In today’s daily current affairs briefing for UPSC aspirants, we explore the latest developments that hold relevance for the upcoming civil services examination. Our focus today includes a critical analysis of recent policy changes, international affairs, and national developments, all of which play a pivotal role in shaping the socio-political and economic landscape of India. Stay informed and stay ahead in your UPSC preparations with our daily current affairs updates, as we provide you with concise, well-researched insights to help you connect the dots between contemporary events and the broader canvas of the civil services syllabus.
Crop Switching for Sustainable Agriculture
Tag: GS-3 Agriculture and Environment
Recently a study found that shifting to millets increases groundwater recharge more than drip irrigation in India’s northern plains.
- A recent research published in the scientific journal ‘Nature Water’ was carried out collaboratively by a group of scientists hailing from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, the University of Delaware, Columbia University, and Yale School of the Environment.
- This study is centered around tackling issues related to water consumption and sustainable agricultural practices within the northern plains of India, with a special emphasis on the Indo-Gangetic region. The research concentrated on 124 districts located in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal, encompassing the upper, middle, and lower Ganga basin in India.
Key Findings of the Study
Water Conservation through Crop Switching:
- Replacing rice with millets (pearl millet and sorghum) during the Kharif season and shifting from wheat to sorghum in the Rabi season can reduce water consumption in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) by 32% and increase farmers’ profits by 140%.
Beyond Water Conservation:
- Crop switching can improve water savings by 55% in the Kharif season and 9% in the Rabi season.
- Farmers’ profits can increase by 139% during the Kharif season and 152% during the Rabi season.
- Calorie production can increase by 39%.
Crop Switching vs. Drip Irrigation:
- Crop switching is more effective than improving irrigation efficiency through drip irrigation in reducing groundwater depletion and energy savings.
- Drip irrigation improves net groundwater recharge by 34%, while crop switching achieves a 41% improvement.
- Drip irrigation alone does not enhance calorie production or farmer profits.
- A combination of crop switching and drip irrigation offers the greatest improvement in net recharge at the district level and reduces groundwater depletion by 78%.
The Multi-Objective Approach:
- A multi-objective approach is necessary to balance water conservation, increased calorie production, and higher farmer incomes.
- Single-focused approaches have trade-offs; prioritizing water conservation alone may lead to a 4% increase in savings but significant reductions in calorie production (23%) and profit (126%).
- A profit-maximizing approach, focused on sorghum, can significantly boost profits (58%) but at the cost of an 18.5% reduction in calorie production and a marginal 2% increase in water savings.
Nutri Cereals for Improved Nutrition:
- Shifting to Nutri cereals, such as sorghum and bajra, can lead to improved nutrition.
- Nutri cereals can result in a 46% increase in protein production, a 353% increase in iron production, and an 82% increase in zinc production, benefiting consumers in terms of nutrition.
|UPSC CSE Previous Year Question (PYQ) |
Q. With reference to ‘Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millets Promotion’, which of the following statements is/are correct?
This initiative aims to demonstrate the improved production and post-harvest technologies and to demonstrate value addition techniques, in an integrated manner, with a cluster approach.
Poor, small, marginal, and tribal farmers have a larger stake in this scheme.
An important objective of the scheme is to encourage farmers of commercial crops to shift to millet cultivation by offering them free kits of critical inputs of nutrients and microirrigation equipment.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 2 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Fragility of the Indian Himalayan Region
Tag: GS-1 Geography
The Teesta dam breach in Sikkim in early October and the recent floods and landslides in Himachal Pradesh are a stark reminder of the havoc our development model is wreaking on our environment and ecology, especially in the mountains.
About – Issues in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR):
Flaws in Graded Approach:
- The Indian regulatory system lacks a special consideration for the ecological significance of the IHR.
- The region’s vulnerability to extreme weather conditions, seismic activity, and climate change is not reflected in differentiated environmental standards for projects.
