12 January 2022 The Hindu Newspaper Analysis

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1) Which of the following countries form a part of the Central Asian Flyway?

1. Maldives 

2. India 

3. Russia 

Select the correct answer from the codes given below:

1 and 2 only

2 and 3 only

1 and 3 only

1, 2 and 3

2) With reference to Governor, consider the following statements:

1. He cannot be a member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. 

2. He is given immunity from any criminal proceedings, even in respect of his personal acts. 

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

1 only

2 only

Both 1 and 2

Neither 1 nor 2

3) Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary sometimes seen in news is located in which of the following?

Uttar Pradesh

Haryana

Bihar

Jharkhand

What is a CAF :- A flyway is a geographical region within which a single or a group of migratory species completes its annual cycle – breeding, moulting, staging and non-breeding. Central Asian Flyway (CAF) covers a large area of Eurasia between the Arctic and Indian Oceans. It is one of the nine most important flyways of migratory birds around the world.  

Including India, there are 30 countries under the Central Asian Flyway. It extends from the northernmost breeding grounds in the Russian Federation (Siberia) to the southernmost non-breeding (wintering) grounds in West and South Asia, the Maldives and British Indian Ocean Territory. 

Prelims Specific Facts

1) What is the News?

Red Sanders (Red Sandalwood) has again been listed in the ‘endangered’ category in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.

What is Red Sanders?

Red Sanders(Pterocarpus santalinus) is an Indian endemic tree species with a restricted geographical range in the Eastern Ghats.

Where does it grow? Red Sanders is found in thorny scrub/dry deciduous forests. It is endemic to a distinct tract of forests in Andhra Pradesh. Some contiguous patches in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka also see some wild growth.

Uses: Red Sanders is known for its therapeutic properties and is in high demand for its cosmetic and medicinal properties. It is also used to make furniture and demand a high value in the international market. Its popularity can be judged from the fact that a tonne of Red Sanders costs anything between Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore in the international market.

Threats: a) Over the last three generations, Red Sanders has experienced a population decline of 50-80% b) Illegal smuggling c) Over Harvesting and Exploitation d) Cattle grazing and e) Invasive Species.

IUCN Status: Endangered (Earlier Near Threatened)

CITES: Appendix II 

About the export of Red Sanders

Red Sanders is banned from international trade. However, in 2010, when the CITES was planning to suspend trade of red sanders obtained from India, the government submitted a Non-Detriment Finding (NDF) report saying it must be allowed to export from cultivated sources.

Status of legal protection in India :-

The Union Environment Ministry had decided to keep Red Sanders (red sandalwood) OUT of the Schedule VI of Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, arguing that this would discourage the cultivation of the rare plant species.

Schedule VI regulates and restricts the cultivation, possession, and sale of a rare plant species.

Significance of listing

It was a moment of celebration when the species was lifted off from the endangered category for the first time since 1997.

Over the last three generations, the species has experienced a population decline of 50-80 percent.

It is also scheduled in appendix II of the CITES and Wildlife Protection Act.

Threats to this species :-

Red Sanders are known for their rich hue and therapeutic properties, are high in demand across Asia, particularly in China and Japan.

They are used in cosmetics and medicinal products as well as for making furniture, woodcraft and musical instruments.

Its popularity can be gauged from the fact that a tonne of Red Sanders costs anything between Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore in the international market.

So in 2012, India got an export quota on red sanders from CITES, under which the country could export 310 tonnes of red sanders obtained from “artificially propagated” sources (grown on farms) and 11,806 tonnes of wood from seized sources.

In 2019, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, an agency of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry had revised its export policy to permit the export of red sander timber, if it is obtained from cultivated land.

2) Turkmenistan President has ordered experts to find a way to extinguish a fire in a huge natural gas crater, the Darvaza gas crater also known as the ‘Gateway to Hell’.

Darvaza Gas Crater

Located in the Karakum desert, 260 kilometres away from Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, the crater has been burning for the last 50 years.

The crater is 69 metres wide and 30 metres deep.

While the details of the origin of the crater are contested but it has been said that the crater was created in 1971 during a Soviet drilling operation.

In 1971, Soviet geologists were drilling for oil in the Karakum desert when they hit a pocket of natural gas by mistake, which caused the earth to collapse and ended up forming three huge sinkholes.

Why is it flamed?

This pocket of natural gas contained methane, hence to stop that methane from leaking into the atmosphere, the scientists lit it with fire, assuming the gas present in the pit would burn out within a few weeks.

The scientists seemed to have misjudged the amount of gas present in the pit, because the crater has been on fire for five decades now.

Why did Turkmenistan order to extinguish it?

Calling it a human-made crater, it has negative effects on both environment and the health of the people living nearby.

It also ends up losing valuable natural resources for which could fetch significant profits.

3) The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) Pipeline is a natural gas pipeline being developed with the participation of the Asian Development Bank.

It will be a 1,814 km trans-country natural gas pipeline running across four countries.

It will transport natural gas from the Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India.

The plan for the TAPI project was originally conceived in the 1990s to generate revenue from Turkmenistan’s gas reserves by exporting natural gas via Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.

Construction on the project started in Turkmenistan on 13 December 2015, work on the Afghan section began in February 2018, and work on the Pakistani section was planned to commence in December 2018.

Presently, the construction work has been stalled due to terror activities of Taliban in Afghanistan since few years.

Editorials of the Day

  1. Extending GST compensation as a reform catalyst

Here the author highlights the issues with the Current GST structure and what needs to be done in the future for its improvement.

