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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

GS PAPER-III DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS for UPSC CSE (courtesy:Insights and others)

Jalyukta Shivar

What to study?
For Prelims: Key features of the program.
For mains: Water scarcity problem in India and Maharashtra in particular, causes, challenges, and measures proposed.

What is Jalyukta Shivar?
It is the flagship program of the Maharashtra government launched in December 2014.
Aim: To make 5,000 villages free of water scarcity.

Implementation:
  • The scheme targets drought-prone areas by improving water conservation measures in order to make them more water sustainable. The scheme envisages arresting maximum run-off water, especially during the monsoon months, in village areas known to receive less rainfall, annually.
  • Under the scheme, decentralized water bodies were installed at various locations within villages to enhance the groundwater recharge.
  • It also proposed to strengthen and rejuvenate water storage capacity and percolation of tanks and other sources of storage.
  • Dedicated committees were formed to assist in the construction of watersheds like farm ponds, cement nullah bunds alongside rejuvenating the existing water bodies in the villages.

Why was the scheme introduced?
About 82 percent area of Maharashtra falls is rainfed sector while 52 percent of the area is drought-prone.  This, when coupled with natural rainfall variability and long dry spells during the monsoons, severely hampers agriculture activities.

How does this intervention work?
  • Under the scheme, water streams in a locality are deepened and widened, which would later be connected to the newly constructed chains of cement nullah bunds in the village.
  • Besides, efforts would be made to arrest and store water in small earthen dams and farm ponds in such areas. While new interventions are made, maintenance of existing sources like canals and all kinds of wells would be undertaken.
  • Activities like desilting of water conservation structures and repairs of canals are undertaken to help improve water storage and percolation at the site.
  • Additionally, recharge of dug and tubewells would be taken up in specific locations.
  • Real-time information of water availability due to such interventions would be gathered from each village of every tehsil from all districts and the same would be fed into a common portal.

What are the outcomes of the scheme?
Long- term outcomes:
  • To strengthen the rural economy, which continues to be largely agriculture-driven.
  • Improve farmer income by addressing the basic problem pertaining to the availability of water for farming or irrigation purposes.
  • Reducing water scarcity in villages that have limited natural supply.
  • Improving risk management or becoming drought resilient and improving water availability through effective management.

Short- term outcomes:
  • Reduction in the run-off water and diverting it to some kind of storage.
  • Increasing water storage capacity.
  • Increasing the rate of groundwater recharge.
  • Enhancing soil fertility and ultimately, improving farm productivity.

Sources: Indian Express.


Chandrayaan 2

What to study?
For prelims and mains: Key objectives, significance, payloads of the mission.

Context: The Chandrayaan 2 launch has been cancelled due to a technical snag. New dates will be announced in a few days.

Chandrayaan-2 mission:
In September 2008, the Chandrayaan-2 mission was approved by the government for a cost of Rs 425 crore.
  • It is India’s second mission to the moon.
  • It aims to explore the Moon’s south polar region.
  • It will be launched onboard India’s most powerful launcher – GSLV MK-III.
  • The mission is an important step in India’s plans for planetary exploration, a program known as Planetary Science and Exploration (PLANEX).
  • There are three components of the mission, an orbiter, a lander and a rover.
  • The mission payloads include — Terrain Mapping Camera which will generate a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the entire moon, Chandrayaan 2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer which will test the elemental composition of the Moon’s surface Solar X-Ray Monitor which will provide solar X-ray spectrum inputs for CLASS. 
  • The orbiter will be deployed at an altitude of 100 kilometers above the surface of the Moon. The lander will then separate from the orbiter, and execute a soft landing on the surface of the Moon, unlike the previous mission which crash landed near the lunar south pole.
  • The lander, rover and orbiter will perform mineralogical and elemental studies of the lunar surface. The rover is named Pragyan.
  • The mission’s lander is named Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the Father of the Indian Space Programme.
  • If ISRO achieves the feat in its first attempt, it will make India only the fourth country to soft-land on the lunar surface. The erstwhile Soviet Union, the U.S. and China are the only countries to have achieved lunar landings.

