Daily Prelims Notes 1 March 2023
- March 1, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
1 March 2023
Table Of Contents
- SEBI impounds ₹30.55-crore ill-gotten gains in Axis Mutual front-running case
- Windsor Framework
- Portal opened for complaints against decisions of social media platforms
- Legislator facing disqualification can’t attend floor test: SC
- International courts and climate change
- Over 9000 Janaushadi Kendra in country
- Proton Beam Therapy out of reach for many with Cancer
- Punjab govt moves Supreme Court over Governor’s refusal for state Budget Session
- Representatives of Nithyananda’S Kailasa At Un Event
- Zoonotic Spillover
- Yellowstone National Park
- Asiatic cheetah
- Fossil fuels firms failed to curb methane emission
- India’s iron and steel industry is capable of emitting less and producing more
- A shared understanding of forest landscapes is the foundation for restoration
- What is an individual’s right against self-incrimination?
- Center to seek comments on Punchhi commission recommendations a fresh
- PEN / Nabokov Award
- Green Strategic Partnership
- Govt cuts tenure of scientist Y V Jhala who brought cheetahs
- Z+ security
1. SEBI impounds ₹30.55-crore ill-gotten gains in Axis Mutual front-running case
Section: Capital Market
Context: SEBI has barred Viresh Joshi, the fund manager of Axis Mutual Fund, and 20 entities linked to him in a front running case linked to the fund house. The regulator has identified ₹30.55 crore as ill-gotten gains made through the frontrunning activities and directed that this amount be impounded.
- Front running is the illegal practice of purchasing a security based on advance non-public information regarding an expected large transaction that will affect the price of a security.
- Front running is considered as a form of market manipulation and insider trading because a person who commits a front running activity expects security’s price movements based on the non-public information.
Subject: International Relations
- The United Kingdom and the European Commission have announced a new deal known as the “Windsor Framework” to repair post-Brexit difficulties in Northern Ireland.
- It will also pave the way for improved cooperation between London and Brussels.
- The “Windsor Framework” intends to address the trade disruptions between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. that were caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Northern Ireland Protocol:
- The Northern Ireland Protocol was agreed upon as a part of Brexit.
- According to the protocol, Northern Ireland would remain a part of the European Union’s (EU) single market for goods and operate under EU customs rules.
- The protocol was implemented by creating a customs border between Northern Ireland and the U.K.
- Despite hammering out the protocol in 2019, it raised concerns among some Unionists.
- The Windsor Framework will replace the Northern Ireland Protocol.
- The deal will protect the flow of free trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland by creating green and red lanes for goods flowing into Northern Ireland.
- Goods that might end up entering the Republic of Ireland will be placed in the red lane for checks before entering Northern Ireland.
- Goods destined to remain in Northern Ireland will flow freely.
- Through the deal the UK and the EU have managed to protect “Northern Ireland’s place in the union” by allowing the UK government to determine VAT rates applicable in Northern Ireland, as opposed to the current system where the rates are determined by the EU.
- This would allow recent policies, such as the reform to lower the price of pints in British pubs, to now apply in Northern Ireland.
- A new “Stormont brake” that would allow Northern Ireland’s devolved government to pull an “emergency brake” on any new EU laws from being imposed on the province.
- This will establish a clear process through which the democratically elected assembly can pull an emergency brake for changes to EU goods, rules that would have significant and lasting effect on everyday lives.
- If the brake is pulled by the Northern Irish government, the Westminster government will be given a veto over the law.
3. Portal opened for complaints against decisions of social media platforms
- The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has launched a Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) portal under the Information Technology Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021).
- This portal allows people who are dissatisfied with the resolution of their complaints to social media companies on content takedown requests, to be heard by one of the three committees set up by the government.
- Three committees were constituted in January 2023 to receive complaints and enforce the recent amendment to IT Rules.
- The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 were amended which mandated that social media companies must “respect all the rights accorded to the citizens under the Constitution, including in the articles 14, 19 and 21.”
- This made the social media platforms allow such speech that was not allowed on their platforms but was otherwise legal to express in public.
- The IT Rules further have provisions that require platforms to have a process for accepting complaints against content and appeals against takedowns from users.
- Further, the IT Ministry has said that efforts are being made to formulate a “Digital India Bill” to extend statutory support to the IT Rules.
Grievance Appellate Committees
- The appellate committees will deal with the pleas by users against the decision of the Grievance Officer appointed by the social media intermediary.
- The committee will have a chairperson and other members selected by the central government.
- Any individual who feels treated unfairly by a decision made by a social media network grievance officer may make a complaint with the grievance appellate committee within 30 days of receiving notification from the grievance officer.
- The Grievance Appellate Committee will answer the appeal quickly and try to decide on it within 30 days of the appeal’s acceptance.
