Daily Prelims Notes 23 November 2022
- November 23, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
23 November 2022
Table Of Contents
- Securities transaction tax (STT)
- Draft Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations 2022
- India-Australia trade relations
- Chief Election Commissioners must be apolitical, strong and beyond influence
- Assam police open fire near Meghalaya border
- Oxford Word of the Year to be chosen by people
- Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (Veer Savarkar)
- As Asiatic elephants are here to stay, Madhya Pradesh learns to co-exist with them
- Indian wildlife biologist gets UN highest environmental award
- India’s unusual abstention in CITES vote on reopening ivory trade
- Air Suvidha is scrapped: relief, and a positive signal on covid
- Uttarakhand HC: stop construction on bed of sukhatal near Naini lake
- Antimicrobial resistance: Multi-stakeholder platform launched to drive collective action, collaboration
- In Arittapatti; Tamil Nadu gets its first biodiversity heritage site
- FRO killed allegedly by GuttiKoya tribals in BhadradriKothagudem district
- Think local climate action, think Meenangadi
A substantial part of the submissions of the financial sector at the pre-Budget meeting centered around ‘taxation’ issues.
- Capital market participants have urged to reduce the securities transaction tax (STT) rate for cash market transactions, while hiking the STT rate for futures and options.
- The Alternate Investment Funds industry wants a tax pass of expenses to make them more globally competitive.
- Mutual fund industry and insurance sector representatives called for parity with the National Pension System (NPS) on the taxation front.
- Exempt NBFCs from TDS deduction by borrowers.
- Make NBFCs on par with housing finance companies, banks, small finance banks and other financial institutions on the use of SARFAESI as a tool for recovery.
- Banks can use SARFAESI for loans as low as ₹1 lakh and above, NBFCs can use it only for loans above ₹20 lakh.
Securities transaction tax (STT)
- STT is a direct tax levied on every purchase and sale of securities that are listed on the recognized stock exchanges in India.
- Taxable securities include equity, derivatives, and units of equity oriented mutual funds. It also includes unlisted shares sold under an offer for sale to the public included in IPO and where such shares are subsequently listed in stock exchanges.
- STT is an amount to be paid over and above transaction value and hence, increases transaction value.
- STT is a kind of turnover tax where the investor has to pay a small tax on the total consideration paid or received in a share transaction
- STT is governed by the Securities Transaction Tax Act (STT Act).
- The term ‘Securities’ is defined in Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act and includes the following:
- Shares, scrips, stocks, bonds, debentures, debenture stock or other marketable securities of a like nature in or of any incorporated company or other body corporate.
- Units or any other instrument issued by any collective investment scheme to the investors in such schemes.
- Government securities of equity nature.
- Equity oriented units of mutual funds.
- Rights or interest in securities.
- Securitized debt instruments.
- Hence, securities include all of the above for the purpose of STT levy that are traded on recognized stock exchanges.
- This tax was introduced in Union Budget 2004 and came into effect from October 1, 2004.
- The aim behind the introduction of STT was curbing evasion of capital gains tax on profits earned by transacting in securities.
- The rate of STT is decided by the government and it is similar to a tax paid at the source.
- Currently, on cash market trades, a STT rate of 0.100 per cent is imposed, while the rate is 0.010 per cent on futures and 0.05 per cent (on option premium) for sale of an option in securities.
- STT is collected by a recognised stock exchange or lead merchant banker in case of an IPO.
Taxation on AIFs
- AIFs operate on a tax pass-through basis for income and losses, but not for expenses.
- Tax pass through status has only been afforded for CAT I and II AIFs and not CAT III AIFs (hedge funds and listed market funds).
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is proposing to bring in standards and labelling norms for traditional Indian sweets ( mithais) and namkeens.
Draft Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2022 proposes these standards.
About the bill:
- The draft regulation defines Indian Mithais as sweets and Namkeens as salty savoury products that are “traditional and innovative-based from Indian heritage and culture.
- It proposes standards for categorising traditional Indian sweets into milk-based, non milk-based and composite sweets:
- Milk based- mithais include milk-concentration-based, channa-based and khoa-based mithais.
- Non-milk based traditional sweets refer to those that are grain-based, dry fruits, nuts and seeds-based mithais.
- The draft has also proposed standards for various categories of Namkeens including fruit and vegetable based, dry fruit and nut-based and composite products besides labelling norms.
- The draft regulation proposes that mithai packages should have the name of the product (such as Khoa burfi) along with relevant categories (such as khoa-based mithai) on the label .
- In case of milk-based mithais, the Food Business Operator will need to declare the percent and type of milk solids under the list of ingredients on the label.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
- It is an autonomous statutory body established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
- The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the administrative Ministry of FSSAI.
- The Chairperson is in the rank of Secretary to Government of India.
- Headquarters: Delhi.
