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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 8 November 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Concerns over Haryana law on local hiring
  2. Solutions for A.P. and Odisha Water, border disputes
  3. HC: Age determination of juvenile offenders in 15 days
  4. India-Italy ties: Ban on Italian defence company lifted
  5. Solar flare triggers aurora in high-latitude countries
  6. Roadkill and extinction risk for leopards in North India

Concerns over Haryana law on local hiring

Context:

The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020 to reserve 75% jobs for locals could trigger an exodus of large domestic and multinational investors who rely on highly skilled manpower, Indian industry has warned.

A similar bill was recently passed in Jharkhand, which provides 75% reservation for local people in the private sector up to ₹40,000 salary a month.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Social Empowerment, Government Policies & Interventions), GS-III: Indian Economy (Employment)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Haryana law on reservation of private jobs for locals
  2. Why is the demand for reservation in private sector gaining momentum?
  3. What is ‘Locals First’ Policy?
  4. Arguments in favour of quota in private
  5. Concerns with implementation ‘Locals First’ Policy
  6. Back to the Basics: Constitutional Provisions regarding reservation
  7. Way Forward

About the Haryana law on reservation of private jobs for locals

  • The Haryana Government’s law requires firms with 10 or more employees to reserve 75% of all jobs offering a salary of less than ₹30,000 a month for eligible candidates of State domicile.
  • The law applies to private companies, societies, trusts, and partnership firms, among others, located in the state.
  • An exemption can be claimed by employers when enough local candidates are not available with the desired skills, qualifications, and proficiency. However, an officer of the rank of deputy commissioner or higher will evaluate such a claim.
  • The move is aimed at disallowing the influx of talent from other parts of the country even in sectors like IT and IT-enabled services (ITes), which the State does not have enough captive supply of.
  • The state government also relaxed the residency (domicile) requirement from 15 to 5 years for a person to get a bona fide resident certificate in the state to provide some flexibility to the private companies in hiring.

Why is the demand for reservation in private sector gaining momentum?

  • There is an implicit assumption in this demand that employment opportunities are increasing in the private sector merely because it is expanding.
  • The policy of LPG (1991) reduced the number of employment opportunities in the public sector, which, in turn, reduced the job opportunities for backward communities. A revelation of the reduction of employment opportunities in the public sector made some political parties and their leaden advance the demand for extending reservations to the expanding private sector.
  • The demand- jobs for locals only are bound to go down well with the electorate. The leadership has been supporting the general cause of SC/STs and OBCs have only been repeating their support for the demand for extending reservations to the private sector.
  • The agrarian sector is under tremendous stress across the country, and young people are desperate to move out of the sector. But there is a serious dearth of jobs (private and government).
  • Every campaign for a sons-of-soil policy, for job reservation, whips up this anti “outsider” sentiment. In the case of Haryana, one of the reasons given for justifying reservations was the proliferation of slums, presumably attributed to “outsiders” shifting to the State for work.
  • The Centre and many state governments probably doubt the robustness in the industry’s efforts when it comes to affirmative action. Several reports — for instance, the State of Working India 2018 released by the Centre for Sustainable Employment of the Azim Premji University. It has shown that discrimination is one of the reasons for under-representation of Dalits and Muslims in the corporate sector.
  • Another major reason for the appeal of jobs for locals is inherent xenophobia. This is not unique to India or Indian States, but is universal. It was spectacularly manifest in the Brexit vote, when Britons thought that foreigners were taking away local jobs, and hence voted to secede from the European Union.

Ground reality: Reasons Behind Such Legislations

  • Inter-state migrant workers (ISMW) constitute a sizeable “under-used or un-used” electorate as they often do not exercise voting rights. If these workers and potential migrants could be retained through Job For Locals Legislations (JRFL) and provided with jobs, the electoral needs of political parties will be served (vote-bank politics).
  • The native unemployment issue assumes relevance as joblessness has intensified in the context of shrinking government employment.
  • Farmers and villagers, who lose their land in the process of land acquisition for industries, keep such preconditions in which industries have to provide jobs to local youth.
  • Job For Locals Legislations will not only retain talent but also incomes which otherwise will go to “other regions”.

What is ‘Locals First’ Policy?

