World Drug Report: India in top five list

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Illicit drug seizures in India and neighbourhood

According to the latest World Drug Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the fourth highest seizure of opium in 2018 was reported from India, after Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Drug seizures in India and neighbourhood

  • The maximum of 644 tonnes of opium was seized in Iran, followed by 27 tonnes in Afghanistan and 19 tonnes in Pakistan.
  • In India, the figure stood at four tonnes in 2018.

Heroin

  • Heroin is manufactured from the morphine extracted from the seed pod of opium poppy plants.
  • Iran reported the highest seizure of heroin (25 tonnes), followed by Turkey, United States, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • India was at the 12th position in the world.

Global pattern

  • 97% of the total global production of opium in the past five years came from only three countries.
  • About 84% of the total opium was produced in Afghanistan, from where it is supplied to neighbouring countries, Europe, west Asia, south Asia and Africa.
  • From Myanmar, which accounts for 7% of the global opium production, and Laos, where 1% of the opium is produced, it is supplied to east and south-east Asia and Oceania.
  • Mexico accounts for 6% of the global opium production, while Colombia and Guatemala account for less than 1% of global production.

Some other details

  • The report said that the global area under opium poppy cultivation declined for the second year in a row in 2019.
  • It went down by 17% in 2018 and by 30% in 2019.
  • Despite the decline in cultivation, opium production remained stable in 2019, with higher yields reported in the main opium production areas.
  • Quantities of seized opiates remained concentrated in Asia, notably in south-west Asia (70%).
  • Asia is host to more than 90% of global illicit opium production.
  • Also, it is the world’s largest consumption market for opiates and also accounts for almost 80% of all opiates seized worldwide in 2018.

Consider the question asked in 2018 “India’s proximity to two of the world’s biggest illicit opium-growing states has enhanced her internal security concerns. Explain the linkages between drug trafficking and other illicit activities such as gunrunning, money laundering and human trafficking. What countermeasures should be taken to prevent the same?”

Railway Reforms

Railways to become Net Zero Carbon Emission Mass Transport by 2030

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : REMCL

Mains level : Paper3- Railways to become Zero Carbon emission mass transport

A new dawn ushers on Indian Railways as it endeavors to be self-reliant for its energy needs as directed by the Prime Minister and solarise railway stations by utilizing its vacant lands for Renewable Energy (RE) projects.

Moving towards ‘Net Zero’ Carbon Emission Railways

  • The Ministry of Railways has decided to install solar power plants on its vacant unused lands on mega-scale.
  • The use of solar power will accelerate the mission to achieve a conversion of Indian Railways to ‘Net Zero’ Carbon Emission Railway.
  • Railway Energy Management Company Ltd. (REMCL) is working to further proliferate the use of solar energy on mega scale.
  • It has already floated tenders for 2 GW of solar projects for Indian Railways to be installed on unutilised railway lands.

Projects along operational railway lines

  • Indian Railways is also adopting an innovative concept of installation of solar projects along operational railway lines.
  • This will help in preventing encroachment, enhancing the speed and safety of trains and reduction of infrastructure costs due to direct injection of solar power into the traction network.
  • With these mega initiatives, Indian Railways is leading India’s fight against climate challenge.
  • These are significant steps towards meeting its ambitious goal of being a net zero carbon emissions organisation and meeting India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) targets.

 

History- Important places, persons in news

Why Russia celebrates WWII triumph on a different date?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : WW2 and related stories

Raksha Mantri is on a three-day trip to Russia to attend the 75th Victory Day. India has sent a tri-services contingent to participate in the Victory Day Parade.

Try these questions from CS Mains:

Q.To what extent can Germany be held responsible for causing the two World Wars? Discuss critically. (CSM 2015)

 

Q.The New Economic Policy – 1921 of Lenin had influenced the policies adopted by India soon after independence. Evaluate. (CSM 2014)

What is Victory Day?

  • Victory Day marks the end of World War II and the victory of the Allied Forces in 1945.
  • Adolf Hitler had shot himself on April 30. On May 7, German troops surrendered, which was formally accepted the next day and came into effect on May 9.
  • In most European countries, it is celebrated on May 8 and is called the Victory in Europe Day.

Why does Russia not celebrate Victory Day on the same date?

  • The erstwhile Soviet Union had not wanted the surrender to take place in the west and wanted that such a significant event should reflect the contribution of the Red Army and the Soviet population.
  • According to historians, Joseph Stalin, premier of the Soviet Union, wanted Germany to also sign surrender in Berlin.
  • Since crowds were already gathering in London to celebrate, Victory in Europe Day celebration in Britain would take place on 8 May, as they did in the United States.
  • This did not convince Stalin, who argued that Soviet troops were still fighting the German forces in many areas.
  • German soldiers did not surrender in East Prussia, Courland Peninsula, Czechoslovakia till later. Hence victory celebration could therefore not begin in the Soviet Union even after May 9.

If May 9 is Victory Day, why is it being celebrated on June 24?

  • This year, the celebrations this year were pushed to June because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • After winning the war and having its own Victory Day on May 9, Stalin wanted to commemorate the victory with a military parade.
  • On June 22, 1945, he ordered the commemoration of the victory over Germany to hold the victory parade on June 24, 1945, in Moscow’s Red Square.
  • Hence the first Victory Day Parade took place on June 24 in Moscow. However, since then, the Parades have taken place on May 9.

Indian Army Updates

Why high-altitude warfare is challenging, how soldiers are trained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Galwan valley, Shyok River

Mains level : Mountain warfare preparedness of India

The violent standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley of Ladakh region has thrown the spotlight on high-altitude warfare and the challenges that troops face, particularly when advantageous positions on the heights are occupied by the other side.

In the clouds of war, one may recall the huge amount of casualties faced by the Indian Army compared to the Pakistani side (being at advantageous positions) during the Kargil War.

Try this question for mains:

Q. Discuss why high-altitude warfare is challenging. Also discuss about India’s preparedness for a long-term war.

How is high-altitude warfare fought?