- The relevant intermediary is required to follow any orders made by the Grievance Appellate Committee.
- The Grievance Appellate Committee is an essential part of the entire policy and legislative framework to guarantee that the internet in India is accessible, trustworthy, and accountable.
About Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021
- The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, was notified by the Central government on February 25, 2021, relates to digital news publishers, including websites, portals and YouTube news channels, and Over the Top (OTT) platforms, which stream online contents such as web series and films.
- It is jointly administered by the Ministry of Electronics and IT, and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
- The Rules provide for a code of ethics to be followed by digital news publishers and OTT platforms; A three-tier grievance redress mechanism, which includes:
- Self-regulation by publishers at the first level
- Self-regulation by Self-regulating bodies of the publishers
- An oversight mechanism by the Central government
4. Legislator facing disqualification can’t attend floor test: SC
Section: Parliament / state legislature
- A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice of India has held that allowing a Legislator (MP or MLA) who is facing disqualification under the Anti-Defection Law to participate in a floor test will defeat the very purpose of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.
- According to the Supreme Court Bench, allowing an individual whose actions caused a split in the party and is liable to be disqualified for defection, to attend a trust vote would amount to “legitimising” a “constitutional sin”.
- The apex court further questioned whether a legislator who is the very reason for unsettling the ruling government can benefit from a subsequent floor test, which is the product of his actions.
- The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by 52nd amendment.
- It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.
- If a member of a house belonging to a political party voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party.
- However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
- If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
- If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.
91st amendment act of 2003
- The total number of ministers including the Prime minister in the central council of ministers shall not exceed 15% of the total strength of the Loksabha / State legislative assembly. (Article 75,164). However in states number of ministers shall not be less than 12.
- A member disqualified under defection is also disqualified for being a minister in house.
- The member disqualified on the grounds of defection shall also be disqualified for any remunerative political post, office wholly or partially under the government .
- The provision regarding one third was also deleted by this amendment.
- Exceptions under the law: Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances.
- The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger. In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.
- The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court in Kihoto Hollohan case in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court.
5. International courts and climate change
Subject : International Relations
Section : International Organizations
- A group of sixteen countries has launched an effort to tackle the issue of climate change at the United Nations.
- The group is led by Vanuatu and seeks an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on climate change.
- Notably, ICJ’s advisory opinions are non-binding. However, they carry a normative weight and clarify international laws.
Initiative by Vanuatu:
- Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Vanuatu are at relatively higher risk due to rising sea levels and increasing temperatures.
- Vanuatu launched an initiative on September 2021 through UNGA to seek an advisory opinion from ICJ on the “legal obligations of all countries to prevent and redress the adverse effects of climate change”.
- More than 100 countries have backed Vanuatu in its initiative.
- The draft resolution seeks answers on the following aspects:
- International obligations of countries for the protection of the climate from anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.
- It is suggested by some scholars that ICJ can also use general and customary international law (CIL) to fill the gaps in these treaties.
- Thus, it can use the ‘no harm’ principle (an important part of CIL) to highlight equivocal provisions of the Paris Agreement.
- As per the ‘no harm’ principle states are under an obligation that activities within their jurisdiction do not damage other countries.
- It would seek answers on the legal consequences for countries that have caused significant harm to the climate and the SIDS.
- The resolution further demands clarification on climate reparations, which is a long-standing demand in direction of climate justice.
Other measures for climate justice:
- The Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (including countries like Antigua, Barbuda, and Tuvalu) has also sought the advisory opinion of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
- ITLOS is requested to determine the obligations of the countries for preventing, controlling, and reducing marine pollution under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
- It is an intergovernmental organisation.
- Established in 1996 under UNCLOS
- UNCLOS was signed in 1982 (Came in force in 1994)
- It established an international framework for law over “all ocean space, its uses and resources”
- The Tribunal is composed of 21 independent members who are elected from among persons enjoying the highest reputation for fairness and integrity and of recognised competence in the field of the law of the sea.
- The Tribunal has the power to settle disputes between party states.
- Currently, there are 161 parties
- Based in Hamburg, Germany.
For notes on International Court of Justice –
- The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).
- It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.
- The court is the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice (PCIJ), which was brought into being through, and by, the League of Nations.
- After World War II, the League of Nations and PCIJ were replaced by the United Nations and ICJ respectively.
- The PCIJ was formally dissolved in April 1946, and its last president, Judge José Gustavo Guerrero of El Salvador, became the first president of the ICJ.
Seat and role:
- The ICJ is based at the Peace Palace in The Hague.
- It is the only one of the six principal organs of the UN that is not located in New York City.
- (The other five organs are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, and the Secretariat.)
- All members of the UN are automatically parties to the ICJ statute, but this does not automatically give the ICJ jurisdiction over disputes involving them.
