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Insights Daily Current Events, 31 October 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 31 October 2015

Archives

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

‘Nuclear suppliers may admit India’

The chairperson of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Rafael Grossi, during his recent visit to India, said that the NSG would begin consultations on India’s membership next month. He thinks it is possible to find a way for India’s membership to be accepted.

  • India sought membership of the NSG in 2008, but its application hasn’t been decided on, primarily because signing the NPT or other nuclear moratoriums on testing is a pre-requisite.
  • India has received a special waiver to conduct nuclear trade with all nuclear exporters.
  • India’s push for the NSG membership in the next year is likely to be complemented by its application to other nuclear and missile control regimes like MTCR, Wassenaar and Australian groups.
  • It will also get a boost from the completion of the India-Australian civil nuclear agreement likely to be announced in the next few months, with the possibility of the India-Japan civil nuclear deal also making progress.

About NSG:

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.

  • Interestingly, the NSG was set up in 1974 as a reaction to India’s nuclear tests to stop what it called the misuse of nuclear material meant for peaceful purposes.
  • Currently, it has 48 members.

Once admitted, an NSG member state gets:

  • Timely information on nuclear matters
  • Contributes by way of information
  • Has confirmed credentials
  • Can act as an instrument of harmonization and coordination
  • Is part of a very transparent process.

sources: the hindu, wiki.

Paper 3 Topic: conservation.

Sunderbans to get a student army of conservationists

An ambitious project has been started in West Bengal under which Schoolchildren in the Sunderbans area will learn about tiger conservation and pass on the experience to their elders.

Details:sunderbans

  • Under this project, two fully equipped edutainment boats carrying a projector, a sound system, generators, a library, films related to conservation and wildlife photographs will be launched in the Sunderbans which will help students in understanding the importance of this area.
  • The students will go back home and impart what they have learnt to their parents and elders, thus making it easier to spread awareness among people living in the fringe areas of the forests.

Sundarbans:

  • The Sundarbans is a natural region in West Bengal and Bangladesh. It is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world.
  • The Sundarbans covers approximately 10,000 square kilometres (3,900 sq mi) of which 60% is in Bangladesh with the remainder in India.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mangroves in India:

  • Mangroves in India account for about 3% of the world’s mangrove vegetation. Mangrove cover in India is 4,662 sq. km, which is 0.14% of the country’s total geographical area.
  • Sundarbans in West Bengal accounts for almost half of the total area under mangroves in the country. Mangrove in India is famous for its rich variety of flora and fauna.

Composition of Mangroves in India: The very dense mangrove comprises 1,403 sq. km (30.10% of the total mangrove cover), moderately dense mangrove is 1,658.12 sq. km (35.57 %) while open mangroves cover an area of 1,600.44 sq. km (33%).

sources: the hindu, pib.

Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

Give NOTA option in civic polls: Gujarat HC

The Gujarat High Court has criticised the State Election Commission (SEC) for its reluctance to implement the NOTA (none of the above) option in the coming municipal and panchayat elections in the State.

  • The court has directed the SEC to implement it and the State government to give the SEC necessary help.
  • The court said the SEC must provide the option as directed by the Supreme Court, rejecting the SEC’s contention that it was not possible to include the NOTA button in the electronic voting machines in 20 days because the polls are scheduled for November 22 and 29.
  • The Court also observed that the right to vote in favour of none of the candidates is one of the rights of the electorate, and it is so identified and strengthened by the Supreme Court.

NOTA:

NOTA is designed to allow the voter to indicate disapproval of all of the candidates in a voting system. It is based on the principle that consent requires the ability to withhold consent in an election, just as they can by voting no on ballot questions.

  • The Supreme Court had upheld the right of voters to reject all candidates contesting the elections, saying it would go a long way in cleansing the political system of the country.
  • The court had directed the Election Commission to have an option of ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) on the electronic voting machines (EVMs) and ballot papers in a major electoral reform.
  • The EVMs have the NOTA option at the end of the candidates’ list. Earlier, in order to cast a negative ballot, a voter had to inform the presiding officer at the polling booth. A NOTA vote doesn’t require the involvement of the presiding officer.
  • In the Indian general election, 2014, NOTA polled 1.1% of the votes, counting to over 6 million.

Before NOTA:

  • Before the NOTA option came in existence, people casting negative votes were required to enter their names in a register and cast their vote on a separate paper ballot.
  • Under Section 49 (O) of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, a voter could enter his electoral serial number in Form 17A and cast a negative vote. The presiding officer would then put a remark in the form and get it signed by the voter. This was done to prevent fraud or misuse of votes.
  • This provision was, however, deemed unconstitutional by the SC as it did not protect the identity of the voter.

sources: the hindu, pib, wiki.

Paper 3 Topic: Biodiversity.

More Indian birds enter list of threatened species

The Red List of birds released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for 2015 shows that a total of 180 bird species in India are now threatened, as against 173 last year. Only one species in the list has moved out of the Red List.

Details:

  • Of the new additions, five have been uplisted from the Least Concerned to the Near Threatened category, a sign of increased threat. These include Northern Lapwing (a grassland bird) and four wetland birds, namely Red Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Bar-Tailed Godwit.
  • Two other wetland birds, Horned Grebe and Common Pochard have been uplisted from Least Concerned to Vulnerable.
  • Steppe Eagle (a raptor from grasslands), which is a regular winter visitor to the Indian subcontinent, has been uplisted from Least Concerned to Endangered.
  • Destruction of grasslands, wetlands, forests and other habitats is considered the most common reason for this development.
  • Apart from habitat loss, the other reason for decline of birds like Steppe Eagle, which mostly scavenges on animal carcasses, is the use of veterinary drug diclofenac used to treat livestock. This drug causes renal failure in these birds.
  • Three vulture species, namely White-backed, Slender-billed and Long-billed have also been severely affected by diclofenac.

IUCN:

  • IUCN was founded in October 1948 as the International Union for the Protection of Nature (or IUPN) following an international conference in Fontainebleau, France.
  • It was renamed as International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1956 with the acronym IUCN.
  • It is the world’s first global environmental organization. Today it is the largest professional global conservation network
  • The Union’s HQ is located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland.
  • It demonstrates how biodiversity is fundamental to addressing some of the world’s greatest challenges such as climate change, sustainable development and food security.

Red list:

  • The IUCN Red List is set upon precise criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. These criteria are relevant to all species and all regions of the world.
  • The aim is to convey the urgency of conservation issues to the public and policy makers, as well as help the international community to try to reduce species extinction.
  • Species are classified by the IUCN Red List into nine groups, set through criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation.

sources: the hindu, iucn.