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3rd September 2022

  • Published
    03 September 2022

India’s most endangered canid-The Dhole

Context

As per studies, limited knowledge about the life history of endangered species is a common obstacle in addressing conservation challenges.

  • One such enigmatic species under threat is the forest-dwelling, social canid of Indian forests — the dhole (Cuon alpinus). 
About

About the species:

  • Geographic Range: From the Altai Mountains in Manchuria in Central and Eastern Asia, its range spreads southwards through the forest tracts of India, Burma, and the Malayan Archipelago. Three races of the dhole exist in India alone.
  • Habitat: Dholes like open spaces and can often be found on jungle roads, river beds, jungle clearings, and paths, where they rest during the day.
  • The dhole is a highly social animal, living in large clans without rigid dominance hierarchies and containing multiple breeding females. Such clans usually consist of 12 individuals, but groups of over 40 are known.
  • Conservation
  • The dhole is protected under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • The creation of reserves under Project Tiger provided some protection for dhole populations sympatric with tigers.
  • In 2014, the Indian government sanctioned its first dhole conservation breeding centre at the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP) in Visakhapatnam. 
  • It is listed as Endangered by the IUCN, as populations are decreasing and estimated at less than 2, 500 adults.
  • Factors contributing to this decline include habitat loss, loss of prey, and competition with other species, persecution, and disease transfer from domestic dogs.

Dholes in the Indian Subcontinent:

  • India, the country with the world's largest population of wild tigers, is perhaps the dhole's safest bet. India purportedly hosts the largest number of dholes in the world.
  • Yet, the species has disappeared from ~60% of its historic range in the country in the past 100 years.
  • Primarily spread across three landscapes — the Western Ghats, Central India and the North East — the dhole populations in the tropical semi-deciduous forests of central India form a critical stronghold for the species. 

Wild Canids–India Project :

  • The Wild Canids–India Project was launched in 2018 by researchers affiliated with various organizations/universities.
  • The project aimed to conduct research work to better understand wild canids and formulate science-based strategies including citizen science projects to conserve them.

 

India becomes fifth largest Economy of world

Context

India has leaped past the United Kingdom to become the fifth-largest economy in the world.

About
  • India leaped past the UK in the final three months of 2021 to become the fifth-biggest economy.
  • According to GDP figures from the International Monetary Fund, the calculation is based in US dollars, and India extended its lead in the first quarter.
  • The Indian economy is forecast to grow more than 7% this year. A world-beating rebound in Indian stocks this quarter has just seen their weighting rise to the second spot in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, trailing only China's. 
  • On an adjusted basis and using the dollar exchange rate on the last day of the relevant quarter, the size of the Indian economy in "nominal" cash terms in the quarter through March was $854.7 billion. On the same basis, UK was $816 billion.
  • With the new development, India is only behind the US, China, Japan, and Germany, which as ranked as the largest, second-largest, third-largest, and fourth-largest economies in the world. 
  • The report comes two days after government data showed that India’s gross domestic product (GDP) rose 13.5 per cent in the June 2022 quarter (Q1FY23) as compared with the 20.1 per cent growth registered in Q1 2021-22.
  • According to the latest data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO), during April-June 2022, the country’s gross value added (GVA), which is GDP minus net product taxes and reflects growth in supply, grew 12.7 per cent.

Economic Growth:

  • Gross domestic product (GDP) is an estimate of the total value of finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders during a specified period, usually a year.
  • GDP is popularly used to estimate the size of a country’s economy.
  • GDP is most commonly measured by using the expenditure method, which calculates GDP by adding up spending on new consumer goods, new investment spending, government spending, and the value of net exports (exports minus imports).

