UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 21st March 2022
Topics for the day:
- African technique used to translocate deer from Keoladeo
- Introducing African cheetahs to India
- India hopes to put down roots in Arctic
- Yemen rebels launch strikes on Saudi Aramco facilities
- Cyclone Asani
- World Happiness index
- Assam Accord
African technique used to translocate deer from Keoladeo
- An uncommon experiment with Africa’s Boma technique undertaken at Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur district for capturing and translocating spotted deer is set to improve the prey base in Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve, situated 450 km away.
- The move will lead to herbivores populating the forests ahead of the proposed shifting of two tigers to Mukundara.
What is the Boma technique ?
- The Boma capturing technique, which is popular in Africa, involves luring of animals into an enclosure by chasing them through a funnel-like fencing.
- The funnel tapers into an animal selection-cum-loading chute, supported with grass mats and green net to make it opaque for animals, which are then herded into a large vehicle for transport to another location.
- This old technique was earlier utilized to capture wild elephants for training and service.
- The National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA) technical committee has approved a proposal to shift two tigers from Ranthambhore National Park to Mukundara, which lost two tigers and two cubs in 2020 and is now left with an eight year-old tigress.
Mukundara reserve :
- The reserve, spread across 759 sq. km area, was created with the portions of Darrah, Chambal and Jawahar Sagar wildlife sanctuaries in south-eastern Rajasthan.
More on the news :
- Recently six chitals or spotted deer were shifted by using the Boma technique
- The herbivores were confined without any physical contact in the enclosure spread over 10 hectares for a few days with the management of grass feed and water and their movement was monitored from watch towers.
- As Chitals are faint hearted a modified large truck for their translocation with the creation of waterbodies, fountain and grass carpet was used.
- The passive capture of ungulates with this Boma technique will make a significant contribution to the prey base management in the State. A similar translocation will be carried out for Kailadevi wildlife sanctuary
- The translocation of herbivores would reduce preying upon rural cattle, sheep and goat around the tiger reserves, it is believed.
National tiger conservation authority :
- National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
- It was constituted under enabling provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation
- No alteration in the boundaries of a tiger reserve shall be made except on a recommendation of the NTCA and the approval of the National Board for Wild Life.
- No State Government shall de-notify a tiger reserve, except in public interest with the approval of the NTCA and the approval of the National Board for Wild Life.
Introducing African cheetahs to India
- The cheetah, which became extinct in India after Independence, is all set to return with the Union Government launching an action plan.
- According to the plan, about 50 of these big cats will be introduced in the next fve years, from the Africa savannas, home to cheetahs, an endangered species.
What was the distribution of cheetahs in India? What were the habitats?
- Historically, Asiatic cheetahs had a very wide distribution in India.
- There are authentic reports of their occurrence from as far north as Punjab to Tirunelveli district in southern Tamil Nadu, from Gujarat and Rajasthan in the west to Bengal in the east.
- The distribution range of the cheetah was wide and spread all over the subcontinent. They occurred in substantial numbers.
- The cheetah’s habitat was also diverse, favouring the more open habitats: scrub forests, dry grasslands, savannas and other arid and semi-arid open habitats.
What is reintroduction and why reintroduce Cheetah now?
- ‘Reintroduction’ of a species means releasing it in an area where it is capable of surviving.
- Reintroductions of large carnivores have increasingly been recognised as a strategy to conserve threatened species and restore ecosystem functions.
- The cheetah can also be used as a charismatic flagship and umbrella species to garner resources
- The cheetah is the only large carnivore that has been extirpated, mainly by over-hunting in India in historical times.
- India now has the economic ability to consider restoring its lost natural heritage for ethical as well as ecological reasons
- However criticism exists as :
- It is believed African cheetahs are not required to perform the role of the top predator in these habitats when the site (Kuno) that they have identifed already has a resident population of leopards, transient tigers and is also the site for the translocation of Asiatic lions.
- In other open dry habitats in India there are species performing this role,g., wolf and caracal, both of which are highly endangered
- The Government’s official estimate is expecting, at best only a few dozen cheetahs at a couple of sites however this will require continuous and intensive management. Such a small number of cats at very few sites cannot meet the stated goal of performing its ecological function
Facts about the cheetah :
- The cheetah is one of the oldest of the big cat species, with ancestors that can be traced back more than five million years to the Miocene era.
- The cheetah is also the world’s fastest land mammal.
- The country’s last spotted feline died in Chhattisgarh in 1947.
