Press Information Bureau (PIB) IAS UPSC – 17th to 20th February, 2020
Supreme Court’s judgement on Permanent Commission for women in Army
(Topic: Legislations related to Women; Fundamental Rights)
The Supreme Court brought women officers in 10 streams of the Army on a par with their male counterparts in all respects, setting aside longstanding objections of the government.
- SC ordered the government to grant permanent commission to women officers in the Army’s non-combat support units on par with their male counterparts should they wish to continue with it after completing their short-service commission.
- Denial of such an opportunity to women officers, combined with the Army policy of not giving them command posts of Colonel and beyond based on a performance index, lowers their status to that of a jawan or junior commissioned officer
- A woman officer working for 14 years is neither given pension nor retirement benefits, the bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud observed.
- The Supreme Court rejected arguments against greater role for women officers, saying these violated equality under law. They were being kept out of command posts on the reasoning that the largely rural rank and file will have problems with women as commanding officers. The biological argument was also rejected as disturbing.
- The judgement will mean that women officers will be eligible to tenant all the command appointments, at par with male officers, which would open avenues for further promotions to higher ranks for them: if women officers had served only in staff, they would not have gone beyond the rank of Colonel.
- It also means that in junior ranks and career courses, women officers would be attending the same training courses and tenanting critical appointments, which are necessary for higher promotions.
Background of the case
The case was first filed in the Delhi High Court by women officers in 2003, and had received a favourable order in 2010. But the order was never implemented, and was challenged in the Supreme Court by the government.
The induction of women officers in the Army started in 1992. They were commissioned for a period of five years in certain chosen streams such as Army Education Corps, Corps of Signals, Intelligence Corps, and Corps of Engineers. Recruits under the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) had a shorter pre-commission training period than their male counterparts who were commissioned under the Short Service Commission (SSC) scheme.
In 2006, the WSES scheme was replaced with the SSC scheme, which was extended to women officers. They were commissioned for a period of 10 years, extendable up to 14 years. Serving WSES officers were given the option to move to the new SSC scheme, or to continue under the erstwhile WSES. They were to be however, restricted to roles in streams specified earlier — which excluded combat arms such as infantry and armoured corps.
While male SSC officers could opt for permanent commission at the end of 10 years of service, this option was not available to women officers. They were, thus, kept out of any command appointment, and could not qualify for government pension, which starts only after 20 years of service as an officer. The first batch of women officers under the new scheme entered the Army in 2008.
What was the objection – The Battle
2003: PIL filed before the Delhi High Court for grant of permanent commission (PC) to women SSC officers in the Army
Writ petition filed by Major Leena Gurav: To challenge the terms and conditions of service imposed by circulars earlier that year, and to seek PC for women officers.
September 2008: Circular stating PC would be granted prospectively to SSC women officers in the Judge Advocate General (JAG) department and the Army Education Corps (AEC) was challenged before the Delhi High Court by Major Sandhya Yadav and others on the ground that it granted PC only prospectively, and only in certain specified streams.
The High Court heard the 2003, 2006, and 2008 challenges together, and passed its judgment in 2010.
- Women officers of the Air Force and Army on SSC who had sought permanent commission but were not granted that status, would be entitled to PC at par with male SSC officers, it ruled.
- However, this benefit was only available to women officers in service who had instituted proceedings before the High Court, and had retired during the pendency of the writ petitions. Women officers who had not attained the age of superannuation for permanently commissioned officers would be reinstated with all consequential benefits.
The government challenged the order in the Supreme Court, and even though the High Court judgment was not stayed, the Defence Ministry did not implement those directions.
- While the proceedings were on, the government passed an order in February 2019 for the grant of PC to SSC women officers in eight streams of the Army, in addition to the JAG and AEC, which had been opened up in 2008. But they would not be offered any command appointments, and would serve only in staff posts.
- During the hearing, the government came up with a proposal whereby women officers of up to 14 years of service would be granted permanent commission in line with the letter of February 2019. Women officers with more than 14 years of service would be permitted to serve for up to 20 years without being considered for PC, but would retire with pension, and those with more than 20 years of service would be released with pensionary benefits immediately.
