Art and Culture
It takes a village (The Hindu)
- The Sterling Playback Theatre Company brought together audiences, actors and musicians on one platform and enacted basic concerns of the audience, from demonetization to how to save money.
The stage of expression
- The mood of the play turned intense as the people began to open up, discussing serious issues, and then observing reactions as the actors presented their stories.
- The performance was clearly cathartic.
- It turned into a stage for expression not just for the actors, but also for the audience.
What is the aim?
- The aim of the school is to take the form to the greater community and utilize the therapeutic benefits of the form to the maximum.
What is the main purpose?
- Playback Theatre is an original form of improvisational theatre in which audience or group members tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted on the spot.
- In a playback theatre event, someone in the audience tells a moment or story from their life, the actors play the different roles, and then all those present watch the enactment, as the story “comes to life” with artistic shape and nuance.
- Actors draw on non-naturalistic styles to convey meaning, such as metaphor or song.
- A therapeutic form is adapted so that individuals can gain insight, catharsis, connection, and self-expression through telling their stories and participating in enacting stories of others.
How does it help?
- By closely recreating real-life situations, and acting them out in the present, individuals have the opportunity to evaluate their behavior and more deeply understand a particular situation in their lives.
- Individuals explore internal conflicts by acting out their emotions and interpersonal interactions on stage. This helps them to derive at appropriate decisions in their real life.
What is Sterling Playback Theatre?
- In India, the Sterling Playback Theatre company, started by Cyril Alexander with wife Amutha Thomas, has just completed 16 years.
- They have done almost 150 performances in the past five years alone. This event was part of a six-day fest to celebrate their 16th anniversary.
The journey of the Theatre
- Sterling School of Playback Theatre was inaugurated on 20 Oct, 2013 by Ms. Bev Hosking, International Playback Theatre Trainer.
- The journey of Playback Theatre in Tamil Nadu started with the Sterling Playback Theatre Company in 2000.
- In the 16 years, 50000 individuals from different communities have experienced and benefitted from this form.
- The experience of Sterling Playback Theatre Company led to the formation of the Sterling School of Playback Theatre.
- Ms. S. Cyril Alexander is the founder of the school. He has completed Leadership course from the International School of Playback Theatre. In 2000, he started the Sterling Playback Theatre Company. He has been a Playback Theatre trainer from the year of 2000 and given many training programmes.
Indian Constitution and Polity
Constitutional Bench to hear plea to BID sway (The Hindu)
- A Constitution Bench, on November 13, will hear a petition regarding a corruption case involving a former Odisha High Court judge.
- The case involves corruption in the very highest echelons of power, including the justice delivery system.
What is the issue?
- Integrity of judicial institution is at stake: The petition quoted the CBI’s FIR alleging a “bribery scandal”.
- Aretired Odisha High Court judge I.M. Quddusi, Delhi resident Bhawana Pandey and “hawala operator” Biswanath Agarwal, hatched a conspiracy with the management of Uttar Pradesh-based Prasad Education Trust to influence its case in the Supreme Court in exchange for a very large illegal gratification.
- Looking at the intensity of the case, this matter is to be heard by the Constitution Bench of the first five Judges in the order of seniority of this Court.
- Thus, these cases of corruption weakens the integrity of the judicial institutions.
Constitutional Benches of the Supreme Court:
- Constitution bench is the name given to the benches of the Supreme Court of India which consist of at least five judges of the court which sit to decide any case “involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation” of the Constitution of India.
- This provision has been mandated by Article 145 (3) of the Constitution of India.
- The Chief Justice of India has the power to constitute a Constitution Bench and refer cases to it.
- Constitution benches have decided many of India’s best-known and most important Supreme Court cases.
Removal of judges:
- REMOVAL OF a Supreme Court or High Court judge is governed by Articles 124 (4) and (5) and 217 (1) (b) and 218 of the Constitution on the ground of proven misbehaviour or incapacity.
- The words “misbehaviour” or “incapacity” have neither been defined nor clarified in the Constitution.
- The complaint about misbehaviour or incapacity against a judge has to be probed under the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968.
