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11th January 2023

Tribes in Assam hill district seek separate autonomous council

Context

A forum of ethnic communities excluding the Dimasa, the largest, has iterated its demand for carving a separate autonomous district out of the erstwhile North Cachar Hills district of Assam.

Background:

  • The demand was first raised after the North Cachar Hills district was renamed Dima Hasao on March 30, 2010, to allegedly stamp the authority of the Dimasa people.
  • The North Cachar Hills District Council in Assam was set up on April 29, 1952, under Article 244(2) of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India. It was later recognised as an autonomous council.
  • The resentment among the other communities intensified after the North Cachar Hills Autonomous District Council passed a resolution to rename itself the Dima Hasao Autonomous Council with effect from April 26, 2022.
  • There are 13 tribes that constitute about 71% of the district’s total population in the district.
  • The major tribal groups in descending order of population are Dimasa, Kuki, Zeme, Hmar and Karbi.

Need for a separate forum:

  • The Indigenous People’s Forum representing the condition of non-Dimasa communities justified its demand for a separate autonomous district.
  • The forum has also been demanding a separate Assembly constituency for the indigenous groups.

The Dima Hasao district currently has one Assembly seat.

About

About the Dimasa Community:


  • The Dimasa society is tradition-bound and guided by customs.
  • A very outstanding feature of the Dimasa culture and an important aspect of their social relation is the existence of male and female clans.
  • The male clan is called Sengphong and the female clan is known as Jadi or 
  • Hence a Dimasa bears allegiance to both male and female clans.
  • There are forty male clans and forty-two female clans. 
  • Whether in marriage, religious practices, or rituals connected with death, the clans have a significant role to play.
  • Hence the clan plays an important part while fixing the marriage of a boy or a girl.
  • If they belong to the same male or female clan, they are not allowed to be married.  
  • Affiliation to one’s own respective clan is quite strong among the Dimasa.
  • That clan ties are important among the Dimasa can be understood from instances when the entire members of the clan take offence if any member of the clan is offended by someone from outside their clan.

What is the Sixth Schedule? 

  • According to Article 244 of the Indian Constitution, the Sixth Schedule consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in-
    • Assam
    • Meghalaya
    • Tripura
    • Mizoram
  • Passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, it seeks to safeguard the rights of tribal populations through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC).
    • ADCs are bodies representing a district to which the Constitution has given varying degrees of autonomy within the state legislature.

 Autonomous districts and regional councils:

  • Along with ADCs, the Sixth Schedule also provides for separate Regional Councils for each area constituted as an autonomous region.
  • In all, there are 10 areas in the Northeast that are registered as autonomous districts –
  • three in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram
  • one in Tripura
  • These regions are named the district council of (name of district) and the regional council of (name of region).
  • Each autonomous district and regional council consists of not more than 30 members, of which four are nominated by the governor and the rest via elections. All of them remain in power for a term of five years.

The current governing structure:

  • Fifth Schedule: The Frontier State bordering Bhutan, China and Myanmar is under the Fifth Schedule that “does not provide special rights for the indigenous communities” unlike the Sixth Schedule.
  • Sixth Schedule: The Sixth Schedule currently includes 10 autonomous district councils in four north-eastern States — Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
  • Article 371 (A): Nagaland, on the other hand, is governed by Article 371 (A), which says that no Act of Parliament shall apply in the State in several areas unless the Nagaland Assembly so decides by a resolution.
    • These include the administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law and ownership and transfer of land and its resources.

IISc study sheds light on resilience of blackbucks

Context

A new study from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), has highlighted the climate-induced disasters and human activities destroying the habitat for Blackbucks in India.

Details of the study:

  • Aim: IISc study sheds light on the resilience of blackbucks in the Indian sub-continent.
  • The team also used simulations to trace how the three present-day clusters may have evolved from their common ancestor.
  • The animals are mainly seen in three broad clusters across India in the regions namely;
    • The Northern
    • The southern and
    • The eastern region
  • This geographic separation as well as dense human habitation between the clusters would be expected to make it difficult for them to move from one location to another.
  • The study involves analysing the genetic profiles of blackbucks found across the country.
  • They extracted and sequenced the DNA from the faecal samples to study the genetic makeup of blackbuck, and deployed computational tools to map the geographic locations with the genetic data.
  • Key findings:
    • It was found that an ancestral blackbuck population first split into two groups: the northern and the southern cluster.
    • The eastern cluster even though geographically close to the northern cluster seems to have emerged from the southern cluster.
    • They also found that the male blackbuck appear to disperse more than expected, thus contributing to gene flow in this species.
    • Females, on the other hand, appear to stay largely within their native population ranges, which the researchers inferred from unique mitochondrial signatures in each population.
    • They analysed that the species has managed to survive in a human dense population.

About

About Blackbucks in India:

  • Indian Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is an antelope and is the only living species of the genus Antilope.
  • It is considered to be the fastest animal in the world next to Cheetah.
  • The horns of the blackbuck are ringed with one to four spiral turns and the female is usually hornless.
  • Males have corkscrew-shaped horns and black-to-dark brown coats, while females are fawn-coloured.
  • Habitat: 
    • Blackbuck inhabits grassy plains and slightly forested areas.
    • Due to its regular need for water, it prefers areas where water is perennially available.
    • It is found in Central- Western India (MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and Odisha) and Southern India (Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu).
  • Protection Status: 
    • Hunting of blackbuck is prohibited under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
    • It has been categorised least concerned in IUCN Red Data Book.
  • The Bishnoi community of Rajasthan is known worldwide for their conservation efforts for blackbuck and Chinkara.

India needs to rethink about the Himalayas

Context

The recent disaster came in the Zone V region of the Joshimath area, the sinking made many people homeless and India needs to rethink the safety and sustainability of local people in the Himalayan region.

Background:

  • The Himalayas are ecologically fragile and economically underdeveloped, with geo-environmental constraints imposing severe limitations on the level of resource productivity.
  • Consequently, subsistence agriculture constitutes the main source of livelihood in the region.
  • The rapid growth of tourists in the region has brought about extensive land-use changes in the region, mainly through the extension of cultivation and large-scale deforestation.
  • This irrational land transformation process has not only disrupted the ecological balance of the Himalayan watersheds through reduced groundwater recharge, increased run-off and soil erosion, but has also adversely affected the ecology and economy of the adjoining Indo-Gangetic plains by recurrent floods and decreased irrigation potential.

The Himalayas:

  • The Himalayas span five countries: Bhutan, India, Nepal, China and Pakistan.
  • It covers 2,500 km running west-northwest to east-southeast in an arc.
  • The Himalayan range is bordered
  • on the northwest by the Karakoram and the Hindu Kush ranges
  • on the north by the Tibetan Plateau
  • on the south by the Indo-Gangetic Plain
  • Some of the world’s major rivers, the Indus, the Ganges, and the Tsangpo–Brahmaputra, rise in the vicinity of the Himalayas, and their combined drainage basin is home to some 600 million people with 53 million people living in the Himalayan regions.
  • The Himalayan mountain ranges contain 60,000 km² of ice – storing more water than only the Arctic and Antarctic.

Why Himalayan region is susceptible to disasters?

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region is prone to numerous types of disasters because of its

  • Steep terrain
  • fragile geology
  • intense and variable precipitation
  • Common incidents of floods and landslides
  • neo-tectonic mountain-building processes, like earthquakes, landslides, floods, etc
  • Other factors:
    • Overexploitation of the ecosystem(tourism, increased consumerism)
    • Exploitative development projects: The indiscriminate exploitation of the fragile Himalayan region in the name of development projects has extracted a heavy price in terms of environmental damage. 
    • Fragmentation of natural resources: A string of hydroelectric and road projects in the Himalayan States have already resulted in the fragmentation of natural systems. 

Sustainable tourism in the Himalayas: Recommendations

  • Regulated tourism practice: There is a need to establish regulated tourism practices with the promotion of sustainable agendas for the Indian Himalayan region (IHR).
  • Also, there is a need for the maintenance of proper tourist capacity in every tourist place.
  • Vigilance and patrolling: Protected areas require vigilance and regular patrolling to reduce unwanted wildlife-tourist interaction as well as habitat destruction due to off-road driving and encroachment.
  • Early Warning System: It is important to have early warning and better weather forecast systems in order to forecast the disaster and alert the local population and tourists.
  • Regional Cooperation: There is a need for a transboundary coalition of Himalayan countries to share and disseminate knowledge about the mountains and the preservation of the ecology there.
  • Area-Specific Sustainable Plan: What is most critical is to review the area’s present status and draw up a sustainable plan that respects the specific requirements of this fragile region and the impact of the climate crisis.
  • Promote Ecotourism: Initiating a dialogue on the adverse impacts of commercial tourism and promoting ecotourism.

Recent disasters in the region:

  • In the last ten years, two major earthquakes have occurred in Uttaranchal namely the Uttarkashi earthquake (1991) and the Chamoli earthquake (1999).
  • 380 people were killed when massive landslides washed away the whole village of Malpa, Uttaranchal (then Uttar Pradesh) in 1998.
  • In 1999, forest fires in the hills of Uttaranchal destroyed more than 3, 75,000 hectares of forest. The same year, more than 450 cases of forest fire were reported in Himachal Pradesh and by May 1999, more than 80,000 hectares of forests were turned to ashes.
  • The Kedarnath floods in 2013, had taken the lives of several innocent people and disaster in the region.

New PLI scheme for IT server, IP designed in India to get a chance globally

Context

Virtually addressing the VLSI Design Conference 2023 being held in Hyderabad this week, govt has launched Future Design Programme, which invests USD 200 million in start-ups that will design or co-design IP, tools or devices for the next generation of applications in India.

Very-large-scale integration (VLSI) is the process of creating integrated circuits by putting together thousands of transistors into a single semiconductor microchip.

Details of the initiative:

  • India will soon be launching a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for IT server and hardware manufacturing with one of its facets being to encourage the use of IP generated in the country.
  • The PLI scheme will create additional incentives for manufacturers or OEMs that incorporate IP designs in India into their systems and products.
  • The Centre is also focused on Digital India RISC-V (DIR-V) programme for next-generation microprocessors to achieve commercial silicon and design wins.
  • Objectives:
  • India is pursuing a vision of emerging as a semiconductor hub that while being relevant for the country will contribute significantly to the global innovation ecosystem.
  • Semiconductor manufacturing will address technological challenges at higher levels of abstraction in CMOS-based designs.

CMOS stands for "Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor", which is a technology used to produce integrated circuits. CMOS circuits are found in several types of electronic components, including microprocessors and batteries.

  • A number of initiatives have been unveiled in this direction, including the India Semiconductor Mission as part of which the government of India has set aside $10billion to invest, foster and catalyse the semiconductor innovation ecosystem in India.
  • The scheme will offer additional incentives for manufacturers that incorporate Indian-designed intellectual property rights into their products.
About the Production linked Incentives scheme:
  • Production Linked Incentive or PLI scheme is a scheme that aims to give companies incentives on incremental sales from products manufactured in domestic units.
  • The scheme invites foreign companies to set up units in India, however, it also aims to encourage local companies to set up or expand existing manufacturing units and also to generate more employment and cut down the country’s reliance on imports from other countries.
  • It was launched in April 2020, for the Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing sector, but later towards the end of 2020 was introduced for 10 other sectors.
PLI scheme for Mobile:

A total of 32 beneficiaries had been approved under the PLI Scheme for Large-Scale Electronics Manufacturing, of which 10 (five global and five domestic companies) were approved for mobile manufacturing.

  • This incentive disbursement, which is the first-ever for any PLI scheme among all 14 sectors, is directed towards the approved 10 mobile manufacturers.

Benefits of the PLI scheme:

  • A PLI scheme does not just aim to boost local production; it can also cut down on import bills.
  • It may also invite foreign investment into the country.
    • For example; The Centre initiated a production-linked incentive scheme for drones and drone components after it liberalised its rules related to the machine.
    • A scheme like this can also encourage drone manufacturing companies from other nations to invest in India or partner up with domestic companies.
  • PLI schemes are a cornerstone of the ‘Make in India’ campaign which wants to reduce India’s dependence on exports and transform it into a global manufacturing hub.
  • The schemes can also boost exports and result in a favourable balance of trade with many nations.
  • PLI schemes can also generate employment and enhance India’s manufacturing capabilities.

 

Women officers in Indian Army to be inducted into Artillery soon

Context

The Indian Army has taken the decision to begin the induction of women into combat arms in the near future beginning with the Regiment of Artillery.

  • As per the Ministry of Defence, the combat employment philosophy of women in the Armed Forces is a continuously evolving process and is regularly reviewed by them.

Background:

  • The Indian Air Force pioneered in inducting women into combat roles beginning with three women officers commissioned as Fighter pilots in June 2016.
  • IAF has commissioned 15 women fighter pilots to date.
  • Women officers are now being inducted in all combat roles into the force.

About the arms of Indian forces:
  • The Regiment of Artillery is said to be the second largest arm of the Indian Army, after the infantry.
  • Artillery with its missiles, guns, mortars, rocket launchers and unmanned aerial vehicles is also described as an ‘Arm of Decision’.
  • The decision has been taken to induct women officers in the Artillery — which has about 300 regiments (each with 18 guns) and about 5,000 officers.
  • It is seen as a part of the effort to give women more and more opportunities.

As of now, the women officers have not been granted permanent commissions into Infantry, Armoured, Artillery and Mechanised Infantry.

Recent developments:

  • There are already women officers in the combat support arms like Army Air Defence (AAD), once called Air Defence Artillery, Army Signals Corps, the Army Aviation Corps and the Engineers, all combat support arms.
  • The Indian Navy has already deputed 28 women officers onboard ships. Women officers are also deployed in combat roles on board naval Aircraft/shipborne helicopters.
  • The total number of women serving in the Armed forces is around 10,493 as per the data shared by the Ministry of Defence in March 2022 and this includes those in the Medical, Dental and Nursing Corps.

The Journey of participation of women in India forces:

  • In 1958, the Army Medical Corps (AMC) granted a regular commission to women.
  • In 1991 the Indian Navy commenced the induction of women as officers.
  • In 1992, women were allowed to serve in the armed forces as Short Service Commission (SCC) officers in various supporting branches.
  • In February 2020 Supreme Court gave its verdict for Permanent Commission to women. A total of 577 women officers were granted Permanent Commission till November 2021.
  • The first batch of Women Military Police at the Other Ranks joined Army in May 2021.
  • From July 2021 women officers began training in Army Aviation.
  • In August 2022 first batch of 19 women cadets reported for the tri-service National Defence Academy.
  • In November 2022, 341 women Agniveers of the Indian Navy joined training at INS CHilka.
  • In June 2023 the first six women Army officers will attend Defence Services Staff College.
  • First time 108 women officers are to soon get the rank of Colonel.
  • 100 women Agniveers will join the Army training from April this year.

short News Article

Art and Culture (GS-I)

U.S. fund to help restore Paigah Tombs in Hyderabad

 

 

The necropolis of noblemen dating from the Asaf Jahi era known as Paigah Tombs Complex in Hyderabad is set to be restored with funding by the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.

About:

  • It is located 4 km southeast of Charminar, Paigah Tombs are 200-year-old tombs belonging to the nobility of the Paigah family.
  • Paigahs were the influential families in the Princely State of Hyderabad.
  • Currently, US Consulate Hyderabad is located in Paigah Palace located at Chiran Fort Lane, Begumpet. From the palace, the Consulate is covering three states, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha.
  • Recent developments:
  • The US Embassy has recently commemorated 20 years of cultural collaboration with India through the AFCP with guests from the Ministry of Culture, the private sector, and civil society at a special celebration in New Delhi.

Science and Technology (GS-III)

Prithvi-II missile successfully tested-fired in Odisha

 

A successful training launch of a short-range ballistic missile, Prithvi-II, was carried out on January 10 from the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur off the coast of Odisha.

About:

  • Prithvi-II missile has been an integral part of India’s nuclear deterrence.
  • The missile struck its target with high accuracy.
  • The missile is powered by light propulsion twin engines, has a range of around 350 km and can carry 500-1,000 kg of warheads.
  • It uses an advanced inertial navigation system to strike the set target.
  • The Prithvi-II was earlier successfully test-fired during night hours in 2018 and in 2019.
  • Prithvi was developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.

Environment (GS-III)

New reactor powered by sun can convert plastic, CO2 into fuel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Researchers from Cambridge university has found a way to turn PET plastic bottles and carbon dioxide into sustainable fuels like CO, syngas or formate  other valuable products ,using just the energy from the sun.

About:

  • The research paper named Photoelectrochemical CO2-to-fuel conversion with simultaneous plastic reforming was published in Nature Synthesis journal.
  • Conversion of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and plastics — two of the biggest threats facing the natural world, into value-added products, driven by solar energy, is an important step in the transition to a more sustainable, circular economy.
  • However, it is challenging to convert the two simultaneously in an integrated process.

The process:

  • The researchers developed an integrated reactor with two separate compartments:
    • For plastic and
    • For greenhouse gases.
  • The reactor uses a light absorber based on perovskite — a promising alternative to silicon for next-generation solar cells.
  • The team designed different catalysts, which were integrated into the light absorber. By changing the catalyst, the researchers could then change the end product.

End products:

  • Tests of the reactor under normal temperature and pressure conditions showed the reactor could efficiently convert polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles and CO2 into different carbon-based fuels such as CO, syngas or formate, in addition to glycolic acid.
  • The reactor produced these products at a rate that is also much higher than conventional photo-catalytic CO2 reduction processes.

Editorial

Barking up the wrong tree

Context:

  • The Election Commission of India (EC) has announced its intention of introducing remote voting across the country, a facility to enable voters who are residents elsewhere to vote in their home constituencies.

The queries around Remote Voting Machine (RVM):

  • The reach and validity: To ensure that all those who wish to apply for remote voting are able to do so without let or hindrance and that all applications are processed fairly without inadvertent or selective exclusions.
  • Criteria to include and exclude the beneficiaries: It is not sufficient just to define a protocol as it needs to be ensured that all applications and the decisions on them are publicly verifiable, from both remote and home locations.
  • The process of invalidation of local voters: Since the two lists will be at different locations, the correctness will not be easy to demonstrate in a publicly verifiable way.

The Challenges:

  • On counting of the votes been cast: The counting and the VVPAT audit will happen at the remote location or at the home constituency after consolidation. This decision remains a question.
  • The controversy of polling agents: The aim is to ensure that in a different political environment at the remote site, a remote voter will not be coerced in the absence of a polling agent in the booths.
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