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13 January, 2020

33 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-I Bojjannakonda: Buddhist Site Modern History
GS-II Competition Commission of India (CCI)
BharatNet
Right to property
United Nations (UN) report on ‘Levels and Trends in Child Mortality’
Libya ceasefire International Relations
GS-III Marginal Cost Of Funds-based Lending Rate (MCLR) Economic Issues
Wular Lake
Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS)- Annie Besant Miscellaneous
Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary
GS-I : Modern History
Bojjannakonda: Buddhist Site

Syllabus subtopic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the ritual and the Buddhist sites associated; about INTACH and its role in conserving Indian heritage

 

News: After a sustained campaign, heritage lovers and officials have been successful in almost stopping the stone-pelting ritual at Bojjannakonda, a famous Buddhist site at Sankaram, 3.5 km from Anakapalle and 41 km from Visakhapatnam.

 

About the ritual on Kanuma day

The villagers, as a part of an ancient ritual, would throw stones at a belly-shaped object at the site, believing it to be a part of a demon.

 

About the Buddhist sites

Bojjannakonda and Lingalametta are twin Buddhist monasteries dating back to the 3rd century BC. These sites have seen three forms of Buddhism

  1. the Theravada period when Lord Buddha was considered a teacher;
  2. the Mahayana, where Buddhism was more devotional; and
  3. Vajrayana, where Buddhist tradition was more practised as Tantra and in esoteric form.

 

The name Sankaram is derived from the term, ‘Sangharama’. The site is famous for many votive stupas, rock­cut caves, brick­built edifices, early historic pottery, and Satavahana coins that date back to the 1st century AD.

  • The main stupa was carved out of rock and then covered with bricks, and a number of images of the Buddha are seen sculpted on the rock face all over the hill.

 

  • At the nearby Lingalametta, one can see hundreds of rock­cut monolithic stupas in rows.

 

Efforts of NTACH to protect the site from damage

Following the intervention of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the practice carried out on the Kanuma day during Sankranti has almost been done away with. With the support of the police and the district administration, it has been able to stop pelting of stones for the past few years.

 

About INTACH

  • The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was founded in 1984 with the vision to spearhead heritage awareness and conservation in India.
  • INTACH’s mission is to conserve heritage is based on the belief that living in harmony with heritage enhances the quality of life, and it is the duty of every citizen of India as laid down in the Constitution of India.
  • INTACH is recognized as one of the world’s largest heritage organizations and has pioneered the conservation and preservation of not just our natural and built heritage but intangible heritage as well.
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GS-II :
Competition Commission of India (CCI)

Syllabus subtopic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the govt.’s move; M&As and their impact on competition in the market; about CCI and its functions

 

News: Global mergers and acquisitions (M&As) among technology giants that could disturb the competition landscape in India may soon require clearance from the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

 

About the move and its significance

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs is working on a bill to amend the nearly two decade-old Competition Act of 2002, which is likely to be introduced in the budget session of Parliament.

  • The change will incorporate deal size, which is currently not among the criteria for vetting global M&A deals with relevance to the Indian market, in CCI’s merger regulations.

 

  • The change will bring mega deals such as the 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook within the ambit of CCI. Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp escaped CCI assessment.

 

  • This move (of adding deal size as a criterion) will be very useful for regulating M&As involving digital economy giants as the present threshold for regulation based on assets and turnover may not apply to them.

 

  • Even if the asset or turnover of the combined entity is below the threshold specified in the law, if their deal size is above a certain threshold, which is to be decided after deliberations, they may have to refer the case to CCI.

 

  • The proposed change will impact transactions involving domestic digital e-commerce firms, including taxi aggregators and e-commerce companies, which may command huge valuation because of their unique business models or access to user base.

 

What is the present scenario?

  • India has seen several acquisitions in the digital economy space in recent years, including of Myntra by Flipkart and TaxiForSure by Ola.

 

  • Currently, asset size and revenue in an M&A are the only criteria for competition scrutiny. This has proved to be inadequate as new-age technology companies have huge valuations, but their assets and turnover in India keep them out of the purview of local competition law. Their valuations come in part from their access to customer base and data, and India is a huge market for them.

 

  • Individual firms involved in M&As have to seek CCI clearance now if their combined assets in India are worth over ?1,000 crore or their revenue is over ?3,000 crore. Deals involving firms having combined global assets of $500 million or sales of $1500 million need CCI’s approval if they have assets worth at least ?500 crore or sales worth ?1,500 crore in India.

