Daily Current Affairs : 26th and 27th May 2023

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Census
  2. Pollution in Darjeeling
  3. Indus Water Treaty
  4. Dancing Girl
  5. India and South Pacific
  6. Recusal of Judges
  7. Cheetah translocation project
  8. Facts for Prelims

          1 . Census 

          Context: Despite demands from several communities to be counted as a separate religion, the next Census will only count Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain as distinct religion options. 

          What is Census? 

          • A population Census is the process of collecting, compiling, analyzing and disseminating demographic, social, cultural and economic data relating to all persons in the country, at a particular time in ten years interval.  
          • It generates a wealth of data, including numbers of people, their spatial distribution, age and sex structure, as well as their living conditions and other key socioeconomic characteristics.  
          • These data are critical for good governance, policy formulation, development planning, crisis prevention, mitigation and response, social welfare programmes and business market analyses. 

          Census in India 

          • A Census is Constitutionally mandated in India. There are repeated references to the Census exercise in the Constitution in the context of reorganisation of constituencies for Parliament and state Assemblies. 
          • But the Constitution does not say when the Census has to be carried out, or what the frequency of this exercise should be. The Census of India Act of 1948, which provides the legal framework for carrying out the Census, also does not mention its timing or periodicity. 
          • There is, therefore, no Constitutional or legal requirement that a Census has to be done every 10 years. However, this exercise has been carried out in the first year of every decade, without fail, since 1881. Most other countries also follow the 10-year cycle for their Census. There are countries like Australia that do it every five years. 

          Census schedule 

          • The Census is essentially a two-step process involving a house-listing and numbering exercise followed by the actual population enumeration. The house-listing and numbering takes place in the middle of the year prior to the Census year. The population enumeration, as mentioned earlier, happens in two to three weeks of February. 

          Census 2021 

          • The 2021 Census had to be postponed because of the Covid pandemic, the first time in the 150-year history of India’s census operations that the exercise was not completed on time.  
          • The Census office, which is commemorating 150 years of its existence, finally got its own new building — Janganana Bhawan.   
          • To mark its 150th anniversary, the Census office has also come out with a new publication — A Treatise on Indian Censuses since 1981   
          • The publication contains detailed information about the last four Census operations. It also has a chapter on preparations that were being made for the 2021 Census, including information that was to be collected for the first time.   

          Chapter on preparation for 2021 census 

          • Religion– On religion, the publication says, the question has six options – Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain. “For other religions, write the name of the religion in full, but do not give any code number,” it says. There have been demands from the tribal community to list Sarna as a separate religion.  
          • Census officials had designed detailed codes for religion on the basis of data collected during Census 2011. However, they were dropped and only six religion codes were retained in the final schedule after deliberations at a data users conference. 
          • Though respondents can additionally write the name of any other religion in the Census form, no separate code will be provided. 
          • Digital Census– The next Census is also set to be the first digital Census, where respondents will have the option to fill in the questionnaire from the comforts of their own homes. 
          • The 31 questions for the first phase — House listing and Housing Schedule — were notified on January 9, 2020. As many as 28 questions have been finalised for the second phase — the Population Enumeration — but are yet to be notified. The final set of questions for both phases were asked during a pre-test exercise in 2019 in 76 districts in 36 States and Union Territories, covering a population of more than 26 lakh 
          • A comparison of the questions asked in 2011 and those finalised for the next Census shows that for a section on the mode of travel to place of work, respondents will have to answer new queries on their travel time in hours and minutes, and whether they use metro rail. 
          • A question on types and causes of disabilities has been expanded to include “acid attack, intellectual disability, chronic neurological disease and blood disorder.” 
          • The next Census will also record details on whether a person who lives in a rented house owns a house somewhere else or does not own any residential property.  
          • On the question of availability of drinking water, it explains that “near the premises” means “within 100 metres in urban areas” and “within 500 metres in rural areas.” 
          • Directory to reduce bias- For the first time, a code directory — containing possible responses and their matching codes for questions involving descriptive and non-numeric entries — has been prepared for the use of enumerators during the second phase of Census 2021.  
          • It has codes in respect of Relationship to Head, Mother Tongue and Other Languages Known, Occupation, Nature of Industry, Trade or Service, Birth Place/Place of last residence, and Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) etc. 

          2 . Pollution in Darjeeling 

          Context: A recent study by scientists has revealed that Darjeeling, the queen of hills and a popular tourist destination may be on the way to becoming one of the most polluted cities of West Bengal. 

