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[Newsbits] 26.09.2023

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Coimbatore Wet Grinder

The Coimbatore wet grinder industry, which once thrived as an integral part of the city's identity, is facing a grave crisis marked by declining sales and production challenges.

News

Declining Sales

  • Festival Season Downturn: Traditionally a peak season for kitchen equipment sales, the festival season now casts a bleak shadow over wet grinder manufacturers in Coimbatore.
  • Shrinking Manufacturer Count: Out of approximately 200 manufacturers that once operated, only 80-100 continue their business. A substantial number have been forced to shut their doors.
  • Government Intervention Impact: The decline in demand began over six years ago when the government initiated the distribution of free grinders to households, impacting sales negatively.
  • Changing Food Habits: Evolving food habits and lifestyles have led consumers to prefer purchasing pre-made idli/dosa batter over grinding at home, reducing the need for wet grinders.

Production Challenges

  • Demand for New Models: Dealers regularly request new grinder models, but introducing a fresh model entails a significant financial commitment of approximately ₹13 lakh for creating a die.
  • Financial Constraints: With dwindling sales, it has become financially challenging for manufacturers to release new models frequently, leading to stagnation.
  • Cluster Project Difficulties: Despite a cluster project by the Central government aimed at supporting wet grinder manufacturers, practical difficulties arise in using common facilities or engaging in joint marketing efforts.
  • GST and Supply Shortages: Manufacturers grapple with an 18% GST on grinders, further impacting profitability, while a shortage of grinding stones adds to their production woes.

Wet Grinder

What Is a Wet Grinder?

  • A wet grinder is a mechanized device used primarily for grinding food grains, particularly for South Indian cuisine.

Significance

  • Geographical Indication (GI) Tag: The Coimbatore wet grinder holds a prestigious Geographical Indication (GI) tag, acknowledging its unique identity and cultural importance.
  • Revolutionizing Home Cooking: Wet grinders have replaced manual methods of grinding food grains, offering a time-saving solution and introducing dietary diversity to households.
  • Contribution to Coimbatore: The wet grinder industry has played a pivotal role in establishing Coimbatore's reputation as an industrial production hub, shaping its economic landscape.

Origin

  • Invented by P. Sabapathy: The wet grinder was invented in 1955 by P. Sabapathy, a high-school dropout from Coimbatore with a remarkable knack for innovation.
  • Local Innovators and Businessmen: Subsequent innovations and improvements by local inventors and businessmen like Krishnamurthy and Duraiswamy contributed to the evolution of wet grinder technology, resulting in the formation of a unique industrial cluster in Coimbatore.

Bolson Tortoise

In a commendable conservation initiative, U.S. wildlife officials have joined forces with Ted Turner's Endangered Species Fund to orchestrate the release of Bolson tortoises on Ted Turner's Armendaris Ranch in central New Mexico. This collaborative endeavor, facilitated by a "safe harbor agreement," not only seeks to bolster the Bolson tortoise population but also serves as a pioneering model for future conservation projects under the aegis of the Endangered Species Act. This article provides comprehensive insights into this heartening news, offers a glimpse into the world of Bolson tortoises, and outlines the myriad conservation challenges that this remarkable species faces.

Agreement Details

The Stakeholders

  • Key Parties: This collaborative endeavor features active participation from U.S. wildlife officials and Ted Turner's Endangered Species Fund, underscoring their shared commitment to safeguarding the Bolson tortoise.

The Noble Cause

  • Purpose: The primary objective of this harmonious partnership is to orchestrate the release of Bolson tortoises within the precincts of Ted Turner's Armendaris Ranch, an undertaking that carries the promise of resuscitating this endangered species.

The "Safe Harbor Agreement"

  • Type: Termed as a "safe harbor agreement," this pact extends a suite of regulatory protections to private landowners, such as Ted Turner, who offer their lands as sanctuaries for these precious creatures.

Setting a Remarkable Precedent

  • Significance: Beyond its immediate objectives, this collaboration sets an exemplary precedent for forthcoming conservation endeavors operating within the purview of the Endangered Species Act, demonstrating the potency of public-private partnerships in the realm of wildlife preservation.

Tortoise Information

The Scientific Moniker

  • Scientific Name: The Bolson tortoise is scientifically christened as Gopherus flavomarginatus.