 

Impacts of M&As deals on competition

  • A deal’s impact on competition is assessed on several factors including a reduction in the number of players in the market and the entry barriers created for new players.
  • In the case of global transactions among digital economy firms, their nexus with the Indian market has to be established in order to assess whether their M&As impact competition in the local market.
  • Whenever global transactions are referred to national competition authorities, they suggest modifications to certain parts of the transaction if competition in the local market is adversely affected.

 

About Competition Commission of India:

It is a statutory body of the Government of India, responsible for enforcing the Competition Act, 2002 throughout India and to prevent activities that have an adverse effect on competition.

 

 Objectives:

  • To prevent practices having adverse effect on competition.
  • To promote and sustain competition in markets.
  • To protect the interests of consumers.
  • To ensure freedom of trade.

 

Functions:

  • It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
  • The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.

 

Competition Act 2002

The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.

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GS-II :
BharatNet

Syllabus subtopic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the failure in implementation of BharatNet project and the govt.’s move to address it; about BharatNet scheme

 

News: The central government’s flagship BharatNet scheme, which aims to provide last mile internet connectivity to all villages and gram panchayats (GP), has missed the targets set for phase one.

  • With connectivity targets set for phase two of the project also likely to be missed owing to current delays, the government is now attempting to rope in the private sector to cover up for the failings of implementing agencies.

 

Targets missed

  • As against the initial target for connecting all the 2.50 lakh GPs by end of March 2019, only 1.18 lakh had been connected till then. With an estimated Rs 19,516.37 crore having been invested in the scheme so far, the utilisation status of the infrastructure created under this so far is discouraging.
  • Of the 1.26 lakh GPs that have been made service ready so far, WiFi hotspots are functional only in 15,000. The plan to provide fibre to the home (FTTH) connectivity is operational only at 27,856 GPs till end-December.

 

Reasons given by the DoT

In its defence, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) — the nodal agency for implementation of the project — has blamed the network architecture, the connectivity to old BSNL fibre in part of the network operation and maintenance through BSNL as some of the reasons which had held back optimal utilisation of the network.

 

What govt. plans to do now?

  • To overcome the failings of nodal agencies involved in the implementation of the project, the Centre now plans to rope in the private sector and complete the phase one as well as phase two part of BharatNet under the public-private-partnership (PPP) model.

 

  • A meeting in this regard was held involving officials from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Niti Aayog, where the government policy think tank suggested the PPP model.

 

Details of the PPP model suggested by the Niti Aayog

  • Under the model, private sector will be invited to bid circle-wise for the BharatNet project and the maximum contract duration of the project is likely to be 25 years. The selection criteria for private service partner (PSP) will be their quote for viability gap funding, and the bidders will be expected to provide “on demand” internet connectivity with minimum speeds of 50 Mbps to at least five development institutions in the area.

 

  • The private service partner (PSP) will have the flexibility to re-locate the equipment installed at the BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) exchanges and gram panchayats. It would also have the flexibility to create/upgrade the network.

 

 

Challenges in PPP model

Though the Niti Aayog suggested the PPP model, it also flagged some likely challenges if the government opts to rope in private players.

  • One such challenge, the agency has said, is to ensure “affordable and fair pricing” which is likely to change if the private players have their way.
  • The financial reconciliation of work done so far under phase one of BharatNet, which is pending as final documents from central public sector units have not been received so far, is also likely to be a challenge.

 

  • Apart from these, the government think tank is learnt to have warned about the change in the outlook towards BharatNet, which, when envisaged, was mooted as a “national asset with non-discriminatory access to all service providers”.

 

  • The handling of Right of Way (RoW) for enhanced architecture and newly created network, along with integration of phase one and two of BharatNet was also flagged as a challenge. DoT will have to find a solution to termination of ongoing work under the scheme and handing it over to the private sector.

 

  • Involving private players could affect pricing: The entry of private players for the completion of projects of BharatNet under the PPP model could mean an increase in prices of services being offered nearly free of cost by the government as of now. WiFi services under BharatNet are free till March 2020. If private players are allowed to complete projects, they are likely to look to recover their costs. It is yet to be seen if the upcoming projects will be completed on a sharing basis or the government would look to just facilitate the approvals while leaving infrastructure to the bidders.
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GS-II :
Right to property

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the SC judgement; Constitutional provisions related to right of property

 

News: A citizen’s right to own private property is a fundamental right. The State cannot take possession of it without following due procedure and authority of law, the Supreme Court held in a judgment on January 8.