  • High-altitude warfare is fought keeping the terrain and weather in mind.
  • The kind of infrastructure and training that the troops require for high-altitude warfare are key factors.
  • The evolution of such warfare goes back a long way: European countries had mountain brigades in view of the kind of terrain prevalent in those countries.
  • The harshness of the terrain calls for a specialised kind of training to prepare soldiers in terms of mindset and acclimatization.

How is India equipped in such warfare?

  • Generally, India is considered a hub of mountain warfare skills since most of the country’s north and northeast requires such skills.
  • Ladakh Scouts are considered the best in this kind of warfare.
  • Mountain chop, a tactic involved in such warfare, evolved in India where the mountainous terrain is very difficult to scale.
  • To begin with, the troops are imparted training in basic and advance training in mountaineering to make them equipped for mountain warfare.

Actual tactics involved

  • The mindsets of the enemy sitting above are assessed. Taking stock of the entire situation, one needs to find out the easiest approaches.
  • Especially when there are vertical cliffs, it is generally perceived that the enemy that has taken defensive positions will be less guarded from the side of difficult approaches.
  • Basically, the most difficult approaches where the enemy is likely to give the least resistance need to be used efficiently.

What are the challenges involved in warfare in a high-altitude place like Galwan Valley?

  • A big factor is who has taken defensive positions and who is sitting on higher ground.
  • Once troops are sitting on high ground, it becomes very difficult to dislodge them from there.
  • In a place like Galwan Valley, which is absolutely barren, there is not much hiding place.
  • The soldier on high ground is absolutely stationary, which makes those on lower terrain easy targets; the enemy can pick them up one by one.
  • Normally in mountain warfare, troops on lower ground use a combat ratio of 1:6, but in circumstances as in Galwan, it may go up to 1:10.

How to approach such situations?

  • Generally, mountain warfare is fought using the period of darkness to reach the opposing army, engage and overpower them before the first light of day.
  • In case troops do not have the capabilities, fitness or strategies to do so before dawn, then it is a lost cause.
  • But without adequate trained troops who are well-versed with the terrain and are properly acclimatized, it is not an easy game.

What are the other challenges faced by soldiers in high altitudes?

  • The first major factor is acclimatization since the oxygen supply reduces drastically.
  • Next, the load-carrying capacity of individuals reduces drastically.
  • Things move very slowly in the mountains and mobilization of troops consumes time.
  • Thus, time and place need to be kept on top priority when deciding where the troops have to be stationed and how they have to be mobilized.

What are the logistical challenges in this kind of warfare?

  • One major challenge is that weapons jam, particularly in high-altitude areas.
  • When a soldier is at a height of 17,000 ft or above, it is very cold, and he needs to grease the weapons and clean the barrels at least once a week to ensure they function efficiently.
  • But at the time of combat, this becomes difficult.
  • Vehicles do not start when fuel jams. If the fuel is diesel, it won’t ignite unless it is mixed with thinners or other chemicals to make them thin enough to fire the engine.

Ensuring proper reinforcement

  • In Galwan, which is an extremely tactical area and strategically important, reinforcement plays a vital role, particularly when the Indian troops are not in a position of advantage.
  • For communication equipment, troops need to carry more batteries because they drain very quickly at high altitude.
  • While a battery tends to last for 24 hours in the plains, it will drain in 1-2 hours in these severely cold areas.
  • Transport animals such as mules need to be used to maintain adequate supplies, which is not an easy task. Weather constraints play a major factor.

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

What makes Himalayan tourism spots vulnerable to landslides?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Himlayan mountain ranges

Mains level : Landslides in India

This newscard talks about the city of Dharamshala where landslides occur frequently.

Practice question for mains:

Q.“Himalayan region is more susceptible to floods and flood induced landslides than the Western Ghats”. Discuss.

Why is Dharamshala more vulnerable to landslides?

  • Dharamshala has a slope varying from gentle to steep, depending on different parts of the city.
  • It is located in Zone V in the earthquake hazard zoning map of India.
  • The large differences in slope between different parts of the city make it more susceptible to critical hazards like landslides.
  • The vulnerability of the geologically young steep slopes of Dhauladhar has increased because of anthropogenic activities and illegal construction due to the lack of availability of land.

Why do landslides occur?

  • Increasing urbanisation, deforestation and encroachment of areas at high hill slopes, unscientific road cutting and water-intensive agricultural practices contributed to the increase in intensity and frequency of landslides.
  • The situation is worse during the monsoon when landslide-prone areas are washed away due to exposure.
  • This is due to the demand for living within the city. It is not just the difference between slopes, but also anthropogenic causes that lead to the emergence of hazards like landslides.

Why tourist spots are more vulnerable?

1) Road traffic is high

  • During the peak tourist season, the road is marred with traffic jams due to continuous sinking.
  • Several factors have continuously contributed to an increase in the road’s vulnerability. The first is Illegal construction and uncontrolled levelling of hillocks along the roads.
  • Hillocks are flattened to accommodate housing projects, commercial establishments, etc. The informal sector often starts residing in these areas which are more vulnerable to risks.
  • These areas have comparatively lower land values and fewer people come to settle here.

2) Loss in green cover

  • The second is a loss in green cover, something that occurs as more people reside within the city, increasing soil erosion, risking the further vulnerability to landslides.
  • Due to the loss of green cover and steep gradient of the slope, water is not absorbed in the soil and washed away very quickly.

3) Damaged topography

  • The third is the unscientific manner of cutting hills for widening roads and construction.
  • This causes the sinking of roads, which affects road width and causes traffic interruptions.

4) Sewage failures

  • The fourth is the absence of a sewerage system in the area. Due to unavailability of sewerage systems, people construct septic tanks that are unsafe for soil strata.
  • Water from septic tanks drains to the upper layer of soil that has loose soil, making areas more vulnerable to damage from landslides.

Also read

The Northern and Northeastern Mountains | Part 1

Seeds, Pesticides and Mechanization – HYV, Indian Seed Congress, etc.

