Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Climate Vulnerability Index
- Bannerghata Eco Sensitive Zone
- Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)
- Electoral Bonds
- West Nile Virus
- Observers App & C-Vigil App
1 . Climate Vulnerability Index
Context : Indian scientists have developed a common framework for assessment of climate change vulnerability in all the states in the Himalayan region — Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and hilly districts of West Bengal.
About the Index
- Vulnerability would be a measure of the inherent risks a district faces, primarily by virtue of its geography and socio-economic situation.
- Index is based on socio-economic factors, demographic and health status, sensitivity of agricultural production, forest-dependent livelihoods and access to information, services and infrastructure.
- States are assessed on a scale ranging 0-1, 1 indicating the highest possible level of vulnerability
- The assessment has been done jointly by experts from Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) at Guwahati and Mandi, in collaboration with Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore with support from the Department of Science and Technology and the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) which is implementing the Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Program (IHCAP).
About the Assessment
- The assessment, formally launched today, shows that the vulnerability index is the highest for Assam (0.72) and Mizoram (0.71), followed by Jammu & Kashmir (0.62), Manipur (0.59), Meghalaya and West Bengal (both 0.58), Nagaland (0.57), Himachal Pradesh and Tripura (0.51 both), Arunachal Pradesh (0.47) and Uttarakhand (0.45).
- Sikkim is the least vulnerable state with the index being 0.42.
- All these states are vulnerable to climate risks and the fact that vulnerability is a relative measure implies that this assessment does not portray Sikkim, Uttarakhand or Arunachal Pradesh as having a low vulnerability in an absolute sense. These states are least vulnerable relative to the other states, but also have several inherent drivers of vulnerability that need to be addressed
- Assam is highly vulnerable to climate change because of factors like low per capita income, deforestation, large number of marginal farmers, least area under irrigation, lack of alternative sources of income and high rates of poverty.
- The vulnerability assessments will be useful for officials, decision makers, funding agencies and experts to have a common understanding on vulnerability and enable them to plan for adaptation
2 . Bannerghata Eco Sensitive Zone
Context : Bannerghatta National Park’s Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ), which provides a regulated buffer zone around protected areas, will remain at 168.84 sq.km. despite thousands of citizens formally objecting to the reduction of nearly 100 sq. km. as compared to the original proposal.
About Eco Sensitive Zone
- Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India around Protected Areas ,National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
- The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas. They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does not mention the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”. However, Section 3(2)(v) of the Act, says that Central Government can restrict areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards.
- Besides Rule 5(1) of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 states that central government can prohibit or restrict the location of industries and carrying on certain operations or processes on the basis of considerations like the biological diversity of an area, maximum allowable limits of concentration of pollutants for an area, environmentally compatible land use, and proximity to protected areas. The above two clauses have been effectively used by the government to declare ESZs or EFAs.
About Bannerghatta National Park
- Bannerghatta National Park, near Bangalore, Karnataka, was founded in 1970 and declared as a national park in 1974.
- In 2002 a portion of the park, became a biological reserve, the Bannerghatta Biological Park
- It is located about 22 km south of Bangalore in the hills of the Anekal range
- The park is part of a wildlife corridor for elephants which connects the BR Hills and the Sathyamangalam forest.
- The park is contiguous with Talli reserve forest in the southeast and Bilikal forest in the south
- The Suvarnamukhi stream runs through the national park.
About the Issue
- In the 33rd ESZ Expert Committee meeting of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) held on February 28, members recommended finalisation after ‘detailed deliberations’ of the November 5 draft notification which declared an ESZ area of 168.84 sq.km. around BNP.
- This represents a 37% reduction from the first draft notification issued in 2016 which had marked an ESZ area of 268.9 sq.km.
Reasons for Objections
- Smaller ESZ will lead to fragmentation of forests and increase mining.
- Omission of key wildlife/elephant corridors.
- Threats to the security of villagers due to the influence of the mining mafia.
- No explanation in the reduction of ESZ.
3 . Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)
Context : The Sub-Committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), headed by Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das, on Thursday discussed ways to address challenges pertaining to the quality of credit ratings in the wake of the IL&FS defaults crisis.
About the Issue
- Credit rating firms, currently regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), had come under sharp criticism from the RBI recently for failing to identify financial troubles in various companies, especially in the case of IL&FS, which commanded AAA rating just before it started defaulting.