 

About the case

  • The court was hearing a plea filed by Vidya Devi, a widow, whose four acres of land was taken over by the Himachal Pradesh government in 1967.
  • The appellant (Ms. Devi) being an illiterate widow, coming from a rural background, was wholly unaware of her rights and entitlement in law, and did not file any proceedings for compensation.
  • When Ms. Devi, 80, learnt about her rights in 2010 from her neighbours, who had also lost their property, she approached the Himachal Pradesh High Court. However, when the HC asked her to file a civil suit in the lower court, she moved the Supreme Court.

 

Details of the SC judgement

  • The State cannot trespass into the private property of a citizen and then claim ownership of the land in the name of ‘adverse possession’, the court said, adding that grabbing private land and then claiming it as its own makes the State an encroacher.
  • In a welfare state, right to property is a human right, said a Bench of Justices Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi.
  • A welfare state cannot be permitted to take the plea of adverse possession, which allows a trespasser i.e. a person guilty of a tort, or even a crime, to gain legal title over such property for over 12 years. The State cannot be permitted to perfect its title over the land by invoking the doctrine of adverse possession to grab the property of its own citizens.
  • The SC ordered the State to pay her Rs.1 crore in compensation,

 

Constitutional provisons regarding Right to property

  • Before 1978, ‘right to private property was still a fundamental right’ under Article 31 of the Constitution.
  • Property ceased to be a fundamental right (and made a legal right under Article 300A) with the 44th Constitution Amendment in 1978.
  • Nevertheless, Article 300A required the State to follow due procedure and authority of law to deprive a person of his or her private property.

 

Exception of 44th amendment for classes who still enjoy right to property

  • If the property acquired belongs to an educational institution established & administered by minority, state must offer full market value as compensation.

 

  • If the state seeks to acquire land cultivated by the owner himself & such land which does not exceed statuary ceiling, then state must offer full market value as compensation.

 

Fundamental Rights V/S Legal Rights

  • Legal rights are protected & enforced by ordinary law of land whereas FRs are protected & guaranteed by written constitution

 

  • In violation of legal rights, one can file suit in subordinate court or by writ application in High court whereas in violation of FRs one can directly approach Supreme court

 

  • Legal rights can be changed by ordinary process of legislation whereas FRs cannot be amended without amending the constitution itself (i.e. by special majority)

 

  • FRs provides protection only against state action not against a private individual except rights pertaining to abolition of untouchability & rights against exploitation

 

 

Six Fundamental Rights in India

Article 14 – 18     Right to Equality

Article 19 – 22     Right to Freedom

Article 23 – 24     Right against Exploitation

Article 25 – 28     Right to Freedom of Religion

Article 29 – 30     Cultural & Education Rights

Article 32 – 35     Right to Constitutional Remedies

 

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GS-II :
United Nations (UN) report on ‘Levels and Trends in Child Mortality’

Syllabus subtopic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the UN report and its significance; child mortality in India and govt.’s efforts to address it

 

News: India is among the few countries in the world where, in 2018, the mortality for girls under 5 years of age exceeded that of boys, according to the ‘Levels and Trends in Child Mortality’ report by the United Nations (UN) inter­agency group for child mortality.

 

 

Key findings of the report

  • Half of all under­5 deaths in 2018 occurred in five countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia. India and Nigeria alone account for about a third.

 

  • In 2018, fewer countries showed gender disparities in child mortality, and across the world, boys are expected to have a higher probability of dying before reaching age 5 than girls. But this trend was not reflected in India.

 

  • In some countries, the risk of dying before age 5 for girls is significantly higher than what would be expected based on global patterns. These countries are primarily located in Southern Asia and Western Asia.

 

  • The major causes of neonatal mortality are pre­term birth, intrapartum related events, and neonatal infection.

 

  • The report adds that despite advancements made over the past two decades, a child or a young adolescent died every five seconds in 2018.

 

  • Current trends predict that close to 10 million 5­ to 14­year­olds, and 52 million children under 5 years of age, will die between 2019 and 2030.

