1.A drift at sea (The Hindu)
2.Asia, 20 years after its financial crisis (Live Mint)
3.Time to tap tourism potential (The Indian Express, IBEF)
1.A drift at sea (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the how Larsen C exemplifies a global warming trait difficult to get our heads around. (GS paper III)
- One of the largest icebergs ever recorded Larsen C, a Western Antarctic ice shelf, otherwise known as a floating mass of ice attached to land has finally separated itself from the mother shelf recently is the third fracture on the Antarctic Peninsula in just over two decades.
- The speed, with which the ice sheets are melting, both in the Arctic and the Antarctic, gives us insight into climate change and sea level rise. Among the stark effects of changes could be a shift in biodiversity for example species like emperor penguins which depend on sea ice to complete their life cycle are at risk if ice cover declines.
What is an iceberg?
- An iceberg is ice that broke off from glaciers or shelf ice and is floating in open water. Icebergs are also classified by shape, most commonly being either tabular or non-tabular. Tabular icebergs have steep sides and a flat top. Non-tabular icebergs have different shapes, with domes and spires. Ice shelves are extensions of ice sheets, are fed by their glaciers and jut hundreds of kilometres out to sea.
- Icebergs are monitored worldwide by the U.S. National Ice Center (NIC). NIC produces analyses and forecasts of Arctic, Antarctic, Great Lakes, and Chesapeake Bay ice conditions. NIC is the only organization that names and tracks all Antarctic Icebergs.
CALVING Of LARSEN ICESHELVE
- Ice shelves naturally undergo a process called calving, or shedding large pieces of ice, but the iceberg from Larsen C is the third large iceberg to break from the ice shelf since 1995, a pace that has some researchers concerned. In spite of the fact that the ice shelf itself doesn’t contribute to sea level rise, the loss of the ice shelf as a buttressing effect does indirectly result in sea level rise because of these accelerated glaciers.
- In January 1995, Larsen A, the northernmost area of the Larsen Ice Shelf, lost about 770 square miles of ice in a storm as a large iceberg broke off farther south. Then in 2002, the majority of Larsen B which is located south of Larsen A broke off and collapsed just over a month-long period, further reducing the shelf by 1,250 square miles.
- Scientists attributed the splintering of both icebergs to a series of unusually warm summers, and an especially warm summer in 2002. Researchers observed substantial melting during this time, noting that melted areas acted like wedges and pushed already-present cracks even deeper. The remains of the Larsen B ice shelf, which is thought to be at least 10,000 years old, is disintegrating quickly and is likely to be completely gone by the end of the decade.
- Meanwhile, the new Larsen C iceberg which weighs a trillion tons will likely breaks into smaller pieces. Some could remain in the Weddell Sea for decades, while other parts could find themselves swept up in the Weddell Sea Gyre, which is a circuit of ocean flow.
- Scientists from Project MIDAS, a U.K.-based Antarctic research project that has been looking at the ice shelf for many years, MIDAS use Landsat data, Landsat are a series of Earth observing satellites developed by NASA and the United States Geological Services (USGS), best known to most of us for collecting most of the data used to populate Google Earth.
Antarctica and climate change
- Antarctica is a climate stabilising factor, and the importance of the marine West Antarctic ice sheet was highlighted by scientists over decades ago. The point made was that except for man-made causes, there was no anticipated factor in the natural geological cycle that would disturb Antarctica. The separation of an iceberg almost 6,000 sq. km in size from the ice shelf shows the importance of such alarms.
- Any dramatic changes will only add to the worry of irreversible effects of climate change, given that the Arctic and Greenland have also been losing ice cover.
- Glaciologists think that the recent rate of collapse might link to climate change, because while collapses are common, the ice normally recovers and it gets bigger. That hasn’t been happening; West Antarctica has been shrinking. But for now, it’s unclear whether Larsen C’s breakaway is another bellwether of a climate gone amuck, the result of natural processes, or some complex mix of the two.
- According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report (5AR), Temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula, where Larsen C is located, have been “rising at four to six times the global average, Global warming also traps warmer subsurface ocean waters, because of which “climate change has caused a thinning of the [Larsen C] ice shelf.”
Implications for India
- Average sea level rise from the collapse of Larsen C may not seem like much until we put that figure in perspective, it’s a little over half of the entire sea level rise the world has already experienced since 1901. This should deeply concern us. Sea level rise in the Sundarbans is significantly higher than the global average due to its topography and that its land is subsiding.
- Erosion and sea ingress are also happening on the coasts of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and elsewhere. But an accelerating sea level rise will means that what is happening in Sundarbans today will occur all along India’s 7,500-km coastline tomorrow with the potential to devastate coastal communities. The lives of millions of people will surely get affected by events that seem very distant.
- The loss of a massive portion of the Larsen C Ice Shelf marks another milestone in the evolution of the remote region. Yet, the lack of long-term data on Antarctica, as opposed to other regions, makes it difficult to arrive at sound conclusions.
