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Daily Current Affairs – 23rd Dec. 2020

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 23rd Dec. 2020. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

ENVIRONMENT

Western Ghats home to 3,387 leopards

Context:

  • The Status of Leopards in India 2018 report was released. It revealed that the Western Ghats was home to close to 3,387 leopards.

Details:

  • The population of leopards in India has gone up by 60 per cent, as per the ‘Status of Leopard in India 2018’ report.
  • India now has 12,852 leopards, witnessing a substantial increase in comparison to the 2014 data.

Leopards in India

  • The leopard population was counted during the tiger population assessment undertaken in 2018. The leopard population was estimated to be within the forested habitats in tiger occupied states.

Habitat

  • The maximum population of wild Indian leopards are found in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Assam.
  • The most popular national parks in India to spot wild leopards are Nagarhole National Park, Jim Corbett National Park, Rajaji National Park, Mouling National Park, Gir Forest National Park, Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary, Bandipur National Park and Kanha National Park.

Western Ghats

Leopard population of the Western Ghats landscape was reported from four distinct blocks.

  1. The Northern block
  1. The contiguous forests of Radhanagari and Goa covering Haliyal Kali Tiger Reserve, Karwar, Honnavar, Madikeri, Kudremukh, Shettihali Wild Life Sanctuary (WLS), Bhadra and Chikmagalur.
  2. The Central population
    • This region covered southern Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and northern Kerala covering the forests of Virajpet, Nagarhole, Bandipur, Mudumalai, Satyamangalam, Nilgiris, Silent Valley, Wayanad, BRT Hills, MM Hills, Cauvery WLS, Bannerghatta National Park.
  3. A second central cluster
    • Covering central Kerala and Tamil Nadu comprising the Parambikulam, Anamalai, Eravikulum, Vazachal population.
  4. The Southern leopard population
    • Covers regions of southern Kerala and Tamil Nadu comprising the forests of Periyar, Kalakad, Mundanthurai, and Kanyakumari.

Camera traps

  • Camera traps were used to obtain leopards’ photographs in the Western Ghats.
  • The images helped in the identification of 1,681 adults and sub-adults.
  • The report sought to balance the optimism due to the rise in the leopard population in the tiger reserves of the Western Ghats with the caution of an increasing trend of leopard-human conflict in the region.

Conclusion

  • The report highlights India’s progress in biodiversity conservation, with the leopard population now joining the tiger and the lion population to have witnessed an increase in numbers.

Pokhran’s ‘firefly bird diverters’ shine to save the Great Indian Bustard

Context:

The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) along with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) India has come up with a unique initiative — a “firefly bird diverter” for overhead power lines in areas where Great Indian Bustard (GIB) populations are found in the wild.

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Need for:

  1. Power lines, especially high-voltage transmission lines with multiple overhead wires, are the most important current threat for GIBs in the Thar region, and are causing unsustainably high mortality in about 15% of their population.
  2. The Supreme Court of India, in a recent hearing, had also directed that power lines in GIB landscapes should be placed underground.

What are firefly bird diverters?

The diverters are called fireflies because they look like fireflies from a distance, shining on power lines in the night.

This model has been endorsed by experts from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Bustard Specialist Group.

  1. The firefly detectors have been installed in the Pokhran tehsil in Rajasthan.

Great Indian Bustards (GIB):

IUCN status: critically endangered.

Listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972 and in the CMS Convention and in Appendix I of CITES.

Identified as one of the species for the recovery programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

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Project Great Indian Bustard — state of Rajasthan — identifying and fencing off bustard breeding grounds in existing protected areas as well as provide secure breeding enclosures in areas outside protected areas.

Protected areas: Desert National Park Sanctuary — Rajasthan, Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary – Andhra Pradesh and Karera Wildlife Sanctuary– Madhya Pradesh.

Habitats in India: Only two districts in Rajasthan — Jaisalmer and Barmer — have a breeding GIB population in the wild. The bird can also be found in very small numbers in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.


HEALTH

Health data shows India doesn’t need a two-child policy: PCI

Context:

  • The data from phase-1 of the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) has revealed that India is making good strides in population control.
  • The international non-profit organization Population Council of India upon analysis of the data has appreciated India’s progress.

Details:

  • The population metrics like total fertility rate, replacement level fertility which indicate the population dynamics are showing signs of optimism.
  • The Indian Prime Minister during his speech at the 2019 Independence Day had expressed that population control was a form of patriotism.
  • The country’s population is finding a balance as per the latest reports of the NFHS-5 data.

What does the survey reveal?

  • The survey reports plenty of evidence of usage of modern contraceptives in both rural and urban areas.
  • Total fertility rate
  • The total fertility rate in a specific year is defined as the total number of children that would be born to each woman if she were to live to the end of her child-bearing years and give birth to children in alignment with the prevailing age-specific fertility rates.
  • The total fertility rate has decreased across 14 of 17 states and is at 2.1 children per woman or less.
  • Replacement level fertility
    • Replacement level fertility is the level of fertility at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next.
    • As per the survey, most Indian states have attained the replacement level fertility.

Conclusion

  • India has shown that through awareness generation and increasing access to modern contraceptives, the population has stabilized. Thus the need to have a coerced family planning is not the need of the hour.
  • Another encouraging data is the improvement over the preceding two NFHS surveys, i.e, NFHS-3 and 4 where it was observed that there was a slump in the usage of modern methods of contraceptives and this has been reversed as per the recent NFHS survey.

ECONOMY

CII, FICCI to seek a pause on wage code

Context:

Representatives of industry bodies, including those from CII and FICCI, have requested the Labour Ministry to hold back implementation of new definition of wages, which would increase social security deductions and reduce the take-home pay of workers.

