Daily Current Affairs 29th September -2021
- India – US Bilateral Relations
- Actions taken to prevent flooding in the future: Tamil Nadu
- PM CARES Fund: RTI
- The XENON1T experiment: Dark Energy
- The Rajaji Tiger Reserve buffer zone: Uttarakhand
1) India – US Bilateral Relations
#GS2 #Bilateral, Regional & Global Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests
- The Indian Prime Minister recently met the newly elected US President for their first bilateral meeting in the US, where they discussed a wide range of priority issues, including combating Covid-19, climate change, and economic cooperation.
- Earlier, during his visit to India, US Secretary of State John Kerry stated that actions taken by India and the US will shape the twenty-first century.
- Highlights of the meeting included discussions to strengthen the Indo-US strategic partnership as well as global issues of mutual interest, such as threats to democracy, Afghanistan, and the Indo-Pacific.
- One of the key challenges discussed was Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan, and there was a sense that it needed more “careful monitoring.”
- Both sides condemned the use of terrorist proxies and emphasised the importance of denying terrorist groups logistical, financial, or military support that could be used to plan or launch terror attacks.
- They urged the Taliban to follow through on all of its commitments under Resolution 2593.
- When India was dealing with a severe outbreak of Covid-19 infections, the US government, companies based in the US, and the Indian diaspora were extremely helpful.
- India will resume surplus Covid-19 vaccine exports in the fourth quarter of 2021 as part of the Vaccine Maitriprogramme and to meet its commitment to the COVAX global pool.
- India raised several issues concerning the Indian community in the United States, including access for Indian professionals and H-1B visas.
About India-US Relations:
- Bilateral relations between India and the United States have evolved into a “global strategic partnership” based on shared democratic values and increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional, and global issues.
- Both countries issued a Declaration of Friendship in Delhi in 2015 and adopted a Joint Strategic Vision for Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region.
- In October 2008, the bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement was signed.
2.Energy and Climate Change:
- As a priority initiative under the PACE (Partnership to Advance Clean Energy), the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Government of India established the Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (JCERDC) to promote clean energy innovations by teams of scientists from India and the United States.
- With the signing of the ‘New Framework for India-US Defense Relations’ in 2005, which was later updated for ten years in 2015, the defence relationship has emerged as a major pillar of India-US strategic partnership.
- In recent years, India and the United States have signed significant defence treaties, as well as formalised the QUAD four-nation alliance (India, US, Japan and Australia).
- The Malabar exercise in November 2020 portrayed a high point in Indo-US strategic ties, as it was the first time in 13 years that all four countries of QUAD came together, sending a strong message to China. India now has access to American bases ranging from Djibouti in Africa to Guam in the Pacific. It can also gain access to advanced communication technology used in US military operations.
- India and the United States have four fundamental defence treaties:
- Basic Geospatial Intelligence Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
- Agreement on the General Security of Military Information (GSOMIA).
- Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA).
- Agreement on Communication Compatibility and Security (COMCASA).
- The India-US Counter-Terrorism Cooperation Initiative was signed in 2010 to expand counter-terrorism collaboration, information sharing, and capacity building.
- Tiger Triumph, a tri-services exercise, was held in November 2019.
- YudhAbhyas (Army); Vajra Prahar (Special Forces); RIMPAC; and Red Flag are examples of bilateral and regional exercises.
- The United States is India’s second largest trading partner and a major destination for India’s exports of goods and services. During 2020-21, the United States surpassed Mauritius as the second largest source of foreign direct investment into India. The previous US administration ended India’s special trade status (GSP withdrawal) and imposed several bans; India retaliated by banning 28 US products. The current US administration has allowed all bans imposed by the previous administration to expire.
5.Science & Technology:
- ISRO and NASA are collaborating to develop the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, a joint microwave remote sensing satellite for Earth observation(NISAR).
- There is a growing presence of Indian diaspora in all spheres of life in the United States. For example, the current Vice President of the United States (Kamala Harris) has a strong Indian connection.
- The groundwork has been laid for transforming India’s relationship with the United States. Afghanistan remains a major source of concern for both India and the United States, and both countries are now focusing on the larger challenges emerging in the Indo-Pacific as a result of China’s rise and assertiveness.
- There is a significant opportunity to increase bilateral trade between the countries, particularly given the rising anti-China sentiment in both countries.
2) Actions taken to prevent flooding in the future: Tamil Nadu
#GS3 #Disaster Management #Management of Disasters #GS1 #Urban Planning and Role of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs)
- The Tamil Nadu state government has released a report on the government’s actions taken to prevent flooding in the future. The report was issued in response to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) filing a suo motu petition.
