10TH FEBRUARY CURRENT AFFAIRS

1. Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture

News: Impact of climate change on Indian agriculture was studied under National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA).

Details:

  • Rainfed rice yields in India are projected to reduce marginally (<2.5%) in 2050 and 2080 and irrigated rice yields by 7% in 2050 and 10% in 2080 scenarios.
  • Further, wheat yield projected to reduce by 6-25% in 2100 and   maize yields by 18-23%.  Future climates are likely to benefit chickpea with increase in productivity (23-54%).
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has initiated a network project NICRA during 2011 to address the impact of climate change on Indian agriculture.
  • NICRA project is being reviewed by a High Level Monitoring Committee (HLMC) under the Chairmanship of Secretary, DARE & DG, ICAR with invited members representing different Ministries, Government of India.
  • This committee recommends measures to be taken through NICRA for making Indian agriculture more resilient to changing climate. Besides an expert committee periodically review the project and advise on various aspects.
  • Vulnerability assessment of Indian Agriculture to climate change is undertaken by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Such an assessment was for 573 rural districts of India (excluding the Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep).
  • Based on the vulnerability analysis, 109 districts out of 573 rural districts (19% of total districts) are ‘very high-risk’ districts, while 201 districts are risk districts.
  • Integrated simulation modelling studies indicated that under Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5, maximum temperature is expected to increase by 1 to 1.3oC in 256 districts, by 1.3 to 1.6oC in 157 districts (2020-2049).
  • The increase ranged from <1.3oC in 199 districts to >1.6 oC in 89 districts. Cultivation of wheat in these districts is likely to be affected by heat stress.
  • Under NICRA project, wheat germplasm comprising of advanced breeding lines and land races have been screened for heat/drought tolerance. ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has released the high yielding varieties such as HD 2967 and HD 3086 which are being grown in large areas of North-west and North India. Zero till planting of wheat has advanced the wheat sowing in Punjab and Haryana.

Visit this link for detailed report:

http://www.nicra-icar.in/nicrarevised/images/publications/Risk%20&%20vulnerability%20assessment%20of%20Indian%20agriculture%20to%20climate%20change.pdf

2. Scheme for Ethanol promotion

News: Government has notified scheme for extending financial assistance to project proponents for enhancement of ethanol distillation capacity or to set up distilleries for producing 1st Generation (1G) ethanol from feed stocks such as cereals (rice, wheat, barley, corn & sorghum), sugarcane, sugar beet etc.

Details:

  • Under the scheme, Government would bear interest subvention for five years, including one year moratorium, against the loan availed by project proponents from banks @ 6% per annum or 50% of the rate of interest charged by banks, whichever is lower.
  • This fund can be used for
  • setting up of new distilleries;
  • expansion of existing distilleries;
  • converting existing distilleries to dual feedstock;
  • setting up of new dual feed distilleries;
  • expansion of existing dual feed distilleries; and
  • installation of Molecular Sieve Dehydration (MSDH) column etc.
  • During previous Ethanol Supply Year (ESY) 2019-20 (December- November), about 173 crore litre of ethanol was supplied by sugar mills and distilleries to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs). In the current ESY 2020-21, against Letter of Intent (LoI) quantity of 324.69 crore litre and contracted quantity of 269.88 crore litre, about 48.73 crore litre of ethanol has been supplied to OMCs, as on 01.02.2021.
  • State Governments/ UTs have been advised to promote the scheme to the entrepreneurs and encourage them to participate in the scheme so that the target set by the Government could be achieved well within the timeline.
  • State Governments have also been requested to facilitate entrepreneurs in arranging land for the project, getting early environment clearance etc. in setting up of distilleries.
  • In this regard, webinars/meetings have been organised with State Governments/ UTs, industry, concerned departments of Central Government and other stakeholders.

 

3. National Monsson Mission

 

News: Under the Monsoon Mission, Ministry has developed the state-of-the-art weather and climate prediction models, which are now in operational use.

  • These models include models for short range to medium range (1-10 days), extended range (10days to 30 days) and seasonal (up to one season).
  • The models developed under the National Monsoon Mission(NMM) have shown very high skill in predicting important weather events on different time scales during the last 3years.

