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Hindu Notes from General Studies-01

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Wild guests start migration

News

  • With the rise in mercury in the Nilgiri Biosphere, the seasonal migration of wild animals from wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) has begun.

Beyond News

  • Mammals such as elephants and gaurs migrate to the sanctuary from the adjacent Bandipur and Nagarhole national parks in Karnataka and the Mudumalai national park in Tamil Nadu in search of food and water.
  • Though the wildlife migration has started a little early this year, man-animal conflict is comparatively very low on the fringes of the sanctuary, no case of lifting of domestic animals by predators such as tiger or leopard has been reported so far.
  • Water sources in the sanctuary, including 30 earthen bunds, 45 check-dams and 235 waterholes, have been closely monitored with GPS every week to ensure drinking water for the wildlife.
  • As part of fodder management, around 300 hectares of coarse grasslands have been trimmed to grow soft grass.
  • Fire line has been erected along 230 km on the forest fringes to prevent wildfire. Apart from 25 permanent anti-poaching camps and five watch towers at important strategic points, 12 new treetop machans (temporary watchtowers) will start functioning in a week.
  • Forest officials, including guards and watchers, have been deployed there to keep watch over poaching and wildfire.
  • A round-the-clock control room has been set up to issue alert in case of forest fires.

Hindu Notes from General Studies-02

Centre okays Citizenship Bill

News

  • The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 recommended that Assam government should help settle migrants “especially in places which are not densely populated, thus, causing lesser impact on the demographic changes and providing succor to the indigenous Assamese people.”

Beyond News

  • The Bill paves way to grant citizenship to six religious minorities — Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 2014.
  • The Union Cabinet cleared the redrafted Citizenship Amendment Bill, and it is likely to be tabled in the Parliament.
  • Inputs from security agencies along with other corroborative evidence in the print/electronic media would help to establish religious persecution in a foreign land.

Trump, Modi discuss Afghanistan

News

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump discussed bilateral ties including cooperation in Afghanistan and trade issues
  • The conversation came days after the American leader indicated his preference for greater Indian contribution for ending the civil war in Afghanistan.

Beyond News

  • A White House readout on the conversation said that the two leaders discussed security issues.
  • The leaders agreed to strengthen the US-India strategic partnership in 2019 and exchanged perspectives on how to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with India, expand security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and increase cooperation in Afghanistan.
  • They expressed satisfaction at the progress in India-U.S. strategic partnership in 2018. They appreciated developments such as the launch of the new 2+2 Dialogue mechanism and the first-ever Trilateral Summit of India, the U.S. and Japan.

Kim Jong un visits China after warning of alternate path to U.S. talks

News

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is visiting China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, only days after warning he may take an alternative path if the United States does not ease sanctions and pressure on his isolated country.

Beyond News

  • The visit, confirmed by North Korean and Chinese state media, will likely lead to Mr. Kim’s fourth summit with Mr. Xi in the last year and comes amid plans for a second summit with Mr. Trump aimed at denuclearising the Korean peninsula.
  • Kim held three summits last year with Mr. Xi, his most important ally, before and after summits with Mr. Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
  • Kim’s visit to North Korea’s most important economic and diplomatic ally, which was first reported by South Korean media, comes amid reports of advanced negotiations for a second summit between Washington and Pyongyang aimed at resolving the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear programme.
  • While there were no details released about the possible agenda in China, Mr. Kim has been seeking relief from international sanctions, a peace declaration to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War, and more economic investment.
  • Ties between China and North Korea, which had frayed as Pyongyang stepped up its provocations through a series of missile and nuclear tests, warmed over the last year as Mr. Kim engaged with Beijing as well as Seoul and Washington.

SC notice to EC on VVPAT verification

News

  • The Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to respond to a plea that the counts from electronic voting machines and voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) units should be cross-verified in at least 30% randomly chosen polling stations in each Assembly and Lok Sabha constituency, especially in light of the Lok Sabha election.

Beyond News

  • The petition said the commission had chosen to conduct the cross-verification exercise in an “inexplicably minuscule” manner in the recent Assembly elections.
  • The fraction of polling stations chosen for such random cross-verification has been inexplicably minuscule (less than 1% of polling stations in each constituency). This is manifestly arbitrary, irrational, unreasonable and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, the petition said.
  • The court’s judgment and need for voter confidence and transparency in the election process led to the mechanism for random cross-verification of EVM and VVPAT counts.
  • This was in order to detect any technological mischief or mal-programming of EVMs, the petitioners contended.

Hindu Notes from General Studies-03

73 ‘dying’ species are in conservation breeding stage in Indian zoos: CZA

News

  • Central Zoo Authority (CZA) said that conservation breeding of 73 critically endangered species was being taken up at various Indian zoos, including the Mysuru zoo.
  • The aim is to breed such species in captivity and release them into the wild later, after meeting all the protocols.

Beyond News

  • The CZA identified such species for conservation breeding after taking note of the drastic decline in their numbers in the wild. The zoos that are part of the project are identified as “coordinating zoos” and “participating zoos”, and their roles and responsibilities have been defined as per their record and expertise in captive breeding.
  • The Indian gaur, lion-tailed macaque, grey wolf, wild dog, grey jungle fowl, and giant squirrel are the species for which Mysuru zoo is carrying out conservation breeding. Among the other critically endangered species whose conservation breeding was under way across the country are snow leopard (in Himachal Pradesh) and pangolin (at Nandankanan zoo in Odisha).
  • Barring mouse deer, gharial, and vulture species, no other species listed for conservation breeding has been released into the wild. Mouse deer bred in the Hyderabad zoo and vultures bred in captive conditions at Pinjore in Haryana were successfully released into the wild, but the release of the gharial was unsuccessful. All three species of vultures were successfully bred in captivity.

Real-time air pollution study to be ready in 18 months

News

  • A real-time study of the sources of pollution in the Capital would be conducted by the University of Washington and the Delhi government over the next 18 months.

Beyond News

  • The government signed a memorandum of understanding with Washington University for the joint project that will collect real-time air pollution data, particularly particulate matter.
  • The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the University of Washington will carry out real-time sampling of PM 1, PM 2.5 and PM 10, in addition to suggesting ways to minimise pollution.
  • For the study, wireless sensors would be deployed along with a specially developed algorithm.
  • The real-time data will help policy development to regulate and improve the air quality, whereas the state of the art instrument demonstration will lead a path of capacity building development.

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