Art. 124 of Constitution of India
- As per Art. 124(2), “Every Judges of Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President of India by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the judges of the Supreme Court and of High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of 65 year.”
- So it is quite clear with the Art. that President can appoint any Judges of Supreme Court and High Court after consultation with the Senior Judges.
- Any judge is not appointed by directly by the President of India.
- But if anyone is appointed by the pleasure of President of India than President of Indian has a direct power to remove that particular corrupt person. Like, Attorney-General of India.
- Japan will chair the first quadrilateral meeting between senior officials of India, US, Australia and Japan on the margins of the ASEAN and East Asia summits in Manila on November 13-14
What is ASEAN?
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises of Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam.
- India’s relationship with ASEAN is an outcome of the significant changes in the world’s political and economic scenario since the early 1990s.
Look East Policy
‘Look East Policy’ is India’s research for economic space.
- The Look East Policy has today turned into a dynamic and action oriented ‘Act East Policy.
- PM at the 12th ASEAN India Summit and the 9th East Asia Summit held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, in November, 2014, formally enunciated the Act East Policy.
- India’s relationship with ASEAN is a key pillar of our foreign policy and the foundation of our Act East Policy.
What is the significance of the meet?
- The meet comes after Japan publicly proposed the quadrilateral with India, US and Australia and then Canberra indicated its willingness to be a part of the political-security dialogue among the four democracies
- The meet aims to counter China’s aggressive maritime expansion under its Belt and Road Initiative.
- Some ways to deepen and try to inculcate some of the values —
- Freedom of navigation
- Maritime security
- Humanitarian assistance
- Disaster response
The policy of non-interference
- The original policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states was noteworthy.
- China and India’s emergence as major economic powers has lent greater urgency to trade liberalization.
- It then in 2007 led to adopting a legal charter with a mandate to establish free movement of goods, services, capital and skilled personnel by ASEAN.
- With the 2015 launch of the ASEAN Economic Community, the bloc is on the threshold of realizing its ambition of emerging as an integrated single market and to engage the rest of the world with a unified voice.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with US President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during the East Asia summit.
What is the East Asia Summit?
- The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 14 December 2005.
- The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian regions.
- Membership expanded to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011.
- EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings.
GST council to tighten norms for composition (The Hindu)
- The twenty-third meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council in Guwahati is all set to tighten the noose on players who have started splitting their business operations into smaller entities to avoid higher tax liabilities.
What are the new steps?
- The Council is also set to cut tax rates on a large number of product lines.
- The Council is expected to further liberalize the Composition Scheme for small businesses and traders to pay a flat and low tax on their turnover.
- The annual turnover eligibility threshold is likely to be raised to ₹1.5 crore from the ₹1 crore limit.
- A proposal to permit firms making inter-State good supplies to participate in the Composition Scheme is in consideration.
The emergence of parallel economy
- The government is anxious about the emergence of a parallel economy despite the restrictions on the Composition Scheme, whose original threshold limit was just ₹75 lakh a year.
- A Group of Ministers were asked to simplifying the Composition Scheme and they have recommended a new regulation that would bar all associated enterprises from participating in the scheme, if their combined turnover crosses the specified threshold limit.
What is happening?
- Businesses are getting fragmented to take advantage of the Composition Scheme. Existing firms are creating multiple entities so that the turnover of each entity remains below the threshold.
This will not only result into a loss of revenue for the exchequer but also dents the ease of doing business in the country.
- The Central and State GST laws already define associated enterprises in line with the Income Tax Act, which lays down, among other parameters, common management, control and shareholding patterns among different firms to determine if they are linked.
- The restriction on inter-State supplies by businesses under the Composition Scheme could also fuel the prospects for more informal trade outside the tax net.
- The group of ministers have also recommended harmonizing the tax rates on all restaurants to 12% instead of differential rates for those that have air-conditioners or a liquor licence.
- The revenue department is worried about a potential revenue loss of ₹4,000 crore from the move as well as the implications of offering such businesses input tax credits for their raw materials and rent.
No resolution yet
- The Group of Ministers has still not been able to arrive at a consensus on the question of whether supplies from small firms that are part of the Composition Scheme should translate into input tax credits for larger firms who buy from them.
