Topic 1: Coastal aquaculture Bill 2023 (updated from 6th April 2023)
Context: The Coastal Aquaculture Authority (Amendment) Bill 2023 was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
- Concerned ministry:
- Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Ministry
- What is coastal aquaculture?
- Under the Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act 2005, coastal aquaculture means culturing or cultivating, under controlled conditions in ponds, pens, enclosures, or otherwise, in coastal areas, of shrimp, prawn, fish, or any other aquatic life in saline or brackish water.
- But it does not include freshwater aquaculture.
- Main provisions of the Bill:
- It seeks to amend the Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act 2005.
- The Bill seeks to decriminalise the offences under the Act for promoting ease of doing business and to fine-tune the operational procedures of the Coastal Aquaculture Authority.
- It also aimed at promoting newer forms of environment-friendly coastal aquaculture including cage culture, seaweed culture, marine ornamental fish culture and pearl oyster culture which has the potential for creating additional employment opportunities.
- The Bill also has a provision to prevent the use of antibiotics and pharmacologically active substances which are harmful to human health in coastal aquaculture.
- In order to expand the scope, to include all activities under its umbrella, the bill substitutes the term “farm or farms” with “activity or activities”.
- The Act proposes to set up new subordinate offices in CAA to look after the stringent regulation.
- An amendment has been proposed to delegate to the authority to fix the tenure in harmony with the tenure of allotment of land by the government.
- Coastal aquaculture hatchery activity, seaweed culture, and cage culture are allowed in the “No Development Zone” (200m from the High Tide Line towards the coast).
- Decriminalization of the act by removing the punishment of up to 3 years imprisonment for practising aquaculture without registration.
- The Bill seeks to clarify that coastal aquaculture and activities connected therewith shall continue to be regulated by “the Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act and no other Acts.
- Provisions for biosecurity
- The Bill also includes new provisions for “biosecurity”, which refers to measures and strategies for analysing, managing, and preventing the risk of introducing or spreading harmful organisms like viruses and bacteria within the coastal aquaculture unit, which could lead to infectious diseases.
- A Brood Stock Multiplication Centre:
- It provides for the introduction of a “Brood Stock Multiplication Centre” which receives post-larvae or juvenile which are specific pathogen free or tolerant or resistant to such pathogens or other post-larvae or juveniles from a “Nucleus Breeding Centre”, to be reared under strict biosecurity and disease surveillance.
|Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act 2005:The Coastal Aquaculture Authority (CAA) has been a strong force in ensuring the regulation and registration of coastal aquaculture farms.The act mandates the Central government to ensure that these farms do not cause any ill impacts on the coastal environment.Ever since its enactment the act has been helpful in fostering the growth and development of the sector.This has led to a whopping $8 billion worth of seafood export in the last financial year.The Coastal Aquaculture Authority for regulating coastal aquaculture activities in coastal areas would consist of:a chairperson who is a current or former HC judge,a coastal aquaculture expertfour members representing coastal States on a rotation basisone member secretarymembers nominated by:the Central Department of Ocean Development,Ministry of Environment and Forests,Ministry of Agriculture,Ministry of Commerce|
What are the penalties and punishment?
- It states that except for the manner provided under it no person shall carry on, or cause to be carried on, coastal aquaculture in coastal area or traditional coastal aquaculture in the traditional coastal aquaculture farm which lies within the Coastal Regulation Zone.
- Section 14 was the only penal provision under the 2005 Act, which punished coastal aquaculture or traditional coastal aquaculture with imprisonment of up to 3 years or a maximum fine of Rs 1 lakh or both.
- However, no court could take cognizance of an offence under section 14 without a written complaint filed by an officer of the Authority authorized in this behalf by it.
- The 2023 Bill seeks to change this by inserting Section 13A, which allows the CAA to authorise any officer and the allows the Centre to authorise an officer not below the rank of government Under Secretary to function as an adjudicating officer imposing penalties under the Act.
