Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Daily Current Affairs 23rd August

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 23rd August-2021

Daily Current Affairs 23rd August – Topics

  • New ISRO Atlas on Land Degradation and Desertification
  • Three Child Policy of China
  • PM-KUSUM and Rooftop Solar Programme Phase 2
  • Adopt a Heritage Scheme
  • Incel Movement


1.New ISRO Atlas on Land Degradation and Desertification

#GS1 #Factors Causing Changes in Critical Geographical Features #GS3 #Biodiversity and conservation

Context: Recently, ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) released a report named Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas which shows the significant increase in Land Degradation and Desertification in recent years.

  • Space Applications Centre (SAC), ISRO, Ahmedabad along with 19 related partner institutes has carried out an inventory and monitoring of desertification of the entire country with the help of Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) data in Geographical Information System (GIS) environment.

About the Atlas:

  • This Atlas presents state-wise desertification and land degradation status maps depicting land use, process of degradation and severity level.
  • The outputs are helpful in prioritizing areas to be taken up for minimizing the impact of desertification and land degradation.
  • It also provides the variation analysis for the duration of 15 years, from 2003-05 to 2018-19.
  • Earlier, the Prime Minister Modi delivered a keynote address at the United Nations’ (UN) “High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought” virtually.

Land Degradation and Desertification:

  • Land degradation means reduction or loss of biological or economic productivity and complexity of rainfed cropland, irrigated cropland, or range, pasture, forest and woodlands resulting from land uses or from a process or combination of processes, including processes arising from human activities and habitation patterns.
  • According to United Nations Convention for Combating Desertification (UNCCD), Desertification is land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities leading to loss of productive ecosystem and biodiversity.


Land Degradation:

  • As per the Atlas, around 97.85 million hectares (29.7%) of India’s total geographical area (TGA) of 328.72 mha suffered land degradation during 2018-19.
  • In 2003-05, 94.53 mha (28.76% of the TGA) suffered land degradation. The number amplified to 96.40 mha (29.32% of the TGA) in 2011-13.


  • Around 83.69 mha experienced desertification in 2018-19. This was more than the 81.48 mha in 2003-2005 and 82.64 mha in 2011-13 that experienced desertification.

State wise Data:

  • Around 23.79% of the area experiencing desertification / land degradation with respect to TGA of the country was contributed by Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Ladakh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana.
  • India saw an increase in the level of desertification in 28 of 31 states and Union territories between 2011-13 and 2018-19, a closer analysis of data in the atlas showed.


  1. Loss of Soil Cover: primarily because of rainfall and surface runoff. It is responsible for 11.01% of the desertification in the country.
  2. Vegetation Degradation: When a soil loses vegetation cover, it becomes more susceptible to wind and water erosion. Removal of top soil by water or wind erosion results in loss of organic material leading to decrease in soil aggregation and stability, and hence soil fertility. It is found to be responsible for 9.15% of desertification in the country.
  3. Water Erosion
  4. Wind Erosion
  5. Climate Change


  • Today, land degradation affects more than two-thirds of the world’s population.
  • It hastens climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as contributing to droughts, wildfires, forced migration, and the emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases.
  • Land degradation threatens agricultural productivity. It reduces soil health, thus in turn impacting the livelihood of rural people.
  • Land degradation has caused worsening in the quantity and quality of both surface and groundwater resources.
  • The dryland population susceptible to water stress and drought intensity is projected to reach 178 million under the most ideal conditions of 1.5 degree-Celsius warming by 2050.

Initiatives towards addressing the issue of Land Degradation and Desertification:

  • India is on track to meet its national goal of achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) (Sustainable Development Goal target 15.3).
  • LDN is a state in which the amount and quality of land resources required to support ecosystem functions and services and improve food security remain stable or increase over time and across scales and ecosystems.
  • By 2030, we hope to have restored 26 million hectares of degraded land.
  • This would contribute to India’s commitment to achieving an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target).
  • Around 3 million hectares of forest cover have been added in the last ten years.
  • For example, the Banni region in Gujarat’s Rann of Kutch suffers from severely degraded land and receives very little rainfall.
  • Land restoration in that region is accomplished through the development of grasslands, which aids in the achievement of land degradation neutrality.
  • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was established in 1994 and is the only legally binding international agreement that connects the environment and development to sustainable land management.
  • The Delhi Declaration of 2019, signed by the 14th CoP of the UNCCD, advocated for improved land access and stewardship, as well as gender-sensitive transformative projects.
  • The Bonn Challenge is to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
  • Great Green Wall: A Global Environment Facility (GEF) initiative in which eleven countries in Sahel-Saharan Africa have focused efforts to combat land degradation and restore native plant life to the landscape.
  • India is concentrating on sustainable land and resource management for livelihood generation at the community level in order to make local lands healthier and more productive in order to provide a better homeland and a better future for its inhabitants.
  • In order to address the problems of desertification, the National Action Programme for Combating Desertification was developed in 2001.
  • Some of the key programmes at present being implemented to address issues related to land degradation and desertification are as follows:
  1. Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) (Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana)
  2. National Afforestation Programme (NAP),
  3. National Mission for Green India (GIM),
  4. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS),
  5. National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA)
  6. Command Area Development and Water Management (CADWM) programme,
  7. Soil Health Card Scheme, etc.


