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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

13 Jul, 2020

50 Min Read

Disabled are entitled to same benefits of SC/ST quota: Supreme Court

GS-II :

Disabled are entitled to same benefits of SC/ST quota: Supreme Court

  • The Supreme Court, in a significant decision, confirmed that persons suffering from disabilities are also socially backward and entitled to the same benefits of relaxation as Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe candidates in public employment and education.
  • A three-judge Bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman upheld a 2012 judgment of the Delhi High Court in Anamol Bhandari (minor) through his father/Natural Guardian v. Delhi Technological University in a significant decision.
  • “In Anamol Bhandari, the High Court has correctly held that people suffering from disabilities are also socially backward, and are therefore, at the very least, entitled to the same benefits as given to the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe candidates,” the Supreme Court held in a judgment pronounced on July 8.

Source: TH

Reform of Criminal Laws

GS-II : Governance Law and Order

Reform of Criminal Laws

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has constituted a national level ‘Committee for the Reform of Criminal Laws’.

What is the committee for?

The criminal law in India comprises -

    • the Indian Penal Code of 1860
    • the Code of Criminal Procedure that was rewritten in 1973
    • the Indian Evidence Act that dates back to 1872

The idea that the current laws governing crime, investigation and trial require meaningful reform has long been in place. There have been several attempts in recent decades to overhaul the body of criminal law. Given this, the committee's mandate now is to recommend reforms in the criminal laws in a principled, effective, and efficient manner.

The reforms should ensure the safety and security of the individual, the community and the nation. It should prioritise the constitutional values of justice, dignity and the inherent worth of the individual.

How does it work?

The committee has several leading legal academicians on board. It would be gathering opinions online, consulting with experts and collating material for their report to the government. Questionnaires have been posted online on the possible reforms.

The committee has invited experts in the field of criminal law to participate in the exercise through an online consultation mechanism. The consultation exercise would go on for 3 months (starting on 4 July 2020).

What are the concerns?

  • Timeframe - Comprehensive legal reform requires careful consideration and a good deal of deliberation. An apparently short timeframe and limited scope for public consultation has thus been raised as concerns. This has caused considerable disquiet among jurists, lawyers and those concerned with the state of criminal justice in the country.
  • Timing - The Committee has begun its work in the midst of a pandemic. This may not be the ideal time for wide consultations. Activists and lawyers functioning in the hinterland may be at a particular disadvantage in formulating their opinions.
  • Mandate - The panel's mandate is also vague and open to multiple interpretations. It is also not clear why the Law Commission has not been vested with this task.
  • Members - The committee being an all-male, Delhi-based one has led to concerns of lack of diversity.

Way ahead?

Reform is best achieved through a cautious and inclusive approach. If at all criminal law is to be reformed, there should be a genuine attempt to reach wide consensus.

The priorities should be on ways to speed up trials, protect witnesses, address the travails of victims, improve investigative mechanisms and, most importantly, eliminate torture.

Source: TH

Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018

GS-III :

Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018

Paper-3- Economics (Mains)

Recently, assets worth Rs. 329.66 crore of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud mastermind Nirav Modi have been confiscated under Section 12(2) and (8) of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.

  • In this money laundering case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has so far attached properties valued at Rs. 2,348 crore.
  • The properties were earlier attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, (PMLA) 2002.

  • To proactively detect such frauds, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is in the process of putting together an exclusive wing for banking fraud oversight. This wing will have teams for meta-data processing and analysis, artificial intelligence analysis units, as well as proactive risk assessment cells.

Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018: It seeks to confiscate properties of economic offenders who have left the country to avoid facing criminal prosecution or refuse to return to the country to face prosecution.

Fugitive economic offender: A person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued for committing an offence listed in the Act and the value of the offence is at least Rs. 100 crore.

Some of the offences listed in the act are:

      • Counterfeiting government stamps or currency.
      • Cheque dishonour.
      • Money laundering.
      • Transactions defrauding creditors.

Declaration of a Fugitive Economic Offender:

  • After hearing the application, a special court (designated under the PMLA, 2002) may declare an individual as a fugitive economic offender.
  • It may confiscate properties which are proceeds of crime, Benami properties and any other property, in India or abroad.
  • Upon confiscation, all rights and titles of the property will vest in the central government, free from encumbrances (such as any charges on the property).
  • The central government may appoint an administrator to manage and dispose of these properties.

