Forest Fires

Forest fire in Simlipal Biosphere Reserve

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Simlipal BR

Mains level : Forest fires and their prevention

The Simlipal forest reserve area frequently witnesses forest fires during dry weather conditions.

Try this PYQ:

Q.From the ecological point of view, which one of the following assumes importance in being a good link between the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats?

(a) Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve

(b) Nallamala Forest

(c) Nagarhole National Park

(d) Seshachalam Biosphere Reserve

Simlipal Biosphere Reserve

  • Similipal, which derives its name from the ‘Simul’ (silk cotton) tree, is a national park and a tiger reserve situated in the northern part of Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district.
  • Similipal and the adjoining areas, comprising 5,569 sq km, was declared a biosphere reserve by the Government of India on June 22, 1994, and lies in the eastern end of the eastern ghat.
  • It includes three protected areas — Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadgarh Wildlife Sanctuary with 191.06 km2 (73.77 sq mi) and Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • It is the abode of 94 species of orchids and about 3,000 species of plants.
  • The identified species of fauna include 12 species of amphibians, 29 species of reptiles, 264 species of birds and 42 species of mammals, all of which collectively highlight the biodiversity richness of Similipal.
  • Sal is a dominant tree species.

How fire-prone is Simlipal forest?

  • Generally, with the onset of summers and towards the end of autumn, the forest area remains vulnerable to forest fires.
  • They are a recurrent annual phenomenon but are also brought under control due to the short span of precipitation.
  • This duration coincides with the shedding of deciduous forests in the forest areas.
  • The fallen leaves are more vulnerable to catching fire and facilitate the spreading of these forest fires quickly over the entire forest area.

Global Geological And Climatic Events

Places in news: Mount Sinabung

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mt Sinabung

Mains level : Pacific ring of fire

Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung volcano sent a cloud of hot ash as high as 3 km today, in its first big eruption since August last year.

Mount Sinabung

  • It is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano in the Karo plateau of Karo Regency, North Sumatra, Indonesia.
  • It is created by the subduction of the Indo-Australian Plate under the Eurasian Plate.
  • It erupted in 2010 after a 400-year-long hiatus and has been continuously active since September 2013.

Why frequent eruptions?

  • Indonesia straddles the “Pacific ring of fire” with nearly130 active volcanoes, more than any other country.
  • Sinabung had been inactive for centuries before it erupted again in 2010.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. The Barren Island volcano is an active volcano located in the Indian Territory.
  2. Barren Island lies about 140 km east of Great Nicobar
  3. The last time the Barren Island volcano erupted was in 1991 and it has remained inactive since then.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (CSP 2018)

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1 and 3

What is the Pacific ring of fire?

  • The Pacific Ring of Fire is a region around much of the rim of the Pacific Ocean where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.
  • It includes the Pacific coasts of South America, North America and Kamchatka, and some islands in the western Pacific Ocean.
  • It is a direct result of plate tectonics: specifically the movement, collision and destruction of lithospheric plates under and around the Pacific Ocean.
  • The collisions have created a nearly continuous series of subduction zones, where volcanoes are created and earthquakes occur.

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

Places in news: Lake Chad

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lake Chad

Mains level : Shrinking water bodies due to Global Warming

One of Africa’s largest freshwater bodies, Lake Chad, has shrunk by 90 per cent.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2018:

Q.Which of the following has/have shrunk immensely/dried up in the recent past due to human activities?

  1. Aral Sea
  2. Black Sea
  3. Lake Baikal

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 2 only

(d) 1 and 3

Lake Chad

  • Lake Chad in the Sahel spans the countries of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon and is home to 17.4 million people.
  • It is blessed with rich aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity.
  • The Chari River, fed by its tributary the Logone, provides over 90% of the lake’s water, with a small amount coming from the Yobe River in Nigeria/Niger.
  • Despite high levels of evaporation, the lake is freshwater.
  • The Lake Chad basin comprises biosphere reserves, World Heritage and Ramsar sites as well as wetlands of international conservation importance.

Why it is significant?

  • For years, the lake has been supporting drinking water, irrigation, fishing, livestock and economic activity for over 30 million people in the region.
  • It is vital for indigenous, pastoral and farming communities in one of the world’s poorest countries.
  • However, climate change has fuelled a massive environmental and humanitarian crisis.
  • The United Nations has termed the Lake Chad crisis as “one of the worst in the world”.

