November 15, 2013
Northeast a major hub for trafficking in gecko
- The northeast has emerged as a major hub for trafficking in gecko in the last one year. This came to light following the recent arrest of several persons, including a former militant leader.
- Rhinos, tigers and elephants have been the usual target of wildlife traffickers but during the last few months, the arrest of more than 10 persons, including Dima Halam Daoga chief Dilip Nunisa in Assam has brought to fore an international network trafficking in gecko.
- Nunisa’s interrogation brought to light the value of the lizard in the international market with each animal being traded for an amount ranging from Rs.25 lakh to nearly a crore.
- It is believed that local tribals are usually involved in trapping and catching the gecko and they usually manage to catch the younger ones. The middlemen who buy the geckos from the catchers take the reptiles to the border town of Moreh in Manipur, from where another chain of traffickers smuggle them to Myanmar for an international destination.
- The northeastern States of Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland have become a major hub of gecko poaching during the past one year following the near extinct status of the animal in neighbouring Myanmar, which is the major transit route for smuggling these animals to Southeastern countries (China, Indonesia, Philippines and others)
Why is there such a huge demand for Geckos?
- Geckos are being caught and trafficked from northeastern Indian states to Southeast Asian countries, where many people believe that medicines made from gecko meat can cure diseases such as cancer, AIDS and even impotency.
- Besides, it also serves as a drug, which if applied in a mild dose can lead to a high.
- Conservationists have demanded stricter laws and its enforcement to ensure that the geckos do not vanish from the region.
World Bank, ADB offer Odisha $313m aid
- International funding agencies, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, have assured financial assistance of $313 million to the Odisha government for restoration and rehabilitation activities in cyclone Phailin-hit areas.
More about ADB:
- ADB was conceived amid the postwar rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts of the early 1960s. The vision was of a financial institution that would be Asian in character and foster economic growth and cooperation in the region – then one of the poorest in the world.
- ADB aims for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty. While it has achieved a significant reduction in extreme poverty, the region remains home to about two-thirds of the world’s extremely poor.
What does ADB do?
- ADB helps developing member countries tackle poverty by providing loans, technical assistance and grants for a broad range of development activities.
- ADB focuses on five core areas of operations: infrastructure; the environment, including climate change; regional cooperation and integration; finance sector development; and education.
How does ADB differ from commercial banks?
- ADB is a multilateral development finance institution that engages in mostly public sector lending for development purposes. ADB’s clients are its member governments, who are also its shareholders. It also provides direct assistance to private enterprises of developing member countries through equity investments and loans.
|President and Chairperson of the Board of Directors:||Takehiko Nakao|
|Members:||67; 48 regional members; 19 nonregional members|
|Offices:||Headquarters in Manila, Philippines, with 28 resident missions and 3 representative offices in Tokyo, Frankfurt, and Washington, DC|
Courtesy – http://www.adb.org (ADB website)
U.S. labels Boko Haram as terrorist group
- The U.S. has branded Boko Haram, the homegrown Islamist insurgent movement in Nigeria that has ties to al-Qaeda’s regional affiliate in North and West Africa, as a foreign terrorist organisation.
- The label would allow the U.S. to freeze assets, impose travel bans on known members and affiliates, and prohibit Americans from offering material support to the organization.
- Boko Haram, according to U.S. is responsible for thousands of deaths in northeast and central Nigeria over the last several years including targeted killings of civilians.
- On the similar lines Ansaru, a Boko Haram splinter faction which had kidnapped and executed seven international construction workers was also put in the list of terrorist organisation.
Consequences of the move:
- The move would help Nigeria combat a growing menace that also threatened American citizens and investment in Nigeria.
- But many Africa scholars say that branding Boko Haram a terrorist organisation will only enhance the group’s international stature with jihadis and help its recruiting efforts.
Why was Boko Haram labeled a terrorist organization?
- The group had gained spotlight for its attacks inside Nigeria. Boko Haram has been conducting a brutal campaign against the Nigerian military and government as well as civilian targets. In September, 2013 it had carried out attacks in Benisheik, a northeastern town, that killed at least 143 civilians, including women and children.
- In its war against the Nigerian state, Boko Haram has singled out government institutions, especially schools, for attack. One of its belief is that Western-style education, not based on the Koran, is sinful and un-Islamic.
- Boko Haram has also conducted attacks against international targets, including a suicide bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja in August, 2011, which killed 21 people and injured dozens more, many of them aid workers.
- The Nigerian military has been pressing a counterinsurgency campaign against the group, which appeared to have halted its attacks in the urban centres of northeastern Nigeria this year (2013). In rural areas like Benisheik, however, killings appear to be continuing unabated.
- It is said that, Boko Haram has also shared tactics, techniques, training and financing with other al-Qaida affiliates in Africa, including al-Shabab in Somalia and East Africa.
Iran in mind, Israel drops ‘record’ settlement plan
- Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to scrap plans for a record 20,000 West Bank settler homes (this would be the biggest ever batch of settler homes on occupied Palestinian territory) driven by Israel’s bid to spoil an Iranian nuclear deal.
- This intervention to halt the ‘settlement plan’ came after fierce criticism from the U.S., which has been pushing for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
An initiative for a better India
- After four years of extensive work, “India@75” (a grassroots People’s movement), was launched with an objective to make the country a far better place to live in by 2022 when India completes 75 years of independence. Among many other objectives, there is a comprehensive plan to create skilled workforce of 500 million through a participatory initiative spanning all parts of the country.
- Distinguished Indian personalities from various sectors have come forward and pledged to work together for achieving the desired objective of having an inclusive, sustainable and developed India by 2022. The vision of India@75 has evolved through collaborative public reasoning processes that involved Indians from all strata of society to shape the new world order through economic strength, technological vitality and moral leadership.
- A campaign called ‘Count Me In’ has been launched seeking maximum participation from citizens.
- ‘India@75 is a people’s movement. It is by the people, for the people’. It is a forward looking action movement inspiring Indians to shape the future of their country. This initiative has been hailed as a wonderful way to bind the nation’s citizens in a common cause. (The initiative is backed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)).
- The idea of India@75 was first mooted by late C. K. Prahalad in 2007, when he was giving a speech in the U.S. on the occasion of India’s 60th year of independence.
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