Current Affairs Analysis

21st July 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Maheshwar, Mandu & Omkareshwar; Energy Efficiency Services Limited Initiatives; publicEV (Electric Vehicle) charging plaza; RAISE (Retrofit of Air-conditioning to improve Indoor Air Quality for Safety and Efficiency); EESL; Godhan Nyay Yojana; Vitamin-D; Zoram Mega Food Park; Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report; Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC); Blackrock malware; Colon Cancer; INSPIRE Faculty award; Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education award; Casuarina; Scared groves; Consumer Protection Act, 2019 Central Consumer Protection Authority; Product liability; Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising; Supreme Court guidelines on government advertising; NR Madhava Menon Committee; Torture in Indian legislation; United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT); Committee against Torture; Convention against Torture Initiative; Geographical Indication; Madhya Pradesh GI case; etc.
By IASToppers
July 21, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Consumer Protection Act, 2019 comes into force
  • Why a separate anti-torture law?

Government Schemes & Policies

  • SC-mandated panel issues notice to Delhi govt
  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited Initiatives
  • Godhan Nyay Yojana

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Vitamin-D

Economy

  • MP’s push for inclusion into the GI list of Basmati rice
  • Zoram Mega Food Park

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report

Defence & Security Issues

  • Blackrock malware

Science & Technology

  • A tool to Detect Colon Cancer

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Maheshwar, Mandu & Omkareshwar
  • Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education award

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Polity & Governance

Consumer Protection Act, 2019 comes into force

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 comes in to force from today, replacing more than three decades old Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

  • Objective: Protecting the interests of consumers by establishing authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ dispute.

Provisions of the Act

Establishment of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)

CCPA will be empowered

  • To conduct investigations into violations of consumer rights and institute complaints / prosecution,
  • To order recall of unsafe goods and services,
  • To order discontinuance of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements,
  • To impose penalties on for misleading advertisements.

Product liability: Introduces the concept of product liability.

A manufacturer or product service provider or product seller to be responsible to compensate for injury/damage caused by defective product/services

Basis for product liability action –

  • Manufacturing/Design defect
  • Deviation from manufacturing specifications
  • Not conforming to express warranty
  • Failing to contain adequate instructions for correct use
  • Service provided-faulty, imperfect or deficient

Simplifying the consumer dispute adjudication process:

  • Empowerment of the State and District Commissions to review their own orders,
  • Ease of approaching Consumer Commissions
    • Filing from place of residence (Under earlier Act, complaints could be initiated only in the place where the transaction took place)
    • E-filing
    • Videoconferencing for hearing
  • Deemed admissibility of complaints if the question of admissibility is not decided within 21 days.

Pecuniary jurisdiction

  • District Commissions can hear cases up to ₹1 crore (from ₹20 lakh earlier)
  • State Commissions can hear cases upto ₹1 crore to Rs. 10 crore (earlier was from ₹20 lakh to ₹1 crore)
  • National Commission can hear cases above ₹10 crore (earlier was ₹1 crore)

Suggestion: Vacancies at District Commission levels needed to be filled, for effective implementation of the new Act.

Alternate Dispute Resolution mechanism of Mediation:

  • A complaint will be referred by a Consumer Commission for mediation, wherever scope for early settlement exists.
  • Mediation will be held in the Mediation Cells to be established under Consumer Commissions
  • Panel of mediators to be selected by selection committee consisting of the President and a member of Consumer Commission.
  • There will be no appeal against settlement through mediation.
  • This will help with the speedier resolution of disputes and reduce pressure on consumer courts, who already have numerous cases pending before them.

Rules on e-commerce and direct selling

While provisions relating to e-commerce are not yet notified, a section relating to electronic service provider (covering software services, electronic payments) is notified.

  • It defines an electronic service provider as a person who provides technologies or processes to enable a product seller to engage in advertising or selling goods/services to a consumer and includes any online marketplace or online auction sites.
  • Under this act, every e-commerce entity is required to provide information relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, payment methods, security of payment methods, charge-back options, country of origin etc.
  • E-commerce platforms have to acknowledge the receipt of any consumer complaint within 48 hours and redress the complaint within 1 month from the date of receipt.