A looming peril

  • The lake has shrunk 90 per cent over the last 60 years since the chronic droughts surged at the beginning of the 1970s.
  • The surface area of the lake was 26,000 square kilometres in 1963; it has now reduced to less than 1,500 square kilometres.
  • Its population is exploding and the region has been ripped apart from conflict at an unprecedented scale.

Behind all crises

  • The ever-changing climate has dramatically worsened the situation, amplifying food and nutritional insecurity in the region.
  • Temperature is rising one-and-a-half times faster than the global average. The seasonal and inter-rainfall patterns have been drastically changing each year.
  • This has triggered food insecurity, ultimately pushing communities into the arms of terrorist groups.
  • Boko Haram is one of the top insurgent groups with a strong foothold in the region.

Monsoon Updates

Mawsynram: Wettest place on Earth sees a decreasing trend in rainfall

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mawsynram

Mains level : Not Much

A recent study that looked at the rainfall pattern in the past 119 years found a decreasing trend at Cherrapunji and nearby areas.

Try this PYQ:

Q.“Climate is extreme, rainfall is scanty and the people used to be nomadic herders.” The above statement best describes which of the following regions?

(a) African Savannah

(b) Central Asian Steppe

(c) North American Prairie

(d) Siberian Tundra

Mawsynram

  • Mawsynram is a town in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya state in northeastern India, 60.9 kilometres from Shillong.
  • Mawsynram receives the highest rainfall in India.
  • It is reportedly the wettest place on Earth, with an average annual rainfall of 11,872mm but that claim is disputed.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Mawsynram received 26,000 millimetres (1,000 in) of rainfall in 1985.

Why it rain highest in Mawsynram?

  • Because of the uneven relief of India due to the presence of a number of hill ranges, the monsoon is not able to shed its moisture evenly over India.
  • Windward sides receive more rainfall and leeward sides receive less rainfall.
  • Mawsynram lies in the funnel-shaped depression caused by the Khasi range in Meghalaya.
  • The Bay of Bengal branch of monsoons is trapped in it and causes heavy rainfall.

Decreasing rainfall trends

  • The research analysed daily rain gauge measurements during 1901–2019 and noted that the changes in the Indian Ocean temperature have a huge effect on the rainfall in the region.
  • There was a reduction in the vegetation area in northeast India in the past two decades, implying that human influence also plays an important role in the changing rainfall patterns.
  • The traditional way of cultivation known as Jhum cultivation or shifting cultivation is now decreased and being replaced by other methods.
  • Also, previous studies have noted there is sizable deforestation in the region.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Mandarin Duck

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mandarin Duck, Dibru Saikhowa NP

Mains level : Not Much

A rare Mandarin duck was observed floating in the Maguri-Motapung beel (or wetland) in Assam’s Tinsukia district for over a week is spectacular.

Mandarin duck

IUCN status: Least Concerned

  • Considered the most beautiful duck in the world, the Mandarin duck, or the (Aix galericulata) was first identified by Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist Carl Linnaeus in 1758.
  • The eBird website, a platform that documents birds world over, describes it as a “small-exotic looking bird” native to East Asia.
  • It’s very beautiful, with majestic colours and can be spotted from a distance.

Its habitat and breeding

  • The migratory duck breeds in Russia, Korea, Japan and northeastern parts of China. It now has established populations in Western Europe and America too.
  • In 2018, when a Mandarin duck was spotted in a pond in New York City’s Central Park, it created a flutter among local residents.
  • It was recorded in 1902 in Dibru River in the Rongagora area in Tinsukia.

About Maguri beel

  • The Maguri Motapung wetland is an Important Bird Area as declared by the Bombay Natural History Society.
  • It is located close to the Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Upper Assam.
  • The entire ecosystem is very important as it is home to at least 304 bird species, including a number of endemic ones like Black-breasted parrotbill and Marsh babbler.
  • In May 2020, the beel was adversely affected by a blowout and fire at an Oil India Limited-owned gas well.

Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

Farakka ‘lock’ and Hilsa Fish

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Farakkha Barrage, Hilsa fish

Mains level : Not Much

It has been reported that an old project to facilitate the movement of Hilsa upstream along the Ganga to its spawning grounds of yore may come to fruition this year.

What is the news?

  • Back in February 2019, the government had unveiled a project to redesign the navigation lock at the Farakka Barrage at a cost of Rs 360 crore to create a “fish pass” for the Hilsa.