          About the Study 

          • The results of the study published in a paper titled ‘PM10 within Indian standard is achievable by mitigating the sources of PM1: A thirteen years (2009–2021) long study and future prediction (2024) over the eastern Himalayas, India’ , has come as a shock to not only the people of Darjeeling but also to millions of visitors who throng the hill station every year. 
          • The present study throws light on one of the geographically, climatically, and ecologically important high-altitude Himalayan stations in India where people have been contributing as well as experiencing huge pollution loads but remained out of sight of the policy makers.  
          • The study raises a serious concern in front of the policy makers that a high-altitude tourist station like Darjeeling in the eastern Himalayas would soon become a non-attainment city. 
          • The research, spanning from 2009 to 2021, focused on characterising PM10 levels (very small pollutant particles found in dust and smoke) in Darjeeling. It determined that summer (March-May) and winter (December-February) were the two seasons in Darjeeling when PM10 concentrations exceeded 70 micrograms per cubic metre of air, surpassing the Indian standard of 60 micrograms per cubic metre. 
          • Non-attainment cities- According to the study, the six cities in West Bengal that are considered non-attainment cities and did not meet the national ambient air quality standards were Asansol, Durgapur, Kolkata, Howrah, Haldia, and Barrackpore. There are 131 cities across India that are considered non-attainment cities. 
          • The study raises concerns that Darjeeling may soon become a non-attainment city, emphasising the necessity for Central and State pollution control boards to establish robust and continuous monitoring stations for air pollutants in such regions 

          What are the factors contributing for the pollution? 

          • There are several factors that contribute to the ultrafine particulate matter PM1 in both summers and winters in the hills. 
          • During the summer, vehicular emissions from tourist activities contributed 33%, while biomass burning from roadside eateries accounted for 21%.  
          • Dust transport from the Indo-Gangetic plain, coal combustion from eateries, domestic use, and the Toy Train, as well as secondary sources, also played a role. 
          • In winter, biomass burning for low-temperature requirements contributed 27%, vehicular emissions constituted 25%, and coal combustion accounted for 20%, with dust and secondary sources contributing to the remainder.   
          • The findings raised concerns about uncontrolled tourist influx, unplanned urbanisation, unauthorised land use, biomass and combustion activities, and the use of old vehicles and diesel-driven generator sets, in Darjeeling. 
          • Steps need to be taken– National Clean Air Program (NCAP), initiated by the Government of India, aimed to mitigate air pollution in 131 cities across the country, focusing on aerosols, PM2.5, and PM10 but certain regions with polluted urban environments, including Darjeeling, should also be brought under such a mission or at least draw attention of the policy makers. 

          About Darjeeling 

          • Darjeeling is the name of a town as well as a district in the West Bengal state of India. Both the town and the district are famous as one of the most important tourist destinations in the country.  
          • Darjeeling is famous throughout the world for the tea it grows and the great view of the Kanchenjunga range of mountains that it offers. It is also known for its richness in cultural & natural heritage and the famous toy train that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage. 
          • The hill rises from the `Terai` and `Dooars` plain of Bengal and reaches an altitude of more than 12,000 feet. Three divisions of the district, namely Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Kurseong constitute the hilly areas and the Siliguri subdivision is in the plains. 
          • To the north of the region is the Indian state of Sikkim, which borders Nepal on the West, and Bengal plains in the South and East.  
          • In Darjeeling, those who grow up in the mountains identify themselves according to their ancestry: Nepalese, Bhutanese, Tibetan or Lepcha. The region also contends with a religious mix – Although Hindus represent the majority, there is a strong presence of Tibetan Buddhism and other religions. 
          • Darjeeling Himalaya is famous for its richness of flora and fauna. There are two national parks (Neora Valley NP and Singalila NP) and one wildlife sanctuary (Mahananda WLS) in the area. Singalila national park is famous for the red panda, a very rare and endangered species. Neora valley – a beautiful tropical forest, a large part of which is still virgin – offers a great attraction to tourists. 

          3 .  Indus Water treaty 

          Context: The Union government instructed officials in Jammu & Kashmir to upscale efforts for “better utilisation of the country’s rights under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)“over the three rivers flowing through the Union Territory (U.T.). 

          What is the Indus Water Treaty (IWT)? 

