Polity & Governance
- Logo, motto introduced for Lokpal
- Bill introduced in Lok Sabha to merge Daman-Diu and Dadra-Nagar Haveli UTs
Government Schemes & Policies
- Automotive Mission Plan, 2026 finalized
- Parliament passes bill to protect rights of transgenders
- President gives asssent to Maharashtra Bill on protecting mediapersons
Issues related to Health & Education
- Saakshar Bharat
- France pledges millions to stop deadly domestic violence
- RBI revises framework on currency swap arrangement for SAARC countries
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- When Painted Storks and Pelicans come home to roost in AP’s Kolleru Lake
- Panna’s challenge: From zero tigers to too many now
- To tackle pollution, smog tower to come up in Delhi
- Fresh biodiversity study of proposed dam sought
Science & Technology
- Cartosat-3, with ‘sharpest eye’ of civil remote sensing satellites
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Polity & Governance
Logo, motto introduced for Lokpal
Lokpal Chairman launched the new logo for the apex anti-corruption ombudsman. A new motto, “Ma Gridhah Kasyasvidhanam (Do not be greedy for anyone’s wealth)”, was also adopted.
- A Lokpal is an anti-corruption ombudsman who represents the public interest in India
- The Lokpal has jurisdiction over central government to inquire into allegations of corruption against its public functionaries and for matters connected to corruption.
Salient feature of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (2013)
- Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the level of the states.
Members of Lokpal
- Lokpal consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50% are judicial members. 50 % of members of Lokpal are from SC/ST/OBCs, minorities and women.
- The selection of chairperson and members of Lokpal are done through a selection committee consisting of Prime Minister, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court judge nominated by CJI, eminent jurist to be nominated by the President of India.
Jurisdiction of Lokpal
- Lokpal’s jurisdiction cover all categories of public servants. Prime Minister has been brought under the purview of the Lokpal.
- All entities receiving donations from foreign source in the context of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in excess of Rs 10 lakh per year are brought under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.
- It incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.
- It lays down clear time lines for preliminary enquiry and investigation and trial and towards this end, the act provides for setting up of special courts.
- A mandate for setting up of the institution of Lokayukta through enactment of a law by the State Legislature within a period of 365 days from the date of commencement of the Act.
- Provides adequate protection for honest and upright public servants.
- Lokpal has power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by Lokpal. Lokpal can transfer CBI officers investigating cases referred by Lokpal.
The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Act, 2016
- The Lokpal Act 2013 requires a public servant to declare his assets and liabilities, and that of his spouse and dependent children. Such declarations must be made within 30 days of entering office. Further, the public servant must file an annual return of such assets and liabilities by July 31st of every year.
- The Amendment Act replaced these provisions to state that a public servant will be required to declare his assets and liabilities. However, the form and manner of making such a declaration will be prescribed by the central government.
Bill introduced in Lok Sabha to merge Daman-Diu and Dadra-Nagar Haveli UTs
Union Minister of State for Home introduced the Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu (Merger of Union Territories) Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha to merge the Union Territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
- India currently has 9 UTs after the creation of the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. However, with the merger of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the number of UTs will come down to 8.
- To have Minimum Government, Maximum Governance, considering the small population and limited geographical area of both Union Territories
- To use the services of officers efficiently
- Daman is an enclave on Gujarat’s southern coast and Diu encompasses an island off the southern coast of Gujarat’s Kathiawar Peninsula.
- Both Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli were under Portuguese rule. They were liberated in December 1961.
- From 1961 to 1987, Daman and Diu were part of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu. When Goa got Statehood in 1987, Daman and Diu were made a separate Union Territory.
Government Schemes & Policies
Automotive Mission Plan, 2026 finalized
For the next decade 2016-26, another Automotive Mission Plan, 2026 has also been finalized jointly by the Government of India and Indian automotive industry.
About Automotive Mission Plan (AMP) 2016-26
- Automotive Mission Plan 2026 has been finalized jointly by the Government of India and Indian Automotive Industry.
- The AMP 2016-26 is aimed at bringing the Indian Automotive Industry among the top three of the world in engineering, manufacture and exports of vehicles & components; growing in value to over 12% of India GDP and generating an additional 65 million jobs.
- To propel the Indian Automotive industry to become the engine of the “Make in India” programme.
- To make the Indian Automotive Industry a significant contributor to the “Skill India” programme.
- Promote safe and comfortable mobility for every person, with an eye on environmental protection and affordability.
- To seek increase of net exports of the Indian Automotive industry several fold.
- The first Automotive Mission Plan (AMP) was taken during 2006-16 by Government of India and the India automotive industry.
