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25-April -2024- Top News of the Day

1. No forests or animals will be left if human-wildlife conflicts continue: SC

Topic: GS3 – Environment and Ecology – Conservations

The topic reflects UPSC’s focus on environmental governance, wildlife conservation, and balancing rights, crucial for understanding policy-making and legal frameworks.

Context:
●  The Supreme Court addresses human-wildlife conflicts in Assam’s Pobitora wildlife sanctuary, emphasizing the need for balance between human rights and wildlife protection.

 Additional information on this news:

  • The Supreme Court highlighted the danger human-wildlife conflicts pose to forests and wildlife.
  • Justice B.R. Gavai emphasized the need to strike a balance between the rights of both stakeholders.
  • The case concerned the demarcation of boundaries of Assam’s Pobitora wildlife sanctuary and rights of villagers.
  • The Assam government formed a special committee chaired by the Chief Secretary (Forests) to survey and suggest alterations in sanctuary boundaries.
  • The committee includes representation from wildlife authorities.
  • State proposals will be reviewed by the National Board of Wildlife and the Supreme Court.
  • The court ordered inclusion of wildlife representatives in the special committee.
  • Proposed changes aim to address both human settlements and growing rhinoceros population.
  • Justice Gavai stressed considering the human aspect alongside environmental concerns.
  • On March 13, the apex court stayed Assam government’s decision to denotify the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary.
Human-Wildlife Conflicts

Reasons:

  • Habitat Loss: Human encroachment into wildlife habitats due to urbanization, agriculture, and infrastructure development reduces available habitat for wildlife, leading to increased encounters with humans.
  • Fragmentation: Fragmentation of natural habitats by roads, fences, and other barriers disrupts wildlife movement patterns, forcing animals to venture into human settlements in search of food and shelter.
  • Human Activities: Human activities such as deforestation, logging, hunting, and poaching disrupt ecosystems, alter natural behaviours of wildlife, and exacerbate human-wildlife conflicts.
  • Crop Raiding: Wildlife species may raid agricultural crops and livestock for food, resulting in conflicts with farmers and loss of livelihoods.
  • Climate Change: Climate change affects wildlife habitats, food availability, and migration patterns, forcing animals to adapt to changing conditions and increasing interactions with humans.
  • Lack of Awareness: Lack of awareness among communities about coexistence with wildlife, proper waste management, and conflict mitigation measures contributes to human-wildlife conflicts.

Way Forward:

  • Habitat Protection: Protect and conserve wildlife habitats through habitat restoration, wildlife corridors, and protected areas to reduce habitat loss and fragmentation.
  • Community Engagement: Involve local communities in wildlife conservation efforts, raise awareness about coexistence with wildlife, and provide training on conflict mitigation techniques.
  • Early Warning Systems: Develop and implement early warning systems, such as alarms, lights, and deterrents, to prevent wildlife incursions into human settlements and agricultural areas.
  • Livelihood Diversification: Support livelihood diversification strategies for communities living near wildlife habitats, including ecotourism, sustainable agriculture, and alternative income-generating activities.
  • Conflict Resolution: Implement effective conflict resolution measures, such as compensation schemes for crop damage, predator-proof enclosures, and non-lethal deterrents, to minimize human-wildlife conflicts.
  • Policy and Regulation: Strengthen wildlife protection laws, enforce regulations on habitat conservation and land use planning, and promote sustainable development practices to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts.
  • Research and Monitoring: Conduct research on human-wildlife interactions, monitor wildlife populations, and assess the effectiveness of mitigation measures to inform evidence-based decision-making and adaptive management strategies.
PYQ: Identify and discuss the factors responsible for diversity of natural vegetation in India. Assess the significance of wildlife sanctuaries in rain forest regions of India. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2023)
Practice Question:  Discuss the factors contributing to human-wildlife conflicts and propose strategies for mitigation. How can effective policy interventions and community engagement ensure sustainable coexistence between humans and wildlife? (250 Words /15 marks)

2. On the National Clean Air Programme

Topic: GS2 – Governance – Government Policies

GS3 – Environment – Environmental pollution and degradation

Understanding the challenges and strategies of India’s National Clean Air Programme is crucial for environmental governance and sustainability.

Context:
●  The news is about the challenges faced in implementing India’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) aimed at reducing atmospheric particulate matter concentration.

