05 January 2021: Daily Current Affairs for UPSC Exam
1) Change rules on confiscation of animals, SC tells Centre
GS 2: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions
- The Supreme Court asked the Centre to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017.
- These rules of 2017 allow the confiscation of the animals of traders and transporters during the pendency of trials in cases under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. In other words, these rules allow confiscation of animals before the accused is convicted under the legislation.
- This show that the contrary nature of the Rules, 2017 as compared to the provisions of the Act, 1960 as provisions of the very law allow such confiscation only in case of conviction.
- Animals are a source of livelihood. People live on the basis of their animals.
- The 2017 rules allow a magistrate to forfeit the cattle of an owner facing trial under the Act and send them to infirmaries, gaushalas etc.
- Section 29 of the Act says that a person tried for an offence under the Act can be deprived of the ownership of the animal only upon conviction.
ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR:
- The Rules 2017 were being used to forcibly deprive even legitimate owners of cattle and that it had emboldened “anti-social elements” to take matters into their own hands and loot cattle traders.
- Such incidents act as “triggers for communal polarisation of society”.
Source: Indian Express
2) Avian flu confirmed: 1,800 migratory birds found dead in Himachal
GS 3: Bio diversity, Environment.
- More than 1,800 migratory birds , most of them Bar-Headed Geese, were found dead recently due to avian influenza or bird flu in the Pong Dam area of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh.
- The most common migratory species at the lake arrived from Central Asia, Russia, Mongolia and other regions in winters after crossing the Himalayan ranges.
- It has now become the fifth state to report suspected cases of bird flu after Haryana, Rajasthan, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
- Bird flu virus was also detected in around 50 crows whose carcasses were found in Indore in Madhya Pradesh.
- A reservoir has been constructed on the river Beas in the wet land of Shivalik hills of Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, which has been named as Maharana Pratap Sagar.
- It is also known as Pong reservoir or Pong Dam.
- This dam was built in 1975 named in honor of Maharana Pratap, this reservoir or lake is a famous wildlife sanctuary and one of the 25 international wetland sites declared by Ramsar Sammel in India.
- It is a highly infectious and severe respiratory disease in birds caused by the H5N1 influenza virus, which can occasionally infect humans as well.
- According to the World Health Organisation, human-to-human transmission is unusual.
- It affects several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.), as well as pet birds and wild birds.
- The National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) of Indian Council of Agricultural Research is a premier institute of India for research on exotic and emerging pathogens of animals.
- It is nodal body for detecting this disease.
Source: Indian Express
3) 2020 8th warmest year in India in 121 years: IMD
GS 1: Important Geophysical Phenomena
GS 3: Environmental Pollution & Degradation
- The Climate Research and Services (CRS) of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a Statement on Climate of India during 2020 and highlighted that 2020 was the eighth warmest year India recorded in the last 121 years.
- As per the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), 2020 was on the way to becoming one of the warmest years recorded in the last 15 years.
- Temperature: Last year, the annual mean land surface air temperature average was 0.29 degrees Celsius above normal, for the period average considered between 1981 and 2010. However, it was much lower than 2016 (+0.71 degrees Celsius), which remains the warmest ever year the country has recorded since 1901.
- The other warm years over India, all of them post 2005 have been — 2009, 2017, 2010 and 2015.
- The monsoon (+0.43 degrees Celsius) and the post-monsoon (+0.53 degrees Celsius) seasons contributed towards this warming.
- The global mean surface temperature (till October 2020) was 1.2 degrees Celsius above normal, making it the warmest ever decade (2011 – 2020) recorded, globally.
- Rainfall: Rainfall during the June to September 2020 over the country remained 9 per cent above normal, but several high-impact events like extremely heavy rain, floods, cold wave and thunderstorms led to significant loss of lives and properties.
- Tropical Storms in the Indian Seas: The Indian Ocean region — the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, together reported five cyclones — three of which were of either severe or above in intensity category. Five cyclones — Amphan, Nisarga, Gati, Nivar and Burevi — were reported in 2020. Super cyclone Amphan remained the strongest, which hit the West Bengal coast. Maharashtra, too, had braved cyclone Nisarga in early June 2020.
- High Impact Weather Events: The country also experienced other high impact weather events like, extremely heavy rainfall, floods, landslide, thunderstorm, lightning, cold waves, etc. Bihar & Uttar Pradesh were the most adversely affected states during the year due to thunderstorm, lightning & cold wave events.
India Meteorological Department (IMD)
- It is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- It is responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology.
- It is headquartered in Pune with regional offices at Mumbai, Kolkata, Nagpur and Delhi.
- It is one of the six Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organization.
