InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.
Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
1. PM CARES For Children- Empowerment of COVID Affected Children.
2. Dispute over Senkaku Islands in Japan.
GS Paper 3:
1. Changes to Forest Conservation Act.
2. Gujarat HC order on Sabarmati river conservation.
3. Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and its report.
4. World Airlines Commit To Net Zero Carbon Emissions By 2050.
Facts for Prelims:
1. Physics Nobel 2021.
2. Denmark legally binds farmers to reduce GHGs emission.
3. ‘Swechha’ programme.
4. Health Information Management System (HIMS) project.
GS Paper 2
Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
A total of 845 COVID-19 orphans have so far been identified and approved for receiving benefits under the PM CARES Fund.
Launched in May 2021.
The scheme has been launched for support & empowerment of Covid affected children.
Eligibility: All children who have lost both parents or surviving parent or legal guardian/adoptive parents due to Covid 19 will be supported under the scheme.
Features of the scheme:
- Fixed Deposit in the name of the child: A corpus of Rs 10 lakh for each child when he or she reaches 18 years of age.
- School Education: For children under 10 years: Admission will be given in the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as a day scholar.
- School Education: for children between 11-18 years: The child will be given admission in any Central Government residential school such as Sainik School, Navodaya Vidyalaya etc.
- Support for Higher Education: The child will be assisted in obtaining an education loan for Professional courses / Higher Education in India as per the existing Education Loan norms.
- Health Insurance: All children will be enrolled as a beneficiary under Ayushman Bharat Scheme (PM-JAY) with a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakhs.
(Note: We have covered only highlights and key features of the scheme here. For complete details, please visit: Click Here )
- As India battles a raging second wave, cases of children losing their parents to Covid-19 are also mounting.
- Also the apprehension of child trafficking in the garb of adoption has increased.
- Child Marriages have also increased in the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
Do you know about the SAMARTH initiative? Reference: read this.
- What is a public account?
- Who administers PM CARES fund?
- Which organisations are exempted from the ambit of RTI act?
- What is Consolidated fund of India?
- What is a charitable trust?
- PM CARES For Children- Empowerment of COVID Affected Children- eligibility and benefits.
Discuss why PM CARES fund should be brought within the ambit of RTI act?
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2
Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
New Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said that he received a “strong” message from President Joe Biden about the United States’ commitment to defending the disputed East China Sea islets, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.
As per the U.S.-Japan security treaty, the U.S. has obligations to defend Japan, which cover the uninhabited island.
About Senkaku Islands:
The Senkaku Islands are located in the East China Sea between Japan, the People’s Republic of China, and the Republic of China (Taiwan). The archipelago contains five uninhabited islands and three barren rocks, ranging in size from 800 m2 to 4.32 km2.
What are the grounds for Japan’s territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands?
The Senkaku Islands were not included in the territory which Japan renounced under Article 2 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 that legally defined the territory of Japan after World War II.
- Under Article 3 of the treaty, the islands were placed under the administration of the United States as part of the Nansei Shoto Islands. The Senkaku Islands are included in the areas whose administrative rights were reverted to Japan in accordance with the Agreement between Japan and the United States of America Concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands that entered into force in 1972.
China says that the islands have been part of its territory since ancient times, serving as important fishing grounds administered by the province of Taiwan.
- Taiwan was ceded to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895, after the Sino-Japanese war.
- When Taiwan was returned in the Treaty of San Francisco, China says the islands should have been returned too.
The Senkaku/Diaoyu issue highlights the more robust attitude China has been taking to its territorial claims in both the East China Sea, the South China Sea and also on the Indian side.
- It has island and maritime border disputes with Taiwan, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea and its extension.
- The disputes include islands, reefs, banks and other features in the South China Sea including Spratly Islands (with Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan), Paracel Islands (Vietnam), Scarborough Shoal (Philippines), and Gulf of Tonkin (Vietnam).
- South China Sea dispute- regions involved, countries’ claims.
- Where are Senkaku Islands?
- What is the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951?
- China- Taiwan relations.
