Wetland Conservation

India adds five more Ramsar Sites

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ramsar wetlands in India

Mains level : Not Much

India has added five more Ramsar sites, or wetlands of international importance, bringing the number of such sites in the country to 54.

Newly added Ramsar Sites

  1. Karikili Bird Sanctuary, Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve Forest and Pichavaram Mangrove in Tamil Nadu,
  2. Sakhya Sagar in Madhya Pradesh
  3. Pala Wetlands in Mizoram

What are Wetlands?

  • A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail.
  • The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other landforms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil.

Significance of Wetlands

  • Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control, and climate regulation.
  • They are, in fact, are a major source of water and our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands that help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater.
  • They provide many societal benefits: food and habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species; water quality improvement; flood storage; shoreline erosion control; economically beneficial natural products for human use; and opportunities for recreation, education, and research, etc.

 India and Ramsar Wetlands

  • India’s Ramsar wetlands are spread over 11,000 sq.km — around 10% of the total wetland area in the country — across 18 States.
  • No other South Asian country has as many sites, though this has much to do with India’s geographical breadth and tropical diversity.
  • The UK (175) and Mexico (142) — smaller countries than India — have the most Ramsar sites, whereas Bolivia spans the largest area with 1,48,000 sq.km under the Convention protection.
  • The National Wetland Inventory and Assessment compiled by the ISRO estimates India’s wetlands to span around 1,52,600 square kilometres.

What makes Ramsar designation significant?

  • Being designated a Ramsar site does not necessarily invite extra international funds.
  • Acquiring this label helps with a locale’s tourism potential and its international visibility.

Criteria for Ramsar site designation

To be Ramsar site a place must meet at least one of the criteria as defined by the Ramsar Convention of 1961, such:

  1. Supporting vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities or,
  2. If it regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds or,
  3. Is an important source of food for fishes,
  4. Spawning ground,
  5. Nursery and/or migration path on which fish stocks are dependent upon.
  6. Static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres
  7. Does not include river channels, paddy fields, human-made water bodies/ tanks specifically constructed for drinking water purposes

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.

 

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Contention over South China Sea

Places in news: Paracel Islands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Paracel Islands

Mains level : Not Much

A US destroyer sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, drawing an angry reaction from Beijing, which said its military had “driven away” the ship.

About Paracel Islands

  • The Paracel Islands, also known as the Xisha Islands and the Hoang Sa Archipelago are a disputed archipelago in the South China Sea.
  • The archipelago includes about 130 small coral islands and reefs, most grouped into the northeast Amphitrite Group or the western Crescent Group.

What is the South China Sea Dispute?

  • It is a dispute over territory and sovereignty over ocean areas, and the Paracels and the Spratlys – two island chains claimed in whole or in part by a number of countries.
  • China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei all have competing claims.
  • Alongside the fully-fledged islands, there are dozens of rocky outcrops, atolls, sandbanks, and reefs, such as the Scarborough Shoal.
  • China claims by far the largest portion of territory – an area defined by the “nine-dash line” which stretches hundreds of miles south and east from its most southerly province of Hainan.
  • Beijing says its right to the area goes hundreds of centuries to when the Paracel and Spratly island chains were regarded as integral parts of the Chinese nation.
  • It showed the two island groups falling entirely within its territory. Those claims are mirrored by Taiwan.

Spat over Chinese claims

  • China has backed its expansive claims with island-building and naval patrols.
  • The US says it does not take sides in territorial disputes but has sent military ships and planes near disputed islands, calling them “freedom of navigation” operations to ensure access to key shipping and air routes.
  • Both sides have accused each other of “militarizing” the South China Sea.
  • There are fears that the area is becoming a flashpoint, with potentially serious global consequences.

 

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Places in news: Singalila National Park

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Singalila National Park, Red Panda

Mains level : NA

The Singalila National Park, the highest protected area in West Bengal, will soon wild Red Panda.

Singalila National Park

  • Singalila National Park is located on the Singalila Ridge at an altitude of more than 7000 feet above sea level, in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal.
  • It is well known for the trekking route to Sandakphu that runs through it.
  • The Singalila area in Darjeeling was purchased by the British Government from Sikkim Durbar in 1882, and notified a Reserve Forest under the Indian Forest Act 1878.
  • It was notified as a National Park in 1992 and was also officially opened up for tourism.

