INDIA MIDDLE EAST-EUROPE ECONOMIC CORRIDOR (IMEC)
2. India Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC)
- The India Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) is a proposed rail and shipping corridor that would connect India, the Middle East, and Europe.
- The project is part of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment (PGII), a collaborative effort by G7 nations to fund infrastructure projects in developing nations.
- The IMEC is seen as a potential rival to China's Belt and Road Initiative.
- The Belt and Road Initiative is a massive infrastructure project that aims to connect China to Europe and Africa.
- The IMEC is smaller in scale, but it could still have a significant impact on the global economy.
3. Project Objectives
IMEC has three primary objectives:
Facilitating Trade: IMEC seeks to boost trade among participating countries, with a particular emphasis on energy products. It presents a robust response to China's extensive infrastructure network, which aims to integrate the world into its economy.
Comprehensive Connectivity: IMEC includes various components such as a rail link, electricity cable, hydrogen pipeline, and high-speed data cable. These elements create a sustainable and extensive network, enhancing connectivity across continents and civilizations.
Green and Digital Bridge: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen aptly termed IMEC as "a green and digital bridge," underlining the project's commitment to environmentally friendly practices and digital advancements, aligning it with the global push for sustainable development.
4. Rationale for the Project
IMEC's development is driven by three compelling reasons:
Prosperity Enhancement: IMEC is expected to enhance prosperity among participating nations by facilitating the flow of energy resources and digital communications, promoting economic growth and stability.
Infrastructure Development: Addressing the infrastructure deficit in lower- and middle-income countries is a critical aspect of IMEC. The project aims to provide the necessary infrastructure for sustained economic growth.
Regional Stability: IMEC has the potential to reduce instability and insecurity emanating from the Middle East, providing a platform for diplomacy and cooperation among nations in the region.
Furthermore, IMEC stands out as a transparent and high-standard initiative that operates without coercion, making it an appealing prospect for the involved countries and the international community.
5. Benefits of the Project
IMEC carries significant benefits, including:
Increased Trade and Investment: The project is expected to boost trade and investment between the involved countries, promoting economic growth.
Enhanced Connectivity and Cooperation: IMEC will foster improved connectivity and cooperation between the regions, creating a more integrated global landscape.
Economic Growth: The project has the potential to stimulate economic growth in the participating countries, leading to improved living standards.
Conflict Mitigation: IMEC could help reduce the risk of conflict in the Middle East by fostering diplomacy and collaboration.
Challenge to Belt and Road Initiative: IMEC presents a formidable challenge to China's Belt and Road Initiative by offering an alternative, transparent, and sustainable model of infrastructure development.
6. The Way Forward
- The India Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) represents a landmark project poised to promote economic integration, trade, and stability among participating nations.
- It also stands as a countermeasure to China's Belt and Road Initiative.
- This ambitious endeavour heralds a new era of international collaboration and development, promising a brighter future for the countries involved and the global community at large.
For Prelims: India Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment, G7, China's Belt and Road Initiative, rail link, electricity cable, hydrogen pipeline, high-speed data cable,
1. Discuss the significance of the India Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) in the context of India's foreign policy. How does IMEC contribute to India's goal of economic integration with West Asia and Europe? (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. The Global Infrastructure Facility is a/an (UPSC 2017)
A. ASEAN initiative to upgrade infrastructure in Asia and financed credit from the Asian Development Bank.
B. World Bank collaboration that facilitates the preparation and structuring of complex infrastructure Public-Private Partnership (PPPs) to enable mobilization of private sector and institutional investor capital.
C. Collaboration among the major banks of the world working with the OECD and focused on expanding the set of infrastructure projects that have the potential to mobilize private investment.
