Daily Current Affairs : 19th July

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. IUCN Red List
  2. Vienna convention on Consular Relations 1963
  3. General Fund of the SEBI
  4. Whip
  5. Why Assam is prone to floods

1 . IUCN Red List

Context : International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) added more than 7,000 animals, fish and plants to its endangered “Red List”.

About the News

  • Red List assessed more than 1,05,000 species worldwide, around 28,000 of which risk extinction.
  • Each group of organisms face specific threats, human behaviour, including overfishing and deforestation, was the biggest driver of plummeting populations.
  • Wedgefishes and giant guitarfishes, known collectively as Rhino Rays due to their elongated snouts, are now the most imperilled marine families on Earth.
  • The False Shark Ray is on the brink of extinction after overfishing in the waters off of Mauritania saw its population collapse by 80% in the last 45 years.
  • Seven species of primate are closer to extinction on the new list, including the Roloway Monkey of Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, with fewer than 2,000 individuals left in the wild.
  • Prime culprits are humans hunting the animals for bushmeat and “severe habitat loss” as forest is converted to land to grow food.
  • More than 500 deep-sea bony fish and molluscs have been added to the list for the first time posing something of a conservation conundrum as the space they inhabit — 1,000 metres beneath the surface — is often beyond national boundaries.
  • The dry forests of Madagascar are also 90 per cent threatened. Their wood is used for making good-quality furniture and is the world’s most illegally trafficked wild product. 
  • Fungi have also made a surprise entry in the list. 15 species which generally grow in the European countryside are now threatened with extinction.

About IUCN

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations.
  • IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, was established on 5 October 1948 in the French town of Fontainebleau.
  • As the first global environmental union, it brought together governments and civil society organisations with a shared goal to protect nature.
  • Its aim was to encourage international cooperation and provide scientific knowledge and tools to guide conservation action.
  • In 1964, IUCN established the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, which has since evolved into the world’s most comprehensive data source on the global extinction risk of species.
  • IUCN also played a fundamental role in the creation of key international conventions, including the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (1971), the World Heritage Convention (1972), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, (1974) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992).

About Red List

  • Established in 1964, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species.
  • Red list provides information about range, population size, habitat and ecology, use and/or trade, threats, and conservation actions that will help inform necessary conservation decisions.
  • The IUCN Red List is used by government agencies, wildlife departments, conservation-related non-governmental organizations (NGOs), natural resource planners, educational organizations, students, and the business community.
  • There are 9 categories in the Red List: a) Extinct, b) Extinct in the Wild, c) Critically Endangered, d) Endangered, e) Vulnerable, f) Near Threatened, g) Least Concern, h) Data Deficient and i) Not Evaluated.

2 . Vienna convention on Consular Relations of 1963

Context : India has repeatedly sought consular access to Jadhav, under the rules of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963. 

About Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963

  • The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 is an international treaty that defines a framework for consular relations between independent states.
  • A consul normally operates out of an embassy in another country, and performs two functions:
    • Protecting in the host country the interests of their countrymen
    • Furthering the commercial and economic relations between the two states.

Article 36 of the Convention

  • Article 36 addresses communications between consular officers and nationals of the sending state.
  • The Convention provides that “consular officers shall be free to communicate with nationals of the sending State and to have access to them.”
  • Foreign nationals who are arrested or detained be given notice “without delay” of their right to have their embassy or consulate notified of that arrest, and “consular officers shall have the right to visit a national of the sending State who is in prison, custody or detention, to converse and correspond with him and to arrange for his legal representation.”
  • Pakistan has, however, outrightly denied India access to Jadhav on the ground that it was not applicable in cases related to spies

3 . General Fund of SEBI

Context : The government’s proposal to transfer surplus money with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI) has met with a strong opposition from the regulatory body.


  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India will now have to transfer 75 per cent of its surplus from the general fund every year to the Consolidated Fund of India that is managed by the Central Government.
  • The Budget has proposed that SEBI should constitute a reserve fund and 25 per cent of the annual surplus of the general fund should be credited to this reserve fund.
  • Moreover, the transfer to the reserve fund every year should not exceed the total annual expenditure of the preceding two years.
  • After meeting all expenditures, SEBI should transfer the leftover amount to the Consolidated Fund of India, according to the Budget proposal

About General Fund

  • The General Fund is all the amount that the regulator gathers during the entire year via fees and other payments from market intermediaries.
  • Like a statutory tax on equity transaction, there is a small portion that also goes to SEBI on every equity market transaction
  • The general fund of the SEBI, which currently has a balance of over ₹3,000 crore, is used to meet the expenses of the regulatory body, including salaries and allowances.
  • Incidentally, all the penalties levied by the SEBI already go to the Consolidated Fund of India. Similarly, settlement amounts are also credited to the Consolidated Fund of India.