- The ICJ gets jurisdiction only if both parties consent to it.
- The judgment of the ICJ is final and technically binding on the parties to a case.
- There is no provision of appeal; it can at the most, be subject to interpretation or, upon the discovery of a new fact, revision.
- However, the ICJ has no way to ensure compliance of its orders, and its authority is derived from the willingness of countries to abide by them.
Judges of the court:
- The ICJ has 15 judges who are elected to nine-year terms by the UN General Assembly and Security Council, which vote simultaneously but separately.
- To be elected, a candidate must receive a majority of the votes in both bodies.
- A third of the court is elected every three years.
- The president and vice-president of the court are elected for three-year terms by secret ballot. Judges are eligible for re-election.
- Four Indians have been members of the ICJ so far.
- Justice Dalveer Bhandari, former judge of the Supreme Court, has been serving at the ICJ since 2012. Others being R S Pathak (1989-91), Nagendra Singh (1973-88), Sir Benegal Rau (1952-53).
India at the ICJ:
- India has been a party to a case at the ICJ on six occasions, four of which have involved Pakistan.
- They are:
- Right of Passage over Indian Territory (Portugal v. India, culminated 1960);
- Appeal Relating to the Jurisdiction of the ICAO Council (India v. Pakistan, culminated 1972);
- Trial of Pakistani Prisoners of War (Pakistan v. India, culminated 1973);
- Aerial Incident of 10 August 1999 (Pakistan v. India, culminated 2000);
- Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. India, culminated 2016); and
- (Kulbhushan) Jadhav (India v. Pakistan, culminated 2019).
ICC VS ICJ
The International Court of Justice is a civil court that hears disputes between countries. The ICC is a criminal court that prosecutes individuals.
6. Over 9000 Janaushadi Kendra in country
- Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Tuesday that as on January 31, the number of stores selling cheap generic medicines — Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras — stood at 9,082.
- On the occasion of the Department of Pharmaceuticals marking eight years of the
- Medicines available under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) are priced 50% to 90% lower than their branded variants.
- The product basket of PMBJP comprises 1,759 drugs and 280 surgical instruments.
- Products like protein powders are also offered.
- Bureau of Pharma PSUs in India (BPPI) supports Janaushadhi Kendras as a part of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana.
- These are the centres from where quality generic medicines are made available to all.
- Government grants of up to Rs. 2.5 lakhs are provided for setting up of Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Kendras, which can be set up by doctors, pharmacists, entrepreneurs, Self Help Groups (SHGs), NGOs, charitable societies, etc. at any suitable place or outside the hospital premises.
Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP):
- PMBJP is a campaign launched by the Department of Pharmaceuticals in 2008 under the name Jan Aushadhi Campaign.
- The campaign was revamped as PMBJP in 2015-16.
- Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) is the implementation agency for PMBJP.
- The Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India works under the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers.
- BPPI has also developed the Janaushadhi Sugam Application.
- PMBJP stores have been set up to provide generic drugs, which are available at lesser prices but are equivalent in quality and efficacy as expensive branded drugs.
- It also intends to extend the coverage of quality generic medicines so as to reduce the out of pocket expenditure on medicines and thereby redefine the unit cost of treatment per person.
- A medicine under PMBJP is priced on the principle of a maximum of 50% of the average price of top three branded medicines.
- Therefore, the price of Janaushadhi Medicines is cheaper at least by 50% and in some cases, by 90% of the market price of branded medicines.
7. Proton Beam Therapy out of reach for many with Cancer
Subject : Science and technology
- Cancer patients in India face twin challenges when it comes to accessing proton beam therapy (PBT): there are not enough facilities offering the treatment, and the cost can run into tens of lakhs of rupees.
Proton Beam Therapy (PBT)
- Proton beam therapy (PBT) is an advanced form of radiotherapy, with radiation treatment delivered by accelerated proton beams rather than X-rays.
- A proton beam delivers some radiation to healthy tissue in reaching the tumour but very little radiation beyond the edge of the tumour being treated.
- This means PBT is able to treat cancers just as effectively but delivers less radiation to other healthy parts of the body which surround the tumour.
- PBT is a newer technology that is designed to further reduce the amount of radiation that affects the surrounding normal tissue.
- The Therapy enables a dose of high-energy protons to be precisely targeted at a tumour, reducing the damage to surrounding healthy tissues and vital organs which is an advantage in certain groups of patients or where the cancer is close to a critical part of the body such as the spinal cord.
- PBT is being used increasingly to treat children with cancer. The chance of curing the cancer is no higher than with conventional radiotherapy but is likely to reduce the severity of the long-term side-effects, although it will not eliminate them altogether.
- For adults, the main use of PBT has been to treat cancers close to parts of the body which are very sensitive to the damaging effects of radiation.
