9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – August 21st, 2021

Dear Friends,
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
  • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
  • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 1

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)


Mains Oriented Articles


GS Paper 1

Fate of Afghanistan’s karez system uncertain, but south India’s surangam thriving

Source: Down to Earth

Syllabus: GS1- Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Relevance: Traditional methods of water conservation in India.

Synopsis: The karez system in Afghanistan, a legacy of its Persian cultural linkage, has suffered extensive damage in 43 years of war and stares at an uncertain future under the Taliban’s second regime. But hundreds of miles to the south, a similar system called Surangam system, is thriving.

What is Karez system?

The karez system in Afghanistan is a legacy of its Persian culture. It has suffered extensive damage in 43 years of war.

Karez Underground Irrigation System
Karez system
Surangam system of South India:

The surangam is usually found in northern Kerala and southern Karnataka.

This is basically a tunnel dug through a laterite hillock from the periphery of which water and moisture seeps out. However, constructing surangams is very difficult and they also have to be cleaned annually.

Surangam irrigation system
Surangam in Kerala

They are similar to qanats which existed in Mesopotamia and Babylon around 700 Before Common Era. By 714 BCE.

qanat | Definition & Facts | Britannica

Utility of Surangam
  1. One Surangam served two-three houses and the water was sweet and always available.
  2. Used for domestic and agriculture purposes in dry areas of northern Malabar and more than half of these structures were constructed between 1977 and 1997.
Theories on origin of Surangam system

Theory 1: Karhada Brahmin theory 

The hypothesis relates the likely origin of the suranga system to 18 Karhada Brahmin families that had moved to the Kasargod area from Maharashtra in the 17th century.

  • The karez systems in India extend from Madhya Pradesh till Bijapur and Bidar in Karnataka. Qanat / karez were dug in places that were water-scarce and had to be constructed over great distances.
  • On the other hand, surangas were built as the construction of wells was not economical. None of the surangas in Kasargod have vents on them. The longest surangam is 300 metres long with eight vents and it is probably the only one with vents in Kasargod district.
  • As per Karhada Brahmin theory, they had come to a place that had a lot of laterite hills. Laterite is a sedimentary formation which becomes harder on getting exposed to sunlight and air. It is used as a building material in Kerala.
  • Kasargod did not have a good source of water. The Karhadas might have seen springs and might have started exploiting them.
  • During the drier season, they might have dug into the slopes. As the springs receded, the Karhadas dug further into the hills. So, the tunnels became bigger.

Theory 2

  1. When the Deccan Sultanates were taken over by the Mughal and Maratha Empires, the artisans might have migrated south and may have constructed these surangams after being patronised by the Wodeyar kingdom of Mysuru.
  2. Tipu sultan’s father, Hyder Ali had deposed the Wodeyar Maharaja and established the Sultanate of Mysuru.
  3. During Tipu’s reign, there might have been knowledge transfer either through migrants from the Deccan or because of Mangaluru port-based trade relations with Persia.

GS Paper 2

What ails mid-day meal scheme’s implementation?

Source: Business Standard

Syllabus: GS2 – Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

Relevance: issues with the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS)

Synopsis: Analysis of data shows that India has fewer states now providing egg in mid-day meal schemes, even fewer are provisioning fruits and only a third of the states/UTs are giving milk to children.

Context

In June 2021, the Kerala High Court put a temporary stay on a controversial order passed by the Lakshadweep administration banning chicken and meat from the mid-day meal scheme. While passing the order, the division bench asked the government why it was upsetting the food habits of the region.

Lakshadweep is among the few states which offer meat and chicken to its school going students as part of the mid-day meal programme.

Issues with MDMS

Analysis of annual work plan and budget reports from the states for 2015-16 and 2020-21 shows the following issues:

On provisioning of meat/chicken:

  • While five states offered meat/chicken/fish in their mid-day meal scheme in 2015-16, the number has now reduced to three. (Tripura only offers chicken sometimes, whenever local social workers provide it).
  • Jammu and Kashmir has stopped offering meat products, and so has Nagaland.
  • In fact, of all the states, Lakshadweep remains the only state which offers a meat/chicken/fish diet four times a week to its school-going children.

On provisioning of eggs:

  • Although the National Institute of Nutrition has recommended egg as part of the mid-day meal diet, less than half of the states and UTs have implemented the scheme.
  • According to 2020-21 data of the 36 states and UTs, only 15 offered egg to students.
  • There is a wide variation among states in the provisioning of eggs. In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, the states serve eggs five days a week; in Odisha, Puducherry and a few other states, it is served twice a week.

On provisioning of fruits:

  • Milk and fruits are rarer commodities. Even though demands have been made to include milk in mid-day schemes, analysis shows that only 11 states till now have made provisions to serve milk—higher than 8 in 2015-16.
  • Only 6 states made provisions to serve fruits in 2020-21, and the count has declined from 2015-16 when 12 states were serving fruits.

