[op-ed snap] From Plate to Plough: A win-win deal

Mains Paper 2 : Government Scheme/Policies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Agricultural subsidy reforms


Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss at any cost.

CONTEXT

In her budget speech, the Union finance minister (FM) said: “At the centre of everything that we do, we keep gaon, garib aur kisan in mind.”

Background

  • Here then is a small mantra for her to transform the lives of the kisan and the poor in rural areas.
  • Just streamline the food and fertiliser subsidies by converting them to direct cash transfers to identified beneficiaries.
  • This can be done through the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile). Such a measure would not only empower the poor and farmers but also usher in a policy shift that can save the exchequer least Rs 50,000 crore every year.
  • The government can invest this in agri-R&D and better water management, in measures to ensure the country’s food security for the next 25 years and to augment farmers’ incomes.
  • The food subsidy allocation in the budget is Rs 1,84, 220 crore — let us say Rs 1.84 lakh crore.
  •  Pending Dues – The pending dues of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) stand at Rs 1.86 lakh crore.
  • Under-provisioning of the food subsidy- Year after year, there is under-provisioning of the food subsidy in the budget and the FCI is being asked to borrow from the banks so that the fiscal deficit can be shown under control.
  • The FCI’s loans from the banks have now crossed Rs 2.48 lakh crore (see figure).
(Illustration by Suvajit Dey)

 

2.Efficiency, equity and sustainability

  •  Does 67 per cent of the population covered under the NFSA cannot afford basic food?
  • There is more than 90 per cent subsidy on rice and wheat under the PDS — the economic cost of rice hovers around Rs 35 per kg and that of wheat is about Rs 25 per kg, while rice is being sold via the PDS at Rs 3 per kg and wheat at Rs 2 per kg

Selling price is less than MSP  –

  • Interestingly, in rural areas in a majority of states, rice (paddy) is sold at less than the minimum support price (MSP).
  • The landless labourers and small and marginal farmers, most of whom are covered under PDS, produce these staples.
  • The government first buys paddy and wheat from rural areas and, after adding almost 50 per cent cost for procurement, stocking and distribution on top of the MSP price, sells the back most of this grain to people in rural areas.

Benefits of cash transfer to beneficiary

  • The government can achieve its ends in a much more cost-effective way if it transfers an equivalent amount of food subsidy in the form of cash to the beneficiary’s accounts.
  • More Choices – The beneficiary will have the freedom to buy anything — rice, wheat, coarse cereals, pulses or even milk and eggs, which are more nutritious. Diversified diets will signal the need for diversification in farms.
  • Environmentally Sound – The government can keep some stocks for strategic purposes but gradually reduce procurement and shrink the size and operations of FCI, especially in areas where the water table is depleting fast — the northwest of the country, for example.

Coverage under FSA

  • Further, the government has to think whether the coverage under PDS should be 67 per cent of the population or if it should be brought down to, say, 40 or even 30 per cent.
  • Why should the price of rice be kept at Rs 3 per kg and that of wheat at Rs 2 per kg?
  • This leads to massive diversion of PDS supplies to the open market.
  • Leakages – The Shanta Kumar Panel had estimated the leakages in PDS at 46 per cent.

Fertiliser Subsidy

  • The FM has allocated Rs 80,000 crore for fertilisers in the budget.
  •  Under Provisioning – The fertiliser industry says that there is massive under-provisioning.
  • Pending Dues- The industry also claims that Rs 38,000 crore of its dues are pending with the government.

 

  • The problem is that the government does not have the will to revise the urea price, which at roughly $80 per tonne, is the lowest in the world.
  • The average cost of production of the industry is around $250 per tonne, import parity hovers around $300 per tonne and keeps fluctuating, depending on global prices.
  • The government has revived some almost dead plants (for example at Gorakhpur and Ramgundam) that produce urea at more than $400 per tonne.

Lack of economic rationale –

  • It seems there is no economic rationale either in the pricing of urea for the farmers at $80 per tonne or producing urea, at the margin, at $400 per tonne.
  • This is leading to large leakages and inefficient use, besides polluting the groundwater table — in fact, the environment at large.
  • Interestingly, crops do not absorb more than 25 per cent of the urea being applied in India.
  • So, basically, we are subsidising the pollution of the environment.

