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Daily Current Affairs

9-November-2023

1. Kerala moves SC against Governor again.

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity.

Context:

  • The Kerala government has moved the Supreme Court against Governor Arif Mohammed Khan for delaying the approval of crucial Bills, especially related to post-COVID public health concerns.
  • The State argues that the Governor’s lack of urgency in addressing these Bills violates the fundamental right to life of the people of Kerala.

Impact of State Government – Governor conflict:

  • Political Appointments: Governors are often appointed based on political affiliations, leading to potential conflicts with state governments run by different political parties.
  • Legislative Delays: Conflicts between governors and state governments can lead to delays in the legislative process as bills may be held back by the governor.
  • Governance Challenges: The disputes can affect the functioning of state governments, leading to governance challenges.
  • Legal Implications: The issue can escalate to legal battles and reach the courts, as seen in the Kerala government’s recent move to the Supreme Court.
  • Impacts on Welfare: Prolonged conflicts can affect the welfare of citizens, as crucial bills may not be enacted in a timely manner.
  • Political Posturing: Such conflicts can also involve political posturing, as both sides seek to assert their authority and positions.
  • Constitutional Balance: Finding a balance between the powers of the governor and the state government is crucial for effective governance.
  • Calls for Reform: Ongoing conflicts have led to calls for reforms in the appointment and functioning of state governors.

Question: Critically analyze the impact of conflicts between state governments and governors in India on governance and the legislative process.

2. Govt. mulls ban on all taxis from other States when odd-even scheme kicks off

Topic: GS3 – air pollution.

Context:

  • The Delhi government has proposed banning the entry of all taxis from other states when implementing the odd-even vehicle-rationing scheme.
  • The proposal is in response to the Supreme Court’s suggestion that only taxis registered in Delhi should be allowed in the city to address air quality concerns.
  • The week-long traffic plan, known as the odd-even scheme, is set to be implemented after Deepavali, a festival when air pollution typically increases.

Other actions taken by the government to curb pollution in Delhi:

  • Construction Restrictions: The government has imposed restrictions on construction activities during the winter months when pollution levels tend to be higher.
  • Ban on Firecrackers: The sale and use of firecrackers have been banned during festivals to reduce air pollution.
  • Promotion of Electric Vehicles: Initiatives have been launched to promote electric vehicles and reduce the reliance on fossil fuel-powered vehicles.
  • Air Quality Index Monitoring: The government regularly monitors air quality through the Air Quality Index (AQI) and issues health advisories based on pollution levels.
  • Dust Control Measures: Efforts are made to control dust pollution, including the use of dust suppressants on roads and construction sites.
  • Improved Public Transport: The government is working to improve public transportation systems to reduce the number of private vehicles on the road.
  • Introduction of BS-VI Fuel: The introduction of Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) fuel standards for vehicles aims to reduce emissions from vehicles.
  • Implementation of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP): GRAP is a set of emergency measures that are implemented when pollution levels reach severe levels. These measures include banning diesel generators, closing brick kilns, and increasing parking fees.

3. Wild elephant electrocuted in Chittoor district of A.P.

Topic: GS3 – man animal conflict

Context:

  • A wild elephant was electrocuted in Gantavari Palli village of Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The incident occurred when a herd of wild elephants entered the area a few days ago.

Electrocution of animals in India:

  • Electrocution of animals in India has become a pressing issue, particularly for wildlife.
  • This problem often arises due to the unsafe placement of power transformers and wires, leading to unintended encounters between animals and electrical infrastructure.
  • Several species, including elephants, tigers, leopards, and various bird species, have fallen victim to electrocution while navigating human-dominated landscapes.
  • Electrocution poses a significant threat to the already vulnerable populations of these animals.
  • Wildlife conservationists and governmental authorities are collaborating to find solutions to this problem.
  • One effective approach is elevating power lines and creating safer electrical infrastructure to reduce the risk to animals.
  • Awareness campaigns are crucial in educating the public about this issue and encouraging cooperation to prevent further harm to India’s diverse wildlife.

4. Kerala forms Organic Farming Mission to boost agriculture

Topic: GS3 – organic farming.

Context:

  • The Kerala government has established an Organic Farming Mission to promote sustainable organic and climate-smart farming practices in the state.
  • The mission’s goal is to expand organic farming to 5,000 hectares in the next five years, with an annual target of 1,000 hectares.

