Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
GS Paper 3:
Facts for Prelims:
1. The Resistance Front.
2. Vande Bharat Mission.
GS Paper : 2
Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
What to study?
For Prelims: Overview and features, India’s performance.
For Mains: Significance of the index and relevance for India.
Why in News?
A Stringency Index created by Oxford University shows how strict a country’s measures were, and at what stage of the pandemic spread it enforced these. As per the index, India imposed its strictest measures much earlier than others.
What is Stringency index?
The Stringency Index is a number from 0 to 100 that reflects these indicators. A higher index score indicates a higher level of stringency.
- It is among the metrics being used by the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker.
- The Tracker involves a team of 100 Oxford community members who have continuously updated a database of 17 indicators of government response.
- These indicators examine containment policies such as school and workplace closings, public events, public transport, stay-at-home policies.
What it says about India?
- India enforced one of the strongest lockdowns at an early phase of case growth. India indeed had one of the strongest lockdown measures in the world — at a 100 score since March 22.
- It was relaxed slightly on April 20 after the government eased norms for certain workplaces in regions outside the red zones.
- When compared to other countries with similar or higher case load, India called its strict lockdown at a much earlier point on its case and death curves.
- These 18 other countries had more than 500 cases when they called their strictest lockdown, while India had 320.
- Again, India had only four deaths on March 22, when its score reached 100, while most countries had more deaths at that point (except Switzerland; no deaths).
Relation between death curve and stringency score:
Oxford provides an overlay of countries’ death curve and their stringency score. Some countries saw their deaths just begin to flatten as they reached their highest stringency, such as Italy, Spain, or France.
In countries such as the UK, the US, and India, the Oxford graphs find that the death curve has not flattened after strictest measures were enforced.
From the highest death count at their strongest measures, the countries compared were France, Italy, Iran, Germany, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico, Canada, Belgium, Ireland, US, Turkey, Israel, China, India, and Switzerland.
Other countries with 100 score:
Other countries with a 100 score are Honduras, Argentina, Jordan, Libya, Sri Lanka, Serbia, and Rwanda. India now has the highest number of cases in this set.
What are the six World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations for relaxing physical distancing measures?
Control transmission to a level the healthcare system can manage; the healthcare system can detect and isolate all cases (not just serious ones); manage transfer to and from high-risk transmission zones; and community engagement.
How many countries met these recommendations?
India scored 0.7 (below Australia, Thailand, Taiwan, and South Korea) because it scored 0 for controlling its cases.
The highest scorers on this index, at 0.9, were Iceland, Hong Kong, Croatia, and Trinidad & Tobago.
Oxford found no countries meet the four measured recommendations, but 20 are close.
- Who released Stringency index?
- What is COVID 19?
- Difference between epidemic and pandemic? Who declares it?
Sources: Indian Express.
Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For Prelims: ECJ- composition, objectives and functions.
For Mains: Significance of ECJ, relevance and challenges to its authority.
Why in News?
Germany’s constitutional court has questioned the legality of a past ruling of the European Court of Justice.
The ruling pertains to a bond-buying scheme of the European Central Bank (ECB).
What’s the issue now?
This ruling is seen as challenging the long-settled hierarchy of European Union (EU) judiciary, and has since resonated with many governments and politicians in the EU that are critical of its policies.
What was the case?
- The ECB’s mass bond-buying was launched after the eurozone’s 2010 crisis as support for the euro besides the EU’s national bailouts for Greece and some other countries.
- The scheme challenged in court is called the Public Sector Purchase Programme (PSPP), launched in March 2015, under which the ECB had bought €2.1tn of bonds by November 2019. Separately, the ECB bought bonds worth another €0.5tn.
What has Germany’s constitutional court said now?
It said that the Central bank must stop buying government bonds under the ECB’s long-running stimulus scheme within three months unless the ECB can prove the purchases are needed.
- The German ruling came despite the EU’s top court ruling in 2018 that the ECB bond buying programme was in line with EU law.
About the European Court of Justice (ECJ):
It is a part Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), and is the European Union’s supreme court in matters of EU law.
Founded in 1952 after the Treaty of Paris.