Conclusion

Can the Modi government rationalise these subsidies by converting them into direct cash transfers on a per hectare basis?  Back-of-the-envelope calculations show that the government can save about Rs 50,000 crore every year through such measures. The money can be invested in agri-R&D and water management. That would be the biggest reform in agri-food space

Agricultural Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

[op-ed snap] Sucking up surplus

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : SEBI's autonomy


CONTEXT

The Centre’s decision to clip the wings of the Securities and Exchange Board of India has not gone down too well with its members. Yet, the Centre is refusing to budge. In a letter dated July 10, SEBI Chairman Ajay Tyagi said the Centre’s decision to suck out SEBI’s surplus funds will affect its autonomy.

Background

  • As part of the Finance Bill introduced in Parliament, the Centre had proposed amendments to the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 that were seen as affecting SEBI’s financial autonomy.
  • To be specific, the amendments required that after 25% of its surplus cash in any year is transferred to its reserve fund, SEBI will have to transfer the remaining 75% to the government.
  • On Friday, the government rejected the plea from SEBI’s officials asking the government to reconsider its decision, thus paving the way for further conflict.
  • Prima facie, there seems to be very little rationale in the government’s decision to confiscate funds from the chief markets regulator.

Impacts

  • For one, it is highly unlikely that the quantum of funds that the government is likely to receive from SEBI will make much of a difference to the government’s overall fiscal situation.
  • So the amendment to the SEBI Act seems to be clearly motivated by the desire to increase control over the regulator rather than by financial considerations.
  • This is particularly so given that the recent amendments require SEBI to seek approval from the government to go ahead with its capital expenditure plans.
  • A regulatory agency that is at the government’s mercy to run its financial and administrative operations cannot be expected to be independent.
  • Further, the lack of financial autonomy can affect SEBI’s plans to improve the quality of its operations by investing in new technologies and other requirements to upgrade market infrastructure.

Long term impacts

  • This can affect the health of India’s financial markets in the long run. In the larger picture, this is not the first time that the government at the Centre has gone after independent agencies.
  • The Reserve Bank of India and the National Sample Survey Office have come under pressure in recent months, and the latest move on SEBI adds to this worrisome trend of independent agencies being subordinated by the government.
  • The Centre perhaps believes it can do a better job of regulating the economy by consolidating all existing powers under the Finance Ministry.
  • But such centralisation of powers will be risky.

Conclusion

Regulatory agencies such as SEBI need to be given full powers over their assets and be made accountable to Parliament. Stripping them of their powers by subsuming them under the wings of the government will affect their credibility.

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

[op-ed snap] The tremor of unwelcome amendments to the RTI Act

Mains Paper 2 : Governance, Transparency & Accountability, Citizens Charters |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Problems with proposed amendments


CONTEXT

  • “Amendments” have haunted the Right to Information (RTI) community ever since the RTI Act came into effect almost 14 years ago.
  • Rarely has a law been so stoutly defended by activists. It is not possible to pass a perfect law.
  • But it was a popular opinion strongly held by most RTI activists that a demand for progressive amendments could be used as a smokescreen by the establishment to usher in regressive changes.

Background of amendments

  • Nevertheless, the sword of Damocles of regressive amendments has hung over the RTI with successive governments.
  • Amendments have been proposed since 2006, just six months after the law was implemented and many times thereafter.
  • Peoples’ campaigns, through reasoned protest and popular appeal, have managed to have them withdrawn.

The proposed amendments

  1.Challenging Autonomy

In the form of the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019, they seek to amend Sections 13, 16, and 27 of the RTI Act which carefully links, and thereby equates, the status of the Central Information Commissioners (CICs) with the Election Commissioners and the State Information Commissioners with the Chief Secretary in the States, so that they can function in an independent and effective manner.

2. Giving central overarching power – The deliberate dismantling of this architecture empowers the Central government to unilaterally decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of Information Commissioners, both at the Centre and the States.

Why is there a need of change?

Some feel that it is because the RTI helped with the cross-verification of the affidavits of powerful electoral candidates with official documents and certain Information Commissioners having ruled in favour of disclosure.

Challenge to the misuse of power – It is unlikely to be a set of instances but more the fact that the RTI is a constant challenge to the misuse of power.