What is Goods and Services Tax (GST)?
- GST is an indirect tax reform which aims to remove the tax barriers between states and create a single market.
- It is a single tax on the supply of goods and services, right from the manufacturer to the consumer.
- The Government had introduced the 122nd Amendment Bill, 2014, in the Parliament to facilitate the introduction of GST in the country.
- The Bill was finally passed by both the Houses in 2016
- It is a consumption based tax/levy. It is based on the “Destination principle.”
- GST is applied on goods and services at the place where final/actual consumption happens.
- It came into force from 1 July, 2017.
- It is levied at multiple rates ranging from 0% to 28%.
There are three components of GST:-
1. Central GST (CGST) – it will be Levied by Centre
2. State GST (SGST) – It will be levied by State
3. Integrated GST (IGST) – It will be levied and collected by Central Government on supply of goods and services
Detailed provisions of GST Act:
- The Central GST and the State GST would be levied simultaneously on every transaction of supply of goods and services except on exempted goods and services.
- In case of inter-State transactions, the Centre would levy and collect the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) on all inter-State supplies of goods and services.
- Under current laws only the Centre can impose a tax on services. GST will empower states to collect service taxes
What was the need for GST?
- The exclusive division of fiscal powers between the states and centre government has led to a multiplicity of indirect taxes in the country.
- Multiplicity of taxes at the State and Central levels has resulted in a complex indirect tax structure in the country that is ridden with hidden costs for the trade and industry.
- In the prevailing tax systems, there were several cases where the government has not been able to detect evasion and loss of tax revenues.
- VAT rates and regulations differ from state to state. And it has been observed that states often resort to slashing these rates for attracting investors. This results in loss of revenue for both the Central as well as State government.
- Before implementation of GST, taxes used to ‘cascade’, with the levied on several inputs (good or service) that have already been taxed, along with inputs to those inputs.
- Cascading of tax leads to inefficient tax collection and evasion of taxes.
What are the objectives of GST?
- To eliminate the cascading effects of taxes: for example tax on tax, on production and distribution of goods and services across the country.
- One Nation, One Tax: Uniformity of tax rates across the India by subsuming all indirect taxes at the centre and state levels.
- To reduce tax evasion and corruption.
- Increasing tax to GDP ratio and revenue surplus.
What are the benefits of GST?
Benefits from GST:
- It will help to get rid of the current patchwork of indirect taxes by simplifying them.
- It will enlarge the tax base for larger resource generation.
- Due to simplification of tax structure, large scale sectors will benefit as there will be one general rate to be paid by all companies.
- The cascading effect of taxes will reduce in the supply chain thereby reducing production costs making exports more competitive
- It can facilitate seamless movement of goods across states
- It will reduce the transaction costs of businesses.
- The GST is expected to reduce manufacturing costs as logistics cost will decline. It will boost productivity through efficient resource allocation and greater tax compliance.
- GST will accelerate the growth and economy of the nation as it will make the industry more competitive and efficient.
- positive credit profile of India at rating agencies because this shows government’s will to improve ease of doing business
- Will facilitate MAKE IN INDIA by making one India oppose to current regime which fragment India along state lines which levied different states tax.
What are the criticisms of GST?
- The new tax system does away with the barriers to free trade within and between States, effectively turning India into a single free market for goods and services.
- GST being a Consumption tax decreases the income in some states where consumption is low and every state will see some revenue loss as many other local body taxes are also merged with GST.
- Some kept out of Basket: Alcohol, real estate, electricity are kept out of GST which defeats the very own purpose of having one tax.
- Though anti-profiteering provisions are given the act, chances are high that due to high rates the seller may keep the profit to himself, putting the load on consumers.
- India plans to invite bids for setting up 20 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity
- It is an attempt to spur domestic manufacturing of solar power equipment.
What is the proposal?
- The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) introduces the idea of mega bids to boost solar equipment manufacturing in India.
- This may also result in a substantial reduction in tariffs
- The ministry plans to award these contracts to developers who will quote the lowest price at which they will sell electricity in the auction process for the grid-linked capacity.
What is the availability of solar power in India?
