9 PM Current Affairs Brief – March 2nd, 2020

India is host to 457 migratory fauna, shows latest CMS list

News: Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) for the first time compiled the list of migratory species of India under the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS).


  • Globally, more than 650 species are listed under the CMS appendices
  • The total number of migratory fauna from India is 457 species with birds comprising 83% (380 species) of this figure. Further, there are 46 migratory mammal species and 24 migratory fish species.

Additional Information: 

Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) or the Bonn Convention

  • It is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). It acts as a framework convention and encourages its States Parties to conclude global or regional agreements.
  • It was signed in 1979 in Bonn, Germany, and entered into force in 1983
  • Aim: conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats
  • It is the only global convention specializing in the conservation of migratory species, their habitats and migration routes.
  • Appendices of CMS:
  • Appendix I – Threatened Migratory Species
  • Appendix II – Migratory Species requiring international cooperation
  • Parties to the Convention: 129 parties including India

Zoological Survey of India

  • It is an organization for zoological research and studies to promote the survey, exploration, and research of the fauna in India.
  • It was established in 1916. It is headquartered in Kolkata, West Bengal.
  • It functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate.

Did you Know? India has three flyways (flight paths used by birds): the Central Asian flyway, East Asian flyway and East Asian–Australasian flyway.

Water crisis looms large in Himalayan regions, finds study

News: According to a survey, published in the journal Water Policy, eight towns in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region of Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Pakistan were nearly 20%-70% deficient in their water supply.


Key takeaways:

  • Major Challenges faced: changing water budgets, increasing demand for water and water scarcity.
  • Reasons for water crisis: poor water governance, lack of urban planning, poor tourism management during peak season, and climate-related risks and challenges
  • Solutions: Holistic water management approach that includes springshed management and planned adaptation

Additional Information:

The Hindu Kush and Himalayan Range (HKH):

  • It  is famously known as the earth’s “third pole” as it forms the largest area of permanent ice cover outside of the North and South Poles.
  • It spans Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan

Eurasian otter found in Chilika Lake

News:Researchers conducting a study in Odisha’s Chilika Lake have found the presence of fishing cats and Smooth-coated otters. Eurasian otters have also been spotted for the first time.


Fishing cat:

  • Geographic Range: South and Southeast Asia 
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Smooth-coated Otter: 

  • Geographic range: Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Eurasian Otter:

  • Geographic Range: Eurasia
  • IUCN Status: Near Threatened

Additional Information:

Chilka Lake:

  • It is spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha, at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal. 
  • It is Asia’s largest brackish water lake.
  • In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

U.S, Taliban sign peace deal

News:The US and Taliban have signed a peace deal in Doha, the capital of Qatar.


Key provisions of the deal:

  • Withdrawal of the United States troops from Afghanistan.
  • A commitment by the Taliban to end support for U.S.-deemed terrorist organizations.
  • Maintaining a communications channel between US and Taliban to support implementation of the agreement.
  • Exchange of prisoners between the Afghan government and the Taliban is intended as a way of building trust between the two sides.
  • Intra-party talks among Afghan government officials, opposition figures, civil society representatives and the Taliban to discuss a political road map for bringing an end to the war.

Additional information:

About Taliban:

  • The Taliban or students in the Pashto language emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.
  • They ruled large parts of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001,before being ousted in a US-led invasion.After years of insurgency, it now controls half of the country once more,mostly rural areas.

India and Taliban:

  • India never gave diplomatic and official recognition to the Taliban when it was in power during 1996-2001.
  • However,after the US-Taliban negotiations started, India has been in touch with all stakeholders.But its foreign policy has shied away from engaging with the Taliban directly.


News:Recently,Raider-X, a new explosive detection device was unveiled at the National Workshop on Explosive Detection(NWED-2020) in Pune.


About Raider-X:

  • It has been developed by the High Energy Material Research Laboratory (HEMRL) ,an arm of the DRDO in Pune and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.
  • It is a bomb detection device that can spot 20 homemade explosives from two meters away.
  • The data library can also be built in the system to expand its capability to detect a number of explosives in pure form as well as with the contaminants.

Period Poverty

News:Scotland may become the first country in the world to end ‘period poverty’ by passing the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill to make sanitary products free for all.


About Period Poverty:

  • Period poverty is often described as a lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints.

About Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill:

  • The Scottish Parliament has passed the Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill.
  • It aims to develop a universal system in Scotland which will provide free sanitary products for anyone who needs them.

Additional information:

Period Poverty in India:

  • Increased risk of disease:In India,an estimated 70% of all reproductive diseases are caused by poor menstrual hygiene as women often use dirty rags as a replacement for sanitary pads.
  • Cultural stereotypes have a huge impact: Menstruation in India is often seen as a shameful conversation.Studies estimate that 71% of girls have no knowledge about menstrual health until after their first period.
  • High Cost of Sanitation facilities:Approximately 70 million people in India live in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 dollars per day.Hence for low-income households, the cost of sanitary pads is often unattainable.
  • Period poverty in India affects education:On average, girls miss six days of class each month due to shame surrounding their periods or a lack of sanitary products.This contributes to the number of girls in India who dropout of school each year around 23%.

Initiatives by Indian Government:

  • Janaushadhi Suvidha scheme:It aims to provide women with oxo-biodegradable sanitary napkins at a meagre cost of Rs 2.50/pad across 3,600 Janaushadhi Kendras in the country.

Initiatives for Gender Advancement and Equality in Academic and Research Institutions

News: The President has announced a few initiatives for gender advancement and equality in academic and research institutions on the National Science Day celebrations.