          • The Indus Waters Treaty is a Waters-sharing agreement signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, under the supervision of the World Bank. The treaty aims to allocate the use of and resolve disputes over the Indus River and its tributaries, which flow through China, India, and Pakistan. 
          • The pact regulates the use and distribution of the Indus River system, which consists of the main Indus River and its five tributaries – the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej, the Jhelum, and the Chenab. 
            There are three eastern rivers – the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej – while there are three western rivers – Chenab, Jhelum, and Indus main. 
            According to the treaty, the waters of eastern rivers go to India, whereas the waters of western rivers primarily go to Pakistan. 

          How did the Indus Waters Treaty come about? 

          • After a dispute broke out between the two countries over irrigation Waters from existing facilities, the Indus Waters Treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960, by then Pakistani President – Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan, former Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru, and World Bank’s W.A.B. Illif. 
          • The treaty took effect on April 1, 1961. 

          What does the IWT lay out? 

          • The treaty has a preamble, 12 articles, and eight annexures that provide India with absolute control over the waters of the eastern rivers – the Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas – while Pakistan receives unrestricted use of the western rivers – the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab. 
          • India can create storage (via hydro-plants) on the western rivers according to the treaty. The IWT also establishes a Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) consisting of two Commissioners, one from India and one from Pakistan, to promote cooperation between the two nations and resolve any questions arising from the treaty’s interpretation or implementation. 
          • Once a year, the PIC meets alternately in India and Pakistan and whenever either Commissioner asks to meet. As part of its work, PIC also inspects rivers and works to find out what’s going on with various developments. 

          Why is the IWT so important? 

          • Historically, rivers have been used as weapons of war as they provide significant strategic advantages to countries and armies. 
          • Controlling rivers allows nations and military forces to disrupt enemy access to water and food, restrict enemy movement, and win battles- the Indus runs through India, Pakistan and China. 
          • The IWT, therefore, is an especially important pact as it is often seen globally as a rare instance of India-Pakistan consensus that keeps China in check. This is especially after India has for the large part, cut trade, cultural exchange, and most bilateral talks with Pakistan. 
          • According to the World Bank, the Treaty has been hailed as one of the most successful transboundary water management agreements on the planet. 
          • With this being said, it is crucial to strengthen the IWT to make sure that water is used and distributed sustainably, and transgressions do not happen. 
          • A Parliamentary Standing Committee in India stated that the IWT should also address the impact of climate change on water availability in the river basin and other challenges which are not covered under the agreement. 
          • The IWT treaty is vital to keep Pakistan in check since the future of the Indus River system and billions of people, including rely on it. 

          4 . Dancing Girl 

          Context: The Dancing Girl figurine discovered in Mohenjodaro in 1926 recently found itself at the centre of controversy. On the occasion of International Museum Day (May 18), Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the International Museum Expo in Delhi’s Pragati Maidan. During the ceremony, PM Modi also unveiled the Expo’s mascot – a “contemporised” version of the famous Dancing Girl of Mohenjodaro. “The mascot is regarded as contemporary dwarpals extending an invitation to the expo,” it was announced during the unveiling. 

          Discovering the Dancing Girl 

          • The Dancing Girl was discovered in one such excavation in 1926, by British archaeologist Ernest McKay in a ruined house in the ‘ninth lane’ of the ‘HR area’ of Mohenjodaro’s citadel. 

          Descriptions of Dancing Girl 

          • This mesmerizing sculpture, famously known as ‘The Dancing Girl,’ is one of the highest achievements of the artists of Mohenjodaro. The ‘Dancing Girl’ is a sculpture made of bronze. It belongs to the Indus Valley Civilization and dates back to circa 2500 BCE. It is 10.5 cm in height, 5 cm in width and 2.5 cm in depth. Presently, it is on display in the Indus Valley Civilization gallery in the National Museum, New Delhi. 

          Artistic Significance :-  

          • This small but unique statue gives us an idea of the skill of the artisans of that time. The statue is named the ‘Dancing Girl’ owing to her posture, with her right hand on the back of her hip and the left hand resting on her left thigh.  
          • Her features are prominent with large eyes, curly hair and a flat nose. She appears to be adorned by a necklace alongside some bangles.  
          • Her hair is plaited on the back and neatly tied in a bun. 
          • Her arms are unnaturally long which is a common feature of the artefacts of this time. Her head is tilted slightly backwards.  
          • An interesting fact to notice is that the number of bangles in her hands differ. She has 24 bangles in one hand and 4 in the other.  
          • Lost wax Method- The sculpture was made using the ‘Lost Wax’ method wherein molten wax is poured into a mould to create a model. This wax model is then covered with a clay coating, leaving some holes as passageways. When the clay-covered moulds are heated in the oven, the wax melts out. After the mould has cooled down, the outer clay cover is chipped off and the finishing touches are done to the solid bronze statue.  