- With over 300 clear and sunny days every year, the calculated solar energy incident on India’s total land area is about 5000 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year and most parts receiving 4-7 kWh per square meter per day, makes solar energy a very profitable option.
- The solar energy available in a year exceeds the possible energy output of all fossil fuel energy reserves in India.
- As per data released by the MNRE, cumulative capacity of solar is7 GW for the year ended March 31, 2016. This will, in effect, generate power worth only a fifth of such a capacity as opposed to if it were to be installed in other modes of generation.
- The daily average solar-power-plant generation capacity in India is 20 kWh per square meter of used land area, equivalent to 1400–1800 peak capacity operating hours every year with available technology.
What are the benefits of solar power in India?
- While the benefits of utilizing solar energy are immeasurable. Some of the advantages which make the renewable sources more favorable for India are:
- These are an inexhaustible source of energy and the best possible replacement to any non-renewable energy in India.
- Solar energy is eco-friendly.
- When in use, it does not release gases which pollute the air much needed especially in a country such as India being one of the most polluted countries of the world.
- Solar energy can be used for variety of household chores, suitable for the rural areas in India.
- Solar power is easily accessible. In energy deficient country like India, where power generation is expensive, solar energy is the best alternate means of power generation.
What is the Make in India scheme?
- Make in India is an initiative launched by the Government of India to encourage national, as well as multi-national companies to manufacture their products in India.
- It was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25 September 2014.
- The major objective behind the initiative is to focus on job creation and skill enhancement in 25 sectors of the economy.
- The initiative also aims at high quality standards and minimising the impact on the environment.
- The initiative hopes to attract capital and technological investment in India.
What is the way ahead?
- The need of the hour is to re-analyze the existing solar power policy.
- A level playing field and an ecosystem should be provided to Indian manufacturers. Arresting the free fall of power tariff is also must for a healthy growth of the solar energy system.
- The situation calls for concerted efforts by the agencies to build awareness among citizens and encourage developers to realize the goal, while simultaneously persuading the consumers to switch.
- Insufficient knowledge among citizens about the financial incentives and return-on-investment has been a problem which needs immediate solution.
- The Law Commission on preventing cruelty to poultry
- Law Commission of India has submitted its 269th Report titled “Transportation and House-keeping of Egg-laying hens (layers) and Broiler Chickens” for the consideration of the Government.
- The Commission has drafted ‘The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Egg Laying Hens) Rules, 2017 and The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Broiler Chicken) Rules, 2017’ and recommended the Govt. to implement it.
- These rules are modified keeping in view the constitutional provisions and the object of the PCA Act.
Rationale behind having this report:
- Lack of hygiene and cruelty towards birds (poultry), such as confining them in battery cages, has impacted those who consume meat or eggs.
- The existing legal framework governing the transport of animals is adequate and shall be implemented to ensure that unnecessary pain and suffering is not inflicted on poultry during transit.
- The responsibility of compliance shall lie on the consignor and consignee, and any person in charge of care of such consignment as provided under section 3 of the PCA Act.
- The very idea of having this report is to put an end to the cruel practices of confining birds in battery cages. For this, the Commission recommends certification of poultry farms by the Animal Husbandry Departments of the State.
- India’s production of eggs has increased from 27.33 billion in 2015-16 to 29.09 billion in 2016-17 (both rainy season). Commercial poultry farms contribute three-fourths of this and the rest is by backyard farms.
- Over 90 per cent of Indian poultry farms, including the big organised ones, rear birds in battery cages. The cages are often so small that the birds are unable to stand straight or spread their wings.
- Weight of birds should be an important factor in calculation of maximum stocking density. There is no regulation with respect to stocking density and other housing conditions.
- The health hazards include a rise in diseases such as cancer.
Law Commission report:
- The Law Commission of India, in its 269th report, drafted two new laws to end the cruelty to birds and pave the way for more compassionate processes in the poultry industry.
- ·The rules are the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Egg Laying Hens) Rules of 2017 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Broiler Chicken) Rules of 2017.
- The rules mandate that a more natural environment of housing that allows hens to perch and move about freely is a better alternative to the existing practice of battery cages.
