- The Foreign Office, the Law Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the military met with their counterparts to discuss on granting consular access for Kulbhushan Jadhav and to grant permission to Jadhav’s wife for a meeting with him.
- India has further responded to Pakistan’s proposal allowing former Indian naval official Kulbhushan Jadhav to meet his wife on humanitarian grounds
What was the issue?
- India claimed that Pakistan had breached its international law obligations by refusing consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death on charges of espionage and terrorism.
- Jadhav, an Indian national, was arrested by Pakistani officials in 2016.
- India dismisses the charges and insists that Jadhav was a retired Navy officer.
- Pakistan alleges that Jadhav was tasked by the Indian intelligence agencies to destabilise Pakistan and was arrested in Balochistan.
What is the present status?
- The Pakistani offer came months after MEA had asked for a meeting between Mr. Jadhav and his mother in Pakistan.
- India has taken note of the fact that Pakistan has kept the content of the letter confidential and so far, has not revealed it to the media on the Pakistani side.
- The ICJ ordered in May not to carry out Jadhav’s execution, pending a final decision.
What is the way ahead?
- Though diplomats on both sides are tight-lipped about the way ahead, unconfirmed reports have indicated that both sides have begun to discuss the modalities and venue of the meeting.
- Reports also suggest that India might want Mr. Jadhav’s mother also to travel along with his wife.
- The timing of the humanitarian gesture is significant as it comes weeks before the International Court of Justice takes up the case once again.
- As per the decision of the court, the case will come up on December 13, which was the deadline set for Pakistan to file the counter-Memorial.
Indian Constitution and Polity
Transgender rights: House panel proposed, govt rejects(Indian Express)
- The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has decided to junk the recommendations of a parliamentary committee report the first ever government document to recognize the rights of transgender persons to partnerships and marriage, making them no longer criminalized under IPC Section 377, apart from offering other rights.
Protection of Rights
- The ministry is all set to re-introduce the original version of The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, in the next session of Parliament.
- The Standing Committee report recommended specific provisions in the ministry’s version of the transgender Bill, to safeguard their rights, protect them against discrimination, and provide quotas in government colleges and jobs.
- The recommendations of the panel would be included in a revised version of the Bill. It depends on the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry whether to include it in their business.
- The parliamentary panel report, hailed as progressive by many within the community, had faulted the government’s Bill for its failure to address several crucial issues..
- While the August 2017 Supreme Court nine-judge bench Right to Privacy judgment had made strong observations on the need to decriminalize IPC Section 377 (which currently penalises sexual intercourse “against the order of nature”), the matter is still pending consideration before the apex court in a separate case.
What recommendations were forwarded by the panel?
- The panel’s recommendation was meant to accord legal recognition and protection from Section 377 to, if not all sexual minorities, at least transgender persons.
- It asked for provisions that provide penal action against abortions of intersex foetuses and forced surgical assignment of sex of intersex infants.
- The ministry’s proposed definition of transgender persons as ‘neither wholly male or female, a combination of female or male, neither female nor male” was criticised by the panel
- The parliamentary panel also expressed ‘dismay’ at the proposed National Council for Transgender Persons, being ‘reduced merely to an advisory body’ with no ‘effective enforcement powers’ in the Bill.
- Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be the recipient of this year’s Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development.
Award for peace
- A jury headed by former President Pranab Mukherjee came to a decision on the award in recognition of creative efforts toward promoting international peace, development and a new international economic order.
- The award ensures that scientific discoveries are used for the larger good of humanity, and enlarging the scope of freedom.
- The award, comprises of a cash prize of ₹25 lakh and a citation, instituted by the Indira Gandhi Memorial trust in 1986.
Electric fences killing tigers in Maharashtra(The Hindu) And Delay in the protection of corridors threatens tiger population(The Hindu)
- The electrocution of a tigress in the Chimur forest range in Chandrapur brings the tiger death toll due to electrocution in the Vidarbha area alone to five this year.
