Restricted Area Permit (RAP) system
The Centre is planning to revisit its decision to lift the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) system from 29 islands of Andaman and Nicobar.
Need for review:
To develop tourism, the RAP regime, in place since 1963, was lifted around August this year from 29 islands, including the North Sentinel. The lifting of the regime proved problematic and the decision had “many pros and cons that needed to be re-looked”. Recently, U.S. citizen John Allen Chau was killed in the North Sentinel Island.
What is Restricted Area Permit (RAP) regime?
RAP regime was notified under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963.
Under it, foreign nationals are not normally allowed to visit protected or restricted area unless Government is satisfied that there are extra-ordinary reasons to justify their visit.
Every foreigner, except citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in protected or restricted area, is required to obtain special permit from competent authority having power to issue such permits to foreigner, seeking it.
Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin are exception and are not allowed to enter such areas.
Source: The Hindu
Witness Protection Scheme
The Supreme Court has approved the Centre’s draft witness protection scheme and has asked all the states to implement it till Parliament comes out with a legislation. The court has also made some changes in the scheme.
The issue of witness protection scheme had cropped up earlier when the top court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases involving Asaram Bapu.
During the hearing, Attorney General KK Venugopal had told the top court that the draft scheme, which has now been finalised, would be made into a law “in due course”, but till then the court should direct the states to start implementing it.
Highlights of the draft scheme:
The draft witness protection scheme has been finalised in consultation with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD).
The types of protection measures envisaged under the scheme are to be applied in proportion to the threat and they are not expected to go on for infinite time.
The scheme envisages that there should be safeguards that witnesses and accused do not come face to face during investigation or trial and adequate security measures should be there for the safety of the witnesses.
The scheme provides for identity protection and giving a new identity to the witness.
The scheme shall extend to the whole of the India except the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
As per the scheme, police escort will be provided to witnesses who are threatened and, if needed, they would be relocated to a safe house. The scheme also says mails and phone calls of the witnesses would be monitored to trace the person threatening them. It said a separate witness protection fund will be created in each state to meet the expenses incurred under the scheme.
Witness deposition complexes will be set up in all district courts by the states and union territories within a year where the witnesses could fearlessly depose against the high and mighty without coming face-to-face with the accused.
It has three categories of witnesses based on the threat perception:
Category ‘A’: Where the threat extends to life of witness or his family members and their normal way of living is affected for a substantial period, during investigation/trial or even thereafter.
Category ‘B’: Where the threat extends to safety, reputation or property of the witness or his family members, only during the investigation process or trial.
Category ‘C’: Where the threat is moderate and extends to harassment or intimidation of the witness or his family member’s, reputation or property, during the investigation process.
Significance of the scheme:
The witnesses, being eyes and ears of justice, play an important role in bringing perpetrators of crime to justice. The scheme is the first attempt at the national-level to holistically provide for the protection of the witnesses, which will go a long way in eliminating secondary victimization. This scheme attempts at ensuring that witnesses receive appropriate and adequate protection. It also strengthens the criminal justice system in the country and will consequently enhance national security scenario.
Victims and witnesses of serious crimes are particularly at risk when the perpetrator is powerful, influential, or rich and the victims or witnesses belong to a socially or economically marginalised community. Girls and women who report sexual violence are often even more vulnerable and face extreme pressure or direct threats from the accused.
Also, witnesses need to have the confidence to come forward to assist law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities. They need to be assured that they will receive support and protection from intimidation and the harm that criminal groups may seek to inflict upon them in attempts to discourage or punish them from co-operating. Hence, legislative measures to emphasise prohibition against tampering of witnesses have become the imminent and inevitable need of the day.
In 2003, Justice V Malimath Committee on criminal justice system had recommended enacting a separate witness protection law and in 2006, the Law Commission of India, in its 198th report, provided for a draft witness protection law.
Besides, countries such as USA, United Kingdom, China, Italy, Canada, Hong Kong and Ireland have witness protection scheme.
Source: The Hindu
World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)
World Intellectual Property Indicators 2018 report was recently released in Geneva by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Globally, 1.4 million patents were granted in 2017. China’s patent authority led the world in the number of patents granted with 420,144 and was followed by the US with 318,829, according to the WIPO.
Highlights of the report- India related key facts:
The number of patents granted by India shot up by 50% in 2017, keeping up a trend of steep increases. The patents granted by India increased from 8,248 in 2016 to 12,387 last year.
Of the patents granted last year, 1,712 went to entities and individuals based in India, and 10,675 to foreigners.
