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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

19 May, 2021

74 Min Read

Foreign Contribution Regulation Act

GS-II : Important Bills Important Bills

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010

  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and rules framed under it (the “FCRA” or “Act”) regulate the receipt and usage of foreign contribution by non-governmental organisations (“NGOs”) in India.
  • Since the Act is internal security legislation, despite being a law related to financial legislation, it falls into the purview of Home Ministry and not the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). It is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

Objectives of FCRA

  • The intent of the Act is to prevent use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activity detrimental to the national interest.
  • It has a very wide scope and is applicable to a natural person, body corporate, all other types of Indian entities (whether incorporated or not) as well as NRIs and overseas branches/subsidiaries of Indian companies and other entities formed or registered in India.

Provisions of FCRA

  • The Act prohibits acceptance and use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by a certain specified category of persons such as a candidate for election, judge, journalist, columnist, newspaper publication, cartoonist and others.
  • Regulates the inflow to and usage of foreign contribution by NGOs by prescribing a mechanism to accept, use and report usage of the same.
  • It defines the term ‘foreign contribution’ to include currency, article other than gift for personal use and securities received from foreign source. While foreign hospitality refers to any offer from a foreign source to provide foreign travel, boarding, lodging, transportation or medical treatment cost.
  • The Act permits only NGOs having a definite cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programme to accept foreign contribution, that too after such NGOs either obtain a certificate of registration or prior permission under the Act.

Registration and prior approval under FCRA:

  • In order to be registered under the FCRA, an NGO must be in existence for at least three years and must have undertaken reasonable activity in its field for which the foreign contribution is proposed to be utilised.
  • Further, it must have spent at least INR 1,000,000 over three years preceding the date of its application on its activities.
  • The registration certificate is valid for a period of five years and must be thereafter renewed in the prescribed manner.
  • NGOs not eligible for registration can seek prior approval from FCRA for receiving foreign funding.
  • This permission is granted only for a specific amount of foreign funding from a specified foreign source for a specific purpose. It remains valid till receipt and full utilisation of such amount.

Conditions on the use of foreign funds:

  • All funds received by an NGO must be used only for the purpose for which they were received.
  • Such funds must not be used in speculative activities identified under the Act.
  • Except with the prior approval of the Authority, such funds must not be given or transferred to any entity not registered under the Act or having prior approval under the Act.
  • Every asset purchased with such fund must be in the name of the NGO and not its office bearers or members.
  • Every NGO registered or having prior approval under the Act must file an annual report with the Authority in the prescribed form. This report must be accompanied by an income and expenditure statement, receipt and payment account, and balance sheet for the relevant financial year. For financial years where no foreign contribution is received, a ‘NIL’ report must be furnished with the Authority.

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020

  • The Bill bars public servants from receiving foreign contributions. Public servant includes any person who is in service or pay of the government, or remunerated by the government for the performance of any public duty.
  • The Bill prohibits the transfer of foreign contribution to any other person. The term ‘person’ under the Bill includes an individual, an association, or a registered company. The FCRA 2010 allows transfer of foreign contributions to persons registered to accept foreign contributions.
  • The Bill makes Aadhaar number mandatory for all office bearers, directors or key functionaries of a person receiving foreign contribution, as an identification document. In case of a foreigner, a copy of the passport or the Overseas Citizen of India card for identification is required.
  • The Bill states that foreign contribution must be received only in an account designated by the bank as FCRA account in such branches of the State Bank of India, New Delhi. No funds other than the foreign contribution should be received or deposited in this account. The person may open another FCRA account in any scheduled bank of their choice for keeping or utilising the received contribution.
  • The Bill allows the government to restrict usage of unutilised foreign contribution. This may be done if, based on an inquiry the government believes that such person has contravened provisions of the FCRA.
  • The Bill proposes that not more than 20% of the total foreign funds received could be defrayed for administrative expenses. In FCRA 2010 the limit was 50%.
  • The Bill allows the central government to permit a person to surrender their registration certificate.

