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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 1 May 2021

Contents

  1. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan: Cross-border tensions
  2. COVID-19 & forest management: Global Forest Goals Report
  3. SAFAR System: Delhi air in trouble again

Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan: Cross-border tensions

Context:

A ceasefire on the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan was held following a day of intense fighting between the two ex-Soviet Central Asian neighbours that killed 39 people and wounded more than 175.

 

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important developments in foreign countries affecting India’s interests) GS-I: Geography (Maps), Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the recent tensions between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
  2. Maps
  3. Significance of this region for India

About the recent tensions between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan

  • Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have claimed the area around the water supply facility in Kok-Tash, a dispute dating back decades to when they were both part of the Soviet Union.
  • After the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) collapsed in late 1991 – Soviet mapmakers drew the dividing lines for Soviet republics which is now the current configuration of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.
  • The meandering boundary between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is particularly tense as over a third of its 1,000-km length is disputed. Restrictions on access to land and water that communities regard as theirs have often led to deadly clashes in the past.
  • Russia and European Union (EU) welcomed the ceasefire deal and emphasised the need for a lasting and peaceful solution.

Maps:

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan belong to the central asia region. Other countries of the region are Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

R 
s 
RAINE 
GEORGIA 
ARMENIA 
TURKEY 
Caspian 
KAZAKHSTAN 
UZBEKISTAN 
. TURKMENISTAN 
KYRGYZSTAN 
CHINA 
TAJIKISTAN 
PAKIST 
IRAN 
AFGHANISTAN
Everlasting or Ever-Changing? Violence Along the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan  Border | ACLED

Significance of this region for India

  • Central Asia serves as a land bridge between Asia and Europe, making it geopolitically axial for India.
  • The region is rich in natural resources such as petroleum, natural gas, antimony, aluminum, gold, silver, coal and uranium which can be best utilized by Indian energy requirements.
  • Central Asia has huge cultivable areas lying barren and without being put to any productive use, offering enormous opportunity for cultivation of pulses.
  • India intends expansion of International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) to Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. This will act as a vital gateway to access Eurasian markets and optimally operationalize its use, requiring a Central Asian state joining the project as a direct stakeholder.
  • India has proposed setting up of ‘India-Central Asia Development Group’ to take forward development partnership between India & Central Asian countries. This group will help India to expand its footprints in the resource-rich region amid China’s massive inroads and to fight terror effectively, including in Afghanistan.
  • India has a very wide array of interests in Central Asia covering security, energy, economic opportunities etc., therefore Security, stability and prosperity of Central Asia is imperative for peace and economic development of India.
  • Both India and Central Asian Republics (CARs) share many commonalities and perceptions on various regional and world issues and can play a crucial role in providing regional stability.

-Source: The Hindu


SAFAR System: Delhi air in trouble again

Context:

Delhi’s air quality deteriorated from ‘moderate’ to ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ according to the SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research) system of the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Pollution Control and Management, Environmental Degradataion)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the recent changes in Delhi Air quality
  2. About System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR)
  3. National Air Quality Index (AQI) in India

About the recent changes in Delhi Air quality

  • Delhi’s air typically worsens in October-November and improves by March-April every year due to weather amongst other reasons.
  • Current weather conditions are not unfavourable, unlike in winter. Hence, apart from local emissions, the deterioration in air quality is being attributed to an increase in fire counts, mostly due to burning of wheat crop stubble in northern India.
  • Fires were also spotted Lahore, Gujranwala and Hafizabad in Pakistan which can contribute to deterioration of air quality.
  • Deteriorating air quality is worrying amid an increasing number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and deaths. Medical experts have, from time to time, raised concerns about how high pollution levels can worsen the situation and aggravate respiratory conditions of the public.