Issues in the Implementation of Different EIA Stages:
- The IHR’s specific needs are not adequately addressed at all stages of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process, from project screening to appraisal.
- The EIA notification lacks clauses accounting for the unique characteristics of projects in mountainous areas, which could enhance their environmental responsibility.
Lack of National Level Regulator:
- The absence of a national-level regulator, which was proposed by the Supreme Court in 2011, leaves the EIA process without proper oversight.
- The current EIA processes often seem to favor project proponents, and cumulative impacts are not comprehensively considered, especially in mountainous areas.
Issue of Uniformity in EIA 2006 Notification:
- The EIA 2006 notification categorizes projects based on sectors without considering regional variations.
- Threshold limits for requiring an EIA remain the same across the country, failing to account for the unique needs and vulnerabilities of the IHR.
Issues in Draft EIA 2020 Notification:
- Concerns have been raised that the draft EIA 2020 notification may be perceived as pro-industry and neglectful of ecological considerations.
- The EIA process, when used effectively, can be a potent tool for environmental governance and sustainable development, but these concerns highlight the need for more balanced and region-specific regulations.
To safeguard the ecological fragility of the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), several steps should be taken:
Differentiated Environmental Standards:
- Establish region-specific environmental standards considering the IHR’s fragility and vulnerability.
- Integrate these standards into the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) process, subjecting projects in the IHR to more rigorous regulations and scrutiny.
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA):
- Implement Strategic Environmental Assessment to assess the cumulative impact of development in the region.
- Incorporate SEA into the clearance process to gain a comprehensive understanding of the potential consequences of development activities.
Local Community Involvement:
- Involve local communities in the decision-making process, as they possess valuable knowledge about the region’s ecology.
- Their participation can lead to more ecologically sound and socially responsible projects.
- Embrace ecosystem-based approaches to development, recognizing the IHR’s role in maintaining regional and national ecological balance.
- Prioritize the protection and restoration of ecosystems, including forests, rivers, and biodiversity.
Rethinking Infrastructure Development:
- Plan infrastructure projects in the IHR with great care, conducting rigorous assessments to minimize environmental impact.
- Explore alternative technologies and routes that are less disruptive to the region.
- Engage in regional cooperation as the Himalayan region extends across multiple countries, and ecological challenges transcend political boundaries.
- Collaborative efforts can address shared environmental issues like air and water pollution.
Public Awareness and Education:
- Raise public awareness about the ecological significance of the IHR through education and advocacy.
- Encourage responsible behavior and choices among individuals, corporations, and policymakers.
- Develop sustainable and responsible tourism practices that benefit local communities while minimizing negative environmental impacts.
- Promote eco-tourism, enforce carrying capacity limits, and educate tourists about responsible behavior in the region.
Draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020
Draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2020 aimed to replace the previous EIA Notification of 2006 and introduced several significant changes:
- It introduced the concept of post-facto clearance, allowing certain projects to seek environmental clearance even after they had commenced operations without prior clearance. This stirred controversy as it appeared to legitimize violations of environmental regulations.
Reduced Public Participation:
- Critics argued that the draft notification weakened the public consultation process. This made it more challenging for concerned citizens and communities to voice their opinions and objections regarding proposed projects, raising concerns about transparency and accountability.
Exemptions for Certain Projects:
- The draft notification proposed exemptions for certain categories of projects, allowing them to bypass the EIA process. This raised concerns about potential environmental risks and the need for thorough evaluation.
Extension of Project Validity:
- It suggested extending the validity period of environmental clearances for various projects, potentially reducing the need for frequent re-evaluations of environmental impacts. This raised concerns about the monitoring and control of long-term environmental effects.