- The government put forth other arguments before the Supreme Court to justify the proposal on the grounds of permanent commission, grants of pensionary benefits, limitations of judicial review on policy issues, occupational hazards, reasons for discrimination against women, SSC as a support cadre, and rationalization on physiological limitations for employment in staff appointments.
- The apex court has rejected these arguments, saying they are “based on sex stereotypes premised on assumptions about socially ascribed roles of gender which discriminate against women”. It has also said that it only shows the need “to emphasise the need for change in mindsets to bring about true equality in the Army”.
A. Constitution of an empowered “Technology Group”: Cabinet has approved constitution of a 12-Member Technology Group with the Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India as its Chair. This Group is mandated to render timely policy advice on latest technologies; mapping of technology and technology products; commercialisation of dual use technologies developed in national laboratories and government R&D organisations; developing an indigenisation road map for selected key technologies; and selection of appropriate R&D programs leading to technology development.
The three pillars of the work of the Technology Group include:
- Policy Support;
- Procurement Support; and
- Support on Research and Development proposals.
The Technology Group intends to ensure:-
- that India has appropriate policies and strategies for effective, secure and context-sensitive exploitation of the latest technologies for economic growth and sustainable development of Indian Industry, in all sectors;
- to advise the Government on priorities and strategies for research on emerging technologies across sectors;
- to maintain an updated map of technology and technology products available, and being developed, across India;
- to develop indigenization roadmap for selected key technologies;
- to advise the Government on its technology supplier and procurement strategy;
- to encourage all Ministries and Departments as well as State Governments to develop in-house expertise in policy and use aspects of emerging technologies such as data science and artificial intelligence, and to this end develop an approach to training and capacity building
- to formulate policies for sustainability of public sector technology at PSUs/Labs while encouraging cross-sector collaborations and research alliances with Universities and Private Companies; and
- to formulate standards and common vocabulary to apply in vetting of proposals for R&D.
B. Constitution of 22nd Law Commission of India for a term of three years
The Law Commission of India shall, inter-alia,: –
- Identify laws which are no longer needed or relevant and can be immediately repealed;
- Examine the existing laws in the light of Directive Principles of State Policy and suggest ways of improvement and reform and also suggest such legislations as might be necessary to implement the Directive Principles and to attain the objectives set out in the Preamble of the Constitution;
- Consider and convey to the Government its views on any subject relating to law and judicial administration that may be specifically referred to it by the Government through Ministry of Law and Justice (Department of Legal Affairs);
- Consider the requests for providing research to any foreign countries as may be referred to it by the Government through Ministry of Law and Justice (Department of Legal Affairs);
- Take all such measures as may be necessary to harness law and the legal process in the service of the poor;
- Revise the Central Acts of general importance so as to simplify them and remove anomalies, ambiguities and inequities
The 22nd Law Commission will be constituted for a period of three years from the date of publication of its Order in the Official Gazette. It will consist of:
- A full-time Chairperson;
- Four full-time Members (including Member-Secretary)
- Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs as ex-officio Member;
- Secretary, Legislative Department as ex officio Member; and
- Not more than five part-time Members.
C. Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) Phase-II: Will focus on Open Defecation Free Plus (ODF Plus), which includes ODF sustainability and Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM). The program will also work towards ensuring that no one is left behind and everyone uses a toilet.
- SBM (G) Phase-II will also be implemented from 2020-21 to 2024-25 in a mission mode with a total outlay of Rs. 1,40,881 crores. This will be a novel model of convergence between different verticals of financing.
- The SLWM component of ODF Plus will be monitored on the basis of output-outcome indicators for four key areas: plastic waste management, bio-degradable solid waste management (including animal waste management), greywater management and fecal sludge management
D. The Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020: This follows the introduction in Parliament of the Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2020, and the approval of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2020. These legislative measures are path breaking steps to protect women’s reproductive rights.
- The major benefit of the Act would be that it will regulate the Assisted Reproductive Technology services in the country. Consequently, infertile couples will be more ensured/confident of the ethical practices in ARTs.
