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30th August Current Affairs

Hurricane Ida strikes USA

(GS-I: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.)

In News:

Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday. It is an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm, forcing those who did not flee to brace themselves for the toughest.

When do hurricanes occur?

The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June to November and covers the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, while the Eastern Pacific Hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30.

Hurricanes are categorized on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which rates them on a scale of 1 to 5 based on wind speed.

Hurricanes that reach category three or higher are called ‘major hurricanes’ because of their potential to cause devastating damage to life and property.

What are hurricanes and how do they form?

Tropical cyclones or hurricanes use warm, moist air as fuel, and therefore form over warm ocean waters near the equator.

As NASA describes it, when the warm, moist air rises upward from the surface of the ocean, it creates an area of low air pressure below.

Air from the surrounding areas rushes to fill this place, eventually rising when it becomes warm and moist too.

When the warm air rises and cools off, the moisture forms clouds. This system of clouds and winds continues to grow and spin, fuelled by the ocean’s heat and the water that evaporates from its surface.

As such storm systems rotate faster and faster, an eye forms in the centre.

Storms that form towards the north of the equator rotate counterclockwise, while those that form to the south spin clockwise because of the rotation of the Earth.

What is the difference between a hurricane and a tropical storm?

There is no difference. Depending on where they occur, hurricanes may be called typhoons or cyclones.

As per NASA, the scientific name for all these kinds of storms is tropical cyclones.

The tropical cyclones that form over the Atlantic Ocean or the eastern Pacific Ocean are called hurricanes and the ones that form in the Northwest Pacific are called.

Tropical storms that form in the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea are called.

QUAD

(GS-II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests)

In News:

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday while stating that unexpected Paradigm shifts affects countries globally that the Quadrilateral grouping has been constituted keeping these things in mind.

Facts for prelims:

The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.

In March 2020, the Quad members held a meeting with representatives from New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam to discuss their respective approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instigated by the US, this new grouping of key Indo-Pacific states was called “Quad Plus”.

Recent developments and QUAD:

Today the enemy no longer needs to enter the border. He can also target our security apparatus from outside the border.

Alignment and re-alignment of global powers have added to the already changing security challenges.

The changing equations in Afghanistan are a recent and important example of this. These circumstances have forced every country to think on its strategy today.

The stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Eastern Ladakh

A positive agenda built around collective action in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, monitoring shipping for search and rescue or anti-piracy operations, infrastructure assistance to climatically vulnerable states, connectivity initiatives and similar activities.

Quad has been constituted keeping these things in mind.

What is Quad grouping?

The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.

Genesis:

The grouping traces its genesis to 2004 when the four countries came together to coordinate relief operations in the aftermath of the tsunami.

It then met for the first time in 2007 on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

The intention was to enhance maritime cooperation between the four nations.

Significance of the grouping:

Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.

Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.

It is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context.

The Quad is a plurilateral mechanism between countries that share interest on specific matters.

Oil palm plan is a recipe for disaster

(GS-III: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment)

In News:

Environmental activists and politicians have expressed concerns over the centre’s proposal to promote oil palm cultivation in the Northeastern states and in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

More on this:

The concerns are primarily expressed on the ground that promotion of oil palm cultivation will further result in environmental degradation (oil palm is an invasive species) of the pristine ecosystem already threatened by various other threats

Other concerns expressed include– impact on community ownership of tribal lands, oil palm cultivation is a water-intensive task, monoculture cropping with a long gestation period will be unsuitable for small farmers, endangering wildlife etc

However, the government has allayed some of these concerns through its justification that the land identified for the cultivation in the north-eastern states have already been cleared and are cultivating in some cases, oilseeds; shifting to oil palm is more productive than cultivating oilseeds for the farmers

What is National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced this new national initiative on palm oil production to help increase farm incomes. The scheme involves investment of over Rs 11,000 crore.

Aims and Objectives of the scheme:

Achieve self-reliance in edible oil.

Harness domestic edible oil prices that are dictated by expensive palm oil imports.

To raise the domestic production of palm oil by three times to 11 lakh MT by 2025-26.

Key features of the scheme:

The special emphasis of the scheme will be in India’s north-eastern states and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands due to the conducive weather conditions in the regions.

Under the scheme, oil palm farmers will be provided financial assistance and will get remuneration under a price and viability formula.

Benefits and significance of the scheme:

It is expected to incentivize production of palm oil to reduce dependence on imports and help farmers cash in on the huge market.

Need for such schemes:

India is the largest consumer of vegetable oil in the world. Of this, palm oil imports are almost 60% of its total vegetable oil imports.

In 2016- 2017, the total domestic consumption of palm oil by India was 9.3 million MT, with 98.97 percent of it imported from Malaysia and Indonesia. This means India was producing only 1.027 per cent of its requirement.

