Declining Kelp Forests

In News

  • According to experts, Global Kelp forests declining at 1.8% annually.

What are the Kelp Forests?

  • Kelp forests are underwater areas with a high density of kelp, which covers a large part of the world’s coastlines.
    • Smaller areas of anchored kelp are called kelp beds. 
  • Kelp are not plants, but rather extremely large brown algae, and many different species of kelp make up kelp forests.

Features of Kelp Forests

  • Kelp thrives in cold, nutrient-rich waters. 
    • Because kelp attaches to the seafloor and eventually grows to the water’s surface and relies on sunlight to generate food and energy, kelp forests are always coastal and require shallow, relatively clear water. 
  • Growth:
    • Some kelp species can measure up to 150 feet (45 m) long. If living in ideal physical conditions, kelp can grow 18 inches (45 cm) a day.
  • Habitat:
    • Kelps usually live further from the tropics than coral reefs, mangrove forests, and warm-water seagrass beds, so kelp forests do not overlap with those systems.
  • Global presence:
    • Kelp forests grow predominantly along the Eastern Pacific Coast, from Alaska and Canada to the waters of Baja, California. 

Significance of the Kelp Forests

  • They are recognized as one of the most productive and dynamic ecosystems on Earth.
  • Kelps cover 25 percent of the world’s coastlines and provide food and shelter for fish, invertebrates and marine mammal species. 
  • They also offer crucial services such as carbon sequestration and erosion control, according to scientists.
  • Giant Kelp:
    •  Giant kelp is harvested from kelp forests and used as a binding agent in products like ice cream, cereal, ranch dressing, yogurt, toothpaste, lotion and more.

Threats to Kelp Forest

  • Climate change and human-induced stressors:
    • Kelps are increasingly threatened by climate change, eutrophication and shoreline development, among other human-induced stressors. 
    • Destructive fishing practices, coastal pollution, and accidental damage caused by boat entanglement are known to negatively affect kelp forests.
  • Warming of oceans:
    • Warmer than normal summers and seasonal changes to currents that bring fewer nutrients to kelp forests combine to weaken kelps and threaten their survival in some years. 
  • Bryozoa:
    • One such threat is from bryozoa, moss animals that grow as mats on kelps. They drive the seaweed to sink into the seafloor and disintegrate.
      • The bryozoa outbreak can be linked to high temperatures as high temperature and kelp density results in more bryozoan.
      • Dense kelp beds in warmer and less wave-exposed sites are more susceptible to bryozoan outbreaks
  • Storms: 
    • Strong individual storms can wipe out large areas of kelp forest, by ripping the kelp plants from the seafloor. 
Marine Ecology in India:About:India’s marine life is housed within a plethora of habitats with brackish lagoons, estuaries, coastal marshes and mudflats, to mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, and sandy and rocky beaches. Along with the varied biodiversity at these sites, these ecosystems sustain almost 30% of India’s coastal population.Threats:These ecosystems and the marine life encompassed within face a range of threats that includes rapid habitat degradation, drastic population declines from unsustainable harvesting of at-risk species, the incidental capture of megafauna, and climate change.Marine protected areas(MPAs) in India India is home to a vast and diverse marine ecosystem that sustains numerous species of fish, mammals, birds, and other marine organisms. In recognition of the critical importance of the marine environment, India has established a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) aimed at conserving and sustainably managing its marine resources.Marine protected areas(MPAs) in India are defined as geographical regions that are set aside for conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity. These areas are designated for the protection and preservation of their unique ecosystems and the species that depend on them. India has enacted legislation for coastal and marine conservation including:Environment (Protection) Act, 1986Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991National Biodiversity Act, 2002The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 provides for the establishment of protected areas by state governments.Examples of important MPAs in India: Gulf of Kachchh Marine National Park, Gulf of Mannar National Park, Sundarbans National Park and Wandoor Marine National Park.

Way ahead

  • While it is unlikely that in situ protection could halt declines of rear edge kelp populations under scenarios of warming, their unique genetic diversity could be protected and studied ex situ in culture banks for use in restoration, hybridisation or assisted adaptation strategies

Swami Dayanand Saraswati

In Context

  • Recently, Prime Minister paid tribute to Dayanand Saraswati on his 200th birth Anniversary.

