Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 4, 2021

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“Freedom in the World 2021 Report” Downgrades India’s Ranking

What is the News? 

Freedom House releases the report titled “Freedom in the World 2021 – Democracy under Siege”. Freedom House is a US-based Human rights watchdog.

About Freedom in the World 2021 Report:

  • Freedom in the World is an annual global report that tracks political rights and civil liberties. The report has been produced since 1973.
  • Methodology: The report’s methodology is derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UN General Assembly adopted the declaration in 1948.
  • The report assesses the individual’s real-world rights and freedoms. It doesn’t focus on governments or government performance in Human Rights.
  • Countries: The 2021 edition covers developments in 195 countries and 15 territories from January 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.
  • Parameters: The countries are awarded scores based on:
    • Political rights indicators such as the electoral process, political pluralism and participation, and government functioning.
    • Civil liberties indicators are related to freedom of expression and belief, associational and organizational rights, the rule of law and personal autonomy, and individual rights.
  • Categories: These two score totals are then weighted equally to determine a country/territory’s status of a) Free b) Partly Free or c) Not Free. Countries are ranked from 1 to 100, 100 being the ranking for the freest country.

Key Findings Related to India:

  • India’s rank has fallen from 83 to 88 out of 195 countries and 15 territories.
  • India’s score decreased from 71 to 67.
  • India’s status has been downgraded from ‘Free’ to ‘Partly Free’.

Why has India’s status been downgraded? The report has highlighted the following reasons for the downgrade:

  • Use of the sedition law and other charges in recent years to deter free speech
  • Government’s coronavirus response including the lockdown.
  • The migrant crisis and violent and discriminatory enforcement by police and civilian vigilantes
  • Attack on Minorities
  • The decrease in Judicial Independence among others.

Other key Findings Related to India:

  • Kashmir: The Freedom House report has listed “Indian Kashmir” separately and retained its status as last year of “not free”. The score fell from 28 to 27.
  • Internet Freedom in India: India’s Internet Freedom Score has stayed at 51. However, the report has stated that Internet freedom in India has declined dramatically for a third straight year. It is due to reasons like Internet shutdowns, blocked content, disinformation spread by political leaders, online harassment among others.

Other Key Findings Globally:

  • There is a decline in global democracy over the last 15 years. Nearly 75% of the world’s population lived in a country that faced deterioration over the last year.
  • Finland, Norway, and Sweden are the most free countries in the world, with a score of 100. While the least free countries are Tibet and Syria, with a score of 1.

Source: The Hindu

World Wildlife Day 2021

What is the News?

World Wildlife Day 2021 is being celebrated on 3rd March 2021.

About World Wildlife Day:

  • World Wildlife Day is celebrated every year since 2013.
  • The 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 proclaimed this day.
  • The date chosen coincides with the day of the signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973.
  • Aim: To raise awareness about animals going extinct by celebrating the world’s flora and fauna
  • Secretariat: CITES Secretariat has been designated as the facilitator for the global observance of this day for wildlife.
  • Theme: “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet”.

India’s Wildlife Biodiversity: India has thriving wildlife & biodiversity. It has 70% of the Global Tiger population, 70 % of Asiatic Lions, and 60% of the Leopard population. Some important wildlife places are:

  • Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand is known for tigers, spotted deer, elephants, golden jackal and sambar deer.
  • Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan is famous for tigers, leopards, hyenas, jackals, jungle cats, Indian foxes. It is also home to a wide range of birds like pelicans, ibis, flamingos, egrets, and parakeets.
  • Gir National Park in Gujarat is known for Asiatic lions. Other than lions, Indian leopards, sloth bears, jungle cats, striped hyenas, snakes, blackbucks, crocodiles, monitor lizards, also found here.
  • Bannerghatta Biological Park in Karnataka is known for Butterfly Park tigers, leopards, elephants, spotted deer, butterflies, snakes and more.
  • Kaziranga National Park in Assam is famous for its rhino and tiger population.
  • Hemis National Park in Ladakh is globally famous for its snow leopards. It is believed to have the highest density of snow leopards in any protected area in the world.

Source: Indian Express

First-ever survey on fishing cats of the Chilika starts

What is the News?

The first-ever survey of the fishing cat in and around the Chilika lake in Odisha started.

About Fishing Cat:

  • Fishing cats are elusive nocturnal mammals. It is almost twice the size of the house cat.
  • They are generally found in the marshy wetlands of northern and eastern India and on the mangroves of the east coast.
  • Threats: The loss of habitat due to the destruction of wetlands is a major threat to the fishing cat. Besides, the animal is also killed by people under the wrong assumption that it is a juvenile tiger and thus dangerous.