  • It implies that jobs that will be created in a state will be first offered to only people who belong to that state.
  • This policy is populist in nature. Unemployment or employment creation has been a major issue in recent times.
  • This policy is also the result of the fear of some locals who believe that their jobs are being taken away from them and provided to the people not belonging to the state.
  • Besides Andhra Pradesh, there is a law in Maharashtra that if any industry that gets an incentive from the State Government, then 70% of people at a particular level (basically unskilled workers of that industry) have to be locals.
  • The states in support of such a policy provides an argument that it is the state’s responsibility to fulfill aspirations of its people, also since the state is providing incentives, the industries should not have any problem in following its directions.
  • It has been seen that such laws remain in the statute books and are not enforced.

Arguments in favour of quota in private

  • Often the privileged castes (or groups) use nefarious arguments to protect their interests.
  • Reservations once accepted in the constitutional framework are not a charity that is to be kept away from the ‘meritocracy’ of ‘private’ operations.
  • Like all other constitutional guarantees, one may feel the necessity to get ensured of equal opportunity in all spaces.
  • Giving preference and quotas for socially and educationally deprived sections in the private space is, therefore, in keeping with this fundamental tenet.
  • As the NCBC argues, with the number of jobs generated in the state sector shrinking steadily, for the promise of quotas in the Constitution to have any real meaning, it may be inevitable to extend it to the private sector.

Concerns with implementation ‘Locals First’ Policy

  • Equality is very deeply enshrined in the Constitution all across but Article 16 specifically states that no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect or, any employment or office under the State.
  • This policy can lead to a situation of locals vs non-locals in area, thus posing a threat to the integration of the country. Such a law goes against the spirit of One Nation One Tax, One Nation One Ration Card etc. The law somehow requires one to start preparing the State Register of Citizens (SRCs) as against the National Register of Citizens (NRCs). Also, on the issue of domicile reservation in educational institutions, the Supreme Court had observed that since it is the state that is investing money into educational institutions and it is in the state’s interest to promote education in its own state, some amount of domicile reservation can be permitted.
  • It might discourage capital investment in the region. It can result in a flight of capital from India to Africa where Indian entrepreneurs are being encouraged to invest by countries like Gabon.
  • After the short-term benefits of the policy are exhausted, the State Government might need to find other ways to generate more jobs for the locals.
  • Curbs of any kind ultimately affect business freedom and for a business to flourish, it must function within well-defined parameters with very clear set of policies including lesser sensitivities.
  • India as an economy has a comparative advantage over other countries because of its large pool of labour. Labour from densely populated northern and eastern regions of the country, migrate to other places for work and keep the wages down, however, providing the jobs only to the locals might lead to economic loss due to high wages.
  • The policy might get reflected at an international level, where every country starts giving preference to its citizens for a job. India has protested such moves by countries like the US.
  • Such a policy is against the spirit of competition as a local person who is not fully skilled may get the job over the non-local who is fully skilled.
  • On a political level, it would lead to the rise of a strong Sons-of-soil movement and thus end up affecting the spirit of Cooperative Federalism.

Back to the Basics: Constitutional Provisions regarding reservation

  1. Article 15 (4) allows the State to make any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. This provision was extended to admission in educational institutions by 93rd Amendment Act, 2006 (except minority educational institutions).
  2. Article 16 (4) allows State to make any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.
  3. Article 16(4A), empowers state to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST employees.
  4. Article 46 states that the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
  5. Article 243D provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in every Panchayat.
  6. Article 243T provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in every Municipality.
  7. Article 330 states that seats shall be reserved in the Lok Sabha for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes.
  8. Article 332 of the Constitution of India provides for reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States.

Way Forward

  • The government can come up with certain incentives to companies which are investing a certain amount of money for training the local youths. Such incentives could be in the form of capital for better skill development, lower electricity charges, better infrastructure facilities etc.
  • Our dependence on the government for everything and lack of individual self-reliance has promoted incompetent people and strengthened the bureaucracy, which has hurt India immensely in the long-run.
  • Recently, with rapid technological innovations taking over, the government has finally understood that they are not made for business and had to embrace private sector with open arms.
  • States like Kerala have instituted enlightened policies of training migrant workers in the local language and also offering good education for their children.
  • In the medium to long term there is no option but for a big national focus on education, skilling, training and enhancement of human capital, which can get us out of this scarcity mindset of rationing jobs for locals.