- The report condemns practices such as the breaking of breaks and the killing of young male chicks in the poultry industry.
- The report recognizes that the practice of unnecessary feeding of non-therapeutic antibiotics to the birds (which leads to antibiotic resistance) directly impacts the human health.
- The Law Commission points that the Indian poultry industry is unable to cater to an increasing consumer base which is demanding cruelty-free meat/organically-produced eggs. The lack of such an existing trend in the larger market has made it difficult for sellers and the hospitality industry to cater to the business.
- The Commission has also taken into consideration the information given by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals on the conditions of poultry in India
- The revised draft rules delineate space requirements for feeders, drinking spaces and floor area and other key resources to ensure good management of the system.
- Important animal welfare provisions like when and how to carry out euthanasia of sick and injured animals are also incorporated in the draft rules.
- These rules have been recommended keeping in view the constitutional provisions and the objective of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
Certification of poultry farms:
- The Commission’s report recommends certification of poultry farms by State animal husbandry departments.
- The certification should make a distinction between produce obtained from cage free egg farming and that obtained from battery cage farming.
“Draft Egg Laying Hens Rules”
- The onus is on a farmer to immediately report the “outbreak or suspected outbreak or suspected outbreak of any zoonotic or contagious disease or infection to the local authority, the State Board and the State government.
- Every farm shall have at least one room or enclosure for quarantining sick hens, or hens suspected to be sick.
Draft Broiler Chicken Rules:
- The Commission recommends that chickens should not be housed in cages or kept on wire or slatted floors.
- Chickens shall be provided sufficient space for movement without any difficulty, to stand normally, turn around and the stretch their wings.
- The Rules also mandate that indoor chickens should be provided with a “stimulating environment” to keep them active.
- These include ramps, low perches, pecking blocks and straw bales to stimulate exploratory, foraging and locomotive behaviour and to minimize injurious pecking.
- Poultry farms should sell chickens only to licensed slaughter houses.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act:
- The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is an Act of the Parliament enacted in 1960 to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and to amend the laws relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals.
- As per the provisions of the law the government formed the Animal Welfare Board of India.
- The basic purpose of the Rule is to ensure welfare of the animals in the cattle market and ensure adequate facilities for housing, feeding, feed storage area, water supply, water troughs, ramps, enclosures for sick animals, veterinary care and proper drainage etc.
- To facilitate this, two Committees have been constituted, namely the District Animal Market Monitoring Committee for registration of animal market and Animal Market Committee at the local authority level for management of the markets.
- To protect the animals from cruelty and not to regulate the existing trade in cattle for slaughter houses.
- It is envisaged that welfare of cattle dealt in the market will be ensured and that only healthy animals are traded for agriculture purposes for the benefits of the farmers.
- The livestock markets are intended to become hubs for trade for animal for agriculture through this process and animal for slaughter will have to be bought from the farmers at the farms.
- The notified rules will remove the scope of illegal sale and smuggling of the cattle which is a major concern
Olive Ridleys keep date with Odisha (The Hindu)
- Olive Ridley turtles have kept their date with Gahirmatha beach in Odisha’s Kendrapara district, known as world’s largest rookery of this endangered species, arriving just offshore for mating in large numbers.
- Offshore congregation of Olive Ridley pairs has been observed along 8 km of the Habelighati shoreline.
- In 2016-17, around 9.75 lakh Olive Ridley turtles came out from the sea to lay eggs along with Odisha coast.
- Nasi II Island of Gahirmatha Sanctuary had alone hosted six lakhs.
- As per the forest department estimates, 20.22 lakh hatchlings finally emerged from egg shells in Gahirmatha.
- Central monitoring unit was set up in the Principal Chief Wildlife Warden’s office to coordinate with law-enforcing bodies for ensuring smooth mass-nesting of turtles.
- It has also been decided that rookeries would be fenced to protect the nests and eggs after the mass nesting.
About Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary:
- Gahirmatha marine sanctuary is a marine wildlife sanctuary located in Odisha.
- It extends from Dhamra River mouth in the north to Brahmani river mouth in the South.
- It is very famous for its nesting beach for olive ridley sea turtles.
