9 PM Daily Brief – October 31,2020

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

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1.Sponge cities


2.Right to freedom of expression

3.India-US defence Partnership


4.Monsoon Management

9 PM for Preliminary examination


1.Sponge cities

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-1- Society

Context: The idea of sponge cities idea needs traction at a time when discussion on urban flooding is reduced to simple contradictions.

Mention the causes of flooding in Hyderabad.

  • Non utilization of tools: Climate change adaptation tools for Hyderabad built by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany was not used.
  • Excessive rainfall: In September 2019, the rainfall was the highest in 100 years, while in October it was in 62% in excess.
  • Inability to manage the city’s drainage systems: The floods of October 2020 occurred because the water was not discharged in time and when it was discharged, it was done suddenly, in an uncontrolled manner.
  • Outdated infrastructure: Hyderabad’s century-old drainage system (developed in the 1920s) covered only a small part of the core city. The city has grown at least four times its original built-up area in 20 years, into areas where there was no drainage infrastructure.
    • The risk is going to increase every year with changing rainfall patterns and a problem of urban terrain which is incapable of absorbing, holding and discharging water.
  • Communities are left out: The issues of incremental land use change; particularly of those commons which provide us with necessary ecological support, such as, wetlands are neglected.
    • This framing also rejects the role of local communities in managing local ecosystems; people with traditional rights for fishing and farming.

 How the idea of sponge cities can help us tackle the issue?

  • A mission that mitigates flood risk and provides a pathway to water security is required. The most promising idea across the world at this time appears to be the idea of “sponge cities”.
  • The idea of a sponge city is to make cities more permeable so as to hold and use the water which falls upon it.
  • Sponge cities absorb the rain water, which is then naturally filtered by the soil and allowed to reach urban aquifers.
    • This allows for the extraction of water from the ground through urban or peri-urban wells.
    • This water can be treated easily and used for city water supply.
  • In built form, this building attached open green spaces, interconnected waterways, and channels and ponds across neighbourhoods can naturally detain and filter water.
  • These can all be delivered effectively through an urban mission along with the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) and Smart Cities Mission.
  • Regardless of ownership, land use on even small scale wetlands needs to be regulated by development control.

Suggest some governance reforms to deal with urban flooding.

  • Watershed management and emergency drainage plan should be clearly spoken in policy and law.
  • Detailed documentation of urban waters must be held by agencies which are not bound by municipal authorities.
  • Natural boundaries such as watersheds instead of governance boundaries like electoral wards for shaping a drainage plan should be considered.
  • The Metropolitan Development Authorities, National Disaster Management Authority, State revenue and irrigation departments along with municipal corporations should be involved in such work together.
  • Ban against terrain alteration: Terrain alteration needs to be strictly regulated and a ban on any further alteration of terrain needs to be introduced.
  • Cities are becoming increasingly impervious to water because of the nature of materials used (hard, non-porous construction material that makes the soil impervious).
  • New porous materials and technologies must be encouraged or mandated across scales.
  • Examples of these technologies are bioswales and retention systems, permeable material for roads and pavement, drainage systems which allow storm water to trickle into the ground, green roofs and harvesting systems in buildings.

Way forward

  • Acknowledging the role of different actors for the city can create a practical space to begin this work.
  • We need to urgently rebuild our cities such that they have the sponginess to absorb and release water without causing so much damage to the most vulnerable.

 2.Right to freedom of expression

Source: Indian Express

Gs2: Right to freedom of Expression

Context:  Following the beheading of Samuel Paty, a middle-school teacher in France for showing cartoons of the Prophet as part of a class on free expression, three more have been killed.

More in News

  • A Dalit lawyer was killed in Gujarat for posts allegedly prejudicial to Brahmins.

How to nurture Freedom of Expression?

  • Supporting the right to freedom of expression does not require to validate offensive speech.
  • Freedom will better be served by promising any religious community a public sphere that could never cause them offence.
  • Compromising on freedom of expression will set back the struggle of millions of people to free themselves from the oppressive blasphemy laws everywhere across the world.
  • Politically mobilised, fanatical religion has often not been safe for individual freedom, whether it is a form of Islam, Christian or Buddhist fundamentalism or Hindu nationalism.
  • There is a need to ensure that the asymmetries of power do not discriminate against communities.
  • Governments need to understand that purpose of public policy and public discourse is to protect freedom and not to stereotype or subordinate another culture or produce a forced uniformity.

