is home to 1,256 species of orchid, says first comprehensive survey
- The Botanical Survey of
India has published Orchids of
India: A Pictorial Guide- the first comprehensive census of orchids of
- According to the
publication, the total number of orchid species endemic to India is 388.
- 757 (60%) of all orchids
found in India are epiphytic, 447 are terrestrial and 43 are
- The Himalayas, North-East
parts of India and Western Ghats are the hot-spots of orchids.
- The highest number of
orchid species is recorded from Arunachal Pradesh followed by Sikkim and
West Bengal. The Western Ghats have high endemism of orchids.
- Among the bio geographic
zones of India, the Himalayan zone is the richest in terms of orchid
species followed by Northeast, Western Ghats, Deccan plateau and Andaman
& Nicobar Islands
- Orchids have unique shape
and ornamentation and have complex floral structure that facilitates
- Orchids are broadly
categorised into three life forms: a) epiphytic (plants growing on another
plants including those growing on rock boulders and often termed
lithophyte), b) terrestrial (plants growing on land and climbers) and c)
mycoheterotrophic (plants which derive nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi
that are attached to the roots of a vascular plant).
- The entire orchid family
is listed under appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and hence any trade of wild
orchid is banned globally.
Commission to be formed soon
- The Ministry of Law and
Justice has initiated the process of setting up of the 22nd Law
- The three-year term of the
21st Law Commission under Justice B.S. Chauhan had ended on
August 31, 2018.
- Law Commission of India is
non-statutory body. It is established through an order of the Government
of India. The government of India constitutes the Law Commission for a
fixed tenure (every three years).
- It is usually headed by a
former Supreme Court judge or a former Chief Justice of a High Court.
- The main function of the
Law commission is to reform laws. The Commission acts as an advisory body
to the Ministry of Law and Justice.
- The First Law commission
pre-independence was set up in 1834 under the Charter Act, 1833. The
chairman of the commission was Lord Macaulay.
- The first Law Commission
of India post-independence was established in 1995. The then
Attorney-General of India, Mr M.C.Setalvad was the Chairman of the
milestones of Chandrayaan-2, India’s second lunar probe
- Chandrayaan 2, India’s second lunar mission, was
scheduled to be launched on 15 July from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at
Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. However, the launch got delayed due to technical
- Chandrayaan 2 is ISRO’s first attempt to make a
soft landing on the Moon. If successful, India will join the US, the former
Soviet Union, and China—the only three other nations to have soft landed on
- Chandrayaan-2 will comprise of an Orbiter,
Lander named ‘Vikram’ and Rover named ‘Pragyan’
- The orbiter will circle the moon and provide
information about its surface, while the lander will make a soft landing on the
surface and send out the rover. The rover will be used mostly for in situ
- The entire lifecycle of the Lander and Rover
will be one lunar day, which is equivalent to 14 earth days while the Orbiter
will continue for one year.
- The soft landing on lunar South Pole was planned
for September 6th. The date had been chosen because the landing site
will remain well illuminated by sunlight over the next one month while the
Lander and Rover would work and collect data. Also, there is no lunar eclipse
during this period.
- Chandrayaan-2 will carry out extensive
three-dimensional mapping of the topography of the lunar South Pole region. It will
also determine its elemental composition and seismic activity. If successful, India
will be the first country to soft land on lunar South Pole. So far, all the landing
on the moon have taken place in the equatorial region
- The mission would also try to assess the
abundance and distribution of water on the lunar surface.
- Chandrayaan-2 will launch aboard a
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, (GSLV -MK III) rocket- the
most powerful rocket ISRO has built.
restrictions and sound alerts mooted for protection of dolphins
- The Ministry of Shipping has
planned to safeguard the population of the Ganges River Dolphin in Vikramshila
Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) by restricting the speeds of vessels and
blowing sirens and horns.