- The need to regulate the Assisted Reproductive Technology Services is mainly to protect the affected Women and the Children from exploitation. The oocyte donor needs to be supported by an insurance cover, protected from multiple embryo implantation and children born through Assisted reproductive technology should be provided all rights equivalent to a Biological Children. The cryopreservation of sperm, oocytes and embryo by the ART Banks needs to be regulated and the bill intends to make Pre-Genetic Implantation Testing mandatory for the benefit of the child born through assisted reproductive technology.
Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2020
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020 proposes to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Board at the central level and State Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the States and Union Territories. The Bill has been examined by the Select Committee and the report has been tabled in the Rajya Sabha on the 5th of February 2020.
The major benefit of the Act would be that it will regulate the surrogacy services in the country. While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryos and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the Indian Married couple, Indian Origin Married Couple and Indian Single Woman (only widow or Divorcee) will be allowed on fulfillment of certain conditions. As such, it will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialization of surrogacy and will prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.
Medical Termination Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2020
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (34 of 1971) was enacted to provide for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The said Act recognised the importance of safe, affordable, accessible abortion services to women who need to terminate pregnancy under certain specified conditions. Besides this, several Writ Petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court and various High Courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on the grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women.
Taken together, the three proposed legislations create an environment of safeguards for women’s reproductive rights, addressing changing social contexts and technological advances.
E. Updating European Union Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) MoU signed between SEBI and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), United Kingdom: The UK exited the EU on 31st January 2020. FCA, UK had submitted to SEBI that no transitional measures would be available if the amended MoU is not signed before the date when the UK exits the European Union (Brexit), and requested SEBI to sign an updated MoU as early as possible. As such, the proposal is not expected or intended to have any effect on employment in India.
F. Elevation of Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geoinformatics (BISAG) as Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG(N)) under MEITY, Government of India:
- To maintain efficiency and innovation of services, the current skilled manpower working at BISAG may join the national level institute on as-is and where-is basis.
- To facilitate implementation of expanded scope of activities
- To facilitate implementation of expanded scope of activities and efficient rollout of GIS projects
- To facilitate implementation of expanded scope of activities, aid research & development and technology development
- Facilitate development planning and good governance through spatial decision support systems.
New World Bank Project to Improve Groundwater Management in Select States of India
(Topic: India’s agreements with international bodies)
The Government of India and the World Bank signed a $450 million loan agreement to support the national programme to arrest the country’s depleting groundwater levels and strengthen groundwater institutions.
The World Bank-supported Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) – National Groundwater Management Improvement Programme will be implemented in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh and cover 78 districts.
Criteria for selection:
- These states span both the hard rock aquifers of peninsular India and the alluvial aquifers of the Indo-Gangetic plains
- Degree of groundwater exploitation and degradation
- Established legal and regulatory instruments
- Institutional readiness
- Experience in implementing initiatives related to groundwater management
- Enhance the recharge of aquifers and introduce water conservation practices
- Promote activities related to water harvesting, water management, and crop alignment
- Create an institutional structure for sustainable groundwater management
- Equip communities and stakeholders to sustainably manage groundwater
- Contribute to rural livelihoods and in the context of climatic shifts, build resilience of the rural economy
The programme will introduce a bottom-up planning process for community-driven development of water budgets and Water Security Plans (WSPs) (based on community ownership and judicious management of water resources). Reversing groundwater overexploitation and degradation is in the hands of the hundreds of millions of individuals and communities – they need the right incentives, information, support, and resources to move to a more sustainable development and management of groundwater resources
- Water budgets will assess surface and groundwater conditions (both quantity and quality) and identify current and future needs.
- The WSP, on the other hand, will focus on improving groundwater quantity and incentivize selected states to implement the actions proposed. Such community-led management measures will make users aware of consumption patterns and pave the way for economic measures that reduce groundwater consumption.
Crop management and diversification will be the other focus areas. Studies indicate that a one percent increase in the area irrigated with groundwater leads to a 2.2 percent increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Also, a one percent increase in irrigation efficiency will reduce GHG emissions by 20 percent. The programme will support adoption of micro-irrigation systems, including sprinkler and drip irrigation to increase productivity and support farmers to shift to low water-intensive crops.
- To facilitate this process, the government will transfer a significant portion of the money (nearly 80 percent) to local governments, including districts and gram panchayats, as incentives for achieving targets in groundwater management. The remaining funds will be used for providing technical support for sustainable management of groundwater and strengthening institutional arrangements in the selected states.
