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Prelims bits

Prelims Bits (3rd Week)

Environment and Ecology:

Kaliveli Wetland facts explained – Plan to convert Kaliveli Wetland into Bird Sanctuary explained

  • Context: Kaliveli Wetland into Bird Sanctuary
  • About: The Villupuram district administration in Tamil Nadu has issued the first declaration under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • The declaration was issued in a bid to declare Kaliveli wetlands as a bird sanctuary.
  • The decision is seen as a big win for the Forest Department and conservationists, and their efforts to protect the wetland that is a haven for diverse flora and fauna
  • Kaliveli wetland is the second-largest saltwater lake in southern India. The first largest is Pulicat Lake.
  • It is located near to the Marakkanam on the East Coast Road of the Kaliveli Lake.
  • The wetland is spread over an area of 670 sq.km. The Kaliveli Lake is connected to the Bay of Bengal through the Uppukalli Creek and the Edayanthittu sanctuary.
  • Southern part of the wetland was declared a reserved land in the year 2001.
  • This declaration has been issued under Section 18 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 by the District Administration.
  • The proposal has been sent to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF). After clearance, the department will issue the final notification.
  • This decision will enhance the conservation activities in the wetland.
  • The Kaliveli wetlands is ecologically important and the decision is expected to enhance the conservation activities in the biodiversity hotspot
  • Lake is visited for nesting by migratory birds on the Central Asian flyway
  • According to a 2004 assessment of the Indian Bird Conservation Network and Bird Life International, Kaliveli supports more than 20,000 birds every year.

World’s first Platypus sanctuary to come up in Australia – What is a Platypus?

  • Context: World’s first platypus sanctuary
  • About: Australia building world’s first platypus sanctuary.
  • The platypus is rarely seen in the wild due to its reclusive nature and highly specific habitat needs.
  • The 2019-20 bushfires followed several years of drought, and conservationists noted beforehand an increased number of platypuses with “climate-related injuries and illnesses
  • The duck-billed platypus faces extinction because of climate change.
  • Conservationists in Australia however have come up with a solution – the world’s first ever sanctuary for platypuses.
  • The sanctuary will aim to breed and look after the mammals.
  • By 2022 it could house up to 65 platypuses.
  • The sanctuary would be made up of burrows and ponds, much like their habitat in the wild
  • The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), sometimes referred to as the duck-billed platypus, is a semiaquatic, egg- laying mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania.
  • The platypus is the sole living representative of its family (Ornithorhynchidae) and genus (Ornithorhynchus), though a number of related species appear in the fossil record.
  • The platypus is classified as a protected species in Australia, and that without intervention, the animal may extinct.
  • A typical platypus is 15 inches (38 centimeters) from its head to the end of its rump. Its tail adds an additional 5 inches (13 cm) to the animal’s length. An individual weighs about 3 lbs. (1.4 kg), though platypuses that live in colder climates are bigger than those living in warmer areas, according to the Australian Platypus Conservatory.
  • Scientists have found fossils that suggest that ancient platypuses where twice as large as the modern variety, at 3.3 feet (1 meter) long.

What is Purple Revolution of Jammu & Kashmir? What is Aroma Mission of Central Government?

  • Context: Jammu’s purple revolution
  • About: Around 500 farmers across villages in Doda had their incomes quadrupled after shifting from maize to lavender
  • In 2016, the Centre launched Aroma Mission to boost cultivation of plants like lavender which have aromatic medicinal properties.
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu (IIIM Jammu), the two bodies responsible for taking the Aroma Mission forward.
  • A Mediterranean native, Lavender (Lavandula spica) is an aromatic and herbal shrub.
  • Highly perfumed and beautiful flowers of the plant come in a variety of colors, for example, violet, blue, pink, mauve, and white can prove an excellent addition to your garden decor.
  • The plant is perennial and requires a dry and sunny climate to grow. It is usually cultivated in regions with less rainfall.
  • The soil for growing these plants needs to be well- draining and rich in calcium carbonate content.
  • CSIR-IIIM-Jammu announced Aroma Mission phase 2 after the success of the first phase.
  • The inauguration was attended by farmers from Uttarakhand, Nagaland and Assam. Impressed by the success of Doda’s lavender farmers, the Uttarakhand authorities invited some of them to train their farmers.
  • The mission is to increase lavender cultivation to 1,500 hectares within three years from now

