Prime minister recently Inaugurated the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation.
India has a long-standing and successful track record of protecting its tigers. We launched “Project Tiger” in 1973. Its coverage has increased considerably from the initial 9 tiger reserves to 49 at present. Tiger conservation is a collective responsibility of the Government of India and States. I also compliment our State governments for their efforts. But the efforts of Government cannot succeed unless they are supported by the people. Our cultural legacy which encourages compassion and co-existence has played an important role in the success of Project Tiger. Due to such collective efforts, there has been a rise of thirty per cent in the number of tigers. It has gone up from 1706 in 2010 to 2226 in 2014
Considering the ecosystem value of tiger conservation areas, we need to consider them as “natural capital.” Our institutions have done an economic valuation of a few tiger reserves. This study has highlighted the fact that besides conserving the tiger, these reserves also provide a range of economic, social, cultural and spiritual benefits. These are known as ecosystem services. Thus, we need to define conservation as a means to achieve development, rather than considering it to be anti-growth. This calls for factoring in the value of the ecosystem in the economic arithmetic of development and growth.
India along with several Tiger Range Countries is a founder member of the Global Tiger Forum, which is headquartered in New Delhi. This is the only inter-governmental organisation of its kind. It is now working closely with the Global Tiger Initiative Council.
India is moving towards formally adopting the statute of South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network.
Global Tiger Initiative (GTI)
The Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) is a global alliance of governments, international organizations, civil society, the conservation and scientific community, and the private sector committed to working together toward a common agenda to save wild tigers from extinction.
Tiger Range Countries:-
The tiger is an iconic species, and tiger conservation is involved in attempts to prevent the animal from becoming extinct and preserving its natural habitat. In Gujrat only 5 tigers were left and now there are up to 500.This is one of the main objectives of international animal conservation charities. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has played a crucial role in improving international efforts for tiger conservation.
In order for CITES to work effectively it requires the involvement of institutions, NGOs, civil society and member states: especially Asian tiger range member countries. The Tiger Range Countries (TRC) – countries where tigers still roam free – are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam and North-Korea. Whilst there have been no recent tigers sightings in North-Korea,it is the only country listed which has not ratified CITES.
Monsoon Seasonal Rainfall During the Forthcoming Monsoon to be above normal
The monsoon seasonal rainfall during the forthcoming monsoon is likely to be 106% of the Long Period Average (LPA) with a model error of ± 5% , as predicted by IMD.
The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, Ministry of Earth Sciences, has been coordinating and working along with different climate research centers from India and abroad on the development of a coupled model for the forecasting of Indian summer monsoon rainfall under the Monsoon Mission project. The latest high resolution research version of the Coupled Forecasting System (CFS) originally developed by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), USA has been used to generate experimental forecast for the 2016 southwest Monsoon season rainfall using the February initial conditions
“NEMHARI”-A Plant based Formulation for Management of Mulberry Root Knot Disease:-
The National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), under Ministry of Science & Technology, has entered into a license agreement with M/s Rainbow Agrilife India Private Limited, Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh for commercialization of “NEMHARI-A Plant based Formulation for Management of Mulberry Root Knot Disease” developed at Central Sericulture Research and Training Institute (CSR&TI), Central Silk Board (CSB), Mysuru.
NRDC has been appointed as the nodal agency for commercialising the technical knowhow in India and abroad. The company has ambitious plans to taking forward this technology to all sericulture regions in the world through a network of dealers and also promoting through different Government support schemes of the Department of Sericulture and other Allied Departments in various states.
The formulation is safe to the native soil micro flora and fauna but effective against the nematodes causing the root knot disease in mulberry.
Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) between USA and INDIA :-
The logistics agreement had been first proposed officially in June 2004, but the UPA government remained wary of seeing it through. The then Defence Minister, A.K. Antony, in particular was concerned that it was too intrusive and could also be perceived as a signal that India was jettisoning its policy of non-alignment. Indeed, for all the atmospherics of the American visit this week, it appears that the NDA government shares some of the UPA’s reticence, especially on India-U.S. issues that have multilateral implications or that could impact India’s relations with other countries. Significantly, the logistics agreement, one of three ‘foundational agreements’ the U.S. has been insisting on, was not signed in the course of Mr. Carter’s visit, as the Americans had expected. This gives New Delhi time to tackle the ongoing domestic debate over a possible loss of sovereignty.
Once concluded, the agreement would give American aircraft and warships access to Indian military bases for logistical purposes, including refuelling and repair. In turn, India’s military will enjoy similar access to U.S. bases. This would qualitatively transform India’s relations with the U.S.
