18th November 2020

Index

A) International Relations

1. Ha Noi Declaration on the 15th Anniversary of the East Asia Summit 2020 (TH)

B) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Awards/Social Issues

2. Govt considering a code of conduct for TV channels (IE)

3. Jeevan Pramaan/Digital Life Certificate (DLC) (PIB)

4. Lilavati Award-2020 (PIB)

5. Schemes: Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) (PIB)

C) Economy

6. In a world first, Indian carbon trader to come out with IPO (TH)

D) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

7. Threat to Mangroves: A new study (DTE)

8. Brief History on the Nairobi Convention (DTE)

9. The red dunes of Visakhapatnam and Geo-Heritage Sites (TH)

E) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

10. Additional and Acting Judges (PIB)

11. Elections to Bodoland Territorial Council (TH)

F) Art, Culture and History

12. All about Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (TH)

G) Miscellaneous

13. Sarhad Vistar Vikasotsav 2020

14. Explained: Chapare virus (IE)

A) International Relations

1. Ha Noi Declaration on the 15th Anniversary of the East Asia Summit 2020 (TH)

Context: India at the Summit expresses concern over actions that erode trust in South China Sea.

Analysis

  • The summit, held in the virtual format, was chaired by Prime Minister of Vietnam in his capacity as chair of the ASEAN and all the EAS member nations attended it.
  • India is generally represented at the summit by the Prime Minister.
  • India has been pitching for promoting a rules-based order in the region including through upholding adherence to international law, especially the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).
  • At the East Asia Summit in Bangkok in 2019, India proposed setting up of the Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative (IPOI) to conserve and sustainably use the maritime domain and to make meaningful efforts to create a safe and secure maritime domain.
  • The concept is gaining traction with Japan already agreeing to be the lead partner in the connectivity pillar of the IPOI.
  • The Summit discussed ways to strengthen the EAS platform and to make it more responsive to emerging challenges on its 15th anniversary and adopted the Ha Noi Declaration. 

East Asia Summit

  • Established in 2005, the East Asia Summit is a unique Leaders-led forum of 18 countries of the Asia-Pacific region formed to further the objectives of regional peace, security and prosperity.
  • It has evolved as a forum for strategic dialogue and cooperation on political, security and economic issues.
  • The membership of EAS consists of ten ASEAN Member States (i.e. Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam), Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation and the USA.
  • EAS is an initiative of ASEAN and is based on the premise of the centrality of ASEAN.
  • India has been a part of East Asia Summits since its inception in 2005 in Kuala Lumpur.
  • There are six priority areas of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS.

    These are –
  1. Environment and Energy,
  2. Education,
  3. Finance,
  4. Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases,
  5. Natural Disaster Management, and
  6. ASEAN Connectivity.
  • India endorses regional collaboration in all six priority areas.
  • Following the 12th EAS in November 2017 in Manila, Philippines and following the adoption of the Manila Plan of Action, Maritime Cooperation has been identified as an important area of cooperation under the EAS.
  • At the 4th East Asia Summit (EAS), held in Thailand on 24-25 October 2009, the EAS Leaders endorsed the proposal for the revival of Nalanda University, to bring together the brightest minds from all the countries of Asia.
  • The idea was first mooted by former President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2006.
  • The archaeological site of Nalanda Mahavihara, that is, Nalanda University, was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2016.

B) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Awards/Social Issues

2. Govt considering a code of conduct for TV channels (IE)

Context: The government is thinking of developing a common code of conduct for TV channels while also considering giving enhanced powers to the Press Council of India (PCI).

Analysis

  • While the Press Council oversees the print domain there was no similar system for the electronic media.
  • There isn’t a common code of conduct for all TV channels.
  • There is no system like the Press Council for TV channels so there should be a system of self-regulation.
  • Complaints related to content are presently handled by the News Broadcasters Standards Authority which is headed by Justice (retd) A K Sikri, which even gives punishment and asks channels to apologise if required. However, many channels are not even members of this system.
  • Recently, the government brought digital media and OTT platforms under the I&B ministry’s purview. Rules for these are yet to be released, though.
  • For OTT platforms there is neither a platform like the PCI not a self-regulatory mechanism.
  • There have been demands in the past that the Press Council of India be converted into a Media Council with digital and even electronic platforms under its ambit.

Press Council of India

  • It was first constituted in 1966 as an autonomous, statutory, quasi-judicial body under the Press Council Act, 1965.
  • It consists of a Chairman and 28 other members.
  • Of the 28 members, 13 represent the working journalists.
  • Five are to Members of Parliament: three from Lok Sabha, and two from Rajya Sabha.
  • The Chairman is elected by a Committee consisting of the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the Speaker of Lok Sabha and a person elected by the members of the Council from among themselves. 