- For example, PBT is used to treat certain cancers at the base of the skull, deep inside the head and close to the brain, and cancers of the spine which are close to the spinal cord.
8. Punjab govt moves Supreme Court over Governor’s refusal for state Budget Session
Subject : Polity
- Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court Tuesday that Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit has summoned the state Assembly for a budget session.
- Mehta’s statement came minutes before the Supreme Court was set to hear a challenge by the Punjab government against Governor Purohit, over his refusal to summon the Budget session of Vidhan Sabha.
About the Dispute
- Punjab Governor has refused to give his approval for the Punjab Cabinet’s decision to summon a Budget session of Vidhan Sabha from March 3.
- The Governor had earlier raised several questions on appointments by the government, seeking an answer from Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann within 15 days, following which he threatened to seek legal advice on the issue. The CM had refused, stating that he was the head of a government elected by 3 crore people.
Governor refusal to summon the assembly
- The Governor has to act according to the aid and advice of the council of ministers. Constitutionally, the office of the Governor has little discretion to not act on the cabinet’s advice.
- Under Article 174, a Governor shall summon the House at a time and place, as she or he thinks fit.
- Article 174 (2) (a) says a Governor may from “time to time” prorogue the House and 174 (2) (b) allows her or him to dissolve the Legislative Assembly.
- Article 163(1) of the Constitution says that “there shall be a council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.”
- A joint reading of the two provisions ( Article 174 and 163 ) leaves the Governor with minimal discretion in summoning the house.
- Governor Purohit has cited Article 167 of the Constitution, which relates to the duties of the Chief Minister in furnishing information to the Governor. Governor Purohit’s questions to CM Mann on appointments are under this provision.
- However, there are a few instances when the Governor can act independently on summoning the House.
- For example, when the chief minister has lost the support of the House and his strength is debatable, then the Governor need not wait for the advice of the council of ministers to hold a floor test.
Procedure for convening the house
- Procedure as per Article 174 of the Constitution requires the Governor to summon the House.
- The council of ministers approves the government’s decision of convening the House. The government then writes to the Governor about the Cabinet’s decision and it is then approved.
9. Representatives of Nithyananda’S Kailasa At Un Event
Subject : International relations
Section :International Organisation
- Representatives of fugitive ‘godman’ Nithyananda’s self-proclaimed country, the United States of Kailasa (USK), attended a discussion conducted by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in Geneva.
- The event was the ‘Day of General Discussion on General Comment on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Sustainable Development’, where two persons spoke on behalf of the United States of Kailasa during the time allocated to raise questions
- The USK isn’t among the 193 countries recognised by the UN.
- In 2020, Nithyananda claimed to have founded a new country after he “bought an island” off the coast of Ecuador. The ‘country’ has a flag, a constitution, an economic system, a passport and an emblem.
- CESCR is a body of 18 independent experts that monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) — a treaty signed in 1966 — by its state parties.
- Established on May 29, 1985, the committee seeks to develop a constructive dialogue with Member States, determine whether the Covenant’s norms are being implemented in Member States and assess how the implementation and enforcement of the Covenant could be improved.
About High Commissioner for Human Rights:
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations.
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is accountable to the Secretary-General and is responsible for all the activities of OHCHR, as well as for its administration.
- Carries out the functions specifically assigned to him or her by the General Assembly in its resolution 48/141 of 20 December 1993 and subsequent resolutions of policy-making bodies;
- Advises the Secretary-General on the policies of the United Nations in the area of human rights;
- Ensures that support is given to the projects, activities, organs and bodies of the human rights programme.
- Represents the Secretary-General at meetings of human rights organs and at other human rights events; and carries out special assignments as decided by the Secretary-General.
- In accordance with General Assembly resolution 48/141, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and approved by the General Assembly, with due regard to geographical rotation for a fixed term of four years with a possibility of one renewal for another fixed term of four years.
Subject : Science and technology
- The Energy Department’s conclusion, with “low confidence,” that an accidental laboratory leak in China most likely caused the coronavirus pandemic has renewed questions about what sparked the worst public health crisis in a century — and whether the virus at the heart of it was somehow connected to scientific research.
- Scientists who have studied the genetics of the virus, and the patterns by which it spread, say the most likely cause is that the virus jumped from live mammals to humans — a scientific phenomenon known as “zoonotic spillover” — at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, the city in which the first cases of COVID-19 emerged in late 2019.
- Zoonotic Spillover refers to a phenomenon in which a disease jumps from animals to human hosts i.e. the pathogen infects a novel host- a species different from its usual reservoir host.
- A variety of disease causing pathogens can cause spillovers- bacteria, virus, parasites, etc.
