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30 Jun, 2020

19 Min Read

Sankalp Parva: Plantation of Trees

GS-I : Human Geography Social forestry

Sankalp Parva: Plantation of Trees

The Ministry of Culture is celebrating ‘Sankalp Parva’ to plant trees from 28th June to 12th July 2020.

The initiative has been taken on the call of the Prime Minister to plant at least five trees either in the office campus or wherever it is possible, to ensure a clean and healthy environment of the country.


  • The Ministry of Culture has recommended planting five trees which represent the herbal heritage of the country.
  • These trees are Bargad, Awla, Papal, Ashok and Bel. These are also medicinal plants.
  • Other Initiatives Related to Plantation of Trees:
    • Recently, the government announced the implementation of the Nagar Van (Urban Forest) Scheme which aims to develop 200 Urban Forests across the country in the next five years.
    • The Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act was passed in 2016 to manage the funds collected for compensatory afforestation which till then was managed by Ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).

Compensatory afforestation means that every time forest land is diverted for non-forest purposes such as mining or industry, the user agency pays for planting forests over an equal area of non-forest land, or when such land is not available, twice the area of degraded forest land.

The National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB - under the Ministry of AYUSH) intends to establish herbal gardens of various types to popularize the usefulness of commonly available and frequently used medicinal plants among the various stakeholders.

The Jajpur district administration in Odisha has made plantation a mandatory precondition for granting licenses for eight services including society registration, license for minor minerals, setting up crusher units, purchase of new vehicles, issuance of solvency certificate, etc.

Source: PIB

UN Convention against Torture


UN Convention against Torture


In news

SC says it can’t direct the government to ratify Convention against Torture

What is Convention Against Torture ?

Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT)) is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.

The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is a reason to believe they will be tortured.

It was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1984 (resolution 39/46). The Convention entered into force in June 1987 after it had been ratified by 20 States.

Important provisions of the convention

Following are the important provisions of the convention

  • Definition of torture (Article 1): For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
  • Ban on torture: The convention prohibits torture, and requires parties to take effective measures to prevent it in any territory under their jurisdiction. This prohibition is absolute and non-derogable. “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever” may be invoked to justify torture, including war, threat of war, internal political instability, public emergency, terrorist acts, violent crime, or any form of armed conflict.
  • Ban on refoulement: It also prohibits parties from returning, extraditing, or refoulingany person to a state “where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” The Committee against Torture has held that this danger must be assessed not just for the initial receiving state, but also to states to which the person may be subsequently expelled, returned or extradited.
  • Ban on cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment: Article 16 requires parties to prevent “other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article 1” in any territory under their jurisdiction. Because it is often difficult to distinguish between cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment and torture, the Committee regards Article 16’s prohibition of such act as similarly absolute and non-derogable
  • An act of torture is a criminal offence: Under the convention, each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

Obligation of States: The states which are party to this convention are required to take the following steps:

  • Take preventive actions against torture like criminalizing acts of torture enacting domestic laws and regulations to respect human rights of the alleged victim and the accused.
  • Need to outlaw torture and refrain from using ‘higher orders’ or exceptional circumstances’ as excuses for committing acts of torture.

The Committee against Torture (CAT):

  • CAT is a body of human rights experts that monitors implementation of the Convention by State parties. The Committee is one of eight UN-linked human rights treaty bodies.
  • All state parties are obliged under the Convention to submit regular reports to the CAT on how rights are being implemented.
  • Upon ratifying the Convention, states must submit a report within one year, after which they are obliged to report every four years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations.”
  • Under certain circumstances, the CAT may consider complaints or communications from individuals claiming that their rights under the Convention have been violated.

Why is India not ratifying it

  • India signed this convention on October 14, 1997, however, so far has not ratified it. India has expressed its reservations against few provisions of the convention such as – Inquiry by the CAT (Article 20); state complaints (Article 21) and individual complaints (Article 22).
  • Argument of the Government: It says that it has already criminalized torture under Indian Penal Code, 1860 ( it had introduced the Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 in the Lok Sabha during UPA Government)

Law Commission recommendations on a draft torture law

  1. Ratification of Convention against Torture
  2. Amendment to Existing Statutes (Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 )
  3. Punishment for acts of torture
  4. Compensation to Victims( to be decided by Courts)
  5. Protection of Victims, Complainants and Witnesses
  6. Sovereign Immunity: Going by the law of torts, which states ‘liability follows negligence’ the Commission is of the opinion that the State should own the responsibility for the injuries caused by its agents on citizens, and principle of sovereign immunity cannot override the rights assured by the Constitution

Source: UN

Liquidity Measures Extended

GS-III : Economic Issues Liquidity measures

Liquidity Measures Extended


Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the relaxation relating to Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) scheme till 30th September 2020.