  1. Three Child Policy of China

#GS2 #Population and associated issues # Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Context: China has relaxed its two-child norm and endorsed a three-child policy by formally amending its family planning rules.

  • China also announced a number of policy measures aimed at boosting declining birth rates.


  • China’s one-child policy was announced in 1979 by former leader Deng Xiaoping as population growth shoot up.
  • This policy was aimed at curbing China’s growing population and to ease environmental and natural resource challenges and imbalances caused by the country’s rapidly expanding population.
  • By the mid-1970s, China was already beginning family planning campaigns marked by the slogan “Later, Longer, and Fewer,” meaning encouraging later marriages, longer intervals between births, and fewer children.
  • Certain exemptions were made as early as the 1980s for couples who first birthed a daughter but wanted a son, lived in rural areas, or were born to a minority ethnic group.
  • By 2013, China began to ease its one-child policy. By 2015, China’s one-child policy was officially retrieved and couples were allowed to have 02 children.
  • The policy is estimated to have prevented up to 400 million births since it was instituted and resulted in some improvement in the proportion of young people in the country, the policy change was deemed insufficient in averting an impending demographic crisis.
  • Therefore, the shift in China’s policy comes amid China’s once-in-ten-year population census that recorded rapidly declining birth rates since last census.
  • The National Bureau of Statistics said that 12 million babies were born last year, the lowest number since 1961.

Criticisms associated with one-child policy:

  • Chinese administration has always considered the policy as a success, claiming that it helped the country avoid severe food and water scarcities by preventing up to 400 million births
  • However, the one-child limit was also a source of discontent, as:
    • The administration used ruthless strategies such as forced abortions and sterilisations.
    • It violated human rights, and was biased to poorer Chinese since the richer ones could pay for economic sanctions if they violated the policy.
    • It gave way for imposing reproductive limits as a tool for social control.
    • It affected the sex ratio- tilted towards males.
    • It led to increased abortion of female foetuses and so did the number of girls who were placed in orphanages or abandoned.
    • It made China’s population age faster than other countries, affecting the country’s growth potential.

Did relaxing the one-child policy help?

  • China’s 2020 census data, released earlier this month, shows the its rate of population growth dropping rapidly despite the 2016 relaxation of allowing 2 children for a couple.
  • Last year, 1.2 crore babies were born in China, down from 1.465 crore in 2019 — a fall of 18 % in 01 year, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics.
  • The country’s fertility rate has now dropped to 1.3, far below the replacement level of 2.1 necessary for each generation to be fully replenished.

  • The United Nations expects China’s population to begin declining after 2030, but some experts say this could happen as early as in the next one or two years.
  • By 2025, the country is set to lose its ‘most populous’ tag to India, which in 2020 had an estimated 138 crore people, 1.5 per cent behind China.

Challenges ahead: Why are people remain skeptical about the new policy?

  • Experts say relaxing limits on reproductive rights alone cannot go a long way in averting an unwanted demographic shift.
  • The main reasons behind fewer children being born are:
    • Rising costs of living, education and supporting ageing parents.
    • China’s culture of long working hours made demographic problem even worse.
    • Because of Cultural shift witnessed during one child policy years, many families believe that one child is enough, and some expressing no interest in having children.


  1. PM-KUSUM and Rooftop Solar Programme Phase 2:

#GS2 # Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

# GS3 #Agriculture-indirect farm subsidies #Renewable energy

Context: Recently the Ministry of Power and MNRE reviewed the implementation of Prime Minister’s Kisan Urja Suraksha Evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) Scheme and rooftop solar programme Phase-2 to expand the reach of these policies.