What is ‘Direct Seeding of Rice’ (DSR)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Paddy cultivation in India

Farmers are now being encouraged to adopt ‘direct seeding of rice’ (DSR) in place of conventional transplanting due to lack of labourers, who are stranded due to lockdown.

Recall the classification of cropping seasons on India based on onset and retreat of Monsoon.

The kharif crops include rice, maize, sorghum, pearl millet/bajra, finger millet/ragi (cereals), arhar (pulses), soyabean, groundnut (oilseeds), cotton etc. The rabi crops include wheat, barley, oats (cereals), chickpea/gram (pulses), linseed, mustard (oilseeds) etc.  Kindly make a note of this.

What is ‘Direct Seeding of Rice’ (DSR)?

  • In transplanting, farmers prepare nurseries where the paddy seeds are first sown and raised into young plants.
  • These seedlings are then uprooted and replanted 25-35 days later in the main field.
  • Paddy seedlings are transplanted on fields that are “puddled” or tilled in standing water using tractor-drawn disc harrows.
  • In DSR, there is no nursery preparation or transplantation. The seeds are instead directly drilled into the field by a tractor-powered machine.

How is the question of herbicides addressed in DSR?

  • Paddy being very much water-intensive is compromised by weeds that compete for nutrition, sunlight and water.
  • Water prevents the growth of weeds by denying them oxygen in the submerged stage, whereas the soft ‘aerenchyma tissues’ in paddy plants allow air to penetrate through their roots.
  • Water, thus, acts as a herbicide for paddy. The threat from weeds recedes once tillering is over; so does the need to flood the fields.
  • In DSR, water is replaced by real chemical herbicides. Farmers have to only level their land and give one pre-sowing irrigation or rauni.
  • Once the field has good soil moisture, they need to do two rounds of ploughing and planking (smoothening of soil surface), which is followed by the sowing of the seeds and spraying of herbicides.

What are these herbicides?

  • There are two kinds. The first is called pre-emergent, i.e. applied before germination. In this case, the pre-emergent herbicide used is Pendimethalin.
  • The second set of herbicides is post-emergent, sprayed 20-25 days after sowing, depending upon the type of weeds appearing.
  • They include Bispyribac-sodium (Rs 600-700 at 100 ml/acre) and Fenoxaprop-p-ethyl (Rs 700-800 at 400 ml/acre).

What is the main advantage of DSR?

  • The most obvious one is water savings. The first irrigation (apart from the pre-sowing rauni) under DSR is necessary only 21 days after sowing.
  • This is unlike in transplanted paddy, where watering has to be done practically daily to ensure submerged/flooded conditions in the first three weeks.
  • The second savings, relevant in the present context, is that of labour. About three labourers are required to transplant one acre of paddy at almost Rs 2,400 per acre.
  • As against this, the cost of herbicides under DSR will not exceed Rs 2,000 per acre.

Limitations of DSR

  • The main issue is the availability of herbicides.
  • The seed requirement for DSR is also higher, at 8-10 kg/acre, compared to 4-5 kg in transplanting.
  • Further, laser land levelling, which costs Rs 1,000/acre, is compulsory in DSR. This is not so in transplanting.
  • The yields are as good as from normal transplanting, but one need to sow by the first fortnight of June. The plants have to come out properly before the monsoon rains arrive.
  • There is no such problem in transplanting, where the saplings have already been raised in the nursery.

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.

History- Important places, persons in news

What is Cinco de Mayo and why is it celebrated?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cinco de Mayo , Battle of Puebla

Mains level : World History - Napoleonic assertion in Europe

Cinco de Mayo, or fifth of May in Spanish, also called Battle of Puebla Day, is an annual celebration observed in Mexico and the US that marks the former’s military victory on its soil over French forces in 1862.

Possible mains question:

Q. The French colonization attempts went beyond India and had a global reach. Comment.

French advent in Mexico

  • In the 1860s, Mexico had been severely weakened by lengthy wars over the previous two decades – the Mexican-American War (1846-48) and the internal Reform War (1858-61).
  • As a result, in 1861, the then President Benito Juárez announced a temporary moratorium of two years on repaying Mexico’s foreign debts.
  • In response, troops from Britain, Spain, and France invaded Mexico, demanding reimbursement.
  • By April 1862, Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew.
  • France, which at the time was led by Emperor Napoleon III, decided to establish an empire in Mexican territories with the support of the local landowning classes.
  • France also intended to curb US power in North America.

The Battle of Puebla

  • In late 1861, a French fleet attacked the Mexican port of Veracruz on the country’s eastern coast and landed a large army that drove the Juárez government into retreat.
  • As they moved from Veracruz to capital Mexico City, the French encountered stiff resistance from Mexican forces.
  • At Puebla, over 100 km ahead of Mexico City, a poorly equipped and outnumbered Mexican force decisively defeated the advancing French troops on May 5, 1862, killing over a thousand.
  • The event marked a significant political victory of Mexican republicans and President Juárez and helped establish a sense of national unity in the country.

Cinco de Mayo: Present-day significance

  • In Puebla, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated annually with speeches, parades, and by reenacting episodes of the 1862 battle.
  • The city today houses a museum dedicated to the battle, and the actual battlefield is maintained as a park.
  • In the US, in the mid-20th century, the celebration became a way for immigrants from Mexico to express pride in their heritage.
  • Later, Cinco de Mayo also became popular with other demographics in the country when the festivities were linked with Mexican alcoholic beverages.
  • As the celebration assumed greater importance in the country, many have criticised the negative stereotypes of Mexicans that were perpetuated as a result, as well as the promotion of excessive drinking.

Global Geological And Climatic Events

[pib] River erosion in Ladakh Himalayas

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Himalayan rivers, Zanskar Padam

Mains level : Read the attached story

Indian researchers have studied rivers in Ladakh Himalaya, bringing out 35 thousand-year histories of river erosion and identified hotspots of erosion and wide valleys that act buffer zones.