- It is one of the world’s most important nesting beach for turtles.
- The 35 km Gahirmatha coast, which forms part of the Bhirtarkanika National Park, is the best to witness the mass nesting of females, a phenomenon called arribadas.
- The sandy coastline free of rocks and stones, presence of wetland, backwater and brackish water and mangrove vegetation is preferred by the turtles. Barrier island (Barrier ridge) called Ekakulanasi off the Gahirmatha coast is the main turtle breeding ground.
- The sanctuary is also home to variety of flora and fauna. Wild boar, barking deer, bear, leopard, crocodile, jungle fowl, samber and wild dogs are among the other wildlife seen in the sanctuary.
- Located in Kendrapara district, Gahirmatha is the lone mass nesting spot in Indian Ocean region and the only turtle sanctuary in Odisha
- The entire sanctuary area comes within the revenue district of Kendrapara.
- The Olive Ridley turtles travel across the South Pacific to breed on the coast of Gahirmatha.
- the sanctuary extends from mouth of Dhamra river in the north to the mouth of Mahanadi river in the south.
- The sanctuary forms part of Bhitarkanika national park
- Gahirmatha was declared a turtle sanctuary in 1979 by Odisha government after considering its ecological importance and as part of efforts to save the sea turtles.
- Olive Ridley sea turtles migrate in huge numbers from the beginning of November, every year, for mating and nesting along the coast of Odisha.
- There is decline in the population of these turtles in the recent past due to mass mortality.
- Olive Ridley sea turtle has found place in Schedule-I of Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972(amended 1991).
- All the species of sea turtles in the coastal water of Odisha are listed as “endangered” as per IUCN Red Data Book.
- The sea turtle are protected under the ‘Migratory Species Convention’ and CITES(Convention of International Trade on Wildlife Flora and Fauna).
- India is a signatory nation to all these conventions.
- The ‘Homing’ characteristics of the Ridley sea turtles make them prone to mass casualty.
- The voyage to the natal nesting beaches is the dooming factor for the sea turtles.
CITES (Convention of International Trade on Wildlife Flora and Fauna)
- CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
- It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- It aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild.
About Olive Ridley turtles
- The olive ridley sea turtle, also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle,is a medium-sized species of sea turtle found in warm and tropical waters, mainly in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
- They can also be found in warm waters of Atlantic Ocean.
- Olive Ridley turtles get their name from the coloring of their heart-shaped shell.
- It starts out gray but changes to olive green when the turtles turn adults.
- Olive Ridley turtles usually nest during night time.
The olive ridley is classified as Vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and is listed in Appendix I of CITES.
About Bhitarakanika National Park:
- The Bhitarakanika National Park situated in Odisha’s Kendrapara district sees an increase in number of visitors during September, considered an off-season.
- Bhitarkanika National Park is a national park located in Kendrapara district of Odisha in eastern India.
- The national park is surrounded by the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary lies to the east, and separates swamp region cover with canopy of mangroves from the Bay of Bengal. Thus it becomes a vicinity of rich biodiversity.
- The national park was created in September 1998 from the core area of the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, which was created in 1975. The sanctuary is the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India.
- The national park and wildlife sanctuary is inundated by a number of rivers – Brahmani, Baitarni, Dhamra, Pathsala and others
- It has much significance with regard to ecological, geomorphological and biological background which includes mangrove forests, rivers, creeks, estuaries, back water, accreted land and mud flats. Bhitarkanika National Park is the core area of Bhitarkanika Sanctuary.
Flora and fauna:
- Flora: Mangroves, trees like sundari, thespia, casuarinas, and grasses like the indigo bush, and more.
- The park is home to Saltwater Crocodile, White Crocodile, and Indian python. King Cobra, black ibis, and many other species of flora and fauna.
- Bhitarakanika continues to be one of the best natural abode for the estuarine crocodile
- Apart from crocodiles, meandering water courses flanked by green mangrove forests and migratory birds flocking in search of prey in the swampy fields of Bhitarakanika are some of the major attractions
- The forest department has come across 80 crocodile nests in their wild habitats in 2017 compared to 75 in 2016 and 70 in 2015.