  • Ministry also emphasized on the need for awareness on these schemes so that farmers and households can take benefits

PM-KUSUM Scheme:


  • As a part of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), India has committed to increase the share of installed capacity of electric power from non-fossil-fuel sources to 40% by 2030.
    • The Cabinet had approved scaling-up of solar power target from 20,000 MW of Grid Connected Solar power Projects to 1,00,000 MW by 2022.
  • Along with Large Scale Solar power generation projects, it has been planned to simultaneously develop decentralized Solar energy and other renewable energy generation Plants of capacity up to 2 MW which could be connected directly to existing sub-stations of Distribution Company, thus saving in transmission system requirement apart from T&D losses.
  • Such plants near these sub-stations may be developed, preferably by farmers, giving them an opportunity to increase their income by utilising their barren and uncultivable land for solar or other renewable energy-based power plants.
  • Cultivable land may also be used if the Solar plants are set up on stilts where crops can be grown below the stilts and sell RE power to DISCOMs.

About the scheme:

  • The PM-KUSUM scheme was launched by the Ministry of New Renewable Energy in 2019, to support installation of off-grid solar pumps in rural areas and reduce dependence on grid, in grid-connected areas.
  • The main aim of the scheme is to provide financial and water security.
  • The scheme intends to add solar and other renewable capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022.
  • As per provisions of the PM-KUSUM Scheme, the grid connected agriculture pumps can be solarised with central and state subsidy of 30% each and farmer’s contribution of 40%.
  • It will also include feeder level solarisation.
  • State Nodal Agencies (SNAs) of MNRE will coordinate with States/UTs, Discoms and farmers for implementation of the scheme.
  • The government’s Budget for 2020-21 expanded the scope for the scheme with 20 lakh farmers to be provided assistance to install standalone solar pumps; another 15 lakh farmers to be given help to solarise their grid-connected pump sets.

Benefits of the scheme:

  • Besides, developing decentralized renewable power, it helps in replacing Agriculture Diesel pumps with Solar Water pumps and Solarise Grid connected Agriculture pumps.
    • At present, over 30 million agricultural pumps are installed in India, out of which nearly 10 million pumps are diesel based.
  • Also, over 20 million grid-connected agriculture water pumps installed in the country consume more than 17 percent of total annual electricity consumption of the country.
    • Solarization of the same can reduce dependence of these pumps on conventional sources of energy supplied by DISCOMs and thus reducing their burden of subsidy on agriculture consumption of electricity.
  • The scheme will open a steady and constant source of income to the rural landowners for a period of 25 years by utilisation of their dry/uncultivable land.
  • In case cultivated fields are chosen for setting up solar power projects, the farmers could continue to grow crops as the solar panels are to be set up above a minimum height.
  • It also promotes decentralised solar power production, and reduces transmission losses.
  • Scheme will help DISCOMS meet the RPO (Renewable Purchase Obligation) targets.

About Rooftop Solar Programme Phase II:

  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is executing Rooftop Solar Programme Phase II to promote rooftop solar (RTS) in the India including in rural areas, wherein RTS capacity aggregating 4,000 MW by 2022 is targeted for installation in the residential sector.
  • The overall objective is to achieve a cumulative capacity of 40,000 MW from Rooftop Solar Projects by the year 2022.

Key Details:

  • In a grid-connected rooftop or small Solar Voltaic Panel system, the DC power generated from the Solar Voltaic panel is converted to AC power using the power conditioning unit and is fed to the grid.
  • This scheme is being implemented in the states by distribution companies (DISCOMs).
  • The MNRE is providing a 40% subsidy for the first 3 kW and 20% subsidy beyond 3 kW and up to 10 kW of solar panel capacity.
  • For individual households, subsidy up to 40% of the benchmark cost is provided for first 3 kW capacity and
    • 20 % for beyond 3 kW and up to 10 kW.
  • For Group Housing Societies the subsidy is limited to 20% of the benchmark cost for RTS plants of capacity up to 500 kW used for supply of power to common facilities.

Key Objectives:

  • To encourage the grid-connected SPV rooftop and small SPV power generating plants among the residential, community, institutional, industrial and commercial establishments.
  • To ease the dependence on fossil fuel-based electricity generation and boost eco-friendly Solar electricity generation.


  • This will create an investment friendly environment in the solar energy sector and encourages private entities, state governments and individuals on investing more in this.
  • The installation of rooftop solar will reduce the electricity consumption and save electricity expenditure of the households.
  • The programme has directed employment potential.
    • Besides increasing self-employment, phase 2 is likely to create employment opportunities equivalent to 9.39 lakh job years for skilled and unskilled workers for the addition of 38GW capacity under Phase-II of the scheme by the year 2022.