News Broadcasters Standards Authority

  • NBSA is an independent nine-member body set up by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) for self-regulation of 24X7 news channels that are part of NBA.
  • It functions both as a watchdog and grievance redressal body.
  • NBSA is entrusted with the task to consider and adjudicate upon complaints about broadcasts on member news channels.
  • The body also issues guidelines for covering sensitive news from time to time.

3. Jeevan Pramaan/Digital Life Certificate (DLC) (PIB)

  • Jeevan Pramaan is a biometric enabled Aadhaar-based Digital Life Certificate for pensioners.
  • Jeevan Pramaan is generated for individual pensioner using his/her Aadhaar number and Biometrics.

How is this different from traditional Life Certificate issued by Govt Officers/ Agencies?

  • For Jeevan Pramaan (DLC) the pensioner is not required to present himself/ herself personally before the Pension Disbursing Officer.
  • DLC does not have to be submitted physically to the Pension Disbursing Agency (Bank/Post Office etc.) as it is available to them digitally and is automatically processed by the Pension Disbursing Agency.
  • Also, each DLC has a unique id called the Pramaan-Id.

Is the Pramaan ID / Jeevan Pramaan i.e. DLC valid for life?

  • The Pramaan ID/Jeevan Pramaan is not valid for life.
  • Once the validity period is over a new Jeevan Pramaan Certificate i.e. a new Pramaan Id needs to be obtained.

Who is eligible for Jeevan Pramaan i.e. Digital Life Certificate?

  • A pensioner whose Pension Sanctioning Authority (PSA) is onboarded on to Jeevan Pramaan is eligible for Jeevan Pramaan.
  • A pensioner who is re-employed or re-married is not eligible to make Jeevan Pramaan i.e. Digital Life Certificate.

Is Electronic Jeevan Pramaan i.e. DLC a must for the pensioner?

  • Jeevan Pramaan i.e. DLC is an add on facility to the already existing ways of submission of Life Certificate.

Is Aadhaar number mandatory to generate Jeevan Pramaan i.e. Digital Life Certificate?

  • Yes, Aadhaar number or VID is a must for generating/obtaining the Jeevan Pramaan i.e. Digital Life Certificate.

4. Lilavati Award-2020 (PIB)

  • Union Minister of Education recently virtually launched Lilavati Award-2020: AICTE’s (All India Council for Technical Education) Innovative education program to empower women. 
  • With women empowerment as the theme, the objective of the award is to create awareness about issues like sanitation, hygiene, health, nutrition, literacy, employment, technology, credit, marketing, innovation, skill development, natural resources and rights among women.
  • The Innovation Cell of Ministry of Education has launched several programmes for the women especially Smart India Hackathon, which has minimum one woman in the team of 6 members.

5. Schemes: Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) (PIB)

Context: Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of PSUs under the Ministry of Power and Department of New & Renewable Energy (DNRE), Goa, have signed a memorandum of understanding today to discuss rolling out of India’s first Convergence Project in the State.

Analysis

  • Through its convergence initiative, EESL seeks to connect seemingly independent sectors like Solar Energy, Energy Storage and LED lights to provide solutions, which can enable in decarbonisation and affordable energy access.
  • It is currently providing solutions such as solarised agriculture feeders, LED street lights in local villages and battery energy storage system.
  • EESL is also leveraging the carbon financing mechanism to rapidly strengthen rural infrastructure in a clean and sustainable manner, to create a resilient and sustainable rural community in India.
  • Its climate financing interventions currently include Gram UJALA, Decentralised Solar and Gram Panchayat Street Lights programmes.

Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)

  • EESL is a joint venture of four national Public-Sector Undertakings – NTPC Limited, Power Finance Corporation Limited, Rural Electrification Corporation Limited and POWERGRID Corporation of India Limited – under the Ministry of Power.
  • EESL also leads the market-related activities of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE), one of the eight national missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change.
  • The company’s energy service model combines cost reduction achieved by demand aggregation and economies of scale, which in turn have stimulated India’s private energy efficiency investments and large-scale manufacturing.
  • EESL focuses on solution-driven innovation with no subsidy or capital expenditure (CAPEX).
  • It is able to do so using its Pay-As-You-Save (PAYS) model, which obviates the need for any upfront capital investment by the consumer.
  • The entire investment by EESL is recovered through monetised energy savings over a scheduled project period.
  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is a Super-Energy Service Company (ESCO).
  • EESL is implementing the world’s largest non-subsidised energy efficiency portfolio across sectors like lighting, buildings, e-mobility, smart metering and agriculture at a scale which no organization has been able to achieve.

