Daily Prelims Notes 12 June 2022
- June 12, 2022
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
12 June 2022
Table Of Contents
- Activists to press for passage of Trafficking Bill
- High-speed rail network’s first train to arrive soon
- India Africa trade
- Strengthening NFRA: Govt examining panel proposals
- Widening of Tax base
- Places of Worship Act and the contesting claims
- New norms for celebrity endorsements
- Tonga eruption
- Economic relations of India with West Asia
- Cheetah Reintroduction Action Plan
- Buddha relics to be taken to Mongolia
- In India- are internet shutdowns in accordance with law?
- Chhattisgarh tribals to file FIR against forest official over tendu leaf collection
Section : Vulnerable section
- Trafficking in Human Beings or Persons is prohibited under the Constitution of India under Article 23 (1) .( Fundamental Rights -Part III )
- The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) is the premier legislation for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
- Criminal Law (amendment) Act 2013 has come into force wherein Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code has been substituted with Section 370 and 370A IPC which provide for comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human trafficking including trafficking of children for exploitation in any form including physical exploitation or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude, or the forced removal of organs.
- Protection of Children from Sexual offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, which has come into effect from 14th November, 2012 is a special law to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. It provides precise definitions for different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative sexual assault, sexual harassment.
- There are other specific legislations enacted relating to trafficking in women and children Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, apart from specific Sections in the IPC, e.g. Sections 372 and 373 deal with selling and buying of girls for the purpose of prostitution.
- State Governments have also enacted specific legislations to deal with the issue. (e.g. The Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act, 2012)
Administrative measures and interventions
- Anti Trafficking Cell (ATC): Anti-Trafficking Nodal Cell was set up in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) (CS Division in 2006 to act as a focal point for communicating various decisions and follow up on action taken by the State Governments to combat the crime of Human Trafficking. MHA conducts coordination meetings with the Nodal Officers of Anti Human Trafficking Units nominated in all States/UTs periodically.
UN Convention: India has ratified the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (UNCTOC) which has as one of its Protocols Prevention, Suppression and Punishment of Trafficking in Persons, particularly Women and Children.
Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care & Rehabilitation) Draft Bill 2021
The Traﬃcking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, was passed in the Lok Sabha that year but could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha and subsequently lapsed.
Draft of the Traﬃcking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021, was published by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in June 2021 and is likely to be tabled in the upcoming session of Parliament.
Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care & Rehabilitation) Draft Bill 2021
- It extends to all citizens inside as well as outside India,
- Persons on any ship or aircraft registered in India wherever it may be or carrying Indian citizens wherever they may be,
- A foreign national or a stateless person who has his or her residence in India at the time of commission of offence under this Act, and
- The law will apply to every offence of trafficking in persons with cross-border implications.
- Victims Covered
- It extends beyond the protection of women and children as victims to now include transgenders as well as any person who may be a victim of trafficking.
- It also does away with the provision that a victim necessarily needs to be transported from one place to another to be defined as a victim.
- Defines ‘Exploitation’
- The exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation including pornography, any act of physical exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or forced removal of organs, illegal clinical drug trials or illegal bio-medical research.
- Government Officers as Offenders
- Offenders will also include defence personnel and government servants, doctors and paramedical staff or anyone in a position of authority.
- A minimum of seven years which can go up to an imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of Rs 5 lakh in most cases of child trafficking.
- In case of the trafficking of more than one child, the penalty is now life imprisonment.
- Similarity to Money laundering Act:
- Property bought via such income as well as used for trafficking can now be forfeited with provisions set in place, similar to that of the money laundering Act.
- Investigation Agency
- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) shall act as the national investigating and coordinating agency responsible for prevention and combating of trafficking in persons.
- National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee
- Once the law is enacted, the Centre will notify and establish a National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, for ensuring overall effective implementation of the provisions of this law.
- This committee will have representation from various ministries with the home secretary as the chairperson and secretary of the women and child development ministry as co-chair.
- State and district level anti-human trafficking committees will also be constituted.