Evaluation of AMP 2006-16
- India has attracted significant quantum of investments from global and local original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as well as component manufacturers, exceeding the target of Rs. 1,57,500 crores.
- The Automotive industry has achieved the target of incremental employment creation of 25 million jobs over the period.
Parliament passes bill to protect rights of transgenders
The transgender bill prohibits discrimination against a transgender person on grounds including denial, discontinuation or unfair treatment in educational establishments, services, employment, healthcare.
Highlights of Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019:
Definition of a transgender person:
- The Bill defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth. It includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar, hijra, aravani, and jogta.
- Intersex variations is defined to mean a person who at birth shows variation in his or her primary sexual characteristics, external genitalia or hormones from the normative standard of male or female body.
Prohibition against discrimination:
- The Bill prohibits the discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to education, employment, to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property, opportunity to hold public or private office etc.
Right to choose:
- Going by the bill, a person would have the right to choose to be identified as a man, woman or transgender, irrespective of sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy.
Right of residence:
- Every transgender person shall have a right to reside and be included in his household.
- If the immediate family is unable to care for the transgender person, the person may be placed in a rehabilitation centre, on the orders of a competent court.
- The government must take steps to provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centres, and sex reassignment surgeries.
- The government shall review medical curriculum to address health issues of transgender persons, and provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.
Certificate of identity for a transgender person:
- A transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.
- A revised certificate may be obtained only if the individual undergoes surgery to change their gender either as a male or a female.
Welfare measures by the government:
- The Bill states that the relevant government will take measures to ensure the full inclusion and participation of transgender persons in society.
- It must also take steps for their rescue and rehabilitation, vocational training etc.
National Council for Transgender persons (NCT):
- It also proposes to Set up a National Council for Transgender personsto advise the central government on policies and legislation related to transgender persons as well as redress the grievances of transgender persons.
District Screening Committee:
- The Bill also requires transgender persons to go through a district magistrate and “district screening committee” to get certified as a transperson.
- The committee would comprise a medical officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a district welfare officer, a government official, and a transgender person.
- It will benefit a large number of transgender persons, mitigate the stigma of discrimination and abuse against them and bring them into the mainstream of society.
- This will lead to inclusiveness and will make the transgender persons productive members of the society.
- The provisions against discrimination in the Bill have no enforceability.
- The Bill has also criticised for only providing separate definitions for intersex persons but no provisions for transgenders. The Bill also incorrectly assumes that all persons with intersex variations are transgender
- Although the revised definition of transgender is better than what was stipulated in 2016 bill, current definition of transgender is prone to ambiguous and illiberal interpretation.
- There is no provision for the reservation of trans genders even after National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) said that the trans people should be considered socially and economically backward.
- The 2014 NALSA judgement stated that transgender persons had the right to gender self-identification and that a trans person could choose to identify as a male, female or third gender. However, to be identified as male or female, one will have to undergo surgery and then get a certificate identifying one’s gender.
President gives asssent to Maharashtra Bill on protecting mediapersons
Indian President has given assent to a Maharashtra Media Persons and Media Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss to Property) Act, 2017. Maharashtra is the first State to pass such a legislation.
Provision of the Maharashtra Media Persons Act
- Act of violence against media person will be cognizable, non- bailable and triable by a first class magistrate (JMFC).
- The cases under this law will be investigated by an officer not below the rank of DySP/ACP.
- Punishment upto 3 years or fine upto Rs 50,000 or both punishments in case of attack on a media person on duty.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Issues related to Health & Education
Female literacy rate in Telangana’s Sangareddy district has increased drastically by the district administration’s help and support.
- India’s female literacy rate is 65.46%.
In 2017, the Sangareddy district administration developed ‘Ammaku Akshara Mala’ (alphabet garland for mother). Under this, students in Classes VII to X were asked to teach their mothers to read and write the Telugu alphabet at home.
- Saakshar Bharat is the centrally sponsored literacy scheme of Department for School Education and Literacy (DSEL) focusing on increasing women´s literacy in India.
- It was launched on International Literacy Day in 2009.
- Provide basic literacy and numeracy to non-literate and non-numerate
- Provide qualification equivalent to formal educational system and establish learning for neo-literates beyond basic literacy.
- Provide Vocational education.
- Promote a learning society by providing opportunities to neo-literate adults for continuing education.
- A district that had adult female literacy rate of 50 per cent or below, as per 2001 census.
- All left wing extremism-affected districts, irrespective of their literacy rate
France pledges millions to stop deadly domestic violence
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, France unveiled several measures to tackle the problem, including electronic bracelets for abusers, 1,000 new places in shelters for battered women, prevention programs in schools and codify psychological violence as a form of domestic violence.