Source: Indian Express
4) Renaming of Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar
GS 2: Indian Constitution - Features & Significant Provisions related to The Preamble, Union & its Territories and The Citizenship
Government Policies & Interventions
Shiv Sena's demand to rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar (Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who killed Sambhaji Raje is buried near Aurangabad, hence the city should be called Sambhajinagar) has caused unease in the Government in Maharashtra.
1. English poet and playwright William Shakespeare famously quoted that “what is in the name?” It seems to hold much relevance for modern India. Names in India are never just names as there seems to be a lot in the name.
- The naming and renaming of places is not new in India. For example, the British renamed Kochi to Cochin, derived the name Calcutta from Kolkata and affirmed their power through urban planning and architecture.
- The current renaming of historical cities named after Muslim personalities or of Urdu dialect is mostly based on the cultural and ethnoreligious grounds rather than linguistic one - even though the Urdu language is one of the official languages. In, renaming the city, the government has to spend crores of rupees.
- This campaign to rename city is being seen by many as an attempt to rewrite history and undermine the historical personalities of a particular community.
- Sometimes renaming is not only about religion, but this comes as an outcome of unspoken custom and culture of the particular place. Political parties also use the name-game for creating vote banks.
PROCEDURE FOR RENAMING A CITY
- Raise a request in form of a resolution by any Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) which proposes the renaming of any particular city or street.
- Then there is a deliberation over the request of the renaming of the city or the street.
- Then comes, voting of the validity of the resolution. The majority here involves a simple majority.
- The State Legislation on the basis of the majority view shall make the necessary changes in the name of the state or city.
- It was built in 1610 by Malik Ambar of the Nijamshahi dynasty. It was renamed Aurangabad by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb when he made it his capital.
- Aurangzeb, who lived in Aurangabad until his death, tortured and killed Chhatrapati Sambahji Maharaj, son of the Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
- According to historian Dr Dulari Qureshi, over the centuries, the city was known as Raj Tadag, Khadki and Fatehnagar. An inscription in the Kanheri caves refers to the city being called Raj Tadag (royal lake).
- In the book, The Iconography of the Buddhist Sculptures of Ellora author Dr Ramesh Shankar Gupte also mentions that the city was first called Raj Tadag.
- That name continued till the 10th century and also finds a mention in the earlier trade routes. The Ujjain-Ter trade route passed through Maheshwar, Burhanpur, Ajanta, Bhokardan, Raj Tadag, Pratishthan (Paithan) and Ter in Osmanabad district.
- Italian writer Pia Brancaccio says in the book 'Buddhist Caves at Aurangabad: Transformation in Art and Religion' that in the 10th century Raj Tadag was famous for finished cotton goods.
- The city was also known as Khadki when Malik Ambar was a Siddi military leader in the Deccan region 400 years ago. "The name Khadki denotes the rocky terrain of this place”.
- Another name of present Aurangabad is Khujista Buniyad (auspicious foundation) during the period of Aurangzeb but the nomenclature was for a short time. Aurangzeb renamed the city after himself and it has been known as Aurangabad since 1653.
- In 1995, Shiv Sena had first demanded that Aurangabad be renamed as Sambhajinagar. Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) passed a resolution to rename Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar.
Source: Indian Express
5) Track social media to check pangolin poaching
GS 3: Bio diversity, Environment.
The Odisha Forest department has stressed the need for stricter monitoring of social media platforms to check pangolin poaching and trading.
PANGOLINS IN INDIA
- There are eight species of pangolin, out of it, the Indian Pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and the Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) are found in India.
- Indian Pangolin is a large anteater covered by 11-13 rows of scales on the back. A terminal scale is also present on the lower side of the tail of the Indian Pangolin, which is absent in the Chinese Pangolin.
- Indian Pangolin is widely distributed in India, except the arid region, high Himalayas and the North-East. The species is also found in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
IUCN Red List
- During past few years, instances of pangolin poaching have been reported at regular intervals.
- Trading pangolin and scales online is done by forming WhatsApp groups in which videos and photos are shared with potential customers, often based outside the country, and details communicated in codes to conceal the transactions.
- Another study has found that there was a significant increase in the poaching of wild animals in India even during the lockdown.
- Trafficking of live pangolin and its scales is a highly lucrative business. This is pushing the endangered species into extinction and simultaneously placing these communities at high risk.
- By deliberately pursuing and hunting certain species or by establishing monocultures, habitats and ecosystems are being damaged, fragmented or destroyed.
- Need to revisit our relationship with nature and rebuild an environmentally responsible world.
- Nations should work towards realising the 2050 vision for biodiversity, ‘Living in Harmony with Nature’.
- Must follow a ‘one health’ approach which considers the health of people, wild and domesticated animals, and the environment.
- Need to strictly regulate high-risk wildlife markets, promote green jobs and work towards achieving carbon-neutral economies.