- Later, the cheetah which is the fastest land animal was declared extinct in India in 1952.
- The Asiatic cheetah is classified as a “critically endangered” species by the IUCN Red List, and is believed to survive only in Iran.
- African Cheetah is listed as vulnerable in IUCN red listed species.
What is the current status of this project? What are the chances of it succeeding?
- According to the Government, Kuno is ready to receive the cheetahs. About a month ago a team of government officials visited Namibia to inspect the cheetahs
- The cheetahs are to be provided by the Cheetah Conservation Fund, an NGO, and not the Namibian government.
- Three to five cheetahs are expected to be part of the first group of cats and these are expected to arrive as early as May 2022 and released in the wild by August 15.
- Given all the challenges, especially the lack of extensive areas extending in hundreds if not thousands of square kilometers with sufficient density of suitable prey, it is very unlikely that African cheetahs would ever establish themselves in India as a truly wild and self-perpetuating population.
India hopes to put down roots in Arctic
- India aspires to have a permanent presence with more research and satellite ground stations in the Arctic region, suggests its Arctic Policy document
- India now has a single station, Himadri, in Ny-Alesund, Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago, where research personnel are usually present for 180 days.
- India has had a research base in the region since 2008 and also has two observatories.
Steps being taken by India :
- India is in the process of procuring an ice-breaker research vessel that can navigate the region.
- Through its existing satellites, India aspires to capture more detailed images to “assist in the development of the Arctic region”.
- India has sent 13 expeditions to the Arctic since 2007 and runs 23 active science projects.
- Nearly 25 institutes and universities are currently involved in Arctic research in India and close to a hundred peer-reviewed papers have been published on Arctic issues
Importance of the region :
- Arctic weather infuences the Indian monsoon and hence has been of interest to Indian researchers.
- Region is important to study climate change and the melting of ice caps
- Beyond science, India also expects business opportunities.
- Explore opportunities for responsible exploration of natural resources and minerals in the Arctic.
- Identify opportunities for investment in Arctic infrastructure such as offshore exploration, mining, ports, railways, information technology and airports.
- Its also expected Indian private industry to invest in the establishment and improvement of such infrastructure.
More about the arctic Council :
- The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues
- The Arctic Council works as a consensus-based body to deal with issues such as the change in biodiversity, melting sea ice, plastic pollution and black carbon.
- Eight nations – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Russia, Sweden and the United States make up the Arctic Council
- India has the status of ‘Observer’ member – 12 other countries have such a status in the Arctic Council and participates in several meetings that are mostly themed around research
- The Arctic Council Secretariat is located in Tromso, Norway.
Yemen rebels launch strikes on Saudi Aramco facilities
- Yemen’s Houthi rebels unleashed a barrage of drone and missile strikes on Saudi Arabia that targeted key facilities, including natural gas and desalination plants
- This comes after a Saudi Aramco plant was attacked in 2019 by a combination of drones and cruise missiles even when the plant was deep in Saudi territory, 500 miles from Yemeni soil.
War in yemen :
- One of the Arab world’s poorest countries, Yemen has been devastated by a near seven-year civil war, which started after Houthis captured the capital Sana’a
- Following this Saudi-led forces intervened and fought the rebels with the aim of ending Iranian influence in the region and restoring the former government.
- The UAE joined the Saudi campaign in 2015 and has been deeply involved in the conflict ever since, despite announcing the formal withdrawal of its forces in 2019
The war in Yemen: Background:
- The conflict has its roots in the Arab Spring of 2011, when an uprising forced the country’s long-time authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand over power to his deputy,Mansour Hadi.
- The political transition was supposed to bring stability to Yemen, one of the Middle East’s poorest nations, but President Hadi struggled to deal with various problems including militant attacks, corruption, food insecurity etc.
- Fighting began in 2014 when the Houthi Shia Muslim rebel movement took advantage of the new president’s weakness and seized control of northern Sana’a province and neighbouring areas.
Why is Saudi Arabia in Yemen?
- Saudi Arabia interfered in Yemen after the Shia Houthi rebels captured Sana’a, the capital city, and the internationally recognised government of President Hadi moved to the country’s south.
- The rapid rise of the Houthis in Yemen set off alarm bells in Saudi Arabia which saw them as Iranian proxies.
- Saudi Arabia started a military campaign in March 2015, hoping for a quick victory against the Houthis.
