- Mera Yuva Bharat
- Amphibian Threats Unveiled
- RBI’s Decision in the Recent MPC Meeting: Keeping Repo Rate Unchanged
- Indian Ocean Rim Association
- GI tag for Arunachal Yak Churpi, Khaw Tai (Khamti rice), and Tangsa textile
- Baiga Tribe
- Dancing frogs
Union Cabinet has approved the establishment of an autonomous body called Mera Yuva Bharat (MY Bharat).
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Mera Yuva Bharat (MY Bharat) – A Platform for Youth Empowerment
- The Need for Mera Yuva Bharat (MY Bharat)
Mera Yuva Bharat (MY Bharat) – A Platform for Youth Empowerment
- A platform for young individuals to engage in voluntary work in their chosen fields.
- Serves as a one-stop shop for youth and central government ministries.
- Focuses on creating a centralized youth database.
- No financial remuneration involved.
- Scheduled to launch on National Unity Day, October 31, 2023.
- Primary objective: To establish a comprehensive Government platform for youth development.
- Benefits individuals in the age group of 15-29 years, aligning with the National Youth Policy.
- For adolescents, beneficiaries are in the age group of 10-19 years.
- Facilitates access to resources and opportunities for youth, enabling them to become community change agents and nation builders.
- Promotes youth as a bridge (Yuva Setu) between the Government and citizens.
- Aims to harness the immense energy of youth for nation-building.
- The establishment of MY Bharat will result in:
- Leadership development in youth.
- Enhancing leadership skills through experiential learning.
- A focus on making youth social innovators and community leaders.
- Prioritizing Youth Led development for active involvement.
- Better alignment of youth aspirations with community needs.
- Improved efficiency through the convergence of existing programs.
- Acts as a one-stop shop for young people and government ministries.
- Establishes a centralized youth database.
- Enhances two-way communication for youth engagement in government initiatives and activities.
- Ensures accessibility by creating a physical ecosystem.
The Need for Mera Yuva Bharat (MY Bharat)
- India’s youth play a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s future, especially as the country marks 75 years of independence under Vision 2047.
- Vision 2047 requires a framework that brings together rural, urban, and rurban youth on a single platform.
- Existing departmental schemes, developed over the past 50 years, were designed to meet the needs of rural youth based on the understanding prevailing at the time.
- Rapid urbanization and changing landscapes necessitate a reevaluation of these approaches.
- Creating a unified framework for rural, urban, and rurban youth is imperative, and MY Bharat aims to fulfill this need.
- There is a pressing requirement for a contemporary, technology-driven platform for the government to engage with today’s youth.
- In the fast-paced, digitally connected world, technology can effectively connect youth with programs to enhance their skills and engage them in community activities.
- MY Bharat will expand the outreach efforts of the Department of Youth Affairs.
- The platform seeks to establish a “phygital” ecosystem, combining physical and digital elements, to empower youth as catalysts for community transformation.
- Notably, a recent nation-wide program, “Meri Maati Mera Desh,” hosted on the yuva.gov.in portal, involved 50 million young participants who planted 23 million saplings to create Amrit Vatikas across India.
Recently, the study titled ‘Ongoing declines for the world’s amphibians in the face of emerging threats’ published in the Nature journal reveals significant threats to Amphibians worldwide particularly from Climate Change.
GS III: Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- Key Highlights of the Study
Amphibians Face Extinction Threat:
- Two out of every five amphibian species are at risk of extinction.
- Amphibians have the highest global threat percentage, with 40.7% of species being endangered, surpassing mammals, reptiles, and birds.
- Over 300 amphibian species moved closer to extinction between 2004 and 2022, with climate change as the primary threat for 39% of these species.
- Amphibians are highly sensitive to environmental changes, making them vulnerable to climate change.
- Four amphibian species have gone extinct since 2004:
- Examples include the Chiriquí harlequin toad, sharp-snouted day frog, Craugastor myllomyllon, and the Jalpa false brook salamander.
