461 elephants electrocuted in country in 8 years since 2009
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Animal Conservation; Man-Animal Conflict
- More than a dozen elephants were electrocuted between August to October 2018.
- Human-elephant conflict remains a major concern for policy makers and conservationists.
- Electrocution of elephants is turning out to be a critical area in the management of India’s elephant population.
Do you know?
- Every year, about 50 elephants have died on average due to electrocution.
- A total of 461 elephant deaths due to electrocution occurred in the eight years between 2009 and November 2017.
- The States with the highest elephant population are Karnataka (6,049), followed by Assam (5,719) and Kerala (3,054).
- Karnataka, which has the highest population of elephants, has recorded the highest casualties by electrocution, numbering 106.
- In Odisha, 90 elephants died of electrocution.
- 70 elephants died of electrocution in Assam; 48 elephants in West Bengal; and 23 elephants in Chhattisgarh.
- Need for greater surveillance and protection of elephant corridors.
- Need for greater coordination between the Forest Department and different agencies, including the Power Department, as well as continuous monitoring of electrical wires passing through areas of elephant movement.
- Stop illegal electrical fencing, and having proper guidelines for maintaining the height of high tension electrical wires.
- Come up with a proper zone-wise management plan for different elephant landscapes — where to allow elephants and where to restrict their movement.
The legacy of NASA’s Kepler
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology; Space mission
- NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which retired after running out of fuel, is being widely described as the most prolific planet-hunting machine in history.
- By June 2017, it had discovered more than 4,000 planet candidates and 2,300 confirmed planets.
Below are 10 landmark findings:
DOUBLE SUNSET: The Star Wars franchise showed the planet Tatooine as part of a double-star system, hence two sunsets. Kepler showed that double sunsets do exist; it discovered Kepler-16b, the first known planet (mostly likely a gas giant) around a double-star system.
EARTH-LIKE PLANETS: Kepler found planets near in size to Earth and orbiting at a distance where liquid water could pool on the surface. Kepler-62f, for example, is about 40% bigger than Earth and is likely rocky.
PLANET CANDIDATES: Many of the planet candidates are likely to have small rocky cores enveloped by a thick atmosphere of hydrogen and helium, and some are thought to be ocean worlds. That doesn’t necessarily mean the oceans are full of water.
LIFE CANDIDATES: Kepler’s survey has made it possible to measure the number of Earth-size habitable zone planets in the galaxy. Scientists hope to determine how many planets like Earth exist.
SIZE CLASSIFICATION: Kepler’s discoveries showed that a lot of planets are either approximately 1.5 times the size of Earth or just smaller than Neptune. They are, therefore, called Super Earths and mini-Neptunes.
‘LAVA WORLD:’ Kepler-10b has a year that lasts less than an Earth day, and density so high that it is probably made of iron and rock. One of Kepler’s early discoveries, the first solid evidence of a rocky planet outside the Solar System.
LIGHT & ‘ALIENS’: Kepler detected fluctuating light from “Tabby’s Star”, triggering mass speculation of an alien megastructure. Astronomers, however, have since concluded that it is probably an orbiting dust cloud.
‘CANNIBAL’ STAR: What happens when a solar system dies? Kepler discovered a white dwarf, the compact corpse of a star in the process of vaporising a planet.
EXPLODING SUPERNOVA: Kepler recorded a sped-up version of a supernova called a “fast-evolving luminescent transit” that reached its peak brightness at breakneck speed. It was caused by a star spewing out a dense shell of gas that lit up when hit with the shockwave from the blast.
SOLAR SYSTEM COUSIN: In 2014, scientists using data from Kepler discovered seven planets orbiting Kepler-90, a Sun-like star located 2,500 light-years away. Later, an eighth planet was identified in this planetary system, tying it with our own Solar System in having the highest number of known planets.
India, China and Pakistan: India protests China-Pakistan bus via PoK
Part of: GS Mains II – India and its neighbours; International Relations
- India reiterates its opposition to a proposed luxury bus service between Pakistan and China that would pass through parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan — territory that India claims — terming it “a violation of India’s sovereignty.
- China says move part of ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ (CPEC), doesn’t reflect Beijing’s position on Kashmir.
- NRIs deposits surge as rupee slides and oil prices rise.
- The UAE is the top source of inward remittances into India, with Kerala receiving the maximum funds sent from abroad, according to the RBI’s survey of inward remittances for 2016-17.