- FSS Act, 2006 consolidates various acts& orders that had earlier handled food related issues in various Ministries and Departments, such as–
- Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
- Fruit Products Order, 1955
- Meat Food Products Order, 1973
- Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947
- Edible Oils Packaging (Regulation) Order 1988
- Milk and Milk Products Order, 1992
- FSSAI was established in 2008 and fully functional in 2011 after its Rules and key Regulations were notified.
- This marked a shift from a multi-level to a single line of control with focus on self-compliance rather than a pure regulatory regime.
- FSSAI has been mandated by the FSS Act, 2006 for performing the following functions:
- Framing of Regulations to lay down the Standards and guidelines in relation to articles of food and specifying appropriate systems of enforcing various standards thus notified.
- Laying down mechanisms and guidelines for accreditation of certification bodies engaged in certification of food safety management systems for food businesses.
- Laying down procedure and guidelines for accreditation of laboratories and notification of the accredited laboratories.
- To provide scientific advice and technical support to Central Government and State Governments in the matters of framing the policy and rules in areas which have a direct or indirect bearing of food safety and nutrition.
- Collect and collate data regarding food consumption, incidence and prevalence of biological risk, contaminants in food, residues of various contaminants in foods products, identification of emerging risks and introduction of rapid alert systems.
- Creating an information network across the country so that the public, consumers, Panchayats etc receive rapid, reliable and objective information about food safety and issues of concern.
- Provide training programmes for persons who are involved or intend to get involved in food businesses.
- Contribute to the development of international technical standards for food, sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards.
- Promote general awareness about food safety and food standards.
List of Food regulations by the FSSAI:
- Food Safety and Standards (Licensing and Registration of Food Businesses) Regulation, 2011
- Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulation, 2011
- Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction of Sales) Regulation, 2011
- Food Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulation, 2011
- Food Safety and Standards (Laboratory and Sampling Analysis) Regulation, 2011
- Food Safety and Standards (Health Supplements, Nutraceuticals, Food for Special Dietary Use, Food for Special Medical Purpose, Functional Food and Novel Food) Regulations, 2016
- Food Safety and Standards (Food Recall Procedure) Regulation, 2017
- Food Safety and Standards (Import) Regulation, 2017
- Food Safety and Standards (Approval for Non-Specific Food and Food Ingredients) Regulation, 2017
- Food Safety and Standards (Organic Food) Regulation, 2017
- Food Safety and Standards (Alcoholic Beverages) Regulation, 2018
- Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Food) Regulation, 2018
- Food Safety and Standards (Food Safety Auditing) Regulation, 2018
- Food Safety and Standards (Recognition and Notification of Laboratories) Regulation, 2018
- Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulation, 2018
- Food Safety and Standards (Packaging) Regulation, 2018
- Food Safety and Standards (Recovery and Distribution of Surplus food) Regulation, 2019
- Food Safety and Standards (Safe food and balanced diets for children in school) Regulations, 2020
- Food Safety and Standards (Foods for Infant Nutrition) Regulations, 2020
- Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2020
- Food Safety and Standards (Ayurveda Aahara) Regulations, 2022
- Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulations, 2022
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (Transaction of Business at its Meetings) Regulations, 2010
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (Procedure for Transaction of Business of the Central Advisory Committee) Regulations, 2010
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (Salary, Allowances and Other Conditions of Service of Officers and Employees) Regulations, 2013
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (Transaction of Business and Procedure for the Scientific Committee and Scientific Panel) Regulations, 2016
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (Recruitment and Appointment) Regulations, 2018
The Australian Parliament approved the free trade agreement inked with India in April.
- The pact is expected to come into force from January 2023.
- The agreement is likely to push the bilateral trade to USD 45-50 billion in the next five-six years from the present USD 31 billion.
The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA)
- It would provide duty-free access to Indian exporters of over 6,000 broad sectors including textiles, leather, furniture, jewellery and machinery in the Australian market.
- Australia is offering zero-duty access to India for about 96.4 per cent of exports (by value) from day one.
- This covers many products that currently attract 4-5 per cent customs duty in Australia.
- Australia will open 100 per cent of their lines (products) with no restriction on even quota.
- This is the first time Australia has done this for any country.
- Labour-intensive sectors which would gain immensely include textiles and apparel, few agricultural and fish products, leather, footwear, furniture, sports goods, jewellery, machinery, electrical goods and railway wagons.
India-Australia trade relations:
- Australia and India upgraded bilateral relationship from ‘Strategic Partnership’ in 2009 to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) in 2020.
- India was Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner and sixth-largest export market in 2020, driven by coal and international education. Currently, India is the 9th largest trading partner of Australia (2021).
- During 2021, Bilateral trade in goods and services with India was US$ 27.5 billion, with exports of goods and services worth US$ 10.5 billion and imports of goods and services worth US$ 17 billion.
- Balance of trade is in favour of Australia by US$ 6.5 billion.
