News & Editorial Analysis 3 March 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – UN Peacekeepers:
GS II Topic International Relations
The necessity of the hour:
Countries opposing Russia’s invasion should ask the UN General Assembly to recommend a peacekeeping operation with the purpose of maintaining humanitarian access.
What are the sources of funding for UN peacekeeping missions:
While the Security Council makes decisions regarding whether a peacekeeping operation should be established, maintained, or expanded, all UN Member States share responsibility for funding peacekeeping operations.
Every Member State is legally bound to contribute their fair contribution to peacekeeping efforts. This is in compliance with the terms of UN Charter Article 17 of the United Nations Charter.
For the period 2020-2021, the top five contributors to UN peacekeeping operations in terms of assessed contributions are:
United States of America (27.89 percent ).
China is a country that has a (15.21 percent ).
Japan is a country that has a (8.56 percent ).
Germany is a country that has a (6.09 percent ).
United Kingdom of Great Britain (5.79 percent ).
What is the definition of peacekeeping? What is the importance of this:
The Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Operational Support collaborate on UN peacekeeping.
The Security Council must approve any peacekeeping mission.
Soldiers, police officers, and civilians make up UN peacekeepers (sometimes known as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets).
Member states contribute peacekeeping forces on a voluntary basis.
The UN Secretariat recruits and deploys international civil workers for peacekeeping operations.
Three essential ideas guide UN peacekeeping:
The parties’ agreement.
Except in self-defense and defence of the mandate, no use of force is permitted.
2 – Details Of The PM –Daksh Yojna:
GS II Topic Government Policies and Interventions
The plan is as follows:
From 2020 to 2021, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will implement the scheme.
Up-skilling/reskilling, short-term training, long-term training, and entrepreneurial development programmes are provided to qualifying target groups under the system (EDP).
Eligibility: SC, OBC, EBC, De-notified tribes, sanitation workers, including waste pickers, manual scavengers, transgenders, and other similar categories.
The scheme’s importance and necessity:
Because the majority of the people in the target group have little financial resources, providing training and improving their skills is critical for economic empowerment and upliftment of these marginalised people.
Many members of the target population are rural craftsmen who have been marginalised as a result of the introduction of superior technology to the market.
There is also a need to empower women in the target demographic who, due to their total domestic responsibilities, are unable to participate in wage employment, which typically entails long hours and migration to other cities.
3 – Fortified Rice:
Prelims Specific Topic
Government efforts in this direction include:
For supply and distribution, the Food Corporation of India and state agencies have already purchased 88.65 LMT (lakh tonnes) of fortified rice.
In 2019, the government approved a three-year, centrally supported pilot scheme for rice fortification that would begin in 2019-2020. The programme is currently being implemented in 15 districts throughout 15 states.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised in his Independence Day speech in 2020 that by 2024, all rice distributed under government programmes will be fortified to combat malnutrition.
Last year, the government increased fortified rice distribution across anganwadis as part of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (now dubbed Saksham anganwadi and Poshan 2.0), as well as a school-based mid-day meal programme (renamed as PM Poshan).
However, public health professionals have expressed reservations about rice fortification as a means of combating malnutrition, arguing that diet diversification is more important.
Many people also believe that iron-fortified rice, together with ongoing government iron-supplementation programmes, can lead to an excessive intake of iron, increasing the risk of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
Rice fortification is required:
Malnutrition is prevalent among women and children in the country.
Every second woman in the country is anaemic, and every third child is stunted, according to the Food Ministry.
On the Global Hunger Index, India ranks 94th out of 107 countries and is classified as having “severe hunger” (GHI).
Malnutrition and a lack of key nutrients are important roadblocks in the development of disadvantaged mothers and children.
What is the definition of food fortification:
The practise of adding vitamins and minerals to regularly consumed foods during processing to boost their nutritional value is known as food fortification.
Fortification is defined by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) as “deliberately enhancing the content of critical micronutrients in a food to improve nutritional quality and give public health benefit with little risk to health.”
Rice with added nutrients:
Rice fortification, according to the Food Ministry, is a cost-effective and complementary technique for increasing vitamin and mineral content in diets.
1 kg fortified rice will contain iron (28 mg-42.5 mg), folic acid (75-125 microgram), and Vitamin B-12, according to FSSAI standards (0.75-1.25 microgram).
In addition, rice can be fortified with micronutrients such as zinc (10 mg-15 mg), Vitamin A (500-750 microgram RE), Vitamin B1 (1 mg-1.5 mg), Vitamin B2 (1.25 mg-1.75 mg), Vitamin B3 (12.5 mg-20 mg), and Vitamin B6 (1.5 mg-2.5 mg) per kilogramme, either separately or in combination.
What are some of the advantages of fortification:
Because the nutrients are added to commonly consumed staple meals, this is a wonderful way to enhance the health of a broad segment of the population at once.
Fortification is a safe way to improve people’s nutrition. People’s health is not jeopardised by the addition of micronutrients to diet.