- The SARS CoV 2, the pathogen behind the COVID-19 pandemic, is a notable example of this phenomenon. Other examples include Ebola virus from bats and the Salmonella bacteria from farm animals.
How does it happen?
- For a pathogen to be capable of causing such spillover event, several factors need to be fulfilled.
- The pathogen mustn’t be too effective in its primary host population. This is so that host species viability isn’t destroyed and it continues to act as a reservoir for the pathogen.
- There needs to be close contact between the primary host species and the novel host species for the transmission to take place.
- Then the pathogen has several more barriers to break through- such as biological incompatibility between the pathogen and the new host and the latter’s immune response.
- The pathogen also needs to develop the ability to transmit between members of the new host species.
Why is it concerning?
- Though not all pathogens are capable of causing such spillover events, it is noteworthy that 3/4th of all new infectious diseases among humans originated from animals.
- These events are difficult to detect.
- While not all pathogens that jump to human hosts pose a risk, the more frequently this happens, greater the chances are for the advent of a dangerous new pathogen to take root- as in case of the SARS CoV 2.
- Viral spillovers are especially concerning as they undergo very quick and random genetic mutations, making them capable of acquiring the spillover ability more easily.
- The ongoing climate change, habitat destruction and anthropogenic encroachment into natural habitats is increasing the risk of such events.
- This is because shrinking habitats mean increasing number of animals are being crowded into smaller areas- favouring disease transmission.
- As human settlements expand closer to wildlife habitats, the chances of reservoir host animals coming into contact with people and farm animals increases.
- For instance, the recent avian flu outbreak in the USA is because of spillover from migrating duck to domestic chicken.
Subject : Environment
Section: Place in news
Context: Yellowstone Celebrates Its 150th Birthday This March
Yellowstone National Park
- Yellowstone NP is an American national park located in the western United States, largely in the northwest corner of Wyoming and extending into Montana and Idaho.
- Yellowstone was the first national park in the US and is also widely held to be the first national park in the world.
- The park is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful geyser, one of its most popular.
- While it represents many types of biomes, the subalpine forest is the most abundant. It is part of the South Central Rockies forests ecoregion.
- The area also represents the one point where the three major river basins of the western U.S. converge.
- The rivers of the Snake-Columbia basin, Green-Colorado basin, and Missouri River Basin all begin as snow on the Continental Divide as it weaves across Yellowstone’s peaks and plateaus.
- Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-elevation lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the continent.
- The caldera is considered a dormant volcano. It has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years.
- Well over half of the world’s geysers and hydrothermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by this ongoing volcanism. Lava flows and rocks from volcanic eruptions cover most of the land area of Yellowstone.
Section: Species in news
Context: In Iran, endangered Asiatic cheetah dies at 10 months old
More on the News:
- Iran’s only Asiatic cheetah cub died on February 28 despite days of treatment for kidney failure.
- Pirouz, 10 months old, had been the only survivor of his litter of three endangered Asiatic cheetahs.
- Iran has long tried to save Asiatic cheetah, one of the world’s critically endangered species. The United Nations is helping the government step up efforts to rescue the species.
- The Asiatic cheetah, an equally fast cousin of the African cat, once ranged from the Red Sea to India. Its numbers have dwindled over the past century to an estimated 50 to 70 animals remaining in Iran. That’s down from as many as 400 in the 1990s.
- Its numbers plummeted due to poaching, hunting its main prey, gazelles and encroachment on its habitat.
- Cheetahs also have been hit by cars and killed in fights with sheep dogs, since shepherds have permits to graze their flocks in areas where the cheetahs live
- IUCN status– Vulnerable
- CITES status– Appendix-I of the List. This List comprises of migratory species that have been assessed as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range.
- Habitat – Around 6,500-7,000 African cheetahs present in the wild.
- Physical Characteristics – Bigger in size as compared to Asiatic Cheetah.
- IUCN Status– Critically Endangered.
- CITES– Appendix I of the list
- Habitat – 40-50 found only in Iran.
- Physical Characteristics – Smaller and paler than the African cheetah. Has more fur, a smaller head and a longer neck. Usually have red eyes and they have a more cat-like appearance.
13. Fossil fuels firms failed to curb methane emission
Subject : Environment
Context: According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) annual Methane Global Tracker report, fossil fuel companies emitted 120 million metric tonnes of methane into the atmosphere in 2022, only slightly below the record highs seen in 2019.
More on the News:
- The report said 75 per cent of methane emissions from the energy sector can be reduced with the help of cheap and readily available technology.
- The implementation of such measures would cost less than three per cent of the net income received by the oil and gas industry in 2022, but fossil fuel companies failed to take any substantial action regarding the issue.
