Daily Prelims Notes 6 March 2022
- March 6, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
6 March 2022
Table Of Contents
- VIRUS EVOLUTION
- Bajoli-Holi Hydro Power Project (BHHPP)
- Wildlife Protection Amendment Act 2021
- SEMICONDUCTOR CHIPS
- IPCC sounds another climate warning
- Ukraine War and agri-commodities
- Currency depreciation – Impact of Depreciation of Indian Rupee
TOPIC: Science & Tech
Context- Variants do not always evolve to become less virulent: WHO
- With the omicron variant disease severity has been far less compared to Delta. However virus don’t inevitably evolve towards being less virulent and it is not true that virants are becoming milder.
What does it mean to say a virus mutates or changes?
- When a virus replicates or makes copies of itself, it sometimes changes a little bit.
- These changes are called “mutations.”
- A virus with one or several new mutations is referred to as a “variant” of the original virus.
- The more viruses circulate, the more they may change.
- These changes can occasionally result in a virus variant that is better adapted to its environment compared to the original virus.
- This process of changing and selection of successful variants is called “virus evolution.”
- Some mutations can lead to changes in a virus’s characteristics, such as altered transmission (for example, it may spread more easily) or severity (for example, it may cause more severe disease).
- Some viruses change quickly and others more slowly. SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, tends to change more slowly than others such as HIV or influenza viruses.
- SARS-CoV-2 spreads primarily through human-to-human transmission, but there is evidence of transmission between humans and animals. Several animals like mink, dogs, domestic cats, lions, tigers and raccoon dogs have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after contact with infected humans.
Context- Tunnel testing of the 180 megawatts (MW) triggered seepage and landslides that caused damage to the houses in Jharauta village in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh.
About the Project:
- Bajoli-Holi HEP is 180 MW run-of-the-river power facility being constructed on the River Ravi in the Chamba district of the state Himachal Pradesh,
- The project consists of a 66 m high concrete gravity dam.
- The hydropower project has been awarded to GMR Hydro Power by the Indian Government on a Build-Own- Operate-Transfer (BOOT) basis for 40 years from the date of commissioning.
- The Bajoli-Holi hydropower project has heavily impacted the Gaddi community and the region’s ecology.
About Ravi River:
- It is one of the five tributaries of the Indus River that give the Punjab (meaning “Five Rivers”) its name. Other tributaries are: Jhelum, Chenab, Beas and Sutlej.
- The Ravi River originates in Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas in the Chamba district of HP. Ravi has its source in Kullu hills near the Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh.
- The waters of the Ravi River are allocated to India under the Indus Waters Treaty
- Chamba town is situated on the right bank of the river.
- Important right bank tributaries: Budhil, TindahanBeljedi, Saho and Siul;
- Left bank tributary:
- It is a transboundary river.
- Important Projects: Ujh Multipurpose Project (River Ujh is a tributary of the Ravi), Shahpurkandi Dam Project.
Context- Kashmir’s highly fertile alluvial soil deposits called ‘karewas’ are being destroyed in the name of development, much to the peril of local people.
- The Kashmir valley is an oval-shaped basin, 140 km long and 40 km wide, trending in the NW–SE direction.
- It is an intermountain valley fill, comprising of unconsolidated gravel and mud.
- A succession of plateaus is present above the Plains of Jhelum and its tributaries. These plateau-like terraces are called ‘Karewas’ or ‘Vudr’ in the local language.
- Despite continuous erosion since millions of years, more than half of the valley is still occupied by the Karewa.
- Karewas are lacustrine deposits (deposits in lake) in the Valley of Kashmir and in Bhadarwah Valley of the Jammu Division.
- The karewas is about 1400 m thick deposits of alluvial soil and sediments like sandstone and mudstone.
- This makes them ideal for cultivation of saffron, almonds, apples and several other cash crops.
- Kashmir saffron, which received a Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2020 for its longer and thicker stigmas, deep-red colour, high aroma and bitter flavour, is grown on these karewas.
- Karewas were formed during the Pleistocene Period (1 million years ago), when the entire Valley of Kashmir was under water.
- Due to the rise of Pirpanjal, the drainage was impounded and a lake of about 5000 sq. km area was developed and thus a basin was formed.
