PIONEER CURRENT AFFAIRS
- International Tiger Day observed.
29 July: International Tiger Day
International Tiger Day was observed on 29 July 2016. The day is held annually on 29th July to give worldwide attention to the reservation of tigers.
The goal of the day is to promote a global system for protecting the natural habitats of tigers and to raise public awareness and support for tiger conservation issues.
It was founded in 2010 at the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit, with the aim to double the big cat population by 2022.
- As per latest data by tiger experts, the world has lost 97 percent of all wild tigers in a little over 100 years.
- The World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum says that the number of wild tigers has gone up to 3890 from the earlier 2010 estimate of 3200.
- In 1915, the number of tigers was 1 lakh.
- Some species of tigers have already been extinct.
- India leads tiger population countries with an estimated population of 2226.
- Despite countries such as India, Nepal, Russia and Bhutan registering a rise in tiger population, the status of the animal remains endangered.
Poaching and loss of Habitat
- Poaching has been the biggest threat to tigers in India. 81 tigers were victims to poachers in 2014, 25 in 2015 and by April 2016 it was 28.
- According to reports of United Nations Environment Programme and Interpol, the environmental crime industry, which includes illegal trade in wildlife, is worth 258 billion dollars.
- Expansion of cities and agriculture by humans led to loss of 93% natural habitat for tigers lost
- Fewer tigers can survive in small, scattered islands of habitat, which make tigers more vulnerable to poaching, which lead to a higher risk of inbreeding.
- Sundarbans, a large mangrove forest area shared by India and Bangladesh on the northern coast of the Indian Ocean, is one of the world’s largest places where tiger populations is found.
- Sundarbans harbors Bengal tigers and protects coastal regions from storm surges and wind damage.
Threat in Sundarbans
Rising sea levels that were caused by climate change threaten to wipe out these forests and the last remaining habitat of this tiger population.
WWF study says that without mitigation efforts, projected sea level rise will go up by nearly a foot by 2070, which could destroy nearly the entire Sundarbans tiger habitat.
- IMD to use supercomputer to forecast monsoon with Dynamical Model.
The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in the last week of July 2016 announced that India Meteorological Department (IMD) will use supercomputer to forecast India’s annual summer monsoon.
The forecast made by a supercomputer will be based on a dynamical monsoon model. It will be operational from 2017.
Current Model to Predict Monsoon
- IMD has been using the ensemble statistical model to predict monsoon since 2007.
- A basic statistical model was in use first since 1920.
- In 2007, it switched to the ensemble statistical forecasting due to the inaccuracy of the annual summer forecasts.
- The existing model relies on arriving at a prediction based on historical monsoon data coupled with data on sea-surface temperatures and winds.
- Union Government forms ‘Disha’ for timely implementation of Central Schemes.
Union Government on 28 July 2016 announced the formation of District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DDCMC) that will be known as ‘Disha’. First meeting of Disha will be held on 13 August 2016.
Disha was created for effective development and coordination of Central Government’s programme, whether it is for infrastructure development or Social and human resource development.
It will monitor the implementation of 28 schemes and programmes of Ministry of Rural Development and other Ministries to promote synergy and convergence for greater impact.
The terms of references of the committee includes
- To ensure that all programmes are implemented in accordance with the Guidelines.
- It will look into complaints/alleged irregularities received in respect of the implementation of the programmes. It will have the authority to summon and inspect any record for this purpose.
- The Committee may refer any matter for enquiry to the District Collector/CEO of the Zilla Panchayat/Project Director of DRDA (or Poverty Alleviation Unit). It can also suggest suitable action to be taken in accordance with the rules which should be acted upon by him within 30 days.
- It will closely review the flow of funds including the funds allocated, funds released by both Centre and the State, utilization and unspent balances under each Scheme.
The main purpose of the committee is to coordinate with Central and State and local Panchayat Governments. Efforts will be made to ensure the participation of people’s representative at all levels and successful implementation of flagship programme of central government.
The meetings of the committee should be held once in every Quarter (third Saturdays of April, July, October and February) and this has been made mandatory.
DDCMC will supersede the District Vigilance & Monitoring Committee currently mandated by Ministry of Rural Development.
Formation of District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DDCMC)
- Chairperson: He/she will be the senior most Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) elected from the district, nominated by the Ministry of Rural Development.