-Source: The Hindu


Solutions for A.P. and Odisha Water, border disputes

Context:

Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are scheduled to meet – raising hopes of finding a permanent solution to two vexed issues bothering the neighbouring States:

  1. Vamsadhara Phase-II project in Srikakulam district and
  2. The dispute over the jurisdiction of Kotia villages in Vizianagaram district.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Inter-State relations)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Vamsadhara River
  2. Vamsadhara River Water Dispute
  3. Constitutional and legal provisions related to water disputes
  4. Issues with Interstate Water Dispute Tribunals

About the Vamsadhara River

  • The Vamsadhara River is an east-flowing river which originates in Kalahandi district of Odisha, flows in Odisha, along its boundary with Andhra Pradesh and finally joins the Bay of Bengal at Kalingapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
  • It is the main river of north-eastern Andhra region and the Boddepalli Rajagopala Rao Project was constructed on it to meet the irrigation needs of the region.

Vamsadhara River Water Dispute

A.P.’s need

  • Andhra Pradesh wants to complete the inter-linking of its Nagavali river with the Vamsadhara river and expand the Madduvalasa Reservoir project soon.
  • Agriculture is the only assured economic activity for the people living in the backward region and in the absence of rapid industrialization – hence, there is a need to concentrate on irrigation projects to make agriculture a viable activity.

Odisha’s concern

  • Adverse effect of undertaking the construction of a canal (called a flood flow canal at Katragada, Andhra Pradesh) taking off from the river Vamsadhara is the primary concern for Odisha. The flood flow canal would result in drying up the existing river bed and consequent shifting of the river affecting the groundwater table.
  • Failure of Andhra Pradesh to implement the terms of the inter-state agreement relating to use, distribution and control of waters of Vamsadhara and its valley is also one of the risks that Odisha faces.
  • Odisha also raised the issue of scientific assessment of available water in Vamsadhara at Katragada and Gotta Barrage, Andhra Pradesh and the basis for sharing the available water.

Developments in the Vamsadhara River Water Dispute

  • In February 2006, Odisha sent a complaint to the Central Government under Section 3 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956 regarding its water disputes with Andhra Pradesh pertaining to Inter-State River Vamsadhara. It demanded for the constitution of an Inter-State Water Disputes Tribunal for adjudication.
  • Though the Vamsadhara Water Disputes Tribunal has passed orders in favour of Andhra Pradesh on the Phase-II project, acquisition of land within the jurisdiction of Odisha for the construction of Neradi barrage is yet to be made.
  • The Gotta barrage constructed under Vamsadhara Phase-1 in 1977 is helping in utilising 30 tmcft water for providing irrigation facility to nearly 2 lakh acres.
  • Construction of the Neradi barrage under Phase-II is crucial to provide irrigation water to nearly 2.5 lakh acres additionally.

Constitutional and legal provisions related to water disputes

  • Article 262(1) provides that Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter State river or river valley.
  • Article 262(2) empowers Parliament with the power to provide by law that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint.
  • Under Article 262, two acts were enacted:
    • River Boards Act 1956: It was enacted with a declaration that centre should take control of regulation and development of Inter-state rivers and river valleys in public interest. However, not a single river board has been constituted so far.
    • The Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956 (IRWD Act) confers a power upon union government to constitute tribunals to resolve such disputes. It also excludes jurisdiction of Supreme Court over such disputes.
  • Despite Article 262, the Supreme Court does have jurisdiction to adjudicate water disputes, provided that the parties first go to water tribunal and then if they feel that the order is not satisfactory only then they can approach supreme Court under article 136.
  • The article 136 gives discretion to allow leave to appeal against order, decree, judgment passed by any Court or tribunal in India.

