Daily Current Affairs : 18/2/2019

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Agroforestry
  2. Finance Commission
  3. International Court of Justice
  4. Blackbuck
  5. Rainfed Agriculture
  6. Mariculture
  7. Pangolins

1 . Agroforestry

What is Agroforestry

  • Agroforestry is a collective name for land-use systems and technologies where woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms, bamboos, etc.) are deliberately used on the same land-management units as agricultural crops and/or animals, in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence.
  • In agroforestry systems there are both ecological and economical interactions between the different components.
  • Agroforestry can also be defined as a dynamic, ecologically based, natural resource management system that, through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels.
  • In particular, agroforestry is crucial to smallholder farmers and other rural people because it can enhance their food supply, income and health. Agroforestry systems are multifunctional systems that can provide a wide range of economic, sociocultural, and environmental benefits.

There are three main types of agroforestry systems:

  • Agrisilvicultural systems are a combination of crops and trees, such as alley cropping or homegardens.
  • Silvopastoral systems combine forestry and grazing of domesticated animals on pastures, rangelands or on-farm.
  • The three elements, namely trees, animals and crops, can be integrated in what are called agrosylvopastoral systems and are illustrated by homegardens involving animals as well as scattered trees on croplands used for grazing after harvests.

Benefits

  • Increased crop production and economic gain
  • Soil conservation and improved soil quality
  • Sequestration of atmospheric carbon
  • Increased biodiversity

2 . Finance Commission

Context : The 15th Finance Commission will not alter its approach on solely using the 2011 Census for population figures in its calculations for allocations to States, Chairman N.K. Singh said in an interview.

About Finance Commission

  • The Finance Commission, set up under Article 280 of the Constitution, basically decides how revenue has to be distributed between the Centre and the States.
  • In addition, the Commission also decides the principles on which grants-in-aid will be given to the States.
  • The 15th Finance Commission was constituted on November 27, 2017 and is headed by former Revenue Secretary and former Rajya Sabha MP N.K. Singh. 
  • The recommendations, to be observed for a period of five years, will kick in from April 1, 2020.

About the Issue

  • The population figure is used for the devolution of taxes.
  • A certain percentage of funds to be disbursed is based on the population. In the case of the 14th Finance Commission, that was 25%. Some of the other factors that the Commission takes into account are per capita income, area, and fiscal discipline.
  • According to the Terms of reference, 15th Finance Commission
  • shall use the population data of 2011 while making its recommendations.

Why are some states opposed to the use of 2011 figures for the devolution of taxes?

  • The 1971 Census figures showed a dramatic increase in population, after which the concept of family planning was introduced at the policy level.
  • This meant that States that complied with policy would lose out on all the areas where population was taken into account.
  • Hence, the 42nd Amendment picked the 1971 Census as the base for all calculations and froze it till the 2001 Census. The 84th Amendment further extended that to the first Census after 2026, which will be the Census of 2031
  • The usage of the 2011 Census is being opposed for the same reason the usage of 1971 Census was made mandatory – to make sure States that have worked on population control do not lose out on benefits.
  • While States like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar have more than doubled their numbers in the intervening years, southern states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala have relatively slower growths. The exception to this is Andhra Pradesh — the State went from around four-and-a-half crore people to more than eight-and-a-half crores.

Safeguards provided in the Terms of Reference for Population controlled states

  • The Terms of Reference indicate that the Commission may consider proposing measurable performance-based incentives for states in efforts and progress made in moving towards replacement rate of population growth 

3 . International Court of Justice

Context : India will ask the UN’s top court on Monday to order Pakistan to take an alleged Indian spy off the death row in a case that could stoke fresh tensions after a deadly terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir.

What is the International Court of Justice

  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN). It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.
  • The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).
  • The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
  • The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ. Its official languages are English and French.
  • The statute of the ICJ regulates the functioning of the Court. All members of the UN are automatic parties to the statute, but this does not automatically give ICJ jurisdiction over disputes involving them. The ICJ gets jurisdiction only on the basis of consent of both parties

Jurisdiction of ICJ related to India

  • In September 1974, India declared the matters over which it accepts the jurisdiction of the ICJ. This declaration revoked and replaced the previous declaration made in September 1959.
  • Among the matters over which India does not accept ICJ jurisdiction are: “disputes with the government of any State which is or has been a Member of the Commonwealth of Nations”, and “disputes relating to or connected with facts or situations of hostilities, armed conflicts, individual or collective actions taken in self-defence
  • The declaration, which includes other exceptions as well, has been ratified by Parliament.

