Daily Current Affairs – 27-07-2023

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    Transgender Persons Can Avail Existing Quota

    Syllabus: GS2/ Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of Population & their Performance, Government policies & intervention

    In News

    • The Union government has told the Supreme Court that transgender persons can avail of any of the existing 50% reservation in admissions and government jobs already available to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Socially and Educationally Backward Communities (SEBC) across the country.

    More about News

    • The Social Justice Ministry has not mentioned reservation for the transgender community as a separate class.
    • The Ministry’s response came in a contempt petition accusing the government of not implementing the directions in the 2014 judgment in the NALSA case.

    Supreme Court judgment in NALSA

    • In fact, the Supreme Court in its 2014 judgment in the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) case had directed the Centre and the State governments to “take steps to treat transgender persons as socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and extend all kinds of reservation in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments”.
    • The judgment had also expressly directed the Centre and State governments to protect transgender persons from discrimination in employment and access to welfare schemes. It had held that educational institutions were obliged to provide them with inclusive education.
    • The judgment had declared that hijras, eunuchs, apart from binary genders, be treated as third gender for the purpose of safeguarding their fundamental rights.
    • The NALSA judgment entitles trans persons to reservations on constitutional grounds. It does not, however, mention the nature of reservations – whether they are to be vertical or horizontal.

    Horizontal and Vertical Reservation

    • Reservation in education and employment can be divided into two broad categories, namely, vertical and horizontal.
    • Vertical reservations are provisions aimed at addressing social asymmetry arising out of caste hierarchy, and in the case of OBCs, social and educational “backwardness”. These include reservations for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC). 
    • Horizontal reservation, on the other hand, cuts across all vertical groups to provide affirmative policies for disadvantaged groups within categories. For example, disabled persons are guaranteed horizontal reservation in all the aforementioned vertical categories, general and reserved (vertical) alike, by the Central government.

    Demand for horizontal reservation for transgender community

    • Transgender individuals have faced long-term marginalization in society, warranting specific provisions and recognition of their social identity.
    • A study reveals that only 6 percent of transgender people were formally employed in 2017, and many engage in informal work due to societal factors and survival needs.
    • The NALSA judgment has been interpreted as directing reservations for transgender individuals in the OBC category due to their identification as a socially and educationally backward class.
    • The demand for horizontal reservation raises concerns that Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi transgender individuals may have to choose between availing reservation based on caste and gender identities, leading to competition and exclusion.

    Challenges faced by Transgender Community

    • Discrimination and ostracisation: They face discrimination in employment, educational institutes, and within families which severely affects their overall wellbeing.
    • Identity crisis: They are often forced to identify with a gender with which they are not associated at the workplace despite the government passing the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 which allows the community the right to self-perceived gender identity.
    • Social Stigma: They often face difficulty in property inheritance or child adoption. Because of being socially ostracised they are compelled to take up menial jobs despite good qualifications or forced into sex work.
    • Unemployment: The community has limited avenues of employment and faces severe discrimination at work because of the associated social stigma.
    • Lack of public amenities: They face issues with the accessibility of public toilets and public spaces. They often face problems in prisons, hospitals and schools.

    Initiatives for Transgender Persons in India

    • Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019: The law passed by the Parliament aims to end discrimination against transgender persons in accessing education, employment and healthcare and recognise the right to self-perceived gender identity.
    • Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020: It has been framed by the government to give effect to the provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.
    • National Council for Transgender Persons: In pursuance of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, the National Council for Transgender Persons has been constituted to advise the Central Government on the formulation and evaluation of policies, programmes, legislation and projects for the welfare of the transgender community.
    • Reservation for the transgender community: The Union government is planning to bring reservations for the community under the OBC category in employment.
    • National Portal for Transgender Persons: It is a portal by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment which assists persons of the transgender community in applying for a Certificate and Identity card digitally from anywhere in the country. 
    • Garima Greh: The scheme aims to provide shelter to Transgender persons, with basic amenities like shelter, food, medical care and recreational facilities.

