Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Russia and Black Sea
- Captive Private Networks
- Marine heatwave & Cyclone
- Amrit Sarovar Mission
- Teesta River Dispute
1 . Amrit Sarovar Mission
Context : In a move that could expedite the implementation of railway and highway projects across the country, the Centre has asked the Ministry of Railways and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to use the soil or silt excavated from ponds and tanks in all districts under the Amrit Sarovar mission for their infrastructure projects.
About Amrit Sarovar Mission
- Amrit Sarovar mission was lauched with a view to conserve water for the future by the Prime Minister on 24th April 2022.
- The Mission is aimed at developing and rejuvenating 75 water bodies in each district of the country as a part of celebration of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. In total, it would lead to creation of 50,000 water bodies of a size of about an Acre or more.
- This Mission has been launched with a whole of Government Approach in which 6 Ministries/Department namely Dept of Rural Development , Department of land resources, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Department of Water resources, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate changes.
- Also BhaskaracharyaNational Institute for Space Application and Geo-informatics(BISAG-N)has been engaged as Technical partner for the Mission.
- The Mission works through the States and Districts, through refocusing of various schemes such as Mahatma Gandhi NREGS, XV Finance Commission Grants, PMKSY sub schemes such as Watershed Development Component, Har Khet Ko Pani besides States’ own schemes. It may also be mentioned that the Mission encourages mobilisation of citizen and non-govt resources for supplementing these efforts.
- The Mission Amrit Sarovar is to be completed by 15th August 2023. Around 50,000 such Amrit Sarovar may be constructed in the country. Each of these Amrit Sarovar will have approx. area of 1 acre with a water holding capacity of 10,000 cubic meter.
- People’s participation in the Mission is the focal point. Local freedom fighter, their family members, Martyr’s family members, Padma Awardee and citizens of the local area wherein an Amrit Sarovar is to be constructed, will be engaged at all stages. On every 15th August, National Flag hoisting will be organised on every Amrit Sarovar site .
- States were requested to form the water structure user’sassociation and impart required training for better development of the Amrit Sarovars. Technical and other concerns of the States were addressed. Overall, the States/UTs given very positive response to the Mission.
How Amrit Sarovar Mission will cater to Railways and NHAI
- According to railway sources, many railway projects were held up due to the delay in getting the required quantity of burrow earth from the local authorities. Though the issue was flagged at the appropriate level, the timely availability of earth remained a challenge.
- Since the project would involve excavation of several thousands of tonnes of earth in the form of soil or silt, the Ministry of Rural Development has told the Ministry of Railways and the NHAI to map its infrastructure projects with the Amrit Sarovar sites in all States and UTs.
- The General Managers of all Zonal Railways were told to nominate the Chief Administrative Officer (Construction) as the nodal officer who would identify the nearest sites of Amrit Sarovar to ongoing railway projects, study the suitability of the desilted soil and silt and submit a feasibility report at the earliest.
- According to official sources, the Amrit Sarovar mission will cater to the requirements of projects being implemented by the NHAI.
- In Tamil Nadu, the issue of allowing contractors to lift burrow earth became so intense that in February this year the NHAI threatened to cancel the road widening work of East Coast Road between Mamallapuram and Puducherry. However, the issue was resolved after the State government assured them of resolving the issue.
2 . Russia & Black Sea
Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca
- The Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca, signed on July 21, 1774 by the Russian and Ottoman Empires after the 1768-74 war between the two powers was one of the most consequential treaties for the global balance of power in the 18th century — it marked the beginning of the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the arrival of the Russians, under Catherine the Great, as a major power in the Black Sea region.
- As part of the treaty, Russia got access to the Black Sea through the Kerch and Azov seaports. More important, Russia gained official status as the protector of the Orthodox Christians of the Ottoman Empire, a clear signal of the waning influence of the High Porte, the Ottoman central administration, within imperial territories.
- This clause also left the Crimean Khanate, which had declared independence from the Ottomans, dependent on the Russians.
- In 1783, nine years after the treaty was signed, Prince Grigory Potemkin, a Grand Admiral in the imperial Russian army and a favourite of Empress Catherine, annexed the Crimean Peninsula in the name of protecting its Christians amidst violent clashes between Christians and Crimean Tatars. The annexation gave Russia seamless access to the Black Sea’s warm waters, helping its rise as a naval power.
