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The Hindu Newspaper 23/06/2020

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1)Pilibhit Tiger Reserve is located in which of the following states?

a.   Mizoram

b.   Karnataka

c.   Maharashtra

d.   Uttar Pradesh

2)Microdots Technology sometimes seen in the news recently is used to?

a.   Purification of sewage

b.   Prevent accidents in roads

c.   Replace Rat hole mining

d.   Prevent theft of vehicles

3)Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve is located in which of the following states?

a.   Kerala

b.   Telangana

c.   Tamil Nadu

d.   Karnataka

News:- For first time since 1565, a Kamakhya festival sans fair:- Ambubachi, the festival marking the annual ‘menstruation’ of the presiding
Goddess, began at the Kamakhya temple on June 22 without mendicants, hermits and devotees for the first time in almost 500.
years.

News:- China to join UN arms trade treaty:- China will join a global pact
to regulate arms sales, with Beijing saying that it is committed to efforts
to “enhance peace and stability” in the world.

The Communist Party leadership’s top legislative body voted on Saturday to
adopt a decision on joining the UN Arms Trade Treaty that is designed to control the flow of weapons into conflit zones. It comes after U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans last year to pull the U.S. out of the agreement — which entered into force in 2014.

News:- Japan to rename islands disputed with China:- A local council in southern Japan voted to rename an area, including islands disputed with China and Taiwan, a move Beijing denounced as illegal and a
“serious provocation”. The local assembly of Ishigaki city approved a plan to change the name of the area covering the Tokyo controlled Senkaku Islands — known by Taiwan and China as the Diaoyus — from “Tonoshiro” to “Tonoshiro Senkaku.

Local media said another part of Ishigaki is also known as Tonoshiro, and
the name change was cast as a bid to avoid confusion.

News:- DRI busts syndicate smuggling exotic macaws from Bangladesh

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is an Indian intelligence agency. It is India’s chief anti-smuggling intelligence, investigations and operations agency.

The Directorate is run by officers from the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) who are posted in its various Zonal Units as well as in Indian embassies abroad as part of the Customs Overseas Intelligence Network. It is headed by a Director General of the rank of Special Secretary to the Government of India.

Founded : 4 Dec. 1957

Macaws are long-tailed, often colorful, New World parrots. They are popular in aviculture or as companion parrots, although there are conservation concerns about several species in the wild.

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) a statutory body established by the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to combat organised wildlife crime. The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006 provisions came in to force on 4 September 2006. It became operational in the year 2008.

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals. It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The convention was opened for signature in 1973 and CITES entered into force on 1 July 1975.

.Promoting People’s participation during Covid-19

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS-2- Development processes and the development industry – the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, institutional and other stakeholders.

Context: The government has released the results of population surveys, employing antibody tests in different parts of the country.

Status of Covid-19 cases in India

  • Total Confirmed cases: 440K
  • Total Recoveries: 248K
  • Total Deaths: 14,011
  • In the recent government survey, data presented on 63 of the 83 districts reveal an antibody prevalence of 0.73% in the population. This is far away from the 70% threshold of herd immunity.

Herd Immunity:  It is the indirect protection from a contagious infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.

Steps to be taken to fight Covid-19 and strengthened community participation

  1. A larger part of India remains untouched by the virus and this offer an opportunity to immobilize the virus even as the country moves out of lockdown. It is high time to change track from a government-led but people-disconnected strategy of planning and implementation and promote people’s participation.
  2. Engage community resources to ensure that different components of response viz. testing and isolation, public awareness and personal protection, are successfully delivered at a greater scale.

     Examples: 

  • Panchayats have played a vital role in local community response in Kerala and Odisha.
  • Andhra Pradesh has deployed village and ward volunteers for symptom-based syndromic surveillance of rural and urban households and contact tracing
  1. Detect all likely cases, with influenza-like illness and other COVID-19 symptoms, early in their illness and arrange for testing at home by a school-educated community volunteer.
  2. National Cadet Corps, member of National Service Scheme should be mobilized for Covid-19 volunteering
  3. Volunteers can be trained by experienced NGO trainers for providing special attention and customized service to elderly, people with comorbidities and persons with disabilities.
  4. To address shortages in skilled healthcare providers, the government can create a year-long short service commission under the National Health Mission to recruit doctors who have recently graduated and attract private practitioners.
  5. Boost up health awareness campaigns through mass media and community leaders and local influencers.
  6. Increase efforts for micro-surveillance to curb spread of Covid-19 in hotspots
  7. To combat spread of Covid-19 in slum areas, each family in a slum can be daily provided a bucket of soap solution for hand cleansing.

Conclusion: To fight Covid-19, government should be more welcoming of NGO and volunteer participation and create a platform for a new model of PPP: People Partnered Public Health.

Importance of our Sea lanes

Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS 2-Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Context: Analysing the importance of securing seas at the time of violent standoff going on between India and China.