Hilsa Fish

  • In scientific parlance, the Hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) is an anadromous fish.
  • It lives most of its life in the ocean, but during the rainy season, the Hilsa moves towards the estuary, where the rivers of India and Bangladesh meet the Bay of Bengal.
  • A large part of the shoal travels upstream in the Padma and the Ganga — some are known to move towards the Godavari, and there are records of Hilsa migration to the Cauvery.
  • Culinary lore has it that the fish that travel the farthest upstream have the best combination of the flavours of the sea and the river.

Try this question from CSP 2019:

Q. Consider the following pairs:

Wildlife Naturally found in
1. Blue-finned Mahseer Cauvery River
2. Irrawaddy Dolphin Chambal River
3. Rusty-spotted Cat Eastern Ghats

Which of the pairs given above are correctly matched?

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 2 and 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3

Obstructions created by Farakka Barrage

  • Historical records also show that until the 1970s, the Hilsa would swim the Ganga upstream to Allahabad — and even to Agra.
  • But the Farakka Barrage, which became operational on the Ganga in 1975, disrupted the westward movement of the Hilsa.
  • The barrage had a navigation lock that stopped the fish from swimming upstream beyond Farakka.
  • In Buxar on the border of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the last recorded catch of the Hilsa was made 32 years ago.
  • The role of the Farakka Barrage in disrupting the Hilsa’s journey is well documented and has been discussed in Parliament as well.
  • On August 4, 2016, then Union Water Resources Minister told Lok Sabha about plans to create “fish ladders” to help the fish navigate the obstacle posed by the barrage.

Fish ladders/fishways/fish passes

  • Fish passes — also known as fish ladders or fishways — aim to assist fish in crossing obstacles presented by dams and barrages.
  • They usually consist of small steps that allow the fish to climb over the obstacles and enable them to reach the open waters on the other side.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Afghanistan

Places in news: Shahtoot Dam

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Shahtoot Dam

Mains level : India-Afghan relations

India and Afghanistan have signed an agreement to build the Shahtoot Dam in Kabul to provide drinking water facility in the Afghan capital.

Try this question from prelims 2020:

Consider the following pairs

Sr. River Flows into
1. Mekong Andaman Sea
2. Thames Irish Sea
3. Volga Caspian Sea
4. Zambezi Indian Ocean


Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2 and 4 only

Shahtoot Dam

  • It is a proposed dam in the Kabul river basin, one of the five river basins in Afghanistan.
  • This project will provide drinking, irrigation and Environmental water for Kabul province.
  • The dam will provide potable water to more than 2 million residents of Kabul, in addition to the irrigation of 4000 hectares of land in the district of Charasiab and Khairabad.
  • The dam will also provide water for irrigation to nearby areas, rehabilitate the existing irrigation and drainage network and help in flood protection and management efforts.
  • The project is expected to produce electricity for the region.

Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Expedition to Ram Setu

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Adam's Bridge

Mains level : NA

In possibly a first, Indian scientists will undertake a scientific expedition to date the chain of corals and sediments forming the Ram Setu.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which of the following have coral reefs?

  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. Gulf of Kachchh
  3. Gulf of Mannar
  4. Sunderbans

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Ram Setu

  • Also known as Adam’s bridge, Ram Setu is a 48-km long bridge-like structure between India and Sri Lanka.
  • It finds mention in the Ramayana but little about its formation is known or proven, scientifically.

What is the underwater archaeological project at Ram Setu?

  • The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) will undertake a three-year scientific project.
  • The idea is to see whether Ram Setu is a man-made structure or not.
  • The most important aspect of the project is to establish its age, scientifically.
  • The explorers will apply a number of scientific techniques while attempting to date the Ram Setu, study its material composition, outline the sub-surface structure along with attempting to excavate remnants or artefacts, if any, from the site.
  • Once it is known, the information can be verified and co-related with its mention in the Ramayana and similar scriptures.

How is the project planned?

  • An initial survey will make use of underwater photographs to check if any habitation remains inundated in the area. A geophysical survey will be performed to understand the structure.
  • Over the years, several kinds of depositions, including sand, have covered the actual structure. Initially, only physical observation, and no drilling, will be done.
  • NIO operates two oceanographic vessels – RV Sindhu Sankalp (ability to go up to and remain 56 metres underwater) and RV Sindhu Sadhana (ability to go up to and remain 80 metres underwater).
  • For collecting core samples at greater depths and for bathymetry purposes, Sindhu Sadhana will be deployed for the Ram Setu project.

Two of the planned tests:

  1. Side-scan SONAR — Will provide bathymetry which is similar to studying the topography of a structure on land. Soundwaves signals will be sent to the structure which will provide an outline of the physical structure of the Ram Setu.
  2. Silo seismic survey – Mild earthquake-like tremor shocks will be sent at shallow depths close to the structure. These energized shockwaves are capable of penetrating into the structure. The reflected or refracted signals will be captured by instruments that will provide sub-surface structure.

