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Coronavirus – Economic Issues

New approach to the revival of economy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NPA, IBC.

Mains level : Paper 3- Novel approach needed to deal with the bankruptcy problem.

As our attention now shifts to the revival of the economy, we have to take stock of the damage to the economy. As recently as 2008 we have faced a financial crisis, but this crisis is bigger in the scale and our fiscal health is weaker than it was at the time of the 2008 crisis. So, to deal with the situation we have to adopt a novel approach. What should be the approach? Read further to know.

From 2014 to Covid-19 in finance and banking

  • TBS challenge: As far back as December 2014, the banking sector and infrastructure firms had come under financial stress, a problem that was termed the Twin Balance Sheet (TBS) challenge.
  • By December 2019, the problem had spread to the NBFC and real estate sectors, raising the number of stressed balance sheets to four.
  • Following the Covid-19 shock, the problem of stressed balance sheets will spread across the economy.

How bad is the damage likely to be?

  • Reports suggest that around one-third of industrial and service firms have applied for moratoria on their bank loans.
  • If only a quarter of these deferred loans eventually go bad, then the stock of non-performing assets (NPAs) would increase by Rs 5 lakh crore.
  • Senior bank officials have been quoted as estimating that the stock of NPAs could increase by as much as Rs 9 lakh crore.
  • In this case, we would be looking at NPAs of Rs 18 lakh crore, equivalent to around 18 per cent of current loans outstanding.

So, how is the situation different from 2008 financial crisis?

  • At one level, the answer is simple: The shareholders of the financial institutions, which in most cases means the government.
  • But this is where the ubiquity of the balance sheet problem comes in.
  • When the TBS challenge first materialised, after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09, the government had a relatively strong balance sheet.
  • Deficits were low, and the consolidated debt-GDP ratio, having fallen by 17 percentage points over the previous 7 years, stood at just over 60 per cent of GDP.
  • So, fiscal room was available, allowing the government to recapitalise the PSU banks.
  • This time, the government’s financial position will be quite different.
  • Central and state government deficits and debts will increase dramatically this year.
  • Revenues, already slowing, have been decimated by the Covid crisis, while expenditures have increased.
  • Add in a slowly recovering economy, and it becomes clear that the fiscal position will remain weak for some considerable time.
  • What are the options with the government? The government will want to pass the burden onto the corporate and household sectors, in the form of higher taxes, more arrears, and possibly higher inflation.
  • But these sectors will resist, for they have financial problems of their own.

2 ways to minimise the size of the loss

  • It will be tempting to delay recognising the problem, pushing it into the future, by allowing banks not to classify bad loans as NPAs, and barring them from taking defaulters to the IBC system.
  • But this would be the wrong approach and there are two ways to minimise the loss.
  • 1. Prevent bankruptcies from occurring.
  • To do this, banks will need to identify the firms that are viable, and lend them the funds they need to tide them over the immediate crisis.
  • But banks are reluctant to bear the risk of making such loans.
  • So, the government might need to create a guarantee fund to support lending.
  • 2. When firms default, resolve as quickly as possible
  • Speed is necessary because the financial position of stressed firms tends to worsen over time.
  • By definition, stressed firms have poor cash flows and can’t obtain much in the way of loans from banks.
  • So, they don’t have enough money to fund their operations properly.
  • Which means that over time their underlying business deteriorates, destroying the firms’ market value.
  • While public attention focuses on the size of the NPAs, a much more important number is the recovery rate — the degree to which the banks can recover on these loans.
  • And the only way to maximise the recovery rate is to sort out the bad loans speedily.
  • The economy will reap an additional benefit since the resolved firms will be able to contribute to the recovery.

Consider the question “As the economy stares at the destruction caused by the pandemic certain novel measures to salvage the economy are necessary. In light of this statement suggest the measures that the government should take to avoid the NPA problem from mounting.”

Conclusion

A new approach is consequently needed. The immediate problems created by the crisis must be addressed, decisively and quickly. Then the attention will have to turn to address the pre-COVID legacy balance sheet problems.


