Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- POCSO Act
- INS Vagir
- Govt’s Emergency Power’s to block content from Social Media Websites
- GM Crops
- Purse Siene Fishing
- Ken Betwa Link Project
- Facts for Prelims
1 . POCSO Act
Context: The Assam Cabinet has decided to book men who marry minor girls under stringent laws prescribing imprisonment from two years to life, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
What is POCSO Act?
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 was enacted to provide a robust legal framework for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interest of the child at every stage of the judicial process.
- The framing of the Act seeks to put children first by making it easy to use by including mechanisms for child-friendly reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and speedy trial of offences through designated Special Courts.
- The Act is gender neutral and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as a matter of paramount importance at every stage so as to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
Offences under the Act
- The New POCSO Act provides for a variety of offences under which an accused can be punished. It recognises forms of penetration other than penile-vaginal penetration and criminalises acts of immodesty against children too. Offences under the act include:
- Penetrative Sexual Assault: Insertion of penis/object/another body part in child’s vagina/urethra/anus/mouth, or asking the child to do so with them or some other person
- Sexual Assault: When a person touches the child with sexual intent, or makes the child touch them or someone else
- Sexual Harassment: passing sexually coloured remark, sexual gesture/noise, repeatedly following, flashing, etc.
- With respect to pornography, the Act criminalises watching or collection of pornographic content involving children also.
- People who traffic children for sexual purposes are also punishable under the provisions relating to abetment in the Act. The Act prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine.
- It also provides for various procedural reforms, making the tiring process of trial in India considerably easier for children. The Act has been criticised as its provisions seem to criminalise consensual sexual intercourse between two people below the age of 18. The 2001 version of the Bill did not punish consensual sexual activity if one or both partners were above 16 years.
- A Victim of Child Sexual Abuse can file a complaint at any time irrespective of his/her present age.
Child Welfare Committee
- A sexually abused child is considered as “child in need of care and protection” under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. Police officer should therefore inform the Child Welfare Committee about every case under the Act within 24 hours. CWC can appoint a support person for the child who will be responsible for the psycho-social well-being of the child. This support person will also liaise with the police and keep the child and the child’s family informed about the progress of the case. Reporting can be done through toll-free number 1098.
Contention around implementation of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act
Definition of child
- The Act defines a child as a person under the age of 18 years. However, this definition is a purely biological one, and does not take into account people who live with intellectual and psycho-social disability.
Contradiction with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act was passed to strengthen legal provisions for the protection of children below 18 years of age from sexual abuse and exploitation. Under this Act, if any girl under 18 is seeking abortion the service provider is compelled to register a complaint of sexual assault with the police. However, under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, it is not mandatory to report the identity of the person seeking an abortion. Consequently, service providers are hesitant to provide abortion services to girls under 18.
- According to the Act, every crime of child sexual abuse should be reported. If a person who has information of any abuse fails to report, they may face imprisonment up to six months or may be fined or both. Many child rights and women rights organisations have criticised this provision. According to experts, this provision takes away agency of choice from children. There may be many survivors who do not want to go through the trauma of criminal justice system, but this provision does not differentiate. Furthermore, mandatory reporting may also hinder access to medical aid, and psycho-social intervention. It contradicts the right to confidentiality for access to medical, and psychological care.
- Section 40 of the Act allows victims to access legal aid. However, that is subject to Code of Criminal Procedure. In other words, the lawyer representing a child can only assist the Public Prosecutor, and file written final arguments if the judge permits. Thus, the interest of the victim often go unrepresented.
