9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 2, 2021

9 PM DAILY BRIEF

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GS Paper –1  

Proposal on Louis Kahn’s IIMA building is an act of cultural vandalism 

GS-Paper –2  

Implication of warming in Arctic region 

India’s foreign policy: Lessons from 2020 and challenges/opportunities in 2021 

GS-Paper 3 

Farmer welfare in Kerala, in the absence of Mandi system 


The proposal to demolish the Louis Kahn’s IIMA building is an act of cultural vandalism 

Source- The Indian Express 

Syllabus-  GS1

Synopsis- IIMA decision to demolish historic dormitories designed by architect Louis Khan, this would constitute an act of cultural vandalism.  

Background-  

  • Louis Kahn, a world-famous architect, called in 1960s to Ahmedabad to design various buildings, and the IIMA was one of the iconic structures built by him.
  • Works of this excellence belong to both national and universal heritage.
  • However, the administration of the Indian Institute of Management decided to demolish 14 dormitories on the IIMA campus as they turn unsafe.
  • It led to the protests in the campus and reconsideration of the decision. 

Why the proposal to demolish the dorms of IIMA represent as cultural vandalism? 

Having supported the restoration of the entire campus for years, the administration claimed that as this work was not ‘satisfactory’ the whole lot should be pulled down, which is an act of cultural vandalism against an architectural masterpiece which is not only of great importance to India but to the world. 

  • Current laws in India provide national heritage protection only to buildings and sites more than 100 years old. This leaves Kahn’s IIM- Ahmedabad in extremely vulnerable positions. 
  • capitalism, political corruption and land speculation pose threats to ancient and modern works of quality. 

Fortunately, many organizations and individuals both within the country and abroad have written to the institute, urging the management to reconsider the decision. 

What is the significance of Louis Kahn Architecture? 

Kahn built two projects on the Indian subcontinent, the Assembly Complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh and the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad (IIMA). Both reflect his response to the cultures, climates and traditions of their respective places. 

Significance of IIMA building- 

  • The complex is built mainly in brick, with some interventions of concrete for lateral bracing and tie bars.
  • With its interweaving of space and form, light and shade, orthogonal and diagonal geometries, the dormitory complex is a virtuoso demonstration of Kahn’s immense skill as a designer.
  • A citadel of learning, replete with cylindrical towers, shaded streets and squares, it is not unlike a tight-knit Indian fortified town.

Way forward- 

  • First, there is a need to reshape national heritage laws to protect 20th-century buildings. 
    • Heritage should be assessed on the basis of long-term quality rather than the cut-off date of a hundred years.
  • Second, IIMA Director and Board need to live up to their responsibilities by restoring and protecting Kahn’s work in its totality, so that the future generations may be inspired by it. 

Thus,the leaders of IIMA should be persuaded to complete the restoration of Kahn’s buildings at the highest possible level, and perhaps attain the same World Heritage status 


Implication of warming in Arctic region 

Source- The Indian Express 

Syllabus-  GS 2

Synopsis- Warming in the Arctic region has many implications and the geopolitics is also changing in the region. 

Introduction- 

  • The Arctic has been warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, with higher temperatures pushing sea ice into a loop of melting and thinning. 
  • Since 1980, the amount of summer ice in cubic kilometers has decreased by an estimated 75 percent.  
  • Climate change is increasingly opening up the Northwest Passage, an Arctic sea route north of the Canadian mainland.

These developments will have a critical impact in several sectors, most fundamentally on climate. 

What are the adverse impacts of global warming? 

A warming climate holds important implications for other aspects of the global environment. 

  • First,  it had led to many changes on the planet, such as a rise in sea level, massive melting of snow and land ice, salinity levels, and current and precipitation patterns 
    • Moreover, The Tundra is returning to the swamp, the permafrost is thawing, sudden storms are ravaging coastlines and wildfires are devastating interior Canada and Russia. 
  • Second, Arctic biodiversity under serious threat from climate change- The distribution of flora and fauna is shifting northwards as the Arctic continues to warm.  
    • Increasing human encroachment with its attendant stresses will only aggravate this impact and upset a fragile balance.

