(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: GS Prelims and GS –I – Geography
In News: Kerala houseboats in Vembanad Lake are about to begin soon amid a robust vaccination drive.
- This is the largest lake in Kerala and the longest Lake in India.
- Source of the rivers: Meenachil, Achankovil, Pampa and Manimala
- Vallam Kali (i.e Nehru Trophy Boat Race) is a Snake Boat Race held every year in the month of August in Vembanad Lake.
- In 2002, lake was included in the list of Ramsar Convention.
- It is the second-largest Ramsar site in India after the Sundarbans in West Bengal.
- The Vembanad wetland is also identified under the National Wetlands Conservation Programme.
- The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is located on the east coast of the lake.
- In 2019, Willingdon Island, a seaport located in the city of Kochi, was carved out of Vembanad Lake.
- One of the most outstanding features of this lake is the 1252 m long saltwater barrier, Thanneermukkom, which was built to stop saltwater intrusion into Kuttanad.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS -III – Economy
- The government has recently included retail and wholesale traders under the MSME (Micro, small and medium Enterprises) classification.
What are the implications of this inclusion?
- MSME sector includes Industrial sector and Services sector but does not include Agriculture sector.
- Though all the Retail and wholesale trade is part of Services sector, they were not considered as MSMEs.
- Since MSMEs are part of the Priority Sector Lending (PSL) Guidelines, now Retail and Wholesale trade will be able to avail loan under PSL.
- Priority Sector Lending is an important role given by the RBI to the banks for providing a specified portion of the bank lending to few specific sectors.
- These sectors of the economy, that has high social return and are much needed for inclusive development, may not get timely and adequate credit in the absence of this special dispensation.
- Banks today, lend nearly 40% of their adjusted net bank credit (ANBC) to the priority sector.
Pic courtesy: Vitt Arth
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Issues related to children and women
About the Report
- It is released by the US State Department
- It is world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-trafficking efforts.
- It is also U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking.
What are the key findings of the Report?
- According 2021 report, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in vulnerability to human trafficking and interrupted existing anti-traffic efforts.
- Human trafficking involves the illegal transport of individuals by force or deception for the purpose of labour, sexual exploitation, or activities in which others benefit financially.
- India has not met the minimum standards to eliminate trafficking. The efforts made by the government are inadequate.
- Chinese government is engaged in widespread forced labour
What are the relevant Laws in India?
- Article 23 prohibits human trafficking and begar (forced labour without payment).
- Article 24 forbids employment of children below the age of 14 years in dangerous jobs like factories and mines.
- Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section:
- Section 370 and 370A of IPC provide for comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human trafficking
- Sections 372 and 373 dealing with selling and buying of girls for the purpose of prostitution.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – Health; Policies and interventions
- According to a new report by the Wash Institute (a non-profit organisation based out in Tamil Nadu), India was responsible for the largest drop in open defecation since 2015, in terms of absolute numbers.
- Open Defecation is practise of going out in fields, or other open spaces rather than using the toilet to defecate. It exposes women to the danger of physical attacks and poses health risk to children (vulnerability to diseases & Infection)
What were the findings of the Report?
- By 2016, open defecation had decreased in all states of India, with the largest drops seen in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.
- Progress in curbing open defecation in sub-Saharan Africa was slow.
- Between 2016 and 2020, the global population with access to safely managed drinking water at home increased to 74%, from 70%.
- People faced challenges to maintain hygiene, especially in the context of the Covid-19
- 3 in 10 people worldwide could not wash their hands with soap and water at home during the Covid-19 pandemic due to lack of water resources.
What are some Government Initiatives?
- National rural sanitation strategy:
- 10-year Rural Sanitation Strategy starting from 2019 up to 2029.
- Lays down a framework for planning Open Defecation Free (ODF) Plus status,
- Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen Phase-II:
- It emphasizes the sustainability of achievements under phase I and to provide adequate facilities for Solid/Liquid & plastic Waste Management (SLWM)
- ODF: At any point of the day, not even a single person is found defecating in the open.
- ODF+: At any point of the day, not a single person is found defecating and/or urinating in the open, and all community and public toilets are functional and well maintained.
- ODF++: If the area is already ODF+ and the faecal sludge/septage and sewage are safely managed and treated
Part of: GS Prelims and GS III – Conservation; Biodiversity
- Recently, 150 vultures were seen in the Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR), Bihar, which has prompted a vulture conservation plan in the protected region.
What is the importance of Vultures?
- They live in the tropics and subtropics.
