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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 21st August 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. GSI lists geo-tourism sites in NE
  2. India ratifies Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol 
  3. China passes three-child policy into law

GSI lists geo-tourism sites in NE

Context:

The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has identified certain geological sites across the Northeast for promotion of geo-tourism as some States in the region prepare to ‘unlock’ from September 2021.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: Geography (Geographical Features and their Location)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Geological Survey of India (GSI)
  2. About the places notified by GSI

About the Geological Survey of India (GSI)

  • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) was founded in 1851 and it is an attached office to the Ministry of Mines.
  • The GSI was founded for: (i) Conducting geological surveys and studies of India and (ii) Acting as a prime provider of basic earth science information to government, industry and general public, as well as the official participant in steel, coal, metals, cement, power industries and international geoscientific forums.
  • The main functions of GSI relate to creation and updation of national geoscientific information and mineral resource assessment.
  • These objectives are achieved through ground surveys, air-borne and marine surveys, mineral prospecting and investigations, multi-disciplinary geoscientific, geo-technical, geo-environmental and natural hazards studies, glaciology, seismotectonic study, and carrying out fundamental research.
  • Outcome of work of GSI has immense societal value. Functioning and annual programmes of GSI assume significance in the national perspective.
  • GSI, headquartered at Kolkata, has six Regional offices located at Lucknow, Jaipur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Shillong and Kolkata and State Unit offices in almost all States of the country.

About the places notified by GSI for Geo-Tourism

  • Twelve locations in the Northeast are included in the 32 approved geo-tourism or geo-heritage sites in the country. 
  • These are scenic places that can be top attractions through responsible tourism.
  • Of the 12 sites in the Northeast, three are in Meghalaya, two each in Assam and Tripura, and one each in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim.

Mawmluh Cave

  • The Mawmluh Cave is located near the Cherrapunjee in the East Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya, 
  • This cave led scientists to the Meghalayan Age associated with a major climatic event – very abrupt, critical and significant drought and cooling – 4,200 years ago.
  • A stage of the Meghalayan Age is defined from a specific level in a stalagmite from this cave. According to geologists, speleothems from the cave provide important records of Holocene paleo-climate and paleo-monsoon. 

Mawblei or God’s Rock

  • The Mawblei or God’s Rock is located near Syntung village in East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. 
  • It is a huge balancing rock slanting at an angle of about 45 degrees in the south-southeast direction on a hill slope at 1,303 metres above mean sea level overlooking the Wahrashi River valley.
  • Mawblei in the Khasi language means God’s Rock and is a sacred place for the local populace.

Therriaghat

  • Therriaghat is located in East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, and it is probably one of the best-preserved and most complete Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary sections in India.
  • Most of the large vertebrates, planktons and many tropical invertebrates suddenly became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period. 

Majuli

  • Majuli is a river “island” (among the world’s largest) at the mercy of the Brahmaputra in Assam.
  • The river erodes the island every year but also deposits soil to ensure a constant change in its shape. 
  • The island is also the hub of spiritualism in Assam because of a number of ‘satras’ or Vaishnav monasteries established by the 15th-16th century saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva and his disciples. 

Umananda

  • Umananda is one of the smallest inhabited islands in the Brahmaputra in Assam. 
  • Umananda is off the administrative hub of Guwahati and sports an old Shiva temple.
  • The island is actually an inselberg, composed of the rocks of the Assam-Meghalaya gneissic complex.

Chabimura

  • Chabimura is located in the Gomati district of Tripura and is known for its panels of rock carving on a steep hill wall on the bank of river Gomati. 
  • The huge images of Shiva, Vishnu, Karthikeya, Durga and other gods and goddesses date back to the 15th-16th century and the biggest carved deity is about 20 ft.

Unakoti

  • Unakoti is site in the Unakoti district of Tripura which has numerous rock-cut sculptures and temples made between the 7th and 9th centuries. 
  • The place is a historic Shaiva pilgrimage 172 km from Agartala. 

Sangetsar Tso

  • Sangetsar Tso is popularly known as Madhuri Lake and is located in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, close to the border with Tibet.
  • It was formed due to the damming of a river during a major earthquake in 1950. 

Loktak Lake

  • Loktak Lake in Manipur is the largest freshwater lake in the Northeast. 
  • The attractions of this lake are the ‘ phumdis’ or floating biomass and the ‘phumsangs’ or huts of fishermen on them.
  • The Keibul Lamjao National Park, the only floating wildlife habitat on earth, is on the southwestern part of the lake and is the last natural habitat of the sangai or brow-antlered dancing deer.

