Daily News




GS 3 : [Environmental Degradation]

Deforestation impact on India’s ecological balance in the following ways 

  • Loss of Biodiversity: The clearing of forests in ecologically sensitive zones leads to the destruction of habitats for countless species, thereby reducing biodiversity. For example, the deforestation in the Western Ghats threatens endangered species like the lion-tailed macaque.
  • Water Cycle Disruption: Forests are vital in maintaining the water cycle by aiding in cloud formation and groundwater recharge. Removal of forests in the catchment areas of rivers like the Ganges and the Yamuna can lead to reduced water levels, affecting millions.
  • Soil Erosion: Forests act as natural buffers against soil erosion. Deforestation in hilly areas such as Himachal Pradesh can result in landslides and soil degradation, making the land less arable, impacting agricultural sector.
  • Climate Change Acceleration: Forests act as carbon sinks, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. Deforestation releases this stored carbon, contributing to global warming. For example, the loss of forests in the Eastern Himalayas adds to India’s carbon footprint.
  • Impact on Livelihood: Forests support the livelihoods of millions, especially tribal communities. Their loss affects these communities directly, as seen in the forced migration of tribes like the Baigas in Madhya Pradesh due to deforestation. 
  • Disruption in Local Climate: The loss of green cover in cities like Bangalore has led to an increase in local temperatures, affecting the quality of life.
  • Increased Flood Risk: Forests act as natural barriers that slow down water runoff during rains. Their absence can increase the risk of flash floods, as witnessed in the floods in Kerala in 2018, partly attributed to deforestation.
  • Air Pollution: Forests act as natural air purifiers. Their removal increases the level of pollutants in the air, contributing to air quality decline, as observed in cities like Delhi, where the loss of the Aravali forest cover is a concern.

Legal frameworks that India has to counter deforestation 

  • Indian Forest Act, 1927: One of the oldest pieces of legislation aimed at forest conservation, it gives the government the power to declare any area as reserved forest, protected forest, or village forest.
  • Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980: This landmark Act prohibits the diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes by the state governments without prior central government approval.
  • Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006 (Forest Rights Act): It recognizes the rights of the forest-dwelling communities, aiming to make conservation more inclusive. Eg: The rejection of Vedanta’s mining project in the Niyamgiri Hills of Odisha was under this Act.
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: This Act not only focuses on animal protection but also includes plants. Under this Act, no one can occupy or cultivate any land in a sanctuary, indirectly safeguarding forests. 
  • National Forest Policy, 1988: This policy aims for a minimum of one-third of India’s land area to be under forest or tree cover. It prioritises maintaining ecological balance and conserving natural heritage. 
  • Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), 1994: Any developmental project that involves deforestation has to undergo an EIA to weigh the environmental costs. For example, the expansion of the coal mines in Chhattisgarh was put on hold until the EIA was scrutinised.
  • National Green Tribunal Act, 2010: The National Green Tribunal hears cases relating to environmental issues, including illegal deforestation. It has the power to provide relief and compensation to the victims of environmental damage.
  • The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016: This act ensures that any industrial project leading to deforestation must involve a compensatory afforestation program. For example, industries in Jharkhand have been made to adopt compensatory afforestation measures.
  • State-specific Legislations: Apart from national laws, many states have their own forest laws and policies that cater to local needs. For instance, the Tamil Nadu Preservation of Private Forest Act, 1949, aims to preserve private forests in the state.                     

GS-2: [IR : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.]