- We also need to internalise the long-term nature of the changes that are being wrought, such as ice sheet destabilisation in Antarctica and elsewhere.
- The pace of environmental change appears to be increasing, but at the same time we benefit from improved satellite imagery and other technology that help us identify. It is clear is that the last pristine continent should be left well alone, with a minimum of human interference.
- With Larsen C calving, scientists now worries that it could be less stable, means more disintegration. The remaining ice sheets are also thinning at a rate of between 6 and 9 feet each year. If all of the glacial ice in the Larsen C iceberg were to melt, sea levels would be expected to rise by half an inch.
Question– What can be the implications of loosing Larsen C shelf at the geography of Antarctica? What can be impacts over India?
2.Asia, 20 years after its financial crisis (Live Mint)
Synoptic line: It throws light on Asia, 20 years after its financial crisis. What countries have learned to safeguard their economies from future shocks and deliver sustainable and inclusive growth. (GS paper III)
- Asia today is the fastest-growing region in the world, and the largest contributor to global growth. It has six members of the Group of Twenty advanced and emerging economies, and its economic and social achievements are well recognized. But 20 years ago, July 1997 marked the beginning of the Asian Financial Crisis, when a combination of economic, financial and corporate problems triggered a sharp loss of confidence and capital outflows from the region’s emerging market economies.
- The Asian Crisis was unprecedented in its nature and intensity. It was marked by abrupt swings in external current accounts, deep recessions, surging unemployment, and sharp drops in living standards, especially among the poor.
- It is right time to analyse, why crisis happened? what we have learned about how countries can safeguard their economies from future shocks and deliver sustainable and inclusive growth.
Financial crisis 1997
- The Asian financial crisis, also called the “Asian Contagion,” was a series of currency devaluations and other events that spread through many Asian markets beginning in the summer of 1997. The currency markets first failed in Thailand as the result of the government’s decision to no longer peg the local currency to the U.S. dollar (USD). Currency declines spread rapidly throughout South Asia, in turn causing stock market declines, reduced import revenues and government upheaval.
- As a result of the devaluation of Thailand’s baht, a large portion of East Asian currencies fell by as much as 38%. International stocks also declined as much as 60%. Due to the financial intervention from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the Asian financial crisis was stemmed somewhat. The International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the region’s governments provided foreign exchange liquidity and budget support.
- However, the market declines were also felt in the United States, Europe and Russia as the Asian economies slumped. As a result of the crisis, many nations adopted protectionist measures to ensure the stability of their own currencies
Analysis of crisis
- When Asia was hit by its regional financial crisis 20 years ago, Asian policymakers were quick to call for regional solutions to what was perceived to be a common problem, Asian countries’ dependence on foreign finance. Prominent political figures and scholars argued for a greater regional focus of monetary and economic policies, suggesting the introduction of currency baskets modelled on trade patterns, financial structures, and even Asian currency units.
- After the initial stabilization measures, authorities at crisis-affected countries reinforced sound macroeconomic policies supported by fiscal prudence and more independent central banks. They adopted more flexible exchange rates, strengthened financial sector regulation and governance, and implemented structural reforms.
- Countries adopted more prudent approaches to capital account liberalization with better sequencing, consistent with domestic economic conditions. The crisis also gave strong impetus to regional cooperation initiative.
- The region now is much better prepared to face financial turbulence. In fact, a major global financial crisis already occurred, and the region was well placed to ride out the downturn. The 2008 global financial crisis hit hard in the US and Europe, but Asia experienced only a mild slowdown. Growth remained positive and quickly accelerated again after a small dip.
- The region’s growth now relies much more on domestic demand. Also, the development pattern in Asia is evolving from the “flying geese model” in which certain industries shifted from the frontrunner Japan to the “four tigers” and others as technology advanced. It is now based on a “production-sharing network model”, in which different countries share parts of production processes, not necessarily reflecting their development stages. This enables developing countries to integrate into the regional and global value chains more quickly, facilitating technical and skills transfers.
Further steps are needed to make economies more resilient and ensure sustainable and inclusive growth-
- Countries must continue pursuing sound macroeconomic policies. They need adequate fiscal space and international reserve buffers against future shocks. The region requires greater revenue from tax reforms and better collection to finance infrastructure and social sector needs.
- Countries need deeper and broader financial systems. In addition to sound banking sectors, they need strong capital markets, especially in local currency bonds, both sovereign and corporate.
- Both macro- and micro-prudential policies are critical to maintain financial stability. Cross-border capital flows, domestic credit growth, and asset price inflation should be monitored closely. And wider financial inclusion is needed, not just to support social equity, but to enhance sustainable growth by boosting access to financial services for small and medium-sized enterprises and household.
- The region must narrow its infrastructure gaps, which ADB estimates will require over $1.7 trillion a year through 2030. Over 400 million people still lack electricity and about 300 million have no access to safe drinking water.
- Asia must also address climate change risks through both mitigation and adaptation measures. By using smart urban planning, Asian cities can be more resilient. Also human capital development is essential for countries to advance and avoid the middle-income trap. Education systems should equip people with the necessary skills and knowledge to adapt to a rapidly evolving technology and business environment. Adequate health services are urgently needed.