 Introduction:

  • The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) was launched by the Indian government in 2019 to reduce atmospheric particulate matter (PM) concentration.
  • Initially aimed at cutting PM levels by 20-30% by 2024, the target was later revised to 40% by 2026.

Challenges in NCAP Implementation:

  • Inconsistent implementation of Clean Air Action Plans (CAAPs) despite proactive submission by most cities.
  • Average utilization of allocated funds stands at only 60%, with significant underspending in some cities like Visakhapatnam and Bengaluru.
  • Implementation delays due to bureaucratic hurdles, lack of standard operating procedures, and doubts regarding the effectiveness of proposed measures.

Role of Scientific Tools:

  • Emissions Inventory (EI) and Source Apportionment (SA) studies critical for identifying pollution sources and shaping targeted control strategies.
  • Air Quality (AQ) modelling informs pollution dispersion, aiding understanding of pollution origins and impacts.

Utilisation of Scientific Tools:

  • Only 37% of cities have completed EI and SA studies, hindering the effectiveness of CAAPs.
  • Lack of data compromises cities’ ability to set realistic targets and allocate funds appropriately.
  • Focus on concentration data overlooks the contribution of external sources and secondary pollutants, necessitating a comprehensive approach.

Requirements for NCAP Success:

  • Swift and effective implementation on the ground essential, requiring streamlined bureaucratic processes and standardized technical evaluations.
  • Prior budgeting and time management crucial for achieving performance-based funding linked to PM concentration reduction targets.

Conclusion:

  • NCAP’s success depends on a multifaceted approach combining scientific studies, strategic funding, and efficient implementation of mitigation measures.
  • Despite challenges, achieving cleaner air in India through NCAP remains imperative for public health and environmental sustainability.
Steps taken for improvement of air quality

●     National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):

  • Launched in January 2019 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to improve air quality in 131 cities.
  • Aims to reduce PM10 concentration by 40% by 2025-26 from 2017 levels.
  • Cities prepare and implement Clean Air Action Plans (CAAPs) targeting specific air polluting sources.
  • Financial support provided to cities for CAAP implementation.
  • Public Grievance Redressal Portal and Emergency Response System established.

●     Measures for Vehicular Emission Control:

  • Transition to BS-VI fuel standards.
  • RFID system for toll collection and Environment Compensation Charges.
  • Promotion of BS VI compliant vehicles.
  • Subsidies for electric vehicles and CBG production.
  • Operationalization of expressways and highways.

●     Measures for Industrial Emission Control:

  • Installation of SO2 and NOx emission standards for Thermal Power Plants.
  • Ban on pet coke and furnace oil.
  • Deployment of OCEMS in red category industries.
  • Shifting to PNG/cleaner fuels in industrial units.

●     Measures for Stubble Burning Control:

  • Subsidy for crop residue management machinery.
  • Establishment of paddy straw based pelletization and Torrefaction plants.
  • Deployment of flying squads to prevent stubble burning.

●     Actions by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB):

  • Air quality monitoring network with 1447 stations.
  •  Installation of Vapour Recovery System in petrol pumps.
  • Issuance of industry-specific discharge standards.
  • Research projects for scientific inputs.
  • Regular ground-level monitoring and stakeholder consultation.
  • Regulatory actions and implementation of GRAP.

●     Other actions:

  •  Funding for road construction/repair and procurement of anti-smog guns.
  • Funding for retrofitment/upgradation of DG sets in government hospitals.

PYQ: (UPSC civil services prelims 2016)

Q. In the cities of our country, which among the following atmospheric gases are normally considered in calculating the value of Air Quality Index? (2016)

1.     Carbon dioxide

2.     Carbon monoxide

3.     Nitrogen dioxide

4.     Sulphur dioxide

5.     Methane

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only
(b) 2, 3 and 4 only
(c) 1, 4 and 5 only
(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Ans: Option B

 

Mains:

Describe the key points of the revised Global Air-Quality Guidelines (AQGs) recently released by the World Health Organisation (WHO). How are these different from its last update in 2005? What changes in India’s National Clean Air Programme are required to achieve these revised standards? (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2021)

Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of scientific tools such as Emissions Inventory, Air Quality modelling, and Source Apportionment in addressing air pollution under India’s National Clean Air Programme. (150 Words /10 marks)

3. Nearly 282 mn people faced acute hunger in 2023: report

Topic:  GS1 – Society – Poverty and developmental issues

GS2 – Social Justice – Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

The topic is crucial for UPSC as it assesses global governance, humanitarian crises, and sustainable development goals’ progress.

