Current Affairs October 26, 2021

Mullaperiyar dam

  • The Supreme Court on October 25 directed the Supervisory Committee to take an immediate and firm decision on the maximum water level that can be maintained at the Mullaperiyar dam, amid torrential rain in Kerala.
  • Kerala said the water level should not go above 139 feet, the same as what the court had ordered on August 24, 2018, when the State was hit by floods

About Mullaperiyar dam

  • The Mullaperiyar dam is located on the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers in Kerala’s Idukki district.
  • It is operated and maintained by the Tamil Nadu for meeting the drinking water and irrigation requirements of five of its southern districts.
  • According to a 999-year lease agreement made during the British rule the operational rights were handed over to Tamil Nadu.
  • The tension between the two states over the issue has persisted since the 1960s, with Kerala citing concerns regarding the dam’s safety and arguing for the reduction of the dam’s water levels.
  • But with the water from the dam being diverted to five districts in Tamil Nadu and its importance in the state’s irrigation and power production practices, Tamil Nadu has consistently opposed this.


India and Sri Lanka in Palk Strait

  • International Maritime Boundary Line, an invisible demarcation between India and Sri Lanka
  • Indian Fishermen intercepted in Sri Lankan waters by the Sri Lankan Navy for “illegal fishing”, following which some of them returned dead.
  • The fishermen’s deaths serve as a stark reminder of the unresolved fisheries conflict festering in the barely 30-mile-wide (at its narrowest point) Palk Strait.
  • In Tamil Nadu, daily wage fishermen are only too aware of the risks that come with working on mechanised fishing vessels used for ‘bottom trawling’.
  • Their wage depends on the catch they bring back. Using the bottom trawling fishing method, they drag large fishing nets along the seabed, scooping out a huge quantity of prawns, small fishes and virtually everything else at one go.
  • The practice, deemed destructive the world over, has ensured sizeable profits for their employers the vessel owners and a small income for the fishermen taking the highest risk.
  • Incessant bottom trawling along the coast of Tamil Nadu over the years has meant that the fishermen are drawn to the relatively resource rich Sri Lankan waters.
  • The Sri Lankan state’s response to the problem has been largely a military and legal one, tasking its Navy with patrolling the seas and arresting “encroachers”, banning trawling, and levying stiff fines on foreign vessels engaged in illegal fishing in its territorial waters.
  • India and Sri Lanka have held many rounds of bilateral talks in the last decade between government officials as well as fisher leaders.
  • The outcomes have mostly ranged from deadlocks, with Tamil Nadu refusing to give up bottom trawling, to template responses from the governments, with India seeking a “humanitarian response” from Sri Lanka
  • At the heart of the conflict is a tale of competing livelihoods in a narrow stretch of the sea, amid a looming environmental threat, and a glaring asymmetry of power be it in numbers, equipment, or political backing between two Tamil speaking fishing communities.
  • The growing trust deficit between them does not augur well for the prospect of a solution



Rising intolerance in South Asia

  • Religious tension is not new in the Indian subcontinent.
  • Conflicts often break out among different religious groups
  • Faith-based conflicts take place both within and among countries.
  • The India-Pakistan rivalry extends from the religious and political fields to sports cricket matches between the two teams see a bigger audience than usual.
  • The separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971 was an example of how culture too plays a pivotal role in separating or uniting a country.
  • When religion becomes a tool for achieving political mileage, the resulting flames of hatred and intolerance quickly spread. This has the potential of becoming a wildfire that devours everything that comes along the way.
  • Such fire and fury can only hurt this region’s socioeconomic aspirations.
  • The rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan is a wake-up call to South Asia’s political leadership to form a united front against all forms of religious dogma and extremism.



Bubble trust approach

  • An asymmetric globalisation favouring China allowed Beijing to attain power. It is now using that power to undermine liberal democratic values around the world.
  • The Chinese market was never open to foreign companies in the way foreign markets are to Chinese firms.
  • This is particularly true in the information and communications technology sector.
  • Meanwhile, Chinese firms rode on the globalisation bandwagon to secure significant market shares in open economies
  • We are currently witnessing a global retreat from the free movement of goods, services, capital, people and ideas
  • The roots of every member’s prosperity and power lie in international trade.
  • It will be to their advantage to create a new form of economic cooperation consistent with their geopolitical interests.
  • When it comes to critical and emerging technologies, no single country can replicate the combined genius of the world.
  • The U.S. is a global leader in intellectual property, Japan in high-value manufacturing, Australia in advanced niches such as quantum computing and cyber security, and India in human capital.
  • This configuration of values, interests and complementary capabilities offers unrivalled opportunities.
  • The idea of ‘bubbles of trust’ offers a cautious middle path between the extremes of technological sovereignty and laissez-faire globalisation.
  • Technological sovereignty is a political outlook that information and communications infrastructure and technology is aligned to the laws, needs and interests of the country in which users located; data sovereignty or information sovereignty sometimes overlaps with technological sovereignty,
  • Unlike trading blocs, which tend to be insular, bubbles tend to expand organically, attracting new partners that share values, interests and economic complementarities.
  • Such expansion will be necessary, as the Quad cannot fulfil its strategic ambitions merely by holding a defensive line against authoritarian power.
  • The Quad’s Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group is well placed to develop the necessary ‘bubbles of trust’ framework, which could be adopted at the next Quad summit.
  • Such a framework would allow the scope of the cooperation to be limited to information industries avoiding the long and complex negotiations typical of trade agreements. To be successful the Working Group must seek to strengthen geopolitical convergences, increase faith in each member state’s judicial systems, deepen economic ties and boost trust in one another’s citizens.
  • There are fundamental differences between authoritarian and liberal democratic approaches to the information age. But there is no consensus among the latter.
  • The Quad cannot allow differences of approach on privacy, data governance and the digital economy to widen.


WMO report

  • A report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) on Monday said the increase in CO2 from 2019 to 2020 was slightly lower than that observed from 2018 to 2019 but higher than the average annual growth rate over the past decade.
  • This is despite the approximately 5.6% drop in fossil fuel CO2 emissions in 2020 due to restrictions related to the pandemic.
  • For methane, the increase from 2019 to 2020 was higher than that observed from 2018 to 2019 and also higher than the average annual growth rate over the past decade.
  • For nitrous oxides also, the increase was higher and also than the average annual growth rate over the past 10 years.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI) shows that from 1990 to 2020, radiative forcing by long-lived greenhouse gases (LLGHGs) increased by 47%, with CO2 accounting for about 80% of this increase.
  • Concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most significant greenhouse gas, reached 413.2 parts per million in 2020 and is 149% of the pre-industrial level.
  • Methane (CH4) is 262% and nitrous oxide (N2O) is 123% of the levels in 1,750 when human activities started disrupting earth’s natural equilibrium. Roughly half of the CO2 emitted by human activities today remains in the atmosphere.
  • The other half is taken up by oceans and land ecosystems
  • The Bulletin shows that from 1990 to 2020, radiative forcing the warming effect on our climate by long lived greenhouse gases increased by 47%, with CO2 accounting for about 80% of this increase.