    Objectives
  1. To carry out and promote the business of Energy Efficiency and climate change including manufacture and supply of energy efficiency services and products.
  2. To Provide consultancy services in the field of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects, carbon markets, demand side management, energy efficiency, climate change and related areas.
  3. To act as resource center in the field of Energy Efficiency and take up the activities of Capacity Building, Training and other related activities.

Schemes being implemented by EESL

Gram UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All) scheme

  • India’s Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) plans to offer 600 million LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs in rural areas at ?10 per piece, without any government support or subsidy.
  • The lowest globally priced LED bulb to be offered by EESL by leveraging scale, under the proposed Gram UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All) scheme.
  • EESL, that is presently running the world’s largest domestic lighting programme, is in the process of registering the Gram UJALA scheme under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), that will enable it to claim carbon credits.
  • A part of the UNFCCC, CDM comes under the Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol and seeks to reduce the concentration of GHG emissions in the atmosphere in a cost-effective way.
  • It allows developed countries to use carbon credits generated from clean energy projects in developing countries to meet a part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.  
  • The government’s UJALA scheme had cut LED bulb prices to ?70 apiece from around ?310 in 2014. Under the new scheme, the revenue earned from carbon credits will contribute ?60 per LED bulb piece, with the balance ?10 to be paid by the rural consumer.
  • It has been observed that less than one fifth or only 18% of the 360 million LED bulbs distributed under the UJALA scheme was in the rural areas.
  • The Gram UJALA scheme will also help improve energy access in rural areas, with the mandatory domestic manufacturing clause in sourcing LED bulb tenders expediting India’ efforts to become an integral part of global supply chains, as firms look to move production lines out of China following the coronavirus pandemic that originated in Wuhan.
  • In developed economies, while it takes an investment of around $100-$200 for one tonne reduction of green house gases, in India for the same quantum of green house gas reduction, the investment is pegged at $10-$40.
  • India is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, and among the countries most vulnerable to climate change. India plans to reduce its carbon footprint from its 2005 levels by 33-35% by 2030, as part of its commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted by 195 countries in Paris in 2015.
  • EESL, a joint venture set up by NTPC Ltd, Rural Electrification Corp. Ltd, Power Finance Corp. Ltd and Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd has also been conducting price discovery exercises for International Solar Alliance (ISA), by aggregating the demand from ISA member nations for solar-powered agricultural pumps. The tender achieved global disruption by bringing down the cost of such pumps by half.
  • It is currently running the largest global solar home system’ price discovery tender, for the ISA member nations for a potential order of 47 million home power systems.

UJALA and SNLP

  • Launched in 2015, the Government of India’s zero subsidy Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) and LED Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP), marked its fifth anniversary in 2020.
  • SLNP is the world’s largest streetlight replacement programme and UJALA is the world’s largest domestic lighting project.
  • As these lights are automated (LEDs under Street Lighting National Programme), they switch on and off at sunrise and sunset thereby reducing wastage. Utilities can also remotely track and rectify any faults with support of Centralised Control and Monitoring System (CCMS).
  • A seven-year contract with the local bodies guarantees a minimum energy saving of typically 50% and provides free replacements and maintenance of lights at no additional cost to the civic partners.
  • By March 2020, SLNP aims to replace 1.34 crore conventional streetlights in India with smart LEDs. EESL has an ambitious plan in this portfolio for next 4-5 years where it intends to bring investment to the tune of INR 8,000 crores by 2024 by covering entire rural India.
  • These programmes have bagged global awards like the prestigious South Asia Procurement Innovation Award (SAPIA) 2017 and for the innovative use of IT and the business results achieved in Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP), it won 2019 CIO 100 award.
  • The highly successful UJALA and SLNP have also bagged the Global Solid State Lighting (SSL) award of excellence for the transformational contribution to the LED sector.
  • The domestic LED market has also grown significantly beyond the UJALA programme, with the industry selling over 1.15 billion LEDs, far exceeding the UJALA programme’s target of 700 million LED unit sales.
  • Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (GSA)* in 2018 under which about 21,000 Indian villages with a significantly large number of poor households were able to buy LED bulbs for a special price under UJALA programme.

