pan” scam.
  • Type of Fraud: An online investment fraud where scammers create fake online identities to lure victims into fraudulent investment schemes.
  • Origin of the Term: The term “pig butchering” refers to the scammers’ tactic of “fattening up” their victims by building trust over time before “slaughtering” them and stealing their money.
How It Is Carried Out
  • Initial Contact: The scam begins with the “host” reaching out to potential victims through social media, dating apps, or deceptive messages.
  • Establishing Trust: Once a target, known as the “pig,” is identified, the host builds a false sense of friendship and encourages them to explore cryptocurrency trading.
  • Fraudulent Trading App: The host uses a fake trading app to deceive the victim into believing they are making profits from fabricated trades.
  • Increasing Investment: As the victim’s trust grows, the host persuades them to invest more money, a process known as “fattening the pig.”
  • Withdrawal Attempts: When victims try to withdraw their funds, the fake platform either provides excuses or imposes substantial fees, ultimately revealing the scam. Due to the nature of blockchain transactions, recovering lost funds is extremely challenging.

Challenges of Cyber Security in India

  • Data colonization: India is net exporter of information however data servers of majority of digital service providers are located outside India. Also, data is being misused for influencing electoral outcomes, spread of radicalism etc.
  • Digital Illiteracy: Widespread Digital illiteracy makes Indian citizens highly susceptible to cyber fraud, cyber theft, etc.
  • Substandard devices: In India, majority of devices used to access internet have inadequate security infrastructure making them susceptible to malwares such as recently detected ‘Saposhi’. Also, rampant use of unlicensed software and underpaid licenses make them vulnerable as well.
  • Lack of adoption of new technology: For example – The Banking infrastructure is not robust to cop-up with rising digital crime as 75% of total Credit and Debit card are based on magnetic strip which are easy to be cloned.
  • Lack of uniform standards: There are variety of devices used with non-uniform standards which makes it difficult to provide for a uniform security protocol.
  • Import dependence: Import dependence for majority of electronic devices from cell phones to equipment’s used in power sector, defence, banking, communication and other critical infrastructure put India into a vulnerable situation.
  • Lack of adequate infrastructure and trained staff: There are currently around 30,000 cyber security vacancies in India but demand far outstrips supply of people with required skills.
  • Under-reporting: majority of cases of cybercrime remains unreported because of lack of awareness.
  • Unsynchronised Agencies: Lack of coordination among various agencies working for cyber security. Private sector, despite being a major stakeholder in the cyberspace, has not been involved proactively for the security of the same.
  • Anonymity: Even advanced precision threats carried out by hackers is difficult to attribute to specific actors, state or nonstate.

Preventive Measures:

  • Cyber Hygiene: Regularly update passwords and software, and enable two-factor authentication to thwart unauthorized access.
  • Avoid Phishing Attempts: Refrain from clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. Verify the legitimacy of emails and messages before sharing personal information.
  • Secure Devices: Install reputable antivirus and anti-malware solutions, and keep operating systems and applications updated with the latest security protocols.
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPNs): Utilize VPNs to encrypt internet connections for enhanced privacy and security. Be cautious of free VPN services and opt for trustworthy providers.
  • Secure Communication Channels: Employ encryption for sensitive information protection. Exercise caution when sharing passwords and other details, especially in public forums.
  • Awareness: Promote preventive measures and increase public awareness about digital arrest and other cyber threats.

-Source: The Economic Time, The Hindu, The Indian Express


Formal Recognition of Palestine


Context:

Ireland, Norway and Spain has recently announced that they will formally recognise the state of Palestine.

  • The announcement came even as reports emerged of Israel pushing its way further into Rafah in southern Gaza.
  • Israel reacted furiously to the announcements by recalling its Ambassadors to the three countries.

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

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; The Hindu, The Indian Express       


Amazon forest Witness Largest Blazes on record


Context:

The Amazon rainforest in Brazil has experienced its largest blazes on record in the first four months of the year.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Amazon Rainforests
  2. About 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

Amazon Rainforests:

  • The Amazon rainforest, also known as Amazon jungle or Amazonia, is a lush tropical rainforest located in the Amazon biome that blankets most of the Amazon basin in South America.
  • Encompassing an area of 7 million square kilometers, this region includes more than 3,300 formally recognized indigenous territories and spans across nine countries.
  • Brazil holds the lion’s share of this forest, covering 60% of its expanse, followed by Peru (13%) and Colombia (10%).

About Forest Fires

A forest fire is an uncontrolled fire that occurs in areas with a significant amount of combustible vegetation, such as forests, grasslands, or shrublands.

Causes of Forest Fires

Forest fires are caused by Natural causes as well as Man-made or anthropogenic causes.

  • Natural causes such as lightning which set trees on fire. High atmospheric temperatures and low humidity offer favourable circumstance for a fire to start.
  • Man-made causes like flame, cigarette, electric spark or any source of ignition will also cause forest fires.
  • Traditionally Indian forests have been affected by fires. The problem has been aggravated with rising human and cattle population and the increase in demand for grazing, shifting cultivation and Forest products by individuals and communities.
  • High temperature, wind speed and direction, level of moisture in soil and atmosphere and duration of dry spells can intensify the forest 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, The Indian Express       


Spain Becomes Member of International Solar Alliance


Context:

Spain has become the 99th member of the International Solar Alliance.

Relevance:

GS II- International Relations

About International Solar Alliance (ISA)

  • The International Solar Alliance is an alliance of 121 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  • The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient consumption of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  • The initiative was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India Africa Summit, and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015.
  • The Headquarters of ISA is in Gurugram, Haryana, India.
  • The Purpose of ISA is Bring together a group of nations to endorse clean energy, sustainable environment, public transport and climate
  • The membership of ISA is applicable to all UN Members.
  • The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization.
  • Countries that do not fall within the Tropics can join the alliance and enjoy all benefits as other members, with the exception of voting rights.
  • After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states world-wide.
  • The framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance opened for signatures in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, and 200 countries have joined.

-Source; The Hindu, AIR


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