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Current Affairs 25 April 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Vibrant Villages plan to be merged with PM Gati Shakti
  2. C+C5 Trade Ministers Meeting
  3. State of the Global Climate 2022
  4. Relative humidity
  5. Worldwide military expenditure hits all-time high in 2022: SIPRI
  6. Malaria
  7. Piarosoma arunachalensis

Vibrant Villages Plan To Be Merged With PM Gati Shakti


Context:

The Centre’s ambitious Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP), which aims to develop infrastructure and open up villages along the China border to tourists, will be integrated with the Prime Minister’s Gati Shakti mega project.

Relevance:

GS III- Indian Economy (Infrastructure)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Points
  2. About Vibrant Village Programme
  3. About PM Gati Shakti

Key Points:

  • Vibrant Villages Programme (VVP) aims to develop infrastructure and promote tourism in villages along China border
  • The programme will be integrated with the Prime Minister Gati Shakti mega project, which brings 16 ministries together for coordinated infrastructure planning.
  • Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG-N) will provide satellite images and GIS mapping of the projects for real-time monitoring.
  • VVP aims to stop migration of border population and gather intelligence from people of border villages.
  • The programme will cover 2,967 villages in 46 border blocks of 19 districts in four states and one union territory.
  • Rs. 4,800 crore has been allocated for the financial years 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26, with Rs. 2,500 crore allocated for road construction.

About Vibrant Village Programme

  • The program’s goal is to enhance infrastructure in villages along India’s China border.
  • In states like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Arunachal Pradesh, infrastructure will be enhanced.
  • Residential and tourism centres will be built as part of the programme.
  • It will also facilitate the development of decentralised renewable energy sources and increase road connectivity.
  • Aside from that, there will be direct access to Doordarshan and educational channels. A source of income will be offered.
Focus areas
  • It emphasises the generation of livelihoods, road connectivity, housing, rural infrastructure, renewable energy, television, and broadband connections.
  • This goal will be achieved by improving infrastructure in villages near the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Need of such scheme:
  • The programme is a rebuke to China’s model villages, but the term was picked with care to avoid causing a stir in the neighbouring country.
  •  In recent years, China has created new communities along the LAC, mainly across the Arunachal Pradesh border.
  • Villages on the Indian side of the border have undergone unprecedented out-migration while China has been placing new citizens in border areas.

About PM Gati Shakti:

  • It will incorporate the infrastructure schemes of various Ministries and State Governments like Bharatmala, Sagarmala, inland waterways, dry/land ports, UDAN etc.
  • Economic Zones like textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, fishing clusters, agri zones will be covered to improve connectivity & make Indian businesses more competitive.
  • It will also leverage technology extensively including spatial planning tools with ISRO imagery
  • developed by BiSAG-N (Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics).    
  • The multi-modal connectivity will provide integrated and seamless connectivity for movement of people, goods and services from one mode of transport to another.
  • It will facilitate the last mile connectivity of infrastructure and also reduce travel time for people.
  • PM GatiShakti will provide the public and business community information regarding the upcoming connectivity projects, other business hubs, industrial areas and surrounding environment.
  • This will enable the investors to plan their businesses at suitable locations leading to enhanced synergies.
  • It will create multiple employment opportunities and give a boost to the economy.
  • It will improve the global competitiveness of local products by cutting down the logistics costs and improving the supply chains, and also ensure proper linkages for local industry & consumers.
PM GatiShakti is based on six pillars:

1. Comprehensiveness: It will include all the existing and planned initiatives of various Ministries and Departments with one centralized portal. Each and every Department will now have visibility of each other’s activities providing critical data while planning & execution of projects in a comprehensive manner.

2. Prioritization: Through this, different Departments will be able to prioritize their projects through cross–sectoral interactions.

3. Optimization: The National Master Plan will assist different ministries in planning for projects after identification of critical gaps. For the transportation of the goods from one place to another, the plan will help in selecting the most optimum route in terms of time and cost.

4. Synchronization: Individual Ministries and Departments often work in silos. There is lack of coordination in planning and implementation of the project resulting in delays. PM GatiShakti will help in synchronizing the activities of each department, as well as of different layers of governance, in a holistic manner by ensuring coordination of work between them.