Reiek Tlang 

  • Reiek Tlang is located in Mizoram and this hill is a cuesta (Cuesta means a ridge with a gentle slope or dip on one side and a steep slope or scarp on the other) formed due to erosion of the tertiary sand shale alternations. 
  • The local authorities host the annual anthurium festival at a heritage village near the Reiek peak.

Naga Hill Ophiolite

  • Geologically referred to as NHO, the Naga Hill Ophiolite is in the Pungro region of Kiphire district of Nagaland.
  • It refers to the ophiolitic rocks of mantle and oceanic crust percentage at the continental plate margin with vast potential for intensive research and economic growth.
  • The NHO consists of a variety of Mesozoic and the subsequently Cenozoic rocks – magmatic, metamorphic and sedimentary – that originated at the India-Myanmar convergent plate boundary. It has been assigned ages ranging from Cretaceous to Paleocene.

Stromatolite Park

  • The Stromatolite Park in Sikkim is a site comprising stromatolitic (algal) development – boulder outcrops with circular structures – hosted in the limestone of Buxa Formation.
  • It provides one of the rare examples of early life on earth in the Sikkim Himalayas.
  • The age of the Buxa Formation is tentatively assigned as Meso-Neoproterozoic based on the available evidence of stromatolites and organic-walled microfossils.

-Source: The Hindu


India ratifies Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol 

Context:

Five years after it fought hard to successfully negotiate favourable terms for itself, India decided to ratify a key amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (International Treaties & Agreements, Environmental Pollution & Degradation)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Conventions related to Ozone depletion
  2. Kigali Amendment
  3. About India’s ratification of Kigali Amendment and its significance

Conventions related to Ozone depletion

  • The 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was an international agreement in which United Nations members recognized the fundamental importance of preventing damage to the stratospheric ozone layer.
  • The 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and its succeeding amendments were subsequently negotiated to control the consumption and production of anthropogenic ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) and some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
    • Ozone depletion is caused by human-related emissions of ODSs and the subsequent release of reactive halogen gases, especially chlorine and bromine, in the stratosphere.
    • The Montreal Protocol’s control of ODSs stimulated the development of replacement substances, firstly hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and then HFCs, in a number of industrial sectors. While HFCs have only a minor effect on stratospheric ozone, some HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases (GHGs).
    • ODSs include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), bromine containing halons and methyl bromide, HCFCs, carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), and methyl chloroform.
    • These ODSs are long-lived (e.g., CFC-12 has a lifetime greater than 100 years) and are also powerful GHGs.
  • The adoption of the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol will phase down the production and consumption of some HFCs and avoid much of the projected global increase and associated climate change.

Kigali Amendment

  • In 2016, 197 countries with the United States’ leadership, agreed to amend the Montreal protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in Kigali/Rwanda.
  • The Kigali Amendment aims for the phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by cutting their production and consumption.
  • Given their zero impact on the depletion of the ozone layer, HFCs are currently used as replacements of hydro chlorofluorocarbons(HCFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), however they are powerful greenhouse gases.
  • The amendment has entered into force on 1 January 2019 with a goal to achieve over 80% reduction in HFC consumption by 2047.
  • The impact of the amendment will avoid up to 0.5 °C increase in global temperature by the end of the century.
  • It is a legally binding agreement between the signatory parties with non-compliance measures.
  • The amendment has divided the signatory parties into three groups-
    1. Group I –consists of rich and developed economies like USA, UK and EU countries who will start to phase down HFCs by 2019 and reduce it to 15% of 2012 levels by 2036.
    2. Group II –consists of emerging economies like China, Brazil as well as some African countries who will start phase down by 2024 and reduce it to 20% of 2021 levels by 2045.
    3. Group III –consists of developing economies and some of the hottest climatic countries like India, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia who will start phasing down HFCs by 2028 and reduce it to 15% of 2024-2026 levels till 2047.
  • The Technology and Energy Assessment Panel (TEAP) will take a periodic review of the alternative technologies and products for their energy efficiency and safety standards.