Dilution of Compliance Reports:
- There were concerns about the dilution of compliance reports, which are meant to ensure that projects adhere to environmental conditions and standards. The perceived weakening of compliance requirements raised questions about the effectiveness of environmental safeguards.
|UPSC CSE Previous Year Questions (PYQ) |
Q 1. When you travel in the Himalayas, you will see the following:
U-turn river courses
Parallel mountain ranges
Steep gradients causing land-sliding
Which of the above can be said to be the evidence for the Himalayas being young fold mountains?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 1, 2, and 4 only
(c) 3 and 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
Q 2. Bring out the causes for more frequent landslides in the Himalayas than in the Western Ghats. (2013)
Q 3. Describe the various causes and effects of landslides. Mention the important components of the National Landslide Risk Management Strategy. (2021)
Tags: GS – 2: Indian Polity (Political Parties)
Why in News:
The Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly has recently come under fire from the Supreme Court (SC) for prolonging the anti-defection proceedings against the Chief Minister and other MLAs.
- The court instructed the Speaker to make a decision within two months after expressing concern about the lack of progress in the disqualification procedures.
- A deadline for concluding the disqualification procedures under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution was previously asked by the court from the speaker.
- The Shiv Sena group assumed power in 2022 when the Uddhav Thackeray-led government was overthrown.
- Eknath Shinde, the breakaway Sena faction’s leader, was appointed Maharashtra’s next chief minister.
- The Thackeray faction then filed petitions challenging the then-Maharashtra Governor’s decision to ask for a trust vote prior to resigning.
- If disqualification were to be issued, Shinde’s position as Chief Minister would also be impacted in addition to the Shiv Sena MLAs.
- Individual Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) who switch parties are subject to punishment under the anti-defection law.
- In order to prevent legislators from switching parties, the Parliament introduced it to the Constitution as the Tenth Schedule in 1985, bringing stability to governments. Through the 52nd Amendment Act of 1985, the Tenth Schedule, sometimes referred to as the Anti-Defection Act, was included in the Constitution.
- It provides the rules for the disqualification of elected representatives for defection to a different political party.
- It does, however, permit a group of MPs or MLAs to join (or combine with) another political party without risking the defection penalty. Additionally, it does not punish political parties for supporting or accepting defecting legislators.
- The 1985 Act defined a “merger” as the “defection” of one-third of an elected political party’s members. However, this was altered by the 91st Constitutional Amendment Act of 2003, and today, in order for a “merger” to be considered legal, at least two-thirds of the party’s members must support it.
- Legislators who are legally disqualified from participating in the House can stand for election from any political party.
- The Chairman or Speaker of the respective House has the authority to make decisions about defection-related disqualification, and such decisions are then subject to “Judicial review.” The law, however, does not provide a deadline for the presiding officer to make a decision in a defection case.
Challenges with Anti-Defection Law:
- A political party’s members will not lose their seats if it merges with another party, according to paragraph 4 of the Anti-Defection Law. However, at least two-thirds of the members of that party in the House must endorse the merger. The law is silent on whether the merger is based on the national or regional level of the party.
- The Anti-Defection law has disrupted the chain of responsibility by holding MPs mainly responsible to their political party. It has made the MPs/MLAs to follow the party’s direction blindly.
- The deadline for the House Chairperson’s or Speaker’s decision in anti-defection issues is not explicitly stated in the law.
- The Anti defection law does not recognize a ‘split’ in a legislature party and instead recognizes a ‘merger’.
- It allows wholesale defection, but retail defection is not allowed.
- Instead of a democracy based on debate and discussion, India now has a democracy of parties and numbers due to the Anti-Defection Law.
- According to some experts, the rule should only apply to votes that have an impact on the stability of the government. A no-confidence motion or the approval of the yearly budget are two examples.
- Several commissions, including the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC), have recommended that the decision to disqualify a member be made by the President (in the case of MPs) or the Governor (in the case of MLAs) on the advice of the Election Commission rather than the Presiding Officer.
