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Managing natural resources

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MGNREGA

Mains level : Paper 3- Managing natural resources

Context

A project in Meghalaya empowers communities to take informed action pertaining to their environment.

Depletion of natural resources in Meghalaya

  • In recent years, many parts of Meghalaya have witnessed the loss of forest cover and natural resources have rapidly deteriorated.
  • The State, known to have spots designated as the ‘wettest places’ on earth, is now facing a severe water crisis.
  • Natural resource management becomes critical in this context.

Challenges in natural resource management

  • Traditional practices on sustainable use of natural resources have been passed down from one generation to another.
  • Overexploitation: This indigenous knowledge began to slowly fade, however, owing to population growth,  the quest for unsustainable developmental activities, and indiscriminate exploitation of natural resources.
  • Inaccessibility of knowledge: Another roadblock to natural resource management was knowledge inaccessibility among rural communities.

Providing knowledge: Landscape Management Project

  • The government wanted to see if, when provided with the correct knowledge, solutions to problems can be devised and even implemented by community members themselves.
  • The World Bank-supported Meghalaya Community-Led Landscape Management Project seeks to reactivating the community’s connection to natural resources and enabling them to tackle the resource crisis.
  • How the project worked: cross-functional teams with diverse expertise were set up.
  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme became the main scheme channelizing resources to impact poor households so that there was systematic convergence of all line departments such as agriculture, horticulture, soil, and water conservation.
  • The programme leverages technology and the youth population.
  • Leveraging technology, more than 2,000 village community facilitators have already been trained and are working towards climate change reversal.
  • Autonomy: To build autonomy, simple tools are used.
  • They have been designed keeping in mind many things: creating community agency, building the capacities of all persons in the programme, and ensuring frequent interactions among them.
  • Leveraging technology: Technology empowers them with real-time data, which in turn results in better programme governance, transparency, and accountability.
  • Communities are now able to articulate the complexities of their problems through a scientific lens and create their own natural resource management plans.
  • To carry forward this momentum, there is a plan to launch a Centre of Excellence in Meghalaya, a one-stop centre for natural resources management.

Conclusion

The project intends to empower thousands of village community facilitators and enable them to articulate the complexities of their problems through a scientific lens and create their own natural resource management plans.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Afghanistan

India must rethink ‘wait and watch’ Afghan policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Panjshir valley

Mains level : Paper 2- India's approach towards Taliban

Context

After the collapse of the government in Kabul, India has adopted a wait and watch approach in its dealing with the Taliban.

Taliban’s position in Afghanistan

  • The Taliban grip over Afghanistan will only strengthen unless there is a popular revolt against it in the cities.
  • The Panjshiri defiance is unlikely to go anywhere without considerable and abiding support from the US and a firm commitment from Tajikistan.
  • After a talk between leaders of the extinguished Afghan Republic and the Taliban on central government formation, there has been no news of the process for more than a week.
  • There is continuous pressure on Taliban leaders and Pakistan from the Western donor community for the formation of a government acceptable to it.
  • Some Taliban leaders would want financial flows to continue to prevent a collapse of the Afghan economy.

The approach of the international community toward the Taliban

  • Assurances would be sought from the Taliban not only by the West but also by Russia and China that there will be no attempt to put in place the 1990s practices of the Islamic Emirate on gender issues and the more medieval manifestations of the Sharia.
  • Commitment to anti-terrorism: US will keep close scrutiny on the Taliban to honor its commitment to al Qaeda and will demand that it continues to cooperate on ISIS-K extermination, an objective shared by Russia.
  • Diplomatic recognition of a Taliban government, including allowing it to occupy the United Nations seat in the forthcoming future will depend on its acceptability.
  • However, the US and EU will not be reluctant to maintain open and direct contact with a Taliban government.

Issues with India’s wait and watch policy

  • India continues to “wait and watch” Afghan developments.
  • What is being overlooked is that “strategic patience” cannot be an alibi for inaction.
  • The invocation of the British Raj policy of “masterly inactivity” by some scholars defies logic for it applied in a completely different context.
  • Recognition v. legitimacy: Besides, while diplomatic recognition or its denial is a specific act of a country in inter-state relations, “legitimacy” is more applicable in the internal jurisdiction of countries.
  • India “waited and watched” Afghan developments from the sidelines, at least since the US-Taliban deal.
  • How long will India continue to “wait and watch”?