Back2Basics: What is NPA?

  • A non-performing asset (NPA) is a loan or advance for which the principal or interest payment remained overdue for a period of 90 days.
  • Banks are required to classify NPAs further into Substandard, Doubtful and Loss assets.
  • Substandard assets: Assets which has remained NPA for a period less than or equal to 12 months.
  • Doubtful assets: An asset would be classified as doubtful if it has remained in the substandard category for a period of 12 months.
  • Loss assets: As per RBI, “Loss asset is considered uncollectible and of such little value that its continuance as a bankable asset is not warranted, although there may be some salvage or recovery value.”

Coronavirus – Economic Issues

Economy and the challenges ahead

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GVA, Fiscal deficit

Mains level : Paper 3- Extent of damage to various sectors of the economy and challenges ahead for the government.

Various projections of growth paint a grim picture of the Indian economy as well as the global economy. This article analyses the sector-wise impact and comes with the GVA projections for 2020-21. The government has to deal with serious challenges like financing huge fiscal deficits. So, what will be the growth rate for 2020-21 and what will be the size of GVA? Read to know!

Projections of growth and uncertainty

  • Various institutions have assessed India’s growth prospects for 2020-21 ranging from 0.8% (Fitch)to 4.0% (Asian Development Bank).
  • This wide range indicates the extent of uncertainty and tentative nature of these forecasts.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected India’s growth at 1.9%, China’s at 1.2%, and the global growth at (-) 3.0%.
  • The actual growth outcome for India would depend on: 1) the speed at which the economy is opened up 2) the time it takes to contain the spread of virus, and, 3) the government’s policy support.

Health of India economy before the crisis

  • India slid into the novel coronavirus crisis on the back of a persistent economic downslide.
  • There was a sustained fall in the saving and investment rates with unutilised capacity in the industrial sector.
  • In 2019-20, there was a contraction in the Centre’s gross tax revenues in the first 11 months during April 2019 to February 2020, at (-) 0.8%.
  • These trends continue to beset the Indian economy in this crisis.

Growth prospects for 20-21 from the output side

  • In 2019-20, which would serve as the base year, India may show GVA growth of about 4.4%,
  • This is well below the Central Statistics Office’s second advance estimate of 9%.
  • The IMF’s GDP growth estimate for 2019-20 is at 2%.
  • GVA is divided into eight broad sectors. Although all sectors have been disrupted, some may be affected less than the others. We divide the output sectors in four groups.
  • Group A- This group is likely to suffer minimum disruption.
  • Agriculture and allied sectors, and public administration, defence.
  • Despite some labour shortage issues, agriculture sector may show near-normal performance.
  • The public and defence services have been nearly fully active, with the health services at the forefront of the the COVID-19 fight.
  • For the group A sectors, it may be possible to achieve 90% of the 2019-20 growth performance.
  • Group D- This group is likely to suffer maximum disruption.
  • This includes, trade, hotels, restaurants, travel and tourism under the broad group of “Trade, Hotels, Transport, Storage and Communications”.
  • This sector may be able to show 30% of 2019-20 growth performance.
  • Group B
  • This comprises sectors which may suffer average disruption showing 50% of 2019-20 growth performance.
  • These sectors are mining and quarrying, electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services, construction, and financial, real estate and professional services.
  • Group C
  • In this group come manufacturing which has suffered significant growth erosion in 2019-20.
  • It is feasible to stimulate this sector by supporting demand.
  • In this case a 40% performance factor on the average growth of the preceding three years is applied.

So, what are the estimates for 2020-21 GVA?

  • Considering these four groups together, a GVA growth of 2.9% is estimated for 2020-21.
  • Realising this requires strong policy support, particularly for the manufacturing sector which has a weight of 17.4%.
  • It is also based on the assumption that the Indian economy may move on to positive growth after the first quarter.
  • In the first quarter, GVA growth will be negative.