Why introduce Red Panda?

  • The number of red pandas has been declining in the wild, even in the Singalila and Neora Valley National Parks, the two protected areas where the mammal is found in the wild in West Bengal.
  • Recent studies estimate that there are 38 of them in Singalila and 32 in Neora.
  • The zoological park who is at the centre of the Red Panda Augmentation Programme.
  • Conservation breeding of red pandas is only one part of the programme.

About Red Panda

IUCN Red List: Endangered

  • The red panda (Ailurus fulgens), also known as the lesser panda, is a small mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China.
  • It was first formally described in 1825.
  • The red panda inhabits coniferous forests as well as temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, favouring steep slopes with dense bamboo cover close to water sources.
  • It is solitary and largely arboreal.
  • It feeds mainly on bamboo shoots and leaves, but also on fruits and blossoms.

 

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Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Places in news: Snake Island

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Snake Island

Mains level : Not Much

Ukraine has said it has caused “significant losses” to the Russian military in airstrikes on Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake Island, in the Black Sea.

Snake Island

  • Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake or Serpent Island, is a small piece of rock less than 700 metres from end to end, that has been described as being “X-shaped”.
  • It is located 35 km from the coast in the Black Sea, to the east of the mouth of the Danube and roughly southwest of the port city of Odessa.
  • The island, which has been known since ancient times and is marked on the map by the tiny village of Bile that is located on it, belongs to Ukraine.

Why does Russia seek to control the Black Sea?

  • Domination of the Black Sea region is a geostrategic imperative for Moscow.
  • The famed water body is bound by Ukraine to the north and northwest, Russia and Georgia to the east, Turkey to the south, and Bulgaria and Romania to the west.
  • It links to the Sea of Marmara through the Bosporus and then to the Aegean through the Dardanelles.
  • It has traditionally been Russia’s warm water gateway to Europe.
  • For Russia, the Black Sea is both a stepping stone to the Mediterranean as well as a strategic buffer between NATO and itself.
  • Cutting Ukrainian access to the Black Sea will reduce it to a landlocked country and deal a crippling blow to its trade logistics.

 

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Places in news: Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP)

Mains level : Not Much

Activists surrounding the Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP) in Manipur have now taken up the cudgels to ensure that the government does not shift the proposed heritage park from the approved site.

Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP)

  • The KLNP is a national park in the Bishnupur district of the state of Manipur in India.
  • It is 40 km2 in area, the only floating park in the world, located in North East India, and an integral part of Loktak Lake.
  • The national park is characterized by floating decomposed plant material locally called Phumdi at the south–eastern side of the Loktak Lake, which has been declared a Ramsar site.
  • It was created in 1966 as a wildlife sanctuary to preserve the natural habitat of the endangered Eld’s deer.
  • In 1977, it was gazetted as national park.

Key faunas

  • KLNP is home to the last of the brow-antlered deer (Rucervus eldii eldii), one of the most endangered deer in the world.
  • It is locally called as Sangai.
  • The animal is, in fact, in danger of losing its home—most of the phumdis, or floating swamps, are unable to sustain its weight.
  • In 1951, it was reported extinct, but British tea planter and naturalist Edward Pritchard Gee rediscovered it in 1953.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Iran

Places in news: Strait of Hormuz

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Strait of Hormuz

Mains level : Global strategic flashpoints

A US Navy warship fired a warning flare to wave off an Iranian speedboat coming straight at it during a tense encounter in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Why in news?

  • The Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway in the Middle East marks the most sensitive transportation choke point for global oil supplies.

Strait of Hormuz

  • The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow channel, approximately 30 miles wide at the narrowest point, between the Omani Musandam Peninsula and Iran.
  • It connects the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman.
  • The Strait is deep and relatively free of maritime hazards.
  • Its depth is greatest near the Musandam Peninsula and tapers as you move north toward the Iranian shore.

Why is it important?

  • Oil tankers carrying crude from ports on the Persian Gulf must pass through the strait.
  • Around 21 million barrels of oil a day flowed through it in 2018, equivalent to roughly a third of global seaborne oil trade and about 21% of global petroleum liquids consumption.

 

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The Crisis In The Middle East

Places in news: Aegean Islands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Aegean Sea

Mains level : NA

Turkey has warned Greece to demilitarise islands in the Aegean Sea.

What is the news?