Agricultural Demand Side Management (AgDSM)

  • India’s agriculture sector consumes 23 percent of India’s power, and over 2 crore agricultural water pumps are powered by electricity supplied free of cost.
  • EESL is also implementing the world’s largest Agricultural Demand Side Management (AgDSM) programme.
  • Under the programme, inefficient agricultural pump sets are replaced with BEE 5 star-rated energy efficient pump sets.

Strategy

  • Farmers are being offered a zero-cost energy efficient pump set (EEPS), while the EEPS cost is recovered over a mutually agreed period of time by monetizing energy savings.
  • EESL also offers free repair maintenance during the 5-year project duration, further incentivizing farmers to adopt newer, more efficient models.
  • The EEPS are accompanied with Smart Control Panels, enabling farmers to remotely monitor and control them, and thereby achieve reduction in water and energy wastage.

Solar AgDSM

  • This programme involves setting up solar mini-grids.
  • Solar powered PV pump sets can be used to irrigate the farms during the day time, thereby reducing dependence on diesel fuel.
  • The mini-grid’s excess electricity can be exported to the DISCOM grid.
  • The pumps will require marginal upfront cost contribution and land contribution.

Smart Meter National Programme

  • Energy Efficiency Services Limited’s (EESL’s) Smart Meter National Programme (SMNP) is working to eventually replace 25 crore conventional meters with smart meters across India.
  • The Ministry of Power has decided to convert all existing and new meters to smart and pre-paid meters within the three years starting from April 1, 2019.
  • In October 2019, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), India’s version of a sovereign wealth fund, formed a joint venture with Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) to implement, finance and operate the smart meter rollout programme.
  • EESL, a PSU under the Ministry of Power, is the designated agency to implement the smart metering programme in India to enhance consumer convenience and rationalise electricity consumption.
  • EESL’s proven model of bulk procurement, aggregation of demand, and monetisation of savings will be the approach to roll out smart meters.
  • This roll-out is proposed under the Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model, wherein EESL will undertake all the capital and operational expenditure with zero upfront investment from states and utilities.
  • EESL will therefore, receive a nominal Internal Rate of Return that is reflected in a mutually agreed upon, automated payback structure.
  • Along with enhancing energy production, the nation also needs to cut Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) losses to below 12% by 2022, and below 10% by 2027; which by various estimates are around 20% at present in India’s case.
  • Enabling India to achieve this imperative is the smart grid, the first step of which, is the creation of Advanced Metering Infrastructure.

What are Smart Meters?

  • A smart meter is a digital one that replaces old analogue meters.
  • Digital meters can transmit energy consumption information back to the utility at much more frequent intervals and can potentially enable monitoring of consumption more accurately, thereby enabling more informed energy choices.
  • Smart meters can help discoms function smoothly, thanks to their ability to remotely “monitor and collect meter readings.”
  • Based on the GPRS technology, these meters will boost efficiency in billing and collection.
  • Smart meters measure and record consumer’s electricity usage at different times of the day and send this information to energy supplier through over-the-air communication technology.
  • Smart meters can also help discoms to:
  1. Reduce AT&C losses; Aggregate Technical & Commercial losses are combination of energy loss (Technical loss + Theft + inefficiency in billing) & commercial loss (Default in payment + inefficiency in collection).
  2. Improve their financial health,
  3. Incentivise energy conservation,
  4. Enhance ease of bill payments,
  5. Doing away with the paper bills,
  6. Reducing meter tampering by consumers, and
  7. Ensure billing accuracy by getting rid of manual errors in meter reading through web-based monitoring system.
  • EESL is also implementing smart prepaid meters under its smart metering programme.
  • Smart meters deployed [can] switch to prepaid mode with a remote button click.
  • ‘Smart’ metering also gives consumers the freedom to choose the supplier and rate as per their requirement.
  • Customers will also benefit from accurate bill readings, and real-time understanding of their electricity usage, catalysing a pan-India movement towards energy efficiency.

Smart Pre-paid Meters

  • The whole idea of a prepaid meter is to eliminate theft and prevent tampering.
  • Prepaid meters have been envisaged as one of the ways to turn around discoms by reducing their gap between the cost of power supply and revenue realised by ensuring timely payments from bulk consumers such as local civic bodies and state government departments.
  • Mounting dues of government departments have been a long-standing cause of concern, which is about 85% of the amount that discoms owed to power generators.
  • In cases of prepayment, the carrying costs will come down, leading to reduced requirement of working capital for discoms.
  • The National Electricity Policy, in 2005, had stated that the SERCs should encourage use of pre-paid meters.

