Daily Mains Newsletter for UPSC 18 Jun 2022

Daily Mains Newsletter For
UPSC | RaghukulCS

18 June 2022 - Saturday


Table of Contents

World Drought and Desertification Awareness Day

Why in the news?

  • Every year on June 17th, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) commemorated Desertification and Drought Day on this day.
  • The Forest Stewardship Council’s Forest Stewardship Standard for India was released by the Union Minister (FSC FSSI).
  • FSC is a globally recognised certification system that establishes audit requirements for enterprises involved with timber-related products.

What are the main highlights of the World Day Against Desertification and Drought?

  • About: This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is attainable via problem-solving, strong community involvement, and cooperation at all levels.
  • This year’s theme is “Rising Together from Drought.”
  • It underlines the importance of taking action as soon as possible to avert catastrophic effects for humans and the planet’s ecosystems.
  • Desertification, along with climate change and biodiversity loss, were named as the most serious obstacles to sustainable development at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
  • Two years later, on June 17, 1994, the United Nations General Assembly established the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the only legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management, and declared June 17 as “World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.”
  • Later, in 2007, the UN General Assembly named 2010-2020 the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification, with the UNCCD Secretariat once again leading the charge.

What exactly is desertification?

  • Land degradation in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid environments. It is mostly caused by human activity and climatic variables.
  • It makes no mention of the growth of existing deserts. Dryland ecosystems, which occupy more than one-third of the world’s land area, are especially vulnerable to overexploitation and unsuitable surface use.
  • Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing, and poor irrigation practises can all reduce land production.

What exactly is a drought?

  • Drought is commonly defined as a lack of rainfall/precipitation over an extended period of time, usually a season or more, resulting in a water deficit with negative consequences for flora, animals, and/or people.
  • Drought can also be induced by forest fires, which render the soil unfit for cultivation and create a water deficit in the soil.
  • Droughts are becoming more common as a result of land degradation and climate change.

What is the Current Situation with Desertification and Droughts?

  • Drought frequency and duration have increased by 29 percent since 2000, compared to the previous two decades (World Meteorological Organization 2021).
  • Droughts affect 55 million people each year, and by 2050, three-fourths of the population will be affected.
  • Water scarcity already affects 2.3 billion people. By 2040, an estimated one in every four children will be living in places with severe water scarcity (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund). Drought affects every country (UN-Water 2021).

How Should It Be Handled?

  • Accelerated reforestation and tree planting are required.
  • Saving, reusing treated water, rainfall collecting, desalination, or direct use of seawater for salt-loving plants are all examples of water management.
  • Buttressing the soil with sand barriers, windbreaks, and so on.
  • Soil enrichment and hyper-fertilization are required.
  • Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), which promotes native sprouting tree development by selectively trimming shrub branches. Pruning debris can be utilised to produce mulch for fields, enhancing soil water retention and decreasing evaporation.

What exactly is the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)?

  • It is the only legally enforceable international agreement combining environment and development to sustainable land management, having been established in 1994.
  • It focuses on the arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas known as the drylands, which are home to some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples.
  • The 197 parties to the Convention collaborate to enhance the living conditions of people living in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil fertility, and to alleviate the effects of drought.
  • It is especially committed to a bottom-up strategy, encouraging local people to participate in combating desertification and land degradation. The UNCCD secretariat promotes collaboration between developed and developing nations, notably in the transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable land management.
  • To handle these complex challenges with an integrated approach and the greatest possible use of natural resources, the dynamics of land, climate, and biodiversity are inextricably linked. The UNCCD works closely with the two other Rio Conventions:
  • The Biological Diversity Convention (CBD)
  • Climate Change Framework Convention of the United Nations (UNFCCC)
UNCCD Strategic Framework 2018-2030:
  • It is the most comprehensive global commitment to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) in order to restore the productivity of enormous swaths of degraded land, enhance the livelihoods of over 1.3 billion people, and mitigate the effects of drought on vulnerable communities.
  • Goal 15 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), 2030 states, “We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources, and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of present and future generations.”

What are the other Related Initiatives?

National Projects:

The Integrated Watershed Management Programme strives to restore ecological balance by harnessing, conserving, and developing degraded natural resources while also creating rural jobs.

  • Desert Development Programme:
  • established in 1995 to mitigate the negative effects of drought and revitalise the natural resource base of specified desert areas.
  • The National Mission on Green India was established in 2014 with the goal of maintaining, restoring, and upgrading India’s declining forest cover over a 10-year period.
Global Initiatives:
  • The Bonn Challenge: The Bonn Challenge is a global endeavour to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and damaged land by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
  • India also joined the voluntary Bonn Challenge pledge to restore 21 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030 at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 2015 in Paris.
  • By 2030, the goal has been amended to repair 26 million hectares of damaged and deforested land.

WEB 5.0

Why in the news?

  • Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has revealed his concept for a new decentralised web platform called Web 5.0, which aims to give individuals “control over data and identity.”
  • The World Wide Web (WWW) is the primary tool used by billions of people to interact with other people as well as read and publish information. It is being built by former Twitter CEO Bitcoin business unit, The Block Head. From Web 1.0 to Web 5.0, there has been evolution.

What are the Key Features of Different Web Versions?

  • The initial iteration of the worldwide digital communications network is known as Web 1.0. It is frequently referred to as the “read-only” Internet since it is comprised of static web pages that only allow for passive involvement.
  • Web 2.0, The “read and write” Internet was the next stage in the growth of the web. Users may now communicate with servers and other users, birthing the social web. This is the internet as we know it today.
  • Web 3.0 is a developing phrase that refers to the next generation of the Internet – a “read-write-execute” web built on decentralisation.
  • It refers to a digital world constructed on blockchain technology, in which people can connect with one another without the necessity for a middleman.
  • It will be powered by Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, which will allow machines to comprehend information in the same way that humans do.
  • Web 5.0 is still in its early stages, as it is being developed by Dorsey’s Bitcoin business company, The Block Head (TBH). Web 5.0 aims to “create an additional decentralised web that puts one in control of one’s data and identity.”
  • Web 5.0 is a combination of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 that will enable users to “own their identity on the Internet” and “manage their data.”
  • Both Web 3.0 and Web 5.0 envision an Internet free of censorship – whether from governments or big tech – and free of significant outages.

What are the Problems with Web 5.0?

  • There are few consequences for this technology in the near future because it is still a concept in its early stages, and no one knows how it will turn out.
  • How the sovereign government would allow this decentralised platform free of government intrusion could lead to conflict between the government and Web 5.0 supporters.
  • There is still uncertainty about how the system will work, who will regulate it, and what safety scenarios exist for vulnerable people such as women, children, and the elderly.

The Way Forward

  • Both the government and the promotional sides require a proper blueprint and policy.
  • The effectiveness in the real world must be evaluated.
  • Individual privacy should be prioritised over the necessity for personal data security.
  • It should not become yet another instrument for venture capitalists to manipulate the platform for their personal gain, making a mockery of the political system in the process.
  • The government should establish a regulatory authority to oversee these new and emerging technologies.

Lord Buddha's Holy Relics

Why in the news?

  • Four Holy Relics of Lord Buddha are being transported from India to Mongolia for an 11-day exhibition in conjunction with Mongolian Budhha Purnima celebrations.
  • These relics will be presented at the Batsagaan Temple in Ulaanbaatar’s Gandan Monastery complex.
  • The four relics are among 22 Buddha relics housed in Delhi’s National Museum.
  • They are collectively known as the ‘Kapilvastu Relics,’ as they are from a site in Bihar thought to be the ancient city of Kapilvastu. In 1898, the site was discovered.
  • Relics are holy objects linked with holy people.
  • They could be physical body parts (teeth, hair, bones) or artefacts used or touched by the holy person.
  • Many traditions believe that relics have extraordinary powers to cure, provide favours, or exorcise devils.

What are Buddha’s Sacred Relics?

  • According to Buddhist traditions, Buddha obtained salvation at the age of 80 in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar district.
  • His body was burned with ceremonies worthy for a global king by the Mallas of Kushinagar.
  • His relics were collected from the funeral pyre and divided into eight shares, which were distributed among the Ajathsatrus of Magadha, the Licchavis of Vaishali, the Sakyas of Kapilavastu, the Mallas of Kushinagar, the Bullies of Allakappa, the Mallas of Pava, the Koliyas of Ramagrama, and a Brahmana of Vethadipa.
  • The goal was to build stupas over precious relics.
  • Two further stupas appeared, one over the urn containing the relics and the other over the flames.
  • The earliest surviving Buddhist shrines are stupas built over Buddha’s corporeal relics (Saririka stupas).
  • In an effort to spread Buddhism and the stupa worship, Ashoka (272–232 BC) opened seven of these eight stupas and collected substantial sections of the relics for enshrinement within 84,000 stupas built by him.


How Were the Kapilavastu Relics Found?

  • The discovery of an inscribed casket in 1898 at the stupa site in Piprahwa (near Siddharthnagar in Uttar Pradesh) aided in the identification of the location with the ancient Kapilavastu.
  • The inscription on the casket’s lid relates to Buddha’s relics and his Sakya society.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India excavated the stupa again in 1971-77, revealing two more steatite relic caskets with a total of 22 sacred bone relics, which are now in the care of the National Museum.
  • This was followed by the finding of more than 40 terracotta sealings from various levels and locations in Piprahwa’s eastern monastery, proving that Piprahwa was the old Kapilavastu.

What is the level of security in Mongolia?

  • During the 11-day tour, the relics will be treated like a “state guest” in Mongolia and will be returned to the National Museum of India.
  • The Indian Air Force has sent a special plane for the visit, a C-17 GlobeMaster, which is one of India’s largest planes.
  • In 2015, the Holy Relics were classified as ‘AA’ Antiquities and Art Treasures, which should not be transferred out of the nation for exhibition due to their sensitive nature.
Buddha Gautam
  • He was born in Lumbini, near the Indo-Nepal border, as Siddhartha Gautama to a royal family in 563 BCE.
  • His ancestors were from the Sakya clan, which governed from Kapilvastu, Lumbini.
  • Gautama left home at the age of 29 and abandoned his life of luxury in favour of asceticism, or intense self-discipline.
  • Gautam gained Bodhi (enlightenment) under a pipal tree in Bodhgaya, Bihar, after 49 days of meditation.
  • Buddha delivered his first speech in Sarnath, near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. This is referred to as Dharma Chakra Pravartana (turning of the wheel of law).
  • He died in 483 BCE at the age of 80 in Kushinagara, Uttar Pradesh. The occurrence is referred to as Mahaparinibban or Mahaparinirvana.
  • He is thought to be the eighth of Lord Vishnu’s 10 incarnations (Dashavatar).

India's wheat exports have been prohibited.

Why in the news?

  • The recent suspension of re-export of wheat and flour from grain originating in India is essentially an assurance that whatever it imports would be used solely for domestic consumption.
  • The event comes just a month after India banned wheat exports in order to meet domestic demand, as well as those of neighbouring countries and vulnerable nations.
  • According to the UAE Ministry of Economy, this decision was made in light of international developments that have affected trade flows, as well as in recognition of the strong and strategic ties that bind the UAE and India, particularly following the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the two countries and the Indian government’s approval to export wheat to the UAE for domestic consumption.

What is the status of India’s wheat export?

  • After China, India is the world’s second-largest wheat producer. However, it contributes for less than 1% of worldwide wheat commerce. It keeps a large portion of it to subsidise food for the poor.
  • Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka are its biggest export markets, along with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • Reasons for the Wheat Export Ban:
  • India has halted wheat exports as of May 13, 2022. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) defended the prohibition in a notification published in the government gazette, citing how rising global wheat prices have put strain on food security not just in India, but also in neighbouring and vulnerable countries.
  • However, export will be permitted if the Government of India grants permission to other nations to meet their food security needs and if their governments request it.
  • The prohibition was also triggered by a fall in wheat production, which was hampered by a heatwave that swept over the country in March-April, and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) was unable to mop up adequate inventories for buffer stocks.
  • This move was also spurred by growing inflation. The WholeSale Price Index (WPI) in India has risen from 2.26 percent in the beginning of 2022 to 14.55 percent today. Retail inflation also reached an eight-year high of 7.79% in April, owing to increased food and fuel prices.

What Will the Impact of India’s Wheat Export Ban Be?

India’s Impact:
  • The impact of the wheat export prohibition on domestic food inflation in India is likely to be minimal. This export embargo is a precautionary measure that may prevent local wheat prices from rising significantly.
  • However, because domestic wheat output is anticipated to be curtailed by the heatwave, local wheat prices may not fall significantly.
The Global Impact:
  • The Ukraine-Russia conflict has reduced wheat production in what is known as the world’s bread basket. Russia and Ukraine jointly account for 25% of global wheat exports. Wheat prices have risen as a result, as have supply-side issues.
  • Except for Australia and India, most Asian economies rely on imported wheat for domestic consumption and are vulnerable to increasing global wheat prices, even if they do not directly import from India.
  • This current export ban will raise costs around the world, affecting poor consumers in Africa and Asia.

What Importance Do Wheat Exports Have for India?

  • Net Earnings from Forex:
  • It would assist India in reducing the stock of wheat in FCI’s Godowns and provide an opportunity to capture overseas markets by expanding exports.
  • Increased exports will result in increased currency reserves and a reduction in India’s Current Account Deficit (CAD).
  • India’s Goodwill Image: 
  • By exporting wheat to needy and vulnerable countries, India can strengthen relationships with countries with which it has tense relations and aid to normalise relations.

The Way Forward

  • Although India’s action is justified on the premise of guaranteeing food security and stabilising domestic prices, it must explain it to the rest of the world in the same way, or it would harm India’s reputation in global politics.
  • India should guarantee that the food security of vulnerable and neighbouring nations is not jeopardised, as this will lead to diplomatic difficulties.

What are the main points about wheat?

  • About:
  • After rice, this is India’s second most significant cereal crop.
  • It is the primary food crop in the country’s north and northwestern regions.
  • Wheat is a rabi crop that demands a cool growing season as well as intense sunlight during ripening.
  • The success of the Green Revolution aided the growth of Rabi crops, particularly wheat.
  • A few government initiatives to boost wheat cultivation include the Macro Management Mode of Agriculture, the National Food Security Mission, and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.
  • Temperatures:
  • 10-15°C (sowing) to 21-26°C (ripening and harvesting) in broad sunlight.
  • 75-100 cm of rain is expected.
  • Well-drained fertile loamy and clayey loamy soils (Ganga-Satluj plains and black soil region of the Deccan).
  • Uttar Pradesh > Punjab > Haryana > Madhya Pradesh > Rajasthan > Bihar > Gujarat are the top wheat producing states.
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