- But the Houthis had dug in, refusing to leave despite Saudi Arabia’s aerial blitzkrieg.
- With no effective allies on the ground and no way-out plan, the Saudi-led campaign went on with no tangible result.
- In the past six years, the Houthis have launched multiple attacks on Saudi cities from northern Yemen in retaliation for Saudi air strikes.
How bad is Yemen’s humanitarian situation?
- Since the Saudi intervention in 2015, at least 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen, according to the WHO.
- The widespread damage caused to infrastructure by the coalition airstrikes and lack of supplies of food and medicines due to the blockade have pushed Yemen into a humanitarian catastrophe.
- About 12 million people are at the risk of starvation if aid doesn’t reach them fast.
- The country has also seen a massive cholera outbreak. A child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen from preventable causes, says UNICEF.
- People living in coastal areas of Andaman and Nicobar Islands were evacuated to safety as the archipelago experienced heavy rain and strong winds due to Cyclone Asani
About the storm :
- The depression over the southeast Bay of Bengal intensified first into a deep depression and later into a cyclonic storm.
- Shipping services between the islands and those connecting Chennai and Visakhapatnam have been stopped and fishermen have been warned not to venture into the sea as the year’s first cyclonic storm neared the archipelago.
- The system is expected to move towards the Bangladesh-Myanmar coasts.
How are cyclones named ?
- Recently the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has released a list with the names of 169 tropical cyclones that are likely to emerge over the north Indian Ocean, including the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.
- IMD, one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres (RSMC) in the world, is mandated to issue advisories and name tropical cyclones in the north Indian Ocean region.
- The advisories are issued to 13 member countries under WMO/ESCAP Panel on tropical cyclones including Bangladesh, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
- While sending their suggestions, countries have to follow some rules such as: The proposed name should be neutral to (a) politics and political figures (b) religious beliefs, (c) cultures and (d) gender – The panel can reject any name.
World Happiness index
- India may be one of the fastest growing economies of the world, but it is among the least happy countries.
- The World Happiness Report 2022 ranked India 136th – tenth from the bottom of the list.
The World Happiness Report:
- The World Happiness Report is a publication of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network
- The report, uses global survey data to report on how people evaluate their own lives, besides economic and social parameters.
- The rankings are based on average data of a three-year period of 2019-2021.
- World Happiness Report evaluates levels of happiness by taking into account factors such as GDP, social support, personal freedom, and levels of corruption in each nation.
Highlights of the report:
- Finland topped the list for the fifth time in a row, according to the 10th edition of the World Happiness Report.
- Finland was followed by Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
- India continued to fare poorly in the world happiness index, with its position marginally improving to 136 as against last year’s 139.
- Among the South Asian nations, only Taliban-ruled Afghanistan fared worse than India.
- Afghanistan was named the most unhappy country in the world, ranking last on the index of 146 countries.
- The Happiness report also stated that India was one among the countries that witnessed, over the past 10 years, a fall in life evaluations by more than a full point on the 0 to 10 scale.
- Recently the Assam government informed the Assembly that nearly 44 lakh illegal foreigners had been identified in the state based on the 1985 Assam Accord, and around 30,000 of them had been deported to their country of origin
More on the accord :
- The Assam Accord was signed in 1985 by the Centre and the Assam government with the All Assam Student Union (AASU) and the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad, which had spearheaded the 1979-85 Assam Movement against migration from Bangladesh.
- The Accord set March 24, 1971 as a cut-off. Anyone who had come to Assam before midnight on that date would be an Indian citizen, while those who had come after would be dealt with as foreigners.
- The same cut-off was used in updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC)
- Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, promises “constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people”, but doesn’t provide clear cut definitions to identify who would be the “Assamese people”.
- As per the Accord, those Bangladeshis who came between 1966 and 1971 will be barred from voting for ten years.
What is a Foreigners tribunal?
- Foreigners’ Tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies established as per the Foreigners’ Tribunal Order, 1964 and the Foreigners’ Act, 1946.
- Composition: Advocates not below the age of 35 years of age with at least 7 years of practice (or) Retired Judicial Officers from the Assam Judicial Service (or) Retired IAS of ACS Officers (not below the rank of Secretary/Addl. Secretary) having experience in quasi-judicial works.
- The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has empowered district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals (quasi-judicial bodies) to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.
- The amended order (Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 2019) also empowers individuals to approach the Tribunals.
- Earlier, only the State administration could move the Tribunal against a suspect.
UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 21st March 2022
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