- Finally, regional cooperation can mitigate risks from globalization. Financial crises are becoming more frequent and costly in a world of free capital flows and financial liberalization.
- There is need to strengthen regional financial cooperation for emergency financing, macroeconomic surveillance, and collective efforts for financial sector development through initiatives which will contribute to macroeconomic and financial stability.
- The growth of intraregional linkages within Asia has been an organic process, and regional policy has been most successful when it has focused on and supported bottom-up initiatives.
Question– What were the immediate causes of Asian Crisis? What lessons India can learn from such incident?
3.Time to tap tourism potential (The Indian Express, IBEF)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the tourism industry in India, how it is substantial and vibrant which makes country a major global destination. (GS paper III)
- Tourism in India accounts for 7.5 per cent of the GDP and is the third largest foreign exchange earner for the country. India is a large market for travel and tourism. It offers a diverse portfolio of niche tourism products – cruises, adventure, medical, and wellness, sports, eco-tourism, film, rural and religious tourism. India has been recognised as a destination for spiritual tourism for domestic and international tourists.
- The launch of several branding and marketing initiatives by the Government of India such as Incredible India! Athiti Devo Bhava have provided a focused impetus to growth. The Indian government has also released the medical visa or M visa, to encourage medical tourism in the country.
- Recently Home opened Harsil to both Indian and foreign tourists alike, scrapping the ‘permit system’ in entirety. The development follows relentless efforts of the people from Uttarkashi for years who wanted to increase the footfall of tourists to Harsil so as to improve their economic situation.
- Harsil is a village and a cantonment area on the banks of the Bhagirathi River in Uttarkashi district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and remains a favourite among mountaineers and trekkers.
- Harsil valley is blessed with 100 small or big Himalayan peaks, dense forests of Deodar trees, breathtaking snow-clad mountains and lush apple orchards. The place is also attractive as it falls along the way of the most revered Hindu pilgrimage, Gangotri, which is merely 22 km away. Gangotri, a town on the banks of river Bhagirathi and from where Ganga originates, is one of the ‘chaar dhams’ in Uttarakhand (other three being Yamnotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath).
- After the 1962 war with China, both Harsil and Nelong valley were declared sensitive areas by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Tourists can now visit the valley after procuring permission from the local administration. The picturesque Nelong valley was completely out of bounds for both foreign and domestic tourists. Now, both foreign and local tourists will be allowed to visit the valley with permissions for a day.
- The notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs says, “It has been decided to shift the notified protected area and to lift the inner line permit from Harsil town towards the border by 50 m to facilitate the stay of foreign/domestic tourists.” However, the district administration will have to take the consent of military authorities for allowing tourists
Tourism for development
- The tourism and hospitality sector is among the top 10 sectors in India to attract the highest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). With the rise in the number of global tourists and realising India’s potential, many companies have invested in the tourism and hospitality sector.
- According to the data released by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), during the period April 2000-December 2016, the hotel and tourism sector attracted around US$ 9.93 billion of FDI.
- In the Union Budget 2017-18, the Government of India announced some initiatives to give a boost to the tourism and hospitality sector such as setting up of five special tourism zones, special pilgrimage or tourism trains and worldwide launch of Incredible India campaign among other.
Some of the major initiatives taken by the Government of India to give a boost to the tourism and hospitality sector of India are as follows:
- The Central Government has taken a number of steps for smooth transitioning to cashless mode of payment to ensure that no hardship is faced by the tourists and the tourism industry remains unaffected from government’s demonetisation move.
- A Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed among the Indian Ministry of Tourism, National Projects Construction Corporation (NPCC), National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) and Government of Jammu and Kashmir for the implementation of tourism projects in Jammu and Kashmir.
- The Ministry of Tourism has approved projects under Swadesh Darshan scheme, for the improvement and creation of tourism infrastructure in Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim.
- The Union Cabinet has approved a MoU between India and South Africa, aimed at expanding bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector through exchange of information and data, establishing exchange programmes and increasing investments in the tourism and hospitality sector.
- The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Tourism of India and the Ministry of Trade Industry and Tourism of Colombia in order to boost cooperation in the field of tourism between the two countries.
- The Central Government has given its approval for signing of a MoU between India and Cambodia for cooperation in the field of tourism with a view to promote bilateral tourism between the two countries.
- India’s travel and tourism industry has huge growth potential. India is a beautiful and diverse tourism destination, with the right policies in place it will no doubt continue to grow towards ranking even higher in terms of its tourism economy. The tourism industry is also looking forward to the expansion of E-visa scheme which is expected to double the tourist inflow to India.
- The tourism industry has helped growth in other sectors as diverse as horticulture, handicrafts, agriculture, construction and even poultry. Both directly and indirectly, increased tourism in India has created jobs in a variety of related sectors.
Question– Tourism is said to be next big thing in India. What type of economical advantages it poses for India?