Insights Daily Current Affairs, 21 November 2017
GS Paper 2:
Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
An app to get tiger numbers right
In the forthcoming All-India Tiger Estimation, to be taken up in December-January, the authorities are planning to use an app named M-STRiPES (Monitoring System For Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) developed by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. Though the app has already been in place in some national parks, its usage and application has been made mandatory only now, for the fourth All-India Tiger Estimation.
Significance of this move:
All these years, data pertaining to carnivore signs, pellets and status of habitat was manually recorded in the prescribed format on a paper by the field staff, but this exercise was prone to errors. With the availability of M-STRiPES, human error will be eliminated.
The national tiger estimates are conducted once in four years, with the first conducted in 2006. That exercise pegged the tiger count at 1,411, with the statistical lower limit pegged at 1,165 and the upper limit, 1,657. In 2010, the count changed to 1,706, with 1,520 being the lower limit and 1,909 the upper limit.
- The Western Ghat landscape, comprising Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa, accounted for 776 tigers in 2014, with the Bandipur-Nagarahole-Mudumalai-Wayanad complex harbouring 570 tigers — reckoned to be the world’s single largest tiger population in a landscape.
- The last nationwide assessment, held in 2014, pegged the tiger figures across the country at 2,226. Karnataka alone was home to 400 tigers, a bulk of them in Bandipur and Nagarahole.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
China to mediate on Rohingyas between Myanmar and Bangladesh
China is positioning itself as a mediator in the dispute between Bangladesh and Myanmar over the Rohingya refugee crisis and recently announced a three-stage solution to the humanitarian calamity.
The three- stage solution is as follows:
- First stage: Myanmar should impose a ceasefire and stop the persecuted Rohingyas from fleeing into Bangladesh.
- Second stage: Bangladesh and Myanmar should strengthen exchanges and find a solution “on the basis of equality”.
- The third stage involves asking the international community to help develop the backward Rakhine state in Myanmar, which is the home of Rohingyas.
The Rohingya people are a Muslim minority group residing in the Rakhine state, formerly known as Arakan and are considered to be a variation of the Sunni religion. The Rohingya people are considered “stateless entities”, as the Myanmar government has been refusing to recognise them as one of the ethnic groups of the country. For this reason, the Rohingya people lack legal protection from the Government of Myanmar, are regarded as mere refugees from Bangladesh, and face strong hostility in the country.
They often described by Amnesty International as one of the most persecuted people on earth. To escape the dire situation in Myanmar, the Rohingya try to illegally enter Southeast Asian states like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, begging for humanitarian support from potential host countries.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
International Court of Justice (ICJ)
India’s nominee to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Dalveer Bhandari has been re-elected to the fifth and the last seat of the world court after Britain withdrew its candidate from the election. This is the first time since the ICJ was established in 1945 that there will be no British judge in the ICJ. Bhandari received 183-193 votes in the General Assembly and secured all the 15 votes in the Security Council.
What is it?
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial body of the UN. Established in 1946 to replace the Permanent Court of International Justice, the ICJ mainly operates under the statute of its predecessor, which is included in the UN Charter.
It has two primary functions: to settle legal disputes submitted by States in accordance with established international laws, and to act as an advisory board on issues submitted to it by authorized international organizations.
Members of the Court:
The International Court of Justice is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. These organs vote simultaneously but separately. In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both bodies. In order to ensure a measure of continuity, one third of the Court is elected every three years. Judges are eligible for re-election.
Who nominates the candidates?
Every state government, party to the Charter, designates a group who propose candidates for the office of ICJ judges. This group includes four members/jurists of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (machinery which enables arbitral tribunals to be set up as desired and facilitates their work) also picked by the State. Countries not part of the statute follow the same procedure where a group nominates the candidates.
Each group is limited to nominate four candidates, two of whom could be of their nationality. Within a fixed duration set by the Secretary-General, the names of the candidates have to be sent to him/her.
What are the qualifications of ICJ judges?
- A judge should have a high moral character.
- A judge should fit to the qualifications of appointment of highest judicial officers as prescribed by their respective states or
- A judge should be a juriconsult of recognized competence in international law.
The 15 judges of the Court are distributed as per the regions:
- Three from Africa.
- Two from Latin America and Caribbean.
- Three from Asia.
- Five from Western Europe and other states.
- Two from Eastern Europe.
Independence of the Judges:
Once elected, a Member of the Court is a delegate neither of the government of his own country nor of that of any other State. Unlike most other organs of international organizations, the Court is not composed of representatives of governments. Members of the Court are independent judges whose first task, before taking up their duties, is to make a solemn declaration in open court that they will exercise their powers impartially and conscientiously.
In order to guarantee his or her independence, no Member of the Court can be dismissed unless, in the unanimous opinion of the other Members, he/she no longer fulfils the required conditions. This has in fact never happened.
Sources: the hindu.
GS Paper 3:
Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
World Fisheries Day
Every year 21st November is celebrated all over the world as World Fisheries Day.
About the World Fisheries Day:
On 21st November 1997, the working fishermen and women representing World Forum of Fish Harvesters & Fish Workers from 18 countries met at New Delhi and established the World Fisheries Forum (WFF) advocating for a global mandate of sustainable fishing practices and policies. To commemorate this occasion, every year 21st November is celebrated all over the world as World Fisheries Day.