5. Analytical: The plan will provide the entire data at one place with GIS based spatial planning and analytical tools having 200+ layers, enabling better visibility to the executing agency.

6. Dynamic: All Ministries and Departments will now be able to visualize, review and monitor the progress of cross-sectoral projects, through the GIS platform, as the satellite imagery will give on-ground progress periodically and progress of the projects will be updated on a regular basis on the portal. It will help in identifying the vital interventions for enhancing and updating the master plan.

-Source: The Hindu


C+C5 Trade Ministers Meeting


Context:

Recently, China has conducted a meeting of trade ministers of the grouping known as C+C5 — China and the five Central Asian republics, namely Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding the China-Central Asia Engagement
  2. India’s Stake in Central Asia
  3. Way Forward

Understanding the China-Central Asia Engagement

  • The C+C5 summit held in January 2022 marked 30 years of diplomatic relations between China and Central Asian nations.
  • China has a long history of trade and cultural links with the region, dating back to the ancient Silk Route.
  • The region offers China a market for affordable exports and overland access to markets in Europe and West Asia.
  • Central Asia is rich in resources, with significant reserves of oil, gas, and strategic minerals such as uranium, copper, and gold.
  • China prioritizes its relationship with these countries to ensure peace in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which forms its frontier with Central Asia.
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative includes investments in oil and gas, transportation, digital technology, and green energy in Central Asia.
  • Although China’s investments have provided opportunities for economic growth, there is also resentment towards China due to its treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang and concerns about its increasing presence and land acquisitions.
  • Despite these concerns, Central Asian governments have not joined international campaigns against China’s treatment of its Muslim minority.
  • China is now the region’s primary trading partner, and there are talks underway for further transport and logistics projects linking all countries in the region to China’s seaports.

India’s Stake in Central Asia

Cultural Ties:
  • The Silk Route connected India with Central Asia from the 3rd century BC to the 15th century AD, creating old and deep cultural ties between the two regions.
  • India has exported Buddhism and Bollywood to Central Asia, influencing the region’s culture and traditions.
Security:
  • In December 2022, India hosted the first India-Central Asia meeting of national security advisors to strengthen their relationship and common interests.
  • India has renovated military bases in Tajikistan, which offers a strategic advantage against adversaries China and Pakistan, given its proximity to the Wakhan Corridor.
Extended Neighborhood Policy:
  • India’s Extended Neighborhood Policy (ENP) launched in 2014 seeks to build partnerships and economic cooperation with neighboring countries, emphasizing peace, stability, and prosperity.
  • India demonstrated its commitment to its ENP by engaging with Central Asian partners on a multitude of fronts in 2022.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO):
  • India became a full member of SCO in 2017, joining Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to establish security relationships.
Connectivity Challenges:
  • India lacks a land route to Central Asia, with Pakistan denying it passage and Afghanistan being uncertain territory after the Taliban takeover.
  • The Chabahar port in Iran offers an alternative route, but it is not fully developed yet.
  • Air corridors have been suggested as a means to provide connectivity for people and trade in Central Asia, similar to India’s approach in Afghanistan.

Way Forward

  • Prioritize building long-lasting and reliable partnerships with Central Asian states.
  • Focus on establishing links through transit, trade, investment, and people-to-people connections.
  • Take advantage of the vulnerabilities in the region caused by crises such as the war in Ukraine and the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
  • Joint counterterrorism efforts can help establish India as a consistent partner and monitor adversaries from a closer range.
  • Address issues beyond security to ensure the relationship with Central Asia is not susceptible to geopolitical, economic, or domestic pressure.
  • Emphasize regional stability, peace, and prosperity through mutually beneficial cooperation with neighbors.
  • Develop alternative routes for connectivity, such as air corridors, to overcome challenges posed by the lack of a land route to Central Asia.
  • Focus on economic cooperation to promote trade and investment in the region.
  • Increase people-to-people exchanges and cultural ties to strengthen India’s historical and cultural links with Central Asia.