About India’s ratification of the Kigali Agreement and the Significance

  • The 1989 Montreal Protocol is not a climate agreement. It is instead aimed at protecting the earth from Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODSs) like the ChloroFluoroCarbons (CFCs), that were earlier used in the air-conditioning and refrigerant industry. 
  • The United States, China and India are in separate groups of countries, with different time schedules to phase out their HFCs and replace them with climate-friendly alternatives.
  • India has to reduce its HFC use by 80% by the year 2047, while China and the United States have to achieve the same target by the year 2045 and 2034 respectively.
  • India will complete its phasedown of HFCs in four steps from 2032 onwards with a cumulative reduction of 10% in 2032, 20% in 2037, 30% in 2042 and 80% in 2047.
  • India became a party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in June 1992 and since then has ratified the amendments to the Montreal Protocol. India has successfully met the phase-out targets of all the Ozone Depleting Substances as per the Montreal Protocol Schedule.
  • India is one of the first countries in the world to launch a cooling action plan in 2019 (20-year ‘India Cooling Action Plan’, or ICAP). This comprehensive plan is aimed at reducing cooling demand, enabling refrigerant transition, enhancing energy efficiency and better technology options with a 20-year time horizon. The signing of the Kigali Amendment is a cue for the markets to make a faster transition from HFCs to cleaner gases.
  • The ratification would signify that India is ready to compete in the market for low-Global Warming Potential GWP (climate-friendly) refrigerants, which will spur domestic innovation and attract international investments.
  • The decision would pave the way for India to achieve its climate change mitigation goals and cooling commitments. India is among a small group of countries on track to meet its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.

-Source: Indian Express


China passes three-child policy into law

Context:

For the first time China allowed couples to have a third child in a further relaxation of family planning rules five years after a “two-child policy” largely failed to boost birth rates. CHina formally amended the country’s family planning rules to allow couples to have three children, also announcing a number of policy measures aimed at boosting declining birth rates.

Relevance:

GS-I: Indian Society (Population related issues), GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the recent census and trend in China’s population
  2. About the problem of China’s dropping Population and Age
  3. Population Growth in India and the Challenges

About the recent census and trend in China’s Population

  • The latest census shows that the number of births in China in 2020 is lower than 1961 – to put it into perspective, 1961 is the year when China was in the midst of a four-year famine unleashed by Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward policy in 1958 that devastated the farm sector and claimed millions of lives.
  • China’s population was 1.41 billion in 2020, according to the census, increasing by 72 million since the last census in 2010, recording a 5.38% growth in this period. The average annual growth was 0.53%.
  • The slowing growth rate, a consequence of China’s stringent family planning rules over decades – known as the “one-child policy” but involving a range of varying restrictions across urban and rural areas – has evoked concerns of a rapidly ageing society and the impact on China’s labour force, and fears that China will, as some experts have said, “get old before it gets rich.”
  • The census recorded 264 million in the age group of 60 and over, up by more than 5% since 2010 and accounting for almost 20% of the population. Those in the 15-59 age group were just under 900 million persons, down by almost 7% since 2010 and accounting for just over 60% of the population.
  • The findings from the census were not entirely dire. The census also shed light on China’s increasingly educated workforce and its rapid pace of urbanisation.
  • With the number of births falling for the fourth consecutive year, experts say that we will likely see China’s population peak – and be overtaken by India’s – by as early as 2025.

About the Problem of China’s dropping Population and Age

  • Chinese experts acknowledged the seriousness of the problem, without linking it directly to the history of the Communist Party’s harsh family planning policies.
  • China loosened family planning rules and allowed couples to have two children in in 2016, but that has failed to mark a boom amid changing lifestyles and declining preferences, particularly in urban areas, for larger families.
  • The impact on the labour force and healthcare is a particular concern. China’s workforce in the 15-59 age bracket peaked at 925 million in 2011, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said previously. That number was down to 894 million in this census and would drop to 700 million by 2050, according to the ministry.
  • The census did not offer a specific year for the population to peak, but experts said that could happen by 2025.

Population Growth in India and the Challenges

  • According to the UN’s World Population Prospects 2019 report, India is projected to become the most populous country by 2027 surpassing China and host 1.64 billion people by 2050. The fertility rate in the country still lies in the range of 2.1-4.
  • It would be a challenge to achieve optimal fertility rate in states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh — which have higher fertility rate as per Sample Registration System data.
  • India’s low literacy rate and poor skilling of human capital will turn demographic dividend into a burden. There will be a need to spend more on education, healthcare system, grow more food, and to add capacity to basic infrastructures, such as roads, transport, electricity, and sewage to provide a minimum quality of life to every citizen.
  • As per India Ageing Report 2017 by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) the share of the population over the age of 60 could increase from 8% in 2015 to 19% in 2050. India will have to spend more on their health along with geriatric care.
  • In the face of an increasing population, unequal distribution of income and inequalities within the country would be a possible outcome.

-Source: The Hindu

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