CAO The Hindu NOTES – 16th June, 2018 (Daily News Paper Current Affairs Analysis)
📰THE HINDU NEWSPAPER – DAILY Hindu Current Affairs Analysis
Date:- 16th June 2018
Pollution curbs monsoon’s cleansing (GS 3 Env)
- Increased pollution — particularly from coal burning — could potentially weaken the ability of in flushing out pollutants over Asia.
Details: In winter, when atmospheric moisture is low, fumes from un-burnt particles disperse toward the Indian Ocean, creating a vast pollution haze. However, what happened to these particles in summer was a mystery till recent research.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany performed atmospheric chemistry measurements by aircraft in a campaign called the “Oxidation Mechanism Observations”.
The researchers measured the summer monsoon outflow in the upper troposphere between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. They found that the monsoon sustained a “remarkably efficient” cleansing mechanism in which contaminants are rapidly oxidized and deposited on the Earth’s surface.
However, some pollutants were lifted above the monsoon clouds, and chemically processed in a reactive reservoir before being redistributed globally, including to the stratosphere.
Pollution particles can cool the sea surface temperature, mostly in winter. When the circulation reverses in summer, the cooler sea surface evaporates less, which can reduce the moisture flux into the monsoon convection, i.e. weaken the monsoon.
While pollution levels — especially in north India’s Gangetic plane — skyrocket in winter, there have also been spikes in summer air pollution.
Delhi, Gurugram and several parts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are currently in the grip of a ‘dust haze’ that has pushed pollution levels to the ‘severe’ category on the air quality index.
Scientists had earlier pointed out that the monsoon system may be flushing out pollutants but there was uncertainty over how precisely this affects the monsoon.
The “elevated heat pump” effect, as it is called, amplifies the seasonal heating of the Tibetan Plateau, leading to increased warming in the upper troposphere during late spring and early summer, subsequently spurring enhanced monsoon rainfall over northern India during June and July.
Indian rainfall, other scientists have pointed out, is enhanced in spring due to increased loading of black carbon but the monsoon may subsequently weaken through increased cloudiness and surface cooling.
Last month, the India Meteorological Department forecast a 3% dip in quantum of the summer monsoon rains this year. After the monsoon set in over Kerala, two days ahead of its typical June 1 date, and lashing several parts of the West coast, it has stalled over Maharashtra and is expected to languish there for at least a week.
Majority of Indians in lowest wealth group (GS 3 Eco)
- A new report shows that 55% of the total wealth in the country is with those having less than $1, 00,000 net worth.
Details: In contrast, only 18% of the global wealth is with those in this category.
The Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG’s) Global Wealth Report 2018 also shows that those with more than $1 billion in personal wealth have cornered 16% of total wealth in India. This is the second largest category under the wealth distribution head.
The report goes on to estimate that personal wealth grew at 12% from 2017 to 2018 in India, compared with 15% in the previous year. Overall, the report estimates a 13% CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) from 2017 to 2022. This matches with the growth rate in Asia (excluding Japan) for the same period, but is much faster than the 7% growth in personal wealth estimated for the world. The character of personal wealth in India is also slowly changing, according to the report. While investable wealth — listed equity, bonds, investment funds, currency and deposits and other smaller asset classes — accounted for 64% of total personal wealth in 2012, this proportion is expected to increase to 70% by 2022.
Further, the category that has and will see most growth is investment in equities and investment funds, the report showed.
While this category made up 17% of the personal wealth in 2012, it increased to 22% in 2017, and is expected to further increase to 32% by 2022.
Apache helicopters for the Indian Army
- The Army is a step closer to operating its own attack helicopters, with the U.S. State Department approving the sale of six Apache helicopters.
Details: Early this week, the U.S. State Department approved the sale of six additional AH64 Apache attack helicopters to India for the Army.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said the deal would be worth $930 million.
Right now, the Army operates only smaller Cheetah and ALH (Advanced Light Helicopters) that weigh less than five tonne. All bigger helicopters, including the Mi35 attack helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft are operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The Army had been looking for a long time for dedicated attack helicopters. During Kargil conflict of 1999 the army could not use attack helicopters in that area. They used armed helicopters.
In today’s combat situation, they become very important to support combat formations both in the plains and mountains. Particularly, when they are with the Army, it can be operated better than when they are with the Air Force. All over the world, attack helicopters are with the Army.
However, a retired senior Air Force officer countered saying the move is ill-advised. Critics of the move say that for operational reasons, logistics and other factors, these helicopters should be with the Air Force. Another important question is that will the Army have its own dedicated maintenance division or will the Air Force maintain them.
Critics also say that setting up a maintenance division for just six helicopters is creating a white elephant. If the Air Force is going to do it, then the Army will get to blame the Air Force whenever it wants to.
Under the present procurement plan, the IAF will operate 22 Apache attack helicopters, while the Army will have six of them. The IAF procurement plan was approved in 2015.