D. UNCTAD funded initiative that seeks to finance and facilitate infrastructure development in the world.
2. In which one of the following groups are all the four countries members of G20?
A. Argentina, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey
B. Australia, Canada, Malaysia and New Zealand
C. Brazil, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam
D. Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea
3. Belt and Road Initiative is sometimes mentioned in the news in the context of the affairs of (UPSC 2016)
A. African Union B. Brazil C. European Union D. China
4. The 'Belt and Road Initiative' (also known as 'One Belt, One Road') is a ______ based project. Under this initiative, there is a plan to renovate the old Silk Road. (DSSSB Patwari 2019)
A. Kazakhstan B. Japan C. China D. South Korea
5. In the context of proposals to the use of hydrogen-enriched CNG (H-CNG) as fuel for buses in public transport, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2019)
1. The main advantage of the use of H-CNG is the elimination of carbon monoxide emissions. 2. H-CNG as a fuel reduces carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon emissions.
3. Hydrogen up to one-fifth by volume can be blended with CNG as fuel for buses.
4. H-CNG makes the fuel less expensive than CNG.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only B. 2 and 3 only C. 4 only D. 1, 2, 3 and 4
6. With reference to 'fuel cells' in which hydrogen-rich fuel and oxygen are used to generate electricity, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2015)
1. If pure hydrogen is used as a fuel, the fuel cell emits heat and water as by-products.
2. Fuel cells can be used for powering buildings and not for small devices like laptop computers.
3. Fuel cells produce electricity in the form of Alternating Current (AC)
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only B. 2 and 3 only C. 1 and 3 only D. 1, 2 and 3
BROADCASTING (REGULATION) SERVICES BILL
The Information & Broadcasting Ministry has recently introduced the draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, marking a significant step towards streamlining and modernizing the regulatory framework for India's broadcasting sector. This comprehensive legislation aims to establish a unified legal structure that encompasses traditional broadcasting services, OTT content, digital news, and current affairs.
2. Key Features of the Bill
- The Bill consolidates various broadcasting services under a single legislative framework, replacing the outdated Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995 and other existing policy guidelines.
- The Bill extends its regulatory purview to cover OTT content, digital news, and current affairs, which were previously governed by the IT Act, 2000. This move reflects the evolving nature of the media landscape and the need for a unified regulatory approach.
- The Bill acknowledges the rapid advancements in broadcasting technologies and includes provisions to address the regulatory requirements of emerging platforms and services.
- The Bill provides clear and comprehensive definitions for contemporary broadcasting terms, ensuring a common understanding and consistent application of regulatory guidelines.
- The Bill introduces 'Content Evaluation Committees' for self-regulation by broadcasters and establishes a 'Broadcast Advisory Council' to advise the central government on program code and advertisement code violations.
- The Bill outlines a range of statutory penalties, including advisory notices, warnings, censure, and monetary penalties, for violations of regulatory norms. In exceptional cases, imprisonment or fines may be imposed for severe offences.
- The Bill promotes inclusivity by mandating the use of subtitles, audio descriptors, and sign language to make broadcasting services accessible to persons with disabilities. It also includes a provision for appointing a 'Disability Grievance Officer' to address accessibility concerns.
- The Bill encourages infrastructure sharing among broadcasting network operators and streamlines the 'Right of Way' process to facilitate efficient relocation and alterations of broadcasting infrastructure.
- The Bill establishes a structured dispute resolution mechanism to address conflicts arising from regulatory actions or disagreements between stakeholders.
3. The way forward
The Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023 represents a significant step forward in modernizing and consolidating the regulatory framework for India's broadcasting sector. By encompassing traditional and emerging broadcasting platforms, promoting self-regulation, and ensuring accessibility, the Bill aims to create a vibrant and inclusive broadcasting ecosystem that fosters innovation and serves the diverse needs of Indian audiences.