About Dayanand Saraswati

  • Born as Mul Shankar Tiwari, Swami Dayananda was a social reformer, hailing his contributions towards the fight against social discrimination and untouchability.
  • Birth: He was born on February 12, 1824, at Tankara located in Gujarat.
  • Education: He learnt Sanskrit and the Vedas in his childhood.
  • He stressed the importance of education for all children and preached respect and equal rights for women.
  • He spent 25 years as a wandering ascetic and travelled to the Himalayas, he also started practising Yoga during this time. 
  • He also preached against the giving of donations to priests. He also challenged established scholars and won debates against them through the strength of the Vedas. 
  • He was staunchly against rituals and superstitions.
  • He also exhorted the importance of cows for the prosperity of the nation and encouraged the adoption of Hindi for national integration.
  • Literary Works: He wrote many books. His major contribution is Satyartha Prakash. Other books include Sanskarvidhi, Rigved Bhashyam, etc.
  • Death: He was poisoned during his stay at the palace of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Jaswant Singh II. He succumbed to the injury suffered at Ajmer, where he was sent for better treatment on 26th October 1883. He was 59.

Arya Samaj

  • He founded Arya Samaj in 1875 to counter social inequities.
    • Arya Samaj is said to have played a crucial role in social awakening through its emphasis on social reforms and education.
  • Arya Samaj led a prolonged movement against untouchability and advocated the dilution of caste distinctions.
  • He issued the slogan, “Back to the Vedas.”
  • He was unconcerned with the Puranas. Swami learned Vedanta from a blind instructor named Swami Virajananda in Mathura. His viewpoints were similar to Ram Mohan Roy’s.
  • The Arya Samaj’s social values include, among other things, God’s fatherhood and Man’s fraternity, gender equality, total justice, and fair play between man and man and country and nation.
  • Intercaste marriages were also promoted, as were widow remarriages.
  • Disbelief in polytheism and image worship, hostility to caste-based limitations, child marriage, opposition to the ban of sea journeys, and advocacy for female education and widow remarriage were all key programs shared by Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj members.

His Reform Movement

  • He stressed on One God and rejected idol worship. He also advocated against the extolled position of priests in Hinduism.
  • He opposed the multiplicity of castes.
    • He also established Vedic schools for the education of girls and boys of all castes. The students of these schools were given free books, clothing, lodging and food, and were taught the Vedas and other ancient scriptures.
  • Dayanand anglovedic trust and Management society in Lahore in 1886 , was an attempt to unite the samaj and its activities.
  • They also worked for the protection of widows and other social work like providing relief to victims of natural or manmade calamities.
  • People he inspired include Shyamji Krishna Varma, MG Ranade, VD Savarkar, Lala Hardyal, Madan Lal Dhingra, Bhagat Singh and many others. He was also admired by Swami Vivekananda, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bipin Chandra Pal, Vallabhbhai Patel, Romain Rolland, etc.
  • According to S Radhakrishnan, some reforms included in the Indian Constitution were influenced by Dayananda.

India-Mongolia Relations

In Context

  • The 11th meeting of the India-Mongolia Joint Working Group was held recently.


  • Both sides reviewed the progress on various bilateral defence cooperation initiatives and identified means to further enhance the existing areas of cooperation and articulated steps in this direction. 
  • During the meeting, both sides expressed satisfaction with the ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries despite the limitations imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

