GS 1

Social Issues


Before the sluice gates close: (The Hindu, Editorial)


Read its complete analysis here:

Sardar Sarovar Project(SSP) makes local run from pillar to post

GS 2

International groupings and agreements


India for Israel, says Modi; force against bad: Netanyahu: (The Hindu)

India, Israel to set up $40 mn research fund: (The Hindu)


Both the above issues have been covered in the following summary

India – Israel flourishing friendship

Context

  • India and Israel announced a strategic partnership and signed seven water agreements in the fields of water, agriculture, space and a $40 million joint fund for research and development in innovation.

New turn of events

  •  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called the India-Israel partnership a force for “good against bad.”
  •  They had tasked special committees to implement the seven agreements between them by January 1 next year, and Mr. Netanyahu accepted Mr. Modi’s invitation to visit India.

Defence and Terrorism

  • Agreements on security issues were prominent in the talks, and officials discussed the possibility of “joint development of defence products, including the transfer of technology from Israel.
  • The took a stand on taking strong measures against terrorists, terror organizations’, their networks and all those who encourage, support and finance terrorism, or provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups.
  •  They also underscored the need to “ensure that terrorist organizations’ do not get access to any WMD [weapon of mass destruction] or technologies.”
  •  The Veiled references were made to Pakistan and Iran, both of which are nuclear-capable powers.

Water Conservation

  • Two agreements were signed in the field of water deal with the “increasing awareness” of the need for water conservation.
  •  A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Israeli Water Ministry and the Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam Board.

Other important linkages

  • Three MoUs on space cooperation included one for Electric Propulsion for Small Satellites, and for the development of an optical link as well as cooperation on atomic clocks.
  •  The fund for research and development, called the “I4F” or India Israel Industrial Innovation Fund, will see both governments contribute $20 million to help research scholars manufacture their inventions easily.
  •  The two sides also agreed to increase air linkages between the two countries, with Air India expected to commence flights to Tel Aviv.

Government policies


Selection of ECs must be transparent, SC tells Centre: (The Hindu)


Read about the issue here:

Selection of EC must be Transparent


Protecting prisoners: (The Hindu, Editorial)


Read about the editorial below:

Promoting fair and effective criminal system


Realise the de facto realities on J&K: (The Hindu, Editorial)


Realizing the realities of Jammu & Kashmir

Context

  • Ghulam  Nabi Azad, a Kashmiri, and a Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, attacked the government for not contesting the American characterization of Kashmir.
  •  Mr. Azad called it a ‘compromise’ as regards national security.

What led U.S to call it administered Jammu & Kashmir?

  • The Americans were being merely factual.
  • Salahuddin’s tenure as senior (Hizbul Mujahiddeen) HM leader, HM has claimed the responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014 explosives attack in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, which injured 17 people.
  •  Using the context used by HM, U.S. remained consistent with the reality on the ground.

The distorted map of Jammu & Kashmir

  •  The fact remains intact that there are areas in Jammu and Kashmir which are in the control of Pakistan.
  • Pakistan controls a significant portion of its western and northern parts, some 78,000 sq. km of it.
  •  In the region, our maps refer to as Jammu and Kashmir, about 37,500 sq. km, comprising the Aksai Chin, is controlled by China.
  •   In addition, some 5,180 sq. km was gifted to China by Pakistan. India’s portion remains meager.

Conclusion

  •  It is therefore rational that there exist vast areas of Jammu and Kashmir we have no control over.
  •  It is equally logical that the areas under India’s control should be administer.
  • Parliament and State Legislatures

Parliamentary secretaries’ appointment set aside: (The Hindu)


‘No provision for the post under law’.

Read about the above issue here:

Parliament Secretary appointment set aside


Missile diplomacy: (The Hindu, Editorial)


US is back to the drawing board, need of better initiatives

Read the thorough analysis of this Editorial below:

US seek alternatives as North Korea raise the stakes

GS 3

Pollution and conservation


Of plant species few and far between: (The Hindu)


‘RET’ Species Recorded in Southern Western Ghats

 

Context:

Team from Botanical Survey of India has gathered research evidence on rare, threatened plants in the Southern Western Ghats

BSI project on endemic tree resources:

  •  The Botanical Survey of India (BSI) has been undertaking a three-year programme to document economically important endemic trees nationally.
  •  The BSI project on endemic tree resources in the southern Western Ghats, has documented about 250 ‘RET’ species.
  •  The assessment of some of these conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature for the IUCN Red List puts them under vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered categories
  •   However, for nearly two decades, some of these plants have not been assessed by international conservation bodies.
  •   The 22 day expedition in the Southern western Ghats started from Kurichyar mala in Wayanad.
  •   The researchers have commented that a lot of existing knowledge on these plants has come up from the tribal communities. On contrary, the common man is unaware or has not even heard of many RET plants.
What are RET species?

·   RET is the acronym for Rare, Endangered and Threatened.

·   Rare, Endangered and Threatened (RET) plant species can be defined as species with narrow geographical distribution ranges, highly specific habitat requirements and/or species restricted only to small populations.