    Source: TH

    Manual Scavenging

    Syllabus: GS2/Vulnerable Sections

    News

    • The Social Justice Ministry said recently that a total of 530 districts across the country reported themselves to be free of manual scavenging.

    More on the News

    • Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Jharkhand are among the States and Union Territories that have the highest number of districts yet to declare themselves as manual scavenging free
    • While 100% of districts in States like Bihar, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and a few others have declared themselves free of manual scavenging, in several States and Union Territories, only about 15% to 20% of the districts have reported so. 

    About Manual Scavenging

    • It is a practice of removal of human excrement from public streets and dry latrines, cleaning septic tanks, gutters and sewers manually.
    • In the past, this referred to the practice of removing excreta from dry latrines. However, new modern sanitation technologies brought new forms of manual scavenging work, which include manual and unsafe cleaning of drains, sewer lines, septic tanks and latrine pits.

    Manual Scavenging in India

    • According to data from the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, in the past 29 years (1993-2022), a total of 989 members died in various parts of the country while cleaning underground sewage tanks.
    • Around 58,000 identified manual scavengers were being rehabilitated under government schemes for compensations, capital subsidies and other benefits.  
    • Among the manual scavengers identified in a survey, the maximum were in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Assam, Karnataka and Rajasthan. 

    Reason behind continued practice:

    • It is rooted in caste-based discrimination and passed on to successive generations. According to data released by the government in Parliament in 2021, over 90% of manual scavengers identified in the surveys till 2018, were from Scheduled Caste communities.
    • The workers, the women especially, continue to do so to sustain the family. 

    Government Measures to Tackle Manual Scavenging

    Legislative

    1. The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act 1993: It set imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of Rs 2,000 for pushing a person to manual scavenging.
    2. National Commission for Safai Karamcharis: It was constituted on 12th August 1994 as a statutory body through The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993.
    3. Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013: The Act put an end to the practice of any form of manual cleaning, carrying, disposing or handling of human waste.

    Executive

    1. Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS) 2017 : It was merged under the NAMASTE Scheme in 2022.
    2. NAMASTE(National Action for Mechanized Sanitation Ecosystem) scheme:: It  envisages identifying the Sewer/Septic Tank Workers (SSWs), Occupational Training and distribution of PPE Kits to SSWs, Assistance for Safety Devices to Sanitation Response Units (SRUs), Extending Health Insurance Scheme, Livelihood Assistance and IEC Campaign. 
    3. District sanitation committees: It looks at data of whether there are insanitary latrines. Each district is being asked to either declare itself as free of manual scavenging or point out locations of insanitary latrines and associated manual scavengers. 
    4. Swachata mobile app: Since the launch of the Swachata mobile app in 2016, more than 6,000 complaints have been examined for possible signs of ongoing manual scavenging.

    Constitutional Safeguards

    • The Right to Live with Dignity is implicit in the Fundamental Rights(Article 21) guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution. 
    • Article 46 of the Constitution provides that the State shall protect the weaker sections particularly, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

    Challenges:

    • Majority of the cases were not recorded properly and would not have come to light if social media was not there. For instance, when the incident happens at a private company, they immediately give some money to the victims to prevent them from filing a case against them.
    • Most of the cases come out only when a person dies while cleaning septic tanks. 
    • Many individuals from oppressed communities are into the occupation due to poverty and are involved in handling human and animal waste especially in urban areas.
    • The workers were made to work in the most hazardous way. There was not enough protective gear and tech support and they continued to do it manually. 
    • A Parliamentary Panel noted that the conviction rate in these cases were very poor, noting that just one conviction had been recorded in 616 FIRs registered against contractors for unsafe sewer cleaning.  

    Measure Needed:

    • Procurement of machines for cleaning of sewer and septic tanks. 
    • Effective monitoring by the local government to prevent such deaths. 
    • There is a need for bio toilets to prevent such deaths of manual scavengers, increase in fund allocation for their rehabilitation.