- The other measures suggested
are a) fitting vessels with propeller guards and dolphin deflectors to
minimise dolphin accidents and b) using non-toxic paints for painting
- The measures are an
attempt to minimise the impact of National Waterway-1 connecting Haldia to
Varanasi which passes through the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary.
- Vikramshila Gangetic
Dolphin Sanctuary is located in Bhagalpur District of Bihar. It is the
only dolphin sanctuary in India.
- The Gangetic river dolphin
inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems
of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
- It is among the four
“obligate” freshwater dolphins. The other obligate freshwater
dolphins are a) Baiji (likely extinct) found in Yangtze river in China, b)
the Bhulan in Indus river of Pakistan and c) the Boto in Amazon river in
- In India, Dolphins are
protected species as per the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The
government has also declared Gangetic Dolphin as the national aquatic
- Gangetic dolphin is listed
as Endangered in the IUCN Red List.
Model Tenancy Act: what govt proposes for house owners, tenants
- The Ministry of Housing and
Urban Affairs (MHUA) has released draft of ‘The Model Tenancy Act, 2019’
in public domain.
- Since land and urban
development are state subjects, the central Model Act is not binding on
the states unless they draft their legislation based on it.
- The Model Tenancy Act aims
to regulate rental housing by a market-oriented approach. It seeks to promote
the creation of a rental housing stock for various income segments
including migrants, formal and informal sector workers, students, and
- The Model Act states that
all state rent control Acts should be repealed as the existing rent
control laws are archaic.
- The draft law proposes to
set up Rent authority in every state for the registration of all tenancy
agreements. It has also proposed to set up a separate Rent court and Rent
Tribunal for resolving tenancy-related disputes.
- The law states that both
landlord and tenant will have to submit a copy of rent agreement to the
district Rent Authority.
- The draft law has also
proposed hefty penalty for tenants who fail to vacate the rented property
after their tenancy has been terminated by order, notice or as per
- The law also states that
the landowner has to give a notice in writing three months before revising
- It also states that the
security deposit to be paid by the tenant should not exceed two months’
rent for residential property, and should be a minimum of one month’s rent
for non-residential property.
index: how Jharkhand reduced its poor the fastest
- Recently, the global
Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report for 2019 has been released.
- According to the report, across
India, the number of people living in multidimensional poverty has decreased
from 690.55 million in 2005-06 to 369.55 million in 2015-16.
- Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar
Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh together accounted for 196 million MPI poor
- Jharkhand reduced the
incidence of multidimensional poverty from 74.9% to 46.5% between 2005-06
and 2015-16- the fastest in India.
- However, the MPI report
has noted that India’s progress in health outcomes is poor. India has the
second highest stunting rate among the middle-income countries in Asia,
the first being Pakistan.
- Further, according to the
report, the under-five mortality rate in India still stands at 43 per
1,000 live births.
- Further, malaria and
tuberculosis (TB) show India in poor light, with India scoring the worst
among all Asian nations in the middle-income group. As many as 18.8
persons per 1,000 people live in areas vulnerable to malaria in India.
Further, In India, TB affects 211 people per 10,000 people exposed to the
- The Global MPI Report is
prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford
Poverty and Human Development Initiative.
- The criterion for someone
to be declared as deprived as per MPI are as follows:(a)Education (year of
schooling, child enrolment) (b)Health (child mortality, nutrition) and
(c)Standard of living (electricity, drinking water, sanitation, flooring, cooking
- A person is multidimensional
poor if she/he is deprived in one third or more (means 33% or more) of the
weighted indicators (out of the ten indicators).
offence cases not being probed in stipulated time: Report
- According to the
Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences (ITSSO) analysis, investigation
into nearly half the sexual offences cases are not being completed within
the stipulated 60-day period in seven states. Crime data from Haryana,
Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh. Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and
Uttarakhand were analysed.
- A major reason for delay
in verdicts is that the fast-track courts designated to handle rape cases
are also handling other criminal cases.
