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[Mission 2024] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 06 December 2023

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 ina 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 1:

  1. World Soil Day: Soil Degradation

 

Content for Mains Enrichment

  1. Football Heading

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. India set to become 3rd largest economy by 2030
  2. Action plan to reduce emissions from the cooling sector
  3. How does GPS work
  4. WHO Global Clinical Trials Forum
  5. ASPEX: ISRO’s Aditya L1 spacecraft
  6. SURVEY VESSEL – SANDHAYAK

 

Mapping

  1. Mount Merapi (Indonesia)

 


 

World Soil Day: Soil Degradation

GS1/GS3 Paper 

 Syllabus: Environment Conservation

 

Source: DTE

 Context: The article emphasizes the importance of preserving and restoring soil health for a sustainable future, especially given the threats posed by human activities and decreasing soil productivity.

 

How Soil is formed? 

Soil formation involves the gradual breakdown of rocks and the incorporation of organic material, leading to a medium that sustains plant and animal life.

 

Primary Factors of Soil Formation:

Factors Description Example
1. Parent Material Refers to the original rock or organic material undergoing weathering to form soil. It influences soil fertility, texture, and structure. Limestone parent material leads to alkaline soils, while granite leads to acidic soils.
2. Climate Temperature and precipitation play a crucial role. Temperature affects weathering rates, and precipitation influences soil moisture and erosion. Tropical climates with high temperatures and rainfall lead to rapid weathering and nutrient leaching, resulting in nutrient-poor soils.
3. Living Organisms Flora, fauna, and microorganisms contribute by decomposing organic matter, enriching soil with nutrients, and influencing soil structure. Earthworms aerate the soil and contribute to nutrient cycling, enhancing soil fertility.
4. Topography Landscape shape and slope impact water drainage, sunlight exposure, and erosion, affecting soil development. Steep slopes often have thinner soils due to increased erosion, while flat areas may have thicker, more developed soils.
5. Time Soil formation is a slow process, and time determines the maturity of the soil. Soils undergo changes and reach different stages of development. Older soils typically have well-defined layers or horizons, each with distinct characteristics.

 

Implications of Soil Degradation:

Implications Description
1. For Agriculture
a. Reduced Crop Yields Soil degradation lowers fertility, leading to decreased crop yields, as seen in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
b. Increased Irrigation Needs Degraded soils often have reduced water retention, necessitating more irrigation, contributing to over-reliance on water resources in areas like California.
c. Pest and Disease Increase Poor soil health creates susceptibility to pests and diseases, particularly in monoculture practices.
d. Soil Erosion Intensive farming practices contribute to soil erosion, exemplified by the Dust Bowl in the U.S. during the 1930s.
e. Increased Costs Farmers incur higher costs for fertilizers and soil amendments to compensate for poor soil quality, affecting economic sustainability.
2. For Food Security
a. Vulnerability to Climate Change Degraded soils are less resilient to climate shocks, posing a risk to food production in regions prone to droughts or floods.
b. Nutritional Quality Decline Soils lacking nutrients result in crops with lower nutritional value, impacting human health.
c. Dependency on Imports Countries facing severe soil degradation may become more reliant on food imports, observed in some Middle Eastern nations.
d. Price Fluctuations Reduced agricultural productivity can lead to higher food prices, disproportionately affecting low-income populations.
e. Increased Risk of Famine Extreme cases, like in the Horn of Africa, may witness soil degradation contributing to famine when combined with other factors.
3. For Biodiversity
a. Loss of Habitat Soil degradation contributes to habitat loss, notably in regions like the Amazon rainforest.
b. Reduced Plant Diversity Poor soil health negatively impacts plant diversity, influencing the entire ecosystem.
c. Altered Ecosystem Services Degraded soils affect water regulation and purification, disrupting local ecosystems.
d. Increased Invasiveness of Species Weakened ecosystems become more susceptible to invasive species, impacting local biodiversity.
e. Pollinator Decline Soil degradation affects flowering plants, contributing to the decline of pollinator species such as bees.

 

Remedial Measures:

Scientists recommend soil-centric agriculture:

  • Adopt conservation practices: no-till, residue mulch, crop rotations, and integrated crops with trees and livestock.
  • Discourage broadcasting fertilizers; promote seed-cum-fertilizer drill machines for water efficiency.
  • Use cover crops, mulching, and agroforestry; adopt smart soil solutions like Bhoomitra and Krishi-RASTAA.
  • Promote practices enhancing sequestration and crop diversification.
  • Eliminate farm residue burning; adopt direct-seeded and aerobic rice.
  • Reduce chemical use; employ precision agriculture, digital innovations, robotics, and AI.
  • Practice carbon farming for emissions offset and soil restoration.
  • Reclaim saline, alkaline, and acidic soils; use micronutrients and biofertilizers.
  • Mechanize deep placement of fertilizers for efficiency.
  • Integrate nutrient management using organic and mineral fertilizers for improved soil health.
  • Use happy turbo seeder for in situ straw conservation and increased SOC.
  • Water Conservation Techniques: Using drip irrigation and rainwater harvesting can reduce water waste and improve soil quality.
  • Integrated Pest Management: Reducing chemical use and encouraging biological pest control can help maintain soil health.
  • Education and Policy Support: Educating farmers about sustainable practices and providing policy support for sustainable agriculture can help in long-term soil conservation.

