IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 21st September 2018
Zoological Society of London honour for A.P. scientist
Part of: Prelims and mains III – Science, Biodiversity
For millions of years, tiny creatures have thrived in the darkest of places, they give us insights into life before the Continental Drift.
- Biospeleology, also known as cave biology, is a branch of biology dedicated to the study of organisms that live in caves and are collectively referred to as troglofauna.
- Biospeleology is still in its infancy in the country
Dr. Shabuddin Shaik
- A faculty member of the Acharya Nagarjuna University, Dr. Shabuddin Shaik has several firsts to his credit.
- He has to his credit the discovery of 40 new cave fauna species, including five new genera.
- One micro-crustacean discovered by him even has his name — Andhracoides shabuddin.
- Shaik has worked extensively in the caves of the undivided Andhra Pradesh, including the Belum and Borra caves, which are major tourist attractions.
- He found the micro-crustacean named after him in the Guthikonda cave in Guntur district. Based on his work, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which has had Fellows like Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and Ernst Mayr, has nominated Dr. Shaik for its fellowship.
- He found another micro-crustacean of the same genus, Andhracoides (named after Andhra Pradesh), in Belum cave and named it after German Speleologist Herbert Daniel Gebauer, who mapped the famous cave.
Boost to research
- Unlike the Belum cave, Borra cave is not in the ground but inside a hill. It goes three to four storeys down and opens to the Gostani River, which flows at the foot of the hill.
- The ZSL fellowship was a boost to taxonomy and biodiversity research in India. These frontier areas of research have been neglected.
- The very fact that Dr. Shaik could discover 40 new species proved that the Indian caves support rich, unique and highly diversified phylogenetically and biogeographically significant fauna that will throw light on the evolution of various life forms that are millions of years old.
- 3,169 species have been identified in the caves of the world, but more than 94% of cave fauna was waiting to be discovered.
Sex offenders’ registry launched with 4.4 lakh entries
Part of: Mains II – Social Justice, Governance
- India became the ninth country in the world to have a National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO), accessible only to law enforcement agencies for the purpose of investigation and monitoring.
- The proposal to set up a registry was mooted after the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case in New Delhi.
- This will not only aid the victims/complainants but also help the civil society organisations and responsible citizens to anonymously report such complaints.
- The first-of-its-kind national sex offenders’ registry has names and details of some 4.4 lakh people convicted for various sexual offences across the country.
- The database is for those convicted for sexual offences 2005 onwards.
- It includes name, address, photograph and fingerprint details of the convict.
- The database will be maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau, that will also track whether the State police were updating the records on time.
- The database will include offenders convicted under charges of rape, gang rape, Protection of Children from Sexual Offenders Act (POCSO) and eve teasing.
- Another portal was launched, cybercrime.gov.in, that will receive complaints from citizens on objectionable online content related to child pornography, child sexual abuse material, and sexually explicit material such as rape and gang rape.
- There are other features, such as a victim or complainant can track his/her report by opting for ‘report and track’ option using his/her mobile number.
- The complaints registered through this portal will be handled by police authorities of respective State/UTs.
Protecting persons with HIV/ AIDS: A law to safeguard rights and prevent discrimination
Part of: Prelims and mains II – Health and social justice
- The Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act of 2017 safeguards the human rights of people living with HIV and AIDS.
- The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a notification to bring the Act into force from September 10.
- The Act was born out of an urgent need to prevent and control the virus and syndrome.
- It has highlighted the necessity for effective care, support and treatment for HIV and AIDS.
- The Act spawns from the commitment to the global community under the Declaration of Commitment on Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (2001) for enhanced coordination and intensification of national, regional and international efforts to combat the virus and syndrome in a comprehensive manner.
- The statute aims to provide equal rights to persons with HIV and bring them into the mainstream.
- The Act gains importance as it makes it a legal obligation to protect the privacy of persons with HIV and AIDS.
- The law addresses discrimination meted out to persons with HIV and AIDS.
- It fortifies the health and medical health-care system for them and introduces legal accountability along with formal mechanisms to inquire into complaints and redress grievances.
Provisions of the Act
- The Act lists various grounds on which discrimination against persons with HIV is prohibited.
- These include the denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to employment, educational establishments, health-care services, standing for public or private office, and insurance.
- The requirement for HIV testing as a pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education is also prohibited.
- The Act provides that every HIV infected or affected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household.
