National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 11th February 2019

Nirbhaya fund


Topic: Social Justice

In News: A parliamentary panel, headed by Congress leader P. Chidambaram, has taken strong exception to the utilisation of the Nirbhaya Fund for the construction of buildings, saying such allocations defeat the very purpose of the project — that of safety for women.

More on the topic:

  • In a report submitted to the Rajya Sabha last week, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs said, “The committee is also of the firm view that funds for the construction of buildings should come from other sources and not from the Nirbhaya Fund.”
  • The committee also said that sanctioning money from the Nirbhaya Fund for schemes pertaining to compensation would render it as a fund merely for disbursal and would not have a desired impact at the ground-level in enhancing the security scenario for women.

About Nirbhaya Fund:

  • The fund is created by the Ministry of Finance in 2013, dedicated for implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing the safety and security for women in the country.
  • It is a non-lapsable corpus fund.
  • An Empowered Committee of Officers under the Secretary of Women and Child Development Ministry was setup in 2016 to monitor the fund.
  • It is an inter-ministerial committee appraises and recommends various projects proposed by different Ministries to be funded from the Nirbhaya Fund.

Schemes under Nirbhaya Fund:

  • One Stop Centre Scheme, also known as “Sakhi Centres” aims at establishing centres to facilitate women affected by violence. It provides First aid, Medical aid, Police assistance, Legal aid and counselling support.
  • Mahila Police Volunteers (MPVs) will act as a link between police and community and help women in distress. Haryana has become the first state to start the Mahila Police Volunteer scheme.
  • Universalisation of Women Helpline – Helpline specifically for women with a common number across the country will link the One Stop Centres.
  • Abhaya Project – It is the proposed project in Andhra Pradesh for ensuring the safety of Women and Girl child during the transport.
  • CHIRALI (Friends Forever):This scheme is implemented in the state of Rajasthan.
  • Under the scheme, Community Action Groups are constituted under Gram Panchayats to provide enabling environment to support girls and women to move freely and make use of opportunities for their well being.

Model Mains Question: Critically analyze the ground level impact of Nirbhaya fund. What are the challenges that constrict the intended impacts?

Source: The Hindu

Forest Rights Act


Topic: Social Justice

In News:  The Odisha State Food Commission has again asked the State government to expedite implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, that would help ensure food and nutritional security to the vulnerable section of society.

About Forest Rights Act (FRA):

  • The legislation was passed in December 2006
  • It concerns the rights of forest-dwelling communities to land and other resources, denied to them over decades as a result of the continuance of colonial forest laws in India.
  • The Act grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities, partially correcting the injustice caused by the forest laws.
  • Eligibility to get rights under the Act is confined to those who “primarily reside in forests” and who depend on forests and forest land for a livelihood. Further, either the claimant must be a member of the Scheduled Tribes scheduled in that area or must have been residing in the forest for 75 years.

Rights under the Act:

  • Title rights – i.e. ownership to land that is being farmed by tribal or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares; ownership is only for land that is actually being cultivated by the concerned family, meaning that no new lands are granted.
  • Use rights – to minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.
  • Relief and development rights – to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement; and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection.
  • Forest management rights – to protect forests and wildlife.

Model Mains Question: Critically examine the factors which hinder the effective implementation of Forest rights Act and suggest what needs to be done.

Source: The Hindu

Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OLAP)


Topic: Economy

In News: India on Sunday offered 23 oil and gas and CBM blocks for bidding in the third round of Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OLAP), expecting up to to $700 million of investment that it hoped will help raise domestic output and cut imports.

More on the Topic:

  • OALP gives an option to a company to select the exploration blocks on its own, without waiting for the formal bid round from the Government.
  • Under OALP, a bidder intending to explore hydrocarbons may apply to the Government seeking exploration of any new block which was not already covered by exploration.
  • The Government will examine the interest and if it is suitable for award, then the govt will call for competitive bids after obtaining necessary environmental and other clearances.
  • OALP was introduced as part of the new fiscal regime in exploration sector called Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP).
  • So that, it will enable a faster survey and coverage of the available geographical area which has potential for oil and gas discovery.
  • Successful implementation of OALP requires building of National Data Repository on geo-scientific data.

Comparison of OALP and NELP:

  • By placing greater discretion in the hands of explorers and operators, the OALP attempts to address a major drawback in the NELP that forced energy explorers to bid for blocks chosen by the government.
  • Companies can now apply for particular areas they think is attractive to invest in, because in the past, the blocks chosen by the government often had only a small fraction of hydrocarbon reserves.
  • By offering companies the freedom to choose exactly the areas they want to explore, and their size, the government has a better chance to woo serious energy investors.
  • The govt also introduced National Data Repository (NDR).
  • It is envisaged as a centralised database of geological and hydrocarbon information that will be available to all.
  • It will allow potential investors to make informed decisions and will open up a new sector in India.
  • There are a number of companies that simply explore hydrocarbon basins and sell the information they gather. Thus via NDR, the govt seeks to incentivise such prospectors.
  • Companies may also submit applications through the year and not just at designated and often infrequent points, as was the case earlier.
  • Also, from now on, the auctions will be held twice a year. This, will lend more flexibility to the industry.

Source: The Hindu

Asiatic Lion Conservation Project


Topic: Environment and Ecology

In News: The Asiatic Lion Conservation Project was announced by the Centre and the Gujarat government at a cost of Rs 97.85 crore.

More on the Topic:

  • The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on December 20, 2018 launched the “Asiatic Lion Conservation Project” to protect and conserve the population of Asiatic Lion and its associated ecosystem.
  • The project activities are planned in such a manner that cause habitat improvement, scientific interventions, disease control and veterinary care, complemented with adequate eco development works for the fringe population in order to ensure a stable and viable Lion population in the Country.
  • The Asiatic Lion Conservation Project is aimed at conservation and recovery of Asiatic Lion with the help of up to date techniques, instruments, regular scientific research studies, disease management, modern surveillance and patrolling techniques.
  • The total budget of the project for 3 years amounts to around Rs 9784 lakh. The project will be funded under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme- Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with the Central and State share of 60:40 ratio.

Source:The Hindu

Exercise Cutlass Express 2019

Topic: International Relations

In News: INS Trikand, a front-line warship of the Indian Navy, participated in a multinational training exercise ‘CUTLASS EXPRESS – 19’ .

More on the Topic:

  • The aim of the exercise was to improve law enforcement capacity, promote regional security and progress inter-operability between the armed forces of the participating nations for the purpose of interdicting illegal maritime activity in the Western Indian Ocean.
  • During the exercise, Naval, Coast Guard and Marine Police personnel from a number of East African countries were jointly trained by mentors from USA, India, and Netherlands, with support of international organisations like the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Combined Maritime Force (CMF) and European Naval Forces (EUNAVFOR).
  • The Indian Navy played a significant role in ‘CUTLASS EXPRESS – 19’, being involved in planning, coordination and execution. Through INS Trikand, the IN provided a platform for live Visit Board Search Seizure (VBSS) drills, which proved to be of immense training value to the participating nations.

About INS Trikand:

  • INS Trikand is equipped with a versatile range of sensors and weapons enabling her to address threats in all the three dimensions – air, surface and sub-surface. The ship’s extended endurance at sea makes it an ideal platform for prolonged deployments, including the present one, in which she is carrying out Presence and Surveillance missions and Anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Western Arabian Sea.

Source: PIB

Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya


Topic: Modern Indian History

In News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a statue of Tripura’s last ruler, Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya (reigned 1923-47), at the airport which was renamed after him.

More on the Topic:

  • Bir Bikram Kishore Debbarman Manikya Bahadur GBE KCSI (19 August 1908 – 17 May 1947) was a king (or maharaja) of Tripura State.
  • He was succeeded by his son, Maharaja Kirat Bikram Kishore, who was the nominal king for two years till the state’s merger into India in 1949. Since he was a minor during this time, the state was governed by a Council of Regency headed by his mother.
  • Bir Bikram Kishore Debbarman is considered the father of modern architecture in Tripura,as the entire planning of present-day Tripura was initiated during his rule.
  • He is also considered one of the pioneers in land reforms. In 1939, he reserved land for the local Tripura tribals, which was later instrumental in the creation of the Tripura autonoumus district council.He also built the first airport in Tripura, which is today the second busiest airport in the entire northeast.

Source: The Hindu

World Pulses Day


Topic: Agriculture

In News: February 10, 2019 will be the first-ever World Pulse Day, a global event to celebrate pulses worldwide and continue the important gain made with the 2016 International Year of Pulses.

What are Pulses:

  • Pulses are a type of leguminous crop that are harvested solely for the dry seed. Dried beans, lentils and peas are the most commonly known and consumed types of pulses. Pulses do not include crops that are harvested green (e.g. green peas, green beans)—these are classified as vegetable crops.
  • Also excluded are those crops used mainly for oil extraction (e.g. soybean and groundnuts) and leguminous crops that are used exclusively for sowing purposes (e.g. seeds of clover and alfalfa).
  • Pulses include all varieties of dried beans, such as kidney beans, lima beans, butter beans and broad beans. Chick peas, cowpeas, black-eyed peas and pigeon peas are also pulses, as are all varieties of lentils.

Why are pulses important Crops:

  • Pulses are essential crops for a number of reasons. They are packed with nutrients and have a high protein content, making them an ideal source of protein particularly in regions where meat and dairy are not physically or economically accessible.
  • Pulses are low in fat and rich in soluble fibre, which can lower cholesterol and help in the control of blood sugar. Because of these qualities they are recommended by health organizations for the management of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and heart conditions. Pulses have also been shown to help combat obesity.
  • For farmers, pulses are an important crop because they can be both sold and consumed by the farmers and their families. Having the option to eat and sell the pulses they grow helps farmers maintain household food security and creates economic stability.
  • Nitrogen-fixing properties of pulses improve soil fertility, which increases and extends the productivity of the farmland. By using pulses for intercropping and cover crops, farmers can also promote farm biodiversity and soil biodiversity, while keeping harmful pests and diseases at bay.
  • Pulses can contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing dependence on the synthetic fertilizers used to introduce nitrogen artificially into the soil. Greenhouse gases are released during the manufacturing and application of these fertilizers, and their overuse can be detrimental to the environment. However, pulses fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil naturally, and in some cases free soil-bound phosphorous, thus significantly decreasing the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Source: The Hindu


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