- Co-Chairperson will include
- a) Members of Parliament (Lok Sabha) representing the district
- b) One MP (Rajya Sabha) representing the State and exercising option to be associated with the district level Committee of that district (on first come basis)
- Other members of the committee will include
- a) Members of the State Legislative Assembly elected from the district
- b) All Mayors/the Chairpersons of Municipalities
- c) Chairperson of the Zilla Panchayat
- d) Five elected heads of Gram Panchayat including two women
- e) One representative each of SC, ST
- f) Women to be nominated by the Chairperson
The Member Secretary of Disha should be the District Collector/District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner except in cases where specific exemption has been given by the Union Government.
- Eminent writer, social activist Mahasweta Devi passes away.
Mahasweta Devi, a colossal figure in Bengali literature and a respected social activist, passed away on 28 July 2016 at Kolkata. She was 90.
In a literary career spanning over half-a-century, she wrote over 120 books. Most of her work centred on the lives of the poor and downtrodden.
About Mahasweta Devi
- Mahasweta Devi was born into a family of literary figures in Dhaka in 1926.
- Her first book Jhansi’r Rani (The Queen of Jhansi), came in 1956 when she was teaching at Kolkata’s Bijoygarh College.
- She was the author behind award-winning Hindi films Rudaali and Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa.
- Few of her other noted stories are Aranyer Adhikar (The Occupation of the Forest), Agnigarbha (Womb of Fire), Dhowli, Bashai Tudu, Dust on the Road, Till Death Do Us Part, Old Women, etc.
- She was also the founding member of Aboriginal United Association and a tribal magazine named Bortika, which she started in 1980.
- She has almost a 100 novels and over 20 collections of short stories to her name, primarily written in Bengali but often translated to other languages.
- In her 90-year-long life, Devi won the Sahitya Akademi award (1979), the Padma Shree (1986), the Jnanpith (1997), the Magsaysay award (1997) and the Deshikottam award in 1999.
- James Alan McPherson, first black writer to win Pulitzer Prize in fiction, dies.
American author James Alan McPherson passed away on 27 July 2016 in Iowa City, U.S. He was 72.
McPherson was the first black author to receive the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1978.
About James Alan McPherson
- Born on 16 September 1943, James Alan McPherson was an American short story writer and essayist.
- In 1978, he won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his short story collection Elbow Room, becoming the first African-American to win the Pulitzer for fiction.
- He was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 1981.
- In 1995, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- In 2000, John Updike selected his short story Gold Coast for his collection Best American Short Stories of the Century.
- In October 2011, he was honoured as the inaugural recipient of the Paul Engle Award from the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature.
- He was also a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.
- Rajya Sabha passes Compensatory and Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016.
The Rajya Sabha on 28 July 2016 unanimously passed the Compensatory and Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill, 2016 that allows States to access nearly 42000 crore rupees and channel into afforestation projects.
The Bill was already passed by Lok Sabha on 3 May 2016.
Provisions of the Bill
- The Bill establishes the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state.
- These Funds will receive payments for: (a) compensatory afforestation, (b) net present value of forest (NPV), and (c) other project specific payments.
- The National Fund will receive 10 percent of these funds, and the State Funds will receive the remaining 90 percent.
- These Funds will be primarily spent on afforestation to compensate for loss of forest cover, regeneration of forest ecosystem, wildlife protection and infrastructure development.
Key Issues pertaining to the Bill
The Bill establishes the Funds for compensatory afforestation and forest conservation. However, there are several factors which affect compensatory afforestation and forest conservation. These factors are:
- Lack of planning and implementation: The state forest departments lack the planning and implementation capacity to carry out compensatory afforestation and forest conservation.
- Difficulty in procuring land: Procuring land for compensatory afforestation is difficult as land is a limited resource, and is required for multiple purposes, such as agriculture, industry, etc. This is compounded by unclear land titles.
- Decline in quality of forest cover: A High Level Committee on Environment Laws observed that quality of forest cover has declined between 1951 and 2014, with poor quality of compensatory afforestation plantations being one of the reasons behind the decline.
- Veteran tabla maestro Pandit Lacchu Maharaj dies.
Tabla maestro Pandit Lacchu Maharaj passed away on 28 July 2016 in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. He was 72.
Lacchu Maharaj has been described as one of the frontline tabla players in the world.
About Pandit Lacchu Maharaj
- Pandit Lacchu Maharaj belonged to Banaras Gharana.
- His real name was Lakshmi Narayan Singh.
- Other than his professional performances all over the world, he played the tabla in many Bollywood films.
- He had married French woman Teena.