 

State specific mortality burden in India

  • According to India’s 2017 Sample Registration System, the States with the highest burden of neonatal mortality are Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, with 32, 33 and 30 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively. India’s neonatal mortality rate is 23 per 1,000 live births.
  • Further, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttarakhand showed the largest gender gaps in under­5 mortality.

 

What did UNICEF say about child mortality in India?

  • The burden of child mortality is determined both by the mortality rate (the proportion of children who die) and by the estimated population of any given State (total number of annual births).
  • In this sense, Uttar Pradesh is the State with the highest number of estimated newborn deaths in India, both because of the high neonatal mortality rate and because of the large cohort of births that occur every year in the State.
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GS-II : International Relations
Libya ceasefire

Syllabus subtopic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About the crisis in Libya and its impact on the regional and global geopolitics

 

News: Both sides in Libya’s conflict agreed to a ceasefire from Sunday to end nine months of fighting following weeks of international diplomacy and calls for a truce by power­brokers Russia and Turkey.

 

Background

The oil­rich North African country has been wracked by bloody turmoil since a NATO­backed uprising killed long­time dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, with multiple foreign powers now involved.

 

Events leading to ceasefire

  • Since April last year, the UN­recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli has been under attack from forces loyal to eastern­based strongman Khalifa Haftar, which days ago captured the strategic coastal city of Sirte.

 

  • Late on Saturday, Haftar’s forces announced a ceasefire in line with a joint call by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

 

  • Early on Sunday, the head of the GNA, Fayez al­Sarraj, announced his acceptance of the ceasefire, saying it had taken effect on Sunday.

 

  • The UN mission in Libya welcomed the announcements.
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GS-III : Economic Issues
Marginal Cost Of Funds-based Lending Rate (MCLR)

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about MCLR and its significance; resaons for private banks not passing on the benefits of interest rate cuts to it customers compared to other banks

 

News: Private banks were the slowest to pass on the benefits of falling interest rates to their customers in 2019 compared to their state-run and foreign rivals, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data showed.

 

Background

The process of setting interest rates by banks is at the core of transmission and the central bank has for several years been trying to make it more transparent. This has led to the change from benchmark prime lending rate (BPLR) to base rate to MCLR and finally to external benchmark-based lending rates.

 

What does the RBI data show?

  • The median one-year marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) for private banks fell a meagre 12 basis points (bps) to 9.18% between January and December 2019, compared to RBI’s cumulative 135 bps cut in its key policy rate to 5.15%. Most bank loans are typically priced over the one-year MCLR, making it the most tracked rate.

 

  • In the same period, state-run banks have lowered their one-year median MCLR by 45 bps and foreign banks have cut their lending rates by 75 bps.

 

  • Foreign banks have the lowest median one-year MCLR rate at 7.9% as of December. Their public counterparts are at 8.3%. For all scheduled commercial banks taken together, the one-year median rate stands at 8.3%. 

 

Why are private banks showing so much reluctance?

  • The reason private banks are less eager to cut interest rates lies in their cost of funds.

 

  • They pay the highest interest to their depositors. Private lenders are followed by public sector and foreign banks, respectively. While private banks paid depositors 6.91% interest in November 2019 (latest data), public sector banks paid 6.65% and foreign banks 5.38%, according to RBI data on weighted average deposit rates.

 

  • For public sector banks, credit growth is slow and, therefore, the need to aggressively mobilize deposits by offering a higher interest rate to deposits is little. Accordingly, the deposit rates for private sector banks remain higher.

 

  • Foreign banks, however, pay depositors less than what other categories of banks do and, therefore, their lending rates are among the cheapest. One factor behind it is foreign banks’ limited retail franchises and the presence of large deposits from multinational corporations, which keep their money in the same bank across the world. Hence, in the absence of retail depositors, the need to offer higher deposit rates to attract retail deposits is lower than other banks. These MNCs also maintain large current account deposits instead of term deposits, leading to lower cost of deposits.

 

 

About MCLR

  • The Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR) system was introduced by the Reserve Bank to provide loans on minimal rates as well as market rate fluctuation benefit to customers.

 

  • This system has modified the existing base rate system of providing home loans. In this system, banks have to set various benchmark rates for specific time periods starting from an overnight to one month, quarterly, semi-annually and annually.

 

  • MCLR replaced the earlier base rate system to determine the lending rates for commercial banks. RBI implemented it on 1 April 2016 to determine rates of interests for loans.

