Current Affairs August 24


  • Between 1996 and 2001, when they were in power previously, the Taliban did almost nothing to improve conditions in what had by then become a devastated, impoverished country.
  • All that the mullahs seemed to be interested in was oppressing women and minorities and providing sanctuary for jihadi terrorists from every part of the world
  • Traditionally, the Afghan has fought for his tribe, his clan or his family except when inspired by a few mighty war leaders down the ages.
  • The men who joined the U.S.-created army must have done so overwhelmingly because the superpower was paying their salaries and feeding them.
  • Once the U.S. decided to pull out unilaterally, it must have been clear to everyone concerned that the flow of funds would stop
  • With the entry of the U.S. into Afghan territory, economic activity and the sheer availability of funds, increased manifold.
  • Electricity production and distribution improved significantly; highways were built up; mobile telephony was introduced and spread with its usual rapidity; and, the U.S., other governments and international agencies pumped in billions of dollars.
  • Over 20 years, Afghans have been given enough reason to return to their farms and restart their businesses or professions
  • One major difference is that in the earlier period, these semi-literates had no ideas for developing their country, and knew it.
  • Today, after the laying down of modern infrastructure and the return of people who can run industry and trade, the means for building the economy are visible and available.




Cyclone and disaster management

Cyclone Tauktae and yaas

  • The severe cyclones, Tauktae and Yaas, which battered India earlier this year, made landfalls on the country’s western coast, Gujarat, and the eastern coast, Odisha, on May 17 and May 26, 2021, respectively.
  • Both storms caused massive damage to infrastructure, the agricultural sector, and houses.
  • Government of India reports are that, put together, an estimated 199 people died, 37 million people were affected, and economic losses stood at ₹320 billion (U.S.$4.3 billion).
  • In addition, crop area of 0.24 million hectares was affected, and around 0.45 million houses were damaged.
  • Moreover, 2.5 million people were evacuated to cyclone shelters and relief camps in these two States.
  • The large-scale uprooting of trees in the urban areas affected already depleting green cover.
  • Thus, during the COVID-19 pandemic, these cyclones caused additional financial responsibility for State governments
  • Increasing sea surface temperatures in the northern Indian Ocean and the geo-climatic conditions in India have led to a rise in the frequency of devastating cyclones in the coastal States accounting for 7% of the global tropical cyclones.

India’s vulnerability

  • The Indian coastline is around 7,500 km; there are 96 coastal districts (which touch the coast or are close to it), with 262 million people exposed to cyclones and tsunamis.
  • The World Bank and the United Nations (2010) estimate that around 200 million city residents would be exposed to storms and earthquakes by 2050 in India.
  • Between 1891 and 2020, out of the 313 cyclones crossing India’s eastern and western coasts, 130 were classified as severe cyclonic storms

Economic cost

  • Cyclones are the second most expensive in terms of the costs incurred in damage, accounting for 29% of the total disaster-related damages after floods (62%).
  • In addition, they are the third most lethal disaster in India after earthquakes (42%) and floods (33%).
  • However, fatalities due to cyclones declined from 10,378 in 1999 to 110 in 2020;
  • the significant drop was on account of improved early warning systems, cyclone forecasting,
  • and better disaster management activities such as timely evacuation, rehabilitation and relief distributions
  • cyclones also led to an increase in the fiscal burden of governments through increased spending to implement effective cyclone preparation measures.
  • As a result, direct government expenditure on natural calamities increased 13 times.
  • The Asian Development Bank’s report in 2014 estimated that India would suffer a loss of around 1.8% of GDP annually by 2050 from climate-related events.
  • India lost around 2% of GDP and 15% of total revenue over 1999- 2020.
  • According to the Global Climate Risk Index report 2021, India ranks the seventh worst-hit country globally in 2019 due to the frequent occurrence of extreme weather-related events.
  • Moreover, the report showed that India lost around 2,267 human lives, while damages stood at $68,812 million in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) terms in 2019.