Penalty for adulteration of products and misleading ads

  • Jail term for adulteration and misleading ads by firms.
  • There is no provision for jail for celebrities but they could be banned for endorsing products if it is found to be misleading.
  • The law can imposed with a penalty of up to Rs 1,000,000 for a false or misleading advertisement and imprisonment for up to two years for the same.

Rules & Regulation

The act also provides various rules and regulations as shown below.

  • Among above rules, Central Consumer Protection Council Rules are provided for constitution of the Central Consumer Protection Council, an advisory body on consumer issues, headed by the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs with the Minister of State as Vice Chairperson and 34 other members from different fields.
  • The Council, which has a three-year tenure, will have Minister-in-charge of consumer affairs from two States from each region- North, South, East, West, and North Eastern Region.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu, Indian Express]

Why a separate anti-torture law?

The alleged torture of a father-son duo in Sattankulam town in Tamil Nadu has once again given rise to the demand for a separate law against torture.

Torture in Indian legislation

  • Torture is not defined in the Indian Penal Code, but the definitions of ‘hurt’ and ‘grievous hurt’ are clearly laid down.
  • Though the definition of ‘hurt’ does not include mental torture, Indian courts have included psychic torture, environmental coercion, tiring interrogative prolixity, and overbearing (arrogant) and intimidatory methods, among others, in the ambit of torture.
  • Voluntarily causing hurt and grievous hurt to extort confession are also provided in the Code with enhanced punishment.
  • Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, a judicial magistrate inquiries into every custodial death.

Highlights of India: Annual Report on Torture 2019:

  • Number of custodial deaths during 2019 remained over five persons per day. 1,606 of the deaths happened in judicial custody and 125 in police custody.
  • Deaths in police custody occur primarily as a result of torture. Of the 125 cases in police custody, 93 persons (74.4%) died due to alleged torture or foul play.
  • 75 (60%) of these 125 belonged to the poor and marginalised communities. 
  • Women continued to be tortured or targeted for sexual violence in custody and often, the victims belonged to weaker sections of the society.
  • Police made all attempts to destroy incriminating evidence of torture by not conducting post mortems.

Provisions against Torture

  • The National Human Rights Commission has laid down specific guidelines for conducting autopsy under the eyes of the camera.
  • DK Basu v. State of West Bengal (1996): Supreme Court gave 11 point guidelines in addition to the Constitutional and Statutory Safeguards to be followed in all cases of arrest and detention by police.
  • Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa (1993): State could no longer escape liability in public law and had to be compelled to pay compensation. Prior to the judgment there was no structured formulation to grant compensation in case of custodial deaths.
  • Similarly, the Court has held in many cases that policemen found guilty of custodial death should be given the death penalty.

Recommendation of Law commission

  • 262nd Law Commission Report recommended that the death penalty be abolished except in cases of ‘terrorism-related offences’.
  • 273rd Report of the Law Commission recommended ratification of the U.N. Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment (UNCAT). UNCAT was signed by India, but is yet to be ratified.

Reasons for not ratifying the UNCAT

  • Governments have argued that the ratification would open India to greater international interference and scrutiny.
    • The ratification requires India to amend multiple sections in domestic law including changing the definition of the word torture.
    • Besides opening the conduct of Indian public servants to international scrutiny, the ratification will also trigger human rights debates on areas of conflict like Kashmir, the Northeast and regions where left-wing extremists are active.

Suggestions

  • Need to implement the law as we have it. The investigations, the prosecutions are not fair; these must be rectified first.
  • Police need to be trained better. The temptation to use third-degree methods must be replaced with scientific skills.
  • Thus, the need of the hour is to strike at the root cause of the problem and implement recommendations of various commissions to bring in necessary reforms.

UNCAT:

  • The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, also known as the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT), is an international human rights treaty.
  • It aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.
  • 26 June is recognized as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, because this convention came into force on 26 June 1987.

The Convention requires states

  • To take effective measures to prevent torture, and
  • To stop transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.

Committee against Torture:

  • The Committee against Torture (CAT) is a body of human rights experts that monitors implementation of the Convention.
  • It is one of ten 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.

