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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

13 Aug, 2021

35 Min Read

Common survey to count elephants and tigers

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Wildlife & Fauna

Why in news?

  • From December, India will move to a system that will count tigers and elephants as part of a common survey since 2022. This will be for the first time that Tiger and Elephants will be counted in a single survey. The tiger survey is usually held once in four years and elephants are counted once in five years.
  • According to the most recent 2018-19 survey, there were 2,997 tigers in India. According to the last count in 2017, there were 29,964 elephants in India.
  • Since 2006, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, which is affiliated to the Environment Ministry, has a standardised protocol in place that States then use to estimate tiger numbers. Based on sightings in camera traps and indirect estimation methods, tiger numbers are computed.
  • Elephant numbers largely rely on States directly counting the number of elephants. In recent years, techniques such as analysing dung samples have also been deployed to estimate birth rates and population trends in elephants.
  • Given that 90% of the area occupied by elephants and tigers is common, and once estimation methods are standardised, having a common survey can significantly save costs.
  • In 2017, the Union Environment Ministry reported that there were 27,312 elephants on average in the country, according to figures collated from 23 States, a decline from the 29,576 elephants recorded as the mean figure in 2012.
  • However, in 2019, it emerged that Kerala may have under-counted almost 2,700 elephants in the latest elephant census and the updated 2017 figures showed 29,964 elephants on average, or a slight increase from the mean of 2012.
  • This was because Kerala initially relied on a direct count method and then switched to an indirect method when the count showed a decline in its elephant population.
  • Asian elephants are listed as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. More than 60% of the world’s elephant population is in India, said a statement from the Environment Ministry.
  • Speaking on the occasion, the Union Environment Minister stressed on the involvement of local and indigenous people in the Conservation of elephants and said that a bottom up approach is the way forward, which will also help in minimizing Human-Elephant Conflict as well.
  • The Ministry also partnered with WII, NMNH, WWF-India and WTI in organsing the week long programme of “Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” as a precursor to the World Elephant Day, 2021.

About Asian Elephant

  • Asian elephants are listed as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. This has been done as most of the range states except India, have lost their viable elephant populations due to loss of habitats & poaching etc. The current population estimates indicate that there are about 50,000 -60000 Asian elephants in the world. More than 60 % of the population is held in India.
  • Indian Elephant has also been listed in the Appendix I of the Convention of the Migratory species in the recently concluded Conference of Parties of CMS 13 at Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat in February 2020.
  • World Elephant Day is being celebrated to bring attention of various stakeholders to support various conservation policies to help elephants, including improving enforcement policies to prevent the illegal poaching and trade of ivory, conserving elephant habitats, providing better treatment for captive elephants and reintroducing some captive elephants into sanctuaries.
  • Elephant is the Natural Heritage Animal of India and India also celebrates this day to spread awareness towards conservation of the species.

Tiger Estimation 2018

  • Click here to read about Tiger Reserves and Tiger Census
  • 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
  1. Steered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority
  2. Technically supported by Wildlife Institute of India
  3. Implemented by State Forest Departments and partners.
  • Tiger Reserves are protected areas that aim at conserving the habitat to ensure a viable population of the tigers along with their prey base in their habitat.
  • India’s tiger census has been commissioned by the union environment ministry’s National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

Source: TH

National Commission for Minorities

GS-I : Social issues Social issues

Why in news?

  • The Delhi High Court on Thursday extended the deadline given to the Centre to nominate persons to all the vacant positions in the National Commission for Minorities by two months.
  • The High Court had earlier directed that the nomination of all the vacant positions be filled on or before July 31 in order to ensure that the commission functions efficiently and the purpose of the commission as envisaged under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 is also fully given effect to.
  • The Centre had sought the extension on the account of the COVID-19 situation in the country during the months of April and May.
  • Abhay Ratan Bauddh, in his petition, has said that only the post of vice-chairman of the commission was functional since October 2020, while the remaining positions, including that of the chairperson and members from Buddhist, Christian, Parsi, Sikh and Jain communities remained vacant.
  • The petition said that the posts started becoming vacant around April 2020 and since October 2020, only one post was functional.

Constitutional Provisions for Minorities in India

  • The term 'Minority' is not defined in the Constitution. Constitution recognises religious and linguistic minorities through Article 29 and Article 30.
  • Article 29: It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script or culture of its own, shall have the right to conserve the same. Article 29 is applied to both minorities (religious and linguistic) and also majority. It also includes – Right to agitate for the protection of language. Hence political speeches with respect to this is ok.
  • Article 30: All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. Article 30 recognises only to religious and linguistic minorities (not majority). It includes right of minority to impart education to its children in its own language.
  • Article 350-B: Originally, the Constitution of India did not make any provision with respect to the Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities. However, the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956 inserted Article 350-B in the Constitution. It provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities appointed by the President of India. It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.
  • Currently, the linguistic minorities are identified on a state-wise basis thus determined by the state government whereas religious minorities are determined by the Central Government.
  • Supreme Court has dismissed a plea seeking guidelines to “identify and define” religious minorities in every State to protect their culture and interests. The petition sought to recognise Hindus as minorities in the States where they are low in population.

