Topic 1 : Sikkim aims to go ‘carbon negative’
Context: Recently, Sikkim‘s relentless pursuit of becoming a carbon negative state has grabbed media attention.
- It is part of the state’s ‘Mero Rukh Mero Santati’ program which entails planting 100 saplings every time a new baby is born.
- The goal is to become carbon negative.
- It is part of the initiative to make Sikkim a green state with India’s target of Net Zero by 2070.
What is carbon negativity?
- Carbon negative is a term that goes beyond merely reducing carbon missions.
- It signifies an active commitment to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than is produced.
- This endeavour aims to reverse the adverse effects of greenhouse gas accumulation and significantly contribute to combating climate change.
- Ways to achieve carbon negativity:
- Afforestation and reforestation, and
- Capturing and storing carbon emissions from industries.
- Using bioenergy sources like biomass, which absorbs Co2 or carbon dioxide as it grows, and then stores its emissions (BECCS).
- Spreading certain minerals in powder form can speed up carbon capture from the air through enhanced weathering.
- Better soil practices in agriculture can help absorb and store carbon in the ground, which is called Soil Carbon Sequestration
- Health benefits
- Sikkim sets a strong foundation for improved public health by embracing a carbon-negative stance.
- Reducing carbon emissions and air pollutants leads to cleaner air, resulting in decreased respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
- This healthier environment positively impacts the well-being of residents, contributing to an increase in life expectancy and overall quality of life.
- Tourism potential
- Sikkim’s carbon-negative status enhances its appeal as a nature-loving tourist destination and is a game-changer that fosters a greener and more sustainable society that creates a unique selling point for eco-tourism.
- This sustainable approach can attract environmentally conscious tourists, boosting the state’s economy and creating employment opportunities in the tourism sector.
- National inspiration
- Sikkim demonstrates that ambitious environmental goals are attainable with political will, community involvement, and innovative programs.
- Other states can take inspiration from Sikkim’s success and replicate or adapt similar eco-friendly initiatives to address their unique environmental challenges.Topic 2 : Free movement regime
Context: Amid tensions in Manipur, questions have been raised on the Free Movement Regime (FMR) that facilitates migration across the Indo-Myanmar Border (IMB).
About the Free Movement Regime
- The border between India and Myanmar runs for 1,643 km in the four states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh.
- The FMR is a mutually agreed arrangement between the two countries that allows tribes living along the border on either side to travel up to 16 km inside the other country without a visa.
- The FMR was implemented in 2018.
Need and Significance of FMR:
- The border between India and Myanmar was demarcated by the British in 1826, without seeking the opinion of the people living in the region.
- The border effectively split people of the same ethnicity and culture into two nations without their consent.
- People in the region have strong ethnic and familial ties across the border.
- Apart from facilitating people-to-people contact, the FMR was supposed to give an impetus to local trade and business.
- Given the low-income economy of the region, such exchanges are vital for the sustenance of local livelihoods.
- For the border people in Myanmar, towns in India are closer for business, education, and healthcare than those in their own country.
- Insurgency and drug traficking:
- A number of insurgent groups have built camps in nearby regions.
- They took shelter there, obtained arms, trained cadres and engaged in illegal activities such as smuggling drugs and selling weapons to raise funds.
- This is possible because of the porous borders and frequent misuse of FMR. Therefore, managing and administering the border areas effectively is pertinent for reducing drug trafficking and illegal cross-border movement on unfenced borders,” the paper said. (Revisiting Free Movement Regime (FMR): Challenges and Implications, November 2022)
- Need of regulation:
- The FMR needs better regulation.
- As the crisis in Myanmar escalated and the influx of refugees increased, India suspended the FMR in September 2022.
- Taking the middle path:
- Due to the changing socio-politico-economic condition in Myanmar and the dynamic demographic profile, illicit activities along with border crimes along the IMB, it is imperative for New Delhi to tackle the issue by pursuing ‘killing the snake without breaking the stick’ approach.”Topic 3 : Tail strikes
Context: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has fined an ariline following a special audit concerning frequent tail strike incidents.