    Way Forward

    • The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan should integrate scientific maintenance of sewer tanks as a topmost goal that will end the manual cleaning of septic tanks. 
    • There should be provisions for better healthcare facilities, insurance cover and pension plans for victims of manual scavenging.
    • The laws should be enforced vigorously to eliminate manual scavenging in its entirety.

    Source: TH

    Restoration of Seagrasses in the Baltic Sea

    Syllabus: GS3/ Environment Conservation, Environmental impact assessment

    Context: 

    • In order to fight Climate Change, citizen divers restore seagrasses in the Baltic Sea .

    About the Initiative 

    • This Baltic Sea Seagrass Initiative helps train local citizens to restore seagrass meadows in the Baltic Sea which can help tackle Climate Change.
      • These meadows act as natural sinks as they can store carbon in large quantities.
    • The ultimate goal of this initiative is to re-green the Baltic Sea.

    Baltic Sea

    • The largest expanse of brackish water in the world, the semi-enclosed and relatively shallow.
    • The Baltic Sea is an arm of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is bound by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Northern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Europe, and the Danish islands.
    • The Baltic Sea is artificially linked to the White Sea by the White Sea Canal and to the North Sea by the Kiel Canal.
    • Surrounded by countries: Denmark, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Finland and Sweden.
    • It includes the Gulf of Bothnia, the Bay of Bothnia, the Gulf of Finland, the Gulf of Riga, and the Bay of GdaÅ„sk.

     

    What are Seagrasses?

    • These are flowering plants that can be found on the seafloor. It is a group of marine angiosperms. Seagrasses flourish all throughout the world in brackish (semi-saline) and salty waters, typically along gently sloping, safe beaches.
    • Since light is necessary for photosynthesis, they are most usually discovered in shallow depths with plenty of light.
    • Antarctica is the only continent devoid of seagrasses. In India, it can be found in the lagoons of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay regions on the east coast, and the Gulf of Kachchh region
    • Important Species: Some of the important seagrass species (Enhalus acoroides) include Sea Cow Grass (Cymodocea serrulata) etc.

    Significance of Seagrasses:

    • Seagrasses are often referred to as “Ecosystem Engineers” since they are well-known for providing a range of ecosystem services.
      • They use photosynthesis to introduce oxygen into the water, they are frequently referred to as “the lungs of the sea”.
    • Role in Biodiversity: Seagrass meadows are home to a broad variety of marine creatures, including fish and other seafood. 
      • By preserving these habitats, local communities will benefit economically and will be able to support healthy fisheries and ecosystems, ecotourism, and small-scale fishing.
      • Threatened marine animals, such as dugongs (sometimes called sea cows), green turtles, and others, feed on the fronds of seagrass.
      • Bottlenose dolphins eat the animals that live in ecosystems of seagrass
    • Seagrasses can help fight Climate Change in following ways : 
    • Carbon Storage: Seagrass meadows are incredibly effective in absorbing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. 
    • Long-term storage: Seagrass meadows have the ability to store carbon for thousands of years, unlike other carbon sinks like forests. The seagrass meadow’s roots and sediments are where the carbon is kept safe from deterioration and can be preserved for decades.

    Threats and Concerns 

    • Around the world, seagrass beds are eroding at a rate of 2-5% per year.
    • Europe lost one-third of its seagrass areas between 1860 and 2016(due to which carbon released into the atmosphere and enhanced Global Warming).
    • Among other natural disturbances (extreme dryness), these are susceptible to grazing, storms, ice-scouring (the abrasion and erosion of seabeds by glaciers), and desiccation.
    • They are harmed by anthropogenic activities such eutrophication, mechanical habitat loss, overfishing, nutrient runoff, building coastal infrastructure, pollution, etc.