Way forward

  • Establish open contact: To explore the Taliban’s approaches towards India there is an obvious need to establish open and direct contacts with it.
  • That will also allow India to convey its red lines.
  • This should not be confused with diplomatic recognition.
  • Welcome Afghans: The establishment of open contacts with the Taliban will not be contradictory to actively welcome those Afghans, irrespective of their faith, who are closely connected with India.

Consider the question “What are the implications of the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan for India? What should be India’s approach in dealing with the Taliban controlled Afghanistan?”

Conclusion

It would damage India’s reputation greatly and into the future, if perceptions grow, as they are growing, that India has abandoned its friends in Afghanistan at the time of their need.

Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Freedom of Movement and Residence

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Freedom of Movement and Residence

Mains level : Read the attached story

The rights to free movement and residence across India cannot be curtailed on flimsy grounds, a Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and V. Ramasubramanian held in a judgment.

Freedom of Movement and Residence

  • Article 19(1)(d) and (e) of the Indian Constitution guarantees to every citizen of India right to move freely throughout the territory of India and to reside and settle in any Part of the of the Territory of India.
  • This right is subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribes.

(A) Freedom of Movement under Article 19(1)(d)

  • All Citizens of India have the right “to move freely throughout the territory of India.
  • This Right is, however subject to reasonable restrictions mentioned under Article 19(5).

Restrictions:

  • This clause (5) empowers the State to impose reasonable restrictions in the interest of the general public or for the protection of the interest of any Scheduled Tribe.
  • Kharak Singh V. State of UP (1963) Case: The Supreme Court held that the right to move freely throughout the territory of India means the right of locomotion which connotes the right to move wherever one likes, and however one likes.
  • State of UP V. Kaushalya Case (1964):  In this case, the Supreme court held that the right of movement of prostitutes may be restricted on grounds of Public Health and in the interest of Public Morals.

(B) Freedom of Resident under Article 19(1)(e)

  • Article 19(1)(e) of the Indian Constitution guarantees to every citizen of India, the right “to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India”.
  • This right is subjected to reasonable restrictions which may be imposed by the State in the interest of the general public or for the protection of the interest of any Scheduled Tribe.

Some facts

  • The Freedom of Movement and Residence apply only to citizens of India and not the Foreigners.
  • A foreigner cannot claim the right to reside and settle in the country as guaranteed by Article Article 19(1)(e).
  • The Government of India has the power to expel foreigners from India.

Why in news, now?

  • The Supreme Court has held that the power of the State to pass an externment order or a direction barring certain people entry to specified areas should be exercised only in “exceptional cases”.
  • The court said externment orders have their use in maintaining law and order.
  • However, they cannot be employed as a vindictive or retaliatory measure.
  • The drastic action of externment should only be taken in exceptional cases, to maintain law and order in a locality and/or prevent breach of public tranquility and peace, the court noted.

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Back2Basics: Article 19

Article 19(1) states that All citizens shall have the right:

  • (a) to freedom of speech and expression;
  • (b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
  • (c) to form associations or unions;
  • (d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
  • (e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
  • (f) omitted
  • (g) to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Myanmar

China-Myanmar New Passage

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : China-Myanmar New Passage

Mains level : Chinese encroachment in India's neighborhood

The shipments on a newly-launched railway line under the China-Myanmar New Passage from the Myanmar border to the key commercial hub of Chengdu in western China have started.

China-Myanmar New Passage

  • The passage provides China a new road-rail transportation channel to the Indian Ocean, were delivered last week, state media reported on Tuesday.
  • The transport corridor involves a sea-road-rail link.
  • It connects the logistics lines of Singapore, Myanmar, and China, and is currently the most convenient land and sea channel linking the Indian Ocean with southwest China.
  • Goods from Singapore reached Yangon Port, arriving by ship through the Andaman Sea of the northeastern Indian Ocean, and were then transported by road to Lincang on the Chinese side of the Myanmar-China border in Yunnan province.
  • The new railway line that runs from the border town of Lincang to Chengdu, a key trade hub in western China, completes the corridor.

Why does India need to be watchful?

  • From the perspective of security, India’s border with Myanmar has historically presented serious security challenges.
  • Chinese troops had used the Myanmar route to threaten India’s North-eastern States prior to the 1962 war.
  • In the run-up to the India-China war of 1962, Chinese troops had commissioned local muleteers in Northern Myanmar to facilitate the movement of troops and war logistics to challenge India’s Northeast.