- India’s merchandise exports to Australia grew 135% between 2019 and 2021.
- India’s main exports to Australia are refined petroleum, medicaments (incl. veterinary), pearls & gems, jewellery, made-up textile articles, women’s clothing (excl knitted), other textile clothing, manufactures of base metal, while India’s major imports are coal, confidential items of trade, copper ores & concentrates, natural gas, non-ferrous waste & scrap, ferrous waste & scrap and education related services.
- Education is Australia’s largest service export to India, valued at $6 billion and accounting for around 88 per cent of the total in 2020.
- The elevation of the Australia-India relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) includes a commitment to encourage expanded trade and investment flows to the benefit of both economies.
To support more Australian and Indian business partnerships, the Australian Government has launched the Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) program.
- The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court is hearing a series of petitions seeking functional independence for Election Commissioners.
- What is the issue:
- The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court was hearing a series of petitions seeking functional independence for Election Commissioners.
- Challenging the constitutionality of the present appointment process, the petitioners contended that appointments were being done as per the whims and fancies of the executive.
- The petitioners pleaded for creation of an independent collegium or selection committee for future appointment of CEC and ECs.
- The court is specifically examining the question of setting up an “independent, neutral mechanism”, outside the control of the government, for the appointment of Election Commissioners.
- More about the Election Commission of India (ECI):
- The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
- The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
- What are some important Constitutional Provisions related to ECI:
- Part XV (Article 324-329) of the Indian Constitution deals with the Election Commission of India:
- Article 324: Superintendence, direction and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.
- Article 325: No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on the grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.
- Article 326: Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.
- Article 327: Power of Parliament to make provisions with respect to elections to Legislatures.
- Article 328:Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.
- Article 329: Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.
- What is the structure of the Commission:
- Originally the commission had only one election commissioner but after the Election Commissioner Amendment Act 1989, it has been made a multi-member body
- The Election Commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and a number of other election commissioners if any, as the President may from time to time fix.
- Presently, it consists of the CEC and two Election Commissioners.
- At the state level, the election commission is helped by the Chief Electoral Officer who is an IAS rank Officer.
- What is the appointment and tenure of Commissioners:
- There is no prescribed procedure for appointing the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners as per the constitution.
- Under the Transaction of Business rules, the President shall appoint the CEC and EC based on the recommendations made by the Prime Minister.
- Therefore, it is the executive power of the President to appoint CEC and ECs.
- However, according to Article 324(5), the Parliament has the power to regulate the terms of conditions of service and tenure of ECs. It is under this article that the Parliament has made laws till date.
- They have a fixed tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
- What was Supreme Court’s Observation:
- The Supreme Court said the Central government pays mere “lip-service” to the independence of the Election Commissioners.
- This is evident from the way the tenures of Chief Election Commissioners have “slid” down from over eight years in the 1950s to just about a few hundred days after 2004.
- The court said successive governments, particularly after 2004, have picked people whom it knew would never ever get close to the full term of six years prescribed under the Election Commission Act, 1991.
- Section 4 of the 1991 Act says the term of a CEC and Election Commissioners is six years or till the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
- The court said protections under Article 324, like removal through impeachment, available under the Constitution to the CECs would only be of any use if he or she had a full term.
- Referring to former CEC TN Seshan, the court said people came to know about the Commission when he took charge and took a slew of decisions to make the panel independent.
- The bench observed that involving the Chief Justice of India (CJI) in the selection process of CEC/ECs would go a long way to ensure transparency.
- The presence of the CJI would send a message that you cannot play games in selection and the best person of character would be picked.
Subject : Polity
- Recently, Five Meghalaya villagers were among six people killed in a clash between a mob and a contingent of police and forest guards from Assam in pursuit of a truck allegedly smuggling timber across the inter-state border.
- What is Assam-Meghalaya border dispute:
- During British rule, undivided Assam included present-day Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
- Meghalaya was carved out of Assam under the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971.
- Due to different interpretations of this act, it was challenged by both the parties which led to the boundary dispute between these two states.
- As a result, both sides have a longstanding dispute in 12 stretches of the 884-km-long shared border.
- The Assam-Meghalaya border dispute are the areas of Upper Tarabari, Gazang reserve forest, Hahim, Langpih, Borduar, Boklapara, Nongwah, Matamur, Khanapara-Pilangkata, Deshdemoreah Block I and Block II, Khanduli and Retacherra.
- A major point of contention between Assam and Meghalaya is the district of Langpih in West Garo Hills bordering the Kamrup district of Assam.
- Langpih was part of the Kamrup district during the British colonial period but post-Independence, it became part of the Garo Hills and Meghalaya.
- Assam considers it to be part of the Mikir Hills in Assam.
- Meghalaya has questioned Blocks I and II of the Mikir Hills now Karbi Anglong region being part of Assam. Meghalaya says these were parts of erstwhile United Khasi and Jaintia Hills districts.