-Source: Indian Express


State of the Global Climate 2022


Context:

Recently, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has released the State of the Global Climate Report 2022.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About State of the Global Climate report
  2. Key findings of the State of the Global Climate report:
  3. Impacts of Record Highs in Climate Indicators:

About State of the Global Climate report

  • The State of the Global Climate report is published annually by the WMO.
  • The report provides a comprehensive overview of the latest trends and changes in the global climate system.
  • The report focuses on key climate indicators such as Greenhouse Gasses, Temperatures, Sea level rise, Ocean Heat and Acidification, Sea ice and Glaciers.
  • The report also highlights the impacts of climate change and extreme weather.

Key findings of the State of the Global Climate report:

Temperature:

  • The global mean temperature in 2022 was 1.15°C higher than the average temperature between 1850 and 1900.
  • The years from 2015 to 2022 were the eight warmest on record since 1850, despite three consecutive years of cooling La Niña.

Greenhouse gases:

  • Concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, reached record highs in 2021.
  • The annual increase in methane concentration in 2021 was the highest ever recorded.

Sea level:

  • Global mean sea level continued to rise in 2022, reaching a new record high for the satellite altimeter record.
  • For the period 2005-2019, 55% of the GMSL rise was due to ocean warming, and 36% was from total land ice loss from glaciers, Greenland, and Antarctica.

Ocean heat and Ocean acidification:

  • Ocean heat content reached a new record high in 2022. Around 90% of the energy trapped in the climate system by greenhouse gases goes into the ocean, somewhat ameliorating even higher temperature increases but posing risks to marine ecosystems.
  • CO2 reacts with seawater and causes a decrease in pH, known as ocean acidification, which threatens organisms and ecosystem services. The report states that the current rate of pH change is unprecedented since at least 26 thousand years.

Sea ice and Glaciers:

  • Sea ice in Antarctica dropped to 1.92 million km² in February 2022, which is the lowest on record and almost 1 million km² below the long-term mean from 1991-2020.
  • Glaciers are losing a lot of ice, with an average thickness change of over (-) 1.3 meters between October 2021 and October 2022, which is much larger than the average of the past decade.
  • The European Alps saw record glacier melt due to various factors such as a lack of winter snow, dust from the Sahara, and heatwaves.

Impacts of Record Highs in Climate Indicators:

Drought and Food Insecurity

  • Five consecutive wet seasons with below-average rainfall, the longest in 40 years
  • Over 20 million people faced acute food insecurity in the affected region
  • Total damage and economic losses assessed at USD 30 billion

Extreme Rainfall

  • July and August were each the wettest on record nationally
  • Flooding in Pakistan affected about 33 million people, including Afghan refugees

Extreme Heat

  • Excess deaths associated with heat in Europe exceeded 15,000
  • China experienced its most extensive and long-lasting heatwave since national records began
  • Pre-monsoon season heatwaves in India and Pakistan caused a decline in crop yields

Food Insecurity

  • As of 2021, 2.3 billion people faced food insecurity, with 924 million facing severe food insecurity
  • Projections estimated 767.9 million people facing undernourishment in 2021
  • Half of these people are in Asia and one third in Africa

Displacement

  • Catastrophic impacts of drought in Somalia led to almost 1.2 million people becoming internally displaced
  • More than 60,000 people crossed into Ethiopia and Kenya during the same period
  • Somalia was also hosting almost 35,000 refugees and asylum seekers in drought-affected areas

-Source: Down to Earth


Relative Humidity


Context:

Relative humidity is a simple concept as far as weather phenomena go, but it has significant, far-reaching consequences for how we must take care of ourselves on a hot or wet day.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding Humidity
  2. Importance of Relative Humidity
  3. Ways to Measure Relative Humidity
  4. Importance of Wet-Bulb Temperature in Understanding Relative Humidity

Understanding Humidity

  • Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air.
  • There are three ways to track it:
    • Absolute humidity – the mass of water vapour in a given volume of air and water vapour mixture, expressed as kg/m3.
    • Specific humidity – equal to the mass of the moisture divided by the mass of air. It is expressed as a dimensionless number (but sometimes as grams per kilogram among other similar units).
    • Relative humidity – factors in the amount of vapour that air can hold at different temperatures. It is the vapour density of the air divided by the saturation vapour density at dry-bulb temperature.
  • Relative humidity is important because it takes into account the temperature factor, making it a more accurate measure of the amount of moisture in the air.