Source: PIB

Fertilizer Industry

GS-III : Economic Issues Economic reforms

Fertilizer Industry in India

  • It is 1 of the 8 core industries. Fertilizer has the minimum share in Index of Core Industries.
  • India is the 2nd largest consumer of Urea fertilizers after China. India also ranks 2nd in the production of nitrogenous fertilizers and 3rd in phosphatic fertilizers. Potash requirement is met through imports since we have limited reserves of potash. There are 2 types of Fertilizers
    1. Primary Fertilizers: classified on the basis of nutrients they supply to soil like N:P:K:
      1. Nitrogenous (Urea),
      2. Phosphatic (di-ammonium phosphate - DAP) and
      3. Potassic (muriate of potash (MOP) fertilizers.
    2. Secondary Fertilizers includes Calcium, Magnesium and Sulphur.
    3. Micronutrients include Iron, Zinc, Boron, Chloride etc.
  • Fertilizer subsidy (Food > Fertilizer > Petroleum > Interest payments)
    1. Earlier no Fertilizer subsidy was paid till 1977. Oil crisis of 1973 led to increase in Fertilizer prices leading to a decline in consumption and an increase in food prices. In 1977, Govt subsidized manufacturers.
    2. After 1991 crisis, Govt decontrolled the import of Phosphate and Potash but Urea imports is restricted.

Urea Production and Pricing mechanism

  • Urea is the source of Nitrogenous fertilizer and it is heavily subsidized by Center. Today Urea is the only fertilizer which remains controlled.
  • CCEA approved continuation of Urea Subsidy Scheme upto 2020
    1. It is a part of Central Sector Scheme. Urea price will be same till 2020.
    2. Now DBT Scheme is approved for fertilizer subsidy to urea manufacturers and importers. It also includes imported Urea subsidy which is directed towards import to bridge the gap between demand and indigenous production of urea. It also includes freight subsidy for movement of urea.
    3. Benefits
      1. DBT will ensure timely payment of subsidy to urea manufacturers. Fertilizer Co. leading to timely availability of urea to farmers.
      2. This will reduce the leakage of fertilizer subsidy and black marketing.
      3. Ceiling might be put to reduce the overuse of Nitrogenous fertilizers.
    4. Subsidy to Fertilizer manufacturer/ importer = Farm Gate price - MRP paid by Farmers.
  • New Urea Policy of 2015 (till 2019-20)
    1. With the objective of maximizing indigenous urea production, promoting energy efficiency in urea production and rationalize subsidy.
    2. It is applicable to existing 25 gas based units.
    3. It ensures timely payment to urea manufacturers resulting in timely availability of urea to farmers.
  • Urea is given at statutorily controlled price = Rs. 5360/ MT. Other charges for Neem coating.
  • Center plans to ease control on the retail prices of Urea and wants to make it more targeted.
  • Earlier Mandatory Neem coated urea production was done to slow down the dissolution of nitrogen into soil, resulting into less nutrient requirement.
  • Govt is also planning over fixing a Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) rate for Urea to promote balanced use of fertilizers and bring efficiency in industry.

CCEA approved continuation of Nutrient Based Subsidy scheme till 2020

  • Under this scheme a fixed amount of subsidy decided on annual basis, is provided to fertilizer companies (other than Urea) depending on its nutrient content. It is applicable to 22 fertilizers (other than Urea).
  • Govt announces a fixed rate of subsidy on each nutrient of subsidized Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potash and Sulphur fertilizers. MRP is decided by considering international and domestic prices of P&K fertilizers, exchange rate and inventory level in the country.

Infrastructure

  • Fertilizer Corporation of India Limited: has 4 units at Sindri (Jharkhand); Gorakhpur (UP); Ramagundam (AP) and Talcher (Odisha) and Korbe (Chattisgarh).
  • Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation Limited: at Barauni (Bihar); Durgapur (WB) and Namrup (Assam).
  • Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Limited, Trombay.
  • National Fertilizers Limited at Bhatinda (Punjab) and Panipat (Haryana).