Significance of such exploration

  • India has a vast coastline of over 7,500 kilometres.
  • Oceans are a treasure trove of the past records — climate, evolutionary changes of the underwater fauna, coastal lives, habitations, settlements and civilizations.
  • Of these, the sea-level changes remain the most significant of all with respect to climate studies.
  • History has records of sailors who set out on unknown voyages to later discover new lands and islands.
  • They ventured into deep seas even before the advent of the Global Positioning System (GPS).
  • Using such underwater exploration studies, scientists say that it is possible to trace numerous ship-wreckages and remains from the past.
  • Studies of ship wreckage, artefacts or remains could reveal a lot of information.

Recently a 60000 YO submerged forest was explored off the Alabama coast in the USA.

Has India undertaken underwater archaeological explorations?

  • A part of Dwarka, along with coastal Gujarat, is underwater, confirming the sea-level rise.
  • The NIO has been studying this site, and so far, traced large amounts of scattered stones which were retrieved at the depth between three to six metres beneath.
  • Stone anchors, too, were found at the site, suggesting it to be part of an ancient harbour.
  • In the past, NIO had initiated studies to trace the missing shore temples of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.
  • Presently, several ship wreckage studies, including the one-off the Odisha coast, are going on.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Places in news: Sundarban Biosphere Reserve

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sundarban Delta

Mains level : Not Much

Indian Sunderbans, which is part of the largest mangrove forest in the world, is home to 428 species of birds, a recent publication of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) States.

Sundarban Biosphere Reserve

  • Sundarbans is the largest delta and mangrove forest in the world.
  • The Indian Sunderbans, which covers 4,200 sq km, comprises of the Sunderban Tiger Reserve of 2,585 sq km is home to about 96 Royal Bengal Tigers (2020) is also a world heritage site and a Ramsar Site.
  • The Indian Sunderbans is bound on the west by river Muriganga and on the east by rivers Harinbhahga and Raimangal.
  • Other major rivers flowing through this eco-system are Saptamukhi, Thakuran, Matla and Goasaba.
  • Recent studies claim that the Indian Sundarban is home to 2,626 faunal species and 90% of the country’s mangrove varieties.

What is the latest research?

  • The scientists have listed 428 birds, some, like the Masked Finfoot and Buffy fish owl, are recorded only from the Sunderbans.
  • India has over 1,300 species of birds and if 428 species of birds are from Sunderbans.
  • The area is home to nine out of 12 species of kingfishers found in the country as well rare species such as the Goliath heron and Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

Try this PYQ:

With reference to India’s biodiversity, Ceylon frogmouth, Coppersmith barbet, Gray-chinned miniyet and White-throated redstart are

(a) Birds

(b) Primates

(c) Reptiles

(d) Amphibians

Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Harike Wetland

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Harike Wetland

Mains level : Wetland conservation in India

Winter migratory waterbirds using the central Asian flyway have started making a beeline to Punjab’s Harike wetland, offering a delight for bird lovers.

Try this PYQ:

Q.In which one among the following categories of protected areas in India are local people not allowed to collect and use the biomass?

(a) Biosphere reserves

(b) National parks

(c) Wetlands declared under Ramsar convention

(d) Wildlife sanctuaries

Harike Wetland

  • Harike Wetland also is the largest wetland in northern India in the border of Tarn Taran Sahib district and Ferozepur district of Punjab.
  • The wetland and the lake were formed by constructing the headworks across the Sutlej River in 1953.
  • The headworks is located downstream of the confluence of the Beas and Sutlej rivers just south of Harike village.
  • The rich biodiversity of the wetland which plays a vital role in maintaining the precious hydrological balance in the catchment with its vast concentration of migratory fauna.
  • It was accorded as a wetland in 1990, by the Ramsar Convention, as one of the Ramsar sites in India, for conservation, development and preservation of the ecosystem.

Back2Basics: Ramsar Convention

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (better known as the Ramsar Convention) is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Traditionally viewed as a wasteland or breeding ground of disease, wetlands actually provide fresh water and food and serve as nature’s shock absorber.
  • Wetlands, critical for biodiversity, are disappearing rapidly, with recent estimates showing that 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900.
  • Major changes in land use for agriculture and grazing, water diversion for dams and canals and infrastructure development are considered to be some of the main causes of loss and degradation of wetlands.

Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

Great Green Wall (GGW) Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GGW Project

Mains level : Combating Desertification

The Great Green Wall (GGW) Project to address desertification, land degradation and climate change in the Sahel region of Africa has hit a new low due to funds crunch.

Note the countries swept by the GGW project on the African map.

GGW Project

  • The Great Green Wall project is conceived by 11 countries located along the southern border of the Sahara and their international partners, is aimed at limiting the desertification of the Sahel zone.
  • Led by the African Union, the initiative aims to transform the lives of millions of people by creating a mosaic of green and productive landscapes across North Africa.
  • The initial idea of the GGW was to develop a line of trees from east to the west bordering the Saharan Desert.
  • Its vision has evolved into that of a mosaic of interventions addressing the challenges facing the people in the Sahel and the Sahara.

Why was such project incepted?

  • The project is a response to the combined effect of natural resources degradation and drought in rural areas.
  • It aimed to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030; only four million hectares had been restored between 2007 and 2019.
  • It is a partnership that supports communities working towards sustainable management and use of forests, rangelands and other natural resources.
  • It seeks to help communities mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as improve food security.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

[pib] Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Protected Areas

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MEE Survey

Mains level : Not Much

Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change has released Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of 146 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the country.

Map the protected areas mentioned in the newscard in your Atlas.

MEE Survey

  • MEE is a very important document that provides valuable guidance on various aspects of wildlife and protected area expand MEE of Marine Protected Areas.
  • In order to assess the efficacy of Protected Areas, evaluation of management effectiveness was required.
  • MEE has emerged as a key tool for PA managers and is increasingly being used by governments and international bodies to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the protected area management systems.
  • The results of the present assessment are encouraging with an overall mean MEE score of 62.01% which is higher than the global mean of 56%.
  • With this round of evaluation, MoEFCC successfully completed one full cycle of evaluating all terrestrial National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries of the country from 2006 to 2019.

India has systematically designated its Protected Areas in four legal categories — National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Areas surveyed

  • Under the WP 1972 Act, India has 903 formally designated Protected Areas with total coverage of 1,65,012.6 square km.
  • Among these are 101 National Parks, 553 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 86 Conservation Reserves and 163 Community Reserves.
  • For the survey, 146 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries across 29 states and Union territories were evaluated.

Highlights of the MEE

  • Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary and Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh have performed the best among the surveyed protected areas.
  • The Turtle Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh was the worst performer in the survey.

History- Important places, persons in news

Places in the news: New Anubhava Mantapa

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kalyana Chalukya Style of Architecture

Mains level : Temple Architecture of India

Karnataka CM has laid the foundation stone for the ‘New Anubhava Mantapa’ in Basavakalyan, the place where 12th-century poet-philosopher Basaveshwara lived for most of his life.

Vaishnavism and Shaivism are the two most profound strands of Bhakti Movement in Indian history. Enlist all the Bhakti Saints and their theistic philosophy and teachings. Try to spot the minute differences between them.

Who was Basaveshwara?

  • Basaveshwara or Basavanna was an Indian 12th-century statesman, philosopher, a poet and Lingayat saint in the Shiva-focussed Bhakti movement and a social reformer in Karnataka.
  • He lived during the reign of the Kalyani Chalukya/Kalachuri dynasty.
  • He was active during the rule of both dynasties but reached his peak of influence during the rule of King Bijjala II in Karnataka, India.

Founder of Lingayat cult

  • The traditional legends and hagiographic texts state Basava to be the founder of the Lingayats.
  • However, modern scholarship relying on historical evidence such as the Kalachuri inscriptions state that Basava was the poet-philosopher who revived, refined and energized an already existing tradition.

His Philosophy

  • Basava’s Lingayat theology was a form of qualified nondualism, wherein the individual Atman (soul) is the body of God, and that there is no difference between Shiva and Atman (self, soul).
  • Basava’s views find places in Vedanta school, in a form closer to the 11th-century Vishishtadvaita philosopher Ramanuja.

Famous works

  • Basavanna spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas.
  • Basavanna rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals but introduced Ishtalinga necklace, with an image of the Shiva Liṅga to every person regardless of his or her birth.
  • As the chief minister of his kingdom, he introduced new public institutions such as the Anubhava Mantapa (or, the “hall of spiritual experience”) which welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds.