    Measures taken for the protection of Seagrasses:

    • Globally :  The Virginia Institute of Marine Science in the eastern United States seeded 456 acres of the Chesapeake Bay with 7.65 million seagrass seeds
      • One of the most famous initiatives is the SeaStore Seagrass Restoration Project in Keil (Germany) by GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research.
    • In India: 
      • Institutions of higher learning and research have been heavily involved in studies on seagrass mapping, species diversity, and transplanting.
      • The Government has also initiated a project across the States of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Odisha on enhancing climate resilience of India’s coastal communities which includes a grant by Global Climate Fund (GCF) covering 24 ecosystems in these selected States 
        • It aims to strengthen the climate resilience of coastal communities by protecting and restoring India’s natural ecosystems such as mangroves and seagrasses.

    Source: TH

    Madhav Gadgil Report 

    News

    • Recently a landslide in Maharashtra’s Raigad district brought back into focus the Madhav Gadgil report on conservation of the Western Ghats.

    Background

    • In 2010, the then Union Environment Minister appointed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), to be chaired by ecologist Madhav Gadgil.The commission submitted a report to the Centre in 2011.
    • The committee was formed to study the impact of population pressure,climate change and development activities on the Western Ghats.

    Recommendation of the report

    • Ecologically Sensitive Zones:The report recommended classifying 64 percent of the Western Ghats into Ecologically Sensitive Zones called ESZ 1, ESZ 2 and ESZ 3.It also recommended designating the entire region as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).
    • Almost all developmental activities like mining, construction of thermal power plants, and dams were to stop along with the decommissioning of similar projects that have completed their shelf life in ESZ 1. 
    • Bottom-to-top approach in governance of the environment, indicating decentralization and more powers to local authorities. 
    • Western Ghats Ecology Authority: Under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, a professional body to manage the ecology of the region and to ensure its sustainable development was recommended by the committee.
    • Ban on growing single commercial crops: Crops like tea, coffee, cardamom, rubber, banana and pineapple, which have led to “fragmentation of forest, soil erosion, degradation of river ecosystems and toxic contamination of the environment” should be curtailed.
    • Community participation:The panel had urged the Ministry of Environment and Forests to take critical steps to involve citizens, including proactive and sympathetic implementation of the provisions of the Community Forest Resources of the Forest Rights Act.
    • In all the zones, genetically modified crops should not be allowed, use of plastic bags be prohibited, Special Economic Zones should not be permitted, new hill stations should not be allowed, changing the land use from farmland to non-farm land and the stoppage of diversions of rivers to protect the ecology of the region, and public lands should not be converted into private lands.

    K Kasturirangan committee

    • Different stakeholders resisted the implementation of the recommendations of the Gadgil panel amid fears of hindrance to development and loss of livelihood.
    • Later in 2012, the then Environment Minister constituted a High-Level Working Group on Western Ghats under K Kasturirangan.

    Recommendations of the Kasturirangan committee report

    • The Kasturirangan report notified only 37 percent of the area as an ecologically sensitive area.
    • It also split the Western Ghats into cultural (human settlements) and natural (non-human settlements) regions. It was suggested that cultural lands be designated as an ecologically sensitive area (ESA).
    • It also consisted of red, orange and green categories. The red list entailed a ban on mining, stone quarrying, thermal plans and certain construction and township projects. The orange category had activities that would be regulated and taken up with appropriate permissions, while the green category allowed all agricultural and horticultural activities and commercial activities.

     

    Western Ghat

    • The Western Ghats are a 1,600-km long mountain chain along the west coast of India running from the  river Tapi in the north to Kanyakumari in the south.
    • It  covers six states — Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. About 60 percent of the mountain range is in Karnataka.
    • Significance:These Ghats are home to high mountain forests, which moderate the tropical climate of the region. They are home to 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species. 
    • Western Ghats were accorded the World Heritage Status by UNESCO in 2012.