- What are the efforts to resolve the dispute:
- The two States had in June 2021 adopted a give-and-take policy to start the process of resolving the boundary dispute.
- For this, they constituted three regional committees
- The draft resolution, released in March 2022, was prepared on the basis of the recommendations of these regional panels.
- What was Assam-Meghalaya Border Pact:
- In March 2022, Assam and Meghalaya partially resolved a 50-year-old border dispute in six of the 12 sectors along their 884-km boundary.
- The two governments had taken up six of 12 disputed sectors in the first phase of discussions.
- As per the agreement, out of the disputed 36.79 sq. km land, Assam will get 18.51 sq. km of the disputed areas and Meghalaya will get the remaining 18.28 sq. km.
- The 70% of the inter-State boundary became dispute-free with the signing of the agreement.
- The problem in the six other areas will be resolved in the near future.
- In August, both the States decided to form regional committees.
- The second round of discussions was set to commence by the end of this month.
- For the first time, people from across the world will vote to choose the Oxford Word of the Year 2022.
- What is the issue:
- For the first time, people from across the world will vote to choose the Oxford Word of the Year 2022.
- A team of expert lexicographers have narrowed down a longlist of worthy contestants to a final choice of three words i.emetaverse, #IStandWith, and goblin mode.
- The voting, which started on November 21, will close on December 2.
- Last year ‘Vax’ was adjudged word of the year.
- How the three words are relevant to the year in a different way:
- In ‘metaverse’, there is a conceptual future brought into the vernacular in 2022. From hybrid working in virtual reality, to debates over the ethics and feasibility of an entirely online future, usage of this word quadrupled in October 2022 compared to the same period last year.
- ‘#IStandWith’ recognises the activism and division that has characterized this year. From the war in Ukraine, to the Depp v. Heard lawsuit, this ‘word’ coined on social media to align one’s views to a cause or person can often further foster dispute and sometimes even hate speech in its polarising nature.
- ‘Goblin mode’ is another relatively new concept: the idea of rejecting societal expectations put upon people, in favour of doing whatever one wants to. Early usage dates back to 2009/10, but as the world emerges from lockdown, the phrase has been coined in rejection of returning ‘back to normal’ after a fake ‘quote’ from actress and model Julia Fox brought the term back into the mainstream.
Who was Veer Savarkar:
- He was a freedom fighter, politician, lawyer, writer, social reformer, and institutor of Hindutva ideology
- He was popularly known as Swatantryaveer Savarkar,
- Born in a Hindu Marathi family in Nashik, Maharashtra on May 28, 1883.
- He died on 26th February 1966 due to fasting on his own wish of death.
- Savarkar was influenced by the life and thinking of Italian Nationalist leader, Giuseppe Mazzini. During his stay in London, Savarkar translated Mazzini’s biography in Marathi.
What are some related Organisations of Veer Savarkar:
- He founded a secret society called Abhinav Bharat Society in Pune
- Went to the United Kingdom and was involved with organizations such as India House and the Free India Society.
- He was the president of Hindu Mahasabha from 1937 to 1943.
- Formed a youth organization Mitra Mela.
- He joined Tilak’s Swaraj Party.
- He started one of the most powerful social reform movements against untouchability in India He built the Patit Pavan Mandir in the Ratnagiri district to allow entry to all Hindus, including Dalits.
What are the some works of Veer Savarkar:
- Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History
- My Transportation for Life
- Kale Pani
- 1857 cheSvatantryaSamar( ‘The History of the War of Indian Independence’ )
- Moplyanche Banda
- Hindu Rashtra Darshan
- To peacefully coexist with wild Asiatic elephants, Madhya Pradesh is gearing up to launch a bunch of measures ranging from a mobile app for speedy disposal of damages to launching an elephant manual putting in place the roles and duties of various departments and ensuring minimum man-elephant conflict.
Migration of Elephants in MP-
- MP is looking for developing an app like Karnataka’s e-Parihara app.
- An elephant task force constituted in 2021 pointed out that the migration of wild elephants into MP is part of the ongoing dispersal and large-scale movement of elephants in the east-central region in India, which visibly began in the 1980s with elephants from Jharkhand moving into the West Bengal and Sarguja district of erstwhile MP.
- Since then, wild tuskers have continued to move from Jharkhand and Odisha into Chhattisgarh and onwards into MP.
- Wild elephants began coming to MP’sSidhi, Singrauli and Shahdol districts, wherein they would stay for 2-3 months and then return to Chhattisgarh.
- But this changed in 2017 when a herd of seven elephants did not leave MP and continued to stay in Sanjay Dubri Tiger Reserve of Sidhi.
- In 2018, another herd of 40 elephants entered MP and began residing in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Umaria.
- This herd has now increased to nearly 50 elephants.
Current Data on Elephants in India:
- According to the last count in 2017, there were 29,964 elephants in India. Which is a slight increase from 2012’s mean of 29,576 elephants.