The New Anubhava Mantapa

  • The New Anubhava Mantapa, as envisaged now, will be a six-floor structure in the midst of the 7.5-acre plot and represent various principles of Basaveshwara
  • It will showcase the 12th Century Anubhava Mantapa (often referred to as the “first Parliament of the world”) established by him in Basavakalyan where philosophers and social reformers held debates.
  • The building will adopt the Kalyana Chalukya style of architecture.
  • The grand structure supported by 770 pillars will have an auditorium with a seating capacity of 770 people.
  • It is believed that 770 Sharanas (followers of Basaveshwara) led the Vachana reformist movement in the 12th Century.
  • The basement is designed for a Dasoha Bhavana (dining hall) where around 1,500 people eat together. On its top, the structure would have a Linga placed on a large pedestal.
  • The project also envisages a state-of-the-art robotic system, open-air theatre, modern water conservation system, terrace garden, library, research centre, prayer hall, yoga centre and so on.

Back2Basics: Kalyana Chalukya Style of Architecture

  • It is the distinctive style of ornamented architecture that evolved during the rule of the Western Chalukya Empire in the Tungabhadra region of modern central Karnataka.
  • These monuments, regional variants of pre-existing Dravida (South Indian) temples, form a climax to the wider regional temple architecture tradition called Vesara or Karnata Dravida.
  • They are either Ekakuta (one mandapa of one shrine) or Dvikuta (a common hall attached to two shrines).
  • The style has characters of both the Northern as well as Dravidian temple architecture.
  • This combination of both of these styles is known as Vesara Style, also Central Indian Style, which is represented by the Hoysala Temples.
  • Most of the temples of the Western Chalukyas are dedicated to Shiva, some of them dedicated to Vishnu and Jain Tirthankars also.

Examples: Truketshwara Temple, Gadag; Kasivisvesvara Temple, Lakkundi

Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Deepor Beel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ramsar Convention, Wetlands

Mains level : Ramsar wetlands in India

Assam has prohibited community fishing at Deepor Beel, a wetland on the south-western edge of Guwahati and it’s the only Ramsar site.

Try this PYQ:

In which one among the following categories of protected areas in India are local people not allowed to collect and use the biomass?

(a) Biosphere reserves

(b) National parks

(c) Wetlands declared under Ramsar convention

(d) Wildlife sanctuaries

Deepor Beel

  • Deepor Beel is located to the south-west of Guwahati city, in Kamrup district of Assam, India.
  • It is a permanent freshwater lake, in a former channel of the Brahmaputra River, to the south of the main river.
  • It is a wetland under the Ramsar Convention which has listed since November 2002, for undertaking conservation measures on the basis of its biological and environmental importance.
  • Considered as one of the largest beels in the Brahmaputra valley of Lower Assam, it is categorised as a representative of the wetland type under the Burma monsoon forest biogeographic region.
  • It is also an important bird sanctuary habituating many migrant species.
  • Freshwater fish is a vital protein and source of income for these communities; the health of these people is stated to be directly dependent on the health of this wetland ecosystem.

Back2Basics: Ramsar Convention

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (better known as the Ramsar Convention) is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Traditionally viewed as a wasteland or breeding ground of disease, wetlands actually provide fresh water and food and serve as nature’s shock absorber.
  • Wetlands, critical for biodiversity, are disappearing rapidly, with recent estimates showing that 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900.
  • Major changes in land use for agriculture and grazing, water diversion for dams and canals and infrastructure development are considered to be some of the main causes of loss and degradation of wetlands.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Places in news: Dibru-Saikhowa National Park

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dibru-Saikhowa National Park

Mains level : Not Much

PC: Gmaps

Assam has asked the State’s Forest and Revenue departments to permanently rehabilitate the indigenous forest dwellers of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2019:

Q. Which of the following are in Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve?

(a) Neyyar, Peppara and Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuaries; and Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

(b) Mudumalai, Sathyamangalam and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuaries; and Silent Valley National Park

(c) Kaundinya, Gundla Brahme-swaram and Papikonda Wildlife Sanctuaries; and Mukurthi National Park

(d) Kawal and Sri Venkateswara Wildlife Sanctuaries; and Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve

Dibru-Saikhowa National Park

  • DSNP is a national park in Assam located in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts.
  • It was designated a Biosphere Reserve in July 1997 with an area of 765 sq. km.
  • The park is bounded by the Brahmaputra and Lohit Rivers in the north and the Dibru river in the south.
  • It mainly consists of moist mixed semi-evergreen forests, moist mixed deciduous forests, canebrakes, and grasslands.
  • It is the largest Salix swamp forest in north-eastern India, with a tropical monsoon climate with a hot and wet summer and cool and usually dry winter.

 Why in news?