- The 2019 theme for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is ‘Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape’.
- International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 2019 will mark the launch of 16 days of activism that will conclude on 10 December 2019 (International Human Rights Day).
- For 2020-2022, the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE (to End Violence against Women campaign) will specifically focus on the issue of rapes committed against women in times of peace or war.
Domestic violence in France
- France has among the highest domestic violence rates in Europe.
- A 2014 EU survey of 42,000 women across all EU states found that 26 % of French respondents said they had been abused by a partner since age 15, either physically or sexually.
- In 2019, French activists started a campaign to pressure the government to address domestic violence. They’ve glued posters with the names of victims over French city buildings and marched through the streets at each new death.
Violence against women
- Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women issued by the UN in 1993, defines violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
- The Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), 1979 was adopted by the UN General Assembly to prevent violence against women and girls worldwide.
- Worldwide, 30% of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner.
- Only 52% of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations.
- Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday; while 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM).
- 1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2017; while only 1 out of 20 men were killed under similar circumstances.
- 71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls.
RBI revises framework on currency swap arrangement for SAARC countries
The Reserve Bank said it has put in place a revised framework on currency swap arrangement for SAARC countries. Under the framework for 2019-22, the RBI will continue to offer a swap arrangement within the overall corpus of USD 2 billion.
About SAARC currency swap facility
- The SAARC currency swap facility came into operation in 2012 to provide funding for short-term foreign exchange liquidity requirements or balance of payment crises till longer-term arrangements are made.
- A currency swap is a legal contract between two parties to exchange two currencies at a later date, but at a predetermined exchange rate.
Benefits of Currency Swaps:
- Enable corporate to exploit their comparative advantage in raising funds in one currency to obtain savings in other currencies.
- Permit corporate to switch their loans from a particular currency to another depending on their expectations of the future movement of the currency and interest rates.
- Offers flexibility to corporate seeking to hedge the risk associated with a particular currency.
- A company no longer has to live with a bad decision, if it has selected a wrong currency for its overseas funding operations.
- Can be used to lock into exchange rates for a longer period and it do not require monitoring and reviewing.
- Can be chosen to restructure the currency base of companies liabilities.
- South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries are — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
- SAARC was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka (Bangladesh) on 8th December 1985.
- Its objective is to promote the welfare of the people of South Asia and to improve their quality of life, and to accelerate economic growth, among other things.
- Its secretariat is at Kathmandu, Nepal.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
When Painted Storks and Pelicans come home to roost in AP’s Kolleru Lake
The Atapaka Bird Sanctuary on the West Godavari-Krishna district border at Kaikaluru in Kolleru Lake has become the lone safe breeding ground for the two migratory bird species.
- Kolleru Lake is a large freshwater lake located between Krishna and Godavari delta in Andhra Pradesh.
- Atapaka Bird Sanctuary is located in this lake. It attracts various migratory birds such as Open Billed Stork, Shovellers, Painted Stork, Pintails, Glossy Ibises, Teals and Red Chested Podchards.
- It was notified as a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1999 under India’s Wild Life Protection Act,1972.
- It was designated a wetland of international importance in 2002 under the international Ramsar Convention. It was also identified as an “Important Bird Area” of India by the Bombay Natural History Society.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Panna’s challenge: From zero tigers to too many now
The recent litter of new cubs at the Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Madhya Pradesh caps the remarkable turnaround in a place that was left with no big cats a decade ago forcing authorities to undertake a reintroduction programme.
- In 2009, the tiger population in PTE was vanished. A decision to reintroduce tigers from other reserves was then taken and a reintroduction programme was formulated with inputs from the Wildlife Institute of India in August 2009.
About Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR)
- It is situated in the Vindhyan mountain range of Panna and Chhatarpur districts in Madhya Pradesh.
- River Ken flows through the PTR. Ken is the least polluted of Yamuna’s tributaries.
- Parts of the protected forests that comprise the park were originally the hunting preserves of the former kingdoms of Panna, Chhatrpur and Bijawar princely states. In 1994, this park was included as India’s 22nd tiger reserve.
- The reserve has dry and short grass habitat with extensive open woodlands. The tree species Khair (Senegalia catechu) dominates the dry steep slopes of the plateaus in this park.
- This Protected Area is very important because it links the eastern and western populations of wild animals through the Vindhyan ranges that run from north-east to south-west.
To tackle pollution, smog tower to come up in Delhi
Recently, the Supreme Court directed the Centre and the Delhi government to draw up a comprehensive plan in 10 days to install ‘smog towers’ across the capital to deal with air pollution.
What are smog towers?