It is time to cut through complicated politics and defend the simple principle of liberty, against all challenges.

 3.India-US defence Partnership

Source: Indian Express

Gs2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Context: US and India held the third annual 2+2 ministerial dialogue in New Delhi.

More in news

  • Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement was concluded.
  • It facilitates closer military cooperation and interoperability between India & US.

Developments in India- US relations

  • The US-India defence relationship was elevated to a “Major Defence Partnership” in 2016.
  • Following this, the scope and complexity of exercises have increased through mutual logistics support, establishing secure communications between armed forces, closer collaboration on shared security interests, particularly in the maritime domain.
  • For example, India-US combined naval transit of the Indian Ocean, first-ever tri-service exercise, Tiger Triumph, the announcement of the vision for a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership

How the need for strong partnerships emerged?

  • The US 2018 National Defense Strategy identified, the re-emergence of long-term, strategic competition as the central challenge to prosperity and security.
  • It called for expanding alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Similarly, India’s Act East Policy was in line with the above objective, it calls for greater Indian involvement in promoting “SAGAR” (the Security and Growth of All in the Region) and regional stability.
  • SAGAR policy has helped India to deepen bilateral defence relations with Southeast Asian countries, while preserving ASEAN centrality.
  • Both India & US have a common vision to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region based on a shared commitment to a rules-based order that respects the sovereignty of all countries and ensures freedom of navigation and overflight.
  • India has also strengthened its ties to like-minded countries, such as the United States, Japan, Australia and France.
  • For example, conclusion of the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreements with both Japan and Australia, facilitating shared logistics between militaries, recent invitation to Australia to join the Malabar exercise.

What are the Opportunities for further growth in the defence partnership?

  • Need to Expand dialogue on emerging threats in the cyber and space domains.
  • Need for a broader collaboration between our defence industries.

Deepening defence ties through the sale of high-end systems such as unmanned aerial vehicle, fighter aircraft, and air and

4.Monsoon Management

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 3 – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Context- India needs better science to prepare more effective disaster management plans and improve resilience in a warming world.

What is Long Period Average?

Long Period Average (LPA) – It is the average rainfall recorded during the months from June to September, calculated during the 50 year period, and is kept as a benchmark while forecasting the quantitative rainfall for the monsoon season every year.

  • First time since 2010 that India has got more than 100% of its long period average of 88cm in consecutive years.
  • Last year the country saw record rainfall of 110% of the LPA, the highest in a quarter century.
  1. IMD maintains five rainfall distribution categories on an all-India scale. These are-
  • Normal or Near Normal: When per cent departure of actual rainfall is +/-10% of LPA, that is, between 96-104% of LPA.
  • Below Normal: When departure of actual rainfall is less than 10% of LPA that is 90-96% of LPA.
  • Above Normal: When actual rainfall is 104-110% of LPA.
  • Deficient: When departure of actual rainfall is less than 90% of LPA.
  • Excess: When departure of actual rainfall is more than 110% of LPA.Read also:-  Daily Current Affair

What are the challenges of surplus rainfall?

  • Excess rainfall leads to floods, overflowing dams and loss of lives.
  • In hilly areas sudden rainfall brings landslide which damages natural and physical infrastructure subsequently disrupting human life economically as well as socially.
  • Surplus rains are not evenly distributed in time and space.

Therefore, much like there are attempts to improve flood forecast warnings, especially the short-term ones.

What are the reasons of excess rainfall this year in India?

  1. The heavy rains this year have been due to several long-lasting low-pressure systems in the Bay of Bengal that fuelled heavy rains over large swathes of India in August.
  2. A developing La Nina, the converse of an El Nino, which is a heating of the central equatorial Pacific and responsible for diminished monsoon rain over India, too contributed to munificent rains this year.

What are the technological measures taken to improve Disaster Management?

  1. 1. National Super-computing Mission– Supercomputers have also helped weather forecasters to accurately predict severe storms, enable better mitigation planning and warning systems.
  2. Monsoon Mission of India– This initiative of Ministry of Earth Sciences, launched in 2012, has utilized new approaches (high resolution, super parameterizations, data assimilation etc.) so that forecast skill gets quantitatively improved further for forecasting services of India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • For the first time, IMD used the Monsoon Mission dynamical model to prepare operational seasonal forecast of 2017 monsoon rainfall over India.

Way forward

Scientists need to put in more effort and design research programmes that better analyses the vagaries of the northeast monsoon.

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