Click here to read more about the Himalayan river systems and its orogeny

Erosion hotspot: Ladakh region

  • The Ladakh Himalaya forms a high altitude desert between Greater Himalayan ranges and Karakoram Ranges.
  • The Indus and its tributaries are major rivers flowing through the terrain.
  • The Zanskar River is one of the largest tributaries of the upper Indus catchment, draining orthogonally through highly deformed Zanskar ranges.

Zanskar: A major river in Ladakh

  • Two prominent tributaries of Zanskar River are the Doda and Tsrap Lingti Chu, which confluence at Padam village in the upper valley to form the Zanskar River.
  • Zanskar catchment was explored to understand the landform evolution in the transitional climatic zone, using morpho-stratigraphy and study of landforms like valley fill terraces, alluvial fans (triangle-shaped deposit of gravel, sand, and even smaller pieces of sediment, such as silt).

Zanskar Padam

  • Zanskar river makes a deep gorge in its lower reaches with the headwaters in upper Zanskar makes wide basin called as Padam.
  • The basin stores large amount of sediments in form of fans and river terrace deposits
  • The research suggested that the wide valley of Padam, with an area of 48 square km, in the upper Zanskar, has stored a vast amount of sediments in these landforms.
  • Thus Padam valley is a hotspot of sediment buffering in the Zanskar.

Sediment study reveals the erosion

  • The study suggested that most sediments were derived from Higher Himalayan crystalline that lies in the headwater region of Zanskar.
  • It was found out that dominant factors responsible for sediment erosion were deglaciation and Indian Summer Monsoon derived precipitation in the headwaters despite the presence of a geomorphic barrier (the deep, narrow gorge).

Significance of the study

  • The scientists have traced where the rivers draining Himalaya and its foreland erode the most and identify the zones that receive these eroded sediments and fill up.
  • The study will help understand river-borne erosion and sedimentation, which are the main drivers that make large riverine plains, terraces, and deltas that eventually become the cradle to evolving civilizations.
  • It will also help study the dynamics of devastating floods created by these Himalayan rivers in recent times.
  • Thus, the understanding of water and sediment routing becomes crucial while developing infrastructure and for other development works in the river catchment area.

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Ganga water improves during lockdown

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BoD, CoD

Mains level : Namami Gange

The Ganga water quality has improved remarkably during the lockdown period. This highlights the importance of synergy for absolute symbiosis between nature and man as the need of the hour.

Context

  • The novel coronavirus lockdown (COVID-19) pandemic has put millions in the throes of adversity — and yet, there is a reason to celebrate.
  • Over a month into the nationwide lockdown, air and water pollution levels have shrunk and the wildlife is free.
  • Of 36 monitoring units placed in the Ganga, water quality at 27 points was found suitable for bathing and propagation of wildlife and fisheries in the lockdown period

Status of rivers in India

  • India’s water bodies are in a poor state. The rivers are becoming dumpyard for untreated sewage and industrial waste.
  • In the name of economic growth, most rivers and streams have been turned into sewer canals and are getting difficult to be treated.
  • It is estimated that every day, almost 40 million litres of wastewater enters rivers and other water bodies; only 37 per cent is adequately treated.
  • A Centre Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report showed that critically polluted river stretches in the country have increased from 302 stretches in 2016 to 351 stretches in 2018.
  • The finding was based on Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD).

Ganga

  • According to CPCB, more than half of wastewater treatment plants in the basin do not comply with the discharge norms.
  • Since 1985, several programmes and schemes have been launched to clean the Ganga. It began with the Ganga Action Plan I, followed by Ganga Action Plan II.

  • In 2015, the biggest-ever initiative, Namami Gange was launched with a budget of over Rs 20,000.
  • Despite numerous programmes and huge funds, the Ganga still runs polluted.

The causes

  • More than 80 per cent of pollution in the Ganga is due to domestic sewage from surrounding towns and villages. The rest is contributed by industrial waste.
  • During the lockdown, domestic sewage would have increased owing to increased demand for water to maintain hand-washing hygiene. Industrial waste, however, stopped entering the Ganga.
  • Other activities such as tourism, fairs, bathing and cloth washing near the ghats were curtailed. Experts said these observations reflected that domestic sewerage was not the only cause of concern.
  • When sewage is mixed with industrial effluents, it gets difficult for the river to assimilate pollution.
  • One more reason was high number of western disturbances which brought rain and improved the flow in the river leading to dilution.

COVID-19’s gift to Ganga

  • After the nationwide lockdown was imposed, within 10 days signs of improvement in water quality started surfacing.
  • At Varanasi’s Nagwa Nala, the Dissolved Oxygen (DO) values were found increased to 6.8 milligram/litre against 3.8 mg/l on March 6, showcasing an extraordinary improvement of 79 per cent in DO values.
  • 30 per cent of the total BOD load was due to industries along the river, which amounted to 130-150 tons per day.
  • Since all major polluting industries are closed, the toxic load is off the river.

Surprisingly better

  • Ganga water at Haridwar and Rishikesh was reported fit for drinking due to 500 per cent decrease in sewage and industrial effluents.
  • A dip in the number of visitors at ghats in Haridwar also helped the river water quality.
  • The Ganga water has become fit for ‘achaman’, which means ritual sipping, after a long time.

Bringing the ambitions to reality

There is an urgent need to:

  • Reinvestigate the main source of pollution in Ganga and reorient all river cleaning policies and programmes based on lockdown findings.
  • Industries need to strictly adhere to discharge norms accompanied with strong enforcement of laws and regulations vis-a-vis strong monitoring and vigilance framework.
  • Setting up of effective interventions to clean rivers, reliable, representative and comprehensive data collected at high frequency in a disaggregated manner.
  • There is an urgent need to expand the network of monitoring stations on the Ganga, the Yamuna and tributaries of Ganga in more places.
  • Over-extraction and over-exploitation of Ganga’s waters have rendered long stretches of the river completely dry for much of the year. There is a need to maintain ecological flow to keep it clean for longer run.
  • Education and awareness needs to be carried out strategically.