Context
The news highlights worsening global food insecurity in 2023, with 282 million people suffering from acute hunger due to conflicts, extreme weather, and economic shocks.

 Additional information on this news:

  • In 2023, global food insecurity worsened, with 282 million people suffering from acute hunger due to conflicts, notably in Gaza and Sudan.
  • Extreme weather events and economic shocks also contributed to the rise in acute food insecurity.
  • The Food Security Information Network (FSIN) released a report highlighting the bleak global outlook for the year.
  • This marked the fifth consecutive year of increases in people facing acute food insecurity.
  • Much of the rise was due to expanded geographic coverage in the report and deteriorating conditions in 12 countries.
  • New or intensified shocks were experienced in various geographical areas, with notable deterioration in Sudan and Gaza Strip.
  • Approximately 700,000 people, including 600,000 in Gaza, were on the brink of starvation, with the figure now reaching 1.1 million in Gaza.
  • Since 2016, the number of food-insecure people has risen from 108 million to 282 million, with a doubling in the population share affected.
  • Protracted major food crises persist in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Syria, and Yemen.
  • However, improvements were noted in 17 countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ukraine.
Factors contributing to the worsening global food insecurity

Factors Contributing:

  • Climate Change: Erratic weather patterns, extreme events, and rising temperatures affect crop yields, water availability, and food production, exacerbating food insecurity.
  • Conflict and Displacement: Armed conflicts, civil unrest, and displacement disrupt food systems, agriculture, and livelihoods, leading to food shortages and humanitarian crises.
  • Poverty and Inequality: Poverty, income disparities, and lack of access to resources such as land, credit, and education limit food access and perpetuate food insecurity among marginalized populations.
  • Natural Disasters: Natural disasters such as floods, droughts, hurricanes, and earthquakes damage crops, infrastructure, and food supply chains, causing food shortages and price spikes.
  • Economic Shocks: Economic downturns, market volatility, trade disruptions, and currency fluctuations impact food affordability, access, and availability, contributing to food insecurity.
  • Environmental Degradation: Land degradation, deforestation, soil erosion, and biodiversity loss degrade ecosystems, reduce agricultural productivity, and threaten food security.
  • Population Growth: Rapid population growth increases food demand, strain resources, and agricultural land, challenging efforts to meet the nutritional needs of growing populations.
  •  Food Waste: Significant food waste throughout the supply chain, from production to consumption, exacerbates food insecurity by reducing available food resources.

Way Forward:

  • Sustainable Agriculture: Promote sustainable agricultural practices, including conservation agriculture, agroecology, and climate-smart farming techniques, to enhance resilience and productivity.
  • Social Protection: Implement social protection programs such as food assistance, cash transfers, and nutrition support to vulnerable populations, ensuring access to nutritious food.
  • Conflict Resolution: Address root causes of conflict, promote peacebuilding efforts, and support conflict resolution mechanisms to mitigate the impact of conflicts on food security.
  • Investment in Infrastructure: Invest in rural infrastructure, irrigation systems, storage facilities, and transportation networks to improve agricultural productivity, market access, and food distribution.
  • Education and Empowerment: Enhance education and skills development, empower women and marginalized groups, and promote community resilience to build capacity and adapt to food insecurity.
  • Policy Coherence: Ensure policy coherence across sectors such as agriculture, health, trade, and environment to address underlying drivers of food insecurity and promote holistic approaches.
  • International Cooperation: Strengthen international cooperation, partnerships, and multilateral initiatives to address global food insecurity, share knowledge, resources, and best practices, and achieve sustainable development goals related to food security.

PYQ:

Q.1 Hunger and Poverty are the biggest challenges for good governance in India still today. Evaluate how far successive governments have progressed in dealing with these humongous problems. Suggest measures for improvement.
(150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2017)

Q.2 What are the salient features of the National Food Security Act, 2013? How has the Food Security Bill helped in eliminating hunger and malnutrition in India? (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2021)

Practice Question:  Examine the factors contributing to the worsening global food insecurity in 2023, and discuss its implications on international governance and development. (150 Words /10 marks)

4. Supreme Court Grapples with Interpretation of Article 39(b) in Property Rights Dispute

Topic: GS2 – Polity – Judiciary

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding the interpretation of Article 39(b) and its implications.

