General Studies- 3:
Science and Technology
Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings
- Workshop of BRICS Competition Agencies
Government Policies and Interventions for development in various sectors
- SVAMITVA Scheme
- Ethiopia to replace Tigray government
- Ladakh’s glacial lake outburst
Why in news?
- The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has congratulated Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and India’s space industry for the successful launch of PSLV-C49/EOS-01 Mission.
- Nine satellites, including four each from the US and Luxembourg and one from Lithuania, have also been launched in the Mission.
What is EOS-01?
- EOS-01 is an earth observation satellite intended for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.
2) Workshop of BRICS Competition Agencies:
Why in news?
- The Competition Commission of India (CCI), organised a virtual workshop of BRICS Competition Agencies on “Competition Issues in Automotive Sector” during 05-06 November 2020.
- The CCI is the project co-lead of the Automotive Working Group (AWG) along with Competition Commission, South Africa.
- The Workshop was attended by senior officers of BRICS Competition Agencies.
BRICS Competition Agencies had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on co-operation in the field of competition law and policy in May 2016 (In 2020 extended for an open-end period) to enhance co-operation and interaction.
- In accordance with this MoU, four Working Groups had been constituted on important industries/ sectors viz Pharmaceuticals, Food, Automotive and Digital Markets.
- These Working Groups have collaborated with each other to adopt best practices.
- The present Workshop was held amongst the AWG.
- The opening remarks stressed upon the importance and growth of the automobile sector in developing countries, especially the BRICS nations.
Competition Commission of India
- The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, follows the philosophy of modern competition laws.
- The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
- The Competition Commission of India, which has been established by the Central Government with effect from 14th October 2003.
- CCI consists of a Chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
- It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
- The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.
- BRICS is the acronym coined to associate five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
- The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs.
- Since 2009, the BRICS nations have met annually at formal summits.
- Brazil hosted the most recent 11th BRICS summit on 13–14 November 2019.
- Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” (or “the BRICs”) before the induction of South Africa in 2010.
- The BRICS have a combined area of about 27% of the world land surface and 41% of the world population.
3) SVAMITVA Scheme:
SVAMITVA Scheme is a Central Sector scheme launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on National Panchayat Day i.e. 24th April 2020.
- The Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) is the Nodal Ministry for implementation of the scheme.
- In the States, the Revenue Department / Land Records Department will be the Nodal Department and shall carry out the scheme with support of State Panchayati Raj Department.
- Survey of India shall work as the technology partner for implementation.
- The scheme aims to provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India.
- The demarcation of rural abadi areas would be done using Drone Surveying technology.
- This would provide the ‘record of rights’ to village household owners possessing houses in inhabited rural areas in villages which, in turn, would enable them to use their property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits from Bank
The scheme seeks to achieve the following objectives: –
- To bring financial stability to the citizens in rural India by enabling them to use their property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits.
- Creation of accurate land records for rural planning.
- Determination of property tax, which would accrue to the GPs directly in States where it is devolved or else, add to the State exchequer.
- Creation of survey infrastructure and GIS maps that can be leveraged by any department for their use.
- To support in preparation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) by making use of GIS maps.
- To reduce property related disputes and legal cases
4) Ethiopia to replace Tigray government:
Why in news?
- Ethiopian lawmakers voted on Saturday to replace the current government of the federal state of Tigray, after the Army launched air strikes to destroy military assets in the region in a worsening internal conflict.
Why there are armed clashes in Ethiopia’s Tigray, and what it means for Horn of Africa
- Ethiopia is on the brink of a civil war after Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on Wednesday that he had ordered troops to counter an allegedly violent attack by armed forces in the country’s northern Tigray region.
- The domestic conflict in Ethiopia comes after several smaller conflicts that have been festering for months that could now spiral and impact the Horn of Africa region at large.
Why has conflict started in Tigray?
- Observers say the conflict escalated in September, when Tigray held local elections in insubordination of the Ethiopian federal government.
- According to a Reuters report, these elections were considered illegal by the federal government, further leading to conflict with Tigray authorities.
- Conflict between Tigray authorities and the federal government can be traced to when Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018.
- According to observers of the Horn of Africa, the Tigray region is wealthier than other parts of the country, and more importantly, has a well-trained army.
- The structure of Ethiopia’s federal system allows the country’s ten regions significant autonomy.
- These regions also have their own parliaments, their own security forces, and the right to a referendum for independent rule.
- But Tigray officials and their supporters had called Abiy’s moves an attempt to curb and control potential opposition.
- Hence, in many ways, this conflict is really the result of a battle between two different political ideologies for supremacy and control in the country.
What happened this week?
- The Prime Minister’s office said on Wednesday that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the ruling party in that region, had “tried to steal artillery and other equipment from federal forces stationed there.