- The Criminal Law
(Amendment) Act, 2018 prescribes a 60-day time-limit for completion of
investigation in sexual offences cases.
- In February 2019, the Home
Ministry launched Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences
(ITSSO). It is an analytical tool to monitor and track time-bound
investigation. It is part of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and
- CCTNS is a programme of
Ministry of Home Affairs. It seeks to a) deliver various web based police
related services to citizens, b) facilitate a pan-India search of crime
and criminal records of individuals through a national database, c)
generate crime and criminal reports at the state and central level to
inform policy interventions d) computerise police processes and e) establish
a basic platform for an Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS).
Gurudwara: Pakistan agrees to allow year-long visa-free access
and Pakistani officials had met at Wagah border to hold discussions on the
has agreed to allow visa-free travel for Indian passport holders and Overseas
Citizens of India (OCI) through the Kartarpur corridor.
has also agreed to let 5,000 pilgrims visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara
every day for all seven days a week. The pilgrims will be allowed to
travel as individuals or in groups and also on foot.
has also assured that no anti-India activity would be allowed using the
corridor. India had conveyed its concerns over the presence of
pro-Khalistani elements in a 10-member committee Pakistan had set up for
the Kartarpur project.
has also agreed in principle to build a bridge on its side to make the
corridor immune to flooding and ensure an all-weather corridor to the
gurdwara through the year.This had emerged as a key difference during the
technical-level talks earlier.
- The Kartarpur
Corridor is a 4km long proposed corridor comprising border gates, road
and a bridge to link Dera Baba Nanak gurdwara in Gurdaspur district in
India to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan. It is aimed at
allowing the easy movement of Sikh pilgrims to the Kartarpur gurdwara.
gurdwara in Kartarpur stands on the bank of River Ravi, about 120 km
northeast of Lahore. It is revered as Guru Nanak’s final resting place.
wants the corridor to be ready in time for pilgrims to visit Kartarpur to
celebrate Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in November, 2019.
readies plan for second wave of asset monetisation
will soon recommend a second list of Public Sector Units (PSU) assets that
could be monetised to raise resources for fresh investment by these
Union Budget 2019 has set a high target of Rs 1.05 lakh crore from
disinvestment for the current fiscal year compared with Rs 90,000 crore in
the Interim Budget.
from residual stake sales, buybacks and strategic sales, land monetisation
will be a key component of the Centre’s attempt to raise resources.
has said that asset recycle and monetisation should not be confused with
disinvestment. In disinvestment, the government offloads or sells part of
its ownership whereas in asset monetisation, the ownership remains with
the government but the underlying assets are leased on a long-term basis
to private players.
the Cabinet had cleared the bid by Adani Enterprises for the lease of
three airports namely Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru operated by the
Airports Authority of India on a public-private partnership basis. Adani
enterprises would carry out the operations, management and development of
the airports for 50 years.
elbowed out of Afghanistan peace talks
has for the first time joined the US, Russia and China’s trilateral
consultations on the Afghanistan peace process.
four countries have jointly urged the Taliban to immediately agree to a
ceasefire and begin direct negotiations with the Afghanistan government to
end the 18-year violence in the war-torn country.
India has neither been included in the peace negotiations nor have India’s
concerns being taken into consideration. India had opposed the US proposal
to postpone the Afghanistan’s presidential elections until the peace
process with Taliban is finalised.
experts have asked India to be more proactive as India’s investment in
Afghanistan has been largely with the Afghanistan Government.
Afghanistan’s elected government has been under concerted pressure as (a)
Taliban has refused to engage with them (b) Taliban has recently increased
its attacks (c) Neither US, Russia, China or Pakistan have given the
government any place at the talks and (d) Pakistan’s airspace ban has cut
off Afghanistan from India imposing economic costs and making a political
point of the indispensability of Pakistan.