For Prelims: Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, OTT content, digital news, Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995, IT Act, 2000, Content Evaluation Committees, Broadcast Advisory Council, Disability Grievance Officer,
1. Discuss the challenges faced by the current regulatory framework governing the broadcasting sector in India. (250 Words)
2. Critically examine the potential impact of the Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, on the broadcasting sector in India. (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented devastation worldwide. However, technological advancements are being availed readily to win over the crisis. Give an account of how technology was sought to aid management of the pandemic. (UPSC 2020)
URBAN COOPERATIVE BANKS
- Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) are financial institutions that operate in the urban and semi-urban areas of India.
- These banks are essentially cooperative credit societies that provide financial services to their members, who are both customers and owners of the bank.
- Urban Cooperative Banks are regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under the Banking Regulation Act, of UCBs are an integral part of the cooperative credit structure in India, working alongside other cooperative institutions like Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) and District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs).1949.
- RBI issues guidelines and regulations to ensure the sound functioning of UCBs and to protect the interests of depositors
- There are two main types of UCBs: Scheduled UCBs and Non-Scheduled UCBs. Scheduled UCBs are those included in the Second Schedule of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.
- Scheduled UCBs are eligible for facilities provided by RBI, such as borrowing from the central bank, among others
The history of Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) in India traces back to the cooperative movement that gained momentum during the early 20th century. The cooperative banking sector, including UCBs, played a crucial role in meeting the financial needs of urban and semi-urban communities. Here's a brief overview of the history of Urban Cooperative Banks in India:
Early 20th Century:
- The cooperative movement in India, inspired by the ideas of leaders like Raiffeisen and Schulze-Delitzsch, gained prominence in the early 20th century.
- The primary objective was to address the financial needs of small farmers and urban communities by promoting the concept of self-help and mutual cooperation.
Cooperative Societies Act, 1912:
- The Cooperative Societies Act, 1912, laid the legal foundation for the formation and functioning of cooperative societies, including cooperative credit societies and banks.
- The Act provided a framework for the registration, management, and operation of cooperative societies.
Formation of Urban Cooperative Banks:
- Urban Cooperative Banks emerged as a specific category of cooperative banks catering to the financial requirements of urban and semi-urban areas.
- These banks were typically formed by groups of individuals, traders, and businesses in urban localities who came together to address their banking needs through mutual cooperation.
Growth and Expansion:
- Over the decades, Urban Cooperative Banks witnessed growth and expansion, serving as important financial intermediaries for local businesses and residents.
- Many UCBs were formed to support specific communities, trade groups, or industrial sectors within urban areas.
Regulation and Supervision:
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) started regulating and supervising cooperative banks, including Urban Cooperative Banks, to ensure stability and protect the interests of depositors.
- UCBs were brought under the purview of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
Scheduled Urban Cooperative Banks:
- Some well-managed and financially sound Urban Cooperative Banks were granted scheduled status, making them eligible for certain privileges and facilities provided by the RBI.
|Feature||Urban Cooperative Bank||Commercial Bank|
|Ownership Structure||Cooperative (Owned by members)||Shareholders (Owned by investors)|
|Formation||Formed by local communities, often with a specific focus or community affiliation||Incorporated as public or private companies for profit|
|Operational Area||Primarily operates in urban and semi-urban areas||Operates in diverse locations, including urban, semi-urban, and rural areas|
|Governance||Governed by cooperative principles with democratic control, each member has one vote||Governed by a Board of Directors, elected by shareholders based on the number of shares held|
|Regulatory Authority||Regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under the Banking Regulation Act, 1949||Regulated by the RBI for scheduled banks and other financial regulators (e.g., SEBI, IRDAI)|
|Membership||Open to individuals and cooperative societies within specified localities||Open to the general public and corporate entities, with no geographical restrictions|
|Deposit Insurance||Covered by the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) up to a certain limit||Covered by DICGC or similar insurance up to a certain limit|
|Borrowing Facilities||May have restrictions on borrowing from the RBI and other financial institutions||Eligible for various borrowing facilities from the RBI and interbank markets|
|Nature of Activities||Focus on meeting the credit needs of local communities, especially small businesses and individuals||Diverse range of financial services, including retail and corporate banking, investment services, etc.|
|Profit Distribution||Profits are shared among members in proportion to their transactions with the bank||Profits are distributed among shareholders in proportion to the number of shares held|
|Scheduled Status||Some well-managed UCBs may achieve scheduled status, making them eligible for certain privileges||Commercial banks are typically scheduled banks by default, with access to RBI facilities|
|Purpose||Emphasis on financial inclusion, community development, and supporting local businesses||Primarily focused on profitability, shareholder value, and serving a wide range of customers|
|Examples||Cosmos Cooperative Bank, Saraswat Cooperative Bank||State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank|
5. Challenges faced by Urban Cooperative banks
Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs) in India, like other financial institutions, face various challenges that can impact their operations, financial health, and ability to serve their members.