- Recently the act was amended to increase the quantum of minimum punishment in case of Punishment for Aggravated penetrative Sexual Assault from 10 years to a minimum of 20 years and introducing the death penalty as an option
Criminalisation of consensual relationships
- The law presumes that all sexual acts with children under the age of 18 is a sexual offence, this also includes sexual acts where both the individuals are under the age of 18. Therefore, two adolescents who engage in consensual sexual act will also be punished under this law, this coupled with the need for mandatory reporting has led to the criminalisation of consensual relationships between adolescents. This is especially a concern where an adolescent is in relationship with someone from different caste, or religion. Parents have filed cases under this Act to ‘punish’ relationships they do not approve of. In a 2015 analysis of 142 sexual assault cases in sessions courts of Mumbai, police were found misusing the act in 33 cases, by classifying women who were 18 years old as being between 15 and 18 years of age in their FIRs, in order to criminalise consenting relationships at the request of the parents of the girl
2 . INS Vagir
Context : The fifth Scorpene class conventional submarine was commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS Vagir in the presence of Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R. Hari Kumar at Naval Dockyard Mumbai on Monday. The sixth and last of the French-origin Scorpène-class submarines being built in India under technology transfer is currently undergoing sea-trials and will be delivered to the Navy in 2024, the original manufacturer Naval Group.
- INS Vagir (S25) is the fifth submarine of the first batch of six Kalvari-class submarines for the Indian Navy.
- The Kalvari-class submarines have the capability of operating in a wide range of Naval combat including anti-warship and anti-submarine operations, intelligence gathering and surveillance, and naval mine laying.
- It is a diesel-electric attack submarine based on the Scorpène class, designed by French naval defence and energy group Naval Group and manufactured by Mazagon Dock Limited, an Indian shipyard in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
- The submarine inherits its name from INS Vagir (S41) which served in the Navy from 1973–2001, and was named after a species of sandfish.
- The submarine is designed to operate in all theatres of operation, showcasing interoperability with other components of a Naval Task Force.
- It can launch attacks with both torpedoes and tube launched anti-ship missiles, whilst underwater or on surface.
- It can undertake multifarious types of missions i.e Anti-Surface warfare, Anti-Submarine warfare, Intelligence gathering, Mine Laying, Area Surveillance, etc.
- Vagir is a Kalvari-class submarine, which includes other vessels, such as the INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, INS Karanj, INS Vela and INS Vagsheer. Of these, Kalvari and Khanderi were commissioned in 2017 and 2019, and Vela and Karanj were inducted in 2021. Vagir has now been commissioned and Vagsheer was launched in 2022 and is expected to be inducted next year.
- The submarines in the current Kalvari-class take their names from erstwhile decommissioned classes of submarines named Kalvari, which included Kalvari, Khanderi, Karanj and Vela classes — comprising Vela, Vagir, Vagshir. The now-decommissioned Kalvari and Vela classes were one of the earliest submarines in the post-independence Indian Navy, which belonged to Soviet origin Foxtrot class of vessels.
- In maritime parlance, a class of ships is a group of vessels which have the same make, purpose and displacement. In the Navy and Coast Guard in India, the ships belonging to a particular class are named in a specific manner. Many times, the names have the same first letters, prefixes, and similar meanings or the names belong to a particular type of word, for example, names of cities, persons, mythological concepts, animals, rivers, mountains, weapons, etc. The class is generally named after the first vessel in the category. In some cases, a particular class of vessels take their names from an earlier class of vessels which are now decommissioned.
- Like Kalvari – which means Tiger Shark, Vagir has been named after a Sand Fish, a predatory marine species. Khanderi has been named after an Island Fort built by Chhatrapati Shivaji, which played a key role in his Navy. Karanj has also been named after an Island located South of Mumbai.
Capabilities and technical details of INS Vagir
- The design of the Kalvari-class of submarines is based on the Scorpene class of submarines designed and developed by French defence major Naval Group formerly DCNS and the Spanish state-owned entity Navantia. This class of submarines have Diesel Electric transmission systems and these are primarily attack submarines or ‘hunter-killer’ types which means they are designed to target and sink adversary naval vessels.