- India should strictly enforce the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, which prohibits the trade of 1,800 species of wild animals/plants and their derivatives.
- The mainstreaming of biodiversity is needed in our post-COVID-19 development programme.
- Mass biodiversity literacy should be our mission.
Source: The Hindu
6) COVID-19 restrictions to continue for budget session of Parliament
GS 2: Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business
- The budget session of Parliament is expected to be held under similar COVID-19 safety measures and restrictions, including strict physical distancing norms, that were in place for the monsoon session.
- The Parliament is expected to be convened in the fourth week of January. The Budget as a norm is presented on February 1.
- For the first time ever, the Members of Parliament are likely to be seated in three different places — the Rajya Sabha chamber, the Lok Sabha chamber and the central hall — for President Ram Nath Kovind’s address at the beginning of the session.
- So far there is no clarity on whether the Question Hour which was suspended during the monsoon session as part of the COVID-19 restrictions will resume in the budget session.
- The Rajya Sabha chamber can accomodate 60 members, while the Lok Sabha chamber can seat 132. The remaining members will be accommodated in the visitors’ gallery of both the Houses.
- The government had canceled the winter session of Parliament citing the COVID-19 situation.
- The two sessions that were held last year — the budget session and the monsoon session — also had to be cut short. The budget session, which was scheduled to have 31 sittings, was brought to a close after 23 sittings. Similarly, the monsoon session could manage only 10 sittings instead of the scheduled 18.
Source: The Hindu
7) Supreme Court schedules Goa MLAs defection case for February second week
GS 2: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
- According to the Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, “Nobody can have a vested right to delay” as there has been a delay of over a year and half by the State Assembly Speaker to decide the disqualification petitions filed against 10 Congress MLAs who defected to the BJP in July 2019.
- In 2020, the Supreme Court, in an important order aimed at rearming the anti-defection law, set three months as the outer limit for the Speaker to conclude disqualification proceedings against defectors.
- Tenth Schedule to the Constitution in 1985: Aims to combat “the political defections”.
- Every Member of Parliament (MP) and of state legislative assemblies or councils (MLA or MLC) to abide by the party’s command on voting or abstaining on every vote.
- If a legislator fails to do so, he may be disqualified from his membership to the legislature.
- The provisions apply not only to votes that affect the stability of the government, i.e., no confidence motions and money Bills. They are applicable to all votes.
- Anti-Defection goes against the basis of a representative democracy in which the elected representative is expected to act in public interest.
- Kihoto Hollohan (1992) was the landmark judgment in which SC upheld the validity of the Constitution’s Tenth Schedule. This verdict had also made the Speaker’s order subject to judicial review on limited grounds.
Source: The Hindu
8) Vietnam buys Indian rice for first time in decades
GS 3: Transport and marketing of agricultural produce
- Vietnam purchased Indian Rice for first time in decades. In December 2020, China started buying Indian rice for the first time in at least three decades.
- Vietnam, the world's third biggest exporter of rice, has started buying the grain from rival India for the first time in decades due to limited domestic supplies and high prices.
- The purchases highlight tightening supplies in Asia, which could lift rice prices in 2021 and even force traditional buyers of rice from Thailand and Vietnam to switch to India - the world's biggest exporter of the grain.
- The shrinking supplies will heighten concerns about food insecurity with sub-Saharan Africa among the areas where import demand has been increasing due partly to population growth.
- According to the World Bank, chronic and acute hunger is on the rise, impacting vulnerable households in almost every country, with the COVID-19 pandemic reducing incomes and disrupting supply chains.
- Global pandemic has also prompted Vietnam and other countries to stockpile rice to ensure food availability amid coronavirus-driven supply chain disruptions worldwide.
- Robust demand from Asian and African countries has also been lifting Indian prices but they are still very competitive due to ample stocks.
- In December 2020, the world's biggest rice importer China started buying Indian rice for the first time in at least three decades due to tightening supplies from Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam and an offer of sharply discounted prices. In 2020 India exported a record 14 million tonnes of rice.
Source: The Hindu
9) DoE circular asks teachers to check weight of school bags
GS 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education
- The Directorate of Education has issued a circular asking schools to follow the new ‘School Bag Policy, 2020’ released by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
- Schoolteachers should inform the students in advance about the books and notebooks to be brought to school on a particular day and frequently check their bags to ensure that they are not carrying unnecessary material.
- Heavy school bags are a serious threat to the health and well-being of students. The heavy school bag has severe/adverse physical effects on growing children which can cause damage to their vertebral column and knees.
- The weight of the school bags, as per the policy, should be:
- 1.6 to 2.2 kg for students of Classes I and II
- 1.7 to 2.5 kg for Classes III, IV and V
- 2 to 3 kg for Classes VI and VII
- 2.5 to 4 kg for Class VIII
- 2.5 to 4.5 kg for Classes IX and X
- 3.5 to 5 kg for Classes XI and XII
- Teachers should take the responsibility of checking the weight of school bags of the students every three months on a day selected for the whole class and any information about heavy bags should be communicated to the parents.