Health cover: Too little, too scarce
The latest National Sample Survey (NSS) shows that over 80% of India’s population is not covered under any health insurance scheme. The data reveals that despite seven years of the Centre-run Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), only 12% of the urban and 13% of the rural population had access to insurance cover.
Around 86% of the rural population and 82% of the urban population are not covered under any scheme of health expenditure support.
Coverage is correlated with living standards, as in urban areas, over 90% of the poorest residents are not covered, while the figure is 66% for the richest residents.
The poorer households appear unaware or are beyond the reach of such coverage, both in rural and urban areas.
Private doctors are the single-most significant source of treatment in both rural and urban areas. 72% of the treatment provided in rural areas and 79% in urban areas was availed in the private sector. The corresponding figures in the previous survey were 78% in rural areas and 81% in urban areas, which shows that the overall share of public sector saw a slight increase.
The biggest hurdle in seeking medical treatment was financial constraint, reported by over 55% and 60% people in rural and urban areas, respectively.
In rural areas, the next most important reason was no medical facility available in neighbourhood, accounting for 15% cases, while this figure was just 1.3% for urban areas.
Recently Bharti Airtel’s payments bank venture — Airtel M Commerce Services Ltd. — has become the first entity to receive final approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to start a payments bank.
What are Payment banks:-
New stripped-down type of banks, which are expected to reach customers mainly through their mobile phones rather than traditional bank branches.
What they can and can’t do:-
-They can’t offer loans but can raise deposits of upto Rs. 1 lakh, and pay interest on these balances just like a savings bank account does.
-They can enable transfers and remittances through a mobile phone.
-They can offer services such as automatic payments of bills, and purchases in cashless, chequeless transactions through a phone.
-They can issue debit cards and ATM cards usable on ATM networks of all banks.
-They can transfer money directly to bank accounts at nearly no cost being a part of the gateway that connects banks.
-They can provide forex cards to travellers, usable again as a debit or ATM card all over India.
-They can offer forex services at charges lower than banks.
-They can also offer card acceptance mechanisms to third parties
Who has Reserve Bank granted in-principle approval to be a payment bank?
Note- (The list as such is not important , but we recommend just go over it so that if the questions comes you can give one or two examples)
-Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd
-Airtel M Commerce Services Ltd
-Cholamandalam Distribution Services Ltd
-Department of Posts
-Fino PayTech Ltd
-National Securities Depository Ltd
-Reliance Industries Ltd
-Dilip Shantilal Shanghvi
-Vijay Shekhar Sharma
-Tech Mahindra Ltd
-Vodafone m-pesa Ltd
Why are they going to be a game-changer?
This is for the first time in the history of India’s banking sector that RBI is giving out differentiated licences for specific activities
The move is seen as a major step in pushing financial inclusion in the country.
The Reserve Bank expects payment banks to target India’s migrant labourers, low-income households and small businesses, offering savings accounts and remittance services with a low transaction cost.
It hopes payments banks will enable poorer citizens who transact only in cash to take their first step into formal banking.
It could be uneconomical for traditional banks to open branches in every village but the mobile phones coverage is a promising low-cost platform for quickly taking basic banking services to every rural citizen. The innovation is also expected to accelerate India’s journey into a cashless economy.
Payment banks can also play a crucial role in implementing the government’s direct benefit transfer scheme, where subsidies on healthcare, education and gas are paid directly to beneficiaries’ accounts.
What has the experience been in other countries?
Payment technologies have proved hugely popular in other developing countries. In Kenya, the most cited success story, Vodafone’s M-Pesa is used by two in three of adults to store money, make purchases and transfer funds to friends and relatives
Lodha Panel Report:-
Recently defending Justice Lodha Panel recommendations, Supreme Court of India has observed that these recommendations do not infringe on anyone’s fundamental right as there are no private citizens on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
One state, one cricket body: One association for each state with a full member and have right to vote. One unit should represent one state.
CEO-run organization: Proposed appointment CEO accountable to a nine-member apex council.
Under RTI:- Proposed BCCI should come under Right to Information Act.
Ethics officer:Recommended an Ethics Officer, who would be responsible for resolving issues related to the conflict of interest. Ethics officer would be a former High Court judge.
Electoral officer: Recommended an Electoral Officer to conduct the Board elections. The electoral officer would oversee the entire election process relating to the office-bearers namely, preparation of voters list, publication, dispute about eligibility of the office-bearers
Ombudsman: The panel has also proposed an Ombudsman for dealing with internal conflicts.
Legalize betting:-To curb corruption in the game. It is a good step as it is appreciation of realities on the ground.By legalizing it aims to break the backbone of smugglers, bookies etc.
