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. Mullaperiyar dam issue.
2. What is Adjusted gross revenue (AGR)?
3. Afghan facing acute food crisis.
4. Israel- Palestine issue.
GS Paper 3:
1. WMO report on CO2 emissions.
2. Rohingya- an overview of the crisis.
Facts for Prelims:
1. Trigonopterus corona.
2. Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
The Supreme Court has directed the Supervisory Committee to take an immediate and firm decision on the maximum water level that can be maintained at Mullaperiyar dam, amid torrential rain in Kerala.
The SC constituted a permanent Supervisory Committee in 2014 to oversee all the issues concerning Mullaperiyar dam. The dam is a source of friction between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
What’s the issue?
- Kerala said the water level should not go above 139 feet, the same as what the court had ordered on August 24, 2018, when the State was hit by floods. It is because the lives of 50 lakh people would be in danger if the water level in the dam is raised.
- However, Tamil Nadu objected to this decision citing the Supreme Court judgments of 2006 and 2014, which fixed the maximum water level at 142 feet.
The court asked officials of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to interact responsibly and avert any danger to lives. The Court also made it clear that this was not an issue to play politics about.
- Now, the supervisory committee will have to decide about the maximum water level and inform the court about it.
Mullaperiyar Dam– what you need to know?
Although the dam is located in Kerala, it is operated by Tamil Nadu following an 1886 lease indenture for 999 years (the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement) that was signed between the Maharaja of Travancore and the Secretary of State for India for the Periyar Irrigation works.
- Constructed between 1887 and 1895, the dam redirected the river to flow towards the Bay of Bengal, instead of the Arabian Sea and provide water to the arid rain region of Madurai in Madras Presidency.
- The dam is located on the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers inKerala’s Idukki district.
What does Tamil Nadu say?
Tamil Nadu claims that although it has undertaken measures to strengthen the dam, the Kerala government has blocked any attempt to raise the reservoir water level – resulting in losses for Madurai farmers.
Kerala, however, highlights fears of devastation by residents living downstream in the earthquake-prone district of Idukki.
Scientists have argued that if there is an earthquake in the region measuring above six on the Richter scale, the lives of over three million people will come under grave danger.
What is the rule curve?
The ‘rule curve’ in a dam decides the fluctuating storage levels in a reservoir. The gate opening schedule of a dam is based on the ‘rule curve’. It is part of the “core safety” mechanism in a dam.
- Locations of Mullayar and Periyar rivers.
- Location of Mullaperiyar dam?
- Who manages the dam?
- About the 1886 Periyar Lake Lease Agreement.
- About the Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956 (IRWD Act).
Examine why the Mullaperiyar dam issue has become bone of contention between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Examine if the union government can help resolve this issue.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Government policies and issues arising out of it.
Bharti Airtel has decided to opt for the four-year moratorium on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) and spectrum payments, making it the second telco after Vodafone Idea to accept the offer, which was part of the recently announced telecom relief package.
The Union Cabinet had in September approved several measures to extend lifeline to the cash-strapped telecom sector, including a four-year moratorium on payment of dues to the government arising out of the AGR judgment as well as payments of spectrum purchased in past auctions.
- The government had asked the telecom companies to convey their decision on opting for the four-year dues moratorium by October 29, while also giving 90 days’ time to indicate if they wanted to opt for converting the interest amount pertaining to the moratorium period into equity.
What is AGR?
Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) is the usage and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). It is divided into spectrum usage charges and licensing fees, pegged between 3-5 percent and 8 percent respectively.
- As per DoT, the charges are calculated based on all revenues earned by a telco – including non-telecom related sources such as deposit interests and asset sales.
What was the relief package?
- Package includes a four-year moratorium on payment of statutory dues by telecom companies as well as allowing 100% FDI through the automatic route.
- The wide set of measures proposed entail reforms for the ailing sector by way of granting moratorium on unpaid dues, redefining Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) prospectively and cutting in Spectrum Usage Charges.
How does the package help?
- It provided much needed relaxation to telecom companies Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.
- These are expected to protect and generate employment opportunities, promote healthy competition, protect interests of consumers, infuse liquidity, encourage investment and reduce regulatory burden on Telecom Service Providers (TSPs).
- A moratorium on AGR-related dues will offer space to the cash-strapped firm to improve its business and clear dues over a longer period.
