Down To Earth(July01-15 2022)

Note: Please note that some inputs have been given by our team in order to make the topic more relevant to UPSC


Topics covered from the syllabus:

  • GS-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • GS-3: Major crops-cropping patterns in various parts of the country, - different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers

Prelims Focus

Retting: It is a process for improving the shine, color and strength of jute fibre.

  • It involves placing jute fibre under water at a depth of almost 1 ft. in a clean and slow-moving water body

Context: Jute industry in Bangladesh has captured the global market at the cost of Indian jute, which has seen a decline in production in the recent years.

Decline in Jute Production

  • Importance of Jute: Jute is a highly profitable crop as it can be used in multiple industries. For instance, its leaves are eaten as vegetables. Similarly, the inner stem of jute is used to manufacture paper and outer stem is used as a fibre. At the same time, jute sacks are the single largest product made from jute in the country. They account for 75% of the total production of jute industry.
  • Legacy of Partition: Jute industry in India suffers from the legacy of partition. Jute mills in the State of West Bengal suffer from a lack of raw material as the major production areas went to Bangladesh during partition. For e.g., West Bengal has 70 jute mills out of a total of 93 jute mills situated in India.
  • Decline in Production: As per the third advance estimates of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Jute Production is currently 1.77 million tonnes in India in 2022. This is a decline of 13% as compared to the past decade. This is commensurate to a decline in the area covered by Jute crop, which has been reduced from 0.82 million ha per year during 2000-01 to 2009-10 to 0.73 million ha during 2010-11 to 2019-20.
  • Decline in Prices: Jute crop has seen a reduction in prices from Rs. 35,000 per tonne in late 2000s to Rs. 25,000 in 2010-11. This has disincentivize the production of Jute as farmers are unable to recover even their production costs.
  • Poor Quality: Experts have pointed out that jute produced in India suffers from poor quality. This is due to absence of good quality infrastructure for retting (see inset) of jute. However, farmers in India lament the absence of slow-moving and clean water bodies for retting. In the absence of clean water bodies, farmers use small ponds for retting, which leads to discoloration of jute fibre.
  • Bulky Crop: Similarly, it is unviable to move jute group to long distances for retting as jute is a bulky crop and requires labour for such movement.
  • Management Issues: At the same time, jute mills in India suffer from issues like the lack of modernisation of machinery and equipment, labour shortage and labour unrest as well as mismanagement. Moreover, high dependency on government procurement has bred complacency in mill management, who are reluctant to invest in diversification of jute products.

Government Role in Jute Industry

  • Lack of Government Support: Despite the existence of Jute Corporation of India, the farmers have complained about the lack of support to jute industry. This is corroborated by the official procurement data, which has seen a reduction 0.14 million tonnes in 2007-08 to 0.014 million tonnes in 2021-22.
  • Infrequent Revision of Prices: Jute industry in India is highly dependent on government procurement. However, it is plagued by infrequent revision of procurement prices by the tariff commission under Ministry of Commerce and Industry. For instance, the last revision was done in 2016.
  • Poor decision making: On Sep 30, 2021, Union government capped the prices of raw jute at Rs. 6,500 per quintal. The procurement price of government was decided on the basis of this capped price. However, at the ground level, the mills found in difficult to procure raw material at this price and were forced to pay almost Rs. 7000-7200 per quintal. This led to massive losses for mills and many of them had to be closed down. The decision was reversed in May this year.
  • Loss of Employment: Textile industry (majorly cotton-based) is the second highest employer after agriculture in India. Therefore, any decision affecting the viability of mills may translate into higher unemployment rate. For instance, even after the reversal of decision, three mills were not able to reopen, rendering 60,000 workers jobless.
  • Government as a buyer: On the other hand, Government is the biggest buyer of jute bags. In fact, the government purchases Rs 8,000 crore worth of jute sacks every year from the jute mills. At the same time, 90% of the jute sacks produced in the country are supplied to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state procurement industries. Remaining 10% are either sold directly or exported globally.
  • Food Packaging: The Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory Use in Packing Commodities) Act 1987 provides for compulsory usage of Jute in packaging of food grains. For instance, under the act, the government has declared that 100% of food grains and 20% of sugar would be packed only in jute bags, since 2017.
  • Use of Technology: As stated above, farmers often complain about the lack of retting facilities in India. To overcome this infrastructural gap, scientists at Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres (CRIJAF) have developed a tank with moving water for retting of jute. However, currently it has not been fully adopted by the farmers due to lack of awareness.