          5 . India and south pacific

          Context: Visuals of Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape touching Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s feet have been seen as a reflection of India’s global status, and the significance of its engagement with Pacific Island Countries (PICs) and the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC).

          Pacific Island Countries

          • PICs is a cluster of 14 island nations dotting the Southwestern Pacific: the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. All these islands are located at the crossroads of strategically important maritime trade corridors.
          • Of the 14 PICs, Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG) are the ones with the biggest populations and the most heft.

          US influence in South Pacific Island Countries

          • Until recently, the South Pacific was considered to be under US influence, managed under the Australia, New Zealand, US (ANZUS) trilateral military alliance. But with China’s growing influence in the region, and the increasing focus on the Indo-Pacific, New Delhi’s engagement strategy in the region has evolved.

          Fiji, Papua New Guinea and India

          • India’s interaction with the PICs has traditionally focussed on its engagement with Fiji and PNG, mainly due to the presence of a large diaspora — about 37% of Fiji’s 849,000 population (2009 estimates) is of Indian origin, and about 3,000 Indians live in PNG.

          Historical Background

          • India- Fiji– Beginning 1879, Indian indentured labour was transported to Fiji to work on sugarcane plantations. Some 60,000 Indians were brought to the islands between 1879 and 1916; from the early 20th century, Indian traders and others also started arriving in Fiji.
          • Workers’ agitations and the efforts of C F Andrews, a friend of Mahatma Gandhi’s who visited Fiji in 1915 and 1917, led to the abolition of the indenture system in 1920.
          • From 1948 until Fiji’s independence in 1970, India had a commissioner to look after the interests of people of Indian origin; the post was upgraded to that of High Commissioner after independence.
          • Fiji’s Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara visited India in 1971 and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Fiji in 1981.
          •  Following the 1987 coups in Fiji, the High Commission of India and Indian Cultural Centre were closed on May 24, 1990; they reopened in March 1999 and February 2005 respectively. Fiji established its High Commission in New Delhi in January 2004.
          • India-Fiji relations have grown steadily during the past few years due to several ongoing initiatives and bilateral visits from both sides.
          • India- PNG– The Indian High Commission in Port Moresby, PNG, opened in April 1996; diplomatic relations were earlier conducted from Suva, Fiji, or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. PNG opened its resident diplomatic mission in New Delhi in October 2006.

          India and the PICs

          • A major part of the engagement is through development assistance under South-South Cooperation, mainly in the form of capacity building (training, scholarships, grant-in-aid and loan assistance) and community development projects.
          • An initiative launched under the Act East Policy for the PICs is the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC).
            • Prime Minister Modi had hosted the First FIPIC Summit in Suva on November 19, 2014 during his historic visit to Fiji, with participation of all 14 PICs.
            • The second FIPIC Summit was held in Jaipur on August 21, 2015, again with all 14 PICs taking part. During the two Summits, India announced a range of initiatives to assist the PICs in tackling challenges faced by their peoples, and for their well-being and development.
          • Area of Operation– The development partnership with the PICs includes community development projects such as solar electrification, supply of agricultural equipment, computers and LED bulbs for schools, sewing machines, dialysis machines, portable sawmills, boats and pick-up trucks, vehicles, construction of sea walls and coral farms, etc.
          • Initiatives taken by India to support PIC– All PICs are vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels. “Initiatives like International Solar Alliance (ISA) and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) complement the relationship with PICs. Under the CDRI framework, India, along with Australia, the UK and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) launched the Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS) on the sidelines of the COP26 at Glasgow in 2021.
          • As part of a project for solar electrification of 2,800 houses in 14 PICs, 70 women solar engineers — called Solar Mamas — have been trained. While addressing climate change and goals of sustainable development, the project also aims to provide livelihoods to women.
          • Other community development projects have included a revamp of libraries and school buildings, renovation of colleges, and provision of IT infrastructure to educational institutes.
          • India has been providing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) to the PICs from time to time. It assisted various PICs with the supply of Covid-19 vaccines and medical supplies during the pandemic.

          China in the region

          • China has made forays into the Pacific Islands through economic incentives and has sought to boost its security relationship with the island states.
          • India can become a key player in the Blue Pacific 2050 strategy along with its partners like Australia to boost sustainable growth in the region and help Southern Pacific countries meet their developmental goals and tackle climate change.
          • China’s development support peaked in 2016, and its loans and grants amounted to 8% of all foreign aid to the area between 2011 and 2017, surpassing the US’s 0.3% over the same period.
          • Notably, China’s trade volume with 10 PICs — the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga, PNG, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Niue, and Micronesia — increased more than 30 times from 1992 to 2021. China is the biggest trading partner of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) after Australia and New Zealand.