Source: PIB

Electoral Bonds in recent Assembly Elections

GS-III : Economic Issues Banking

Electoral Bonds in recent Assembly Elections

  • As per the scheme, Electoral bonds means a bond issued in the nature of promissory note which is a bearer banking instrument not carrying the name of buyer or payee. They are used for making donations to political parties. Govt launched it on 2 Jan, 2018.
  • They are issued by Scheduled Commercial Banks upon authorisation from Central Govt (not RBI) to donor, but only against cheque and digital payments (not cash). They are redeemable in a registered political party.
  • Amendments to RBI Act, 1934 and RPA, 1951 was made through Finance Bill, 2017.
  • It is an interest free banking instrument issued on a non refundable basis and are not available for trading. Further, no loan would be provided against these bonds. Purchases needs to have fulfilled KYC norms.
  • Electoral Bonds would have a life of only 15 days during which it can be used for making donation only to the political parties registered under Section 29A of RPA, 1951. It will be encashed by them only through a designated bank account with the authorised bank.
  • No payment shall be made to any payee political party if the bond is deposited after the expiry of the validity period and the bond deposited by any political party to its account shall be credited on the same day.
  • The information furnished by the buyer shall be treated confidential. No commission, brokerage or any charges for the issue of bond shall be payable.
  • Maximum amount of cash donation that a political party can receive is stipulated at Rs. 2000/- from 1 person. Political parties are exempted from Income tax.
  • As per Section 29C (1) of RPA, 1951, the political party needs to disclose the details of Non governmental corporations and persons who donate > 20000 to it.
  • Issues:
    1. Donors are left anonymous. So Electoral bonds cannot be identified or associated with any particular buyer or political party.
    2. Election Commission argues that it does not allow to check violations of RPA.
    3. Declaration of sources of funding for political parties is given in Section 29 of RPA, 1951. Before 2017, they had to declare all donations made > 20000 but now they are out of this purview.
    4. Electoral Bods are exempt from Income Tax Act.
    5. Issue of corporate funding misuse to Political parties and lobbying.
    6. Issue of favoring the ruling party. As in 2017-18, 94.6% of bonds given to BJP.
    7. Foreign companies with a majority stake in Indian companies can invest in Electoral bonds. This allows unchecked foreign funding.
  • Benefits
    1. It limits the use of cash in political funding.
    2. It curbs Black money as the payments are made only by Cash, DD, NEFT, RTGS.
    3. It protects donor from political victimization as they remain anonymous.
  • 3 National Parties received 1931 crore in FY 19 through Electoral Bond scheme which allows anonymous donations to political parties. BJP got the highest. Both EC and RBI are against it.

Electoral bonds worth ?695 cr. sold during the recent elections

  • The Electoral bond scheme allows any Indian citizen or company to purchase the bonds sold by the SBI in denominations of ?1,000, ?10,000, ?1 lakh, ?10 lakh and ?1 crore and give them to political parties anonymously.
  • The State Bank of India (SBI) sold electoral bonds worth ?695.34 crore from April 1 to 10, when the Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala polls were in full swing, says an RTI reply by the bank.
  • The amount sold was the highest-ever for any Assembly elections since the scheme started in 2018, according to the numbers provided in the reply.
  • All but ?2,000 of the bonds sold in the 16th phase of the scheme were encashed. Predictably, the sale shot up during the elections in comparison to the previous tranche in January when bonds worth ?42.1 crore were sold, it said.
  • The highest amounts were sold at the Kolkata branch (?176.1 crore), followed by New Delhi (?167.5 crore) and Chennai (?141.5 crore).
  • The Hyderabad and Mumbai branches sold ?91.5 crore worth bonds each, while ?15 crore worth bonds were sold at the Gandhinagar branch, ?5 crore in Jaipur, ?4.15 crore in Guwahati and ?3 crore in Panaji.
  • In the 16th phase of the scheme, 972 out of the 974 electoral bonds were encashed, with over half the amount — ? 351 crore — being encashed at the New Delhi branch. The rest were encashed at Bhubaneshwar (?116 crore), Chennai (?106 crore), Hyderabad (?63.5 crore), Kolkata (?55 crore) and Mumbai (?3.8 crore).
  • In its May 14 reply to a query filed by Bihar-based RTI activist Kanhaiya Kumar on April 16, the SBI declined to name the political parties that encashed the bonds, saying it was “third party personal information” that was exempted under the RTI Act.
  • The bank also declined to share the details of how much commission it had earned from the sale of bonds since the scheme started in 2018, saying the information was of “commercial confidence in nature” and its disclosure would “harm the competitive position of the bank”. Mr. Kumar, however, pointed out that the SBI was the only bank authorised to sell electoral bonds by the government.