  • Rehabilitation of some 10,000 people has been hanging fire since 1999 when the Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary was upgraded to a national park.
  • The park, home to a few wild horses, had been in focus since May when a blowout at an Oil India Limited gas well in the vicinity posed an ecological threat.

What is the issue?

  • The affected people belong to the Missing community.
  • The forest dwellers of the 425-sq. km. Dibru-Saikhowa National Park has been denied access to government schemes since 1986 through a notification.
  • It allowed them to continue staying until their shifting to a suitable place.
  • The organization said the villagers’ problems started when 765 sq. km. around their habitations was declared a biosphere reserve in 1997, limiting the access of the forest to the community.
  • The hardship compounded in 1999 when the national park came into existence.

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

Places in news: Sea of Galilee

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sea of Galilee

Mains level : Not Much

The Sea of Galilee, well-known in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic lore, has swelled up due to recent rains, according to reports in the Israeli media.

Do you know?

The Sea of Galilee Lake Tiberias, Kinneret or Kinnereth is a freshwater lake in Israel. It is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake in the world (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake).

Sea of Galilee

  • The lake lies in northern Israel, between the occupied Golan Heights and the Galilee region. It is fed by underground springs but its major source is the Jordan River.
  • The lake has risen to 209.905 meters below sea level due to heavy rainfall in the surrounding areas.
  • The Jordan flows into the lake and then exits it before ending in the Dead Sea, the saltiest and the lowest point on the planet.
  • Water is not extracted from the Sea of Galilee. But it is considered to be an important barometer of the water situation in Israel.

History- Important places, persons in news

Places in news: Rahim’s Tomb

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Navratnas of Akbar

Mains level : Medieval arts and culture

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in The Hindu.

Try this PYQ:

Q.With reference to Mian Tansen, which one of the following statements is not correct?

(a) Tansen was the title given to him by Emperor Akbar.

(b) Tansen composed Dhrupads on Hindu gods and goddesses.

(c) Tansen composed songs on his patrons.

(d) Tansen invented many Ragas.

Who was Rahim?

  • Dating back to 1598, during the rule of Akbar, Abdur Rahim Khan I Khanan was one of the Navratna in the court.
  • Winning wars with his military training and hearts with his dohas and translated texts — he was a man who survived despite his father Bairam Khan’s assassination when he was just four.
  • Meant to be a dedication of a husband to his wife, the tomb ended up housing his own remains too when he died in 1627.

His works

  • Apart from writing various dohas, Rahim translated Babar’s memoirs, Baburnama from Chagatai language to the Persian language, which was completed in 998 (1589–90) AD.
  • He had an excellent command over the Sanskrit language.
  • In Sanskrit, he wrote two books on astrology, Khetakautukam and Dwatrimshadyogavali.

Why in news?

  • The tomb is in a run-down situation but undergoing renovation.
  • The historical and cultural significance is more than the archaeological and architectural significance, so restoring the dignity of the burial place has been very important.

Wetland Conservation

Mapping: Caspian Sea

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Caspian Sea

Mains level : Ecocides and their impact

The Caspian is actually a lake, the largest in the world and it is experiencing a devastating decline in its water level that is about to accelerate.

Note the countries bordering the Caspian Sea: Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan. Or else remember the acronym ‘TARIK(h)’ (Hindi word for date).

You can frame a mnemonic statement of your choice. Do similarly for major lakes and inland seas. But dont let it move over TARIK pe TARIK!

Caspian Sea

  • The Caspian Sea is the world’s largest inland body of water, variously classed as the world’s largest lake or a full-fledged sea.
  • As an endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia.
  • An endorheic basin is a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans, but converges instead into lakes or swamps, permanent or seasonal that equilibrates through evaporation
  • Its level is the product of how much water is flowing in from rivers, mostly the mighty Volga to the north, how much it rains and how much evaporates away.
  • At the end of the century, the Volga and other northern rivers will still be there.
  • However, a projected temperature rise of about 3℃ to 4℃ in the region will drive evaporation through the roof.

Now try this PYQ:

Q.Which of the following has/have shrunk immensely/ dried up in the recent past due to human activities?

  1. Aral Sea
  2. Black Sea
  3. Lake Baikal

Select the correct option using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 2 only

(d) 1 and 3 only

Why in news?

  • By the end of the century, the Caspian Sea will be nine metres to 18 metres lower. That’s a depth considerably taller than most houses.
  • The Caspian’s surface is already dropping by 7 cm every year, a trend likely to increase.
  • It means the lake will lose at least 25 per cent of its former size, uncovering 93,000 sq km of dry land.
  • If that new land were a country, it would be the size of Portugal.