Arguments of SEBI

  • Proposed amendments are regressive in nature as they are against the spirit of the SEBI Act as the Autonomy of a regulatory institution like SEBI is critical
  • The proposal would result in compromising SEBI’s autonomy and its ability to function effectively towards its stated objectives, and thus, hamper the progress of Indian securities markets,” stated the letter.
  • SEBI is also subjected to CAG audit and so far, not a single instance of financial imprudence has been observed by CAG. Accordingly, the involvement of the government in capital expenditure approval, in addition to the process of board approval, will not add any benefit to institutional efficiency, but rather slow down decision-making and would be contrary to the principle of minimum government and maximum governance

4 . Whip

What is a whip?

  • A whip in parliamentary parlance is a written order that party members be present for an important vote, or that they vote only in a particular way.
  • The term is derived from the old British practice of “whipping in” lawmakers to follow the party line. In India all parties can issue a whip to their members.
  • Parties appoint a senior member from among their House contingents to issue whips — this member is called a Chief Whip, and he/she is assisted by additional Whips.
  • The importance of a whip can be inferred from the number of times an order is underlined.
    • A one-line whip, underlined once, is usually issued to inform party members of a vote, and allows them to abstain in case they decide not to follow the party line.
    • A two-line whip directs them to be present during the vote.
    • A three-line whip is the strongest, employed on important occasions such as the second reading of a Bill or a no-confidence motion, and places an obligation on members to toe the party line.

Defiance of Whip

  • The penalty for defying a whip varies from country to country.
  • In the UK, MPs can lose membership of the party, but can keep their House seats as Independents
  • In India, rebelling against a three-line whip can put a lawmaker’s membership of the House at risk.
  • The anti-defection law allows the Speaker/Chairperson to disqualify such a member
  • The only exception is when more than a third of legislators vote against a directive, effectively splitting the party

5 . Why Assam is prone to floods

Why are floods so destructive in Assam?

  • Apart from incessant rainfall during the monsoon, there are many contributory factors, natural and man-made.
  • At the crux is the very nature of the river Brahmaputra —dynamic and unstable. Its 580,000 sq km basin spreads over four countries: China, India, Bangladesh and Bhutan, with diverse environments.
  • The Brahmaputra features among the world’s top five rivers in terms of discharge as well as the sediment it brings.
  • At 19,830 cubic meters per second (cumec), it ranks fourth in discharge at the mouth, behind only the Amazon (99,150 cumec), the Congo (39,660 cumec) and the Yangtze (21,800 cumec)
  • In terms of sediment yield, two spots along the Brahmaputa’s course were at second and third places in 2008, behind the Yellow River whose annual sediment yield is 1,403 tonnes per sq km. The Brahmaputra’s annual sediment yield was 1,128 tonnes per sq km at Bahadurabad of Bangladesh, and 804 tonnes per sq km at Pandu of Guwahati.

How do these Characteristics of the river relate to flooding

  • The vast amount of sediment comes from Tibet, where the river originates as the region is cold, arid and lacks plantation. Glaciers melt, soil erodes and all of it results in a highly sedimented river
  • By the time the river enters Assam — a state comprising primarily floodplains surrounded by hills on all sides — it deposits vast amounts of this silt, leading to erosion and floods. “As the river comes from a high slope to a flat plain, its velocity decreases suddenly and this results in the river unloading the sediment. The river’s channels prove inadequate amid this siltation, leading to floods
  • Because of the earthquake-prone nature of the region, the river has not been able to acquire a stable character. Following the devastating earthquake of 1950, the level of the Brahmaputra rose by two metres in Dibrugarh area in eastern Assam.
  • Besides these natural factors are the man-made ones — habitation, deforestation, population growth in catchment areas (including in China) — which lead to higher sedimentation. For example, the sediment deposition itself creates temporary sandbars or river islands.
  • It is common for people to settle in such places, which restricts the space the river has to flow. When rainfall is heavy, it combines with all these factors and leads to destructive floods.

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