- The Kalavari class of submarines have an estimated endurance of approximately 50 days. They also have the capability of operating in a wide range of Naval combat including anti-warship and anti-submarine operations, intelligence gathering and surveillance and naval mine laying. These submarines are around 220 feet long and have a height of 40 feet. It can reach the highest speeds of 11 knots (20 km/h) when surfaced and 20 knots (37 km/h) when submerged
- The modern variants of the Scorpene class of submarines have what is called Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) which enables non-nuclear submarines to operate for a long time without access to surface oxygen. It also needs to be noted that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has an ongoing programme to build a fuel cell-based AIP system for Indian Naval Submarines.”
- After Kargil war in 1999, the Indian Government approved a 30-year submarine plan. The Project – 75 was brought under this new plan.
- Under the new plan, two parallel production lines of the submarines were called for.
- One was under the already running Project – 75 and the other was under Project – 75I (Project – 75 India).
- In 2005, under Project – 75, India signed a transfer of technology contract with the French.
- Under this contract six Scorpene Class attack submarines were to be constructed at the Mazagon Dock Limited.
- Scorpene is a conventional powered submarine weighing 1,500 tonnes and can go up to depths of 300m.
- The first submarine INS Kalvari was commissioned in December 2017, second submarine INS Khanderi in September 2019, third one INS Karanj in March 2021 and the fourth one INS Vela joined service in November 2021.
- Vagir, the fifth one, was launched into water on November 12, 2020 and commenced sea trials on February 1, 2022.
- The sixth and last of the Scorpène-class submarines, Vagsheer, was launched into water in April 2022 and is expected to be delivered to the Navy by end 2023.
- Under this contract six Scorpene Class attack submarines were to be constructed at the Mazagon Dock Limited.
- Parallelly, the tender to build six more advanced conventional submarines under Project-75I is in the Request For Proposal (RFP) stage but has suffered delays
3 . Govt’s Emergency Power’s to block content from Social Media Websites
Context: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) directed YouTube and Twitter to take down links sharing the BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi Question.’ The order was passed under the emergency provisions of the Information Technology Rules, 2021, for allegedly casting “aspersions on the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court of India, sowing divisions among various communities, and making unsubstantiated allegations regarding actions of foreign governments in India.
What are the emergency provisions?
- Under the Information Technology Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021), the MIB has powers to issue content takedown notices to social media intermediaries like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook in emergency situations “for which no delay is acceptable”.
- The Rules say that “In case of emergency nature, the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting may, if he is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient and justifiable for blocking for public access of any information or part thereof through any computer resource and…as an interim measure issue such directions as he may consider necessary to such identified or identifiable persons, publishers or intermediary in control of such computer resource hosting such information or part thereof without giving him an opportunity of hearing.”
- These emergency notices can be issued if the MIB believes that the content can impact the sovereignty, integrity, defence, or security of India, friendly relations with foreign states or public order, or to prevent incitement to any cognisable offence
What can users whose content has been impacted do?
- While the IT Rules, 2021 prescribe recourse options for users, those are limited to actions taken by a social media company. For instance, if a platform has on its own taken down some content, the user can approach the grievance officer of the platform to raise a dispute, which they are to redress within 15 days.
- However, if a platform has taken down content based on the emergency provisions in the Rules, the legislation does not offer any direct recourse.
- The only option users have in this case is to approach courts. However, even that is tricky. By their very nature, the blocking orders are confidential, which means that users do not know the provisions under which their content was flagged. Besides that, how the government decided that a particular piece of content should be taken down is not known to citizens.
- Platforms like Twitter voluntarily inform users that they have taken down their content based on the government’s request, and share the information with the Lumen database, an independent research project studying takedown notices along with other legal removal requests. If not for that, users would probably never know why their content was taken down.
4 . Genetically Modified Crops
Context : The Supreme Court on January 24, 2023 asked the Centre what will happen if the risk of the commercial release of GM Mustard crop is “irreversible”.
Background of the Case
- In October 2022, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) recommended the environmental release of the genetically-modified (GM) mustard (Brassica juncea) variety DMH (Dhara Mustard Hybrid)-11 for the development of new generation hybrids, paving the way for the commercialisation of the country’s first GM food crop.
- Supreme court is considering the petition challenging decision of giving the go-ahead to environmental clearance for genetically modified (GM) mustard
- Gene Campaign, a petitioner in the case, said they have made their submissions before the court and said their main concern was that the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) report, which warned about the dire effects of GM mustard, was not read out before the court.
- According to another petition by Aruna Rodrigues approval to GM mustard on October 25 is contrary to TEC report
- Another petitioner have earlier argued that the widespread use of herbicide-tolerant crops would encourage farmers to spray chemical weed-killers, leaving toxic chemical residue in large amounts on the crops.
About the current status of the case
- The government told the Supreme Court that genetically modified (GM) mustard was not developed as herbicide-tolerant (HT). It is neither necessary nor desirable for a farmer to use herbicides in the cultivation of GM mustard. A crop is referred to as an HT variety if its commercial trait is HT. DMH-11(Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11) is not such a crop since the HT trait in DMH-11 is of no commercial utility.
- The apex court said it was more concerned about the risk factors than anything else when it came to conditional approval granted by the Centre for the environmental release of GM mustard.
About genetic modification (GM) of crops?
- Genetic modification of plants involves adding a specific stretch of DNA into the plant’s genome, giving it new or different characteristics.
- This could include changing the way the plant grows, or making it resistant to a particular disease.
- The new DNA becomes part of the GM plant’s genome which the seeds produced by these plants will contain.
- For example if scientists want to produce wheat with high protein content and they decide to incorporate the high protein quality of beans into wheat. To make this possible, a specific sequence of DNA with protein-making trait is isolated from the bean (which is called the donor organism) and is inserted into the gene structure of wheat, in a laboratory process.
- The new gene or the transgene thus produced is transferred into the recipient cells (wheat cells). The cells are then grown in tissue culture where they develop into plants. The seeds produced by these plants will inherit the new DNA structure.
- Traditional cultivation of these seeds will then be undertaken and we will have genetically modified wheat with high protein content.
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.
GM crops are perceived to offer benefits to both producers and consumers.
- Genetic engineering can improve crop protection. Crops with better resistance to pest and diseases can be created. The use of herbicides and pesticides can be reduced or even eliminated.
- Farmers can achieve high yield, and thereby get more income.
- Nutritional content can be improved.
- Shelf life of foods can be extended.
- Food with better taste and texture can be achieved.
- Crops can be engineered to withstand extreme weather
What are the potential risks?
- Genetically engineered foods often present unintended side effects. Genetic engineering is a new field, and long-term results are unclear. Very little testing has been done on GM food.
- Some crops have been engineered to create their own toxins against pests. This may harm non-targets such as farm animals that ingest them. The toxins can also cause allergy and affect digestion in humans.
- Further, GM crops are modified to include antibiotics to kill germs and pests. And when we eat them, these antibiotic markers will persist in our body and will render actual antibiotic medications less effective over a period of time, leading to superbug threats. This means illnesses will become more difficult to cure.
- Besides health and environmental concerns, activists point to social and economic issues. They have voiced serious concern about multinational agribusiness companies taking over farming from the hands of small farmers. Dependence on GM seed companies could prove to be a financial burden for farmers.
- Farmers are reluctant because they will have limited rights to retain and reuse seeds.
- Their concern also includes finding a market that would accept GM food.
- People in general are wary of GM crops as they are engineered in a lab and do not occur in Nature
GM crops in India
- Bt cotton is the only genetically modified (GM) crop that has been approved for commercial cultivation in 2002 by the Government of India. Long term studies were conducted by ICAR on the impact of Bt cotton which did not show any adverse effect on soil, microflora and animal health. More than 95 per cent of the country’s cotton area has since then come under Bt cotton.
- Bt Brinjal resistant to brinjal shoot fly developed by M/S Mahyco in collaboration with University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad; Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore and ICAR-Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi was approved by GEAC in 2009 but due to 10 years moratorium imposed on GM crops by the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) appointed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, no further action on commercialization has been taken.
- GM mustard Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11 (DMH 11) developed by Delhi University is pending for commercial release as GEAC has advised to generate complete safety assessment data on environmental bio-safety, especially effects on beneficial insect species
Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee
- The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
- It is responsible for the appraisal of activities involving large-scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle.
- The committee is also responsible for the appraisal of proposals relating to the release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials.
- GEAC is chaired by the Special Secretary/Additional Secretary of MoEF&CC and co-chaired by a representative from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
- Mustard is one of India’s most important winter crops which is sown between mid-October and late November. The Indian mustard (B. juncea) is a member of the Brassicaceae family.
- Mustard is cultivated by around 6 million farmers in around 6.5-7 million hectares of land across the states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.
What is DMH-11?
- Hybridisation involves crossing two genetically dissimilar plant varieties that can even be from the same species. The first-generation (F1) offspring from such crosses tend to have higher yields than what either parent can individually give.
- Such hybridisation isn’t easy in mustard, as its flowers have both female (pistil) and male (stamen) reproductive organs, making the plants largely self-pollinating. Since the eggs of one plant cannot be fertilised by the pollen grains from another, it limits the scope for developing hybrids — unlike in cotton, maize or tomato, where this can be done through simple emasculation or physical removal of anthers.
- By genetic modification (GM). Scientists at Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) have developed the hybrid mustard DMH-11 containing two alien genes isolated from a soil bacterium called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens.
- The first gene (‘barnase’) codes for a protein that impairs pollen production and renders the plant into which it is incorporated male-sterile. This plant is then crossed with a fertile parental line containing, in turn, the second ‘barstar’ gene that blocks the action of the barnase gene. The resultant F1 progeny is both high-yielding and also capable of producing seed/ grain, thanks to the barstar gene in the second fertile line.
- The CGMCP scientists have deployed the barnase-barstar GM technology to create what they say is a robust and viable hybridisation system in mustard. This system was used to develop DMH-11 by crossing a popular Indian mustard variety ‘Varuna’ (the barnase line) with an East European ‘Early Heera-2’ mutant (barstar). DMH-11 is claimed to have shown an average 28% yield increase over Varuna in contained field trials carried out by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
- GM mustard has been a subject of intense debate in the country with both pro- and anti-GM activists placing their claims and counterclaims vigorously.
- Worried that a genetically modified mustard crop would impact honey production in India, honey cultivators have opposed the GM mustard variety and asked the government not to approve it for commercial cultivation claiming that it may adversely affect the livelihood of lakhs of farmers.
- The DMH-11 mustard variety is herbicide tolerant, allowing farmers to spray over the crops with weed killer without harming the crops. This has raised fears that farmers may resort to excessive use of toxic herbicides which can lead to weeds becoming resistant to them and the emergence of so-called superweeds. Critics are also concerned about herbicide residue on GM crops.
Why is the government pushing for GM Mustard?
- Mustard contributes 40 per cent of total edible oils production in India. By 2025-26 India will need 34 million tonnes of edible oils, which will put a significant pressure on the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
- Today, mustard is grown in 8 million hectares, with 1-1.3 tonnes yield per hectare. The government claims that transgenic seeds could potentially raise the yields to 3-3.5 tonnes per hectare while being resistant to pests that cause white rust.
5 . Purse Siene Fishing
Context: The Supreme Court on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, allowed purse seine fishing outside the territorial waters of Tamil Nadu.
Background of the Case
- Currently, bans on purse seine fishing are implemented in the territorial waters of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands up to 12 nautical miles. States such as Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, West Bengal have not imposed any such ban, while Maharashtra has issued some orders to regulate, but not ban purse seine fishing in its territorial waters.
- The Supreme Court allowed purse seine fishing outside the territorial waters of Tamil Nadu.