- DRINKING WATER FACILITY: It is the duty and the responsibility of the school management to provide quality potable water in sufficient quantity to all the students in the school so that they do not need to carry water bottles from their homes.
Source: The Hindu
10) 40th Indian scientific expedition to Antarctica to leave on January 5
GS 3: Achievements of Indians in science & technology
- India launched the 40th scientific expedition to Antarctica. It will be flagged off from Goa on January 5, 2021.
- This expedition consists of 43-member team embarking upon the Russian ice-class vessel MV Vasiliy Golovnin.
- It comes amidst the logistical challenges posed by COVID-19, and marks four decades of the country’s scientific endeavour to the southern continent.
- The chartered ice-class vessel MV Vasiliy Golovnin will make this journey and will reach Antarctica in 30 days. After leaving behind a team of 40 members, it would return to India in April 2021. On return, it will also bring back the winter team of the preceding trip.
- The Indian Antarctic expeditions began in 1981, comprised of a team of 21 scientists and support staff led by Dr SZ Qasim.
- The Indian Antarctic programme has now credited to have built three permanent research base stations in Antarctica—named Dakshin Gangotri, Maitri, and Bharati. As of today, India has two operational research stations in Antarctica named Maitri and Bharati.
- The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa, manages the entire Indian Antarctic program.
Source: Times of India
11) A new measure that can predict whether a city is prone to rain- or tide-based flooding
GS 3: Disaster and disaster management
- A team from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay devised a new metric or measure called the Tide–Rainfall Flood Quotient to understand if a coastal city is more prone to floods caused by tidal events or extreme rainfall.
- Using the past rainfall data, tidal data, and topography of the region this framework can be applied to pinpoint the major factor at play.
- The new method helped classify these regions into ‘storm-tide dominated’ or ‘pluvial (rainfall) dominated’ regions.
- Three geographically diverse flood-prone coastal regions has been selected to test their new metric by the team:
- Mithi Catchment in Mumbai, Maharashtra,
- Jagatsinghpur District in Odisha, and
- Greater Chennai Corporation in Tamil Nadu.
- The metric can help disaster management experts in framing better flood risk management systems directed towards long term planning.
Source: The Hindu
12) Community fishing banned at Assam Ramsar site
GS 3: Environment: Conservation
- The Kamrup (Metropolitan) district administration has prohibited community fishing at Deepor Beel, a wetland on the south-western edge of Guwahati and Assam’s only Ramsar site.
- The order was necessary to prevent fishing, excavation and construction in and around the wetland that has been shrinking over the years.
WIDE RANGE OF SPECIES:
- Deepor Beel was designated a Ramsar site in 2002 for sustaining a range of aquatic life forms besides 219 species of birds.
- A Ramsar site is a wetland designated to be of international importance under the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the Caspian Sea shore.
- According to hydrological experts, the area of the wetland was about 6,000 hectares in the late 1980s. Satellite imagery has revealed that its area has shrunk by at least 35% since 1991.
- Deepor Beel officially has an area of 4,014 hectares or 15.5 square miles.
- One of the reasons the wetland is in a precarious state is that it is losing connectivity with small rivers like Kalmoni, Khonajan and Basistha that used to flow via the Mora Bharalu channel through Guwahati.
- Expansion of the city, encroachment upon the natural channels through Guwahati and from the hills around, and a municipal waste dump at Boragaon almost on the edge of the wetland were the other factors, he added.
- Assam had 3,513 wetlands and a majority of them had water with low turbidity.
Source: The Hindu
13) POLITICAL BATTLE OVER RAMATEERTHAM
GS 1: Salient aspects of Architecture
- The 16th century Ramateertham temple turned into a political war zone with tensions among TDP, the BJP and the ruling YSR Congress Party.
- They are trying to get maximum political mileage with regard to the vandalism of the idol of Lord Rama at the Kodandarama Swamy temple.
- The idol of Lord Rama atop the historic Ramateertham temple, located 12 km from Vizianagaram, was vandalised on 29 December 2020.
- A part of the idol was identified in a small pond on December 31.
- Ramateertham is a village panchayat in Nellimarla mandal of Vizianagaram district in Andhra Pradesh in India. It is about 12 km from Vizianagaram city.
- Ramateertham is one of the places made sacred by a traditional connection with Lord Sree Rama.
- The famous ancient temple of Ramachandra Swamy can be found here with beautiful idols of Lord Ramachandra Swamy, Sita and Lakshmana in Silver kavachas.
Source: The Hindu