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18 April 2024 The Hindu Newspaper

Prelims Practice Questions


Q Consider the following statements about Kerogen

  1. The primary source of hydrocarbons in the rocky underground is called kerogen

  2. It represents about 90% of the organic carbon in sediments.

Choose the correct statements:

  • a) 1 only

  • b) 2 only

  • c) Both 1 and 2

  • d) Neither 1 nor 2


Q. Which of the following organisation released the Global Trade Outlook and Statistics report?

  • a) United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

  • b) World Economic Forum

  • c) World Bank

  • d) World Trade Organisation


Q. Tale Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, recently seen in news is located in which of the following Indian state/UT?

  • a) Uttarakhand

  • b) Jammu & Kashmir

  • c) Himachal Pradesh

  • d) Arunachal Pradesh


1. Heatwaves in India: Rising Temperatures and Challenges in Preparedness


  • Early Arrival of Heatwaves: This year, India is experiencing unusually warm temperatures and forecasts predict an increase in heatwave severity across eastern and southern regions.

  • What are Heatwaves? The definition depends on location, with plains experiencing heatwaves when the maximum temperature reaches 40°C or higher. The IMD classifies heatwaves based on two factors:

  • Departure from Normal Temperature:

  • Normal Heatwave: 4.5°C to 6.4°C departure from the normal maximum temperature.

  • Severe Heatwave: Departure exceeding 6.4°C from the normal maximum temperature.

  • Actual Maximum Temperature:

  • Heatwave: Maximum temperature reaches 45°C or higher.

  • Severe Heatwave: Maximum temperature reaches 47°C or higher.

Important to note:* The IMD considers these latter two definitions (based on actual temperature) only when at least two stations in a meteorological subdivision report such high temperatures, or when one station records a corresponding departure from normal for at least two consecutive days.

  • Tackling Heatwaves: Heat Action Plans (HAPs)

  • Implemented by various government levels.

  • Aim to:

  • Increase preparedness.

  • Reduce adverse impacts of extreme heat.

  • Include strategies like:

  • Early warning systems.

  • Public education campaigns.

  • Cooling centers.

  • Improved hospital preparedness.

  • Long-term measures like urban planning with heat-resistant materials and green spaces.

  • Shortcomings of Current HAPs

  • Local Context: National thresholds might not consider regional variations in humidity, infrastructure, or nighttime heat.

  • Inconsistent Methods: Vulnerability assessments in HAPs lack consistency.

  • Missing Considerations: Strategies don't fully address needs of informal workers or extremely hot nights.

  • Resource Limitations: Implementation depends on local budgets and there's no dedicated funding for HAPs.

  • Limited Scope: Long-term solutions mainly focus on building infrastructure, neglecting nature-based solutions.

  • Recommendations for Improvement

  • Consider humidity and nighttime heat when defining heatwaves.

  • Use consistent methods for vulnerability assessments.

  • Tailor plans to specific regions and demographics.

  • Allocate dedicated budgets for HAPs.

  • Integrate HAPs with broader climate action plans.

  • Include nature-based solutions like planting trees.


2. The public stockholding issue at the WTO

It revolves around how governments store food to ensure food security for their citizens, and how these practices align with international trade rules.

Here's a breakdown of the key points:

  • What is Public Stockholding (PSH)? It's a policy tool used by governments to buy food grains from farmers at a pre-announced minimum support price (MSP). This procured food is then stockpiled and later distributed at subsidized prices to vulnerable populations through government programs.

  • The Issue: WTO rules allow countries to maintain some level of subsidies for agriculture, but these are capped. The problem is that some argue that purchasing food at prices above market rates for stockpiling can be seen as a trade-distorting subsidy that exceeds these caps.

  • Developing vs Developed Countries: Developing countries, where food security is a major concern, want the WTO to exempt PSH programs from subsidy reduction commitments. They argue that these programs are essential to ensure their populations have access to affordable food.