Back2Basics: Biochemical Oxygen Demand

  • BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed (i.e. demanded) by aerobic biological organisms to break down organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over a specific time period.
  • The BOD value is most commonly expressed in milligrams of oxygen consumed per litre of sample during 5 days of incubation at 20 °C and is often used as a surrogate of the degree of organic pollution of water.
  • BOD is similar in function to chemical oxygen demand (COD), in that both measure the amount of organic compounds in water.
  • However, COD is less specific, since it measures everything that can be chemically oxidized, rather than just levels of biodegradable organic matter.

Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Religious Freedom and India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Religious freedon in India

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, “countries of particular concern” (CPC) in its 2020 report.

Religious freedom in India has been a contested issue since decades. Recent moves by the govt. since the abrogation of Art. 370 which triggered the riots in Delhi has left a big scar on the secular fabric of India.

About USCIRF

  • It is a U.S. federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998.
  • Its principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally.

Accusing India of religious intolerance

  • USCIRF has placed India alongside China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
  • India was categorised as a “Tier 2 country” in last year’s listing.
  • This is the first time since 2004 that India has been placed in the CPC category.
  • The commission also recommended that the U.S. government take stringent action against India under the “International Religious Freedom Act” (IRFA).

What led India to lower its religious freedom?

  • India took a sharp downward turn in 2019 due to concerns about the Citizenship Amendment Act, the proposed National Register for Citizens, anti-conversion laws and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The report accuses India using its strengthened parliamentary majority to institute national-level policies violating religious freedom across India.
  • The panel reported harassment and violence against religious minorities to continue with impunity, and engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence against them.

India’s reaction

  • The Centre reacted sharply to the USCIRF report terming it “biased and tendentious” and rejected its observations.
  • The biased and tendentious comments against India are not new. But on this occasion, its misrepresentation has reached new levels.
  • Major panellists of USCIRF dissented with the recommendation on India as being ‘too harsh’ and that ended up placing the country alongside what they termed as “rogue nations” like China and North Korea.
  • India regards the accusations as inaccurate and unwarranted and questioned the body’s “locus standi” in India’s internal affairs.

US’s religious activism: Unwelcomed by all

  • The US earlier this month has announced the launch of a 27-nation International Religious Freedom Alliance, which aim to adopt a collective approach in protecting and preserving religious freedom across the world.
  • Among the prominent countries to join the alliance are Brazil, the United Kingdom, Israel, Ukraine, the Netherlands and Greece.
  • The USCIRF has been accused worldwide of being biased towards focusing on the persecution of Christians and of being anti-Muslim & Hinduphobic. It panels various controversial personalities.

Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc

What are Deep Fakes?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Deep Fake

Mains level : Cyber bullying and other threats posed by AI

Cybercrime officials in India have been tracking certain apps and websites that produce vulgar photographs of innocent persons using Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms. These images are then used to blackmail victims, seek revenge or commit fraud on social networking and dating sites.

The most notorious misuse of AI is knocking the door. The Deepfake is an application of Deep Learning (an axiom of AI and Machine Learning). UPSC may ask a mains question about the challenges posed by AI-based technology.

What is Deep Fake?

  • Cybercriminals use AI software — now easily available on apps and websites — to superimpose a digital composite (assembling multiple media files to make a final one) on to an existing video, photo or audio.
  • They are computer-generated images and videos.
  • Using AI algorithms a person’s words, head movements and expressions are transferred onto another person in a seamless fashion.
  • That makes it difficult to tell that it is a deepfake unless one closely observes the media file.

Threats posed

  • Because of how realistic deepfake images, audio and videos can be, the technology is vulnerable for use by cybercriminals who could spread misinformation to intimidate or blackmail people.
  • With real-time face tracking it is becoming easier to fabricate believable videos of people doing and saying things they never did.
  • There are rising cases of “revenge porn” i.e. creation of sexually explicit videos or images that are posted on the Internet without the consent of the subject as a way to harass them.

What are the catfish accounts?

  • Catfishing refers to the practice of setting up fictitious online profiles most often for the purpose of luring another into a fraudulent romantic relationship.
  • A “catfish” account is set up a fake social media profile with the goal of duping that person into falling for the false persona.

What can we do to protect yourself?

  • A basic check of their social media profiles, comments on the images and whether similar profiles exist could help determine if the person is genuine.
  • While it is not easy to keep track of who downloads or misuses the user images, the best way to protect is to ensure that we are using privacy settings on social media profiles.
  • If one feels his/her image has been used without prior permission, they could use freely available reverse image search tools to find images that are similar to yours.
  • One can also be mindful of who he/she is conversing with on the web.

Gravitational Wave Observations

GW190412: The first merger of two black holes with unequal masses

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : General Relativity, Black Holes, Black Holes merger

For the first time since it started functioning, the gravitational wave observatories at LIGO scientific collaboration have detected a merger of two unequal-mass black holes.

This newscard contains few basic terms that one must know-

Gravitational waves

General Relativity

Black Holes

GW190412

  • The event, dubbed GW190412, was detected nearly a year ago, and this is almost five years after the first-ever detection of gravitational-wave signals by these powerful detectors.
  • Subsequent analysis of the signal coming from the violent merger showed that it involved two black holes of unequal masses coalescing.
  • One of them was some 30 times the mass of the Sun and the other which had a mass nearly 8 times the solar mass.
  • The actual merger took place at a distance of 2.5 billion light-years away.

Significant feature observed

  • The detected signal’s waveform has special extra features in it when it corresponds to the merger of two unequal-sized black holes as compared with a merger of equal-sized black holes.
  • These features make it possible to infer many more things about the characters such as- a more accurate determination of the distance from the event, the spin or angular momentum of the more massive black hole and the orientation of the whole event with respect to viewers on Earth.
  • While the mass of the black hole bends the space-time close to it, the spin or angular momentum of this inscrutable object drags the nearby space-time, causing it to swirl around, along with it.
  • Hence both these properties are important to estimate.