Centre’s expenditure

  • The centre’s expenditure on mid-day meal programmes has remained constant over the years.
  • In 2014-15, the centre allocated Rs 11,051 crore towards mid-day meal scheme programme, the following year allocation had fallen to Rs 9,236 crore. In 2019-20, only Rs 9,699 crore was allocated towards the programme.
    • The centre shares 60% of the cost in the programme with the rest borne by the states.
    • In the case of union territories, the entire cost is borne by the government of India and for the north-eastern states the share is 90:10.
Success under MDMS
  • Reduction of stunting: A recent study published in Nature Communications showed that the prevalence of stunting was significantly lower in areas that implemented the mid-day meal scheme in 2005. Women who received mid-day meal benefits in school were less likely to have stunted children.
  • Increasing enrollment: One of the goals of the mid-day meal scheme was to increase enrollment. Some areas like Jammu and Kashmir still use eggs and other items as incentives to drive enrollment in schools.
Also Read: Mid-day meals leave a long-lasting impact
Suggestions
  • Provisioning of milk, eggs and fruits can help provide micro-nutrients for the body.
  • The calorie and nutritional prescription is based on the nutrient gap that is prevalent in children of different age group. Hence, the food under MDMS should be seen just as a supplement. It should fill the nutritional gap in the diet of the children, not substitute it

How are Rajya Sabha members punished for misconduct in the House?

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 2 – Functioning of Parliament

Relevance: To understand the suspension of the members of Rajya Sabha

Synopsis: There have been incidents of misconduct inside the house. The recent incident raises the question of action that should be taken against such members.

Introduction:

  • There are speculations in the Rajya Sabha (RS) over the punishment to MP for the misconduct.
  • Chairman has the power to conduct smooth proceedings of the house.
  • If any rules are violated, the Chairman has the power to initiate disciplinary action.
  • But the Rules of the House do not empower Parliament to inflict any punishment on its members other than suspension for creating disorder in the House.

Suspension rules of RS

Rule 256 of the Rajya Sabha’s Rules of Procedure: Specifies the acts of misconduct.

  • Under this, an MP can be suspended for disregarding the authority of the Chair or wilfully abuse the rules or obstruct the business of the house.
  • However, the power to suspend an MP is vested in the house, not the chairman. The chairman only names the member, while the Parliamentary Affairs minister or any other minister moves the motion for suspending the member.

Terms of suspension

  • The maximum period of suspension is for the remainder of the session
  • Suspended members cannot enter the chamber or attend the meetings of the committees
  • He will not be eligible to give notice for discussion or submission
  • He loses the right to get a reply to his questions

 The procedure followed

  • When the misconduct is noticed by the chair
    • Punishment or punishing action is usually taken immediately. Punishing members long after the occurrence of misconduct is rare.
  • For the acts of misconduct by the MPs outside the House
    • A privilege committee is constituted.
    • The privilege committee investigates the matter and recommends the course of action, and the House acts on it.

Appointment of the special committee

  • These ad-hoc committees are appointed only to investigate serious misconduct by MPs outside the house.
  • These are usually appointed when the misconduct is very severe and the house is deciding to expel the member.
  • No special committee is required to go into what happens before the eyes of the presiding officer in the House. As per the rules of the House, they need to be dealt with then and there.

Some incidents from the Past

  • The first case of expulsion occurred in 1951. A committee was appointed to investigate the conduct of an MP who accepted financial benefits from business houses to canvass support for them in the government and Parliament. He was found guilty and was therefore expelled
  • Another committee was appointed in 2005 to inquire into the issue of MPs accepting money for raising questions in Parliament. The MPs linked to this matter were expelled.

Way forward

The rules do not grant any other power than suspension. It is time to tighten such rules for misconduct inside the temple of democracy.


History over geography

SourceThe HinduIndian Express and Business Standard 

Syllabus: GS – 2:  India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Relevance: This article explains the recent developments in Afghanistan.

Synopsis:

The geopolitics that happened in Afghanistan provided a new strategic boost. This is the best chance for India to focus on maritime power and opportunity rather than overland threats

Background

Please read the following two articles for a better understanding.

  1. The script of the new endgame in Afghanistan
  2. Return of Taliban has implications for India
  3. New Delhi’s Af-Pak: Old friends versus old foes: Should India accept Taliban, betray Afghans or support resistance movements like Saleh’s?
About Afghanistan (the global battlefield) and its geopolitics
India Afghanistan
Source: Maps of India

Afghanistan has always been the ultra-poor, deeply conservative, tribal, sparsely populated and loosely governed land-locked nation. At present, the nation lying between the warring great powers of the day. That makes it a battlefield for global powers. With enormous collateral damage and no benefits.

