Polity & Governance
- North Eastern Council likely to be upgraded as resource centre
- Subramanian panel submits report on new education policy
- Lakshadweep became first Union Territory (UT) to sign “24×7 Power for All” document
- Union Government approves third NIMZ in Odisha
Environment & Ecology
- Gurgaon to develop a reserve forest for black bucks
- Arunachal Pakke tiger reserve bags biodiversity award
- USAID and ministry of power launch portal to promote net zero energy buildings
- Assam’s Nameri tiger reserve has five to eight tigers
Defence & Security Issues
- BrahMos supersonic cruise missile test-fired
Polity & Governance
North Eastern Council likely to be upgraded as resource centre
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the recently held the North Eastern Council 65th plenary session, hinted at the possibility of upgrading the North Eastern Council (NEC) as a state-of-the-art resource centre capable of meeting the aspirations of the people.
- The meeting was attended by Governors and Chief Ministers of all North Eastern states.
Important points of PM’s speech:
- At the meeting, the PM has urged the states to consider developing the NEC as a state-of-the-art resource centre for the north eastern states with the necessary resources, knowledge and skills. Such a centre may enable the states to properly plan and execute projects, promote research and innovations and provide strategic policy vision for the region.
- Modi also urged the state governments to focus development strategy on organic farming, as the region is home to exotic fruits, flowers, vegetables, aromatic plants, and herbs, and asked the chief ministers to take a lead from Sikkim. The NEC can also play an important role in development of organic farming in the region.
- PM said that his government has been focussing on the region’s development through its proactive “Act East Policy”. As part of this policy, we are focussing on reducing the isolation of the region by improving all round connectivity through road, rail, telecom, power and waterways sectors.
- He also dedicated to the nation the Doppler Weather Radar at Cherrapunji.
About Act East Policy:
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the India’s new government has made its relations with East Asian neighbours a foreign policy priority at a time when the United States has engaged in a ‘pivot to Asia’.
- The Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had proposed a new outlook calling it Act East policy in the line of Look East policy which was introduced during the government of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao but seriously implemented during the successive administrations of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.
About the North Eastern Council:
The North Eastern Council is the nodal agency for the economic and social development of the North Eastern Region which consists of the eight States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
- The North Eastern Council is a statutory body, constituted in 1971 by an Act of Parliament.
- The Council is an advisory body and may discuss any matter in which the north-eastern states have a common interest and advise the Central Government as to the action to be taken on any such matter. The chief ministers and governors represent them.
- The headquarters of the council is situated in Shillong, and it functions under Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region.
- The funding of council mainly lies with the central government with small portions contributed by the state governments as well.
- The NEC act has been amended in 2002 to add Sikkim and restructure it as the regional planning body for the North Eastern Region.
Subramanian panel submits report on new education policy
A government-appointed committee headed by former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian has submitted its report for the evolution of a new education policy.
- The committee examined a large body of outcome documents, recommendations and suggestions received and also had several meetings with various stakeholders and undertook field visits to educational institutions.
- The HRD ministry had undertaken a consultation process for framing a new education policy (NEP) and this process included online, grassroots and national-level thematic deliberations on 33 themes.
- Thematic consultations were conducted both by the ministry and also by institutions like UGC, AICTE, NCTE, NCERT and several universities and autonomous bodies.
- Six zonal meetings were held by the HRD minister in eastern, central, north eastern, western, southern and northern zones covering all states and UTs in September-October 2015.
Lakshadweep became first Union Territory (UT) to sign “24×7 Power for All” document
Lakshadweep became first Union Territory (UT) to sign “24×7 Power for All” document. Representative of Government of India and the Administration of Lakshadweep signed the document.
- The document chalks out a plan to increase solar capacity of the region from 2.15 MW to 8.45 MW. At present, 10 inhabited islands of Lakshadweep are being fed by diesel mostly.
- The plan also envisions reduction of AT & C losses from current level of 21% to 6.7% till 2019 by increasing the collection efficiency up to 99 %.