Policy support for the growth

  • Monetary policy initiatives undertaken so far include a reduction in the repo rate to 4.4%, the reverse repo rate to 3.75%, and cash reserve ratio to 3%.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has also opened several special financing facilities.
  • These measures need to be supplemented by an appropriate fiscal stimulus.
  • Cash-constrained central and State governments have taken expenditure reducing measures by announcing freezing of enhancements of dearness allowance and dearness relief.
  • This may result in savings of ₹37,000 crore for the Centre and about ₹82,000 crore for the States, together amounting to 6% of GDP.
  • There is also talk of substantially reducing non-salary defence expenditure.
  • With lower petroleum prices, fertilizer and petroleum subsidies may be reduced.
  • These expenditure cuts are contemplated to keep the fiscal deficit under some control.

Fiscal stimulus and fiscal deficit

  • Fiscal stimulus can be of three types:
  • 1) Relief expenditure for protecting the poor and the marginalised.
  • 2) Demand-supporting expenditure for increasing personal disposable incomes or government’s purchases of goods and services, including expanded health-care expenditure imposed by the novel coronavirus, and,
  • 3) Bailouts for industry and financial institutions.
  • The Centre had earlier announced a relief package of ₹1.7-lakh crore.
  • The Centre’s budgeted fiscal deficit of 3.5% of GDP may have to be enhanced substantially to 1) make up for the shortfall in budgeted revenues; 2) account for a lower than projected nominal GDP for 2020-21, 3) provide for a stimulus.
  • Thus, the Centre’s fiscal deficit may increase to 6.0% of GDP.
  • Expenditure on the construction of hospitals, roads and other infrastructure and purchase of health-related equipment and medicines require prioritisation.
  • These expenditures will have high multiplier effects.
  • Similar initiatives may be undertaken by the State governments which may also enhance their combined fiscal deficit to about 0% of GDP to account for 3.0% of GDP under their respective Fiscal Responsibility Legislation/Law and to provide for the shortfall in their revenues and some stimulus.

Challenges

  • Financing of the fiscal deficit poses a major challenge this year.
  • On the demand side, the Central (6.0%) and State governments (4.0%) and Central and State public sector undertakings (3.5%).
  • These together present a total public sector borrowing requirement (PSBR) of 13.5% of GDP.
  • Against this, the total available resources may at best be 9.5% of GDP.
  • The gap of 4.0% points of GDP may result in increased cost of borrowing for the Central and State governments.

Consider the question, “Examine the sector-wise damage caused to the economy due to Covid-19 pandemic. What were the fiscal and monetary measures taken to mitigate the damage and challenges faced by the government in meeting the required revenue demands.”

Conclusion

The gap in requirement of resources and availability may be bridged by enhancing net capital inflows including borrowing from abroad and by monetising some part of the Centre’s deficit. The monetisation of debt can at best be a one-time effort. This cannot become a general practice. 


Back2Basics: What is GVA?

  • GVA it is a measure of total output and income in the economy.
  • It provides the rupee value for the amount of goods and services produced in an economy after deducting the cost of inputs and raw materials that have gone into the production of those goods and services.
  • It also gives sector-specific picture like what is the growth in an area, industry or sector of an economy.
  • While GVA gives a picture of the state of economic activity from the producers’ side or supply side, the GDP gives the picture from the consumers’ side or demand perspective.
  • Both measures need not match because of the difference in treatment of net taxes.
  • GDP = GVA + taxes on products – subsidies on products

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Opportunity for India in changing global order

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Changing global order presents opportunities for India.

The world is going through a transition phase. We are experiencing the rise of new powers and the decline of the old. India has to navigate its path through this changing order keeping its interests in mind. The double opportunity in current scenario for India is explained in the article. To know more about it, continue reading.

The changing global stage

  • The world today is fragmenting and slowing down economically.
  • Asia-Pacific is the new economic and political centre of the world with the rise of China, India and other powers — Indonesia, South Korea, Iran, Vietnam.
  • Rapid shifts in the balance of power in the region have led to arms races and the US’s “America First” attitude has led to rising uncertainty.
  • China-U.S. strategic contention is growing, uninhibited so far by their economic co-dependence.
  • As China seeks primacy in a world so far dominated by the U.S., the world faces a destabilising power transition which may or may not be completed.