Significance of this day:
The World Fisheries Day helps in highlighting the critical importance to human lives, of water and the lives it sustains, both in and out of water. Water forms a continuum, whether contained in rivers, lakes, and ocean. Fish forms an important part of the diets of people around the world, particularly those that live near rivers, coasts and other water bodies. A number of traditional societies and communities are rallied around the occupation of fishing.
A majority of human settlements, whether small villages or mega cities, are situated in close proximity to water bodies. Besides the importance of water for survival and as a means of transportation, it is also an important source of fish and aquatic protein.
- But this proximity has also lead to severe ocean and coastal pollution from run-off and from domestic and industrial activities carried out near-by. This has led to the depletion of fish stocks in the immediate vicinity, requiring fishermen to fish farther and farther away from their traditional grounds.
- Besides, overfishing and mechanization has also resulted in a crisis – fish sticks are being depleted through ‘factory’ vessels, bottom trawling, and other means of unsustainable fishing methods.
A recent United Nations study reported that more than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline because of factors such as the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming.
Unless we address these issues collectively, the crisis will deepen. The World Fisheries Day helps to highlight these problems, and moves towards finding solutions to the increasingly inter-connected problems we are facing, and in the longer term, to sustainable means of maintaining fish stocks.
Logistics Sector granted Infrastructure Status
The Logistics Sector has been granted Infrastructure status.
The government has defined “logistics infrastructure” to include a multimodal logistics Park comprising an Inland Container Depot (ICD) with a minimum investment of Rs50 crore and minimum area of 10 acre, a cold chain facility with a minimum investment of Rs15 crore and minimum area of 20,000 sq. ft and a warehousing facility with a minimum investment of Rs25 crore and a minimum area of 100,000 sq ft.
Need for Infrastructure status:
Development of logistics would give a boost to both domestic and external demand thereby encouraging manufacturing and ‘job creation’. This will in turn be instrumental in improving country’s GDP. Therefore, the need for integrated Logistics sector development has been felt for quite some time in view of the fact that the logistics cost in India is very high compared to developed countries. High logistics cost reduces the competitiveness of Indian goods both in domestic as well as export market.
Infrastructure status will enable the Logistics Sector to avail infrastructure lending at easier terms with enhanced limits, access to larger amounts of funds as External Commercial Borrowings (ECB), access to longer tenor funds from insurance companies and pension funds and be eligible to borrow from India Infrastructure Financing Company Limited (IIFCL). Infrastructure status for cold chains and warehousing facilities will provide a big boost to attracting private investment in this sector.
In 2017, India’s logistics performance improved from 54 to 35 under World Bank Logistics Performance Index (LPI). The government expects the Indian logistics sector to grow to $360 billion by 2032 from the current $115 billion.
Topic: Infrastructure- energy.
Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY)
The Government of India has signed four Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under the UDAY Scheme with the State of Nagaland and with Union Territories (UTs) of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli & Daman & Diu for operational improvements. These State/UTs have joined only for operational improvement and shall not undergo financial restructuring/issue of bonds under the scheme. With the above, UDAY club has now grown to 27 states and 4 UTs.
Significance of these MoUs:
- An overall net benefit of approximately Rs. 551 crores, Rs. 18 crores, Rs. 13 crores and Rs. 10 crores respectively would accrue to the State of Nagaland & UTs of Andaman & Nicobar, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu by opting to participate in UDAY, by way of cheaper funds for capex, reduction in AT&C and Transmission losses, interventions in energy efficiency, etc. during the period of turnaround.
- The MoU paves way for improving operational efficiency of the Electricity Departments/DISCOM of the State/Union Territory. Through compulsory distribution transformer metering, consumer indexing & GIS mapping of losses, upgrade/change transformers, meters etc., smart metering of high-end consumers, feeder audit etc. AT&C losses and transmission losses would be brought down, besides eliminating the gap between cost of supply of power and realisation.
- While efforts will be made by the States/UTs to improve their operational efficiency, and thereby reduce the cost of supply of power, the Central Government would also provide incentives to the State/UTs for improving power infrastructure and for further lowering the cost of power.
What is it?
UDAY or Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojna was launched in November 2015 to help loss-making discoms turn around financially, with support from their State governments.
The UDAY scheme is aimed at bringing ailing power distribution companies (discoms) to a state of operational efficiency, with state governments taking over up to 75% of their respective discoms’ debt and issuing sovereign bonds to pay back the lenders.
UDAY envisages a permanent resolution of past as well as potential future issues of the sector. The scheme seeks to achieve this through several simultaneous steps including reducing the interest burden on the discoms by allowing the states to take over the bulk of their debt, reducing the cost of power, and increasing the operational efficiencies of the discoms by providing capital and infrastructure like coal linkages.
Facts for Prelims:
A six-day India-Myanmar Bilateral Army Exercise (IMBAX) between the armies of India and Myanmar recently began at the Joint Training Node at Umroi in Meghalaya.
What is it?
Conceived with an aim to build and promote closer relations, while exchanging skills and experiences between the two armies, IMBAX is the first India-Myanmar exercise to be held on Indian soil. The training exercise aims to train the officers of Myanmar Army in various United Nations Peacekeeping roles and tasks. The training curriculum will enable the participants of Myanmar Army with the requisite knowledge and skills to meet the evolving challenges of peacekeeping operations in accordance with principles, policies and guidelines of the United Nations.