 

Case Study: The Loess Plateau Restoration, China

The Loess Plateau, located in northern China, is one of the world’s most eroded regions. It was historically known for its extremely fertile soil, but centuries of agricultural overuse and deforestation led to severe soil erosion, reduced agricultural productivity, and widespread poverty.

The Restoration Project: In 1994, the Chinese government, with support from the World Bank, initiated the Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation Project. The project’s goals were: To reduce soil erosion, increase agricultural productivity and improve local incomes and living conditions.

Key strategies included:

·        Terracing: Large areas were terraced to reduce soil erosion and increase land for agriculture.

·        Reforestation and Afforestation: Millions of trees were planted to stabilize the soil and restore ecological balance.

·        Changing Agricultural Practices: Farmers were taught sustainable agricultural practices, such as crop rotation and the use of organic fertilizers.

·        Restricting Grazing: Grazing was restricted in certain areas to allow vegetation to recover.

 Results: The project was remarkably successful.

·        By the mid-2000s: Soil erosion significantly decreased.

·        Agricultural productivity improved, with marked increases in crop yields.

·        Biodiversity returned to previously degraded areas.

·        The economic condition of local populations improved, with significant reductions in poverty

 

 

Conclusion:

India’s development trajectory must prioritize soil health as a fundamental component of sustainable growth. By doing so, the nation can ensure that future generations inherit fertile and productive land, safeguarding both the environment and its people’s well-being.

 

 

About World Soil Day (WSD):

 

It is observed annually on December 5, emphasising the significance of healthy soil and advocating for sustainable soil management. Proposed by the International Union of Soil Sciences in 2002, it was formally established under the Global Soil Partnership, with FAO’s support. The UN General Assembly designated December 5, 2014, as the first official World Soil Day, commemorating the late King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej’s commitment to sustainable soil management. The theme for this year is “Soil and Water: A Source of Life.”

 

Insta Links:

Problems of Soil

Football Heading

Content for Mains Enrichment

 

Source: TH

 Context: New research suggests a link between soccer heading, the act of players hitting the ball with their head, and a measurable decline in the microstructure and function of the brain over a two-year period.

 

Additionally, high heading levels were linked to a decline in verbal learning performance.

  

Impact of other sports training:

Type of Sports Training Impact on Body
High-impact sports (e.g., Football, Rugby) Increased risk of joint injuries, concussions, and musculoskeletal trauma.
Endurance Training (e.g., Long-distance Running) Potential for overuse injuries, stress fractures, and cardiovascular strain.
Heavy Weightlifting Risk of musculoskeletal injuries, strains, and joint stress.
Contact Sports (e.g., Boxing, MMA) Increased likelihood of head injuries, concussions, and long-term neurological effects.
Overtraining Fatigue, increased susceptibility to illness, and risk of burnout.
Inadequate Warm-up or Stretching Higher risk of strains, sprains, and muscle injuries.
Improper Technique or Form Increased chance of acute injuries and long-term damage.
Inadequate Recovery Risk of overtraining, decreased performance, and increased vulnerability to injuries.

 

Usage: The example can be used to show the importance of having a balance in our lives. E.g., in sports, training is as important as realising our body limit and taking adequate recovery.

India set to become 3rd largest economy by 2030

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: Business Line

 

Context:  S&P Global predicts that India will become the third-largest economy globally by 2030, with a forecasted nominal GDP rise from $3.5 trillion in 2022 to $7.3 trillion in 2030.

  • Currently, India holds the fifth position, with the United States, China, Germany, and Japan ahead.
  • S&P Global emphasizes the importance of India becoming a global manufacturing hub and highlights the need for a robust logistics framework, upskilling of workers, and increased female workforce participation.
  • The agency also expects growth in India’s high-growth startup ecosystem, especially in financial and consumer technology, and foresees expansion in the automotive sector.

Action plan to reduce emissions from the cooling sector

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: DTE

 Context: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has proposed an action plan to make the global cooling sector more sustainable, aiming to reduce predicted greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2050.