A serving Army officer said the attack helicopters being part of the Army’s corps and operated by the Army will give unprecedented teeth as these aircraft can have a disproportionate firepower on enemy tanks on the ground. This is the model that the U.S. Army follows.
A retired Air Force officer pointed out that “we are not a superpower” and need to “optimize resources”. He said the U.S. Army operating attack helicopters has a historical reason from World War II, until when the air elements were part of the U.S. Army.
India is facing its worst water crisis (GS 3 Env)
- The NITI Aayog has released the results of study warning that India is facing its ‘worst’ water crisis in history and that demand for potable water will outstrip supply by 2030 if steps are not taken.
- The NITI Aayog’s observations in the report are part of a study that ranked 24 States on how well they managed their water.
Details: The report highlights that nearly 600 million Indians faced high to extreme water stress and about 2, 00,000 people died every year due to inadequate access to safe water. Critical groundwater resources, which accounted for 40% of India’s water supply, are being depleted at unsustainable rates and up to 70% of India’s water supply is contaminated.
Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh took the top three spots, in that order, and Jharkhand, Bihar and Haryana came in last in the Non-Himalayan States category.
Himachal Pradesh is facing one of its worst water crises this year — led a separate 8-member list of States clubbed together as ‘North-Eastern and Himalayan.’ These two categories were made to account for different hydrological conditions across the two groups.
About 60% of the States were marked as low performers and this is a cause for alarm. Many of the States that performed badly on the index — Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh — accounted for 20-30% of India’s agricultural output. Several of the high and medium performers — Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana — had faced droughts in recent years.
Therefore, a lack of water was not necessary grounds for States not initiating action on conservation. Most of the gains registered by the States were due to their restoration of surface water bodies, watershed development activities and rural water supply provision.
While Jharkhand and Rajasthan may have scored low, they have made remarkable improvement when compared over two years.
As a consequence of this, twenty-one cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people. If matters are to continue, there will be a 6% loss in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2050.
Given the combination of rapidly declining groundwater levels and limited policy action, this is likely to be a significant food security risk for the country.
The growing pollution of water sources, especially through industrial effluents, is affecting the availability of safe water besides causing environmental and health hazards. Large parts of India are already becoming water-stressed with a potential of causing societal challenges.
There is a wide temporal and spatial variation in availability of water, which may increase substantially due to a combination of climate change and incidences like floods, increased erosion and increased frequency of droughts.
There is inequitable exploitation of ground water without any consideration to its sustainability.
Mismanagement of water resources is a major issue. The lack of consciousness about overall scarcity and economic value of water is resulting in its wastage and inefficient use.
There is also a lack of adequate trained personnel for scientific planning, utilizing modern techniques and analytical capabilities and lack of a holistic and inter-disciplinary approach to water related problems. Unless India woke up to its water crisis, disaster will loom on it.
To prevent the water crisis from worsening further we must mobilize community participation: States should tap into the local knowledge base of problems and challenges surrounding water supply systems, while ensuring true representation through partnerships with NGOs and other relevant organizations.
Governments need to allow local bodies to implement, maintain, and price local drinking water supply.
It must also provide adequate capacity building and technical support. Community efforts should be supplemented by support in the form of investments, technical know-how, financial management skills, etc. This area must be provided with adequate financing through rural banks. Community efforts for the creation of water conservation infrastructure need to be supported through the provision of adequate financing.
States need to create robust water data systems with real-time monitoring capabilities to ensure that the data can be used to target policy interventions and enable innovation in the broader water ecosystem.
Private sector expertise, especially in the realms of technology and data, needs to be leveraged by governments to ensure the quick creation and efficient management of data and monitoring systems
State governments need to create strong policy and regulatory frameworks for water management and conservation to ensure effective coordination across multiple stakeholders and to provide a platform to engage with and support communities.
The state governments should use the naturally arising synergies between schemes targeting sanitation, water quality, infrastructure construction, etc., to ensure effective utilization of resources.
The uptake of technologies such as micro-irrigation can be increased by ensuring that these are integrated with the existing irrigation systems of canals and drains.
It is critical to ensure the widespread dissemination of best practices in water management through mediums such as publications, ceremonies, etc.
About the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI)
In pursuit of cooperative and competitive federalism, NITI Aayog has been laying emphasis on developing indicators on various social sectors. As a step further in direction and keeping in view the criticality of water for life, NITI Aayog has prepared a report on Composite Water Management Index (CWMI).
The CWMI is an annual exercise and an important tool to assess and improve the performance of States/ Union Territories in efficient management of water resources.
It comprises 9 broad sectors with 28 different indicators covering various aspects of groundwater, restoration of water bodies, irrigation, farm practices, drinking water, policy and governance.
This has been done through a first of its kind water data collection exercise in partnership with Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation and all the States/ Union Territories.
The index would provide useful information for the States and also for the concerned Central Ministries/Departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.