Objectives of the mission:
The primary objective of Chandrayaan-2 is to demonstrate the ability to soft-land on the lunar surface and operate a robotic rover on the surface. Scientific goals include studies of lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, the lunar exosphere, and signatures of hydroxyl and water ice.

GSLV Mk-III:
Developed by ISRO, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III is a three-stage vehicle.
Primarily designed to launch communication satellites into geostationary orbit.
It has a mass of 640 tonnes that can accommodate up to 8,000 kg payload to LEO and 4000 kg payload to GTO.
GSLV Mk-III vehicle is powered by two solid motor strap-ons (S200), a liquid propellant core stage (L110) and a cryogenic stage (C25), that has been designed for carrying the four-tonne class satellites.
The C25 is powered by CE-20, India’s largest cryogenic engine, designed and developed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.

Why the south polar region of the moon? 
According to ISRO, the lunar south pole is an interesting surface area, which remains in shadow as compared to the north pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it, the agency said, adding craters in the south pole region have cold traps and contain fossil records of the early solar system.

The challenges along the way:
Challenges involved in the moon landing are identifying trajectory accurately; taking up deep space communication; trans-lunar injection, orbiting around the moon, taking up soft landing on the moon surface, and facing extreme temperatures and vacuum. 

Sources: Indian Express.

Why is India opting for overseas bonds?

What to study?
For prelims and mains: Overseas bonds- uses, need, significance and challenges, what is crowding- out- effect?

Context: The government has announced its plans to raise a portion of its gross borrowing from overseas markets. The government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will reportedly finalise the plans for the overseas issue of sovereign bonds by September. While several commentators have argued that this is a risky move, the government itself is convinced that it will help boost private investment in the country.

What is an overseas bond issue?
A government bond or sovereign bond is a form of debt that the government undertakes wherein it issues bonds with the promise to pay periodic interest payments and also repay the entire face value of the bond on the maturity date. So far, the government has only issued bonds in the domestic market.

What are the benefits of an overseas bond issue?
The government has been arguing that the quantum of its borrowing within India is ‘crowding out’ the private sector. In other words, it is saying that government borrowing is at such a level that there are not enough funds available for the private sector to adequately meet its credit and investment needs.
If the private sector cannot borrow adequately, then it cannot invest as it wants to, and that cripples one major engine of economic growth.
Therefore, borrowing overseas allows the government to raise funds in such a way that there is enough domestic credit available for the private sector.

What are the risks?
  1. With this, India might follow the path of some Central and South American countries such as Mexico and Brazil. In the 1970s, several of these countries borrowed heavily overseas when the global market was flush with liquidity. But then, when their currencies depreciated sharply a decade later, these countries were in big trouble as they could not repay their debt.
  2. India is not likely to be viewed as a risky proposition by the international market and so is likely to fetch an attractive rate for the bonds. Cheap and plentiful funds, however, should not encourage the government to borrow too heavily from abroad.
  3. This would also lead to a quicker increase to its foreign exchange reserves, which would lead to a stronger rupee at a time when it is already appreciating against the dollar. A stronger rupee would encourage imports at a time when the government is trying to curb them, and discourage exports at a time when they are being encouraged.
  4. On the other hand, a rupee depreciation for whatever external reason would prove even more disastrous as it would make it far more expensive for India to repay its external debt.
  5. Another problem with an overseas bond issue is that the government would not be able to inflate itself out of trouble. That is, in the domestic market, if the government does ever reach the stage where it is finding it difficult to repay its debt, it can simply print more money, let inflation rise quickly and repay its debt. This is not an option in an overseas bond issue. The Indian government cannot print foreign currency to repay its debt.

Sources: the Hindu.

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