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Daily Answer Writing Session – 21_October 2020

Daily Answer Writing Session - 21_October 2020

UPSC CSE MAINS SYLLABUS: GS – 2- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

QUESTION: What are the Indo-US defence deals all about? Discuss its implications on India defence capabilities and relationship with the US.(250 words, 15 marks)

Approach:  Introduce – explain the defence deals – discuss briefly its implications on India – conclude.

Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement:

  • The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement was signed between India and the US in August 2016.
  • It allows the military of each country to replenish from the other’s bases: access supplies, spare parts and services from the other country’s land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed.
  • This is extremely useful for Navy-to-Navy cooperation, since the US and India are cooperating closely in the Indo-Pacific.

Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement:

  • The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement was signed in September 2018.
  • It allows the US to provide India with its encrypted communications equipment and systems so that Indian and US military commanders, aircraft and ships can communicate through secure networks in peace and war.

Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement:

  • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement largely pertains to geospatial intelligence, and sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence.
  • According to officials, anyone who sails a ship, flies an aircraft, fights wars, locates targets, responds to natural disasters, or even navigates with a cellphone relies on geospatial intelligence. BECA is yet to be signed.

Implications:

  • While LEMOA means one partner trusts the other enough to expose its valuable assets, COMCASA means one is confident that it can rely on encrypted systems to connect the two militaries, and BECA means it can share highly classified information in real time without fear of being compromised.
  • All this signals the level of trust that has developed
  • Amid the longest stand-off on the India-China border in three decades, India and the US have intensified under-the-radar intelligence and military cooperation at an unprecedented level, especially since June, between the two countries and their militaries, faced with an increasingly aggressive China.
  • Signing BECA will allow India to use the US’s advanced geospatial intelligence and enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.
  • It will give access to topographical and aeronautical data and products that will aid navigation and targeting.
  • This could be key for Air Force-to-Air Force cooperation.
  • These conversations have facilitated information-sharing between security, military and intelligence branches of the two countries — almost reminiscent of the Indo-US cooperation of the 1960s, especially after the 1962 war.
  • The cooperation includes sharing of high-end satellite images, telephone intercepts, and data sharing of Chinese troops and weapons deployment along the 3,488 km Line of Actual Control(LAC).
  • New Delhi is watching the Chinese movements in “all sectors” of the LAC.
  • The Indian defence establishment also has enhanced capability with some American equipment.
  • The armed forces have used at least five American platforms at the LAC— C-17 Globemaster III for military transport, Boeing’s Chinook CH-47 as heavy-lift helicopters, Boeing’s Apache as tank-killers, P-8I Poseidon for overland reconnaissance, and Lockheed Martin’s C-130J for airlifting troops.
  • Now, with these key defence pacts in place, cooperation can happen in a more structured and efficient way.

Some concerns:

  • The US wants India to move away from Russian equipment and platforms, as it feels this may expose its technology and information to Moscow.
  • So far, India is going ahead with the purchase of the S-400air defence missile system from Russia, and this has been a sticking point for American interlocutors.
  • For its part, India is wary of Pakistan’s deep-rooted ties with Pentagon, and Washington’s dependence on Rawalpindi for access to Afghanistan as well as its exit strategy.

However, Chinese belligerence being the clear and present danger, India’s strategic embrace of Washington is the obvious outcome.

Source:” Financial Express”.


SYLLABUS: GENERAL STUDIES-3– Disaster and disaster management.

QUESTION: How has India been handling the locust situation in India? Considering harmfulness of toxic chemicals as solution, suggest alternative ways to fight locusts.(150 words, 10 marks)

Approach: Introduce – locust attack in India – explain the alternative ways available in India – conclude

Locust in India:

  •  In India, the locusts have struck Rajasthan and Gujarat and destroyed nearly 7 hectares of farmland.
  • Punjab and Haryana have also reported a presence of locusts since April 2020.
  • According to experts, locusts breed in rainwater and areas hit by cyclone
  •  Climate changehas played a role in worsening the locust problem in India, which could worsen with temperature soaring in the coming months.
  • change in cyclonic invasionand unexpected rainfall leads to locust invasion and breeding.
  • According to the agriculture ministry’s Locust Warning Organization, it is a time of concern as locusts have been sighted earlier to their breeding season (July-October) in India. They can have devastating effects on the Rabi crop in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

How India is handling the situation:

  • The Rajasthan government has requestedthe Centre for INR 200 crore in assistance to cover the losses incurred by farmers due to locust swarms.
  • The Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) has a ground team of 50 people mainly to monitor and track the swarms.
  • Drones are being used for aerial spraying of Malathion 96, an organophosphate insecticide and a potentially toxic chemical for non-cropped areas.
  • For areas with agriculture, chlorpyrifos is sprayed by drones, fire brigades and tractor-mounted sprays.
  • Farmers have arranged water tankers, usage of chemicals, disinfectants, beating utensils etc.

Health risk:

  • Though the ministry said the insecticides can be used on locusts, it does highlight the toxic effects of the chemicals on human health and the environment.
  • The use of insecticides in such huge quantities has raised an alarm among many. 
  • Surprisingly, on May 14, 2020, the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare issued a draft proposal on the ban of 27 insecticides likely to “involve risk to human beings and animals”.
  • The list includes malathion and chlorpyrifos.

Bio-control methods:

  •  At present, there are three major contenders. One is the spores of fungus Metarhizium acridum.
  • When it falls on the locust, it germinates and penetrates the body of the insect.
  • It then kills the insect both by expanding its filaments and releasing toxins on the insect.
  • Some 70 to 90 per cent of locusts treated with it die within 14 to 20 days. Locust pheromone and phenylacetonitrile can also be used to control the swarms.
  • It governs swarming behaviour in adult males who use it to warn other males to leave them in peace while they mate.
  • When a minute dose is used on juvenile hoppers, it instructs them to resume solitary behaviour. It is, however, still being experimented with.
  • It has been found that exposure to this chemical confuses the insects who often show cannibalistic behaviour.
  • Then we have chemicals that work as insect growth regulators (IGRs) that hinder the ability of hoppers to moult and grow properly.
  • Ingredients of the neem tree come in this category.
  • Its chemicals are similar to the shape and structure of a locust’s own hormones.
  • When a locust’s body absorbs neem compounds, they block its endocrine system and affect its behaviour and physiology.
  • They fail to reproduce and their populations plummets.
  • Lab experiments show neem oil can also induce “solitarisation” among them.
  • As neem trees grow well in locust-affected areas, the oil required to control the swarm can be locally produced.
  • There are very few takers for these methods despite proven effectiveness and low cost.
  • Locusts attacks are only going to increase with changing climate.

What is needed:

  • This calls for an integrated approach with improved monitoring, surveillance and investment in a preparedness plan to make vulnerable nations more resistant to locust threats.
  • There is a need to provide social protection like insurance to farmers and producers through effective governance.
  • India should take the lead in combating this issue. It could call for close cooperation with neighbouring states affected by the locusts.
  • Mitigation and adaptation measures are needed. Agriculture should be made resilient.
  • Scientific and cost effective ways to fight such future attacks is needed.

Source: ”Down to Earth”.