 

Context:
  • In the midst of widespread discussions on wealth distribution in India, the Supreme Court (SC) has commenced hearings on a case concerning the government’s authority to acquire and redistribute privately owned properties.
  • This case revolves around the interpretation of Article 39(b) of the Constitution, which pertains to the ownership and control of material resources for the common good.
More about the news:

Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP):

  • Article 39(b) falls under Part IV of the Constitution, known as the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP).
  • DPSP provides guiding principles for legislation, although they are not directly enforceable in court.
  • The article obliges the state to ensure that material resources are distributed to serve the common good.

Historical Precedents and Minority Opinion:

  • The SC has previously interpreted Article 39(b) in cases like State of Karnataka v Shri Ranganatha Reddy (1977).
  • In this case, Justice Krishna Iyer’s minority opinion argued that privately owned resources should also be considered material resources of the community, emphasizing the socialist principle of redistribution.

Affirmation of Justice Iyer’s Opinion:

  • Justice Iyer’s interpretation gained further traction in Sanjeev Coke Manufacturing Company v Bharat Coking Coal (1983), where the court upheld legislation nationalizing coal mines based on his ruling.
  • Despite Justice Iyer’s opinion being in the minority, subsequent judgments have relied on his interpretation, affirming the broad scope of Article 39(b).

Current Case: Dispute over Cessed Properties:

  • The current case before the SC stems from a challenge to the 1986 amendment to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Act, 1976 (MHADA).
  • This amendment allowed for the acquisition and redistribution of cessed properties in Mumbai, invoking Article 39(b) to justify the state’s intervention in private property rights.

Legal Proceedings and Reconsideration:

  • The dispute has been ongoing for over three decades, with the Bombay High Court upholding the legality of the MHADA amendment.
  • However, the Property Owners’ Association in Mumbai contested this decision, leading to an appeal in the SC.
  • The central question revolves around whether privately owned resources, including cessed buildings, fall under the purview of Article 39(b).

Current Status and Future Proceedings:

  • After several rounds of hearings and referrals, the case is currently being heard by a nine-judge Bench.
  • The SC has expressed reservations about adopting a broad interpretation of Article 39(b) to encompass privately owned resources, indicating the complexity of balancing property rights with the state’s obligation to promote the common good.

Conclusion:

  • The case underscores the nuanced legal and constitutional considerations involved in balancing individual property rights with the state’s duty to promote social welfare, as enshrined in Article 39(b) of the Constitution.
About Article 39(b)
  • The essence of Article 39 has been enumerated under sub-clauses (b) and (c).
  • Article 39(b) and (c) deals with ensuring a welfare society and the promotion of an egalitarian society.
  • In Kesavananda Bharati v. The State of Kerala (1973) the Supreme Court of India stated that in the process of development in any field like social, economic, and political, then such development shall not be in contravention to the individual’s right to dignity.
  • Hence, here the Supreme Court observed that even the framers of the Indian Constitution were of the opinion that to not have such a society where the individuals have not ensured any sort of dignity.
  • In a landmark Supreme Court judgement of the State of Bihar v. Kameshwar Singh AIR (1952) the Hon’ble Court explicitly held that any legislation that aims at doing away with the concentration of wealth/land in the hands of a few and promotes an egalitarian approach would be beneficial for the society as a whole and this would encourage an inclusive development that would further the cause as enumerated under the Article 39(b) and (c) of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Hon’ble Court under the Assam Sillimanite Ltd. v. Union of India (1992) explained what is “material resources of the community” that has been mentioned under Article 39(b) of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Court said, the above-mentioned term means and includes all those things that are apt of creating wealth for the community as a whole.
  • In the above-mentioned case, the Supreme Court held that any Act, legislation, etc. which aims at expanding the production and supply of the refractories in order to meet the crucial demand of the iron and steel industry is well protected under Article 39(b) of the Indian Constitution.

 

Practice Question:  Discuss the significance of Article 39(b) of the Indian Constitution in shaping government policies related to property rights and social welfare. (250 words/15 m)

 

5. Diphu's Election Focus: Candidates Vow to Implement Article 244(A) for Regional Autonomy

Topic: GS2 – Polity

This topic is relevant for both Prelims and Mains in the context of understanding Article 244(A) and its implications.

