Daily IAS Current Affairs February 29, 2020 | PendulumIAS

2020-02-29 | 7 minutes

General Studies-I- Important Geophysical Phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc., geographical features and their location-changes in critical geographical features (including water-bodies and ice-caps) and in flora and fauna and the effects of such changes.

General Studies-III-Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

1. Threats to Eastern Ghats from Climate Change


As per a recent study published in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, Eastern Ghats are facing threats from increasing anthropological and climatic changes.


  • The study shows that the human population in the Eastern Ghats will grow to 2.6 million by 2050.
  • The study also shows that temperature may increase by 1.8 degrees Celsius by 2050 and to 1.98 degrees Celsius by 2070.
  • As per the study, rainfall may increase by 113 millimetre by 2050 and 160 millimetre by 2070.
  • The study has found that rare, endangered, and threatened (RET) species found in the Eastern Ghats are facing more threat from anthropogenic disturbances than the threat faced by endemic species found in the Eastern Ghats.
  • Main threats:
    • Agricultural practices
    • Urbanization 
    • Pressures from mining
    • Deforestation
    • Dam construction
    • Firewood collection

Prelims Facts

Eastern Ghats:

  • Geographical features:
    • Area: 75,000 sq. km.
    • They are spread over Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
    • They are Discontinuous hill ranges, broken by several rivers like the Godavari and Krishna.
    • Annual average rainfall: 1200 mm to 1500 mm.
  • Important functions:
    • Ecosystem services
    • Store Carbon
    • Storehouse of biodiversity: They provided habitat to many rare, endangered and threatened (RET) species.
    • Plant biodiversity: 3,000 species of flowering plants are found here. Out of them, 100 species of flowering plants are endemic to them. Species found in the Eastern Ghats are common in dry deciduous, moist deciduous and semi-evergreen forests.
    • Animal biodiversity: Tigers, elephants and 400 bird species.
    • Source of forest produce
    • Ecotourism


General Studies-II: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests

 2. US-Taliban sign peace agreement


A long-awaited peace deal has been signed between the US and Taliban insurgents in Doha.


  • The Doha agreement has set a course for the next 14 months and has paved the way for the US and NATO to withdraw troops fully.
  • The deal has the potential to end the 18-year old war in Afghanistan.
  • India has commended the move taken by the US and attended the signing ceremony in Doha.
  • The pact is between the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban” and the US.

Key Elements of the Deal

  • The US will withdraw its 8,600 troops in 135 days, and the NATO troop numbers will also be brought down. And, the troops will be fully withdrawn within 14 months, including non-diplomatic civilian personnel.
  • Taliban committed that none of its members will use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the US and its allies.
  • UN sanctions on the Taliban leaders will be removed by 3 months and US sanctions by August 27.
  • The pact called for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for the release of 1000 government prisoners by 10 March.

Challenges Ahead

  • Afghanistan's government has been completely side-lined during the talks.
  • A win-win situation for the Taliban leaders and has strengthened Pakistan.
  • The Taliban has agreed that it will not allow its members to use Afghanistan to threaten the security of the US and its allies, and India is not an ally of the US and also the pact is silent on other terrorist groups.
  • Afghan President has rejected an important condition related to the agreement between the US and the Taliban regarding the release of rebel prisoners.


General Studies-III: E-technology in the aid of farmers,Technology Missions

 3. 11th National Krishi Vigyan Kendra Conference


The 11th National Krishi Vigyan Kendra Conference- 2020 was inaugurated by the Minister for Agriculture & Farmer's Welfare in New Delhi.


  • Krishi Vigyan Kendras should also focus on the small and deprived farmers.
  • These are significant to fulfill the target of doubling farmer’s income by 2022.
  • The government aims to set up two Farmer Producer Organisation in each block.
  • Steps taken by the government in the agricultural sector:
    • Enough R&D has been done in agriculture sector
    • Superior crop varieties released like Wheat HS 542 (Pusa Kiran), Cauliflower (PusaBetakesri), etc.
    • 171 mobile apps have been developed for farmers like KrishiKisan App, mKisan, Meghdoot, etc.
    • More than 3 lakh Common Service Centers (CSCs) have been opened
    • Creation of e-NAM portal

Prelims Facts

Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs)

  • A committee was set up in 1973 by ICAR under the chairmanship of Dr. Mohan Singh Mehta, which submitted its report in 1974.
  • The first KVK was established at Puducherry in 1974. At present, there are 717 KVKs in the country.
  • The mandate of KVK is Technology Assessment and Demonstration for its Application and Capacity Development.
  • The role of KVKs as a bridge between the laboratories and farmland is very critical.
  • The scheme is 100% funded by the Government of India.


National Agriculture Market (eNAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.

Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) is the implementing agency for eNAM under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India.


General Studies-III: Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate.

4. ICGS Varad commissioned into service


ICGS Varad, the Indian Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Vessel, has been commissioned into service.


  • The ship Varad will be based at Paradip in Odisha, under the operational control of the Coast Guard North Eastern Region.
  • The vessel is 98m long and has been designed and built by the L&T.
  • The ship is fitted with modern navigation and communication equipment, sensors and machinery.
  • It has special onboard features like the Integrated Bridge System, Platform Management System, Automated Power Management System and High Power External Fire-Fighting system.
  • The ship Varad can carry a twin-engine helicopter and four high-speed boats for swift boarding operations, search and rescue, law enforcement and maritime patrol. The ship is also capable of carrying pollution response equipment for oil spill response at sea.
  • The Coast Guard is planning to have a total fleet of 200 ships and a hundred aircraft by 2025.

Prelims Facts

Indian Coast Guard:

  • It is a multi-mission organization, conducting round-the-year real-life operations at sea.The organization is headed by the Director-General Indian Coast Guard (DGICG), exercising his overall command and superintendence from the Coast Guard Headquarters (CGHQ) located at New Delhi.
  • It aims to protect the ocean and its resources, enforce maritime laws, preserve marine environment, and assist mariners in distress and safeguard life and property at sea.
  • Its motto is- “Vayam Rakshamah”- We protect.

Mains Questions

Q1. What could be the implications on India of the US-Taliban peace deal? (250 words)

Q2. What are the measures taken by the government to address infrastructural constraints in the Agricultural sector? (150 words)