The Atal Bhujal Yojana intends to strengthen the institutional framework for participatory groundwater management and encourage behavioral changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management. The use of cutting-edge technology, involving Artificial Intelligence and space technology will further help in better implementation of the programme.
India and Norway strengthen partnership on blue economy
(Topic: India’s agreements with other countries)
The two countries
- Opened the India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy for Sustainable Development: to develop and follow up joint initiatives between the two countries
- Commenced a new collaboration on Integrated Ocean Management & Research, making the Indo-Norwegian Ocean Cooperation a key pillar in the bilateral relationship
The Norway-India cooperation in the field of oceans is based on the shared interest in the blue economy and the sustainable use of marine resources, as well as a desire to advance scientific knowledge about our oceans. Norway and India are engaging on ways to ensure integrated ocean management at the government level. At the same time, Norwegian companies and private institutions are increasingly seeking opportunities with Indian counterparts, making India an even more significant partner for Norway.
The strength and value added of the India-Norway Joint Task Force on Blue Economy is its ability to mobilise relevant stakeholders from both Norway and India at the highest level, and ensure continued commitment and progress across ministries and agencies.
Soil health card Scheme
(Topic: Sustainable agricultural practices)
Why: Because of concern around depleting organic matter content in our soils
So, let us talk about SOC
Soil organic carbon (SOC) is extremely important for agriculture. About 58% of organic matter mass exists in the form of carbon. The percentage of organic matter in the soil can, thus, be estimated by simply multiplying the SOC% by a conversion factor of 1.72 (100/58).
While farmers may apply urea or di-ammonium phosphate, adequate SOC levels is what makes the nitrogen and phosphorous from these chemical fertilisers bio-available to crops. Organic matter is also the source of food for the microorganisms that help increase the porosity and aeration of soils. The soil’s moisture holding capacity, too, goes up with higher carbon levels, thereby reducing water runoff.
Simply put, SOC levels have direct correlation with soil productivity and, by extension, sustainability of agriculture. There is a link to climate change as well: Atmospheric carbon dioxide is stored in the form of SOC through the process of absorption in crop production and plant residue retention in soil. This sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide can, indeed, be a powerful mitigating measure for climate change.
So what is the issue?
Based on sample testing results under the Centre’s Soil Health Card Scheme, the SOC levels are found to be very low in most parts of India. The soils in temperate climates have better carbon levels. It is quite the opposite in hot and tropical atmospheric areas such as ours, where the soils tend to lose carbon through decomposition (mineralisation) of plant residues. Rising temperatures from climate change further aggravates the situation.
Can SOC levels matter be raised?
SOC levels matter can be raised through higher retention of farm residue and adding organic matter from outside.
- By proper crop selection influenced by appropriate policy intervention, including encouragement to set up agri-processing units for such crops, which will, in turn, make it profitable for farmers to grow crops producing more aboveground and root mass – which contribute to long-term productivity by enhancing soil organic matter.
- Even the aboveground mass remaining after harvesting of the grain and dried stalks needed for fodder should be returned to the soil as much as possible. This requires scientific crop residue management. Burning of crop stubble has a negative impact not just on environment and human health, but also on soil fertility. The crop residue when burnt, instead of raising SOC through mixing with the soil, gets converted into carbon dioxide. A strategy focused on both in situ and ex situ management of residue is necessary today.
- To add organic matter from external sources, use of compost must be promoted. There is definitely a case to subsidise building of vermicompost pits or ‘Nadep’ mud/clay brick tanks using money from MGNREGA and other schemes. Even urban green waste and manure from sewage treatment plants can be returned to farm soils. There is clear evidence that when nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is used in conjunction with farm yard manure, the fertiliser response ratio itself goes up with rising SOC levels.
- Crop rotation: In the rice-wheat system, planting of legumes, either as a summer or full replacement crop in the kharif/rabi season, is most needed. Legumes have root nodules harbouring rhizobium bacteria that fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. This nitrogen also helps bind and retain carbon in the soil for a longer time. Farmers, however, are hesitant to cultivate pulses for lack of a proper system of government procurement at minimum support prices, unlike that for wheat and paddy. Inclusion of pulses in the public distribution system would go a long way in promoting the cause of soil health as well as nutritional security for our masses.