- The Centre can authorise any officer of the Authority or the State Government or the Central Government to function as the Appellate Authority.
- The adjudicating officer or the Appellate Authority shall have the same powers as are vested in a civil court.
|What is aquaculture:Aquaculture essentially means, breeding, raising, and harvesting fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants.It’s farming in water.Saline water along the coast has been found to be suitable for practising aquaculture which produces shrimp, majorly.Aquaculture can be practised on about 12 lakh hectares in the country along the coast, of which only 14% has been utilized so far.This sector shows immense potential which should be harnessed.|
Aquaculture in India:
- India is the second largest producer of farmed fish in the world after China and accounts for more than 8% of global aquaculture production.
- India’s share in global production has increased steadily from about 6% in the 2000s to 7% in 2010 and now to above 8%.
- Initiatives by India
- Some of the earliest initiatives in this regard date back to the mid-fifties, when work on breeding of India Major Carp (IMC) species such as catla, rohu, and mrigal was undertaken.
- A technology used six species mix of IMC and exotic carps was labelled as ‘Composite Fish Culture’ or CFC.
- It was released for extension amongst fish farmers under an All India Coordinated Research Project on Composite Fish Culture (AICRIP-CFC) during the decade of the 1970s.
- Shift towards brackish water aquaculture:
- The significant shift observed in India during the recent period is the growing importance of brackishwater aquaculture.
- India is traditionally a freshwater aquaculture country with a historical record of fish farming in the private and community tanks/ponds.
- As of now, freshwater aquaculture contributes to about 88% of the total farmed fish production in India.
- However, of late brackishwater aquaculture production has been progressing at a relatively much higher rate and its share in total production has increased from around 3 % ten years back to more than 12% at present.
- Marine aquaculture is still at a nascent stage in India having negligible contribution.
- Aquaculture has come under the scanner for excessive use of antibiotics and chemicals such as formalin and hydrogen peroxide.
- The discovery of fish laced with formalin across the country caused a huge scare.
- Several states like Kerala, Goa, Manipur, Assam, and Meghalaya briefly banned import of fish from other states.
- What is formalin?
- Formalin, which has formaldehyde and methyl alcohol, is used to preserve fish to prolong its shelf-life, and there have been suggestions of links between formaldehyde and some types of cancer.
- A source of livelihood:
- The growth of aquaculture across the country over the past couple of decades is a measure of its reliability as a livelihood.
- Fish production contributes around 1% to India’s GDP and over 5% to the agricultural GDP.
- Need to maintain quality standards:
- With the share of fish exports projected to rise from 10% to nearly 13% in 2030, quality standards cannot be ignored.
- India needs to up its game in processing and value addition to capture a bigger chunk of the global export market.
- A step towards providing global food security
- Since wild or capture fishery is under constant and irreversible threat of extinction, a shift from hunting fish to farming fish remains the only future of fish: for food and nutritional security in some of the poorest parts of the world.
- Asia and the Indian subcontinent hold the comparative advantage.
Topic 2: Governor’s function in passing a bill
Context: Tamil Nadu Governor said that if a Governor withholds assent to a Bill passed by the Assembly, it means the “Bill is dead”.
What is the Governor’s function in passing a Bill?
- Under Article 200, the Governor may:
- grant assent
- withhold assent
- return for reconsideration by the Legislature or
- reserve for the consideration of the President any Bill passed by the State legislature and presented to him for assent.
- There is no timeframe fixed in the Constitution for any of these functions.
- The Constitution makes it mandatory that the Governor should reserve for the President’s consideration if in his opinion (a phrase that means he exercises his own discretion in this), any Bill seems to clip the wings of the High Court or undermine its functioning.
- What happens when the President considers the Bill?
- There is no timeframe.
- Article 201 says when a Bill is reserved by a Governor for his consideration, the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill, or that he withholds assent therefrom.
- He may also direct the Governor to return the Bill, if it is not a Money Bill.