Also, in India, 94.1 per cent of its palm oil is used in food products, especially for cooking purposes. This makes palm oil extremely critical to India’s edible oils economy.

Palm oil:

Palm oil is currently the world’s most consumed vegetable oil.

It is used extensively in the production of detergents, plastics, cosmetics, and biofuels.

Top consumers of the commodity are India, China, and the European Union (EU).

India and Russia Ties amidst uncertainties in Afghanistan

(GS-II: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora)

In News:

Amid unprecedented developments in the region, India and Russia have a series of engagements lined up in the next few months leading up to the summit between the two leaders.

Facts for prelims:

Indian pavilion showcasing ‘Make in India’ in the defence sector at the International Army 2021 expo in Moscow.

INS Tabartook part in naval exercises with the Russian Navy as part of INDRA-NAVY 2021.

250 troops from the First Mechanized Regiment will be taking part in the INDRA-ARMY 2021 in Volgograd.

200 strong battalion from 3 Nagas to come for ZAPAD exercises in Russia in September.

Uncertainty in Afghanistan and its impact on Indo-Russian ties:

The fast-changing developments in Afghanistan have, of course, taken everyone by surprise — unexpected as to their speed, as well as their consequences.

Security ramifications: India and Russia are in affected even more due to the rise of Islamic fundamentalist and radical groups.

The sanctuary that could be claimed by terror groups – their impact on security interests- both for India and Russia and the impact on normal inter-state relations especially with respect to Central Asia.

The additional threats emanating from drug trafficking, organized crime and the flow of refugees. This could potentially upend the very foundations of interstate relations in the broader region.

Ongoing and upcoming Defence Projects with Russia:

The S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system will be delivered shortly.

Manufacture of two frigates of Project 1135.6 in Kaliningrad, in parallel with the production of 3rd and 4th units of the same frigates at the Goa shipyard.

Production of AK-203 advanced assault Kalashnikov rifle which will be produced by an India-Russia joint venture in Uttar Pradesh, which when completed will be a 100% Indian product.

The Kamov Ka-226, twin-engine Russian utility helicopter, one more project as part of made in India.

Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS) and a Navy-to-Navy cooperation MoU planned to be signed later this year.

A 2+2 mechanism at Ministerial level is envisaged to hold its first meeting in Delhi later this year.

Deepening Trade ties with Russia:

The Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation, co-Chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Borisov on the Russian side and the External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar on the Indian side to meet and discuss various aspects of trade.

The major components are coking coal for our growing steel industry or fertilizers for our expanding agriculture sector.

Prime Minister has announced an export target of 400 billion dollars.

PM announced a 1-billion-dollar credit line for India’s business participation in Russia’s Far East, which is geo-politically and economically significant.

Indian investments in major projects such as Vostok Oil, which is one of the largest energy projects in the world, Arctic LNG and petrochemical sector in Russia as well as Russian investments in the very attractive Indian energy sector are being considered.

Science and Technology Cooperation:

Joint Commission on Science and Technology:Proposal to establish a separate Joint Commission on Science and Technology Cooperation which would encompass high technology areas such as artificial intelligence, cyber, quantum, nano, bio-advances etc.

climate change: Cooperation on Hydrogen Economy.Adapting our economies to the imperatives of climate change.

Vaccine: Cooperation in production of new vaccines, building on our cooperation on Sputnik V is another promising area.

Nuclear Energy:On the nuclear front, construction of 6 nuclear reactors in Kudankulam and the amount of indigenization and technologies that are used in India is increasing.

India and Russia are working closely Rooppur nuclear power project in Bangladesh

In other projects as well, especially in third country markets, India and Russia have the potential of designing a nuclear reactor specifically for developing countries and this too is a very promising area of cooperation.

Space Technology: Space and nuclear power continue to be two important pillars of our cooperation with Russia.

In March this year, upcoming astronauts completed a year-long program of training of fourIAF officers in the Russian Space Academy.

India-Russia Cooperation in the space field, on Gaganyaan would continue in certain other aspects. Russia is helping us with the design of view ports and life support systems.

The space suits are being stitched in Russia and the Astronauts will be coming here to Moscow to undertake individual-wise tailoring measurements.

Way forward:

Set up a mechanism that would provide for quality conversations between India and Russia that would be action oriented, to align our interests in such a way that our security interests bilaterally.

As Indiabelong to this region, unlike extra regional powers, India and Russia will need to work together even more than before.

It is important for India and Russia to adapt to new realities, step up their cooperation and to insulate and protect their national interests from the instability that is expected to radiate out of Afghanistan for some time to come.

This is vital for protecting India’s continental security interests.