- Use of no-till implements deserves a big push. Organic carbon is retained in large soil aggregates. Deep ploughing equipment that break these aggregates cause SOC loss, whether through runoff with water or evaporation as carbon dioxide. Zero-till seed drills, Happy Seeders and Direct Seeded Rice machines will ensure minimal disturbance of aggregates and less depletion of organic matter.
- Launch a comprehensive awareness programme for enhancing the organic matter content of soils, with specified and time-bound targets.
Hence, for Integrated Nutrient Management: Soil health cards
Mantra: Swastha Dhara to Khet Hara (if the soil is healthy, the fields will be green)
Launched in 2015, laying the foundation for evidence-based integrated nutrient management in Indian agriculture
- To assess the nutrient status of every farm holding in the country
- Assist State Governments to issue soil health cards to all farmers in the country
- Advocates judicious use of chemical fertilisers, together with organic manure and bio-fertilisers, in order to improve the health of the soil and its productivity
- Assesses soil fertility in terms of the availability of key nutrients — primary (nitrogen, phosphorous and potash) as well as secondary (sulphur) and micro (iron, zinc, copper, manganese and boron) — and physical parameters (electrical conductivity, pH and organic carbon).
- The SHCs issued to individual farmers also carry a prescription of the right dosage of nutrients based on both deficiency and crops grown in the soils of their particular area.
- In Phase I of the programme (2015-17), 10.74 crore cards were distributed, with another 11.45 crore being issued in Phase II (2017-19).
The Government under the component of Soil Health Management of National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) is promoting soil test based balanced and integrated nutrient management in the country through setting up/strengthening of soil testing laboratories, establishment of bio-fertilizer and compost unit, use of micronutrients, trainings and demonstrations on balanced use of fertilizers etc.
The SHCs are only the first link in ensuring healthy soils and production of safe and nutritious food. The receptivity of farmers to the programme has led to the emergence of ‘Mitti ke Doctor’ (soil health specialists) and even women’s self-help groups that undertake soil testing at village level.
- Developed to promote soil test based on nutrient management
- Reduces cultivation cost by application of right quantity of fertilizer.
- Ensures additional income to farmers by increase in yields
- Promotes sustainable farming
The Mitti ke Doctor of Jharkhand, mainly comprising rural women, are revolutionising the delivery of soil testing and other interventions at the doorstep of farmers, to encourage them to switch to balanced fertiliser and pesticide application for sustainable agriculture without compromising productivity.
The SHC programme has also attracted global attention. India is assisting Nepal in setting up soil-testing facilities and capacity building for integrated nutrient management and certified organic farming. These also figure in India’s initiatives in South-South Cooperation focusing on African countries.
So far 5.50 lakh demonstrations on SHC recommendation, 8898 farmer’s trainings and 7425 farmer’s melas have been sanctioned to States/UTs under the scheme.
During 2019-20, a pilot project ‘Development of Model Villages’ has been undertaken up where soil samples collection has been done at individual farm holding with farmer’s participation instead of sample collection at grids. Under the pilot project, one village per block is adopted for land holding based soil sampling, testing and organization of larger number of demonstrations up to a maximum number of 50 demonstrations (1 ha each) for each adopted village. This will result in acceptance of Soil Health Card by farmers.
Every scheme has challenges –
- First, operational challenges plague the system. The current “census” approach, where soil samples are collected from every 2×2 hectare parcel of land in irrigated areas (10×10 hectare in dry areas), and transported en masse for analysis in a dated network of wet chemistry labs, has put tremendous strain on the system, and the quality of soil analysis has suffered. Studies conducted have shown a low correlation between the results generated by the SHC scheme and those generated by gold standard labs. For instance, a Harvard study in Gujarat last year found accuracy issues in 300 of the 800 plots tested. On the field, such stories abound.