For analysis on Electoral Bonds: click here

Source: PIB

Colombo Port City: China OBOR in Sri Lanka

GS-II : International Relations China OBOR

Colombo Port City: China OBOR in Sri Lanka

  • A Chinese-funded tax-free enclave billed as Sri Lanka’s answer to Dubai and Singapore cleared the final legal hurdle on Tuesday as the Supreme Court in Colombo ruled it could go ahead with only minor tweaks.
  • The largest single foreign investment in Sri Lanka is one of several massive Asian infrastructure projects funded by China as Beijing increases its regional footprint.
  • Sri Lanka’s top court rejected 19 petitions challenging the “Colombo Port City Economic Commission” Bill and approved the $1.4-billion project subject to minor amendments which the government immediately said it accepted.
  • Project officials have said they hope the brand new “Port City”, an area of reclaimed land, will attract billions of dollars for trade, banking and offshore services similar to what is available in Dubai and Singapore, two of its potential competitors.
  • Named the “Colombo Port City” because of its proximity to Colombo’s main harbour, the sea reclamation — carried out with considerable Chinese labour — completed in 2019 has doubled the size of Colombo’s financial district by adding 269 hectares.
  • Under the proposed legislation expected to be passed by Parliament, the Port City will be administered by a commission with unprecedented powers to fast track investment approvals. ll transactions within the Port City will be denominated in foreign currency and all salaries earned by any worker will be tax-exempt.

Source: TH

Sri Lanka passes bill on China backed Colombo Port city

GS-II : International Relations China OBOR

Sri Lanka passes bill on Laws governing China backed Colombo Port city

  • The Sri Lankan Parliament on Thursday passed a controversial Bill on laws governing the China-backed Colombo Port City, with a majority of 149 legislators — in the 225-member House — voting in its favour.
  • The development comes after the Supreme Court suggested certain amendments, following over a dozen petitions challenging the Bill that political opposition and civil society groups said “directly affected” Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.
  • The government accepted the amendments, pre-empting the requirement for a two-thirds majority or a referendum for passage of certain clauses, as per the apex court’s determination.

About Colombo Port City

  • The $1.4-billion Colombo Port City was launched in 2014 during the previous term of the Rajapaksa government, when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the island nation.
  • The mega infrastructure project is currently being built on land reclaimed alongside Colombo’s iconic sea front, while environmentalists and fisher folk opposed the move.
  • The Ranil Wickremesinghe –Maithripala Siripala administration too went ahead with the project, vowing to develop it as a financial hub.
  • Following their return to power in November 2019, the Rajapaksa administration sought to expedite construction work as well as a legal framework for what promises to be a tax haven for foreign investors.

Colombo Port City: China OBOR in Sri Lanka

  • A Chinese-funded tax-free enclave billed as Sri Lanka’s answer to Dubai and Singapore cleared the final legal hurdle on Tuesday as the Supreme Court in Colombo ruled it could go ahead with only minor tweaks.
  • The largest single foreign investment in Sri Lanka is one of several massive Asian infrastructure projects funded by China as Beijing increases its regional footprint.
  • Sri Lanka’s top court rejected 19 petitions challenging the “Colombo Port City Economic Commission” Bill and approved the $1.4-billion project subject to minor amendments which the government immediately said it accepted.
  • Project officials have said they hope the brand new “Port City”, an area of reclaimed land, will attract billions of dollars for trade, banking and offshore services similar to what is available in Dubai and Singapore, two of its potential competitors.
  • Named the “Colombo Port City” because of its proximity to Colombo’s main harbour, the sea reclamation — carried out with considerable Chinese labour — completed in 2019 has doubled the size of Colombo’s financial district by adding 269 hectares.
  • Under the proposed legislation expected to be passed by Parliament, the Port City will be administered by a commission with unprecedented powers to fast track investment approvals. ll transactions within the Port City will be denominated in foreign currency and all salaries earned by any worker will be tax-exempt.