- As a part of energy efficiency measures, 1 lakh LED bulbs will be distributed by UT administration through Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and Incandescent lamps/CFL bulbs will be replaced with LED bulbs under UJALA programme.
- Additionally, replacement of 3000 conventional street lights with LED street lights is also being taken up.
About ‘Power for All’ programme:
- In order to address the lack of adequate electricity availability to all the people in the country by the platinum jubilee (2022) year of India’s independence, Government of India has launched a scheme called “Power for All”.
- This scheme will ensure that there is 24/7 continuous electricity supply provided to all households, industries and commercial establishments by creating and improving necessary infrastructure.
- It’s a joint collaboration of centre with states to share funding and create overall economic growth.
Union Government approves third NIMZ in Odisha
The Union Government has approved establishment of a National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) in Odisha.
- This is the third NIMZ of India involving a massive area of 163 square kilometres.
What are NIMZs?
The National Investment & Manufacturing Zones (NIMZs) are an important instrumentality of the National manufacturing policy.
- NIMZs aim to provide a productive environment for persons transitioning from the primary to the secondary and tertiary sectors.
- The NIMZs are envisaged as integrated industrial townships with state of the art infrastructure, land use on the basis of zoning, clean and energy efficient technology, necessary social infrastructure, skill development facilities etc.
Environment & Ecology
Gurgaon to develop a reserve forest for black bucks
After Sultanpur National Park and bird sanctuary, Gurugram will soon get a reserved forest zone to augment the population of endangered black bucks.
The particular area was notified as a reserved forest zone via notification way back on September 2, 1957 but no action was taken to utilise it for the protection of endangered species.
- The Gurugram forest department has earmarked 140 hectares’ land at Sarbasirpur, adjacent to the bird sanctuary, for this purpose.
- This would be the second such zone after Sultanpur national park and bird sanctuary with specialty in providing natural habitats for migratory and domestic birds.
- The Sarbasirpur reserve forest area will be developed in a span of four years under the Silvi-pastoral system which will facilitate natural habitats for the black bucks.
- The region provides a conducive environment for species such as black bucks and blue bulls. Moreover, scattered herds are also spotted regularly in the region. The climate here and availability of natural resources makes it an ideal place to nurture black bucks.
Instances of black buck hunting:
- In the past, the corridor of Sultanpur-Farukhnagar-Jhajjar has witnessed number of instances of black buck hunting in the region.
- Former captain of Indian cricket team late Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was booked in Jhajjar district for poaching a black buck in 2005.
About Black bucks:
The blackbuck also known as the Indian antelope, is an antelope found in India.
- The blackbuck is a diurnal antelope (active mainly during the day).
- The blackbuck inhabits grassy plains and slightly forested areas. Due to their regular need of water, they prefer areas where water is perennially available.
- The black buck generally inhabits grassy plains; thinly forested areas and scrublands are good source of forage. They also like hot and humid conditions that persist in such areas for more than 8 months in the year.
- The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) lists the blackbuck as Near Threatened.
- In India, hunting of blackbuck is prohibited under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
The blackbuck has significance in Hinduism; Indian and Nepali villagers do not harm the antelope.
What is Silvi-pastoral system?
Silvipastoral Systems (Tree+ pasture/animal) is referred to as the production of woody plants combined with pasture.
- The trees and shrubs used primarily to produce fodder for livestock. This system is needed in dry area to meet the fodder demand throughout the year.
- Advantages of a properly managed silvopasture operation are enhanced soil protection and increased long-term income due to the simultaneous production of trees and grazing animals.
- In this system forest tree species for fodder purpose are taken at 10-12 m distance in rows in between the lines the grasses are taken as intercrops.
- This system is suitable for providing the fodder for milch cattle and thus for development of dairy industry.
There are three types of this system:
- Protein Bank: Protein rich multipurpose trees are raised on and around farm lands.
- Live Fences: Fodder trees are raised in the form of hedges or fences.
- Trees and Shrub on Pasture: Fodder, trees and shrub are raised scattered the pasture land.
