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Current Affairs 22 June 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Live-stock and Live-stock Product (Importation and Exportation) Bill, 2023
  2. Global Increase in Forced Displacement in 2022: UNHCR Report
  3. Submersible vs Submarine
  4. Issues with the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) Rankings
  5. International Day of Yoga
  6. Assam Rifles
  7. Gangotri National Park

Live-stock and Live-stock Product (Importation and Exportation) Bill, 2023


Context:

The Centre has withdrawn the proposed draft of the Live-stock and Live-stock Product (Importation and Exportation) Bill, 2023.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Draft Livestock and Livestock Products Bill
  2. Reasons for introducing a new law
  3. What is new in the proposed draft?
  4. Criticism surrounding the proposed draft Livestock and Livestock Products (Importation and Exportation) Bill

About Draft Livestock and Livestock Products Bill

  • The Draft Livestock and Livestock Products Bill is a proposed legislation that aims to replace the existing Live-stock Importation Act, 1898, and Live-stock (Amendment) Act, 2001.
  • It provides guidelines for the import and export of live animals and has raised concerns among animal welfare advocates.
  • The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD), under the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying, has prepared the draft bill and released it for public feedback.
Key points about the draft bill:
  • Purpose: The draft bill seeks to update the outdated laws and align them with contemporary requirements and sanitary measures. The existing law is over 125 years old and needs to be adapted to current circumstances.
  • Scope of the Bill: The proposed legislation expands the scope of animal import-export, including the inclusion of cats and dogs as “live-stock.” It also allows for the export of live animals, which is a departure from the existing law.
  • Changes to State Government Powers: The draft bill reduces some powers of state governments in regulating the import-export of live animals and livestock products.

Reasons for introducing a new law:

  • Outdated Law: The existing Live-stock Importation Act, 1898, is outdated and needs to be modernized to reflect current requirements and regulations.
  • Alignment with Contemporary Needs: The new law aims to align with prevailing sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures and the Allocation of Business Rules, 1961.
  • Previous Amendments: The 2001 amendment introduced livestock products into the scope of the law. It also granted the central government the authority to regulate, restrict, or prohibit the trade of livestock products that may impact human or animal health.

What is new in the proposed draft?

  • Expansion of Scope: The draft bill expands the scope of the existing law by including provisions for the regulation of live-stock exports in addition to imports.
  • Sections and Definitions: The proposed draft bill consists of 10 sections, whereas the existing law has only 5 sections. It introduces new definitions and expands the definition of live-stock.
  • Inclusion of Feline and Canine: The definition of live-stock in the draft bill includes felines and canines, whereas the existing law does not specifically mention them.
  • Revised Definition of Live-stock: The draft bill broadens the definition of live-stock to encompass various animal categories, including equines, bovines, caprines, ovines, swines, canines, felines, avian, laboratory animals, aquatic animals, and any other animal specified by the Central Government. This is a departure from the previous definition that primarily focused on horses, kine, camels, sheep, and animals specified by the Central Government.
  • Promotion and Development of Exports: The proposed bill empowers the government to make arrangements for the promotion and development of live-stock and live-stock product exports, which is not covered in the existing law.
  • Inclusion of Live-stock Products: The draft bill considers live-stock and live-stock products as commodities, which encompass products of live-stock origin, live-stock genetic material, biological products, and pathological material of live-stock origin.