Importance of Relative Humidity

  • Sweating helps our body cool down on hot days by releasing sweat via the skin surface, which then evaporates and absorbs heat from the skin, thus cooling it.
  • Relative humidity (RH) of air refers to the amount of moisture present in the air at a particular temperature, and it impacts the ability of sweat to evaporate from the skin.
  • High relative humidity means air is already filled with moisture, and sweat cannot evaporate easily from the skin surface, leading to heat accumulation in the body.
  • High humidity levels can be dangerous, and it is recommended to maintain a comfortable range of 30-60% RH for safe and comfortable conditions.
  • Environments with lower levels than this typically use humidifiers to increase the humidity, while fans can help move the air around in high RH environments to assist with evaporation.
  • In both cases, drinking water is important to replenish the fluids lost due to sweating.

What does relative humidity imply physically?

  • Warmer air has a greater capacity to hold moisture than cooler air at the same absolute humidity.
  • Relative humidity of warmer air will be lower than that of cooler air, even if they have the same absolute humidity.
  • The capacity for moisture changes non-linearly with temperature, meaning that the improvement in the air’s vapour-carrying capacity is much greater when it warms over 20º C from 30º C to 50º C, compared to the improvement as it warms over 20º C from -20º C to 0º C.
  • For instance, in Chennai, while the absolute humidity was 70% at 2:30 pm on April 23, the relative humidity was lower at around 60% due to the ambient temperature of 32°C.

Ways to Measure Relative Humidity:

Conduct a simple experiment with household items:
  • Requires two mercury thermometers, cotton, rubber bands, and cold water
  • Soak cotton in cold water and wrap it around the bulb of one thermometer
  • Hold both thermometers under a fan and record readings after five minutes
  • Subtract the wet-bulb temperature from the dry-bulb temperature
  • Use a relative humidity chart to get the value
Use mathematics:
  • Two methods to estimate relative humidity
    • Method 1: Divide actual vapor pressure by saturated vapor pressure
    • Method 2: Use the Clausius-Clapeyron equation
  • The vapour pressure is the amount of moisture that air contains.
  • The ‘saturated’ value is the maximum possible amount.
  • The given formula requires the dew point (Td), which you can obtain from a weather website. RH = (e/es)*100 e = 6.11 x 10((7.5 x Td)/(237.3 + Td)) For es, use the same formula but replace Td with T, the actual temperature. 4
Use an app or device:
  • Search for “hygrometer” in the app store to locate options
  • Hygrometers and psychrometers are available in physical and online stores
  • Note that the app will only work if your phone has a sensor that can sense humidity.

Importance of Wet-Bulb Temperature in Understanding Relative Humidity

  • The wet-bulb temperature is the lowest temperature a surface, such as your skin, can reach when water evaporates from it. It is equal to the dry-bulb temperature when the relative humidity is 100%.
  • A wet-bulb temperature in an environment of 32-35ºC or higher can be quickly lethal, even if you are not doing any physical activity or are in the shade.
  • Heatwaves are becoming more common, frequent, spread out, and potent over the Indian subcontinent, and the climate crisis is exacerbating the situation.
  • A study published in May 2022 suggests that the next frontier for attribution science is to inform adaptation decision-making in the face of unprecedented future heatwaves.
  • It is essential to keep an eye on the relative humidity, drink lots of water, and cool yourself as ways to adapt to high temperatures and humidity levels.

-Source: Indian Express


Worldwide Military Expenditure Hits All-Time High In 2022: SIPRI


Context:

Key takeaway from the latest data published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a leading global security think tank.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About SIPRI
  2. Key points
  3. Factors driving military spending
  4. Impact of spending
  5. Conclusion

About SIPRI

  • Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is an independent international think-tank institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
  • It was established in 1966 at Stockholm (Sweden).
  • It provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.

Key points

  • Countries around the world are spending record amounts on their militaries.
  • Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reports a year-on-year jump of 3.7% in worldwide military expenditure for 2022.
  • This marks an all-time high and follows several years of continuously higher spending.