Need for:

The new definition of wages is part of the Code on Wages, 2019 passed by Parliament last year.

  1. The new definition would result in a major cut in take-home salaries and also place a burden on employers.

About the Code on Wages Act:

The code will amalgamate the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

  1. The wage code universalises the provisions of minimum wages and timely payment of wages to all employees, irrespective of the sector and wage ceiling.
  2. It ensures the “right to sustenance” for every worker and intends to increase the legislative protection of minimum wage from existing about 40% to 100% workforce.
  3. It also introduces the concept of statutory floor wage which will be computed based on minimum living conditions and extended qualitative living conditions across the country for all workers.
  4. While fixing the minimum rate of wages, the central government shall divide the concerned geographical area into three categories – metropolitan area, non-metropolitan area and the rural area.
  5. Wages include salary, allowance, or any other component expressed in monetary terms. This does not include bonus payable to employees or any travelling allowance, among others.
  6. The minimum wages decided by the central or state governments must be higher than the floor wage.
  7. Payment of wages: Wages will be paid in (i) coins, (ii) currency notes, (iii) by cheque, (iv) by crediting to the bank account, or (v) through electronic mode.  The wage period will be fixed by the employer as either: (i) daily, (ii) weekly, (iii) fortnightly, or (iv) monthly.

Advisory boards:

The central and state governments will constitute advisory boards.

  1. The Central Advisory Board will consist of: (i) employers, (ii) employees (in equal number as employers), (iii) independent persons, and (iv) five representatives of state governments.
  2. State Advisory Boards will consist of employers, employees, and independent persons. Further, one-third of the total members on both the central and state Boards will be women.  The Boards will advise the respective governments on various issues including: (i) fixation of minimum wages, and (ii) increasing employment opportunities for women.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

US Congress passes Tibetan Policy and Support Act

Context:

The legislation was recently passed.

Highlights of the new law:

  1. It reaffirms the rights of the Tibetan Buddhists to choose the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama without any interference of China.
  2. The legislation will empower the US Government to impose sanctions on the Chinese Government officials, who might try to interfere in the process of selecting the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama, just as they had done in case of Panchen Lama.
  3. It also acknowledged the legitimacy of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile elected by the exiled community as well as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
  4. It seeks to introduce key provisions aimed at protecting the environment and water resources on the Tibetan Plateau.

Response:

It has been hailed by the Tibetans, who were concerned over the possibility of the Chinese Government making an attempt to install someone loyal to it as the 15th Dalai Lama after the death of the incumbent and use him as a puppet to fizzle out the global campaign against its occupation of Tibet.

Background:

The incumbent and the 14th Dalai Lama has been living in exile in India ever since his 1959 escape from Tibet, which had been occupied by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 1950-51.

  1. He has been leading the movement for “genuine autonomy” for Tibet and the Tibetans.
  2. But, the speculation is rife over the fate of the movement beyond his lifetime.

About the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE):

The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE) has its headquarters in Dharamsala, in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.

  1. The 16th TPiE had 45 members:
  2. 10 representatives from each of the traditional provinces of Tibetan – U-Tsang, Dhotoe and Dhomey;
  3. Two from each of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the pre-Buddhist Bon religion;
  4. Two representing each of the Tibetan Communities in North America and Europe.
  5. One from Australasia and Asia (excluding India, Nepal and Bhutan).

What does the Tibetan Constitution say?

The Central Tibetan Administration exists and functions on the basis of the Constitution of the Tibetan government called ‘The Charter of the Tibetans in Exile’.

  1. In 1991, The Constitution Redrafting Committee instituted by the Dalai Lama prepared the Charter for Tibetans in exile.
  2. The Dalai Lama approved it on June 28, 1991.

What is Kashag?

The Kashag (Cabinet) is Central Tibetan Administration’s highest executive office and comprise seven members.


MISCELLANEOUS

Legion of Merit to PM Modi

Why in News

Recently, the USA has awarded the ‘Legion of Merit’ to the Prime Ministers of India, Japan and Australia.

  • All these four countries were key to reviving the Quadrilateral grouping since 2017, which is part of the Indo-Pacific strategy and is aimed at countering the growing dominance of China in the region.

Key Points

About the Award

  • One of the USA’s highest military decorations, the award was instituted in 1942 by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • It is awarded to members of the USA armed forces and also members of foreign (i.e. non-USA) armed forces and sometimes heads of state or government.
  • The award is presented to foreign recipients in four categories: Chief Commander, Commander, Officer and Legionnaire.
  • There have been two Indian recipients of the honour in the past: Field Marshal K M Cariappa in 1950, and Gen S M Srinagesh in 1955.

Current Receivers:

  • Indian PM has been given this award for his role in “advancing the India-USA relationship”.
  • The award recognises the efforts of the people of India and the USA to improve bilateral ties, reflected in the bipartisan consensus in both countries about the Indo-USA Strategic Partnership.
  • Australian PM was presented the award for “addressing global challenges and promoting collective security”.
  • Japanese PM for his “leadership and vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific”.

‘FRUITS’ portal for land records launched

  1. The ‘FRUITS’ (Farmer Registration and Unified Beneficiary Information System) portal, a project of e-governance by Karnataka Government.
  2. The portal was integrated to the Bhoomi portal of the State for fetching and validating land details.
  3. It will eliminate visit of farmers to sub-registrar offices.

How it works?

  1. In this portal, all the farmers will be registered and given a FID Number.
  2. Using this number, the financial and lending institutions can access the land details of the farmers as well as their borrowings and take a quick decision on lending to the farmers depending on their requirements.
  3. All financial institutions would be brought on to the portal so that at one place, all the data pertaining to the loans of the farmers would be available.

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