- During the Soviet period, Russia had dominated the Black Sea, which was then dubbed by many the ‘Soviet Lake’. Ukraine and Georgia were Soviet republics. Bulgaria and Romania, two other Black Sea basin states, were part of the Soviet-led Eastern bloc.
- The only country that was out of the Soviet sphere in the Black Sea region during the Cold War was Turkey, a NATO member.
- Despite Turkey’s control over Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits, the 1936 Montreux Convention ensures that Russia and other Black Sea countries get access to the straits so that they can seamlessly move both commercial and military vessels in and out of the waters. (The Convention bans non-Black Sea countries’ aircraft carriers and submarines from entering the waters.)
Post Disintegration of Soviet Union
- Balance of power in the Black Sea would shift in favour of NATO after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Bulgaria and Romania became NATO members in 2004. Ukraine and Georgia were offered membership in 2008.
- If they had also joined NATO, Russia would have faced an arc of NATO coast in its gateway to the global waters.
- But in 2008, Russia made a military intervention in Georgia, practically ending the country’s NATO dream.
- And in 2014, by annexing Crimea, Russia did not only derail Ukraine’s NATO plans, but also reasserted its hold over its southern waters. Now, with more territories under its control as the invasion grinds on, Russia is seeking to rewrite the balance of power in the Black Sea to its favour through force.
- The Black Sea is critical for Russia for geo-economic reasons. Russia’s northern ports are in the Arctic Ocean, which restricts its outreach to the world. Its gateway to the global waters is the Black Sea, which opens into the Mediterranean Sea through the Turkey-controlled Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits.
- Currently, Russia’s only naval base outside the former Soviet territories is based in Syria’s Tartus in the Mediterranean Sea. While Russia sees the Mediterranean as NATO-dominated waters, it has sought to enhance its presence in the region in recent years. So, from a geopolitical point of view, it’s imperative for Moscow to retain its hold over the Black Sea to remain an influential naval power. The Black Sea is also a vital economic artery for Russia to export its hydrocarbons and grains to Turkey and Asian markets.
3 . Captive Private Networks
Context : Union Cabinet approved auction of 5G spectrum bands, and said it has reserved a portion of airwaves for captive private networks, a proposal opposed by telecom service providers. The auction of over 72 GHz of airwaves is set to be held by the end of July.
What are captive private networks and why do they need spectrum bands?
- Private wireless networks are cellular networks built specifically for individual enterprises. These networks are often deployed at a single unit, for example a factory. They can also be used in a wide-area setting, for instance to monitor a mine in real-time. Airports and ports can also have their own private 5G cellular network to process imaging data coming from surveillance cameras to manage the facility.
- Several enterprises around the world are working on setting up private 5G networks as they offer reliable, fast, and secure wireless communication.
- The key reason driving this adoption is the need for greater data privacy and security. Unlike unlicensed Wi-Fi service available at several private places, licensed spectrum bands offer greater data privacy, security and faster connection speeds.
How does Industry 4.0 relate to 5G?
- Cellular technology has come a long way in the last four decades. Each generation has added a layer of sophistication over another starting with voice. Over the years, three generations of cellular airwaves enabled users to text, use Internet and view live-streaming video all at the same time.
- Unlike its predecessors, the latest wireless iteration opens a new paradigm in cellular connectivity. That’s because the true benefits of 5G largely apply to industrial enterprises than individual users. Think about industrial AI-enabled robots on shop floors and warehouses, autonomous vehicles on the road, and mixed-reality headsets with advanced mobile applications that train workers. Each of these scenarios require high-speed computing using real-time data at low latency. This is at the core of the fourth industrial revolution where devices talk to each other to perform various tasks. Big tech firms like Google have been seeking direct allocation of spectrum to use in machine learning applications, connected devices and general AI advancement.
How does the government plan to set aside spectrum for private network operators?
- The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has said that private firms can set up a 5G network by either getting a slice of public network from a licensed telecom company, establishing an isolated on premises network from the telecom service provider’s spectrum, or obtaining spectrum directly from the Department of Telecom or by sub-leasing it from telcos.
- The notice inviting the offer also states that spectrum auction to private enterprises will follow after a demand study and based on TRAI’s recommendation on pricing and modalities of block allocations. The telecom regulator expects its recommendations to result in increased sharing of network resources.
Is it a setback for telcos?
- The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) is of the firm view that “there is no justification whatsoever for allocating spectrum to industry verticals for operating private captive networks.”
- According to them there will be no business case for 5G rollout in such a scenario. This stems from their concern that 5G technology has more industry use case than for individual consumers. So, telcos worry that providing industries 5G spectrum allocation to set up private networks will diminish their own revenue from the next generation of cellular services.
4 . Marine heatwave & Cyclone
Context : A study published in the Frontiers in Climate, is the first study conducted in the Indian Ocean that investigates the interaction between a marine heatwave and super cyclone Amphan in the Bay of Bengal in May 2020. The co-occurrence of multiple extreme events (e.g. in our case the co-occurring marine heatwave and tropical cyclone) are termed compound extreme events.
Warming of Oceans
- Rising greenhouse gas emission is the primary factor for anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change. The increase in carbon dioxide concentration can trap the radiation into the atmosphere and not let it go into space. This trapping of the extra energy increases the average surface air temperature and warms the climate that we know as global warming.
- As the capacity of the atmosphere to absorb the heat is very less, more than 90% of the extra heat that has been trapped in the climate system has been absorbed by the oceans since 1970, according to IPCC AR5, and IPCC AR6 reports. Due to this, oceans are warming globally from the surface to deeper depths. The warming of the oceans has severe consequences such as increasing intensity and frequency of extreme events, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and changing the weather pattern across the globe.
About Marine Heat Waves
- Previous studies have shown that due to global warming, the tropical Indian Ocean, at the surface, is warming at a faster rate as compared to the rest of the global ocean.
- The high sea surface temperatures are more susceptible to generating extreme temperature conditions that persist over days to months and are termed as Marine Heatwaves (MHWs).
Impact of Marine Heat Waves
- This intense warming of the ocean due to MHW has severe socio-economic consequences such as fish mortality, and coral bleaching, and also has the potential to interact and modify other extreme events such as tropical cyclones.
- The anthropogenic warming of the oceans and atmosphere facilitates the generation and intensification of extreme events such as MHWs and tropical cyclones. Both marine heat waves and tropical cyclones are the extreme events of the ocean-atmosphere coupled system.
Details of the Study
- According to the latest IPCC report (AR6), Amphan was the largest source of displacement in 2020, with 2.4 million displacements in India alone, out of which around 8,00,000 was pre-emptive evacuation by the authorities. The study investigates the reasons that made this unusual and unprecedented rapid intensification of cyclone Amphan into a devastating super cyclonic storm.
- The Bay of Bengal exhibits high sea surface temperatures (about 28°C) throughout the year and is more prone to tropical cyclones. The Bay of Bengal is home to about 5-7% of the total number of tropical cyclones occurring globally each year and this makes the North Indian Ocean vulnerable to the highest number of fatalities globally.
- Amphan was the first super cyclone in the Bay of Bengal in the last 21 years and intensified from category 1 (cyclonic storm) to category 5 (super cyclone) in less than 24 hours. Amphan was also the costliest tropical cyclone on record in the North Indian Ocean, with reported economic losses of approximately $14 billion in India, according to the World Meteorological Organisation and 129 casualties across India and Bangladesh.
- Study found the presence of a strong MHW beneath the track of the cyclone with an extremely high anomalous sea surface temperature of more than 2.5°C that coincided with the cyclone track and facilitated its rapid intensification in a short period.
- Comparing with previous extremely severe cyclone Fani in May 2019 with a near similar trajectory. We found that the total life span of Amphan over the ocean was five days as compared to Fani which was for seven days but Fani did not turn into a super cyclone as Amphan did.
- The main difference between these two cyclones was the presence of MHW in the case of Amphan, which was not there in the case of Fani.
- Study also infer that despite short duration and unfavourable atmospheric conditions relative to Fani, Amphan turned into a super cyclone, primarily fuelled by a strong MHW on its way. Apart from the surface warming, the study also shows that ocean stratification and warming below the surface also play a crucial role during this phenomenon of compound extreme events.