 Know about Botanical Survey of India (BSI)

International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN)

· The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations.

· The IUCN was created in 1948

·  IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.

Function

  • It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.

Key Environmental Agreements

·  IUCN member organisations meet every four years at the IUCN World Conservation Congress to set priorities and agree on the Union’s work programme.

·  IUCN congresses have produced several key international environmental agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the World Heritage Convention, and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands.

 

IUCN Red List

Founded in 1964,the IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species

A series of Regional Red Lists are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit.

Aim

To convey the urgency of conservation issues to the public and policy makers, as well as help the international community to try to reduce species extinction.

Goals:

According to IUCN (1996), the goals of the Red List are:

·   to provide scientifically based information on the status of species and subspecies at a global level

·   to draw attention to the magnitude and importance of threatened biodiversity

·   to influence national and international policy and decision-making, and

·   to provide information to guide actions to conserve biological diversity.

IUCN Red List Categories

·   Species are classified by the IUCN Red List into nine groups

·   These are set through criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation.

1.   Extinct (EX).

2.  Extinct in the wild (EW)

3.  Critically endangered (CR)

4.   Endangered (EN)

5. Vulnerable (VU)

6.  Near threatened (NT)

7.  Least concern (LC)

8.  Data deficient (DD)

9.  Not evaluated (NE)

   Why Western Ghats?

  •   The Western Ghats has been recognised as one of the 34 hotspot ecosystems in the world in terms of species and endemism.
  •   The Southern western Ghats consisting of southern parts of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the richest in terms of biodiversity.
  •   There are over 4500 flowering plants, of which 1500 are endemic to the Ghats.

Map of Southern Western Ghats

Image courtesy: retplants.org

Facts:

  •   About 177 species were recorded in Kerala’s Wayanad district
  •  These species were recorded especially from biodiversity hotspots like Kurichyarmala, Ranimala, Aranamala, Chembra peak, Periya and Kuruva Island.
  •   4 RET species were found in Masinagudi, Kallatti and Pandallur in the Nilgiris.
  •   The Malabar Coast, Periyar National Park, Sholayar-Valparai region and Anamalai were part of the project.

Other Regions

  •   As a part of the project, team had also visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and many regions of the Eastern Ghats.
  •   127 endemic trees have been documented in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Significance of the Project

  •   Evidence on both medicinally and economically important plants has been collected.

Examples:

Medicinally important: Aglaia malabarica (critically endangered in the Red List)

Economically important: Hopea ponga

  •  Researchers further aim at studying pharmacological values and economic importance of these plants.
  •  Better records of poorly documented, heavily exploited or habitat-deprived species have been possible which is expected to help in better conservation of these plant species.

Biodiversity is the greatest treasure we have… Its diminishment is to be prevented at all cost”

Thomas Eisner


NGT questions pollution control board appointments: (The Hindu)


Appointments in Pollution Control Boards under Scrutiny

Context:

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has questioned pollution control board appointments

Details:

  •  NGT has directed all States and Union Territories (UTs) to explain within a week whether appointments of chairmen and member secretaries in State pollution control boards have been made as per the guidelines laid down by NGT.
  •   A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar has warned that if the reply is not filed by the State Pollution Control Boards within the specified time, it would impose a cost of Rs. 25,000 on each defaulting State or UT.

What is the issue?

  •  In August 2016, the NGT had asked the State governments to fill the vacancies in the boards as per guidelines stipulated by it.
  •  The tribunal had reiterated the concept of adhocism in appointments and had directed that only qualified person with fixed tenure should be appointed.
  • According to the June 8th NGT order in Supreme Court, heads of 10 State Pollution Control Boards had been barred from working till the appointments are made in accordance to NGT judgement.
  • The states are Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Kerala, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Maharashtra and Manipur.
  •  The judgement had come on plea by an Uttarakhand resident who had challenged the constitution of state pollution control boards on the ground that people who did not qualify were appointed as chairman, member secretary and members of these boards.
National Green Tribunal (NGT)

· The NGT is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues

·   It was established in 2010 under the Tribunal Act 2010

·  The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

·  It is guided by the principles of natural justice

Functions:

· effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources

·  enforcement of any legal right relating to environment

· giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto


FinMin clarifies definition of ‘branded’ items for GST: (The Hindu)


Defining ‘Branded Item’ for GST

Context

  •  With regard to GST, the term “brand name” has brought in some confusion as both analysts and traders found the definition and meaning of “brand name” ambiguous in nature

Current Issue

  •  The Ministry of Finance clarified that for the purposes of Goods and Services Tax (GST) applicability, an item will be deemed to be ‘branded’ if it carries a brand name or trade name that is registered under the Trade Marks Act, 1999
  •   Unless the brand name or trade name is actually on the Register of Trade   Marks and is in force under the Trade Marks Act, 1999, CGST rate of 5% will not be applicable on the supply of such goods

What is the Need?

  • There was confusion around the definition of a branded product, since several unbranded food items are exempt from GST while their branded variants fall in the 5% tax bracket.
  • Doubts are being raised as to the meaning of registered brand name.

 

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