Criticism surrounding the proposed draft Livestock and Livestock Products (Importation and Exportation) Bill:

  • Animal Cruelty Concerns: The draft bill has faced strong criticism from animal rights organizations, who argue that allowing the live export of animals will lead to widespread animal abuse and cruelty. They believe that the bill opens the door to potential mistreatment of animals farmed for food and other purposes.
  • Negative Impact on Animal Welfare: Critics argue that the bill disregards the well-being of animals by prioritizing trade and economic interests over ethical considerations. The large-scale export of live animals can subject them to stressful and inhumane conditions during transportation and in destination countries.
  • Opposition from Animal Protection Groups: The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), along with other animal welfare organizations, has expressed strong opposition to the draft bill. They highlight the global trend towards phasing out live animal exports and emphasize the need for stricter animal welfare regulations.
  • Environmental Concerns: Critics raise concerns about the environmental impact of live animal exports. The transportation of large numbers of animals over long distances can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and other ecological problems.
  • Ethical and Moral Considerations: The proposed bill has sparked debates about the ethical and moral implications of exporting live animals. Some argue that it goes against the principles of compassion and respect for animal life, as well as India’s cultural and religious traditions that value non-violence and protection of animals.

-Source: Indian express


Global Increase in Forced Displacement in 2022: UNHCR Report


Context:

In 2022, there was a significant surge in forced displacement, driven by social and climate crises, according to a report by the UNHCR. The number of individuals forcibly uprooted from their homes increased by 21% compared to the previous year, totaling 108.4 million people. This included a significant number of children who were also displaced.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Major Highlights of the Report
  2. Impacts of Forced Displacement
  3. About United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Major Highlights of the Report:

Forced Displacement Statistics:
  • The number of forcibly displaced people reached a record high of 108.4 million by the end of 2022.
  • Approximately 30% of the displaced individuals were children.
  • This marked an increase of 19 million people compared to the previous year.
  • Out of the total displaced population, 35.3 million were refugees who crossed international borders.
Main Drivers of Displacement:
  • The full-scale war in Ukraine was the primary driver of displacement in 2022, with 11.6 million Ukrainians remaining displaced.
  • Ongoing and new conflicts in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, and Myanmar also contributed to significant displacement.
  • The total number of displaced people worldwide increased to 110 million by May 2023 due to the fresh conflict in Sudan.
  • Climate change and natural disasters were additional factors leading to displacement, causing 32.6 million internal displacements in 2022.
Burden on Low- and Middle-Income Countries:
  • 90% of the displaced population originated from low- and middle-income countries.
  • These countries hosted 76% of the world’s refugees, highlighting their disproportionate responsibility.
  • Least Developed Countries (LDCs) hosted 20% of the global refugee population, facing significant challenges.
Challenges of Statelessness:
  • Statelessness worsens the difficulties faced by refugees, denying them access to essential services.
  • An estimated 4.4 million people worldwide were stateless or of undetermined nationality by the end of 2022, representing a 2% increase from the previous year.

Impacts of Forced Displacement:

Challenges Faced by Refugees:
  • Disrupted livelihoods and limited access to employment opportunities, education, and financial resources.
  • Economic hardships, poverty, and vulnerability.
  • Disrupted or denied access to education, hindering long-term development and opportunities for a better future.
  • Emotional distress, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression, due to traumatic experiences during displacement.
  • Health challenges, such as inadequate access to healthcare, malnutrition, and exposure to unsanitary conditions.
  • Difficulties in integration into host societies due to language barriers, cultural differences, and discrimination.
  • Social exclusion, marginalization, and isolation, impeding the rebuilding of their lives.
Impacts on Host Communities:
  • Pressure on resources, including housing, healthcare facilities, schools, and public services.
  • Overburdened infrastructure, leading to shortages and reduced access for both refugees and host community members.
  • Social tensions and cultural dynamics within host communities due to differences in language, religion, and customs.
  • Misunderstandings and conflicts arising from these differences.
  • Competition for employment opportunities, leading to tension and resentment.

About United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is an international organization with the mandate to protect and assist refugees worldwide. Here are the key points about UNHCR:

Mission:
  • UNHCR is dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights, and improving the future of people forcibly displaced due to conflict and persecution.
  • It was established in 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly to assist those who had lost their homes after World War II.
  • UNHCR’s primary mission is to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees and promote durable solutions for their plight.
Governance and Role:
  • UNHCR operates under the authority of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
  • It acts as the guardian of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, which define the rights and legal obligations related to refugees.
  • UNHCR works closely with governments, international organizations, and civil society to address the challenges faced by refugees and find solutions.
India’s Position:
  • India is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

-Source: Down To Earth


Submersible vs Submarine


Context:

The Titan, the vessel that went missing in the area of the Titanic wreck in the North Atlantic, is classified as a submersible, not a submarine.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Submersibles?
  2. The Titan submersible
  3. How are Submersibles different from Submarines?

What are Submersibles?

Submersibles are specialized watercraft designed for specific missions in underwater environments. Here are the key points about submersibles:

Definition:

  • Submersibles are small watercraft designed with specific characteristics to operate in underwater environments.
  • They are typically limited in range and built for a set mission or purpose.

Operating Features:

  • Submersibles have the capability to be fully submerged in water.
  • They are equipped with their own power supply and air renewal system to sustain operations underwater.
  • Some submersibles are remotely-operated, functioning as manually controlled or programmed robots.
  • There are also submersibles designed for human occupancy, known as human-occupied vehicles.
    • The Titan is one of the human-occupied vehicles.

Mission and Usage:

  • Submersibles are used for various purposes, such as scientific research, exploration, deep-sea observation, underwater archaeology, and marine resource surveys.
  • They allow scientists and researchers to explore underwater environments and study marine life, geological formations, and underwater ecosystems.
  • Submersibles are also utilized in underwater search and recovery missions, oil and gas exploration, and military applications.

Types:

  • Submersibles come in different sizes and designs depending on their specific mission requirements.
  • Some submersibles are compact and designed for shallow-water operations, while others are larger and capable of exploring deeper depths in the ocean.

The Titan submersible

The Titan is a submersible designed for exploring the Titanic shipwreck at depths of around 4,000m. Here are the key details about the Titan:

Design and Specifications:

  • The Titan is constructed using titanium and carbon fiber materials.
  • It has a weight of approximately 10,432 kg.
  • The submersible is capable of reaching speeds of about 3 knots (5.5 km per hour).

Mission and Capabilities:

  • The primary purpose of the Titan is to transport five people to explore the Titanic shipwreck.
  • It is specifically designed to operate in the vicinity of the wreck and return to the surface.
  • The Titan does not have extensive propulsion capabilities, limiting its ability to travel long distances.

Safety Mechanism:

  • In the event of a power or communication failure with its mother ship, the Polar Prince, experts believe that the Titan’s safety mechanism would activate.
  • This mechanism would cause the submersible to release the weight it used for descending to the shipwreck.

Location of the Titanic:

  • The Titanic shipwreck is located approximately 370 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada.

 How are Submersibles different from Submarines?

Submersibles and submarines differ in several key aspects. Here are the main differences between the two:

Launch and Retrieval:
  • Submersibles are launched from a mother vessel or home vessel, typically on a raft or platform. They descend into the water using electric thrusters and are retrieved back onto the surface platform after completing their mission.
  • Submarines, on the other hand, are self-propelled and can submerge and surface independently without the need for a separate launch and retrieval system.
Propulsion and Power:
  • Submersibles generally have limited propulsion systems and power reserves. They rely on electric thrusters for movement, and their power supply is typically constrained due to their smaller size and mission-specific design.
  • Submarines, on the other hand, are equipped with powerful propulsion systems, often driven by nuclear or diesel-electric engines, allowing them to travel long distances and at higher speeds underwater.
Features and Equipment:
  • Submersibles are designed for specific missions and often have a viewport or external cameras to observe the surrounding environment. This allows occupants to directly view the outside space.
  • Submarines, on the other hand, have periscopes and advanced sonar systems for observing and navigating the underwater environment. They are typically equipped with sophisticated communication systems and various defense mechanisms.
Ballast Systems:
  • Submersibles usually do not have ballast systems, which are used to control buoyancy and depth in submarines. They rely on their design and thrusters for depth control.
  • Submarines employ ballast systems to adjust their buoyancy and submerge or surface as needed.

Overall, submersibles are smaller, limited-range vessels that are launched from a mother vessel, have limited power reserves, and often serve specific missions. Submarines, on the other hand, are larger, self-propelled submarines capable of independent navigation and extended underwater operations, with more advanced features and capabilities.

-Source: Indian express


Issues with the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) Rankings


Context:

The National Institution Ranking Framework (NIRF), established by the Ministry of Education, recently announced its national rankings for universities which have been found flawed by various experts.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. How does the NIRF ranking of institutes work and what are the issues associated with it?
  2. What are the consequences of flawed rankings?
  3. What measures can be taken to enhance the NIRF Ranking system?

How does the NIRF ranking of institutes work and what are the issues associated with it?

The NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework) ranks institutes in India based on various categories and disciplines. However, there are certain issues associated with the ranking methodology. Here’s an overview:

Ranking Methodology:
  • The NIRF ranks institutes based on their total score, which is determined using five indicators with different weightages: Teaching, Learning & Resources, Research and Professional Practice, Graduation Outcomes, Outreach and Inclusivity, and Perception.
  • These indicators focus heavily on research and professional practices, primarily utilizing bibliometric measures such as the number of papers published and citations received. Other forms of intellectual contributions, like books, monographs, and non-traditional outputs, are often sidelined.
Issues with NIRF Ranking:
  • Research Bias: The evaluation methodology places significant emphasis on research output, primarily measured through bibliometric indicators. This approach may not fully capture the diverse range of intellectual contributions, including non-research forms, and can lead to a bias towards certain types of research.
  • Inadequate Evaluation: Some argue that a more comprehensive evaluation methodology is needed to assess institutes. Solely relying on bibliometrics might overlook important aspects like the quality and impact of research, collaborative efforts, and contributions to society beyond academia.
  • Lack of Subject Expertise: The reliance on bibliometric indicators is driven by their efficiency and convenience, as they can be easily quantified. However, this approach may neglect the expertise and nuanced assessments that subject experts can provide, resulting in a limited evaluation of an institute’s overall performance.
  • Resource and Time Constraints: Qualitative assessments performed by subject experts require more resources and time compared to bibliometrics. The allure of using bibliometrics lies in its efficiency, but it may not provide a comprehensive understanding of an institute’s strengths and weaknesses.

It is important to note that bibliometrics can be valuable tools for assessing research output, but when used as the primary evaluation method, they may not capture the full range of an institute’s intellectual contributions and performance. There is a need for a balanced and inclusive evaluation methodology that considers multiple dimensions of an institute’s achievements.

What are the consequences of flawed rankings?

  • Misleading Prospective Students and Parents: Flawed rankings can misrepresent the quality and reputation of institutions. This can mislead prospective students and parents in their decision-making process, leading them to choose institutions based on inaccurate or incomplete information.
  • Unfair Competition and Incentives: Rankings can create a competitive environment where institutions feel pressured to manipulate data or focus on specific indicators to improve their ranking. This can lead to unhealthy competition and a diversion of resources away from areas that are crucial for institutional growth and development.
  • Undermining Credibility: Flawed rankings undermine the credibility and usefulness of the ranking framework itself. If rankings are not perceived as accurate and reliable, they lose their value as a tool for assessing and comparing institutions. This can erode trust in the ranking system and make it less effective in providing meaningful insights.
  • Neglecting Comprehensive Excellence: Rankings that heavily emphasize certain indicators or overlook important aspects of institutional excellence, such as innovation, diversity, social impact, and community engagement, fail to provide a holistic view of an institution’s strengths and contributions. This limits the understanding of an institution’s overall performance and its impact beyond traditional metrics.
  • Impact on Foreign Institutions: Flawed rankings can also affect the perception, reputation, and competitiveness of foreign educational institutions that establish campuses or collaborations in a country. If the ranking framework is flawed or biased, it may unfairly disadvantage foreign institutions, hindering their ability to attract students and partnerships.

