Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- FC5 Patent
- Performance grade index
- Sangam age excavation from Tamil nadu
- Forest Bill
- Global Tropical Primary forest
- Facts for Prelims
1 . FC5 Patent
Context: The Delhi High Court last week upheld an order by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), revoking the intellectual property protection granted to PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd with respect to a potato variety developed by it.
Background of the case
- PepsiCo, a US-based snacks and drinks manufacturer, established its first potato chip plant in India in 1989. The company supplies the FC5 seed variety to a group of farmers who grow the potatoes exclusively for PepsiCo at a fixed price.
- PepsiCo claims that it developed the FC5 variety and registered its traits in 2016. The FC5 potato variety is known for its lower moisture content, making it ideal for snack production, particularly potato chips.
- FL 2027(commercial name- FC-5) was developed in 1996 by Robert W Hoopes, a US breeder employed with Frito-Lay Agricultural Research, a division of PepsiCo Inc.
- PepsiCo India Holdings, the subsidiary of the US food, snack and beverage giant, was granted a certificate of registration for FL 2027 as an “extant variety” on February 1, 2016.
- Revocation of Patent by Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA)- PPVFRA, the authority that had earlier granted registration for FL 2027, revoked the same through an order passed on December 3, 2021. PPVFRA also issued a letter on February 11, 2022, rejecting PepsiCo India’s application for renewal of its registration.
- PepsiCo challenged both the order and the letter before the Delhi High Court. The court, in its ruling on July 5, upheld the PPVFRA’s decision. The single-judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla said it found “no ground for interference with the impugned order”.
- Reason- PepsiCo was also found to have given the first date of sale of the variety in its application as December 17, 2009, when it had already been commercialised in 2002 in Chile. The certificate of registration had, thus, been obtained based on incorrect information furnished by the applicant.
About Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPVFR) Act, 2001
- The Govt. of India enacted “The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001” adopting sui generis system. Indian legislation is not only in conformity with International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), 1978, but also have sufficient provisions to protect the interests of public sector breeding institutions and the farmers.
- The legislation recognizes the contributions of both commercial plant breeders and farmers in plant breeding activity and also provides to implement TRIPs in a way that supports the specific socio-economic interests of all the stakeholders including private, public sectors and research institutions, as well as resource-constrained farmers.
Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority
- To implement the provisions of the Act the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare established the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority on 11″ November, 2005.
- The Chairperson is the Chief Executive of the Authority. Besides the Chairperson, the Authority has 15 members, as notified by the Government of India (GOI).
- Eight of them are ex-officio members representing various Departments/ Ministries, three from SAUs and the State Governments, one representative each for farmers, tribal organization, seed industry and women organization associated with agricultural activities are nominated by the Central Government. The Registrar General is the ex-officio Member Secretary of the Authority.
General Functions of the Authority
- Registration of new plant varieties, essentially derived varieties (EDV), extant varieties;
- Developing DUS (Distinctiveness, Uniformity and Stability) test guidelines for new plant species;
- Developing characterization and documentation of varieties registered;
- Compulsory cataloging facilities for all variety of plants;
- Documentation, indexing and cataloguing of farmers’ varieties;
- Recognizing and rewarding farmers, community of farmers, particularly tribal and rural community engaged in conservation and improvement;
- Preservation of plant genetic resources of economic plants and their wild relatives;
- Maintenance of the National Register of Plant Varieties and
- Maintenance of National Gene Bank.
2 . Performance Grading Index
Context: The Ministry of Education released the Performance Grading Index for Districts (PGI-D) as a combined report for 2020-21 and 2021-22 which assesses the performance of school education system at the district level.
Performance Grading Index
- Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Education, devised Performance Grading Index (PGI) which assesses the performance of school education system at the State/UT and District level by creating an index for comprehensive analysis. The PGI – States/UTs was first released for the year 2017-18 and so far, has been released up to the year 2020-21.
- It provides insights on status of school education in States and Union Territories.
- The key domains are learning outcomes and quality, access, infrastructure and facilities, equity and governance processes of schools based on five parameters.
- The new PGI structure covers 73 indicators, focused more on qualitative assessment besides including digital initiatives and teacher education.
- PGI 2.0 for 2021-22 classified the States/UTs into ten grades viz., Daksh being the highest grade (above 90%), followed by Utkarsh (81%-90%); Ati-Uttam (71%-80%); Uttam (61%-70%); Prachesta-1 (51%-60%); Prachesta-2 (41%-50%); Prachesta-3 (31%-40%); Akanshi-1 (21% to 30%); and Akanshi-2 (11% to 20%). The lowest performance grade is Akanshi-3, for districts that score less than 10%.
