Mitras Analysis of News : 4-7-2017

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1.Climate-proofed and inclusive(The Hindu)

2.Step back: tension at Bhutanese tri-junction (The Hindu)

3.Earth’s disappearing wilderness (Down to Earth)


1.Climate-proofed and inclusive (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the effect of climate change and its inter-linkage with poverty. (GS paper III)


  • Climate change hits the poorest people the hardest, those living in vulnerable areas with the fewest resources to help them adapt or recover quickly from shocks. As the effects of climate change worsen, escaping poverty becomes more difficult. The adverse effects of climate change that are anticipated are droughts, floods, heat waves, sea level rise and related problems such as food shortages, spread of diseases, loss of jobs and migration.
  • According to the World Bank report, Climate change could effectively negate India’s economic progress, pushing 45 million Indians into extreme poverty over the next 15 years. Policymakers of developing countries like in India faces challenges like how does one address both poverty and climate change.

Poverty and Climate change

Poverty and climate change affect each other in various ways-

  1. Climate change could see crop yields dropping (the worst-case scenario has global crop yield dropping by 5% by 2030) because of which food becomes costlier. People then end up spending less on other things or cutting down on how much food they have.
  1. Warming of 2-3 degrees Celsius could increase the number of people at risk from malaria by 5% and diarrhoea by 10% [around the world].
  1. Another impact we could see is of stunting as food becomes less affordable and people are unable to meet their nutritional needs.
  1. Increase in temperatures could also see a loss in labour productivity of 1-3 %. Another factor is the increasing occurrence and intensity of natural hazards such as droughts, river flooding and higher temperatures. These natural hazards affect the economically vulnerable relatively more than the rich. The things they own, such as housing or livestock, are more exposed to such hazards. These assets, built up over decades, could vanish in an instant.

Dimensions of Poverty

  • There is a paradigm shift has taken place in the last three decades or so to assess poverty, for example income alone is no longer considered as being sufficient to estimate and address poverty. One can have assets and a reasonable income and yet be poor in terms of education, nutrition, health and other living conditions. Nevertheless, in India and many other countries, governments continue to use income or consumption to estimate poverty, with specified thresholds associated with the ‘poverty line’.
  • Some countries, such as Mexico, Chile and Colombia, use several dimensions to record poverty using the MPI (Multidimensional Poverty Index), a versatile tool developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) that looks at the dimensions of education, health and standard of living, giving them all equal weightage.
  • Measures such as MPI help us to estimate not only how many people are poor, but also the quality and depth of their poverty. The most recent MPI for India calculated using India Human Development Survey data of 2011-12, estimates that 41% of the people were multi-dimensionally poor.
  • Development policies that consider the context of climate change are often called “Climate Proofing Development”.


  • In 2015, countries agreed to meet 17 universal goals, officially known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs have targets and indicators that cover a broad range of concerns for human welfare. They include food security, education, poverty alleviation, and access to safe and adequate water, energy, sanitation and so on.
  • The deadline for reaching the SDGs is 2030. This will be a big test for India and other developing countries because these are in fact the major development challenges that the poor countries have been confronting for decades.
  • India is taking the SDGs quite seriously and the NITI Aayog has been coordinating activities relating to their implementation, and emphasizing their interconnected nature across economic, social and environmental pillars. Yet, it is critical to recognize that climate variability and climate change impacts can prevent us from reaching and maintaining the SDG targets.

Way ahead

  • The impacts of climate change will reverse decade’s worth of human development gains and threaten achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While many developing countries remain the most vulnerable to these future threats, they have limited capacity to address the climate crisis.
  • Measuring poverty through its different dimensions, along with the consumption measures, would help policymakers figure out which aspects of poverty expose the poor and exacerbate their vulnerability to climate change.
  • Reducing poverty and fighting climate change go hand-in-hand. Unless people have basic access to water, sanitation, food and energy, to institutions that work, and a say in the decisions that affect their lives, then they will not be able to cope with a changing climate.

Question:  How climate change and poverty are superimposing each other? What can be the weapon to tackle both?


2.Step back: tension at Bhutanese tri-junction (The Hindu)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the recent stand off between India and China over Doko la sector. (GS paper II)


  • The standoff between Army and PLA took place in the Doko-La (or Donglong) tri-junction area between India China and Sikkkim, where India had earlier objected to the  road that China is building towards Bhutan.
  • The Chinese claim that they were constructing the road within their territory, which led to jostling between the two sides and demolition of the bunker.
  • The crisis came in to the public domain once China sent Indian pilgrims on their way to Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet back from the Nathu-la border post last week.
  • The incident was also significant as it takes place in the Sikkim sector, where the border is settled. The earlier stand-offs between soldiers from the two sides have usually taken place in the western and eastern sectors, where the status of the boundary remains unresolved.