Source: TH

Everything about: Arctic

GS-I : Physical Geography World Geography

Everything about: Arctic

Arctic mapping

  1. Read all this from Orient Longman Blackswan Atlas as Ankit Sir teaches in his Mapping classes.
  2. Barent (Kola penin), Kara (Yamal penin), Laptev (Taymyr penin), Eastern Siberian (Kolyma lowland), Chukchi, Beaufort sea (USA, Canada), Gulf of Boothia, Baffin Bay.
  3. Lincoln sea is between Denmark and Arctic.
  4. Gunnbjorn Mt is in Denmark.
  5. Denmark Strait is between Greenland (Denmark) and Iceland.
  6. Greenland is between Denmark Strait and Davis Strait.
  7. Arctic Circle only cuts Kola and Chukchi Penin. Also Davis & Denmark Strait.
  8. Aleut, Athabaskan, Gwich'in, Inuit, Saami are the tribes of Arctic.
  9. Flora and Fauna of the Arctic = Polar bear, Arctic fox, Bowhead whale, Beluga whale, Arctic Hare and ringed seal, walrus, harp seal, Arctic tarn and goose. Also Lichens and Mosses. GrizzlyBear is found in Canada, US, Europe.Sea lion or Walrus is found in Arctic.
  10. Nordic countries is a cultural grouping of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark.

About Arctic Region

  • Arctic region is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth.
  • The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.
  • Land within the Arctic region has seasonally varying snow and ice cover, with predominantly treeless permafrost (permanently frozen underground ice) containing tundra. Arctic seas contain seasonal sea ice in many places.
  • The Arctic region is a unique area among Earth's ecosystems. The cultures in the region and the Arctic indigenous peoples have adapted to its cold and extreme conditions.
  • Life in the Arctic includes zooplankton and phytoplankton, fish and marine mammals, birds, land animals, plants and human societies.
  • Arctic land is bordered by the subarctic.

Arctic Council

  1. It is an intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by Arctic Govts and indigenous people of the Arctic (Inuit, Aleut, Athabaskan, Gwich'in, Saami).
  2. Ottawa declaration is related to the formation of Arctic Council in 1996.
  3. There are 8 members: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and USA. Decisions are based on Consensus.
  4. Observer States: India, China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, UK, France, Switzerland, Spain.
  5. 1st country to chair Arctic was Canada, 2017 to 2019 Finland; 2019 to 2021: Iceland.
  6. It has 6 working groups
    1. Arctic Contaminants Action Prohramme
    2. Arctic Monitoring and Assesssment Programme
    3. Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group
    4. Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group
    5. Sustainable Development Working Group
    6. Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation
  7. Significance of Artctic
    1. Rules based International order and that it should not be a dispute zone.
    2. ONG and military bases of Russia.
    3. Diplomatic interest to neutralize China.
    4. R&D wrt Climate Change.
  8. Issues
    1. Militarization of the Arctic: Russia (Murmansk) vs USA (Nuuk - Greenland).
    2. Russia also launched a floating Nuclear Power Plant in Arctic to provide Electricity to small Islands.
    3. Oil spill in the Arctic.

India and Arctic Programmes

  • India initiated its Arctic Research program in 2007 with thrust on CC at Poles.
    1. Study connections between Arctic climate and Indian monsoon.
    2. Study sea ice to estimate the effect of global warming at Poles.
    3. Study on effects of glaciers on Sea level change.
    4. Flora & Fauna Assessment and their response to anthro activities. Comparative study of both Poles.
  • India launched its 1st sci expedition in 2007 and opened "Himadri" at Ny-Alesund, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard (Norway).
  • National Center for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa also works on the Arctic.
    1. It renamed as NCPOR (National Center for Polar and Ocean Research).
    2. NCAOR was established in 1998 for expeditions to Antarctic 1st now both.
    3. NCPOR is India’s premier R&D institution in the Polar and Southern Ocean realms.
    4. The mandate of NCPOR is multi-dimensional:
      1. Research and Help in Expeditions to the Polar and Ocean sciences (Indian part of Southern Ocean).
      2. Geo scientific surveys of India's EEZ and beyond 200M, Deep sea drilling in Arabian Sea basin, exploration for ocean non-living resources such as the gas hydrates and multi-metal sulphides in mid-ocean ridges.
      3. Upkeep of Research bases of Maitri and Bharati of Antarctic and Himadri at Arctic.
      4. Upkeep research vessel ORV Sagar Kanya and others.
    5. The research-vessel fleet consists of 6 research vessels viz Sagar Kanya, Sagar Sampata, Sagar Nidhi, Sagar Manjusha, Sagar Purvi & Saga Paschmi currently, and a 7th being the Polar Research Vessel (PRV) is being constructed.

