Relevance : GS Paper II ( Polity & Governance)
The Supreme Court has ordered to evict occupants of forest lands who failed to make a successful claim un FRA.
Non-establishment of claims
- The Forest Rights Act protected possession and conferred heritability of land to over 44 lakh claimants.
- But over 20 lakh other applicants who could not establish their claim through gram sabhas and appellate authorities.
When the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act was passed, it aimed to make these communities partners in conservation.
- The answer in many areas may lie in resettlement.
- In some cases, alternative land and cash compensation are needed .
- States must determine if procedural lapses deprived forest-dwellers of their rights
- States must also declare critical wildlife habitats under the FRA Act.
Relevance : GS Paper II ( International Relations)
In the wake of the Pulwama attack , the government has iterated once again its plan for the “diplomatic isolation” of Pakistan.
What should India do?
- India should try to repackage its idea of “isolating Pakistan” into ‘coalition against terrorism emanating from Pakistan’.
- India must focus on the case against Masood Azhar.
- India should use diplomatic leverage to shut down JeM and LeT.
- India must press the U.S. to place travel sanctions on specific entities in the Pakistani military.
- India should talk with Riyadh to withhold any funds that may trickle down to JeM and LeT.
- India must ask China for action against any entities dealing with the JeM in Pakistan.
- India must look to its own actions on the diplomatic front with Pakistan. Calling off a formal dialogue process has clearly yielded no desired outcome.
Dialogue is a more effective way of impressing India’s determination to root out terrorism than the present on-again, off-again policy.
Relevance : GS Paper III ( Economy)
Why has this issue cropped up?
The RBI recently spoke about harmonisation of the various categories of NBFCs.
Categories of NBFCs in India
- Of the more than 10,000 NBFCs operating in India, 95 per cent are non-deposit taking.
- The others include asset financing, micro-finance, and core investment companies.
Problem with categorisation of NBFCs
Too many categories increase compliance cost for the industry and monitoring cost for the regulator.
- RBI will now recognise only two categories, NBFCs and CICs.
- It will effects future growth and business direction of NBFCs.
The issues that need to be addressed
The key questions that the RBI should address are:
- Should we have the same set of regulations for all NBFCs ?
- How can RBI enforce prudential risk measures for each asset class?
- Should banks and NBFCs operate under equitable regulations?
- Separate regulations for each activity will increase compliance cost.
- There is a need to differentiate between assets based on inherent risks.
- A risk weight mechanism based on the expected losses is the need of the hour.
- Allow the poor to monetize their meagre gold assets better by doing away with the cap.
- Gold loans by NBFCs do not get the priority sector lending status. This needs to change.
- While the RBI is the lender of last resort for banks, the NBFCs currently do not have any such institutional mechanism.
- The Environment Ministry has amended laws that now allow a proposed tourism project in the Aves Island, of the Andaman and Nicobar island (A&N) territory, to come up.
- The project was the only one of three high-profile proposed tourism projects that did not get a clearance from an expert committee on coastal clearance in February.
- This was because the proposed Aves Island project was located 20 m away from the High Tide Line(HTL) and existing rules required such projects to be at least 50 m away.
Official Secrets Act
Category: Polity & Governance
- An ‘Official Secrets Act’ is a generic term that is used to refer to a law — originally invented by the British, and then exported across the Commonwealth — that is designed to keep certain kinds of information confidential, including, but not always limited to, information involving the affairs of state, diplomacy, national security, espionage and other state secrets.
- India’s Official Secrets Act (OSA) dates back to 1923. It includes penalties for spying. Additionally, however, it punishes the communication of any information obtained in contravention of the Act, which could prejudice the security of the state, or friendly relations with foreign states.
- Furthermore, it punished people who knowingly receive such information — a provision clearly designed to capture investigative journalism.
- The primary critique of the Act is that it flips the constitutive logic of a democratic republic, where the state is supposed to be transparent to its citizens.
- The scope of the OSA has been somewhat diluted, thanks to the Right to Information Act. Section 22 of the RTI Act expressly says it overrides the OSA. In other words, it is not open to the government to deny access to a document demanded through an RTI question, on the basis that it has been marked secret under the OSA. Rather, the government will have to justify its decision to withhold information under the arguably narrower exception clauses of the RTI Act itself.
- On January 30, the Indian Sundarban was accorded the status of ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention.
- The Sundarbans comprises hundreds of islands and a network of rivers, tributaries and creeks in the delta of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh.
- The Indian Sundarban constitutes over 60% of the country’s total mangrove forest area.
- It is the 27th Ramsar Site in India, and with an area of 4,23,000 hectares is now the largest protected wetland in the country.
- The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, better known as the Ramsar Convention, is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
- It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
- The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
- Traditionally viewed as a wasteland or breeding ground of disease, wetlands actually provide freshwater and food, and serve as nature’s shock absorber.
- Wetlands, critical for biodiversity, are disappearing rapidly, with recent estimates showing that 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900.
- The Indian Sundarban met four of the nine criteria required for the status of ‘Wetland of International Importance’ — presence of rare species and threatened ecological communities, biological diversity, significant and representative fish and fish spawning ground and migration path.
- The Indian Sundarban, also a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.
- Indian Sundarban is also home to a large number of “rare and globally threatened species, such as the critically endangered northern river terrapin (Batagur baska), the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), and the vulnerable fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).
- Two of the world’s four horseshoe crab species, and eight of India’s 12 species of kingfisher are also found here.
- The part of the Sundarban delta, which lies in Bangladesh, was accorded the status of a Ramsar site in 1992.
Generalized System of Preferences
- The Generalized System of Preferences is the largest and oldest United States trade preference programme.
- The U.S. intended it to promote economic development by eliminating duties on some products it imports from the 120 countries designated as beneficiaries.
- It was established by the Trade Act of 1974.
- GSP helps spur sustainable development in beneficiary countries by helping them increase and diversify their trade with the U.S.
- The other benefit is that GSP boosts American competitiveness by reducing the costs of imported inputs used by U.S. companies to manufacture goods in the United States.
- The Indian export industry may not feel the pinch of the GSP removal for India by the U.S. The loss for the industry amounts to about $190 million on exports of $5.6 billion falling under the GSP category. But specific sectors, such as gem and jewellery, leather and processed foods will lose the benefits of the programme.
Category: Science & Technology
- Belle II, a particle accelerator experiment located in Tsukuba, Japan, is a unique facility in the world.
- Here, electrons and positrons (anti-electrons) collide to produce B mesons in order to study the breakdown of symmetry in these decays.
- As an international collaboration involving 26 countries, Belle II has an Indian link — a team led by physicists and engineers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, have built the fourth layer of the vertex detector.
- The focus at Belle II is on B-mesons — particles that contain the B-quark, also known as the beauty or bottom quark.