  • Developed Countries' Concerns: Developed countries often oppose unlimited exemptions, fearing it could distort global food markets and give an unfair advantage to developing country producers.

  • The Current Situation: There's no permanent solution yet. A temporary "peace clause" was established, allowing developing countries to continue PSH programs without legal challenges, but a long-term solution is still being negotiated.


The Bali interim solution on public stockholding offers India and other developing nations a peace clause which allows them to breach the WTO prescribed agriculture subsidy limit (10 per cent of value of production) without the risk of legal action from other members.


  • Key Aspects of the Debate:

  • Balancing food security needs with fair trade practices.

  • Defining the appropriate level of government support for agriculture.

  • Finding common ground between developed and developing countries.


3. India's Economy Projected for Continued Growth in 2024

  • UN Report Forecasts 6.5% Growth: A recent report by the UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD) projects India's economy to grow by 6.5% in 2024.

  • Maintaining Lead in Growth: This growth rate would solidify India's position as the world's fastest-growing major economy.

  • Factors Contributing to Growth: The report highlights two key factors:

  • Strong public investment outlays.

  • A vibrant services sector driven by domestic consumer demand and robust exports of business services.

  • Multinational Expansion Expected to Boost Exports: UNCTAD also expects further growth in Indian exports due to multinational companies setting up manufacturing bases in India to diversify their supply chains.

  • 2023 Growth Recap:  The report acknowledges India's 6.7% growth achieved in 2023.


4. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict


It is a long-standing ethnic and territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Here's a quick summary:


  • Region: Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region with a mostly Armenian population, is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

  • Dispute: Armenia and Azerbaijan have clashed over control of the region since the late 1980s.

  • Wars: Two major wars were fought: one in the early 1990s (Armenia gained control of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas) and another in 2020 (Azerbaijan regained some territory).


What has happened now: - Russia Withdraws Peacekeepers from Nagorno-Karabakh

  • Withdrawal Confirmed: Russia confirms the withdrawal of its peacekeeping forces from Nagorno-Karabakh.

  • Background:

  • The territory is internationally recognized as Azerbaijan's but has a majority Armenian population.

  • A 2020 war saw Azerbaijan recapture some territory from Armenian separatists.

  • Russia deployed peacekeepers as part of a ceasefire agreement.

  • Azerbaijan Media Reports Withdrawal:

  • Azerbaijani media reported Russian troops leaving positions.

  • Videos and photos showed armored vehicles with Russian flags supposedly leaving the area.

  • Official Confirmation:

  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirms the withdrawal but offers no details.

  • Agreement at Highest Levels:

  • An advisor to Azerbaijan's president says the decision was agreed upon at the highest levels with Russia.

  • The withdrawal process has already begun, with the defense ministries of both countries involved.


Editorial Analysis


The Great Indian Bustard and climate action verdict


Supreme Court of India Recognizes Right Against Climate Change Impacts

This article analyzes a recent Supreme Court of India decision concerning the Great Indian Bustard and renewable energy development.


Background:

  • The Great Indian Bustard is endangered.

  • Solar and wind energy projects threaten the bustard due to power line collisions.


Court's Decision:

  • Initially banned overhead power lines in a large area.

  • Modified the order, allowing scientific experts to determine a solution.

  • Recognized the right to be free from climate change impacts for the first time.

  • Based this right on existing rights to life and equality.

  • Avoided defining the right in detail.


Right Not Fully Articulated:

  • The court left room for future discourse on the right's meaning.

  • This avoids potential overreach but limits immediate impact.


Just Transition Framework Proposed:

  • This framework aims for equitable climate action that considers various interests.

  • It can help balance biodiversity protection with renewable energy needs.

  • Using this framework could:

  • Promote inclusive climate action.

  • Shape more reflective climate rights.

  • Make this case a leader in just transition litigation.


Shared Burden of Action:

  • The judiciary, activists, and academics all have a role to play.

  • They can contribute to shaping and enforcing the right against climate change.


Overall, the decision opens doors for future climate action and rights discussions in India.




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