While India ranked 10th in the number of patents given last year, no Indian company or university figures in last year’s global list of the top 50 patent applicants.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 17 specialized agencies of the United Nations.
It was created in 1967 “to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world.”
It has currently 188 member states, administers 26 international treaties, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
Non-members are the states of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, South Sudan and Timor-Leste. Palestine has observer status.
India is a member of WIPO and party to several treaties administered by WIPO.
Source: The Hindu
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
India has deeply regretted the failure of the Fourth Special Session of the Conference of the States Parties to Review the Operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (RevCon) to adopt a report by consensus and reiterated its determination to persist with efforts to bring countries together and bridge differences.
Need for review- challenges ahead:
There are daunting challenges ahead such as the discovery of new toxic chemicals, advancements in deployment and dissemination techniques.
There is an increasing threat of use of chemical weapons by non-state actors such as IS and other terror outfits.
The growing complexity of the global security environment calls for greater vigilance and continued efforts by both OPCW and the member states towards achieving general and complete chemical disarmament.
Despite best efforts, there has been an increase in allegations and incidents of use of chemical weapons in different parts of the world such as Malaysia, UK and Northern Ireland, the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq.
The OPCW is an independent, autonomous international organisation with a working relationship with the United Nations.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997.
The organisation was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”.
The OPCW Member States share the collective goal of preventing chemistry from ever again being used for warfare, thereby strengthening international security. To this end, the Convention contains four key provisions:
Destroying all existing chemical weapons under international verification by the OPCW.
Monitoring chemical industry to prevent new weapons from re-emerging.
Providing assistance and protection to States Parties against chemical threats.
Fostering international cooperation to strengthen implementation of the Convention and promote the peaceful use of chemistry.
The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits:
Developing, producing, acquiring, stockpiling, or retaining chemical weapons.
The direct or indirect transfer of chemical weapons.
Chemical weapons use or military preparation for use.
Assisting, encouraging, or inducing other states to engage in CWC-prohibited activity.
The use of riot control agents “as a method of warfare.”
The use of these weapons anywhere, at any time, by anybody, under any circumstances is unjustifiable. The efforts in the OPCW should be aimed at eliminating all the possibilities of any future use of chemical weapons.
The need of the hour is constructive engagement, dialogue and unity of purpose. This is the only way forward. India remains willing and open for discussions with all States Parties to find ways and means to strengthen the Convention and its effective implementation within the framework of the Convention.
Source: The Hindu
World Soil Day
World Soil Day is celebrated every year on 5th of December by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations.
Aim: To communicate messages on importance of soil quality for food security, healthy ecosystems and human well-being.
Theme for year 2018: ‘Be the Solution to Soil Pollution’.
Historical background of World Soil Day:
An international day to celebrate Soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002. Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, FAO has supported the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness raising platform.
The FAO Conference unanimously endorsed World Soil Day in June 2013 and requested its official adoption at the 68th UN General Assembly. In December 2013 the UN General Assembly responded by designating 5 December 2014 as the first official World Soil Day.
Why December 5 was chosen?
The date of 5 December for WSD was chosen because it corresponds with the official birthday of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, who officially sanctioned the event.
Soil pollution- concerns:
These days pollution is a worry – and soil is also affected. Soil pollution is a hidden danger that lurks beneath our feet.
1/3 of our global soils are already degraded. Yet we risk losing more due to this hidden danger. Soil pollution can be invisible and seems far away but everyone, everywhere is affected.
With a growing population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, soil pollution is a worldwide problem which degrades our soils, poisons the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. The entity of the problem is still unknown as not certain data are available on a global scale.
Soils have a great potential to filter and buffer contaminants, degrading and attenuating the negative effects of pollutants, but this capacity is finite. Most of the pollutants originate from human activities, such as unsustainable farming practices, industrial activities and mining, untreated urban waste and other non-environmental friendly practices.
As technology evolves, scientists are able to identify previously undetected pollutants, but at the same time these technological improvements lead to new contaminants being released into the environment.
In the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals 2, 3, 12, and 15 have targets which commend direct consideration of soil resources, especially soil pollution and degradation in relation to food security.
Need for conservation and protection of soil:
Soil holds three times as much carbon as the atmosphere and can help us meet the challenges of a changing climate.
815 million people are food insecure and 2 billion people are nutritionally insecure, but we can mitigate this through soil.
95% of our food comes from soil.
33% of our global soils are already degraded.
According to the FAO, it is vital to tackle soil pollution to reduce the risk of food security and human health. By preventing soil pollution, we can also address soil degradation, adapt to climate change and stem rural migration.
