- International Day for Biosphere Reserves
- Universal Basic Income
- Advocate-on-Record System
- Haemoglobin in Chondrocytes
- Pancorius Sebastiani
- Helicobacter Pylori
The second anniversary of International Biosphere Reserve Day, celebrated on November 3, annually highlights the critical importance of biosphere reserves(BR) in safeguarding our environment and promoting sustainability.
GS III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- World Biosphere Reserve Day 2023
- What are Biosphere Reserves?
- Status of Biosphere Reserves in India
- International Status of Biosphere Reserve
World Biosphere Reserve Day 2023
- World Biosphere Reserve Day is a day dedicated to celebrating the significant role of biosphere reserves in conserving biodiversity and advancing sustainable development.
- It was established by UNESCO in 2022, with the intention of observing it annually on November 3.
- The primary goals of World Biosphere Reserve Day are to raise awareness about the importance of biosphere reserves, share best practices in conservation and sustainability, and highlight the achievements of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).
- This day serves as a platform to recognize and promote the valuable work of biosphere reserves around the world, fostering a deeper understanding of their contributions to environmental protection and sustainable living.
UNESCO Collaborates for Environmental Sustainability in South and Central Asia
In collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change and the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, UNESCO concluded the 10th South and Central Asian Biosphere Reserve Network Meeting (SACAM) in Chennai, India.
Theme – “Ridge to Reef”:
- The SACAM event was themed “Ridge to Reef,” emphasizing the importance of holistic and integrated environmental practices in the regions of South and Central Asia.
- The event provided a platform for fostering collaboration among nations in South and Central Asia, with a focus on promoting sustainable environmental practices.
- The collaboration aimed to address challenges related to environmental conservation, biodiversity protection, and the sustainable management of natural resources in these regions.
What are Biosphere Reserves?
- Biosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development’.
- They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and inters between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.
- They are places that provide local solutions to global challenges.
- Biosphere reserves include terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each site promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
- Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located.
- Biosphere Reserves are designated under the intergovernmental MAB Programme by the Director-General of UNESCO following the decisions of the MAB International Coordinating Council (MAB ICC).
- Biosphere Reserves involve local communities and all interested stakeholders in planning and management.
Main functions of Biosphere reserves:
- Conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity
- Economic development that is socio-culturally and environmentally sustainable
- Logistic support, underpinning development through research, monitoring, education and training
Three main zones
- Core Areas
- It comprises a strictly protected zone that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation
- Buffer Zones
- It surrounds or adjoins the core area(s), and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training and education.
- Transition Area
- The transition area is where communities foster socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable economic and human activities.
Status of Biosphere Reserves in India
- India now has 18 designated biosphere reserves totaling 60,000 square kilometres.
- The blue mountains of the Nilgiris, which span Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala, were India’s first biosphere reserve.
- Dibru-Saikhowa (Assam) is the smallest while the Gulf of Kachchh (in Gujarat) is the largest biosphere reserve .
18 biosphere reserves in India:
- Cold Desert, Himachal Pradesh
- Nanda Devi, Uttarakhand
- Khangchendzonga, Sikkim
- Dehang-Debang, Arunachal Pradesh
- Manas, Assam
- Dibru-Saikhowa, Assam
- Nokrek, Meghalaya
- Panna, Madhya Pradesh
- Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh
- Achanakmar-Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh
- Kachchh, Gujarat (Largest Area)
- Similipal, Odisha
- Sundarban, West Bengal
- Seshachalam, Andhra Pradesh
- Agasthyamala, Karnataka-Tamil Nadu-Kerala
- Nilgiri, Tamil Nadu-Kerala (First to be Included)
- Gulf of Mannar, Tamil Nadu
- Great Nicobar, Andaman & Nicobar Island
International Status of Biosphere Reserve
- For natural areas, UNESCO has established the term “Biosphere Reserve” to reduce conflicts between development and preservation.
- Under the Man and Biosphere Reserve Program of UNESCO, national governments that meet a minimal set of requirements can nominate biosphere reserves.
- There are currently 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites.
- There are 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites, according to UNESCO.
- The highest number of such sites are in Spain, Russia and Mexico.
Man and Biosphere Programme
- The MAB programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments.
- It combines the natural and social sciences with a view to improving human livelihoods and safeguarding natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable.
- There are total 12 biosphere reserves of India which have been recognized internationally under Man and Biosphere Reserve program
-Source: The Hindu
Recently, the positive outcome Universal Basic Income (UBI), can have on individuals and families has been highlighted through the WorkFREE pilot project, started in 2022 in Telangana.