Click Here to Read more about Fishing Cat

 About the Fishing Cat Survey:

  • Conducted by: Chilika Development Authority(CDA) is conducting the survey in collaboration with the Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance(FCCA).
    • Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance is a team of conservationists, researchers, and enthusiasts. It is working to achieve functioning floodplains and coastal ecosystems to ensure the survival of the fishing cat.
  • Process: Local fishermen along with wildlife activists will be assisting in the survey. They will install camera traps around the lake shore and nearby areas where fishing cats were sighted earlier.

Initiatives taken by Odisha Government for Fishing Cat Conservation:

  • Ambassador of Chilika Lake: The Odisha government designated Fishing Cats as ambassadors of the Chilika during ‘Wildlife Week’ in 2020.
  • Fishing Cat Project: CDA in collaboration with FCCA has launched a fishing cat project. It will spread awareness among the local people and fishermen for animal’s conservation,
  • The Odisha forest department launched a two-year project for the conservation of the fishing cat in the Bhitarkanika National Park in 2020.

About Chilika Lake:

  • Location: Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon. It spreads over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha. The lake is located at the mouth of the Daya River flowing into the Bay of Bengal.
  • Significance: It is Asia’s largest and world’s second-largest lagoon after The New Caledonian barrier reef.
  • Migratory Birds: The lake is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian subcontinent.
  • Ramsar Sites: In 1981, Chilika Lake became the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
  • Temple: Kalijai Temple is located on an island in Chilika Lake. It is considered to be the abode of the Goddess Kalijai.
  • Bird Sanctuary: The Nalabana Island (Forest of Reeds) covering about 16 Sq. km of the Chilika lake declared a bird sanctuary in 1987.
  • Fauna: The major attraction at the Chilika lake is Irrawaddy dolphins.

Source: Down To Earth

Government organises “Merchant Digitization Summit 2021”

What is the News?

Merchant Digitization Summit 2021 organized towards Atma Nirbhar (Self Reliance) Bharat.

About Merchant Digitization Summit:

  • Organized by: Government of India, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and UN-based Better Than Cash Alliance
  • Purpose: It aims to bring together leaders from the public and private sectors. It will accelerate the responsible digitization of merchants in India’s North-Eastern, Himalayan regions, and Aspirational districts.
  • Target: India has set an ambitious target for 1 billion digital transactions per day. At present, an average of 2-3 billion digital transactions takes place in a month.

About Better Than Cash Alliance:

  • Purpose: Alliance established in 2012. It is a partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations. Its main aim is to accelerate the transition from cash to responsible digital payments.
  • Launched by: United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), United States Agency for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citigroup, Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network, and Visa Inc.
  • Members: The Alliance has 75 members. India became a member of the Alliance in 2015.
  • Secretariat: It is based at the United Nations(UN).

Source: PIB

India launches Mercantile Marine Domain Awareness Centre(MMDAC)

What is the News?

The government of India has launched Sagar-Manthan: Mercantile Marine Domain Awareness Centre(MMDAC). It is a real-time vessel tracking and seafarers’ help system.

About Sagar-Manthan-MMDAC:

  • It is a Maritime information system. Thus, it will enhance maritime safety, search and rescue capabilities, security, and marine environment protection.
  • Functions:
    • It has a real-time vessel tracking feature that can help seafarers and fishermen in times of need.
    • Apart from tracking Indian vessels globally, it can also track foreign vessels within 1,000-km of India’s coastline.
    • It can also organize help for other countries in case of an emergency.
  • Operated by: It will be operated by the Director-General of Shipping.
  • India will be sharing this information system with Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Source: Hindu Businessline

Supreme Court judgment on Sedition Law

What is the News?

The Supreme Court in the Rajat Sharma v. The Union of India Case ruled in favor of Farooq Abdullah. The court in its ruling said that disagreeing with the views and policies of the government will not attract the offense of sedition.

What was the case?

  • A petition was filed in the Supreme Court against Farooq Abdullah, Former Chief Minister of J&K. It alleged that Farooq Abdullah made a seditious statement by saying that to restore Article 370, he would take help from China.
  • Hence, the petition asked the court to terminate the Lok Sabha membership of Farooq Abdullah and book him for sedition under Section 124A of IPC.

What were the observations made by the Court?

  • The court said that the expression of a view that is different from a decision taken by the Central Government itself cannot be said to be seditious.
  • The court dismissed the petition. It further said that it was a clear case of publicity interest litigation by petitioners to get their names in the Press.
  • The court also imposed a fine of ₹50,000 on the petitioner to be deposited with the Supreme Court Advocates Welfare Fund in four weeks.

Significance of this judgment:

  • This judgment assumes significance in the recent period when the sedition law is invoked by police against activists very frequently. People expressing their opinion or making statements on social networking sites against the government are also facing charges under sedition law.

Source: The Hindu

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