- Greatest Concentration of Threatened Amphibians:
- The highest concentrations of threatened amphibians are found in the Caribbean islands, Mexico, Central America, the tropical Andes region, India’s Western Ghats, Sri Lanka, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Madagascar.
- Habitat destruction and degradation, stemming from activities like agriculture, infrastructure development, and other industries, are the most common threats to amphibians, affecting 93% of all threatened species.
- Disease caused by the chytrid fungus and overexploitation are also contributing factors.
Climate Change Concerns:
- Climate change has become an increasing concern, driving 39% of status deterioration since 2004, along with habitat loss at 37%.
Salamanders at Risk:
- Three out of every five salamander species are threatened with extinction, primarily due to habitat destruction and climate change.
- Salamanders are identified as the world’s most threatened group of amphibians.
- Amphibians have existed for over 300 million years and are categorized into three orders:
- Salamanders and newts (60% threatened with extinction)
- Frogs and toads (39%)
- Limbless and serpentine caecilians (16%)
- Conservationists intend to utilize the study’s findings to create a global conservation action plan, prioritize conservation efforts, secure additional resources, and influence policies to reverse the negative trend for amphibians.
- Amphibians belong to the Chordata phylum within the Animalia kingdom.
- Examples include frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians.
Habitat and Adaptation:
- Amphibians are multicellular vertebrates capable of living in both terrestrial and aquatic environments.
- They are the first cold-blooded animals to have appeared on land.
- Cold-blooded animals cannot regulate their internal body temperature with changes in the environment.
Respiration and Circulation:
- Amphibians respire through their lungs and skin.
- They possess three-chambered hearts.
- Amphibians are considered crucial ecological indicators due to their high sensitivity to environmental changes.
- They help assess habitat fragmentation, ecosystem stress, the impact of pesticides, and various human activities.
- Their presence or absence can reflect the health of ecosystems.
Role in Ecosystems:
- Amphibians have a significant ecological role as both predators and prey.
- They contribute to pest control in agriculture and help control diseases like malaria.
- Amphibians have medical significance as their skin contains various peptides with potential applications in curing human diseases.
- Some amphibian compounds are used in painkillers.
Recently, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its bimonthly Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) Meeting has retained benchmark interest rates unchanged for the 4th time in a row. The MPC kept the policy Repo Rate Unchanged at 6.50%.
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- Key Takeaways from the MPC Meeting
- Reasons for Maintaining Unchanged Benchmark Rates
- Concerns Flagged by the RBI in its MPC Meeting
- Monetary Policy Instruments at RBI’s Disposal
Key Takeaways from the MPC Meeting
In the most recent MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) meeting, several crucial decisions and insights emerged:
Repo Rate Held Steady: The RBI unanimously decided to maintain the policy repo rate at 6.5% as a measure to balance economic growth and inflation control.
- GDP and Inflation Forecasts: The RBI retained its real GDP growth forecast for 2023-24 at 6.5% and the average CPI inflation forecast for FY24 at 5.4%. However, the MPC raised its headline inflation projection for the second quarter to 6.4%.
- Inflation Target Commitment: The RBI Governor emphasized a commitment to the 4% inflation target and underlined the importance of readiness to take timely actions to prevent food and fuel price shocks from affecting underlying inflation trends.
- Liquidity Management: The RBI will actively manage liquidity in line with the monetary policy stance and may conduct Open Market Operations (OMO) sales as needed.
- Enhanced Gold Loan Limits: The RBI announced the doubling of lending limits for Gold Loans under the Bullet Repayment Scheme (BRS) for urban cooperative banks to Rs 4 lakh, benefiting banks that have met their Priority Sector Lending (PSL) targets.
- Stance on Accommodation: The RBI reiterated its stance of ‘withdrawal of accommodation,’ indicating a cautious approach as long as risks to inflation persist. This means reducing the money supply to counter further inflation.