The following are the challenges faced by UCB:
- Many UCBs grapple with governance and management challenges, including issues related to transparency, accountability, and efficiency.
- Weak governance structures can lead to poor decision-making and operational inefficiencies
- Non-performing assets (NPAs) can be a significant challenge for UCBs. Inadequate credit risk management practices may result in a higher proportion of bad loans.
- Economic downturns or changes in local economic conditions can impact the asset quality of UCBs
- Maintaining adequate capital to support lending activities and absorb potential losses is crucial for UCBs.
- Financial instability can arise if there is a mismatch between assets and liabilities or if the bank faces a sudden surge in withdrawal requests
- Adherence to regulatory norms and compliance requirements, as set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), is a challenge for UCBs.
- Failure to meet regulatory standards can lead to penalties, restrictions on operations, or even regulatory interventions
- UCBs, especially smaller ones, may face challenges in adopting and integrating modern banking technologies. This can impact their efficiency, customer service, and competitiveness.
- Cybersecurity threats pose a risk, and UCBs need to invest in robust IT infrastructure to safeguard customer data
- Some UCBs may be heavily dependent on specific sectors or communities, leading to limited diversification.
- Lack of diversification can expose UCBs to concentration risk, especially if the local economy is adversely affected.
- UCBs face competition from larger commercial banks and other financial institutions, which may have more extensive resources and capabilities.
- Staying competitive in terms of interest rates, customer service, and product offerings is a constant challenge
Previous Year Questions
1.With reference to ‘Urban Cooperative Banks’ in India, consider the following statements: (UPSC CSE 2021)
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
Goddess Lakshmi, the embodiment of wealth and prosperity, is celebrated and welcomed into homes during Diwali. Over the centuries, artists have interpreted and represented her in various ways, creating a rich tapestry of visual depictions across different regions of India.
2. Ancient References and Iconography in History
- Lakshmi is mentioned in the Rig Veda as a 'sign of good fortune,' and her personality evolved over time, gaining prominence by the Atharva Veda (c. 1000 BCE).
- The legend associated with Vishnu's Kurma avatar, involving the churning of the primaeval ocean, connects Lakshmi to the emergence of ambrosia and treasures, symbolizing her association with good luck.
- Historical depictions on coins from Gandhara, Ayodhya, Kaushambi, and Ujjayini showcase Lakshmi standing on a lotus, flanked by elephants or portrayed as Gaja Lakshmi.
3. Popular Depictions Across India
- During the Gupta Period (4th to 6th centuries CE) Lakshmi gained high esteem, appearing on coins and often depicted seated on a lion as 'Simha-vahini.'
- The association of Lakshmi with the lotus, symbolizing purity and enlightenment, remains a defining feature of her iconography.
- In West Bengal, Lakshmi is worshipped with a snowy owl, while Eastern India recognizes Ashta Lakshmi, bestowing eight specific blessings. In South India, Tanjore's paintings portray her seated on a golden couch.
4. Impact of Calendar Art
- Lakshmi's imagery became more widely accessible with the advent of the printing press, making prints affordable for household altars.
- Raja Ravi Varma's oleograph depicted Lakshmi standing on a lotus in a stream, surrounded by nature, a departure from traditional depictions. This image gained popularity and was utilized in marketing and advertising.
5. Contemporary Interpretations in Indian Art
- In 1990, M.F. Husain painted Lakshmi as part of the holy trinity of Ganesh, Lakshmi, and Saraswati, showcasing her in a different artistic context.
- As part of a photo-performance project, Pushpamala recreated Varma's Lakshmi image, offering a modern perspective.
- In 2002 Atul Dodiya's Social Commentary art installation depicted Lakshmi as Mahalaxmi on a foldable shop shutter, carrying a social message against societal issues like dowry.
From ancient scriptures to modern interpretations, the iconography of Goddess Lakshmi has evolved, reflecting the diversity of beliefs and artistic expressions across India's rich cultural landscape.
For Prelims: Diwali, Goddess Lakshmi, Raja Ravi Varma, Rig Veda, Vishnu's Kurma avatar, Atharva Veda, primaeval ocean, Gandhara, Ayodhya, Kaushambi, Ujjayini, Gupta Period, Tanjore's paintings,
1. Write a short note on the enduring significance of Goddess Lakshmi in Indian art and culture. (250 Words)
2. Discuss the importance of striking a balance between cultural traditions and environmental protection in the context of Diwali celebrations. (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. The ‘Deepavali Declaration’ issued in the year 1929 was related to the (UPPSC Civil Services 2015)
A. Communal problem B. Dominion Status C. Labour leaders D. Untouchability
2. Raja Ravi Varma, considered as one of the greatest painters of India, hailed from which of these states? (SSC MTS 2019)
A. Maharashtra B. West Bengal C. Kerala D. Karnataka
3. The fifth incarnation of Vishnu is known as ______. (SSC CHSL 2020)
A. Varah B. Krishna C. Vamana D. Narsingh
4. The statue of Lord Vishnu in his ______ avatar is found in the Eran town of Madhya Pradesh. (MP Jail Prahari 2020)
A. Narasimha B. Matsya C. Varaha D. Parashurama
5. The Atharvaveda is a collection of ________ khandas. (SSC CGL 2022)
A. 20 B. 10 C. 15 D. 5
- India and the United States has been multifaceted and has evolved over the years. It covers various areas such as strategic, economic, technological, and cultural cooperation.
- India and the United States have developed a strategic partnership, marked by regular high-level diplomatic engagements and cooperation on regional and global issues. Both countries share common values such as democracy and a commitment to a rules-based international order
- Defense and security ties between India and the U.S. have strengthened. Both countries participate in joint military exercises, and there is ongoing collaboration in defense technology and procurement. The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) are examples of agreements aimed at enhancing defense cooperation.
- Economic ties have expanded, with both countries being significant trade partners. Bilateral trade has increased, and efforts have been made to address trade imbalances. The U.S. has been a major source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in India, and both sides have expressed interest in further deepening economic collaboration.
- Micron Technology, in collaboration with the backing of the India Semiconductor Mission, plans to allocate over $800 million for the establishment of a new semiconductor assembly and test facility in India, contributing to a total investment of $2.75 billion. Additionally, Applied Materials is set to construct a Semiconductor Centre for Commercialization and Innovation in India, aimed at enhancing the diversification of the semiconductor supply chain between the two countries. Simultaneously, Lam Research intends to facilitate the training of 60,000 Indian engineers through its "Semiverse Solution," aligning with India's objectives for accelerated semiconductor education and workforce development
- India has recently joined the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) led by the United States, aimed at expediting the establishment of robust and sustainable global supply chains for critical energy minerals. Commencing in June 2022, MSP already includes 12 other partner nations and the European Union. As part of this collaboration, Epsilon Carbon Limited from India is set to inject $650 million into the creation of a greenfield facility for electric vehicle battery components, marking the most substantial Indian investment to date in the U.S. electric vehicle battery sector.