          6 . Recusal of Judges

          Context: former Supreme Court judge Justice MR Shah refused to recuse himself from hearing a plea by former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt to submit additional evidence to back his Gujarat High Court appeal against his conviction in a 1990 custodial death case.

          Why do judges recuse?

          • Whenever there is a potential conflict of interest, a judge can withdraw from a case to prevent the perception that the judge was biased while deciding a case. This conflict of interest can arise in many ways — from holding shares in a litigant company to having a prior or personal association with a party.
          • Another common reason is when an appeal is filed in the Supreme Court against a High Court judgment delivered by the concerned judge before his elevation.
          • The practice stems from the cardinal principle of due process of law — nemo judex in sua causa,that is, no person shall be a judge in his own case.
          • Another principle guiding judicial recusals is ‘justice must not only be done but must also be seen to be done’ propounded in 1924 in Rex v. Sussex Justices by the then Lord Chief Justice of England.
          • By taking the oath of office, judges, both of the Supreme Court and High courts, promise to perform their duties, ‘without fear or favour, affection or ill-will’, in accordance with the Third Schedule of the Constitution.
          • Furthermore, the Restatement of the Values of Judicial Life adopted by the Supreme Court forbids a judge from deciding a case involving any entity where he holds pecuniary interest unless the concerned parties clarify that they have no objections.

          What is the procedure for recusal?

          • There are two kinds of recusals — automatic recusal where a judge himself withdraws from the case, or when a party raises a plea for recusal highlighting the possibility of bias or personal interest of the judge in the case.
          • The decision to recuse rests solely on the conscience and discretion of the judge and no party can compel a judge to withdraw from a case. While judges have recused themselves even if they do not see a conflict but only because such apprehension was cast, there are also several instances where judges have refused to withdraw from a case.
          • In 2019, while hearing a plea on the plight of inmates in Assam’s detention centres, the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi was asked to recuse himself for some adverse oral remarks. Mr. Gogoi refused, saying that the plea had ‘enormous potential to damage the institution’.
          • If a judge recuses himself, the case is listed before the Chief Justice for allotment to an alternate Bench. India has no codified rules governing recusals, although several Supreme Court judgments have dealt with the issue.

          Do judges have to record reasons for recusal?

          • Since there are no statutory rules governing the process, it is often left to the judges themselves to record reasons for recusals. Some judges specify oral reasons in open court; others issue a written order recording the reasons while in some cases the reasons are speculative.
          • More often than not, the reasons behind a recusal are not disclosed, leading to a diatribe against judicial transparency especially when mass recusals occur in sensitive cases.
          • For example- the recusal of Supreme Court judge Justice Bela M. Trivedi earlier this year from hearing Bilkis Bano’s plea led to widespread speculation since no reasons were specified.
          • On the contrary, Justice Madan Lokur was of the opinion that citing reasons for recusal is unwarranted, expressing apprehension about a scenario where a party may challenge the reasoning before a court and it would set aside the recusal, ruling that the reason was frivolous. He, however, highlighted the need for ‘procedural and substantive rules’ to deal with the growing frequency of recusal pleas.
          • The Delhi High Court recently ruled that no litigant or third party has any right to intervene, comment or enquire regarding a judge’s recusal from a case

          What rules has Supreme Court formulated in the past?

          • The Supreme Court has over time outlined various factors to be taken into consideration for deciding the impartiality of a judge.  
          • In Ranjit Thakur v. Union of India (1987), the SC held that to determine if a judge should recuse, what is relevant is the reasonableness of the apprehension of bias in the mind of the concerned party.
          • The SC in State of West Bengal v. Shivananda Pathak(1998), defined judicial bias as a “preconceived opinion or a predisposition or predetermination to decide a case or an issue in a particular manner, so much so that such predisposition does not leave the mind open to conviction”. Thus, it is a condition of mind which renders the judge incapable of impartiality in a particular case.
          • Formulating a more definite rule in Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015), the Cout observed that where a judge has a pecuniary interest, no further inquiry is needed as to whether there was a ‘real danger’ or ‘reasonable suspicion’ of bias. However, other cases require such an inquiry, with the relevant test being the ‘real danger’ test— whether there is a ‘real danger’ of bias, to ensure that the court is thinking in terms of possibility rather than the probability of bias.  
          • Some of the recent recusal orders– Additional Sessions Judge Arul Varma recused himself citing ‘personal reasons’ less than a week after discharging Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam and 10 others in the 2019 Jamia Millia Islamia violence case
          • Delhi High Court judge Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani in March recused himself from hearing accused Asif Iqbal Tanha’s plea against the ‘leak’ of his alleged confession statement by the Delhi Police to the media in a 2020 Northeast Delhi riots “larger conspiracy” probe.  