How is China’s aggressive expansionist policy being viewed by countries worldwide? Discuss.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
The Union Government has proposed certain amendments to the existing Forest Conservation Act (FCA).
- Absolve agencies involved in national security projects and border infrastructure projects from obtaining prior forest clearance from the Centre. Such a permission is necessary under the Forest Conservation Act (FCA).
- Exempt land acquired before 1980 — before the FCA came into effect — by public sector bodies such as the Railways.
- Facilitating private plantations for harvesting and exploration or extraction of oil and natural gas deep beneath forest land by drilling holes from outside the forest areas.
- Building in forests: To ease the grievances of the individuals whose land fall in state specific private forests act or within the purview of dictionary meaning of forest, the ministry has proposed to allow them the right to construct structures for bonafide purposes including forest protection measures and residential units up to an area of 250 sq mtr as one time relaxation.
- Punishments: Make offences under the modified Act punishable with simple imprisonment for a period which may extend to one year and make it cognisable and non-bailable.
- It also has provisions for penal compensation to make good for the damage already done.
Please note that these are just proposals. The document is open to public discussion for 15 days after which it could be readied for Cabinet and parliamentary approval.
Why were these amendments necessary?
The essential tension in the FCA is that the state is committed to a principle of increasing forest cover, and this makes it harder to access land for infrastructure projects by States and private entities.
- Several Ministries have expressed resentment on how the Act was being interpreted over the right of way of railways, highways.
- As of today, a landholding agency (Rail, NHAI, PWD, etc.) is required to take approval under the Act and pay stipulated compensatory levies such as Net Present Value (NPV), Compensatory Afforestation (CA), for use of such land which was originally been acquired for non-forest purposes.
- With more land coming under the definition of “forest”, it’s becoming harder for State Governments or private industry to use land that falls under the definition of “forest” for non-forestry purposes.
- Through the years, this has given rise to multiple instances of litigation, as well questions on the legal definition of “forest”.
- States have been told to provide a definition of what constitutes a forest, but several haven’t given them because this has political consequences. All of this has led to conflicting interpretations of the FCA through the years.
The proposed amendment is part of a larger rationalising of existing forest laws.
When was the FCA enacted?
The FCA first came in 1980 and was amended in 1988.
While States had already notified forest land, the FCA made it necessary to get the Centre’s permission for using such forest land for “non forestry purposes” and the creation of an advisory committee to recommend such re-classification.
The 1996 Supreme Court judgment (in TN Godavarman Thirumulpad versus Union of India and Others case) paved the way for the calculating:
- The net present value, or the economic value of the portion of forest being razed for development work that had to be paid by project proponents.
- The creation of a compensatory afforestation fund.
- Providing non-forestry land in lieu of the diverted forest.
Before the 1996 Supreme Court judgement in TN Godavarman Thirumulpad versus Union of India and Others, forest land was only that as was defined by the 1927 Forest Act. But the court included all areas which are recorded as ‘forest’ in any government record, irrespective of ownership, recognition and classification.
More about FCA: read here.
Have you heard about net present value? How is it calculated? Reference: read this.
What are deemed forests? Reference: read this.
- Key Provisions of the FCA.
- Godavarman case is related to?
Write a note on the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Conservation and pollution related issues.
Gujarat High Court had taken suo motu cognizance of the slow death of Sabarmati river due to effluent discharge. In this regard, it has delivered a judgement recently.
The High Court order:
- Industrial units found to have discharged pollutants into the Sabarmati river in Gujarat will not be provided water and power.
- They will also be penalised, named and shamed.
- All such polluting units will also be banned from participating in any industrial fair, public-private partnership events, etc.
In our Constitution, water resources are held in public trust. Therefore, the court decided to use the ‘Public Trust Doctrine’ to apply stringent provisions against permitting municipal bodies or industries from polluting rivers.
The Sabarmati, for 120 km of its 371 km course, is in its death throes. This is especially true for the stretch of the river along the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad.
- The excessive presence of pollutants in the river and the lack of natural flow has done irreparable damage to the river.
- Effluents and sewage from industrial units are continuously being discharged into the Sabarmati river.
- Despite all this, industrial units have been provided legal permission to carry out these activities.