- The definition of AGR has been changed to exclude non-telecom revenue. All non-telecom revenue will be removed from AGR.
But how did the financial condition of the telcos deteriorate?
Let’s understand this in three simple steps:
- It started by and large with the differing legal interpretation of AGR. To understand this, one must go back to 1999, when the government decided to shift from a fixed to a revenue-sharing model for the telecom sector. Telecom players would pay a certain percentage of their AGR, earned from telecom and non-telecom revenues, as licence and spectrum fee.
- In 2003, the Department of Telecom (DoT) raised the demand for AGR payments. It said all revenue earned by telcos as dividend from subsidiaries, interest on short-term investments, money deducted as trader discounts, discount for calls and others, which was over and above the revenue from telecom services, would be included for calculation of AGR.
- The telcos approached the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), which in July 2006 ruled the matter must be sent back to the regulator TRAI for fresh consultation. TDSAT rejected the government’s contention, and the Centre moved the Supreme Court. While the case was still ongoing, in 2012, the Supreme Court cancelled 122 telecom licences in the 2G scam case. This prompted a revamp, with spectrum now allocated through auctions.
What was the Supreme Court verdict?
In 2019, the Supreme Court gave the first verdict in the case, holding that DoT’s definition of AGR was the correct one, and that the telcos must pay the AGR, interest and penalty on non-payment.
Do you know how spectrum auctions are held in India? Reference: read this.
- What is AGR? How is it calculated?
- What was SC’s verdict on this?
- Composition of TRAI?
- How spectrum allocation is done in India?
Discuss the challenges facing the Indian telecom sector today. What should the Government of India do to save the telecom sector?
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Executive director of the World Food Programme has said that Afghanistan is on the brink of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises with more than half the country facing “acute” food shortages.
What’s the issue?
Taliban has taken full control of Afghanistan. People have no jobs and incomes. Over 22 million Afghans will suffer food insecurity this winter as a drought driven by climate change adds to their woes. This will force them to choose between migration and starvation.
- Can have spill over to Neighbouring central Asian countries like Tajikistan, Uzbekiatan etc
- Taliban resurgence will revive extremism in the region and the region can become a safe sanctuary for Let,ISIS etc.
- Civil war in Afghanistan will lead to a refugee crisis in Central Asia and beyond.
- Afghanistan’s stability will help the Central Asian countries with the shortest access to the seaports of the Indian ocean.
- Afghanistan has been an important link in the regional trade, cultural, playing the role of a connecting bridge for Central and the rest of the world.
Why is it imperative now for India to engage with the Taliban?
- Taliban is now having a significant presence in Afghanistan.
- India is already having huge investments in Afghanistan.To secure assets worth $3 billion, India should engage with all parties in Afghanistan.
- Taliban engaging with Pak deep state will not be in India’s best interest.
- If India does not engage now Russia, Iran, Pakistan and China will emerge as the shapers of Afghanistan’s political and geopolitical destiny, which for sure will be detrimental to Indian interests.
- The U.S. has announced a new, surprise formation of a “Quad” on regional connectivity — U.S.-Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan that does not include India.
- India’s effort to trade with Afghanistan Via Chabahar port in order to increase the economy on scale.
Need of the hour:
- Urgent need to collectively act for the safety of Afghan civilians by checking violence by Taliban
- Afghanistan should be given enough space in Central Asian architectures like SCO (Shanghai cooperation organisation)
- The USA,Iran,China,and Russia should actively involve India to maintain stability in Afghanistan.
- Unified action for the refugee crisis if it arises.
- Indian engagement with Taliban to maintain peace with immediate neighbours.
Know about the US- Taliban peace deal: Click here
- About Taliban.
- Afghan Crisis.
- About NATO.
- India’s investments in Afghanistan Projects.
Discuss why India should engage with Afghanistan now.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 2:
Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Israel government has approved more than 1,300 new settlement housing units in the occupied West Bank (A territory the Palestinians seek as part of a future state).
- The move appears to run contrary to the new government’s pledge to put ideological considerations aside and reduce tensions with the Palestinians.
Israel- Palestine conflict– Historical Background:
- The conflict has been ongoing for more than 100 years between Jews and Arabs over a piece of land between Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
- It was between 1882 to 1948, when the Jews from around the world gathered in Palestine. This movement came to be known as
- Then in 1917, Ottoman Empirefell after World War 1 and the UK got control over Palestine.
