Ladakh adopts State animal and bird
Prelims: Current events of national and international importance
- Recently, Ladakh adopted two endangered species, snow leopard (Panther unica) and black-necked crane (Grus nicricollis), as State animal and State bird.
- Black-necked crane and snow leopard are two endangered species and the pride of Ladakh.
- Black-necked crane, only found in Ladakh region, was the State bird of J&K before August 5, 2019. They are considered loyal couples and are only found in Ladakh’s Changthang region.
- Snow leopard, whose numbers are dwindling wordwide, has been categorised as “vulnerable” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Hacks in 2021
GS : Internal Security
- According to a report by security firm Atlas VPN, hacks in the decentralised finance (DeFi) system accounted for nearly 76% of all major hacks worldwide in 2021 so far.
What is DeFi?
- DeFi is a peer-to-peer system that allows financial products to be available in a decentralised blockchain network through smart contracts, without the participation of intermediaries like banks and brokerages.
- According to crypto analysis firm DeFi Pulse, total value locked in DeFi contracts has risen to over $80 billion in August from $10 billion in September last year.
Findings of report:
- Fraudsters are targeting these high-value contracts with fake projects. A total of $361 million has been lost in DeFi hacks compared to $129 million last year.
- Many DeFi projects could be hacked due to developer incompetence which causes coding mistakes that hackers can abuse.
- Other cybercriminals can take out a flash loan and manipulate the token price to hack the DeFi protocol.
- The year 2021 also witnessed a rise in DeFi crimes. These crimes fall into one of the two categories – outside agents hacking the protocol or a rug pull conducted by insiders.
- Even though hacking is more prevalent among cybercriminals, few social media influencers have been getting into rug pull scams and manipulating their audiences.
- DeFi fraud and hacks combined caused a loss of over $474 million lost in the first half of 2021.
China’s new maritime law
GS 2: International Relations
- From now onwards, China’s new maritime rules which are designed to control the entry of foreign vessels in what Beijing calls “Chinese territorial waters” has taken into effect.
About new law:
- Foreign vessels, both military and commercial, will be required to submit to Chinese supervision in “Chinese territorial waters”.
- Operators of submersibles, nuclear vessels, ships carrying radioactive materials and ships carrying bulk oil, chemicals, liquefied gas and other toxic and harmful substances are required to report their detailed information upon their visits to Chinese territorial waters.
- Vessels that “endanger the maritime traffic safety of China” will be required to report their name, call sign, current position and next port of call and estimated time of arrival.
- The name of shipborne dangerous goods and cargo deadweight will also be required.
Significance of move:
- The move is expected to have far-reaching consequences for passage of vessels, both commercial and military, in the disputed South China Sea, East China Sea and Taiwan Strait.
- This move is considered as a follow-up to a series of decisions that have raised the ante in the East China Sea and the South China Sea since 2020.
- China sees the US’ incursion into the region is of assertive nature that can be the biggest destroyer of peace and stability in the region.
- It is likely to escalate the existing tension with the USA and its neighbours in the region.
- It is seen as a sign of stepped-up efforts to safeguard China’s national security at sea by implementing strict rules to boost maritime identification capability.
Significance of South China Sea:
- The South China Sea, which lies between China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, is of great economic importance globally.
- Nearly one-third of the world’s shipping passes through its lanes, and the waters house numerous important fisheries.
- It is also a critical route for India, both militarily and commercially. The South China Sea plays a vital role in facilitating India’s trade with Japan, South Korea and ASEAN countries, and assists in the efficient procurement of energy supplies.
- The Ministry of External Affairs estimates that more than 55% of India’s trade passes through the South China Sea and Malacca Straits.
- India is also involved in oil and gas exploration in offshore blocks in the margins of the Sea, which has led to standoffs with Chinese authorities.
Conflict over this region:
- The waters around China are hotly contested. Under a “nine-dash line” map, China claims most of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory.
- This claim is contested by its neighbours in the region and by the United States. Though, USA has no claim in the Sea, but it backs the smaller nations in the fight against Chinese overreach.
- The two countries recently sparred over the issue at a UN meeting on maritime security, with US saying that it has seen “provocative actions to advance unlawful maritime claims” and China retorting that the US has been “arbitrarily sending advanced military vessels and aircraft into the South China Sea as provocations”.
- Currently, international maritime activities are governed by an international agreement called the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
- China, India and over a hundred other countries are signatories (the US, significantly, is not) of UNCLOS.
- Accordingly, states have the right to implement territorial rights up to 12 nautical miles into the sea. The UNCLOS also states that all vessels have the right of “innocent passage” through this region – China’s new law violates this.
- As the law comes into effect, several questions remain unanswered. For one, it is unclear how China intends to implement the regulation.
- The US, which routinely holds naval exercises in the region, is unlikely to abide by Beijing’s law.
- It also remains to be seen how the rest of the UNCLOS signatories react to this challenge to the agreement.
Tree Species threatened
Down to Earth
GS 3: Environment and Conservation
- According to the State of the World’s Trees September 2021, released by London-based Botanic Gardens Conservation International, some 469 of India’s 2,603 tree species (18%) are threatened with extinction.
- The country is also home to 650 endemic tree species that are not found anywhere else.
- About a third of the tree species found in the Indo-Malaya (Tropical Asia) biogeographic realm of which India is a part, have not been evaluated and data about them is deficient. This is also true for the Oceania realm.
- Other than Indo-Malaya and Oceania, the Afrotropics (Africa south of the Sahara, including Madagascar) have the highest proportion of threatened tree species.
- The Palearctic and Nearctic (North America) realms mostly have tree species that are not threatened.
- The world has 58,497 tree species. The Neotropics (Central and South America) have the largest number of tree species with 23,631 tree species.
- Indo-Malaya is second, with 13,739 species and the Afrotropics have 9,237 species.
- The Nearctic and Oceania have the lowest number of tree species.
- The report cited the IUCN’s Red List, 2020 to enumerate the major threats facing trees globally.
- Agriculture (29%)
- Logging (27%)
- Livestock farming (14%)
- Residential and commercial development (13%)
- Fire and fire suppression (13%)
- Energy production and mining (9%)
- Wood and pulp plantations (6%)
- Invasive and other problematic species (5%)
- Climate change (4%)
Special commemorative coin
Prelims: Current events of national and international importance
- Prime Minister released a special commemorative coin on the occasion of the 125th Birth Anniversary of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Ji.
- He was an Indian spiritual teacher and the founder-acharya (preceptor) of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) commonly known as the “Hare Krishna movement”.
- Aim: The mission was to propagate throughout the world Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a school of Vaishnavite Hinduism.
- Significance: ISKCON has translated Shrimad Bhagvad Geeta and other Vedic literature into 89 languages playing a stellar role in the dissemination of Vedic literature across the world.
- It is a Vaishnava Hindu religious movement inspired by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Here, “Gaudiya” refers to the Gaura or Gauḍa region of Bengal with Vaishnavism meaning “the worship of Vishnu”.
- The focus of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is the devotional worship (known as bhakti-yoga) of Radha and Krishna, and their many divine incarnations as the supreme forms of God, Svayam Bhagavan.
- Most popularly, this worship takes the form of singing Radha and Krishna’s holy names, such as “Hare”, “Krishna” and “Rama”, most commonly in the form of the Hare Krishna (mantra) also known as kirtan and dancing along with it.