Major Inter-State River Disputes in India

River (s)States
Ravi and BeasPunjab, Haryana, Rajasthan
NarmadaMadhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan
KrishnaMaharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana
VamsadharaAndhra Pradesh & Odisha
CauveryKerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry
GodavariMaharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha
MahanadiChhattisgarh, Odisha
MahadayiGoa, Maharashtra, Karnataka
PeriyarTamil Nadu, Kerala

Active River Water Dispute Tribunals in India

  1. Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II (2004) – Karnataka, Telangana, Andra Pradesh, Maharashtra
  2. Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal (2018) – Odisha & Chattisgarh
  3. Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal (2010) – Goa,Karnataka, Maharashtra
  4. Ravi & Beas Water Tribunal (1986) – Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan
  5. Vamsadhara Water Disputes Tribunal (2010) – Andra Pradesh & Odisha.

Issues with Interstate Water Dispute Tribunals

  • Interstate Water Dispute Tribunals are riddled with Protracted proceedings and extreme delays in dispute resolution. For example, the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, constituted in 1990, gave its final award in 2007.
  • Interstate Water dispute tribunals also have opacity in the institutional framework and guidelines that define these proceedings and ensure compliance.
  • There is no time limit for adjudication. In fact, delay happens at the stage of constitution of tribunals as well.
  • Though award is final and beyond the jurisdiction of Courts, either States can approach Supreme Court under Article 136 (Special Leave Petition) under Article 32 linking issue with the violation of Article 21 (Right to Life). In the event the Tribunal holding against any Party, that Party is quick to seek redressal in the Supreme Court. Only three out of eight Tribunals have given awards accepted by the States.
  • The composition of the tribunal is not multidisciplinary and it consists of persons only from the judiciary.
  • No provision for an adequate machinery to enforce the award of the Tribunal.
  • Lack of uniform standards- which could be applied in resolving such disputes.
  • Lack of adequate resources- both physical and human, to objectively assess the facts of the case.
  • Lack of retirement or term- mentioned for the chairman of the tribunals.
  • The absence of authoritative water data that is acceptable to all parties currently makes it difficult to even set up a baseline for adjudication.
  • The shift in tribunals’ approach, from deliberative to adversarial, aids extended litigation and politicisation of water-sharing disputes.
  • The growing nexus between water and politics have transformed the disputes into turfs of vote bank politics.

-Source: The Hindu


HC: Age determination of juvenile offenders in 15 days

Context:

The Delhi High Court has ordered that the procedure of determining the age of a juvenile be completed within 15 days of the filing of documents.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues Related to Children, Governance and Government Policies, Issues Arising Out of Design & Implementation of Policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who is Juvenile?
  2. About the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB)
  3. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015
  4. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021

Who is Juvenile?

  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 addresses children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
  • According to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015, any person who is less than eighteen years of age is considered a Juvenile.

About the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB)

  • Juveniles accused of or imprisoned for committing a crime are brought before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) – a statutory body – constituted under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2015.
  • The JJB is made up of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class, as well as two Social Workers, one of whom must be a woman.

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 replaced the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 to comprehensively address children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
  • The Act changes the nomenclature from ‘juvenile’ to ‘child’ or ‘child in conflict with law’.
  • Also, it removes the negative connotation associated with the word “juvenile”.
  • It also includes several new and clear definitions such as orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children; and petty, serious and heinous offences committed by children.
  • The 2015 law also included special provisions to tackle child offenders committing heinous offences in the age group of 16-18 years.
  • It mandates setting up Juvenile Justice Boards and Child Welfare Committees in every district. Both must have at least one-woman member each.
  • A separate new chapter on Adoption to streamline adoption procedures for an orphan, abandoned and surrendered children,
  • Also, the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) was granted the status of a statutory body to enable it to perform its function more effectively.
  • All Child Care Institutions, whether run by State Government or by voluntary or non-governmental organisations are to be mandatorily registered under the Act within 6 months from the date of commencement of the Act.

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


India-Italy ties: Ban on Italian defence company lifted

Context:

In a major turnaround, the Government has decided to lift its ban on the Italian defence company involved in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with his Italian counterpart.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests, International Treaties and Agreements affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Background to the India-Italy ties and the
  2. What is the impact of lifting the ban?
  3. India–Italy relations
  4. Action Plan for an enhanced Partnership between India and Italy (2020-2024)

Background to the India-Italy ties and the

  • Over the past few years, bilateral relations between India and Italy have been held up over the ban on the Italian Defence Company as well as the case of the Italian marines accused of killing Kerala fishermen.
  • Recently India had formally dropped all charges against Italian marines in the Enrica Lexie case and the Supreme Court agreed to close criminal proceedings on the basis of a decision by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

What is the impact of lifting the ban?