- The ultimate aim of PGI 2.0 is to propel States & UTs towards undertaking multi-pronged interventions that will bring about the much-desired optimal education outcomes covering all dimensions.
- Learning outcomes’- how children do in language, maths, science, social science and so on.
- Access to education- which includes net enrolment ratio, retention, transition from primary to upper primary level and secondary, and mainstreaming of out-of-school children.
- Infrastructure- encompasses availability of science labs, computer labs, book banks, vocational education subject, supply of mid-day meal, functional drinking water facility, availability of uniforms and free textbooks.
- Equity- considers student performances between minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and those of general category. It relates to whether schools have ramps, disabled-friendly toilets and so on.
- Educational governance and management- includes digital capture of daily attendance, percentage of single-teacher primary schools, vacancies in educational posts, inspections and teacher evaluation.
Key findings of the report
- Performance Grading Index- State and Union Territories- Chandigarh and Punjab were the top performers in school education for 2021-22, none of the States or Union Territories was able to achieve the highest grade, Daksh, in the annual survey released by the Union government.
- Chandigarh and Punjab, despite being top-ranked, could only secure the sixth-highest grade of Prachesta-2, closely followed by Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Delhi, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu at Prachesta-3. Thirteen States including Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh have been categorised as Akankshi-1 States, where room for improvement is substantial.
- Further down are 12 States, including the northeastern States of Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Assam and Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh. Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Mizoram under Akankshi-3.
Performance grading index- District
- None of the districts were able to earn the top two grades — Daksh and Utkarsh — in the latest report, 121 districts were graded as Ati-Uttam for 2020-21, though this number fell by more than half in 2021-22, with just 51 districts making the grade.
- Tamil Nadu has several districts in the fourth-best grade (Uttam) and three categorised under Prachesta-1 (Ramanathapuram, Pudukkottai and Theni). Uttar Pradesh has several districts under Uttam and Prachesta-1, and four under Prachesta-2. Most of the districts of Jammu and Kashmir fell under the Prachesta 1 and 2 grades.
- Assam’s South Salmara-Mankachar district was the only district under Akanshi-1 for 2021-22 (antepenultimate grade) while the two grades at the bottom had no districts.
- The PGI-D report is expected to help State education departments identify gaps at the district level and improve their performance in a decentralised manner. There are indicator-wise PGI scores that show the areas where a district needs to improve.
- Based on the success of State PGI, 83-indicator-based PGI-D has been designed to grade the performance of all districts in school education.
- The ultimate objective of PGI-D is to help the districts to prioritise areas for intervention in school education and thus improve to reach the highest grade.
3 . Sangam age excavation from Tamil nadu
Context: A gold stud, a bone point and a carnelian bead have been unearthed by archaeologists at Porpanaikottai in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu, where the State Archaeology Department has taken up excavation this year.
Details of the excavation:
- The excavation at Porpanaikottai was inaugurated by Thangam Thennarasu, Minister for Finance, who is also in-charge of the Archaeology Department
- Findings of the excavation include-
- A Sangam Age Fort,
- The stud in floral design with six petals was found at a depth of 133 cm in one of the eight trenches dug at the site,
- The bone point and the broken piece of carnelian bead
- The discovery of the red round-shaped carnelian bead is a pointer to domestic trade.
- A three-course brick structure was unearthed within a few days of digging. Over 150 antiques, including potsherds, hopscotches, spouts, pieces of glass bangles and beads, a terracotta lamp, a coin, a spindle whorl and rubbing stone, besides a couple of graffiti, have been found at the site so far.
- About the site- Porpanaikottai, situated about 6.5 km to the east of Pudukottai town, is one of the new sites where the department had taken up excavation this year.
- About Sangam Age- The last three centuries before the common Era and the first three centuries of the Common Era are widely accepted as the Sangam Period. The details about this period are mainly derived from the Sangam literature. Generally, this age can be taken as the beginning of historic age in Tamilnadu.
- Archeological sites in Tamil Nadu- Some of the Archeological site in TamilNadu- Arikamedu, Kodumanal, Kaveripumpattinam, Korkai, Kanchipuram, Kunnattur, Malayampattu and Vasavasamudram, Sengamedu and Karaikadu, Perur, Tirukkampuliyur, Alagarai and Urayur.
4 . Forest Bill
Context: A Parliamentary committee, set up to examine controversial proposed amendments to the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, has endorsed the amendment Bill in its entirety.
About the Forest Bill
- The Bill seeks to amend the pivotal 1980 law which was enacted to ensure that India’s forest land is not wantonly usurped for non-forestry purposes.
- The Act empowers the Centre to require that any forest land diverted for non-forestry purposes be duly compensated.