Empowering a citizen’s access to power and decision-making –

  • In a country where the rule of law hangs by a slender thread and corruption and the arbitrary use of power is a daily norm, the RTI has resulted in a fundamental shift — empowering a citizen’s access to power and decision-making.
  • It has been a lifeline for many of the 40 to 60 lakh ordinary users, many of them for survival.
  • It has also been a threat to arbitrariness, privilege, and corrupt governance.
  • More than 80 RTI users have been murdered because their courage and determination using the RTI was a challenge to unaccountable power.

Impact of RTI

  • The RTI has been used brilliantly and persistently to ask a million questions across the spectrum — from the village ration shop, the Reserve Bank of India, the Finance Ministry, on demonetisation, non-performing assets, the Rafale fighter aircraft deal, electoral bonds, unemployment figures, the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), Election Commissioners, and the (non)-appointment of the Information Commissioners themselves.
  • The information related to decision-making at the highest level has in most cases eventually been accessed because of the independence and high status of the Information Commission.

RTI 

  • The RTI movement has struggled to access information and through it, a share of governance and democratic power.
  • The Indian RTI law has been a breakthrough in creating mechanisms and platforms for the practice of continual public vigilance that are fundamental to democratic citizenship.
  • The mostly unequal struggle to extract information from vested interests in government needed an institutional and legal mechanism which would not only be independent but also function with a transparency mandate and be empowered to over-ride the traditional structures of secrecy and exclusive control.
  • An independent Information Commission which is the highest authority on information along with the powers to penalise errant officials has been a cornerstone of India’s celebrated RTI legislation.

Part of checks and balances

  • The task of the Information Commission is therefore different but no less important than that of the Election Commission of India.
  • Independent structures set up to regulate and monitor the government are vital to a democratic state committed to deliver justice and constitutional guarantees.
  • The separation of powers is a concept which underscores this independence and is vital to our democratic checks and balances.
  • When power is centralised and the freedom of expression threatened no matter what the context, democracy is definitely in peril.
  • Sections being amended – Apart from Section 13 which deals with the terms and conditions for the Central information Commission, in amending Section 16, the Central government will also control through rules, the terms and conditions of appointment of Commissioners in the States. This is an assault on the idea of federalism.

Opaque moves

Checks by committee –

  • All the provisions related to appointment were carefully examined by a parliamentary standing committee and the law was passed unanimously.
  • It has been acknowledged that one of the most important structural constituents of any independent oversight institution, i.e. the CVC, the Chief Election Commission (CEC), the Lokpal, and the CIC is a basic guarantee of tenure. In the case of the Information Commissioners they are appointed for five years subject to the age limit of 65 years.
  • It was on the recommendation of the parliamentary standing committee that the Information Commissioner and CIC were made on a par with the Election Commissioner and the CEC, respectively.

Challenges in the manner of amendment being pursued

1.Bypassing examination by the standing committee – The manner in which the amendments are being pushed through without any citizen consultation, bypassing examination by the standing committee demonstrates the desperation to pass the amendments without even proper parliamentary scrutiny.

2.Pre-legislative consultative policy – The mandatory pre-legislative consultative policy of the government has been ignored.

Previous governments eventually introduced a measure of public consultation before proceeding with the amendments.

2.Violation of Constitutional Values –

  • If the amendments are discussed by citizens and RTI activists in the public domain, it would be apparent that these amendments fundamentally weaken an important part of the RTI architecture.
  • They violate the constitutional principles of federalism, undermine the independence of Information Commissions, and thereby significantly dilute the widely used framework for transparency in India.

Conclusion

The RTI has unshackled millions of users who will continue to use this democratic right creatively and to dismantle exclusive power. The RTI has been and will be used to withstand attacks on itself and strengthen the movement for transparency and accountability in India. Eventually, the Narendra Modi government will realise that while it might be able to amend a law, it cannot stop a movement.

RTI – CIC, RTI Backlog, etc.

Explained: Why are parliamentary standing committees necessary?

Mains Paper 2 : Ministries & Departments Of The Government |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various Parliamentary Committees

Mains level : Functions and importance of various parliamentary committees


News

Context

  • Eleven of the 22 Bills introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament have been passed, which makes it a highly productive session after many years.
  • But these Bills have been passed without scrutiny by parliamentary standing committees, their purpose being to enable detailed consideration of a piece of legislation.
  • After the formation of the 17th Lok Sabha, parliamentary standing committees have not been constituted as consultations among parties are still under way.
  • Partly as a result of this, the Bills were passed without committee scrutiny.