- According to Justice Verma in Hollohan’s ruling, the Speaker does not meet the criteria for such independent adjudicatory authority because his term is dependent on the House’s majority’s continued support.
|UPSC CSE Previous Years Questions |
Q. Which one of the following Schedules of the Constitution of India contains provisions regarding anti-defection? (2014)
Q. The role of individual MPs (Members of Parliament) has diminished over the years and as a result healthy constructive debates on policy issues are not usually witnessed. How far can this be attributed to the anti-defection law which was legislated but with a different intention? (2013)
Q. ‘Once a Speaker, Always a Speaker’! Do you think this practice should be adopted to impart objectivity to the office of the Speaker of Lok Sabha? What could be its implications for the robust functioning of parliamentary business in India? (2020)
Minimum Support Price
Tags: GS – 3: Indian Economy (Agriculture)
Why in News:
Recently, the Centre has announced hikes in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for wheat and five other Rabi Crops for the 2024-25 marketing season. The most significant increase is for wheat, with a Rs 150 per quintal hike, the highest since 2007-08.
Minimum Support Price (MSP):
- The MSP is the guaranteed sum that farmers get when the government purchases their goods. MSP is based on the suggestions made by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), which takes into account a number of variables, including production costs, supply and demand, market price trends, inter-crop price parity, etc.
- The final determination (approval) on the amount of MSPs is made by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), which is presided over by the Prime Minister of India.
- The MSP aims to guarantee producers receive fair pricing for their goods and promote crop diversification.
- The CACP proposes Fair and Remunerative Prices (FRP) for sugarcane as well as MSPs for 22 required crops. 14 kharif season crops, 6 rabi season crops, and 2 more commercial crops make up the list of required crops.
Cost Calculation for MSP:
- For every crop, the CACP predicts three different types of production costs, both at state- and India-wide average levels.
- ‘A2’: Pays for all direct expenditures made by the farmer for things like seeds, fertiliser, pesticides, hired labour, leased land, fuel, irrigation, etc.
- ‘A2 + FL’: A2 plus an imputed value for unpaid family work is included in it.
- ‘C2’: It is a more comprehensive cost that, in addition to A2+FL, takes into account rents and interest for owned land and fixed capital assets.
- When advising MSP, CACP takes into account both A2+FL and C2 expenses. CACP estimates simply A2+FL as the return cost. C2 costs, however, are largely used by CACP as benchmark reference expenses (opportunity costs) to determine if the MSPs they suggest at least cover these costs in some of the key producing States.
Need for MSP:
- It makes certain that farmers are paid fairly for their crops, which contributes to lowering agricultural distress and poverty. This is especially important in states where agriculture provides a significant portion of the state’s income.
- Since 2014, farmers have been forced to endure falling commodity prices due to the twin droughts of 2014 and 2015.
- The rural economy was damaged by the twin shocks of demonetisation and the introduction of GST, particularly in the non-farm sector but also in agriculture.
- The majority of farmers continue to be in a vulnerable condition as a result of the epidemic, the downturn in the economy following 2016–17, and other factors.
Concerns Related to MSP in India:
- Although 23 commodities are included in the MSP, only two—rice and wheat—are actually extensively procured and distributed as part of the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The MSP implementation is inconsistent and negligible for the remaining crops.
- In its 2015 report, the Shanta Kumar Committee noted that farmers actually got 6% of the MSP. This indicates that around 94% of farmers, a sizeable fraction, do not profit from the MSP.
- A biased cropping pattern in favour of these two staples has resulted from the emphasis on MSP for wheat and rice. This over-concentration of these crops may have negative effects on the environment, the economy, and nutrition.
- Intermediaries including middlemen, commission agents, and representatives from Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) are frequently used in the MSP-based procurement system. Accessing these channels may be difficult for smaller farmers in particular, which might result in inefficiencies and reduced advantages for them.
- The cost of acquiring and maintaining buffer stocks of MSP-supported crops falls mostly on the government. Resources that may be used for other agricultural or rural development programmes are instead diverted in this way.