- Nature’s garbage collectors: Vultures are the scavengers who do the work of cleaning up, and keeping the ecosystem healthy.
- Despite feeding on infected carcass, vultures do not get infected.
- The acids in their stomach are potent enough to kill the pathogen.
- Thus, the chain of infection is broken.
- Therefore, vultures invisibly controls the spread of harmful pathogens causing deadly anthrax, cholera, foot and mouth disease, rabies etc.
- They also prevent the contamination of water sources, especially in the wild.
- When animals die near watering hole, there is an imminent danger of contamination resulting in a quick spread of infections and mass death.
- But vultures devour the carcasses in totality thereby preventing a tragic mishap.
What is the status of vultures in India?
- India is home to 9 species of Vulture: Oriental white-backed, Long-billed, Slender-billed, Himalayan, Red-headed, Egyptian, Bearded, Cinereous and the Eurasian Griffon.
- Most of these 9 species face danger of extinction.
- Wildlife Protection Act 1972:
- Schedule-1: Bearded, Long-billed, Slender-billed, Oriental white-backed
- Rest are protected under ‘Schedule IV’.
- IUCN status:
- Critically endangered: Oriental white-backed, Slender-billed, Long-billed, Red-headed
- Endangered: Egyptian
- Near threatened: Himalayan, Bearded, Cinereous
- Least Concerned: Indian Griffon
- Diclofenac is used as a medicine for livestock. Vultures which feed on such dead livestock gets exposed to diclofenac that causes kidney failure threatening its life.
- Loss of Natural Habitats due to anthropogenic activities.
- Food Dearth and Contaminated Food.
- Electrocution by Power lines.
Do You Know?
- Recently, the Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change launched a Vulture Action Plan 2020-25 for the conservation of vultures in the country.
- Ensure minimum use of Diclofenac
- The Vulture Safe Zone programme is being implemented at eight different places
- Four rescue centres at Pinjore (Haryana) , Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Guwahati (Assam) and Hyderabad (Telangana)
- First Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre (VCBC) in India at Pinjore, Haryana
Four Years of GST
What are the achievements of GST?
- Automated Indirect Tax Ecosystem:
- Introduction of e-way bills
- Crackdown on fake invoicing
- Simplification of Compliance:
- Linking the customs portal with the GST portal for credit availability on imports.
- Increased automation of the refund procedure, etc.
- The GST Council made corrections to law, issued clarifications on complex issues, rationalized GST rates, etc.
What is Goods and Services Tax?
- The GST is a value-added tax levied on most goods and services sold for domestic consumption.
- The GST is paid by consumers, but it is remitted to the government by the businesses selling the goods and services.
- It is Destination based Taxation as against the old principle of origin-based taxation.
- It is a dual GST with the Centre and the States simultaneously levying tax on a common base (CGST and SGST).
- GST rates are mutually decided by GST Council, a constitutional body (Article 279A), chaired by Union Finance Minister.
- Multiple Rate Structure: 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%.
- GS-2: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive
- GS-3: Security challenges and their management in border areas
Context: Union government creating the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) & making progress with the idea of Integrated Theatre Commands was very much needed to break away from old practice of Indian Military working in silos.
- The objective of these steps is to bring synergy in operations while economising through the elimination of duplication and wasteful practices or processes
While the Army and the Navy are on board with the proposal of Integrated Theatre Command, the Air Force has certain reservations.
What are the arguments from Air Force?
- Dangers of Air Force becoming Adjunct to Army & Navy
- In the current formulation of theatres, the objections from the IAF have essentially been due to air power being seen as an adjunct to the two surface forces (Army and Navy) and being divided into multiple packets.
- Air force experts opine that this would dilute air force’s operational autonomy and would seriously degrade the effectiveness of air operations in any future conflict or contingency
- Deliberation before Fomalisation
- Also, it is better that such objections and dissenting opinions come out now before the structure is formalised.
- Need to first Come up with National Security Strategy
- Despite seven decades of Independence, India still does not have a clearly articulated national security strategy.
- Only such a strategy can define the types of contingencies the military is expected to address and define the structures required for the conduct of synergised operations.
- An intellectual exercise while developing National Security Strategy may well result in identifying air power as the lead element.
- Thus, CDS should have pursued drawing up of such overarcing strategy rather than rushing through integrating forces.
- Future Conflicts requires empowered Air Force
- Defence Programme post-1962 was based on the assumption that China posed the major threat and that the IAF be made capable of assuming some of the Army’s deterrence capability
- Even during recent border clashes with China, the clear intent to use combat air power, as against 1962, has significantly contributed in deterring China.