 

Context:
  • In Assam’s tribal-majority Diphu Lok Sabha constituency, candidates across all political parties have made promises regarding the implementation of Article 244(A) of the Constitution, which proposes the creation of an autonomous ‘state within a state’.
  • This has been a longstanding election promise in Diphu, reflecting the region’s aspirations for greater autonomy and self-governance.
More about the news:

Social Profile of Diphu: A Tribal Majority Area:

  • Diphu, with just 8.9 lakh voters, is the most sparsely populated of Assam’s 14 Lok Sabha constituencies and is reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • It encompasses six legislative Assembly segments in three tribal-majority hill districts: Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong, and Dima Hasao.
  • These areas are administered under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, with two autonomous councils governing them.

Understanding Article 244(A): A Proposal for Enhanced Autonomy:

  • Article 244(A), inserted by the Constitution (Twenty-second Amendment) Act, 1969, empowers Parliament to create autonomous states within Assam, including regions like Karbi Anglong.
  • This provision aims to provide regions with their own legislature or council of ministers, going beyond the limited powers granted by the existing Sixth Schedule.

Historical Context and Demand for Autonomy:

  • The demand for autonomy in the Karbi Anglong region dates back to the 1950s, with aspirations for a separate hill state.
  • Despite the creation of Meghalaya in 1972, the leaders of Karbi Anglong chose to remain with Assam, banking on the promises of Article 244(A).
  • Various movements and organizations, including the Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC), have advocated for enhanced autonomy, leading to peace accords and agreements with militant groups.

Current Political Dynamics and Electoral Promises:

  • Despite past peace settlements, discussions around Article 244(A) remain pertinent in the electoral discourse.
  • Candidates, including former militants like Horen Sing Bey of the BJP, continue to emphasize autonomy demands, reflecting the region’s persistent aspirations.
  • However, skepticism remains regarding the actual implementation of autonomy promises by successive governments, with allegations of insufficient commitment to granting greater autonomy.

Conclusion:

  • The electoral landscape in Diphu reflects the enduring desire for autonomy and self-governance among its tribal communities, as evidenced by the focus on implementing Article 244(A) by candidates across political parties.
  • However, the gap between electoral promises and tangible progress in autonomy remains a point of contention, highlighting the need for sustained efforts towards addressing the region’s aspirations for greater self-determination.
About article 244(A) and Sixth Schedule
  • Article 244(A) allows for creation of an ‘autonomous state’ within Assam in certain tribal areas.
  • It also envisages creation of a local legislature or Council of Ministers or both to carry out local administration.
  • It was Inserted into the Constitution by the Twenty-second Constitution Amendment Act, 1969.
  • Article 244(A) accounts for more autonomous powers to tribal areas than the Sixth Schedule. Among these the most important power is the control over law and order.
  • In Autonomous Councils under the Sixth Schedule, they do not have jurisdiction of law and order.
  • Sixth Schedule
  • The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution provides for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram to safeguard the rights of the tribal population in these states.
  • This special provision is provided under Article 244 (2) and Article 275 (1) of the Constitution.
  • In Assam, the hill districts of Dima Hasao, Karbi Anglong and West Karbi and the Bodo Territorial Region are under this provision.
  • The Governor is empowered to increase or decrease the areas or change the names of the autonomous districts. While executive powers of the Union extend in Scheduled areas with respect to their administration in fifth schedule, the sixth schedule areas remain within executive authority of the state.
  • The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes in any state except the four states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
  • The whole of the normal administrative machinery operating in a state do not extend to the scheduled areas.
  • At present, 10 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana have Fifth Schedule Area.
  • Tribal habitations in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir have not been brought under the Fifth or Sixth Schedule.
  • The acts of Parliament or the state legislature do not apply to autonomous districts and autonomous regions or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.
  • The Councils have also been endowed with wide civil and criminal judicial powers, for example establishing village courts etc. However, the jurisdiction of these councils is subject to the jurisdiction of the concerned High Court.

 

PYQ: Article 244 of Indian Constitution relates to Administration of Scheduled areas and tribal areas. Analyze the impact of non-implementation of the provisions of fifth schedule on the growth of Left Wing Extremism. (200 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-3 2013)
Practice Question:  Discuss the historical significance and contemporary relevance of Article 244(A) in the context of tribal autonomy in Assam. (250 words/15 m)

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