- The government might progressively increase the list of crops that are eligible for MSP assistance in order to promote agricultural diversity and reduce the dominance of rice and wheat. This will increase the options available to farmers and encourage the growth of products that meet consumer demand.
- The government can concentrate on establishing MSPs for crops that are crucial for food security and those with a proven impact on farmer livelihoods rather than giving MSP for all crops in all locations. The efficient use of resources may be achieved with this targeted strategy.
- Enhance and update procurement processes to guarantee that farmers may receive MSPs. This can entail developing more effective procurement procedures, eliminating intermediaries, and enlarging the scope of procurement organisations.
|UPSC CSE Previous Years Questions |
Q. Consider the following statements: (2020)
In the case of all cereals, pulses, and oil seeds, the procurement at Minimum Support price (MSP) is unlimited in any State/UT of India.
In the case of cereals and pulses, the MSP is fixed in any State/UT at a level to which the market price will never rise.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
Both 1 and 2
Neither 1 nor 2
Q. Consider the following statements: (2023)
The Government of India provides Minimum Support Price for niger (Guizotia abyssinica) seeds.
Niger is cultivated as a Kharif crop.
Some tribal people in India use niger seed oil for cooking.
How many of the above statements are correct?
Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS)
Tag: GS-3 Economy, Infrastructure
Recently, the Prime minister inaugurated India’s first Regional Rapid Transit System.
- The Rapid Rail Transit System (RRTS) is a novel commuter service designed to connect regional nodes in the National Capital Region (NCR).
- The corridor will start from Sarai Kale Khan in Delhi, pass through Ghaziabad, and reach Modipuram in Meerut (Uttar Pradesh).
- The RRTS, the first of its kind in the national capital, will run at a speed of 100 km per hour and commuters will reach Meerut in 50-60 minutes.
- Dedicated High-Speed Service: RRTS offers a dedicated, high-speed, high-capacity commuter service, which sets it apart from conventional railways and metro systems.
- Reliable Point-to-Point Travel: RRTS provides reliable, high-frequency, point-to-point regional travel at high speeds along a dedicated pathway. This means faster and more efficient travel between regional nodes.
- Long-Distance Travel: Unlike metro systems that cater to shorter intra-city journeys, RRTS is designed for passengers looking to travel relatively longer distances with fewer stops and at higher speeds.
- Environmentally Friendly: The RRTS corridor is estimated to reduce 2.5 lakh tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, contributing to a cleaner and more environmentally sustainable city. This helps in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and promotes a healthier living environment.
- Economic Development: The project aims to increase the share of public transportation usage along the corridor from 37% to 63%. Additionally, the high-speed connectivity provided by RRTS is expected to lead to balanced economic development across the region, benefiting various segments of society and promoting multiple nodes of economic growth, rather than concentrating all economic activity in one place.
- Sustainable Urbanization: RRTS serves as a model for developing high-capacity rapid urban transit corridors in other urban areas of India. This initiative can help reduce traffic congestion and lower total emissions from the transport sector in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Tag: GS-3 Environment
India’s first tilapia parvovirus reported in Tamil Nadu.
Tilapia Parvovirus (TiPV) is a viral pathogen that primarily affects tilapia, a popular freshwater fish species.
- TiPV belongs to the Parvoviridae family, which is known for its small, non-enveloped, single-stranded DNA viruses.
Emergence and Impact:
- TiPV was first reported in China in 2019 and later in Thailand in 2021. India is the third country to report the occurrence of TiPV.
- TiPV has caused significant mortality rates ranging from 30% to 50% on fish farms, indicating its severe impact on tilapia populations.
- In laboratory settings, TiPV has been known to lead to 100% mortality among infected fish, underscoring its devastating effect on this species.
Consequences of TiPV Outbreak:
- TiPV outbreaks can pose a threat to the biodiversity and ecology of freshwater bodies, as tilapia is an invasive species that can outcompete native fish for food and space, potentially disrupting local ecosystems.