For instance, Imperial Britain and Czarist Russia in the 19th century, the Soviet Union and the US in the 20th century, the US and stateless pan-national al Qaeda in the 21st century.

Its location made it the “bali ka bakra” or sacrificial goat in the Great Game, the Cold War and the War on Terror.

Geopolitics since the entry of Pakistan:
  1. Pakistan came into being only in 1947 and inherited colonial India’s borders to the west. Pakistan’s only utility to the US-led Western Bloc was where it sat on the world’s map. Thus bringing Pak into the western formal military alliances.
    • This geography made it the frontline state in the first Cold War because it shared a long border, a religion, tribal ties and access to Afghanistan.
    • There are instances where the US conducted flying of U-2 spy planes over the Soviet Union from Peshawar.
  2. Pakistan became doubly important in 1971 as physical and political proximity with China. 
  3. Pakistan had lost its history-shaping geo-strategic blessing after the disintegration of the USSR. This was also when a US warming up to India and the de-hyphenation of its policy on the subcontinent began.
Read more: Afghan Peace Process and India – Explained, Pointwise
Geopolitics of India
  1. India inherited about 15,000 km of land borders. On the day it became independent, about a half of it was abutting Pakistan (East and West Pakistan). The next major boundary sharing between China. So, China emerged as a threat in less than a decade.
  2. Even after the creation of Bangladesh, India’s strategic thought became land border-oriented. India constantly thought of Pakistan, terrorism, China and became reactive and defensive.
  3. This took away India’s attention from the vast 7,500 km-plus coastlines.  India’s coast constitutes some of the world’s most important sea lanes, with enormous exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and island assets on the east and the west, a region of incredible opportunity.
  4. For 75 years, India’s strategic thinking has been so distracted by a land threat.
Geopolitics and the stability in Afghanistan
  1. Russia wants to ensure that the Talibani virus doesn’t infiltrate the Central Asian republics. As Russia is making cordial relations with them
  2. China also has similar concerns for the following reasons.
    1. China does not want the Taliban to tie up with the Muslim Uyghurs.
    2. A stable Afghanistan is vital for their mega CPEC investments.
  3. Pakistan has zero capacity to threaten India through Afghanistan. This is because of the following reasons.
    1. The US did not help Pakistan as they helped the Taliban to defeat the US
    2. China wants peace and stability in Afghanistan, so any attempt to promote terror will negatively impact the development of Pakistan.
About the return of the Taliban and Geopolitics of India

The fall of Kabul and the consequent knock-on effects in the region will have several potential implications for India’s foreign policy and its strategic choices and behaviour.

The return of the Taliban to Kabul has effectively brought India’s ‘mission Central Asia’ to rest. This is because,

  • There is little physical access to India with the north-western landmass. Further, India’s interest also shifted towards Indo-Pacific
  • The developments in Afghanistan could nudge India to seek stability, if not peace, with Pakistan.

So India needs to set aside Pakistan and Afghanistan and start focusing on our maritime power and opportunity. This is India’s greatest opportunity in 75 years to shift its strategic gaze from the north to the south.

Terms to know:


Preparing India for a sporting future

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS2- Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors

Relevance: Sports ecosystem in India

Synopsis:  Though India has a large and talented population as well as a history of sporting excellence, but still it has struggled to raise medal count. A look at the causes and suggestions to bring a change.

Context

In Tokyo 2020, India won first gold in athletics, the hockey team did wonders and there were successes in other sports such as discus throw, golf, fencing, etc.

The Target Olympic Podium Scheme, Khelo India and the Fit India Campaign have laid the foundations for greater success.

Issues with India’s sports ecosystem
  1. One issue is the inability to create the right supporting atmosphere.
  2. Sports generate much interest, but there is a wide gap between incentives and participation.
  3. Lack of grassroots sporting culture. India needs regional leagues to provide an opportunity for young athletes. Also, university system can be transformed into an oasis for Olympic excellence.
  4. The conventional route is bureaucratic. It needs to be simplified, with yesteryear’s sports persons leading the charge.
  5. Another issue is the rise of modern technology. This generation gives much importance to play station than playing fields, leading to a lack in physical sports activity.
  6. Lastly, there is need for a shift in parental attitude towards sports. With government, and the corporate sector support for our players, they will realize that sports make for an attractive and honorable career.
Suggestions/Measures
  1. Encouraging states towards “One State, One Sport” outlook to bring a focussed approach. They can prioritize one game or promote a few based on the available talent pool, natural interest, climatic conditions and available infrastructure.
  2. Corporates in India should adopt “One Sport, One Corporate”. It can help in budding talent, building leagues, enhancing the fan experience, marketing as well as merchandising to enhance the financial kitty of players.
  3. The National Education Policy also consists of mechanisms that will make sports education an attractive option. For example, India’s first sports university in Manipur.
  4. The sponsorship pattern has transitioned from FMCG brands to new FinTech. This can be a win-win for players, corporates, and the game itself.
Must Read: Sports sector in India: issues and challenges – Explained

Faith and Marriage

Source: Indian Express, The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2 – Fundamental Rights

Relevance: To understand the issue of interfaith marriages

Synopsis: Dubious legislations cannot be allowed to criminalise interfaith marriages

Introduction:

Gujarat HC has recently struck down certain provisions of the ‘Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021’ which are contrary to the fundamental rights of the citizen.