Need of the hour:
Rivers are our lifeline since we are completely dependent on them for our existence. The major reason behind this alarming situation is our utter ignorance and carefree attitude towards our environment and maintaining rivers and riversides.
- So, it is high time that we take some stringent actions in this regard.
- Each and every individual should understand that rivers belong to all of us.
- It is a joint responsibility of each and every individual to keep them clean.
- The Sabarmati originates in the Dhebar lake situated in the southern part of the Aravalli range in the Udaipur district of Rajasthan.
- It flows in a south-western direction, passing through Udaipur in Rajasthan and Sabarkantha, Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad and Anand districts of Gujarat.
- After traveling about 371 km, it falls into the Gulf of Khambhat.
Water privatization is often suggested as a solution to municipal budget problems and aging water systems. What is water privatization? Reference: read this.
- River Sabarmati Flows through how many states?
- Acceptable maximum limit of ammonia in drinking water?
- Permissible level of Sulfate.
- Desirable limit of hardness of water.
- The desirable level of faecal coliform.
Sources: Down to Earth.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Conservation and Pollution related issues.
- The report, the first of its kind in 13 years, underlined the catastrophic consequences of global warming but said that some coral reefs can be saved by arresting greenhouse gases.
Highlights of the report:
- In the last decade, the world lost about 14 per cent of its coral reefs.
- Threats: Ocean-acidification, warmer sea temperatures and local stressors such as overfishing, pollution, unsustainable tourism and poor coastal management.
- Impact of global warming: Coral reefs across the world are under relentless stress from warming caused by climate change. Coral bleaching events caused by rise in elevated sea surface temperatures (SST) were responsible for coral loss.
- Loss of hard coral cover: There has been a steady decrease in hard coral cover in the last four decades since 1978 when the world lost nine per cent of its corals. The decrease is disconcerting because live hard coral cover is an indicator of coral reef health.
- Algal bloom: Algal bloom on coral ridges are a sign of stress on the structures. Since 2010, the amount of algae on the world’s coral reefs has increased by about 20 per cent.
Why conserve corals?
- Corals occupy less than one per cent of the ocean floor but over one billion people benefit directly from the reefs.
- The value of goods and services provided by coral reefs is estimated to be $2.7 trillion per year. This includes $36 billion in coral reef tourism.
- The net economic value of the world’s coral reefs could be nearly tens of billions of dollars per year.
- Persistent rise of land and sea temperatures is a threat to corals.
- The survival of corals is likely to drop below 50 per cent if sea surface temperatures increase by one degree.
- All of the world’s reefs will bleach by the end of the century unless the world acts together to reduce carbon emissions.
What is bleaching?
Basically bleaching is when the corals expel a certain algae known as zooxanthellae, which lives in the tissues of the coral in a symbiotic relationship.
- About 90% of the energy of the coral is provided by the zooxanthellae which are endowed with chlorophyll and other pigments.
- They are responsible for the yellow or reddish brown colours of the host coral. In addition the zooxanthellae can live as endosymbionts with jellyfish also.
- When a coral bleaches, it does not die but comes pretty close to it. Some of the corals may survive the experience and recover once the sea surface temperature returns to normal levels.
Have you heard about the Coral Triangle? Reference: read this.
Did you know that there are different types of coral reefs? Reference: read this.
Sources: down to earth.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 77th Annual General Meeting approved a resolution for the global air transport industry to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
- This commitment will align with the Paris Agreement goal for global warming not to exceed 1.5°C.
Achieving net zero emissions will be a huge challenge.
- The aviation industry must progressively reduce its emissions while accommodating the growing demand of a world that is eager to fly.
- To be able to serve the needs of the ten billion people expected to fly in 2050, at least 1.8 gigatons of carbon must be abated in that year.
- Moreover, the net zero commitment implies that a cumulative total of 21.2 gigatons of carbon will be abated between now and 2050.
The resolution demands that all industry stakeholders commit to addressing the environmental impact of their policies, products, and activities with concrete actions and clear timelines, including:
- Fuel-producing companies bringing large scale, cost-competitive sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) to the market.