- The House or Houses will have to reconsider the Bill within a period of six months from receiving it.
- It may pass the Bill again with or without any change.
- The Bill shall again be presented to the President for his consideration.
- The Bill will become law if the assent is given, but nothing can be done if the Bill is denied assent by the President or if he makes no decision.
Topic 3: National Curriculum Framework (NCF)
Context: The Ministry of Education released the pre-draft of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for school education for public feedback.
What is NCF?
- The NCF, which was last revised in 2005.
- It is a key document based on which textbooks are prepared.
- Apart from textbooks, the NCF, after its adoption, will also restructure various other aspects of the classroom, including choice of subjects, pattern of teaching, and assessment.
- It is based on the recommendations of a national steering committee led by former ISRO chairperson K Kasturirangan.
The proposed changes:
- Choice of subjects:
- Over two years, in class IX and X, the students will have to study 16 courses categorised under eight curricular areas.
- The suggested curricular areas are Humanities (that includes languages), Mathematics & Computing, Vocational Education, Physical Education, Arts, Social Science, Science, and Inter-disciplinary Areas.
- Students will be given a choice to pick 16 courses from eight curricular areas.
- Students will have to clear eight board exams, each of which will assess their hold on courses they learnt in class IX and X, to obtain the final certification which will factor in their performances in exams held over two years.
- Under the current system, there are no such links between class IX and X and students across most boards have to pass at least five subjects to clear class X.
- Changes in specific subjects
- The NCF pre-draft on school education is not so much about specific changes in textbooks.
- Those details will be put out in the position papers being developed by the 12-member steering committee and sub-committees of experts under it known as focus groups.
- However it emphasized on a shift towards play, activity, discovery and discussion-based learning instead of mechanical learning.
- When will these changes come into effect?
- Textbooks based on the revised NCF will be taught in schools starting from the 2024-25 academic session.
- But a specific timeline on the implementation of the changes on exams, assessment and subject design has not been made available yet.
Issues with education system in India:
- Lack of a budget/funding
- Many students are not been able to get the proper education, due to the lack of budget.
- Despite the government’s commitment to education, many schools and colleges still lack the resources they need to provide quality education to their students.
- This includes funding for basic facilities, such as classrooms and libraries, as well as funding for the development of new curricula and the training of teachers.
- Too much Pressure on Grades
- In the education system in India, a student’s intelligence and performance are thought to be mostly determined by their grades.
- Additionally, extracurricular activities are viewed as a detour from academics.
- Too much competition
- A student with a score of at least 90% would be regarded as intelligent.
- A student’s IQ cannot be determined by their grades.
- Not Focusing on Overall Growth
- One of the biggest challenges of the Indian education system is that it is built to impart knowledge, theoretical mostly.
- Lack of Training
- In the Indian education system, rote memorization typically dominates the curriculum.
- It is heavily theoretical.
- It is so prevalent that even to get admission to a school a child should know the alphabet, numbers etc.
- This suggests that teachers place more emphasis on conceptual understanding and neglect to incorporate practical learning in schools.
- Unequal access to education:
- Despite the country’s rapid economic growth and increasing prosperity, many rural and underprivileged communities still lack access to quality education.
- This inequality is reflected in the low literacy rates in these areas, as well as in the high dropout rates for students from these communities.
- Outdated curricula:
- In many cases, the curricula used in schools and colleges are not in line with the latest developments in technology and society.
- This can result in students being ill-prepared for the demands of the modern workplace and can limit their future career prospects.
- In addition to these challenges,
- Need to include practical subjects:
- The new education policy that was set up in 2020 recognizes these issues and is trying to eradicate them by including more practical subjects, adding more versatile subjects, and giving students the option to choose the best for them.
- Duty of parents:
- For parents, it is important to understand that education and the learning process are very dynamic.
- Rise of ed-tech platforms:
- The ed-tech platforms are working together to make sure that every obstacle is overcome to assist the education sector in overcoming obstacles.