- It also extends its remit to land which is not officially classified as ‘forest’ in State or Central government records.
What are the amendments?
- The Bill amends the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 to make it applicable to certain types of land. These include land notified as a forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 or in government records after the 1980 Act came into effect.
- The Act will not be applicable for land converted to non-forest use before December 12, 1996.
- It also exempts certain types of land from the purview of the Act. These include land within 100 km of India’s border needed for national security projects, small roadside amenities, and public roads leading to a habitation.
- The state government requires prior approval of the central government to assign any forest land to a private entity. The Bill extends this to all entities, and allows the assignment to be made on terms and conditions specified by the central government.
- The Act specifies some activities that can be carried out in forests, such as establishing check posts, fencing, and bridges. The Bill also allows running zoos, safaris and eco-tourism facilities.
Significance of the Amendments
- While the Act has been amended several times in the last few decades — mostly in the spirit of bringing larger tracts of forest-like land under State protection — the latest set of amendments are different. According to the Centre, these amendments are necessary to “…remove ambiguities and bring clarity about the applicability of the Act in various lands.”
- Some of the proposed amendments specify where the Act does not apply. Other amendments specifically encourage the practice of cultivating plantations on non-forest land that could, over time, increase tree cover, act as a carbon sink, and aid India’s ambition of being ‘net zero’ in terms of emissions by 2070. The amendments would also remove the 1980 Act’s restrictions on creating infrastructure that would aid national security and create livelihood opportunities for those living on the periphery of forests.
What are the issues in the bill?
- The Bill excludes two categories of land from the purview of the Act: land recorded as forest before October 25, 1980 but not notified as a forest, and land which changed from forest-use to non-forest-use before December 12, 1996. This provision may go against a 1996 Supreme Court judgement on preventing deforestation.
- Construction of highways, hydel power projects and other such projects in geographically sensitive areas within 100 km of international borders or the Line of Control will no longer require a forest clearance.
- There were even objection to the proposal to change the name of the 1980 law from the Forest (Conservation) Act to the Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Adhiniyam, which literally translates to Forest (Conservation and Augmentation) Act. The objections were on the grounds that it was “non-inclusive” and left out “vast tracks of population both in South India and also in the North-East.
- There was also opposition from several environmental groups who said that the amendments removed Central protection from vast tracts of so-called ‘deemed forest’ (forested areas not officially recorded as ‘forests’) and would permit activities such as tourism in these areas, compromising their integrity.
5 . Global Tropical Primary Forest
Context: Tropical areas lost 4.1 million hectares of forest cover – equivalent to losing an area of 11 football fields per minute – in 2022, new research quoted by the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Global Forest Watch.
What are primary forests?
- Primary forests are mature, natural forests that have remained undisturbed in recent history. They often store more carbon than other forests and are rich sources of biodiversity.
- Loss of Primary Forest: Primary forest loss is almost irreversible in nature: even if the green cover regrows, a secondary forest is unlikely to match the extent of biodiversity and carbon sequestering capabilities of a primary forest. This forest loss produced 2.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, which is around the same as India’s annual emissions due to the combustion of fossil fuels.
- According to the University of Maryland, primary forest cover loss in tropical areas in 2022 was 10% more than in 2021.
What are the findings of the report?
- According to World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Global Forest Watch, the world is not on track to meet most of its forest-related commitments.
- In 2022, although the global deforestation rate was 3.1% lower than the baseline from 2018-2020, it was still over one million hectares above the level needed. This puts the world off track to meet the 2030 goal.
- To meet the target of restoring 350 Mha of forests globally by 2030, the world needs to increase tree cover by 22 Mha per year, between 2021 and 2030. Despite registering some gains, the overall change in tree cover in the last 20 years was a net loss of 100 Mha. This means that forests are not restoring them at the required rate.
- Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the two countries with the most tropical forest cover, and both registered losses of this resource in 2022. Ghana and Bolivia also rapidly lost their primary forest cover. On the other hand, Indonesia and Malaysia managed to keep their primary forest cover loss to record-low levels in 2022.
- The rate of primary forest cover loss in the country increased by 15% from 2021 to 2022. Non-fire-related losses in 2022 also reached the highest rate since 2005.
- Forest loss in the Amazon basin not only affects carbon but also regional rainfall. If deforestation continues at the current rate, it may eventually lead to a tipping point that, if crossed, could convert most of the ecosystem into a savanna.
- As the population of the country grows, there is more demand for food, which in turn is leading to an expansion of area under agriculture and encroachment of land hosting primary forests.
- Primary forests are burned for short-term cultivation and then left fallow for regeneration of soil nutrients. However, increased demand for food has shortened the fallow periods, destroying more forests.