HIMANSH Station at Spiti, HP

  • It is India’s remote, high-altitude research station in the Himalayas called HIMANSH at Spiti, HP.
  • As part of the Indian government’s initiatives to better study and quantify the Himalayan glacier responses towards the climate change, National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences has established a high altitude research station in Himalaya called HIMANSH (literally meaning, a slice of ice), situated above 13,500 ft (> 4000 m) at Sutri Dhaka, Chandra basin, Lahaul-Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Objectives: To facilitate Himalayan Cryosphere Studies in Chandra basin to study the dynamics and the rate of change of Himalayan glaciers to understand its impact on hydrology and climate. \
  • Since Upper Himalaya has been dominated by very harsh climate and terrain conditions, the station will enable scientists and field staff to stay in relatively weather resistant environment and carry out field experiments and monitoring on a continuous basis.
  • HIMANSH has been established under the NCAOR program “Cryosphere and Climate” for proper monitoring of glaciers to understand dynamics, mass budget, energy and hydrological balance of Chandra basin.
  • Observations: A total of six glaciers (280 km2 glacier area) of Chandra basin name Sutri Dhaka, Batal, Bara Shigri, Samudra Tapu, Gepang Gath and Kunjum have been monitoring for mass, energy and hydrological balance including surface flow, ice flux, terminal fluctuation using this station “HIMANSH”.

IndARC Project

  • It is India's 1st underwater observatory in the frigid waters of Arctic Ocean in the Kongsfjorden fjord (natural lab). It is wtho Norway.
  • It will help scientists understand the Arctic climate process and it's influence on the Indian Monsoon system. It will also study the salinity and temperature profile.
  • It is designed and developed by the scientists from (Earth System Science Organisation) ESSO; NCAOR, Goa; NIOT, Chennai; INCOIS, Hyderabad.

MOSAiC mission (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the study of Arctic Climate.)

  • It aims to understand Global Warming. The mission has received funding from US institutions like NASA, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • It is the largest ever Arctic expedition. Scientists from 17 countries will take part in this year long mission as they anchor the ship (German icebreaker RV Polarstern) to a large piece of Arctic sea ice to study climate change.

  • This mission comes 125 years after Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen 1st managed to seal his wooden expedition ship, Fram into the ice during a 3 year expedition to the North Pole.
  • India’s Vishnu Nandan is among the 300 researchers who will deploy radar sensor on the sea ice surface from Polarstern. It is the 1st study of this scale at the North Pole for an entire year.

Other programmes

  • India - Sweden: MoU for Polar Science Cooperation (both for Arctic & Antarctic).
  • ARLS (Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support) with Russia will give access to Russian bases in Arctic for logistics & operational turnaround.

India’s Arctic Policy

India’s Arctic Policy roadmap for sustainable engagement draft is based on five pillars:

  1. Science and research activities,
  2. Economic and human development cooperation,
  3. Transportation and connectivity,
  4. Governance and international cooperation, and
  5. National capacity building.

Highlights of the Policy:

  • The policy commits to expanding scientific research, “sustainable tourism” and mineral oil and gas exploration in the Arctic region.
  • The draft spells out goals in India’s Arctic Mission such as to better understand the scientific and climate-related linkages between the Arctic and the Indian monsoons.
  • It also seeks to harmonise polar research with the third pole (the Himalayas) and to advance the study and understanding of the Arctic within India.
  • The policy calls for exploration opportunities for responsible exploration of natural resources and minerals from the Arctic and identifying opportunities for investment in Arctic infrastructure in areas such as “offshore exploration/mining, ports, railways and airports.

Nodal Agency

India has designated the Goa-based National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research to lead scientific research and act as a nodal body to coordinate among various scientific bodies to promote domestic scientific research capacities in the arctic. Read in detail about the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research on the given link.

Objectives of India’s Draft Arctic Policy

  • Promotion of Scientific Study of Arctic Region – Orient the curriculum on earth sciences, geosciences, climate change, biological sciences, and space-related programmes, dove-tailed with Arctic imperatives in Indian Universities.
  • Promotion of Arctic Tourism – to encourage tourism and hospitality sectors by building specialised capacities and awareness by engaging with Arctic enterprises.
  • Planning the explorations in the Arctic region – to formulate effective plans for Arctic-related programmes for mineral, oil and gas exploration in petroleum research institutes.