Issues with the Bill
- While the Bill provides rehabilitation to the survivors, it does not extend the relief beyond shelter homes.
- There is a demand for a community-based rehabilitation model that provides health services, legal aid, access to welfare schemes and income opportunities crucial for ensuring “all-round reintegration of victims’’ back into their community and family.
- According to the United Nations’ human rights experts, it was not in accordance with the international human rights laws.
- The Bill seemed to combine sex work and migration with trafficking.
- The Bill was criticised for addressing trafficking through a criminal law perspective instead of complementing it with a human-rights based and victim-centered approach.
- It was also criticised for promoting “rescue raids” by the police as well as institutionalization of victims in the name of rehabilitation.
- It was pointed out that certain vague provisions would lead to blanket criminalisation of activities that do not necessarily relate to trafficking.
- The transgender community, and any other person, has been included which will automatically bring under its scope activity such as organ harvesting.
- Also, cases such as forced labour, in which people lured with jobs end up in other countries where their passports and documentation is taken away and they are made to work, will also be covered by this new law.
- The Bill should be better realigned with the existing provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and other relevant Acts to avoid duplicity or confusion for enforcement agencies.
- Since the effective implementation of the Act is dependent on lucid and consistent rules, it would be useful for the Central Government to prepare model rules for use by the States.
Trial run on Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) corridor expected in late 2022 being built by National Capital Region Transport Corporation.
National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC)
- The NCRTC is a joint venture of the Centre and the governments of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
- The NCRTC is mandated with implementing the Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) project across the National Capital Region (NCR), ensuring a balanced and sustainable urban development through better connectivity and access.
- The Union Cabinet approved the constitution of the NCRTC under the Companies Act, 1956, in July 2013 for designing, developing, implementing, financing, operating, and maintaining the RRTS in the NCR to provide comfortable and fast transit to NCR towns and to meet the high growth in transport demand.
- Out of the eight identified RRTS corridors, the following three were prioritized for implementation by the planning commission:
- RRTS is a rail-based semi-high speed, high frequency, high capacity, comfortable, air-conditioned, reliable, and safe commuter service connecting regional nodes.
- Design speed – 180 km/h, Operational speed – 160 km/h, Average speed of 100 km/h – Delhi to Meerut in less than 55 minutes (three times the speed of Metro)
- Train every ~5–10 minutes; serving traffic nodes at every 5–10 km
- ETCS-2 Signaling System along with centralized operations control will ensure that train services will not be affected, even during extreme weather conditions.
- RRTS is different from conventional railway as it will provide reliable, high frequency, point-to-point regional travel at high speed along a dedicated pathway.
- RRTS is different from Metro as it caters to passengers looking to travel relatively longer distances with fewer stops and at a higher speed.
- Metro rail projects generally serve the need of intra-city movement and operate within metropolitan cities like Delhi, Chennai, or Kochi; RRTS will connect suburban and urban centres in the NCR and will run from one city centre to another, thus providing a seamless transit network to the entire region.
- Aerodynamic trains with airline-like transverse seating arrangements.
Unique aspects/Benefits of RRTS
- To provide seamless movement to commuters, the three RRTS corridors of phase 1, i.e., Delhi – Ghaziabad – Meerut; Delhi – Panipat; and Delhi – Gurugram – SNB – Alwar will be integrated at Delhi’s Sarai Kale Khan and remain interoperable.
- Trains will move from one corridor to another, facilitating commuter travel from one corridor station to another without train changes, thus motivating them to leave their private vehicles and switch to the RRTS.
- Multimodal integration
- RRTS stations will be integrated with various modes of public transport systems like airports, Indian Railway stations, inter-state bus terminals, and Delhi Metro stations, wherever possible. This integration will facilitate seamless movement of commuters from one mode of public transport to another and encourage the use of public transport.
- Option of business class
- Each RRTS train will have a separate business coach. This will encourage business class commuters to switch to public transport for intercity travel.