  • It has also extended the relaxation relating to maintenance of Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) up to 25th September 2020.
  • This was done in view of the hardships being faced by banks in terms of social distancing at work and consequent strain on reporting requirements.

Imp Points

  • Marginal Standing Facility: The RBI, as a temporary measure, had increased the borrowing limit of scheduled banks under the MSF scheme from 2% to 3% of their deposits with effect from 27th March 2020. Earlier, the above relaxation was granted till 30th June 2020.
  • MSF is a window for scheduled banks to borrow overnight from the RBI in an emergency situation when interbank liquidity dries up completely. Under interbank lending, banks lend funds to one another for a specified term. Banks borrow from the RBI by pledging government securities at a rate higher than the repo rate under Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF).
  • The Repo rate is the rate at which the RBI lends money to commercial banks against the securities in the event of any shortfall of funds. Loans provided at repo rate are provided for a specified period with an obligation that the bank will repurchase the securities back at a predetermined rate.

Differences between Repo Rate and MSF

  • Repo rate is the rate at which RBI lends money to commercial banks, while MSF is the rate at which RBI lends money to scheduled banks.
  • The repo rate is given to banks that are looking to meet their short-term financial needs. While the MSF is meant for lending overnight to banks.
  • Lending at repo rates involves a repurchase agreement of securities. While it is not so in MSF.
  • Under MSF, banks are also allowed to use the securities that come under the Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) in the process of availing of loans from RBI.
  • Under SLR, commercial banks are mandated by RBI to maintain a stipulated proportion of their deposits in the form of liquid assets like cash, gold and unencumbered (free from debt) securities.
  • Cash Reserve Ratio: On 27th March 2020 the minimum daily maintenance of the CRR was reduced from 90% of the prescribed CRR to 80%. The above facility was available till 26th June 2020. CRR is the amount of liquid cash that banks have to maintain with the RBI, as a percentage of their total deposits.

Key Terms

  • Scheduled Banks: Any bank which is listed in the 2nd schedule of the RBI Act, 1934 is considered a scheduled bank. The banks included in this category should fulfil two conditions: The paid-up capital and collected fund of the bank should not be less than Rs. 5 lakh. Any activity of the bank shall not adversely affect the interests of the depositors.
  • Commercial Banks: It refers to both scheduled and non-scheduled commercial banks which are regulated under the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
  • Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) is a tool used in monetary policy by the RBI, that allows banks to borrow money through repurchase agreements (repos) or for banks to make loans to the RBI through reverse repo agreements.
  • The reverse repo rate is the rate at which the RBI borrows money from commercial banks within the country.

Source: FE

HAM Radio       


HAM Radio

Recently HAM (amateur) radio operators have volunteered to help a special task force that has been constituted in Bengaluru to ensure that citizens placed under home quarantine follow the protocol for it.


  • Amateur radio, also called ham radio, is a noncommercial two-way radio communications. They use many frequency bands across the radio spectrum.
  • HAM radio is a real-time communication network. This is much like wireless communication which is quick and transparent.
  • Amateur Radio operators set up and operate organized communication networks locally for governmental and emergency officials, as well as non-commercial communication for private citizens affected by the disaster.
  • Amateur Radio operators are most likely to be active after disasters that damage regular lines of communications due to power outages and destruction of telephone, cellular and other infrastructure-dependent systems.

Indian Scenario

  • According to the Indian Wireless Telegraphs (Amateur Service) Amendment Rules, 1984, ‘Amateur service’ means a service of self training intercommunications and technical investigation carried on by Amateurs that is, by persons duly authorized under these rules interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.
  • It is a non-commercial radio communication service.
  • Amateur radio operators are commonly known as hams. The term “Ham radio” is used to describe the hobby of Amateur radio and not the equipment.
    • Similarly the term “Ham” is used to describe a radio amateur enthusiast and not the equipment.
  • Any citizen of India who is above 12 years of age can become a ham by qualifying in the Amateurs Station Operators’ examination (ASO) and obtaining a valid Amateur wireless telegraph station license.

