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Current Affairs – 12 January 2021

DEFENCE EXERCISE

IN NEWS:

  • The Navy will coordinate the second edition of the coastal defence exercise(Sea Vigil 2021 and TROPEX) on January 12 and 13. It will be undertaken along the entire coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone of India to serve a larger purpose as it provides opportunity, at the apex level, to assess preparedness in the domain of maritime security and coastal defence.
  • Apart from the Navy, the Indian Air Force, Coast Guard, National Security Guard, the Border Security Force, oil handling agencies and airports will participate in the exercise.

ABOUT:

  • Sea Vigil 2021, a biennial exercise that began in January 2019, “will be undertaken along the entire 7516 km coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone of India and will involve all the 13 coastal States and Union Territories along with other maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities”.
  • On the other hand, TROPEX (Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercise) is the major Theatre-level exercise conducted by the Navy in every two years.
  • Sea Vigil and TROPEX together will cover the entire spectrum of maritime security challenges, including transition from peace to conflict and assets of the Indian Navy, Coast Guard, Customs and other maritime agencies will participate in Sea Vigil, and its conduct is “also being facilitated by the Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, Shipping, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Fisheries, Customs, State Governments and other agencies of Centre/State”.

 

ANIMAL SEIZURE

IN NEWS

  • The Central government defended the law to deprive owner’s possession of their animals, including cattle, on the suspicion that they are being subject to cruelty or illegally transported for slaughter.

ABOUT:

  • Earlier, the Supreme Court (SC) has asked the Centre to either withdraw or amend rules notified in 2017 for confiscating animals of traders and transporters during the pendency of trial in cases under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
  • According to government, taking the animals from their owners divested them of their livelihood even before they were found guilty of cruelty by a court of law.
  • The owners are deprived of their right to livelihood is not sustainable. They have no right to do their business illegally. They have to transport the animals as per the requirements of the Transport of Animals Rules of 1978.
  • The Rules prevent owners and transporters from causing animals unnecessary pain and suffering. Animals are sentient beings. They are capable of experiencing pain, sorrow, suffering and discomfort. Article 51A (g) of the Constitution enjoins upon every citizen to have compassion for living animals.
  • On the other hand, petitioners challenged the validity of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and maintenance of case property animals) Rules 2017.

 

STEEP STEEL PRICES

IN NEWS

  • Due to increasing global prices of iron ore as the main raw material of steel and rising demand from China led to increase in prices by several automakers to offset input costs. Moreover, Indian iron ore production having seen a dip in recent months.

WHY CHINA DEMAND IS INCREASING ?

  • China’s focused fiscal stimulus for the construction sector has led to a sustained and strong uptick in steel demand.
  • Indian iron ore exports had doubled in 2020, from the previous year. Of this, China alone accounted a large proportion.
  • Iron ore exports are attractive for Indian miners because global prices are now at about $170 a tonne and it is a once-in-a-lifetime price.
  • Australia is a major trading partner for China but bilateral ties have run into rough weather after the former called for a probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Australian iron ore has so far been spared from higher duties and customs delays, as 60% of China’s requirements have traditionally come from the island nation.
  • The global supply chain dynamics are being redefined by geopolitics which has seen a 20% increase in steel costs over the last 12 months. Sudden changes in demand occurring at the same time have caused some disruptions in the demand-supply equilibrium globally.

IMPACT ON INDIA

  • The other factor influencing iron ore supply and prices in India is a decline in production, especially at mines in Odisha. Iron ore output fell 30% from the year-earlier period to 92.1 mt in April-October 2020.
  • Smaller steel players(account for about 40% of India’s 140 mt steel capacity) had not yet recovered from COVID-19 related lockdowns, either due to severe losses, poor working capital availability or lack of local iron ore availability. This had led to a shortage of construction steel, which is made mostly by secondary steel players.