About Vigyan Jyoti Scheme:

  • Nodal ministry:Ministry of Science & Technology(DST).
  • Coverage:The programme covers girl students from grade 9 to 12.
  • Aim:To create a level-playing field for the meritorious girls in high school to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics(STEM) in their higher education and become self reliant.
  • It also offers exposure for girl students coming from rural backgrounds to help understand how to plan their journey from school to college and thereafter from research to a job of their choice in the field of science.
  • It also has a financial dimension as girls will be given a modest financial incentive to cover their additional expenses like travel to camps.

About GATI:

  • GATI Stands for Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI).
  • Aim:To develop a comprehensive Charter and a framework for assessing Gender Equality in STEM.
  • It will assess the progress made by participating institutions in gender advancement based on well-defined parameters.
  • Further,an online portal will also be created to provide information on government schemes, scholarships, fellowships among others.

International Women’s Day(IWD)

News:The Government of India has launched a special theme-based focused campaign from 1st-7th March in the run up to the International Women’s Day on 8th March,2020.


  • The seven themes that are being observed by the Government of India include Education, Health and nutrition, Empowerment of women, Skills & entrepreneurship, Participation in sports, Rural women agriculture and Urban women.

About International Women’s Day:

  • International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on 8th March since 1911.
  • It aims to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.It also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
  • The theme for 2020 is #EachforEqual- An equal world is an enabled world.

Additional information:

About Beijing Declaration:

  • The Beijing Declaration was a resolution adopted by the United Nations(UN) at the end of the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995. 
  • The resolution is an agenda for women’s empowerment and considered the key global policy document on gender equality.
  • It sets strategic objectives for the advancement of women and gender equality in 12 critical areas of concern like women and health, women in power and decision-making, the girl-child, women and the environment.

Araku Utsav

News:The Araku Utsav 2020 has begun at Araku Valley in Visakhapatnam district,Andhra Pradesh.


About Araku Utsav:

  • The festival is being organized by the Andhra Pradesh Government.
  • The aim of the festival is to spread the tribal tradition and culture to other regions.

Additional information:

About Araku Valley:

  • Araku Valley is a hill station in Visakhapatnam,Andhra Pradesh.The valley is located in the Eastern Ghats.The nearest cave to the Valley is Borra cave.
  • Dhimsa, a tribal dance form is performed primarily by Porja tribal women especially in places near Araku Valley.


News:Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment has inaugurated the week long Exhibition-cum-Fair “EKAM Fest” in New Delhi.


About EKAM Fest:

  • The word Ekam stands for Entrepreneurship, Knowledge, Awareness, Marketing.It also represents inclusiveness, oneness and unity.
  • Aim:To a) promote entrepreneurship and knowledge among the Divyangjan/Persons with disabilities(PwDs) community b) generate awareness among society about potentialities of PwDs and c) provide a major marketing opportunity to PwDs entrepreneurs.
  • It is being organised by National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation (NHFDC) under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.

Initiatives of NHFDC at the fest:

  • NHFDC Swavalamban Kendra (NSK):It will be a PwD owned micro skill training Centers for skill training of PwDs.These NSKs will have a capacity to provide quality skill training to around 120 PwDs per year.
  • Safe Cabs: It is a PwD owned commercial vehicle which will be driven by the Women drivers to provide safe taxi option for the women, children and senior citizen commuters.

Additional information:

About NHFDC:

  • National Handicapped Finance Development Corporation (NHFDC) is an Apex corporation under the aegis of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities(Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
  • It was established in 1997 as a not for profit company under Companies act,1956.
  • It provides financial assistance to the Persons with Disabilities for their economic rehabilitation and provides a number of skill development programmes to empower them to grow & sustain their enterprises.

ICGS Varad

News:The Indian Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Vessel(OPV), ICGS Varad has been commissioned into service.


About ICGS Varad:

  • ICGS Varad is the the fifth in the series of seven Vikram-class offshore patrol vessel vessels being constructed by Larsen and Toubro(L&T).
  • The vessel is the first major defence ship to clear all the sea trials in one single sea sortie creating a record of sorts in the Indian shipbuilding industry.
  • It will be deployed at Eastern Coast under the operational control of the North-Eastern Region’s Coast Guard.

Additional information:

About Vikram class Offshore Patrol Vessel:

  • The Vikram-class offshore patrol vessel is a series of seven offshore patrol vessels(OPV) being built by L&T Shipbuilding for the Indian Coast Guard.
  • The Seven offshore Patrol vessels(OPV) are ICGS Vikram, ICGS Vijaya, ICGS Veera, ICGS Varaha, ICGS Varad and ICGS Vajra.

Sanskruti Kunj Fair

News:The Eight day cultural fair called Vasantotsav was inaugurated at Sanskruti Kunj in Gandhinagar,Gujarat.


About the Sanskruti Kunj fair:

  • It is an annual festival organised by the Government of Gujarat to celebrate the rich diverse heritage of the country.
  • The festival is often referred to as the state’s spring festival or Basant Mahotsava as it is celebrated with the onset of spring.
  • The theme of this year’s festival is “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat”.
  • The pair state of the festival was Chhattisgarh whose folk dance Panthi was performed.

Additional information:

About Panthi Dance:

  • Panthi is a folk dance performed by the Satnami tribal community of Chhattisgarh.
  • The dance has a religious significance as it is performed on Maghi Purnima–birth anniversary of Guru Baba Ghasidas.
  • The dance is performed mainly by the male dancers as it requires great flexibility and stamina and various challenging steps.
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