Convention against Torture Initiative CTI2024

  • In 2014, a cross-regional group of UN Member States formed the Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI), to reduce and prevent the risks of torture and ill-treatment worldwide, through active implementation of the Convention.
  • CTI2024 operates through confidential government-to-government dialogue and providing technical support to States.
  • The deadline for achieving their mission is 2024, on the 40th anniversary of the Convention.
  • The six core States are Chile, Denmark, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, and Morocco.

Note: To know more about extrajudicial killing and custodial deaths, refer IASTopper’s previous current affairs notes: https://www.iastoppers.com/12th-13th-july-2020-current-affairs-analysis-iastoppers/

[Ref: The Hindu]

Government Schemes & Policies

SC-mandated panel issues notice to Delhi Govt

The Supreme Court mandated Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA) issued a notice to the Delhi government over a front page advertisement that was published in multiple newspapers recently, publicising performance of Delhi government schools in Class 12 board exams.

  • In view of 2015 Supreme Court guidelines, the Delhi Government has been given 60 days to submit its comments on the issues of: cost of publishing this advertisement, purpose of the advertisement, how it not violets SC’s Guidelines of avoiding glorification of political personalities and number of publications that the advertisement was carried in.

Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA)

  • As per the directions of Supreme Court in 2015, the Government of India had set up a Three Member Body consisting of “persons with unimpeachable neutrality and who have excelled in their respective fields” to look into Content Regulation of Government funded advertisements in all media platforms. 
  • The panel is the only body that looks at content regulation of government advertisements.

The Committee is empowered

  • To address complaints from the general public on violation of the Supreme Court guidelines and make suitable recommendations. 
  • To take suo-moto cognizance of any violation/ deviation of the Supreme Court guidelines and recommend corrective actions.

In 2016, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had constituted a Rajat Sharma committee to see that guidelines set for government advertisements by the Supreme Court are followed.

Supreme Court guidelines on regulation of government advertising

The SC issued the guidelines on the basis of the recommendations of a three-member NR Madhava Menon Committee.

Objectives:

  • Prevent arbitrary use of public funds and exclude possibility to gain political advantage using public fund.
  • To fill the gap in Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity (DAVP) guidelines which do not regulate the government advertising.

Provisions

  • Government advertisements cannot use/publish photographs of ministers and party leaders.
    • However, photographs of the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India can be published in the government advertisements with their prior approval.
    • Also, photos of late national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru can be used in these advertisements.
  • Official advertisements should not carry the name of any political party, political symbol, logo or flag.
  • Must constitute a three member committee to regulate the issue of public advertisements.

According to the Guidelines, regulation of content should be guided by five fundamental principles:

  1. The content of the government advertisement should be relevant to the government’s constitutional and legal obligations as well as the citizens’ rights and entitlements.
  2. Advertisement materials should be presented in an objective, fair, and accessible manner and be designed to meet the objectives of the campaign.
  3. Advertisement materials should not directed at promoting political interests of ruling party.
  4. Advertisement Campaigns must be justified and undertaken in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
  5. The advertisements must be compliant with existing laws such as election laws and ownership rights.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]

Government Schemes & Policies

Energy Efficiency Services Limited Initiatives

The Minister for Power, New & Renewable Energy inaugurated Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) two initiatives, the publicEV (Electric Vehicle) and RAISE.

publicEV (Electric Vehicle) charging plaza:

  • EESL in collaboration with New Delhi Municipal Corporation has established India’s first of its kind public EV Charging Plaza in Central Delhi.
  • This plaza will host 5 Electric Vehicle Chargers of different specifications.
  • The charging plaza, with its compatibility with a wide range of electric vehicles, will greatly spur e-mobility adoption.

RAISE (Retrofit of Air-conditioning to improve Indoor Air Quality for Safety and Efficiency):

  • RAISE is a joint initiative of EESL and U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) MAITREE programme. 
  • EESL has undertaken a pilot project of retrofitting one of its office air-conditioning and ventilation system. The pilot focuses on improving indoor air quality (IAQ), thermal comfort, and energy efficiency (EE) in the EESL office’s air conditioning system.

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL):

  • EESL was set up under the Ministry of Power to facilitate the implementation of energy efficiency projects.
  • EESL is a joint venture of NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and POWERGRID.
  • EESL is an energy service company (ESCO) that seeks to unlock the energy efficiency market in India, estimated to be at US$12 billion. This can potentially result in energy savings of up to 20 per cent of current consumption, by way of innovative business and implementation models.
  • EESL is the implementing agency of the UJALA scheme meant for ensuring widespread distribution of energy-efficient appliances across the country.
[Ref: PIB]

Godhan Nyay Yojana

  • Launched by the Government of Chhattisgarh.
  • Under the scheme, cow dung will be procured from cattle rearers for production of organic fertiliser.
  • The government will buy cow dung from livestock owners at Rs 2 per kg and, after processing it into vermicompost, sell it back to farmers for Rs 8 per kg.
  • Gothans (cow sheds) will be set up in all 11,630 gram panchayats.

Expected Benefits:

  • Provide additional income to farmers.
  • Encourage the use of organic fertilisers
  • Minimise the use of chemicals
  • Improve the fertility of the soil
  • Tackle the problem of open grazing by cattle
[Ref: Indian Express, Times of India]

Issues related to Health & Education

Vitamin-D

Recently a paper titled, Perspective: Improving vitamin D status in the management of COVID-19, was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2020).

Production:

When sunlight (or artificial light, particularly in the ultraviolet region of 190-400 nm wavelength) falls on the skin and triggers a chemical reaction to a cholesterol-based molecule and converts it into calcidiol in the liver and into calcitriol in the kidney, vitamin D is produced.

Impact of Vitamin D Deficiency:

  • It can affect COVID-19 high-risk patients, particularly those who are diabetic, have heart conditions, pneumonia, obesity and those who smoke.
  • It is also associated with infections in the respiratory tract and lung injury.
  • Help prevent osteoporosis

Indian Scenario:

India has a massive burden of vitamin D deficiency among the public irrespective of their location (urban or rural), age or gender, or whether they are poor or even rich.

Additional Information:

  • Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed along with fats in the diet and can be stored in the body’s fatty tissue.
  • They come from plant and animal foods or dietary supplements.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Economy

MP’s push for inclusion into the GI list of Basmati rice

Following Madhya Pradesh government’s pressure on the central government for seeking Geographical Indication tag for Basmati produced in 13 districts of MP, All India Rice Exporters’ Association (AIREA) has appealed to the government to preserve and protect the integrity Basmati rice.

  • AIREA said that, if MP is included in the GI list of Basmati crop then it will not only harm the reputation of Indian Basmati as a whole, but also the national interest.

What is a Geographical Indication?

  • According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), GI tag is an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product, originating from a specific geographical area due to which it possesses unique characteristics and qualities.
  • It’s kind of trademark in the international market.
  • Just as the reputation of a patented product is associated with its inventor, the reputation of a GI product is associated with its place of origin.
  • India, as member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 that came into force from September 15, 2003.
  • There are total 370 GI tags in India, as per the latest information available from geographical indications registry.

Reasons given by APEDA to deny GI tag to MP

  • Basmati rice is only produced in India for many centuries at in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) area of India and several districts of Pakistan’s Punjab.
  • In 2010, APEDA got GI tag for the region located in Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) below the foothills of the Himalayas, spread across seven states — Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Western UP (26 districts) and Delhi.
  • Reasons: APEDA said that, the origin and reputation of Basmati rice as a ‘long grain, aromatic rice’ from the IGP is found in tradition, folklore, scientific and culinary literature and political and historical records. Dehraduni Basmati, Amritsar Basmati and Tarawari basmati are famous for hundreds of years.

Why MP want its rice to be included under the GI list?

  • MP falls in the Madhya Bharat Pathar and started cultivation of varieties of Basmati rice only around the middle of the first decade of this century.
  • It claims that this rice possesses the same characteristics and qualities as that of the rice grown in the IGP.
  • It also claims that nearly 80,000 farmers of the state are growing Basmati in 13 districts and exporting worth Rs 3,000 crore annually.

Why MP cannot be included in GI Tag?

  • Under WTO’s TRIPs (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) agreement, physical attributes are not enough for a product to earn GI tag.
  • As per GI of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act in 2003, ‘reputation’ to a geographical area is central to the recognition of a GI product and only seven IGP states have that reputation.
  • Even if the rice grown in MP has all the required characteristics, the same would not still entitle such rice to qualify as Basmati.
  • Example:  Kancheepuram Silk Sari is a GI product, but a Banarsi sari cannot claim a share of the status though it might be as beautiful as the Kancheepuram Sari.

What if MP is given GI tag for their Rice?

  • If MP is allowed to be included, it will nullify APEDA’s efforts made earlier to secure Indian Basmati rice since 1995 by taking up over a 1,000 legal actions in 50 countries and spent over Rs 200/300 crores defending its GI status.
  • After given GI tag to MP, Pakistan as well as China will start sowing Basmati all across the country. Even those 50 nations who had been restricted from calling any of their aromatic rice’s with even “Basmati-like” names will ask government to give them GI status.
  • If Basmati loses its premium tag, it will deprive over 20 lakh farmers of seven states from the economic premium of growing this unique product.

Significance of GI registration

  • Give legal protection to the products.
  • Prevents unauthorised use of a GI by others.
  • Helps consumers get quality products of desired traits.
  • Promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods by enhancing demand in national and international markets.

GIs and international conventions:

  • Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of Intellectual property rights (IPRs).
  • They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the agreements concluded at the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Zoram Mega Food Park

Union Minister of Food Processing Industries in the Government of India inaugurated the Zoram Mega Food Park Ltd at Kolasib in Mizoram through a virtual conference.

  • The Food Park built at a cost of Rs 75 crore and spread over 55 acres of land will directly benefit over 25,000 farmers and will provide employment opportunities to over 5,000 people in the region.
  • Zoram Mega Food Park located near National Highway 54.

Expected Benefits:

  • Help in doubling the income of farmers in the area.
  • Reduce wastage of fruits.
  • Provide gainful employment to youth.
[Ref: PIB]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report

Recently, the Cooling Emissions and Policy Synthesis Report: Benefits of cooling efficiency and the Kigali agreement was released. The report was published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Key Points by the Report:

Most ACs use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), extremely potent greenhouse gases and also need significant energy to run. And hence considered a double burden.

The world will have four times more or at least 14 billion cooling appliances by 2050, contributing significantly to rising temperatures.

Without policy intervention, direct and indirect emissions from air conditioning and refrigeration are projected to rise by 90 per cent above 2017 levels by the year 2050.

Solutions:

  • Coordinated international action on energy-efficient, climate-friendly cooling can, however, avoid as much as 460 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Between 210 and 460 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions can be reduced through actions to improve the cooling industry’s energy efficiency together with the transition to climate-friendly refrigerants.
  • Doubling energy efficiency of air conditioners worldwide by 2050 can reduce the need for 1,300 gigawatts of additional electricity generation capacity to meet peak demand.
  • Policy options like international cooperation through universal ratification and implementation of the Kigali Amendment and initiatives such as the Cool Coalition and the Biarritz Pledge for Fast Action on Efficient Cooling can be adopted.
  • Governments must develop, incentivise and encourage manufacturers to develop energy-efficient technologies
  • National Cooling Action Plans can be used by countries to enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.
  • Improved building design, construction and retrofitting were recommended by experts in the report.

About Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC)

  • HFCs became widely used refrigerant substitutes for ozone-depleting substances that were phased out under the Montreal Protocol.
  • HFC is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential (GWP) thousands of times that of CO2 in some cases.
  • Most of this gas is consumed in the cooling sector, comprising refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps (RACHP) in mobile and stationary applications.
[Ref: Down to Earth]

Defence & Security Issues

Blackrock malware

Security firm ThreatFabric has alerted about a new malware, called BlackRock, which can steal information like passwords and credit card information from about 377 very popular smartphone applications, including Amazon, Facebook, Gmail etc.

  • BlackRock is based on the leaked source code of the Xeres malware, itself derived from a malware called LokiBot.
  • Once installed on a phone, it monitors the targeted app. When the user enters the login and/or credit card details, the malware sends the information to a server.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Science & Technology

A tool to Detect Colon Cancer

Dr Tatini Rakshit from a recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty Fellowship Award instituted by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India along with her research group has developed a sensitive tool that could be useful to identify colon cancer at a very early stage from body fluids like blood, urine, and faeces (stool).

  • The method that scores above currently existing methods like polymerase chain reaction (PCR), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and among others in terms of accuracy, has been published recently in ‘Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters’.

Colon Cancer:

  • Colorectal cancer that affects the large intestine (colon) and rectum is the 5th leading cause of cancer death in India, mainly because of late detection.
  • In the last decade, the country has witnessed a rapid increase in the rate of colorectal cancer among younger people due to poor dietary habits, lack of physical activity, obesity, increased alcohol consumption, and chronic smoking.
  • The current detection methods need invasive biopsies, and subsequent evaluation requires special expertise.

INSPIRE Faculty award:

  • The Department of Science and Technology has launched the “Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE)” program in 2008.
  • The program aims to attract talent for the study of science and careers with research.
  • INSPIRE Faculty Scheme offers contractual research awards to young achievers and opportunities for independent research and emerge as a future leader in the long term.
  • Each selected INSPIRE Faculty shall be eligible to receive a consolidated amount of Rs. 1,25,000/- pm.
  • Also, a Research Grant of Rs 7 lakh per year for 5 years shall be provided to each successful candidate.
  • The INSPIRE Faculty Award is for a maximum period of 5 (five) years.
[Ref: PIB]

Key Facts for Prelims

Maheshwar, Mandu & Omkareshwar

  • Ministry of Tourism conducted its 42nd webinar titled The Mystical Triangle- Maheshwar, Mandu & Omkareshwar under DekhoApna Desh Series
  • Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series is an effort to showcase India’s rich diversity under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.
  • The three places are located in the State of Madhya Pradesh.

Maheshwar

  • Maheshwar lies on the north bank of the Narmada River.  The town finds its mention in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharatha.
  • It was the capital of the Malwa during the Maratha Holkar reign till 6 January 1818, when the capital was shifted to Indore by Malhar Rao Holkar III.  In the late eighteenth century, Maheshwar served as the capital of the great Maratha queen Rajmata Ahilya Devi Holkar.
  • Rajwada, Ahilyeshwar temple, Vitthal temple, Baneshwar temple  and among others are structures of fame located here.

Omkareshwar:

  • Omkareshwar is a spiritual town in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Located on the north bank of Narmada.
  • Mamleshwar temple where one of the 12 jyotirlingas is found.

Mandu:

  • Mandu is located at an elevation of 633 meters.
  • Mandu is mainly known for the love story of Sultan Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati.
  • The Fort in Mandu is spread over an area of 47 sq km and the fort wall is 64 km. Jahaz Mahal/Ship Palace, Rewa Kund etc. are famous architectural locations in Mandu.
[Ref: PIB]

Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education award

The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) conferred principal of Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB) scientist Kannan C S Warrier the National Award of Excellence for Outstanding Research in Forestry for the year 2019.

  • The scientist was involved in releasing three productive clones of casuarina, known as kattadi and savukku, that are suitable for salt-affected soils for the first time in the country.
  • India has around 6.73 million hectares of salt-affected land.
  • The scientist is also a recipient of the Rolla S Rao National Award for his extensive research on conservation of endangered sacred groves, also called koil kadu.

Casuarina

  • Casuarina is a genus of 17 tree species in the family Casuarinaceae.
  • The tree is native to Australia, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, islands of the western Pacific Ocean, and eastern Africa.
  • They are evergreen shrubs and trees growing to 35 m (115 ft) tall.
  • Casuarinas are a versatile group of plants with wide-ranging adaptability to grow in different environments and provide multiple uses and services.

Benefits:

  • They fix atmospheric nitrogen through a symbiotic association with the bacteria.
  • Casuarina wood with a high calorific value and is used as fuelwood.
  • The wood is extensively used for papermaking and biomass-based power generation.
  • It also finds use in rural house building and as scaffolds in construction sites.
  • It is the principal species for developing shelterbelts in coastal areas and windbreaks for protecting crops.
  • It also plays a key role in reclaiming mined areas and afforesting nutrient-poor sites.

Sacred groves:

  • Sacred groves refer to a piece of natural vegetation (few trees or an entire forest) that is protected by a certain community due to religious reasons.
  • Local communities tend to take responsibility to protect and nurture the area.
  • Provisions under the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002, provides government protection to these lands.
  • A strong concentration of these groves is found in Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Bihar, Meghalaya and Maharashtra.
[Ref: Times of India, Vikaspedia]
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