Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 2 Apr, 2021

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“Pong Dam wildlife sanctuary” – 27 Migratory Birds Found Dead

What is the news?

As many as 27 migratory birds died on account of avian influenza in Himachal Pradesh’s Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary.

Click Here to Read about Avian Influenza

About Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary or Pong Dam Reservoir or Pong Dam Lake is in Himachal Pradesh.
  • Created in: The dam was created in 1975 and was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1983.
  • Ramsar Site: In 1994, Government of India declared Pong Dam Lake as a “Wetland of National Importance”. In 2002, it became a Ramsar Site in November 2002 by government notification.
  • Vegetation: The sanctuary area is covered with tropical and subtropical forests. Thus, it shelters a great number of Indian Wildlife animals.
  • Rivers: The lake is fed by the Beas River. Its numerous perennial tributaries are Gaj, Neogal, Binwa, Uhl, Bangana, and Baner.
  • Fauna: The sanctuary is a host to around 220 species of birds belonging to 54 families. Migratory birds from all over Hindukush Himalayas and also as far as Siberia come here during winter.

Source: The Hindu

Government congratulated “International Ranger Award” winner from India

What is the News?

Mahinder Giri, a range officer from Rajaji Tiger Reserve won the prestigious International Ranger Award. He is the only ranger from Asia to win this award. Recently, Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change congratulated the range officer for his achievement.

About the International Ranger Award:

  • The International Ranger Award was created in 2020.
  • Organized by: The IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas(WCPA) in collaboration with the International Ranger Federation, Global Wildlife Conservation, and Conservation Allies.
  • Aim: The award aims to highlight and felicitate the extraordinary work of rangers in protected and conserved areas worldwide.

About World Commission on Protected Areas(WCPA):

  • The World Commission on Protected Areas(WCPA) is one of the commissions of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature(IUCN).
  • Administered by: IUCN’s Global Programme on Protected Areas. It has over 2,500 members, spanning 140 countries.
  • Functions: WCPA works by helping governments and others to plan
    • Protected areas and integrate them into all sectors
    • Providing strategic advice to policymakers
    • Strengthening capacity and investment in protected areas and
    • Convening the diverse constituency of protected area stakeholders to address challenging issues.
  • Headquarters: Gland, Switzerland.

About International Ranger Federation(IRF):

  • Founded in: 1992 in Peak National Park in the UK.
  • It aims to actively promote and support the formation of Ranger Associations around the world. Also, it ensures the Rangers are adequately supported and represented.

About Conservation Allies:

  • Conservation Allies partners with NGOs working on biodiversity conservation around the globe.

About Global Wildlife Conservation

  • Global Wildlife Conservation is a Wildlife Conservation charity. It is located in Texas, United States.
  • The organisation conserves the diversity of life on Earth by protecting and restoring wildlife and habitat. It conducts its operations in more than 50 countries.

Source: AIR

WEF released “Global Gender Gap Report 2021”

What is the News?

WEF releases the Global Gender Gap Report 2021.

About Global Gender Gap Report:

  • The World Economic Forum(WEF) publishes the Global Gender Gap Report annually since 2006.
  • Parameters: The report ranks 156 countries on their progress towards gender parity in four dimensions. Namely,
    1. Economic Participation and Opportunity
    2. Educational Attainment
    3. Health and Survival
    4. Political Empowerment.

Findings of Global Gender Gap Report 2021 related to India:

  • Ranking: India’s ranking on the Index drops 28 places to 140 amongst the 156 nations. In 2020, India was ranked at 112th place in the report.
  • Gender Gap: India has closed 62.5% of its gender gap to date. However, the gender gap increased by 4.2% compared to 2020. This explains why India has fallen 28 places in the ranking.
  • India is the third-worst performer in the South Asia region. Only Pakistan and Afghanistan rank below India in this region.

Reasons for India’s decline in Global Gender Gap Report 2021:

  • Political Empowerment: Most of the decline occurred on political empowerment. India declined by 13.5% points with a significant reduction in the number of women ministers (from 23.1% in 2019 to 9.1% in 2021).
  • Economic Participation and Opportunity: It has also declined due to a decrease in women’s labour force. The women’s estimated earned income is only one-fifth of men’s. This puts India amongst the bottom 10 global performers on this indicator.
  • Health and Survival: India ranks amongst the bottom five countries in this due to:
    • High incidence of gender based sex-selective practices.
    • More than one in four women has faced intimate violence in her lifetime.
  • Educational Attainment: The gender gap in education has improved in primary, secondary and tertiary education. However, gender gaps still persist in terms of literacy. One-third of women are illiterate (34.2%) compared to 17.6% of men.

Other Key Findings of Global Gender Gap Report 2021:

  • Topped by: Iceland continued to top the index in 2021. It was followed by Finland and Norway. Afghanistan was at the last position at 156.
  • Neighbors: Amongst India’s Neighbours, Bangladesh is ranked at 65, Nepal at 106, Pakistan at 153, Afghanistan at 156, Bhutan at 130, and Sri Lanka at 116.
  • South Asia was the lowest performer on the index after West Asia and North Africa. Only Bhutan and Nepal had shown progress towards gender parity in 2021 in this region.

Source: Hindu Business line

CDS operationalizes the third “Joint Logistics Node”(JLN) in Mumbai

What is the News?

Chief of Defence Staff operationalises the third Joint Logistics Node (JLN) in Mumbai.