- It helps in ensuring that learning is fun and engaging while putting a strong emphasis on holistic development.
- It is anticipated that embracing technological advancements through online education will considerably aid in resolving the problems the Indian educational system is currently facing.
- Despite these challenges, however, the education system in India has made great strides in recent years.
- Many universities and colleges have modernized their curricula to better reflect the needs of the modern workforce.
- The government has increased its funding for education.
- New initiatives, such as the Right to Education Act, have been introduced to increase access to education for all Indian citizens, regardless of their background or income.
- Despite the challenges, however, the country is home to a growing number of well-respected universities and colleges, and the government has made significant progress in addressing the challenges facing the education system.
- With continued investment in education, India has the potential to become a leading center of learning and knowledge and to provide quality education to all of its citizens.
Topic 4: The Tropospheric Emissions Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO)
Context: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched from Florida, carrying a new NASA device that can track air pollution over North America.
- The Tropospheric Emissions Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) instrument will allow scientists to monitor air pollutants and their emission sources from space more comprehensively than ever before.
- The instrument will measure pollution and air quality across greater North America on an hourly basis during the daytime.
- A unique feature of TEMPO is that it will be hosted on an Intelsat communications satellite in geostationary orbit.
- Existing pollution-monitoring satellites are in low Earth orbit, which means they can only provide observations once a day at a fixed time.
- TEMPO will be able to measure atmospheric pollution down to a spatial resolution of 4 square miles (10 square kilometers), or neighborhood level.
- Among the pollutants tracked by TEMPO will be nitrogen dioxide, produced from the combustion of fossil fuels, formaldehyde and ozone.
What is geostationary orbit?
- Geostationary orbit is a common orbit for weather satellites and communications satellites.
- In a geostationary orbit 22,236 miles above the equator, TEMPO will match the rotation of the Earth, meaning it will stay over the same location — North America — at all times.
Topic 5: Oxfam
Context: MHA recommends CBI probe against Oxfam India for FCRA violations
- The Union Home Ministry recommended an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged violation of FCRA provisions by Oxfam India, one of the largest NGOs working on food, shelter and education of vulnerable groups.
- The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) registration of Oxfam India that enabled it to receive foreign funds was not renewed by the Ministry in 2021.
- Oxfam is a British-founded confederation of 21 independent charitable organizations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, founded in 1942 and led by Oxfam International.
- Oxfam’s involvement in India began when money was granted in 1951 to fight famine in Bihar.
- In 2008, Oxfam India became an independent affiliate and an Indian NGO.
- Oxfam started working on the ground in six poorest states of India:
- Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Assam and Odisha.
- Oxfam India is an autonomous Indian organization and has staff and board members from within India.
- Oxfam India is a member of the global confederation of 21 Oxfams across the world.
- Government of India has registered Oxfam India as a non-profit organization under Section 8 of the Indian Companies Act, 2013.
|About FCRAThe FCRA was enacted during the Emergency, with the aim of curbing foreign entities from pumping money into organisations in India for achieving their own aims.Broadly, the FCRA requires every person or NGO seeking to receive foreign donations to beregistered under the Act,to open a bank account for the receipt of the foreign funds in State Bank of India, Delhi, andto utilise those funds only for the purpose for which they have been received and as stipulated in the Act.The Act prohibits the receipt of foreign funds by candidates except under some particular circumstances with requisite declarations. The prohibitions are for:elections,journalists or newspaper and media broadcast companies,judges and government servants,members of the legislature and political parties or their office-bearers, andorganisations of a political nature.Registration under FCRANGOs that want to receive foreign funds must apply online in a prescribed format with the required documentation.FCRA registrations are granted to individuals or associations that have definite cultural, economic, educational, religious, and social programmes.Following the application, the MHA makes inquiries through the Intelligence Bureau into the antecedents of the applicant, and accordingly processes the application.The MHA is required to approve or reject the application within 90 days — failing which it is expected to inform the NGO of the reasons for the same.Once granted, FCRA registration is valid for five years.NGOs are expected to apply for renewal within six months of the date of expiry of registration.In case of failure to apply for renewal, the registration is deemed to have expired.Cancellation of approvalThe government reserves the right to cancel the FCRA registration of any NGO if it finds it to be in violation of the Act.Once the registration of an NGO is cancelled, it is not eligible for re-registration for three years.All orders of the government can be challenged in the High Court.|
Topic 6: LIGO-India
Context: The government has given the final go-ahead to India’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, project, clearing the way for the construction of the country’s biggest scientific facility that will join the ongoing global project to probe the universe by detecting and studying gravitational waves.
