Answers: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – February 15, 2018

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Q.1) India’s forest cover rises by 1% as per the recently released data by the Environment Ministry’s ‘India State of Forest Report 2017. In this context discuss the global position of India in forest cover . What are the reasons for decline in forest cover in  India in the past. (GS-3)

The State of Forest Report 2017, released by the Union Environment Minister Ministry of Environment & Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).The report contains information on forest cover, tree cover, mangrove cover, growing stock inside and outside the forest areas, carbon stock in India’s forests and forest cover in different patch size classes.

India’s forest and tree cover rises by 8,021 sq. km, up 1% since 2015, to 802,088 sq. km, which is about 24.39% of the total geographical area of the country. The  report was released by the Environment Ministry’s ‘India State of Forest Report 2017 recently.

Top five states where forest cover recorded high:

  • Report shows that three states – Andhra Pradesh (2141 sq km), followed by Karnataka (1101 sq km) and Kerala (1043 sq km) – have shown the maximum increase in forest cover.
  • The top five states where forest cover grew are Andhra Pradesh (by 2,141 sq.km), Karnataka (1,101 sq.km), Kerala (1,043 sq.km), Odisha (885 sq.km) and Telangana (565 sq.km).

Top five states where forest cover declined:

  • The report shows that the forest cover in five north-eastern states – Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Meghalaya – has, however, decreased in 2017 as compared to 2015.
  • This area reported a net loss of 630 sq km of pristine forests.
  • The report mentions the reasons for this decline as shifting cultivation, biotic pressure, rotational felling, and diversion of forest land for development activities, submergence of forest cover, agriculture expansion and natural disasters.

India’s present position in forest cover: global comparison

  • India has shown an increasing trend in the forest and tree cover, in comparison to the global trend of decreasing forest cover during the last decade.
  • India ranks among the top ten countries of the world in terms of forest area, despite the fact that none of the other 9 countries has a population density of more than 150 persons per sq km, compared to India, which has a population density of 382 persons per sq km.
  •  India is ranked 10th in the world, with 24.4% of land area under forest and tree cover, even though it accounts for 2.4 % of the world surface area and sustains the needs of 17 % of human and 18 % livestock population.
  • As per the latest FAO report, India is placed 8th in the list of Top Ten nations reporting the greatest annual net gain in forest area.

Reasons for decline in low forest cover in the past:

  • The problem of depletion and over-exploitation of forests.
  • The problem of simplifying a maze of rules and tune conservation with the needs of local communities remains a challenge.
  • Due to developmental pressure and climate change.
  • The forest cover has decreased due to harvesting of short rotation crops followed by new plantation and forest clearance in the encroached areas.
  • In the Northeast, the decrease in forest cover has been attributed to shortening of shifting cultivation cycle and biotic pressure.
  • Due to either development projects or encroachment.
  •  Threat of organized wood smugglers and mafia.
  • Agricultural land development, by large and small scale producers, is believed to be the main driver behind the decreases.
  • Rapid population growth has resulted to the conversion of forest areas to non-forest lands for settlement and farming, urbanization and residential area expansion.
  • Unequal distribution of resources has led people to find their way to exploit the forests.

Q.2)Industrial activity saw robust growth on the back of robust manufacturing activity, according to the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). In this context discuss the reasons for the present growth in the industrial sector?  How the proposed new Industrial Policy will further help in accelerating the growth of industrial sector?(GS-3)

Industrial activity saw robust growth for the second consecutive month in December, with the Index of Industrial Production growing 7.07%.The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) registered second consecutive month of high growth in December on the back of robust manufacturing activity which expanded by 8.4 per cent. Within manufacturing, 16 out of 23 industry groups showed positive growth on an annual basis.  IIP had grown by 8.8 per cent in November 2017.

Reasons for the present growth in the sector:

The recently released IIP data revealed the following reasons responsible for growth in industrial sector:

  • Growth in the manufacturing sector
  • Growth in capital goods and consumer non-durable sector
  • Retail inflation eased somewhat in January, but remained at 5%
  • The Consumer Price Index quickened by 5.07% in that month, boosted by the persistently high inflation in the food and fuel segments
  • The relatively strong growth in the IIP comes on top of an even stronger growth of 8.8% in November
  • Focus on Make in India programme is showing desired results
  • Manufacturing sector recorded a robust growth of 8.4% in December 2017 over December 2016.
  • Double digit growth of 16.4% in capital goods and consumer non-durables at 16.5% reinforces heightened economic activity.

New Industrial Policy:

  • Government has decided to review the old Indian Industrial Policy 1991. It will subsume National Manufacturing Policy. The proposed new Industrial Policy should take care of the following things in order to accelerate the growth of the sector.
  • Addressing ways to incorporate the use of modern smart technologies for advanced manufacturing in India
  • Should also look at creating more jobs as well as boosting the economic activities of Self –Help  Groups(SHGs
  • To make India a manufacturing hub
  • Enhancing industrial competitiveness
  • Employing gainfully a growing workforce
  • Ensuring sustainability and responsible industrialization
  • Enabling an ecosystem for technology adoption and innovation
  • Review of the FDI policy to ensure that it facilitates greater
    technology transfer, leverages strategic linkages and innovation.

Conclusion:

India dream to make India global manufacturing Hub need to supported by conducive policy which should be far sighted vision and consultative . Recent Initiative like GST , importance to governance ,conducive policy and initiative for IPR generation will complement new industrial policy .

Q.3) In a strategic move to expand its footprint in the Indian Ocean region, India has secured access to the key Port of Duqm in Oman for military use and logistical support. What is the significance of this move?  What is the importance of Indian Ocean for India.?(GS-2)

In a strategic move to expand its footprint in the Indian Ocean region, India has secured access to the key Port of Duqm in Oman for military use and logistical support. Following this pact, the services of Duqm port and dry dock will be available for maintenance of Indian military vessels.

Significance of this move:

  • The Port of Duqm is situated on the southeastern seaboard of Oman, overlooking the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
  • It is strategically located, in close proximity to the Chabahar port in Iran.
  • With the Assumption Island being developed in Seychelles and Agalega in Mauritius, Duqm fits into India’s proactive maritime security roadmap.
  • This is also part of India’s maritime strategy to counter Chinese influence and activities in the region.
  • The Port of Duqm also has a special economic zone, where about $1.8 billion investments are being made by some Indian companies.

The Indian Ocean is important for the following reasons:

  • It enjoys a privileged location at the crossroads of global trade, connecting the major engines of the international economy in the Northern Atlantic and Asia-Pacific.
  • Indian Ocean is also rich in natural resources.
  • 40% of the world’s offshore oil production takes place in the Indian Ocean basin.
  • Fishing in the Indian Ocean now accounts for almost 15% of the world’s total.
  • Mineral resources are equally important, with nodules containing nickel, cobalt, and iron, and massive sulphide deposits of manganese, copper, iron, zinc, silver, and gold present in sizeable quantities on the sea bed. Indian Ocean coastal sediments are also important sources of titanium, zirconium, tin, zinc, and copper.
  • The Indian Ocean holds particular importance for India, as the littoral’s most populous country.
  • Indian ocean region is the primary area of concern for India. Securing its position here is vital before venturing elsewhere.
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