Current Affairs Analysis

21st February 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Bengal Florican;Three Indian species added in Appendix I of CMS;Great Indian Bustard; Asian Elephant; Worldwide Educating for the Future Index 2019; Indian Railways collaborates with University of Birmingham; National Rail Transport Institute; Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission; Rurban Cluster; Statehood Day: Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram; Arunachal Pradesh; Mizoram; Matribhasha Divas; International Mother Language Day; Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor; Dedicated Freight Corridor; Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal; Kalasa-Banduri Nala project; Mahadayi river
By IASToppers
February 22, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Worldwide Educating for the Future Index 2019
  • Indian Railways collaborates with University of Birmingham

Economy

  • Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Three Indian species added in Appendix I of CMS

Also in News

  • Statehood Day: Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram
  • Matribhasha Divas

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Polity & Governance

Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal

The Supreme Court in its interim order recently has allowed the plea of the Karnataka government for implementation of the final award by a tribunal for sharing of water between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra from the Mahadayi river.

What is the dispute?

  • The three states of India- Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra are locked in a dispute over the last 30 years for sharing the water of Mahadayi river.
  • Attempts at negotiations among the states were initiated by the central government way back in 1985.
  • The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunalwas constituted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA-2) government in 2010.
  • The tribunalhad passed the order on August 14, 2018, to allocate 13.42 TMC water (including 3.9 TMC for diversion into the depleted Malaprabha river basin) from the Mahadayi river basin to Karnataka.
  • Maharashtra was allotted 1.33 TMC water while Goa was given 24 TMC in the final decision of the tribunal.

Kalasa-Banduri Nala project:

  • The Karnataka government had petitioned the tribunal seeking the release of 7.56 TMC of water for the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.
  • The Kalasa-Banduri Nala (diversion) project, which will utilise 7.56 TMC of water from the inter-State Mahadayi river, is being undertaken by Karnataka to improve drinking water supply to the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad and the districts of Belagavi and Gadag.
  • It involves building barrages across Kalasa and Banduri, the tributaries of the Mahadayi river, to divert 7.56 TMC water to the Malaprabha river, which fulfils the drinking water needs of the twin cities.

About Mahadayi river:

  • The Mahadayi River also known as Mandovi or Mhadei river, is described as the lifeline of the Indian state of Goa.
  • The river has a length of 77 km; 29 km in Karnataka and 52 km in Goa.
  • It originates from a cluster of 30 springs at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in the Belgaum district of Karnataka.
  • The river passes downstream through the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary and meets the Arabian Sea at Panaji in Goa.
  • Mahadayi (Mandovi) is a water deficit basin and water diversion could impact the environment.
[Ref: The Hindu, News18]

Government Schemes & Policies

Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission

The fourth Anniversary of the launch of Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) was observed recently.

About the Mission:

  • The Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) is a scheme launched by Government of India on 21 February 2016 to deliver integrated project based infrastructure in the rural areas.
  • SPMRM focuses on cluster based integrated development through Geo – spatial Planning while encouraging rural development.
  • The total funding requirement estimated for the scheme is INR 5142 crore from 2015-16 to 2019- 20.

Objective:

  • To create 300 rural growth clusters across the country with the facilitates of 24/7 water supply to all households, Solid and Liquid Waste Management facilities at the household and cluster level etc.

Aim of the mission:

  • The Mission aims at transforming the Rurban clustersby stimulating local economic development, enhancing basic services and creating well planned Rurban clusters.
  • This will lead to the holistic development of the region and encourage integrated and inclusive rural development.

What is a Rurban Cluster?

  • A ‘Rurban cluster’ is a cluster of geographically contiguous villages with a population of about 25000 to 50000 in plain and coastal areas and a population of 5000 to 15000 in desert, hilly or tribal areas.
  • Clusters of village follows administrative convergence units of Gram Panchayats.

Mission Outcomes:

  • Bridge the rural urban divide– economic, technological and those related to facilities and services.
  • Spreading development in the region.
  • Attracting investment in the rural areas.
  • Stimulating local economic development with emphasis on reduction of poverty and unemployment in rural areas.

