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GS Paper II- International Relations.

Why Bhutan is special to India

What’s Happening-

  • The present standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Doka La (Doklam) is a rare insight into New Delhi’s very special relationship with Bhutan, which includes military responsibilities towards it.

Background-

  • Under the 2007 India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty:
  • The two sides have agreed to “cooperate closely with each other on issues relating to their national interests. Neither Government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other.”

India’s stand:

  • The language of the 2007 treaty, is meant to respect the sensitivities of Bhutan regarding its sovereignty.
  • But the reality is that the Indian military is virtually responsible for protecting Bhutan from the kind of external threat that the Chinese military poses.
  • The Eastern Army Command and the Eastern Air Command both have integrated protection of Bhutan into their role.
  • The Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT), headed by a Major General, plays a critical role in training Bhutanese security personnel.

Key Points :

  • In India’s only official statement on the standoff, the Ministry of External Affairs said that “PLA (People’s Liberation Army) construction party entered the Doklam area and attempted to construct a road. It is our understanding that a Royal Bhutan Army patrol attempted to dissuade them from this unilateral activity.”

 Coordinated actions:

  • Indian personnel, who were present at general area Doka La, approached the Chinese construction party and urged them to desist from changing the status quo.
  • Giving a view of India’s role in Bhutan’s security, the MEA statement said, “In keeping with their tradition of maintaining close consultation on matters of mutual interest, RGOB (Royal Government of Bhutan) and the Government of India have been in continuous contact through the unfolding of these developments.”

Sources– The Indian Express, The Hindu, MEA.

 

GS Paper III- Development and Employment.

Is Darjeeling stir killing tea and tourism?

What’s happening:

  • Demand for a separate Gorkhaland state from west Bengal.
  • Leading to tensions between Bengali and Nepali communities of the region.
  • the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) that is spearheading the demand for Gorkhaland.

What runs the hills’ economy?

  • Tea and tourism are the twin pillars of the economy of the Darjeeling
  • It also has some horticulture, floriculture, spice and cinchona cultivation, but the main income and employment generators are tea and tourism.
  • These two are now under attack as the hills are caught in a fresh spiral of violence.

Background-

  • Tea gardens in Darjeeling indirectly employ over a lakh people and directly around 60,000 people, 60% of whom are women.
  • As per existing laws, the estates also provide housing and medical facilities to about four lakh people — families of the workers.
  • Darjeeling former summer capital of the British Empire.
  • Queen of Hill Stations as Darjeeling was once lovingly referred to.

Why has it been hit hard?

  • The current agitation does not help matters, as it comes during peak production season.
  • The two leaves and a bud, plucked during the summer months between April and July, yield some of the best Darjeeling teas, fragrant with their unique muscatel flavour.
  • These are also the teas that fetch the best prices in domestic and international markets, giving the industry 40% of its annual revenue.
  • Region where the scope of generating employment through large industries is limited.

What about tourism?

  • The steps taken by the present government to augment and enhance the state’s tourism potential have yielded results and now the State is among India’s top 10 tourist destinations.
  • As per latest official statistics of the Union Tourism Ministry, in 2016 West Bengal attracted 74.5 million domestic tourists, slipping to the eighth position from fifth in 2015.
  • What does the future hold?
  • very little, unless the current agitation is resolved.
  • The tea industry is already losing able hands to a population which is migrating from the district.
  • The tourism industry is run by plains as well as hills people providing employment to the local youth.

Sources– The Indian Express, The Hindu.

 

GS Paper III-  Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Climate change impact: Sunderbans steadily losing its famed mangrove

What’s Happening-

  • The mangrove forest cover in the Indian Sunderbans has been depleting alarmingly over the past few decades.

Background-

  • Mangrove Forest Cover Changes in Indian Sundarban (1986-2012) Using Remote Sensing and GIS, a publication by the School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, reveals that from 1986 to 2012, 124.418 sq. km. mangrove forest cover has been lost.

Impact:

  • The continuation of this process in response to climate change and sea level rise poses a serious threat to the carbon sequestration potential and other ecosystem services of this mangrove forest in future.
  • Immediate impact of salinity will be on the fishing community, where commercially sought after fish species will be replaced by fish that does not have as much market value.
  • Fragile ecosystem of the Indian Sunderbans that, other than being home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, also harbours a population of 4.5 million people, this study presents definite proof of the loss of land and mangrove cover.

Key points discussed: School of Oceanographic Studies

  • The paper also notes that the mean sea level rise at the Sagar Island Station, measured from 1985 onward till 2010, shows a rise.
  • Which can be considered a driving factor for coastal erosion, coastal flooding, and an increase in the number of tidal creeks.
  • For instance, the loss in mangrove cover at Gosaba has been about 20%.

Significant losses from 1986-2012: forest land-

  1. In Dulibhasani West, lost about 9.7% .
  2. forest cover of Dalhousie island, depleted by 16%.
  3. Bhangaduni has one of the highest erosion levels forest (37%).
  4. Jambudwip.

How climate change and sea level rise has contributed:

  • losing land, including mangrove forests in the Sundarbans, in the last part of the 21st century.
  • This is because there is less fresh water flow and sediment supply in the western (Indian) part of the delta.
  • Therefore, we have starvation of sediment and the rate of sea level rise is higher than sediment supply.
  • According to Professor Hazra, eastern (Bangladesh) side of the delta is gaining land because of the huge amount of sediment and water flow from the Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers.
  • The loss of forest cover occurs despite significant addition of forest land as plantations.
  • When freshwater inflow is missing, there is a change in mangrove succession, and freshwater loving species of mangroves are replaced by salt-water loving ones.

Sources– The Indian Express, The Hindu.