  • The cooling sector, vital for combatting rising temperatures, maintaining food quality, and supporting economies, currently accounts for 20% of electricity use.
  • Without intervention, the installed capacity of cooling equipment is projected to triple by 2050, resulting in a doubling of electricity consumption and emissions of 4.4 to 6.1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
  • The proposed measures include passive cooling, higher energy efficiency standards, and an accelerated phasedown of climate-warming refrigerants.
  • The action plan also calls for a faster phasedown of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), exceeding the requirements of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

How does GPS work

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 

Context: The article discusses the functionality and significance of the Global Positioning System (GPS).

  • Established by the U.S. Department of Défense in 1973, GPS is a constellation of 24 satellites orbiting the Earth, providing location information through a network of ground control stations and user devices.

 

Functioning:

  • The GPS system consists of three main segments: the space segment with 24 satellites in six orbits, the control segment managing satellite performance and commands, and the user segment incorporating GPS across various sectors like agriculture, construction, military operations, and more.
  • The satellites emit radio signals at specific frequencies (L1 and L2) with encoded information about their location and time.
  • GPS receivers on devices, like smartphones, pick up these signals to calculate the distance from satellites and, by triangulation, determine the user’s precise location in three dimensions of space and one of time.

Other Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) worldwide, such as GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou, operate alongside GPS.

 

India’s has developed NavIC system, comprising seven satellites with rubidium atomic clocks, and the GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) system, developed for civil aviation applications.

WHO Global Clinical Trials Forum

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: WHO

 Context: The first WHO Global Clinical Trials Forum, held on November 20-21, 2023, brought together around 130 experts from 43 countries to discuss and develop a global vision for sustainable clinical research infrastructure.

Aim: The forum aimed to strengthen clinical research capabilities aligned with the World Health Assembly resolution, focusing on improving the quality and coordination of clinical trials.

 

What are Clinical trials?

They are research studies conducted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of medical treatments, interventions, or drugs in humans. These trials aim to gather data on the effectiveness and potential side effects of new or existing treatments and contribute to the development of evidence-based medical practices.

What is CTRI? 

The Clinical Trials Registry – India (CTRI) (est. 2007; maintained by ICMR (under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) a national clinical trial registry in India.

  • It is mandatory to register for every trial at CTRIbefore commencing
  • CTRI is a free online public record systemfor the registration of clinical trials (both public and private research) conducted in India.

The government recently (in June) passed an amendment to the New Drugs and Clinical Trial Rules (2023) that permits researchers to utilize non-animal and human-relevant methods for testing the safety and effectiveness of new drugs. 

ASPEX: ISRO’s Aditya L1 spacecraft

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TOI

 Context: ISRO’s Aditya L1 spacecraft, launched in September to explore the Sun, has activated its second instrument, ASPEX (Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment).

 

What is ASPEX?

ASPEX, or the Aditya Solar Wind Particle Experiment, is a scientific instrument on ISRO’s Aditya L1 spacecraft designed to study solar wind particles. It comprises tools such as the ‘Solar Wind Ion Spectrometer’ (SWIS) and the ‘Suprathermal and Energetic Particle Spectrometer’ (STEPS).

SWIS measures charged particles (ions) from the Sun, offering a broad view, while STEPS focuses on studying high-energy particles emitted by the Sun. ASPEX plays a crucial role in understanding space weather and its potential impact on communication systems and power grids on Earth.

SURVEY VESSEL – SANDHAYAK

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB

 

Context: The first of four Survey Vessel (Large) ships, Sandhayak, constructed at Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata, was delivered to the Indian Navy.

Feature Details
Purpose Intended for full-scale coastal and deep-water hydrographic surveys of port and harbour approaches, determining navigational channels and routes.
Zone of Operation The zone of operation includes maritime limits up to the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the extended continental shelf.
Data Collection The ships have the capability to collect oceanographic and geophysical data for defence and civil applications.
Hydrographic Equipment Equipped with advanced hydrographic equipment, including: – Data Acquisition and Processing System – Autonomous Underwater Vehicle – Remotely Operated Vehicle – DGPS Long-range positioning systems – Digital side-scan sonar
Propulsion Propelled by two diesel engines.
Speed Capable of achieving speeds exceeding 18 knots.
Indigenous Content The ship boasts over 80% indigenous content by cost.
Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Commitment The delivery of Sandhayak highlights the commitment of the Indian government and navy to ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’ (Self-reliant India).

Mount Merapi (Indonesia)

Mapping

 

Source: TOI


Context:
Indonesia’s Mount Merapi erupted on Sumatra Island, resulting in the tragic death of at least 11 hikers out of a group of 26, with three successfully rescued.

The eruption sent a 3,000-meter ash column into the sky, causing volcanic debris to impact nearby villages.

 

About Mount Merapi 

Mount Merapi, is an active stratovolcano located on the border between the province of Central Java and the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It is the most active volcano in Indonesia and has erupted regularly since 1548. Indonesia, situated on the subduction zone (the Indo-Australian Plate is subducting under the Eurasian Plate), part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, experiences frequent volcanic and seismic events.

 

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