Reasons for Maintaining Unchanged Benchmark Rates
The decision to keep benchmark rates unchanged was motivated by several key factors:
- Economic Resilience: Despite facing various uncertainties and challenges, the Indian economy has demonstrated resilience. This confidence in the economy’s ability to withstand potential shocks contributed to the decision.
- Cumulative Impact of Previous Rate Hikes: The MPC recognized the cumulative effect of prior policy repo rate increases, amounting to 250 basis points. Given the time required for these rate hikes to take full effect in the economy, the committee chose to maintain the rates in the current meeting.
- Commitment to Inflation Target: The MPC remains dedicated to aligning inflation with the 4% target on a sustainable basis. The existing policy stance is considered essential to achieve this objective without an immediate rate adjustment.
- Concerns about Food Price Shocks: The committee expressed concerns about the possible resurgence of food price shocks affecting headline inflation. Keeping rates unchanged may serve as a precautionary measure to closely monitor the situation and be prepared to respond promptly if inflationary pressures intensify.
Concerns Flagged by the RBI in its MPC Meeting
The RBI raised several concerns during its MPC meeting:
- High Inflation as a Major Risk: The RBI considers high inflation a significant risk to both macroeconomic stability and sustainable growth. Despite a decrease in core inflation (excluding food and fuel components), uncertainties persist in the overall inflation outlook. Factors such as reduced kharif sowing for essential crops, low reservoir levels, and fluctuations in global food and energy prices contribute to this uncertainty.
- External Headwinds: The RBI highlighted various external headwinds, including geopolitical tensions, geoeconomic fragmentation, volatility in global financial markets, and a global economic slowdown. These external factors pose risks to the economic outlook and require careful consideration.
- Importance of Financial Stability: The RBI emphasized the importance of financial stability, considering it fundamental to price stability and growth. While acknowledging the financial sector’s robust balance sheet, the RBI stressed the need for vigilance and strengthened internal surveillance mechanisms, particularly concerning the rise in personal loans.
Monetary Policy Instruments at RBI’s Disposal
- Moral Suasion
- Non-binding persuasion and communication to influence banks’ lending and investment decisions.
- Direct Credit Controls
- Regulation of credit flow to specific sectors or industries through RBI directives or credit limits.
- Selective Credit Controls
- Targeted measures that focus on specific types of loans, like consumer credit, to manage demand in specific economic areas.
- Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR)
- The portion of a bank’s deposits held as cash reserves with the RBI, affecting the funds available for lending.
- Repo Rate
- The interest rate at which RBI lends short-term funds to commercial banks, influencing their borrowing costs and lending rates.
- Reverse Repo Rate
- The interest rate at which banks can park excess funds with the RBI, setting a floor for short-term interest rates and managing liquidity.
- Bank Rate
- The rate at which RBI provides long-term funds to banks and financial institutions, impacting long-term money market rates.
- Open Market Operations (OMOs)
- RBI’s buying or selling of government securities in the open market, affecting money supply and banking system liquidity.
- Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF)
- Comprises the repo rate and reverse repo rate, used by banks for short-term liquidity needs and daily liquidity management.
- Marginal Standing Facility (MSF)
- The rate at which banks can borrow overnight funds from RBI using government securities as collateral, serving as a secondary funding source.
- Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR)
- A percentage of a bank’s net demand and time liabilities (NDTL) to be maintained in approved securities.
Sri Lanka is set to take over the chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) during the 23rd Council of Ministers’ Meeting scheduled for 11th October, 2023, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It will hold the chairmanship of the association from 2023 to 2025.
GS II: International Relations
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Indian Ocean Rim Association
About Indian Ocean Rim Association:
- The Indian Ocean Rim Association is an inter-governmental organizationwhich was established on 7 March 1997.
- The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is a dynamic inter-governmental organization aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean regionthrough its 22 Member States and 10 Dialogue Partners.