- According to the National Park authorities, mammals found in the place include leopards, wild boars, fishing cats, hyenas, sambar deer and Gangetic dolphins.
- Reptiles include olive ridley sea turtles, crocodiles, water monitors, pythons and king cobras.
- Around 166 species of birds have been spotted in the park
- Bhitarakanika is one of the richest storehouses of mangrove genes.
- Researchers have come across 11 of the 70 mangrove species in Bhitarakanika which were at an elevated threat of extinction around the world.
- Within the Bhitarkanika Forest Block near Suajore creek from the month of June to October. Most of the Birds are Asian open bill. Egrets. Black Ibis, Cormorants, Darters & etc.
National parks in India:
- National parks in India are IUCN category II protected areas.
- India’s first national park was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park, now known as Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand.
- In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard the habitats of conservation reliant species.
- As of July 2017, there were 103 national parks
The term ‘National Park’ should denote an area:
- which is, set aside for the protection and conservation of outstanding natural fauna, flora, geological formations and natural scenic;
- in which hunting, killing or capturing of fauna, or deprivation of any wild animal of its habitat, or destruction and collection of flora, and weapons are all prohibited except for the improvement and a better management of wildlife therein, and on condition that these issues are handled by, or are under the control of, the park authorities;
- where also, grazing [of any live-stock] shall not be permitted.
- No alteration of the boundaries of a National Park shall be made except on the resolution passed by the legislature of the State (Wildlife Protection Society of India, 2003., Thane Riney, 1982).
For a wider cover (The Hindu Opinion)
- India needs to design its tree-based programmes better to meet climate goals.
- In 2015, India made a Bonn challenge commitment to place into restoration 13 million hectares(Mha) of degraded land by 2020 and an additional 8 Mha by 2030.
- India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) have also pledged to sequester 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent additionally by 2030 through enhanced tree cover.
State wise performance:
- In July this year, Madhya Pradesh planted 66 million trees in 12 hours to enter the record books, overtaking Uttar Pradesh’s record of planting 49.3 million trees in a day, in 2016.
- The Bonn Challenge lays emphasis on landscape as a whole in order to benefit local livelihoods and conserve biodiversity.
- The NDC lays emphasis not only on carbon sequestration but also adaptation to climate change through a strengthened flow of benefits to local communities that are dependent on forests and agriculture for sustenance.
- This also reflects the spirit of India’s policy framework on forests which lays emphasis on a landscape approach to manage forest and tree cover, so that the flow of multiple ecosystem services including food security, climate mitigation, and adaptation, conservation of biological diversity and water supplies is secured.
- There is need to protect healthy forest areas from deforestation, degradation and fragmentation.
- There is also need to creatively integrate trees into different land uses.
- India has numerous models that are suited for different regions and farm household’s sizes to draw upon, and must not rely on plantation drives alone to secure environmental and developmental outcomes.
- It is also important to have in place a performance monitoring system to quantify tree survival rates and the benefits to communities.
- This can be achieved through a combination of remote sensing, crowd sourced, ground-level monitoring with support from communities and civil society organisations.
- Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) systems where farmers protect and manage the growth of trees and shrubs that regenerate naturally in their fields from root stock or from seeds dispersed through animal manure can also deliver several economic and ecosystem benefits.
- In Niger, West Africa, farmers operating on 5 Mha of land added roughly 200 million on-farm trees using FMNR in the past 30 years.
- In India, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development’s (NABARD’s) ‘Wadi’ model and the Foundation for Ecological Security’s re-greening of village commons project are good examples of tree-based interventions which are proving to have great value in terms of cost-effectiveness as well as the range of benefits they deliver to communities.
- An important success factor in large-scale tree based programme is security of tenure and land right.
- In many parts of the world, securing tenure over forests has been established as a cost-effective way of achieving climate sequestration.
- In Brazil, the average annual costs of providing communities with secure rights to their forests is $1.57 (₹103) per hectare (ha) while the resulting carbon-mitigation benefits range from $38/ha to $230/ha per year.
Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM)
- It is critical to ensure that owners have the right to manage and use these trees.