Sagarmala Port Project:-
The apex committee for the Sagarmala project has approved the national perspective plan on Sagarmala port project.The project targets to provide one crore employment. Port-led development has potential for direct employment generation for 40 lakh persons and for 60 lakh persons indirectly.
Sagar Mala :-
Sagar Mala project is a strategic and customer-oriented initiative of the Government of India to modernize India’s Ports so that port-led development can be augmented and coastlines can be developed to contribute in India’s growth. It looks towards “transforming the existing Ports into modern world class Ports and integrate the development of the Ports, the Industrial clusters and hinterland and efficient evacuation systems through road, rail, inland and coastal waterways resulting in Ports becoming the drivers of economic activity in coastal areas
The project includes modernization of our ports and islands, setting up of coastal economic zones, new major ports and fish harbors.
South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network:-
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for India adopting the Statute of the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN) and India and becoming its formal member in order to strengthen ties with the member countries in controlling the trans-boundary wildlife crime through communication, coordination, collaboration, capacity building and cooperation in the region.
SAWEN, a Regional network is comprised of eight countries in South Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It aims at working as a strong regional inter¬governmental body for combating wildlife crime by attempting common goals and approaches for combating illegal trade in the region.
Adoption of SAWEN statute envisions India being part of the regional inter¬governmental body in combating wildlife crime in the region and beyond. Following objectives have been set to attain the goal:
• To take initiatives for bringing harmonization and standardization in laws and policies of member countries concerning conservation of fauna and flora;
• To document the trend of poaching and illegal trade, and related threats to the natural biodiversity within and across countries in the region;
• To strengthen institutional responses to combat wildlife crime by promoting research and information sharing, training and capacity building, technical support, sharing experiences and outreach; and
• To encourage member countries to prepare and implement their National Action Plans in curbing wildlife crime and to collaborate towards effective implementation.
The South Asia region is very vulnerable to illegal traffic and wildlife crimes due to presence of precious biodiversity and large markets as well as traffic routes for wildlife products in the south East Asian region. The collaboration in harmonising as well as enforcing the wildlife protection in the region is considered very important for effective conservation of such precious biodiversity.
Darknet, also known as dark web or darknet market, refers to the part of the internet that is not indexed or accessible through traditional search engines. It is a network of private and encrypted websites that cannot be accessed through regular web browsers and requires special software and configuration to access.
The darknet is often associated with illegal activities such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services, although not all sites on the darknet are illegal.
Examples of darknet markets include Silk Road, AlphaBay, and Dream Market, which were all shut down by law enforcement agencies in recent years.
These marketplaces operate similarly to e-commerce websites, with vendors selling various illegal goods and services, such as drugs, counterfeit documents, and hacking tools, and buyers paying with cryptocurrency for their purchases.
Anonymity: Darknet allows users to communicate and transact with each other anonymously. Users can maintain their privacy and avoid being tracked by law enforcement agencies or other entities.
Access to Information: The darknet provides access to information and resources that may be otherwise unavailable or censored on the regular internet. This can include political or sensitive information that is not allowed to be disseminated through other channels.
Freedom of Speech: The darknet can be a platform for free speech, as users are able to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship or retribution.
Secure Communication: Darknet sites are encrypted, which means that communication between users is secure and cannot be intercepted by third parties.
Illegal Activities: Many darknet sites are associated with illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services. Such activities can attract criminals and expose users to serious legal risks.
Scams: The darknet is a hotbed for scams, with many fake vendors and websites that aim to steal users’ personal information and cryptocurrency. The lack of regulation and oversight on the darknet means that users must be cautious when conducting transactions.
Security Risks: The use of the darknet can expose users to malware and other security risks, as many sites are not properly secured or monitored. Users may also be vulnerable to hacking or phishing attacks.
Stigma: The association of the darknet with illegal activities has created a stigma that may deter some users from using it for legitimate purposes.
AI, or artificial intelligence, refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as recognizing speech, making decisions, and understanding natural language.
Virtual assistants: Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are examples of virtual assistants that use natural language processing to understand and respond to users’ queries.
Recommendation systems: Companies like Netflix and Amazon use AI to recommend movies and products to their users based on their browsing and purchase history.
Efficiency: AI systems can work continuously without getting tired or making errors, which can save time and resources.
Personalization: AI can help provide personalized recommendations and experiences for users.
Automation: AI can automate repetitive and tedious tasks, freeing up time for humans to focus on more complex tasks.
Job loss: AI has the potential to automate jobs previously performed by humans, leading to job loss and economic disruption.
Bias: AI systems can be biased due to the data they are trained on, leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes.
Safety and privacy concerns: AI systems can pose safety risks if they malfunction or are used maliciously, and can also raise privacy concerns if they collect and use personal data without consent.