- It is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them.
- IORA is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.
- IORA’s apex body is the Council of Foreign Ministers (COM) which meets annually to discuss the developments of IORA.
- The United Arab Emirates is the current Chair of IORA form October 2019-2021.
- The Vice-Chair will be the People’s Republic of Bangladesh which would take Chair as from October 2021-2023.
- Its Secretariat is based in Cyber City, Ebène, Mauritius.
Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) has identified eight priority areas, namely:
- Maritime security,
- Trade and investment facilitation,
- Fisheries management,
- Disaster risk reduction,
- Academic and scientific cooperation and
- Tourism promotion and cultural exchanges.
- Blue Economy
- Women’s Economic Empowerment
- Promoting sustained growth and balanced development within the Indian Ocean region, IORA strengthens cooperation and dialogue with Member States namely:
- Commonwealth of Australia, People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Union of Comoros, Republic of India, Republic of Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kenya, Republic of Madagascar, Malaysia, Republic of Maldives, Republic of Mauritius, Republic of Mozambique, Sultanate of Oman, Republic of Seychelles, Republic of Singapore, Federal Republic of Somalia , Republic of South Africa, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, United Republic of Tanzania, Kingdom of Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Republic of Yemen.
- All sovereign States of the Indian Ocean Rim are eligible for membership of the Association. To become members, States must adhere to the principles and objectives enshrined in the Charter of the Association.
- To promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region and member states
- To focus on those areas of economic cooperation which provide maximum opportunities for development, shared interest and mutual benefits
- To promote liberalization, remove impediments and lower barriers towards a freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within the Indian Ocean rim.
Arunachal Pradesh has recently received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Arunachal Yak Churpi, Khaw Tai (Khamti rice), and Tangsa textile.
GS III: Indian Economy
Dimensions of the Article:
- Unique Characteristics of Arunachal Yak Churpi
- Distinctive Features of Khaw Tai (Khamti Rice)
- Special Characteristics of Tangsa Textile
- Geographical Indications (GI) Tag
Unique Characteristics of Arunachal Yak Churpi:
- Origin: Arunachal Yak Churpi is derived from the milk of the Arunachali yak, a rare breed primarily found in West Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal Pradesh.
- Tribal Yak Pastoralists: The milk is obtained from yaks reared by the Brokpas, a tribal community known for their expertise in yak husbandry.
- Seasonal Migration: These pastoralists practice seasonal migration with their yaks, taking them to higher altitudes during summers and descending to mid-altitude mountainous regions in winters, as yaks cannot survive at lower altitudes during summer.
- Health Benefits and Usage: Churpi is rich in proteins and serves as a vital source of nutrition in the vegetation-scarce, cold, and hilly mountainous regions of Arunachal Pradesh.
Distinctive Features of Khaw Tai (Khamti Rice):
- Origin: Khaw Tai, a chewy sticky rice variety, originates from the Namsai region and is cultivated by traditional Khampti tribal farmers.
Special Characteristics of Tangsa Textile:
- Craftsmanship: Tangsa Textile products are crafted by the Tangsa tribe of Changlang district, known for their exotic designs and vibrant colors.
- Cultural Richness: These traditional textiles reflect the cultural richness of the region and carry the artistic expressions of the Tangsa tribe.
Geographical Indications (GI) Tag
Definition and Importance:
- Geographical Indications of Goods indicate the country or place of origin of a product.
- They assure consumers of the product’s quality and distinctiveness derived from its specific geographical locality.
- GI tags are an essential component of intellectual property rights (IPRs) and are protected under international agreements like the Paris Convention and TRIPS.
Administration and Registration:
- Geographical Indications registration in India is governed by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
- The registration and protection are administered by the Geographical Indication Registry under the Department of Industry Promotion and Internal Trade (DIPIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- The registration is valid for 10 years, and it can be renewed for further periods of 10 years each.
Significance and Examples:
- GI tags provide a unique identity and reputation to products based on their geographical origin.
