9 PM Current Affairs Brief – December 31st, 2019

India State of Forest Report 2019

News:Government has released the India State of Forest Report 2019.

Facts:

About the India State of Forest Report:

  • The India State of Forest Report 2019 has been prepared by Forest Survey of India(FSI).
  • The report is a biennial exercise.It assesses the forest and tree cover, bamboo resources, carbon stock and forest fires.

Key takeaways from the report:

Forest and Tree cover:

  • The forest cover in the country has increased by 3,976 square kilometer in the last two years.
  • The tree cover which is defined as patches of trees less than 1 hectare and occurring outside the recorded forest area has grown by 1,212 sq km.
  • The tree and forest cover together made up 25.56% of India’s area.In the last assessment it was 24.39%.
  • The top three States showing an increase in forest cover are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
  • However,the sharpest decline in forest cover was seen in the northeastern States of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram.
  • The loss in the North East is attributed primarily due to the traditional farming practice of Shifting Cultivation.

Carbon stock:

  • The total carbon stock of the country was estimated at 7124 million tons, which is an increase of 42.6 million tons from the last assessment.
  • It implies that India is on the right track to achieve its Paris Agreement commitment of 2.5 -3 billion carbon sinks.

Mangroves and Bamboo Cover:

  • The mangrove cover has increased by 54 square km or about 1% from the last assessment with Gujarat and Maharashtra registering the largest improvements.
  • The total bamboo bearing area of the country is estimated as 1,60,037 sq km.There is an increase of 3,229 sq km in bamboo bearing area as compared to the previous estimate.

Additional information:

About Forest Survey of India:

  • Forest Survey of India (FSI) is an organisation under the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India.
  • It was established as an organization called Pre- Investment Survey of Forest Resources(PISFR) in 1965.
  • Its principal mandate is to conduct a survey and assessment of forest resources in the country. ​

India improves Sustainable Development Goals Index score by three positions

News:Niti Aayog has released the sustainable development goals index 2019-20.

Facts:

About SDG India Index:

  • SDG India Index and Dashboard has been developed by NITI Aayog in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Global Green Growth Institute and the United Nations.
  • The index indicates where the country and its States and UTs currently are on SDG implementation.It also charts the distance to be travelled to reach the SDG targets.
  • The 2019 Index covers 16 out of 17 SDGs and a qualitative assessment on Goal 17.
  • As per the Index, the composite score for each state/UT is computed by aggregating their performance across the goals and then by taking the arithmetic mean of individual goal scores.
  • A score of 100 implies that the State/ UT has achieved the targets set for 2030 and a score of 0 implies that the particular State/UT is at the bottom of the table.

Key takeaways from the Index:

  • India’s composite score has improved from 57 in 2018 to 60 in 2019-20 with major success in water and sanitation, power and industry.
  • However, nutrition and gender equality continue to be problem areas for India requiring more focused approach from the government.
  • Kerala has topped the index.It was followed by Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
  • Amongst Union territories,Chandigarh topped the list, while Puducherry is ranked second.Dadra and Nagar Haveli has been ranked third among Union territories.
  • Uttar Pradesh has shown maximum improvement followed by Odisha and Sikkim.
  • Bihar is the worst performer on the SDG India index.The states like Gujarat have also not shown any improvement vis-a-vis first ranking in 2018.

Explained:What is Instrument of Accession

News:From 2020,the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have a public holiday on October 26 for the first time.This day will be observed as Accession Day.

Facts:

Background:

  • According to the Indian Independence Act,1947,British India was divided into India and Pakistan and the roughly 580 princely states that had signed subsidiary alliances with the British had their sovereignty restored to them.
  • In essence,these princely states were given the option to remain independent or to join the Dominion of India or Pakistan.
  • According to Section 6(a) of the Act,before joining India or Pakistan, these states had to sign an Instrument of Accession, in which they would specify the terms on which they were becoming part of the new dominions.

Instrument of Accession for J&K:

  • The Instrument of Accession(IoA) is a legal document executed by Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir, on October 26, 1947.
  • The accession declared that the state accedes to India.It gave India’s Parliament the power to legislate in respect of J&K only on the matters of defence, external affairs and communications.
  • Apart from defence, communications and external affairs,the IoA mentions ancillary subjects that include elections to the dominion legislature.

Additional information:

About Subsidiary alliance:

  • The system of subsidiary alliance was introduced by Lord Wellesley who became Governor-General in 1798.
  • Under this system,the ruler of the allying Indian state was compelled to accept the permanent posting of a British force within his territory and to pay a subsidy for its maintenance.
  • The stated reasons for this was protection of his territory.But was in fact a form through which Indian ruler accepted dominance of the Company.
  • Lord Wellesley had signed subsidiary treaties with the number of Indian rulers such as Nizam of Hyderabad in 1798, the Nawab of Awadh in 1801 and Peshwa Baji Rao II in 1802.

Explained: India’s National Anthem

News:India’s National Anthem was first sung at the Calcutta session of the Congress on December 27,1911.

Facts:

About National Anthem:

  • Jana Gana Mana was adopted as the country’s National Anthem by the Constituent Assembly of India on January 24,1950.
  • Jana Gana Mana is the first stanza of the Bengali hymn ‘Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata written by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
  • It was first published under the title “Bharat Vidhata” in TattvaBodhini Patrika in January,1912.
  • The song was translated into English in 1919 with the title “Morning Song of India”.
  • A slightly varied version of the song was adopted by Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army in 1941 as the national anthem, called ‘Shubh Sukh Chain’.
  • The respect to the National Anthem is a Fundamental duty in India. According to Article 51A (a) of the Constitution “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem”.

Additional information:

  • ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’, the Bangladeshi anthem was also written by Tagore to protest against the partition of Bengal by the British in 1905.
  • Sri Lanka’s “Sri Lanka Matha”, written by Ananda Samarakoon has also influenced by Tagore.Some believe that Tagore wrote it in full.
  • Thus in a way, National anthems of India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are written by the same poet Rabindranath Tagore.

Andaman and Nicobar islands to get India’s first water aerodromes

News:Airports Authority of India(AAI) is in the process of seeking environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment,Forest and Climate Change for water aerodromes in Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Facts:

About Water Aerodromes:

  • A water aerodrome is an area of open water that can be used by seaplanes as well as amphibious aircraft to land and take off.
  • Such aircraft are expected to take people across water faster and more safely than local boats
  • Moreover,depending on the volume of traffic,water aerodrome may have a terminal building on the shore or on a jetty where planes can dock, and bays where they can be parked.
  • The water drones are present in some island nations especially in the richer ones like the British Virgin Islands.
  • Also,there are few in Canada, including Yellowknife on the Great Slave Lake, Tofino on Vancouver Island and Whitehorse on Schwatka Lake.

Guidelines for setting up water Aerodromes:

  • The water aerodrome could be set up near locations of tourist and religious importance.
  • The water aerodrome cannot be used for scheduled air transport services without licence.
  • An entity seeking to set up a water aerodrome has to take approvals from various authorities including the Ministries of Defence, Home, Environment and Forests and Shipping.

Advantages of Water Aerodrome:

  • The water Aerodromes will promote tourism as well as connect places of religious importance.
  • It will enhance air connectivity in the country by allowing amphibian planes which can operate in both land and water.
  • It will create employment in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Belum Caves Festival postponed

News:The Belum Caves Festival has been postponed in Andhra Pradesh after the dates clashed with Governor’s visit to the district.

Facts:

About Belum Caves festival:

  • The Belum Caves festival was named as Kandanavolu Sambaralu.It was being organised to popularize the Belum caves in Kurnool district,Andhra Pradesh.

About Belum Caves:

  • Belum Caves are also known as Belum Guhalu.They are located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh.
  • They are the second-longest cave in the Indian subcontinent open to the public.The first longest is the Krem Liat Prah caves in Meghalaya.
  • This cave system was formed over the course of tens of thousands of years by the constant flow of underground water from the now disappeared river Chitravathi.
  • These caves are renowned for their speleothem structures.The caves also have long passages, spacious chambers, freshwater galleries and siphons.
  • Belum caves are also indications that Jains and Buddhists monks were occupying these caves centuries ago.The presence of 4500 years old vessels from the pre-Buddhism era ensures the same.

Additional information:

About speleothem structures

  • Speleothems are commonly known as cave formations.They are secondary mineral deposits formed in a cave.
  • Speleothems are typically formed in the form of stalactites, stalagmites, limestone or dolomite solutional caves.
  • A secondary mineral is one which is derived by a physicochemical reaction from a primary mineral in bedrock or detritus and/or deposited because of a unique set of conditions in a cave such as environment conditions.

Madhya Pradesh gets its first elephant colony

News:Recently,Madhya Pradesh has got its first elephant colony in the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.

Facts:

About Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve:

  • Bandhavgarh National Park is located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh.It was declared a national park in 1968 and then became Tiger Reserve in 1993.
  • The park resides on the extreme north eastern border of Madhya Pradesh and the northern edges of the Satpura mountain ranges.
  • The park derives its name from the most prominent hillock of the area, which was said to be given by Hindu Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana to keep a watch on Lanka.
  • The park is also mentioned in the ancient books of the ‘Narad Pancharatra’ and the ‘Shiv Purana’ that this place is being associated with Ramayana.
  • There are a large number of tigers in the core zone of the Park.There are more than 22 species of mammals and 250 species of birds.

Additional information:

  • According to 2017 Elephant Census,India is home to 50% of the Asian Elephant population.
  • The Asian Elephant has been given the highest level of protection in India by its inclusion in Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
  • They are also included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Note:According to All India Tiger Estimation Report– 2018, Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of tigers (526) followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442).

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