- Comfortable travel
- The air-conditioned RRTS coaches will have transverse seating arrangement with an overhead space for luggage, a wi-fi connection, among other modern amenities.
- Women’s coach
- Each RRTS train will have a separate coach for women travelers, just like the Delhi Metro.
- Universal accessibility
- The entire infrastructure of the RRTS, including stations and trains, will be designed with universal accessibility in mind.
- Enhanced economic activities
- With reduced travel times, the overall productivity of the region would increase, leading to improved overall economic activity and balanced economic development.
- Lower emissions
- With a reduced number of private vehicles and a shift towards a clean transportation system like the RRTS, fuel consumption is expected to go down.
- Low fuel consumption means lower emissions and less pollution.
- Reduced energy use
- A shift towards public transportation will reduce energy use by the transport sector in the National Capital Region.
- This would not only lead to reduced fuel consumption in the region, but also the country’s import dependence on foreign oil.
- The NCRTC is implementing a state-of-the-art rail-based rapid transit system in the NCR with a design speed of 180 km/h.
- Such a speed will necessarily require grade-separated tracks and the latest signaling and control systems, to ensure high throughput and safe operation.
- The rolling stock will be air-conditioned and have the capability of high acceleration and deceleration in a very short span.
- Traction power will be through a uniquely designed 25 kV flexible overhead catenary traction system for elevated stations and a rigid overhead catenary system for tunnels.
Section : External Sector
- The African Union is India’s fourth largest trading partner after the US, China and the UAE.
- India has a negative trade balance with Africa, implying a dominance of imports over exports. In 2019-20, India’s trade deficit with Africa was valued at $9.1 billion
Section: Regulatory Body
Context: The Centre on Saturday said it is committed to strengthening the working of the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA), the independent regulatory body setup under the Corporate Affairs Ministry for the auditing professional.
- NFRA is an independent regulatory body set up under Section 132 of the Companies Act.
- It was established by the Central Government in October 2018.
- After the Satyam scandal took place in 2009, the Standing Committee on Finance proposed the concept of the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) for the first time in its 21st report.
- The National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) was constituted in 2018 under Companies Act, 2013.
- The Companies Act requires the NFRA to have a chairperson who will be appointed by the Central Government and a maximum of 15 members
The duties of the NFRA are to:
- Recommend accounting and auditing policies and standards to be adopted by companies for approval by the Central Government;
- Monitor and enforce compliance with accounting standards and auditing standards;
- Oversee the quality of service of the professions associated with ensuring compliance with such standards and suggest measures for improvement in the quality of service;
- Perform such other functions and duties as may be necessary or incidental to the aforesaid functions and duties.
- Prior to the constitution of this authority, the Central Government would prescribe accounting standards on the recommendation of ICAI.
- The Authority shall have power to monitor and enforce compliance with accounting standards, oversee the quality of service or undertake investigation of the auditors of the following class of companies and bodies corporate, namely:-
- Companies whose securities are listed on any stock exchange in India or outside India;
- Unlisted public companies having paid-up capital of not less than rupees five hundred crores or having annual turnover of not less than rupees one thousand crores or having, in aggregate, outstanding loans, debentures and deposits of not less than rupees five hundred crores as on the 31st March of immediately preceding financial year;
- Insurance companies, banking companies, companies engaged in the generation or supply of electricity
- Anybody corporate or company or person, or any class of bodies corporate or companies or persons, on a reference made to the Authority by the Central Government in public interest;
- HQ: New Delhi
Subject : Economy
Section: Fiscal Policy
The tax base is the total amount of assets or revenue that a government can charge tax on. For example, the assessed value is the tax base for property taxes and taxable income is the tax base for income tax. It can also be defined as the total of taxable income, taxable assets, and the assessed value of property within the government tax jurisdiction.
Widening of text base mean that the people who are filing returns should be much more. Last financial year, IT dept got a total of 7.14 crore returns, which was much higher than the number we got the year prior.
