GS Paper II –  Issues relating to poverty and hunger

Why 20 million people are on brink of famine

What’s Happening-
Nations facing famine — S. Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen — are either in war or recovering from decades of conflict.

Key Points discussed were:

  • In a world filled with excess food, 20 million people are on the brink of famine, including 1.4 million children at imminent risk of death.
  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres raised the alarm about the risk of famine in northern Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.
  • This week the United Nations declared famine in a patch of South Sudan.
  • Each country facing famine is in war, or in the case of Somalia, recovering from decades of conflict.

What is Famine?

  • Famine is a rare and specific state.
  • It is declared after three criteria are met:
  1. When one in five households in a certain area face extreme food shortages.
  2. More than 30% of the population is acutely malnourished.
  3. At least two people for every 10,000 die each day.

Not enough money:

  1. Famine was last declared in Somalia in July 2011.
  2. Mr. Guterres cited two reasons for the crisis.
  3. There is not enough money; the UN needs $5.6 billion to address the needs. Barely 2% of that money is in hand.
  4. Second, all four countries facing the threat of famine are reeling from conflict, and in many instances, the leaders of warring parties are blocking aid workers from delivering relief where it is most needed.

In South Sudan, 100,000 people are affected by famine in a part of the country that is most troubled by the civil war.
In northern Nigeria, where the military is battling Boko Haram, there was probably a famine in two towns, called Bama and Banki.
Aid workers travelling through the area is so dangerous that aid workers have been unable to verify the levels of hunger there.
The biggest crisis is in Yemen, where a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the U.S. is battling Houthi rebels.
More than seven million people need urgent food aid, according to the UN. Among them, 462,000 children face “severe acute malnutrition,” which means that even if they survive, they will probably have developmental disabilities.

GS Paper II – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of
their design and implementation.

Meat politics

What’s Happening-
UP’s crackdown on “illegal” slaughterhouses should have been accompanied by a plan to modernise and regulate this key sector.

Key Points discussed were:

  • Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, his crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses in the State could be seen as a fallout of a May 2015 order issued by the National Green Tribunal.
  • The NGT had ordered immediate closure of all illegally operating slaughterhouses in the State
  • The Tribunal had also directed the UP government to ensure that existing ones were properly regulated, and that environmental norms relating to water use and disposal of animal waste were strictly adhered to.
  • The ban is clearly commitment to carrying out its stated agenda.
  • But there is no accompanying move to improve regulation, or a roadmap to transition existing unauthorised slaughterhouses to compliant and regulated ones which meet legal, environmental and hygiene standards.
  • Illegal slaughterhouses are undoubtedly a huge environmental and public health hazard.

Reasons for Proliferation of Illegal slaughter houses:

  • The official machinery has been quite lackadaisical in its approach so far.
  1. Most civic administrations have not prioritised the development of modern abbatoirs, despite soaring population and demand for meat.
  2. Further, a strong customer preference for freshly slaughtered meat from wet markets.
  3. Lack of proper cold chain and storage facilities have also contributed to the illegal slaughterhouse trade


  • Both at the Centre and in State governments — need to work on coming up with workable solutions which take into account the interests of all stakeholders.

Under the Food Safety (Licensing and Registration of Food Business) Regulations 2011, for instance, all slaughter houses were required to be licensed and registered with the FSSAI, a provision observed more in the breach.
Economic cost of banning slaughterhouses:
UP is India’s largest meat-producing State, as well as the biggest exporter of meat, and a blanket crackdown will harm livestock farmers, the meat trade and consumers.
Encouraging cow protectionist groups, to ban on beef in several parts of the country, can be seen, India’s meat exports decline for the past couple of years.
Farmers do not get any subsidy for maintaining unproductive cattle.

Sources- The Indian Express, The Hindu. Page 19

GS Paper II – Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Record olive ridley nesting bales wildlife experts

What’s Happening-
A record-breaking mass nesting by 3.8 lakh endangered olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) took place at the Rushikulya rookery coast in Ganjam district of Odisha in February 2017.
Interestingly, no mass nesting had taken place at the site a year ago

Key Points discussed were:

  • It was then suspected that several environmental factors, including chemical factors like salinity of the beach and the sea near the coast, may have prompted these marine reptiles to give the coast a miss in 2016.

Mass nesting:

  • According to experts, most mass nesting sites of olive ridley turtles in the world are located near river mouths, where salinity is low.

Probable Factors leading to mass nesting here:

  • Sandbar emerged at the mouth of Rushikulya river near Purunabandha this year, prevented fresh water from the river from entering the sea directly.
  • So the fresh water started flowing northward. This must’ve decreased the salinity of sea water near the coast towards north of the river mouth.

Low Salinity Importance:

  • Low salinity benefits more small fish and insects, which are food for the turtles near the coast during mating and mass nesting seasons.
  • The corrosive effect of salinity on eggshells cannot be ignored either.
  • Olive ridley turtles bury their eggs on the beach. These eggs incubate with the help of sand heat for 45 to 50 days.
  • High sand salinity may damage eggshells, while low salinity will minimise the corrosive effect.

Olive ridley gets its name from its olive colored carapace, which is heart-shaped and rounded.
The olive ridley sea turtle has been listed on Schedule – I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (amended 1991).
All the species of sea turtles in the coastal water of Orissa are listed as “vulnerable” in the IUCN Red Data Book.
The sea turtles are protected under the ‘Migratory Species Convention’ and CITES (Convention of International Trade on Wildlife Flora and Fauna).
India is a signatory nation to all these conventions.
The turtles, which are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
It’s possible the olive ridleys took the salinity factor into account while nesting at Rushikulya rookery coast this year, but what remains unanswered is how they sensed it.