  • Many states like UP, MP, Himachal and Gujarat have brought laws against forced conversion like “Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment Act) 2021.
Read more: Issue of interfaith marriages and laws in India

What do the laws say?

  • They have created ‘conversion by marriage’ as one of the illegal forms of conversion. However, the vagueness of the provisions gives police the power to hold police inquiries.
  • The law also allows an aggrieved person, anyone related by blood to lodge an FIR.
  • This often subjects the couple or bride/groom to criminal proceedings.
Read more: What are the issues in anti-conversion law?

What do the courts say?

  • Gujarat HC has stalled some provisions of the Act and has stopped initiation of criminal proceedings against such couples unless they have there were any of the illegal elements involved.
  • This is also in line with Supreme Court (SC) rulings that states cannot police private lives and personal choices guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution.
  • In Shafin Jahan Vs Ashokan case, the SC made it clear that the right to marry is an integral part of a person’s choice.

Way Forward

The Gujarat HC’s reading of the law will hopefully have a bearing on other courts where similar laws have been challenged.

Terms to know


Arrest is not always a must, says Supreme Court

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2 Judiciary and the Fundamental Rights

Relevance: To differentiate between the right to arrest and need to arrest

Synopsis: Supreme Court (SC) mentioned that arrest provision in law does not mean that government can use power indiscriminately to crush the personal liberty

Introduction

  • Recently, the SC has held that merely because the law allows arrest, it doesn’t mean that the State can use the power indiscriminately.
  • This ends up crushing the personal liberty provided under Article 21 of the constitution.
  • Certain provisions of CrPC like section 170 (presenting accused at the time of filing the charge sheet) should not be construed as a right to arrest.
Read more: SC: Arrest should not be done as routine

When does the occasion to arrest arise?

The occasion to arrest can be understood by the following points.

  1. When custodial investigation becomes necessary.
  2. When the crime is a heinous crime.
  3. When there is the possibility of influencing the witnesses or the accused.

What should be done?

  • A distinction should be made between the power to arrest and the justification to exercise it.
  • If an arrest is made a routine, it can cause incalculable harm to reputation and self-esteem.
  • If the accused is cooperating, then there should be no compulsion for the investigating officer to arrest.

Way Forward

There is a need to strike the right balance between thorough investigation and the rights of the accused.

Terms to know


GS Paper 3

Despite PM Modi’s assurance, land degradation, desertification increasing

Source: Down to Earth

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Relevance: Causes behind increase in land degradation and desertification

Synopsis: Problem of land degradation and desertification is increasing in India. A brief look at the findings of ISRO’s report on the issue and causes behind it.

Context

Recently, ISRO released the Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India, which highlighted that India is not on track to achieve its national commitment of land degradation neutrality.

What is land degradation?

Land degradation within dry land regions (arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid regions) is termed as ‘desertification’.

Findings of the report:
  • 29.7% of India’s total geographical area underwent land degradation during 2018-19
  • Besides land degradation, desertification has also increased. India witnessed an increase in the level of desertification in 28 of 31 states and Union territories between 2011-13 and 2018-19.
  • Most of the degradation and desertification is contributed by Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Ladakh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana
  • However, land degradation and desertification was declining in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana in 2018-2019.
Must Read: Desertification and land degradation Atlas of India

Target:

As a signatory to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Paris signed on June 17, 1994, while speaking at the UN High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought, Modi had added that India is working to restore 26 mha of degraded land by 2030

Causes behind land degradation and desertification
  • Loss of soil cover– Loss of soil cover, mainly due to rainfall and surface runoff, was one of the biggest reasons for desertification. According to the atlas, it was responsible for 11% of the desertification in the country
  • Water erosion– it was responsible for 10.98% of desertification in the country in 2011-13
  • Vegetation degradation– it found to be responsible for around 9% of desertification in the country
  • Wind erosion– it found to be responsible for around 5% of the desertification in India

Catch the rain, fix water crisis: How Odisha leads by example

Source: Down to Earth

Syllabus: GS3 – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

Relevance: Fighting water crisis in India, Odisha model of rain water harvesting

Synopsis: Urbanization poses a threat to our natural environment, it is leading to water scarcity, disasters, loss of biodiversity and more. However, sustainable urbanization can offer a solution for the emerging urban problems as reflected by Odisha model.