AIS (Annual Information Statement)
On 1st November, 2021 Income Tax Department has rolled out the new AIS (Annual Information Statement) on Compliance Portal which provides comprehensive view of financial transaction done by taxpayer (i.e. PAN based transactions) in a Financial Year at one place. This includes information relating to Interest, Dividend, Business receipts, Cash deposits/withdrawals, Sale/ Purchase of Securities and units of mutual funds, investments in govt. bonds, TDS / TCS, demand and refund, Sale of land or building, foreign remittance information etc. reported by various entities to the Income Tax Department. AIS is an extensive view of information shown in Form 26AS. Along with AIS income tax department also introduced TIS (Taxpayer Information Summary). TIS provide summarised view of information provided in AIS for the taxpayer for ease of return filling.
The legal battle over the validity of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act of 1991, which underlines the need to protect the liberty of faith and worship, is gaining steam in the Supreme Court.
Places of Worship Act
- It is described as “An Act to prohibit conversion of any place of worship and to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on the 15th day of August 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
- The disputed site at Ayodhya was exempted from the Act. Due to this exemption, the trial in the Ayodhya case proceeded even after the enforcement of this law.
- Besides the Ayodhya dispute, the Act also exempted:
- Any place of worship which is an ancient and historical monument, or an archaeological site covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
- A suit that has been finally settled or disposed of.
- Any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced.
- Section 6 of the Act prescribes a punishment of a maximum of three years imprisonment along with a fine for contravening the provisions of the Act.
- The law has been challenged on the ground that it bars judicial review, which is a basic feature of the Constitution, imposes an “arbitrary irrational retrospective cutoff date,” and abridges the right to religion of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs.
What are its other Provisions?
- Section 3: This section of the Act bars the conversion, in full or part, of a place of worship of any religious denomination into a place of worship of a different religious denomination or even a different segment of the same religious denomination.
- Section 4(1): It declares that the religious character of a place of worship “shall continue to be the same as it existed” on 15th August 1947.
- Section 4(2): It says any suit or legal proceeding with respect to the conversion of the religious character of any place of worship existing on 15th August, 1947, pending before any court, shall abate and no fresh suit or legal proceedings shall be instituted.
- The provision to this subsection saves suits, appeals, and legal proceedings that are pending on the date of commencement of the Act if they pertain to the conversion of the religious character of a place of worship after the cut-off date.
- Section 5: It stipulates that the Act shall not apply to the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, and to any suit, appeal, or proceeding relating to it.
What was the Supreme Court’s view during the Ayodhya Judgment?
- In the 2019 Ayodhya verdict, the Constitution Bench referred to the law and said it manifests the secular values of the Constitution and prohibits retrogression.
- The law is hence a legislative instrument designed to protect the secular features of the Indian polity, which is one of the basic features of the Constitution.
Section : Right issues
- The government has tightened norms for endorsers, including celebrities and sports persons, as they are now required to make material connection disclosures and undertake due diligence while doing advertisements.
- According to new guidelines released by the Consumer Aﬀairs Ministry, endorsements must reﬂect the honest opinions, belief or experience of the endorsers.
- The endorsers have to make material connection disclosures and failing to do so will attract penalty under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
- Material disclosures mean any relationship that materially aﬀects the weight or credibility of any endorsement which a reasonable consumer would not expect.
- Violation of these guidelines will attract a penalty of Rs10 lakh for the ﬁrst offense and Rs50 lakh for the subsequent offense, under the CPA.
- The new guidelines “Prevention of misleading advertisements and necessary due diligence for endorsement of advertisements”, which came into eﬀect on June 10, 2022, have been issued to prevent misleading advertisements.
Consumer Protection Act, 2019
- The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 establishes the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) whose primary objective will be to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.
- It is empowered to:
- Conduct investigations into violations of consumer rights and institute complaints/prosecution.
- Order recall of unsafe goods and services.
- Order discontinuance of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements.
- Impose penalties on manufacturers/endorsers/publishers of misleading advertisements.