Arunachal Pakke tiger reserve bags biodiversity award
Pakke Tiger Reserve in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh has received the ‘India Biodiversity Award 2016’ in one of its four categories.
- The Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme of the Pakke Tiger Reserve in East Kameng district was awarded the prize under the category, “conservation of threatened species“.
About the award:
- A joint initiative of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, National Biodiversity Authority and United Nations Development programme, India Biodiversity Awards recognise the contribution of a range of stakeholders towards the conservation of biodiversity.
About the Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme:
- The Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme has been a major step towards conservation of four hornbill species that are found in the adjoining areas of Pakke Tiger Reserve.
- The Programme is a collaboration of Ghora-Aabhe Society, Nature Conservation Foundation and the Forest Department.
- Under this programme, urban citizens contribute money to protect hornbill nests around Pakke Tiger Reserve.
- The Ghora-Aabhe Society members have been conducting awareness meetings and various other activities towards safeguarding the hornbill species and its habitat.
USAID and ministry of power launch portal to promote net zero energy buildings
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the union ministry of Power have launched India’s first integrated web portal designed to promote and mainstream Net Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) in India.
- A first of its kind, the portal, www.nzeb.in, provides complete information about Net Zero Energy Buildings – those that generate as much energy as they use.
- It also provides information about how to achieve near-zero energy status through the use of efficient lighting and equipment, integration of renewable energy technologies, and best practice design strategies.
- In addition, the portal hosts the NZEB Alliance, an industry-wide body setup to drive the Indian markets toward highly energy-efficient buildings.
What are NZEBs?
Net or nearly zero energy buildings (NZEB) are highly efficient buildings with extremely low energy demand, which is met by renewable energy sources.
- Such buildings produce as much energy as they consume, accounted for annually.
- In order to achieve their net zero energy goals, NZEBs must first sharply reduce energy demand using energy efficient technologies, and then utilize renewable energy sources (RES) to meet the residual demand.
- In such buildings, efficiency gains enable the balance of energy needs to be supplied with renewable energy technologies. This is the most logical approach to reach NZEB goal.
Assam’s Nameri tiger reserve has five to eight tigers
According to the latest assessment of predators and prey status report, the 344 sq km Nameri Tiger Reserve (NTR) in Assam’s Sonitpur district has an estimated five to eight tigers.
- The assessment, carried out between 2012 and 2014, has confirmed NTR is a low density tiger reserve with tiger density varying from 1.3 to 1.5 tigers per 100 square km.
- The study also threw up for the first time the tiger dispersal between Kaziranga Tiger Reserve (KTR) and NTR. KTR is located on the southern banks of Brahmaputra. The aerial distance between KTR and NTR is approximately 65 km.
- The assessment report revealed a total of 36 species including seven wild cats (tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, jungle cat, golden cat, marbled cat and leopard cat) and five ungulates (sambar, gaur, barking deer, hog deer and wild boar) captured during three years of camera-trap exercise.
- The report said NTR has leopard population ranging from five to eight individuals with a density of 1.59 to 4.55 leopard per 100 sq km.
Location of NTR:
Located on the northern banks of Brahmaputra, the tiger reserve is bound by the Jia-Bhoreli river on its west and the Bor-Dikorai river on its east.
- The Naduar and Balipara reserved forests in Sonitpur, which forms NTR’s buffer zone, have also borne the brunt of encroachment over the years, leading to a further decline of grasslands.
- Located on the northern part of Sonitpur, NTR adjoins Arunachal Pradesh’s Pakke Tiger Reserve. Despite its small size, it is known for its rich flora and fauna.
Defence & Security Issues
BrahMos supersonic cruise missile test-fired
An advanced version of BrahMos land-attack supersonic cruise missile system was successfully test fired by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
- The unique BrahMos weapon system on numerous occasions has established its supremacy in the World of supersonic cruise missile.
- This formidable missile system has empowered all three wings of the armed forces with impeccable anti-ship and land attack capability.
- This model of JV has yielded results in shortest possible time and has been well recognised by the Indian as well as armed forces of many countries who are interested in acquiring this weapon complex.