Context

Most Indian states in the last one decade have observed irregularity in rainfall pattern leading to water crisis and drought-like situation in some places while heavy rainfall led to floods in others.

What is Rain water harvesting?

Rain water harvesting comprises collecting run-off from a structure or other impervious surface to store it for use. It is used to conserve rainwater that runs off from rooftops, parks, roads and open grounds by collecting, storing, conveying and purifying it.

Need for rainwater harvesting

The rapid growth of urban areas has adversely affected natural recharge of groundwater aquifers. With this, surface water runoff has increased, thereby limiting its infiltration into the ground and causing water scarcity.

Rainwater harvesting can offer a great solution in such situations. Observing the irregularity in rainfall and increase flood frequency, many states have already adopted such steps to install rainwater harvesting system in their cities to reduce surface water runoff.

Odisha model
  • The state of Odisha has developed 12,000 rainwater harvesting structures (RWHS) to facilitate water conservation and groundwater recharge. This has been done in 2,035 wards of 114 urban local bodies under the state-wide campaign “Catch the Rain: Where it Falls and When it Falls”.
  • This was completed under Mukhyamantri Karma Tatpara Abhiyan (MUKTA), an urban wage employment scheme for migrant workers.
Unique features of the model
  • Cost-effective: The rainwater harvesting system developed by Odisha is cost-effective, involves no complex technologies and require less maintenance. It can be completed in 7-10 days.
  • Simple recharge mechanism: The recharge mechanism under the system is also simple and easy to maintain.
  • Geo-tagging of sites: To strengthen the transparency and accountability, it is mandatory for the sites to be geotagged.
  • MUKTA Scheme: It is completed under MUKTA scheme, which is an urban wage employment scheme for migrant workers, thus also provides livelihood opportunities to urban poor

Conclusion

Rainwater harvesting is a way forward for the emerging water crisis. The anthropogenic activities have played a major role in furthering climate crisis, leading to overconsumption of underground water and depletion of groundwater table. Thus, there is need to promote models of rain water harvesting similar to Odisha

Also read: PM launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan: “Catch the rain” campaign

To break the poverty cycle: GoI should allow companies to offer earn-while-you-learn education to poor young Indians

Source: TOI

Syllabus: GS 3- Inclusive growth

Relevance: To understand the issue of poverty in migrants.

Synopsis: Given the nature of the jobs of migrants and the need to educate them, there is a need to create an alternate education system for them.

Challenges of education for migrants

  • Education is seen by many as a ticket out of poverty.
  • Today, in the market, including manual labour, one cannot rise above a certain level without education.
  • So, this creates a huge barrier for migrants who often move from one place to another.
Read more: Migrant workers and their Social protection in India – Explained, pointwise

How can we address this?

  • An alternate education system suited for migrants without disturbing the mainstream system has to be framed.
  • The government must allow places like hospitals, construction firms and manufacturing industries to provide education. This is also vital for child nutrition, as labourers send their children to school for food.
  • Industries can provide job-specific training in an informal way. This will benefit industries as they get skilled labour.
    • For example: if every hospital with more than 200 beds is allowed to train Auxiliary Nursing Midwives (ANM) and General Nursery and Midwifery (GNM)
    • ANM students can work certain hours and attend online classes few hours daily. This will benefit the labourers and the health industry both.

Way Forward:

  • It is understood that our government cannot pay for a college education. But it can create a parallel college education system for the poor and authorize industries to offer blended courses through the online route.

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)


Quota benefit cant be availed simultaneously in 2 states

Source: The Hindu

Recently, the Supreme Court clarifies its stand on the reservation in reorganised states. The court held that a person can claim benefits in either of the successor states.

About the Supreme Court (SC) verdict:

  • The court ruled that a person cannot claim the benefit of reservation simultaneously in both the successor states upon their reorganisation
  • The person can claim benefit in either of the successor states
  • For eg: in the state of Bihar or Jharkhand after their reorganisation in 2000, the person can claim benefit in either of the states. But not in both the states
  • While participating in open selection in another state, the members of the reserved category shall be treated as migrants and can participate in the general category without claiming any benefit of reservation and vice versa

Meet the fishing cat: Protecting this shy species will save our precious wetlands

Source: Times of India

What is the news?

Around 87% of world’s wetland ecosystem have been lost due to anthropogenic activities threatening wildlife species such as fishing cat.

About Fishing Cat:
  • The fishing cat is one of only two animals among the 40 odd members of the cat family which can survive in wet landscape
Fishing cat
Source: TOI
  • It is the top predator of the wetland ecosystem
  • Fishing cat has double-layered coat which keeps its skin from getting wet.
  • The fishing cat is the state animal of West Bengal.
  • Conservation status:
    • Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
    • IUCN status: It is listed as “vulnerable (VU)” under IUCN red list
    • CITES status: The fishing cat is included on CITES Appendix II
  • Habitat– It prefers wetland ecosystem and traditionally found in the South and Southeast Asia’s rivers such as Ganga, Brahmaputra, Godavari, Krishna, Irrawaddy and Chao Phraya.
  • Threat– Shrinking of wetland ecosystem, marshes, mangrove, and grassland has emerged as biggest threat.
  • The fishing cat is etched on the 900-yearold Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia and captured on relics of the Khmer empire, which flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries on the mighty Mekong’s floodplains.
  • Chilika, Asia’s largest brackishwater lagoon, is home to a viable fishing cat population, the lake’s strategic location, between the two protected areas of the Bhitarkanika and Coringa wildlife sanctuaries, playing an important role in maintaining the species along India’s eastern coast. In 2020, the Chilika Development Authority (CDA), the government body in charge of preserving India’s oldest Ramsar site, declared the fishing cat Chilika’s
    ambassador.

Rs 935 crore misappropriated in NREGA schemes in last four years, show data from Govt

Source: Indian Express

What is the news?

According to data sourced from the Management Information System (MIS) of the Ministry of Rural Development, in the last four years, Social Audit Units (SAU) under Rural Development Departments (RDD) across India have found financial misappropriation of Rs 935 crore under various schemes of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

  • Only about Rs 12.5 crore of this amount — 1.34% — has been recovered so far.
  • Financial misappropriation includes bribery, and payments to non-existent persons and to vendors for material procured at high rates.
Why recovery is slow?
  • Lack of attention– State Rural Development Department are giving less attention towards the issue of financial misappropriation
  • Determination of culpability– It is difficult to  determine the culpability of the persons concerned for the irregularities
  • Absence of Standard Operating Procedures
About Social Audit (SA):
  • Section 17 of the MGNREG Act mandates social audit of all works in gram panchayats
  • The Audit of Scheme Rules were notified in 2011, and The Auditing Standards for Social Audit were notified in 2016
  • Social audit is a key parameter to judge the efficiency of states in management of finances under, Financial Management Index released by Rural Development Ministry
  • The 2011 Rules say the state government will facilitate the social audit of work done under MGNREGA in every GP once every six months.

Elopements most prosecuted under child marriage law: study

Source: The Hindu

What is the News?

Partners for Law in Development (PLD), a Delhi-based legal resource group has released a study titled “Child Marriage Prosecutions in India”.

About Child Marriage Prosecutions in India study:
  1. The study analysed 83 cases of child marriage prosecutions over a period of 10 years between 2008 and 2017 across the country.
  2. These cases include cases filed under the Prohibition of Child Marriages Act, 2006 as well as cases initiated under other laws in relation to child marriage such as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012 and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Key Findings of the Study:

Legal Prosecution of child marriages:
  1. Legal prosecution of child marriages was twice as much against elopement or self-arranged marriages by girls with such cases accounting for 65% ( 54 out of a total 83 cases) of the total cases studied. 
  2. Only 30% of the cases were those of arranged child marriages and a mere 5% were forced child marriages (such as those that involved kidnapping, enticement or forcible marriage by parents).
Initiation of Legal Proceedings:
  1. In 67% of the cases, it was primarily the parents of girls who approached the legal system with a complaint against child marriage.
  2. Only 7% of the cases were initiated by a child marriage prohibition officer — the State functionary designated for implementing the law. 
  3. Girls accessed the law on their own was the least, with only 3.5% of the cases filed to seek the nullification of their arranged marriage or to initiate criminal legal action against their parents for arranging an underage marriage.

Punishment for Elopement vs Forced and arranged child marriages:

  1. The punishment for elopement versus forced and arranged child marriages are hugely disproportionate. 
  2. Elopement could invite punishment of 10 years to life imprisonment if convicted for rape under the IPC or jail of 20 years to a maximum punishment of death under the POCSO Act.
  3. On the other hand, forced marriages under the prohibition of the Child Marriage Act(PCMA) come with no minimum sentence and a maximum sentence of imprisonment for two years and/or a fine. 
  4. The study terms this as “weaponization of the law to settle family dishonour”.

New species of Cascade frog discovered from Arunachal Pradesh

Source: The Hindu

What is the News?

A team of researchers from Delhi University (DU) have discovered a new species of cascade frog in Arunachal Pradesh. They have named the frog species as “Adi Cascade Frog (Amolops Adicola)”.