- According to their most recent assessment this month, scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that the world’s oceans have absorbed 90% of the temperature rise caused by man-made carbon emissions.
TOPIC:General studies 2&3
- Social justice
- Economic development and inclusive growth
Support for lives on the move
- Though migration is expected to enhance consumption and lift families out of absolute poverty at the origin, it is not free from distress.
- This distress is due to unemployment or underemployment in agriculture, natural calamities, and input/output market imperfections.
Factors of internal migration
- Migration is driven by push-pull factors.
- Distress has been a push factor from rural areas.
- The desire for better employment in urban areas has been a pull factors in internal migration in India.
- Data show that employment-seeking is the principal reason for migration in regions without conflict.
The problems of migration
- At the destination, a migrant’s lack of skills is a major hindrance in entering the labour market.
- The modern formal urban sector has often not been able to absorb the large number of rural workers entering the urban labour market.
- This has led to the growth of the ‘urban informal’ economy, which is marked by high poverty and vulnerabilities.
- The ‘urban informal’ economy is wrongly understood in countries such as India as a transient phenomenon.
- It has, in fact, expanded over the years and accounts for the bulk of urban employment.
- Most jobs in the urban informal sector pay poorly and involve self-employed workers who turn to petty production because of their inability to find wage labour.
- Then there are various forms of discrimination which do not allow migrants to graduate to better-paying jobs.
- Migrant workers earn only two-thirds of what is earned by non-migrant workers, according to 2014 data.
- Further, they have to incur a large cost of migration which includes the ‘search cost’ and the hazard of being cheated.
- Often these costs escalate as they are outside the state-provided health care and education system; this forces them to borrow from employers in order to meet these expenses.
- Frequent borrowing forces them to sell assets towards repayment of their loans.
- Employment opportunities, the levels of income earned, and the working conditions in destination areas are determined by the migrant’s household’s social location in his or her village.
- The division of the labour market by occupation, geography or industry (labour market segmentation), even within the urban informal labour market, confines migrants to the lower end.
- Often, such segmentation reinforces differences in social identity, and new forms of discrimination emerge in these sites.
The benefits of migration
- Despite these issues, internal migration has resulted in the increased well being of households, especially for people with higher skills, social connections and assets.
- Migrants belonging to lower castes and tribes have also brought in enough income to improve the economic condition of their households in rural areas and lift them out of poverty.
- Data show that a circular migrant’s earnings account for a higher proportion of household income among the lower castes and tribes.
- This has helped to improve the creditworthiness of the family members left behind — they can now obtain loans more easily.
- Thus, there exists a need to scale-up interventions aimed at enhancing these benefits from circular or temporary migration.
- Interventions targeting short-term migrants also need to recognise the fact that short-term migration to urban areas and its role in improving rural livelihoods is an ongoing part of a long-term economic strategy of the households.
- Local interventions by NGOs and private entrepreneurs also need to consider cultural dimensions reinforced by caste hierarchies and social consequences while targeting migrants.
Why a national policy?
- According to a study, less than 20% of urban migrants had prearranged jobs and nearly two-thirds managed to find jobs within a week of their entry into the city.
- The probability of moving to an urban area with a prearranged job increases with an increase in education levels.
- Access to information on employment availability before migrating along with social networks tend to reduce the period of unemployment significantly.
- Social networks in the source region not only provide migrants with information on employment opportunities, but are also critical as social capital in that they provide a degree of trust.
- While migrants interact with each other based on ethnic ties, such ties dissipate when they interact with urban elites to secure employment.
- In India, the bulk of policy interventions, which the migrants could also benefit from, are directed towards enhancing human development; some are aimed at providing financial services.
- As government interventions are directed towards poverty reduction, there is a dearth of direct interventions targeted and focussed on regions.
- Policies on this could be twofold. The first kind could aim at reducing distress-induced migration and the second in addressing conditions of work, terms of employment and access to basic necessities.
- Policy interventions have to consider the push factors, which vary across regions, and understand the heterogeneity of migrants.
- There is a need to distinguish between policy interventions aimed at ‘migrants for survival’ and ‘migrants for employment’.
- Continued dynamic interventions over long periods of time would yield better results compared to single-point static interventions, especially in the context of seasonal migrants.
- Local bodies and NGOs which bring about structural changes in local regions need to be provided more space.
- Interventions aimed at enhanced skill development would enable easier entry into the labour market.