- he court has imposed stringent conditions to regulate the extent of purse seine fishing outside the 12-nautical-mile limit off Tamil Nadu.
- For one, purse seine fishing would be allowed only twice a week, on Monday and Thursday, that too between 8 am and 6 pm the same day.
- The Bench said only vessels registered under the marine fishing regulation law would be allowed to do purse seine fishing.
- Tracking devices should be installed in these boats. The court has also prescribed a colour code for them. The fishing crew need to mandatorily carry identity cards.
Tamil Nadu’s objection
- Tamil Nadu had vehemently objected to purse seine fishing, even beyond the 12 nautical mile border.
- The mouth of purse seine net is one hectare and it would drag out anything and everything from the bowels of the sea.
- The livelihood of small fishermen operating within the territorial waters would be put at risk,
- The State had referred to a 1993 decision of the Supreme Court in State of Kerala versus Joseph Antony, which had upheld the ban on purse seine fishing beyond the territorial waters as it affected the livelihood of traditional fishermen.
- One of the primary ecological arguments against purse seine nets is that they tend to draw only the targetted fish but also at-risk varieties, including turtles.
- It is prohibited by Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Odisha, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Andaman and Nicobar Islands in their respective territorial waters of up to 12 nautical miles.
- States like Gujarat, Andhra, Goa, Karnataka, West Bengal have not imposed any such ban on purse seine fishing. Maharashtra has issued certain orders for regulation of purse seine fishing in its territorial waters.
Opinion of the expert panel
- Earlier Central Govt has constituted an expert panel on the issue
- The expert panel had refused to accept that purse seine fishing caused “serious resource depletion”. It had recommended purse-seiners to fish territorial waters and the Indian Exclusive Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) subject to certain conditions.
- there had not been any prohibition on purse seine fishermen operating beyond territorial waters for the past 30 years.
17 lakh fishermen use purse seine nets. They were not “affluent”, but small fishermen who had worked their way up the pecking order in the fishing community. purse seine fishing was introduced in 1954 but the Technology has changed for the better and could be used to monitor fishermen and keep a check on whether they operate beyond the 12 nautical mile limit.
What is purse seine fishing?
- Purse seines are used in the open ocean to target dense schools of single-species pelagic (midwater) fish like tuna and mackerel.
- A vertical net ‘curtain’ is used to surround the school of fish, the bottom of which is then drawn together to enclose the fish, rather like tightening the cords of a drawstring purse.
- The catch is harvested by either hauling the net aboard or bringing it alongside the vessel.
- Purse seines can reach more than 6,500 ft (2,000 m) in length and 650 ft (200 m) in depth, varying in size according to the vessel, mesh size, and target species.
- Finding a school of fish is one of the most difficult steps of this fishing technique and include:
- Natural cues such as a congregation of seabirds, ruffling of surface water and/or fast-moving groups of dolphins.
- Helicopters scanning the water for natural cues from the air to direct boats toward schooling fish.
- Using radar fish finders to help identify the exact location and size of a school.
Advantages of Purse seine fishing
- Purse-seine fishing in open water is generally considered to be an efficient form of fishing.
- It has no contact with the seabed and can have low levels of bycatch (Accidental catch of unwanted species).
- Purse seines can also be used to catch fish congregating around fish aggregating devices. This fishing method can result in higher levels of bycatch.
Concerns or issues related to Purse seine fishing
- Purse seine fishing, deployed widely on India’s western coasts, uses a large vertical net to surround dense shoals of pelagic or midwater fish in the open ocean, and then draws in the edges like tightening the cords of a drawstring purse.
- In some States, it is linked to concerns about the decreasing stock of small, pelagic shoaling fish such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies and trevally on the western coasts
- Depending on the fishery, purse seines may catch vulnerable species; purse seining targeting tuna has been particularly associated with notable bycatch of mammals and sharks.