What are the opportunities due to opening the Arctic region? 

The opening of the Arctic presents huge commercial and economic opportunities such as shipping, energy, fisheries, and mineral resources. 

  • First, new shipping route– The shrinking of ice on The Northern Sea Route will open new possibilities for shipping companies.
    • The distance from Rotterdam to Yokohama will be cut by 40 percent compared to the Suez route. 
  • Second, Raw materials underground– The area above the Arctic Circle is underlain by sedimentary basins and continental shelves that hold enormous oil and natural gas resources. 
    • The Arctic holds about 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered conventional oil and natural gas resource base along with mineral deposits including 25 percent of the global reserves of rare earth, buried in Greenland.

What are the challenges in doing so? 

  • First, Navigation conditions are restrictive and dangerous due to- 
    • extreme conditions: ice floes, fog, imprecise charts
    • Lack of search and rescue infrastructure and lack of deep-water ports.
  • Second, added cost of navigation in polar waters – 
    • more expensive shipbuilding and crew training requirements need for ice-breakers, high insurance costs
    • Mining and deep-sea drilling carry massive costs and environmental risks. 

These difficulties may provide a crucial window to work out norms that are focused on balanced and sustainable development. However, the Arctic is not a global common and there is no overarching treaty that governs it. 

What are the impacts of Arctic warming on India? 

The extensive coastline of India makes it most vulnerable to the impact of Arctic warming as- 

  • It is found that rising temperatures in the Arctic region is causing the sea-ice to melt faster than expected, impacting a major ocean current linked to extreme weather events. 
  • The global warming phenomena have resulted in a change in the monsoon onset time and pattern.

How Russia and china using Arctic geopolitics as a strategic posture? 

  • First, Russian priority is to ensure the Northern Fleet’s access to, and passage along, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.  
  • Second, Russia has deployed substantive force and capabilities along its northern border, including through an exercise with China in the eastern Arctic. 
  • Third, China in the Arctic- China’s economic partnership with Russia in the Arctic with a focus on projecting the Polar Silk Road as an extension of the BRI, and has invested heavily in ports, energy, undersea infrastructure and mining projects.

Thus, an active China in the Arctic and its growing economic and strategic relationship with Russia need close monitoring. 


India’s foreign policy: Lessons from 2020 and challenges/opportunities in 2021 

Source: Click here 

Syllabus: GS 2 – International Relations,  

Synopsis: A quick flashback of 2020 suggested that India faced seven tough realities last year and has to deal with many possible challenges and opportunities in 2021. 

Introduction  

Last year was quite difficult for India; it fought Covid-19 and Chinese hostility. Next year is going to be all about facing the challenge of firming ties and building new ones with the US, EU, Middle East countries, and its neighbours.  

What were the hard realities of 2020? 

  • China’s ambition to become the number one 
    • China’s which was consolidating its power since, 2013, saw an opportunity in pandemic and started flexing its muscles. 
    • Chinese naval forces hit a Vietnamese fishing boat, droned a Philippines naval vessel and agitated a Malaysian oil-drilling operation. It even put trade restrictions on Australia.
    • 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives in the border stand-off with China as they have changed the status quo along the border. 
  • Trump Administration
    • The Trump administration targeted China and the Communist Party of China for disturbing the global order and walked out of several multilateral bodies.
  • Approval for Taliban
    • India is planning to re-engage with the Taliban even though it is controlled by the Pakistan military because the US has made peace with them.  
  • Middle East calculations
    • New Delhi has been nurturing ties with Israel as well as Saudi-UAE and the Iranians with clever diplomacy but India should be mindful as at home religious politics could hamper its gains. 
  • Russia-China closeness
    • The US’s anti-Chinese public speaking, the downfall of oil prices and Russia’s dependence on Chinese consumption is the reason of their bonding. 
    • Russia has a similar stance to china on the Quad and Indo-pacific and India has taken note of it even though India shares strong ties with Russia. 
  • Confident neighbours
    • Bangladesh stressed on CAA-NRC, and then Nepal claimed territory followed by issuing a new map. 
    • India seems to have accepted the participation of the US in Maldives and of Japan in Sri Lanka and Maldives.
  • Aspirational India
    • During the pandemic, India supplied medicines and protective kits to more than 150 countries still it didn’t manage to appear as the global leader the world needed; instead, it looked as an aspirational power because of lack of resources, a shrinking economy and its general politics. 

