Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 02 January 2023

National Geospatial Policy unveiled

GS Paper - 3 (Science and Technology)

The National Geospatial Policy unveiled by the government asks ministries and departments to "increasingly engage" the private sector for creation and development of geospatial data required by them under the liberalised regime rather than use Survey of India as an intermediary.

More about the Policy

  1. The National Geospatial Policy, notified by the Department of Science and Technology, also spelt out 13 milestones for the country to achieve to have a thriving geospatial industry involving private enterprises that include creating a high accuracy digital elevation model for the entire country by 2030 and digital twins of major cities and towns by 2035.
  2. The policy was approved by the Union Cabinet at a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister on 16 December 2022.
  3. The policy describes Digital Twin as a virtual replica of a physical asset, process or service that lies at the core of the new digital revolution.
  4. National Digital Twin would be an ecosystem of smart, dynamic, connected Digital Twins, enabled by secure and interoperable data sharing, to facilitate better decision-making.
  5. It spells out the vision, goals for the geospatial sector and outlines the strategies for achieving them. It seeks to develop geospatial infrastructures, geospatial skill and knowledge, standards, geospatial businesses, promote innovation and strengthen the national and sub-national arrangements for generation and management of geospatial information.
  6. India's geospatial market, including domestic and exports, is estimated to be worth approximately Rs 27,650 crore in 2025, rising from Rs 22,940 crore in 2019, the Geospatial-Artha Report said. The sector is expected to grow to Rs 63,000 crore by 2030.
  7. The policy aims to create an enabling ecosystem, thereby providing a conducive environment to Indian Companies that will enable them to make India self-reliant in producing and using their own geospatial data /information as also compete with foreign companies in the global space.

About GDPDC

  1. It states that the government shall constitute a new Geospatial Data Promotion and Development Committee (GDPDC) as the apex body for formulating and implementing appropriate guidelines, strategies and programmes for promotion of activities related to the geospatial sector.
  2. The GDPDC would replace and subsume the functions and powers of National Spatial Data Committee (NSDC) and the Geospatial Data Promotion and Development Committee constituted in March last year.
  3. The policy also stated that a Unified Geospatial Interface (UGI), an electronic data querying and processing service, will be operationalised for provision of consumer-oriented products, applications, services and solutions using the geospatial data and metadata contained in the National Geospatial Data Registry.
  4. The UGI will include access to all open geospatial data directly or indirectly collected by the central and state-level partnering agencies on terms to be determined by the GDPDC.
  5. The government will look to establish an Integrated Data and Information Framework, under which a Geospatial Knowledge Infrastructure (GKI) will be developed by 2030.
  6. By 2035, the policy sets the goals of usage of geospatial data include mapping of sub-surface infrastructure in major cities and towns across India, and development of high-resolution, accurate bathymetric geospatial data (resources and economy of inland waters, and sea surface topography of shallow and deep seas).


India, Pakistan exchange list of nuclear installations

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

In continuing a 32-year practice, India and Pakistan on 1 January 2023 exchanged a list of their nuclear installations under a bilateral pact which prohibits the two sides from attacking each other's atomic facilities. The exchange of the list took place under the provisions of the agreement on the prohibition of attack against nuclear installations and facilities.

What

  1. It was done simultaneously through diplomatic channels in New Delhi and Islamabad.
  2. The agreement was signed on 31 December 1988 and came into force on 27 January 1991.
  3. The pact mandates India and Pakistan to inform each other of the nuclear installations and facilities covered under the agreement on the first of January of every calendar year.
  4. This is the 32nd consecutive exchange of such lists between the two countries, the first one having taken place on 1 January 1992.
  5. The exchange of the list came amid continuing strain in ties between the two countries over the Kashmir issue as well as cross-border terrorism.
  6. Pakistan first officially tested nuclear weapons in 1998 and has since developed a significant stockpile of nuclear capable missiles, as has India.
  7. With the help of China, Pakistan has recently increased its use of nuclear energy to meet the rising demand for electricity.

 

Railways rolls out energy efficiency plan

GS Paper - 3 (Energy)

The railways ministry has rolled out a five-pronged energy efficiency plan to become carbon-neutral by 2030. The ministry is looking to reduce overall energy use with efficient operations and increase renewable energy usage. India, in its commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, has set a target to become net zero by 2070. For the railways, the target year is 2030.

More about plan

  1. The policy is broadly centred around five action pointssustainable buildings, cloud-based data monitoring and management portal, energy efficiency in equipment and appliances, power quality and restoration, and capacity building and awareness, the ministry said in its policy directive issued.
  2. Non-traction operations are those which are not directly connected to the running of trains on the railway network.
  3. The railway is aiming to increase its quantum of renewable energy in non-traction by installing rooftop solar panels on all railway establishments.
  4. Non-traction end-uses account for over 2,100 GWh of electricity use per year, projected to increase by 30 per cent by 2030 as Indian Railways network and infrastructure expands.
  5. Achieving the Net Zero Emissions target requires an integrated approach to reducing energy use intensity of existing and future infrastructure along with a shift to renewable energy sources.
  6. The ministry is looking to induct new technology such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) to keep a close watch on its greenhouse gas emissions.
  7. The railway board has sought the inputs of the Research Development and Standards Organisation to come up with innovative ways to reduce its carbon output.
  8. The railway board plans to ensure that buildings are compliant with the Shunya standards of net-zero emissions set by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency.
  9. The railway is undertaking electrification on its tracks along with a simultaneous shift to electric locomotives.
  10. In FY23, the railways achieved 1973 route km of electrification, which is 41 per cent higher than the previous year.

 

2022 Was the Year of Drought

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

Lakes and rivers in several countries shrank to extreme lows, and dry conditions threatened crops and fueled destructive wildfires across the globe. It was a year characterized by extreme drought. From North America to Africa to Europe to Asia, huge swaths of the planet was parched in 2022. Global warming worsens drought by enhancing evaporation, depleting reservoirs and drying out soils and other vegetation.

Asia

  • The world’s largest continent provided a dire blueprint in 2022 of the consequences of drought and extreme heat in a warming world.
  • An early heat wave gripped India and Pakistan, causing at least 90 deaths as temperatures in some spots soared as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The scorching conditions ignited forest fires in India and fueled the rapid melting of glaciers in northern Pakistan, which led to catastrophic flooding and even wiped out a bridge in the country’s Hunza Valley.
  • The waterway is also a major source of hydropower for the country and plays a key role in shipping and global supply chain management.

Africa

  • The Horn of Africa, which encompasses the easternmost part of the continent, experienced its longest drought in 40 years in 2022according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
  • The region experienced drier than average conditions as it suffered through its fifth consecutive failed rainy season. The prolonged drought is exacerbating food insecurity issues for more than 50 million people in the region.
  • Parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia were among the hardest hit by drought this year.
  • The United Nations said severe drought and food shortages are likely to persist, which could lead to famine in parts of the Horn of Africa.

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