What is a tail strike?
- A tail strike refers to an incident where the tail of an aircraft hits the ground or strikes any other stationary object.
- While tail strikes can occur during takeoff, a majority happen during the landing of an aircraft.
- Over 65 per cent of tail strikes happen during landings.
- Tail strikes can cause significant damage to the aircraft.
- Aircraft, depending on their size, have different “tail strike margins”:
- The longer the aircraft, more prone it is to a tail strike as the rear of the plane juts out further behind the rear undercarriage.
- Reasons of tail strikes during take off:
- Incorrect takeoff speeds
- Poor rotation technique
- Incorrect centre of gravity, or mistrimmed stabiliser
- Reasons of Tail strikes during landing
- Too low an approach speed
- Too high or too low of a landing flare
- Incorrect handling during crosswinds
Topic 4 : Colombo Security Conclave
Context: A joint expedition under the regional framework of Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) concluded recently.
- It is a joint expedition of ocean scientists from India, Bangladesh and Mauritius was organised under the regional framework of Colombo Security Conclave (CSC) concluded recently.
- The primary objective of the expedition was to build capacity in ocean observation and services apart from collection of ocean data to predict and manage changes in the regional environment of the Indian Ocean.
- The expedition was onboard ORV Sagar Nidhi.
- The CSC evolved out of trilateral meetings between National Security Advisors (NSAs) and Deputy NSAs from India, Maldives, and Sri Lanka, starting in 2011.
- Significance for India:
- The small group provides an opportunity for India to address its own strategic concerns in the Indian Ocean while providing an opportunity for the island and littoral nations to address their own challenges.
- New members:
- Since its revival and re-branding as the CSC in 2020, Mauritius was added as a member of the grouping, with Bangladesh and the Seychelles as observers.
- A secretariat for the group was established in Colombo in 2021.
- The group has operationalised practical cooperation under the CSC by hosting regular security-focused exercises.
- In November 2021, India, Sri Lanka, and Maldives conducted Exercise Dosti XV in Maldives, with Bangladesh and the Seychelles as observers.
- The CSC countries are all members of the two region-wide Indian Ocean groupings:
- the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), and
- the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS)Topic 5 : Parkachik Glacier
Context: The Parkachik Glacier in Ladakh is likely to have three lakes of different dimensions due to subglacial over-deepening, shows a new study.
- Subglacial over-deepening is a characteristic of basins and valleys eroded by glaciers.
- Parachik Glacier is a mountain glacier in Kargil, Ladakh.
- It is a mass of ice moving slowly down the Nun-Kun slopes.
- This ice mass falls finally into the Suru River.
- The researchers suggest that the calving nature of the glacier margin and the formation of a proglacial lake have contributed to this accelerated retreat.
- These findings highlight the ongoing impact of climate change on glaciers in the region.Topic 6 : India sign $200 million loan for expanding urban services in Rajasthan
Context: The Government of India and Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $200 million loan as additional financing for the ongoing Rajasthan Secondary Towns Development Sector Project.
- It aims to expand water supply and sanitation systems and enhance urban resilience and heritage living in selected towns.
- Additional financing will support the Government of Rajasthan in its commitment to reduce basic infrastructure gaps in its secondary towns by expanding water supply and sanitation services and improving livability in selected urban local bodies.
- The project will incorporate various innovative and climate-resilient solutions for:
- expanding basic urban services
- incorporate nature-based solutions to rehabilitate heritage structures
- piloting public-private partnerships in the state’s water and sanitation sector to deepen private sector engagement.
- A new feature in ADB’s support is the water facility development for urban resilienceimprovement and heritage-sensitive urban development in at least eight heritage towns or towns with strong tourism potential. This includes:
- the reconstruction of water structures with heritage value,
- incorporating nature-based solutions to improve climate resilience.