Jute Industry in Bangladesh

  • Production: Despite India being the largest producer of jute, Bangladesh has now become the largest cultivator of jute. Bangladesh has raised its jute production, buoyed by factors like low wages, favorable power tariffs, cash subsidy for exports and better fibre quality.
  • Exports: Bangladesh is also the largest exporter of jute, accounting for 75% of international jute exports. In contrast, India’s share is hardly 7%. In fact, India imports jute from Bangladesh in the form of yarn, floor coverings and jute hessian. India’s jute imports from Bangladesh were worth Rs 1,123 crore in 2020-21.
  • Diversification of Products: Experts point out that success of Bangladesh in jute exports can be attributed to innovation in jute products. For e.g., high end fashion brands have designed products like sandals from jute, which are now gathering interest among fashion enthusiasts.
  • Environmentally safe: There is clamor in international market for using jute instead of plastic, as jute is biodegradable and environmentally safe. Therefore, it is in demand in the countries which have banned plastic.
  • Subsidy by Bangladesh government: Jute industry in Bangladesh is supported by its government by providing export subsidies for the production of packaging sacks. The export subsidy in Bangladesh is 9-10% as compared to 1.5-3% in India. This makes the jute products produced in Bangladesh internationally competitive. Moreover, jute imports from Bangladesh are cheaper than the domestic produced jute in India, making it a favored import destination for Indian industry.


  • Indian jute industry has raised complaints about the lack of support from Indian government, which has led to a fall in the share of exports of Indian jute in international market. On the other hand, the government has blamed industry for lack of innovation and diversification. There is a need to end this blame game and increase the production as well as exports to capture the increasing demand for environmentally safe jute products in the international market.


Practice Question

  • Contrast the differences which have led to the decrease in exports of India jute vis-à-vis Bangladesh jute products. Analyze the role of government in providing support to the development of jute industry.


  • How has the emphasis on certain crops brought about changes in cropping patterns in recent past? Elaborate the emphasis on millets production and consumption. (GS3 - 2018)
  • Account for the failure of manufacturing sector in achieving the goal of labour-intensive exports rather than capital-intensive exports. Suggest measures for more labour-intensive rather than capital-intensive exports. (GS3 - 2017)

2. The Great Dying 2.0

TOPICS Covered from the syllabus:

  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
  • GS-3: Disaster and disaster management.



Prelims FACTS

Coral Bleaching: It refers to the discoloration of corals due to environmental stress or other reasons.

  • Corals are composed of coral polyps and zooxanthellae algae which live in symbiotic relationship. It is the algae which imparts vibrant colors to corals.
  • Environmental stress, due to global warming or other reasons, leads to corals expelling the algae and getting discolored in the process.

Context: Global climate change is not only leading to an increase in temperature of earth, but has also led to a profound impact on the life inside oceans.

Current State of Oceans

  • Importance of Oceans: Oceans not only support marine life, but also play an important role in sustaining territorial life. For instance, they modulate global temperatures by transporting warm waters from equator to polar region and colder water from polar regions to the equatorial regions. The ocean current circulation is also a critical input in global weather phenomena like storms, cyclones, droughts, floods, rains etc.
  • Support to Livelihoods: Oceans support livelihood of almost 3 billion people, as per United Nations (UN), through fishing, tourism and other activities. In fact, ocean currents are also a critical factor in fishing as it has been found that most abundant fishing zones are regions where cold and warm currents meet. Again, upwelling vertical currents transport nutrients from oceanic depth to surface, enhancing fish population in the regions.
  • Carbon Sink: Oceans act as carbon sink of the world by circulating almost 80% of the global carbon cycle. In fact, 5th Assessment report (AR5) of the IPCC states that Oceans absorbed almost 90% of the anthropological global warming since 1970s. In the absence of Oceans, the global temperature would be higher by almost 56°C.
  • Current State of Oceans: At present, oceans are the great repositories of life, accounting for almost 90% of the total species on planet. In fact, we are yet to explore almost 80% of the ocean surface around the world. Therefore, it is hard to estimate the actual number of species residing in the depths of oceans.
  • Temperature Rise: As per estimates, the global temperature is already up by 1.1°C since preindustrial times. It is expected to rise by 5°C by 2100, if the emissions path continues on the present trajectory. This will raise the temperature level of oceans, leading to multiple effects.


  • Permian Extinction: The current changes are not unparalleled in history. Massive loss of species due to climate change also happened during the Permian period, almost 250 million years ago. A series of volcanic eruptions in present-day Siberia led to injection of Greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere, which led to climate changes. This change in atmosphere led to extinction of multiple species, including almost 70% of the existing territorial species and 96% of the existing marine species.

Changes on Oceans due to Climate Change

  • Impact on Ocean Temperature: As stated above, Oceans act as carbon sink of the world. However, the continuous absorption of the Greenhouse gases has raised the global sea surface temperature (SST) by almost 1°C, as compared to the temperature 140 years ago. This effect is more pronounced in Indian Ocean, which has seen an increase in temperature by 1°C, as compared to the global average of 0.7°C.
  • Memory Loss in Oceans: Ocean memory is defined as the persistence of sea surface temperature from one period, usually a year, to another. This memory is dependent on the top 100 m (approx.) and does not let the surface temperature vary a lot. However, scientists have predicted that with an increase in absorption of heat by the Oceans, the surface depth would become shallower and would lead to a loss of Ocean memory.
  • Changes in Ocean Currents: Rise in Ocean temperature has also led to a change in ocean currents. Due to the rise in temperature difference between equatorial and polar regions, the speed of currents has picked up by almost 15%, as compared to 2013.
  • Marine Heatwaves: Marine heatwaves are defined as an increase of 90% in Sea Surface Temperature for five days in a row, as compared to last five years. This has been observed due to an increase in heat absorption by the Oceans. For instance, in the year 2021, upper 2,000 meters of Oceans absorbed 235 zeta joules (ZJ) of heat. This is almost 500 times the energy used by humans in a year globally.
  • Increase in the frequency of Geographical Events: As stated above, global increase in oceanic temperature has been observed by the scientists. This effect has been more pronounced in Indian Ocean, with a 1.28°C increase in the western Indian Ocean. This temperature favours formation of cyclones, with a 52% increase in their formation as compared to previous two decades. Similarly, very severe cyclones have increased by 150%.
  • Cyclone Amphan: At the same time, scientists have also noticed unexpected behaviour by cyclones. For e.g., in 2020, Cyclone Amphan took less than 36 hours to go from Category 1 (cyclonic storm) to Category 5 (super cyclone).
  • Melting of Polar Ice: An increase in sea surface temperature is also leading to melting of polar ice and a resultant rise in water level. For instance, the extent of Arctic Sea ice cover in May 2022 was 4.1 lakh sq. km lesser than 1981-2010 average. Similarly, Antarctic Sea saw 1.9 lakh sq. km lesser ice than the previous least recorded in 2017. In fact, as per NASA, Antarctica lost an ice shelf with a surface area which is roughly twice the size of Rome in 2022.
  • Rise in Sea level: Experts say that the global mean sea level has increased by an average of 4.5 mm per year between 2013 and 2021. As per Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global sea level could rise by 0.6 to 1.1 m by 2100 and 5 m by 2300, if the present conditions continue unchanged.

Effect on Life on Earth

  • Loss of Life: As per experts, global oceanic temperature rise can have a devastating effect on life. According to estimates, a temperature rise of 4.9°C would wipe out 8% of marine genera by 2100 and 40% by 2300. As per the researchers, the change in global marine organisms has been observed in various fora, including the human food plate. The plate has shifted from animals preferring a colder temperature to those preferring warmer temperatures.
  • Decrease in Dissolved Oxygen: The normal level of dissolved oxygen in oceans should be 7-8 mg per litre (mg/l). However, it has been pointed out that it decreases with a rise in the temperature of water. For instance, globally, about 1.15 million sq. km is exposed to an oxygen concentration of less than 0.7 mg/l. This is harmful to marine life as marine organisms start to leave their homes when the concentration drops below 4 mg/l.
  • Change in Chemical Properties of Oceans: While many marine organisms have migrated due to a lack of oxygen, some of them have changed the way they breathe. For instance, the denitrifying bacteria have switched to nitrite or nitrate as a fuel, due to lack of oxygen. This will lead to release of nitrogen gas by such bacteria and might lead to change in the composition of air, with further decrease in oxygen concentrations and an increase in nitrogen concentration in atmosphere.
  • Effects of increased nitrogen: An increase in nitrogen concentration can further increase the algal blooms in the oceans. The algal blooms gather on the surface of the oceans and restrict oxygen exchange with the atmosphere. This can lead to decreased biodiversity and reduction of fishery resources around the world.
  • Ocean Acidification: An increase in the absorption of carbon dioxide can increase the ocean acidification. Researchers have said that the pH of ocean water has already decrease from 8.2 to 8.1 and is on course towards a further drop to a level of 7.8. Acidification is harmful to corals as it corrodes calcium and leads to coral bleaching (see inset).
  • Mass Migration: As a result of an increase in temperature, multiple species would move towards polar waters from equator, as the colder water in temperate regions would feel more welcoming to the species. This also follows from a decrease in the availability of oxygen in the equatorial regions, as they act as a carbon sink for the increased amount of carbon dioxide in atmosphere. The problem with this migration is that it might lead to disturbance in food webs as well as encounter of such migrating animals with new pathogens.


  • An increase in ocean temperature will be accompanied by a decrease in oxygen concentration and increasing ocean acidification. This will have a profound effect on the marine life and may lead to mass migration of species towards cooler, polar waters. To arrest these changes, there is a need for the world community to understand the importance of sustainable resource management for the benefit of future generations.

Practice Question

  • Discuss the effect of increase in global temperature on the marine life. Also, highlight the geophysical changes occurring due to decrease in oxygen concentration in the oceanic waters.


  • Define the concept of carrying capacity of an ecosystem as relevant to an environment. Explain how understanding this concept is vital while planning for sustainable development of a region. (GS3 - 2019)
  • ‘Climate Change’ is a global problem. How India will be affected by climate change? How Himalayan and coastal states of India will be affected by climate change? (GS3 - 2017)