Confirmed General Relativity

  • An Indian team consisting of researchers verified the consistency of the signal with the prediction of General Relativity.
  • The existence of higher harmonics was itself a prediction of General Relativity.

Must refer for an easy and illustrated understanding of General Relativity-

 

History- Important places, persons in news

Qissa Khwani Bazaar massacre and the Khudai Khidmatgars

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Red Shirts, Khudai Khidmmatgars

Mains level : Various non-violent movements in the freedom struggle

  • Qissa Khwani Bazaar is a renowned market place in the city of Peshawar.
  • Before the Partition, the marketplace was also the site of a massacre perpetrated by British soldiers against non-violent protesters of the Khudai Khidmatgar movement on April 23, 1930.

We can expect a possible mains question inspired from this newscard. The question could be like- “Discuss the role of Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his Khudai Khidmatgar in infusing the Gandhian principle of non-violence in the Frontiers of India “.

The Red Shirts:  Khudai Khidmatgars

  • The Khudai Khidmatgar was a non-violent movement against the British occupation of the Indian subcontinent led by Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Pashtuns freedom fighter, in the North-West Frontier Province.
  • Over time, the movement acquired a more political colour, leading to the British taking notice of its growing prominence in the region.
  • Following the arrest of Khan and other leaders in 1929, the movement formally joined the Indian National Congress after they failed to receive support from the All-India Muslim League.
  • Members of the Khudai Khidmatgar were organised and the men stood out because of the bright red shirts they wore as uniforms, while the women wore black garments.

Why did the massacre happen?

  • Abdul Ghaffar Khan and other leaders of the Khudai Khidmatgar were arrested on April 23, 1930 by British police after he gave a speech at a gathering in the town of Utmanzai in the North-West Frontier Province.
  • A respected leader well-known for his non-violent ways, Khan’s arrest spurred protests in neighbouring towns, including Peshawar.
  • Protests spilled into the Qissa Khwani Bazaar in Peshawar on the day of Khan’s arrest. British soldiers entered the market area to disperse crowds that had refused to leave.
  • In response, British army vehicles drove into the crowds, killing several protesters and bystanders. British soldiers then opened fire on unarmed protestors, killing even more people.
  • Historical records suggest the British attempted to deploy the Garhwal Regiment against the civilians in the marketplace, but two platoons of this respected regiment refused to shoot at unarmed protesters.
  • In retaliation, British officials court-martialled the platoon members with upto eight years of imprisonment.

Aftermath of the massacre

  • The British ramped up the crackdown on Khudai Khidmatgar leaders and members following the Qissa Khwani Bazaar massacre.
  • In response, the movement began involving young women in its struggle against the British, a decision in line with tactics adopted by revolutionaries across undivided India.
  • Women were able to move undetected with more ease than men.
  • According to accounts by Khudai Khidmatgar activists, the British subjected members of the movement to harassment, abuse and coercive tactics adopted elsewhere in the subcontinent.
  • This included physical violence and religious persecution. Following the recruitment of women in the movement, the British also engaged in violence, brutality and abuse of women members.

Khudai Khidmatgars  gets wasted into history

  • British adopted their tactic of sowing divisions on religious grounds in the North-West Frontier Province as well, in an attempt to weaken the Khudai Khidmatgar.
  • In a move that surprised the British government, in August 1931, the Khudai Khidmatgar aligned themselves with the Congress party, forcing the British to reduce the violence they were perpetrated on the movement.
  • The Khudai Khidtmatgar opposed Partition, a stance that many interpreted as the movement not being in favour of the creation of the independent nation of Pakistan.
  • Post 1947, the Khudai Khidmatgar slowly found their political influence decreasing to such an extent that the movement and the massacre 90 years ago in the Bazaar has been wiped out from collective memory (of Pakistan).

Global Geological And Climatic Events

What are Primordial Black Holes (PBH)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Primordial Black Holes, Big Bang

Mains level : Black Holes

A scientist duo from Pune has studied primordial black holes that were born as a result of a tiny bump in the potential energy levels of the universe, at a time when it was expanding rapidly.

Strange space events are known to be the favourites of UPSC 🙂

Primordial Black Holes (PBH)

  • PBH are a hypothetical type of black hole that formed soon after the Big Bang
  • It is believed that they are formed as a result of collapsing radiations as opposed to the collapse of massive stars, which is the case of any other black holes.
  • PBH can be massively large as 3000kms or be extremely tiny like nucleus of an atom.

What did the study conclude?

  • The study has confirmed that this marginal rise in potential energy resulted in birth of several PBHs and also emitted very powerful gravitational waves.
  • Approximately 14 billion years ago before the commencement of the Hot Big Bang phase, the very young universe was found to be active and expanding at a highly accelerated rate.
  • This exponential growth in its size was fuelled by the presence of uniform energy field and density as the universe passed through the Cosmic Inflation phase.
  • According to the scientists, as time passes, this uniform energy prevailing in the Inflation Field wanes out.
  • As a result, the universe resumes its normal decelerating rate.

Expansion of universe

  • Gravity is normally attractive in nature. The PBH did undergo rapid expansion due to the Inflation field which contrarily possessed repulsive gravity.
  • This pushed the universe to expand at a much faster rate than normal.
  • The universe had expanded to nearly 10^27 times its original size, that too, within just fraction of a second by the time Cosmic Inflation phase concluded.
  • Thereafter, the remnant energy possessed by this gravitational force got converted mainly into photons (light) in addition to protons, electrons, neutrons and other particles.
  • As the universe continued to grow exponentially during the Cosmic Inflation phase, it sent across tiny quantum jitters.
  • These fluctuations, released in a specific fashion, when sufficiently large, slowly give birth to galaxies and stars. Among those that were significantly large, helped form PBHs.