What should India’s response be to the new situation?

Alliance with the US?

  • Many experts advocate that India should enter into an alliance with the U.S in the wake of rising China.
  • But India is much greater and more resilient than these people think.
  • Also, the aim of foreign and security policies of India has been the pursuit of strategic autonomy for India.
  • Thus, in the present situation, India should retain the above initiative and not get entangled in others’ quarrels. (i.e. the US-China quarrel)
  • Also, India should focus on pursuing its own national interest in this disorganized and uncertain world by creative diplomacy and flexibility.
  • An alliance seems to be exactly the wrong answer.

China challenge

  • One way to handle China could be to see whether the two countries can evolve a new modus vivendi.
  • This new modus vivendi shall replace the one that was formalised in the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi visit.
  • The old framework is no longer working and the signs of stress in the relationship are everywhere.
  • The more India rises, the more it must expect Chinese opposition.
  • So, India will have to work with other powers to ensure that its interests are protected in the neighbourhood, the region and the world.
  • The complexity of India-China relations suggests there is a scope for new modus vivendi.
  • This would require a high-level strategic dialogue between the two sides about their core interests, red lines, differences and areas of convergence.

What India can do to keep the region multi-polar?

  • As U.S. is withdrawing from the world, it will no longer be the upholder of international, economic and political order.
  • There is uncertainty over how the US will choose to deal with China.
  • India must work with other powers to ensure that this region stays multi-polar and that China behaves responsibly.

Double opportunity for India

  • 1. Opportunity in the US-China contention
  • US-China contention will continue in future. Hence, both China and the U.S. will look to put other conflicts (eg: conflicts with India on trade or border issue) and tensions on the back burner.
  • This effect is already perceptible in the Wuhan meeting between China’s President Xi Jinping and Mr. Modi in early 2018.
  • And the apparent truce and dialing back of rhetoric by both India and China.
  • 2. Opportunity to Change national security Structures
  • Today, India is more dependent on the outside world than ever before.
  • It relies on the world for energy, technology, essential goods like fertilizer and coal, commodities, access to markets, and capital.
  • Adding the new security agenda and the contested global commons in outer and cyberspace and the high seas to India’s traditional state-centred security concerns gives India a sense of insecurity.
  • So, India needs to adapt to the changes and avoid imitating China.

Consider the question-“The global order is experiencing geopolitical churn, new powers are rising and older are staring at the decline. In such a scenario, examine the opportunities India can explore in the context of the US-China contention”.

Conclusion

India risks missing the bus to becoming a developed country if it continues business and politics as usual. The most important improvement that India needs to make concerns its national security structures and their work — introducing flexibility into India’s thinking and India’s structures. For change is the only certainty in life.

Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

What is Stringency Index?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Stringency Index

Mains level : Effectiveness of the nationwide lockdown and its shortcomings

India enforced one of the strongest lockdowns at an early phase of case growth. Now, an index created by the University of Oxford quantifies that.

The Stringency Index provides a computable parameter to evaluate the effectiveness of the nationwide lockdown in India.

What is Stringency Index?

  • It is among the metrics being used by the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker.
  • The Tracker involves a team of 100 Oxford community members who have continuously updated a database of 17 indicators of government response.
  • These indicators examine containment policies such as school and workplace closings, public events, public transport, stay-at-home policies.
  • The Stringency Index is a number from 0 to 100 that reflects these indicators. A higher index score indicates a higher level of stringency.

What does the Stringency Index tell us?

  • It provides a picture of the stage at which any country enforced its strongest measures.
  • Oxford provides an overlay of countries’ death curve and their stringency score.
  • Some countries saw their deaths just begin to flatten as they reached their highest stringency, such as Italy, Spain, or France.
  • As China pulled stronger measures, its death curve plateaued.
  • In countries such as the UK, the US, and India, the Oxford graphs find that the death curve has not flattened after strictest measures were enforced.

