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21st October Current Affairs

Stubble Burning

(GS-III: Environmental Pollution)

In News:

As the monsoon has receded and North India is bracing for a smoggy winter. And with that, the feverish focus on crop stubble burning has returned to India’s public discourse.

Issue of stubble burnings:

Root cause: The root cause of stubble burning can be traced back to the 1960s-70s when India introduced several measures as part of its Green Revolution to feed its rising population.

Economics of HYV seeds: The economics of high-yielding varieties of paddy and wheat, supported by a guaranteed buyer (the government) and minimum support prices led to a crop duopoly oriented solely around increasing caloric intakes, supplanting the earlier diversity of crops grown in the region.

Subsidies: The introduction of subsidies for electricity and fertilizers, and ease of access for credit in agriculture only served to cement this duopoly.

Governmental policy: In an attempt to address the growing water crisis, the Punjab and Haryana governments introduced laws around water conservation, encouraging farmers to look to the monsoon rather than groundwater to irrigate their crops.

The shortened harvesting season that arose resulting from a not clearly thought-out policy move brought about the need for farmers to rapidly clear their fields between the Kharif and rabi crops; the quickest of these ways was to burn off the remaining stubble post-harvest.

Repercussions of Stubble burning:

Pollution: It has led to a deterioration of Air quality in Indo –Gangetic plains, especially in the National capital region.

Soil Fertility: Burning husk on the ground destroys the nutrients in the soil, making it less fertile.

Heat Penetration: Heat generated by stubble burning penetrates into the soil, leading to the loss of moisture and useful microbes.

Recent steps taken to tackle the above issues:

A Series of short-term ex-situ and in-situ solutions have been rolled out by the Union and State governments.

In-situ solutions include happy seeders and bio-decomposers, while the ex-situ solutions include collecting and using stubble as fuel in boilers, to produce ethanol, or simply burning away alongside coal in thermal power plants.

Economic incentives to reduce burning have also been tested with limited success.

The demand for governments to act on this seemingly avoidable practice translated initially into the criminalisation of the act.

Meaningful steps that are needed:

  • Addressing the root cause: e substantially reducing the amount of paddy being grown in the region and replacing it with other crops that are equally high-yielding, in-demand, and agro-ecologically suitable such as cotton, maize, pulses and oil seeds.
  • Building trust with farmers to ensure they are seen as partners (rather than perpetrators) and providing them with the financial support necessary.
  • At a policy level, it also requires recognising that agriculture, nutrition, water, the environment, and the economy are all deeply intertwined in the era of the Anthropocene.
  • Establishing a mechanism for intersectoral policymaking that aligns our goals for sectoral policy within the broad frame of sustainable development we wish to follow.

Fostering the conditions necessary for such a transition is complex. Whether our institutions have the right mix of political will and professional skills to do so remains to be seen.

Kashi-T.N. bond

In News:

Central government has recently launched a programme to strengthen the Kashi-Tamil Nadu civilisational link as part of the ‘Ek Bharat Sreshtha Bharat’ initiative.


Kashi (old name of Varanasi): Located on the banks of the holy Ganges, Varanasi is regarded as among the holiest of the Hindu cities.

Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat:

Launched by PM in 2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

Objectives: To celebrate the Unity in Diversity of our Nation and to maintain and strengthen the fabric of traditionally existing emotional bonds between the people of our Country;

TO CREATE an environment which promotes learning between States by sharing best practices and experiences.

Features: All States and UTs will be covered under the programme.

  • There will be a pairing of States/UTs at the national level and these pairings will be in effect for one year, or till the next round of pairings.
  • The State/UT level pairings would be utilized for state-level activities.
  • District-level pairings would be independent of the State level pairings.

Interpol launches first-ever metaverse

In News:

Interpol unveiled the first-ever ‘metaverse’ specifically designed for law enforcement worldwide, at the 90th General Assembly in Delhi.

Key Highlights:

WEF: The World Economic Forum has partnered with Interpol on Meta.

Virtual tour: It allows the registered users to take a virtual tour of its general secretariat headquarters in France’s Lyon.

Interact with other officers via their avatars

Take training courses in forensic investigation and other policing skills, it said.

Secure cloud: The facility is provided through the global police organization’s secure cloud.

Creation of an expert group on the metaverse: To represent the concerns of law enforcement on the global stage

Ensure that the new virtual world is secure by design.

Challenges for metaverse:

  • Social engineering scams
  • Violent extremism
  • Misinformation

List of possible crimes likely to expand:

  • Crimes against children
  • Data theft
  • Money laundering
  • Financial fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Ransomware
  • Phishing
  • Sexual assault and harassment.

Way forward:

Work with stakeholders: To shape the necessary governance frameworks and cut off future criminal markets before they are fully formed.


It is an extension of our real world into the digital realm providing an immersive multi-user experience for anyone accessing it around the globe.

Accessing this virtual world requires the Internet and digital devices.

The technology behind this is called Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

Mission LiFE

In News:

The Prime Minister in the presence of the U.N. Secretary-General launched the ‘Mission LiFE’ (Lifestyle For Environment) initiative for a sustainable and healthy lifestyle at the Statue of Unity in Gujarat.


It was introduced by the Prime Minister at COP26 in Glasgow.

LiFE Global Movement: Inviting academicians, researchers and start-ups across the world to think about specific and scientific ways in which the full potential of collective action can be harnessed to address the environmental crisis.

Significance of the Mission:

Fight against climate change democratic: with the contribution of everyone in their own capacity.

Global initiative by India: To help the world in its fight against climate change and to achieve the SDGs.

P3 model(Pro Planet People): Premised on the basic principles of ‘Lifestyle of the planet, for the planet and by the planet’.

It will encompass every lifestyle related to the conservation of nature, which our ancestors adopted.

Based on Prakriti, Rakshati and Rakshita, that is, those who protect nature, nature protects them.


Mobilize at least one billion Indians and other global citizens to take individual and collective action for protecting and preserving the environment in the period 2022 to 2027.

Within India: At least 80% of all villages and urban local bodies are aimed to become environment-friendly by 2028.


NITI Aayog: It will curate and incubate Mission LiFE in the first year, and it will subsequently be implemented by MoEFCC.

The mission is a 5-year programme.

It will act on the ideas and ideals of LiFE through a mission-mode, scientific and measurable programme.