- It is based in Luxembourg.
- It ensures that EU law is interpreted and applied the same in every EU country, and ensures that countries and EU institutions abide by EU law.
- It settles legal disputes between national governments and EU institutions.
- In terms of hierarchy, the national courts of member countries are understood to be below the ECJ in matters of EU law.
Following the entrance into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, the ECJ’s official name was changed from the “Court of Justice of the European Communities” to the “Court of Justice”.
- It is composed of one judge per member state – currently 27 – although it normally hears cases in panels of three, five or 15 judges.
- The President of the Court of Justice is elected from and by the judges for a renewable term of three years.
- ECJ- composition and functions.
- EU vs Eurozone.
- Indian judiciary vs European judiciary.
- Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
- About European Commercial Bank.
Sources: Indian Express.
Topics covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
What to study?
For Prelims: AIIB- structure, voting and share of countries, NIIF.
For Mains: AIIB- significance, need for infrastructure funding.
Context: Recently, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved US$ 500 million for ‘Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project’ initiated by India.
- The project will be implemented by the National Health Mission (NHM), the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
- This new support will cover all States and Union Territories across India and address the needs of infected people, at-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel and service providers, medical and testing facilities, and national and animal health agencies.
- The project will enable the government slow and limit as much as possible the spread of COVID-19 in India by providing immediate support to enhance disease detection capacities, oxygen delivery systems and medicines among others.
What is AIIB?
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia and beyond.
It is headquartered in Beijing.
- It commenced operations in January 2016.
- By investing in sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors today, it aims to connect people, services and markets that over time will impact the lives of billions and build a better future.
Various organs of AIIB:
Board of Governors: The Board of Governors consists of one Governor and one Alternate Governor appointed by each member country. Governors and Alternate Governors serve at the pleasure of the appointing member.
Board of Directors: Non-resident Board of Directors is responsible for the direction of the Bank’s general operations, exercising all powers delegated to it by the Board of Governors. This includes approving the Bank’s strategy, annual plan and budget; establishing policies; taking decisions concerning Bank operations; and supervising management and operation of the Bank and establishing an oversight mechanism.
International Advisory Panel: The Bank has established an International Advisory Panel (IAP) to support the President and Senior Management on the Bank’s strategies and policies as well as on general operational issues. The Panel meets in tandem with the Bank’s Annual Meeting, or as requested by the President. The President selects and appoints members of the IAP to two-year terms. Panelists receive a small honorarium and do not receive a salary. The Bank pays the costs associated with Panel meetings.
Significance of AIIB:
The United Nations has addressed the launch of AIIB as having potential for “scaling up financing for sustainable development” for the concern of global economic governance. The capital of the bank is $100 billion, equivalent to 2⁄3 of the capital of the Asian Development Bank and about half that of the World Bank.
- AIIB vs ADB vs WB.
- Members of AIIB.
- Top shareholders.
- Voting powers.
- AIIB supported projects in India.
Write a note on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Sources: Indian Express.
GS Paper : 3
Topics Covered: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage.
What to study?
For Prelims: What are locusts, how they affect crops? Affected countries.
For Mains: Concerns, effects, challenges and ways to address them.
Context: Locusts normally arrive during July-October, but have already been spotted in Rajasthan. At a time India is battling Covid, they present a new worry with their potential for exponential growth and crop destruction.
What are locusts?
Locusts are a group of short-horned grasshoppers that multiply in numbers as they migrate long distances in destructive swarms (up to 150km in one day).
Four species of locusts are found in India: Desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), Migratory locust (Locusta migratoria), Bombay Locust (Nomadacris succincta) and Tree locust (Anacridium sp.).
How do they inflict damage?
- The desert locust is regarded as the most destructive pest in India as well as internationally, with a small swarm covering one square kilometre being able to consume the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.
- The swarms devour leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, bark and growing points, and also destroy plants by their sheer weight as they descend on them in massive numbers.
How seriously should the first sightings of the locusts be viewed?
There’s nothing much to worry right now, as the rabi crop has already been harvested and farmers are yet to commence plantings for the new kharif season.