- The land was inhabited by a Jewish minority and Arab majority.
- The Balfour Declarationwas issued after Britain gained control with the aim of establishing a home for the Jews in Palestine. However during that period the Arabs were in majority in Palestine.
- Jews favored the idea while the Palestinians rejected it. Almost 6 million Jews lost their lives in the Holocaustwhich also ignited further demand of a separate Jewish state.
- Jews claimed Palestine to be their natural home while the Arabs too did not leave the land and claimed it.
- The international community supported the Jews.
- In 1947, the UN voted for Palestine to be split into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem becoming an international city.
- That plan was accepted by Jewish leaders but rejected by the Arab side and never implemented.
The creation of Israel and the ‘Catastrophe’:
- It was in the year 1948 that Britain lifted its control over the area and Jews declared the creation of Israel. Although Palestinians objected, Jews did not back out which led to an armed conflict.
- The neighboring Arabs also invaded and were thrashed by the Israeli troops. This made thousands of Palestinians flee their homes. This was called Al-Nakba, or the “Catastrophe”.
- Israel had gained maximum control over the territory after this came to an end.
- Jordanthen went on a war with Israel and seized control over a part of the land which was called the West Bank, and Egypt occupied Gaza.
- Jerusalem was divided between Israel in the West and Jordan in the East.However, no formal peace agreement was signed, each side continued to blame each other for the tension and the region saw more wars.
- Israeli forces captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank, various areas of Syrian Golan Heights, Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula in the year 1967.
- Israel still occupies the West Bank, and although it pulled out of Gaza the UN still regards that piece of land as part of occupied territory.
- Israel claims the whole of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
- Tensions escalated in recent month over Israel’s actions concerning Al-Asqa mosque in East Jerusalem.
Where is the West Bank?
It is a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, bordered by Jordan to the east and by the Green Line separating it and Israel on the south, west and north. The West Bank also contains a significant section of the western Dead Sea shore.
What are the disputed settlements here? Who lives there?
- The West Bank was captured by Jordan after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
- Israel snatched it back during the Six Day War of 1967, and has occupied it ever since. During this war, the country defeated the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.
- It has built some 130 formal settlements in the West Bank, and a similar number of smaller, informal settlements have mushroomed over the last 20-25 years.
- Over 4 lakh Israeli settlers — many of them religious Zionists who claim a Biblical birthright over this land — now live here, along with some 26 lakh Palestinians.
- The territory is still a point of contention due to a large number of Palestinians who live there and hope to see the land become a part of their future state.
- When Israel took control of the land in 1967 it allowed Jewish people to move in, but Palestinians consider the West Bank illegally occupied Palestinian land.
Are these settlements illegal?
The United Nations General Assembly, the UN Security Council, and the International Court of Justice have said that the West Bank settlements are violative of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
- Under the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.
Under the Rome Statute that set up the International Criminal Court in 1998, such transfers constitute war crimes, as does the “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly”.
- What is Israel-Palestine issue?
- Contested boundaries between the two
- West bank settlement issue
- Stand taken by UN, Israel, Palestine on this issue
- Challenges posed by this issue
- India’s stand.
Discuss about the impact of Israel-Palestine issue on the region and its impact on India’s interests.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
- The increase in CO2 from 2019 to 2020 was slightly lower than that observed from 2018 to 2019 but higher than the average annual growth rate over the past decade.
- This is despite the approximately 5.6% drop in fossil fuel CO2 emissions in 2020 due to restrictions related to the pandemic.
- For methane, the increase from 2019 to 2020 was higher than that observed from 2018 to 2019 and also higher than the average annual growth rate over the past decade.
- For nitrous oxides, the increase was higher and also than the average annual growth rate over the past 10 years.
- Concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most significant greenhouse gas, reached 413.2 parts per million in 2020 and is 149% of the pre-industrial level. Methane (CH4) is 262% and nitrous oxide (N2O) is 123% of the levels in 1,750 when human activities started disrupting earth’s natural equilibrium.
- Roughly half of the CO2 emitted by human activities today remains in the atmosphere. The other half is taken up by oceans and land ecosystems.