  • Turkey says Greece has been building a military presence in violation of treaties that guarantee the unarmed status of the Aegean islands.
  • It argues the islands were ceded to Greece on the condition they remained demilitarized.

Where is the Aegean Sea?

  • The Aegean Sea has a surface area of about 215,000 km2 and a depth of 3,544 m at the deepest end.
  • It has a maximum length of about 700 km and a width of 400 km.
  • The Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits connect the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea respectively.
  • The Aegean is subdivided into the Myrtoan Sea and the Thracian Sea and lies on the African and Eurasian tectonic plates’ collision path.

Control of the region

  • The sea is situated between the Anatolia and Balkan peninsulas and lies between Turkey and Greece.
  • Nine out of 12 of Greece’s administrative regions border the sea.
  • Turkish provinces, such as Balikesir, Canakkale, Edirne, and Izmir, borders the Aegean to the east.
  • The Aegean Sea is a source of dispute and controversy between Turkey and Greece, affecting their relationship since the 1970s.

What is the dispute?

  • Greece and Turkey are NATO allies.
  • However they have a history of disputes over a range of issues, including mineral exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and rival claims in the Aegean Sea.
  • Greece maintains Turkey has deliberately misinterpreted the treaties and says it has legal grounds to defend itself following hostile actions by Ankara.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: Indo-Pacific and QUAD

Pacific Nations reject China Security Pact

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pacific Nations in news

Mains level : Chinese counter to Western Indo-Pacific strategy

China has suffered a big diplomatic humiliation in the pacific. 10 island nations in the region rejected China’s proposed security pact.

Why in news?

  • Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi has returned empty-handed in a highly decorated visit to the Pacific Nations.
  • The secret deal that was to be brokered got leaked in public media, caused huge embarrassment to the Chinese.

Conspicuous features of the Pact

  • China has had offered to radically ramp up its activities in the South Pacific, directly challenging the influence of the US and its allies in the strategically vital region.
  • The failed deal saw Beijing to:
  1. Train Pacific island police,
  2. Become involved in cybersecurity,
  3. Expand political ties,
  4. Conduct sensitive marine mapping and
  5. Gain greater access to natural resources on land and in the water
  • As an enticement, Beijing is offering millions of dollars in financial aid, the prospect of a potentially lucrative China-Pacific islands free trade agreement and access to China’s vast market.

Why Pacific Nations rejected this lollipop?

  • The offer is perceived was “disingenuous” and would “ensure Chinese influence in government” and “economic control” of key industries.
  • The nations also cited a lack of regional consensus.

Pls make observations about Pacific Island Nations:

 

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

Places in news: Sela Tunnel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sela Pass

Mains level : Strategic border infrastructure

The strategically-significant Sela Tunnel project in Arunachal Pradesh is nearing completion well before the deadline.

What is Sela Tunnel Project?

  • The Sela Tunnel is the longest bi-lane road tunnel in the world.
  • The total length of the project, including the tunnels, the approach and the link roads, will be around 12 km.
  • The tunnel is being constructed by the Border Roads Organisation at an altitude of 13,800ft near the Indo-China border.
  • It is being built on the 317km long Balipara-Charduar-Tawang (BCT) road which connects West Kameng, East Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal Pradesh to the rest of the country.

Why is the project important?

  • All-weather connectivity to Tawang and other forward areas in the sector will be the most important advantage that the project promises.
  • At the moment, Sela pass stays closed for a few winter months.
  • The project will provide a new alignment on the axis towards the LAC, and allow movement of military and civil vehicles all through the year.

Significance of the tunnel

  • China is undertaking massive infrastructure development and troop build-up in the Rest of Arunachal Pradesh (RALP) area.
  • In military parlance, the RALP is an area in Arunachal Pradesh other than the Kameng area.
  • Other than the Kameng area consisting of East and West Kameng districts, the rest of the State is referred to by the Army as the RALP.

 

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Tiger Conservation Efforts – Project Tiger, etc.

Ramgarh Vishdhari notified as India’s 52nd Tiger Reserve

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ramgarh Vishdhari TR

Mains level : Tiger Conservation

Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary is now notified as a tiger reserve after a nod by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).