  • Government of Odisha took up various cyclone mitigation measures which included installing a disaster warning system in the coastal districts, and construction of evacuation shelters in cyclone-prone districts.
  • Other steps were the setting up of the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA),
  • conducting regular cabinet meetings for disaster preparedness, and building the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF)


  • First, it is imperative to improve the cyclone warning system and revamp disaster preparedness measures.
  • Second, the Government must widen the cover under shelterbelt plantations and help regenerate mangroves in coastal regions to lessen the impact of cyclones.
  • In addition, adopting cost effective, long-term mitigation measures, including building cyclone-resilient infrastructure such as constructing storm surge-resilient embankments, canals and improving river connectivity to prevent waterlogging in low-lying areas are important.
  • Third, installing disaster-resilient power infrastructure in the coastal districts, providing concrete houses to poor and vulnerable households, and creating massive community awareness campaigns are essential.
  • Finally, healthy coordination between the Centre and the States concerned is essential to collectively design disaster mitigation measures.
  • It is only such a collective mitigation effort by the Centre and States that can help reduce the fiscal burden of States and also be effective in minimising disaster deaths.


Women energy security for cooking

  • The Indian government then introduced Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in June 2013 under the PAHAL scheme on an experimental basis.
  • The scheme finally covered 291 districts. Access to this clean energy was expected to alleviate the public health burden posed by household air pollution on women.
  • With rising incomes, the lower classes were expected to be covered by the scheme.
  • The scheme, it was thought, would improve women’s access to education, leisure, and the labour market, and also improve the environment, climate, and human health
  • As per evaluation studies, many LPG connection holders were found to still be using other fuels like firewood and dung cakes.
  • This is because men, who usually make the decision of buying the refill, often do not agree to a refill which is expensive for the poor.
  • Studies found that the poor use LPG mainly for making tea or snacks while they continue to use firewood or cow dung for their main cooking, as these sources of fuel are free of cost and easily available
  • Official data show that 48% rural households used LPG (2018) but only partially.
  • The other problems in accessing LPG are administrative and include the distance to LPG distribution centres, long waiting time, and rising costs of LPG cylinders.


  • need affordable alternatives to choose from, such as solar energy and solar cookers, smokeless chulhas, biogas plants and electric cookers where electricity is cheap.
  • Good research and development efforts need to be made in the public and private sectors to explore these alternatives.
  • As one solution may not fit all, there is a need to offer a set of energy sources to households so that each of them finds a suitable energy for itself.
  • Women in India can achieve energy security for cooking only through cheaper and efficient alternatives.


Indian economy recovery

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s July version of the World Economic Outlook Update emphasises a dangerous divergence in economic prospects between the advanced countries and emerging economies.
  • The global economy is projected to grow at 6% in 2021

Why divergence?

  • This divergence in the pace of recovery from the pandemic is attributed mainly to two factors.
  • First, there has been a huge difference in the pace of vaccine roll-out between the advanced and the emerging and low-income countries.
  • The advanced economies have allocated large sums in procuring COVID-19 vaccines on a priority basis
  • Second, the advanced economies have been able to use their vastly superior fiscal situation to implement significantly bigger stimulus packages.

Case of India

  • Although growth is muted and recovery is slow, retail inflation has crossed 6%, which is above the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s ‘safe’ level.
  • Food prices too have played their part in contributing to the overall rate of inflation.
  • This is a serious matter since the poor are particularly hard hit if food prices cannot be controlled.
  • The overall price situation puts the RBI in a quandary.
  • –Should it tighten monetary policy in order to contain prices but also slow down the pace of recovery? Or should it try to promote economic growth and let prices find their own level?
  • Fortunately, crude oil prices have cooled off in international markets and this will naturally have a cooling effect on domestic prices.
  • Consumer spending has also been extremely sluggish and shows no signs of picking up.
  • For instance, Google Mobility Index data showed that on July 26, visits to retail establishments including restaurants, cafes and shopping centres were down 20% compared to a pre-COVID-19 baseline
  • The government too has cut back spending as a proportion of GDP.
  • Fortunately, Goods and Services Tax collections have been extremely good.