- TiPV outbreaks can have adverse effects on the food security and nutrition of communities that depend on tilapia as a source of protein and income. The loss of tilapia due to TiPV can disrupt local economies and food supplies.
Green Energy Corridor Phase-II – Inter-State Transmission System
Tag: GS-3 Economy, Energy Infrastructure
Recently, The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved Green Energy Corridor Phase-II – Inter-State Transmission System for 13 gigawatt renewable energy project in Ladakh.
The project is aimed to be established by the fiscal year 2029-30, with the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID) serving as the Implementing Agency.
- The project aims to contribute to achieving the target of 500 GW of installed electricity capacity from non-fossil fuels by the year 2030. It is designed to promote ecologically sustainable growth by reducing the carbon footprint associated with electricity generation.
- The project is expected to generate a significant number of both direct and indirect employment opportunities, particularly in the Ladakh region. This is likely to have positive economic and social impacts in the area.
Integration with Intra-State Transmission System Green Energy Corridor Phase-II (InSTS GEC-II):
- This project is an additional initiative, separate from the Intra-State Transmission System Green Energy Corridor Phase-II (InSTS GEC-II), which is already in progress in several states. The InSTS GEC-II project focuses on grid integration and power evacuation for approximately 20 GW of renewable energy power and is anticipated to be completed by 2026.
Tag: GS-3 Science
NASA’s InSight lander detected the largest quake yet recorded on Mars, one with a 4.7 magnitude.
- A Marsquake is similar to an earthquake but occurs on the surface of Mars. NASA’s InSight lander detected the strongest Marsquake in 2022, and it was caused by tectonic forces within the planet.
Key points about Marsquakes and their differences from earthquakes on Earth:
- Tectonic Forces on Mars: Mars, like Earth, experiences tectonic forces. However, the Martian crust is a single solid plate, unlike Earth, where the crust is divided into multiple tectonic plates that move and interact. This fundamental difference in crust structure is one of the key distinctions between Marsquakes and earthquakes.
- Mars’ Shrinkage and Cooling: Mars is slowly shrinking and cooling over time. This ongoing process creates stress and tension within the Martian crust, even though it lacks the active plate tectonic processes found on Earth. As the planet cools and contracts, it can lead to the formation of faults and fractures in the crust.
- Faults as Trigger Points: While Mars doesn’t have active tectonic plate movements, it still experiences motion within its solid crust. These motions can create stress and strain along fault lines, and when the accumulated energy is released, it results in a Marsquake. The concept is similar to how energy accumulates along geological faults on Earth and is released during an earthquake.
Tag: GS-1 Geography
Forest Department banks on native wisdom of Muthuvan tribe for Nilgiri Tahr conservation
Members of the Muthuvan tribe from the Anamalai hills will play a role in Project Nilgiri Tahr, which is focused on the conservation of the Nilgiri Tahr, a mountain goat species native to the region.
The Muthuvan tribe is renowned for their traditional knowledge and understanding of the hills and the surrounding environment.
Here are some key details about the Muthuvan tribe:
- Habitat and Population: The Muthuvan tribe’s population is limited to fragmented habitats in the Western Ghats, primarily in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in India. They have traditionally inhabited the hilly regions of this area.
- Traditional Livelihood: The Muthuvans have traditionally been nomadic agriculturists, hunters, and trappers. They have a deep connection with the land and have developed an intricate understanding of the hills and the resources they provide.
- Agricultural Practices: The primary crops cultivated by the Muthuvans include coffee, ginger, sugarcane, and paddy. Their agricultural practices are adapted to the hilly terrain, and they rely on these crops for sustenance and income.
- Social Structure: The Muthuvans live in small hamlets called “Kudi.” These hamlets are headed by a leader known as “Kani” or “Moopan.” The leader plays a significant role in the community and is responsible for decision-making and conflict resolution within the hamlet.
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