    Source:IE

    8th India-Australia Defence Policy Talks

    Syllabus: GS2/IR

    In News

    • The 8th India-Australia Defence Policy Talks (DPT) was held at Canberra in Australia.

    About

    • The discussions focused on identifying ways to strengthen partnership in co-development and co-production of defence equipment. 
    • Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to fully implement the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
    • The Indian side highlighted the potential of the Indian defence industry with capacity and capability to cooperate with Australian Armed forces in its shipbuilding and maintenance plans.
    • The 8th DPT reviewed the outcomes of maiden 2+2 conducted in 2021. Both sides agreed for early finalization of the hydrography agreement. 

    India-Australia Defence Relations

    • India and Australia upgraded their bilateral relationship from a ‘strategic partnership’ in 2009 to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ in 2020.  
    • Over the past few years, several institutional mechanisms have been implemented to promote bilateral cooperation.  
      • Bilateral mechanisms include high-level visits, Annual Meetings of Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue, 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, Joint Trade & Commerce Ministerial Commission, Defence Policy Talks, Australia-India Education Council, Defence Services Staff Talks, Energy Dialogue, JWGs on different issues etc.
    • The two countries have expanded their strategic partnership, focusing on maritime security, counter-terrorism, and regional stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

    • Initiation of Strategic Dialogue: In 2020, Australia and India elevated their Secretaries 2+2 dialogue (Defence and Foreign Affairs) to the Ministerial level. Now the ministers meet once every two years to discuss the progress made under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. 
    • Malabar Exercise: In 2020, Australia participated in the MALABAR naval exercise and thus joined India, the U S and Japan
      • The exercise united four regional defence partners and democracies, signifying a collective resolve to support an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific. 
    • AUSINDEX: Rendezvous between the Royal Australian Navy and the Indian Navy has been innovative through the critical bilateral exercise called AUSINDEX. 
    • The Pitch Black exercise: A significant beginning of defence rendezvous was traversed when, for the first time, the Indian Air Force joined Exercise Pitch Black in Darwin in 2018. 
      • Australia’s multifaceted exercise encompasses air forces from several Australian allies and partner countries. 
      • India’s partaking was further significant for staging the first mid-air refueling of an IAF combat aircraft (Su-30MKI) by a RAAF aircraft (KC-30A), showing a notch of coordination not previously offered.
    • Mutual Logistic Support Arrangement and Defence Science & Technology Implementing Arrangement: India and Australia clinched the Mutual Logistic Support Arrangement in 2020.
      • The pact enables more scholarly operational cooperation, enabling increasingly complex military engagement and excellent collective receptiveness to regional benevolent disasters. 
    • The shared military platforms: Indian and Australian militaries have become increasingly interoperable through the increasing number of shared media, thereby growing opportunities for shared training. 
      • These include C-17 strategic transport aircraft, C-130 tactical transport aircraft, P-8 maritime reconnaissance aircraft, and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters.
    • The exchanges of military officials for training: India shapes its relations with its defence forces through regular personnel and training exchanges, such as short specialist courses and longer-term positions. 
      • Every year, India and Australia send officers to attend each other’s premiere military educational institutions.

    Source: PIB

    Lok Sabha passes Forest Conservation (Amendment) Bill

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions; GS3/Conservation

    In News

    • The Lok Sabha passed the Forest Conservation (Amendment) Bill recently, without any changes from the version first introduced.

    About the Forest Conservation Act, 1980

    • The contentious Bill was introduced to amend the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.
      • The 1980 legislation has empowered the Centre for the last four decades, to ensure that any forest land diverted for ‘non-forestry’ purposes is duly compensated. 
      • It extends its remit to land even beyond what is officially classified as ‘forest’ in State and Central government records.