- The court made the decision after newspapers widely reported flooding and sewage overflows in the city on November 30, 2020.
What is the report’s conclusion?
Flooding causes include:
- Encroachments, faulty drainage systems, and tampering with the natural flow of water had made the megacity prone to flooding every year.
- Greater Chennai’s and its peri-urban areas’ rapid urbanisation had resulted in massive changes in land use patterns, with residential areas sprouting up in farmlands.
- Changes in land use patterns occurred without the necessary changes for a proper drainage system to manage the flow of surplus water from traditional tanks as well as flood waters from catchment areas.
- Irrigation tanks were clogged with waste, slush, and debris, obstructing flood water flow. This also reduced the marsh’s water-absorbing and groundwater-recharging capacity.
Suggestions for measures:
- To prevent floods, Chennai requires an integrated flood management system with proper facilities for draining excess rainwater and desilting channels.
- As part of such a system, the report recommended an integrated road and street side storm water drainage network, straight cut diversion channels, macro storm water drains, check dams, barrages, and anicuts.
An overview of urban flooding in India:
- The inundation of land or property in a built environment, particularly in more densely populated areas, caused by rainfall exceeding the capacity of drainage systems such as storm sewers is known as urban flooding.
- Urban floods have become a common occurrence in many Indian cities in recent years.
Unscientific urbanisation is causing urban floods
- Natural factors include increasing rainfall, cyclonic storms, and thunderstorms, as well as the occurrence of high tides, which impedes drainage in coastal cities.
- Anthropogenic factors include concretization and the erasure of wetlands.
- Inadequate Water and Sewerage Management.
- Illegal constructions and encroachment.
- Deforestation is a problem.
- Administrative factors:
- Inadequate flood control measures.
- There are multiple authorities in a city, but none of them bear responsibility.
Structural measures include the preservation of wetlands in urban areas such as lakes, ponds, and streams.
- Creating a differential slope along sidewalks and roads to drain excess water into reservoirs.
- Strengthening of the storm water drainage system.
- Every year, pre-monsoon desilting of all major drains must be completed by March 31. Rainwater harvesting must be an integral component of every building in an urban area.
- Rain Gardens are a concept that will be incorporated into public park planning as well as on-site storm water management for larger colonies and sites that will be developed.
- To reduce the amount of solid waste entering storm sewers, appropriate interventions in the drainage system such as traps and trash racks can be provided.
Measures that are not structural:
- Flood hazard assessments should be done on the basis of projected future scenarios of rainfall intensities and duration, as well as land use changes. Better forecasting of rainfall events; timely dissemination of information to the mass- ‘Now casting’ alerts or real-time weather updates.
- Encroachments in natural drainage areas should be limited; river beds should be cleared, and Coastal Regulation Zone rules should be followed correctly.
- Flood-proofing provisions for buildings
- Storm water pollution control, i.e. source control, is accomplished by imposing quality standards for wastewater and solid waste disposal in urban areas.
3) PM CARES Fund: RTI
#GS2 #Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
- The Central Government recently informed the Delhi High Court that the PM CARES Fund is “not a fund of the Government of India, and the amount does not go into the Consolidated Fund of India.”
- The affidavit was filed in response to a petition filed in the high court seeking to declare PM CARES a “public authority” under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
What is the government’s position?
- Regardless of whether the trust is a “State” or other authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Indian Constitution, or a “public authority” within the meaning of Section 2[h] of the Right to Information Act,
- It is not permissible to disclose third-party information under Section 8 in general, and under Subsections [e] and [j] in particular, of the Right to Information Act.
- To ensure transparency, the audited report is posted on the trust’s official website, along with information on how funds received by the trust were spent.
- The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund was established to accept donations and provide relief during the Covid-19 pandemic and other similar emergencies.
- PM-CARES was established as a public charitable trust on March 27, 2020, with the trust deed registered. PM-CARES is distinct from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund in that it can accept donations from foreign sources, and donations to the fund are tax-free (PMNRF).
Who is in charge of the fund?
- The Prime Minister serves as the ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund, and the Ministers of Defence, Home Affairs, and Finance of the Government of India serve as ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.
4.The XENON1T experiment: Dark Energy
- An international team of researchers recently made the first direct detection of dark energy. The XENON1T experiment, which was conducted deep underground at the INFN LaboratoriNazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy, is the world’s most sensitive dark matter experiment.