- Subsequently, the lake was drained through Bramulla gorge. The deposits left in the process are known as karewas.
Context- The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Bhupender Yadav, Union minister of environment, forest and climate change. The Bill amends the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (WLPA).
Key provisions of the Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2021:
- Standing Committees of State Boards of Wildlife:
- The Bill proposes setting up of Standing Committees of State Boards of Wildlife.
- These committees will function like the National Board for Wildlife NBWL).
- It will be able to make decisions on wildlife management and permissions granted for projects without having to refer most projects to the NBWL.
- Rationalization of Schedules for Wildlife:
- The bill rationalises Schedules for Wildlife under the Act by bringing it down from 6 to 4 major schedules.
- For example, A schedule I category of wildlife (such as Tigers) are the highest protected under the Act.
- Wildlife Management Plans:
- The Bill mandates that Wildlife Management Plans which are prepared for sanctuaries and national parks across the country will now become a part of the Wildlife Act.
- Further, they will have to be approved by the Chief Wildlife Warden of the state.
- Earlier, the plans were approved through executive orders.
- There is also the insertion of a new section 42A about surrender of wild animals and products.
- The inclusion of the new Section 62A(l) that defines alien invasive species.
- It has mandated the need to consult the Gram Sabha in protected areas falling under scheduled areas or areas recognised to possess forest rights based on claims under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972:
- The Act was enacted for the protection of plants and animal species.
- It has six schedules that give varying degrees of protection.
- Schedule I and part II of Schedule II provide absolute protection – offenses under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
- Species listed in Schedule III and Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower.
- Schedule V includes the animals which may be hunted. The specified endemic plants in Schedule VI are prohibited from cultivation and planting. The hunting to the Enforcement authorities has the power to compound offenses under this Schedule (i.e. they impose fines on the offenders).
- The act has been amended in 1982, 1986, 1991, 1993, 2002, 2006 and 2013.
TOPIC: Science & Tech
Context- The Russian invasion is making the global chip shortage situation worse.
Why is the Russian invasion impacting chip shortage?
- According to a report by Moody’s Analytics, Ukraine supplies rare gases used to produce semiconductor fab lasers, and
- Russia exports rare metals like palladium to make semiconductors.
- This combination is required to build chipsets that power a range of devices, from automobiles to smartphones.
- Palladium is often used as an alternative to gold in making various devices.
- Palladium metal is highly malleable and resistant to corrosion.
- The rare metal is considered to be softer than gold, but is still much harder and durable than the yellow metal.
- This quality of palladium gives it more protection against an impact and a greater resistance to denting.
- So, automobile makers, electronics manufacturers and biomedical device producers prefer the silverywhite metal.
- Russia and South Africa are the two largest producers of palladium.
- While platinum and rhodium could be substituted for palladium, Russia is also a leading producer of the other platinum group metals.
- Palladium is used in nearly all electronic devices, and the metal is a key to make chipsets and circuit boards.
- It is used to make multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs), which are important to make smartphone screens, stereo systems, and power circuit breakers.
Context- On February 27, the IPCC issued a major report that reviewed the scientiﬁc evidence on natural, ecological, social and economic spheres, concluding that climate change has already produced irreversible losses and damage to land, coastal and marine ecosystems.
What are the key features of the report?
- The report titled “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” is among three specialist publications that contribute to the overall Assessment Report 6 of the IPCC due in September 2022.
- It includes people living along coastlines that are threatened by rising sea levels and extreme weather events such as cyclones and ﬂoods.
- Taken as a whole, less than 15% of the world’s land, 21% of the freshwater and 8% of the ocean are protected.
What are the threats?
- Food production as a fundamental determinant of human wellbeing and progress faces a climate threat.
- Food security risks due to climate change “will be more severe, leading to malnutrition and micronutrient deﬁciencies, concentrated in SubSaharan Africa, South Asia, Central and South America and Small Islands.”
- In the current situation, between 3% and 14% of all species on earth face a very high risk of extinction at even 1.5°C.
- South Asia is a hotspot, as it has among the largest absolute numbers of people displaced by extreme weather, along with South East Asia and East Asia, followed by subSaharan Africa.
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change.
- It was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.
- The IPCC does not conduct its own research.