 

DZUKOU VALLEY WILDFIRE

IN NEWS

  • The forest fire in Dzukou valley on Nagaland-Manipur border, which raged for long 2 weeks, has been extinguished and no fresh fire or smoke was visible from the valley.

ABOUT:

  • The massive fire is likely to have caused huge damage to biodiversity in Dzuko, also known as “the valley of the flowers”.
  • Dzukou Valley, about 30 km from Nagaland’s capital Kohima, is a popular trekking destination known for its flora and fauna. The valley is famous for the Dzukou Lily which is found only in this valley.
  • There are no human habitations within the forests, but they are home to rare and endangered birds — the large pheasant-like Blyth’s Tragopan (Nagaland’s state bird), the Rufous-necked Hornbill and the Dark-rumped Swift, among many others. Also found in the forests are endangered Hoolock Gibbons.
  • Forest fires release billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, while hundreds of thousands of people are believed to die due to illnesses caused by exposure to smoke from forest fires and other landscape fires.

India’s Initiative to Tackle Forest Fire:

  • National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF)
  • Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme

 

TERMINATE PREGNANCY

IN NEWS

  • The Delhi High Court granted permission to a woman to terminate her 28-week pregnancy as her foetus suffered from anencephaly, a condition where the skull bone is not formed, and was therefore, incompatible with life.

ABOUT:

  • Before 1971, abortion was criminalized under Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, describing it as intentionally ‘causing miscarriage’.
  • In India, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020 stipulates a ceiling of 24 weeks for termination of pregnancy, beyond which abortion of a foetus is statutorily impermissible. It is arbitrary, harsh, discriminatory and violative of Articles 14 and 21.
  • This also denies the reproductive rights of women(as abortion is considered an important aspect of the reproductive health of women).
  • Generally, a number of foetus abnormalities are detected after the 20th week, often turning a wanted pregnancy into an unwanted one.
  • According to 2017 data, 59 countries allowed elective abortions, of which only seven permitted the procedure after 20 weeks like Canada, China, the Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

 

PM-KISAN

IN NEWS

  • The government has paid ₹1,364 crore to 20.48 lakh to”ineligible farmers” and “income tax payee farmers” under its ambitious PM-KISAN scheme.
  • More than half (55.58%) of these undeserving persons belong to the income tax payee category and the remaining 44.41% belong to the ineligible farmers’ category.

ABOUT:

  • PM-KISAN is the Centre’s flagship scheme to provide income support worth ₹6,000 a year to farming families in three equal installments directly into the bank accounts of small and marginal farmer families having combined land holding or ownership of up to 2 hectares.
  • When it was launched just in 2019, it was meant to cover only small and marginal farmers who owned less than two hectares. Later that year, large farmers were included in the scheme as the government removed the land size criterion.
  • There are 11 crore beneficiaries registered under the scheme.
  • A major chunk of these ineligible beneficiaries belongs to five states – Punjab (accounting for 23% of those who wrongly received money), Assam, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. Sikkim with just one undeserving beneficiary reported the lowest figure.

 

MANAGEMENT EFFECTIVENESS EVALUATION (MEE)

IN NEWS

  • Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) released Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) of 146 National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Country.
  • From this year onwards 10 best National Parks, 5 coastal and Marine parks and top five Zoos in the country will be ranked and awarded every year.

ABOUT:

  • At present, India has a network of 903 Protected Areas covering about 5% of the total geographic area of the country.
  • India has 70% of the global tiger population, 70% of asiatic lions and more than 60% of leopards population.

SIGNIFICANCE:

  • MEE of Protected Areas (PAs) has emerged as a key tool for PA managers and is increasingly being used by governments and international bodies to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the protected area management systems.
  • The results of present assessment are encouraging with overall mean MEE score of 62.01% which is higher than the global mean of 56%.
  • With this round of evaluation, MoEFCC successfully completed one full cycle of evaluating all terrestrial National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries of the country from 2006 to 2019.
  • MEE is a very important document that provides valuable guidance on various aspects of wildlife and protected area expand MEE of Marine PAs.
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