Measuring GDP: Several popular ways to measure GDP, all of which are drawn from the World Bank database are described below:

  • Nominal GDP in Current U.S. Dollars: This is the most basic and common way of measuring and comparing GDP among countries, using local prices and currencies converted into U.S. dollars by using currency market exchange rates. This is the number that was used to determine the countries’ rankings in the top 25 list.
  • Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) Adjusted GDP in Current International Dollars: This is an alternative way of comparing nominal GDP among countries, adjusting currencies based on what basket of goods they could buy in those countries rather than currency exchange rates. This is a way to adjust for the difference in the cost of living among countries.
  • GDP Growth: This is the annual percentage growth rate of nominal GDP in local prices and currencies, which estimates how fast a country’s economy is growing.
  • GDP Per Capita, in Current U.S. Dollars: This is nominal GDP divided by the number of people in a country. GDP per capita measures how much a country’s economy produces per person, rather than in total. This can also act as a very rough measure of income or standard of living for individuals living in a country.

Webb telescope captures its first image of exoplanet

Context

The James Webb space telescope has taken its first image of an exoplanet -- a planet outside our solar system.

About
  • Webb telescope has pictured ‘HIP 65426 b’ through four different light filters.
  • The exoplanet ‘HIP 65426 b’ is younger but bigger than Earth.
  • It is about 6 to 12 times the mass of Jupiter and about 15 to 20 million years old, Earth is 4.5-billion-year-old.
  • The exoplanet called 'HIP 65426 b' is a gas giant, meaning it has no rocky surface and could not be habitable.
  • NASA says that these observations could help to determine the size and age of the planet much more precisely.

What is an exoplanet?

  • According to NASA, exoplanet is a planet that is orbiting other stars beyond our solar system.
  • NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has shown that the galaxy has more numbers of planets than stars. The elements of these planets are similar to the planets of our solar system, although they do not necessarily revolve around any stars, as there are some exoplanets which are free floating and orbit around the galactic centre.
  • NASA estimates that apart from iron or carbon, some may have an abundance of water or ice.

Significance of the image:

  • The first confirmed discovery of exoplanets was long before in the 1990s, but this is the first direct observation by JWST telescope of any planet beyond our solar system.
  • The planet was discovered in 2017 using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile.
  • Images of it were taken in short infrared wavelengths back then, but newer ones taken by Webb at longer infrared wavelengths have helped reveal new details that ground-based telescoped were unable to detect.
  • The exoplanet is composed mainly of gas, which means it has no rocky surface and is uninhabitable.

‘Conversion therapy’

Context

The National Medical Commission (NMC), the apex regulatory body of medical professionals in India, has said that “conversion therapy” will be counted as professional misconduct.

About
  • According to experts “Reparative” or “conversion” therapy is a dangerous practice that targets LGBTQ+ youth and seeks to change their sexual or gender identities.
  • National Medical Commission has decided that conversion therapy will constitute a professional misconduct under the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct Etiquettes and Ethics) Regulations, 2003.
  • It has also written to all the State Medical Councils empowering them to take disciplinary action against medical professionals if they undertake “conversion therapy”.

Conversion Therapy:

  • “Conversion therapy,” also known as “reparative therapy,” is a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
  • Such practices have been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades, but due to continuing discrimination and societal bias against LGBTQ people, some practitioners continue to conduct conversion therapy.
  • Minors are especially vulnerable.
  • Conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.

National Medical Commission (NMC):

  • The National Medical Commission (NMC) has been constituted by an act of Parliament known as National Medical Commission Act, 2019 which came into force on 25.9.2020 by gazette notification.
  • The Board of Governors in supersession of Medical Council of India constituted under section 3A of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 stands dissolved thereafter.

Mission and Vision

  • The Aim of the National Medical Commission are to
  • improve access to quality and affordable medical education,
  • ensure availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals in all parts of the country;
  • promote equitable and universal healthcare that encourages community health perspective and makes services of medical professionals accessible to all the citizens;
  • encourages medical professionals to adopt latest medical research in their work and to contribute to research;
  • objectively assess medical institutions  periodically in a transparent manner; (vi) maintain a medical register for India;
  • enforce high ethical standards in all aspects of medical services;
  • have an effective grievance redressal mechanism

World is worried about India banning rice exports

Context

2022 is emerging to be unique for Indian agriculture. Both the staple crops of rice and wheat appear to be suffering production losses.

