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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 23 July 2021

Contents

  1. Government’s support for orphans and a new portal
  2. EU’s new climate proposal
  3. Great Indian Bustard

Government’s support for orphans and a new portal

Context:

If anyone knows a child who was orphaned due to COVID-19, they can now share his or her details with the government on a web portal and help the child claim benefits under the PM CARES scheme.

Earlier in 2021, the Prime Minister had announced that the government would launch a slew of welfare measures for children who had lost their parents to COVID-19.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Children, Government Policies and Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Recent updates on orphans given by the NCPCR
  2. State Governments and their measures
  3. Provisions for Protection of Orphan Children
  4. NCPCR’s online portal ‘Bal Swaraj’
  5. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
  6. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021

About the Recent updates on orphans given by the NCPCR

  • The cataclysmic COVID-19 pandemic devastated the vulnerable sections of society and there are a number of children who have become orphans due to the demise of either the breadwinner of the family or of both their parents.
  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) informed the Supreme Court that these children ran a high risk of being pushed into trafficking and flesh trade.
  • The Commission said it had already received several complaints of government authorities illegally transferring details of children to private entities and NGOs.

State Governments and their measures

  • Maharashtra has identified a total of 482 in the age-group of 0 to 18 who lost both their parents in the pandemic and the government said it had allocated ₹10 crore for the scheme as of July 2021.
  • Delhi announced ‘Mukhyamantri COVID-19 Pariwar Aarthik Sahayata Yojna’, under which ₹50,000 will be given as a one-time compensation to all families who lost someone to COVID-19.
  • In the first phase, the Tamil Nadu government has sanctioned over 33 crores to benefit a total of over 1000 children who lost both their parents.
  • In Karnataka, it has been estimated that as many as 89 children who were orphaned after their parents died of COVID-19 would be beneficiaries of the Chief Minister’s Bala Seva Yojana.

Provisions for Protection of Orphan Children

  • There is a process as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 which needs to be followed with children who have been orphaned.
  • If someone has information about a child in need of care, then they must contact one of the four agencies: Childline 1098, or the district Child Welfare Committee (CWC), District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) or the helpline of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
  • Following this, the CWC will assess the child and place him or her in the immediate care of a Specialised Adoption Agency. The State thus takes care of all such children who are in need of care and protection, till they turn 18 years.
  • Once a child is declared legally free for adoption by the CWC, adoption can be done either by Indian prospective adoptive parents or non-resident Indians or foreigners, in that order.
  • The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), a statutory body of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, is the nodal agency for adoption.
  • It regulates the adoption of orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated or recognised agencies.

NCPCR’s online portal ‘Bal Swaraj’

  • In view of the growing problem related to children affected by COVID-19, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has devised an online tracking portal “Bal Swaraj (COVID-Care link)” for children in need of care and protection.
  • The portal has been created with the purpose of tracking and monitoring children who need care and protection in real-time, digitally.
  • The portal will also be used to track children who have lost both their parents during COVID-19.
  • The “COVID-Care” link on the portal has been provided for the concerned officer or department to upload the data of such children.
  • The “Bal Swaraj-COVID-Care” aims at tracking the children affected by COVID-19 right from their production before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), to the restoration of the children to their parent, guardian, or relative, and its subsequent follow-up.
  • The Commission will be able to get information about whether the child is getting his/her entitlements, benefits, and entitled monetary gains, through the data filled in the portal by the District officers and State officers for each child.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)

  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is an Indian Statutory Body established by an Act of Parliament, the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005.
  • The Commission works under the aegis of Ministry of Women and Child Development, GoI.
  • The Commission is mandated under section 13 of CPCR Act, 2005 “to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
  • As defined by the commission, child includes person up to the age of 18 years.
  • Also, NCPCR cannot enquire into any matter which is pending before a State Commission or any other Commission duly constituted.
  • The commission consist of the following members:
    1. A chairperson who, is a person of eminence and has done a outstanding work for promoting the welfare of children; and
    2. Six members, out of which at least two are woman, from the following fields, is appointed by the Central Government from amongst person of eminence, ability, integrity, standing and experience in:
      • Education,
      • Child health, care, welfare or child development,
      • Juvenile justice or care of neglected or marginalized children or children with disabilities,
      • Elimination of child labour or children in distress
      • Child psychology or sociology
      • Laws relating to children