It does not necessitate any modifications in people’s eating habits or patterns. It is a socially and culturally appropriate method of nutrient delivery.
It has no effect on the food’s properties, such as taste, texture, or appearance.
It can be adopted rapidly and show effects in terms of improved health in a short amount of time.
This strategy is cost-effective, especially when current technology and distribution platforms are utilised.
4 – Seema Darshan Project:
Prelims Specific Topic
The ‘Seema Darshan Project’ was inaugurated by Union Home and Cooperative Minister Amit Shah at Nadabet, which is located on the Indo-Pak border in Gujarat’s Banaskantha District.
The ‘Seema Darshan Project’ was started with the goal of giving people a glimpse into the lives and activities of BSF personnel on our border.
At a cost of 1 crore 25 lakhs, the project has produced a variety of tourist facilities and other unique attractions.
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
The warmest average maximum temperature since 1901 was recorded in February 2023, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). It was almost 29.54 °C outside.
While February is categorised by the IMD as both a “spring” and a “winter month,” it is also obvious that there has been a progressive increase, with even low temperatures reaching new highs. The average maximum temperature was 1.73°C higher than average, and the average minimum temperature was 0.81°C higher than average.
In its most recent assessment, the IMD forecasted that these patterns would most likely persist into the summer. The majority of India’s northeast, east, centre, and northwest are expected to see “above normal” temperatures. During March and May, the majority of India is expected to suffer heatwaves, with the exception of the north-east, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and coastal Karnataka.
A heatwave is a time when temperatures are unusually high. In India, they frequently happen from May through June, and in a few exceptional cases, they may even persist into July.
In order to classify heat waves, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) divides the nation into various temperature zones.
In India, there were 413 heatwave days between 1981 and 1990 and 600 days between 2011 and 2020, according to IMD.
This considerable rise in the number of heatwave days is attributable to the escalating effects of climate change.
Criteria for the Declaration of a Heatwave:
A heatwave is considered to have occurred when a station’s maximum temperature reaches at least:
40°C for the plains.
37 °C for coastal areas.
30°C for areas that are steep.
Increases of 5 to 6°C over the station’s usual maximum temperature, which is 40°C or lower, are considered to be heat wave conditions.
Additionally, a temperature increase of 7°C or more above average is considered a severe heat wave condition.
When the maximum average temperature is higher than 40°C, circumstances are considered to be in a heat wave when there are increases of 4 to 5°C from the station’s typical temperature. In addition, a rise of 6°C or more is considered a severe heat wave situation.
In addition, regardless of the typical maximum temperature, a heat wave is declared if the actual highest temperature remains at 45°C or greater.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) published suggestions on heatwaves in 2016 in attempt to create significant national-level policy for lessening the effects of heatwaves.
Climate change’s effects on crops:
Studies show that India is now more susceptible to heat waves as a result of climate change. According to a Lancet study, India lost 167.2 billion hours of potential work in 2021 due to an increase of 55% in heat-related mortality.
The extreme heat has had an impact on wheat yields throughout time. India produced 106.84 million tonnes of wheat in the 2021–22 crop season, down from 109.59 million tonnes in the 2020–21 crop season, due to a warmer than usual March that had an impact on the crop throughout its growth phase.
What these temperatures mean for this year’s monsoon is uncertain until March, when global forecast models are better equipped to analyse sea-surface conditions and safely extrapolate. In three of the last four years, India has seen above-average precipitation, primarily as a result of La Nina, or colder-than-normal temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific. Although it is expected that this will pass, it is not known if it will eventually develop into an El Nio and dredge moisture from India’s coastlines.
El Nio is a recurring warming of the Central-east Equatorial Pacific oceans (Warm phase off the coast of Peru). El Nio raises the surface temperatures of the equatorial Pacific.
As a result, the east-west trade winds, which blow near the equator, are diminished. El Nio causes the trade winds that begin in the Americas and go towards Asia to change into westerlies. As a result, the western Pacific provides warm water to America.
The El Nino event occurs unpredictably every 2 to 7 years; it does not follow a predictable cycle. El Nino and the Southern Oscillation both occur together. Together, they form the phenomenon known as El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
El Nino events in India are directly linked to less monsoon rains, which leads to higher average temperatures and a drier than typical climate. Agriculture’s gross value added (GVA) is significantly impacted along with crop yield.
The research supporting the idea that heatwave intensity has increased due to “climate change” is still in flux, notwithstanding how simple it is to make this assertion. Complex interactions exist between regional climate and weather. But this ought to act as a wake-up call to improve public health systems and make them better ready to respond to issues brought on by changing climatic conditions.
Although some States have action plans and early warning systems, outreach is poor, particularly in rural India. Greater attention should be paid to supporting farmers in adapting their soil and water management practises, as well as selling newer crop varieties with earlier maturities.
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The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
Forest Cover In India:
One of the few countries having such a system is India, which provides “critical inputs for planning, policy formation, and evidence-based decision-making” on a periodic basis.