          What is the practise in foreign jurisdictions?

          • United States of America– Contrasted with India, the United States has a well-defined law on recusals — Title 28 of the U.S. Code details the grounds for ‘disqualification of justice, judge, or magistrate judge’. Such rules are also codified in the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct.  This specifies three grounds for recusal— financial or corporate interest, a case in which the judge was a material witness or a lawyer, and a relationship to a party. This is an indicative list: these grounds are expressly stated to be non-exhaustive. However, on several occasions, judges recuse on their own— known as sua sponte recusals.
          • United Kingdom- The United Kingdom’s law on judicial recusals evolved through judicial pronouncements. In the landmark case of R v. Gough, the ‘real danger’ test was adopted as the applicable standard based on of which recusal orders need to be passed. The test entailed disqualification solely on substantive and tangible evidence which conclusively highlights the presence of judicial bias and prejudice.  
          • However, the ‘real danger’ test was subjected substantial criticism especially since the European Convention of Human Rights requires only the ‘appearance of bias’ to ensure that an onerous burden is not placed on any litigant to prove actual bias. Accordingly, a new test was formulated in Lawal v. Northern Spirit Ltd, where the standard laid down was to look at the likelihood of bias from the perspective of a fair-minded and reasonable observer.

          7 . Cheetah translocation project

          Context: Two more cheetah cubs have died, and one is unwell at the Kuno National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh. The extreme heat and the lack of adequate nutrition have likely contributed to the deaths, say experts associated with the cheetah reintroduction project

          Cheetah translocation Project

          • Background History– The Asiatic cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952 and is a critically endangered species surviving only in Iran. In 1947, there were confirmed records of the cheetah’s presence in India, but the three surviving males were gunned down by Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo of Surguja state in what is now Guru Ghasidas National Park in Chhattisgarh.
          • Cheetahs have been rapidly heading toward extinction and are classified as a vulnerable species under the IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list of threatened species.

          What is the government’s plan to bring cheetahs to India?

          • The Indian government has been attempting to reintroduce cheetahs in India since the 1960s and the 1970s, but over the past decade these plans have gained more momentum. Back then, the government attempted to bring Asiatic cheetahs from Iran because it was the only country to have a surviving population of the species, but Tehran had declined, in part because of the critically low population numbers of the species, all of which were in the wild.
          • Then in September 2009, during Jairam Ramesh’s tenure as environment minister, these plans gained traction when the minister pushed the project as one involving the reintroduction of “the only large mammal to have gone extinct in India.” Around that time, there was indication that the cheetahs would be brought in from the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia or other captive facilities based in South Africa
          • Then a plan to reintroduce cheetahs in India that was endorsed in 2009 by then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh was shot down by the Supreme Court in 2013. The idea was revived in 2017 by the Narendra Modi government, and the SC cleared the move in 2020 “on an experimental basis”.
          • But the Indian government was unwilling to drop its proposal. The government’s National Tiger Conservation Authority approached the court with a review petition in 2016, once again seeking permission to reintroduce cheetahs into Kuno. The government argued that the cheetahs would help in conservation of other species in the sanctuary, including that of the grasslands.

          What is the goal of the Cheetah reintroduction programme?

          • Cheetah happens to be the only large carnivore that got completely wiped out from India, mainly due to over-hunting and habitat loss. The Action Plan highlights the nation’s preparedness in bringing the cheetah back. Conservation of Cheetahs has a very special significance for the national conservation ethic and ethos. The very name ‘Cheetah’ (Acinonyx Jubatus Venaticus) originates from Sanskrit and means ‘the spotted one’.
          • The main goal of Cheetah reintroduction project in India is to establish viable cheetah metapopulation in India that allows the cheetah to perform its functional role as a top predator and provides space for the expansion of the cheetah within its historical range thereby contributing to its global conservation efforts.