Parliamentary committees

  • They are established to study and deal with various matters that cannot be directly handled by the legislature due to their volume.
  • They also monitor the functioning of the executive branch.
  • The Parliamentary committees are of two kinds – Standing or permanent committees and Ad hoc committees.
  • The former are elected or appointed periodically and they work on a continuous basis.
  • The latter are created on an ad hoc basis as the need arises and they are dissolved after they complete the task assigned to them.

What are the types of committees?

  • Most committees are ‘standing’ as their existence is uninterrupted and usually reconstituted on an annual basis; some are ‘select’ committees formed for a specific purpose, for instance, to deliberate on a particular bill.
  • Once the Bill is disposed of, that select committee ceases to exist. Some standing committees are departmentally related, an example being the Standing Committee on HRD.
  • A Bill related to education could either be considered by the department standing committee or a select committee that will be specifically set up.
  • The chair uses her discretion to refer a matter to a parliamentary committee but this is usually done in consultation with leaders of parties in the House.
  • Financial control is a critical tool for Parliament’s authority over the executive; hence finance committees are considered to be particularly powerful.
  • The three financial committees are the Public Accounts Committee, the Estimates Committee and the Committee on Public Undertakings.

Its origins

  • As is the case with several other practices of Indian parliamentary democracy, the institution of Parliamentary Committees also has its origins in the British Parliament.
  • The first Parliamentary Committee was constituted in 1571 in Britain.
  • The Public Accounts Committee was established in 1861. In India, the first PAC was constituted in April 1950.
  • The practice of regularly referring bills to committees began in 1989 after government departments started forming their own standing committees.
  • Prior to that, select committees or joint committees of the houses were only set up to scrutinise in detail some very important bills, but this was few and far between.

Nature of their recommendation

  • Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).
  • Committee reports are usually exhaustive and provide authentic information on matters related to governance.
  • Bills that are referred to committees are returned to the House with significant value addition.
  • Parliament is not bound by the recommendations of committees.

Why need Parliamentary Committees?

  • In a parliamentary democracy, Parliament has broadly two functions, which are lawmaking and oversight of the executive branch of the government.
  • Parliament is the embodiment of the people’s will. Committees are an instrument of Parliament for its own effective functioning.
  • Given the volume of legislative business, discussing all Bills under the consideration of Parliament in detail on the floor of the House is impossible.
  • Committees are platforms for threadbare discussion on a proposed law.
  • At least in principle, the assumption is that the smaller group of lawmakers, assembled on the basis of the proportional strength of individual parties and interests and expertise of individual lawmakers, could have more open, intensive and better informed discussions.
  • Committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips which allow them the latitude for a more meaningful exchange of views.

Importance of such committees

  • Disruptive changes in technology and the expansion of trade, commerce and economy in general throw up new policy challenges that require a constant reform of legal and institutional structures.
  • While lawmaking gets increasingly complex, lawmakers cannot infinitely expand their knowledge into ever expanding areas of human activities.
  • For instance, we live in an era of metadata being generated by expanding connectivity. The laws and regulations that are required to govern a digital society cannot be made without highly specialised knowledge and political acumen.
  • Members of Parliament may have great acumen but they would require the assistance of experts in dealing with such situations. It is through committees that such expertise is drawn into lawmaking.

Enhancing executive accountability

  • Executive accountability to the legislature is enforced through questions in Parliament also, which are answered by ministers.
  • However, department standing committees go one step further and hear from senior officials of the government in a closed setting, allowing for more detailed discussions.
  • This mechanism also enables parliamentarians to understand the executive processes closely.

Explained: When a juvenile is tried as an adult, when not

Mains Paper 2 : Laws, Institutions & Bodies Constituted For The Vulnerable Sections |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Juvenile Justice in India and issues associated with it


News

Background

  • In 2016, a 17-year-old was booked for the murder of his three-year-old neighbour in Mumbai.
  • The city Juvenile Justice Board as well as a children’s court directed that he be tried as an adult under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015.
  • Last week, the Bombay High Court set aside these orders and directed that the accused be tried as a minor, saying the Act is reformative and not retributive.

When is a Child tried as an Adult?