What measures can be taken to enhance the NIRF Ranking system?

Nurturing Faculty Research:

  • Institutions should provide adequate resources, incentives, and recognition to support faculty research output.
  • This includes funding for research projects, access to research facilities and equipment, opportunities for collaborations, and recognition of research achievements through awards and promotions.

Balanced Evaluation Criteria:

  • Bibliometrics should not be used as the sole criteria for evaluation.
  • Instead, a combination of metrics and qualitative assessments, such as peer review, should be employed to make informed decisions about the quality and impact of research output.

Institutional Repository:

  • Establishing an institutional repository can serve as a platform to showcase and disseminate research publications and their impact.
  • This can enhance the visibility and accessibility of the institution’s research output, contributing to its reputation and influence in the academic community.

Improving Teaching-Learning Process:

  • Institutions should focus on enhancing the teaching-learning process by developing outcome-based curricula, incorporating innovative pedagogies, and actively seeking student feedback.
  • This can ensure that students receive a high-quality education and have a positive learning experience.

Enhancing Graduation Outcomes:

  • Institutions should strive to improve graduation outcomes by enhancing placement services, promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, and providing opportunities for higher education and skill development.
  • This can enhance the employability and future prospects of students.

Promoting Outreach and Inclusivity:

  • Institutions should actively work towards increasing diversity among students, faculty, and staff.
  • Engaging with local and global communities through collaborative initiatives, community service, and research partnerships can promote inclusivity and broaden the institution’s impact beyond its campus.

Transparency in Rankings:

  • NIRF Rankings, or any ranking system, should be transparent about the data they collect, the methodology used, and how that data is utilized to calculate the total score.
  • This transparency can help institutions understand the ranking process and identify areas for improvement.

-Source: Indian express


International Day of Yoga


Context:

The 9th International Day of Yoga (IDY) was celebrated on June 21st with various events and initiatives taking place across the country.

This year’s IDY theme, “Yoga for Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” 

Relevance:

GS I: Culture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights of IDY 2023
  2. About the IDY
  3. M-Yoga App

Key Highlights of IDY 2023:

  • Tribal Artisan Yoga Mats: TRIFED collaborated with the Ministry of Ayush to provide yoga mats crafted by tribal artisans, showcasing India’s diverse cultural heritage and traditional art forms.
  • Ocean Ring of Yoga: Indian Navy and Merchant ships will organize yoga demonstrations at ports and vessels of friendly nations, promoting global participation and fostering cultural exchange.
  • Yoga from the Arctic to Antarctica: The Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Ayush will coordinate yoga events in countries along the Prime Meridian line and UN member countries. Yoga sessions will be conducted at extreme regions like Himadri in the Arctic and Bharati in Antarctica.
  • Yoga Bharatmala and Yoga Sagarmala: Indian armed forces, including ITBP, BSF, and BRO, will organize a chain of yoga demonstrations. Yoga Sagarmala will feature yoga along the Indian coastline, including yoga sessions on the flight deck of INS Vikrant.
  • National Level Initiatives: The Prime Minister will lead a yoga session at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, demonstrating India’s commitment to yoga on a global platform. The Ministry of Ayush encourages “Har Aangan Yoga” or Yoga in the courtyard of every house, promoting yoga practice at the village level.

About the IDY

  • The International Day of Yoga has been celebrated annually on 21 June since 2015, following its inception in the United Nations General Assembly in 2014.
  • The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in his UN address in 2014, had suggested the date of 21 June, as it is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and shares a special significance in many parts of the world.      
Significance of Yoga
  • The Prime Minister spoke of Yoga’s role during the pandemic, on the occasion.
  • While Yoga is not a part of culture across countries, enthusiasm has increased globally.
  • He stressed the importance of breathing exercises like pranayama and anulom-vilom for strengthening our respiratory system.
  • The mantra of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ which India has followed since ages, is now finding global acceptance.
  • We all are praying for each other’s wellbeing, If there are threats to humanity, Yoga often gives us a way of holistic health.

