Daily Current Affairs : 11th June

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Guidelines for Import of Exotic Species
  2. Asiatic Lion
  3. International Religious Freedom Report
  4. Central Government Health Scheme
  5. Genetically Modified Crops
  6. Facts for Prelims

1 . New guidelines for import of exotic species

Context: The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) has issued an advisory saying people importing “exotic live species” will have to make a voluntary disclosure.

About Exotic Species

  • Exotic species, often referred to as alien, nonnative, nonindigenous, or introduced species, are those that occur in areas outside of their natural geographic range. 
  • Animals and plant species introduced from other countries and which are not otherwise found locally are termed exotic.

Need for New Advisory

  • The move comes as the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has raised global concern about illegal wildlife trade and zoonotic diseases.

New Advisory

  • According to the advisory, the phrase “exotic live species” includes “animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora” and “does not include species from the Schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972”.
  • This will create a process where all imports will be screened. As of now, the imports are being made through the Director General of Foreign Trade and State Forest departments are not kept in the loop.
  • For new “exotic live species”, the importer should obtain a no-objection certificate from the Chief Wildlife Warden ( CWLW) of the State.
  • For existing species, stocks “shall be declared by the owner/ holder (stock, as on 1 January 2020) to the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) of the concerned State or UT”.


  • Many exotic species of birds, reptiles and amphibians are imported into India for commercial purposes. 
  • These imports were happening though the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), but they were beyond the purview of the forest departments and the chief wildlife wardens weren’t aware about them.
  • Wildlife experts have long been asking for stringent laws and guidelines to document and regulate numbers of exotic species being kept as pets by individuals and breeders in India.
  • Some of the most sought after exotic species in India are Ball python, Scarlet Macaw, sea turtles, sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps), marmoset and grey African parrots.
  • Often these species are illegally trafficked into the country to avoid lengthy documentation and scrutiny.
  • Another problem is that once in the country, people can claim ancestral holding of these species — meaning that a particular species is the progeny of animals they brought in before India became a signatory to CITES.

Zoonotic disease:

  • Zoonoses or Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that can naturally be transmitted/spread between animals (usually vertebrates) and humans. These diseases can be caused by viruses, fungi, parasites, and bacteria.


  • Advisory did not provide answers to all problems. Matters such as spread of invasive species as well as zoonotic diseases had not been taken care of in the advisory.
  • There is also a growing domestic trade in exotic species of wildlife that is unfortunately not listed under the various appendices of CITES (such as sugar gliders, corn snakes). Hence limiting the scope of the latest advisory to only those species covered under CITES drastically limits the scope of the advisory itself
  • “There is no mention of the welfare standards of such captive facilities that could lead to ‘legal’ backyard breeding of wildlife with poor to no welfare concern of the wild animals involved
  • It does not have the force of law and could potentially incentivize illegal trade by offering a long amnesty period


  • CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments.
  • Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
  • States that have agreed to be bound by the Convention (‘joined’ CITES) are known as Parties. Although CITES is binding legally on the Parties – in other words they have to implement the Convention but it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.
  • The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.
    • Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
    • Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
    • Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade. Changes to Appendix III follow a distinct procedure from changes to Appendices I and II, as each Party’s is entitled to make unilateral amendments to it.

2 . Asiatic Lions

Context: Gujarat prides itself on hosting Asiatic lions exclusively, and their numbers have now risen to an estimated 674 in the Gir forest region and other revenue areas of coastal Saurashtra.


  • A single population of less than 50 lions persisted in the Gir forests of Gujarat by late 1890’s. With timely and stringent protection offered by the State Government and the Center Government, Asiatic lions have increased to the current population of over 500 numbers.
  • The last census in the year 2015 showed the population of 523 Asiatic Lions in Gir Protected Area Network of 1648.79 sq. km. that includes Gir National Park, Gir Sanctuary, Pania Sanctuary, Mitiyala Sanctuary adjoining reserved forests, Protected Forests, and Unclassed Forests.
  • According to the State Forest Department current population is 674 including males, females and cubs. The distribution of the lions has also expanded from 22,000 sq. km in 2015 to 30,000 sq. km in 2020. Geographically, distribution area is up by 36%.

Interventions and Implementation Strategies adopted to increase the population of Asiatic Lions

  • Community participation
  • Emphasis on technology
  • Focus on proactive Wildlife healthcare by importing vaccine during the spread of canine distemper virus
  • Proper habitat management
  • Increase in prey base
  • Steps to minimise human-lion conflict

About Asiatic Lions

  • Asiatic Lions are also known as Indian Lion
  • IUCN Red List Status: Endangered
  • They are also Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, in Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
  • At present the only home of Asiatic lion is Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat.
  • They are vulnerable to extinction from unpredictable events, like epidemic or large forest fire and in recent years poaching incidents were also indicated.

Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

  • It is also known as Sasan Gir, a forest and wildlife sanctuary near Talala Gir in Gujarat, India.
  • It is part of the Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion.
  • The seven major perennial rivers of the Gir region are Hiran, Shetrunji, Datardi, Shingoda, Machhundri, Godavari and Raval.
  • The four reservoirs of the area are at four dams, one each on Hiran, Machhundri, Raval and Shingoda rivers, including the biggest reservoir in the area, the Kamleshwar Dam, dubbed ‘the lifeline of Gir’.

Asiatic Lion Census

  • It is conducted once in every 5 years
  • It was scheduled to take place in May 2020. It was postponed due to Lockdown

How the numbers was estimated this year without the census

  • Through Poonam Avlokan, which is a monthly in-house exercise carried out every full moon. Field staff and officers spend 24 hours assessing the number of lions and their locations in their respective jurisdictions. It was a mechanism developed by the Forest Department in 2014 as part of preparations for the 2015 Lion Census.
  • This time, the exercise was undertaken from 2 pm Friday to 2 pm Saturday. It covered 10 districts where lion movements have been recorded in recent years, and 13 forest divisions. All these divisions, save Surendranagar and Morbi, were part of the 2015 Lion Census too.

How is this ‘observation’ different from a regular census?

  • The Lion Census involves larger participation. Around 2,000 officers, experts and volunteers were involved in the 2015 Census. That makes the Census more transparent.
  • The lion ‘observation’ this month was conducted by around 1,400 forest staff and a few experts.
  • The Lion Census usually runs for more than two days, including a preliminary census and a final census. It is done using the block counting method — in which census enumerators remain stationed at water points in a given block and estimate abundance of lions in that block, based on direct sighting of lions who need to drink water at least once in 24 hours during the summer.
  • A ‘lion observation’ is an in-house exercise, conducted only by forest staff. The methodology too is different as, instead of remaining stationary at water points, teams keep moving in their respective territories and make their estimates based on inputs provided by lion trackers and on chance sightings.

Asiatic Lion Conservation Project

  • It has been launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change with an aim to protect and conserve the world’s last ranging free population of Asiatic Lion and its associated ecosystem.
  • It is a 3 year-long conservation project launched in 2018

3 . International Religious Freedom Report

Context : The U.S. State Department has released its annual International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report, a survey of the state of religious freedom across the world, submitted to the U.S. Congress.


  • US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) — an independent bipartisan commission and separate from the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom — had, in April, recommended to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo that the State Department downgrade India’s religious freedom to the lowest grade — ‘Country of Particular Concern (CPC)’.
  • The Secretary of State is not obliged to accept the recommendation and has not always done so.
  • As per law, the CPC and the Special Watch List (one level less severe than CPC) designations have to be made by the administration no later than 90 days after the publication of the IRF Report.

About the Report

  • The annual Report to US Congress on International Religious Freedom, also known as the International Religious Freedom Report, describes the status of religious freedom, government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies promoting religious freedom.
  • The report is published by State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom

Details on Country Report for India

  • Report takes note of the change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). It discusses in detail mob lynchings and anti-conversion laws and related issues.
  • “Issues of religiously inspired mob violence, lynching and communal violence were sometimes denied or ignored by lawmakers,” according to NGOs and media outlets, the report says.
  • “Some officials of Hindu-majority parties, including from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), made inflammatory public remarks or social media posts against minority communities,” it says.
  • It details incidents of “cow vigilantism” and other types of mob violence — such as the attack last year on Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand.
  • The report also takes note of the Babri Masjid decision by the Supreme Court and the challenges to the 2018 reversal of a ban on some women entering the Sabarimala temple.
  • Unveiling the report at the State Department, Mr. Pompeo listed countries for positive developments in religious freedom and negative examples (India was not cited in either list).

4 . Central Government Health Scheme

Context : The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday directed that all Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) empanelled hospitals, notified as COVID-19 hospitals by State governments, will provide treatment to the scheme beneficiaries.