- Dark energy is a mysterious form of energy that accounts for approximately 68 percent of the universe and has long piqued the interest of physicists and astronomers.
Concerning the Experiment:
- The XENON1T is a dark matter research project run by the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy.
- It is a deep underground research facility with increasingly ambitious experiments aimed at discovering dark matter particles.
- The experiments seek to detect Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) by searching for rare interactions via nuclear recoils in a liquid xenon target chamber.
Other Dark Matter and Energy Experiments:
- LUX-Zeplin – a next-generation dark matter experiment at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in the United States.
- PandaX-xT is a China Jinping Underground Laboratory project.
Dark Matter And Dark Energy:
- Dark matter attracts and holds galaxies together, whereas dark energy repels and causes our universe to expand.
- Despite the fact that both components are invisible, we know a lot more about dark matter because its existence was suggested as early as the 1920s, whereas dark energy wasn’t discovered until 1998.
Concerning Dark Energy:
- The Big Bang occurred nearly 15 billion years ago and continued to expand. Previously, astronomers believed that the Universe’s expansion would eventually slow due to gravity and recollapse.
- Data from the Hubble Space Telescope, on the other hand, suggested that the Universe’s expansion is accelerating.
- Astronomers believe that the faster expansion rate is caused by a mysterious, dark force or energy that pulls galaxies apart.
- The term “dark” refers to the unknown.
- The diagram below depicts changes in the rate of expansion since the universe’s inception 15 billion years ago.
Possible Explanations for Dark Energy:
- Albert Einstein was the first to recognise that empty space is not nothing.
- One version of Einstein’s gravity theory, the one with a cosmological constant, suggests that “empty space” can have its own energy.
- This energy would not be diluted as space expanded because it is a property of space itself. More of this energy-of-space would appear as more space was created. As a result, this type of energy would cause the universe to expand at an increasing rate.
- Matter’s Quantum Theory:
- The quantum theory of matter provides another explanation for how space acquires energy.
- According to this theory, “empty space” is actually full of temporary (“virtual”) particles that form and then disappear all the time.
- Fifth Fundamental Force:
- There are four fundamental forces in the universe, and speculative theories have proposed a fifth force – something that the four forces cannot explain.
- Many dark energy models employ special mechanisms to conceal or screen this fifth force.
- Some theorists have dubbed this “quintessence,” after the Greek philosophers’ fifth element.
- None of the theories, however, have been proven. As a result, Dark energy has been dubbed “the most profound mystery in all of science.”
5.The Rajaji Tiger Reserve buffer zone: Uttarakhand
- A Supreme Court-appointed committee recently questioned relaxations granted for the upgrade of a 4.7-kilometer road (Laldhang-Chillarkhal road) in the Rajaji Tiger Reserve buffer zone and requested responses from the Centre and the Uttarakhand government.
- The National Board for Wildlife approved the road measurement relaxation (NBWL). The NBWL is the primary agency in charge of approving projects in and around protected areas.
- A Tiger Reserve’s Core and Buffer Area: According to the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act of 2006, a tiger reserve must have a core or critical habitat and a buffer zone surrounding it.
- While the critical habitat is supposed to be protected for conservation purposes, a buffer zone is required to ensure the habitat’s integrity while allowing for tiger dispersal. Its goal is to promote the coexistence of wildlife and human activity.
Rajaji Tiger Reserve Information:
- Haridwar (Uttarakhand), near the Shivalik range’s foothills. Rajaji National Park includes it.
- Rajaji National Park was established in 1983 by combining three sanctuaries in Uttarakhand, namely Rajaji, Motichur, and Chila.
- It was named after the well-known freedom fighter C. Rajgopalachari, also known as “Rajaji.”
- It was designated a Tiger Reserve in 2015, becoming the country’s 48th tiger reserve.
- The flora of this park includes broadleaved deciduous forests, riverine vegetation, scrubland, grasslands, and pine forests.
- The characteristic dominant tree species is Sal (Shorearobusta).
- More than 50 species of mammals, including tiger, elephant, leopard, Himalayan black bear, sloth bear, jackal, hyena, spotted deer, sambhar, barking deer, nilgai, monkeys, and over 300 species of birds, live in the reserve.
- The Ganga and Song rivers run through here.
- Jim Corbett National Park is another protected area in Uttarakhand (first National Park of India).
- Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Govind PashuVihar National Park and Sanctuary is located in Uttarakhand.
- National Park of Gangotri.
- Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary
Daily Current Affairs 29th September -2021
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