    About the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023

    • Restrictions on activities in forest: The Act restricts the de-reservation of forest or use of forest land for non-forest purposes
      • Such restrictions may be lifted with the prior approval of the central government.  Non-forest purposes include use of land for cultivating horticultural crops or for any purpose other than reafforestation.  
    • Assigning of land through a lease or otherwise: Under the Act, state government or any authority requires prior approval of the central government to direct the assigning of forest land through a lease or otherwise to any organisation (such as private person, agency, authority, corporation) not owned by the government.
    • Building forest carbon stock & improving livelihood: The predominant idea of the proposed changes is to build forest carbon stock by raising plantations
      • The Bill talks about keeping up with “dynamic changes in the ecological, strategic and economic aspirations of the country” and “improvement of livelihoods for forest-dependent communities.” 
      • The scope of the amendments boils down to pushing plantations to achieve carbon neutrality by limiting the scope of the Act.
    • Compensatory afforestation: The Bill also seeks to make land available for developers to meet their legal obligation towards compensatory afforestation in lieu of forest land diverted for development projects.
      • If the scope of the FC Act is restricted, fewer projects will be required to obtain forest clearance, which is considered a ‘hurdle’ by most developers in and outside the government. 
      • But it will also help developers secure forest clearance when they need it.
      • A key condition for forest clearance is that a developer must carry out compensatory afforestation on equivalent non-forest land or, if non-forest land is not available, on degraded forest land twice the extent of the forest area diverted.

    State of India’s forest cover

    • India’s forest cover has seen only marginal increases, as biennial reports of the Forest Survey of India illustrate. 
    • Growth in forest cover inside officially recorded forests is stagnant, or at best incremental. 
    • It is tree cover in orchards, plantations and village homesteads that has been on the rise and supplementing India’s claim that 24% of its area is under forest and tree cover. 
    • India has committed to increasing this number to 33% and adding a carbon sink of 2.5 billion to 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide this way, by 2030, as part of its international climate commitments.

    Need & Rationale behind the Bill

    • Dilution of Apex Court’s judgments: There were objections that the amendments “diluted” the Supreme Court’s 1996 judgment in the Godavarman case that extended protection to wide tracts of forests, even if they were not recorded as forests. 
    • No contribution to “regeneration’ of Natural forests: The amendments effectively mean States can no longer classify unclassified forest land, or patches of trees with forest-like characteristics as ‘forest land’. 
      • The amendments also allow forest land, up to 100 km near India’s borders, to be appropriated, without central approval, for “strategic and security” purposes
      • The primary criticism is that these amendments do not really contribute to regenerating natural forest, but rather incentivise afforestation for commercial ends.
    • Issues of carbon stock: Grooming private forests might look good in theory but expecting them to be a permanent carbon stock is wishful thinking given that strong market incentives exist to use them as ‘carbon credits’. 
    • No specific conditions for denying: There are no specific conditions laid by the environment ministry for outrightly denying permission for deforestation for development projects.
    • Affecting indigenous communities: Any review of the FC Act is an opportunity to make suitable concessions for land that has traditionally been under the control of indigenous and forest communities. 
      • Even after the enactment of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, the scope for their consent has eroded incrementally when it came to the diversion of forest land for development projects
      • Now, they may have no say on the extensive plantations that are envisaged on land on which they depend as communities.
    • Choosing plantation over forests: Forests are a lot more than a sum of trees. Unlike man-made plantations, natural forests perform a range of ecosystem services that are key to the survival and well-being of the millions of species that they support, and also provide direct livelihood and subsistence to crores of people.
    • Non-inclusivity of nomenclature: There were objections to the Act’s new name — Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Adhiniyam, translated as Forest (Conservation and Augmentation) Act, instead of the existing Forest (Conservation) Act — on the grounds that it was “non-inclusive” and left out many among the “(non-Hindi speaking) population both in South India and also in the North-East.” 
    • Land parcels near borders: There were also objections that large parcels of forest land near the borders would no longer be protected.

    Way ahead

    • Relooking at ‘conservations’: While new climate realities might necessitate changes to the way conservation laws are interpreted, these must be backed by rigorous scientific evidence.
      • The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report also stated that not degrading existing ecosystems in the first place will do more to lower the impact of the climate crisis than restoring ecosystems that have been destroyed.