National Monsoon Mission:

  • The overall objective of NMM is to improve the monsoon prediction over India on all time scales and hence it is implemented for the whole country which includes all the States and UTs.

Following are the targets of Monsoon Mission:

  • Development of a seamless prediction system using monsoon mission model, on different time scales, like Seasonal (for whole Monsoon season), Extended range (up-to 4 weeks), Short range prediction (up-to 5days).
  • Initiate and coordinate working partnership between Indian and foreign institutes to develop a system for prediction of extremes and climate applications
  • Develop and implement system for climate applications having social impacts (such as agriculture, flood forecast, extreme events forecast, wind energy, etc.)
  • Advanced data assimilation system for preparing high quality data for model predictions.
  • Major achievements of NMM during the last three years are:
  • Setting up of an advanced prediction system for Seasonal prediction; Extended range prediction and Very high-resolution Short-range prediction.
  • Commissioning of a Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) for short and medium range prediction at 12km.
  • A remarkable improvement in the skill of the forecasts especially in the short to medium range has been noticed.
  • The Cyclone track and intensity prediction has also shown a steady improvement over the last three years.
  • The operationalization of Monsoon Mission dynamical model (MMCFS) to prepare operational seasonal forecast of monsoon rainfall and temperatures during the hot and cold weather seasons over India.
  • Use of MMCFS and extended range prediction system for preparing regional seasonal forecast outlook for south Asia under WMO recognised Regional Climate Center and South Asia Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) activities.
  • Development of an algorithm to monitor and predict the Monsoon Intra-seasonal Oscillations (MISO) and Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) on the extended range.
  • Development of an index to predict the genesis and evolution of tropical cyclones and other cyclonic disturbances over the north Indian Ocean.

What have been done so far?

  • Probabilistic Quantitative Precipitation Forecast over all the Indian river basin have been operationally implemented.
  • Probabilistic (percentile based) forecast for extreme wind, precipitation have been established.
  • GFS/GEFS forecasts have been extensively used to provide guidance to Forest fire possibility and also to Renewable Energy Sectors namely, wind and solar.
  • Development of a high resolution regional re-analysis product, IMDAA at very high resolution of 12km.
  • Several scientists have been trained for modelling & forecasts through Monsoon Mission Program and capacity building activities have been done through targeted trainings.
  • Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has received several project proposals from various International institutes, for funding through Monsoon Mission.
  • The Scientific Review and Monitoring Committee (SRMC) of Monsoon Mission reviewed those proposals and recommended the proposals, which are relevant to Monsoon Mission objectives and useful for prediction of Indian Monsoon and extreme weather conditions.
  • The research & development and operational (services) activities of MoES in respect of weather and climate related phenomena is being addressed by one of the umbrella schemes Atmosphere and Climate Research – Modelling, Observing Systems and Services (ACROSS).
  • The entire gamut of weather/climate prediction involves assimilation of meteorological observations, understanding the processes, research and development of dynamical models and providing the forecast services. Each of these aspects is incorporated as sub-scheme under the umbrella scheme “ACROSS” and is being implemented through India Meteorological Department (IMD), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).

 

4. Changing rainfall pattern in India

 

News: India Meteorological Department (IMD) has carried out an analysis of observed monsoon rainfall variability and changes of 29 States & Union Territory at State and District levels based on the IMD’s observational data of recent 30 years (1989- 2018) during the Southwest monsoon season from June-July-August-September (JJAS).