Strategic dispute

  • The incident is significant as it takes place in the Sikkim sector, where the border is settled. The earlier stand-offs between soldiers from the two sides have usually taken place in the western and eastern sectors, where the status of the boundary remains unresolved.
  • The Doklam Plateau, north of the tri-junction of Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet, by India’s claim, is not just a disputed area, but has huge strategic significance for both India and China.
  • For the Chinese to reach their border posts with Bhutan, Doklam provides an easy way to construct a road, and they have been trying to do so and India has consistently objected to it. Not very far from Doklam is the strategically important Chumbi Valley in the Tibetan region, to which Chinese are now planning to expand their rail connectivity.
  • The disputed area also provides, according to India’s perspective, a bigger buffer to its sensitive Chicken’s Neck, or the Siliguri Corridor, which is an extremely narrow stretch of land that connects the Northeast to the rest of the country. From the Chumbi Valley it is just a little over 100 kilometres away.


What should be approach? (Way ahead)

  • The boundary stand-off with China at the Doka La tri-junction with Bhutan is by all accounts unprecedented; it demands calmer counsel on all sides.
  • China’s action of sending People’s Liberation Army construction teams with earth moving equipment to forcibly build a road upsets a carefully preserved peace. In fact, during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit in 2014 the stretch was opened as an alternative route to Kailash Mansarovar for Indian pilgrims as a confidence-building measure.
  • These issues have to be addressed through sustained dialogue. In the immediate term, however, talks must focus on defusing the tensions at the tri-junction. China has made the withdrawal of Indian troops a precondition for dialogue. This would be unacceptable to India, unless the PLA also withdraws its troops and road-building teams.
  • Apart from its own commitments to the status quo, Beijing must recognise the special relationship India and Bhutan have shared since 1947, the friendship treaty of 2007 that commits India to protecting Bhutan’s interests, and the close coordination between the two militaries.

Question: What are the implications of dispute in Doko la sector? Why it is calls for an urgent action on part of India?


3.Earth’s disappearing wilderness (Down to Earth)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on decreasing concentration of wilderness and need to designate them to status of World Heritage site. (GS paper III)


  • Earth’s last intact wilderness areas are being rapidly destroyed. More than 5 million square km of wilderness (around 10% of the total area) have been lost in the past two decades. If this continues, the consequences for both people and nature will be catastrophic.

Importance of these wilderness

  • Predominantly free of human activity, especially industrial-scale activities, large wilderness areas host a huge range of environmental values, including endangered species and ecosystems, and critical functions such as storing carbon and providing fresh water.
  • Many indigenous people and local communities, who are often politically and economically marginalised, depend on wilderness areas and have deep cultural connections to them.
  • Yet despite being important and highly threatened, wilderness areas have been almost completely ignored in international environmental policy. Immediate proactive action is required to save them. The question is where such action could come from.

Disappearing wilderness

  • The World Heritage Convention was adopted in 1972 by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to conserve the world’s most valuable natural and cultural sites places of exceptional importance to all of humanity and future generations. Each one is unique and irreplaceable. Currently, 193 countries (almost the entire world) are parties to the convention, which has inscribed 203 natural sites around the world.
  • World Heritage Status is granted to places with “Outstanding Universal Value”, which is defined based on three pillars. First, a site must meet one of the four criteria for listing as natural World Heritage (aesthetic value, geological value, biological processes, and biodiversity conservation). Second, a site must have “integrity” and “intactness” of its values (in other words, it must be in excellent condition). Finally, a site must be officially protected by the national or subnational government under whose jurisdiction it falls.
  • A wilderness by definition cannot be recreated once it is lost. The argument for protecting wilderness areas by adding them to the Natural World Heritage Site list (NWHS) list is therefore compelling. Very little of the world’s wilderness (green) is within natural World Heritage Sites.

  • One way to strengthen this protection further would be to redraw the boundaries of natural World Heritage Areas to include more wilderness. This would help to preserve the conditions that allow ecosystems and other heritage values to thrive.

Way ahead

The World Heritage Convention could better achieve its objectives and make a substantial contribution to the conservation of wilderness areas by doing these four things:

  • formally acknowledge the Outstanding Universal Values of wilderness areas
  • strengthen the current protection of wilderness within NWHS
  • expand or reconfigure current NWHS to include more wilderness, and
  • designate new NWHS in wilderness areas.

The clock is ticking fast for our last wilderness areas and the biodiversity they protect. Immediate action is needed.

Question: What are the ecological services provided by wilderness? What should be government’s strategy to conserve it?

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