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021

  • Now, “Serious offences” will also include offences for which maximum punishment is imprisonment of more than seven years, and minimum punishment is not prescribed or is of less than seven years. [Serious offences are those for which the punishment under the Indian Penal Code or any other law for the time being is imprisonment between three and seven years.]
  • The Juvenile Justice Board inquiries about a child who is accused of a serious offence.
  • The Bill amends the present act to provide that an offence which is punishable with imprisonment between three to seven years to be non-cognizable (non-cognizable where arrest is allowed without warrant).
  • Presently, the adoption order issued by the court establishes that the child belongs to the adoptive parents. The Bill provides that instead of the court, the District Magistrate (including Additional District Magistrate) will issue such adoption orders.
  • The Bill provides that any person aggrieved by an adoption order passed by the District Magistrate may file an appeal before the Divisional Commissioner, within 30 days from the date of passage of such order.

-Source: The Hindu


EU’s new climate proposal

Context:

The European Union (EU) in 2020 submitted a revised Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement: Of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030. It also set a long-term goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of environment, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Important International Treaties and Agreements for Conservation)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the EU’s new climate proposal
  2. Understanding the significance of the EU’s new proposal
  3. What is carbon neutrality?
  4. Arguments against India declaring carbon neutrality goal
  5. India’s Efforts related to Climate Change

About the EU’s new climate proposal

  • The new package attempts to deliver the NDC and carbon neutrality goal through proposed changes that would impact the economy, society and industry, as well as ensure a fair, competitive and green transition by 2030 and beyond.
  • It claims to achieve a balance between “regulatory policies” and market-based carbon pricing to avoid the pitfalls of each.
  • It proposes to increase the binding target of renewable sources in the EU’s energy mix to 40% (from 32% earlier) and improve energy efficiency by 36% (from 32.5% earlier) by 2030.
  • It has set a target to enhance the EU’s sink capacity to 310 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which it hopes will be achieved through specific national targets by member countries.
  • According to the proposal, Vehicular Carbon Emissions must be cut by 55% by 2030 and by 100% by 2035, which means a phaseout of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035.
  • The new proposal calls for the creation of an Emissions Trading System (ETS) for buildings and road transport, separate from the EU’s current ETS, to become operational from 2026.
  • To help low-income citizens and small businesses adjust to the new ETS, the EU proposes the creation of a Social Climate Fund, which will take various forms ranging from funding for renovation of buildings, and access to low carbon transport, to direct income support.
  • Among other market-based mechanisms, the EU is proposing a carbon-border adjustment mechanism, which will put a price on imports from places that have carbon-intensive production processes.

Understanding the significance of the EU’s new proposal

  • The EU’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% below 1990 levels by 2030 is more aggressive than that of the US, which committed to reduce emissions by 40% to 43% over the same period, but behind Britain, which pledged a 68% reduction.
  • This package could put Europe at the forefront of new technologies like electric car batteries, offshore wind generation or aircraft engines that run on hydrogen.
  • But the transition will also be painful for some consumers and companies, raising the cost of a wide variety of goods and services, like video monitors imported from China, for example, or a vacation flight to a Greek island or even a full tank of gasoline.
  • Companies that make products destined for obsolescence, like parts for internal combustion engines, must adapt or go out of business.
  • The proposals could reshape polluting industries like steelmaking, which directly employs 330,000 people in the EU.

What is carbon neutrality?

  • Carbon neutrality means having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks. Removing carbon oxide from the atmosphere and then storing it is known as carbon sequestration. In order to achieve net zero emissions, all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions will have to be counterbalanced by carbon sequestration.
  • Carbon sink is any system that absorbs more carbon than it emits. The main natural carbon sinks are soil, forests and oceans. According to estimates, natural sinks remove between 9.5 and 11 Gt of CO2 per year. Annual global CO2 emissions reached 38.0 Gt in 2019.
  • To date, no artificial carbon sinks are able to remove carbon from the atmosphere on the necessary scale to fight global warming.
  • The carbon stored in natural sinks such as forests is released into the atmosphere through forest fires, changes in land use or logging. This is why it is essential to reduce carbon emissions in order to reach climate neutrality.

Arguments against India declaring carbon neutrality goal

  • Given the high number of poor in the country, India has to stay focused on economic growth.
  • India continues to have a low per capita carbon footprint.
  • India does not owe a carbon debt to the world. India’s emissions (non-LULUCF) are no more than 3.5% of global cumulative emissions prior to 1990 and about 5% since till 2018.
  • India’s mitigation efforts are quite compatible with a 2°C target.
  • India’s current annual emissions are low enough to not seriously dent the emissions gap between what the world needs and the current level of mitigation effort.
  • Any self-sacrificial declaration of carbon neutrality today in the current international scenario would be a wasted gesture reducing the burden of the developed world and transferring it to the backs of the Indian people.