- It is also critical to use scientific evidence-based methodology with a participatory approach to determine the right type of tree-based interventions most suitable to a certain land use.
- A tool called the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology(ROAM) is being used in 40 countries to find the best methods for landscape restoration.
- The tool includes includes rigorous analysis of spatial, legal and socio-economic data and draws on consultations with key stakeholders to determine the right type of interventions.
- In India, this tool is being piloted in Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh.
About COP 23
- The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC) is hosting the 23rd annual conference at Bonn, Germany.
What’s in the COP 23?
- The conference named as COP23 is being held to further the provisions of the Paris Agreement, and achieve results in the execution guidelines.
- While the aim of the event is much larger, nations attending the COP23 are scheduled to finalise the rulebook of the Paris Agreement. This process was started in Marrakesh 2016 meet. These rules will dictate how the Agreement would be monitored and executed. It will change the famous 1997 Kyoto Protocol by 2020.
- The rulebook will include new international standards for measuring carbon emissions. These standards will ensure comparison of efforts made by various countries. However, a few negotiators, like the US, deny the impacts of climate change and argue that the efforts cost a huge amount of resources.
- The Paris Agreement is meant to make sure that the average surface temperature all over the world does not rise above two degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial times. To achieve this goal, countries have promised under the Paris Agreement to take a variety of self-determined actions to restrain the current rate of global warming.
- The UNFCCC was adopted in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, which marked the beginning of the international community’s first concerted effort to confront the problem of climate change. Known also as the Rio Convention, the UNFCCC established a framework for action to stabilise concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. The UNFCCC entered into force in 1994, and nearly all of the world’s nations—a total of 195—have now signed on.
India has the policy framework, the political will and financing to endorse landscape restoration. But, there is need for innovation and imagination to build replicable and scalable models with a participatory approach to achieve the country’s climate goals through landscape restoration.
- Researchers at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad have developed dual strategies to keep groundnuts almost free of contamination by aflatoxin — a toxin produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus.
The dual strategies
- One strategy prevents groundnuts from being infected by the fungus and thus preventing the toxins from being produced.
- The other strategy prevents the fungus from producing the toxin even if groundnuts somehow get infected with the fungus.
- As both strategies showed promising results, the aim of the research is to combine the two traits into a single variety to offer double protection so that groundnuts do not accumulate any aflatoxin or the amount of toxin is well within permissible limits at or after harvest.
What was the research?
- Genetic engineering approaches were used for inserting two alfalfa genes into groundnut plants to enhance immunity against fungal infection and growth.
- The researchers selected two specific genes from alfalfa and inserted them into groundnut plants to enhance the immunity against fungal infection and growth.
- Groundnuts showed very little fungal infection and negligible aflatoxin contamination.
To further prevent toxin production even when groundnuts get infected with the fungus, the researchers designed two small RNA molecules that silence the fungal genes which produce aflatoxin.
- Once the fungus and plant come in contact with each other, the small RNA molecules from the plant enter the fungus and prevent it from producing aflatoxin.
What is Alfalfa?
- Alfalfa is a flowering plant of the pea family. Preventing aflatoxin production even in case of any infection was achieved through a plant-induced gene silencing technique.
Result of combining two traits
- It is a proof-of-concept study. The researchers used conventional plant breeding approaches to develop a variety that has both the traits in place.
- The researchers plan to start field trials early next year.
- The breeding of the two traits will take around one-two years into a single variety and about three years to conduct biosafety trials followed by the development of regionally adapted groundnut varieties.
- Once the approval is granted by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), farmers will have a groundnut variety that is near-immune to aflatoxin contamination in five to seven years.
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
- The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is an international organization which conducts agricultural research for rural development, headquartered in Patancheru (Hyderabad, Telangana, India) with several regional centers and research stations.
- It was founded in 1972 by a consortium of organizations convened by the Ford and the Rockefeller foundations. Its charter was signed by the FAO and UNDP.
- Since its inception, host country India has granted a special status to ICRISAT as an UN organization operating in the Indian territory making it eligible for special immunities and tax privileges.
- ICRISAT is managed by a full-time Director General functioning under the overall guidance of an international Governing Board.