 

 Its objectives:

  • To improve the transmission of policy rates into the lending rates of banks.
  • To bring transparency in the methodology followed by banks for determining interest rates on advances.
  • To ensure availability of bank credit at interest rates which are fair to borrowers as well as banks.
  • To enable banks to become more competitive and enhance their long run value and contribution to economic growth.

 

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GS-III :
Wular Lake

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about Wular lake and its conservation; Ramsar convention and its significance; WTI

 

News: The Jammu and Kashmir administration has embarked on a project to cut over 20 lakh trees to “reclaim” the shrinking Wular Lake spread across north Kashmir’s Bandipore and Baramulla districts.

 

About the move

The Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA) has started cutting trees on the Ramsar wetlandan area of international importance and once Asia’s largest freshwater lake. The project was started on the basis of a 2007 report by Wetlands International South-Asia, a non-profit organisation that works to sustain and restore wetlands.

 

Background

In its 2007 report, Wetlands International had suggested removing all trees from inside the lake boundary. Most trees to be cut, fall in Ningli forest range. “Ningli plantation, currently occupying 27.30 sq km, needs to be removed for enhancement of water holding capacity. The removal would help enhancement of water level by at least one meter, which is critical to restoration of biodiversity,” the report states.

 

 

Concerns raised

  • With the cutting of 2 lakh trees already underway in the first phase, experts advise caution. They call for a study on the ecological impact of cutting trees in such large numbers.
  • Another study by Wildlife Trust of India, while recommending the cutting of trees, has called for proper studies to assess the impact. The WTI report says that on an average, 33 kg of carbon dioxide is trapped by each tree annually, making it over 72,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide by 21.84 lakh trees.

 

About Wular lake

  • Wular Lake is one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia. It is sited in Bandipora district in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The lake basin was formed as a result of tectonic activity and is fed by the Jhelum River. The lake's size varies seasonally from 12 to 100 square miles (30 to 260 square kilometers). In addition, much of the lake has been drained as a result of willow plantations being built on the shore in the 1950s.
  • The Tulbul Project is a "navigation lock-cum-control structure" at the mouth of Wular Lake
  • The largest freshwater lake in Jammu and Kashmir, Wular has considerably shrunk over the past eight decades. Officials records show that 27 sq m of the lake has silted up and turned into a land mass. In the 1980s, the central government proposed to dam the water by constructing Wular barrage. The project, however, was shelved after rise in militancy in the state.

 

About Ramsar convention:

  • The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and wise use of wetlands. It is named after the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the Caspian Sea, where the treaty was signed on 2 February 1971. Known officially as ‘the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat’ (or, more recently, just ‘the Convention on Wetlands’), it came into force in 1975.

 

  • The Convention uses a broad definition of wetlands. This includes all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.

 

Montreux Record:

  • Montreux Record under the Convention is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference.
  • It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List. The Montreux Record was established by Recommendation of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (1990). Sites may be added to and removed from the Record only with the approval of the Contracting Parties in which they lie.

 

About Wildlife Trust of India (WTI)

It is a leading Indian nature conservation organisation committed to the service of nature. Its mission is to conserve wildlife and its habitat and to work for the welfare of individual wild animals, in partnership with communities and governments. WTI’s team of 150 dedicated professionals work towards achieving its vision of a secure natural heritage of India, in six priority landscapes, knit holistically together by nine key strategies or Big Ideas.

Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) currently runs 44 projects across India.

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GS-III : Miscellaneous
Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS)- Annie Besant

Syllabus subtopic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

 

Prelims and Mains focus: details of the two ICGS; contributions of Annie Besant and Amrit Kaur; about Indian Coast Guard

 

News: Two Indian Coast Guard Ships (ICGS)Annie Besant and Amrit Kaur — second and third in the series of five Fast Patrol Vessels (FPV) were commissioned by Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar at Kolkata on Sunday

 

About the ships

  • ICGS Annie Besant has been named in honour of Ms Annie Besant, an esteemed socialist and her eminent achievements towards the nation. Ms Annie Besant was a theosophist, women’s rights activist, writer, orator and supporter of Indian freedom. She was also a philanthropist and a prolific author who had written over three hundred books & pamphlets and contributed in foundation of Banaras Hindu University. In 1916, she established the Indian Home Rule League, of which she became President. The ship is being based at Chennai under the operational and administrative control of Commander, Coast Guard Region East.