- The total global tree cover loss in 2022 declined by 10%. This includes primary, secondary, and planted forests. This decrease, according to Global Forest Watch, is a direct result of a decrease in fire-related forest losses which decreased 28% from 2021. Non-fire losses in 2022 increased by slightly less than 1%.
- According to Global Forest Watch, India lost 43.9 thousand hectares of humid primary forest between 2021 and 2022, which accounts of 17% of the country’s total tree cover loss in the period. The total tree cover loss in India between 2021 and 2022 was 255 thousand hectares.
Global Forest Watch
- Global Forest Watch is an open-source web application to monitor global forests in near real-time. GFW is an initiative of the World Resources Institute, with partners including Google, USAID, the University of Maryland, Esri, Vizzuality and many other academic, non-profit, public, and private organizations.
6 Facts for Prelims
Ischemic heart disease (IHD)
- Ischemic heart disease is heart problem caused by narrowed heart arteries. When arteries are narrowed, less blood and oxygen reach the heart muscle. This is also called coronary artery disease and coronary heart disease. This can lead to heart attack.
- Myocardial ischemia occurs when blood flow to heart is reduced, preventing the heart muscle from receiving enough oxygen. The reduced blood flow is usually the result of a partial or complete blockage of heart’s arteries (coronary arteries).
- The Deccan Trap is one of the largest volcanic features on Earth, taking the form of a large shield volcano.
- It consists of a composite thickness of more than 6,500 feet (>2,000 m) of flat-lying basalt lava flows and covers an area of nearly 200,000 square miles (500,000 square km) in west-central India.
- The volume of basalt is estimated to be 122,750 cubic miles (512,000 cubic km). The Deccan Traps are flood basalts.
- The province is commonly divided into four subprovinces: the main Deccan, the Malwa Plateau, the Mandla Lobe, and the Saurashtran Plateau.
Women Only Court
- The Centre is launching a unique initiative of setting up women-only courts at the village level as an alternate dispute resolution forum for issues like domestic violence, property rights and countering the patriarchal system.
- The scheme would be launched on a pilot basis in 50 villages each in Assam and Jammu and Kashmir from August and would be extended to the rest of the country over the next six months.
- Composition- The Nari Adalat of each village would have 7-9 members – half of which would be the elected members of the gram panchayat and the other half women with social standing like teachers, doctors and social workers – who would be nominated by the villagers.
- Members known as Nyaya Sakhis [legal friends] will be nominated or selected by the gram panchayat, while the head of Nari Adalat called the Mukhya Nyaya Sakhi [chief legal friend] will be chosen among the Nyay Sakhis.
- The tenure of the head will be generally six months after which a new one will be selected.
- Detailed Standard Operating Procedures have been prepared for all States
- Significance- The Nari Adalat [women’s court] will not only address individual cases but also raise awareness about social schemes under the government while collecting valuable feedback to enhance the effectiveness of these initiatives. It will cater to all women and girls who require assistance or have grievances within the local community.
- Functions- Its main functions include raising awareness about the legal rights and entitlements of women and resolving cases falling within its jurisdiction.
- The services provided will include alternate dispute resolution and grievance redressal, counselling, evidence-based decision making, pressure group tactics, negotiation, mediation and reconciliation with mutual consent for accessible and affordable justice
- Additionally, the platform will engage with citizens, promoting awareness about women’s rights, legal opinions, various schemes and collecting public feedback.
- The Nari Adalat though does not hold any legal status, has its primary focus on reconciliation, grievance redressal and creating awareness of rights and entitlements.
- The scheme would be run by the Ministry of Women and Child Development under the Sambal sub-scheme of Mission Shakti, which is dedicated to strengthening women’s safety, security and empowerment.
- Implementation– The implementation process will be done in collaboration with the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, the Ministry of Rural Development and Common Service Centers operated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information technology.
- The scheme takes inspiration from the Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats [People’s Court of Women] which were run by the National Commission for Women (NCW) till 2014-15.
- Candida auris is an emerging fungus that presents a serious global health threat.
- It is one of the few species of the genus Candida which cause candidiasis in humans. Often, candidiasis is acquired in hospitals by patients with weakened immune systems.
- C. auris can cause invasive candidiasis (fungemia) in which the bloodstream, the central nervous system, and internal organs are infected. It has attracted widespread attention because of its multiple drug resistance. Treatment is also complicated because it is easily misidentified as other Candida species.
- Candida auris was first described in 2009 after it was isolated from the ear canal of a 70-year-old Japanese woman at the Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital in Japan. In 2011, South Korea saw its first cases of disease-causing C. auris. Reportedly, this spread across Asia and Europe, and first appeared in the U.S. in 2013.