How does India compare with others?

  • The Index has found that India indeed had one of the strongest lockdown measures in the world — at a 100 score since March 22.
  • When compared to other countries with the similar or higher caseload, India called its strict lockdown at a much earlier point on its case and death curves.
  • These 18 other countries had more than 500 cases when they called their strictest lockdown, while India had 320.
  • Again, India had only four deaths on March 22, when its score reached 100, while most countries had more deaths at that point (except Switzerland; no deaths).
  • Spain called for its strictest measures later in its case and death count than all others. Sweden has had the most liberal measures in this set, and Iran the second most liberal.

Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

The Resistance Front (TRF)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UAPA

Mains level : ‘The Resistance Front’

 

(Image Source: The Economic Times)

 

A newly floated outfit, the Resistance Front, has come under the scanner of enforcement agencies for its suspected links with the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

This is a very significant development with respect to India’s concern against terrorism. Terrorism and the terror outfits are increasingly becoming more institutionalized and ‘the Resistance Front’ is an another move towards it.

‘The Resistance Front’

  • TRF, which is owning up terror attacks in Kashmir these days, is an offshoot of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba and is also associated with other terror outfits such as Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed.
  • Various reports claim that after the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K, Pakistan decided to increase the terror activities in the Valley.
  • However, facing international pressure and to protect itself from being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Pakistan decided to launch a new terror group with a new identity.
  • Various Indian security agencies operating in Kashmir feel that the ‘TRF’ was formed due to the pressure on Pakistan from the FATF to cut down on the funding of the terrorist groups.

A new strategy justifying terrorism

  • The word ‘resistance’ has been used by Pakistan and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to put in place a new strategy for supporting terrorism against India.
  • Pakistan’s plan is to rebrand the terrorists operating under the umbrella of JeM, LeT and Hizbul as “non-religious” rebellion.
  • Pakistan wants to project Kashmiri terrorism as a resistance movement by Kashmiris. So far Hizbul and LeT have come under TRF’s umbrella.

Must read:

Explained: Amendments to the UAPA


Back2Basics: What is the FATF?

  • FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.
  • The FATF Secretariat is housed at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) headquarters in Paris.
  • It holds three Plenary meetings in the course of each of its 12-month rotating presidencies.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Risk of Early Locusts Attacks: A new concern

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Locusts invasion

Mains level : Locusts invasion and its threats

Locusts normally arrive during July-October but have already been spotted in Rajasthan. At a time India is battling COVID, they present a new worry with their potential for exponential growth and crop destruction.

Along with being a disaster issue, Locust attack is also a challenge for India’s food security. Discuss what socio – economic and technological ways can be adopted to tackle this menance.

What exactly are Locusts?

  • The desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a short-horned grasshopper that is innocuous while it is in a “solitary phase” and moving about independently.
  • These winged insects differ from normal hoppers and become dangerous only when their populations build up rapidly and the close physical contact in crowded conditions triggers behavioural changes.
  • They, then, enter the “gregarious phase”, by grouping into bands and forming swarms that can travel great distances (up to 150 km daily), while eating up every bit of vegetation on the way.
  • If not controlled at the right time, these insect swarms can threaten the food security of countries.

How seriously should the first sightings be viewed?

  • The damage potential of locusts has been limited in India only because of the country hosting a single breeding season — unlike Pakistan, Iran and East Africa, where they also multiply during January-June.
  • There’s nothing much to worry right now, as the rabi crop has already been harvested and farmers are yet to commence plantings for the new Kharif season.
  • The locusts’ bands so observed are less populated. But their timing, though, is cause for concern.
  • The normal breeding season for locusts in India is July-October. But this time, they have been sighted by mid-April.
  • Last year, too, they were seen towards end-May as isolated grasshoppers.
  • The longer time to breed is more conducive for a build-up of gregarious insect swarms, as opposed to solitary, innocuous hoppers.