 

  • ICGS Amrit Kaur derives her name from Ms Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur who belonged to the ruling family of Kapurthala, Punjab. She took an active part in Salt Satyagraha and Quit India Movement. She served the Independent India as its first Health Minister. She worked towards upliftment of Harijan and progress of women. She was the founder member of All India Womens’ Conference and founder President of Indian Council for Child Welfare. The ship is being based at Haldia under the operational and administrative control of Commander, Coast Guard Region North East.

 

  • The ships are 48.9 mtrs long & 7.5 mtrs wide with a displacement of 308 Tons. The ships are capable of achieving maximum speed of 34 Knots, powered with MTU 4000 Series Engines and propelled by three 71S type III Kamewa waterjet of Rolls Royce. The ships are built indigenously by M/s Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) Ltd, Kolkata.

 

  • The ships are capable of undertaking multi-faceted tasks such as surveillance, interdiction, Search & Rescue and Medical Evacuation. The ships are fitted with state-of-the-art technology, navigation & communication equipment, sensors and machinery. The ships are also equipped with Bofors 40/60 gun and 12.7 mm SRCG (Stablized Remote Controlled Gun) for enhancing the fighting efficiency of the ship. The ships carry one RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) and one Gemini Boat each for swift boarding and Search & Rescue operations.

 

  • Both the ships have complement of 05 Officers and 34 men each.

 

 

About Indian Coast Guard

  • The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) protects India’s maritime interests and enforces maritime law
  • It has jurisdiction over the territorial waters of India, including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone.
  • The Indian Coast Guard was formally established on 18 August 1978 by the Coast Guard Act, 1978 of the Parliament of India as an independent Armed force of India.
  • It is responsible for marine environment protection in maritime zones of India and is coordinating authority for response to oil spills in Indian waters.
  • It operates under the Ministry of Defence
  • HQ : New Delhi
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GS-III :
Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the findings of the survey and its significance; about Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary: flora and fauna found in it

 

News: Kaziranga recorded 96 species of wetland birds — one of the highest for wildlife reserves in India, according to the second wetland bird count conducted on January 9­-10.

 

Background

The first wetland bird survey in Kaziranga, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, was conducted in 2018. Rabindra Sarma, the park's research officer said avian surveys could have been done in the 115­year-old Kaziranga earlier, but no records were maintained.

 

Key findings of the census

  • The survey covered four ranges of the park — Agoratoli, Bagori, Kohora and Burapahar.

 

  • More than half the birds (9,924) and 85 of the 96 species were recorded in Agoratoli Range. This was because Sohola, the largest of Kaziranga's 92 perennial wetlands, is in this range.

 

  • The survey registered a total of 19,225 birds belonging to 96 species under 80 families. The first waterfowl census in 2018 had yielded 10,412 birds covering 80 species, belonging to 21 families.

 

  • With 6,181 individuals, the bar­headed goose led the species count, followed by the common teal at 1,557 and northern pintail at 1,359. All three belong to the family anatidae.

 

  • The other species with sizeable numbers include gadwall, common coot, lesser whistling duck, Indian spot­billed duck, little cormorant, ferruginous duck, tufted duck, Eurasian wigeon, Asian openbill, northern lapwing, ruddy shelduck and spot­billed pelican.

 

Significance of the survey

Data on avian wealth is important because the wetlands nourish Kaziranga's ecosystem. Increase or decrease in the number of birds is indicative of the park's health.

 

About Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary

  • It is located in the Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam, India.

 

  • The sanctuary, which hosts two-thirds of the world's great one-horned rhinoceroses, is a World Heritage Site.

 

  • Kaziranga is home to the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world, and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006 (now the highest tiger density is in Orang National Park, Assam).

 

  • The park is home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.

 

  • Kaziranga is recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for conservation of avifaunal species.

 

  • When compared with other protected areas in India, Kaziranga has achieved notable success in wildlife conservation. Located on the edge of the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, the park combines high species diversity and visibility.

 

  • Kaziranga is a vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, criss-crossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of water.

 

  • Kaziranga has been the theme of several books, songs, and documentaries. The park celebrated its centennial in 1998 after its establishment in 1905 as a reserve forest.

 

 

About UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance.

 

  • The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.

 

  • Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.

 

  • India has 38 world heritage sites (Latest is Japiur city), that include 30 Cultural properties, 7 Natural properties and 1 mixed site.
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