What are the challenges and opportunities in the upcoming year? 

  • Firstly, India has to counter China.
    • India will need persistent support from the US, Japan, Australia, in addition with the support of France, Germany and the UK because India requires external aid inadequate measure to counter China.
  • Secondly, India is set to enter the UN Security Council for the 8th time      
    •  India will now have to take stands on several issues that it has avoided in the past such as the Iran-Saudi rivalry etc.  
  • Thirdly, friendship with the US.
    • India will try to deepen its strategic and defence ties with the US, and would want to resolve trade and visa issues.
  • Fourthly, India will try to win over Europe.
    • There is a chance of an India-EU summit in the upcoming year and a potential European strategy. France and Germany have come up with their Indo-Pacific strategy.
  • Fifthly, India should engage with its neighbours.
    • India could use vaccine diplomacy to its benefit by supplying vaccines at affordable costs to neighbours in 2021 as almost all south Asian countries have stable governments currently.
  • Lastly, India should appear Global not aspirational.
    • New Delhi will host the BRICS summit in 2021.
    • Begin preparations for the G-20 summit in 2023.
    • The India-Africa Forum summit, which could not be held in 2020, could be held in 2021 or later. 

India has opportunities to clear and be vocal on issues that matter to the world and be positive to promote its interests. 


Farmer welfare in Kerala, in the absence of Mandi system 

Source: click here 

Syllabus: GS 3 – 

Synopsis: Absence of Madi system in Kerala has not impacted the farmer’s welfare in the state. 

Background:  

Thousands of farmers have assembled to protest against the 3 farm bills and have established a new way of life at Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur, Noida and Shahjahanpur borders.  

  • Farmers have made all necessary arrangements for food, shelter, clothing, and sanitation. They have been gathering a countrywide support.
  • A tussle among various political parties is also ongoing on the issue of support or opposition to farmer’s demand. 
  • Meanwhile, in all this debate, example of Kerala was used by some big politicians that the states with no Mandi system is also siding with the farmers. 
  • However, ground realities and facilities for farmers in Kerala suggest that the same model can be applied at other places too for the welfare of farmers.  

How Farmer’s Welfare in Kerala assured? 

Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and mandis although do not exist in Kerala, the needs and interests of farmers are taken care of in the state.  

  • The central government’s rate for obtaining rice is ₹ 18 a kg whereas the government in Kerala has fixed the price of rice from cultivators at ₹27.48 a kg. This increased basic price is also applicable on fruits and vegetables.
    • Basic prices (per Kg) of 16 items are assured by the government. Few examples are tapioca ₹12, banana ₹30, garlic ₹139, pineapple ₹15, tomato ₹8, string beans ₹34, ladies’ fingers ₹20, cabbage ₹11 and potato ₹20. 
  • Dried coconut also has a much higher procurement rate in Kerala as compared to the rate announced by the central government. 
  • Apart from crop insurance, paddy cultivators also get the royalty in Kerala at the rate of ₹2,000 per hectare. They get a pension as well, which is a very unique step in the country.  
    • A debt relief commission was introduced in 2006 by the left government when farmers’ suicides were increasing, this initiative tried to help and save them.   

Above facts prove that farmers in Kerala are in a better condition compared to the state of farmers in other states after enacting Farm Laws. Forex; 40% of mandis in Madhya Pradesh have registered only zero transactions after the passing of 3 bills.


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