- Three subspecies of Asian elephants are the Indian, Sumatran and Sri Lankan.
- The Indian subspecies have the widest range and account for the majority of the remaining elephants on the continent.
- Global Population: Estimated 20,000 to 40,000.
- Protection Status:
- IUCN Red List: Endangered.
- Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I.
- CITES Appendix I
- Two subspecies of African elephants, the Savanna (or bush) elephant and the Forest elephant.
- Global Population: Around 4,00,000.
- Earlier in July 2020, Botswana (Africa) witnessed the death of hundreds of elephants.
- Protection Status:
- IUCN Red List Status:
- African Savanna Elephant: Endangered.
- African Forest Elephant: Critically Endangered
- IUCN Red List Status:
- CITES: Appendix II
- Escalation of poaching.
- Habitat loss.
- Human-elephant conflict.
- Mistreatment in captivity.
- Abuse due to elephant tourism.
- Rampant mining, Corridor destruction.
Steps Taken for Conservation:
- Declaration and establishment of various elephant reserves across the states.
- Cleaning areas from lantana and eupatorium (invasive species) as they prevent the growth of grass for elephants to feed on.
- Barricades to prevent man-elephant conflicts.
- Measures for the establishment of a cell to study forest fire prevention.
- The Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme, launched in 2003, is an international collaboration that tracks trends in information related to the illegal killing of elephants from across Africa and Asia, to monitor the effectiveness of field conservation efforts.
- Project Elephant: It is a centrally sponsored scheme and was launched in February 1992 for the protection of elephants, their habitats and corridors.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change provides financial and technical support to major elephant range states in the country through the project.
- Indian wildlife biologist Dr Purnima Devi Barman is among the honourees of this year’s Champions of the Earth award, the U.N.’s highest environmental honour, accorded for their transformative action to prevent, halt and reverse ecosystem degradation.
- Dr Barman has been honoured in the Entrepreneurial Vision category.
About Dr Purnima Devi Barman-
- Dr Barman leads the “Hargila Army”, an all-female grassroots conservation movement dedicated to protecting the Greater Adjutant Stork from extinction.
- Dr Barman is also the Senior Project Manager of the Avifauna Research and Conservation Division, Aaranyak.
- Consists of over 10,000 women.
- They protect nesting sites, rehabilitate injured storks.
Champions of the Earth award-
- Started in 2005, by the UNEP.
- The annual award has been awarded to trailblazers at the forefront of efforts to protect our natural world.
- It is the UN’s highest environmental honour.
- This award programme is successor to UNEP’s Global 500 Roll of Honour.
- The award is presented in five categories
- Lifetime Achievement,
- Policy Leadership,
- Entrepreneurial Vision,
- Action and Inspiration and
- Science & Innovation.
- To date, the award has recognised 111 laureates:26 world leaders, 69 individuals and 16 organisations.
- The other honourees include Arcenciel (Lebanon); Constantino (Tino) AuccaChutas (Peru); Sir Partha Dasgupta of the United Kingdom and Cecile BibianeNdjebet (Cameroon).
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with United Nation’s Champions of the Earth Award 2018.
About Greater Adjutant Stork (Harjila in Assam)-
- Scientific Name: Leptoptilosdubius
- The greater adjutant is a member of the stork family, Ciconiidae.
- There are about 20 species in the family.
- They are long-necked large birds.
- Once found across South and Southeast Asia, the Greater Adjutant is one of the most threatened stork species in the world.
- There are only three known breeding grounds – one in Cambodia and two in India (Assam and Bihar).
- The widespread destruction and degradation of the wetlands that this scavenger bird needs to forage (i.e. search for food) and the loss of its nesting trees, led to a decline.
- Protection Status:
- IUCN Red List: Endangered
- Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972: Schedule IV
- They are considered the mount of Vishnu, one of Hinduism’s prime deities.
- Some worship the bird and call it “Garuda Maharaj” (Lord Garuda) or “Guru Garuda” (Great Teacher Garuda).
- They help farmers by killing rats and other farm pests.
India’s decision not to vote against a proposal to re-open the international trade in ivory at the ongoing conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) surprised many.
- That proposal, to allow a regular form of controlled trade in ivory from Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, was defeated 83-15 in Panama City on Friday.
- CITES is an international agreement between 184 governments to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
- The convention entered into force in 1975 and India became the 25th party as a state that voluntarily agrees to be bound by the Convention in1976.
- All import, export and re-export of species covered under CITES must be authorised through a permit system.
- CITES Appendix I lists species threatened with extinction — import or export permits for these are issued rarely and only if the purpose is not primarily commercial.
- CITES Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction but in which trade must be strictly regulated.
- Every two years, the Conference of the Parties (CoP), the supreme decision-making body of CITES, applies a set of biological and trade criteria to evaluate proposals from parties to decide if a species should be in Appendix I or II.