Ramgarh Vishdhari TR

  • Ramgarh Vishadhri, located mostly in Bundi district and in part in Bhilwara and Kota districts.
  • It is also home to the Indian wolf, leopard, striped hyena, chinkara, antelope and foxes among other animals.
  • It is now India’s 52nd tiger reserve and Rajasthan’s fourth, after Ranthambore, Sariska and Mukundra.
  • The reserve will be spread in an area of 1,501.89 sq km.
  • The area has been called ‘critical’ for the movement of tigers by wildlife experts and conservationists.
  • Though the tiger population in Ramgarh itself was not high, it plays an important role in connecting the Ranthambore and Mukundra Tiger Reserves of Rajasthan.

Back2Basics: Tiger Reserves

  • The Tiger Reserves of India were set up in 1973 and are governed by Project Tiger, which is administrated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
  • A National Park or Wildlife Sanctuary that is considered significant for protecting tigers can be additionally designated as a Tiger Reserve.
  • A Tiger Reserve consists of a ‘Core’ or ‘Critical Tiger Habitat’, which is to be managed as an inviolate area, and a ‘Buffer’ or Peripheral area immediately abutting a Core area, which may be accorded a lesser degree of habitat protection.
  • This is the typical zonation of a Tiger Reserve.

 

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Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Pantanal Wetlands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pantanal Wetlands

Mains level : Not Much

The world’s largest wetland, the Pantanal in South America, is at the risk of collapse due to legal land-use decisions and proposals.

About Pantanal

  • The Pantanal is a natural region encompassing the world’s largest tropical wetland area, and the world’s largest flooded grasslands.
  • It is located mostly within the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, but it extends into Mato Grosso and portions of Bolivia and Paraguay.
  • It sprawls over an area estimated at between 140,000 and 195,000 square kilometres.
  • Various subregional ecosystems exist, each with distinct hydrological, geological and ecological characteristics; up to 12 of them have been defined.
  • Roughly 80% of the Pantanal floodplains are submerged during the rainy seasons, nurturing a biologically diverse collection of aquatic plants and helping to support a dense array of animal species.

Significance of Pantanal

  • The Pantanal is a refuge for iconic wildlife. This massive wetland has the largest concentration of crocodiles in the world, with approximately 10 million caimans.
  • Jaguars, the largest feline in the Americas, hunt caiman in the Pantanal, which has one of the highest density of jaguars anywhere the world.

Threats

  • Around 95% of the Pantanal is under private ownership, the majority of which is used for cattle grazing.

 

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Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Places in news: Kuril Islands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kuril Islands

Mains level : Not Much

Japan has recently described the Kuril Islands (which Japan calls the Northern Territories and Russia as the South Kurils) as being under Russia’s “illegal occupation”.

Note the Islands of Japan in North to South Direction:  Hokkaido, Honshu , Shikoku, and Kyushu

What are the Kuril Islands/ Northern Territories?

  • These are a set of four islands situated between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean near the north of Japan’s northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido.
  • Both Moscow and Tokyo claim sovereignty over them though the islands have been under Russian control since the end of World War II.
  • The Soviet Union had seized the islands at the end of World War II and by 1949 had expelled its Japanese residents.
  • Tokyo claims that the disputed islands have been part of Japan since the early 19th century.

Why in news?

  • This is the first time in about two decades that Japan has used this phrase to describe the dispute over the Kuril Islands.
  • Japan had been using softer language since 2003, saying that the dispute over the islands was the greatest concern in Russia-Japan bilateral ties.

What lies behind the dispute?

  • Japan’s sovereignty over the islands is confirmed by several treaties since 1855.
  • Russia, on the other hand, claims the Yalta Agreement (1945) and the Potsdam Declaration (1945) as proof of its sovereignty.
  • It argues that the San Francisco Treaty of 1951 is legal evidence that Japan had acknowledged Russian sovereignty over the islands.
  • Under Article 2 of the treaty, Japan had “renounced all right, title and claim to the Kuril Islands.”
  • However, Japan argues that the San Francisco Treaty cannot be used here as the Soviet Union never signed the peace treaty.

Continuing the WW2

  • In fact, Japan and Russia are technically still at war because they have not signed a peace treaty after World War II.
  • In 1956, during Japanese PM Ichiro Hatoyama’s visit to the Soviet Union, it was suggested that two of the four islands would be returned to Japan once a peace treaty was signed.
  • However, persisting differences prevented the signing of a peace treaty though the two countries signed the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration, which restored diplomatic relations between the two nations.
  • The Soviet Union later hardened its position, even refusing to recognise that a territorial dispute existed with Japan.
  • It was only in 1991 during Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to Japan that the USSR recognised that the islands were the subject of a territorial dispute.