- Purse seining can be associated with bycatch of non-target fish and other marine life and the accidental catch and discarding of juvenile commercial fish species
- Fishermen using traditional methods have placed the blame squarely on the rise of purse seine fishing and fear a further fall in the availability of these small fish if the ban is lifted.
- They have also demanded that, as the Centre has supported the lifting of the ban, it should publish the expert committee report it has based its stance on.
- A major concern is the dwindling availability of oil sardines, a favourite of Kerala fish eaters. In 2021, Kerala recorded a catch of just 3,297 tonnes of sardine, a sharp decrease from the haul of 3.9 lakh tonnes in 2012.
- While traditional fish workers blame purse seines as a reason for the decrease in sardines in Indian waters, those using big boats with purse seine fishing nets claim that it is simply a more scientific way to catch fish, particularly from the first layer of the sea.
6. Ken Betwa Link Project
Context: January 18, the Steering Committee of the Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) held its third meeting in New Delhi. It was chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Water Resources, in the Ministry of Jal Shakti, who reiterated that KBLP was a “flagship” project of the national government and that it “is critical for the water security and socio-economic development of Bundelkhand region”.
About the Project
- In December 2021, the Union Cabinet approved KBLP at a total cost of Rs 44,605 crore. In this project, the national and the Madhya Pradesh governments will link the Ken River with the Betwa river so that the latter can water the Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh.
- The Ken River is one of the major rivers in the Bundelkhand region of central India and flows through the states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. It is a tributary of the Yamuna.
- The Betwa is a river in Central and Northern India, and a tributary of the Yamuna. It rises in the Vindhya Range just north of Narmadapuram in Madhya Pradesh and flows northeast through Madhya Pradesh and Orchha to Uttar Pradesh. Nearly half of its course, which is not navigable, runs over the Malwa Plateau.
What is the Ken-Betwa link?
- The National Perspective Plan (NPP) was prepared by the then Ministry of Irrigation (now Ministry of Jal Shakti) in August 1980 for water resources development through inter basin transfer of water, for transferring water from water surplus basins to water-deficit basins. Under the NPP, the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has identified 30 links (16 under Peninsular Component & 14 under Himalayan Component) for preparation of Feasibility Reports
- The NPP comprises two components – the Himalayan Rivers Development and Peninsular Rivers Development.
- The Ken-Betwa link project (KBLP) is the first river interlinking project, among the 16 similar projects planned under the Peninsular Rivers Development of the NPP.
- It will connect the tributaries of the Yamuna River, namely the Ken River in the Panna district of Madhya Pradesh and the Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh.
Ken Betwa river linking project: Benefits
- The government envisions the programme of interlinking of rivers as a top priority, towards sustainable development of water resources in India.
- The Ken Betwa link project has been planned as a multi-purpose project, for providing several benefits in terms of better utilisation of water resources and addressing the water scarcity in several parts of the Bundelkhand region.
- The region is prone to recurring drought conditions that have impacted socio-economic development in the area. Moreover, owing to the hard rock and marginal alluvium terrain, the location is not rich in groundwater. Hence, the Ken Betwa River project will help in utilising the floodwater during monsoon and stabilise the availability of water during lean months, especially in drought years.
- The project linking Ken and Betwa river will also provide annual irrigation and hydropower generation. The districts that will benefit from the Ken betwa link pariyojna include Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri, Raisen and Panna in Madhya Pradesh and Jhansi, Mahoba, Banda and Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh. As many as 62 lakh people in the Bundelkhand region will also experience improved drinking water supply due to the project
Concerns raised over the environmental impact of the project
- While the Ken Betwa River interlinking project is expected to resolve the water problems in the drought-prone locations, many environment activists have expressed concerns over the impact it will have on the Panna Tiger Reserve.
- Over 46 lakh trees are likely to be felled due to the construction work within the national park. The tiger reserve is home to many critically endangered wildlife species. Moreover, the development of the Ken Betwa River interlinking project is also expected to result in the submergence of 6,017 hectares of forest land under the Daudhan dam of the KBLP.