- The Act prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
- Section 37 makes such propagation of hatred punishable with a term of imprisonment which shall not be less than three months but which may extend to two years, with fine which may extend to Rs. 1 lakh.
- As per the provisions of the Act, every person in the care and custody of the state shall have the right to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and counselling services.
‘Carbon taxes key in climate fight’
Part of: Prelims and mains III – Environment and climate change
- Fighting global warming will necessarily require taxing carbon emissions, or setting a price on carbon pollution, the World Bank’s chief executive said at a recently held G7 environment meeting in Canada.
- Shadow price for carbon is a method of calculating a price per tonne of carbon that includes the social costs of pollution.
- At least 46 countries and 26 sub-national governments have established a carbon pricing policy as of April 1.
Do you know?
The Group of Seven is a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries, with the seven largest advanced economies in the world, represent more than 62% of the global net wealth.
Animal/Sanctuary in news
Nearly one lakh winged visitors arrive at Bengal sanctuary
Part of: Prelims and mains III –Biodiversity
- As per a census carried out by the State Forest Department, the number of winged visitors at the Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal has crossed all previous records.
- Not only has the number of migratory birds is increasing every year, but the number of species has also increased from 50 in 2012-13 to over 120 this year.
Rajganj Wildlife Sanctuary
- The sanctuary is also known as the Kulik Bird Sanctuary, drawing its name from the river Kulik.
- Situated near Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal, the sanctuary is home to 164 bird species.
- It is claimed by some to be the largest bird sanctuary in Asia.
- The sanctuary has one of the highest numbers of Openbill stork population not only in India but in Asia and this makes the sanctuary unique.
- Of the 98,000 birds about 67,000 are Openbill storks.
- Openbill storks have a conservation status of Least Concern.
- Then there are cormorants, night herons, little egrets, flycatchers, owls and other species.
- Birds visit the Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary in June and stay till November, when the temperature drops.
- The temperature in the sanctuary’s numerous water bodies remains above 40 degrees Celsius during this period.
- Because of the presence of water bodies, there is a lot of food available for the birds. They primarily feed on fishes and snails.
- Of the new bird species visiting the sanctuary for the first time in 2018 are the Asian Paradise Flycatcher and Indian Pitta.
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
- It is native to the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia and Myanmar, but widely distributed.
- As the global population is considered stable, it has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2004.
- They are migratory and spend the winter season in tropical Asia.
- There are resident populations in southern India and Sri Lanka, hence both visiting migrants and the locally breeding subspecies occur in these areas in winter.
- It is native to the Indian subcontinent.
- It is a passerine bird (passerines are distinguished from other orders of birds by the arrangement of their toes, three pointing forward and one back, which facilitates perching).
- It is considered Least Concern by IUCN as its range is very large.
- Indian pittas breed mainly in the Himalayan foothills from the Margalla hills northern Pakistan in the west to at least Nepal and possibly up to Sikkim in the east.
- They also breed in the hills of central India and in the Western Ghats south to Karnataka.
- They migrate to all parts of peninsular India and Sri Lanka in winter.
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Indian Economy, issues related to resources and growth and development
Bonds to rescue the rupee
Government has taken certain steps to control the failing value of rupee. One of them is raising money from NRIs to boost currency with the help of NRI bonds.
What are NRI bonds?
- These are bonds issued by the Reserve Bank of India to non-resident Indians who are interested in investing their money in India.
- Since these bonds offer higher returns than other similar investments, they can be used as a tool to attract capital during times when other domestic assets fail to attract the interest of foreign investors.
- Many investors view them as a safe investment as these bonds are issued by the Indian central bank.
Why are they in the news?
- The sharp slide in the value of the rupee has led to speculation that the RBI might opt to issue NRI bonds worth $30-35 billion in order to help attract dollar investment into the country.
- The rupee’s fall of 13.7% since the beginning of the year has been caused by two factors.
- First, capital has been moving out of India’s capital markets. Foreign portfolio investors pulled out Rs. 47,836 crore in the first half of the year, a 10-year high.
- Second, Indian exports have been losing demand, while imports of commodities like crude oil have risen significantly, leading to all time high current account deficit.
- Both these factors have combined to cause an increase in the demand for the dollar, thus leading to the fall in the value of the rupee.
Can bonds save the rupee?
- NRI bonds could theoretically help increase demand for the rupee and stabilise its value against the dollar.