- It will also rehabilitate at least 20 heritage or heritage-like structures to improve the living environment and attract more tourists.
- In addition, it will create a special purpose vehicle through a public–private partnership to address water security issues in Rajasthan’s manufacturing industry and to encourage private sector investments and financing.
- This will establish designated pipe networks to carry treated wastewater from the sewage treatment plants to industrial facilities.
About Asian Development Bank:
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank established in 1966.
- Headquarters: Manila, Philippines.
- The bank admits the members of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and non-regional developed countries.
- Currently ADB has 68 members.
- ADB is an official United Nations Observer.
- India is a member of ADB.
- Japan and the United States each holds the largest proportion of shares at 15.571%.
- China holds 6.429%,
- India holds 6.317%, and
- Australia holds 5.773%.Topic 7 : Schemes For Self Employment Of Women
Context: The Government has taken a number of initiatives to encourage self-employment of women.
About the various schemes:
- The Government of India is providing training to women through a network of training institutes under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikash Yojana (PMKVY).
- Stand up India scheme:
- To economically empower women, 81% of loans of sizes from Rs. 10 Lakhs to Rs. 1 crore under ‘Stand-Up India’ have been made available to women.
- MUDRA Yojana:
- Under ‘MUDRA’ (or Prime Minister’s Micro-Units Development & Refinance Agency)Yojana, 68% loans sized up to Rs. 10 Lakhs have been sanctioned to women-owned and operated enterprises.
- Under National Rural Livelihoods Mission, approximately 9.0 crore women are connected with around 83 lakh women’s self-help groups that are transforming the rural socio-economic landscape in several innovative and socially and ecologically responsible ways.
- The are also availing governmental support including through collateral free loans.
- E-NAM and other agricultural initiatives:
- National Agriculture Market or e-NAM, an online trading platform for agricultural commodities, “Kisan Call Centres” answering farmers’ queries on a telephone call in their own dialect and mobile applications like Kisan Suvidha are helping women overcome or compensate the barriers they face in accessing markets and extension services.
- National Cooperative Development Corporation:
- It is playing a significant role to uplift women cooperatives as large number of women are engaged and involved in cooperatives.
- Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture:
- It imparts training for skills development to women, provide more subsidy/ assistance to women farmers, beneficiaries as compared to general category farmers.
- Under Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure component, women are eligible for subsidy at higher rates to procure agricultural machinery, implements and equipment under Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization.
- Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM):
- It has been launched to ensure old age protection for unorganised Workers who are not covered by any other pension scheme.
- The unorganised workers including women whose monthly income is Rs 15,000/ per month or less and belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years.
- Mission Shakti:
- It is an Integrated Women Empowerment Programme for the Safety, Security and Empowerment of Women.
- It aims to strengthen interventions for safety, security and empowerment of women in a mission mode through institutional and convergence mechanism for greater efficiency, effectiveness and financial prudence.
- Mission Shakti has two sub-schemes namely:
- “Sambal” for safety and security of women and
- “Samarthya” for empowerment of women.
- Beti Bachao Beti Padhao:
- The overall goal of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme is to ensure survival and protection of the girl child and to ensure her education and participation.
- Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas:
- It focuses both on quality education and residential facilities for girl child(10-18 years) from marginalized communities belonging to SC, ST, OBC, Minority communities and BPL families to ensure smooth transition of girls from elementary to secondary and upto class XII.
- Udaan programme for Girls:
- Udaan is a project of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to address the low enrollment of girl students in prestigious engineering institutions and the teaching gap between the school education and engineering entrance examination through provision of free online science courses for girls in class XI and XII.
- National Means-cum-Merit Scheme:
- Scheme to arrest dropout of girls in school by providing girls belonging to EWS with Rs. 1000/- per month as cash incentive
- Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana:
- It is a saving scheme for the parents of girl child.
- The scheme allows parents to build a fund for the future education of their female child.