- Smog towers are structures designed to work as large-scale air purifiers. They are usually fitted with multiple layers of air filters, which clean the air of pollutants as it passes through them.
- China has the world’s largest smog tower and has two smog towers in its capital Beijing and in a northern city called Xi’an.
Smog tower project in Delhi
- The Smog tower project is being headed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay in collaboration with IIT-Delhi and the University of Minnesota.
- The filters being installed in it would use carbon nanofibres as a major component.
- The tower can reduce 50% of the particulate matter load in an area 1 km in the direction of the wind, as well as 200 metres each along the sides of the tower and against the direction of the wind.
Fresh biodiversity study of proposed dam sought
The Centre has recommended a biodiversity study of the proposed 3,097 MW Etalin Hydroelectric Project in Arunachal Pradesh by a credible international institute since the current environmental impact assessment was found to be “completely inadequate”.
What is the issue?
- The construction of Etalin Hydroelectric Project entail felling more than 2 lakh trees and threatens the existence of six globally-endangered mammal species. The construction area also has 56% of the total avian species found in India.
- The Forest Advisory Committee of the Union Ministry of Environment advised caution in pursuing the project since it falls under the ‘richest bio-geographical province of the Himalayan zone’ and would be located at the junction of the Palaearctic, Indo-Chinese and Indo-Malayan bio-geographic regions.
About Etalin Hydroelectric Project
- The Etalin Hydroelectric Project is located in Arunachal Pradesh.
- It is envisaged as a run of the river scheme on rivers Dri and Tangon in the Dibang Valley District of Arunachal Pradesh.
- It is the largest of the hydroelectric project being currently developed in India.
- Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species (biology), organisms, and ecosystems in geographic space and through geological time
- Biogeographic zone is an area of animal and plant distribution having similar or shared characteristics throughout.
Biogeographic zones in India
What are biogeographic realm?
- Biogeographical realms are large areas of land in which organism have evolved over long periods of time in relative isolation.
- The term biogeographic realm refers to an area of land that contains relatively similar living organisms.
- There are 8 biogeographic realms: Antarctic, Oceania, Indo-Malaya, Australasia, Neotropic, Afrotropic, Nearctic, and Palearctic.
- The Palaearctic is the largest of the eight realms.
- It is made up of the area north of the Saharan Desert in Africa, north of the Himalayan Mountains in Asia, the northern region of the Arabian Peninsula, and the entire area of Europe.
- It is home to several endemic animal families including, red pandas, mouse-like hamsters, and accentor birds.
Indo-Malayan Biogeographic Realm
- The Indo-Malayn biogeographic realm stretches across the southern reaches of East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.
- This realm is primarily covered in tropical and subtropical forests that have been further divided into 3 bioregions: Indochina, Indian subcontinent, and Munda Shelf and the Philippines.
- The Indo-Malayan biogeographic realm is home to a number of endemic species, both plant and animal. Some examples of endemic species found here include: fairy bluebirds, gibbons, treeshrews, Kitti’s long-nosed bat, and Philippine creepers.
Science & Technology
Cartosat-3, with ‘sharpest eye’ of civil remote sensing satellites
Cartosat-3, launched on November 27, will have the `sharpest eye’ of civil remote sensing satellites in the world.
- It is a third-generation advanced earth observation satellite having high resolution imaging capability.
- It was launched using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV–C47) rocket.
- One of Cartosat-3’s cameras can pick up an object of a minimum of 25 cm from a height of around 500 km. Currently, WorldView-3, a satellite owned by US company, has the best ground resolution of 31 cm.
- It can help to detect changes in natural geographical or man-made features.
Applications of Cartosat-3:
- Data from most of the Cartosat satellites are exclusively used by the armed forces.
- However, an existing policy allows only government and government authorised agencies to access ISRO’s high-resolution imageries below a resolution of 1 metre.
- Cartosat-3’s optical imaging will also help to detect precise cartographic or mapping activities.
- The imageries are also used for urban and rural infrastructure planning, coastal land use and regulation, utility management such as monitoring road networks, water grids or distribution, creation of land use maps, disaster management, etc.
About Cartosat satellites
- The Cartosat satellites are a series of Indian earth observation satellites built by ISRO. The Cartosat series is a part of the Indian Remote Sensing Program.
- The imageries from satellites are useful for cartographic applications, infrastructure planning, coastal land use and regulation, utility management such as monitoring road networks, water grids or distribution, creation of land use maps
- Cartosat-1 was launched in 2005 while Cartosat-2 was launched in 2007. Subsequently, another 8 satellites under Cartosat-2 (Cartosat-2A to Cartosat-2F) was launched from 2007 to 2018.