India-Iran Chabahar Port Agreement:

  • Background and Agreement Details: 
  • India signed a 10-year agreement with Iran to develop and operate the Chabahar port, despite tensions in West Asia.
  • The agreement involves an investment of $120 million by India and a credit facility of $250 million to further develop the terminal in Chabahar’s Shahid Beheshti port and related projects.
  • Previously, American sanctions on Iran had delayed the project, which was conceived in 2003 but did not take off for years due to sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the UN over Tehran’s nuclear program.
  • India signed a memorandum of understanding in 2015 after Washington eased sanctions on Iran following the nuclear agreement, with the contract executed in 2016 during Prime Minister’s Iran visit.
  • Despite the U.S.’s unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposition of sanctions on Iran, India managed to win a carve-out from U.S. sanctions to operate the port through ad hoc measures.
  • Strategic Importance of Chabahar Port:
  • Chabahar port is crucial for India’s connectivity plans, offering an alternative route to Afghanistan and Central Asia by bypassing Pakistan, thus enhancing trade prospects with Central Asia.
  • The port is expected to be connected to the International North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC), facilitating trade between India and Europe through Iran, Azerbaijan, and Russia, reducing time and costs associated with intercontinental trade.
  • Positioned roughly 200 km from Pakistan’s Gwadar port, where China is developing a port as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chabahar enables India to expand its geopolitical influence in Central Asia.
  • However, with the Taliban replacing the Islamic Republic and U.S. troops withdrawing from Afghanistan, America’s focus has shifted towards containing Iran, potentially impacting its view on the Chabahar project.
  • Importance of port for India:
  • Strategic Access: Chabahar Port provides India with direct access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan, thus reducing dependence on the volatile Pakistan-Afghanistan route.
  • Trade Routes Diversification: It diversifies India’s trade routes, offering an alternative to the congested and politically sensitive Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.
  • Regional Connectivity: Chabahar Port is a crucial component of India’s efforts to enhance connectivity and promote economic integration with Afghanistan, Central Asia, and beyond.
  • Energy Security: Chabahar Port opens avenues for energy cooperation, including access to hydrocarbon resources in Central Asia and the Middle East, enhancing India’s energy security.
  • Humanitarian Assistance: It facilitates the delivery of humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, showcasing India’s commitment to regional stability and development.

GS 3 : [Indian Economy : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth]

Manufacturing in India

  • Due to performance of key sectors like automotive, engineering, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and consumer durables, manufacturing has emerged as an integral pillar in the country’s economic growth.
  • With 17% of the nation’s GDP and over 27.3 million workers, the manufacturing sector plays a significant role in the Indian economy. 
  • The Indian government hopes to have 25% of the economy’s output come from manufacturing by 2025.
  • India has the capacity to export goods worth US$ 1 trillion by 2030 and is on the road to becoming a major global manufacturing hub.

Dependency ratio

  • The dependency ratio is a measure that compares the number of dependents (people who are either too young or too old to work) to the working-age population.

Demographic Dividend

  • According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-

The demographic dividend is the economic growth potential that arises from changes in a population’s age structure, particularly when the proportion of the working-age population (15 to 64 years) surpasses that of the non-working-age groups (those aged 14 and younger, and 65 and older).

India’s demographic dividend  

  • According to the Economic Survey 2018-19, India’s Demographic Dividend will peak around 2041, when the share of working-age,i.e. 20-59 years, population is expected to hit 59%.
  • Demographic Dividend: India’s young population and low dependency ratio will persist for the next 30 years, offering a significant advantage in terms of labour force and consumption.

Need to Skill up the demograph:

  • Importance of Skilling: To leverage this demographic advantage, there is a strong focus on ramping up skills in the Indian workforce. Skilling initiatives are crucial to ensuring that the working-age population is equipped with the necessary competencies to meet the demands of modern industries.
  • Opportunities in the Market: Specific sectors such as food spending and financial services are projected to grow substantially, highlighting the need for a skilled workforce to capitalize on these opportunities.
  • Skilling Initiatives: Ongoing efforts to enhance skills among the population will further capitalize on the demographic dividend, leading to increased productivity and consumption.
  • Expand Skill Development Missions: Strengthen and expand initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) to cover more sectors and regions.
  • Industry-Academia Collaboration: Foster partnerships between educational institutions and industries to create industry-relevant curriculum and training programs.

GS 3 : [Indian Economy : Growth and Development]