    Source: TH
     

    Facts In News

    Mangrove cell

    Syllabus: GS3/Environmental Conservation

    News: 

    West Bengal announced the setting up of a ‘mangrove cell’ in the State, on the occasion of the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem. 

    More on the News: 

    • West Bengal is a home to about 40% of the mangrove forests in India.
    • The mangrove cell has an action plan for the plantation of mangroves.
    • It will also look at maintenance and coordinate with NGOs.
    • The cell will also generate funds from private and international sectors.

    The International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem 

    • It is celebrated every year on 26 July.
    • It aims to raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems as “a unique, special and vulnerable ecosystem”.
    • This International Day was adopted by the General Conference of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2015.

    About Mangroves 

    • Mangroves are a group of trees and shrubs that live in the coastal intertidal zone.
    • There are about 80 different species of mangrove trees. All of these trees grow in areas with low-oxygen soil, where slow-moving waters allow fine sediments to accumulate. 
    • Mangrove forests only grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator because they cannot withstand freezing temperatures.
    • Many mangrove forests can be recognized by their dense tangle of prop roots that make the trees appear to be standing on stilts above the water. 
    • This tangle of roots allows the trees to handle the daily rise and fall of tides. The roots also slow the movement of tidal waters, causing sediments to settle out of the water and build up the muddy bottom.
    • Mangrove forests stabilize the coastline, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides. 
    • The intricate root system of mangroves also makes these forests attractive to fish and other organisms seeking food and shelter from predators.
    • Their soils are highly effective carbon sinks, sequestering vast amounts of carbon.

    Source: TH

    Global ESG Conclave 

    Syllabus:GS3/Environment

    News

    • Recently the Global ESG Conclave 2.0, was held in Dubai.

    About

    • It was organized by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
    • The sessions were aimed to shed light on integrating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors into strategic business decisions and quantifying their impact on financial infrastructure and sustainability. 

    Themes 

    • Integrating ESG into strategic business decisions.
    • Quantifying ESG for a robust financial infrastructure framework.
    • Managing transition risk and developing ESG pathways to reach net zero targets.
    • Managing uncertainty on future ESG regulation and compliance.
    • ESG & Urbanization.
    • ESG Practices for Logistics and Retail Management.

    What is Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)? 

    • ESG is a framework that helps stakeholders understand how an organization is managing risks and opportunities related to environmental, social, and governance criteria. 
    • Environmental Criteria include direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, management’s stewardship over natural resources, and the firm’s overall resiliency against physical climate risks (like climate change, flooding, and fires). 
    • Social Criteria inspects an organization’s management of relationships with its employees, suppliers, customers, stakeholders, and the community at large. 
    • Corporate Governance considers the organization’s management structure, executive compensation, internal controls, and Stakeholder rights.

    Evolution of ESG

    • EHS (Environmental, Health, and Safety): As far back as the 1980s, organizations in the United States were considering how to use regulation to manage or reduce pollution produced in the pursuit of economic growth. They sought to also improve employee labor and safety standards.
    • Corporate Sustainability: EHS evolved in the 1990s into the Corporate Sustainability movement under which some management teams wanted to focus on reducing their firms environmental impacts beyond the legally mandated reductions.
    • Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR):By the early 2000s, the corporate sustainability movement began to integrate ideas around how companies should respond to social issues.
    • ESG:Finally by the late 2010s ESG emerged as a much more proactive and comprehensive framework.

    Relevance of ESG

    • Under the Paris Agreement, India has committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2070. Accordingly, corporate entities must integrate ESG principles to safeguard the environment. 
    • If a business is not conscious about sustainability, its business processes might become redundant in the future, due to legal and regulatory changes. 
    • ESG adoption will boost corporate growth, enhance the public image, and help companies raise capital at lower costs. 
    • Compliance by Indian companies with the ESG regulations will be critical if India is to take full advantage of the growing decoupling from China and play a more prominent role in global supply chains and the global marketplace.