Net metering

  • Net metering allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid. 
  • If the home is net-metered, the electricity meter will run backwards to provide a credit against what electricity is consumed at night or other periods where the home’s electricity use exceeds the system’s output. Customers are only billed for their “net” energy use.
  • Typically, a solar power system produces more energy in summer and comparatively less energy in winter.

Municipal Energy Efficient Programme (MEEP)

  • As part of India’s Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), EESL is working with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to retrofit energy efficient pumps across 500 Smart Cities.
  • EESL will replace inefficient pumps in public water works and sewerage systems at no upfront cost to the municipal bodies.
  • The investment will be recovered from the savings in energy costs.
  • EESL is also aggregating demand for these pumps from Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and leveraging the resulting economies of scale to bring down their cost, making them an even more attractive investment.

Buildings Energy Efficient Programme

  • Amidst rapid economic growth and urbanization, India’s buildings sector is anticipated to record the world’s fastest surge in energy consumption through 2040.
  • The sector consumes over a third of India’s electrical energy.
  • EESL’s Buildings Energy Efficiency Programme offers covers buildings of the government, industry, and institutions to implement and retrofit energy efficient appliances and systems at affordable prices.
  • EESL aims to bring energy efficiency solutions to 20,000 large government and private buildings by 2020.

Trigeneration

  • Trigeneration is the simultaneous process of cooling, heating and power generation from only one fuel input.
  • Typically, gas-fired generators are used to produce electricity. The by-product is waste heat, which is then directed to absorption chillers and boilers for space cooling, hot water and related purposes.
  • India’s growing access to natural gas, a typical input for trigeneration systems and the cleanest burning hydrocarbon, will greatly enable wider adoption of trigeneration.

Benefits

  • Replacing thermal energy: Using natural gas replaces dependence on coal, while nullifying the need for additional energy inputs for heat and cooling generation. Trigeneration systems can hence reduce an establishment’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50%.
  • Energy efficiency: Trigeneration plants enable up to 80% of primary energy to reach end use, as opposed to only 25% in conventional power plants. And, producing electricity on-site minimizes transmission losses from grid-sourced electricity.
  • Environmentally sustainable: Absorption chillers commonly use water or ammonia as a refrigerant, making trigeneration-based cooling a zero Ozone Depleting Potential and Global Warming Potential system.

C) Economy

6. In a world first, Indian carbon trader to come out with IPO (TH)

Context: Indore-based Enking International may become the world’s first company that operates in the carbon markets space to go in for an initial public offering (IPO).

Analysis

  • The 12-year-old company operates in the emerging area of trading in carbon offsets.
  • Carbon offset is any activity that compensates for the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) or other greenhouse gases (measured in carbon dioxide equivalents [CO2e]) by providing for an emission reduction elsewhere.
  • These are market-tradeable instruments (like Renewable Energy Certificates) that are issued to entities whose projects reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Enking buys these offsets from Indian companies and sells them to buyers abroad.
  • Trading in carbon offsets is expected to pick up once the rules for carbon markets are framed under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
  • Carbon trading began under the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 (which came into force in 2005).
  • Under this, ‘certified emission reductions’ or CERs, were issued to entities that put up projects that reduced emissions — such as wind, solar, or energy efficiency.
  • These CERs were to be bought by developed countries.
  • It didn’t work out well and Indian entities are left holding about 750 million worthless CERs.
  • However, today some countries and many companies buy offsets under what are called ‘compliance’ and ‘voluntary’ markets, respectively.
  • But the real growth in the market is expected to happen only after the carbon market rules are framed under the Paris Agreement.

A Certified Emissions Reduction, also known as CER, is a certificate issued by the United Nations to member nations for preventing one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions. These are usually issued to member states for projects achieving greenhouse gas reductions through the use of Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM). CDMs make it possible for these projects to occur and set a baseline for future emission targets.

  • Countries with developed or traditional economies (recognized as Annex 1 under the Kyoto Protocol) use CERs to help them reach their emission targets.

D) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

7. Threat to Mangroves: A new study (DTE)

Context: Mangroves forests are being threatened at an increasing pace: River dams negatively impact the supply of mud that raises mangrove soils.

Analysis

  • Tidal barriers have proven to be disastrous for mangrove coverage and can result in species loss. 
  • But mangrove coverage can increase despite sea-level rise if sediment supply is sufficient and land accommodation space available, according to a recent study published in Environmental Research Letters.
  • Mangroves depend on a steady supply of sediment flowing down from rivers. The delivery of sediment from most rivers reduced over the past three decades.
  • A narrow mangrove zone is less effective in protecting the coast against storms; in the worst case, it may lose its protective properties altogether.
  • Mangroves provide valuable ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, coastal protection and habitat provision for a plethora of organisms. 
  • The provision of ecosystem services is highly dependent on the composition of mangrove species assemblages.
  • Note: Mangroves were covered in detail in 4th Oct file.