Bar on Filing or Defending Civil Claims:

  • The Act allows any civil court or tribunal to prohibit a declared fugitive economic offender, from filing or defending any civil claim.
  • Further, any company or limited liability partnership where such a person is a majority shareholder, promoter, or a key managerial person, may also be barred from filing or defending civil claims.
  • The authorities may provisionally attach properties of an accused, while the application is pending before the Special Court.

Powers:

The authorities under the PMLA, 2002 will exercise powers given to them under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act. These powers will be similar to those of a civil court, including the search of persons in possession of records or proceeds of crime, the search of premises on the belief that a person is an FEO and seizure of documents.

Source: TH

Sundarbans Wetlands 

GS-III :

Sundarbans Wetlands

Paper-3 Environment and Biodiversity (PT-MAINS)

January 30th2019 the Indian Sundarban was accorded the status of ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention. It comprises hundreds of islands and a network of rivers, tributaries and creeks in the delta of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh.

Located on the southwestern part of the delta, the Indian Sundarban constitutes over 60% of the country’s total mangrove forest area. It is the 27th Ramsar Site in India, and with an area of 4,23,000 hectares is now the largest protected wetland in the country.

Richness of Sundarbans (PT SHOTS)

  • The Indian Sundarban met four of the nine criteria required for the status of ‘Wetland of International Importance’presence of rare species and threatened ecological communities, biological diversity, significant and representative fish and fish spawning ground and migration path.
  • The Indian Sundarban, also a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.
  • The Ramsar website points out that the Indian Sundarban is also home to a large number of “rare and globally threatened species, such as the critically endangered northern river terrapin (Batagur baska), the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), and the vulnerable fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).
  • Two of the world’s four horseshoe crab species, and eight of India’s 12 species of kingfisher are also found here. Recent studies claim that the Indian Sundarban is home to 2,626 faunal species and 90% of the country’s mangrove varieties.

Importance of Ramsar recognition

  • The Ramsar status will help to highlight conservation issues of the Sundarbans at the international level.
  • The part of the Sundarban delta, which lies in Bangladesh, was accorded the status of a Ramsar site in 1992, and with Indian Sundarban getting it too, international cooperation between the two countries for the protection of this unique ecosystem will increase.
  • This could lead to a better conservation strategy for flagship species such as the tiger and the northern river terrapin.

Various threats

While the Indian Sundarban is a biodiverse preserve, over four million people live on its northern and northwestern periphery, putting pressure on the ecosystem. Concerns have been raised about natural ecosystems being changed for cultivation of shrimp, crab, molluscs and fish.

The Ramsar Information Sheet lists fishing and harvesting of aquatic resources as a “high impact” actual threat to the wetland. The other threats are from dredging, oil and gas drilling, logging and wood harvesting, hunting and collecting terrestrial animals. Salinity has been categorised as a medium and tourism as a low impact actual threat in the region. Along with anthropogenic pressures, it is also vulnerable to climate change and requires better management and conservation practices.

In News recently

Discovery India and World Wide Fund (WWF) India have partnered with the Government of West Bengal and local communities in the Sundarban to help save the world’s only mangrove tiger habitat.

They are working with a vision to create climate-smart villages in the Sundarbans.

Climate Smart Villages are sites where farmers, researchers, local government and the private sector come together to understand which climate smart agriculture practices are best suited for a particular location.

The project will use technology to solve several of the issues faced in the region. This includes building datasets on impacts of climate change on estuarine ecosystem.
Through this project, in partnership with the West Bengal Forest Directorate and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research(IISER) Kolkata, two Sundarbans ecological observatories will be set up, each featuring data loggers, monitoring buoys and an onsite laboratory.

  • Farmland productivity: The initiative also focuses on enhancing farmland productivity through low-cost measures and adjusting crop calendars to deal with climate change.
  • The initiative will also include work towards securing habitats for tigers and prey species.
  • The project at Sundarbans is part of a global movement, Project CAT (Conserving Acres for Tigers), aimed at building healthy habitats for Tigers by conserving six million acres of protected land across four countries.