 

Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

How a dollar swap line with US Fed can help in uncertain times?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Currency Swap

Mains level : Currency Swap and its significance

India is working with the US to secure a dollar swap line that would help in better management of its external account and provide an extra cushion in the event of an abrupt outflow of funds.

What are Currency Swaps?

  • A currency swap, also known as a cross-currency swap, is an off-balance sheet transaction in which two parties exchange principal and interest in different currencies.
  • The purpose of a currency swap is to lower exposure to exchange rate risk or reduce the cost of borrowing a foreign currency.

Why do we need dollars?

  • According to RBI data, 63.7% of India’s foreign currency assets — or $256.17 billion — are held in overseas securities, mainly in the US treasury.
  • While FPIs investors looking for safer investments, the current global uncertainty over COVID outbreak have led to a shortfall in Indian stock markets.
  • This has pulled down India’s foreign exchange reserves.
  • This means that the government and the RBI cannot lower their guard on the management of the economy and the external account.

How does a swap facility work?

  • In a swap arrangement, the US Fed provides dollars to a foreign central bank, which, at the same time, provides the equivalent funds in its currency to the Fed, based on the market exchange rate at the time of the transaction.
  • The parties agree to swap back these quantities of their two currencies at a specified date in the future, which could be the next day or even three months later, using the same exchange rate as in the first transaction.
  • These swap operations carry no exchange rate or other market risks, as transaction terms are set in advance.

Benefits of currency swap

  • The absence of an exchange rate risk is the major benefit of such a facility.
  • This facility provides India with the flexibility to use these reserves at any time in order to maintain an appropriate level of balance of payments or short-term liquidity.
  • currency swaps between governments also have supplementary objectives like promotion of bilateral trade, maintaining the value of foreign exchange reserves with the central bank and ensuring financial stability (protecting the health of the banking system).

Recent examples

  • India already has a $75 billion bilateral currency swap line with Japan, which has the second-highest dollar reserves after China.
  • The RBI also offers similar swap lines to central banks in the SAARC region within a total corpus of $2 billion.

Note: Relate all other terminologies related to USD-INR convertiblity viz. Current Account, BoP etc.

Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

Alternative Market Channel: Bypassing the Farmer Mandis

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : e-NAM

Mains level : Alternative Market Channels for Farmers, Limitations of e-NAM

The start of the coronavirus pandemic coincided with the peak vegetable harvesting season. As the markets were locked down, there was a threat to the crop in over 100 lakh hectares in the country.

Alternative Market Channels

  • The alternative market channel works on the principles of decentralisation and direct-to-home delivery.
  • The idea is to create smaller, less congested markets in urban areas with the participation of farmers’ groups and Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) so that farmers have direct access to consumers.
  • It is providing a valuable option against the lockdown when efforts to avoid crowding in the wholesale markets are likely to continue.

Success in Maharashtra

  • Maharashtra is one of a handful of states where FPCs are robust.
  • The model, implemented by the state Agriculture Department and Maharashtra State Agri Marketing Board (MSAMB), requires urban and rural local bodies and other stakeholders to buy into the agricultural marketing chain.

Innovations in food supply chain management are always a hot topic in mains answers. Talk about decentralization and give examples of a successful implementation and you are all set for a good answer.

How does it work?

  • The government and MSAMB identify farmer groups and FPCs, and form clusters; local bodies choose the market sites and link the markets for direct delivery to cooperative housing societies.
  • The FPCs and farmers’ groups are allotted space for weekly markets in municipal wards or localities.
  • Some producers group park pick-up trucks loaded with fruits and vegetables at the gates of housing societies.

Why need such a mechanism?

  • The traffic of both buyers and sellers in these decentralized markets can be controlled more effectively than in wholesale mandis — a key advantage when social distancing is critical.
  • Most FPCs have minimized contact, and have taken to selling pre-packed, customised packets of vegetables.
  • This will likely help create alternative market chains that could continue even after more normal times return.

Conclusion: A boon for the farmer

  • The practices of rudimentary packing, sorting and branding are being inculcated in farmers, as they pack and send pre-ordered packets to housing societies.
  • With this, a larger numbers of vegetable growers in Maharashtra have got into direct selling to consumers thus bypassing middlemen.

Also read:

Is e-NAM portal capable of supporting farmers?

Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Produce

What is Market Intervention Scheme (MIS)? How does it compare with MSP

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Market Intervention Scheme

Mains level : Various price support mechanisms for farmers and issues in their implementation

Fruit and vegetable farmers are facing major losses due to obstacles in harvesting and marketing their perishable produce. The Centre has now directed all the States and UTs to implement the Market Intervention Scheme to ensure remunerative prices for perishable crops.

Market Intervention Scheme

  • MIS is a price support mechanism implemented on the request of State Governments for the procurement of perishable and horticultural commodities in the event of a fall in market prices.
  • It is implemented when there is at least a 10% increase in production or a 10% decrease in the ruling rates over the previous normal year.
  • MIS works in a similar fashion to Minimum Support Price based procurement mechanism for food grains but is an ad-hoc mechanism.
  • Its objective is to protect the growers of these horticultural/agricultural commodities from making distress sale in the event of the bumper crop.
  • Under MIS, support can be provided in some years, for a limited but defined period, in specified critical markets and by purchasing specified quantities. The initiative has to emerge from the concerned state.

UPSC Prelims can ask a question on the difference between MSP and MIP. All the agricultural and horticultural commodities for which Minimum Support Price (MSP) are not fixed and are generally perishable in nature are covered under Market Intervention Scheme (MIS).

Commodities covered

  • The MIS has been implemented in case of commodities like apples, garlic, oranges, grapes, mushrooms, clove, black pepper, pineapple, ginger, red-chillies, coriander seed, chicory, onions, potatoes, cabbage, mustard seed, castor seed, copra, palm oil etc.

Remuneration under MIS

  • MIS provides remunerative prices to the farmers in case of glut in production and fall in prices.
  • Proposal of MIS is approved on the specific request of State/UT Government, if they are ready to bear 50% loss (25% in case of North-Eastern States), if any, incurred on its implementation.
  • Further, the extent of total amount of loss shared is restricted to 25% of the total procurement value which includes cost of the commodity procured plus permitted overhead expenses.