Past strides in its level

  • The Caspian Sea has a history of violent rises and falls.
  • In Derbent, on the Caucasus coast of Russia, submerged ancient city walls testify to how low the sea was in medieval times.
  • Around 10,000 years ago, the Caspian was about 100 metres lower.
  • A few thousand years before that it was about 50 metres higher than today and even over spilt into the Black Sea.

Oil and Gas Sector – HELP, Open Acreage Policy, etc.

Gas Production in Krishna-Godavari Basin

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : KG basin, Natural Gas

Mains level : Oil and gas reserves in KG basin

Reliance Industries Ltd and BP (British Petroleum) have announced the start of gas production from the R cluster of the KG Basin, the deepest off-shore gas field in Asia.

Must read

https://www.civilsdaily.com/burning-issue-natural-gas-marketing-reforms/

Krishna-Godavari Basin

  • The Krishna Godavari Basin is a proven petroliferous basin of continental margin located on the east coast of India.
  • Its onland part covers an area of 15000 sq. km and the offshore part covers an area of 25,000 sq. km up to 1000 m isobath.
  • The basin contains about 5 km thick sediments with several cycles of deposition, ranging in age from Late Carboniferous to Pleistocene.
  • The major geomorphologic units of the Krishna Godavari basin are Upland plains, Coastal plains, Recent Flood and Delta Plains.

Minerals found

  • KG inland and offshore basins have good prospects of tight oil and tight gas reserves from the conducted field studies.
  • The first gas discovery in the basin was in 1983.
  • Most of the conventional wells drilled and operated have a shorter lifespan than envisaged life and with erratic production.
  • This may be due to drilling of conventional wells in tight oil and gas fields without horizontal drilling in the shale rock formations and hydraulic fracturing.

Note: Tight gas and tight oil are produced from reservoir rocks with such low permeability that considerable hydraulic fracturing is required to harvest the well at economic rates.

The KGD6 block

  • Krishna Godavari Dhirubhai 6 (KG-D6) was Reliance’s first offshore gas field development and its first underwater discovery.
  • It was also India’s largest deposit of natural gas and the largest such discovery in the world in 2002.
  • The project takes its name from India’s Krishna-Godavari Basin, which covers more than 19,000 square miles (50,000 square kilometres) in Andhra Pradesh and production block D6 in the Bay of Bengal.

Why is this important?

  • The R cluster, along with the Satellite Cluster and MJ gas fields in the KG Basin is expected to produce around 30 MMSCMD (million standard cubic metres per day) of natural gas.
  • This is about 15% of India’s projected demand for natural gas by 2023.

Do they impact India’s energy security efforts?

  • The three projects are a key part of the plan to boost domestic production of natural gas to increase the share of natural gas in India’s energy basket from 6.2% now to 15% by 2030.
  • Increased domestic production of natural gas is an important aspect of reducing India’s dependence on imports and improves energy security.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Places in news: ‘Mini Kaziranga’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pobitora WLS, Kaziranga NP

Mains level : Rhino protection measures

Too many cattle are robbing the one-horned rhinos of Assam’s Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, referred to as ‘Mini Kaziranga’ for similar features, of their nutritious food.

Try this PYQ:

Q. Consider the following statements:

  1. Asiatic lion is naturally found in India only.
  2. Double-humped camel is naturally found in India only.
  3. One-horned rhinoceros is naturally found in India only.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

About Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Pobitora WLS is located on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra in Morigaon district in Assam.
  • It was declared in 1987 and covers 38.85 km2 (15.00 sq mi), providing grassland and wetland habitat for the Indian rhinoceros.
  • It provides a habitat and food resource for the Indian rhinoceros, hosting Assam’s second-largest population.
  • Other mammals occurring in the sanctuary are golden jackal, wild boar and feral water buffalo.
  • Barking deer, Indian leopard and rhesus macaque live foremost in the hilly parts. It is an Important Bird Area and home for more than 2000 migratory birds and various reptiles.

Why in news?

  • Pobitora is running a successful Rhino breeding program within its sanctuary.
  • It is running under the government as “Indian Rhino vision 2020”.

Back2Basics: Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve

  • The KNTPR is a national park in the Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam.
  • The sanctuary, which hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses, is a World Heritage Site.
  • Kaziranga is home to the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006 (now the highest tiger density is in Orang National Park, Assam).
  • The park is home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.
  • It is also recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for the conservation of avifaunal species.