Early in the 1980s, India had a forest cover of 19.53%; by 2021, it had increased to 21.71%. After adding a fictitious 2.91% tree cover predicted for 2021, the nation’s overall green cover as of right now is 24.62%.
Forests and tree cover:
Although the Forest Survey of India (FSI) started publishing its biennial State of Forest reports in 1987, it has been surveying India’s forest cover since the early 1980s.
The phrase “forest cover” is used to describe all tree patches in India that have a canopy density of more than 10% and a size of at least one hectare, independent of land use, legal status, or ownership. It can include orchards, bamboo, and palm trees, among other things, and is examined via remote sensing.
This disregards the criteria established by the UN, which eliminates forest regions that are predominantly used for living and agriculture.
Regardless of whether there are any trees there, any geographic areas that are classified in official documents as “Forests” are referred to as “Recorded Forest Area” or “Forest Area”. The three main RFA components—Reserved Forests (RF), Protected Forests (PF), and Unclassified Forests—were established by the Indian Forest Act of 1927 or the applicable State Forest Acts.
FSI and NRSA:
Using satellite imagery from the decades 1971-1975 and 1980-1982, the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), a division of the Department of Space, calculated the loss of 2.79% from 16.89% to 14.10% in just seven years in India’s forest cover.
Despite the lack of precise figures on encroachment, government records show that 42,380 sq km of forest land—roughly the size of Haryana—was diverted for non-forest use between 1951 and 1980.
India’s forest cover was “reconciled” in 1987 at 19.53% by the NRSA and the newly formed FSI after protracted negotiations because the government was reluctant to accept such a considerable loss.
Significantly, the FSI accepted without questioning the NRSA conclusion that the dense forest cover had declined from 14.12% in the middle of the 1970s to 10.96% in 1981.
Vanishing ancient woodlands:
The phrase “registered forest area” refers to land that has been designated as a forest in tax records for India or in accordance with a forest law.
These areas were historically noted as forests because there were woods on the land. India’s recorded forest areas, which are broken down into protected, reserved, and unclassified forests, account for 23.58% of the country.
Some of these Designated Forest Areas over time lost their forest cover as a result of encroachment, diversion, forest fires, etc. Additionally, outside of Designated Forest Areas, tree cover grew in several places as a result of agroforestry, orchards, etc.
When the FSI supplied information on India’s forest cover both inside and outside the Recorded Forest Areas in 2011, it was found that around one-third of such areas had no forest at all. In other words, more than 2.44 lakh sq km, or 7.43%, of India’s ancient natural forests have already vanished (this is larger than the state of Uttar Pradesh).
Even after extensive planting by the forest department throughout the 1990s, just 9.96% of India’s land was covered in dense forests under Registered Forest Areas in 2021. There has been a tenth slide since the FSI recorded 10.88% dense woodland in 1987.
This loss is still unrecognised since urban buildings, orchards, villages, plantations, and other non-registered forest areas are included as dense forests.
To give one example, the SFR 2021 forecasts 12.37% thick woods with occasional green patches.
Natural versus artificial: The growing displacement of natural forests by plantations.
Secondly, natural forests support a far higher diversity of species because they have naturally evolved to be diverse. It has a vast array of plants that may support several species, to put it simply.
Second, plantation woods frequently hinder the normal regeneration of forests, have consistently aged trees, and are more susceptible to fire, pests, and diseases.
Thirdly, natural forests store a lot more carbon in their tissues and soil because they are older. India’s prediction that new forests (plantations) will surpass the carbon stock levels of current forests in under eight years in 2018 drew criticism from the UNFCCC.
Older wild woods don’t have the same capacity for expansion as plantations have. Also, this suggests that plantations can achieve new carbon goals more quickly. Yet, plantations are usually cut down more quickly than natural forests, which eventually defeats the purpose of reducing carbon emissions.
The reference data for the National Forest Inventory (NFI) programme are gathered from the ground and contrasted with some interpreted data by the FSI.
It claimed that in 2021, it was able to discern between forests and non-forests with an overall accuracy of 95.79%. However, due to the limited resources, the exercise was limited to fewer than 6,000 sample points.
Yet, the FSI did not allow the public to view its statistics. Oddly, it also blocks media access to its geo-referenced maps.
In 1995, we made the transfer to our own satellite. The forest maps were produced using images obtained from NRSA, a different government agency.
Much as in Brazil, forests are rapidly disappearing. Nonetheless, a former official with the Environment Ministry claims that their forest data, regardless of quality, is available and free.
TerraBrasilis, an open web platform maintained by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, allows users to query, analyse, and share data on deforestation, changing forest cover, and forest fires (INPE).
Making the field data accessible to everyone may also make it easier for the FSI to verify the accuracy of remotely sensed data in the field, which is now hampered by a lack of staff.
A more realistic picture of forest preservation and conservation would be provided by making India’s forest data online accessible for greater involvement and inspection.
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