    Source:AIR

    Instant settlement of trades 

    Syllabus:GS3/Economy

    News

    • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has said it is working on real time settlement of transactions in the Indian stock exchange.

    What is meant by trade settlement?

    • ‘Settlement’ is a two-way process that involves the transfer of funds and securities on the settlement date. As of now, there is a lag between trade and settlement — the settlement date is different from the trade date. 
    • A trade settlement is said to be complete once purchased securities of a listed company are delivered to the buyer, and the seller gets the money.
    • The current cycle of ‘T+1’ in India means trade-related settlements happen within a day, or within 24 hours of the actual transaction. The migration to the T+1 cycle came into effect in January 2023.
    • India became the second country to start the T+1 settlement cycle in top listed securities after China, bringing operational efficiency, faster fund remittances, share delivery, and ease for stock market participants.

    Real time settlement/T+0’ settlement

    • Under the T+0 settlement cycle, if investors sell shares, they will get the money in their account instantaneously, and the buyers will get the shares in their demat accounts the same day.
    • ‘T+0’, settlement of trades will be possible with the real-time payment system — Unified Payments Interface (UPI), online depositories, and technology stack.
    • The investor’s money will not get stuck with brokers or stock exchanges, they will get the money on the same day after the transactions happen.

    Source:IE

    Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023

    Syllabus: GS2/Government Policies and Interventions

    News:

    • A Bill, “Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023” is recently tabled in the Lok Sabha 

    About the Bill:

    • It is to nominate two members from the “Kashmiri Migrants” community as members of the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. One of the members will be a woman.
    • It also proposes to nominate one member from “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir”, displaced in the 1947-48, 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. 
    • The Bill aims “to preserve their political rights” and “overall social and economic development.”

    Background:

    • The special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 was struck down by Parliament in August 2019 and the former State was bifurcated into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the latter without an Assembly.
    • Jammu and Kashmir has been under Central rule since 2018 and Assembly elections are yet to take place.
    • The Delimitation Commission received many representations from the two communities regarding reservation of seats in the Assembly. The commission recommended representation by way of nomination.
    • It shall be given on lines of Section 15 of the 2019 Act, which provides for the representation of women. 
    • The commission increased total seats of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly from 107 to 114 with reservation of nine seats for Scheduled Tribes for the first time. 

    Source: TH

    Cooperation Between ‘India AI’ and Meta 

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    • ‘India AI’ – an IBD under Digital India Corporation and Meta, India have signed an MoU.

    About the MoU

    • Objective: To establish a framework for collaboration and cooperation between ‘India AI’ and Meta in the field of Artificial Intelligence & Emerging Technologies.
    • Both organisations may also consider establishing a Centre of Excellence to nurture the startup ecosystem of AI & other Emerging Technologies. 
    • Leveraging Meta’s AI research models like LlaMA, Massively Multilingual Speech, and No Language Left Behind, the partnership will focus on building datasets in Indian Languages to enable translation and large language models, with priority given to low-resource languages. 
      • This effort will foster social inclusion, improve government service delivery, and spur innovation using large language models, Generative AI, cognitive systems, and translation models.
    • ‘India AI’ and Meta will strive to enhance accessibility to AI compute resources for researchers, startups, and organizations with limited resources. 

    About India AI

    • INDIAai is the National AI Portal of India and is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Electronics and IT, National e-Governance Division, and NASSCOM
    • The portal was inaugurated in 2020. 
    • The INDIAai portal currently is the central hub for everything AI in India. 
    • The portal covers the latest updates in the world of AI in India and around the world through news and articles; offer insights into opportunities, scopes, and challenges created by AI. 
    • It also provides resources for aspiring entrepreneurs, students, professionals, academics, and other curious minds.

    Source: PIB