What is LIGO?
- LIGO is an international network of laboratories that detect the ripples in spacetime produced by the movement of large celestial objects like stars and planets.
- Gravitational waves, postulated first in Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, encapsulates the current understanding of how gravitation works.
- LIGO-India will be located in Hingoli district of Maharashtra, about 450 km east of Mumbai.
- When it will start?
- It is scheduled to begin scientific runs from 2030.
- LIGO India would be the fifth node of this international network of gravitational wave observatories, and possibly the last.
- The instruments at these observatories are so sensitive that they can easily get influenced by events like earthquakes, landslides, or even the movement of trucks, and produce a false reading.
- That is why multiple observatories are needed to revalidate the signals.
|Newton’s law of gravitationThe English mathematician Sir Issac Newton (1643-1727) had postulated that the force that makes any object fall to the ground was also the one that makes heavenly bodies go around in their orbits.Newton proposed that this was due to the fact that every celestial body exerted an attractive force on every other body in the universe.He worked out a mathematical formulation to calculate the strength of this attractive force which, he found, was directly proportional to the masses of the two bodies and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.Deficiencies in Newton’s lawThe theory did not explain the reason for the existence of the attractive force between any two bodies.Albert Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity published in 1905, established that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light.But the gravitational force seemed to be propagating instantaneously, over any large distance, without any delay at all.Time does not even figure in Newton’s gravitational equation.General Theory of RelativityWith this, Einstein altered our understanding of gravitation with his General Theory of Relativity.He proposed that spacetime interacted with matter, was influenced by it, and in turn, itself influenced events.The curvature in spacetime so produced was the reason other smaller bodies in the vicinity felt the gravitational pull.The heavier the mass in the centre, the greater is the curvature in spacetime, and stronger the gravitational force.Einstein was able to explain the origin of the gravitational force, and also the reason for perpetual, near-circular, motion of all heavenly bodies.|
- Gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ in space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe.
- General Relativity also predicted that moving objects would produce gravitational waves in spacetime, just like a moving boat produces ripples in water.
- Because these are ripples in spacetime itself, gravitational waves have the effect of causing a temporary deformation in a body when it comes in contact.
- This effect is similar to a ball being slightly squeezed along any of its diameters.
- The ball flattens a bit in the direction of pressure that is applied, while it bulges out in the perpendicular direction.
- When a gravitational wave passes the Earth, for example, the Earth gets similarly squeezed in one direction, and bulges in the perpendicular direction.
- Because gravity is the weakest of all natural forces, the deforming effect of gravitational waves is extremely tiny.
- This is the reason why it could not be experimentally verified for 100 years even though many other predictions of General Relativity were tested repeatedly during this period.
How LIGO works
- Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), one of the most complex pieces of scientific equipment were built to measure these tiny effects of gravitational waves.
- The observatory comprises two 4-km-long vacuum chambers, built perpendicular to each other.
- Highly reflective mirrors are placed at the end of the vacuum chambers.
- Light rays are released simultaneously in both the vacuum chambers.
- They hit the mirrors, get reflected, and are captured back.
- In normal circumstances, the light rays in both the chambers would return simultaneously.
- But when a gravitational wave arrives, one of the chambers gets a little elongated, while the other one gets squished a bit.
- In this case, light rays do not return simultaneously, and there is a phase difference.