Arctic’s ice called “Last Ice Area” to be melted before expected

  • A part of the Arctic’s ice called “Last Ice Area”, located north of Greenland, has melted before expected. Scientists had believed this area was strong enough to withstand global warming.
  • But now, in a paper published in the journal “Communications Earth & Environment”, researchers note that in August 2020 the area where the Last Ice Area (LIA) is located, experienced a record low concentration of sea ice. Significantly, they point out that sea-ice has been thinning for years, a trend they think has been prevalent because of climate change.

What is the Last Ice Area?

  • In an article published in 2015, the National Geographic noted that while climate projections forecast the total disappearance of summer ice in the Arctic by the year 2040, the only place that would be able to withstand a warming climate would be this area of ice called the “Last Ice Area”.
  • The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) notes that climate change is shrinking the extent of Arctic summer sea ice, which is not only important for animals but also the local Inuit communities.
  • But while this piece of ice above northern Canada and Greenland was expected to last the longest time, it is now showing signs of melting. WWF claims that WWF-Canada was the first to call this area ‘Last Ice Area’.

Why is the area important?

  • The area is important because it was thought to be able to help ice-dependent species as ice in the surrounding areas melted away.
  • The area is used by polar bears to hunt for seals who use ice to build dens for their offspring.
  • Walruses too, use the surface of the ice for foraging.

When did the area start changing?

  • In the paper for which research was led by the University of Washington, researchers note that the first sign of change in LIA was observed in 2018.
  • Further, in August last year, sea ice showed its “vulnerability” to the long-term effects of climate change. The ice in LIA has been thinning gradually over the years much like other parts of the Arctic Ocean.

What are the reasons that explain the change?

  • Through satellite images, researchers noted that the sea ice concentration was at a record low of 50 percent, as of August 14, 2020. The team also explored the reasons for the record low concentration of sea ice.
  • They say that about 80 percent of thinning can be attributed to weather-related factors such as winds that break up and move the ice around.
  • The remaining 20 percent can be attributed to longer-term thinning of the ice due to global warming.
  • Even so, the results of their study cannot be applied to the entire region considering there are some unknowns, such as how more open water in the region would affect ice-dependent species over the short and long term.

To read everything about Antarctic: click here

Source: TH

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Iran to develop Farzad B gas field domestically Iran on Monday gave the Farzad B gas field to Petropars, a domestic gas producer. This is a setback for India’s energy ties with Iran as ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) had discovered the gas field in 2000 and has been part of the ongoing cooperat

17 May,2021
Copyright issue between Google and Oracle- the copyright case of the century

Copyright issue between Google and Oracle- the copyright case of the century Introduction On April 5, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favour of Alphabet Inc.’s Google in a case where it was accused by Oracle of violating the country’s copyright law. The case, dubbed “th

Rural Health Statistics Report

Rural Health Statistics Report The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently released the Rural Health Statistics Report. According to the report, there is an overall shortage of specialist doctors at the Community Health Centres. The Report There is an overall shortfall of 76.1% sp

Women workers- impacted disproportionately during Covid-19

Women workers- impacted disproportionately during Covid-19 Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed millions of livelihoods and led to a sudden and large increase in poverty and a massive disruption of the labour market in India. Women workers, in particular, have borne a disprop

Restructuring the tribunals system

Introduction The Centre has abolished several appellate tribunals and authorities and transferred their jurisdiction to other existing judicial bodies through the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance 2021. This Ordinance has been challenged in the Supreme

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and rules framed under it (the “FCRA” or “Act”) regulate the receipt and usage of foreign contribution by non-governmental organisations (“NGOs”) in India. Since t

Adoption issues in COVID

Adoption issues in COVID The Supreme Court has directed the States and the Union Territories to take stringent action against private individuals and NGOs who invite people to illegally adopt children orphaned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ministry asked the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

Tele Counselling through SAMVEDNA for Children impacted by COVID-19

Tele Counselling through SAMVEDNA for Children impacted by COVID-19 With an objective of providing psychological first-aid and emotional support to children affected during COVID-19 Pandemic, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is providing Tele-Counselling to children t

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