About System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR)

  • The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) is a national initiative introduced by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) to measure the air quality of a metropolitan city, by measuring the overall pollution level and the location-specific air quality of the city.
  • The system is indigenously developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune and is operationalized by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • It has a giant true color LED display that gives out real-time air quality index on a 24×7 basis with color-coding (along with 72 hours advance forecast).
  • The ultimate objective of the project is to increase awareness among the general public regarding the air quality in their city so that appropriate mitigation measures and systematic action can be taken up.
  • It organizes awareness drive by educating the public (prompting self-mitigation), and
  • It also helps the policy-makers to develop mitigation strategies keeping in mind the nation’s economic development.
  • SAFAR is an integral part of India’s first Air Quality Early Warning System operational in Delhi.
  • It monitors all weather parameters like temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind speed, and wind direction, UV radiation, and solar radiation.
  • Pollutants monitored: PM2.5, PM10, Ozone, Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, and Mercury.
  • The World Meteorological Organization has recognized SAFAR as a prototype activity on the basis of the high-quality control and standards maintained in its implementation.
  • SAFAR system would benefit cost savings to several other sectors like agriculture, aviation, infrastructure, disaster management, tourism, etc. which directly or indirectly gets affected by air quality and weather.

National Air Quality Index (AQI) in India

  • AQI was launched in 2014 with outline ‘One Number – One Color -One Description’ for the common man to judge the air quality within his vicinity.
  • It has been launched for monitoring the quality of air in major urban centers across the country on a real-time basis and enhancing public awareness for taking mitigative action.
  • AQI has six categories of air quality. These are: Good, Satisfactory, Moderately Polluted, Poor, Very Poor and Severe.

The measurement of air quality is based on eight pollutants, namely,

  1. Particulate Matter (PM10),
  2. Particulate Matter (PM2.5),
  3. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2),
  4. Sulphur Dioxide (SO2),
  5. Carbon Monoxide (CO),
  6. Ozone (O3),
  7. Ammonia (NH3), and
  8. Lead (Pb).

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine


COVID-19 & forest management: Global Forest Goals Report

Context:

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has aggravated the challenges faced by countries in managing their forests, the United Nations’ Global Forest Goals Report 2021 has said.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of Environment and Ecology, Challenges with management of Forest Resources)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the Global Forest Goals Report 2021
  2. Forest in India
  3. Way Forwards suggested by the UN Report

Highlights of the Global Forest Goals Report 2021

  • Covid-19 is driving losses of lives and livelihoods, extreme poverty, inequality, and food insecurity, and it has put the ‘Future We Want’ further out of reach.
  • It is estimated that world gross product fell by an estimated 4.3% in 2020. It is the sharpest contraction of global output since the Great Depression.
  • An estimated 1.6 billion people, or 25% of the global population, rely on forests for their subsistence needs, livelihoods, employment, and income.
  • Of the extreme poor in rural areas, 40% live in forest and savannah areas, and approximately 20% of the global population, especially women, children, landless farmers, and other vulnerable segments of society look to forests to meet their food and income needs.
  • On the economic front, forest-dependent populations have faced job loss, reduced income, diminished access to markets and information, and for many women and youth, a contraction in seasonal employment.
  • Socially, many of these populations are already marginalized and vulnerable groups, such as indigenous peoples, least able to access critical socio-economic safety nets.
  • Many forest dependent populations, especially those in remote or hard to reach places, have faced difficulties accessing healthcare or find that government assistance programmes and basic services are disrupted.
  • Pandemic driven health and socio-economic outcomes have increased pressure on forests.
  • To ease their growing vulnerability, many indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as returning migrants and urban workers, have retreated deeper into the woods to seek food, fuel, shelter, and protection from the risks of Covid-19.

Forest in India

  • According to the India State of Forest Report, 2019, the Total Forest and Tree cover is 24.56% of the geographical area of the country.
  • Forest Cover (Area-wise): Madhya Pradesh> Arunachal Pradesh> Chhattisgarh> Odisha> Maharashtra.
  • National Forest Policy of India, 1988 envisages a goal of achieving 33% of the geographical area of the country under forest and tree cover.

Way Forwards suggested by the UN Report

  • Sustainably resourced and managed forests can bolster employment, disaster risk reduction, food security and social safety nets, for starters.
  • With regard to global health, safeguarding and restoring forests are among the environmental actions that can reduce the risk of future zoonotic disease outbreaks.
  • The report called for a future course of action that included greater sustainability and a greener and more inclusive economy to tackle the threats of Covid-19, climate change and the biodiversity crisis faced by forests.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine

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