15th APRIL 2016
GS II: SOCIAL – SCHEME
Gramodaya Se Bharatodaya Abhiyan
Mr. Modi launched Gramodaya Se Bharatodaya Abhiyan (Development of the Nation through Development of the Village), underlining that the growth of purchasing power in villages, rather than growth in cities or having some billionaires, would help develop India, thus seeking to project a “pro-poor” image in an apparent response to Opposition charges that his government was “pro-corporate”.
GS III: ENVIRONMENT - TIGERS
Indian tigers may replenish Cambodian forests
Cambodia is looking to India to bring wild tigers back to its forests where they were declared “functionally extinct” recently. The Southeast Asian country is trying to get some tigers from India introduced into its eastern region. A formal proposal from Cambodia is likely later this year.
“We are in talks…for six female tigers and two males and we expect more discussions on it this year,” Sokhun TY, Secretary of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia, said.
India has said it is open to the idea, but wants several conditions for the safety of the tigers to be addressed. “We await a formal proposal and have to think of several aspects. Safety, adaptability to the forests there, risks that our tigers could face are some,” said Ashok Lavasa, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. “There is no specific timeline.”
Cambodia’s dry forests bear similarities to India’s, but conservation biologists say they may not be conducive in terms of low prey density and lax enforcement of anti-poaching laws.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said India was committed to the principles of ‘restoration, reintroduction and rehabilitation’ that formed part of a resolution by the assembled countries to double the world’s tiger numbers by 2020 from the current 3,890.
GS I : GEOGRAPHY – RESOURCES - WATER
Water levels in 91 major reservoirs alarmingly low
Water levels in major reservoirs of the country are alarmingly low, weekly data released by Central Water Commission (CWC) shows.
CWC, a technical organisation under the aegis of Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, monitors live storage status of 91 major reservoirs in the country.
Live storage capacity of these reservoirs is 157.799 BCM (Billion Cubic Meters), which is 62 per cent of the live storage capacity that is estimated to have been created in India.
‘Live storage’ is the portion of the reservoir that can be utilised for flood control, power production, navigation and downstream releases.
As per the latest report released on April 13, 2016, live storage available in these reservoirs is 35.839 BCM, which is 23 per cent of the total live storage capacity of these reservoirs.
Experts attribute the depleting water levels in reservoirs to two years of poor rainfall in the country.
The western and southern regions are the most affected. The live storage level in 27 reservoirs of the western region, which includes Maharashtra and Gujarat, is a mere 18 per cent, compared to 36 per cent last year. In the southern region, the situation is even worse, with water levels at 15 per cent of the total live storage capacity in 31 reservoirs of this region.
In fact, four reservoirs – three in Maharashtra and one in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (combined project in both States) – are left with no water at the moment.
The central and eastern regions have storage levels greater than 30 per cent, better than the national average.
Overall, 74 of the total 91 reservoirs have storage levels lower than the average of last ten years. Looking at States, apart from West Bengal, Tripura and Madhya Pradesh, all other 16 States housing these reservoirs have below normal storage levels.
GS II : GOVERNANCE
New team to handle top-secret files
Faced with a growing number of leaks and indiscipline in the Home Ministry, the Union government is drawing up a list of people who will handle “top secret” work and the personnel would be chosen irrespective of their ranks, a top government official told.
An official said the decision comes after a file pertaining to a high-profile case went missing in March 2016. The file was traced and disciplinary proceedings were initiated against the official who had “walked away” with the file.
There was a 16 per cent jump in the number of cases of indiscipline and departmental proceedings initiated against officials of the Ministry in 2015.
In March, a circular issued by the Home Ministry said: “It is proposed to draw up a list of employees of the MHA, irrespective of rank, who are holding posts that are required to handle top secret work or work of extra sensitive nature and refer their cases to the Intelligence Bureau for positive vetting.”
“There has been a jump in these figures as the government has zero tolerance for officials indulging in unscrupulous activity. As many as 261 non-gazetted and three gazetted officers were dismissed last year, while 101 officials were made to retire compulsorily,” said the official.
The new guidelines mean that the officials handling secret files will have to undergo an extra layer of background check. “Since background check is conducted on all government officials before they are given appointment letters, there will be an additional round of security check for these officials,” said the official.
GS II: GOVERNANCE – GOOD SAMARITAN
Delhi to reward autorickshaw drivers helping accident victims
In what may become one of the most progressive policies to promote road safety, the Delhi government will soon give a reward of Rs. 2,000 to autorickshaw drivers who take road accident and trauma victims to hospital.
The reason is autorickshaws are likely to reach victims before an ambulance. In fact, after a Police Control Room van, the auto-rickshaw is the fastest to get to the victims, followed by friends or relatives, then come ambulances. The decision comes weeks after the Supreme Court approved guidelines to protect Good Samaritans. The government also plans to give auto drivers life-support training and ask them to carry first aid kits.
In India, 1.41 lakh deaths occurred in accidents during 2014. The maximum fatalities were reported on Delhi’s roads with 2,199 deaths during the year, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
Nearly half the number of deaths on Indian roads can be prevented if the victims are brought to hospitals within the ‘golden hour.’ The ‘golden hour’ refers to the first hour after an accident, during which, if given prompt medical attention, the accident victim has the highest likelihood of survival.
GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-EU
India blames EU for FTA talks delay
Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has blamed the European Union (EU) for delaying talks on the proposed India-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Sitharaman said India has the political will to expeditiously conclude the negotiations. Therefore, India is ready to resume the negotiations (stalled since 2013) at the earliest and she had conveyed this to EU Commissioner (Trade) Cecilia Malmstrom after the 13th India-EU Summit in Brussels, but was yet to get a response.
The joint statement at the end of the Summit on March 30, 2016 had said, “Leaders welcomed that both sides have re-engaged in discussions with a view to considering how to further the EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) negotiations.” The FTA is formally known as the BTIA. According to sources in the Indian government, the resumption of talks have been delayed due to the uncertainty over ‘Brexit’.
GS II : INTERNATIONAL – SOUTH CHINA SEA
U.S., Philippines launch joint patrols in South China Sea
The U.S. said it has launched joint South China Sea naval patrols with the Philippines, escalating its presence as it accused Beijing of “militarising” a region which is locked in territorial disputes.
In a show of strength, U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter also announced that 275 troops and five A-10 ground attack aircraft currently in the country for annual war games will remain there temporarily.
China warned deployments must not damage “regional stability”, but Mr. Carter said Washington’s efforts to strengthen its military role in the region were not done “in order to provoke”. He said the U.S. was responding to regional anxiety over China’s muscular actions in the South China Sea, including building artificial islands over disputed reefs.
China’s claim of almost all of South China Sea, is disputed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. The Philippines has taken the disputed U.N. Convention on the Law of Seas, (UNCLOS). The tribunal proceedings were boycotted by China.