- The actual effect of these bonds on the rupee, however, will depend on how attractive they are to NRIs.
- In 2013, when the rupee witnessed a fall of about 25% in just four months following the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to taper down its bond-purchase programme, the RBI was able to collect more than $30 billion worth of foreign capital.
- NRI bonds were also issued in 1998 and 2000 to help curb the slide of the rupee.
- While these bonds can provide temporary assistance to the rupee by encouraging capital inflows into the economy, they may not address the fundamental economic issues that are causing the fall of the rupee.
Until the RBI can rein in domestic inflation and the government can take steps to boost exports and curb imports, emergency measures like the issuance of NRI bonds can only offer temporary respite to the rupee.
Connecting the dots
- What are NRI bonds? How they can be used to stabilise the domestic economy?
TOPIC: General Studies 3
- Environment Pollution and degradation
- Based on the recommendations of the National Green Tribunal, the CPCB last month apprised the States of the extent of pollution in their rivers.
- The number of polluted stretches in India’s rivers has increased to 351 from 302 two years ago.
- The number of critically polluted stretches where water quality indicators are the poorest has gone up to 45 from 34, according to an assessment by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
- The Rs. 20,000 crore clean-up of the Ganga may be the most visible of the government’s efforts to tackle pollution, the CPCB says several of the river’s stretches in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are actually far less polluted than many rivers in Maharashtra, Assam and Gujarat.
- These three States account for 117 of the 351 polluted river stretches.
Do you know?
Bio-Chemical Oxygen Demand:
- BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen needed (i.e. demanded) by aerobic biological organisms to break down organic material.
- BOD is a proxy for organic pollution. If BOD is higher, the worse is the river. The health of a river and the efficacy of water treatment measures by the States and municipal bodies are classified depending on BOD.
- When BOD is greater than or equal to 30 mg/l, it is termed as ‘priority 1,’ while that between 3.1 & 6 mg/l is ‘priority 5.’ CPCB considers BOD less than 3 mg/l, an indicator of a healthy river.
Reasons behind the river being more polluted:
- Rapid urbanisation is widening the gap, since infrastructure planning is not keeping pace with growth in housing.
- There is poor infrastructure available in a large number of cities and towns located near rivers.
- Managing sewage requires steady funding of treatment plants for all urban agglomerations that discharge their waste into rivers, and also a reliable power supply.
- There is failure of several national programs run by the Centre for river conservation, wetland preservation and water quality monitoring.
- The sewage and industrial effluents freely flow into the rivers in several cities.
- Low priority is accorded to the enforcement of laws by SPCBs and pollution control committees.
- River water at the barrage was diverted to treatment plants for water supply. Reports pointed out that 37 per cent of the sewage treatment plants (STPs) in Delhi were under-utilized as they did not receive sewage because of lack of drainage system in many areas.
- A 2013 World Bank study estimated that environmental degradation is costing India at least $80 billion a year, of which losses to rivers form a significant part. This is indeed a problem of catastrophic dimensions.
- Government should be to ensure that there was a limit to the amount of water that can be drawn from the river.
- The immediate plan should be to expand the supply of treatment plants.
- All liquid effluent discharge from the textile units and tanneries should be brought down to zero and it is to be pursued rigorously. Assistance to be given to industries to choose the best technologies for recovery of waste waters for reuse.
Connecting the dots:
- Write a brief note on: River Pollution in India, Causes, concerns and solution.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements about Cave-dwelling animals:
- Small cave-dwelling animals that have adapted to their dark surroundings are called as Biospeleology.
- They are highly susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity.
- They live longer than other terrestrial species.
Which of the above are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.2) Which of the following schemes/act have been launched/implemented for improving overall sex ratio in India?
- Sabla scheme
- Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme
- POCSO act
Choose an appropriate option using a code given below:
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 2 only
- All of them
Q.3) Consider the following statements:
- India does not have a de jure Carbon tax.
- Carbon Offsetting is the reduction of emission of GHGs to compensate for the emission of GHGs made elsewhere or, offset emission of GHGs.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
Q.4) Consider the following pairs:
- Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary : : Rajasthan
- Kulik Bird Sanctuary : : Odisha
- Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary : : Gujarat
Which of the above given pair(s) is/are correct?
- 1 and 2
- 1 and 3
- 2 only
- 1, 2 and 3
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