Way forward

  • The work on infrastructure projects in India’s Northeastern States needs to be expedited to ensure speedy mobilization of India’s own troops to face different contingencies.
  • Monitoring of developments including deployment of space assets to ensure that India is not caught unaware would be desirable.
  • Most importantly, India on its part needs to substantially step up its own game in Myanmar and proactively engage Myanmar in the realm of the infrastructure upgrade.

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Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mumbai Climate Action Plan

Mains level : Sea level rise and threats to coastal cities

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is drafting a Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP) in a bid to tackle climate challenges.

What is the Mumbai Climate Action Plan?

  • Amid warnings of climate change leading to extreme weather events in the city, the civic body has started preparing the Mumbai Climate Action Plan (MCAP).
  • It will look at climate resilience with mitigation and adaptation strategies by focusing on six areas —
  1. Sustainable waste management
  2. Urban greening and Biodiversity
  3. Urban flooding and Water Resource Management
  4. Building Energy Efficiency
  5. Air Quality and
  6. Sustainable Mobility
  • The plan is expected to be ready by November ahead of the United Nations Climate Change (COP26) conference at Glasgow, Scotland.

Why does Mumbai need a climate action plan?

Mumbai’s climate action plan will help set a vision and implement strategies to fight these climate challenges with mitigation and adaptation steps.

  • Flash floods: As per a study conducted by the World Resource Institute (WRI) India, the city will face two major climate challenges — the rise in temperature, and extreme rain events which will lead to flooding.
  • Temperature rise: The city has seen a constant rise in temperature after 2007, and a substantial increase in intense rainfall and storm events in the last five years.
  • Sea level rise: A recent report from the IPCC has warned that at least 12 Indian coastal cities including Mumbai will face a sea rise of 0.1 metres to 0.3 metres in the next three decades due to climate change.

What is the greenhouse gas emission of the city?

  • The data show that Mumbai’s greenhouse gas emission was 34.3 million tonnes in 2019, and of which 24.23 million tonnes or 71 per cent came from the energy sector which is mainly based on coal.
  • At least 24 per cent or 82,21,902 tonnes is from transport, and the remaining 5 per cent or 18,53,741 tonnes from solid waste management.
  • The maximum contribution from the energy sector was mainly due to domestic and commercial usage of electricity.
  • As per the data, 95 percent of Mumbai’s electricity is coal-based and needs to be shifted to renewable energy to bring down emissions.

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Coronavirus – Disease, Medical Sciences Involved & Preventive Measures

West Nile Virus outbreak in Russia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : West Nile Virus

Mains level : NA

Russia warned of a possible increase in West Nile virus infections this autumn as mild temperatures and heavy precipitation create favorable conditions for the mosquitos that carry it.

West Nile virus (WNV)

  • WNV is mainly transmitted through mosquito bites and can lead to fatal neurological diseases in humans, although most people infected never develop any symptoms.
  • Cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.

Its origin

  • Originally from Africa, the WNV has spread to Europe, Asia, and North America.
  • It was first isolated in a woman in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937.
  • It was identified in birds in the Nile delta region in 1953.
  • Before 1997, WNV was not considered pathogenic for birds.
  • Human infections attributable to WNV have been reported in many countries for over 50 years.

Symptoms

  • Infected persons usually have no symptoms or mild symptoms.
  • Some of the symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph glands.
  • They can last a few days to several weeks and usually, go away on their own.
  • Prolonged illness may cause inflammation of the brain, called encephalitis, or inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, called meningitis.

Treatment

  • There is no vaccine against the virus in humans although one exists for horses, the WHO says.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Afghanistan

Operation Devi Shakti

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Operation Devi Shakti

Mains level : Not Much

India has termed the evacuation operation from Afghanistan in the backdrop of the Taliban’s takeover of the country last week as “Operation Devi Shakti”.

Operation Devi Shakti

  • Operation Devi Shakti is an ongoing operation of the Indian Armed Forces to evacuate Indian citizens and foreign nationals after the fall of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Taliban.

Major evacuations undertaken

  • Up till now, around 400 individuals from Kabul have been evacuated that covered Indian citizens as well as Afghan nationals including Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan.
  • Hundreds of Indian nationals have to be taken out of Kabul which is now under the Taliban’s control.
  • India is airlifting its citizens through Dushanbe in Tajikistan and Qatar.
  • The Indian Air Force has already evacuated around many passengers including its Ambassador to Afghanistan and all other diplomats.