- IPCC reports are neutral, policy-relevant but not policy-prescriptive.
Ukraine and Russia is a major exporter of agricultural produce and their supplies will get disrupted, leading to increase in food prices. While wheat prices are up nearly the double year-on year, corn are up by 41 per cent and rice by nine per cent since the Port of Odessa has suspended operations bringing all exports to a halt compounded by a dry weather in South America.(The production and export share data provided in all figures is calculated from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Production, Supply and Distribution database (USDA-FAS PSD) from 2017-21).
- China, EU and India are the top three largest wheat producers, accounting for about more than 41% of the world’s total wheat production.
- Russia is the 4th largest producer and largest exporter of wheat in the world and Egypt is the largest importer of wheat.
- China and India are major wheat producers, but are net importers and provide relatively small shares of global wheat exports.
- Russia and Ukraine account for 14% of global wheat production and rank 4th and 7th, respectively.
- Russia and Ukraine account for nearly 30 percent of the global wheat supply and the halt in the black sea trade route due to the Ukraine war has disrupted the supply of wheat leading to massive rise in price i.e. a rise of 60%
- Wheat prices are likely to remain elevated as inputs have gone up sharply with prices of fertilizers, fuel, seeds, insecticides and pesticides surging.
- In Asia, only India has the exportable stocks of wheat and prospect of exporting wheat above the government mandated minimum support price.
- The U.S. remains the dominant global producer (32%) and exporter (33%) for corn in the world. While Japan is the largest importer of corn.
- Ukraine now ranks 4th, contributing over 15% of world corn exports. Notably, Ukraine has been the dominant supplier of corn to China. Russia ranks 6th with a 2.3% share of corn exports.
- Corn production in India, Mexico, and South Africa exceeds that in Russia, but accounts for smaller world export shares.
- While the EU holds the dominant production share and is the leading region for world barley exports.
- Russia and Ukraine account for about 19% of barley production and nearly 32% of barley exports.
- Vegetable oil- Indonesia is the largest producer of vegetable oil followed by China, and India is the largest importer of vegetable oil in the world.
- Ukraine and Russia are the leading producers and exporters of sunflower oil which comprises a 9% production share and nearly a 2% export share for the world vegetable oil market.
- Nearly 60% of world sunflower oil production occurs in Ukraine and Russia, and the two countries account for over 75% of world exports.
- India imports around 90 percent of its sunflower oil from the Ukraine-Russia region.
The broad economic implications of Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the resulting sanctions imposed on Russia by the international community, could include disruption of trade flows, greater inflationary pressures, and an increase in volatility across a wide range of global agri commodity markets.
Currency depreciation is a fall in the value of a currency in a floating exchange rate system.
Rupee depreciation means that the rupee has become less valuable with respect to the dollar. It means that the rupee is now weaker than what it used to be earlier.
For example: USD 1 used to equal to Rs. 70, now USD 1 is equal to Rs. 76, implying that the rupee has depreciated relative to the dollar i.e. it takes more rupees to purchase a dollar.
Increase in supply of rupee relative to foreign currency, say US$.
- Balance of payment deficit
- Decrease in net export i.e. Export-Import.
- Net capital outflow i.e. capital outflow- capital inflow.
- Fall in relative rate of interest in India (comparatively higher rate of interest in foreign capital market lead to capital outflow)
- Higher crude oil prices/ higher global price of any imported goods that would increase import bill.
- Wars/Pandemic leading to global supply chain disruption and uncertainty in consumer-investment expectation. For example-recent Ukraine War.
- Fall in the currencies of emerging market peers.
- Higher foreign denominated external debts- it will increase demand of foreign currency relative to domestic currency.
Depreciation in rupee is a double-edged sword for the economy.
Positive: While a weaker currency may support exports as export becomes cheaper for foreign countries against which currency has been depreciated.
- It poses risk of imported inflation, and may make it difficult for the central bank to maintain interest rates at a record low for longer.
- The currency’s weakness makes imports costlier.
- It will be costlier for students studying in overseas universities as this is the time when they purchase dollars towards fees.
- A falling rupee can be a worry for those planning a holiday abroad.
- Importers of capital goods will see shrinkage in margins.
- Repayment of external debt becomes costly.