4 . Blackbuck

Context : In 2019, so far, as many as eight blackbuck have died in the AWS, and a majority of them succumbed to their injuries, caused by barbed wires while trying to escape from stray dogs, officials told The Hindu. Other unnatural reasons for blackbuck deaths include road accidents and falling into water storage tanks and concrete drains.

About Black buck

  • The blackbuck also known as the Indian antelope, is an antelope found in India, Nepal and Pakistan
  • The blackbuck inhabits grassy plains and slightly forested areas. Due to their regular need of water, they prefer areas where water is perennially available.
  • In India, hunting of blackbuck is prohibited under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972
  • The blackbuck is listed under Appendix III of CITES
  • It is the state animal of Haryana, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh

Issues faced by Blackbuck

  • Open areas are a primary requirement for the growth of the blackbuck population as the mothers need space and safety to give birth and nurse the young ones till they are strong enough. As more and more open areas are taken in for construction or are fenced, there is a severe lack of space.
  • When native grass, herbs and plants are destroyed or annually cleared, the animal species depending on these floras also get endangered. Moreover, species of grass which are exotic or sprayed with pesticides are also a big problem.
  • Construction work creates massive ruckus in habitable zones of the blackbuck which disturbs the animal population.
  • Stray dogs can kill off young fawns that need to hide among tall grass till they are nursed to strength. Keeping the number of dogs in check is a necessity to protect blackbucks.
  • Automobiles and the increasing number of the same is another problem for the animals as they can get killed by speeding cars.

Abohar Wildlife Sanctuary

  • The Abohar Wildlife Sanctuary is unique in that it is an open sanctuary, comprising farmlands of 13 Bishnoi villages.
  • Herds of black buck, the indigenous antelope, with their distinctive twisted horns, can be found wandering freely through the villages and even homes.
  • Considered sacred by the Bishnois, concerted efforts by this community have saved them from poaching, with their numbers rising beyond 4000 in the sanctuary.
  • It is one of the largest free-ranging populations of the black buck, it is also considered a successful effort in conservation. The same efforts have extended to the blue bull which also roams this region as fearlessly as the black buck.

5 . Rainfed Agriculture

Context : A new rainfed agriculture atlas released this week not only maps the agro biodiversity and socio-economic conditions prevailing in such areas, but also attempts to document the policy biases that are making farming unviable for many in these areas

Issues

  • Three out of five farmers in India grow their crops using rainwater, instead of irrigation. However, per hectare government investment into their lands may be 20 times lower, government procurement of their crops is a fraction of major irrigated land crops, and many of the government’s flagship agriculture schemes are not tailored to benefit them
  • There has been “negligence” toward rainfed areas which is leading to lower incomes for farmers in these areas
  • Lands irrigated through big dams and canal networks get a per hectare investment of ₹5 lakh. Watershed management spending in rainfed lands is only ₹18,000-25,000, the difference in yield is not proportionate to the difference in investment
  • Flagship government schemes, such as seed and fertiliser subsidies and soil health cards, are designed for irrigated areas and simply extended to rainfed farmers without taking their needs into consideration

How it can be resolved

  • More balanced approach was needed, to give rainfed farmers the same research and technology focus, and production support that their counterparts in irrigation areas have received over the last few decades.
  • In the long run, cash incentives and income support like the PM-KISAN scheme announced in the budget earlier this month were better than extensive procurement. It’s secular in character, and doesn’t distinguish between farmers in one area or another, growing one crop or another

Conclusion

  • If we don’t ease the problems of seeds, soil, water in rainfed areas, farmers will simply leave agriculture in the long term hence ease of doing farming should be focused simultaneously ease of doing Business

6 . Mariculture

About Mariculture

  • Mariculture is the farming of aquatic plants and animals in salt water.
  • It involves cultivation of marine organisms in the open ocean or in an enclosed section of the ocean or in ponds, tanks filled with seawater.
  • Mariculture represents a subset of the larger field of aquaculture, which involves the farming of both fresh-water and marine organisms. The major categories of mariculture species are seaweeds, mollusks,crustaceans, and finfish.

7 . Pangolin

Context : Obsession for its supposedly medicinal scales in China is believed to have made the ant-eating Chinese Pangolin, one of two species found in South Asia, extinct in India.

About Pangolin

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