Tussle over ivory
- 1989- Global ban on ivory trade, Allafrican elephant populations were put in Appendix l
- 1997- Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe were transferred to Appendix ll
- 2000- South Africa was transferred to Appendix ll
- These countries are allowed to ‘one-off sale’ of ivory stockpiled from natural elephant deaths and seizures from poachers.
- CoP17 (2016) & CoP18 (2019)– Namibia’s proposal for allowing a regular form of controlled trade in ivory by delisting the elephant populations of the four countries from Appendix II, was rejected.
- CoP19 (2022)– Zimbabwe’s proposal for the same has been rejected.
Why these countries wanted to lift the trade ban-
- The four southern African countries argue that their elephant populations have bounced back and that their stockpiled ivory, if sold internationally, can generate much-needed revenue for elephant conservation and incentivising communities.
- Any form of supply stokes demand and that sharp spikes in elephant poaching were recorded across the globe after the one-off sales allowed by the CITES in 1999 and 2008.
India and ivory trade
- 1975-endangered Asian elephant was included in CITES Appendix I, Ban on the export of ivory from the Asian range countries.
- 1986- India amended The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to ban even domestic sales of ivory.
- 1991- After the ivory trade was globally banned, India again amended the law to ban the import of African ivory.
- 1981- New Delhi hosted CoP3, India designed the iconic CITES logo in the form of an elephant.
- 1992 CoP8: In Kyoto, Japan, Indian delegate Arin Ghosh, then director of Project Tiger, noted a polarisation of parties — one for sustainable use and trade in wildlife, the other favouring total ban and stricter control — with the latter, fortunately, outnumbering the former.
- 1994 CoP9: At Lauderdale, US,India opposed the down-listing of the elephant population of South Africa from Appendix I to II.
- 1997 CoP10: At Harare, Zimbabwe, India opposed the proposal to down-list the southern African elephant populations, expressing concern over repercussions for the Asian elephant, particularly with regard to poaching.
- 2000 CoP11: At Gigiri, Kenya, India moved a proposal along with the host country to up-list all elephant populations in Appendix II to I.
- At CoP17 and CoP18, India voted against proposals to re-open trade in ivory from the southern African states.
Why India abstained from voting this time-
- India signed an agreement in July with Namibia to fly in cheetahs.
- India has agreed to promote “sustainable utilisation and management of biodiversity”
- Namibia sought India’s support under this agreement for the longstanding proposal to re-open the ivory trade at CITES.
- Starting Tuesday (November 22), passengers travelling to India no longer need to fill forms and upload negative RT-PCR tests on the government’s Air Suvidha portal.
What was the Air Suvidha requirement?
- The portal was launched in August 2020
- International passengers had to mandatority submit details of their journey and Covid vaccination or testing status on this portal.
- The pre-arrival self-registration portal also enabled authorities to ascertain whether a person was arriving from a high-risk region.
- When the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spread, the Union Health Ministry mandated submitting details on the portal, including passengers’ 14 day travel history and negative RT-PCR test reports to map if the traveller was arriving from an ‘at-risk’ country.
Criticism against Air Suvidha-
- Two- year ban on regular international flights was lifted on March 2022, and the number of international passengers started to increase.
- The system failed many a times to cope with the increased number of international passengers.
- Travellers often failed to upload Covid negative certificates due to system failure.
When did India start the process to abolish Air Suvidha?
- A plea was filed in March 2022 but action started to be taken from june only.
- While the Aviation and Tourism ministries were supporting the abolition of portal but Health ministry was against it.
So has India removed all Covid restrictions for fliers?
- The abolition of Air Suvidha is the last Covid restriction to go.
- Earlier the government removed the mandatory requirement of wearing face masks on board aircraft.
- India’s Covid-era restrictions included limiting the number of domestic flights, ban on regular international flights, fare restrictions, no meal service on board, etc.
- Hearing a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on preservation of Sukhatal Lake in Nainital, the Uttarakhand High Court on Tuesday directed the State to stop all construction activities on the lakebed and posted the matter for further hearing on December 20.
About Sukhtal lake-
- Sukhatal is a freshwater lake having a length of 150m and 10m deep.
- Surrounded by the dense pine and oak forests.
- Sukhatal is a major source of water recharge for Nainital lake.
- Earlier known as Khudaiyatal
- Renamed as Sukhatal because the entire water from this lake was drained in the extreme region of the Nainital lake.
- These verdant forests are home to migratory birds.
Subject :Science and Technology
An Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Multi-stakeholder Partnership Platform (MSPP) was established November 18, 2022 to mark the beginning of the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW).
About the Platform-
- Launched by- the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the UN Environment Programme, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health jointly through a webinar.
- The multi-stakeholder partnership platform is a part of the AMR Global Governance Structures.
- The others in this network are the Global Leaders Group and the Independent Panel on Evidence for Action Against AMR.