Project CAT (Conserving Acres for Tigers)

  • Discovery Communications is working with World Wildlife Fund and others to support a worldwide effort to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022.
  • It is a mission to ensure a future for tigers and other endangered wildlife by conserving nearly a million acres of protected land on the border of India and Bhutan.
  • Tigers face multiple threats from poaching, habitat loss and fragmentation, conflict with humans and overhunting of their prey species.
  • As a large predator, tigers are an umbrella species. They play a key role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem
  • By protecting tigers and their habitat, the others risk animals that share this habitat, like Asian elephants, greater one-horned rhinos, clouded leopards and important prey species are also getting protected.

Ramsar Convention (PT Shot)

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (better known as the Ramsar Convention) is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Traditionally viewed as a wasteland or breeding ground of disease, wetlands actually provide freshwater and food, and serve as nature’s shock absorber.
  • Wetlands, critical for biodiversity, are disappearing rapidly, with recent estimates showing that 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900.
  • Major changes in land use for agriculture and grazing, water diversion for dams and canals and infrastructure development are considered to be some of the main causes of loss and degradation of wetlands.

Source: PIB

Training Mobilisation Order (TMO)

GS-II : International Relations

Training Mobilisation Order (TMO)

  • President Xi Jinping Thursday signed a mobilization order for the training of the armed forces, the first order of the Central Military Commission (CMC) in 2020.
  • Issued by Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the CMC, the order stressed strengthening military training in real combat conditions.
  • It also asked the armed forces to maintain a high level of readiness and step up emergency and combat training.
  • This TMO has led to the recent Galwan clashes.
  • It is the strategy used by China to assess the real time responses by the commanding officers during war-like scenarios.
  • It is a part of military exercises program in Xinjiang province near to Ladakh.
  • The recent intelligence report from India suggest months of coordinated planning of the Chinese incursions into Indian territory along various parts of LAC is a part of this TMO.
  • The skirmishes and the recent approval of drawing a temporary buffer line along the LAC are the demands of Beijing to push back to Finger 18 away from Finger 4.
  • The order required strengthened joint command in training. It also stressed integrating new forces into the joint operations system.
  • Force-on-force training should also be strengthened and the evaluation system should be improved, according to the order.

Source: TH

Y Nalla

GS-I : Human Geography Current mapping upsc

Y Nalla

  • The strategic ‘Y Nalla’ near the Shyok-Galwan axis has become the new frontier for Indian and Chinese troops after the construction of a new post and infrastructure in Galwan Valley is believed to have cut-off the traditional access to Patrol Point-14 on Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • The infrastructure built comprised hardened shelters for troops and defensive positions at the Y-junction.
  • At this junction, the Galwan River takes a sharp bend towards its meeting point with Shyok River.
  • Galwan River meets Shyok River and is approximately 1km away from PP-14 area.
  • Patrolled by Indian troops for decades, the area will no longer be viable.

Source: TH

Bon Bibi

GS-I : Art and Culture Religion

Bon Bibi

Bon Bibi is a deity of the Sunder ban forest, west Bengal. The followers of Bon Bibi are fishermen, crab-collectors and honey-gatherers who live in the mangroves with wild animals such as tigers and crocodiles to earn a livelihood. They believe that only Bon Bibi protects them when they enter the forest and survive in tiger dominated areas.

People express their belief in Bon Bibi through Bon Bibir Palagaan, it is a centuries-old folk theatre and dramatic storytelling form that is enacted throughout the island. Traditionally, the performances are held near Bon Bibi temples or villages bordering the forests.

Source: TH

The Sundarbans Mangrove Forest

GS-III :

The Sundarbans Mangrove Forest

  • The Sundarbans mangrove forest, one of the largest such forests in the world, lies across India and Bangladesh on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal.
  • It is adjacent to the border of India’s Sundarbans World Heritage site inscribed in 1987.
  • The site is intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests, and presents an excellent example of ongoing ecological processes.
  • The area is known for its wide range of fauna, including 260 bird species, the Bengal tiger and other threatened species such as the estuarine crocodile and the Indian python. It is home to many rare and globally threatened wildlife species such as the estuarine crocodile, Royal Bengal Tiger, Water monitor lizard, Gangetic dolphin, and olive ridley turtles.