- We also need independent interventions aimed specifically at addressing the needs of individual and household migrants because household migration necessitates access to infrastructure such as housing, sanitation and health care more than individual migration does.
- Various interventions must complement each other.
- For instance, government interventions related to employment can be supported by market-led interventions such as microfinance initiatives, which help in tackling seasonality of incomes.
- Another important example is, mproved financial infrastructure to enable the smooth flow of remittances and their effective use require more attention from India’s growing financial sector.
Connecting the dots:
- A national policy for internal migration is needed to improve earnings and enable an exit from poverty. Comment.
TOPIC:General studies 3
- Sustainable development
- Environment and ecology, pollution
Choked by smog
- Air pollution is choking several cities in the northern States once again, as changes in temperature and slowing winds trap soot, dust and fine particulate matter.
Causes of air pollution in northern states
- The National Capital Region is badly hit, as the burning of agricultural residue in Punjab and Haryana is releasing large volumes of smoke containing, among other pollutants, highly damaging fine particulates, or PM2.5.
- Farm stubble burning is a major contributor to the problem, and its footprint may be growing because of wider use of mechanical harvesters that is producing more waste.
- The problem is aggravated by the burning of urban waste, diesel soot, vehicular exhaust, road and construction dust, and power generation.
- With the steady growth in the population of the capital and other cities, the trauma is set to worsen.
Effects of air pollution
- The UN Environment Programme’s recent report titled ‘Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-Based Solutions’ has sounded a warning, pointing out that only 8% of the population in the countries of the region get to breathe air of acceptable quality.
- One study of degradation of Delhi’s air over a 10-year period beginning 2000 estimated premature mortality to have risen by as much as 60%.
Lack of consistent actions
- Although India has nine of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, it has not taken consistent action on pollution.
- Tens of millions live with ambient air quality that is well short of even the relaxed parameters the country has set for fine particulates, compared with those of the World Health Organisation.
- This year’s ‘severe’ air quality rating for Delhi and poor conditions prevailing in other cities in the Indo-Gangetic Plain should compel a decisive shift in policy.
- India should give high importance to the WHO warning about air pollution being the new tobacco.
- The Centre and the State governments need to get into crisis mode to dramatically reduce emissions.
- They must address the burning of carbon, which is a direct source, and emissions with oxides of nitrogen and sulphur from vehicles that turn into fine particulates through atmospheric reactions.
- An innovative approach could be to use climate change funds to turn farm residues into a resource, using technological options such as converting them into biofuels and fertilizers.
- From an urban development perspective, large cities should reorient their investments to prioritise public transport, favouring electric mobility.
- The World Bank has said it is keen to enhance its lending portfolio to tackle air pollution, opening a new avenue for this.
- Governments should make the use of personal vehicles in cities less attractive through strict road pricing mechanisms.
- Sharply escalated, deterrent parking fees can be implemented.
- The critical issue of pollution control needs immediate attention.
- Failure to take sustainable and urgent measures will inflict long-term harm on public health, affecting children even more by putting them at higher risk for diseases.
Connecting the dots:
- What are the causes and factors responsible for winter pollution in northern states of India. Critically analyse the steps taken by central and state governments.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Government of India launched ‘Hathi Mere Sathi’ Campaign to improve conservation prospects of elephants. Consider the following statements regarding that:
- Campaign was launched by Ministry of Environment and Forest in partnership with the wildlife Trust of India.
- It was launched during Elephant – 8 Ministerial Meeting, attended by delegates from countries representing 2/3rd of wild elephant population.
- Elephant is India’s National Heritage Animal.
Which of the above statements are correct?
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- All of the above
Q.2) Which of the following efforts have been taken for Elephant Conservation in India?
- Elephant Corridors
- Elephant Census
- Elephant Reserves
Select the correct answer using code below
- 1 and 2
- 1 and 3
- 2 and 3
- 1,2 and 3
Q.3) Consider the following statements regarding the Project Elephant:
- It was launched in 1973 to protect elephants, their habitats and migration corridors.
- Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are home to about 55% of the total elephant population in India.
Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.4) Asian Elephants are
- Critically Endangered
Always a fine balance
Has the CBI’s credibility been compromised?
What ails the NBFC sector
A darkening horizon
A Matter of Dignity
Winning the neighbourhood
RBI’s independence needs to be protected
Process turbulence and macroeconomic stability