Control measures in India

  • India has a Locust Control and Research scheme that is being implemented through the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), established in 1939.
  • It was amalgamated in 1946 with the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage (PPQS) of the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • The LWO’s responsibility is monitoring and control of the locust situation in Scheduled Desert Areas mainly in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and partly in Punjab and Haryana.
  • The LWO publishes a fortnightly bulletin on the locust situation.

What kind of damage can they cause?

  • Locusts are polyphagous, i.e. they can feed on a wide variety of crops.
  • Secondly, they have the ability to multiply rapidly. A single female desert locust lays 60-80 eggs thrice during its roughly 90-day life cycle.
  • It is estimated that a 1-square-km area can accommodate 40-80 million of these insects, making the growth of their swarms exponential quite like the Covid-19 virus.

What is the genesis of the present locust upsurge, particularly in East Africa?

  • It lies in the Mekunu and Luban cyclonic storms of May and October 2018 that struck Oman and Yemen, respectively.
  • These turned large desert areas in remote parts of the southern Arabian Peninsula into lakes, which allowed the insects to breed undetected across multiple generations.
  • The swarms attacking crops in East Africa reached peak populations from November onwards while building up since the start of this year in southern Iran and Pakistan.
  • Widespread rains in East Africa in late March and April have enabled further breeding.
  • Prior to that, the locusts from spring breeding areas of southwest Pakistan and southern Iran would arrive in Rajasthan and Gujarat during May-June.
  • They would, then, breed with the onset of the southwest monsoon rains and continue doing so through the Kharif cropping season.

What can and should be done?

  • If the monsoon is good, and in the absence of control operations, the magnitude of attack could be worse than in the 2019-20 rabi season.
  • The last year’s locust incursions were the first and most significant since 1993.
  • Local authorities in Rajasthan and Gujarat had to treat over 4.30 lakh hectares of infested areas with sprayers mounted on tractors and other vehicles.

Pesticides give better control

  • The old generation organophosphate insecticides such as Malathion (96% ultra-low volume aerial application) are effective against locusts.
  • About one litre of the chemical is necessary to treat a hectare of their breeding areas, including trees where they halt for the night.
  • There is ample stock of pesticides to control any swarms in India.

Click here to read about the complete genesis of Locusts and their origin:

Locust Invasions and its mitigation

Air Pollution

What is Urban Ozone?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Urban Ozone

Mains level : Good and Bad Ozone

A Manchester (UK) based research has found that the nationwide lockdown may be leading to the generation of a dangerous pollutant, urban ozone.

The Ozone is formed due to different factors in the Troposphere and the Stratosphere (where the ozone acts as a protective layer). Note these differences from prelims perspective.

Urban Ozone

  • The photochemical production of ozone may become more important in urban areas during summertime in these low conditions of oxides of nitrogen.
  • As nitrogen oxides reduce, photochemical production may become more efficient and can lead to higher ozone concentrations in the summertime.
  • The higher summer temperatures increase emissions of biogenic hydrocarbon from natural sources such as trees. These biogenic hydrocarbons significantly affect urban ozone levels.
  • While ozone is important for screening harmful solar UV radiation when present higher up in the atmosphere, it can be a danger at the Earth’s surface and can react to destroy or alter many biological molecules.

Back2Basics: Ozone Gas

  • It is a gas that occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level.
  • Ozone occurs in two layers of the atmosphere. The layer closest to the Earth’s surface is the troposphere.
  • Here, ground-level or “bad” ozone is an air pollutant that is harmful to breathe and it damages crops, trees and other vegetation. It is the main ingredient of urban smog.
  • The stratospheric or “good” ozone protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Formation of Ozone

  • Ozone is produced naturally in the stratosphere when highly energetic solar radiation strikes molecules of oxygen, and cause the two oxygen atoms to split apart in a process called photolysis. If a freed atom collides with another O2, it joins up, forming ozone.
  • The majority of tropospheric ozone formation occurs when nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), react in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight, specifically the UV spectrum.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Mass Hatching of Olive Ridley Turtles begins

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Arribadas, Olive Ridley Turtles

Mains level : Not Much

Mass hatching of Olive Ridley turtles began at Odisha’s Rushikulya rookery, a major nesting site of these marine turtles.