Need to promote organic farming on national scale:

  • Improved environmental health:Organic farming practices, such as crop rotation and cover cropping, help to improve soil health, reduce erosion, and conserve water. They also prevent the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers, which can pollute waterways and harm wildlife.
  • Enhanced food quality:Organic food is often higher in nutrients and lower in pesticides than conventionally grown food. This is because organic farming methods emphasize the use of natural fertilizers and pest control, which are less likely to harm the nutritional value of crops.
  • Greater economic benefits for farmers:Organic farmers can often command higher prices for their products, which can lead to increased profits. They also tend to have lower production costs, as they do not need to purchase expensive pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Positive impact on public health:By reducing the use of pesticides and fertilizers, organic farming can help to protect human health. Pesticides have been linked to a number of health problems, including cancer, birth defects, and neurological damage.
  • Support for biodiversity: Organic farming practices, such as crop rotation and habitat creation, can help to support biodiversity. This is because they provide a variety of habitats for different species of plants and animals.

 

Challenges:

  • Low awareness and understanding among farmers: Many farmers in India are not aware of the benefits of organic farming or how to implement organic practices. This lack of knowledge can make it difficult to convince farmers to switch to organic methods.
  • Transition period and initial yield losses: Converting to organic farming often involves a transition period during which crop yields may decline. This can discourage farmers from making the switch, as they may fear financial losses.
  • High cost of organic inputs: Organic inputs, such as compost and manure, can be more expensive than conventional fertilizers and pesticides. This can make it difficult for farmers to afford to transition to organic farming.
  • Inadequate support infrastructure: There is a lack of support infrastructure for organic farmers in India, such as access to organic certification, marketing channels, and financial assistance. This can make it difficult for organic farmers to succeed.
  • Limited market demand: The demand for organic products in India is still relatively low. This can make it difficult for organic farmers to sell their products at a premium price.
  • Pesticide residues in soil: Many agricultural soils in India contain residues of pesticides and fertilizers from conventional farming practices. These residues can contaminate organic crops, making it difficult to obtain organic certification.
  • Pest and disease management: Organic farming relies on natural pest and disease control methods, which can be more challenging than conventional methods using pesticides.
  • Lack of government support: Government policies and incentives for organic farming are often inadequate. This can discourage farmers from making the switch to organic methods.

Steps taken by the Indian government in this regard:

  • Launch of the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY):The PKVY is a central sector scheme that was launched in 2015-16 with the aim of promoting organic farming in India. The scheme provides financial assistance to farmers for the adoption of organic practices, such as conversion to organic farming, certification, and marketing.
  • Establishment of the National Organic Product Promotion Programme (NOPP): The scheme provides financial assistance to farmers, entrepreneurs, and institutions for the production, processing, certification, and marketing of organic products.
  • Formulation of the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA):The NMSA is a central sector scheme that was launched in 2015-16 with the aim of promoting sustainable agriculture in India. The scheme includes a component on organic farming that provides financial assistance to farmers for the adoption of organic practices.
  • Enactment of the Organic Farming Regulations, 2015:The Organic Farming Regulations, 2015, were enacted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in 2015. The regulations lay down the standards for organic farming in India and provide for the certification of organic products.
  • Establishment of the Central Organic Products Certification Agency (COPCA):The COPCA is a statutory body that was established in 2015 under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. The COPCA is responsible for the accreditation of organic certification agencies in India.
  • Promotion of organic farming through Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs):KVKs are agricultural extension centers that are established by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in collaboration with state governments. KVKs play an important role in promoting organic farming through training, demonstrations, and awareness campaigns.

Question: Critically evaluate the steps taken by the Indian government to promote organic farming in the country. Analyze the challenges and opportunities associated with the promotion of organic farming in India.

5. World will overshoot 2030 fossil fuel limit by twice over: report

Topic: GS3 – fossil fuel consumption

Context:

  • Despite global consensus on eliminating fossil fuel emissions, many governments plan to produce twice as much fossil fuels in 2030 as needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Highlights of the report:

  • These plans also exceed what’s consistent with limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
  • 151 governments have pledged to achieve Net-Zero emissions between 2050-2070, but current forecasts indicate rising coal, oil, and gas production.
  • Global coal production is expected to increase until 2030, and oil and gas production will continue at least until 2050.
  • The Production Gap Report, released by organizations including the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), highlights these trends.
  • Governments are promoting fossil gas as a transition fuel without clear plans to transition away from it later.

6. Trouble with India’s guidelines on genetically modified insects

Topic: GS3 –Science and technology

Funding for biotechnology

  • The funding for biotechnology in India has been stagnating for a while.
  • The current allocation is also only 0.0001% of India’s GDP.
  • More funding is needed to attract private funding in biotechnology research and development.

Policies for biotechnology

  • The guidelines for genetically edited insects are not in sync with the broader commitment to contributing to the bioeconomy.
  • The guidelines are more procedural in nature than indicative of governmental policy.
  • The guidelines are applicable only to research and not to confined trials or deployment.
  • The guidelines offer standard operating procedures for GE mosquitoes,crop pests, and beneficial insects.
  • The lack of clarity about the insects and the modifications to them that are deemed ‘beneficial’ will impede funders and scientists from investing in this research.