GS II: Government Policies and Interventions
Dimensions of the Article:
- Universal Basic Income (UBI)
- WorkFREE Pilot Project: A Transformative Social Initiative
- The Way Forward for Universal Basic Income (UBI)
Universal Basic Income (UBI):
Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a social welfare proposal that entails providing all beneficiaries with a guaranteed income through unconditional transfer payments. It is designed to alleviate poverty and replace other need-based social programs, potentially reducing bureaucratic involvement.
Pros of UBI:
- Poverty Reduction: UBI reduces poverty and income inequality by establishing a minimum income floor, particularly benefiting vulnerable and marginalized groups. It enables people to afford basic necessities like food, healthcare, education, and housing.
- Improved Health: UBI can enhance physical and mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression associated with poverty and financial insecurity. It also facilitates access to better healthcare, sanitation, and nutrition.
- Streamlined Welfare System: UBI simplifies the existing welfare system by replacing multiple targeted social assistance programs. This reduces administrative costs and eliminates the complexities of means-testing and eligibility requirements.
- Financial Security and Freedom: UBI provides individuals with financial security and greater freedom to make choices about work, education, and personal lives.
- Economic Stimulus: It injects money directly into the hands of individuals, stimulating consumer spending and driving economic growth. This benefits local businesses, generates employment opportunities, and creates demand for goods and services.
- Entrepreneurship and Creativity: UBI empowers people to pursue entrepreneurship, take risks, and engage in creative or socially beneficial activities that might not be economically viable otherwise.
Cons of UBI:
- Cost: UBI is costly and requires higher taxes, spending cuts, or increased debt to finance it. This could potentially lead to inflation, distort the labor market, and reduce economic growth.
- Work Motivation: There is a concern that UBI may decrease motivation to work, leading to reduced productivity and efficiency. It could create a culture of dependency, entitlement, and laziness, discouraging individuals from acquiring skills and education.
- Inflationary Pressure: UBI could contribute to inflation as businesses adjust their pricing strategies to capture the additional income available in the market.
- Reliance on Government Support: UBI may lead to a reliance on government support, with some individuals becoming complacent or dependent on the basic income, reducing motivation for personal and professional growth.
WorkFREE Pilot Project: A Transformative Social Initiative
The WorkFREE Pilot Project is a collaborative effort between the University of Bath, Montfort Social Institute in Hyderabad, and the India Network for Basic Income. It is funded by the European Research Council.
- Under this pilot project, participating adults receive Rs 1,000, and children receive Rs 500 every month for a duration of 18 months.
- The project is currently supporting 1,250 residents living in five slums in Hyderabad.
Positive Outcomes and Transformative Impact:
- The WorkFREE pilot project is presented as a transformative initiative that has had positive outcomes for individuals and families.
- Some residents in Telangana who were adversely affected by relocation have found financial stability through the Universal Basic Income (UBI) support provided by the project. For instance, they used the cash support to start a bangle business, resulting in a significant improvement in their income.
Utilization of UBI Support:
- The residents have used the cash support for various purposes, including buying food, fuel, clothes, and paying utility bills, which typically constitute a significant portion of their monthly expenses.
Similar Pilot Projects:
- The Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) conducted a pilot project in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh in 2011. In Delhi, approximately 100 families living below the poverty line received Rs 1,000 per month as part of the pilot project.
The Way Forward for Universal Basic Income (UBI)
- Balanced Income Amounts: To ensure that UBI does not discourage work while providing essential support, the amount provided as a basic income should be carefully balanced. Striking the right balance is crucial to maintain individual motivation for employment and self-sufficiency.
- Complementary Support Systems: The effectiveness of UBI can be enhanced by implementing robust support systems, including universal healthcare and education. These complementary measures can ensure that individuals receiving UBI have access to essential services that contribute to their well-being and quality of life.
- Alignment with UBI Principles: While schemes like cash transfers align with the principles of UBI, they often target specific demographics or populations. This targeted approach can carry the risk of excluding potential beneficiaries and may not cover everyone who could benefit from a basic income.
- Efficiency and Reduced Misallocation: To address issues related to misallocation of funds and reduce leakages in existing welfare schemes, introducing UBI is suggested as a more efficient option. UBI’s universality can minimize administrative complexities, ensuring that financial support reaches those who need it while reducing overhead costs associated with means-testing and targeting.