          Significance of the Project

          • Cheetahs live in open plains; their habitat is predominantly where their preys live – grasslands, scrubs and open forest systems, semi-arid environments and temperatures that tend to be hotter compared to cooler regimes.
          • In saving cheetahs, one would have to save not only its prey-base comprising certain threatened species, but also other endangered species of the grasslands and open forest ecosystems, some of which are on the brink of extinction.
          • It is also observed that among large carnivores, conflict with human interests is lowest for Cheetahs. They are not a threat to humans and do not attack large livestock either.

          Reintroduction sites

          • Amongst the 10 surveyed sites of the central Indian states, Kuno Palpur National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh has been rated the highest. This is because of its suitable habitat and adequate prey base. KNP is 748 sq. km. in area, devoid of human settlements, forms part of Sheopur-Shivpuri deciduous open forest landscape and is estimated to have a capacity to sustain 21 cheetahs.
          • Kuno is probably the only wildlife site in the country where there has been a complete relocation of villages from inside the park. Kuno also offers the prospect of housing four big cats of India – tiger, lion, leopard and cheetah – and allowing them to coexist as in the past.

          The other sites recommended for holding and conservation breeding of cheetah in India, in controlled wild conditions are:

          1. Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary ,Madhya Pradesh
          2. Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary – Bhainsrorgarh Wildlife Sanctuary complex , Madhya Pradesh
          3. Shahgarh bulge in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
          4. Mukundara Tiger Reserve as fenced enclosure, Rajasthan

          Where are the Cheetahs coming from?

          • The locally extinct cheetah-subspecies of India is found in Iran and is categorized as critically endangered. An important consideration during such conservation efforts is that the sourcing of animals should not be detrimental for the survival of the source population. Since it is not possible to source the critically endangered Asiatic cheetah from Iran without affecting this sub-species, India will source cheetahs from Southern Africa and Namibia, which can provide India with substantial numbers of suitable cheetah for several years.

          What are the concerns regarding the reintroduction of Cheetahs?

          • Conservationists and independent wildlife experts have long expressed concern about the government’s plan. Some of these concerns include
          • Ability of the cheetahs to adapt to Kuno’s foreign environment and its ecological differences.
          • Extreme temperature in India– While the vegetation is the same, India has higher rainfall than Namibia. Namibia also have sub-zero temperatures which India don’t have.

          8 . Facts for Prelims

          petaFLOP Computers

          • India will unveil its new 18 petaFLOP supercomputer for weather forecasting institutes later this year, Union Earth Sciences Minister Kiren Rijiju
          • What are FLOPs? FLOPs, or Floating-Point Operations per Second, is a commonly used metric to measure the computational performance – processing power and efficiency – especially in the field of high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI). Floating-point operations are a certain kind of mathematical calculation using real numbers with fractional parts.
          • What is a petaFLOP?– Due to the immense computing power of today’s computers, the FLOPs metric is most often represented in terms of billions (giga), trillions (tera), or even quadrillions (peta) of operations per second (GFLOPs, TFLOPs, PFLOPs, respectively). A petaflop is thus equal to a thousand TFLOPs or 1015 FLOPs.
          • Uses of petaFLOP Computers- This supercomputer is expected to improve weather forecasts at the block level, help weather scientists give higher resolution ranges of the forecast, predict cyclones with more accuracy and better lead time (the difference between a phenomenon being forecast and actually occurring), and provide ocean state forecasts, including marine water quality forecast

          Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)

          • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is a statutory body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which is a consolidating statue related to food safety and regulation in India. FSSAI is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.
          • The FSSAI is headed by a non-executive chairperson, appointed by the Central Government, either holding or has held the position of not below the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.
          • The FSSAI has its headquarters at New Delhi. The authority also has 6 regional offices located in Delhi, Guwahati, Mumbai, Kolkata, Cochin, and Chennai.
          • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India License or Registration is required for any food business in India that manufactures, stores, transports, or distributes food. Depending on the size and nature of the company, FSSAI registration or license may be required.
          • The main aim of FSSAI is to
            • Lay down science-based standards for articles on food
            • To regulate the manufacture, storage, distribution, import, and sale of food
            • To facilitate the safety of food
          • Powers and Functions of the FSSAI
            • The following are the statutory powers that the FSS Act, 2006 gives to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
              • Framing of regulations to lay down food safety standards
              • Laying down guidelines for accreditation of laboratories for food testing
              • Providing scientific advice and technical support to the Central Government
              • Contributing to the development of international technical standards in food
              • Collecting and collating data regarding food consumption, contamination, emerging risks, etc.
              • Disseminating information and promoting awareness about food safety and nutrition in India.

          Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI)

          • Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), is a statutory body formed under an Act of Parliament, i.e., Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999 (IRDAI Act 1999) for overall supervision and development of the Insurance sector in India.
          • The powers and functions of the Authority are laid down in the IRDAI Act, 1999 and Insurance Act, 1938.
          • The key objectives of the IRDAI include promotion of competition so as to enhance customer satisfaction through increased consumer choice and fair premiums, while ensuring the financial security of the Insurance market.
          • The Insurance Act, 1938 is the principal Act governing the Insurance sector in India. It provides the powers to IRDAI to frame regulations which lay down the regulatory framework for supervision of the entities operating in the sector. Further, there are certain other Acts which govern specific lines of Insurance business and functions such as Marine Insurance Act, 1963 and Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.
          • As per the section 4 of IRDAI Act 1999, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI, which was constituted by an act of parliament) specify the composition of Authority
            • The Authority is a ten member team consisting of
              (a) a Chairman;
              (b) five whole-time members;
              (c) four part-time members,

                       (all appointed by the Government of India)

          • IRDAI adopted a Mission for itself which is as follows:
            • To protect the interest of and secure fair treatment to policyholders;
            • To bring about speedy and orderly growth of the Insurance industry (including annuity and superannuation payments), for the benefit of the common man, and to provide long term funds for accelerating growth of the economy;
            • To set, promote, monitor and enforce high standards of integrity, financial soundness, fair dealing and competence of those it regulates;
            • To ensure speedy settlement of genuine claims, to prevent Insurance frauds and other malpractices and put in place effective grievance redressal machinery;
            • To promote fairness, transparency and orderly conduct in financial markets dealing with Insurance and build a reliable management information system to enforce high standards of financial soundness amongst market players;
            • To take action where such standards are inadequate or ineffectively enforced;
            • To bring about optimum amount of self-regulation in day-to-day working of the industry consistent with the requirements of prudential regulation.
          • Entities regulated by IRDAI:
            • Life Insurance Companies
            • General Insurance Companies
            • Re-Insurance Companie
            • Agency Channel
            • Intermediaries which include the following:
              • Corporate Agents
              • Brokers
              • Third Party Administrators
              • Surveyors and Loss Assessors.


          • Xiaokang is a moderately Prosperous society. The Communist Party of China (CPC) began discussing the idea of a “Xiaokang society” about 40 years ago, at the beginning of China’s reform and opening-up.  
          • But it was in 2002 that the 16th CPC National Congress formally proposed “building a Xiaokang society in all respects.”  
          • In 2012, the 18th CPC National Congress expanded this goal to focus on five aspects: economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress. 
          • The idea of a moderately prosperous society comes from the concept of (Xiaokang Shehui) translated as “small comforts.”  
          • It is a Confucian idea, as Josef Mahoney explains, “According to the Book of Rites, one of the five Confucian classics, the growing social chaos during China’s Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) that put the goal of establishing a Datong society—a great unity of peace and harmony—out of immediate reach made the philosopher fret. Nevertheless, he argued that positive steps forward could be taken by building a Xiaokang society. Confucius appears to have viewed creating a Xiaokang society as a threshold accomplishment, one necessary for the long-term project of creating datong.” 

          Gaganyaan Recovery Training Plan 

          • The Indian Navy and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have released the recovery training plan for Gaganyaan at the Water Survival Training Facility (WSTF) INS Garuda, Kochi. 
          • The training document was jointly released by VAdm Atul Anand, Director General of Naval Operations, Dr Unnikrishnan Nair, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, (VSSC) and Dr Umamaheshwaran R, Director, Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) of ISRO. 
          • The document outlines the training plan for recovery of the Crew Module of the mission. It defines overall requirements wrt training of various teams participating in recovery operations incl Divers, MARCOs, Medical Specialists, Communicators, Technicians & Naval Aviators. 
          • The Recovery training is planned in incremental phases starting from unmanned recovery to manned recovery training in harbour and open sea conditions. The recovery operations are being led by the Indian Navy in co-ordination with other Government agencies. 
          • The Crew Module Recovery Model was also formally handed over to Indian Navy at its state-of-the-art Water Survival Training Facility (WSTF) at INS Garuda, Kochi. The mass and shape simulated mockup will be used for familiarisation and training of Gaganyaan recovery teams. 
          • The Indian Navy will also assist ISRO by undertaking a series of trials to fine-tune the Standard Operating Procedures for training the crew and recovery teams of Gaganyaan. 

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