Other issues

  • The guidelines do not specify the purposes for which GE insects may be approved in India or how the DBT,as a promoter of biotechnology, envisions their use.
  • The guidelines do not sufficiently account for more dangerous possibilities.

Recommendations

  • The government should increase funding for biotechnology.
  • The government should develop policies that are in sync with the broader commitment to contributing to the bioeconomy.
  • The government should clarify the purposes for which GE insects may be approved in India.
  • The government should develop policies that encourage risk-taking appetite within Indian scientists.

7. Electoral Bonds and Electoral Trusts: how they are different

Topic: GS2- Polity and Governance

Context:

  • The challenge to the Electoral Bonds (EB) Scheme was heard over three days, and on November 3, the Supreme Court postponed making a decision. 2018 saw the introduction of this contentious program; however, the UPA government had previously launched the Electoral Trusts (ET) Scheme in 2013.
  • The goal of both programs was to make it easier for businesses and private citizens to donate to politics. Yet when it comes to donor anonymity and transparency, these two programs differ significantly.

Electoral Trusts (ET) Scheme:

  • Contributions to electoral trusts were accepted under the ET Scheme, which was launched by the UPA-2 administration in 2013 and allowed people and companies registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956.
  • Every three fiscal years, these trusts had to seek for renewal and distribute 95% of their contributions to political parties that were registered under the 1951 Representation of the People Act.
  • The program required contributors to be transparent by requiring their passport numbers (for non-residents) or PANs (for residents) in order to make contributions.
  • Only a small percentage of registered trusts made yearly donations; the number ranged from three in 2013 to 17 in 2021–2022.

Differences from EB Scheme:

  • Transparency is achieved by the ET Scheme by revealing donations and recipients. When there is just one beneficiary and one giver, it is obvious who is providing the funding.
  • But when there are several donors and beneficiaries, it gets harder to identify which business is supporting which political party.
  • One of the few trusts that has continuously contributed since the scheme’s launch is the Prudent Electoral Trust, with sizeable sums mostly flowing to the BJP.
  • On the other hand, the EB Scheme protects donor confidentiality and excuses political parties from sharing donor information, citing concerns about privacy.

8. One year of Project Cheetah

Topic: GS3- Environment

Context:

  • One year has passed since the start of Project Cheetah, an extensive attempt to bring African cheetahs back to the wild in India.
  • According to the project, short-term success has been attained in terms of cheetah survival, home range establishment, cub birth, and generating cash for the local community.
  • A closer look, though, raises questions about the project’s viability and efficacy.

Survival and Time Spent in the Wild:

  • A key factor is the survival rate of introduced cheetahs in the wild. The duration of confinement (bomas) for male and female cheetahs prior to release was specified in the official Cheetah Action Plan.
  • After the cheetahs arrived in September 2022, they should have spent a total of 75 ‘cheetah months’ in the wild in the first 12 months.
  • In actuality, though, they were only outside the bomas for roughly 16 “cheetah months.”
  • In a similar vein, cheetahs brought in from South Africa were intended to spend significantly less time in the wild.

Survival and Reproduction:

  • Six of the project’s adult cheetahs died, and two were declared unfit for the wild, resulting in a 40% decline in the population.
  • Three of the four cubs that were born did not survive, which raised doubts about the project’s capacity to guarantee cheetah survival and procreation in the wild.

Home Range and Reproduction:

  • Three cheetahs are the only ones who have been in the wild for longer than three months straight; and even they have been confined to bomas since July. The successful reproduction of cheetahs in the wild was the aim of reproduction.
  • Nevertheless, the cubs of a Namibian female that gave birth in Kuno were born inside a hunting boma because she had been raised in captivity and was therefore unsuited for the wild.

Local Livelihood and Conflict:

  • The project did raise the value of the property around Kuno and provide jobs and contracts for the local community.
  • In a positive way there have been no reports of clashes between humans and cheetahs in the area.

Challenges and Mistakes:

  • One of the project’s obstacles was the cheetah species’ low variation in genes, which results in selective mating behavior. When males tried to approach females who weren’t in heat, violent confrontations happened.
  • There have also been cases of cub mortality from undetected maggot infestations and dehydration.

Kuno’s Carrying Capacity:

  • The project’s original objectives, which were to create a breeding population of cheetahs in and around Kuno that was free-ranging, have been replaced with “managing” a meta-population through assisted dispersal.
  • A self-sustaining population of cheetahs is not conceivable in Kuno, since new estimates indicate that the carrying capacity of the area may only support 21 cheetahs, down from the original estimate of 27.