- India and the United States have initiated collaborative efforts through public-private Joint Task Forces dedicated to the advancement and implementation of Open RAN systems, as well as the progress of advanced research and development in telecommunications. The joint leadership of India's Bharat 6G and the U.S. Next G Alliance in this public-private research endeavour is aimed at diminishing expenses, enhancing security, and fortifying the resilience of telecommunication networks.
- India has officially endorsed the Artemis Accords, aligning itself with 26 other nations dedicated to fostering peaceful, sustainable, and transparent collaboration for the exploration of celestial bodies such as the Moon, Mars, and beyond. In a significant development, NASA is set to offer advanced training to astronauts from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), with the objective of initiating a joint mission to the International Space Station in 2024. Furthermore, NASA and ISRO are actively working on establishing a strategic framework for cooperation in human spaceflight, with plans to finalize the agreement by the conclusion of 2023.
- A collaborative effort has been instituted by both nations through the creation of a Joint Indo-US Quantum Coordination Mechanism. This mechanism is designed to streamline cooperative research endeavors involving the public and private sectors in both countries. Additionally, they have formalized an implementing arrangement to bolster joint research initiatives focusing on quantum technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and advanced wireless technologies.
- The National Science Foundation of the United States has disclosed 35 collaborative research projects in conjunction with India's Department of Science and Technology. Additionally, a fresh cooperative agreement has been formalized between the U.S. National Science Foundation and India's Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, specifically targeting emerging technologies
- Sterlite Technologies Limited of India has committed a $100 million investment towards establishing a manufacturing facility for optical fiber cables in close proximity to Columbia, South Carolina. This initiative is expected to support annual optical fiber exports from India amounting to $150 million
- The Joint Statement expressed approval for the innovative proposal put forth by General Electric to collaboratively manufacture the F414 jet engine in India. General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have formalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), and a manufacturing license agreement has been presented for Congressional Notification. This unprecedented initiative, marking the first time F414 engines will be produced in India, is poised to facilitate a more extensive transfer of U.S. jet engine technology than previously experienced
- India has plans to acquire armed MQ-9B SeaGuardian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), aiming to enhance the country's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities
- The U.S. Navy has finalized a Master Ship Repair Agreement (MSRA) with Larsen and Toubro Shipyard in Kattupalli (Chennai) and is in the process of completing agreements with Mazagon Dock Limited (Mumbai) and Goa Shipyard (Goa). These arrangements will permit U.S. Navy vessels to undergo maintenance and repair at Indian shipyards during their voyages.
- The inauguration of the India-US Defence Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) took place on June 21, 2023. This network involves participants from universities, incubators, corporations, think tanks, and private investors. The program is designed to foster collaborative innovation in defense technologies and expedite the integration of India's private sector defense industry with its U.S. counterpart
Titled 'Taking the Lead on the Global Platform,' the Joint Statement highlights several strategic actions undertaken by the two nations.
- Indo-Pacific and Indian Ocean: The United States will become a participant in the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative, a regional effort initiated by Prime Minister Modi in 2015 to ensure a secure, stable maritime environment and advocate for its conservation and sustainable utilization. India will maintain its role as an observer in the Partners in the Blue Pacific. The U.S. and India plan to conduct an Indian Ocean Dialogue involving experts and stakeholders from the broader Indian Ocean region to enhance regional coordination.
- India and the United States will persist in their collaborative efforts to meet their individual climate and energy objectives. The United States appreciates India's commitment to jointly spearhead the Hydrogen Breakthrough Agenda, a multinational initiative aimed at making affordable renewable and low-carbon hydrogen accessible worldwide by 2030
- The Joint Statement underlines the mutual dedication of both nations to establishing inventive investment frameworks. These frameworks aim to reduce the capital costs and draw substantial international private financing for projects related to renewable energy, battery storage, and emerging green technologies in India. Additionally, the statement acknowledges efforts to decarbonize the transportation sector and highlights India's establishment of the Global Biofuels Alliance, in which the U.S. is a founding member
- The U.S. National Cancer Institute is set to encourage cooperation between American and Indian scientists through two recently awarded grants. These grants aim to create an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enhanced digital pathology platform for purposes such as cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and forecasting therapeutic outcomes. Additionally, the grants will support the development of AI-driven automated radiotherapy treatment specifically for cervix, head, and neck cancers.