8. Brief History on the Nairobi Convention (DTE)

  • The Nairobi Convention is a partnership between governments, civil society and the private sector, working towards a prosperous Western Indian Ocean Region with healthy rivers, coasts and oceans.
  • It pursues this vision by providing a mechanism for regional cooperation, coordination and collaborative actions.
  • The Nairobi Convention, which was first signed in 1985 and entered into force in 1996, is part of United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) Regional Seas Programme.
  • The programme aims to address the accelerating degradation of the world’s oceans and coastal areas through the sustainable management and use of the marine and coastal environment.
  • It does this by engaging countries that share the western Indian Ocean in actions to protect their shared marine environment.
  • The Contracting Parties (Comoros, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and the Republic of South Africa) to the Convention are part of more than 143 countries that participate in 18 Regional Seas initiatives.

9. The red dunes of Visakhapatnam and Geo-Heritage Sites (TH)

  • Among the 34 notified National Geological Heritage Monument Sites of India by the Geological Survey of India, is the Erra Matti Dibbalu or coastal red sediment mounds located between Visakhapatnam and Bheemunipatnam.
  • The width of the dunes vary from 200 metres to two kilometres, spread across five kilometres along the coast.
  • Besides being unusual, the rare sand dunes have an important and interesting history of evolution.
  • Such sand deposits have been reported only from three low latitude tropical regions in South Asia — the Teri Sands of Tamil Nadu, the Erra Matti Dibbalu in Andhra Pradesh and Red Coastal Sands of Sri Lanka.
  • According to researchers, these are described as badlands to represent the remnants of denudation of great sand banks or isolated banks formed around sunken or depressed hills.
  • Geological scientists also want the natural arch at Mangamaripeta Beach (opposite the Thotlakonda Buddhist Site) in Visakhapatnam to be notified as geo-heritage.
  • The natural arch, for instance, is likely to date back to the period after the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago and is similar to the natural rock arch of Silathoranam in the Tirumala Hills.
  • While there are 147 UNESCO Global geo parks spread across 41 countries, India is yet to have one of its own.
  • Geologists are pushing to get recognition of a geo park for Visakhapatnam consisting of Erra Matti Dibbalu (red sand dunes), natural rock formations at Mangamaripeta, million-years-old Borra Caves and volcanic ash deposits said to have originated from the volcanic eruption of Toba in Indonesia 73,000 years ago near Araku.

Geo-Heritage Sites/National Geological Monuments

  • The term geological heritage is used for natural geological or geo-morphological features that have aesthetic, intrinsic or scientific and educational value, that provide unique insight into geological processes affecting the formation or evolution of Earth.
  • Geological Survey of India (GSI), Ministry of Mines, declares geo-heritage sites/ national geological monuments for protection and maintenance.
S. NoGeological heritage site / National geological monument  
   ANDHRA PRADESH
1Volcanogenic bedded Barytes, Mangampeta, Cuddapah Dist.
2Eparchaean Unconformity, Chittor Dist.
3Natural Geological Arch, Tirumala Hills, Chittor Dist.
4Erra Matti Dibbalu- the dissected and stabilized coastal red sediment mounds located between Vishakhapatnam and Bhimunipatnam.
   KERALA
5Laterite near Angadipuram PWD rest house premises, Malapuram Dist.
6Varkala Cliff Section, Thiruvanatapuram Dist.
   TAMILNADU
7Fossil wood near Tiruvakkarai, South Arcot Dist.
8National fossil wood park, Sattanur, Tiruchirapalli Dist.
9Charnockite, St. Thomas Mount, Madras.
10Badlands of Karai Formation with Cretaceous fossils along Karai – Kulakkalnattam Section, Perambalur District.
   GUJARAT
11Sedimentary Structures – Eddy Markings, Kadan Dam, Panch Mahals Dist.
   RAJASTHAN
12Sendra Granite, Pali Dist.
13Barr Conglomerate, Pali Dist.
14Stromatolite Fossil Park, Jharmarkotra Rock Phosphate deposit, Udaipur Dist.
15Gossan in Rajpura-Dariba Mineralised belt, Udaipur Dist.
16Stromatolite Park near Bhojunda, Chittaurgarh Dist.
17Akal Fossil Wood Park, Jaisalmer Dist.
18Kishangarh Nepheline Syenite, Ajmer Dist.
19Welded Tuff, Jodhpur Dist.   
20Jodhpur Group – Malani Igneous Suite Contact, Jodhpur Dist.
21 Great Boundary Fault at Satur, Bundi Dist. Ramgarh crater, Baran District Zawar lead-zinc mine, Udaipur
   MAHARASHTRA
22Lonar Lake, Buldana Dist.   
   CHATTISGARH
22Lower Permian Marine bed at Manendragarh, Surguja Dist.
   KARNATAKA
24Columnar Lava, St Mary Island  Udupi Dist.
25Pillow lavas near Mardihalli, Chitradurga Dist.
26Peninsular Gneiss, Lalbagh, Banglore
27Pyroclastics & Pillow lavas, Kolar Gold fields, Kolar Dist.
   HIMACHAL PRADESH
28Siwalik Fossil Park, Saketi, Sirmur dt.,
   ODISHA
29Pillow Lava in lron ore belt at Nomira, Keonjhar dist.
   JHARKHAND
30Plant Fossil bearing Inter-trappean beds of Rajmahal Formation, upper Gondwana sequence around Mandro, Sahibganj dist.
   NAGALAND
31Nagahill Ophiolite Site near Pungro,
 SIKKIM
32Stromatolite bearing Dolomite / Limestone of Buxa Formation at Mamley, near Namchi, South district.