Polity: 

What is Electoral Autocracy? Sweden’s V Dem Institute report says India is NO LONGER a Democracy:

  • Context: Sweden’s V-Dem report India is no longer a Democracy
  • About: The fifth annual democracy report by Sweden’s V-Dem Institute, titled ‘Autocratisation goes viral’, has downgraded India from “the world’s largest democracy” to an “electoral autocracy”, Citing “muzzling” of the media, and overuse of defamation and sedition laws.
  • The V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Institute, an independent research organisation founded in 2014 by Swedish political scientist Staffan Lindberg, Produces its annual report on the state of democracy around the world based on a dataset of almost 30 million data points for 202 countries.
  • The V-Dem Institute has published democracy reports since 2017.
  • In last year’s report, it had observed that India was on the verge of losing its status as a democracy.
  • This year’s report – based on data from 2020 – has confirmed that suspicion, with V Dem retrospectively classifying India as an ‘electoral autocracy’ from 2019.
  • With this slide, India has moved from the top 50% of the 180 countries analysed by V Dem to the bottom 50%.
  • In last year’s report, India was last among the 90 countries in the top 50%. This year, it is ranked 97th, falling into the bottom 50%.
  • While India’s score was at an all-time high at 0.57 (on a scale of 0-1) in 2013, it had declined to 0.34 by the end of 2020 — a loss of 23% points in seven years.
  • “Most of the decline occurred following BJP’s victory in 2014 and their Hindu nationalist agenda,” says the report.
  • “India is, in this aspect (censorship) now as autocratic as is Pakistan, and worse than both its neighbors Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • In general, the Modi-led government in India has used laws on sedition, defamation, and counterterrorism to silence critics.
  • For example, over 7,000 people have been charged with sedition after the BJP assumed power and most of the accused are critics of the ruling party,” says the report.
  • The report finds that liberal democracies have diminished
  • over the past decade from 41 countries to 32 countries.
  • “Electoral autocracies” remain the most popular regime type, and along with closed autocracies, 87 states, home to 68% of the world’s population.
  • It also notes that the number of democratising countries has dropped by almost half to 16, hosting a mere 4% of the global population.

Economy:

Prompt Corrective Action Framework explained – RBI removes IDBI Bank from PCA framework:

  • Context: RBI removes IDBI Bank from PCA framework
  • About: Prompt Corrective Action or PCA is a framework under which banks with weak financial metrics are put under watch by the RBI.
  • The PCA framework deems banks as risky if they slip below certain norms on three parameters — Capital ratios, asset quality and profitability.
  • It has three risk threshold levels (1 being the lowest and 3 the highest) based on where a bank stands on these ratios.
  • Banks with a capital to risk-weighted assets ratio (CRAR) of less that 10.25% but more than 7.75% fall under threshold 1.
  • Those with CRAR of more than 6.25% but less than 7.75% fall in the second threshold.
  • In case a bank’s common equity Tier 1 (the bare minimum capital under CRAR) falls below 3.625%, it gets categorised under the third threshold level.
  • Banks that have a net NPA of 6% or more but less than 9% fall under threshold 1, and those with 12% or more fall under the third threshold level.
  • On profitability, banks with negative return on assets for two, three and four consecutive years fall under threshold 1, threshold 2 and threshold 3, respectively.
  • On breach of any of the risk thresholds mentioned above, the RBI can invoke a corrective action plan.
  • Depending on the threshold levels, the RBI can place restrictions on dividend distribution, branch expansion, and management compensation.
  • Only in an extreme situation, breach of the third threshold, would identify a bank as a likely candidate for resolution through amalgamation, reconstruction or winding up.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has taken IDBI Bank Ltd out of its prompt corrective action list after it found the state-run lender was not in breach of the central bank’s parameters.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has taken IDBI Bank Ltd out of its prompt corrective action list after it found the state-run lender was not in breach of the central bank’s parameters.
  • The bank has provided a written commitment that it would comply with the norms of minimum regulatory capital, Net NPA and Leverage ratio on an ongoing basis and has apprised the RBI of the structural and systemic  improvements that it has put in place which would help the bank in continuing to meet these commitments,” it added.
  • “Taking all the above into consideration, it has been decided that IDBI Bank Limited be taken out of the PCA framework, subject to certain conditions and continuous monitoring,
  • IDBI Bank was placed under the so-called PCA framework in 2017 over its high bad loans and negative return on assets, at a time when Indian lenders battled record levels of soured assets, prompting the RBI to tighten thresholds.
  • IDBI Bank’s gross bad loan ratio was among the highest in Indian banks.
  • Shares of IDBI Bank have lost more than 50% of their value since RBI brought it under the framework in 2017.
  • The three banks under PCA —public sector lenders Indian Overseas Bank (IOB), UCO Bank and Central Bank of India — have reported net non-performing assets (NPAs) below levels that trigger PCA.
  • While IOB was placed under PCA in 2015, the other two joined two years later.

International Relations:

QUAD Summit 2021 – PM Modi to attend first Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework:

  • Context: The first meeting of the leaders of the “Quad” countries—the US, India, Australia and Japan—will take place
  • About: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi joining his counterparts Scott Morrison of Australia and Yoshihide Suga of Japan as well as US President Joe Biden, the Indian foreign ministry said.
  • The first “Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework” will be held virtually on 12th March, the statement said.
  • It will focus on the whole lot from Covid vaccine provides to local climate change. “The leaders will discuss regional and global issues of shared interest, and exchange views on practical areas of cooperation towards maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,” the assertion stated.
  • Benefits Of Quad
    • In the backdrop of changing geopolitical interest, India can determine how global alliances would pan-out in the long run for her.
    • The nation had taken a significant turn in its policy for the subcontinent by joining the grouping.
  • The QUAD provides India with a powerful platform to advance its interest in East Asia.
  • It will deepen India’s ties with member countries, with benefits in diplomatic leverage and sharing of burden in defence.
  • The QUAD will provide India with a significant chance in shaping US policies in Afghanistan-Pakistan to the benefit of the nation.
  • The QUAD Security Council will help India counter the belt and road initiative (BRI), specifically because of ‘China–Pakistan Economic Corridor’ (CPEC).
  • It will provide a powerful platform to advance Indian interest in the region and strengthen the Act East Policy.
  • Further, it will help foster economic growth with better market adaptation, which will lead to more employment opportunities in India.
  • The group would boost India’s maritime capabilities that can help tackle unconventional threats in international waters
  • Quad, cooperation has been increasing over the past year through bilateral agreements between Quad partners and joint military drills.
  • All four have seen turbulent relations with China over the past few years.

Miscellaneous: 

75years of Independence – PM Modi to flag off Dandi March from Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad: 

  • Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off a commemorative ‘Dandi March’ on March 12 to launch the celebrations of the 75th year of Independence
  • About: The Prime Minister is expected to flag off the 21-day long Dandi March from a ground beside the Abhay Ghat,
  • The resting place of late Prime Minister Morarji Desai near the Sabarmati Ashram, thus launching the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.
  • The Dandi March or Salt March was part of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent protest against the British monopoly on production of salt.
  • Led by Gandhi, 78 people started the 24-day march on March 12 and reached Dandi on April 5, 1930.
  • After making salt at Dandi, Gandhi headed to Dharasana Salt Works, 40 km south, but was arrested on May 5.
  • 2021 Dandi March
    • Gujarat Minister of State for Sports, Youth and Cultural Activities (Independent charge) Ishwarsinh Patel said “descendants of  those who walked the Salt March (in 1930) will be honoured”,
    • Though they have not been invited to participate in the nearly 386-km walk “due to their age”.
    • The march itself will see 81 walkers traverse the route in memory of the 78 who accompanied Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 from Ahmedabad to Dandi and two others who had joined mid-route.
  • The subsequent journey will see “big events at six places”associated with Gandhi.
  • These include MK Gandhi’s birthplace Porbandar, along with Rajkot Vadodara, Bardoli (Surat), Mandvi (Kutch) and Dandi (Navsari).
  • Simultaneous programmes to “foster patriotism” will be held on March 12 at 75 places where the 1930 entourage had taken halted.
  • Cultural programmes are planned at 21 spots on the route at the nightly stops for the walkers.
  • As per Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, political leaders will join in on each day of the 21 days.
  • The Prime Minister is expected to visit Hriday Kunj in the Sabarmati Ashram managed by the Sabarmati Ashram
  • Preservation and Memorial Trust (SAPMT). Then he is expected to proceed to a ground beside Abhay Ghat to address a gathering.
  • This event could go on for an hour and will be streamed live at 75 locations in Gujarat.

Right to Repair law of United Kingdom explained – Does India also needs a Right to Repair law?

  • Context: UK has confirmed that from the summer consumers will have a right to repair on goods they buy.
  • About: They are keeping a promise to implement EU rules aimed at cutting energy and bills – and reducing the need for new materials.
  • Many consumers have complained that goods don’t last long enough, then can’t be fixed in the home.
  • Manufacturers will be legally obliged to make spare parts for products available to consumers for the first time – a new legal right for repairs.
  • The aim of the new rules is to extend the lifespan of products by up to 10 years, and officials estimate that,
  • Higher energy efficiency standards will save consumers an average of £75 a year on bills over their lifetimes.
  • The new rules will be estimated to reduce the 1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste to be generated in the UK each year and to contribute to reducing carbon emissions overall.
  • “Our plans to tighten product standards will ensure more electrical goods can be fixed rather than thrown on the scrap heap – putting more money back in the pockets of consumers whilst protecting the environment.
  • The issue has been promoted by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee.
  • Its chairman, Philip Dunne MP told, “Cracking down on planned obsolescence in electrical items is key to tackling the e-waste tsunami. We must stop using and disposing quite so much: we must take action if we are to protect the environment for generations to come.
  • You’ll still need to be within warranty or guarantee to get the repairs free of charge. But in the past, the sheer complexity of repairing these goods meant that it was often more cost-effective to buy a new one.
  • New energy labels have also been introduced this month to raise the bar because most products are classed as A+, A++ or A+++ thanks to energy efficiency standards introduced by the EU.
  • The simplified system is based on an A-G scale, with a higher standard for each grade so that very few appliances will now make it into the top A group.
  • They will apply in Great Britain, while EU rules will continue to apply in Northern Ireland.
  • 6 consumer rights have been defined in the Bill, including the right to:
  1. Be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;
  2. Be informed of the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services;
  3. Be assured of access to a variety of goods or services at competitive prices; and
  4. Seek redressal against unfair or restrictive trade practice
  • Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) may impose a penalty on a manufacturer or an endorser of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for up to 2 years for a false or misleading advertisement.
  • In case of a subsequent offence, the fine may extend to Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of up to 5 years.
  • It means the liability of a product manufacturer, service provider or seller to compensate a consumer for any harm or injury caused by a defective good or deficient service.
  • To claim compensation, a consumer has to prove any one of the conditions for defect or deficiency, as given in the Bill.