-Source: The Hindu
Recently, the Supreme Court pulled up an Advocate-on-Record (AoR) for filing a frivolous case and dismissed the public interest litigation. The Court censured the lawyer that an AoR cannot merely be a signing authority.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Advocate-on-Record (AOR) in the Indian Legal System
- Becoming an Advocate-on-Record (AOR)
- Rules Governing the AOR System
Advocate-on-Record (AOR) in the Indian Legal System
Role and Functions:
- An Advocate-on-Record (AOR) is a lawyer registered and authorized by the Supreme Court of India to represent clients in that court.
- AORs have the exclusive right to file and argue cases in the Supreme Court on behalf of their clients. Only an AOR can file cases before the Supreme Court.
- While AORs might engage other lawyers, including senior counsels, to argue before the Court, they serve as the crucial link between the litigant and the highest court of the country.
- AORs also have the privilege to appear before other courts and can perform tasks such as filing petitions, drafting affidavits, submitting Vakaltnamas (authorizations), and filing various applications at the Supreme Court on behalf of their clients.
Idea behind AOR:
- The concept behind having AORs is to ensure that a lawyer with special qualifications, chosen by the Supreme Court itself, is well-prepared to represent a litigant.
- This is particularly important because the Supreme Court is often considered the court of last resort for litigants.
- The designation of Advocate on Record is intended to ensure that the litigant’s case is presented at the highest level of professionalism and competence.
- The effective implementation of the Advocate on Record system is essential to maintain the high standard of litigation quality in the country’s apex court.
Becoming an Advocate-on-Record (AOR):
To become an Advocate-on-Record (AOR) in the Indian legal system, the following steps and eligibility criteria must be fulfilled:
- Clear the Supreme Court Exam: An advocate must successfully pass the examination conducted by the Supreme Court of India. This examination assesses their knowledge of various legal aspects.
- Four Years of Practice: Before commencing the training to become an AOR, the candidate must have at least four years of legal practice.
- Training: After clearing the exam, the advocate needs to undergo training with a court-approved Advocate-on-Record for a minimum period of one year.
- Scoring: The candidate must achieve a minimum score of at least 60% in a three-hour examination. The subjects covered in this exam include Practice and Procedure, Drafting, Professional Ethics, and Leading Cases.
- Registered Office: The advocate must have a registered office located within a radius of 16 kilometers from the Supreme Court building.
- Undertaking: The aspiring AOR is required to give an undertaking to employ a registered clerk within one month of being registered as an AOR.
Rules Governing the AOR System:
The Advocate-on-Record (AOR) system is regulated by various legal provisions and rules:
- Under Article 145 of the Constitution of India, the Supreme Court is empowered to make rules and regulate its own procedures for hearing cases.
- Section 30 of the Advocates Act provides that any lawyer enrolled with the Bar Council is entitled to practice law before any court or tribunal in the country. This provision does not restrict advocates from practicing in the Supreme Court, provided their names are on the state roll.
- Section 52 of the Advocates Act, 1961, grants the Supreme Court the power to frame rules for practicing in the court, subject to Article 145 of the Constitution.
Constitutional Validity of Rules:
- The rules governing the AOR system were challenged in the case of Balraj Singh Malik v Supreme Court of India. The court ruled that Section 30 of the Advocates Act should be read with Rule 52 of the Supreme Court Rules, which preserves the rule-making power of the Supreme Court under Article 145 of the Constitution.
- This means that the Supreme Court has the authority to determine both the manner and the right to practice for various classes of advocates before it, subject to the constitutional provisions and the Advocates Act.
-Source: Indian Express
A recent serendipitous discovery in a study published in Nature found that chondrocytes, which produce cartilage, also produce and rely on haemoglobin for their survival, revealing that haemoglobin isn’t exclusive to red blood cells (RBCs). Chondrocytes are the cells that make cartilage, the connecting tissue between bones.
GS II: Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- Haemoglobin Bodies or ‘Hedy’
- Significance of Haemoglobin in Chondrocytes
Haemoglobin Bodies or ‘Hedy’
Discovery of Haemoglobin Bodies:
- In 2017, while researching growth plates (cartilaginous tissue at the ends of certain long bones), a pathologist in China stumbled upon spherical structures that strikingly resembled red blood cells (RBCs) and contained haemoglobin.
- These structures, referred to as ‘haemoglobin bodies’ or ‘Hedy,’ were discovered within chondrocytes in the cartilage.
Formation of Haemoglobin Bodies:
- Haemoglobin bodies seemed to form within chondrocytes through a process similar to phase separation, akin to the separation of oil from water.
