IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 7th May 2019
Tiger Reserve in news: Rajaji Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Conservation; Protected areas
Why in news?
- NGT constituted a committee to provide it a factual report on alleged illegal construction of a road for use by commercial vehicles in the ecologically sensitive Rajaji Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand.
- Petitioner has alleged that road is being built in the tiger reserve without statutory clearances and requisite safeguards. And the construction of the road may potentially damage the biological diversity and resources of the reserve.
Animal in news: grizzled giant squirrel
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Conservation of Animals; Protected areas
- For the first time, researchers have sighted as many as 363 nests of the grizzled giant squirrel at Pakkamalai Reserve Forests near Gingee in the Eastern Ghats.
- Several diverse and endangered species including the Golden Gecko, Bamboo Pit Viper and Mouse Deer have also been spotted in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests.
- Conservationists argue that the government should immediately declare the forests as a sanctuary for the grizzled giant squirrel.
About grizzled giant squirrel
- It is an endangered species listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- The grizzled giant squirrel is usually known to nest in the Western Ghats in Southern India ranging from Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary in Kerala to Anamalai Tiger Reserve and Palani hills in Tamil Nadu.
- Owing to habitat loss and poaching, the species has been categorised as near threatened by the Red List and listed under Schedule II of CITES. (IUCN Status: near threatened)
1 million species at risk of extinction: UN
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Biodiversity; Climate change
According to UN report –
- Relentless pursuit of economic growth and impact of climate change has put an ”unprecedented” one million species at risk of extinction.
- This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.
- The report said that the world may need to embrace a new “post-growth” form of economics if it is to avert the existential risks posed by the mutually-reinforcing consequences of pollution, habitat destruction and carbon emissions.
- Profound economic and social changes would be needed to curb greenhouse gases quickly enough to avert the most devastating consequences of a warming world.
Justice Bobde panel gives CJI a clean chit
Part of: GS Mains II – Credibility of Supreme Court; Women/Social issue; Judicial reforms
- The Justice S.A. Bobde in-house committee has found “no substance” in the sexual harassment allegations levelled by a former Supreme Court staff member against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
TOPIC: General studies 2 and 3
- Protection of primitive tribes
- Social issues; vulnerable sections of the society
- Policy interventions and issues arising out of their design and implementation
- Environment conservation; Community-led conservation
Conservation minus the people?
- In February, India, one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, issued a court order which stood to evict more than a million forest-dwelling people from their homes.
- But, India, a state that supports about 8% of global species diversity and over 100 million forest-dwellers, did not even put up a legal defence before its top court.
- However, this court order was subsequently stayed temporarily.
- The above incident provides valuable insights into India’s conservation objectives and approaches.
- Given the country’s size and biodiversity-richness, a decision of this nature has consequences for global natural heritage.
International and Domestic laws that deals with involving communities living in and around natural resource-rich areas
Involving communities living in and around natural resource-rich areas in the management and use of these resources is an effective tool of conservation that has been recognised across the world.
International conventions –
- 1980 World Conservation Strategy of IUCN
- Earth Summit’s 1992 Statement of Forest Principles and Convention on Biological Diversity
- IUCN’s Policy Statement on Sustainable Use of Wild Living Resources in 2000
- Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2004 Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity.
Domestic legislations –
- Indian Forest Act, 1927
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
- 1988 National Forest Policy
- 1990 Joint Forest Management Guidelines (JFM)
- 1992 National Conservation Strategy
- National Environment Policy of 2006 and 2006 Forest Rights Act
- 2007 Biosphere Reserves Guidelines
India has been a vocal member of above conventions. But at home, things operate rather differently, despite there were a number of policies that mirrored the global shift towards inclusive conservation.
- India’s different laws Indian Forest Act, 1927 and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 create different types and grades of protected areas, and contain provisions to restrict or outlaw local use of natural resources and landscapes.
- 1990 Joint Forest Management Guidelines (JFM) created community institutions for co-management, in collaboration with the forest bureaucracy. Although it initially registered some success stories in certain parts of the country, JFM committees are widely critiqued as being bureaucracy-heavy, with little real devolution of powers to local communities.
- 2006 Forest Rights Act went beyond sanctioning local usage, to conferring rights to local communities over forest land and produce. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs was mandated with operationalising the Act, while conservation remained under the domain of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. However, given a hostile bureaucratic environment, the legislation faltered, except in certain pockets.
- The Third National Wildlife Action Plan, introduced in 2017, is categorically of the view that locals hinder conservation. Where communities are to be involved, it distinctly avoids the attribution of rights and instead frames usage within a bureaucracy-controlled format.
