Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Great Backyard bird count
- Menstrual Leave
- Facts for Prelims
1 . Great backyard bird count
Context: West Bengal reported the highest number of species followed by Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh during the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) 2023 across 35 States and Union Territories from February 17-20.
What is Great Backyard Bird Count?
- The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is an event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org.
- Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. Recently, more than 300,000 participants submitted their bird observations online, creating the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded.
- The GBBC aims to understand the status of birds, including how birds are distributed across the country and how they are affected by changes in weather. The data will also help understand changes in migration patterns.
- GBBC India is coordinated by the Bird Count India collective, a coming-together of a number of groups and organisations that are interested in birds, nature and conservation
- The event was significant as it encouraged students to learn more about the birds and to take initiatives to observe them
Bird count India
- Bird Count India is an informal partnership of organizations and groups working together to increase our collective knowledge about bird distributions and populations.
Great Backyard Bird count 2023
- The preliminary report released by BCI said more than 46,000 checklists and a total of 1,067 avian species were uploaded on e-Bird, an online platform to record bird observations.
- West Bengal reported 489 species, the most among the 35 participating States and Union Territories.
- Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka followed with 426, 407, 397 and 371 species respectively. Tamil Nadu and Kerala took the eighth and ninth spots with 349 and 325 species.
- Pune birders uploaded more than 5,900 lists, the most among urban centres.
2 . UNFCCC
Context: The forthcoming United Nations Conference of Parties (COP-28) in Dubai must focus on adaptation instead of mitigation, Leena Nandan, Secretary, Environment Ministry said at a public meeting on Friday.
What is United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change?
- The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established an international environmental treaty to combat “dangerous human interference with the climate system”, in part by stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. It was signed by 154 states at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. Its original secretariat was in Geneva but relocated to Bonn in 1996. It entered into force on 21 March 1994
What is the Objective of the convention?
- The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) interference with the climate system.” It states that “such a level should be achieved within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.
- Industrialized nations agree under the Convention to support climate change activities in developing countries by providing financial support for action on climate change. A system of grants and loans has been set up through the Convention and is managed by the Global Environment Facility. Industrialized countries also agree to share technology with less-advanced nations.
- The treaty called for ongoing scientific research and regular meetings, negotiations, and future policy agreements designed to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner
Measures taken to address the climate change
- The Kyoto Protocol, which was signed in 1997 and ran from 2005 to 2020, was the first implementation of measures under the UNFCCC. The Kyoto Protocol was an international treaty which extended the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that global warming is occurring and that human-made CO2 emissions are driving it. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. There were 192 parties (Canada withdrew from the protocol, effective December 2012) to the Protocol in 2020.
- The Kyoto Protocol implemented the objective of the UNFCCC to reduce the onset of global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to “a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” (Article 2).
- The Kyoto Protocol applied to the seven greenhouse gases listed in Annex A:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2),
- Methane (CH4),
- Nitrous oxide (N2O),
- Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs),
- Perfluorocarbons (PFCs),
- Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)
- Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)
- Nitrogen trifluoride was added for the second compliance period during the Doha Round.
- The Protocol was based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities: it acknowledged that individual countries have different capabilities in combating climate change, owing to economic development, and therefore placed the obligation to reduce current emissions on developed countries on the basis that they are historically responsible for the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
- The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012. All 36 countries that fully participated in the first commitment period complied with the Protocol. Even though the 36 developed countries reduced their emissions, the global emissions increased by 32% from 1990 to 2010.
- A second commitment period was agreed to in 2012 to extend the agreement to 2020, known as the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, in which 37 countries had binding targets
- As of October 2020, 147 states had accepted the Doha Amendment. It entered into force on 31 December 2020, following its acceptance by the mandated minimum of at least 144 states, although the second commitment period ended on the same day. Of the 37 parties with binding commitments, 34 had ratified.
- Negotiations were held in the framework of the yearly UNFCCC Climate Change Conferences on measures to be taken after the second commitment period ended in 2020. This resulted in the 2015 adoption of the Paris Agreement, which is a separate instrument under the UNFCCC rather than an amendment of the Kyoto Protocol
What is Common but differentiated responsibilities?
- The UNFCCC endorses the concept of common but differentiated responsibility in the climate context. This means that while developing country parties are expected to contribute to climate mitigation, because of superior capacity to undertake mitigation and greater contribution to the problem of climate change as a result of historical emissions, developed countries are expected to “take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof.”
- The Paris Agreement often referred to as the Paris Accords or the Paris Climate Accords, is an international treaty on climate change. Adopted in 2015, the agreement covers climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance mechanism
- The Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature goal is to keep the rise in mean global temperature to well below 2 °C (3.6 °F) above pre-industrial levels, and preferably limit the increase to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F), recognizing that this would substantially reduce the effects of climate change. Emissions should be reduced as soon as possible and reach net-zero by the middle of the 21st century. To stay below 1.5 °C of global warming, emissions need to be cut by roughly 50% by 2030. This is an aggregate of each country’s nationally determined contributions.