- It was recommended by the Interagency Coordination Group (IACG) on AMR in its 2019 report to the UN Secretary General.
The platform is expected to:
- Drive multidisciplinary action at global, regional and national levels through action groups and forming action plans
- Building global momentum and high-level advocacy to combat AMR
- Generating global commitment to use antimicrobials in a responsible and prudent way to ensure antimicrobials will keep their efficacy
Severity of AMR-
- The ‘silent pandemic’ was behind almost five million deaths in 2019, including 1·27 million deaths attributable to bacterial AMR.
- AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines.
- This makes infections harder to treat and increases the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death.
- AMR leads to deaths, morbidity, high treatment cost, increased hospital stays and also losses in animal productivity.
- It also threatens food security.
- Misuse and overuse of antibiotics in the food animal production, wastes from factories, households, hospitals and farms are some of the key drivers of AMR.
- The Tamil Nadu Government, issued a notification declaring Arittapatti and Meenakshipuram villages in Madurai district the first biodiversity heritage site in the State.
About the site-
- The site comprising 139.63 hectares in Arittapatti village (Melur block) and 53.8 hectares in Meenakshipuram village (Madurai East taluk) will be known as theArittapatti Biodiversity Heritage site.
- Arittapatti village, known for its ecological and historical significance, houses around 250 species of birds including three important raptors – birds of prey, namely the Laggar Falcon, the Shaheen Falcon and Bonelli’s Eagle.
- Other wildlife includes the Indian Pangolin, Slender Loris and pythons.
- The area is surrounded by a chain of seven hillocks or inselbergs that serve as a watershed, charging 72 lakes, 200 natural springs and three check dams.
- The Anaikondan tank, built during the reign of Pandiyan kings in the 16th century is one among them.
- Several megalithic structures, rock-cut temples, Tamil Brahmi inscriptions and Jain beds add to the historical significance of the region.
Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS)-
- Under Section 37 of Biological Diversity Act, 2002 the State Government in consultation with local bodies may notify the areas of biodiversity importance as Biodiversity Heritage Sites.
- The Biodiversity Heritage Sites are the well defined areas that are unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems – terrestrial, coastal and inland waters and, marine having rich biodiversity comprising of any one or more of the following components:
- richness of wild as well as domesticated species or intra-specific categories
- high endemism
- presence of rare and threatened species
- keystone species
- species of evolutionary significance
- wild ancestors of domestic/cultivated species or their varieties
- past preeminence of biological components represented by fossil beds
- having significant cultural, ethical or aesthetic values; important for the maintenance of cultural diversity (with or without a long history of human association with them)
- Areas having any of the following characteristics may qualify for inclusion as BHS.
|Biodiversity Heritage Site (BHS)||District/State|
|1. Nallur Tamarind Grove||Bangalore, Karnataka|
|2. Hogrekan||Chikmagalur, Karnataka|
|3. University of Agricultural Sciences,||Bengaluru,Karnataka|
|5. Glory of Allapalli||Maharashtra|
|6. Tonglu BHS and Dhotrey BHS under the Darjeeling Forest Division||Darjeeling, West Bengal|
|8. Dialong Village||Manipur|
|9. Ameenpur lake||Telangana|
|11. Gharial Rehabilitation Centre||Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh|
|12. Chilkigarh Kanak Durga||West Bengal|
|13. Purvatali Rai||Goa|
|14. Naro Hills||Madhya Pradesh|
|16. SchisturaHiranyakeshi||Sindhudurg, Maharashtra|
People’s Biodiversity Registers (PBR):
- The PBRs focus on participatory documentation of local biodiversity, traditional knowledge and practices.
- The register shall contain comprehensive information on the availability and knowledge of local biological resources, their medicinal or any other use or any other traditional knowledge associated with them.
- They are seen as key legal documents in ascertaining the rights of local people over the biological resources and associated traditional knowledge.
- A Forest Range Officer (FRO) named Challamalla Srinivas Rao, 42, was brutally killed allegedly by a group of GuttiKoya Adivasis with axes and sickles over a “podu land” issue in Errabodu forest area in Chandrugonda mandal of Telangana’s BhadradriKothagudem district on Tuesday.
Why tribals attacked the FRO-
- Srinivas Rao along with his staff went to Bendalapadu tribal habitation to prevent an alleged attempt by a group of local tribal people to remove saplings in a plantation raised by the Forest department in Errabodu forest area.
- The migrant tribals, who claimed themselves as ‘podu cultivators’, allegedly chased and killed the FRO.
What is Podu?
- Podu is a traditional system of cultivation used by tribes in India, whereby different areas of jungle forest are cleared by burning each year to provide land for crops.
- The word comes from the Telugu language.
- Podu is a form of shifting agriculture using slash-and-burn methods.