- With a view to strengthen and institutionalize the mechanism for maintaining financial stability and enhancing inter-regulatory coordination, Indian Government has setup an apex-level Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)
- FSDC has replaced the High Level Coordination Committee on Financial Markets (HLCCFM), which was facilitating regulatory coordination, though informally, prior to the setting up of FSDC.
- The Chairman of the FSDC is the Finance Minister of India and its members include the heads of the financial sector regulatory authorities (i.e, SEBI, IRDA, RBI, PFRDA and FMC) , Finance Secretary and/or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (Ministry of Finance), Secretary, (Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance) and the Chief Economic Adviser.
- A sub-committee of FSDC has also been set up under the chairmanship of Governor RBI. The Sub-Committee discusses and decides on a range of issues relating to financial sector development and stability including substantive issues relating to inter-regulatory coordination.
- The Council would monitor macro prudential supervision of the economy, including the functioning of large financial conglomerates.
- It will address inter-regulatory coordination issues and thus spur financial sector development. It will also focus on financial literacy and financial inclusion.
4 . Electoral Bonds
Context : Electoral bonds have been introduced to promote transparency in funding and donation received by political parties, the government told the Supreme Court on Thursday.
The government was responding to a petition filed by the CPI(M) and party secretary general Sitaram Yechury to strike down the ‘Electoral Bond Scheme 2018’ and amendments in the Finance Act, 2017, which allow for “unlimited donations from individuals and foreign companies to political parties without any record of the sources of funding.”
What is it?
- Electoral Bond is a bearer Banking Instrument to be used for funding eligible Political Parties.
- An eligible Political Party is the one registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last General Election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly.
Who can purchase Electoral Bonds?
The Electoral Bonds under this Scheme may be purchased by a Person, who is a Citizen of India or Incorporated or Established in India. The definition of “Person” includes-
- an Individual;
- a Hindu Undivided Family
- a Company
- a Firm
- an Association of Persons or a Body of Individuals, whether incorporated or not
- every Artificial Juridical Person, not falling within any of the preceding sub-clauses
- any Agency, Office or Branch owned or controlled by such person.
How it works ?
- The bonds will be issued in multiples of ₹1,000, ₹10,000, ₹1 lakh, ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore and will be available at specified branches of State Bank of India. They can be bought by the donor with a KYC-compliant account.
- Donors can donate the bonds to their party of choice which can then be cashed in via the party’s verified account within 15 days.
- They can be encashed by an eligible political party only through their accounts with authorised banks.
- The bonds do not have the name of the donor or the receiving political party and only carry unique hidden alphanumeric serial numbers as an in-built security feature.
5 . West Nile Virus
Context : A seven-year-old boy from Malappuram district has been diagnosed with West Nile fever, a relatively unknown viral infection in the Malabar region in recent times.
About West Nile Virus
- West Nile Virus (WNV) can cause neurological disease and death in people.
- WNV is maintained in nature in a cycle involving transmission between birds and mosquitoes. Humans, horses and other mammals can be infected.
- West Nile Virus (WNV) is a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae.
- West Nile fever is spread by Culex mosquitoes and the infection could be confirmed only if the second samples test positive. Human infection is most often the result of bites from infected mosquitoes. The virus may also be transmitted through contact with other infected animals, their blood, or other tissues.
- Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, occasionally with a skin rash on the trunk of the body, and swollen lymph glands.
6 . Observers App & C-Vigil App
Context : The Election Commission has for the first time started using a mobile application that will help poll observers to submit reports.
About the App
- Using this App, General, Police and Expenditure observers can submit their Observer’s report securely to the EC, to upload the relevant document from the mobile app.
- The observers will get all important notifications, alerts, and urgent messages on this App while they are on duty. It will also facilitate observers to get their deployment status, download the ID card and update their profile.
- Since the observers will be closely involved in real-time disposal of the cVIGIL Model code and expenditure violation cases, this App would help see all the cVIGIL cases under their jurisdiction.
- The Observers can make a written observation after the flying squads have investigated the matter. Observers are put on deputation with ECI for the entire duration of the election process,
- The user-friendly App, available on both Android and IOS mobiles, helps citizens to upload live incidents by clicking photo or taking video with description of the instance of model code violation without having the rush to the office of the returning officer to lodge the complaint.
- All the complaints lodged through the App are to be addressed in real time within 100 minutes by the officials concerned.