India’s Efforts related to Climate Change

  • India has continuously demonstrated its responsibility towards acknowledging the emerging threats from climate change and implementing the climate actions on the basis of the principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities for improving efficiency of the economy and its engines of growth. The major policies and plans include:
  • National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), launched in 2008, formulated in the backdrop of India’s voluntary commitment to reduce emission intensity of its GDP by 20 to 25 per cent by 2020 over 2005 levels. It was also meant to focus on key adaptation requirements and creation of scientific knowledge and preparedness for dealing with climate change.
  • State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC) in line with the NAPCC taking into account State’s specific issues relating to climate change. So far, 33 States/ UTs have prepared their SAPCCs.
  • Climate Change Action Programme (CCAP) has been launched in 2014 with the objective to build and support capacity at central and state levels, strengthening scientific and analytical capacity for climate change assessment, establishing appropriate institutional framework and implementing climate related actions in the context of sustainable development.
  • Measures on Ozone reduction: Ozone has been classified and monitored as one of the eight pollutants under National Air Quality index. System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR): ozone is monitored as one of the pollutants.
  • Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority enforce Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) for Delhi and the NCR region, which comprises the graded measures for each source framed according to the Air Quality Index categories.
  • National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) has launched a training programme- a certificate course for Sustainable Livelihoods and Adaptation to Climate Change (SLACC). SLACC is funded by the Special Climate Change Fund, which was set up under the UNFCC for adaptation and capacity building projects.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine


Great Indian Bustard

Context:

Recently, the Central government informed the Rajya Sabha that there were no Great Indian Bustards (GIB) in Kutch Bustard Sanctuary (KBS) in Gujarat

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Species in News, Conservation of Biodiversity)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Great Indian Bustard
  2. About the Habitat of Great Indian Bustard
  3. On the brink of extinction
  4. SC’s recent hearing on Power Lines threatening the GIB

About the Great Indian Bustard

  • The Great Indian Bustard is one of the heaviest flying birds in the world often found associated in the same habitat as blackbuck.
  • GIBs are the largest among the four bustard species found in India, the other three being MacQueen’s bustard, lesser florican and the Bengal florican.
  • The GIB is Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and comes under the Appendix I of CITES, and Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Threats to the GIB include widespread hunting for sport and food, and activities such as mining, stone quarrying, excess use of pesticides, grassland conversion and power projects along with the expansion of roads and infrastructures such as wind-turbines and power cables.

About the Habitat of Great Indian Bustard

  • The Great Indian Bustard’s habitat includes Arid and semi-arid grasslands with scattered short scrub, bushes and low intensity cultivation in flat or gently undulating terrain. It avoids irrigated areas.
  • GIBs’ historic range included much of the Indian sub-continent but it has now shrunken to just 10 per cent of it.
  • Among the heaviest birds with flight, GIBs prefer grasslands as their habitats. Being terrestrial birds, they spend most of their time on the ground with occasional flights to go from one part of their habitat to the other.
  • GIBs are considered the flagship bird species of grassland and hence barometers of the health of grassland ecosystems.
  • They feed on insects, lizards, grass seeds etc.

On the brink of extinction

  • In 2020, the Central government had told the 13th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) held in Gandhinagar, that the GIB population in India had fallen to just 150.
  • Of the 150 birds in 2020, over 120 birds were in Rajasthan, some were in Kutch district of Gujarat and a few in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Pakistan is also believed to host a few GIBs.
  • Due to the species’ smaller population size, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorised GIBs as critically endangered, thus on the brink of extinction from the wild.
  • Scientists of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) have been pointing out overhead power transmission lines as the biggest threat to the GIBs.

SC’s recent hearing on Power Lines threatening the GIB

  • A bench of the Supreme Court will examine on a priority basis whether overhead power cables can be replaced with underground ones to save one of the heaviest flying birds on the planet.
  • The CJI suggested that: wherever there is high voltage power lines, they can use flight bird divertors even if the recurring costs are high, and wherever there are overhead low voltage lines, these lines can be placed underground.
  • The SC was informed that only low voltage lines can go underground but not the high voltage ones.
  • The court found further that an alternative mechanism — to install flight bird divertors — to guide the birds away from the power lines would be expensive. In fact, the court discovered that the divertors, with their recurring costs, would end costing more than installing and maintaining underground lines.

-Source: Indian Express

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