- Second, the scheme’s current design oversimplifies the nutrient recommendations — for example, if the health card shows that a farmer’s soil is deficient in zinc, it recommends topping up zinc. However, increasingly, research is showing that a crop’s “yield response” to a nutrient is far more complex than this. It is determined not only by the deficiency of that nutrient, but also other variables — rainfall, production practices, the presence of other nutrients, soil acidity, and temperature, to name a few. The correct yield response can be predicted from a model with data on the above parameters, a system that the scheme currently does not use. The simplistic recommendation based on deficiency of that nutrient alone is often sub-optimal, and can exacerbate the farmer’s problem, rather than solve it.
- Thirdly, the scheme underestimates its own potential, because its large-scale collection of soil data sees little use outside of filling out a physical card. This vast repository of data, painstakingly aggregated from millions of samples, remains largely isolated from researchers, start-ups and even state governments.
The Way Forward
- There is a need to move to a sampling-based soil information system that reduces the need for the tens of millions of samples that strain our lab capacity, and produces better results four times faster, at half the cost
- Need to develop predictive models using big data to provide recommendations to farmers that account for all the factors that affect a crop’s yield response – going beyond health cards to re-imagine how to structure and use the vast repositories of agriculture-related data that currently reside within silos — soil, rainfall, cropping patterns, temperature, irrigation.
- Need for a platform to combine soil health card data with rainfall and irrigation data and deliver precision irrigation advisories to our farmers on their mobile phones
Farm data and intelligent digital platforms that build on the SHC programme and leverage big data analytics should be the solution today!
PM Modi during 13th Conference of Parties on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals at Gandhinagar
(Topic: Conservation, Environment, Climate Change)
India is one of the most diverse countries of the world. With 2.4% of the world’s land area, India contributes about 8% of the known global biodiversity.
For ages, conservation of wildlife and habitats has been part of the cultural ethos of India, which encourages compassion and co-existence. India is blessed with diverse ecological habitats and also has four biodiversity hot spots. They are – the Eastern Himalayas, Western Ghats, Indo-Myanmar landscape and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. In addition, India is also home to around 500 species of migratory birds from across the globe.
Emperor Ashoka put great emphasis on prohibiting the destruction of forests and the killing of animals. Inspired by Gandhi Ji, the ethos of non violence and protection of animals and nature has been suitably enshrined in the Constitution of India. It also finds reflection in several laws and legislations.
Forest cover and climate change
- The number of Protected Areas has increased from 745 in 2014 to 870 in the year 2019 with area coverage of nearly 1 lakh seventy thousand sq.kms.
- India’s forest cover has increased significantly. The present assessment also indicates that the total forest cover is 21.67% of the total geographical area of the country. India has been championing the cause of “climate action” through conservation, sustainable lifestyle and green development model – the push towards Electric Vehicles, Smart Cities, and Conservation of Water.
- The range of our initiatives include ambitious target of 450 MW in renewable energy, push towards Electric Vehicles, Smart Cities, Conservation of Water, etc.
- The International Solar Alliance, the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, and Industries Transition Leadership with Sweden, have seen encouraging participation from wide array of countries.
- India is one of the few countries whose actions are compliant with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping rise in temperature to below 2 degree Celsius.
Conservation of animals
- India has achieved its target of doubling the number of tigers from 1411 in 2010 to 2967, two years before the committed date of 2022.
- India is supporting more than 60% of global Asian elephant population. 30 Elephant Reserves have been identified by our States. India has also taken several initiatives and set standards for conservation of Asian elephants.
- Launched Project Snow Leopard to protect the Snow leopard and its habitat in the upper Himalayas. India recently hosted the Steering Committee of the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Programme (GSLEP) of 12 countries, which resulted in New Delhi declaration envisaging development of country specific framework and cooperation between countries for snow leopard conservation.
- Initiated an Asiatic Lion Conservation project since January 2019 to protect the Asiatic Lion. Today, the population of Asiatic lions stands at 523.
- The One-horned Rhinoceros are found in three States of Assam, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The Government of India launched the “National Conservation Strategy for the Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros” in the year 2019.
- The Great Indian Bustard, a critically endangered bird has also been at the focus of our conservation efforts. As part of the captive breeding programme, 9 eggs have been successfully hatched from wild. This has been accomplished by Indian Scientists and Forest Department with technical assistance from International Fund for Houbara Conservation, Abu Dhabi.