E) Polity/Bills/Acts/Judgments

10. Additional and Acting Judges (PIB)

Context: President of India in exercise of the power conferred by clause (1) of Article 217 of the Constitution of India appointed 28 Additional Judges as Judges of Allahabad High Court.

Analysis

  • The President can appoint duly qualified persons as additional judges of a high court for a temporary period not exceeding two years when:

1. there is a temporary increase in the business of the high court; or

2. there are arrears of work in the high court.

The President can also appoint a duly qualified person as an acting judge of a high court when a judge of that high court (other than the chief justice) is:

1. unable to perform the duties of his office due to absence or any other reason; or

2. appointed to act temporarily as chief justice of that high court.

  • An acting judge holds office until the permanent judge resumes his office.
  • However, both the additional or acting judge cannot hold office after attaining the age of 62 years.

11. Elections to Bodoland Territorial Council (TH)

Context: Bodoland council polls to be held next month.

  • The elections to the 40-seat BTC, earlier scheduled on April 4, were deferred due to the pandemic.
  • Governor’s rule was imposed after the five-year term of the council ended.

Analysis

  • The Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam was constituted under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India in the year 2003 after the signing of Memorandum of Settlement on 10th February 2003 between the Government of India, the Government of Assam and Bodo Liberation Tigers, to fulfill economic, educational and linguistic aspiration and the preservation of land-rights, socio-cultural and ethnic identity of the Bodos; and to speed up the infrastructure in BTC area.
  • The Council aims at bringing about accelerated progress to one of the most backward region of the state of Assam with special focus on the development of the Bodo people in the field of education, preservation of land rights, linguistic aspiration, culture and its ethnic identity.

Powers and Functions of BTC

  • Powers In Respect Of Subjects Transferred to it by Assam Govt
  • The Council has legislative powers in respect of subjects transferred to it. The BTC also have executive, administrative and financial powers in respect of subjects transferred to it.
  • The Executive Council comprising of not more than 14 Executive Members, one whom shall be the Chief and another one the Deputy Chief of the said Executive Council.
  • There shall be adequate representation for the non-tribal members in the Executive Council.

BTC Legislative Assebmly

  • As per Memorandum of Settlement 40 members are elected to the General Council from 40 constituencies. Besides this 6 Members are nominated by the Governor of Assam from un-represented community out of which two should be women.
  • The Bodoland Territorial Council Legislative Assembly consists of Speaker, Deputy Speaker and other elected MCLAs of the Bodoland Territorial Council.

F) Art, Culture and History

12. All about Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (TH)

Context: 100th foundation day of SGPC (Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee)

Analysis

  • Struggle to reform Indian society tended to merge with the anti-imperialist struggle.This aspect of the national movement is well illustrated by the Akali Movement in Punjab and the Temple Entry Movement in Kerala.
  • The Akali Movement (1920 to 1925 )developed on a purely religious issue but ended up as a powerful episode of India’s freedom struggle.
  • more than 30,000 men and women underwent imprisonment, nearly 400 died as protests became violent.
  • The movement arose with the objective of freeing the Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) from the control of ignorant and corrupt mahants (priests).