Source: The Hindu
India Water Impact Summit 2018
India Water Impact Summit 2018 was jointly organized by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and the Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies recently in New Delhi.
India Water Impact Summit:
It is an annual event where stakeholders get together to discuss, debate and develop model solutions for some of the biggest water-related problems in the country.
The discussions this year will be on the rejuvenation of the Ganga River Basin.
There will be multi-country dialogue on the subject, with showcasing of technological innovations, research, policy frameworks and funding models from India and abroad.
The efforts may take various forms including (but not limited to): data collection (sensors, LIDAR, modelling etc), hydrology, e-flows, agriculture, wastewater and more.
Ganga Financing Forum:
The Summit introduced the inaugural Ganga Financing Forum that will bring a number of institutions to a common knowledge, information and partnership platform. The Financing Forum will bring together financial institutions and investors interested in Namami Gange programmes.
Source: The Hindu
Global Carbon Project
Global carbon emissions are set to hit an all-time high of 37.1 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2018, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Global Carbon Project.
Highlights of the study:
India, the third-highest contributor, is projected to see emissions rise by 6.3% from 2017. The 2.7% projected global rise in 2018 has been driven by appreciable growth in coal use for the second year in a row, and sustained growth in oil and gas use.
The 10 biggest emitters in 2018 are China, U.S., India, Russia, Japan, Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Canada. The EU as a region of countries ranks third. China’s emissions accounted for 27% of the global total, having grown an estimated 4.7% in 2018 and reaching a new all-time high.
Emissions in the U.S., which has withdrawn from its commitment to the Paris Agreement, account for 15% of the global total, and look set to have grown about 2.5% in 2018 after several years of decline.
Limiting global warming to the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of keeping the global temperature increase this century to well below 2°C, would need carbon dioxide emissions to decline by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by about 2050.
Though coal use contributed to the rise in 2018 from last year, it still remains below its historical high in 2013 but may exceed that if current growth continues.
About Global Carbon Project:
The Global Carbon Project was formed in 2001 to help the international science community to establish a common, mutually agreed knowledge base that supports policy debate and action to slow the rate of increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
It is a Global Research Project of Future Earth and a research partner of the World Climate Research Programme. It was formed to work with the international science community to establish a common and mutually agreed knowledge base to support policy debate and action to slow down and ultimately stop the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The Global Carbon Project works collaboratively with the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, the World Climate Programme, the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change and Diversitas, under the Earth System Science Partnership.
Source: The Hindu
Distribution of Soil Health Cards (SHC) for optimal utilization of fertilizers
Soil Health Card Scheme has been taken up for the first time in a comprehensive manner across the country. It is provided to all farmers.
It is to enable the farmers to apply appropriate recommended dosages of nutrients for crop production and improving soil health and its fertility.
Collecting soil samples at a grid of 2.5 ha in irrigated area and 10 ha in un-irrigated areas.
Uniform approach in soil testing adopted for 12 parameters primary nutrients (NPK), secondary nutrient (S); micronutrients (B, Zn, Mn. Fe & Cu); and other (pH, EC & OC) for comprehensiveness.
GPS enabled soil sampling to create a systematic database and allow monitoring of changes in the soil health over the years.
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) will be implemented during 12th Plan to make agriculture more productive, sustainable and climate resilient; to conserve natural resources; to adopt comprehensive soil health management practices; to optimize utilization of water resources; etc.
Soil Health Management (SHM) is one of the most significant interventions under NMSA.
Aims of SHM:
To promote Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) through judicious use of chemical fertilizers including secondary and micro nutrients in conjunction with organic manures and bio-fertilisers for improving soil health and its productivity;
To strengthen soil and fertilizer testing facilities to give soil test based recommendations to farmers for improving soil fertility;
To ensure quality control requirements of fertilizers, bio-fertilizers under Fertiliser Control Order, 1985;
To upgrade skill and knowledge of soil testing laboratory staff, extension staff and farmers through training and demonstrations;
To promote organic farming practices, etc.
National Integration tour
The National Integration Tours are educational and motivational tours for youth of Jammu & Kashmir and North Eastern States.
Aim of the National Integration Tour:
It aims to provide an insight into the rich heritage of the country as well as various developmental and industry initiatives that are underway.
This initiative will expose them to various career options and enable them to interact with renowned personalities.
The National Integration Tour has been initiated as part of the Indian Army’s ongoing outreach programme to foster the spirit of National Integration across the entire swathe of the country.