- The presence of a phase difference marks the detection of a gravitational wave.
- The first ever detection of a gravitational wave happened on September 14, 2015, by the two US-based LIGO detectors.
- These gravitational waves were produced by the merger of two black holes, which were about 29 and 36 times the mass of the Sun, 1.3 billion years ago.
- Black hole mergers are the source of some of the strongest gravitational waves.
- But even these are extremely feeble to detect.
- This achievement was promptly rewarded with the Nobel Prize in 2017.
- Since then, nine more gravitational wave events have been detected by the four observatories in the United States, Europe and Japan.
Topic 7: Spotlight again on Doklam
Context: During the three-day visit of Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to New Delhi, the two sides sought to put a lid on the controversy in India over the remarks of the Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering about border talks between his country and China.
- Recently, Bhutan and China had held talks in Kunming as part of an ongoing dialogue on the border issue.
- According to reports, the Kunming talks focussed on Doklam and areas near the India-Bhutan-China trijunction in the west, and the Jakarlung and Pasamlung pasturelands in the north.
India’s position on Doklam
- India holds that the 2017 Chinese actions in Doklam amounted to an attempt to change the Bhutan-China border unilaterally, thereby violating two agreements with Bhutan in 1988 and 1998.
- China’s aim in doing so was to move the trijunction point from Batang La — both Indian and Bhutanese maps have this as the trijunction point — further south to Gyomochen, in violation of the 2012 agreement with India.
- Significance for China:
- Control of this area would give China a strategic advantage over India, bringing it closer to the “chicken’s neck”, the narrow corridor at Siliguri which is the only road connection to the Northeast, and where Indian defences are considered to be the most vulnerable.
About Doklam and the dispute:
- Doklam, or Donglang in Chinese, is an area spread over less than a 100 sq km comprising a plateau and a valley at the trijunction between India, Bhutan and China.
- It is surrounded by the Chumbi Valley of Tibet, Bhutan’s Ha Valley and Sikkim.
- It is a disputed area between China and Bhutan just like Jakarlung and Pasamlung.
Why did India intervene if it is a matter between Bhutan and China?
- India has signed a Friendship Treaty with Bhutan (renewed in 2007) which drives India to intervene for the goodwill of Bhutan among many other provisions.
- Also, Bhutan asked for India’s help to protect its interest in Doklam from Chinese intervention.
- The area of Doklam carries huge military advantage and if it falls into the hands of China, it will not only compromise the security of Bhutan but also of India.
- China will get the high ground which would enable it to completely crush Bhutan in case of a war.
- The access to the Tri-junction area (via road from Doklam) would give China easy access to transportation of war machinery such as tanks and vehicles to the border of India.
- In this case, if a war breaks out between India and China, the latter will have an upper hand at conquering the Chickens Neck of India as well as the whole of the North-Eastern region of the country.
- The Chickens Neck is the small area which connects the North East to rest of India.
- New Delhi has always held that an agreement between Bhutan and China is the sovereign decision of the two counties even if Thimphu’s positions are not always identical to New Delhi’s.
- There is close consultation and co-ordination between the two sides (India and Bhutan) on security issues of mutual interest.
- This is also written into the 2007 Treaty of Friendship.
- But a China-Bhutan agreement on the boundary, especially if it includes Doklam, would have direct and immediate implications for India’s security.
Topic 8: Track and Trace system for exports
Context: Drugmakers get more time to join ‘Track and Trace’ system for exports
- The system was mooted as a measure to address counterfeit and product recall challenges.
- The manufacturer or the exporter of drug formulations would have to print the barcode as per global standard at different packaging levels — primary, secondary and tertiary to facilitate tracking and tracing of their products.
- Barcode helps in tracking and tracing origin of drugs, which minimises the chances of genuine medicines being considered spurious, sub-standard or counterfeit.
- Initially, secondary and tertiary packing will get covered under the system.
- The primary packing will be included at a later stage.