- Since India is a part of the Central Asian Flyway for migratory birds, with a view to conserve birds along the Central Asian Flyway and their habitats, India has prepared a ‘National Action Plan for conservation of Migratory Birds along the Central Asian Flyway’.
- India proposes to strengthen its association with the ASEAN and East Asia Summit countries. This would be in sync with the Indo Pacific Ocean Initiative (IPOI), wherein India will be playing a leadership role. India by 2020, will be launching its Marine Turtle Policy and Marine Stranding Management Policy which will also address the pollution caused by micro-plastics. Single use plastics have been a challenge for environment protection and India has been on a mission mode to reduce its usage.
- Several Protected Areas in India share common boundaries with the Protected Areas of neighbouring countries, the cooperation in conservation of wildlife through establishment of ‘Trans boundary Protected Areas’, would lead to very positive outcomes.
- Reiterating the Union Government’s commitment to the path of sustainable development, Government has released the Linear Infrastructure Policy Guidelines to tailor development in ecologically fragile areas.
- In the spirit of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas, Sabka Vishwaas”, millions of people living in vicinity of forest area in the country have now been integrated in the form of Joint Forestry Management Committees and Eco Development Committees and associated with the protection of forest and wildlife.
Prelims oriented news
Baidyanath Dham: Deoghar, Jharkhand
Government to facilitate doubling of Milk Processing capacity
In India milk production is growing by 6.4% during the last 5 years and has increased from 146.3 million MT in 2014-15 to 187.7 million MT in 2018-19. About 54% of milk produced is marketable surplus and remaining 46% is retained in villages for local consumption.
- Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying is continuously working towards increasing milk productivity through genetic improvement and reduction of input cost.
- Special programme has also been launched recently for improvement of milk quality by providing required testing facilities at village and dairy plant level for safe human consumption. It is proposed to further intensify the Quality Milk Programme for both cooperative and private sector with fund sharing basis.
- With a thrust on better productivity, reduced input cost and better quality milk and milk product, the competitiveness and profitability in the dairy sector will get enhanced leading to increased demand of dairy products in domestic and international market. This would also bring private investments in the sector to boost growth in rural income and also employment.
Some of the learnings and points for way forward from the General Elections to Lok Sabha and other elections held recently
- More than one qualification date in an year for becoming Elector
- Aadhar linkage with electoral roll
- Paid news and false affidavit as electoral offence/corrupt practice
- Print media and social media intermediaries to be covered under Section 126 of the RP Act 1951
- Substituting the term ‘wife’ by ‘spouse’ in the RP Act 1951 to facilitate electoral registration to the spouse of women service officials in the category of service voter
- Amendment in Contribution Form
Historical Personality in News
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
- Born on 19th February 1630 to Shahaji Bhosle and mother Jijabai at Shivneri Fort, near the city of Junnar, Pune district
- Shahaji Bhonsle was a Maratha general who held the jagirs of Pune and Supe under the Bijapur Sultanate
- His original name was Shivaji Bhosle, but his beloved gave him the title of ‘Chatrapati’ or the ‘Chief of the Kshatriyas’ for his fearless ability to protect them all under the safe shelter. In the year 1674, he was crowned as the Chhatrapati (monarch) of his kingdom at Raigad.
- At the young age of 16, Shivaji Maharaj seized the Toma fort and by the age of 17 he seized the Raigad and Kondana forts.
- His major breakthrough came with the Battle of Pratapgarh against Afzal Khan, the general of the Sultanate of Bijapur, where his sheer planning, speed and excellent generalship made him a hero of the Marathas overnight.
- Chhatrapati Shivaji is famous for his courage to challenge the Mughal Empire, during the rule of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb tried to capture the forts and territories which were under Shivaji but could not achieve much success due to Shivaji’s clever planning and tactics.
- Shivaji is known as the Father of Indian Navy. He was the first to realize the importance of naval force, and therefore he strategically established navy and forts at the coastline to defend the Konkan side of Maharashtra. Because of his awareness of the geography of his land, and guerrilla tactics like raiding, ambushing and surprise attacks on his enemies he was known as ‘Mountain Rat’.
- Shivaji succumbed to fatal illness in 1680 and his empire was taken over by his son Sambhaji.
Read in detail: Wikipedia
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