Besides, these have been low-density nymphs in “2nd to 4th instar” stages or immature winged adults. No breeding or swarm movement has also been seen so far.
The timing, though, is cause for concern. The normal breeding season for locusts in India is July-October. But this time, they have been sighted by mid-April. They could, nevertheless, breed to high enough populations for forming swarming and wreaking havoc during the rabi season.
How can locusts be controlled?
- Controlling desert locust swarms primarily uses organophosphate chemicals by vehicle-mounted and aerial sprayers, and to a lesser extent by knapsack and hand-held sprayers.
- Extensive research is ongoing regarding biological control and other means of non-chemical control with the current focus on pathogens and insect growth regulators. Control by natural predators and parasites so far is limited since locusts can quickly move away from most natural enemies.
- While people and birds often eat locusts, this is not enough to significantly reduce population levels over large areas.
Sources: Indian Express.
Topics Covered:Conservation related issues.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: Threats posed by climate change to Sundarbans and Bengal tigers, measures needed.
Context: The number of Royal Bengal Tigers in West Bengal’s Sundarbans has risen to 96, up by eight, according to the latest census.
The increase in the number by eight is significant as it is the highest annual jump reported from the Sundarbans.
In 2017-18, the total count of Royal Bengal Tiger in Sundrabans was 87.
Forest Department has taken various steps to increase the mangrove cover in the Sundarbans region to improve the tiger habitat’s condition.
- 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.
- Located on the southwestern part of the delta, 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 Indian Sundarban, also a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.
- It 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. Recent studies claim that the Indian Sundarban is home to 2,626 faunal species and 90% of the country’s mangrove varieties.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
What to study?
For prelims and mains: WMBD- theme and significance, features of CMS.
Context: The World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) 2020 was observed on 9th May 2020. It helps to raise global awareness about threats faced by migratory birds, their ecological importance, and need for international cooperation to conserve them.
The first WMBD was celebrated in 2006.
Organized By: The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) together with Environment for the Americas (EFTA).
Theme: “Birds Connect Our World”.
On 26 October 2017 in the margins of the CMS COP12 in Manila, Environment for the Americas (EFTA), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), announced an innovative partnership to increase awareness of the plight of migratory birds around the world.
The new partnership formally unites two of the world’s largest bird education campaigns, International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) and World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) in a bid to strengthen global recognition and appreciation of migratory birds and highlight the urgent need for their conservation.
Starting in 2018, the new joint campaign adopted the single name of “World Migratory Bird Day” and major events to celebrate the day were to be organized twice a year, on the second Saturday in May and in October.
In order to protect the migratory species throughout their range countries, a Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), has been in force, under the aegis of United Nations Environment Programme.
Also referred to as the Bonn Convention, it provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats and brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.
Classification of species: Under this convention, migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I and Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention.
CMS is the only global and UN-based intergovernmental organization established exclusively for conservation and management of terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range.
What are migratory species? Why protect them?
Migratory species are those animals that move from one habitat to another during different times of the year, due to various factors such as food, sunlight, temperature, climate, etc.
The movement between habitats, can sometimes exceed thousands of miles/kilometres for some migratory birds and mammals. A migratory route can involve nesting and also requires the availability of habitats before and after each migration.
Facts for Prelims
The Resistance Front:
- It is an offshoot of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba and is also associated with other terror outfits such as Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed.
- Various Indian security agencies operating in Kashmir feel that the ‘TRF’ was formed due to the pressure on Pakistan from the FATF to cut down on the funding of the terrorist groups.
Why in News?
The Resistance Front has claimed responsibility for the attack in Kupwara district along the Line of Control on April 5, 2020, where 5 army personnel were killed.
Vande Bharat Mission:
- It is the biggest evacuation exercise to bring back Indian citizens stranded abroad amidst the coronavirus-induced travel restrictions.
- The mission has given priority to Indian citizens with “compelling reasons to return” – like those whose employment have been terminated, those whose visas have expired and not expected to be renewed under the present circumstances and those who have lost family members in recent times.
Insights Current Affairs Analysis (I–CAN) by IAS Topper