About Central Govt Health Scheme (CGHS)

  • For the last six decades Central Government Health Scheme is providing comprehensive medical care to the Central Government employees and pensioners enrolled under the scheme.
  • CGHS caters to the healthcare needs of eligible beneficiaries covering all four pillars of democratic set up in India namely Legislature, Judiciary, Executive and Press.
  • CGHS is the model Health care facility provider for Central Government employees & Pensioners and is unique of its kind due to the large volume of beneficiary base, and open ended generous approach of providing health care.
  • CGHS provides health care through following systems of Medicine
    • Allopathic
    • Homoeopathic
    • Indian system of medicine
      • Ayurveda
      • Unani
      • Siddha and
      • Yoga

Eligibility for Joining CGHS

  • All Central Govt. employees drawing their salary from Central Civil Estimates and their dependant family members residing in CGHS covered areas.
  • Central Govt. Pensioners/family pensioners receiving pension from central civil estimates and their eligible dependent family members.
  • Sitting and Ex-members of Parliament.
  • Ex-Governors & Lt. Governors.
  • Freedom Fighters.
  • Ex-Vice Presidents.
  • Sitting and Retired Judges of Supreme Court.
  • Retired Judge of High Courts.
  • Journalists accredited with PIB (in Delhi).
  • Employees and pensioners of certain autonomous/statutory bodies which have been extended CGHS facilities in Delhi.
  • Delhi Police Personnel in Delhi only.
  • Railway Board employees
  • Post and Telegraph Department employees.

5 . Genetically Modified Crops

Context : Farmers’ union founded by the late leader Sharad Joshi — announced fresh plans in its agitation for use of genetically modified seeds. In the current kharif season, farmers would undertake mass sowing of GM seeds for maize, soyabean, mustard brinjal and herbicide tolerant (Ht) cotton, although these are not approved. Farmers had carried out a similar movement last year, too.

What are genetically modified seeds?

  • Conventional plant breeding involves crossing species of the same genus to provide the offspring with the desired traits of both parents. Genetic engineering aims to transcend the genus barrier by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects. The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium.
  • Bt cotton, the only GM crop that is allowed in India, has two alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm. Ht Bt, on the other, cotton is derived with the insertion of an additional gene, from another soil bacterium, which allows the plant to resist the common herbicide glyphosate
  • In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borer.
  • In DMH-11 mustard, developed by Deepak Pental and colleague in the South Campus of University of Delhi, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.
  • Across the world, GM variants of maize, canola and soyabean, too, are available.

What is the legal position of genetically modified crops in India?

  • In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops. In 2002, the GEAC had allowed the commercial release of Bt cotton. More than 95 per cent of the country’s cotton area has since then come under Bt cotton.
  • Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs 1 lakh under the Environmental Protection Act ,1989.

Why are farmers rooting for GM crops?

  • In the case of cotton, farmers cite the high cost of weeding, which goes down considerably if they grow Ht Bt cotton and use glyphosate against weeds.
  • Brinjal growers in Haryana have rooted for Bt brinjal as it reduces the cost of production by cutting down on the use of pesticides.
  • Unauthorised crops are widely used. Industry estimates say that of the 4-4.5 crore packets (each weighing 400 gm) of cotton sold in the country, 50 lakh are of the unapproved Ht Bt cotton. Haryana has reported farmers growing Bt brinjal in pockets which had caused a major agitation there. In June last year, in a movement led by Shetkari Sanghatana in Akola district of Maharashtra, more than 1,000 farmers defied the government and sowed Ht Bt cotton. The Akola district authorities subsequently booked the organisers.
  • Environmentalists argue that the long-lasting effect of GM crops is yet to be studied and thus they should not be released commercially. Genetic modification, they say, brings about changes that can be harmful to humans in the long run.

6 . Facts for Prelims

Stations to be classified on waste water output

  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will classify railway stations under the red, orange and green categories based on the quantity of waste water generated and the disposal of untreated water into the municipal drain systems.
  • While railway stations generating waste water equal to or more than 100 Kilo Litres per Day (KLD) would be categorised as red, those greater than 10 KLD but less than 100 KLD would come under the orange category. Railway stations with less than 10 KLD waste water generation would be branded green.

Border adjustment tax

  • BAT is a duty that is proposed to be imposed on imported goods in addition to the customs levy that gets charged at the port of entry.
  • It is a value-added tax on imported goods and is also referred to as a border-adjusted tax, destination tax or border tax adjustment. It is a tax levied on where the good is consumed rather than where it is produced.
  • Need : Various taxes such as electricity duty, mandi tax, clean energy cess and royalty lead to escalation of price. “Such taxes imposed on domestic goods, give imported goods a price advantage in India.” Indian industry has been complaining to the government about such domestic taxes that get charged on domestically produced goods as these duties get embedded into the product. But many imported goods do not get loaded with such levies in their respective country of origin and this gives such products a price advantage in India.

Kashish queer film festival

  • Kashish queer film festival to be held online this year- biggest queer film festival in South Asia. It is a platform to bring our LGBTQIA+ stories out there to the world, as a means of healing and empowerment

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