Have there been attempts at resolution?

  • Since 1991, there have been many attempts to resolve the dispute and sign a peace treaty.
  • The most recent attempt was under PM Shinzo Abe when joint economic development of the disputed islands was explored.
  • In fact, both countries had agreed to have bilateral negotiations based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration.
  • Russia was even willing to give back two islands, the Shikotan Island and the Habomai islets, to Japan after the conclusion of a peace treaty as per the 1956 declaration.
  • Japan’s attempt to improve ties with Russia was driven by its need to diversify energy sources and Russia by its need to diversify its basket of buyers and bring in foreign investments.
  • But nationalist sentiments on both sides prevented resolution of the dispute.

Implications for Japan

  • Soon after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Japan made its unhappiness with Russia clear.
  • Japan has been among the most steadfast of Western allies in denouncing Russian aggression and punishing it with sanctions.
  • Japan has probably been spurred by its fears of a Russia-China alliance as Japan itself has territorial disputes and an uneasy history with China.
  • Secondly, Japan might have felt that this is a good opportunity to further isolate Russia and paint it as a “habitual offender” of international law.
  • Finally, Tokyo might have been prompted to take this position as it feels that the invasion of Ukraine proves that getting back the Kuril Islands is a lost cause.

 

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History- Important places, persons in news

Places in news: East Timor

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : East Timor

Mains level : NA

Asia’s youngest nation, East Timor, also known as Timor Leste, holds the second and final round of its presidential election.

About East Timor

  • The territory was colonized by Portugal in the 18th century and remained under is control until 1975.
  • When the Portuguese withdrew, troops from Indonesia invaded and annexed East Timor as its 27th province.
  • A long and bloody struggle for independence ensued, during which at least 100,000 people died.
  • The East Timorese voted for independence in a 1999 U.N.-supervised referendum, but that unleashed even more violence until peace-keeping forces were allowed to enter.
  • The country was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2002.
  • East Timor has applied to be a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It currently holds observer status.

Its geography

  • East Timor comprises the eastern half of Timor Island, the western half of which is part of Indonesia.
  • It spans a 15,000 square km (5,792 square mile) land area – slightly smaller than Israel – and it’s 1.3 million people are predominantly Roman Catholic.

Politics and economy

  • In nearly 20 years since independence, East Timor’s presidential and parliamentary elections have been dominated by many of the same faces.
  • Its revolutionary have run for and held various positions of power and continue to feature prominently in the running of the country.
  • East Timor depends on revenues from its offshore oil and gas reserves which account for 90% of its gross domestic product.
  • Its main revenue stream, the Bayu Undan gas field, is set to dry up by 2023 and the country is now planning to collaborate with companies like Australia’s Santos to turn it into carbon capture facilities.

 

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

Places in news: Gulf of Gabes

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gulf of Gabes

Mains level : Not Much

A Fuel Ship with 750 tons of diesel sinks off the Gulf Of Gabes in Tunisia.

Gulf of Gabes

  • The Gulf of Gabes also known as Lesser Syrtis contrasting with the Greater Syrtis in Libya, is a gulf on Tunisia’s east coast in the Mediterranean Sea, off North Africa.
  • The gulf roughly spans the coast from Sfax to Djerba.
  • At the head of the gulf is the city of Gabès (Ghannouche) where the tides have a large range of up to 2.1 m at spring tides.
  • Both Gabès and Sfax are major ports on the gulf, supporting sponge and tuna fisheries, with Gabès being the economic and administrative centre.
  • It is 60 miles (100 km) long and 60 miles wide and is bounded by the Qarqannah (Kerkena) Islands on the northeast and by Jarbah (Djerba) Island on the southeast.

Regional economy of the gulf

  • Except for the Strait of Gibraltar and the Gulf of Venice, it is the only part of the Mediterranean with a substantial tidal range, causing the uncovering of extensive sandbanks at low water.
  • Sponge and tuna fisheries are located at the main ports of Qābis (Gabès) and Ṣafāqis (Sfax).
  • Oil and natural-gas deposits have been found in the gulf, east of Ṣafāqis.