The highlights of the report are as follows:

  • Five states viz., Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Meghalaya and Nagaland have shown significant decreasing trends in southwest monsoon rainfall during the recent 30 years period (1989-2018).
  • The annual rainfall over these five states along with the states of Arunachal Pradesh  and Himachal Pradesh also show significant decreasing trends.
  • Other states do not show any significant changes in southwest monsoon rainfall during the same period.
  • Considering district-wise rainfall, there are many districts in the country, which show significant changes in southwest monsoon and annual rainfall during the recent  30 years period(1989-2018).
  • With regard to the frequency of heavy rainfall days, significant increasing trend is observed over Saurashtra & Kutch, South-eastern parts of Rajasthan, Northern parts of Tamil Nadu, Northern parts of Andhra Pradesh and adjoining areas of Southwest Odisha, many parts of Chhattisgarh, Southwest Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Manipur & Mizoram, Konkan & Goa and Uttarakhand.
  • The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government of India has recently published a Climate Change report entitled “Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region” which covers all the aspects of regional climate change including the climatic extremes across India.
  • The preparation of this report was led by the Center for Climate Change Research (CCCR) at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) Pune.
  • The report from the MoES is the first of its kind where a comprehensive discussion has been made regarding the impact of human-induced global climate change on the regional climate and monsoon of the Indian subcontinent, adjoining Indian Ocean and the Himalayas.
  • Based on the available climate records, the report documents that the surface air temperature over India has risen by about 0.7 °C during 1901–2018 which is accompanied with an increase in atmospheric moisture content.
  • The sea surface temperatures in the tropical Indian Ocean have also increased by about 1 °C during 1951–2015. Clear signatures of human-induced changes in climate have emerged over the Indian region on account of anthropogenic greenhouse gases and aerosol forcing, and changes in land use and land cover which have contributed to an increase in the climatic extremes.
  • The complex interactions between the earth system components amidst the warming environment and regional anthropogenic influences have therefore led to a rise in frequency of localized heavy rainfall events, drought and flood occurrences, and increase in the intensity of tropical cyclones etc. in the last few decades.
  • Also, recent studies by Indian Scientists reveal that the trends in sea level rise are estimated to be 1.3mm/year along the Indian coasts during the last 40-50years.

 

5. UN Human Rights Council

 

News: The Biden administration is set to reengage with the much-maligned UN Human Rights Council that former Donald Trump withdrew from almost three years ago.

Background:

  • Trump pulled out of the world body’s main human rights agency in 2018 due to its disproportionate focus on Israel. Israel had received by far the largest number of critical council resolutions against any country.
  • The Trump administration took issue with the body’s membership, which currently includes China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Venezuela, all of which have been accused of human rights abuses.

UN Human Rights Council

  • The UNHRC describes itself as “an inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.
  • It addresses situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.
  • The first session took place from June 19-30, 2006, three months after the Council was created by UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251 on March 15 that year.
  • The UNHRC has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year.
  • The HRC replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR).
  • The UNHRC has 47 members serving at any time with elections held to fill up seats every year, based on allocations to regions across the world to ensure geographical representation.
  • Each elected member serves for a term of three years.
  • Countries are disallowed from occupying a seat for more than two consecutive terms.

Its working:

  • The Human Rights Council holds no fewer than three regular sessions a year, for a total of at least 10 weeks. The meetings take place for four weeks in March, for three weeks in June, and for another three weeks in September. The sessions are held at the UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • If one-third of the Member States so request, the HRC can decide at any time to hold a special session to address human rights violations and emergencies.
  • The UNHRC passes non-binding resolutions on human rights issues through a periodic review of all 193 UN member states called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
  • It oversees expert investigation of violations in specific countries (Special Procedures).

Membership

  • The Council is made up of 47 UN Member States, which are elected by the UNGA through a direct and secret ballot. The General Assembly takes into account the contribution of the candidate states to the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as their voluntary pledges and commitments in this regard.
  • Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms. As of January 1, 2019, 114 UN Member States have served on the HRC. Both India and Pakistan are on this list.
  • The HRC has a Bureau of one President and four Vice-Presidents, representing the five regional groups. They serve for a year, in accordance with the Council’s annual cycle.

Way Forward:

  • The human rights record of the member-states such as Saudi Arabia, China and Russia in the council has also not been in line with the aims and mission of the UNHRC, which has led to critics questioning its relevance. Despite the continued participation of several western countries in the UNHRC, they continue to harbour misgivings on the understanding of Human rights.
  • Non-compliance has been a serious issue with respect to the UNHRC’s functioning. Non-participation of powerful nations such as the US.