  • The Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 was amended in 2015 with a provision allowing for Children in Conflict with Law (CCL) to be tried as adults under certain circumstances.
  • The Act defines a child as someone who is under age 18.
  • For a CCL, age on the date of the offence is the basis for determining whether he or she was a child or an adult.
  • The amended Act distinguishes children in the age group 16-18 as a category which can be tried as adults if they are alleged to have committed a heinous offence — one that attracts a minimum punishment of seven years.
  • The Act does not, however, make it mandatory for all children in this age group to be tried as adults.

How?

  • Trial as an adult is not a default choice; a conscious, calibrated one; And for that, all the statutory criteria must be fulfilled, said Bombay High Court
  • As per Section 15 of the JJ Act, there are three criteria that the Juvenile Justice Board in the concerned district should consider while conducting a preliminary assessment to determine a child be tried as an adult.
  • The criteria are whether the child has the mental and physical capacity to commit such an offence; whether the child has the ability to understand its consequences; and the circumstances in which the offence was committed.
  • If the Board finds that the child can be tried as an adult, the case is transferred to a designated children’s court, which again decides whether the Board’s decision is correct.

Why was this distinction made?

  • The amendment was proposed by the Ministry of WCD in 2014 (effective from 2015).
  • This was in the backdrop of the gang-rape of a woman inside a bus in Delhi in 2012, leading to her death.
  • One of the offenders was a 17-year-old, which led to the Ministry proposing the amendment (although it could not have retrospectively applied to him).
  • The then Minister, Maneka Gandhi, cited an increase in cases of offenders in that age group; child rights activists objected to the amendment.
  • The J S Verma Committee constituted to recommend amendments also stated that it was not inclined to reduce the age of a juvenile from 18 to 16.

Why is the issue under debate?

  • The statute permits a child of 16 years and above to stand trial as an adult in case of heinous offence, it did not mean that all those children should be subjected to adult punishment.
  • Essentially, the trial in the regular court is offence-oriented; in the juvenile court, it is offender-oriented.
  • In other words, in the children’s court, societal safety and the child’s future are balanced.
  • For an adult offender, prison is the default opinion; for a juvenile it is the last resort.
Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act

Antibiotic Colistin banned in animal food industry

Mains Paper 3 : Economics Of Animal-Rearing |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Colistin

Mains level : AMR and its hazards in India


News

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued an order prohibiting the manufacture, sale and distribution of colistin and its formulations for food-producing animals, poultry, aqua farming and animal feed supplements.

What is Colistin?

  • According to the WHO, Colistin is a “reserve” antibiotic, which means it is supposed to be considered a “last-resort” option in treatment and used only in the most severe circumstances, when all other alternatives have failed.
  • However, this strong antibiotic has been “highly misused” in India’s livestock industry to prevent diseases and as promote growth of such animals.
  • Medical professionals have been alarmed by the number of patients who have exhibited resistance to the drug.
  • Most are not aware of the presence of colistin, since it comes mixed in the feed. A bulk of colistin (nearly 95%) is imported from China.

Alarm for India

  • A 2017 global study on antibiotic use in farm animals projected the consumption of antibiotics through animal sources to nearly double during 2013-2030.
  • This means India’s AMR problem is expected to worsen due to the consumption of antibiotics through animal sources.
  • The study ranked India the fourth largest consumer of antibiotics in food animals globally after China, the United States and Brazil.
Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS)

Mains Paper 2 : Representation Of People's Act |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ETBPS, Service Voters

Mains level : Not Much


News

  • Among the many milestones recorded by Election Commission of India during the recently concluded Lok Sabha Election 2019, Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) is one of its kind.

About ETPBS

  • It is a fully secured system, having two security layers.
  • Secrecy of voting is maintained through the use of OTP and PIN and no duplication of casted ETPB is possible due to the unique QR Code in the portal https://www.etpbs.in.
  • Through this system the service voters cast their vote on an electronically received postal ballot, from anywhere outside their constituency, thus reducing the chances of losing the voting opportunity.
  • The purpose of the online system was to create convenient and easy-to-use online system for Defense Personnel to become Service Voters.
  • With the motto of “no voter to be left behind”, Election Commission of India’s ETPBS has empowered and ensured all eligible service electors with their constitutional power to vote while performing their duty for the nation.

Who is a Service Voter?