- Along with previous studies also discusses that such compound or individual extreme events are going to increase in the future due to global warming and the Indian Ocean will witness the increased intensity and frequency of such climate extremes.
5 . Teesta River Dispute between India and Bangladesh
Context : Delivering opening remarks at the seventh round of India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission, Mr. Jaishankar extended India’s assistance in management of the annual flood in Bangladesh.
India and Bangladesh Water disputes
- “There are more than 300 rivers in Bangladesh of which 57 are transboundary rivers. Out of the 57 transboundary rivers, 54 are common with India and remaining 3 with Myanmar
- India and Bangladesh have resolved border problems through the Land Boundary Agreement of 2015, but have been in dialogue over the sharing of multiple rivers that define the borders and impact lives and livelihoods on both sides.
- Bangladesh, however, has been particularly keen on receiving a fair share of the waters of the Teesta that flows through the northern part of West Bengal.
Teesta River Dispute
- The Teesta river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, originates in the Teesta Kangse glacier and flows through the state of Sikkim and West Bengal before entering Bangladesh
- Historically, the root of the disputes over the river can be located in the report of the Boundary Commission (BC), which was set up in 1947 under Sir Cyril Radcliffe to demarcate the boundary line between West Bengal (India) and East Bengal (Pakistan, then Bangladesh from 1971).
- In its report submitted to the BC, the All India Muslim League demanded the Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts on the grounds that they are the catchment areas of Teesta river system. It was thought that by having the two districts, the then and future hydro projects over the river Teesta in those regions would serve the interests of the Muslim-majority areas of East Bengal.
- Members of the Indian National Congress and the Hindu Mahasabha opposed this. Both, in their respective reports, established India’s claim over the two districts.
- In the final declaration, which took into account the demographic composition of the region, administrative considerations and ‘other factors’ (railways, waterways and communication systems), the BC gave a major part of the Teesta’s catchment area to India.
- The main reason to transfer major parts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri to India was that both were non-Muslim-majority areas. Darjeeling had a 2.42% Muslim population while Jalpaiguri had 23.02% Muslims. The League’s claim was based on ‘other factors’.
- After the setting up of the India-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission in 1972, an ad hoc arrangement on sharing of Teesta waters was made in 1983, with India receiving 39 percent of the water and Bangladesh 36 percent of it.
- The Teesta river issue assumed significance after the conclusion of the Ganga Water Treaty in 1996. Negotiations between India and Bangladesh on the sharing of the river waters began soon after but have made limited progress.
- In 2011, India agreed to share 37.5 percent of Teesta waters while retaining 42.5 percent of the waters during the lean season between December and March. However, the deal never went through due to opposition from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who strongly opposed the treaty.
- The river is Bangladesh’s fourth largest transboundary river for irrigation and fishing. The Teesta’s floodplain covers 2,750sq km in Bangladesh. Of the river’s catchment – an area of land where water collects – 83 percent is in India and 17 percent is in Bangladesh
- India claims a share of 55 percent of the river’s water. Bangladesh wants a higher share than it gets now. Currently, its share is lower than that of India’s.
- Bangladesh wants 50 percent of the Teesta’s waters between December and May every year, because that’s when the water flow to the country drops drastically.
- India says it has its own compulsions like lack of water flowing into the Teesta to meet irrigation needs, Increasing the area of irrigation under North Bengal etc
- Hydropower on the Teesta is another point of conflict. There are at least 26 projects on the river mostly in Sikkim, aimed at producing some 50,000MW.
- India also has much to gain from the conclusion of the treaty. If India signs the treaty, it will be able to send a positive signal to all stakeholders within Bangladeshi society and assuage fears that exist in the minds of average Bangladeshi about India’s intentions.
- India will be able to cement its position as an all-weather friend of Bangladesh in the neighborhood and in due course of time, it will be able to further develop a robust economic and strategic partnership without worrying about the party in power in Bangladesh.
- After the Land Boundary Agreement that was signed in 2014, it is this Teesta water sharing agreement that will be remembered as part of the Shonali adhyaya of India-Bangladesh relations.