- Delayed action to protect crucial wildlife corridors, despite the availability of relevant ecological knowledge is another reason killing the big cats
Why are tigers dying?
- In a desperate attempt to prevent herbivores from destroying their crops, farmers often set up illegal high-voltage electrical fences around their fields
- Tigers, which use human-dominated landscapes including agricultural fields to move about, die when they come in contact with these fences.
- In some places, poachers erect live wire traps using overhead 11 kv lines to kill animals
Why are there more incidents now?
- Seven tigers have been electrocuted in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh alone
- Habib’s team had radio-collared four tigers to study their movement outside protected areas in the landscape; three of them died due to electrocution this year.
Why is this a problem?
- These tiger deaths are just the tip of the iceberg and point to a larger problem, says Milind Pariwakam, wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Central Indian Programme.
- Experts admit that electrocution is one of the major threats to tiger conservation in central India.
What are authorities saying?
- The threat of electrocution seems to be higher in villages near the core regions of the protected areas where crop raids by wild animals are more frequent, prompting farmers to put up high-voltage fences.
- Nearly 200 villages that are prone to such a conflict and where tiger electrocutions are also highly probable.
- The campaigns will highlight the illegal use of such fences for crop protection: stealing power from overhead lines amounts to theft, and animal deaths that result from the erection of these fences are offences under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Plant emissions higher than believed(The Hindu)
- Carbon released by plant respiration accounts to 30% higher than previously predicted, therefore as the mean global temperature increases, respiration will increase significantly.
- The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
What are the future prospects?
- Such an increase may end up lowering the future ability of global vegetation to offset carbon dioxide emissions caused by burning fossil fuels.
- Plants both capture carbon dioxide and then release it by respiration. Changes to either of these processes in response to climate change will have profound implications for how much ecosystems soak up carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.
- The study provides the most up-to-date accounting of respiratory carbon releases from plants in terrestrial systems.
- The findings are based on the comprehensive GlobResp database, which is comprised of more than 10,000 measurements of carbon dioxide plant respiration from plant species around the globe.
- Merging this data with existing computer models of global land carbon cycling showed plant respiration has been a potentially underestimated source of carbon dioxide release.
- Once incorporation of this data into state-of-the-art carbon cycling models will be done, it will be easier to being able to accurately model carbon cycle feedbacks for climates across the globe.
It has white flowers, but a covetous heart(The Hindu)
- Scientists have discovered a new species of parasitic flowering plant, Gleadovia konyakianorum, that has no chlorophyll, and survives by feeding on another species of plant.
- The species Gleadovia konyakianorum, is named so in honour of the Konyak tribe of Nagas.
- It was identified during a botanical exploration earlier this year near Tobu town of Mon district in eastern Nagaland.
- It is a holoparasite [complete parasite] that derives its entire nutritional requirement from the host plant, which is a Strobilanthes species.
- The plant was found in the semi-evergreen forest at an altitude of 1,500-1,600 metres. The details of the newly discovered species was published in the journal Phytotaxa.
- Though the plant has no chlorophyll, the plant has a vascular system and extracts its nutrition from the host plant with the help of a haustorium.
What is a haustorium?
- A haustorium is a specialized structure with which plant parasites attach themselves to the tissue of host plants and derive nutrition.
- Gleadovia konyakianorum is a root parasite that grows up to 10 cm in height, and bears white, tubular flowers.
- Gleadovia konyakianorum is only the fourth species from the genus Gleadovia to be found in the world. The other three are Gleadovia banerjiana (discovered in Manipur), Gleadovia mupinense (found in China) and Gleadovia ruborum (discovered in Uttarakhand and also reported from China).
- The white flowering parasite was found in a group of 15-20 plants, and since the species hasn’t been reported anywhere else, scientists have described its status as ‘data deficient’ as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species Criteria.
- Plant parasites are differentiated as stem and root parasites. Common stem parasites found in India are Loranthus sp, on Mango trees, and Cuscuta reflexa, a climber. Among the root parasites are Sapria himalayana, a rare holoparasitic flowering plant found in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.