  1. Adopt a Heritage Scheme

#GS1 # Indian Heritage & Culture- Architecture #GS2 #Government policies

Context: Recently, Uttarakhand’s Narayankoti temple has been included under the Centre’s Adopt a Heritage project.

About the temple:

  • The temple is a group of ancient temples, about 2 kilometres from Guptkashi on the Rudraprayag-Gaurikund highway.
  • This is the only place in India which has 09 planetary temples in a group that are a “symbol of nine planets”.
  • It is devoted to Lakshmi Narayana who is linked with Pandavas.
  • It is believed that these temples were constructed in the 9th century.
  • Under the scheme, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Tourism, the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, Director General, Culture, Uttarakhand and the Social Legal Research & Education Foundation (SLREF).
  • SLREF has come on board as Monument Mitra for the site.

Adopt a Heritage Project:

  • It is an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India.
  • It was launched in 2017
  • Main objective of the scheme is to develop tourism amenities at heritage/ natural/ tourist sites spread across India to make them tourist friendly, in a planned and phased manner.
  • Under the scheme government invites entities, including public sector companies, private sector firms as well as individuals, to develop selected monuments and heritage and tourist sites across India.
  • Entities who adopt the sites/monuments are called ‘Monument Mitras’
  • Time period of adoption will be of five years.
  • The Monument Mitras are selected by the ‘oversight and vision committee,’ co-chaired by the Tourism Secretary and the Culture Secretary, on the basis of the bidder’s ‘vision’ for development of all amenities at the heritage site.
  • There is no financial bid involved.
  • The corporate sector is expected to use Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for the upkeep of the site.
  • Development of these tourist sites calls for providing and maintaining basic amenities, including drinking water, ease of access for the differently abled and senior citizens, standardised signage, cleanliness, public conveniences, etc.

Significance of this project:

  • Adopt a Heritage project is aimed at addressing the challenges that the Archaeological Survey of India and other government bodies are facing in operating tourism infrastructure at heritage sites.
  • By letting private players to build, operate and maintain “tourist-friendly” and “world class amenities at these sites, the expectation is that the project will boost domestic and international tourism.


  1. Incel Movement

#GS1 # Population and Associated Issues #Internal Security

Context: Recently, the Incel Movement has been connected to various violent incidents around the globe.

  • The movement came into the attention yet again in the UK’s Plymouth, where a 22-year-old man shot dead five people, including a toddler.


What does ‘incel’ mean?

  • The term “incel” is a word derived from the phrase “involuntary celibate”.
  • Self-identified incels believe that they are excluded from fulfilling their desire to have sex, date or establish relationships with women, usually because of their physical appearance.
  • It is a dangerous online subculture comprising men who regularly express deeply misogynistic views about women.
  • Men who are part of this movement have a deep resentment towards both women and other men who are sexually active.
  • Women are blamed for their own lack of sexual and social status.
    • While views tend to vary, some believe that sex is their right — something that is owed to them by virtue of them being males.
    • An extreme segment of Incels even advocate violence against women. Still, not all members of the subculture are violent.

Red Pill & Black Pill Mentality as promoted by the incels:

  • The black pill theory, often linked with incels, endorses the negative idea that your fate is sealed at birth and no matter what changes you try to make, your sexual capital cannot be altered.
  • Red pill theory, on the other hand, believe the world is predisposed toward women, and see feminism as female supremacy. They believe there is a universal bias in favour of women.


  • In recent years, attacks linked to the this have increased around the globe.
  • The movement has been linked to at least 06 mass shootings and the murder of nearly 50 people in the US alone. Perhaps, the first and most significant instance of the sub culture entering public perception was when a student named Elliot Rodger went on a rampage stabbing and shooting his peers at the University of California before killing himself in May 2014.
  • In 2020, there was a thread of incel-related incidents across the globe, counting a machete attack at a massage parlour in Toronto, as well as a shooting at a mall in Arizona.
  • The movement has been identified as a aspect of a broader trend of young white males being radicalised online.
  • It shares some similarities with the better-known alt-right movement, with both groups accrediting society’s ills to social liberalism, women and ethnic minorities.
    • The alt-right, an abbreviation of alternative right, is a loosely connected far-right, white nationalist movement.
  • So far, incel-related attacks are not considered as much of a terror threat in the US similar to violent attacks by followers of other violent far-right ideologies, as per the analysis of domestic terror attacks by the New America Foundation.
    • But the same analysis found that incel terrorism is lethal than far-left terrorism.

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