- The energy sector accounts for around 40 per cent of the total average methane emissions from human activity, as oil and natural gas companies are known to release methane into the atmosphere when natural gas is flared or vented. The greenhouse gas is also released through leaks from valves and other equipment during the drilling, extraction and transportation process.
- It further mentioned that 80 per cent of the available options to curb the release of methane could be implemented by the fossil fuel industry at net zero cost.
- Methane is the simplest hydrocarbon, consisting of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms (CH4). Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. It is flammable, and is used as a fuel worldwide.
- According to the UN, 25 per cent of the warming that the world is experiencing today is because of methane, a greenhouse gas, which is also a component of natural gas.
- Methane is short-lived, compared with carbon dioxide.
- Methane, a greenhouse gas, is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its global warming capacity.
- Approximately 40% of methane emitted is from natural sources and about 60% comes from human-influenced sources, including livestock farming, rice agriculture, biomass burning and so forth.
- It is responsible for creating ground-level ozone, a dangerous air pollutant.
- Last year, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that the atmospheric levels of methane jumped 17 parts per billion in 2021, beating the previous record set in 2020.
- Sources of Methane https://optimizeias.com/tracking-methane-emissions-for-mitigation/
14. India’s iron and steel industry is capable of emitting less and producing more
Context: CSE underlines the need for better planning, new technologies and adequate finance to help the sector make the much-needed shift in today’s climate-stressed world.
More on the News:
- India’s iron and steel sector can produce less emissions and increase its output at the same time, according to a new analysis, by Delhi-based non-profit, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
- The iron and steel sector is a hard-to-abate sector in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; at the same time, it is a critical contributor to the economic development of the country.
- Globally, the sector accounts for some 7 per cent of total GHG emissions; in India, the sector’s share is 5 per cent (as per the latest Biennial Update Report (BUR) submitted to UNFCCC in 2016).
- The iron and steel industry is an emission-intensive The new analysis shows it is possible to bring down carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from our iron and steel sector drastically by 2030, while more than doubling India’s output of steel.
- The analysis also gave a number of recommendations to achieve these twin goals. These included switching over to cleaner fuels, increasing the use of steel scrap, implementing carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) and organising finance for a switchover to new fuels and technologies.
Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS):
- CCUS technology is designed to capture CO2 emissions from combustion of fossil fuels.
- It can absorb 85-95% of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.
- The process starts with the capture of generated CO2 which undergoes a compression process to form a dense fluid. This eases the transport and storage of the captured CO2.
- The dense fluid is transported via pipelines and then injected into an underground storage facility.
- Captured CO2 can also be used as a raw material in other industrial processes such as bicarbonates.
- CO2 captured using CCU technologies are converted into fuel (methane and methanol), refrigerants and building materials. The captured gas is used directly in fire extinguishers, pharma, food and beverage industries as well as the agricultural sector.
Vehicle scrapping policy
15. A shared understanding of forest landscapes is the foundation for restoration
Subject : Environment
Context: An integral part of nature-based solutions is landscape restoration, specifically Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR).
Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR):
- A landscape approach to forest restoration would try to achieve objectives that support a wide range of stakeholders as well as social, ecological, and economic elements within the defined forest landscape.
- This is different from afforestation and reforestation activities, which has the simple objective of increasing green cover or restoring green cover.
- Landscape restoration is the process of regaining ecological functionality and improving human welfare across deforested or degraded forest landscapes.
- Forest landscape restoration seeks to involve communities in the process of designing and executing mutually advantageous interventions for the upgradation of landscapes
- Forest landscapes have been receiving special attention in the last few years as they are unique in addressing the ‘triple crisis’ which the natural environment is facing today: the climate crisis, environmental pollution, and biodiversity loss.
Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed.
Ecosystems are dynamic communities of plants, animals, and microorganisms interacting with their physical environment as a functional unit.
These communities can be damaged, degraded, or destroyed by human activity.
- Damage refers to an acute and obvious harmful impact upon an ecosystem such as selective logging, road building, poaching, or invasions of non-native species.
- Degradation refers to chronic human impacts resulting in the loss of biodiversity and the disruption of an ecosystem’s structure, composition, and functionality. Examples include: long-term grazing impacts, long-term over fishing or hunting pressure, and persistent invasions by non-native species.
- Destruction is the most severe level of impact, when degradation or damage removes all macroscopic life and commonly ruins the physical environment. Ecosystems are destroyed by such activities as land clearing, urbanization, coastal erosion, and mining.
- Ecological restoration seeks to initiate or accelerate ecosystem recovery following damage, degradation, or destruction.
- Restoration practitioners do not carry out the actual work of ecosystem recovery. Rather, they create the conditions needed for recovery so the plants, animals, and microorganisms can carry out the work of recovery themselves. Assisting recovery can be as simple as removing an invasive species or reintroducing a lost species or a lost function (like fire); or as complex as altering landforms, planting vegetation, changing the hydrology, and reintroducing wildlife.