- From 1990 to 2020, radiative forcing — the warming effect on our climate — by long-lived greenhouse gases increased by 47%, with CO2 accounting for about 80% of this increase.
- The ability of land ecosystems and oceans to act as ‘sinks’ may become less effective in future, thus reducing their ability to absorb CO2 and act as a buffer against larger temperature increase.
- At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, we will see a temperature increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris Agreement targets of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
- The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to meteorology (weather), climatology (climate), operational hydrology (water) and other related geophysical sciences such as oceanography and atmospheric chemistry.
- Predessor organization — International Meteorological Organization (IMO) — founded in 1873.
- Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.
- Status of the World Climate.
What does WMO do?
- WMO coordinates the activities of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in 191 States and Territories so that basic weather, climate and water services are made available to anyone who needs them, when they need them.
- WMO guarantees the publication of observations and statistics and furthers the application of meteorology and hydrology (including the monitoring and predictions of climate change and ozone) to all aspects of human activities such as aviation, shipping, water management and agriculture.
- WMO also encourages research and training in meteorology and hydrology and their related applications and contributes towards reducing the impact of weather- and climate-related hazards. This is accomplished through regular, reliable forecasts and early warnings on flooding, drought, tropical cyclones, tornadoes and other extreme events.
- Predictions concerning locust swarms and the transport of pollutants (nuclear and toxic substances, volcanic ash) are also provided by WMO Members.”
What is Carbon Watch— India’s 1st app to assess one’s carbon footprint? Reference: read this.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
The Karnataka Government has objected to a petition in the Supreme Court to “identify, detain and deport” Rohingya within a year, stating that there is no reason to take coercive action against or immediately deport them.
What’s the issue?
A petition has been in the High Court against the presence of illegal immigrants and infiltrators, including Rohingya, in the country.
- The petitioner recommended that “infiltration” should be made a cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offence.
Who are the Rohingya?
Described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “one of, if not the, most discriminated people in the world”, the Rohingya are one of Myanmar’s many ethnic minorities.
They numbered around one million in Myanmar at the start of 2017.
- They have their own language and culture and say they are descendants of Arab traders and other groups who have been in the region for generations.
The government of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, denies the Rohingya citizenship and even excluded them from the 2014 census, refusing to recognise them as a people.
- It sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
When did the latest crisis happen?
In August 2017, a deadly crackdown by Myanmar’s army on Rohingya Muslims sent hundreds of thousands fleeing across the border into Bangladesh.
- They risked everything to escape by sea or on foot a military offensive which the United Nations later described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
- But the army in Myanmar (formerly Burma) has said it was fighting Rohingya militants and denies targeting civilians.
What has been the international response?
- Amnesty International says the Myanmar military also raped and abused Rohingya women and girls.
- A report published by UN investigators in August 2018 accused Myanmar’s military of carrying out mass killings and rapes with “genocidal intent”.
- The ICJ case, lodged by the small Muslim-majority nation of The Gambia, in West Africa, on behalf of dozens of other Muslim countries, called for emergency measures to be taken against the Myanmar military, known as Tatmadaw, until a fuller investigation could be launched.
Where are they now?
About 860,000 Rohingya live in the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee camp in southern Bangladesh.
The Myanmar and Bangladesh governments continue to negotiate terms for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
- According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are approximately 40,000 Rohingyas living in India.
Bhasan Char (Floating Island) also known as Char Piya or Thengar Char Island, is an island in Hatiya, Bangladesh. Why is it news recently?
Can India Turn the Rohingya Crisis’ Tide? Read here,
- Who are Rohingyas?
- Location of Rakhine State.
- About the International Court of Justice.
- ICJ vs International Criminal Court.
Write a note on Rohingya Crisis.
Sources: the Hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- On the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, museum scientists have discovered 28 new species of beetles.
- One of them has been named Trigonopterus corona. This reflects the large impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on this project.
Dadasaheb Phalke Award:
- It is the country’s highest film honour conferred for “Outstanding contribution for the growth and development of Indian cinema”.
- Dadasaheb Phalke Award was introduced by the government in 1969 and it was awarded for the first time to Devika Rani, “the first lady of Indian cinema”.
- Dadasaheb Phalke directed India’s first feature film Raja Harischandra (1913). He is known as “Father of Indian Cinema”.
51st Dadasaheb Phalke Award was recently presented to Rajinikanth.
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