Mass hatching of Olive Ridley turtles is a very celebrated news every year. Also make sure to look at the Rivers system in the region from the map above.

Olive Ridley Turtles

  • The Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, is a medium-sized species of sea turtle found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
  • In the Indian Ocean, the majority of olive ridleys nest in two or three large groups at Rushikulya rookery near Gahirmatha in Odisha.
  • The coast of Odisha in India is the largest mass nesting site for the olive ridley, followed by the coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica.
  • The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, Appendix 1 in CITES, and Schedule 1 in Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Special feature: Mass nesting

  • They are best known for their behaviour of synchronized nesting in mass numbers, termed Arribadas.
  • Interestingly, females return to the very same beach from where they first hatched, to lay their eggs.
  • They lay their eggs in conical nests about one and a half feet deep which they laboriously dig with their hind flippers.
  • They hatch in 45 to 60 days, depending on the temperature of the sand and atmosphere during the incubation period.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Rare Black Panther spotted in Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary

Mains level : Not Much

A rare Black Panther was spotted in the Netravali WLS in South Goa.

There are many WLS and National Park in the tiny state of Goa. Unlike others, they rarely find any mention in news. Here a quick revision for you.

Make sure to locate them on map.

  • Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary,

  • Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary,

  • Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary,

  • Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary,

  • Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary,

  • Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary,

  • Anshi National Park.

Black Panther

  • Black Panther or Black Leopard is a color variant of spotted Indian leopards, reported from densely forested areas of south India, mostly from the state of Karnataka.
  • A black panther is the melanistic colour variant of any Panthera, particularly of the leopard (P. pardus) in Asia and Africa, and the jaguar (P. onca) in the Americas.
  • They are also known as the ghost of the forest.

About Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary is located in South-Eastern Goa, India.
  • It constitutes one of the vital corridors of the Western Ghats and covers an area of about 211 sq.km.
  • Netravali or Neturli is an important tributary of River Zuari, which originates in the sanctuary.
  • Forests mostly consist of moist deciduous vegetation interspersed with evergreen and semi-evergreen habitat; there are also two all-season waterfalls in the sanctuary.
  • The Gaur or Indian Bison, Malabar giant squirrel, four-horned antelope or chousingha, leopard, black sloth bear along with a host of other predators and herbivores find home in the sanctuary.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

[pib] Kailash – Mansarovar Yatra Route from Dharchula to Lipulekh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various passes in news, BRO

Mains level : India's border connectivity and the role of BRO

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has completed the construction of road from Dharchula to Lipulekh along the China Border, famously known as Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra Route.

We can expect a prelims question asking to arrange few passes from West to East or vice versa. Click here to get through all such Himalayan Passes.

Darchula – Lipulekh road

  • The road is an extension of Pithoragarh-Tawaghat-Ghatiabagarh road. In this 80 Km road, the altitude rises from 6000 feet to 17,060 feet.
  • It originates from Ghatiabagarh in Uttarakhand and terminates at Lipulekh Pass, the gateway to Kailash Mansarovar.
  • With the completion of this project, the arduous trek through treacherous high-altitude terrain can now be avoided by the Pilgrims of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and the period of journey will be reduced by many days.

(Note: The Lipulekh Pass links Uttarakhand with China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region.)

Significance

  • At present, the travel to Kailash Mansarovar takes around two to three weeks through Sikkim or Nepal routes.
  • Lipulekh route had a trek of 90 Km through high altitude terrain and the elderly yartris faced lot of difficulties.
  • Now, this yatra will get completed by vehicles.

Also read:

The Northern and Northeastern Mountains | Part 2


Back2Basics: Border Roads Organisation (BRO)

  • The BRO develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighboring countries and functions under the Ministry of Defence.
  • It is entrusted for construction of Roads, Bridges, Tunnels, Causeways, Helipads and Airfields along the borders.
  • Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service (BRES) and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
  • It is also staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers on extra regimental employment.
  • The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometers of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.