According to the provisions of sub-section (8) of Section 20 of RP Act, 1950, Service Voters are:

  • Those serving in the Armed Forces of the Union.
  • Those serving in a Force to which the Army Act 1950 applies (Assam rifles, CRPF, BSF, ITBP, SSB, NSG, GREF in BRO (Border Road organisation), CISF etc.
  • Member of an Armed Police Force of a State, serving outside that state.
  • Government officials deployed in Embassies outside the country.

Impact of the ETBPS

  • Compared to 13,27,627 number of registered Service Electors of last General Election in 2014, a record highest number of 18,02,646 were enrolled as Service Electors in 2019.
Electoral Reforms In India

IUCN ‘Red List’

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IUCN , Red List

Mains level : Conservation of wildlife


News

  • Mankind’s destruction of nature is driving species to the brink of extinction at an “unprecedented” rate, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned.
  • It added more than 7,000 animals, fish and plants to its endangered “Red List”.

Major Highlights

  • Freshwater fish species globally are under grave threat according to the latest edition of the IUCN’s Red List.
  • In fact, over half of Japan’s endemic freshwater fishes and more than a third of freshwater fishes in Mexico were threatened with extinction, the list of threatened species released on July 18, 2019, said.
  • The main reasons behind this were the usual suspects, namely loss of free-flowing rivers and agricultural and urban pollution.
  • It was revealed recently that two-thirds of the world’s great rivers no longer flow freely.
  • Another noteworthy factor was competition with and predation by invasive alien species of fish.

About IUCN

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations.
  • It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.
  • Created in 1948, IUCN has evolved into the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network.
  • IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.
  • IUCN has observer and consultative status at the United Nations, and plays a role in the implementation of several international conventions on nature conservation and biodiversity.
  • It was involved in establishing the World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

IUCN Red List

  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species founded in 1964, has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.
  • It uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of all species and subspecies.
  • A series of Regional Red Lists are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit.
  • The IUCN aims to have the category of every species re-evaluated every five years if possible, or at least every ten years.
  • For plants, the 1997 Red List is the most important source.
  • The formally stated goals of the Red List are-
  1. to provide scientifically based information on the status of species and subspecies at a global level,
  2. to draw attention to the magnitude and importance of threatened biodiversity,
  3. to influence national and international policy and decision-making, and
  4. to provide information to guide actions to conserve biological diversity.

Red List Categories of IUCN

Species are classified by the IUCN Red List into nine groups specified through criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation. They are:

  • Extinct (EX) – beyond reasonable doubt that the species is no longer extant.
  • Extinct in the wild (EW) – survives only in captivity, cultivation and/or outside native range, as presumed after exhaustive surveys.
  • Critically endangered (CR) – in a particularly and extremely critical state.
  • Endangered (EN) – very high risk of extinction in the wild, meets any of criteria A to E for Endangered.
  • Vulnerable (VU) – meets one of the 5 red list criteria and thus considered to be at high risk of unnatural (human-caused) extinction without further human intervention.
  • Near threatened (NT) – close to being at high risk of extinction in the near future.
  • Least concern (LC) – unlikely to become extinct in the near future.
  • Data deficient (DD)
  • Not evaluated (NE)
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Thirty Meter Telescope

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : 30m telescope

Mains level : Functions of the telescope



News

Thirty Metre Telescope

  • The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a proposed astronomical observatory with an extremely large telescope (ELT) that has become the source of controversy over its planned location on Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii in the US state of Hawaii.
  • It is being built by an international collaboration of government organisations and educational institutions, at a cost of $1.4 billion.
  • “Thirty Metre” refers to the the 30-metre diameter of the mirror, with 492 segments of glass pieced together, which makes it three times as wide as the world’s largest existing visible-light telescope.
  • The larger the mirror, the more light a telescope can collect, which means, in turn, that it can “see” farther, fainter objects.
  • It would be more than 200 times more sensitive than current telescopes, and would be able to resolve objects 12 times better than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Utility of the telescope

  • One of its key uses will be the study of exoplanets, many of which have been detected in the last few years, and whether their atmospheres contain water vapour or methane — the signatures of possible life.
  • For the first time in history this telescope will be capable of detecting extraterrestrial life.
  • The study of black holes is another objective.
  • While these have been observed in detail within the Milky Way, the next galaxy is 100 times farther away; the Thirty Metre Telescope will help bring them closer.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries