What's New :

1st September 2022

Kerela Assembly passes Lokayukta Amendment Bill

Context

Kerala Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2022, has been passed by the State’s legislature, amid a boycott led by the opposition.

About

Highlight of the Kerala Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2022:

  • A public servant has to vacate office if directed by the Lokayukta.
  • The amendment Bill has made the Legislative Assembly the competent authority to review an indicting report against the Chief Minister.
  • In the case of legislators, the competent authority will be the House Speaker.
  • The competent authority can now either reject or accept the ombudsman’s report.
  • If a Lokayukta report indicts a cabinet minister, the Bill vests the reviewing authority in the Chief Minister.
  • The Bill exempts political leaders from the purview of the Act.
  • The Bill allows for retired High Court judges to be appointed Lokayukta.

What are the Lokayuktas?

  • The Lokayuktas are the state equivalents of the Lokpal at the centre.
  • These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status.
  • The term Lokpal and Lokayukta were coined by L. M. Singhvi.
  • In 1966, the First Administrative Reforms Commission recommended the setting up of two independent authorities- at the central and state level, to look into complaints against public functionaries, including MPs.
  • In 2005, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission chaired by Veerappa Moily also recommended that the office of Lokpal should be established without delay.
  • States have to establish the Lokayukta to deal with complaints of corruption against certain public functionaries in the states.
  • In some states, Lokayuktas was already functioning when the 2013 Act was passed.
  • Most states, however, are without a Lokayukta even after the 2013 Act.
  • The Supreme Court has directed these states to take steps for the appointment of Lokayukta.

Formation of Lokayukta:

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act delegates the power to States to establish by law the Lokayukta to deal with complaints relating to corruption against public functionaries. Some States have already established Lokayukta. For example, Maharashtra in 1971, and Kerala in 1999.
  • The Lokayukta is appointed by the Governor of the State. At the time of appointment, the Governor, generally, consults the Chief Justice of the State High Court, and the Leader of Opposition in the State Legislative Assembly.
  • The structure of Lokayukta does not follow a uniform pattern in all the states. Some states such as Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra have created the Lokayukta as well as Up-Lokayukta, while some others like Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh have created only the Lokayukta.

Definition of Forests

Context

The on-going situation in Chattisgarh (land transfers) has spurred a debate on the definition of ‘forest land’, its contentious history and many of the associated facts related to such lands.

About

How Forests are defined in India?

  • The definition of forest cover has clearly been defined in all the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) and in all the International communications of India.
  • The forest cover is defined as ‘all land, more than one hectare in area, with a tree canopy density of more than 10 percent irrespective of ownership and legal status.
  • Such land may not necessarily be a recorded forest area. It also includes orchards, bamboo, and palm’.
  • As per the Conference of Parties (CoP) 9-Kyoto Protocol, the forest can be defined by any country depending upon the capacities and capabilities of the country. The three criteria based on which the forests are defined comprise, crown cover percentage, the minimum area of the stand, and the minimum height of trees.
  • Forest is defined structurally on the basis of:
    • Crown cover percentage: Tree crown cover- 10 to 30% (India 10%)
    • Minimum area of stand: the area between 0.05 and 1 hectare (India 1.0 hectare) and
    • Minimum height of trees: Potential to reach a minimum height at maturity in situ of 2 to 5 m (India 2m).
  • India’s definition of the forest has been taken on the basis of the above three criteria only and is accepted by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for their reporting/communications.

The Forest Survey of India (FSI) classifies forest cover into 4 classes:

  • Very Dense Forest: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density of 70% and above.
  • Moderately dense forest: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density between 40% and 70%.
  • Open forests: All lands with tree cover (including mangrove cover) of canopy density between 10% and 40%.
  • Scrubs: All forest lands with poor tree growth mainly of small or stunted trees having canopy density less than 10%.

Classification of forest cover- In ISFR 2021 recently published has divided the forest cover as:

  • Inside Recorded Forest Area: These are basically natural forests and plantations of the Forest Department.
  • Outside Recorded Forest Area: These cover mango orchards, coconut plantations, and block plantations of agroforestry.

The current definition of 'forest cover in the India State of Forest Report (ISFR) does not differentiate between natural forests and plantations, thereby providing an incomplete picture of the status of forests.

Indian Forest Act of 1878 classifies Forests into Reserved, Protected, and Village Forests:

Reserved forests:

  • They constitute more than half of the total forest area of India.
  • It has a certain degree of protection.
  • They are protected by the respective state governments unlike wildlife sanctuaries and national parks which are supervised by the Government of India.
  • Rights to activities like collecting timber or grazing cattle or hunting and public entry are banned in these forests.

Protected forests:

They are of two types- Demarcated and Undemarcated.

  • They have a limited amount of protection.
  • These are looked after by the government but certain activities like hunting, grazing, or timber collecting are allowed to people who live on the boundaries of forests and are partially or wholly dependent on the forest resources for livelihood, provided they don’t cause severe damage to the forests.

Village forests:

  • They are protected and managed by village communities which are assigned by the state governments.
  • The local communities may use it for timber or other forest produce, pasture, recreation, plantation, and so on under prescribed conditions by state governments.

Mikhail Gorbachev, last Soviet Leader passes away

Context

Mikhail Gorbachev -- the last leader of the former Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991 -- has died at the age of 91.

About

About Mikhail Gorbachev:

  • Born in Privolnoye (Russia), he was general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991.
  • He became president of the Soviet Union in 1990 - 91.

Contribution of Mikhail Gorbachev:

  • Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-2022) played a key role in
    • 1989: ending the Cold War and triggering the demise of the Soviet Union
    • allowed Eastern Europe to free itself from Soviet rule
    • taking down the long-standing Iron Curtain separating Eastern communist states and Western non-communist states
    • cultivating friendlier relations with non-communist states, including and especially the United States
  • Gorbachev worked with U.S. President Ronald Reagan to lessen the political and military tension between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • In 1990 Gorbachev received the Nobel Peace Prize for his “leading role in the peace process” in Europe.

Early Life of Gorbachev:

  • He was the son of Russian peasants in South-western Russia of Stavropol territory (Kray).
  • He joined the Komsomol (Young Communist League) in 1946 and drove a combine harvester at a state farm in Stavropol for the next four years.
  • He proved a promising Komsomol member in 1952.
  • He entered the law school of Moscow State University and became a member of the Communist Party.
  • He graduated with a degree in law in 1955.
  • He hold several posts in the Komsomol and become the first secretary of the regional party committee in 1970.

 

Solomon Islands block foreign navy vessels

Context

The Solomon Islands has suspended entry into its waters for foreign navy ships pending adoption of a new process for approval of port visits, in a bid to better police its exclusive economic zones.

About

About the Solomon Islands:

  • Solomon Island is an archipelago of about thousands of islands.
  • Its capital city is Honiara and it is located on Guadalcanal Island.
  • The neighbours are Tuvalu lies in the east, Vanuatu in the south, Australia in the South-west, and Papua New Guinea in the west.
  • The government type of Solomon Islands is a constitutional monarchy featured with a parliamentary system of government.
  • The Solomon Islands is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
  • The economy of the country largely depends upon agriculture and fishing.
  • However, some of the natural resources available on the islands are lead, zinc, nickel, and gold.


China’s growing influence:

  • The Solomon Islands established a security agreement with China, saying it needed Beijing’s assistance with its domestic security situation.
  • According to a report by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Beijing views the Pacific Island region as an important component of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • Specifically, it sees the region as a critical air freight hub in its so-called Air Silk Road, which connects Asia with Central and South America.
  • Solomon Island’s strategic location in the Pacific would be advantageous for China from a military perspective.
  • As per CFR, the United States and its regional allies, such as Australia and New Zealand, are concerned that the China-Solomon Islands security pact allows Chinese naval vessels to replenish there.
  • That could open the door to a Chinese naval base which would significantly extend China’s military reach in the South Pacific.

Indian Navy to get new flag

Context
  • Recently, the Indian Navy got a new Naval Ensign (Nishaan).
About

About New Flag:

  • The current ensign of the Navy used to be a white flag with horizontal and vertical red stripes.
  • Symbolising the cross of Saint George with the emblem of India superimposed on the intersection.
  • The tricolour is placed in the upper canton next to the staff.
  • This is the fourth time since 1950 that the Naval Ensign would undergo a change.

  • The present ensign was changed back to St George’s Cross with the addition of the Indian emblem in its intersection.
  • In 2014, the ensign as well as the naval crest were updated to include the national motto “Satyameva Jayate” in the Devanagari script.

Saint George:

  • He was a Roman soldier born in Turkey in around 280AD and died around 303.
  • It is believed he was born to a wealthy Christian noble family.
  • When he grew up he became a soldier and joined the retinue of Emperor Diocletian.
  • What is the Saint George's Cross?
  • The Red Cross on a white background is known as the Saint George's Cross.
  • It is named after a Christian Warrior Saint who is believed to have been a crusader during the third crusade.
  • This cross also serves as the flag of England which is a constituent of the United Kingdom.
  • The flag was adopted by England and the city of London in 1190 to identify English ships entering the Mediterranean.
  • The Royal Navy adopted the George’s Cross to fly on their ships in various shapes and forms and the present pattern of the British White Ensign was adopted around 1707.

 

Editorial

Death of Mikhail Gorbachev-The Unfollowed Leader

Context:

The death of Mikhail Gorbachev has allowed the world to revisit his instrumental role in ending the cold war at the same time failing to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A flawed Reformer:

  • The award of the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize marked the role that Gorbachev, then Soviet president, had played in ending the Cold War without bloodshed. But the country later paid heavily for Gorbachev’s haughtiness. In the end, he was a drained and defeated man forced to step down. Although Gorbachev had a realistic assessment of Soviet society based on its history, he failed to elicit in his people a wish to walk alongside him. He was reduced to the leader of a non-existent country as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics collapsed into 15 separate states.

Gorbachev Legacy:

  • He rose to power steadily and his potential was recognized by the then prominent personalities like Yuri Andropov, the KGB boss, and Mikhail Suslov, the hardline ideologist, for each for their own reasons. Right after, taking over as the party secretary in Moscow, Gorbachev realized that communism could no longer be the ruling force in Soviet life.
  • He even tried his hands-on with the idea of a multi-party system. He also tried to pull a reluctant nation towards a market economy aimed at opening up the economy to private enterprise, removing subsidies, instituting market-driven pricing, and even creating a currency of value.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 1st September 2022

Mains Question:

Q1. “Putting forest-dependent people on the map is urgently needed for sustainable development”. Comment 

Approach 

  • Introduction- Brief about increasing dependence of human on forests
  • Increasing forest clearance and impact on locals 
  • Need to map forest dependent people 
  • Conclude accordingly 

Verifying, please be patient.

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