Paradigm Shift and Genetic Viability:

  • Owing to Kuno’s capacity limitations, the project could have to create a meta-population that is dispersed throughout western and central India.
  • Periodically moving cheetahs between gated reserves—a strategy modeled after the South African model might be an answer, but it poses questions about how to preserve natural forest connection for the dispersal of species.

Way Forward:

  • Even while Project Cheetah has claimed some victories, it still faces formidable obstacles when it comes to cheetah survival, procreation, and preserving a genetically viable population.
  • Future iterations of the initiative might call for a paradigm change and careful planning on how to maintain the long-term viability of the cheetah population in India.

9. Why Bhutan’s first military op in 140 yrs came against Indian insurgents

Topic: History

Context:

  • During a historic three days in Assam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk of Bhutan held a meeting.
  • Though the two states share a 265.8-kilometer border, this visit was significant since it was the first time a Bhutanese monarch had ever been to the state of Assam.
  • This visit followed a difficult time in the 1990s when insurgent groups from Assam established camps in Bhutan, straining the amicable ties between the two countries.

Assam Insurgents in Bhutan:

  • Assam police and the Indian military cracked down on militant organizations in the 1990s, putting pressure on these groups.
  • At the same time, the pro-Indian Awami League administration in Bangladesh started taking action against these rebel organizations, endangering its status as a haven for them.
  • These parties consequently set up camps in South East Bhutan, more precisely in the area of Samdrup Jongkhar, which borders Assam.
  • The Bhutanese government reported that at the time, there were 13 ULFA camps, 12 NDFB camps, and 5 KLO camps on its territory.

Bhutan’s Initial Approach:

  • Bhutan first chose to ignore the existence of the Indian insurgents rather than negotiate with them.
  • But this strategy strained ties with India, its largest trading partner and source of funding. Because of its small and inexperienced military, the Bhutanese government was reluctant to use force to drive these rebel groups out, even though it had started dialogue with them in 1998.
  • No progress was made in multiple rounds of discussions with ULFA and NDFB, while the KLO rebuffed attempts at dialogue.

Factors Leading to the Crackdown:

  • For a number of reasons, the Royal Bhutan Government decided on December 15, 2003, to begin a military operation known as “Operation All Clear.”
  • It was determined that the militants’ presence directly threatened Bhutan’s national security and sovereignty.
  • Additionally, it strained ties between India and the country, a crucial neighbor.
  • The presence of the rebels also negatively impacted Bhutan’s growth, economy, and other initiatives.
  • The authorities feared that these organizations might provide weapons to the Lhotshampas, an ethnic group from Nepal who were being oppressed by the government of Bhutan.

Outcome of the Operation:

  • On December 15, 2003, the three rebel groups’ camps were simultaneously attacked by the 6,000-strong Royal Bhutan Army.
  • To stop extremists from escaping into India, the Indian Army blocked the Indo-Bhutan border and offered medical and logistical support. According to the Chief of Army Staff of India, by January 2004, at least 650 rebels had been neutralized or apprehended.
  • Among those apprehended were notable rebel commanders including Tom Adhikary, Mithinga Daimary, and Bhimkanta Buragohain.
  • Bhutan has not carried out a military action in 140 years, hence this operation represented a dramatic turning point in the country’s history.

10. Observatories spot red aurora over Ladakh

Topic: Geography

Context:

  • Renowned for its night sky photography, the Hanle and Merak observatories in Ladakh, India, recently recorded a powerful and uncommon red aurora phenomenon.
  • Bright light patterns known as auroras are produced in the sky when solar particle ejections contact with the Earth’s magnetic field.
  • These phenomena are unusual to see in India because they are usually more noticeable closer to the polar regions.

Observations at Hanle and Merak:

  • In the direction of the northern horizon, the red auroral lights were successfully photographed by the Hanle Observatory.
  • But tall mountains blocked the view from the camera at the Merak Observatory, which sits on the banks of Pangong Tso.
  • On November 5, the red auroral light was visible from 10 p.m. to midnight, with its intensity reaching its maximum at 10:40 p.m.

Frequency of Aurora Events:

  • The observatory has already documented two aurora events this year; the first one was on April 23.
  • Over the next two years, solar astronomers of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, which runs the observatory, predicts a greater than usual number of aurora episodes to be observed.

Significance of Hanle Observatory:

  • Being the only dark sky reserve in India, Hanle is regarded as the perfect place to see the aurora borealis.
  • The unusual sight of red auroras in the Indian skies is one of the many celestial phenomena that can be photographed in this clean, low-light environment.

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