- IAF does not wish to see its limited resources frittered away in fighting frontal defensive battles by a land force commander with little expertise in employment of air power.
- Structural Gaps remains unaddressed
- Theatre or any lower structure requires an institutionalised higher defence organisation, which has been sadly missing since the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) became defunct in the 1950s
- CDS, as the permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC), would also exercise operational control of the theatre/functional commands, a move that is unlikely to be palatable to the politico-bureaucratic leadership.
- Therefore, it is better to address these structural issues before moving ahead with integrated theatre commands
Prudence demands that instead of ramming down such structures without adequate deliberations and discussions with all stakeholders, we first evolve appropriate military strategies in a nuclear backdrop in concert with the political objectives.
Connecting the dots:
- Defence Self-reliance
- Challenges in India’s defence trade
- Rethinking Defence doctrine
- Recent reforms in Defence Sector
- GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countrieson India’s interests, Indian diaspora
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Definition: On July 1, the European Union implemented the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) or the “Green Passport”, which allows ease of intra-European travel for passengers who have taken one of four recognised vaccines.
- The list of approved vaccines does not include India made COVISHIELD & COVAXIN.
- The move led to a sharp protest from India, as well as the African Union, as concerns grow over vaccine passports that discriminate against travellers from developing countries with limited access to vaccines.
What does the EUDCC entitle passengers to?
- The EUDCC, or the Green Passport, which is in the form of a digital QR code, attests that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19.
- It is recognised by all 27 EU countries, as well as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway for passengers within Europe, who are bound not to need separate documentation for intra-EU travel.
How will it impact Indian travellers?
- The EUDCC will impact Indians notionally at present, as only essential travel is allowed into EU countries and special permission has to be taken for those travelling from India.
- With global concerns over the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, more restrictions are in place for Indians travelling abroad.
- The European Union has pointed out that the EUDCC is only meant for passengers within the EU.
- According to the EU, the Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covishield was a “biologically” different product and it hence needs to apply separately for approval/ clearance to be included in the vaccine list of EUDCC.
- Meanwhile, the road seems harder for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, as unlike Covishield, it has not received recognition from even WHO and is in the process of completing its application there.
- India’s concerns are three-fold.
- It feels vaccine passports will restrict passengers from countries that don’t have the same access to vaccines and will increase vaccine inequality.
- It also argues that the EU should recognise Covishield as it is no different from other AstraZeneca-licensed vaccines.
- More broadly that all Indian-approved vaccines should be given recognition worldwide, and that passengers can be certified via the Co-WIN website
How did India register its protests?
- During his visit to Italy for the G20 ministerial conference last week, External Affairs Minister registered a strong protest in his meetings with European counterparts.
- Also, government sources indicated that India was prepared to initiate reciprocal harsh quarantine measures against countries that discriminated against Indians.
- Officials point out that Covishield was distributed to 95 countries, mainly low- and middle-income countries of the global South, and the EU action discriminates against all of them.
- There is a hint of racism, they claim, in the fact that all vaccines cleared by the EMA are those that have been taken by residents in Europe and North America, whereas the ones excluded are those made and distributed far and wide in the rest of the world by Russia, India and China.
What is the WHO’s stand?
- WHO has held categorically that vaccine passports should not be made mandatory for travel and should be optional, stating that proof of COVID-19 vaccination should not be required as a condition of entry and exit from a country.
With at least nine countries, including Austria, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland, agreeing to independently make exemptions for Covishield, and Estonia accepting both Covishield and Covaxin, there is hope that enough pressure will build on the EMA to include exemptions for Indian vaccines as well.
Connecting the dots:
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.
- Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.
Q.1 Which body/organisation releases Trafficking in Persons Report?
- Amnesty International
- US State Department
- Compassion International
Q.2 Consider the following statements
- The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is located on the east coast of the lake.
- In 2019, Willingdon Island was carved out of the Lake.
- One of the most outstanding features of this lake is the 1252 m long saltwater barrier, Thanneermukkom
Which lake is being referred to here?
- Chilika lake
- Dal lake
- Hussain Sagar Lake
- Vembanad Lake
Q.3 Which of the following article prohibits human trafficking and begar (forced labour without payment)?
- Article 23
- Article 24
- Article 25
- Article 26
ANSWERS FOR 3rd July 2021 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On Climate Financing:
On COVID’s impact on India’s workers:
Equitable Access to Justice for Migrant Workers: