Current Affairs Analysis

27th February 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

State of India’s Birds Report 2020; Tamil Nadu opposes Mekedatu dam project; Cauvery Water Management Authority; Mekedatu Project controversy; COP-13 to Convention on Migratory Species; Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals; Post-2020 global biodiversity framework; Swine flu (H1N1); ADB lists masala bonds on India INX; Masala Bond; National Conference on Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience; Prime Minister’s 10-point Agenda on DRR; Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030; Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve; Chambal River; Disturbed Areas Act slapped in Khambhat, Gujarat; Eastern Ghats - Environment Outlook; Eastern Ghats; UNESCO World Heritage sites in India
By IASToppers
February 27, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Tamil Nadu opposes Mekedatu dam project

Government Schemes & Policies

  • National Conference on Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience
  • Disturbed Areas Act slapped in Khambhat, Gujarat

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Swine flu (H1N1)

Economy

  • ADB lists masala bonds on India INX

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • COP-13 to Convention on Migratory Species
  • Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve
  • State of India’s Birds Report 2020
  • Eastern Ghats – Environment Outlook

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Polity & Governance

Tamil Nadu opposes Mekedatu dam project

Tamil Nadu and Puducherry strongly objected to Karnataka’s bid to seek approval for the Mekedatu dam project at the fifth Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) meeting in New Delhi.

Opposition from Tamil Nadu:

  • Tamil Nadu had consistently maintained that the dam should never be built and that two cases were pending before the Supreme Court.
  • Tamil Nadu opposed Karnataka’s project proposal and that it had no right to construct a reservoir on an inter-State river without the consent of the lower riparian State.

Cauvery Water Management Authority:

  • The CWMA was set up by the Centre three months after the Cauvery dispute final award in February 2018 to address the dispute over sharing of river water among Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.

Background:

  • In February, 2018 judgement, the Supreme Court had directed centre to form the CMA within six weeks. In the same verdict, the court had also increased Karnataka’s share in Cauvery Water marginally.

Significance:

  • This would help to solve the long running conflict on distribution of Cauvery waters.
  • It will make the management of Cauvery water scientific.
  • The authority will comprise a chairman, a secretary and eight members.
  • Out of the eight members, two will be full time, while two will be part time members from centre’s side. Rest four will be part time members from states.
  • The main mandate of the CMA will be to secure implementation and compliance of the Supreme Court’s order in relation to “storage, apportionment, regulation and control of Cauvery waters”.

Mekedatu Project controversy:

  • Mekedatu Project is envisaged along Cauvery river in Ramanagara District of Karnataka.
  • Karnataka wants a reservoir across Cauvery at Mekedatu, to meet Bengaluru’s water problem.
  • It was first proposed along with Shivanasamudra hydro power project at Shimsa in 2003 with an intention to use the water for a hydro power station and supply drinking water to Bengaluru city.
  • Tamil Nadu is opposing is project saying Karnataka had not sought prior permission for the project.
  • Its argument was that the project would affect the flow of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
  • Tamil Nadu adopted a resolution urging the Centre to stop Karnataka from going ahead with the project.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Government Schemes & Policies

National Conference on Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs presided over the valedictory session of the 1st ‘National Conference on Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (CDRR&R) – 2020’, organised by the National Institute of Disaster Management in New Delhi recently.

Aim:

  • To enhance the understanding of the issues and solutions on various facets for coastal disaster risk reduction and resilience.
  • To explore and debate the most recent advances in the discipline.
  • To develop a network mode roadmap for addressing the gaps by engaging with the institutions, researchers and experts.

Highlights of the event:

  • The one-day conference focussed on enhancing human capacity in terms of better understanding about coastal disaster risks.
  • It aimed at taking effective collaborative actions, by implementing Prime Minister’s 10-point agenda and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, for reducing the risk and enhancing the resilience amongst the affected stakeholders.
  • It emphasised on dissemination of information related to national and local strategies for coastal disaster risk reduction and resilience.

Prime Minister’s 10-point Agenda:

The Prime Minister’s 10-point agenda on DRR is:

  1. All development sectors must imbibe the principles of disaster risk management.
  2. Work towards risk coverage for all– starting from poor households to SMEs to multi-national corporations to nation states.
  3. Encourage greater involvement and leadership of women in disaster risk management.
  4. Invest in risk mapping globally.
  5. Leverage technology to enhance the efficiency of our disaster risk management efforts.
  6. Develop a network of universities to work on disaster issues.
  7. Utilise the opportunities provided by social media and mobile technologies.
  8. Build on local capacity and initiative.
  9. Opportunity to learn from a disaster must not be wasted.
  10. Bring about greater cohesion in international response to disasters.

Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030:

  • It is a global agreement to reduce and prevent disaster risks across the globe.
  • It was adopted at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Sendai, Japan in March 2015.
  • The non-legally binding agreement highlights the need for good governance in disaster risk reduction at the local, national, regional and global level.

Objective:

  • It aims to strengthen social and economic resilience to ease the negative effects of climate change, man-made disasters, and natural hazards.

Key Features:

  • For the first time the goals are defined in terms of outcome-based targets instead of focusing on sets of activities and actions.
  • It places governments at the centre of disaster risk reduction with the framework emphasizing the need to strengthen the disaster risk governance.
  • It places almost equal importance on all kinds of disasters and not only on those arising from natural hazards.
  • Implementation of integrated environmental and natural resource management approaches is needed for disaster reduction.

The Four Priorities for Action:

  • Priority 1. Understanding Disaster risk management should be based on an understanding of disaster risk in all its dimensions of vulnerability, capacity, exposure, hazard characteristics and the environment.
  • Priority 2. To manage Disaster risk governance at the national, regional and global levels.
  • Priority 3. Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience.
  • Priority 4. Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to build better in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

 [Ref: PIB]

Disturbed Areas Act slapped in Khambhat, Gujarat

The Gujarat government has recently notified five major areas of Khambhat city in Anand district under the Disturbed Areas Act following continuous violence in these localities for years now. 

What is the issue?

  • The town has been on the boil since February 23 when clashes broke out between two communities.
  • A total of 80 people have been placed under arrest and the total number of complaints related to stone-pelting and burning of houses, businesses and vehicles, have risen.
  • Attributing frequent communal clashes to demographic changes, the government has decided to impose the Disturbed Areas Act in some parts to prevent distress selling of properties in communally sensitive areas.
  • The Revenue Department brought large strips of five areas in Khambhat under the ambit of the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction of Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991.

What changed?

  • This notification brought all properties and city survey numbers mentioned in the notification under regulation of sale of property under the law, for a period of five years from February 26, 2020 to February 25, 2025.
  • In this period, all sale of properties already made within the time period would be held null and void and all further sale of property can be transferred only after previous sanction of the District Collector.

Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991:

What is Disturbed Areas Act?

  • Under the Disturbed Areas Act, the concerned District Collector notifies a particular area of a city or town as ‘disturbed area’.
  • Following this notification, the sale of property in those areas requires express permission of the Collector after an application by the buyer and seller of an immovable property.
  • In the application, the seller has to attach an affidavit stating that he has sold the property of his/her free volition and that he/she has got the fair market price.
  • In violation of transfer of property and the Collector’s permission, the accused is liable to six months’ imprisonment and fine up to Rs 10,000.
  • The act is in force in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Godhra, Bharuch and others parts of the state with the stated aim of controlling ghettoization on the basis of religion.
[Ref: Ahmedabad Mirror]

Issues related to Health & Education

Swine flu

Six judges of the Supreme Court of India are currently fighting swine flu, leading to a number of benches not functioning, or judges working in courtrooms wearing masks.

Swine flu (H1N1):

  • Swine flu is a contagious respiratory disease that normally only affects pigs.
  • It is commonly caused by H1N1 subtype of type A strain of the influenza virus.
  • However, the other subtypes, such as H1N2, H3N1 and H3N2 also circulate in pigs.
  • While it is not usual for people to get swine flu, human infections do occasionally happen, mainly after close contact with infected pigs.
  • Swine flu is contagious, and it spreads in the same way as the seasonal flu.
  • It enters the body through inhalation of contaminated droplets, or is transferred from a contaminated surface to the eyes, nose or mouth of a person.

Origin and Spread:

  • In April 2009, the first case of influenza A H1N1 was reported in Mexico.
  • Ten years since, influenza H1N1 has become a seasonal virus.
  • Swine influenza is present in all pig-producing countries around the world.
  • Outbreaks in pigs occur throughout the year. However, many countries routinely vaccinate pigs against swine influenza.

Symptoms:

Symptoms
[Ref: The Print]

Economy

ADB lists masala bonds on India INX

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has listed its 10-year masala bonds worth Rs 850 crore on the global debt listing platform of India INX. The proceeds would be used to support local currency lending and investment in India.

Key facts:

  • India INX is the country’s first international stock exchange, located at International Financial Services Centre in Gift city, Gujarat.
  • ADB’s masala bonds are listed on both Luxembourg exchange and India INX.

Masala Bonds:

  • The term “Masala Bonds” is used to refer to rupee-denominated borrowings by Indian entities in overseas markets.
  • Through masala bonds, Indian entities can raise money from overseas markets in the rupee, not foreign currency.
  • It helps the Indian companies to diversify their bond portfolio as previously they one issued corporate bonds. Masala bonds are an addition to their bond portfolio.

Objective:

  • To fund infrastructure projects in India, fuel internal growth via borrowings and internationalize the Indian currency.

Why Masala Bond?

  • IFC named them ‘masala’ bonds to reflect the Indian flavour. The term masala bonds have been used ever since.
  • Before masala bonds, corporates raised finance from international market through external commercial borrowings called ECBs.

Eligibility:  Investors from outside of India who would like to invest in Indian assets can invest in Masala bonds. It can also be subscribed by multilateral and regional financial institutions where India is a member country.

Features:

  • The bonds are directly pegged to the Indian currency. So, investors will directly take the currency risk or exchange rate risks. If the value of Indian currency falls, the foreign investor will have to bear the losses, not the issuer which is an Indian entity or a corporate.
  • Currently, these bonds are listed on the London Stock Exchange.
  • For bonds up to USD 50 million per financial year, the maturity period is 3 years and for bonds raising over USD 50 million per financial year, it is 5 years.
  • It will give a higher interest rate compared to the standard interest rate prevailing in the markets.
  • On average these bonds have an interest rate of 2-3% higher compared to the standard LIBOR (London Interbank Offer Rate).
  • Masala bonds cannot be used for real estate activities other than for the development of integrated township affordable housing projects.
  • It also can’t be used for investing in capital markets, purchase of land and on-lending to other entities for such activities as stated above.

Background:

•     In 2014, International Finance Corporation (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank, issued the first masala bond of Rs. 1,000 crores to fund infrastructure projects in India. IFC then named them Masala bonds to give a local flavour by calling to Indian culture and cuisine.

[Ref: Economic Times]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

COP-13 to Convention on Migratory Species

The thirteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-13) to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat has concluded recently.

Highlights of the event:

  • Global cooperation and partnerships are required to achieve “ecological connectivity” and implementation of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.
  • It also called for a post-2020 global biodiversity framework to include a clear commitment to international, regional, bilateral and transboundary cooperation for implementation of the same.
  • 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.

Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals:

  • The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, also known as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) or the Bonn Convention, is an international agreement that aims to conserve migratory species within their migratory ranges.
  • The Agreement was signed under the observation of the United Nations Environment Programme and is concerned with conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale.
  • India is party to (signed and ratified) CMS.

Headquarters: Bonn, Germany

Effective: 1 November 1983

  • The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has found that an estimated one million animal and plant species now face the threat of extinction.

Post-2020 global biodiversity framework:

  • The “post-2020 global biodiversity framework” is to “effectively address” the conservation needs of endangered species and species with an unfavourable conservation status, whose survival is a key indicator of sustainable development.
  • The post-2020 global biodiversity framework is likely to be adopted by the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity in China’s Kunming in October.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve

About Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve:

  • Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve is located near Kota and is the third Tiger reserve of Rajasthan.
  • The park is situated between two parallel mountains Mukundara and Gagrola which run across a length of about 80 km from Murlipura to Rawatbhata.
  • The Darrah wildlife sanctuary was declared as Mukundara Hills (Darrah) National Park in 2004.
  • Earlier it was known as Mukundara Hills (Darrah) National Park. It is a combination of three wildlife sanctuaries namely Darrah wildlife sanctuary, Chambal wildlife sanctuary and Jaswant Sagar wildlife sanctuary.
  • It has thick forests and hilly terrain.

Chambal River:

  • The Chambal River is a tributary of the Yamuna River in central India, and thus forms part of the greater Gangetic drainage system.
  • The river flows north-northeast through Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, then forms the boundary between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh before turning south-east to join the Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The perennial Chambal originates at Janapav, south of Mhow on the southern slope of Vindhya Range in Madhya Pradesh.
[Ref: Indian Express]

State of India’s Birds Report 2020

The State of India’s Birds 2020 Report was recently released at the 13th COP Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

About the report:

  • The report has been prepared with the help of a massive database of more than 10 million observations uploaded by 15,000 birdwatchers on the ‘e-bird’ platform.
  • It is India’s first of its kind report that highlights observations by birdwatchers form the basis of the analyses.
  • The project was started in May 2018 as a means to collect the actual data of birds in India.
  • The final report was released on February 17, 2020, at 13th COP to the convention on migratory species held in Gujarat.

Key Highlights of Report:

  • The report suggests that about 867 birds were assessed which made it clear that almost all the species are declining.
  • The report categorises 101 species as of High Conservation Concern, 59 based on their range size and abundance trends, and an additional 42 based on their IUCN Red List status.
  • According to the report, India has witnessed a big decline in migratory shorebirds, raptors, Indian Vulture, Large-billed Lea Warbler, Curlew Sandpiper, Richard’s Pipit and While-rumped Vulture.
  • The report also highlights that some species have increased in numbers such as Glossy Ibis, Rosy Starling, Ashy Prinia, and Feral Pigeon.
  • Birds were divided into different categories – 101 birds as a high concern, 319 birds as moderate concern and 442 birds as low concern species.

Growth of Indian Peacock:

  • The State of India’s Birds 2020 Report said that numbers of Indian Peacock have increased.
  • The report also highlights that good growth has been observed in Indian Peacock’s population.
  • IUCN: Least concern

Status of House Sparrow:

  • The report said that the number of India’s domestic or house sparrow has decreased in large cities but almost stable overall.
  • House Sparrow is a commonly found birth across the country. It can be seen in small towns, villages also in markets.
  • Its population is currently stable but more attention is required.
  • The report said that there are certain reasons for decreasing numbers of house sparrows such as lack of suitable nesting sites and lack of insect (a key part of sparrow’s diet) population.

Suggestions:

  • The report suggests that it is important to promote collaborations between public initiatives and researchers.
  • It also suggests that the government should support the monitoring and conservation efforts by citizens and researchers.
  • The report also suggests that there should be a dedicated fund for high concern species so that scientists and researchers can save those birds.
[Ref: Jagran Josh]

Eastern Ghats – Environment Outlook

The Greens’ Alliance for Conservation of Eastern Ghats (GRACE) and the Council for Green Revolution (CGR) have demanded to include all the historically and culturally significant mountains of the Eastern Ghats should be declared UNESCO cultural heritage sites.

What is the demand?

  • The environment groups have demanded to include the five States that the Eastern Ghats encompass – Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Odisha should prepare an action plan to protect and conserve their ecology and natural resources.
  • They have demanded that the Central government form a Regional Coordination Committee of States on Eastern Ghats with a mandate for linking and coordinating activities relating to the Ghats.
  • They have sought the appointment of a Nature Ombudsman for the Eastern Ghats and the publication of an Environmental Atlas of the Eastern Ghats, incorporating various ecological, social, cultural and heritage information, among others.
  • These demands were laid out in the report titled ‘Eastern Ghats – Environment Outlook’ released recently.

Highlights of the report:

  • The report said the degradation of the Eastern Ghats, which began a century ago, had accelerated since the 1970s, and the ecosystem of the hills had lost their natural species composition, forest structure, size, scale and character.
  • According to the report, the situation is grave due to the threats and challenges to floral and faunal elements, and the bio-geographic significance of the Eastern Ghats was declining fast.
  • The time has come for all the local governments to ensure that the conservation of the Eastern Ghats and the regeneration of all its biodiversity are top priority.
  • The region hosts wildlife sanctuaries, biosphere reserves and Ramsar convention sites.
  • However, a large part of the Eastern Ghats wilderness is yet to be covered under the conservation umbrella.

Eastern Ghats:

  • The Eastern Ghats are a discontinuous range of mountains along India’s eastern coast.
  • The Eastern Ghats run from the northern Odisha through Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu in the south passing some parts of Karnataka.
  • They are eroded and cut through by four major rivers of peninsular India, viz. Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna, and Kaveri.
  • The mountain ranges run parallel to the Bay of Bengal.
  • The Deccan Plateau lies to the west of the range, between the Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats.
  • The coastal plains, including the Coromandel Coast region, lie between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal.
  • The Eastern Ghats are not as high as the Western Ghats.

UNESCO World Heritage sites in India

  • There are 38 UNESCO World Heritage sites in India (2019).
  • The sites include:
    • 30 cultural sites
    • 7 natural sites
    • 1 mixed site Khangchendzonga National Park (2016).
  • India has the sixth largest number of World Heritage sites in the world.
  • World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and as per UNESCO, it is in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.

List of 38 UNESCO World Heritage sites in India:

1. Cultural World Heritage Sites in India 

  • Taj Mahal, Agra
  • Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
  • Hampi, Karnataka
  • Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra
  • Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
  • Bodh Gaya, Bihar
  • Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha
  • Red Fort Complex, Delhi
  • Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh
  • Chola Temples, Tamil Nadu
  • Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
  • Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi
  • Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, Rajasthan
  • Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh
  • Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh
  • Rani Ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat
  • Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Karnataka
  • Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra
  • Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University), Bihar
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), Maharashtra
  • Mountain Railways of India
  • Qutub Minar and its Monuments, New Delhi
  • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Gujarat
  • Hill Forts of Rajasthan
  • Churches and Convents of Goa
  • Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh
  • The Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai
  • The Pink City – Jaipur
  • The Historic City of Ahmedabad
  • Capitol Complex, Chandigarh

2. Natural World Heritage Sites in India

  • Kaziranga Wild Life Sanctuary, Assam
  • Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal
  • Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh
  • Manas Wild Life Sanctuary, Assam
  • Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan
  • Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, Uttarakhand
  • Western Ghats
  • Kanchenjunga National Park, Sikkim

3. Mixed World Heritage Site in India 

  • Khangchendzonga National Park
[Ref: The Hindu]

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