About Adi Cascade Frog:

Cascade frog
Source: The Hindu
  1. Adi Cascade Frog is a predominantly brown colour frog with a size ranging roughly between 4 cm to 7 cm. 
  2. The frog was discovered on the Adi hills in Arunachal Pradesh.
  3. The frog has been named after Adi tribes, an indigenous group of people from the Himalayan regions of Arunachal Pradesh.
    • The literal meaning of Adi is “hill” or “mountain top”. Historically, the Adi Hills region was also known as Abor hills.

About Cascade Frogs:

  1. Cascade Frogs belong to the genus Amolops. They are one of the largest groups of Ranid frogs (family Ranidae).
  2. They are named so because of their preference for small waterfalls or cascades in flowing hill streams.
  3. Currently, there are 73 known species of Cascade Frogs. They are widely distributed across Northeast and North India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, through Indochina, to the Malay Peninsula.

What is the incel movement?

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

Experts have warned that the ‘incel’ movement is slowly becoming a threat to law and order.

  • The movement came into the spotlight yet again in the UK’s Plymouth, where a 22-year-old man shot dead five people, including a toddler.
About Incel Movement:
  1. Incels are a large online community of men who describe themselves as “involuntary celibates”.(Celibates means a person who abstains from marriage and sexual relations).
  2. Men who are part of this movement have a deep resentment towards both women and other men who are sexually active. 
  3. They blame women for their own lack of sexual and social status. Moreover. an extreme section of Incels even advocates violence against women.
Black Pill and Red Pill Mentality:
  1. Black Pill theory often associated with incels promotes the defeatist idea that your fate is sealed at birth and no matter what changes you try to make, your sexual capital cannot be altered. 
  2. On the other hand, Red Pill theory believes that the world is biased toward women, and sees feminism as female supremacy. They believe there is a systemic bias in favour of women.

Zydus Cadila vaccine gets emergency nod

Source: Livemint, The Hindu, PIB, Business Standard

What is the News?

Drugs Controller General of India’s (DCGI’s) has granted emergency approval for Zycov-D vaccine.

About Zycov-D:
  1. Zycov-D is a DNA plasmid-based Covid-19 vaccine developed by Zycov Cadilla Group in partnership with the Department of Biotechnology under the ‘Mission COVID Suraksha’.
  2. It is the world’s first and India’s indigenously developed DNA based vaccine for COVID-19.
  3. The vaccine is an intradermal vaccine which means it is applied using a ‘needle-free injector’.
  4. The vaccine is to be administered in humans, including Children and adults 12 years and above.
  5. Unlike other Covid-19 vaccines which are given in two doses, Zycov-D will be given in three doses with an interval of 28 days between each dose.
  6. The vaccine development has been supported under COVID-19 Research Consortia through National Biopharma Mission for Preclinical studies.

Click Here to read about how Zycov-D Vaccine works

About Plasmid:
  1. A plasmid is a small, often circular DNA molecule found in bacteria and other cells. 
  2. Plasmids are separate from the bacterial chromosome and replicate independently of it. 
  3. They generally carry only a small number of genes, notably some associated with antibiotic resistance. Plasmids may be passed between different bacterial cells.

Moplah rebellion a manifestation of Talibani mindset: RSS leader

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

Recently, an RSS leader has claimed that the Moplah rebellion, also known as the Mappila riots of 1921 was one of the first manifestations of the Taliban mindset in India.

About Moplah Rebellion:
  1. Malabar Rebellion (also called the Mappila or Moplah Rebellion by the British) was an armed revolt by the Mappila Muslims of Kerala in 1921.

Background:

The arrival of Portuguese:
  1. In the 16th Century, when Portuguese traders arrived at the Malabar coast, they noted the Mappilas to be a mercantile community concentrated in urban centres and fairly segregated from the local Hindu population. 
  2. However, with the rise in Portuguese commercial power, the Mappilas found themselves a competitor and increasingly started moving inland in search of new economic opportunities. 
  3. The shifting of the Mappilas led to a clash of religious identities, both with the local Hindu population and the Portuguese.
Causes of the Rebellion:
  • End of Tipu Sultan Rule and Tenancy Laws:
  1. During the invasions of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the local Hindu population in Malabar found themselves attacked and uprooted, thereby maintaining a sense of security for the Mappilas. 
  2. However, soon after when the British took over, the domination of the Hindu upper castes was not just re-established but also heightened. 
  3. In this scenario, the British introduced new tenancy laws that tremendously favoured the Hindu landlords known as Janmis and instituted a far more exploitative system for peasants than before.
  • Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movement:
  1. The trigger of the Malabar uprising came from the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by Congress in 1920 along with the Khilafat agitation.
  2. The anti-British sentiment fuelled by these agitations affected the Muslim Mapillahs(also known as Moplahs) of the South Malabar region of Kerala.