Funding:

  • The project is envisaged to be funded through convergence of various Centrally Sponsored, Central Sector and State Government Schemes pertaining to the chosen components under the Mission.
  • In addition to the scheme funds, Critical Gap Funding (CGF) is proposed to be provided through the Scheme funds to the clusters to bridge the gap posed by availability of scheme funds.
  • The CGF would be capped at 30% of the capital cost or Rs 30 crores whichever is lesser while 70% of the funds is mobilized by the States.
  • Upon being re-classified as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, the CGF is now shared between the Centre and the State in a ratio 90:10 for Himalayan and North Eastern States and 60:40 for other states.
[PIB]

Issues related to Health & Education

Worldwide Educating for the Future Index 2019

India jumped five ranks in the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019, as per a report published by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

About the report:

  • The index ranks countries based on their abilities to equip students with skill-based education.
  • The report analyses education system from the perspective of skill-based education “in areas such as critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship, as well as digital and technical skills.
  • it is an annual report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Major highlights of the report:

  • India ranked 35th on the overall index in 2019 with a total score of 53, based on three categories – policy environment, teaching environment and overall socio-economic environment.
  • The country had ranked 40th in 2018.

Policy changes in education:

  • The report attributed India’s growth to the new education policy introduced by the government.
  • India has made particular strides in the policy environment, with a new national education policy published in early 2019 that explicitly mentions future-oriented skills such as critical thinking, communication and entrepreneurship.
  • New Education Policy is to be announced soon under ‘Aspirational India’ that will focus on greater inflow of finance to attract talented teachers, innovate and build better labs.
  • FM had promised allocation of ₹99,300 crores to education and ₹3,000 crores for skills.
  • The Ministry has proposed to start degree level full-fledged online education programme along with apprenticeship embedded degree or diploma courses in 150 higher educational institutions which will begin by March 2021.

Shortcomings in India’s education system:

  • Inability to utilise the opportunity of internationalising its higher education system.
  • A decentralised education systemis an another shortcoming of India’s education policy.
[Ref: The Hindu Bussiness line]

Indian Railways collaborates with University of Birmingham

Indian Railways has announced the launch of joint research initiatives and teaching programmes with University of Birmingham at National Rail Transportation Institute.

  • Ministry of Railways has already signed an MoU with University of Birmingham for establishment of Centre of Excellence for Next Generation Transportation Systems.

Provisions under the programme:

  • The programme leads to dual M.Sc. that would see NRTI students obtaining two post graduate degrees from both institutions, after spending a year studying at each institution.
  • It will also provide flexibility for some modules of the programme to be delivered online in the form of a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) and support for undergraduate teaching by University of Birmingham faculty at NRTI.
  • This initiative will benefit NRTI students by providing them access to world class expertise and facilities in railway systems at the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE).
  • BCRRE is also expected to gain valuable insights into India’s transport sector and get involved in related research and development issues in the country.

About the National Rail Transport Institute:

  • NTRI has been set up as a deemed to be university and has been operational since 2018.
  • In addition to Schools and Departments in various disciplines, NRTI aims to develop interdisciplinary Centres of Excellence which would be collaborative constructs to promote research and education to the transportation sector.
  • NRTI’s strategy is focussed upon sourcing the best expertise from around the world, developing curriculum, research projects and executive education programs.

About University of Birmingham:

  • The University of Birmingham is delivering world-class research, education and leadership to the global rail industry.
  • The BCRRE is the largest university-based centre for railway researchand educationin Europe, involved in developing world-leading new technologies alongside higher education programmes and research and innovations, etc.
[Ref: PIB]

Economy

Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor

World Bank has offered to give financial assistance to the last remaining portion of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) between Sonnagar(Bihar) and Dankuni (West Bengal).

  • The EDFC has also got the green signal from Railways to allow private freight trains in its corridors, if companies come forward with such propositions.

What is Dedicated Freight Corridor?

  • Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) is a rail route created for freight (goods and commodity) transportation to ensure faster transit and reduced logistics costs.

About Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor:

  • Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor or EDFC is a freight specific railway under construction in northern to eastern India by Indian Railways.
  • The railway will run between Ludhiana in Punjab and Dankuni (near Kolkata) in West Bengal.
  • The Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (1839 km) consists of two distinct segments:
    • an electrified double-track segment between Dankuni in West Bengal & Khurja in Uttar Pradesh and;
    • an electrified single-track segment between Ludhiana (Dhandarikalan) – Khurja – Dadri in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The entire EDFC is being built with loan from World Bank, except for the last portion between Bihar and West Bengal.
  • The Indian Railways had two options now; either do a course correction and go for the financial assistance from World Bank in the form of a viability gap funding, or carry on as planned (private public-private partnership (PPP) mode) and invite players to bring in the capital.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Three Indian species added in Appendix I of CMS

India’s proposal to include Great Indian Bustard, Asian Elephant and Bengal Florican in Appendix I of UN Convention on migratory species was unanimously accepted recently at the ongoing thirteenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on MigratorySpecies (CMS) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