Other forms of Shifting cultivation practiced in India-
|Type||Place of practice|
|Vevar and Dahiyaar||Bundelkhand Region (Madhya Pradesh)|
|Deepa||Bastar District (Madhya Pradesh)|
|Zara and Erka||Southern States|
|Podu||Andhra Pradesh, Telangana|
|Kumari||Hilly Region of the Western Ghats of Kerala|
|Kaman, Vinga and Dhavi||Odisha|
About the ‘Podu’ Land Issue
- The Errabodu incident comes at a time when a survey of “podu lands” is underway to find a permanent solution to the ‘podu lands’ issue as per the provisions of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.
- Podu lands are the lands tilled by tribal people in forests.
- Telangana government has red-flagged encroachment of forests by non-tribals, who are indulging in the practice of shifting agriculture (podu).
- Several political leaders have raised the issues of shifting agriculture and deforestation wherein encroachers clear a portion of land to raise crops one season and move to a different location next season, thereby clearing large areas of forests.
About GuttiKoya tribe tribe-
- Koya are an Indian tribal community found in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha.
- Koyas call themselves Koitur in their dialect.
- The Koyas speak the Koya language, also known as Koya basha, which is a Dravidian language related to Gondi.
- Koyas are commonly referred to as Koi, Koyalu, Koyollu, KoyaDoralu, DoralaSattam, etc.
- Koya tribes can be further divided into Koya, DoliKoya, Gutta Koya or GottiKoya,KammaraKoya, MusaraKoya, Oddi Koya, PattidiKoya, RashaKoya, LingadhariKoya (ordinary), KottuKoya, BhineKoya, Raja Koya, etc
- They are faceing the new threats of development and conflicts.
- In the absence of land and access to a forest, the Koyas depend on wage labour in farm lands.
- The scarcity of these jobs lead to malnutrition of children and instances of anemia in women.
- The Andhra Pradesh state government proposed Polavaram Project is posing a serious threat of displacement of 170,275 Koyas of the tribal population and more than 276 villages in the Khammam district of Bhadrachalam, Palwancha divisions.
Context: Carbon neutrality projects across India-
- In recent years, many panchayats have come forward with the concept of carbon neutrality, a prominent example being Meenangadi gram panchayat in Kerala’s Wayanad district, which serves as a model to emulate.
‘Carbon neutral Meenangadi’ Project-
- In 2016, the panchayat envisaged a project called ‘Carbon neutral Meenangadi’.
- The aim being to transform Meenangadi into a state of carbon neutrality.
- Steps taken were-
- Several multi sector schemes were implemented to reduce emissions, increase carbon sequestration, and preserve the ecology and bio-diversity.
- ‘Tree banking’ was one of landmark schemes introduced to aid carbon neutral activities which encouraged the planting of more trees by extending interest-free loans.
- 1,58,816 trees were planted which have also been geo-tagged to monitor their growth.
- Local economic development was another thrust area where LED bulb manufacturing and related micro-enterprises were initiated.
Initiatives in other Panchayats-
- Palli gram panchayat in Jammu and Kashmir has followed the same people-centric model, with specific local activities.
- A climate-resilient plan is being prepared.
- Bio-gas plants and solar panels were also introduced.
- A solar plant (500KW) has been installed to power 340 households.
- A Gram Panchayat Development Plan for 2022-23 is being prepared by integrating a climate-resilient plan.
- In Seechewal gram panchayat, theKali Bein riverwas rejuvenated with people’s involvement.
- Odanthurai panchayat in Tamil Nadu has its own windmill (350 KW).
- Tikekarwadi gram panchayat in Maharashtra is well known for its extensive use of biogas plants and green energy production.
- Chapparapadavu gram panchayat in Kerala has several green islands that have been nurtured by the community.
The ‘Clean and Green Village’ theme-
- The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has focused its attention on localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on a thematic basis.
- ‘Clean and Green Village’ has been identified as the fifth theme where panchayats can take up activities on natural resource management, biodiversity protection, waste management and afforestation activities.
According to the latest data, 1,09,135 gram panchayats have prioritised ‘Clean & Green Village’ as one of their focus areas for 2022-23.
- Carbon neutrality means every ton of anthropogenic CO2 emitted is compensated with an equivalent amount of CO2 removed, according to World Resources Institute.
- In order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, carbon neutrality by mid-21st century is essential. This target is also laid down in the Paris agreement signed by 195 countries, including the EU.
- Carbon sink is any system that absorbs more carbon than it emits.
- The main natural carbon sinks are soil, forests and oceans.
- To date, no artificial carbon sinks are able to remove carbon from the atmosphere on the necessary scale to fight global warming.
- The carbon stored in natural sinks such as forests is released into the atmosphere through forest fires, changes in land use or logging.
- Another way to reduce emissions and to pursue carbon neutrality is to offset emissions made in one sector by reducing them somewhere else. This can be done through investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency or other clean, low-carbon technologies.