Radio Waves

  • Radio waves have the longest wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • These were discovered by Heinrich Hertz in the late 1880s.
  • These are produced by the accelerated motion of charges in conducting wires. They are used in radio and television communication systems.
  • They are generally in the frequency range from 500 kHz to about 1000 MHz.
  • The AM (Amplitude Modulated) band is from 530 kHz to 1710 kHz. The FM (Frequency Modulated) radio band extends from 88 MHz to 108 MHz.
  • Higher frequencies up to 54 MHz are used for short wave bands. TV waves range from 54 MHz to 890 MHz.
  • Cellular phones use radio waves to transmit voice communication in the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) band.
  • Radio-wave communications signals travel through the air in a straight line, reflect off of clouds or layers of the ionosphere, or are relayed by satellites in space.

Source: PIB

National Statistics Day

GS-III : Economic Issues Economic Data

National Statistics Day

This year, Statistics Day (29th June) will be celebrated virtually, in view of the travel and safety advisories on account of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Imp Points

Every year, Statistics Day is celebrated on 29th June, the birth anniversary of Prof. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, to recognise his invaluable contribution to establishing the National Statistical System.


  • To popularise the use of statistics in everyday life and sensitise the public as to how statistics help in shaping and framing policies.
  • To raise public awareness, especially among the younger generation, about the role of statistics in socio-economic planning.

The theme for 2020: SDG-3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) and SDG-5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls). It carries forward the theme for 2019 which was ‘Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs)’.

New Releases and Launch:

  • The updated version of the Report on Sustainable Development Goals-National Indicator Framework (NIF) Progress Report 2020 will be released during the event.
  • The Indian Statistical Services Cadre Management Portal will also be launched.
  • The winners of Prof. P C Mahalanobis National Award and Prof. P. V. Sukhatme Award 2020 will be declared during the event.
  • In 2019, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation instituted Prof. P C Mahalanobis National Award in official statistics for recognizing outstanding achievement of official statisticians in central government, state governments and institutions.
  • The Ministry also recognises the outstanding contribution for high-quality research work in the field of applied and theoretical statistics benefitting the official statistical system through the Prof. C R Rao and Prof. P V Sukhatme awards, awarded in alternate years.

Source: PIB




Recently, a rare biological phenomenon i.e. Gynandromorphism has been spotted in a dragonfly, the Scarlet Skimmer (Crocothemis service), which is found in the Kole wetlands, Kerala. The dragonfly had both male and female characteristics.


  • Gynandromorphism is a characteristic of an organism that contains both male and female tissues and characteristics. Such organisms are also called gynandromorphs.
  • The term is derived from the Greek words (gyne = woman; aner = man and morphe = form).
  • The phenomenon has been documented in birds, crustaceans and butterflies.

Reason: Gynandromorphs are usually born due genetic aberration. Genetic aberrations are chromosomal disorder or mutation which is due to a missing, extra, or irregular portion of chromosomal DNA.

Importance of the Study of gynandromorphism:

  • It helps in finding the genetic diversity in related species which further contributes to the conservation and preservation.
  • It also aids in the discovery of diseases and other changes in specific species due to factors like climate change and ecological evolutions.
  • Further, the study of gynandromorphs could offer clues as to why some human diseases strike one gender more than the other.

Kole Wetlands

  • Kole Wetlands is a wetland lying in Thrissur District in Kerala.
  • It gives 40% of Kerala's rice requirement and acts as a natural drainage system.
  • It is a part of Vembanad-Kole wetlands, a Ramsar site and has been colonised by invasive species.
  • The Society for Odonate Studies (Kerala) has been conducting Odonate surveys at the Kole wetlands since 2018, and 37 species of dragonflies and damselflies have been reported from the wetlands so far.


  • A dragonfly is an insect belonging to the order Odonata, class Insecta.
  • Adult dragonflies are characterized by large, multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong, transparent wings, sometimes with coloured patches, and an elongated body.
  • They are ecologically significant as they act as bioindicators.
    • Bioindicators are living organisms such as plants, plankton, animals, and microbes, which are used to assess the health of the natural ecosystem in the environment.

Source: PIB

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