- The goal of ecological restoration is to return a degraded ecosystem to its historic trajectory, not its historic condition. The ecosystem may not necessarily recover to its former state since contemporary ecological realities, including global climate change, may cause it to develop along an altered trajectory, just as these same realities may have changed the trajectory of nearby undisturbed ecosystems. History plays an important role in restoration, but contemporary conditions must also be taken into consideration.
16. What is an individual’s right against self-incrimination?
- The right against self-incrimination has its origins in Roman law, and evolved as a distinct right in the English jurisprudence. The Fifth Amendment in the United States Constitution says “No person shall be…compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…without due process of law…”, a right that is colloquially referred to as “taking/ pleading the Fifth”.
- Article 20(3) in Part III (Fundamental Rights) of the Indian Constitution says, “No person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.”
- The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the right to remain silent in an interrogation essentially flow from this constitutionally guaranteed right against self-incrimination. This right also ensures that police cannot coerce anyone to confess to a crime, and obtain a conviction based on that confession.
How does the right against self-incrimination apply in criminal cases?
- Since the onus of proving the case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt is on the state, a person cannot be compelled to testify against himself or share information that might go against him in a trial.
- In the landmark 1961 verdict in The State of Bombay versus Kathi Kalu Oghad, an eleven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court ruled that obtaining photographs, fingerprints, signatures, and thumb impressions would not violate the right against self-incrimination of an accused. The court distinguished “to be a witness” from “furnishing evidence”.
- In 2019, the Supreme Court in its ruling in Ritesh Sinha versus State of Uttar Pradesh broadened the parameters of handwriting samples to include voice samples, adding that this would not violate the right against self-incrimination.
- Earlier in 2010, in Selvi v State of Karnataka, the Supreme Court held that a narcoanalysis test without the consent of the accused would amount to violation of the right against self-incrimination.
- However, obtaining a DNA sample from the accused is permitted. If an accused refuses to give a sample, the court can draw adverse inferences against him under Section 114 of the Evidence Act.
17. Center to seek comments on Punchhi commission recommendations a fresh
Context: Nearly five years after announcing that its work on the Punchhi Commission’s report on Centre-state relations is “complete”, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to start the process of seeking the states’ comments on the issue afresh.
- The Punchhi Commission was constituted by the then Manmohan Singh-led UPA government in April 2007 under the chairmanship of former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Madan Mohan Punchhi. In 2010, the Commission submitted its report to the Centre in seven volumes.
- The Punchhi panel’s recommendations were considered by the ISC’s Standing Committee at its meetings held in April 2017
- The ISC’s Standing Committee on May 25, 2018, the Centre announced that the “work on Punchhi Commission Report, has been completed
- It has been decided to obtain updated comments of the State Governments/ UT Administrations on the recommendations of the Standing Committee.
Major responsibilities of the Punchhi Commission
- To inspect the possible role, obligations, jurisdiction and responsibilities of the Center during major communal violence conflagration like violence and other social societal conflicts.
- To find out if there is a need for setting up a “Central Law Enforcement Agency” to take the criminal matters up that are of national, interstate or international importance. Or matters that have implications on national security.
- To look into the practicality of deploying central forces in the state whenever needed wherein the Centre takes suo moto cognizance of the matters.
- To study the Centre’s responsibilities and obligations towards the states in the efficient delegation of power and autonomy to the Panchayati Raj institutions and other establishments which are considered local government bodies.
- To examine matters pertaining to the Centre-State relations. These should include matters like taxation and linking of rivers.
- To encourage independent budgeting and planning at the district level. To create a link between Central assistance of States and the performance of the States.
- To study the roles and responsibilities and the removal procedures with respect to Governors.
- To establish unified domestic marketing by examining the relevance of separate taxes for freeing the inter-state trade.
The 7 volumes of recommendations: Evolution of Centre-State Relations in India, Constitutional Governance and the Management of Centre-State Relation, Centre-State Financial Relations and Planning, Local Self Governments and Decentralized Governance, Internal Security, Criminal Justice and Centre-State Cooperation, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure, Socio-Economic Development, Public Policy and Good Governance
Punchhi panel’s recommendations for federalism:
- All alternative courses available to the Union government for discharging its responsibility under Article 355 should be exhausted to contain the situation and the exercise of the power under Article 356 should be limited strictly to rectifying a “failure of the Constitutional machinery in the State
- The governor should invite the leader of “a pre-poll alliance commanding the largest number” or the “largest single party” to form the government in case no party or pre-poll coalition has a clear majority.
- States should be consulted through the inter-state council before bills are introduced on matters that fall in the concurrent list. A concurrent list is one of the three lists; in this, the matters on which both State and Centre government can formulate laws on are mentioned.