- The 2018 Draft National Forest Policy left little room for communities.
- The Supreme Court’s order in early 2019 mandated the eviction of those forest-dwellers whose claims under the Forest Rights Act have been rejected, in disregard of the bureaucratic violations, lapses and technical constraints that have played a part in such rejections.
- In March 2019, amendment to Indian Forest Act was proposed for extinguishing rights granted under the Forest Rights Act. Further, it grants the forest bureaucracy unprecedented powers to enter and search the premises of forest-dwellers on suspicion, arrest without warrant and use firearms to meet conservation goals.
- India’s conservation policies and legislation over the years reveal a dichotomy of intent and action.
- While other countries are recognising the value of community-involved conservation models, India is stridently and steadfastly moving in the opposite direction.
- Certain progressive policy documents are put in place on lines of international commitments. However, a wholly different picture emerges during the course of its operation on the ground.
Connecting the dots:
- Do you think unlike the rest of the world, India is stridently moving away from community-involved conservation models? Substantiate.
- India’s conservation policies and legislation over the years reveal a dichotomy of intent and action. Elucidate.
- “Conservation is best achieved by those who know the forest”. In the light of the statement, critically discuss the present status and issues related with Forest Right Act.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
Way forward for RCEP
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand)
Do you know?
- Talks have been under way for over six years now, with over 25 rounds of negotiations between all FTA partner countries.
- The 16 member countries have now set a deadline of end-2019 to conclude the negotiations.
- India is among the countries that will have to take a call at this point considering the seriousness of the situation.
- The negotiations, until now, have been fraught with difficulties, with India accused of being ‘conservative’ in its approach towards tariff negotiations.
Concerns with respect to India and RCEP
- India is the one country that doesn’t have an FTA with China. The greater access Chinese goods will have to the Indian market, bigger the problem given India’s massive trade deficit.
- To circumvent this, the government has proposed a “differential market access” strategy for China, which others are inclined to accept.
- Both Indian negotiators and the domestic industry have been vocal about their discomfort with respect to opening up of the domestic market to Chinese exports. This is because of the massive Chinese overcapacity in key manufacturing industries, and major support programmes in the form of financial, non-financial and trade measures for the domestic industry, which give an edge to Chinese producers over other trade partners.
- There are also demands by other RCEP countries for lower customs duties on a number of products and greater access to the market than India has been willing to provide.
- The more developed RCEP countries such as Australia and Singapore have been unwilling to accommodate India’s demands to liberalise their services regime and allow freer mobility of Indian workers.
The way ahead:
- India suggests for appropriate safeguard clauses need to be put in place within RCEP in case injury to domestic industry is found, resulting due to impacts of massive support that China offers its industries, leading to overcapacity and price undercutting.
- India suggests introduction of clause on provisional safeguard measures.
- Also, given the current state of Indian industry, phased elimination of tariffs is necessary, especially with respect to some key manufacturing industries that have long gestation periods until they start running on full capacity.
- Therefore, at least a 15-25 years’ tariff elimination schedule should be negotiated for key sectors like chemicals, metals, automobiles, machinery, food products and textiles, which individually contribute more than 5% to India’s manufacturing GDP and employment, respectively. Phased elimination of few key manufacturing industries is absolutely essential with respect to China.
- Policymakers should be cognisant of the use of non- tariff barriers (NTBs) by China. Even though China has agreed to open almost 92% of their tariff lines, expecting India to reciprocate in the same manner, India’s concerns over China’s complex NTBs merit serious attention.
- Indian negotiators bargain hard for an inclusive and balanced RCEP. However, domestically India must fiercely focus on problems plaguing manufacturing sector and exports.
- RCEP is an opportunity for India to play a greater role in Asia-Pacific, the fastest growing and developing region the globe.
- India must not take the easiest way out on the trade deal and walk out of talks, rather it should move forward and fill the vacuum being created by the protectionism of US.
- If negotiated well, the RCEP has the potential to be a game-changer for India.
Connecting the dots:
- India with RCEP, critically examine the challenges and opportunities ahead.
- Do you think RCEP is a must for India? Analyze.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
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Q.1) Consider the following statements about Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
- It is associated with ASEAN
- All the members of RCEP are members of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)
- Cambodia is the only land-locked country among RCEP members
Select the INCORRECT statements
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1 and 3
- Only 2
Q.2) Which of the following countries is NOT a part of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)?
Q.3) Which of the following countries is/are NOT a part of RCEP?
Select the appropriate option using the code below
- 2 only
- 1 and 4 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 2 and 4 only
Q.4) Rajaji Tiger Reserve is located in
- Uttar Pradesh
- Madhya Pradesh
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