- It aims to help countries adapt to climate change effects and mobilize enough finance. Under the agreement, each country must determine, plan, and regularly report on its contributions. No mechanism forces a country to set specific emissions targets, but each target should go beyond previous targets. In contrast to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the distinction between developed and developing countries is blurred, so that the latter also have to submit plans for emission reductions.
Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)
- The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) created a guide for NDC implementation, for the use of decision makers in Less Developed Countries. In this guide, CDKN identified a series of common challenges countries face in NDC implementation, including how to:
- build awareness of the need for, and benefits of, action among stakeholders, including key government ministries;
- mainstream and integrate climate change into national planning and development processes;
- strengthen the links between subnational and national government plans on climate change;
- build capacity to analyse, develop and implement climate policy;
- establish a mandate for coordinating actions around NDCs and driving their implementation; and
- address resource constraints for developing and implementing climate change policy.
Intended Nationally Determined Contributions
- At the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties in Warsaw in 2013, the UNFCCC created a mechanism for Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to be submitted in the run up to the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties in Paris (COP21) in 2015.
- Countries were given freedom and flexibility to ensure that these climate change mitigation and adaptation plans were nationally appropriate. This flexibility, especially regarding the types of actions to be undertaken, allowed for developing countries to tailor their plans to their specific adaptation and mitigation needs, as well as towards other needs.
India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)
- India had submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change during October 2015. It has been revised and approved by the Cabinet during August 2022.
- India stands committed to reduce Emissions Intensity of its GDP by 45 percent by 2030, from 2005 level and achieve about 50 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.
- The updated NDC reads “To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation, including through a mass movement for ‘LIFE’– ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ as a key to combating climate change”.
Salient features of India’s INDC
- To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation.
- To adopt a climate-friendly and a cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at corresponding level of economic development.
- To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030 from 2005 level.
- To achieve about 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030, with the help of transfer of technology and low-cost international finance, including from Green Climate Fund.
- To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
- To better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management.
- To mobilize domestic and new and additional funds from developed countries to implement the above mitigation and adaptation actions in view of the resource required and the resource gap.
- To build capacities, create domestic framework and international architecture for quick diffusion of cutting edge climate technology in India and for joint collaborative R&D for such future technologies.
Key elements and focus areas of India’s INDC
India’s INDC centre around the country’s policies and programmes for:
- Sustainable Lifestyles – To put forward and further propagate a healthy and sustainable way of living based on traditions and values of conservation and moderation.
- Cleaner Economic Development – To adopt a climate friendly and a cleaner path than the one followed hitherto by others at corresponding level of economic development.
- Reducing Emission intensity of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level.
- Increasing the Share of Non Fossil Fuel Based Electricity – To achieve about 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030 with the help of transfer of technology and low cost international finance including from Green Climate Fund (GCF).
- Enhancing Carbon Sink (Forests) – To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
- Adaptation – To better adapt to climate change by enhancing investments in development programmes in sectors vulnerable to climate change, particularly agriculture, water resources, Himalayan region, coastal regions, health and disaster management.
- Mobilizing Finance – To mobilize domestic and new & additional funds from developed countries to implement the above mitigation and adaptation actions in view of the resource required and the resource gap.
- Technology Transfer and Capacity Building – To build capacities, create domestic framework and international architecture for quick diffusion of cutting edge climate technology in India and for joint collaborative R&D for such future technologies
How are India’s INDCs different from other countries’?
- India’s INDCs have a strong focus on climate change adaptation. Of the 8 missions outlined in India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, 4 efforts are focused on adaptation efforts – sustainable agriculture, increasing water use efficiency, sustaining the Himalayan ecosystem and creating sustainable habitats. No other country has been able to dedicate the same level of focus and effort on adaptation on as large a scale as India. Furthermore, India has also outlined the financial implications of the climate change goals, in addition to outlining its plan for developing and enabling technology transfers to facilitate INDC achievement.
India’s plans for climate change mitigation
- India plans to reduce its emissions intensity by 33 – 35% between 2005 and 2030. India is focusing on accelerating the use of clean and renewable energy by 40% by 2030, and on promoting efficient use of energy. By 2030, India also intends to increase carbon sinks by creating an additional capacity equivalent to 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 through significant afforestation efforts.
3 . Menstrual Leave
Context: The Supreme Court said there are different “dimensions” to menstrual pain leave, which though being a biological process, may also act as a “disincentive” for employers from engaging women in their establishments.
About the News
- The Supreme Court refused to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a direction to all the states to frame rules for menstrual pain leave for female students and working women at their respective workplaces, observing that the issue falls under the policy domain of the government.
- A bench, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, disposed of the petition and granted liberty to the PIL petitioner to approach the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development with a representation seeking a policy decision on the issue.
- The petition seeking a direction to all states to make provisions for menstrual pain leaves to students and working women at their respective workplaces and comply with section 14 of the Maternity Benefit Act 1961.