Source: PIB

All India Tiger Estimation

GS-III :

All India Tiger Estimation

All India Tiger Estimation 2018 has entered the Guinness World Record for being the world’s largest camera trap wildlife survey. The fourth iteration of the survey, conducted in 2018-19 was the most comprehensive to date, in terms of both resource and data amassed.

According to the report of 2018, India now has an estimated 2967 tigers out of which 2461 individual tigers have been photo captured, about 83 % of the tiger population. With this number, India is home to nearly 75% of the global tiger population.

India has already fulfilled its resolve of doubling tiger numbers, made at St. Petersburg in 2010, much before the target year of 2022.

The All India Tiger Estimation done every four year once, It is

  • Steered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority
  • Technically supported by Wildlife Institute of India
  • Implemented by State Forest Departments and partners.

Source: PIB

Snakebite Mortality

GS-III :

Snakebite Mortality

Centre for Global Health Research (CGHR), Canada has recently released a study titled ‘Snakebite Mortality in India: A Nationally Representative Mortality Survey’.

The study found that India has recorded 1.2 million snakebite deaths in the 20-year period from 2000 to 2019 with an average of 58,000 deaths caused by snakebite annually. Around 70% of these deaths occurred in low altitude, rural areas of eight States namely Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Half of all the snakebite deaths occurred during the monsoon period from June to September. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes snakebite as a top-priority neglected tropical disease. Indian anti-venoms neutralize venom from only the following snakes such as

  • Spectacled Cobra (there are three other Indian cobra species),
  • Common Krait (there are seven other krait species),
  • Russell’s Viper,
  • Saw-scaled viper,

Whereas there are 12 other snake species causing fatal bites in the country.

Source: TH

Ypthima watsoni

GS-III :

Ypthima watsoni

Recently, a team of wildlife researchers has rediscovered ‘Ypthima watsoni’ butterfly. The species was last seen in the year 1958 in Manipur.

The rediscovery was after 61 years near a village called Phuldungsei in Jampui Hills under the North Tripura district. It is a species of Satyrinae butterfly and commonly known as ‘Looped three-ring’. It was distributed in Assam, Myanmar and Thailand.

Source: TH

Tetrastemma Freyae

GS-III :

Tetrastemma Freyae

Recently, researchers have identified a new species of marine invertebrate i.e. 'Tetrastemma Freyae', found along the coast of Tamil Nadu. It feeds on dead and decaying material and helps to recycle nutrients in coastal and deep water sediments. It is associated with sediments and is predatory as it has a role in maintaining the food chain.

It uses its proboscis, similar to a butterfly which does to collect nectar. It has neurotoxins in its proboscis which could lead to developing drugs.

Source: IE

Ophiocordyceps Nutans

GS-III :

Ophiocordyceps Nutans

Recently, researchers have found Ophiocordyceps nutans (fungi) for the first time in central India, at the Kanger Valley National Park in Bastar, Chhattisgarh. Earlier, these have been reported in India only from the Western Ghats.

Ophiocordyceps nutans host on a specific insect, Halyomorpha halys. Halyomorpha halys is commonly known as the stink bug and is a pest to forest trees and agricultural crops. The stink bug is known to damage the flower and fruits of soybean, green beans, apple, pear, etc.

Studies have shown that these fungi can be used as a biological pest control agent against the stink bugs. Exploring these fungi as a pesticide will help reduce the harmful effect of chemicals in fields.

In the Western Ghats, the local people use these fungi as an immune stimulator. Scientists claim that it contains a component called ‘cordycepin’ which has anti-cancer properties.

Kanger Valley National Park

Kanger Valley got the status of a national park in 1982. It derives its name from the Kanger River, one of the very few perennial rivers of Bastar. The park is a typical mixed humid deciduous type of forest, in which the Sal, Saugaun, teak and bamboo trees are available in abundance. The most popular species in this area is the state bird of Chattisgarh, Bastar Hill Myna which is capable of emulating the human voices. The park is known for the presence of underground limestone caves.

Source: PIB

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