About

Projects/estimates:

  • The World Bank’s food security update of August 2022 flagged how global concerns over the likelihood of a rice export ban by India are rising. 
  • As per NITI Aayog’s demand and supply projections, India’s projected consumption in 2022-23 will be about 108 to 109 MMTs of rice.
  • If we assume for the sake of understanding, zero opening and closing rice stocks, then it appears that last year, the country generated a surplus of about 22 MMTs (130.29 – 108.28).
  • This was approximately the amount of rice that was exported from the country 2021-22.  It is not same case for 2022-23.

India’s Rice production last year:

  • In 2021-22, India produced about 130.29 million metric tonnes (MMTs) of rice.
  • About 86 per cent of this (about 112 MMTs) was produced during the Kharif season (sown during June/July and harvested during November/December).
  • The remaining 14 per cent was produced in the winter months during the Rabi season.

Problems for India’s rice crop in 2022:

  • Area Coverage: The area coverage under paddy is lower than 2021. There are reports of the drying of transplanted paddy crop in fields primarily due to lack of irrigation. Reasons:
    • Deficit rains in key paddy growing states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
    • Dwarfing of rice plants caused by a Southern Rice Black Streaked Dwarf Virus (SRBSDV) attack.
    • More remunerative price incentives for sister crops like soybean, and cotton.
  • Monsoon:
    • Kharif is the main cropping season in India and it pivots on monsoon rains.
    • About 48 per cent area depends directly on monsoon rains for irrigation.
    • As of August 2022, India’s monsoon showers are about 7 per cent above their long-period average value (LPA).
    • Despite a good monsoon figure at an all-India level, six states/Union Territories have received deficient rains.
    • These states include Uttar Pradesh (with a rain deficit of 44 per cent), Bihar (with a deficit of 39 per cent), Jharkhand (deficit of 26 per cent), Manipur (deficit of 44 per cent), Tripura (deficit of 28 per cent) and Delhi (deficit of 31 per cent).
  • Apart from rains, virus attacks in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana are reducing tillage in paddy crops.

Editorial

India’s cyber infrastructure needs more than patches

Context:

  • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the incidence of cybercrime is on the increase in India. But the capacity of the enforcement agencies to investigate cybercrime remains limited.

No Procedural Code:

  • As ‘police’ and ‘public order’ comes under the State List, so the primary obligation to check crime and create the necessary cyberinfrastructure lies with States. But the IT Act and major laws are central legislations, so the central government must evolve uniform statutory procedures for the enforcement agencies.
  • In India, we do not have any separate procedural code for the investigation of cyber or computer-related offences.

Shortage of technical staff:

  • There haven’t been many efforts by the states to recruit technical staff for the investigation of cybercrime which is essential because the regular police lack the ability to understand the technicalities involved in cybercrimes. In the past, the judiciary has also highlighted the need for qualified staff who could acquire and analyse digital evidence. State governments must build up a sufficient capacity to deal with cybercrime.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 3rd September 2022

Mains Question:

Q1. “The abrupt rise in global wheat prices has jeopardised food security in neighbouring countries”. In the light of this statement, discuss the role played by India in advancing global food security. (150 words)

Approach 

  • Introduction- brief about the global situation 
    • COVID-19 epidemic
    • ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine
  • Discuss India’s role in advancing global food security
    • India’s export policy
    • Contribution to UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the UNOCHA 
    • India is running the world’s largest food-based safety net programme
  • Constraints for India
    • rising costs and limited availability of food grains
    • dilemma between own overall food security vs needs of neighbouring and other vulnerable developing countries
  • Required measures 
  • Conclude accordingly 
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