- Abiy’s office released a statement saying: “The last red line has been crossed with this morning’s attacks and the federal government is therefore forced into a military confrontation.”
- The TPLF had announced that one part of the federal military stationed in Tigray had defected to their organisation
- Following the start of heavy fighting, including artillery fire, as reported to Reuters by diplomatic corps stationed in Ethiopia, telephone lines were blocked and internet services were shut down. Over the past few days, there have also been reports of injured soldiers on both sides.
What domestic issues has Ethiopia been facing?
- Before the coronavirus outbreak impacted the country’s public health system, Abiy had been leading a country with growing economic problems.
- Ethiopia had witnessed widespread ethnic clashes following the killing of prominent Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa.
- Following Hundessa’s death, the federal government came down heavily, including on civilians who were protesting.
- Opposition leaders were also arrested and imprisoned. This crackdown on civilians, many of whom were Oromo youth, by the federal police, resulted in criticism from many in Ethiopia, including people in the diaspora.
What impact will this have on the Horn of Africa?
- The conflict spill over to neighbouring countries in the Horn of Africa.
- Eritrea may be hardest hit, due to its proximity to Tigray.
- According to the New York Times, “many veterans from the TPLF who participated in the Ethiopian-Eritrean war between 1998 and 2000 are now part of the Tigray region’s paramilitary forces” and there is lingering resentment between these veterans and Eritrea.
- Ethiopia has also been engaged in a long-standing conflict with Egypt over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam over the Blue Nile, with Sudan having been inadvertently drawn into this conflict over the course of the dam’s development.
- If the violence and conflict spills outside Ethiopia’s borders, it may potentially destabilize the Horn of Africa region.
- The US and China have several strategic military bases in that region, the closest being Djibouti.
- If these military bases were to be impacted by the disturbances in any way, it may cause foreign powers to get militarily involved in the region and the conflict.
- Although the US elections have been the center of global attention, the situation in Ethiopia has been concerning enough for U.N.
Secretary General António Guterres to remark on the developments after fighting started in Tigray.
- “The stability of Ethiopia is important for the entire Horn of Africa region.
- Call for an immediate de-escalation of tensions and a peaceful resolution to the dispute,” Guterres had said.
5) Ladakh’s glacial lake outburst:
- In August 2014, a glacial lake outburst flood hit the village of Gya in Ladakh, destroying houses, fields and bridges.
- Using remote sensing data, researchers from Germany have mapped the evolution of Gya glacial lake and note the cause of the flood.
- In a paper recently published in Natural Hazards, the team notes that this case study “illustrates the problem of potentially hazardous lakes being overlooked.”
How it happened
- The cause of the flood was not a spill over but rather a tunnelling drainage process.
- Imagine a bucket full of water. It can overflow when you drop a stone, or the water can drain if there is a hole under the bucket.
- Similarly, here the flooding did not happen due to the spill overs due to an avalanche or landslide, rather there was a thawing of the ice cores in the moraine [a field of dirt and rocks that have been pushed along by the glacier as it moves] which drained through the subsurface tunnels.
- Thawing of ice cores may accelerate in the future due to global climate change, and there is an urgent need to use multiple methods for better risk assessment and early warning.
- It is almost certain that other glacial lake outburst floods will happen all over the Indian Himalaya.
- However, not all of these events have catastrophic outcomes.
- It largely depends on urban planning, the size of the lake, the distance between the lake and affected villages, the valley section and some more aspects.
- In some cases, cloudbursts can also trigger glacial lake outburst flood events like in the Kedarnath disaster in 2013
- He adds that in different sections of the Himalaya the occurrence of such floods has received different attention.
- While these events have been regarded as a major risk in the central Himalayan region including Sikkim, the arid Trans-Himalayan regions of Ladakh have received attention only recently.
- Here the glaciers are located at high altitudes not lower than 5,200 m and most glaciers are of small size.
- Likewise, the glacial lakes are quite small in size.
- In the case of the Gya Lake at 5,400 m, the lake is almost always ice-covered
- The team adds more bathymetric studies are needed to analyse lake volumes, and it is important to regularly monitor lake development and dynamics.
- New, sophisticated technologies can also be put to use to understand the stability of the moraines that dam the lake.
- However, it is definitely not only a question of technology but also of land use planning and accessibility
Glacial lake outburst
- A glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) is a type of outburst flood that occurs when the dam containing a glacial lake fails.
- An event similar to a GLOF, where a body of water contained by a glacier melts or overflows the glacier, is called a Jökulhlaup.
- The dam can consist of glacier ice or a terminal moraine.
- Failure can happen due to erosion, a build-up of water pressure, an avalanche of rock or heavy snow, an earthquake or cryoseism, volcanic eruptions under the ice, or massive displacement of water in a glacial lake when a large portion of an adjacent glacier collapses into it.