  • The ban on the Italian defence company had impacted the Navy in particular, as it had curtailed its list of probable suppliers for “heavyweight torpedoes”. The lifting of the ban will open up the avenues for more robust defence trade partnership between the two nations.
  • The decision to lift the ban on Italian Defence Company might signal the relaunch of bilateral partnership between the two countries.
  • With two issues plaguing the India-Italy bilateral relationship being resolved, the two countries can now focus on strengthening and deepening their bilateral cooperation and partnership.
  • Italy has also expressed its intention to strengthen its otherwise below potential bilateral relations with India. India too is looking to broad base its international relations. The strengthening of the India-Italy partnership can help India consolidate the EU-India strategic relationship further.
  • Both nations had decided to adopt the Action Plan for an enhanced Partnership between India and Italy (2020-2024) to set up priorities, strategic goals and mechanisms of a bilateral partnership at the India-Italy virtual summit held in November 2020. The move will also affect the effective implementation of the Action Plan.

India–Italy relations

History of India-Italy relations

  • India–Italy relations are characterized by warmth and friendship.
  • Relations between India and Italy date back to ancient times with works from authors such as Diodorus Siculus’ Library of History, Arrian’s Indika, and Pliny the Elder’s Natural History make references to India.
  • Caches of Roman coins have been discovered across the Indian peninsula, and evidence indicates the existence of permanent settlements of Roman merchants in South India.
  • The discovery of an Indian ivory statuette in the ruins of Pompeii confirms that goods were traded both ways.
  • During the British Raj, trade and travel between India and Italy reduced significantly due to prevailing political conditions.
  • Indian forces played a role in liberating Italy from Nazi control. India contributed the 3rd largest Allied contingent in the Italian campaign after US and British forces.

Relations in Recent Times

  • Bilateral trade between India and Italy grew by 12 times in the 2 decades between 1991 and 2011, from EUR 708 million to EUR 8.5 billion.
  • By 2012 Italy had an accumulated investment of 9% of the total European Union FDI in India.
  • Italy accounted for 2.3% of India’s total investment in the European Union.

Action Plan for an enhanced Partnership between India and Italy (2020-2024)

  • Agreement to coordinate closely at multilateral fora especially G-20, Italy will assume the Presidency of G-20 in December 2021 followed by India in 2022.
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Cassa Depositi Prestiti (CDP), an Italian investment bank and National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) to promote innovative financial schemes capable of supporting bilateral investments.
  • Welcoming the progress made under India-Italy Science and Technology Cooperation and the India-Italy Executive Programme of Cooperation.
  • Pledging to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism and transnational crime both at a bilateral level and in multilateral fora and also agreed to hold the next meeting of the ‘India-Italy Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism’ to further advance cooperation, exchange of expertise and capacity building in 2021.
  • India and Italy acknowledging the potential of new international organisations such as the Coalition on Disaster Resilient Infrastructures (CDRI) and the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
  • Reaffirming their commitment to the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement and their respective nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

-Source: The Hindu


Solar flare triggers aurora in high-latitude countries

Context:

A solar flare that occurred on the Sun triggered a magnetic storm. Scientists said that the magnitude of this storm would be such as to trigger spectacular displays of aurora (the colored bands of light seen in the North and South poles) in the high-latitude and polar regions.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a Solar flare?
  2. What is a Geomagnetic storm?
  3. What is aurora?

What is a Solar flare?

  • A solar flare is a sudden flash of increased brightness on the Sun, usually observed near its surface and in close proximity to a sunspot group.
  • Powerful flares are often, but not always, accompanied by a coronal mass ejection.
  • Even the most powerful flares are barely detectable in the total solar irradiance (the “solar constant”).
  • Flares are closely associated with the ejection of plasmas and particles through the Sun’s corona into interplanetary space. Solar flares also copiously emit radio waves.
  • It usually takes days for the solar plasma ejecta to reach Earth.
  • Flares also occur on other stars, where the term stellar flare applies.
  • Flares occur in active regions around sunspots, where intense magnetic fields penetrate the photosphere to link the corona to the solar interior.
  • The frequency of occurrence of solar flares varies following the 11-year solar cycle.
  • If the ejection is in the direction of the Earth, particles associated with this disturbance can penetrate into the upper atmosphere (the ionosphere) and cause bright auroras, and may even disrupt long-range radio communication.