7 . Facts for Prelims
- Noroviruses are a group of viruses (previously known as Norwalk-like viruses) that can cause gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
- As per the World Health Organisation, norovirus is a viral illness that is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis globally. It is commonly referred to as ‘food poisoning’ or a ‘stomach bug‘. Norovirus is highly contagious.
- Symptoms of norovirus include acute onset diarrhea and vomiting. The illness often begins suddenly and one may feel very sick, with stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. The infection is associated with intestinal inflammation, and malnutrition and may cause long-term morbidity.
- An estimated 685 million cases of norovirus are seen annually, including 200 million cases amongst children under 5, the WHO said. The infection causes an estimated 200,000 deaths per year, including 50,000 child deaths, primarily impacting low-income countries.
- Norovirus has been estimated to cost $60 billion globally as a result of healthcare costs and economic losses, the global health institution said.
- Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe.
- It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland to the west by the sea across from Sweden to the south by Latvia, and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia.
- The territory of Estonia consists of the mainland, the larger islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, and over 2,200 other islands and islets on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, covering a total area of 45,339 square kilometers (17,505 sq mi).
- The capital city Tallinn and Tartu are the two largest urban areas of the country. The Estonian language is the autochthonous and the official language of Estonia; it is the first language of most of its population, as well as the world’s second-most-spoken Finnic language.
- Recently The Estonian ambassador in Russia has been ordered to leave the country by 7 February after the Kremlin accused the country of “Russophobia”.
About Oscar Awards
- The Academy Awards, or “Oscars recognize excellence in cinematic achievements in the United States film industry as assessed by the Academy’s voting membership.
- Colloquially known as Oscars, the Academy Awards, given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, are the top-tier awards when it comes to films. Although there is no monetary reward, winning the most sought-after Oscar statuette gives the winner what is called Oscar’s Bump.
- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is made up of more than 9,000 motion picture professionals. Established in 1927, it currently has a stated aim of advancing the arts and sciences of motion pictures.
- In order to be eligible, a film has to be exhibited in a theatre for at least a week in Los Angeles. The exceptions to this are foreign-language movies, which are submitted by their country of origin and need not be featured in the US. The documentaries and short films are officially submitted by their producers, whereas the music category needs the artiste to submit a form to participate.
- The 1st Academy Awards were held in 1929
- Indian documentary films All That Breathes and The Elephant Whisperers have both secured nominations in the Best Documentary Feature Film and the Best Documentary Short Film categories, respectively.
- SS Rajamouli’s RRR has secured one nomination in the Best Original Song category for “Naatu Naatu.” RRR did not receive any other nominations.
Oscar Nomination Process
- Oscar nominations, conducted using both paper and online ballots, are selected by members of a particular branch voting for artistes from their own category. For instance, only directors can nominate directors, actors can nominate actors, and so on.
- However, there is an exception: Best Picture. When it comes to this category, every Academy member gets to choose nominees. Members submit a list of 5 to 10 entries for this category’s nominations only. For the rest, they submit a maximum of five entries.
- To submit potential nominees, a preferential voting system has been put into place. Members are required to rank their entries in order of preference. The final nomination list is revealed based on how many first-preference votes a film receives. If an entry wins more than 50 per cent, it earns a nomination. But that rarely happens. Then, the second-preference votes are counted, then the third-preference, and so on.
- The whole process is conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the big 4 accounting firms.
- Once the nominations are in, all the categories become open for the Academy members and they can vote across categories. Until the envelopes are opened during the ceremony, only two PricewaterhouseCoopers partners know about the winners.
- The credit for the design of the award statue goes to Cedric Gibbons, the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer art director. Earlier, it was cast in bronze with gold plating and later, was made of plastic because of the shortage of metal during World War II. Currently, the statues are made of gold-plated britannium, which stands 13.5 inches and weighs 3.8 kg.