Background: 

  • Laws for seas:India has legislation that requires foreign marine scientific vessels to seek licence prior to undertaking activities in Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf (CS).
  • Our navy forbade Chinese maritime research and survey vessels that entered our EEZ and CS without our prior consent in 2018 and 2019.
  • Claims of Chinese: They are serving the interests of global scientific research but it is well-known that China uses civilian research vessels to gather crucial oceanographic data for military purposes.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (CSIS) survey shows that China deployed 25 maritime survey missions in the Indo-Pacific between April 2019 and March 2020. This is only marginally less than the 27 missions mounted by the next six countries taken cumulatively.

Global concerns about the Chinese vessels: 

  • China has mounted at least six survey missions covering the waters between Indonesia and Sri Lanka in 2019-2020. For example- the Australians voiced concern over the activities of the Chinese vessel in international waters between the Australian mainland and Christmas Island.
  • Military expansion overseas: 
    • Critics argue that China follows a “pattern of denial and obfuscation” in its military expansion overseas. For example- Beijing initially denied its intention to militarise the Spratly Islands but eventually acknowledged that they serve a military purpose.
    • Intelligence gathering: It is believed that PLA Navy (PLAN) intelligence-gathering ships have sailed our coastline to gather information on naval facilities and ships.

China may well take the position that their activities are legitimate under international law.

Laws regarding seas:

  • The Law of the Sea Convention says that military vessels have “right to innocent passage” to pass through the territorial sea of a coastal state without entering internal waters till they are not against the peace, good order and security of the coastal state.
  • Different interpretations of laws on the question of scientific surveys in the EEZ of coastal states:
    • For example- the US maintains that hydrographical surveys without prior notice or consent are lawful in line with centuries of state practice, customary and international laws.

The collection of vital hydrographical data is critical to China’s understanding of the sub-surface environment.

China could step up their efforts to significantly improved data in the seas between the Malacca Straits and Djibouti through:

  • By sending survey vessel without our permission into our EEZ: For example in May, the Chinese survey vessel accompanied by two Chinese coast guard ships and several fishing vessels entered the Malaysian EEZ in the South China Sea for over a month despite Malaysian protests.
  • By deploying unmanned underwater drones in our EEZ: While the mother vessel remains just outside the EEZ. A recent Forbes report claims that Sea-Wing underwater and unmanned drones were launched in mid-December 2019.
  • Sailing PLAN intelligence-gathering ships: Either along our coasts or in the waters off our island territories on grounds that this is “innocent passage” by naval vessels permissible under the laws.

Though we have the necessary capacity to monitor and interdict survey vessels well before they enter our EEZ, we need a comprehensive strategy to tackle future challenges.

Need of Comprehensive Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) strategy:

  • Coordination: Between our national security agencies, the navy and the government departments responsible for the marine environment and disaster management.
  • Collaboration: With like-minded countries who share our concerns. Such cooperation includes deepening of real-time information exchange, co-development and deployment of UDA monitoring devices and closer coordination in the patrolling of sea lanes to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Way Forward

High priority should be given to building a Maritime Domain Awareness Especially Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) capabilities.

Importance of Transparency during a crisis

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 2- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Context: The information about PM CARES Fund was denied under the Right to Information applications.

PM CARES Fund:

  • It is a public charitable trust for a dedicated national fund with the primary objective of providing relief to the affected with any kind of emergency or distress situation like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are reports which suggest that donations of over $1 billion have been made including contributions from foreign sources.

Lack of transparency in PM CARES:

  • No information exists on the official website of the Fund about the amount collected, names of donors, expenditure incurred or details of beneficiaries.
  • The trust deed of the fund chaired by the Prime Minister is not available for public scrutiny.

This violation of peoples’ RTI is particularly concerning given the unprecedented crisis gripping the nation.

Why is Access to information crucial?

  • For obtaining benefits of the government scheme: 
    • Millions have lost their income earning opportunities during the lockdown. The relevant information is crucial for the poor affected by the public health emergency to take benefits from the welfare programmes.
  • Affect the role of citizens: 
    • Citizen’s participation is important in democracy for ensuring their access to their rights. People’s ability to perform their role reduces due to lack of information.
  • For proper implementation of laws: 
    • It is important for the right information about the relief measures to be circulated among public for ensuring accountability.
    • For example- the central and state governments have put in schemes to provide subsidized rations for ensuring food security. Without information, it is impossible for intended beneficiaries to get their due like ration shopkeepers siphon food grains and keep their shops closed on the pretext that they have no stocks.
  • To prevent controversies: 
    • For example- numerous instances have been reported of COVID-19-positive patients requiring treatment in ICU being shunted from one hospital to another. This could be prevented if hospitals and health centres publicly provide real-time information about availability of beds and other facilities.

Functioning of watchdogs during COVID-19:

  • Though, it is reasonable to expect delays in processing information requests during COVID-19 but public authorities must not be allowed to interpret the crisis as a justification for not complying with the RTI Act.
  • An assessment of the functioning of the transparency watchdogs revealed that 21 out of 29 commissions in the country did not hold a single hearing during the first three stages of the lockdown.
  • Most commissions did not make provision for hearing even urgent matters.

Way Forward

It is critical to create a culture of openness to empower people to participate meaningfully in the decisions that have profound effects on their lives and livelihoods for which strong RTI is required.

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