- Sukanya Samriddhi Account provides a higher rate of interest than other Savings Plans that offer financial security for the girl child.Topic 8 : World Meteorological Organization Report
Context: New WMO report says climate change impacts have increased in Asia.
Key findings of the report:
- Overview of Asia:
- Asia is the world’s most disaster-prone region and it experienced 81 weather, climate and water-related disasters in 2022.
- These events directly affected more than 50 million people with about 5,000 getting killed and economic damage worth $ 36 billion.
- In 2021, the continent had been affected by around 100 natural disasters, the extent of these hazards was more prominent in 2022.
- While the mean temperature over Asia in 2022 was about 0.72 degree Celsius above the 1991–2020 average, it was about 1.68 degree Celsius above the 1961–1990 average.
- This rise in temperatures has had some severe fallouts, including an uptick in the occurrence of extreme weather events.
- For instance, droughts ravaged numerous parts of Asia in 2022.
- Pakistan is the most notable example – it received 60 per cent of normal total monsoon rainfall within just three weeks of the start of the 2022 monsoon season, and the heavy rains resulted in urban and flash floods, landslides, and glacial lake outburst floods across the country.
- In India, heavy rainfalls multiple landslides and river overflows and floods, resulting in casualties and damage.
- In total, this flooding resulted in over 2,000 deaths and affected 1.3 million people.
- Economic loss:
- The report also said economic loss due to disasters relating to floods exceeded the average for the 2002–2021 period.
- Pakistan incurred a loss of over $ 15 billion, followed by China, over $ 5 billion, and India, over $ 4.2 billion.
- Heat waves:
- Another extreme weather event that became a mainstay in Asia last year was heat waves.
- The report noted that India and Pakistan experienced abnormally warm conditions in the pre-monsoon season (March–May).
- China, Hong Kong and Japan also saw the mercury rising to record high levels in 2022.
- Sea Surface Temperatures:
- Even the sea surface temperatures in Asia are getting warmer than ever before.
- The report pointed out that in the north-western Arabian Sea, the Philippine Sea and the seas east of Japan, the warming rates have exceeded 0.5 degree Celsius per decade since the 1980s.
- It is about three times faster than the global average surface ocean warming rate.
- The WMO report also noted that the rise in frequency and severity of extreme weather events has particularly impacted the agriculture sector in Asia.
- For climate-related disasters such as floods, droughts, and tropical storms, more than 25 per cent of all damage and losses is associated with the agriculture sector.
- Apart from natural disasters, climate change has exacerbated glaciers melting in Asia due to high temperatures and dry conditions.
- Four glaciers in the High Mountain Asia region, centred on the Tibetan Plateau, have recorded significant mass losses, with an accelerating trend since the mid-1990s.
- At the same time, these four glaciers show an overall weaker cumulative mass loss than the average for the global reference glaciers during the period 1980–2022.About WMO:
- The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations.
- WMO has a membership of 193 Member States.
- It is responsible for promoting international cooperation on atmospheric science, climatology, hydrology and geophysics.
- The WMO originated from the International Meteorological Organization, a nongovernmental organization founded in 1873 as a forum for exchanging weather data and research.
- Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.Topic 9 : Bill proposes President as Visitor to all IIMs
Context: Union Education Minister introduced the Indian Institutes of Management (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha.
- It proposes to make the President the Visitor to all IIMs
- The Bill proposes to amend the IIM Act of 2017 so that the Visitor can nominate the Chairperson of the Board of Governors of IIMs.
- It empowers the Centre to constitute an interim Board in case of suspension or dissolution of the Board of Governors.
- At present, the Board selects the Chairperson.
- The Bill also proposes to change the National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai as the Indian Institute of Management, Mumbai.
- The Board will now have to take the prior approval of the Visitor to appoint a Director.
- The Director will be appointed out of the panel of names recommended by a search-cum-selection committee.
- The Board, with prior approval of the Visitor, may remove the Director and the Visitor can also terminate the Director.
- The amendments will have an impact on the autonomy of the IIMs and they will be governed the way Central universities are governed.