What is a Geomagnetic storm?

  • A geomagnetic storm (commonly referred to as a solar storm) is a temporary disturbance of the Earth’s magnetosphere caused by a solar wind shock wave and/or cloud of magnetic field that interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field.
  • The disturbance that drives the magnetic storm may be a solar coronal mass ejection (CME) or (much less severely) a co-rotating interaction region (CIR), a high-speed stream of solar wind originating from a coronal hole.
  • The frequency of geomagnetic storms increases and decreases with the sunspot cycle. During solar maximum, geomagnetic storms occur more often, with the majority driven by CMEs.

What is aurora?

  • An aurora, also known as the polar lights or aurora Polaris, is a natural light display in Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions (around the Arctic and Antarctic).
  • There are two types of aurora – the aurora borealis and aurora australis – often called the northern lights and southern lights.
  • Auroras display dynamic patterns of brilliant lights that appear as curtains, rays, spirals or dynamic flickers covering the entire sky.
  • Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind.
  • These disturbances alter the trajectories of charged particles in the magnetospheric plasma.
  • These particles, mainly electrons and protons, precipitate into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere).
  • The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emit light of varying colour and complexity.
  • The form of the aurora, occurring within bands around both polar regions, is also dependent on the amount of acceleration imparted to the precipitating particles.

Why do auroras come in different colors and shapes?

  • The color of the aurora depends on which gas — oxygen or nitrogen — is being excited by the electrons, and on how excited it becomes. The color also depends upon how fast the electrons are moving, or how much energy they have at the time of their collisions.
  • High energy electrons cause oxygen to emit green light (the most familiar color of the aurora), while low energy electrons cause a red light. Nitrogen generally gives off a blue light.
  • The blending of these colors can also lead to purples, pinks, and whites. The oxygen and nitrogen also emit ultraviolet light, which can be detected by special cameras on satellites.

-Source: The Hindu


Roadkill and extinction risk for leopards in North India

Context:

According to a new international study that quantifies the threat posed by roads to the survival of animal populations around the world – the leopard (Panthera pardus) faces an 83% increased risk of extinction in North India due to roadkill.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of Environment, Species in news)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Leopards
  2. Findings of the Study on leopard population

About Leopards

  • The leopard is one of the five extant species in the genus Panthera, a member of the Felidae.
  • It occurs in a wide range in sub-Saharan Africa, in small parts of Western and Central Asia, a small part of European Russia, and on the Indian subcontinent to Southeast and East Asia.
  • The Indian leopard is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent. In India, the leopard is found in all forest types, from tropical rainforests to temperate deciduous and alpine coniferous forests. It is also found in dry scrubs and grasslands, the only exception being desert and the mangroves of Sundarbans.
  • The species Panthera pardus is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because populations have declined  following habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching for the illegal trade of skins and body parts, and persecution due to conflict situations.
  • The Indian Leopard or Common Leopard listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and included in Appendix I of CITES.
  • The Indian leopard is one of the  big cats occurring on the Indian subcontinent, apart from the Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, Snow leopard and Clouded leopard.
  • In Recent Survey in 2020 India now has more than 12,000 leopards as compared to the previous estimate of less than 8,000 conducted 2014. More than 60% increase in population has been recorded.
  • The States of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra recorded the highest leopard estimates.

Findings of the Study on leopard population

  • The leopard population of North India is at highest risk among four animal populations identified as being the most vulnerable to extinction in the next 50 years if observed roadkill levels persist.
  • Leopard is followed by the maned wolf and the little spotted cat, both of Brazil, and the brown hyena of southern Africa.
  • At an 83% increased risk, the study estimates the time to the North Indian leopard population’s extinction at 33 years.
  • Other populations found highly vulnerable include the lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus) and sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) in South India.
  • The study brings attention to Sub-Saharan Africa and south-eastern Asia as regions where roads can lead to loss of mammalian biodiversity and thus, areas where future road development and road mitigation need to be carefully considered.   

-Source: The Hindu

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