- The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases is poised to enter into an agreement with the Indian Council of Medical Research. This collaboration aims to advance research in the realms of basic, clinical, and translational studies on diabetes. Additionally, the United States and India are set to convene a US-India Cancer Dialogue, facilitated by President Biden's Cancer Moonshot initiative. This dialogue will serve as a platform for experts from both countries to identify specific areas of collaboration, accelerating the pace of progress in the fight against cancer.
- The Joint Statement reaffirmed the commitment of the United States and India to jointly combat global terrorism, condemning terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms. President Biden and Prime Minister Modi reiterated the need for concerted action against UN-listed terrorist groups, including al-Qa’ida, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar e-Tayyeba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and Hizb-ul-Mujhahideen.
- They strongly denounced cross-border terrorism and the use of terrorist proxies. The leaders called on Pakistan to take immediate action to prevent any territory under its control from being used for launching terrorist attacks. Additionally, they urged for the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot attacks to be brought to justice.
4. Way forward
Cloud seeding is a weather modification technique used to enhance precipitation by introducing seeding agents into clouds. Various methods are employed to disperse these agents, promoting the formation of precipitation. Here are some common cloud seeding methods:
- Aircraft Dispersion: Cloud seeding agents, such as silver iodide or other materials, are released into the atmosphere from aircraft. Flares or canisters containing the seeding agents are ignited and dispersed at appropriate cloud levels. The aircraft may fly through clouds or release seeding agents from above, depending on the cloud characteristics.
Ground-Based Generators: These are stationed on the ground to release seeding agents into the atmosphere. These generators may use flares or other mechanisms to disperse the seeding agents vertically into the air. Ground-based seeding is often employed in areas where aircraft may not be practical or cost-effective.
Rocket Launches: Some cloud seeding programs use rockets equipped with seeding agents to reach specific altitudes in the atmosphere. The rockets are launched from the ground and disperse the seeding agents into the target clouds.
- Hygroscopic Materials: Certain seeding agents, known as hygroscopic materials, have an affinity for water vapor. These materials can absorb moisture from the air, promoting the coalescence of water droplets and eventually precipitation. Calcium chloride is an example of a hygroscopic material used in cloud seeding.
Remote Sensing and Monitoring:
Weather Radar: Meteorologists use weather radar to monitor cloud development and precipitation patterns. This information helps identify suitable clouds for seeding and assess the effectiveness of cloud seeding operations.
Weather Balloons and Instruments: Instruments carried by weather balloons provide data on atmospheric conditions, helping meteorologists determine the feasibility of cloud seeding. These instruments measure factors such as temperature, humidity, and wind speed at different altitudes.
Natural Ice Nuclei:
- Collecting Natural Ice Nuclei: In some cases, natural ice nuclei (particles that can initiate the freezing of water droplets) are collected and dispersed into clouds to encourage the formation of ice crystals. This method is less common than using artificial seeding agents.
Cloud seeding is primarily employed to enhance precipitation in specific regions, and it has applications in various fields. Some notable applications of cloud seeding include:
Water Resource Management:
- Increased Precipitation: Cloud seeding aims to boost rainfall or snowfall in targeted areas, contributing to increased water resources. This is particularly valuable in regions facing water scarcity or drought conditions.
- Enhanced Crop Irrigation: Increased precipitation resulting from cloud seeding can benefit agriculture by providing additional water for crop irrigation. This is especially significant in arid or semi-arid regions where water availability is a limiting factor for agricultural productivity.