US negotiator with Taliban has said that it has achieved progress on four
fronts (a)assurances from the Taliban that Afghanistan will not become a
staging ground for militant groups (b)withdrawal of US troops
(c)all-Afghan dialogue to reach agreement on peaceful future and
eyes direct transfer of fertilizer subsidy
government has been preparing to move on a proposal for direct cash
transfer (DBT) of fertilizer subsidy amount to farmers’ bank accounts.
proposal is aimed at disincentivizing farmers from excessive use of
funds transferred will be used only for buying soil nutrients while two
options are being explored to decide the cash subsidy (a) fixing the
amount per acre/hectare or (b) lump sum amount for all identified
beneficiaries on the lines of PM-Kisan scheme.
farmers are allowed to buy as much fertilizer as they want at a subsidised
rate and it is based on a no denying policy. The government directly pays
the subsidy amount to manufacturers or marketing firms. This has led to
excess use of chemical fertilizers.
direct payments to farmers are seen as better to ensure delivery of
subsidies to the end-user. This will lead to (a)farmers using fertilizer
judiciously (b)will help in the health of farmland and (c)Government
expenditure on subsidy will also reduce due to less usage.
some other options are also being considered for subsidy transfer. The
first option is government can open virtual accounts and these can be
operated once the beneficiary enters a security code in the system for
second option is that an e-wallet will be created in the bank account of
every beneficiary and the amount transferred for fertilizer subsidy will
be kept in this and can be used only for buying fertilizer.
there are few problems which needed to be dealt with such as (a) Some
states have not yet joined the PM-Kisan scheme and (b) It might also be
difficult to have uniform norms for both irrigated and non-irrigated land.
Govt to look at applicability of 20% tax on ongoing share buyback issue
- The Finance Ministry has said that it will look
into the applicability of 20% tax proposed in the 2019-20 Budget on the current
share buybacks by listed companies.
- This tax was proposed in the budget to
discourage the practice of avoiding Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) through
buybacks by listed companies.
- Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) is paid by
companies who distribute their profits to their shareholders in the form of
- Buyback of shares refers to the corporate action
where a company repurchases its own shares from the existing shareholders.
- During the buyback of shares, the price of
shares is usually higher than the market price. Typically, companies that have
excess cash with no specific investment or other deployment requirements
- Further, buying back shares is also a route to
make a business look more attractive to investors. By reducing the number of
outstanding shares, a company’s earnings per share ratio is automatically
calls for upgrading e-learning platform to virtual university
panel of experts has recommended upgrading Union human resource
development (HRD) ministry’s free e-learning Swayam platform to a
virtual university to meet growing demand for quality education.
proposal is part of the ministry’s five-year vision plan called Education
Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme(EQUIP).
panel has also proposed reconstituting Swayam into a separate autonomous
board driven organisation under the HRD Ministry.
the panel’s recommendations have come as the HRD ministry is preparing the
next phase of Swayam. A degree-granting mechanism could be one of its
(Study Webs of Active–Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) is a programme
initiated by the Government of India and designed to achieve the three
cardinal principles of Education Policy namely access, equity and
objective of this effort is to take the best teaching learning resources
to all including the most disadvantaged. SWAYAM seeks to bridge the
digital divide for students who have remained untouched by the digital
revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge
is done through an indigenous developed IT platform that facilitates
hosting of all the courses taught in classrooms to be accessed by anyone, anywhere
at any time.
to soon float draft national retail policy to seek stakeholders’ views
Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) will soon
introduce draft national retail policy. The policy is aimed at promoting
growth of 65 million small traders.
main elements of the policy includes (a)promoting ease of doing business
(b)licensing (c)access to funds (d)direct selling and (e)hyper-market
policy is expected to cover different segments and could offer a level
playing field to all players in the ecosystem while helping the smaller
retailers modernise to meet the growing demand.
policy is being brought as e-commerce firms and traditional retail traders
have been at loggerheads with the latter accusing online retailers of
distorting the level-playing field by offering deep discounts on back of
e-commerce firms have said that currently online retail occupies less than
5% of the total retail pie in India.