- Rules on E-commerce and Unfair Trade Practices: The government will notify the Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020 under the Act whose broad provisions are given below.
- E-commerce entities are required to provide information to consumers, relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, payment methods, security of payment methods, charge-back options and country of origin.
- These are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage.
- These platforms will have to acknowledge the receipt of any consumer complaint within 48 hours and redress the complaint within one month from the date of receipt. They will also have to appoint a grievance officer for consumer grievance redressal.
- The Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020 are mandatory and are not advisories.
- Sellers cannot refuse to take back goods or withdraw services or refuse refunds, if such goods or services are defective, deficient, delivered late, or if they do not meet the description on the platform.
- The rules also prohibit the e-commerce companies from manipulating the price of the goods or services to gain unreasonable profit through unjustified prices.
- Product Liability:
- A manufacturer or product service provider or product seller will be held responsible to compensate for injury or damage caused by defective product or deficiency in services
- Basis for product liability action:
- Manufacturing defect.
- Design defect.
- Deviation from manufacturing specifications.
- Not conforming to express warranty.
- Failing to contain adequate instructions for correct use.
- Service provided-faulty, imperfect or deficient.
- Punishment for Manufacture or Sale of Adulterated/Spurious Goods:
- In case of the first conviction, a competent court may suspend any license issued to the person for a period of up to two years and in case of second or subsequent conviction, may cancel the license permanently.
- Alternate Dispute Resolution Mechanism of Mediation:
- A complaint will be referred by a Consumer Commission for mediation, wherever scope for early settlement exists and parties agree for it.
- The mediation will be held in the Mediation Cells which will be established under the aegis of the Consumer Commissions.
- There will be no appeal against settlement through mediation.
- Simplification of the Consumer Dispute Adjudication Process:
- Empowering the State and District Commissions to review their own orders.
- Enabling a consumer to file complaints electronically and in consumer commissions that have jurisdiction over the place of his residence.
- Video-conferencing for hearing and deemed admissibility of complaints if the question of admissibility is not decided within the specified period of 21 days.
- Other Rules and Regulations:
- As per the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Rules, there will be no fee for filing cases up to Rs. 5 lakh.
- The credit of the amount due to unidentifiable consumers will go to the Consumer Welfare Fund (CWF).
- State Commissions will furnish information to the Central Government on a quarterly basis on vacancies, disposal, the pendency of cases and other matters.
- Apart from these general rules, there are Central Consumer Protection Council Rules, provided for the constitution of the Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC).
- It will be an advisory body on consumer issues, headed by the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution with the Minister of State as Vice Chairperson and 34 other members from different fields.
- It will have a three-year tenure and will have the Minister-in-charge of consumer affairs from two States from each region- North, South, East, West, and North-East Region.
Consumer rights under the Act
- It defined 6 rights of the consumers which include:
- Right to be protected against the marketing of goods, products or services which can be hazardous to life and property
- Right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods, products and services
- Right to be assured of access to goods, products and services at competitive prices.
- Right to be heard at appropriate forums
- Right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices that are involved in exploitation of customers
- Right to consumer awareness
- Researchers are starting to piece together why the Hunga Tonga–HungaHa’apai eruption in the South Pacific on January 15 was so explosive.
- Evidence gathered by two groups suggests that when the Tongan volcano’s centre collapsed, it spewed an enormous amount of magma that reacted violently with water.
- Concept :
- Located in Oceania, Tonga is a small archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, directly south of Samoa and about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand.
- It has 169 islands, 36 of them inhabited, which are in three main groups – Vavaʻu, Haʻapai, and Tongatapu – and cover an 800-kilometer (500-mile)-long north–south line.
- The total size is just 747 km2 (288 sq mi). Due to the spread out islands it has the 40th largest Exclusive Economic Zone of 659,558 km2 (254,657 sq mi).
- Geologically the Tongan islands are of two types: most have a limestone base formed from uplifted coral formations; others consist of limestone overlaying a volcanic base.