Factors driving military spending:

  • Inflation, Russia’s war on Ukraine, and US efforts to outpace China are major factors driving military spending.
  • Defense outlays among NATO members have been going up since 2014 due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
  • Russia may be a flop on the battlefield, but it could still be a potent adversary in cyberspace and maintains a considerable nuclear arsenal.
  • Higher military spending is seen as a sign of deterrence to Russia.

Impact of spending:

  • The spending spree may not be as pronounced as headlines and policymakers sometimes make it out to be.
  • While actual spending is up, as a share of GDP it is 0.1% lower than it was in 2013.
  • The discrepancy suggests economic expansion has outpaced national budgets in areas such as defense, even if dollar figures can appear eye-popping.
  • Rapid, record inflation has forced governments to spend more just to keep up.
  • Inflation has also been a political problem in Germany, which pledged an additional €100 billion for its armed forces in response to Russian aggression.

Conclusion:

  • Worldwide military spending has hit an all-time high due to inflation, Russia’s war on Ukraine, and US efforts to outpace China.
  • Defense outlays among NATO members have been going up since 2014 due to the Russian threat.
  • While actual spending is up, as a share of GDP it is 0.1% lower than it was in 2013, suggesting economic expansion has outpaced national budgets in areas such as defense.

-Source: Indian Express


World Malaria Day 2023


Context:

Every year, 25th April is observed as ‘World Malaria Day’. This year’s theme is “Time to deliver zero malaria: invest, innovate, implement” – there are reasons to be hopeful in our quest to control and finally eradicate malaria, in the form of two first generation vaccines that have recently been developed and may soon be rolled out.

Relevance:

GS II- Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Malaria
  2. About Government of India Initiatives to Reduce Malaria.

About Malaria

  • The Malaria is a leading cause of human morbidity and mortality.
  • Despite huge progress in tackling the disease, there are still 212 million new cases of malaria and 430,000 malaria-related deaths worldwide each year according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • The Malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite.
  • The parasite can be spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
  • There are many different types of plasmodium parasite, but only 5 types cause malaria in humans.
  • The Children under the age of 5 and pregnant women are most susceptible to the disease.
  • The severity of malaria varies based on the species of plasmodium.
  • The Symptoms are chills, fever and sweating, usually occurring a few weeks after being bitten.

About Government of India Initiatives to Reduce Malaria.

  • The India’s progress in fighting malaria is an outcome of concerted efforts to ensure that its malaria programme is country-owned and country-led, even as it is in alignment with globally accepted strategies.
  • At the East Asia Summit in 2015, India pledged to eliminate the disease by 2030.
  • Following this public declaration, India launched the five-year National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination.
  • This marked a shift in focus from malaria “control” to “elimination”.
  • The plan provides a roadmap to achieve the target of ending malaria in 571 districts out of India’s 678 districts by 2022.

-Source: Indian Express, The Hindu


About Piarosoma Arunachalensis


Context:

Recently, researchers from Titli Trust, National Centre for Biological Sciences and others have discovered a new moth from Talle Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Piarosoma arunachalensis
  2. About the Talle Wildlife Sanctuary

About Piarosoma arunachalensis

Piarosoma arunachalensis is a species of moth that has the following characteristics:

  • It belongs to the genus Piarosoma and the family Zygaenidae.
  • It is a Burnet moth that is primarily active during the day.
  • Burnet and Forester’s moths are types of brightly colored day-flying moths that have clubbed antennae.
  • Moths are incredibly diverse, and scientists estimate that there are 160,000 species of moths worldwide and approximately 12,000 species in India.
  • Moths can have dazzling colors or be cryptic and easily blend into their surroundings.

About the Talle Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Talle Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It covers an area of 337 sq km and is situated at an altitude of 1800-2800 meters above sea level.
  • The sanctuary is home to various species of flora and fauna, including some rare and endangered species.
  • Some of the animals found in the sanctuary include the Red Panda, Asiatic Black Bear, Himalayan Tahr, and Barking Deer.
  • The sanctuary is also known for its bird diversity, with over 160 species of birds recorded in the area.
  • The Talle Wildlife Sanctuary is surrounded by dense forests and is characterized by steep valleys and ridges.
  • The sanctuary is an important watershed for the region, as it is the source of several rivers and streams that flow through the area.
  • The sanctuary is managed by the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department and is a popular destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

-Source: The Hindu


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