Implementation of MIS

1) Market Intervention Price (MIP)

  • The Department of Agriculture & Cooperation is implementing the scheme.
  • Under the MIS, a pre-determined quantity at a fixed MIP is procured by NAFED as the Central agency.
  • There are other agencies designated by the state government for a fixed period or till the prices are stabilized above the MIP whichever is earlier.
  • The area of operation is restricted to the concerned state only.

2) Funds transfer

  • Under MIS, funds are not allocated to the States.
  • Instead, central share of losses as per the guidelines of MIS is released to the State Governments/UTs, for which MIS has been approved, based on specific proposals received from them.

The last 2 heads that you just read, Renumeration & Implementation, they have a lot of information on which you can be quizzed by UPSC Prelims. Make a note of the agency, %age share, state vs. center responsibility


Back2Basics: Minimum Support Price

  • Minimum support price (MSP) is one of the instruments of Agricultural Price Policy (APP).
  • The basic intent of announcing MSP before the sowing season is to help farmers take a sowing decision keeping in mind that if they are not able to get a reasonable price by selling in the market, at least they will be able to get the MSP.
  • In that sense, MSP is an assured or guaranteed price (insured price).

For additional reading on MSP, navigate to:

Price Support Mechanism under MSP Operations

Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

Sections 269 & 270 IPC invoked against those accused of spreading COVID-19

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IPC sections mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : COVID-19 and its mitigation

Sections 269 & 270 IPC invoked are being invoked against persons who malignantly do any act which is likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life.

Sections 269 and 270 of the IPC

  • Sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) come under Chapter XIV of the IPC.
  • The chapter is named ‘Of Offences Affecting The Public Health, Safety, Convenience, Decency and Morals’.
  • While Section 269 provides for a jail term of six months and/or fine, Section 270 provides for a jail term of two years and/or fine.
  • In Section 270, the word ‘malignantly’ indicates a deliberate intention on the part of the accused.
  • During the coronavirus outbreak, penal provisions, such as Sections 188, 269 and 270 of the IPC, are being invoked to enforce the lockdown orders in various states.

Earlier instances of invocation

  • Both Sections have been used for over a century to punish those disobeying orders issued for containing epidemics.
  • The Sections were similarly enforced by colonial authorities during outbreaks of diseases such as smallpox and bubonic plague.

Bharat Emission Standards

Bharat Stage (BS) VI emission norms

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BS VI compliant fuels

Mains level : BS norms

Oil marketing companies have informed that there will definitely be a marginal increase in retail prices of the fuels from April 1. Starting April 1, Bharat Stage (BS) VI emission norms come into force. This will be an upgrade on the currently prevalent BS-IV and BS-III norms.

Why rise in Oil prices?

  • In effect, as India moves up the BS scale, automobiles become cleaner and greener but fuel will go costly.
  • Oil refiners have invested heavily to upgrade their refineries to produce the cleaner, BS-VI compliant fuel.
  • The increase in the pump price of fuel will partially offset this cost that the oil marketing companies have paid.
  • In effect, consumers will have to pay a little extra for auto fuel that is cleaner, and which, ultimately, is expected to lead to cleaner air.

The BS norms

  • The BS emission standards are norms instituted by the Indian government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.
  • India has been following the European (Euro) emission norms, although with a time lag.
  • The more stringent the BS norm, lower is the tolerance for pollutants in automobile tailpipe emissions. Lower tailpipe emissions are the function of both more efficient engines, and cleaner fuels.

How is BS-VI fuel different from BS-IV fuel?

  • The main difference between BS-IV and BS-VI (which is comparable to Euro 6) is in the amount of sulphur in the fuel.
  • The lower the sulphur, the cleaner the fuel, so BS-VI fuel is essentially low-sulphur diesel and petrol.
  • BS-VI fuel is estimated to bring around an 80% reduction in sulphur content — from 50 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm.
  • Also NOx emissions from diesel cars are expected to come down by nearly 70% and, from cars with petrol engines, by 25%.

How will things change with the new fuels?

  • Cleaner fuel alone will not make a dramatic difference to air pollution.
  • For the full benefits to be experienced, the introduction of the higher grade fuel must go hand in hand with the rollout of BS-VI compliant vehicles as well.
  • While automakers will sell only BS-VI vehicles from April 1, all BS-IV vehicles sold before that date will stay on the road for as long as their registration is valid.
  • This, however, could be a concern because using BS-VI fuel in the current BS-IV engines (or conversely, running BS-VI engines on the current-grade fuel), may be both ineffective in curbing vehicular pollution, as well as damage the engine in the long run.

Back2Basics

History of BS norms in India

  • India introduced emission norms first in 1991, and tightened them in 1996, when most vehicle manufacturers had to incorporate technology upgrades such as catalytic converters to cut exhaust emissions.
  • Fuel specifications based on environmental considerations were notified first in April 1996, to be implemented by 2000, and incorporated in BIS 2000 standards.
  • Following the landmark Supreme Court order of April 1999, the Centre notified Bharat Stage-I (BIS 2000) and Bharat Stage-II norms, broadly equivalent to Euro I and Euro II respectively.
  • BS-II was for the National Capital Region and other metros; BS-I for the rest of India.
  • From April 2005, in line with the Auto Fuel Policy of 2003, BS-III and BS-II fuel quality norms came into existence for 13 major cities, and for the rest of the country respectively.
  • From April 2010, BS-IV and BS-III norms were put in place in 13 major cities and the rest of India respectively.
  • As per the Policy roadmap, BS-V and BS-VI norms were to be implemented from April 1, 2022, and April 1, 2024 respectively.
  • But in November 2015, the Road Transport Ministry issued a draft notification advancing the implementation of BS-V norms for new four-wheel vehicle models to April 1, 2019, and for existing models to April 1, 2020.