Ministry of Minority Affairs

  • The Ministry of Minority Affairs is entrusted with the work related to improvement of the socio-economic condition of the minority communities through affirmative action and inclusive development efforts, so that every citizen has equal opportunity to participate actively in building a vibrant nation.
  • The Department Personnel & Training does not maintain separate community wise data on recruitment.
  • This Ministry implements various schemes with objective to increase the participation of the disadvantaged/underprivileged children/candidates of notified minority communities and to improve the level of education, participation in employment, skill and entrepreneurship development, reducing deficiencies in civic amenities or infrastructure are implemented by this Ministry.

About National Commission for Minorities (NCM)

  • Ministry of Home Affairs established the National Minorities Commission of India in a resolution on January 12, 1978. Once the National Commission for Minorities Act was enacted in 1992, the Minorities Commission became a statutory body and was renamed as National Commission for Minorities.
  • NCM consist of Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and five Members. The five Members including the Chairperson shall be from amongst the minority communities.
  • The act (not Constitution) defines a minority as “a community notified as such by the Central government.”

Objectives of National Commission for Minorities

  • evaluate the progress of the development of minorities under the Union and States;
  • monitor the working of the safeguards provided in the Constitution and in laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures;
  • make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments;
  • look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of the minorities and take up such matters with the appropriate authorities;
  • cause studies to be undertaken into problems arising out of any discrimination against minorities and recommend measures for their removal;
  • conduct studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to socio-economic and educational development of minorities;
  • suggest appropriate measures in respect of any minority to be undertaken by the Central Government or the State Governments;
  • make periodical or special reports to the Central Government on any matter pertaining to minorities and in particular difficulties confronted by them; and
  • any other matter which may be referred to it by the Central Government.

How many Minorities are there in India?

  • Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and Zorastrians (Parsis) have been notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
  • As per the Census 2011, the percentage of minorities in the country is about 19.3% of the total population of the country.
  • The population of Muslims are 14.2%; Christians 2.3%; Sikhs 1.7%, Buddhists 0.7%, Jain 0.4% and Parsis 0.006%.

Government Schemes for the Empowerment of Minorities

Educational Empowerment

  • Scholarship Schemes- Pre-Matric Scholarship, Post-Matric Scholarship and Merit-cum-Means based Scholarship. During the last 7 years, more than 4.52 crore beneficiaries have been provided different scholarships through the National Scholarship Portal (NSP) and Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) out of which more than 53% beneficiaries are female.
  • Maulana Azad National Fellowship Scheme, provides financial assistance to students from notified minority communities and whose annual income is below Rs. 6.0 lakh per annum from all sources, to pursue higher education such as M.Phil and Ph.D.
  • In addition, the Maulana Azad Education Foundation implements the scheme viz. Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship for meritorious girls belonging to notified minority communities studying in Classes IX to XII.
  • Naya Savera – Free Coaching and Allied Scheme which aims to enhance skills and knowledge of students and candidates from notified minority to get employment in Government Sector/ Public Sector Undertaking, jobs in private sector, and admission in reputed institutions in technical and professional courses at under-graduate and post-graduate levels. During last seven years about 69,500 candidates have benefitted from the coaching scheme of this Ministry.
  • Nai Udaan - Support for notified minority community students, on clearing Prelims conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), State Public Service Commission (PSC) Staff Selection Commission (SSC) etc.

Economic Empowerment

  • Seekho aur Kamao (Learn & Earn): It is a skill development initiative for minorities and aims to upgrade the skills of minority youth in various modern/traditional skills depending upon their qualification, present economic trends and market potential, which can earn them employment or make them suitably skilled to go for self-employment. Since, 2014-15 approx. 3.92 lakh persons have been benefitted from this employment oriented program.
  • A mission has been launched by the Ministry of Minority Affairs under “Upgrading the Skill and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USTTAD)” scheme to give an effective platform to minority artisans and culinary experts from across the country to showcase and market their finest handicraft and exquisitely crafted products through “Hunar Haats” organized by the Ministry.
  • Ministry has engaged institutions of national repute namely, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), National Institute of Design (NID) and Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) to work in various craft clusters for design intervention, product range development, packaging, exhibitions and brand building etc. So far, Ministry has organised 28 “Hunar Haats” in which more than 5.5 lakhs artisans and people associated with them have been provided employment and employment opportunities, out of which more than 50% beneficiaries are women.
  • Nai Manzil - A scheme to provide education and skill training to the youth from minority communities.
  • Gharib Nawaz Employment Training Programme provides for short-term job oriented skill development courses to youths belonging to minority communities.
  • National Minorities Development Finance Corporation (NMDFC) Loan Schemes provide concessional loans for self-employment and income generating activities for the socio-economic development of the ‘backward sections’ amongst the notified minorities.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK)

  • In addition, another scheme namely Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK) is implemented by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, which aims to improve the socio-economic conditions and basic amenities in the identified Minority Concentration Areas.
  • The major projects approved under PMJVK are in sectors of education, health and skill, and include Residential Schools, School buildings, Hostels, Degree Colleges, ITIs, Polytechnics, Smart Class Rooms, Sadbhav Mandaps, Health Centres, Skill Centres, Sports facilities, Drinking Water facilities, sanitation facilities etc.
  • In the last 7 years, under the “Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karykram” (PMJVK) more than 43 thousand basic infrastructure projects have been created such as residential schools, new schools, colleges, hostels, community centres, common service centres, ITIs, Polytechnics, Girls Hostels, Sadbhava Mandaps, Hunar Hubs, Smart Class Rooms etc in identified Minority concentrated areas across the country.

Source: TH

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