Water Supply Augmentation:
- Reservoir Replenishment: Cloud seeding can help replenish reservoirs and aquifers, contributing to the augmentation of water supplies for domestic, industrial, and agricultural use.
- Winter Sports Industry: In mountainous regions, cloud seeding is sometimes employed to enhance snowpack, particularly for ski resorts and winter sports areas. Increased snowfall can extend the winter season and improve conditions for skiing and other activities.
Forest Fire Prevention:
- Reducing Fire Risk: In certain cases, cloud seeding is explored as a tool for reducing the risk of forest fires. By inducing precipitation, especially in dry and fire-prone areas, the moisture content of vegetation may increase, lowering the likelihood of wildfires.
Air Quality Improvement:
- Particle Removal: Cloud seeding can contribute to the removal of particulate matter and pollutants from the atmosphere. The process of precipitation can capture particles and cleanse the air.
Research and Climate Studies:
- Scientific Investigations: Cloud seeding is sometimes used in scientific research to study cloud dynamics, precipitation processes, and atmospheric interactions. These studies help improve our understanding of weather patterns and climate systems.
- Improved Reservoir Levels: Increased precipitation resulting from cloud seeding can contribute to higher water levels in reservoirs, positively impacting hydropower generation.
Cloud seeding, despite its potential benefits, is a practice that comes with several challenges and considerations. Some of the key challenges involved in cloud seeding include:
Effectiveness and Unpredictability:
- The effectiveness of cloud seeding can be variable and is dependent on various factors such as cloud type, atmospheric conditions, and the presence of suitable seeding materials. Predicting the outcome of cloud seeding operations with certainty remains a challenge.
Ethical and Environmental Concerns:
- Cloud seeding involves the intentional modification of weather patterns, raising ethical and environmental questions. Concerns include potential unintended consequences, ecological impacts, and the ethical considerations of altering natural precipitation processes.
Public Perception and Acceptance:
- Cloud seeding initiatives may face public skepticism and opposition due to concerns about the unknown environmental impacts, the artificial manipulation of weather, and potential health effects of the seeding agents. Public acceptance is crucial for the success and continuation of cloud seeding programs.
- Implementing cloud seeding programs often requires regulatory approval and adherence to environmental regulations. Obtaining permits and addressing regulatory concerns can be a time-consuming and complex process.
- The scientific understanding of cloud seeding is still evolving, and uncertainties remain regarding its long-term effects, environmental impact, and overall effectiveness. Ongoing research is essential to address these uncertainties and improve the understanding of the practice.
Limited Scope and Scale:
- Cloud seeding is generally effective within certain weather conditions and specific cloud types. Its applicability may be limited to certain regions and may not work in all meteorological conditions.
- Natural weather variability can impact the success of cloud seeding. Unpredictable changes in atmospheric conditions, including wind patterns and temperature fluctuations, can influence the dispersion and effectiveness of seeding agents.
- The technology involved in cloud seeding, including the delivery of seeding agents, can face technical challenges. For example, the dispersion of seeding agents from aircraft or ground-based generators must be carefully calibrated for optimal results.
- Implementing and maintaining cloud seeding programs can be expensive. The costs include aircraft operations, ground-based generators, and the purchase of seeding materials. Cost-effectiveness is a consideration in the decision to pursue cloud seeding initiatives.
Data Collection and Monitoring:
- Adequate data collection and monitoring are essential for assessing the impact of cloud seeding. Establishing comprehensive monitoring systems to evaluate changes in precipitation patterns and environmental conditions requires significant resources and infrastructure
For Prelims: General issues on Environmental ecology
For Mains: General Studies III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Previous Year Questions
1.In the context of which of the following do some scientists suggest the use of cirrus cloud thinning technique and the injection of sulphate aerosol into stratosphere? (UPSC CSE 2019)
(a) Creating the artificial rains in some regions