Background

  • The Gurdwaras had been heavily endowed with revenue-free land and money by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Sikh chieftains and other devout Sikhs during the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • These shrines came to be managed during the 18th century by Udasi Sikh mahants who escaped the wrath of Mughal authorities because they did not wear their hair long.
    • (Many ignorant people therefore believe that these mahants were Hindus. This is, of course, not true at all).
  • In time corruption spread among these mahants and they began to treat the offerings and other income of the Gurdwaras as their personal income. Many of them began to live a life of luxury and dissipation.
  • Apart from the mahants, after the British annexation of Punjab in 1849, some control over the Gurdwaras was exercised by Government- nominated managers and custodians, who often collaborated with mahants.
  • The Government gave full support to the mahants.
    • It used them and the managers to preach loyalism to the Sikhs and to keep them away from the rising nationalist movement.
  • The Sikh reformers and nationalists wanted a thorough reformation of the Gurdwaras by taking them out of the control of the mahants and agents of the colonial regime.
  • The nationalists were especially horrified by two incidents – –
  1. Priests of the Golden Temple at Amritsar issued a Hukamnama (directive from the holy seats of the Sikh authority) against the Ghadarites, declaring them renegades,
  2. They honoured General Dyer, the butcher of Jallianwala massacre, with a saropa (robe of honour) and declared him to be a Sikh.
  • During 1920 when the reformers organized groups of volunteers known as jathas to compel the mahants and the Government-appointed managers to hand over control of the Gurdwaras to the local devotees.
  • The reformers won easy victories in the beginning with tens of Gurdwaras being liberated in the course of the year. Symbolic of this early success was the case of the Golden Temple and the Akal Takht.
    • The reformers demanded that this foremost seat of Sikh faith should be placed in the hands of a representative body of the Sikhs,’ and organized a series of public meetings in support of their demand.
  • The Government did not want to antagonize the reformers on such an emotional religious issue and permitted the Government-appointed manager to resign and, thus, let the control of the Temple pass effectively into the reformers’ hands to control and manage the Golden Temple, the Akal Takht and other Gurdwaras, a representative assembly of nearly 10,000 reformers met in November 1920 and elected a committee of 175 to be known as the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC).
  • In the meanwhile, the Government had succeeded in winning over the moderate Akalis with the promise of legislation which was passed in July 1925 and which handed over control over all the Punjab Gurdwaras to an elected body of Sikhs which also came to be called the SGPC.
  • Apart from its own achievement, the Akali Movement made a massive contribution to the political development of Punjab. It awakened the Punjab peasantry.

Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925

  • The Act regulates administration of Sikh Gurdwaras in Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.  For this purpose, it established the Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) for overall administration and management, and set up committees for management of every Gurdwara.  It also lays down the powers of the SGPC and other committees, and regulates elections to them.
  • Election to the SGPC and management committees:  The Act provides that every Sikh who is above 21 years of age and is registered as a voter, will be entitled to vote in the elections to the SGPC and management committees.  However, no person who trims or shaves his beard or hair will be entitled to vote in these elections.

G) Miscellaneous

13. Sarhad Vistar Vikasotsav 2020  (IE)

  • “Sarhad Vistar Vikasotsav 2020” is aimed to address the problems relating to health, education and road connectivity in remote and border villages, so that standard of living in such areas can be improved considerably.

14. Explained: Chapare virus (IE)

Context: A rare Ebola-like illness that is believed to have first originated in rural Bolivia in 2004 can spread through human-to-human transmission, researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have discovered.

  • The biggest outbreak of the ‘Chapare virus’ was reported in 2019, in the Bolivian capital of La Paz.
  • The virus, which is named Chapare after the province in Bolivia which it was first observed, causes a hemorrhagic fever much like Ebola along with abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding gums, skin rash and pain behind the eyes.

Analysis

What is the Chapare virus?

  • The Chapare hemorrhagic fever (CHHF) is caused by the same arenavirus family that is responsible for illnesses such as the Ebola virus disease (EVD).
  • Arenaviruses like the Chapare virus are generally carried by rats and can be transmitted through direct contact with the infected rodent, its urine and droppings, or through contact with an infected person.
  • Viral hemorrhagic fevers are a severe and life-threatening kind of illness that can affect multiple organs and damage the walls of blood vessels.
  • Researchers have found that the virus can spread from person to person also.
  • The rodent species, in which Chapare viral RNA was identified, is commonly known as the pigmy rat and is found across Bolivia and in several of its neighbouring countries.

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