- The treaty-making power of the union should be regulated with respect to treaties formulated in concern with the matters present in the State list. This way, the states will get more representation in their internal affairs. The Commission identified that the states need to be more involved in such kinds of treaties that are formulated in reference to their issues.
- Creation of a superseding structure for matters relating to internal security (like the Homeland Security Department in the United States). This structure could be known as the ‘National Integration Council’. Further, it was recommended that this council should have at least one annual meeting and that a five-member delegation of the Council must, within a period of two days, visit any communally affected area.
- There should be an amendment in the Communal Violence Bill. According to this amendment, the Centre will have the right to deploy its forces in the State without the consent of the State for a limited period of time. Such deployment of forces can last only for a week and after that week ‘post-facto’ consent should be taken from the state
- Appointment and Removal of Governors
- The incumbent should stay away from active politics (even at a local level) for at least two years prior to his appointment.
- There should be a say of the State’s Chief Minister while making the Governor’s appointment.
- A committee should be formed that is entrusted with the task of appointment of governors. This committee may comprise the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the Lok Sabha’s speaker and the concerned Chief Minister of the State.
- Deletion of the Doctrine of Pleasure from the Constitution.
- The term of appointment should be five years.
- Governor could only be removed via a resolution by the State Legislature.
- Recommendation of provision for the Governor’s impeachment by State Legislature.
- Right of Governor to sanction the prosecution of ministers against the advice of the State Government.
- It was also recommended by the Commission that the convention of appointing governors as chancellors of universities must also come to an end.
Subject: International relations
Context: On February 27, PEN America announced that Hindi short story writer, novelist, poet, and essayist Vinod Kumar Shukla is the recipient the 2023 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.
- The PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature is conferred annually on an author whose body of work is of “enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship.”
- Previous winners include Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Anne Carson, M NourbeSe Philip, Sandra Cisneros, Edna O’Brien, and Adonis
Vinod Kumar Shukla
- Shukla has been awarded the Sahitya Akademi award, the Atta Galatta–Bangalore Literature Festival Book Prize, and the Mathrubhumi Book of the Year award, among others.
- His writing is known for its “intimate evocations of rural and small-town life” while being experimental in style and genre.
- Some of Shukla’s celebrated works in translation are the novels A Window Lived in the Wall and A Silent Place, and the short story collection Blue Is Like Blue.
19. Green Strategic Partnership
Subject :International relations
Context: Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav said the Indo-Danish Green Strategic Partnership is an appropriate forum to exchange ideas, best practices, knowledge, technology, capacity building for promoting sustainable lifestyles
- “Green Strategic Partnership” was launched during the Virtual Summit on 28 September 2020 between Prime Minister of Denmark and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the bilateral cooperation is focussed on promoting green and sustainable development
- the Indo-Danish Green Strategic Partnership is an appropriate forum to exchange ideas, best practices, knowledge, technology, capacity building for promoting sustainable lifestyles
- India and Denmark agreed to further strengthen the Green Strategic Partnership with a focus on green hydrogen, renewable energy and waste water management.
- India and Denmark’s shared commitment to address climate change is exemplified by strategic sector cooperation on offshore wind and renewable energy, as well as the India-Denmark Energy Partnership (INDEP) on capacity building and technology transfer in the areas of offshore wind, energy modelling, and integration of renewable energy.
- Danish companies with niche technologies and expertise have offered to help India in meeting its air pollution control targets, including in the key area of tackling the problem of burning crop stubble.
- Other key points under the partnership include dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and cooperation in water efficiency and water loss.
- The creation of India-Denmark energy parks in areas with large numbers of Danish firms and an India-Denmark skill institute to train Indian manpower has been proposed.
- The Green Strategic Partnership will build on an existing Joint Commission for Cooperation and existing joint working groups.
Note: Green growth is a term to describe a path of economic growth that uses natural resources in a sustainable manner.
20. Govt cuts tenure of scientist Y V Jhala who brought cheetahs
Subject : Environment
Section: National body / law
Wildlife Institute of India
- Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is an internationally acclaimed Institution, which offers training program, academic courses and advisory in wildlife research and management.
- WII carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Forensics, Spatial Modeling, Eco development, Habitat Ecology and Climate Change.
- It was established in 1982.
- It is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change, Government of India.
- The institute is based in Dehradun.
- Z+ is the highest category security in India.
- It offers a security cover of 55 personnel, including 10+ NSG Commandos + Police Personnel.
- Each commando is an expert in martial arts and unarmed combat.
- Z+ security is provided by the NSG commandos equipped with sophisticated MP5 guns, and modern communication gadgets.
- Only 10-17 VIPs in the country are provided the Z+ security. This includes PM Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, UP CM Yogi Adityanath and few others.