A Tortoise of Many Names

  • Aliases: The Bolson tortoise also goes by the monikers of the Mexican giant tortoise and the Yellow-margined tortoise, reflecting its unique characteristics.

Delving into Behavior

  • Behavioral Traits: Bolson tortoises are predominantly burrow-dwelling creatures, with an astounding 85% of their lives spent within the confines of their burrows, showcasing their remarkable adaptability to their arid habitat.
  • Burrow Marvels: Their burrows are known to extend to impressive lengths, reaching up to 21 yards (20 meters), providing them with shelter and protection from extreme environmental conditions.

Conservation Details

A Precarious Existence

  • Conservation Status: Regrettably, the Bolson tortoise is teetering on the brink of extinction, as attested by its classification as "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The Diminished Wild Population: Estimates posit that there are now fewer than 2,500 Bolson tortoises left in the wilds of Mexico, highlighting the pressing need for concerted conservation actions.

Menacing Threats

  • Threat Matrix: The Bolson tortoise confronts a multifaceted onslaught, including the grim specters of hunting for food, illicit collection as pets, and the insidious habitat loss occasioned by the conversion of desert grasslands into farmland.

Habitat & Distribution

Contemporary Range

  • Current Domicile: Bolson tortoises currently inhabit the grasslands of north-central Mexico, carving out their existence in an increasingly challenging landscape.

Echoes of History

  • Historical Expanse: Once upon a time, the Bolson tortoise's dominion extended as far as the southwestern United States, a testament to the species' historical range.

Discovery Chronicles

  • Debut in Scientific Annals: The Bolson tortoise stepped into the limelight of scientific discovery in the late 1950s, unveiling its enigmatic presence and contributing to the tapestry of knowledge about the diverse and fascinating flora and fauna of desert ecosystems.

Heat Tolerant Wheat Varieties

The National Conference on Agriculture for Rabi Campaign 2023-24 has become a pivotal event in the backdrop of pressing climate issues and the need to address food security. With a 5% decrease in monsoon rains this year and reservoir deficits in multiple states, the conference serves as a platform for crucial discussions on enhancing agricultural productivity, especially in the face of rising temperatures. One of the key directives from the central government is to promote heat-tolerant wheat varieties among farmers, with the ambitious goal of increasing the coverage area to 60% in the upcoming season.

Climate Challenges

Monsoon Variability

This year's 5% decrease in monsoon rains has raised concerns about water availability for agriculture, particularly in regions heavily reliant on monsoon rainfall.

Reservoir Deficits

States such as Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu are grappling with reservoir deficits, which can impact irrigation and water supply for crops.

Purpose of the Conference

The primary objectives of the National Conference on Agriculture for Rabi Campaign 2023-24 are as follows:

  1. Review Previous Crop Performance: Evaluate the performance of previous crops to identify challenges and successes.
  2. Set Crop Targets: Collaboratively set crop production targets for the upcoming rabi season in consultation with state governments.
  3. Technology Adoption Roadmap: Develop a roadmap for the supply of inputs and the adoption of technology to enhance agricultural production.

Centre's Directives: Promoting Heat-Resilient Wheat Varieties

The Wheat Challenge: Terminal Heat Stress

Wheat, a staple crop in India, faces a unique challenge known as "terminal heat stress" during its flowering stages. High temperatures, particularly in late March, can lead to shrivelled grains and reduced yields.

Sowing Period and Implications

Wheat is typically sown between 1 and 20 November, and grain filling occurs in March. Late March high temperatures can adversely affect the crop. Early sowing, on the other hand, results in early flowering, poor biomass accumulation, and reduced yields.

Available Solutions: Heat-Tolerant Wheat Varieties

To address these challenges, India has developed approximately 800 climate-resistant wheat varieties. Notable examples include:

HD 3385

  • Developed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s Indian Institute of Rice Research.
  • Features high-temperature stress tolerance, especially at the end of the crop cycle.
  • Designed for terminal heat tolerance.
  • Growth cycle of 130 to 160 days when sown in November.
  • Yield potential of 75 quintals per hectare.

HI 1636 (Pusa Bakula)

  • Released by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
  • Offers a yield potential of 72 quintals per hectare.

Facts: Growth in Food Grain Production

Despite the challenges posed by climate change, India has made significant progress in food grain production. Over the last eight years, there has been a remarkable 31% increase in food grain production, soaring from 251.54 million tonnes to 330.54 million tonnes. This growth underscores the resilience and adaptability of Indian agriculture in the face of changing climate patterns.

Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and Others

In a historic legal battle that has garnered global attention, the case of Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and Others has become a symbol of the climate action movement's push for accountability and justice. This lawsuit, filed in September 2020, represents a landmark moment in the fight against climate change, with significant implications for governments, human rights, and the future of our planet.

Background

The Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and Others case originated from Portugal's devastating 2017 wildfires in Leiria, which resulted in 66 deaths and the loss of over 20,000 hectares of forests. These tragic events prompted six Portuguese youth, aged 11 to 24, to take legal action against their own government and 32 European governments, including the UK, Russia, and Turkey, in a bid to hold them accountable for their role in the climate crisis.

Plaintiffs' Arguments

Governments' Failure in Climate Action

The plaintiffs argue that governments have failed to take sufficient climate action, violating their duty to protect the environment and, by extension, human rights. They contend that these failures disproportionately harm young people, effectively discriminating against them in matters of climate policy.

Violation of Fundamental Rights

The lawsuit asserts that the climate crisis amounts to a violation of fundamental rights as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. These rights include the right to life, freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to privacy and family life, and freedom from discrimination. The plaintiffs argue that climate change endangers these rights and that governments have a legal obligation to address the crisis.

European Nations' Responsibility

European nations are accused of faltering in their emissions reduction goals and surpassing their carbon budgets as agreed upon in the Paris Agreement. The expected global heating rise to 3°C, as projected by the plaintiffs, underscores the urgency for action. The lawsuit demands that governments escalate their emissions reductions, align their policies with scientific evidence, cut fossil fuel production, and clean up global supply chains.

Significance

A Unique Case

Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and Others is unique in its scale, with numerous countries defending themselves in court against climate-related allegations. This sets a precedent for holding governments accountable for their climate actions or lack thereof.

Current Statistics

The case draws attention to the pressing issue of carbon emissions. As of now, the European Union emits an average of 7.2 tons of CO2 per capita, significantly higher than the world average of 6.3 tons per capita. This contrast highlights the need for more ambitious climate policies.

UNICEF and Child Rights

UNICEF views the climate crisis as a child rights crisis, as the effects of climate change disproportionately affect children. This includes water scarcity, food insecurity, physical trauma, and the spread of diseases. The UN Committee on Child Rights has expressed concern over the impact of climate change on children's well-being.

The Legal Battlefield

Where

The case is being heard at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, with jurisdiction over the 47 member states of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Other Pending Cases

  • Verein Klimaseniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland: Over 2,000 women are taking legal action against Switzerland in a climate-related case.
  • Carême v. France: A former mayor is challenging France's response to the climate crisis in a separate legal proceeding.

Global Youth-Led Climate Litigation

Youth Emotions on Climate Change

The emotional impact of climate change on young people is profound, with feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger, powerlessness, and guilt driving their activism.

Growing Global Movement

As of December 2022, there have been 2,180 climate-related cases filed in 65 countries, with 34 cases specifically initiated by or on behalf of individuals under the age of 25. This youth-driven climate litigation movement seeks not only to hold governments and corporations accountable but also to reform climate governance.

Types of Climate Litigation

Climate litigation takes various forms, including cases related to human rights in international law and national constitutions, non-enforcement of climate-related laws and policies at the domestic level, advocating against greenwashing, corporate liability for climate harms, and addressing failures to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Geospatial Intelligence

In the summer of 2023, the world is experiencing a series of extreme weather events, from record-breaking temperatures in the South to Canadian wildfires in the North and historic flooding in the Northeast. These events underscore the critical role of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) in providing valuable insights to protect communities and make informed decisions.

Introduction

Recent news headlines are filled with alarming reports of climate-related disasters and global crises. Geospatial intelligence, abbreviated as GEOINT, has emerged as a powerful tool in addressing these challenges by offering crucial insights and data-driven decision-making capabilities.

Purpose

The primary purpose of GEOINT is to offer valuable insights that help both governments and organizations protect their communities. This information is instrumental in mitigating the impact of natural disasters, understanding military movements, enhancing transportation and logistics, and even contributing to the development of autonomous vehicles.

Definition of GEOINT

GEOINT, or geospatial intelligence, involves the collection and analysis of information from various sources, primarily focusing on the spatial aspect of data. This data includes:

  • Analysis of Images: GEOINT involves the analysis of images, which can be obtained from various sources, such as satellites, aerial images, and ground-control stations.
  • Data Associated with Locations: Beyond images, GEOINT considers data associated with specific locations, including GPS coordinates, environmental conditions, and more.

The Use of GEOINT

GEOINT is used to make informed decisions by government officials and individuals alike. This includes assessing environmental conditions, monitoring military activities, and optimizing transportation and logistics.

The GEOINT Process

The process of geospatial intelligence involves the collection and integration of data from a network of technologies. These technologies encompass:

  • Satellites: GEOINT relies heavily on satellite imagery to obtain real-time data and images of the Earth's surface.
  • Mobile Sensors: Ground-based sensors and mobile devices provide valuable data on various parameters, including weather conditions and environmental factors.
  • Ground-Control Stations: These stations play a pivotal role in controlling and directing satellite operations, ensuring accurate data collection.
  • Aerial Images: In addition to satellite imagery, aerial images captured by aircraft are integrated into the GEOINT process.

Data Utilization

The data collected through these technologies is used to produce real-time maps and simulations, helping to identify the emergence of threats such as natural disasters or military movements. This includes pinpointing when and where these events occur and the extent of their impact.

Applications of GEOINT

The applications of GEOINT are diverse and far-reaching, encompassing several critical areas:

Emergency Preparedness and Response

Example: The National Hurricane Center uses GEOINT to monitor the location, formation, and trajectory of tropical cyclones.

Benefits: This aids in the distribution of resources and personnel, as well as the issuance of timely storm warnings and evacuation orders.

Search-and-Rescue and Recovery

Example: In the aftermath of the February 2023 earthquake in Turkey and Syria (with a magnitude of 7.8), GEOINT provided immediate response capabilities.

Immediate Response: Maps and aerial images were used to identify the extent of damage, populations affected, and to assist first responders in locating access points, setting up aid stations, and providing emergency supplies.

Environmental Monitoring

Necessity: GEOINT plays a crucial role in ensuring a stable environment for human health and security.

Monitoring Aspects: This includes monitoring temperature, precipitation, snowpack, polar ice, and more.

Benefits: GEOINT enables the anticipation and preparation for disturbances, such as heatwaves, and provides insights into the consequences of extreme weather events, including human suffering, increased energy demands, and crop damage.

Military and Conflict

Example: In the context of the Russian-Ukraine War, commercial satellite imagery companies like Maxar Technologies have made significant contributions.

Impact: GEOINT reports on military movements, such as the identification of a 40-mile-long convoy of Russian ground forces in February 2022. This extends the role of commercial satellite companies as contributors to intelligence-related information available to the public, effectively acting as an extension of the free press.

Transportation, Logistics, and Global Supply Chains

Basis: The global economy heavily relies on GPS and spatial data, which GEOINT generates.

Application: GEOINT provides detailed information on the time, location, and destination of ships and cargo, ensuring greater efficiency and more consistent and reliable operations within global supply chains.

Autonomous Vehicles

Contribution: GEOINT assists autonomous vehicles by using high-resolution imagery to detect ground markings and features, including bicycle lanes and traffic direction.

Benefits: This technology contributes to planning safer and smarter communities and enhances overall connectivity.

Digital Twins

Definition: Digital twins are virtual representations of real systems that mimic the characteristics of these systems and are updated in real time.

Application: Digital twins find applications in both civilian and military settings, improving decision-making, modeling changes, and predicting outcomes. In conflict settings, they are valuable for simulating weather and terrain to develop and enact strategies for militaries and peacekeepers.

Industry Growth

The geospatial intelligence industry is experiencing rapid growth, with projections indicating substantial expansion:

  • Projection: From a market size of $61 billion in 2020, the industry is expected to surpass $209 billion by 2030.

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