M-Yoga App

  • India and WHO took an important step by launching M-Yoga app world-over, which will provide many videos of yoga training based on common yoga protocol in many languages. This will contribute to the efforts of ‘One World One Health’.
    • M-Yoga has been developed by the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, Ministry of Ayush in partnership with the World Health Organisation.
A backgrounder to M-Yoga App
  • The Ministry of AYUSH and the World Health Organization (WHO) had jointly undertaken a project in mid 2019, focusing on mobile-Yoga. It envisaged the concept of the ‘Be Healthy, Be Mobile’ (BHBM) under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030.
    • Be Healthy, Be Mobile (BHBM) initiative is a global partnership led by WHO which supports the scale up of mobile health (m-Health) technology within the scope of the National Health system to combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

-Source: The Hindu


Assam Rifles


Context:

The Assam Rifles recently moved additional troops to secure a bridge on a national highway in south Manipur.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

About Assam Rifles:

Background:
  • The Assam Rifles is a central armed police force and the primary counter-insurgency force in the Northeast region of India.
  • It holds the distinction of being the oldest paramilitary force in the country.
  • The lineage of the force can be traced back to the formation of Cachar Levy, a paramilitary police force established by the British in 1835.
  • Over the years, the force underwent several name changes, including the Assam Frontier Police (1883), the Assam Military Police (1891), Eastern Bengal and Assam Military Police (1913), and finally becoming the Assam Rifles in 1917.
Role:
  • The Assam Rifles is responsible for maintaining law and order in the Northeast region, in collaboration with the Indian Army.
  • It plays a crucial role in guarding the Indo-Myanmar border in the region.
  • The force is often referred to as the “Sentinels of the Northeast.”

Headquarters and Motto:

  • The headquarters of the Assam Rifles is located in Shillong, Meghalaya.
  • The force operates under the motto “Friends of the Hill People.”

Control:

  • The Assam Rifles is unique among paramilitary forces as it has a dual control structure.
  • While the Ministry of Home Affairs has administrative control over the force, its operational control lies with the Indian Army, which operates under the Ministry of Defence.

-Source: The Hindu


Gangotri National Park


Context:

Gangotri national park (GNP) authorities would soon be transferring around 50 hectares of land to the Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) to develop new bunkers and border outposts near the LAC. 

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

About Gangotri National Park:

Location:
  • Gangotri National Park is situated in the Uttarkashi District of Uttarakhand, India.
  • It occupies the upper catchment area of the Bhagirathi River.
  • The northeastern boundary of the park forms the international border between India and Tibet (China).
  • It shares borders with Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary and Govind National Park.
  • The park covers an area of 2,390 sq km (920 sq mi) in the mountainous region of the country.
  • The park is located within the Gangotri Group of the Garhwal Himalayas, which is a subrange of the eastern Himalayas.
  • Prominent peaks in the park include Chaukhamba I, Satopanth, Chaukhamba II, Chaukhamba III, and Kedarnath Main.
  • The renowned Gangotri Glacier, one of the main sources of the Ganges River, is located within the park.
Ecology:
  • Gangotri National Park encompasses various high-altitude ecosystems typical of the Himalayas.
  • The lower elevations are dominated by Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests, characterized by fir trees mixed with deodar, oak, spruce, and rhododendron.
  • Higher elevations feature Western Himalayan alpine shrubs, with alpine meadows found beneath the vast glaciers.
Fauna:
  • The park is known for its diverse wildlife, including the elusive snow leopard.
  • Other notable species found within the park include the brown bear, blue sheep, musk deer, Asian black bear, and Himalayan tahr, among others.

-Source: Times of India


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