India-Mongolia Relations

  • Historical: 
    • India and Mongolia have interacted through Buddhism throughout history. Some Indian & Mongolian historians have conjectured the migration of some tribes from the Kangra kingdom to Mongolian territory 10000 years ago.
    • The steps were taken by the Govt of India to facilitate the visa and travel of Buddhist monks from Mongolia within India.
  • International Cooperation:
    • Mongolia has been traditionally supporting India in the United Nations and various other international forums. It has supported us for the non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for 2011-2012.
    • India established diplomatic relations with Mongolia in 1955. The Indian Resident Mission in Ulaanbaatawas opened in 1971.
  • Cultural Cooperation:
    • Mongolia voted in favour of India’s proposal to put Yoga’s inscription into the list of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. 
    • The India-Mongolian Agreement on Cultural Cooperation, signed in 1961, has governed the Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) between the two countries.
    • India also voted for registering Mongolian legacy on “Mongolian Traditional Custom to Worship Mountain and Ovoo” in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. 
  • Defence Cooperation:
    • There is an India-Mongolia Joint Working Group for Defence cooperation which meets annually.
    • The Joint India-Mongolia exercise ‘Nomadic Elephant’ is held annually.
    • Indian Armed Forces Observers regularly participate in the Annual multilateral peacekeeping exercise ‘Khan Quest’ in Mongolia
  • Energy Cooperation:
    • A Working Group for cooperation in the field of nuclear energy has been set up between the respective agencies of the two countries i.e. the Department of Atomic Energy and the Nuclear Energy Agency of Mongolia. 
    • An agreement for cooperation in the field of geology and mineral resources was signed in September 1996.
  • Commercial and Economic Relations:
    • In 1996, an Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation between India and Mongolia was signed.
      • The Agreement provides for Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) status to each other in respect of customs, duties and all other taxes on imports and exports. 
    • In 2022, an India-built oil refinery at the cost of more than USD 1 billion and with a capacity of 1.5 million metric tonnes was opened near Sainshand in the southern Dornogovi province of Mongolia.
      • This refinery will take care of 75 % of Mongolia’s oil refining needs
  • Indian Diaspora:
    • The Indian community in Mongolia is small and most Indians are either employed in the organized sector or are self-employed such as operating Indian restaurants which are popular with the Mongols and foreigners in Mongolia. 
Mongolia: Key FactsCapital: UlaanbaatarPolitical Boundaries: It is a landlocked country in East Asia.North: RussiaSouth: ChinaHistory:Mongolia was a satellite state of the Soviet Union which had aided its independence from China.It led to a multi-party system, a new constitution in 1992, and a transition to a market economy.Political: It is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic with a directly elected President.Geographical Features: The whole of Mongolia is considered to be part of the Mongolian Plateau.The highest point: The Khüiten Peak in the Tavan bogd massif The basin of the Uvs Lake, shared with Tuva Republic in Russia, is a natural World Heritage Site.Uvs Lake:Uvs Lake is a highly saline lake in an endorheic basin It is the largest lake in Mongolia by surface area. It has the Gobi Desert to the south and cold, mountainous regions to the north and west. Gobi Desert:The Gobi Desert is a vast, arid region in northern China and southern Mongolia. It’s known for its dunes, mountains and rare animals such as snow leopards and Bactrian camels. Climate: Mongolia is known as the “Land of the Eternal Blue Sky” or “Country of Blue Sky” because it has over 250 sunny days a year.

Millet International Initiative for Research and Awareness (MIIRA)

In News

  • India plans to propose a global initiative called “MIIRA” or Millet International Initiative for Research and Awareness for global coordination of millet research programs.


  • The millet research programs will coordinate millet research programmes at the international level.
  • India’s plan to launch MIIRA is in line with the United Nations declaring 2023 as the International Year of Millets.
  • For MIIRA to take off, India will contribute the “seed money” while each G20 member will later have to contribute to its budget in the form of a membership fee.
  • The Indian Institute of Millet Research in Hyderabad will be supported as the Center of Excellence for sharing best practices, research, and technologies at the international level.
  • The Indian Institute of Millet Research in Hyderabad will be supported as the Center of Excellence for sharing best practices, research, and technologies at the international level.
  • MIIRA’s secretariat will be in Delhi. 


  • These are small-grained cereals that require less water than rice and wheat and are mainly grown in rainfed areas.
  • Major millet crops: sorghum (jowar), pearl millet (bajra), foxtail millet (kangni/Italian millet), and finger millet (ragi/mandua).
  • According to the Ministry of Agriculture, bajra, jowar, and ragi accounts for nealry 7% of the gross cropped area in India making millets the “Nutri Cereals’ ‘.
  • India is the largest producer of millet in the world. 
  • It Accounts for 20 % of global production and 80 % of Asia’s production. India, Nigeria and China are the largest producers of millets in the world, accounting for more than 55% of the global production.

Steps taken towards promoting millets

  • The Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare on the MyGov platform has launched various competitions to raise awareness of the benefits of millets.
  • In 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture declared millets and the two pseudo millets — buckwheat (kuttu) and amaranth (chaulai) — as ‘Nutri Cereals’ for their “high nutritive value”.


In News

  • Scientists have discovered a new type of quasicrystal in the Sand Hills of north central Nebraska, USA.


  • Physicists believed every crystalline arrangement of atoms had a repeating pattern, until material scientist Dan Shechtman discovered crystal structures that are mathematically regular but don’t repeat themselves in 1982.
  • The first two quasicrystals were found in a meteorite in Russia and debris from the world’s first nuclear explosion in New Mexico, both subjected to extreme high-pressure and high-temperature events
  • The latest discovery is only the third time scientists have come across a quasicrystal in nature and was created by a lightning strike in a wind-created dune.
  • The discovered quasicrystal has a dodecagonal or 12-sided atomic structure, which is unusual compared to previously found and lab-grown quasicrystals with five-fold symmetric patterns.


  • A quasicrystal is a crystal-like substance where atoms are arranged in a pattern that doesn’t repeat itself regularly.
  • Unlike crystals, which have a repeating pattern of atoms, quasicrystals have a more complex and non-repeating arrangement of atoms, which makes them difficult to synthesize.
  • Its properties are sensitive to impurities, so it is important to maintain a high level of purity during the manufacturing process.
  • Quasicrystals can be easily produced in labs and possess novel electrical, photonic, and mechanical properties, making them attractive for materials scientists.
  • These have been used in manufacturing non-stick frying pans, acupuncture needles, dental instruments, and razor blades.

Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP)

In News

  • The Union government has proposed a mega project to merge two projects – Eastern Rajasthan Canal Project (ERCP) and the Parbati-Kalisindh-Chambal River Link.


  • It is a project aimed at harvesting surplus water available during the rainy season in southern Rajasthan and using it in the water-scarce south-eastern districts of the state.
  • Districts covered: Jhalawar, Baran, Kota, Bundi, Sawai Madhopur, Ajmer, Tonk, Jaipur, Karauli, Alwar, Bharatpur, Dausa, and Dholpur.
  • Rajasthan’s geographical area of 342.52 lakh hectares equals 10.4 per cent of the entire country but holds only 1.16 per cent of India’s surface water and 1.72 per cent of groundwater.
  • Among the state’s water bodies, only the Chambal River basin has surplus water, but this water cannot be tapped directly because the area around the Kota barrage is designated as a crocodile sanctuary.
  • The project will have components including diversion structures, intra-basin water transfers, linking channels, and building pumping main feeder channels to create a network of water channels.
  • It is expected to cover 23.67 per cent of the area and 41.13 per cent of the population of Rajasthan.
  • The Rajasthan government has previously proposed an allocation of Rs 13,000 crore for the ERCP in its state budget, however, the state wants the Centre to share the cost of the project and declare it a national project, with a cost-sharing ratio of 90:10.
  • Although the project was approved by the Central Water Commission in 2017 it had been put in limbo by the Jal Shakti Ministry of the central government till the “inter-state issues” are resolved between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Source: IE

3rd ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) meeting

In News

  • The 3rd ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) meeting with India was held recently on a virtual platform.


  • ASEAN Digital Ministers (ADGMIN) meeting is an annual meeting of telecom ministers of 10 ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) countries and dialogue partner countries.
  • The 3rd ministers meeting approved the India-ASEAN Digital Work Plan 2023 which aims at capacity building and knowledge sharing in Information and Communication Technologies(ICT) areas such as Artificial Intelligence in Cyber Security, Application of IoT & AI in Next Generation Smart City & Society 5.0, etc.
  • The ongoing and proposed projects in ICTs will strengthen collaboration between India and ASEAN by leveraging complementary strengths of each other.


  • It is an Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which was established in 1967 with the signing of the Bangkok declaration.
  • Presently ASEAN comprises 10 member states namely  Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam along with founding members of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
  • It aims for intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration between its members and other countries in Asia.
  • Significance of ASEAN:
    • Convergence on Indo-Pacific: Engagement with ASEAN has been a critical element of India’s ‘Act East’ policy and ‘Indo-Pacific’ initiative.
    • Connectivity with NE: The connectivity projects with ASEAN countries like KALADAN Multi Modal Project  keep Northeast India at the center, ensuring the economic growth of the northeastern states.
    • Countering China: Improved ties with the ASEAN nations would act as a counter to China’s presence in the region.

Market Access Initiative (MAI)

In News

  • Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) inaugurated the first edition of upnext India 2023 in presence of international buyers and exhibitors.


  • This initiative is in the form of a series of Reverse Buyer Seller meet under the name of “UPNEXT INDIA”.
    • Reverse Buyer Seller Meet is to provide an opportunity for prospective importers (Buyers) to interact with their Indian counterparts (sellers) about the requirements, instead of sellers going to buyers to sell their products.
  • Upnext India is organized by AEPC and supported by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry under the Market Access Initiative (MAI) Scheme.

Market Access Initiative (MAI)

  • It is an Export Promotion Scheme. The scheme aims to act as a catalyst to promote India’s exports on a sustained basis.
  • The scheme is formulated on the basis of the product and country focus approach. It will evolve specific markets and specific products through market studies/surveys. 

Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC)

  • Incorporated in 1978, AEPC is the official body of apparel exporters in India that provides invaluable assistance to Indian exporters as well as importers/international buyers who choose India as their preferred sourcing destination for garments.


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