- The first product in India to receive a GI tag was Darjeeling tea.
- Karnataka has the highest number of GI tags with 47 registered products, followed by Tamil Nadu with 39.
Ownership and Proprietorship:
- Any association, organization, or authority established by law can be a registered proprietor of a GI tag.
- The registered proprietor’s name is entered in the Register of Geographical Indication for the applied product.
- Protection and Enforcement:
- Geographical Indications protect the interests of producers and prevent unauthorized use of the product’s name or origin.
- Enforcement of GI rights helps maintain the quality and reputation of the products associated with their specific geographical regions.
Location of the Geographical Indications Registry:
- The Geographical Indications Registry is located in Chennai, India.
Recently, the Baiga Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) became the second to get habitat rights in the state of Chhattisgarh.
GS II: Vulnerable Sections
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Baiga Tribe
- Habitat Rights
- Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group: The Baiga Tribe is recognized as one of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), signifying their vulnerable status among indigenous communities.
- Geographical Distribution: The Baiga people are found across several Indian states, including Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.
- Traditional Occupation: Historically, the Baiga community followed a semi-nomadic lifestyle and engaged in slash-and-burn agriculture. However, they have transitioned to a livelihood primarily dependent on gathering minor forest produce.
- Agricultural Practice: The Baiga Tribe practices a form of shifting cultivation known as “Bewar.”
- Mahua Usage: Mahua, derived from the flowers of the Mahua tree, is a significant element of the Baiga diet and culture. It is used to produce an intoxicating drink through fermentation and distillation.
- Tattoo Tradition: Tattooing holds a special place in Baiga culture, with specific tattoos reserved for various ages and body parts, often marking important occasions.
Habitat rights recognition bestows upon a community specific rights over their customary habitation territory. These rights encompass socio-cultural practices, economic and livelihood activities, ecological knowledge, traditional wisdom about natural resource usage, and the protection and conservation of their natural and cultural heritage.
- Preservation of Knowledge: Habitat rights are crucial for preserving and promoting traditional livelihood practices and ecological knowledge passed down through generations.
- Convergence of Initiatives: These rights facilitate the coordination of different government schemes and initiatives from various departments to empower PVTG communities in developing their habitats.
- Legislation: The legal basis for habitat rights is established under section 3(1) (e) of The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, commonly known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA). This section pertains to rights, including community tenures of habitat and habitation, for primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities.
According to the Wildlife Trust of India the dancing frogs are the most threatened amphibian genus of India.
GS III: Species in News
- Endemic to the Western Ghats: These unique frogs are native to the Western Ghats, a region in India known for its rich biodiversity.
- Habitat Preferences: Dancing frogs tend to inhabit areas with dense canopy cover, typically requiring 70-80 percent coverage.
- Genus Classification: They belong to the Micrixalus genus.
- Global Threat Status: Dancing frogs are part of the Micrixalus genus, which is the fifth most threatened genus of frogs in the world. An alarming 92 percent of species within this genus are categorized as threatened.
- Mating Display: These frogs near streams engage in a distinctive courtship display for mating.
- Foot Flagging: During mating, the males perform an intricate display by extending one hind leg at a time and rapidly moving their webbed toes in the air. This behavior, resembling a dance, serves to attract potential mates and discourage competitors. It is known as “foot flagging,” which is the source of their name, “dancing frogs.”
- Auditory Challenges: The foot flagging behavior is essential as the mating calls of these frogs are often drowned out by the noisy gurgling of streams.
- Role in the Ecosystem: Frogs play a crucial role in the food chain and contribute to various ecological processes.
- Threats: Dancing frogs face several threats to their survival, including invasive species like mosquito fish, changes in land use, variations in temperature and humidity, extreme weather events such as floods and excess rainfall, infectious diseases, water pollution, light pollution, and the impact of infrastructure projects. These factors contribute to their vulnerable status.