About Joint Logistics Node(JLN):

  • The JLN has been established with an aim of integrating the military’s logistics. Further, it aims to set up and improving the military’s war-fighting ability.
  • This is the third Node to be set up. The two other logistics hub were operationalised in Guwahati and Port Blair in January 2021.
  • Purpose: The JLN will provide integrated logistics cover to all three armed forces. Especially for their small arms ammunition, rations, fuel, general stores, civil hired transport, aviation clothing, spares, and also engineering support.
  • Advantages: The JLN will also provide advantages like saving manpower, economic utilization of resources apart from financial savings.
  • Significance
    • It is a step towards theaterisation of commands. It consists of units from all 3 forces i.e. Navy, Army and Airforce.
    • It will be helpful in conducting all future wars by the tri-service in an integrated manner.
    • Such commands will come under the operational control of an officer from any of the three services, depending on the function assigned to that command.

Source: The Hindu

US President to Remove the Ban on “H-1B Visa”

What is the News?

In 2020 the US President imposed a ban on H-1B visa. The current US President decided to reverse the ban. So he allows a 2020 ban to expire on March 31st.

About the 2020 Ban on H1-B skilled workers:

  • In 2020, the previous US President signed an executive order suspending the entry of H-1B and other foreign work visa holders.
  • This decision was to protect the American jobs after the Covid-19 pandemic impacts. However, the ban did not have its intended impact.

Why did the President then let the executive order expire?

  • Though the H-1B visa allows cheap labour in the US, they are beneficial to US companies. It is helpful in getting inexpensive but highly skilled and trained workers.
  • Hence, the US President has decided to reverse the ban to allow companies to hire new workers.

Impact of this decision on the Indian IT industry:

  • The US government has a cap of 85,000 total H-1B visas for each year.
  • Among these, 65,000 H-1B visas are issued to highly skilled foreign workers. The rest 20,000 can be additionally allotted to highly skilled foreign workers having a higher education or master’s degree from a US university.
  • Indian IT companies are among the biggest beneficiaries of the US H-1B visa regime. Since the 1990s they have the highest share in the total number of visas issued each year.
  • Hence, this decision will mean the availability of a greater workforce for the IT companies.

 About H-1B visa:

  • H1-B is a non-immigrant visa. It allows US companies to employ foreign workers on the basis of theoretical or technical expertise.
  • H-1B visas are generally approved for a period of three years for a person. But many visa holders change employers to extend their US stay.
  • Further, most IT companies in the US hire from the pool of H-1B visa-approved workers. As they are already present in the US to keep their costs in check. Such workers are often hired by the companies as subcontractors.

Source: The Hindu

Record 11 Crore Worked Under “MGNREGS” in 2020-21

What is the News?

According to Government data, over 11 crore people worked under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme(MGNREGS) during the financial year 2020-21.

Key Facts Related to MGNREG Scheme during 2020-21:

  • During the financial year 2020-21, around 11 crore people worked under the MGNREGS.
  • This is the first time since the launch of the scheme in 2006-07 that the MGNREGS  numbers crossed the 11-crore mark in a year.
  • Further, the 11 crore mark is also higher by about 41.75% in 2019-20 when about 7.88 crores worked.
  • The expenditure on MGNREGS has also increased. In 2020-21, the total expenditure was 62.31% higher than in 2019-20.

Note: As part of the economic package during the Covid-19 pandemic, the government announced additional funding of Rs 40,000 crore for the MGNREGS over and above the budgetary allocation of  2020-21.

Number of Days People Worked under MGNREGS:

  • In 2020-21, the number of households that completed 100-day employment reached an all-time high of 68.58 lakh, an increase of 68.91% from 40.60 lakh in 2019-20.
  • The average days of employment provided per household too went up marginally from 48.4 days in 2019-20 to 51.51 days in 2020-21.

MGNREG Scheme:

  • MGNREGS is one of the largest work guarantee programmes in the world.
  • Launched in: The scheme was initially launched in the 200 most backward rural districts of the country in 2006-07. The scheme was later extended to an additional 130 districts during 2007-08 and to the entire country from 2008-09 onward.
  • Under the scheme, every rural household whose adult member volunteers to do unskilled manual work is entitled to get at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year.
  • Implementation: Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), Government of India in association with state governments monitors the implementation of the scheme.

Key Features of the scheme:

  • Demand-driven scheme: Worker to be hired when he demands and not when the Government wants it.
  • Gram Panchayat is mandated to provide employment within 15 days of work application failing which worker is entitled to unemployment allowance
  • Payment of wages within 15 days of competition of work failing which worker is entitled to delay compensation of 0.05%/ day of wages earned.

Source: Indian Express

“BIMSTEC” 17th Ministerial Meeting

What is the News?

India’s External Affairs Minister attended the 17th ministerial meet of the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) countries.

About the 17th ministerial meet of the BIMSTEC

  • Sri Lanka Chaired the 17th Ministerial Meeting.
  • In meeting External Affairs Minister of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar, reiterated India’s commitment to take BIMSTEC forward.


  • BIMSTEC is a regional organization consisting of members from South Asia and South-East Asia. It was founded in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
  • Objective: The organization aims to harness shared, accelerated growth through mutual cooperation on multiple areas of common interests. The members will achieve this by using regional resources and geographical advantage.
  • Members: It comprises seven Member States:
    • Five from South Asia including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka
    • Two from Southeast Asia including Myanmar and Thailand.
  • Chairmanship: BIMSTEC Chairmanship rotates among member countries (alphabetically).
  • Significance: Nearly 1.5 billion people or 22% of the global population comes under the BIMSTEC. Together, BIMSTEC has a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.7 trillion.
  • Sectors: Currently, the BIMSTEC is involved in 15 sectors. This includes sectors such as trade, technology, agriculture, tourism, fisheries, energy, and climate change among others for sectoral cooperation.
  • First Summit: The First Summit Meeting of the Heads of the BIMSTEC Countries was held in Bangkok, Thailand in 2004.
  • Headquarters: Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Source: The Hindu

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