- Tongan Volcanic Arc was created from the subduction of the westwards-moving Pacific plate under the Australia-India plate at the Tonga Trench.
- The eastern islands are not volcanic and sit above the mostly submerged Tonga ridge that runs parallel to the Tongan Volcanic Arc and the Tongan Trench.
- In regards to volcanism, Tonga has moderate volcanic activity.
- Fonualei has shown frequent activity in recent years, while Niuafo’ou which last erupted in 1985, has forced evacuations; other historically active volcanoes include Late and Tofua.
Subject : IR
Section : Bilateral relations
- India’s cultural, economic and trade ties with the countries of the West Asian region are deep and abiding.
- Starting with maritime trade, the exchange of goods, services and cultures between the people of the Gulf region including those on the western shores of the Arabian Sea and the people of India’s southern and western States reaches back several millennia and signiﬁcantly predates even the foundation of the Islamic faith.
- The West Asian region also served as a land trade bridge to Greece, Rome and other early European empires and a ﬂourishing trade in spices, cloth, silk and indigo in exchange for gold and silver is well recorded.
- In a more contemporary historical context, the British colonial era saw the advent of even a loose common monetary system with the rupee serving as legal tender in several Gulf states till the middle of the 20th century.
- It was also the discovery and subsequent commercial exploitation of oil in the Gulf region during the colonial era that started to alter the balance of trade ﬂows between India and the countries in the region.
- Today, the countries of the West Asian region collectively account for well over a sixth of India’s total bilateral merchandise trade and contribute about three-ﬁfths of India’s crude oil supplies.
- The region is also a major provider of jobs and economic opportunities to Indian workers, professionals and entrepreneurs and houses about 89 lakh Indians.
- These non-resident Indians (NRIs) annually send home about $40 billion, and account for more than 55% of the country’s total remittance inﬂows.
- Investments from sovereign wealth funds and other large investors from the GCC have also climbed steadily in recent years and India, which earlier this year signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the UAE, is looking to signiﬁcantly boost trade ties with the region by negotiating more such trade and investment pacts.
Oil and Gas Trade
- Out of India’s total imports of crude oil, the share of the Gulf countries has remained fairly steady at about 60% over the last 15 years.
- In 2020-21, the top oil exporter to India was Iraq, with a share of more than 22%, followed by Saudi Arabia — about 18%.
- The UAE, Kuwait and Oman were other Gulf countries among the top10 suppliers of crude oil to India in the ﬁscal year ended March 2021.
- Over the ﬁve years from 2017 through 2021, Iran and the GCC member states accounted for a 15.3% share of India’s cumulative two-way merchandise trade of $3.98 trillion in that period.
- Of the $609 billion of exports and imports that the seven countries accounted for in this period, the UAE contributed the lion’s share of $277.4 billion, or almost 7%, making it one of India’s largest trading partners.
- Saudi Arabia was next with $153 billion.
- The region is today a key market for several Indian commodities ranging from tea and basmati rice to electrical equipment, apparel, and machinery.
- Reﬂecting this importance, India and the UAE signed the CEPA in February with the aim of increasing the total value of bilateral trade in goods to more than $100 billion in ﬁve years and getting services trade to exceed $15 billion over the same period.
- The trade pact will provide Indian exporters preferential market access on ‘99% of the country’s exports to the UAE in value terms, particularly from labour intensive sectors such as gems and jewelry, textiles, leather, footwear, sports goods, plastics, furniture, agricultural and wood products, engineering products, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and automobiles.
- With the region serving as a key hub to markets in Africa, India is keen to gain tariﬀ free access for its exports not just to the Gulf region but also to countries across Africa.
Overseas Jobs for Indians
- The West Asian region provides among the largest number of overseas jobs for Indians, with nearly 89 lakh Indians living and working in the Gulf economies.
- The UAE accounts for the largest share of NRIs in the region and is home to more than 34 lakh Indians.
- Saudi Arabia with close to 26 lakh and Kuwait with over 10 lakh are the other large providers of jobs and economic opportunities for Indians.
- The remittances that they sent back home in 2017, according to Pew Research data, accounted for about 55% of the total $68.97 billion in inward remittances received in India from across the world that year.
Exact dates of African cheetahs’ arrival in India not confirmed
- The governments of South Africa and Namibia are in the process of fine-tuning the move and a decision would be made later.
- African cheetahs were expected to arrive in India in August this year, after several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- South Africa and Namibia are vaccinating the cheetahs to prevent any pathogens from spreading.
- They are also following the protocols of international translocation as underlined in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
- ‘Reintroduction’ of a species means releasing it in an area where it is capable of surviving.
- Reintroductions of large carnivores have increasingly been recognised as a strategy to conserve threatened species and restore ecosystem functions.
- The cheetah is the only large carnivore that has been eliminated, mainly by over-hunting in India in historical times.
- The conservation of the cheetah will revive grasslands and their biomes and habitat, much like Project Tiger has done for forests and all the species that have seen their numbers go up.
- With help from the Wildlife Institute of India and the Wildlife Trust of India, the ministry will be translocating around 8-12 cheetahs from South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
- These countries have the world’s largest populations of the animal.
- The big cats will live at Kuno Palpur National Park (Madhya Pradesh) owing to its suitable habitat and adequate prey base.
- This year GOI has launched the ‘Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetah in India’ under which 50 of these big cats will be introduced in the next five years.
- The translocation will have to follow the protocols of international translocation as underlined in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
- The action plan was launched at the 19th meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
- NTCA is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
Cheetah happens to be the only large carnivore that got completely wiped out from India, mainly due to over-hunting and habitat loss. The Action Plan highlights the nation’s preparedness in bringing the cheetah back. Conservation of Cheetahs has a very special significance for the national conservation ethic and ethos. The very name ‘Cheetah’ (Acinonyx Jubatus Venaticus) originates from Sanskrit and means ‘the spotted one’.
Bringing Back Cheetahs: A Boon to the Ecosystem
Besides conserving the big cat, the initiative in itself is a boon to the ecosystem. Cheetahs live in open plains; their habitat is predominantly where their preys live – grasslands, scrubs and open forest systems, semi-arid environments and temperatures that tend to be hotter compared to cooler regimes.
In saving cheetahs, one would have to save not only its prey-base comprising certain threatened species, but also other endangered species of the grasslands and open forest ecosystems, some of which are on the brink of extinction.
It is also observed that among large carnivores, conflict with human interests is lowest for Cheetahs. They are not a threat to humans and do not attack large livestock either.
Amongst the 10 surveyed sites of the central Indian states, Kuno Palpur National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh has been rated the highest. This is because of its suitable habitat and adequate prey base. KNP is 748 sq. km. in area, devoid of human settlements, forms part of Sheopur-Shivpuri deciduous open forest landscape and is estimated to have a capacity to sustain 21 cheetahs.
Kuno is probably the only wildlife site in the country where there has been a complete relocation of villages from inside the park. Kuno also offers the prospect of housing four big cats of India – tiger, lion, leopard and cheetah – and allowing them to coexist as in the past.
The other sites recommended for holding and conservation breeding of cheetah in India, in controlled wild conditions are:
- Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary (1,197 sq. km, habitat 5,500 sq.km), Madhya Pradesh
- Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary – Bhainsrorgarh Wildlife Sanctuary complex (~2500 sq.km), Madhya Pradesh
- Shahgarh bulge in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan (4,220 sq.km)
- Mukundara Tiger Reserve as fenced enclosure (~80 sq.km), Rajasthan
Section: Art and Culture
- Four Holy Relics of Lord Buddha will be displayed at Batsagaan Temple, within the premises of Gandan Monastery.
- A 25-member delegation, led by Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, will accompany the relics on their journey.
- The four relics coming from among 22 Buddha relics are known as the ‘Kapilvastu Relics’ since they are from a site in Bihar believed to be the ancient city of Kapilvastu. They were discovered in 1898.