- Governments and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) eliminating inefficiencies in air traffic management and airspace infrastructure.
- Aircraft and engine manufacturers producing radically more efficient airframe and propulsion technologies.
- Airport operators providing the needed infrastructure to supply SAF, at cost, and in a cost-effective manner.
Which countries have announced net-zero targets?
- In 2019, the New Zealand government passed the Zero Carbon Act, which committed the country to zero carbon emissions by 2050.
- The UK’s parliament passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100 per cent.
- US president Joe Biden announced that the country will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
- World War Zero was launched in 2019 to bring together unlikely allies on climate change and with the goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions in the country by 2050.
- The European Union plan “Fit for 55”, the European Commission has asked all of its 27 member countries to cut emissions by 55 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.
- China announced that it would become net-zero by the year 2060 and that it would not allow its emissions to peak beyond what they are in 2030.
What about India?
India, the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, after the US and China, is the only major player holding out.
- India has been arguing that instead of opening up a parallel discussion on net-zero targets outside of the Paris Agreement framework, countries must focus on delivering on what they have already promised.
Over the next two to three decades, India’s emissions are likely to grow at the fastest pace in the world, as it presses for higher growth to pull hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. No amount of afforestation or reforestation would be able to compensate for the increased emissions. Most of the carbon removal technologies right now are either unreliable or very expensive.
What does net-zero mean?
Net-zero, which is also referred to as carbon-neutrality, does not mean that a country would bring down its emissions to zero. That would be gross-zero, which means reaching a state where there are no emissions at all, a scenario hard to comprehend.
- Basically, net-zero is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Know what Blue Carbon , Black Carbon and Brown Carbon is? Read Here
- About the Climate Leaders’ Summit.
- What is net-zero?
- Countries committed to net-zero.
- About Paris Agreement.
Discuss the significance of carbon sinks.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Physics Nobel 2021:
Three scientists — Syukuro Manabe (90) and Klaus Hasselmann (89) and Giorgio Parisi (73) — have been awarded the Nobel Prize for physics 2021. This is the first time climate scientists have been awarded the Physics Nobel.
- Manabe and Hasselmann were awarded for their work in “the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming”.
- Parisi was awarded for “the discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.”
A brief overview of their works:
- Manabe, starting in the 1960s, demonstrated how increases in the amount of carbon dioxide in atmosphere would increase global temperatures, laying the foundations for current climate models.
- About a decade later, Hasselmann created a model that linked weather and climate, helping explain why climate models can be reliable despite the seemingly chaotic nature of the weather. He also developed ways to look for specific signs of human influence on the climate.
- Parisi “built a deep physical and mathematical model” that made it possible to understand complex systems in fields such as mathematics, biology, neuroscience and machine learning.
Last year, scientists Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez won the Nobel physics prize for their discoveries concerning black holes.
Denmark legally binds farmers to reduce GHGs emission:
- The parliament of Denmark has approved a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in agriculture and forestry sectors by 55 and 65 per cent respectively by 2030.
- The emission target reduction is based on the GHGs emission level of 1990.
- This will be legally binding.
- The European Union has binding climate and energy targets for its members that include Denmark by 2030.
- Each member has to adopt national energy and climate plans for 2021-2030 under this.
- Denmark had adopted this plan in December 2019. The latest target is a part of this plan.
- It is an awareness drive on menstruation launched recently by Andhra Pradesh government.
- It has been launched in all government schools and colleges.
- Under the programme, sanitary napkins would be provided to over 10 lakh students studying in Classes 7 to 12.
Health Information Management System (HIMS) project:
- The Delhi Cabinet gave financial nod to its ambitious Health Information Management System (HIMS) project. As part of the project, each citizen will have a health card, which will be a repository of their medical information.
- The government said doctors will be able to see a patient’s medical history using the card and the patients will be able to make appointments from home.
- The health card will act as a unique health identifier for each individual through which everything from their medical history to appointment dates can be accessed.
- All citizens between 1 and 18 years would be issued a health card linked to their parent’s health card. All newborns (up to 1 year) would be linked to their mother’s health card.
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