Malabar Revolt:

  1. The revolt was started as a resistance against the British colonial rule, the prevailing feudal system and in favour of the Khilafat Movement, but ended in communal violence between Hindus and Muslims.
British Government Response:
  1. The British government responded to the movement with much aggression, bringing in Gurkha regiments to suppress it and imposing martial law. 
  2. A noteworthy event of the British suppression was the wagon tragedy when approximately 60 Mappila prisoners, on their way to prison, suffocated to death in a closed railway goods wagon.

Geological Survey of India Mobile App

Source: PIB

What is the News?

Geological Survey of India (GSI) has decided to upgrade its mobile application to add new features as part of its efforts to create more awareness about its activities among the public.

About GSI App:
  • GSI Mobile app was launched in 2020. The app is divided into various sections where it talks about the legacy of GSI, the in-house publications of the organisation, various case studies on different missions of GSI, the picture gallery among others.
About Geological Survey of India(GSI):
  1. The Geological Survey of India (GSI) was set up in 1851. Currently, it is an attached office to the Ministry of Mines.
  2. It was primarily set up to find coal deposits for the Railways. Over the years, GSI has grown into a repository of geo-science information required in various fields in the country.
  3. Its main functions relate to creating and updating national geoscientific information and mineral resource assessment. 
    • These objectives are achieved through ground surveys, air-borne and marine surveys, mineral prospecting,  seismotectonic study and carrying out fundamental research.
  4. Headquarters: GSI is headquartered in Kolkata. It has six regional offices located in Lucknow, Jaipur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Shillong, and Kolkata

Government Constitutes a Committee for doubling the production and quadrupling the exports of handlooms in a span of 3 years

Source: PIB

What is the News?

The Government of India has constituted a committee on the occasion of National Handloom Day for doubling the production and quadrupling the exports of handlooms in a span of 3 years.

About the Committee for the Handloom Sector:
  • Headed by: Sh. Sunil Sethi, Chairman, Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) New Delhi, 
Terms of Reference of the Committee:
  1. To suggest the framework for doubling the production of the Handloom Sector.
  2. To suggest ways for collaboration of handloom weavers agencies with the designers, organizations and exporters.
  3. Further, the committee will suggest measures for quadrupling exports of Handloom products.
  4. To suggest ways and means for improving the marketing of handloom products in the domestic market.
  5. To suggest measures for improving the input supplies (raw materials, credit, technology up-gradation, skilling, designs).
About National Handloom Day:
  1. National handloom day is observed annually on 7th August to honour the handloom weaving community and highlight the importance of India’s handloom industry.
  2. Significance: The 7th of August was chosen as the National Handloom Day to commemorate the Swadeshi Movement, which was launched on this day in 1905.
  3. The first National handloom day was inaugurated on 7th August 2015.

RBI announces Open Market Purchase under G-sec Acquisition Programme 2.0

Source: The Hindu

What is the News?

Reserve Bank of India(RBI) has announced that it will conduct an open market purchase of government securities worth Rs 25,000 crore under the G-sec Acquisition Programme (G-SAP 2.0).

About G-Sec Acquisition Programme(G-SAP):
  1. G-Sec Acquisition Programme(G-SAP) is basically an unconditional and a structured open market operation (OMO), of a much larger scale and size.
  2. The word ‘unconditional’ here connotes that RBI has committed up front that it will buy G-Secs irrespective of the market sentiment.
Aim of G-SAP:
  1. The aim of G-SAP is to enable a stable and orderly evolution of the yield curve amidst comfortable liquidity conditions. 
Benefits of G-SAP:
  1. G-SAP is expected to bring down the cost of borrowings for the government. Further, it will counter the upward pressure on yields due to a higher government borrowing programme.
    • Yield: It is the annual percentage rate of return earned on a security. Yield is a function of a security’s purchase price and coupon interest rate. But, the yield fluctuates according to numerous factors, including global markets and the economy.
Concerns:
  1. Experts are of the opinion that with the announcement of G-SAP, the rupee has already depreciated. There is a trade-off between a tumbling rupee and lower borrowing costs. 
  2. Additionally, too much liquidity will drive up inflation.

Fifth edition of national bio-entrepreneurship competition launched

Source: Down To Earth

What is the News?

The fifth edition of the National Bio Entrepreneurship Competition (NBEC) has been launched.

About National Bio Entrepreneurship Competition(NBEC):
  1. Organized by: Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) in partnership with Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
  2. Purpose: It is India’s largest national competition for bio-entrepreneurs held annually. The competition helps to identify and nurture deep science-driven business ideas in the life sciences domain that has the potential to break new ground in addressing societal challenges.
About C-CAMP:
  1. Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms or C-CAMP is an initiative supported by the Department of Biotechnology. The initiative is an enabler or catalyst of cutting-edge research and innovation in the life sciences since 2009.

Note: Life Science is a branch of science (such as biology, medicine, and sometimes anthropology or sociology) that deals with living organisms and life processes.

_________________________________

Print Friendly and PDF