- The last time these relics were taken out of the country was in 2012, when their exposition was held in Sri Lanka.
- The Kapilvastu relics have been taken out of India only six times in the past.
- In 2015, the Holy Relics were placed under ‘AA’ category of antiquities and art treasures that should not be ordinarily taken out of the country for exhibition, considering their delicate nature.
- Some relics were discovered from Piprahwa, in UP’s Siddharthnagar district, believed to be a part of the ancient city of Kapilavastu.
- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had conducted excavations at Piprahwa between 1971 and 1977, wherein they discovered two inscribed steatite stone caskets containing 12 sacred relics from the bigger casket and 10 sacred relics from the smaller casket.
- The inscription on the lid of the casket refers to the relics of the Buddha and the Shakya clan.
- India ranks first globally when it comes to cutting off the internet, thereby earning the notorious title of being the “internet shutdown capital” of the world.
- Last year, the mobile internet was shut down 127 times, while it’s been cut off 39 times this year so far.
- The reasons given were that shutdowns were imposed as a “precautionary” measure or in response to public protests.
What does the law say?
- Until 2017, India did not have a codified law to order internet shutdowns. The power to do so was vested in district magistrates under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
- In 2017, new rules to order internet shutdowns were introduced under the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885.
- These rules – the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) rules – stated that internet shutdowns can now only be ordered by the home secretary of the union or state governments.
- The rules also say that only in “unavoidable circumstances”, the passing of orders can be delegated to someone not lower than the rank of a joint secretary to the government of India. And even in this case, the official must be authorized by the centre or state home secretary.
- Shutdowns could be ordered where “necessary” or “unavoidable”, during a “public emergency” or in the “interest of public safety”.
- Regarding Internet shutdowns, Supreme Court in the case of Anuradha Bhasin explicitly recognised two things:
- that the freedom to access information is a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution;
- and that the freedom to conduct your trade, profession or business over the internet is also a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g).
- These rights which are enshrined in the constitution, can only be curtailed in the interest of the “sovereignty and security of the state, integrity of the nation, friendly relations with foreign states, or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of an offence.
- Additionally, most orders for shutdown apply to mobile internet, not broadband. Thus, these shutdowns disproportionately affect those from lower income groups.
- The official had seized tendu leaves collected by tribals which they wanted to sell on their own instead of to the government.
- The villagers have claimed that the Gram Sabhas of 13 villages had passed a proposal to collect and sell tendu leaves on their own earlier this year.
- Tendu (Diospirusmelanocaylon) is also called ‘green gold’ and is a prominent minor forest produce in India.
- In 1964, the trade in tendu leaves was nationalized in then-undivided Madhya Pradesh. Until then, people were free to sell tendu leaves in markets across the country.
- Maharashtra adopted the same system in 1969, undivided Andhra Pradesh in 1971, Odisha in 1973, Gujarat in 1979, Rajasthan in 1974 and Chhattisgarh in 2000.
- Under this arrangement, the state forest department collects tendu leaves, allows their transportation and sells them to traders.
- In Chhattisgarh, tendu leaf is collected through the state minor forest produce federation. There are more than 10,300 collection centres or phads where tendu leaves are collected from collectors.
- The dispute is essentially about who has the right to sell the leaves. State governments say only they can do so due to nationalization.
- On the other hand, tendu leaf collectors cite The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and the 2013 Supreme Court verdict in the much-touted Niyamgiri case to say private collectors can sell them on their own.
- Tendu leaf collectors allege that the government gives them a lower price for the leaves, while it fetches a higher price in the open market.
- The tribals, after having obtained forest rights leases under the FRA 2006, now want to sell tendu leaves on their own, with the permission of Gram Sabhas and make good profits.
- While many other types of minor forest produce like Mahua, Salbeej or the seeds of the Sal tree (Shorearobusta) and Chironjior Almondette kernels (Buchananialanzan) are collected and sold by tribals.
- Instead of the controversy, the Chhattisgarh government should encourage these tribal collectors and give them a chance to grow