Issues and What needs to be done with the GST Structure :-

  1. Mistrust/Credibility Issue:- States have foregone their right to collect the taxes and now the states are not getting the enough revenue through GST sharing thus the 14% revenue increase as promised by the central govt. has failed. Under such circumstances the GST compensation was payable to the states but since Central has not very happily given that Compensation to the states so that created the mistrust issue.

    What needs to be done :- Compensation needs to be extended for atleast till the period of 2026-2027 till the new finance commission comes up with its recommendations.
  2. GST structure has 4 different slabs i.e 5%, 12%, 18%, 28% which creates complex problems.
    What needs to be done :- The Government needs to come up with a more rational and scientific rate so that the tax collection can be increased.
  3. Alcohol ( Human consumption), Petroleum Products, Real estate has been kept out of GST Purview.

    What needs to be done:- Sooner or later these products will be brought to the GST purview and thus the states must be prepared for the transition too.
  4. It is very well acknowledged that the structure of GST requires significant reforms. Notably, almost 50% of the consumption items included in the consumer price index are in the exemption list. Broadening the base of the tax requires significant pruning of these items.

    What needs to be done :- Significant pruning of the exemption list so as to increase the tax base.

Editorial 02 :- Hate speech in the time of free speech

What is Hate Speech :-Hate speech is neither defined in the Indian legal framework nor can it be easily reduced to a standard definition due to the myriad forms it can take.

Definition as per the Black’s Law Dictionary :- Black’s Law Dictionary has defined it as “speech that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group, such as a particular race, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence.”

Definition as per Supreme Court :- Building on this, the Supreme Court, in Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan v. Union of India (2014), described hate speech as “an effort to marginalise individuals based on their membership in a group” and one that “seeks to delegitimise group members in the eyes of the majority, reducing their social standing and acceptance within society.”

  • The Law Commission of India, in its 267th Report, says: “Hate speech generally is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and the like …
  • Thus, hate speech is any word written or spoken, signs, visible representations within the hearing or sight of a person with the intention to cause fear or alarm, or incitement to violence.”
  • In general, hate speech is considered a limitation on free speech that seeks to prevent or bar speech that exposes a person or a group or section of society to hate, violence, ridicule or indignity.

Some Provisions Penalising Hate Speech :-

[I] Section 153A:

  • Promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony’, is an offence punishable with three years’ imprisonment.

[II] Section 505:

505(1): Statements conducing to public mischief

  • The statement, publication, report or rumour that is penalized under Section 505(1) should be one that promotes mutiny by the armed forces, or causes such fear or alarm that people are induced to commit an offence against the state or public tranquility.
  • This attracts a jail term of up to three years.

505(2): It is an offence to make statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes.

505(3): Same offence will attract up to a five-year jail term if it takes place in a place of worship, or in any assembly engaged in religious worship or religious ceremonies.

What has the Law Commission proposed?

The Law Commission has proposed that separate offences be added to the IPC to criminalize hate speech quite specifically instead of being subsumed in the existing sections concerning inflammatory acts and speeches.

[A] Inserting two sections

  • It has proposed that two new sections, Section 153C and Section 505A, be added.

Section 153C

It is an offence if anyone-

  • Uses gravely threatening words, spoken or written or signs or visible representations, with the intention to cause fear or alarm OR
  • Advocates hatred that causes incitement to violence, on grounds of religion, race, caste or community, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, place of birth, residence, language, disability or tribe

Section 505A

  • It proposes to criminalize words, or display of writing or signs that are gravely threatening or derogatory, within the hearing or sight of a person, causing fear or alarm or, with intent to provoke the use of unlawful violence against that person or another”.

[B] Imprisonment

  • Section 153C: two-year jail term for this and/or a fine of ₹5,000 or both
  • Section 505A: prison term of up to one year and/or a fine up to ₹5,000

Other committees’ recommendations

  • Similar proposals to add sections to the IPC to punish acts and statements that promote racial discrimination or amount to hate speech have been made by the M.P. Bezbaruah Committee and the T.K. Viswanathan Committee.
  • At present, the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws, which is considering more comprehensive changes to criminal law, is examining the issue of having specific provisions to tackle hate speech.

Why regulate hate speech?

  • Creates social divide: Individuals believe in stereotypes that are ingrained in their minds and these stereotypes lead them to believe that a class or group of persons are inferior to them and as such cannot have the same rights as them.
  • Threat to peaceful co-existence: The stubbornness to stick to a particular ideology without caring for the right to co-exist peacefully adds further fuel to the fire of hate speech.

Issues in regulating hate speech

  • Powers to State: Almost every regulation of speech, no matter how well-intentioned, increases the power of the state.
  • Hate speeches are Political: The issue is fundamentally political and we should not pretend that fine legal distinctions will solve the issue.
  • Legal complications: An over-reliance on legal instruments to solve fundamentally social and political problems often backfires.

What lies ahead?

  • Subjects like hate speeches become a complex issue to deal with, in a country like India which is very diverse, as it was very difficult to differentiate between free and hate speech.
  • There are many factors that should be considered while restraining speeches like strong opinions, offensive comments towards certain communities, the effect on values like dignity, liberty and equality.
  • We all have to work together and communicate efficiently for our country to be a healthy place to live in.

News about Mamallapuram :-

The word Mahabalipuram is believed to have been a derivate of the original name Mamallapuram, which means the city of Mamalla – the warrior. Mamalla was a title of the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I (630-70 CE). It was during his reign that the majority of the heritage structures that we see today in Mamallapuram were made. Mamallapuram became an important commercial centre in the 6th century CE, during the rule of Pallava king SimhaVishnu. 

The Shore Temple of Mamallapuram was built during the reign of the Pallavan king Rajasimha/Narasimhavarman II, and it is the oldest structural temple of significance in South India.

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