1. Asian Elephant:

  • The Government of India has declared Indian elephant as National Heritage Animal.
  • It is provided highest degree of legal protection by listing it in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • The Asian elephant is distributed throughout the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, from India in the west, Nepal in the north, Sumatra in the south, and to Borneo in the east.
  • The Asian elephant is the largest living land animal in Asia.
  • Their population has declined by at least 50 % over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years.
  • It is primarily threatened by loss of habitat, habitat degradation, fragmentation and poaching.
  • IUCN: Endangered

2. Great Indian Bustard:

  • It has a small population of about 100–150 individuals that is largely restricted to Thar desert in Rajasthan, India.
  • Their population has reduced by 90% within 50 years (six generations); and their threats are expected to increase in future.
  • IUCN: Critically Endangered
  • Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
  • Habitat: Arid and semi-arid grasslands, open country with thorn scrub & tall grass.
  • Important Sites:Desert National Park Sanctuary (Rajasthan), Naliya (Gujarat), Warora (Maharashtra), Bellary (Karnataka).

3. Bengal Florican:

  • The Bengal Florican also called Bengal bustard, is a bustard species native to the Indian subcontinent, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
  • Fewer than 1,000 individuals are estimated to be alive as of 2017.
  • IUCN: Critically Endangered

Significance:

1. Asian Elephant:

  • Placing Indian elephant in Schedule I of the CMS Convention, will fulfil natural migration need of Indian elephant across India’s borders and back safely.
  • It will promote conservation of this endangered species for our future generations.
  • Intermixing of smaller sub populations in Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar and widen the gene base of these populations.
  • It will also help to reduce human elephant conflicts in many parts of its migratory routes.

2. The Great Indian Bustard:

  • The species exhibits transboundary movements, and its migration exposes it to threats such as hunting in boundary area of Pakistan-India and power-line collisions in India.
  • Inclusion of the species in Appendix I of CMS will aide in transboundary conservation efforts facilitated by International conservation bodies and existing international laws and agreement.

3. Bengal Florican:

  • It exhibits transboundary movements, and its migration exposes it to threats such as land use changes, collision with power transmission line at boundary area of India-Nepal and probable power-line collisions.
  • Inclusion of the species in Appendix I of CMS will aid in transboundary conservation efforts facilitated by International conservation bodies and existing international laws and agreement.
[Ref: PIB]

Also in News

Statehood Day: Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has greeted the people of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, on their Statehood Day celebrated on February 20 every year.

About Arunachal Pradesh:

  • In 1972, Arunachal Pradesh became the Union Territory of the Republic of India.
  • Arunachal Pradesh attained full statehood on 20 February 1987 after the passing of the 55th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1986.
  • It borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south and shares international borders with Bhutan in the west, Myanmar in the east.
  • It is separated from China in the north by the McMahon Line.
  • it is known as the land of the Dawn, the Orchid State of India or the Paradise of the Botanists.
  • Geographically, it is the largest of the Seven Sister States of Northeast India.
  • Capital: Itanagar

 

About Mizoram:

  • Mizoram was previously part of Assam until 1972, when it was carved out as a Union Territory.
  • Mizoram was declared Union Territory in 1972.
  • It became the 23rd state of Indiaon 20 February 1987, with 53rdConstitutional Amendment Act, 1986.
  • Within the northeast region, it is the southernmost landlocked state, sharing borders with three of the Seven Sister States, namely Tripura, Assam and Manipur.
  • The state also shares a 722 kilometre border with the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar.
  • Capital: Aizawl
[Ref: PIB]

 

Matribhasha Divas

The Matribhasha Divas was celebrated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development on 21st February, 2020.

Aim:

  • To highlight the importance of preserving, protecting and promoting Indian languages.

What is a mother tongue?

  • Mother tongue refers to the language that a person learns without any effort and to which the person has a deep emotional attachment.

Significance:

  • Language is not only a medium of communication; but it has a strong social, cultural, geographical and economic connect with the speakers of that society as well.
  • It is important to protect and promote mother tongues as it meant protecting linguistic and cultural diversity.
  • A step towards conservation would be to use local language in administration.
  • Vernacular medium of instruction to be made mandatory up to high school level.
  • Matribhasha Diwas is celebrated to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism in the world, as well as to spread awareness about languages.

Concerns:

  • 196 languages ​​of India have been included in the list of endangered languages ​​released by UNESCO, which is a matter of concern.
  • Most of thelanguages and dialects are fading away or are on the verge of getting extinct, sadly the condition of many major languages ​​is also of grave concern.

International Mother Language Day:

  • UNESCO celebrates International Mother Language Day on 21 February annually.
  • The theme of this year (2020) is “Languages ​​without Borders” which means languages ​​across/devoid of geographical boundaries.
[Ref: PIB]

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