What is menstrual leave?
- Menstrual leave, also known as period leave, is a workplace policy that allows employees to take time off from work when they are experiencing menstrual pain or discomfort.
Menstrual leave policy in India
- In the historic case of S. L. Bhagwati vs. Union of India and Ors., in 1992, the Supreme Court argued in favour of women receiving menstrual leave to take care of their health and families. Women should have had this fundamental right since 1992, but so many companies still do not provide it.
- In 1992, the Bihar government (then headed by Lalu Prasad Yadav) introduced a policy that granted female employees two days of paid leave every month for menstruation-related reasons. This policy was aimed at addressing the health and well-being of female employees, as well as reducing absenteeism and improving productivity.
- On 8 March 2022, an action plan for Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) was launched for the first time in Purnea district of Bihar. NITI Aayog has approved the proposal for MHM-friendly toilets and awareness kits for 200 government high schools.
- Following the footsteps of Bihar, some other states like Kerala have also introduced similar policies where female employees are entitled to one day of menstrual leave per month.
- The Higher Education department issued an order to implement menstrual and maternity leaves for students in universities that function under the department. Girl students will benefit through a lowering of minimum attendance required to appear for examination to 73% (from the existing 75%). Women students aged above 18 years will also be able to avail maternity leave for up to 60 days.
- In March 2021, the Delhi government announced that it would provide menstrual leave to all its female employees. The leave can be taken on any day of their menstrual cycle, and it will not be deducted from their annual leave entitlement.
- In July 2021, the Uttar Pradesh government announced that female employees in the state would be entitled to one day of menstrual leave per month. A month later, the Maharashtra government made a similar announcement.
What is section 14?
- Section 14 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, deals with the provision of nursing breaks for new mothers in the workplace. It stipulates that every woman who returns to work after the delivery of her child shall be entitled to two breaks of half an hour each per day for nursing her child, until the child attains the age of 15 months. These breaks are in addition to the intervals for rest allowed to her.
- Many petitioners in the past have argued that menstrual health issues are not given adequate recognition and support in the workplace. They argue that menstrual leave would help to address this gap and promote greater awareness of menstrual health issues.
- In spite of a provision under section 14 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, that there will be an inspector for a particular area to monitor the implementation of provisions, no government in India has created the post of inspectors, forget about the appointment of such inspectors
- They also argue that providing menstrual leave would help to promote gender equality in the workplace by recognizing the unique health needs of women.
- In 2018, Dr. Shashi Tharoor had introduced the Women’s Sexual, Reproductive and Menstrual Rights Bill which proposed that sanitary pads should be made freely available for women by public authorities in their premises. Further the other related Bill, Menstruation Benefits Bill, 2017 was represented in 2022 on the first day of the Budget Session, but the Lok Sabha disregarded it as it was an ‘unclean’ topic, the petition said.
- Women need leave from work during the menstrual cycle for various reasons including painful cramping, heavy bleeding, fatigue and hormone related issues like migraine, anxiety and depression.
- Providing menstrual leave can help companies promote gender equality and support the well-being of their female employees. It can also help reduce stigma and improve understanding of women’s health issues in the workplace
4 . Facts for prelims
- The orangutans are three extant species of great apes native to Indonesia and Malaysia
- Orangutans, with distinctive red fur, are the largest arboreal mammal, spending most of their time in trees.
- Orang-utans are known as gardeners of the forest. They play a vital role in seed dispersal and in maintaining the health of the forest ecosystem, which is important for people and a host of other animals, including tigers, Asian elephants and Sumatran rhinos.
- According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), there are three species of orangutans — Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli.
- All the Three species of Orangutans are listed as critically endangered as per IUCN Red list
- INS Sindhukesari is part of the Russian-made Sindhughosh-class submarines. The submarine was first commissioned to the Indian Navy in December 1988 before being refitted in 2018. The Rs 1,197-crore refit included improved weapon systems as well as a 25-year service extension for the submarine.
- The 3,000-tonne conventional diesel-electric submarine INS Sindhukesari has become the first Indian submarine to dock in Jakarta as part of its first operational turnaround.
- Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) penalises “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”. This is punishable with imprisonment up to three years, or with fine, or with both.
- The provision was enacted in 1898 and was not in the original penal code. At the time of the amendment, promoting class hatred was a part of the English law of sedition, but was not included in the Indian law.
- In 1969, the offence was widely amended to enlarge its scope to prevent communal tensions. In the same amendment, the offence was also made cognisable, which means a police officer can make an arrest without a warrant.
- Given that the provisions are worded broadly, there are safeguards against its misuse. For example, Sections 153A and 153B require prior sanction from the government for initiating prosecution. But this is required before the trial begins, and not at the stage of preliminary investigation.
- To curb indiscriminate arrests, the Supreme Court laid down a set of guidelines in its 2014 ruling in Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar. As per the guidelines, for offences that carry a sentence of less than seven years, the police cannot automatically arrest an accused before investigation.