 

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Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Why is the Black Sea crucial to Russia?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Black Sea mapping

Mains level : Read the attached story

The sinking of the huge Russian warship Moskva whether due to a Ukrainian missile strike or, as Russia claims, a fire on board — is a serious setback for Russia in the Black Sea.

About Black Sea

  • The famed water body is bound by Ukraine to the north and northwest, Russia and Georgia to the east, Turkey to the south, and Bulgaria and Romania to the west.
  • It links to the Sea of Marmara through the Bosphorus and then to the Aegean through the Dardanelles.

Significance of Black Sea for Russia

  • Domination of the Black Sea region is a geostrategic imperative for Moscow.
  • Black Sea has traditionally been Russia’s warm water gateway to Europe.
  • For Russia, the Black Sea is both a stepping stone to the Mediterranean.
  • It acts as a strategic buffer between NATO and itself.
  • It showcases the Russian power in the Mediterranean and to secure the economic gateway to key markets in southern Europe.
  • The Rhine-Main-Danube canal connects the Black Sea to the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea and the port of Odessa serves as a vital link between Ukraine and the outside world.

Black Sea in the Ukraine war

  • Russia has been making efforts to gain complete control over the Black Sea since the Crimean crisis of 2014.
  • During the ongoing invasion, the domination of the Black Sea has been a major Russian objective, along with the land bridge to connect Russia and Crimea.
  • As such, there have been intense efforts to capture Mariupol, the Sea of Azov port in the breakaway eastern Ukrainian oblast of Donetsk.
  • Mariupol appeared close to falling to the Russians.

Sinking of the Moskva

  • The sinking of the Moskva is believed to be the worst loss in the history of naval warfare.
  • It was sunk by shore-based anti-ship cruise missiles which took advantage of bad weather and used decoy UAV attacks to defeat the ship’s air defence systems.
  • It demonstrates the success of outside-the-box measures adopted by Ukraine in the war.

 

Must answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Consider the following pairs:

Sea Bordering country
1. Adriatic Sea Albania
2. Black Sea Croatia
3. Caspian Sea Kazakhstan
4. Mediterranean Sea Morocco
5. Red Sea Syria

Which of the pair given above are correctly matched? (CSP 2020)

(a) 1, 2 and 4 only

(b) 1, 3 and 4 only

(c) 2 and 5 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

 

 

Post your answers here.

 

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Tourism Sector

Places in news: Nadabet- the Wagah of Gujarat

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nadabet, Seema Darshan Project

Mains level : Promoting Border Tourism

As part of the Seema Darshan project, Union Home Minister inaugurated an Indo-Pakistan border viewing point in Nadabet in Gujarat, around 188 km from Ahmedabad.

Where is Nadabet?

  • Located in the Rann of Kutch region, Nadabet is also known as the ‘Wagah of Gujarat’.
  • It is connected by a narrow bitumen road cutting across mudflats that get inundated during high-tide.
  • The biggest attraction of the Seema Darshan Project is the access provided to civilians to view the fenced international border with Pakistan at ‘Zero Point’.
  • This is guarded round the clock by the Border Security Force (BSF) in Banaskantha district of Gujarat.
  • Pakistan is around 150 metres from the border pillar 960 at Nadabet.
  • Though the BSF conducts a parade similar to the one held at Attari-Wagah border in Punjab every evening during sunset, there won’t be anyone present across the border on the Pakistani side.

What is the Seema Darshan Project?

  • The Seema Darshan project is a joint initiative of the tourism department of the Gujarat state government and the BSF Gujarat Frontier.
  • The focus is to develop border-tourism in the region which has a sparse population and even sparser vegetation.
  • The project aims to boost tourism as well as restrict migration from the villages across the border to the Indian side.

Role of Nadabet in 1971 Indo-Pak War

  • Nadabet played a key role in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War.
  • It was in this region that the BSF not only stalled the enemy trying to invade from the west, but also captured 15 enemy posts.
  • During the war, the BSF had captured 1,038 square km of Pakistan territory in Nagarparkar and Diplo areas.
  • The area was returned to Pakistan after the Shimla Agreement was signed.

 

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Australia

Places in news: Solomon Islands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Solomon Islands

Mains level : Chinese expansion in Pacific

The Solomon Islands has defended plans to sign a security deal with Beijing that could allow China to boost its military presence in the South Pacific island nation. This has left Australia very concerned.

Solomon Islands

  • Solomon Islands is a sovereign country consisting of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands in Oceania, to the east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu.
  • It has a land area of 28,400 square kilometres and a population of 652,858.[10] Its capital, Honiara, is located on the largest island, Guadalcanal.
  • The country takes its name from the Solomon Islands archipelago, which is a collection of Melanesian islands.
  • It also includes the North Solomon Islands (a part of Papua New Guinea), but excludes outlying islands, such as the Santa Cruz Islands and Rennell and Bellona.
  • The islands have been settled since at least some time between 30,000 and 28,800 BCE, with later waves of migrants, notably the Lapita people, mixing and producing the modern indigenous Solomon Islanders population.

 

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Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

Egypt hikes Suez Canal transit fees for ship

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Suez Canal

Mains level : NA

Cash-strapped Egypt increased transit fees for ships passing through the Suez Canal, one of the world’s most crucial waterways, with hikes of up to 10%.

Suez Canal

  • The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Isthmus of Suez; and dividing Africa and Asia.
  • Constructed by the Suez Canal Company between 1859 and 1869, it officially opened on 17 November 1869.
  • The canal was earlier controlled by British and French interests in its initial years but was nationalized in 1956 by Egypt’s then leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.
  • It extends from the northern terminus of Port Said to the southern terminus of Port Tewfik at the city of Suez.
  • Its length is 193.30 km including its northern and southern access channels.

Its significance

  • The Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo being shipping from East to West.
  • About 10% of global trade, including 7% of the world’s oil, flows through the Suez Canal.
  • It provides a major shortcut for ships moving between Europe and Asia, who before its construction had to sail around Africa to complete the same journey.
  • As per a report, the canal is a major source of income for Egypt’s economy, with the African country earning $5.61 billion in revenues from it last year.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Between India and East Asia, the navigation time and distance can be greatly reduced by which of the following?

  1. Deepening the Malacca straits between Malaysia and Indonesia.
  2. Opening a new canal across the Kra isthmus between the Gulf of Siam and Andaman sea.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Post your answers here.

 

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

Places in news: Erra Matti Dibbalu

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Erra Matti Dibbalu

Mains level : NA

Citizens join hands to preserve the geological marvel of Erra Matti Dibbalu in Visakhapatnam.

What is Erra Matti Dibbalu?

  • Located between Visakhapatnam and Bheemunipatnam, the Erra Matti Dibbalu are rare red sand dunes that are a reminder of the million years of geological processes.
  • Its towering red sand dunes with patches of greenery is like a meandering maze.
  • The width of the dunes, which runs for five kilometres along the coast, varies from 200 metres to two kilometres.
  • It is listed among the 34 notified National Geological Heritage Monument Sites of India by the Geological Survey of India.

(Don’t they resemble to Ravines of Chambal?)

Its formation

  • Studies indicate that the area was tectonically active between 2.5 million years and 11,000 years ago.
  • The sediments are mainly derived from the Khondalite rocks from the hinterland of the Eastern Ghats.
  • Geologically these red sand dune sediments particularly hold significance.
  • They are the result of the combined effect of numerous factors including global climatic changes, sea-level variations, monsoonal variability and as a result serves as valuable paleo-environment indicators.

 

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Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Basai Wetlands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Basai Wetlands

Mains level : Not Much

The Basai Wetlands in Gurugram has shrunk to a quarter of its original size over the years.

Basai Wetlands

  • Basai wetland, located in Basai village in Gurgaon Haryana is a flora and fauna rich water body.
  • It lies in one of the paleochannel of the Sahibi River, a tributary of Yamuna which originates from the Aravalli range in Rajasthan and flows through the region.

Its significance

  • It is recognized as one of India’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas and is of global conservation significance.
  • It supports populations of several endangered, vulnerable, and threatened bird species.
  • It is recognized globally as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the BirdLife International housing 20,000 birds of over 280 species including migratory birds and endangered birds.
  • However, it has not yet been declared a protected wetland by the Government of Haryana.

Threats

  • Given the accelerated expansion of the city of the future, the wetland continues to disappear under newly laid roads, modern housing constructions and other infrastructure development.
  • An upcoming expressway, cutting through the terrain here, has majorly impacted the flyway of thousands of migratory birds from Europe and Central Asia.

 

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