Potential Implications for Joint Diseases:
- The discovery of functional haemoglobin in cartilage raises the possibility that it may have a role in certain joint diseases, as bone deformities can result from defects in chondrocytes.
Insights into Stem Cells:
- In 2018, research revealed a special group of stem cells in the growth plate, sparking excitement about the potential implications of this discovery for stem cells in the growth plate.
- One intriguing idea is that haemoglobin in the growth plate could influence the fate or development of these stem cells.
- Stem cells serve as the body’s fundamental building blocks, giving rise to other cells with specialized functions.
- Under specific conditions, whether in the body or a laboratory, stem cells divide to generate daughter cells.
Significance of Haemoglobin in Chondrocytes
Essential for Chondrocyte Survival:
- Haemoglobin plays a crucial role in ensuring the survival of chondrocytes, which are responsible for forming cartilage.
- In experiments conducted on mice, it was observed that the absence of haemoglobin in chondrocytes led to the death of these cells, resulting in embryonic lethality in the mice.
Coping with Low Oxygen Levels:
- Haemoglobin is vital for helping chondrocytes cope with low oxygen levels, a condition known as hypoxia.
- It achieves this by facilitating the transport of oxygen within the chondrocytes. Without haemoglobin, chondrocytes are subjected to hypoxic stress, which impairs their normal functioning.
Oxygen Reservoir and Release:
- Haemoglobin serves as an oxygen reservoir within chondrocytes, storing oxygen and releasing it when needed.
- Without haemoglobin, chondrocytes are unable to maintain adequate oxygen levels, leading to their demise.
-Source: The Hindu
Recently, researchers discovered a new species of jumping spider in the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary.
Facts for Prelims
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Pancorius Sebastiani
- Key Facts about the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary
About Pancorius Sebastiani:
- The newly discovered species belongs to the jumping spider genus Pancorius, which is part of the Salticidae family.
- It has been named “Pancorius Sebastiani” in honor of the late spider taxonomist P.A. Sebastian.
- The Pancorius genus of Asian jumping spiders is primarily distributed in southeast Asia.
- Prior to this discovery, the distribution of the Pancorius genus was limited to the eastern and northeastern regions.
- The new species is the first to be reported from the southern region.
Features of Pancorius Sebastiani:
- Both males and females of Pancorius Sebastiani display distinct characteristics, including a reddish-brown carapace, a yellowish abdomen with black patches, and chevron-shaped markings posteromedially.
Key Facts about the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary:
- The Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area situated in the Western Ghats of India, specifically in the Kollam district.
- The sanctuary is named after the Chenkurinji (Gluta travancorica), a species that is endemic to this region.
- It falls under the jurisdiction of the Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve.
- The sanctuary is rich in flora, with tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen forests covering a significant portion of its area.
- In terms of fauna, the sanctuary is home to various wildlife species, including tigers, gaurs, elephants, sambar deer, sloth bears, and a variety of bird species such as the Malabar Raven, Malabar banded swallowtail, Red-disc Bushbrown, and more.
-Source: The Hindu
A two-step PCR-based assay of a small region of the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria can help detect H. pylori infection, which has been developed by a team of researchers from the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (ICMR-NICED), Kolkata.
Facts for Prelims
Helicobacter pylori: A Bacterial Infection in the Digestive Tract
- Helicobacter pylori, often abbreviated as H. pylori, is a common type of bacteria that thrives in the digestive tract and has a particular affinity for attacking the stomach lining.
- It is uniquely adapted to survive in the harsh, acidic environment of the stomach.
- Infections with H. pylori usually occur during childhood.
- While H. pylori infections are typically harmless, they are a leading cause of ulcers in the stomach and small intestine.
- This bacterium can alter its surroundings, reducing acidity, which allows it to thrive more effectively.
- The spiral shape of H. pylori enables it to penetrate the stomach lining, where it is shielded by mucus, making it inaccessible to the body’s immune cells.
- Most individuals with H. pylori infections remain asymptomatic, showing no signs or symptoms.
- When symptoms do appear due to H. pylori infection, they are often related to conditions such as gastritis or peptic ulcers. These symptoms may include:
- Ache or burning pain in the abdomen (stomach)
- Increased stomach pain on an empty stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Unintentional weight loss
- The typical treatment for H. pylori infection involves a combination of antibiotics and a proton-pump inhibitor, which reduces stomach acid production. This treatment regimen lasts for up to 14 days and is often referred to as “triple therapy.”
-Source: The Hindu