Editorial Simplified: A Fight for the Forest| GS – II

Relevance :  GS Paper II (Welfare)

Theme of the Article

Conservationists should protect the welfare of both wildlife and forest dwellers and stand up to bigger players.

Why has this issue cropped up?

On February 28, the Supreme Court stayed its order on the eviction of lakhs of Adivasis and other forest dwellers whose claims were rejected under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA). The court has asked State governments for a detailed report on whether due process was followed by gram sabhas and authorities under the FRA before claims were rejected.

Impact of the order

  • For millions of Adivasis and forest dwellers, the stay offers only a temporary relief.
  • But it provides an opportunity to figure out how conservation movements can advocate both nature and social justice in India.

Issues with Eviction

  • There is a lack of peer-reviewed studies that quantify the extent of deforestation caused by marginalized communities in comparison to large industrial and infrastructural projects.
  • In 2006, well before the FRA implementation started, the Environment Ministry directed State governments to declare all existing Protected Areas as critical tiger habitats, so that they would not be controlled under this Act.
  • In 2012, the govt tried to remove critical tiger habitats from the purview of the National Board for Wildlife, purportedly to make diversion of forest land easier.
  • There are serious concerns about the rejection process, unfamiliarity with the language of the FRA, and outdated forest maps.
  • The state is bestowing large companies with kindness and second chances despite severe legal violations during the planning, construction and operation stages of projects.

Way forward

  • To make conservation not just effective but also just. To do this, they argue, conservation actions must be based on the same principles as social justice. Interestingly, the authors, all of whom are wildlife biologists, do not argue for an anthropocentric view of conservation.
  • If  conservation calls for restriction of human activities in some way, that sacrifice must be made, except where doing so would result in injustice, especially to the most marginalised communities.
  • District administrations should assist the process of granting rights by making maps and other data available to protect applicants from exploitation.
  • Conservation cannot be about demanding unjust sacrifices from the weakest, while forest diversion by the powerful remains unchecked.


Conservationists should stand up for the welfare of both wildlife and forest dwellers. This is the only way we can build an effective and equitable conservation movement.


Essential Facts (Prelims): 20 March, 2019


Category: Defence & Security

  • The sea trials of India’s first and most prestigious missile tracking ocean surveillance ship built at the Ministry of Defence-owned Hindustan Shipyard Limited have received an encouraging response.
  • The ship, being built under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Security Adviser, is being referred to as yard number VC 11184.


Category: Environment

  • An ambitious resolution piloted by India to phase out single-use plastics by 2025, was watered down at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) that concluded in Nairobi.
  • Only a small proportion of the plastics produced globally are recycled, with most of it damaging the environment and aquatic bio-diversity.
  • A Central Pollution Control Board estimate in 2015 says that Indian cities generate 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste daily and about 70% of the plastic produced in the country ends up as waste.
  • Seventeen States have plastic bans, on paper.
  • Experts have rued the inadequacy of collection and recycling systems to address the burgeoning plastic waste problem.
  • Along with plastic, India also piloted a resolution on curbing nitrogen pollution.
  • The global nitrogen-use efficiency is low, resulting in pollution by reactive nitrogen which threatens human health, ecosystem services, contributes to climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion.


Category: International

  • Houthi rebels warned that they could launch attacks against  Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who lead a military coalition against them.
  • Houthi rebels belong to Yemen.

Tea Industry

Category: Economy

  • The north Indian tea industry wants output regulation, as it is facing the challenge of oversupply, which is dampening prices.
  • While tea production in India logged a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.2% between 2012 and 2017, consumption increased by a mere 1.7% in the period.
  • Assam accounts for half of India’s tea output.


Category: Science & Technology

  • Chitosan, a kind of polysaccharide obtained from a chitin shell such as the shrimp’s, is a natural biopolymer.
  • It is water-soluble.
  • It has been chemically modified by researchers to selectively remove either an oil or water phase from an oil-water mixture.

Solar Tsunami

Category: Science & Technology

  • It is believed that the “solar dynamo” — a naturally occurring generator which produces electric and magnetic fields in the sun — is linked to the production of sunspots.
  • What kick-starts the 11-year sunspot cycle is not known.
  • Now, a group of solar physicists suggests that a “solar tsunami” is at work that triggers the new sunspot cycle, after the old one ends.
  • The extreme temperature and pressure conditions that prevail some 20,000 km below the sun’s surface cause its material to form a plasma consisting primarily of hydrogen and helium in a highly ionised state. The plasma is confined with huge magnetic fields inside the sun.
  • These magnetic fields behave like rubber bands on a polished sphere. They tend to slip towards the poles. Holding these fields in their place requires that there is extra mass (plasma mass) pushing at the bands from higher latitudes. Thus, a magnetic dam is formed which is storing a big mass of plasma.
  • At the end of a solar cycle, this magnetic dam can break, releasing huge amounts of plasma cascading like a tsunami towards the poles. These tsunami waves travel at high speeds of about 1,000 km per hour carrying excess plasma to the mid-latitudes. There they give rise to magnetic flux eruptions. These are seen as the bright patches that signal the start of the next cycle of sunspots.


Category: Environment

  • The ocean’s uptake of anthropogenic CO2 during 1994-2007 showed clear regional deviations from the usual.
  • The ocean absorbs nearly 30% of human emissions. This casts a doubt, whether we can depend on this effect for the future.

West Nile Virus

Category: Science

The West Nile Virus is a disease which spreads from birds to humans through the bite of an infected Culex mosquito.


Category: International

  • The Indian Navy had launched a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operation in coordination with local officials to evacuate about 5,000 people stranded at Buzi near Port Beira in Mozambique.
  • The African nation has been devastated by tropical cyclone Idai.

Abel Prize

Category: International

  • The Abel Prize in mathematics was  awarded to Karen Uhlenbeck of the U.S. for her work on partial differential equations.
  • She is the first woman to win the award.
  • The prize is named after the 19th century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel.


Essential Facts (Prelims): 19 March, 2019

West Nile Fever

Category: Science

  • A six-year-old boy died in Kerala from the West Nile fever.
  • West Nile fever is a relatively unknown viral infection that leads to neurological diseases.
  • Birds are the natural hosts of the virus and vaccine is not available for it.
  • This viral infection is most often the result of mosquito bites.
  • Mosquitoes are infected when they feed on birds, which circulate the virus.
  • It may also be transmitted through contact with other infected animals, their blood, or other tissues.
  • Symptoms of the virus infection include cold, fever, fatigue and nausea.

‘India First’ Policy

Category: International

  • Maldives reaffirmed its “India first” policy.
  • India, in turn, expressed its full support to the Maldives in line with its “Neighbourhood First” policy.
  • During her two-day visit, Ms. Swaraj inaugurated the renovated Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, built in 1995.

National Anti-Profiteering Authority

Category: Economy

  • Consumer complaints are not the only trigger for the National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) to act.
  • Mock purchases can be made by NAA offices to check a trader’s invoice for profiteering.
  • The NAA was set up under Section 171 of the Central GST Act, 2017 to check whether trade and industry were passing on rate reductions under the Goods and Services (GST) Tax.
  • Besides interested parties, the NAA chairman, as a civilian, could also take note of any instance.

Hayabusa 2

Category: Science & Technology

  • Japan’s space agency said that its Hayabusa2 spacecraft will drop an explosive on an asteroid to make a crater and then collect underground samples for possible clues to the origin of the solar system.
  • Hayabusa2 will drop an impactor of the size of a baseball weighing 2 kg on the asteroid, named Ryugu, on April 5 to collect samples from deeper underground that have not been exposed to the sun or space rays.
  • The mission will require the spacecraft to move quickly to the other side of the asteroid so it won’t get hit by flying shards from the blast.
  • While moving away, Hayabusa2 will leave a camera to capture the outcome. Scientists will then analyse details of the crater to determine the history of the asteroid.

Dry Eye Disease

Category: Science

  • For the first time, a study in India has found the incidence of dry eye disease to affect large chunk of the population.
  • The incidence in urban areas was higher than in rural areas. The prevalence of dry eye disease will be about 40% of the urban population by 2030.
  • Since the disease tends to be progressive with age, once corneal damage becomes irreversible it can lead to visual impairment and even blindness.. The onset of dry eye disease is early in men than in women.
  • In men, the age of disease onset is early 20s and 30s compared with 50s and 60s in women.
  • Hormonal imbalance could be a likely reason for higher cases in women in their 50s and 60s.
  • Low tear production Age, urban residence, occupation and socio-economic affluence were found to be high risk factors for developing the disease.
  • Dry eye disease could occur due to inadequate tear production (aqueous deficient), tear film instability due to evaporation or mixed type.