The Table that defines chemistry turns 150

Headline : The Table that defines chemistry turns 150

Details :

The News

  • 2019 is celebrated as ‘The International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements’ as the Period Table of Elements has turned 150 years in 2019.

Periodic Table of Elements: A backgrounder

  • The ‘Periodic Table of Elements’ was written by Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev on in 1869.
  • While there were other efforts to classify elements, Mendeleev was unique in that he was the first one to propound a ‘law of periodicity of elements’.
  • According to Mendeleev’s law of periodicity, ‘elements, if arranged according to their atomic weights, exhibit an evident periodicity of properties’.
  • Currently, the modern periodic table has 118 elements, compared to 63 in Mendeleev’s version.
  • Out of 118 elements, 100 are naturally occurring and 18 and artificially produced.
  • While Mendeleev’s law put emphasis on ‘atomic weight’ to classify elements, modern periodic law classifies elements based on periodicity of their properties in accordance with their ‘atomic number’.
  • In recognition of his achievement, Mendeleev has found a place in the periodic table in the form of an element 101 named as Mendelevium (Md).

Basics of Periodic Table

  • Each chemical element is made of a specific type of atom.
  • Each specific atom has a characteristic number of protons in its nucleus which defines the atomic number for that particular element.
  • Elements in the periodic table are arranged in the increasing order of their atomic number.

Position of Elements in the Periodic Table (See figure below)

Groups

  • The elements in the periodic table are classified into ‘groups’.
  • ‘Groups’ are the vertical columns in the periodic table.
  • There 18 such ‘groups’ in the periodic table.
  • Elements in the same group have similar chemical properties.

Metals

Alkali Metals (Group 1)

  • Alkali Metals are elements found in ‘group 1’ except hydrogen.
  • Hydrogen is an exception in group 1 and is a non-metal.
  • Alkali Metals are soft, silvery metals that are very reactive.
  • Therefore, they not found in pure form in nature and often found in combination with other elements.
  • All alkali metals react with water.

Alkaline Earth Metals (Group 2)

  • Alkaline Earth Metals are found in group 2.
  • Alkaline earth metals are also reactive and thus not found in pure form in nature.
  • However they are not as reactive as alkali metals in group 1.

Metals (Groups 3 to 12)

  • Elements in groups 3 to 12 are classified as metals in general.
  • Metals are solids at room temperature except for mercury (Hg) which is a liquid at room temperature.
  • Metals are very malleable which means they are not brittle and thus can be worked into different shapes.
  • Metals are also ductile which means they can be formed into wires.
  • Further metals are good conductors of heat and electricity.

Non-Metals

  • Non-metals in general are found in different states of matter in nature.
  • Solid non-metals are brittle unlike metals.
  • Non-metals are poor conductors of heat and electricity.

Halogens (Group 17)

  • One type of non-metals are halogens found in group 17 in the periodic table.
  • Halogens are very reactive non-metals and ‘salt formers’ and hence the name.
  • They are usually very corrosive.

Nobel Gases (Group 18)

  • Nobel gases are found in group 18 of the periodic table.
  • They are colorless gases and generally very unreactive and thus very stable in nature.

Metalloids

  • The zig-zag line shown in the figure divides the metals from non-metals in the periodic table.
  • However some of the elements on the zig-zag line exhibit properties in between metals and non-metals and are called metalloids.
  • Boron, Silicon, Germanium, Arsenic, Antimony, Tellurium are some of the famous metalloids.
  • Silicon is the most famous metalloid because of its semiconducting properties.

Periods

  • A ‘period’ is a horizontal row in the periodic table.
  • There are 7 such ‘periods’ in the periodic table.
  • The elements in the periods are arranged based on their electron configuration.
  • Elements of the same period have the same number of electron shells.
  • Elements in Period 1 has its electrons arranged in one shell, those in Period 2 in 2 electron shells, 3 shells in period 3 and so on and so forth.

Note to students: This comes under basic science part of the syllabus. a detailed note is provided considering the significance of the year.Section : Science & Tech

The forms of federalism in India

Headline : The forms of federalism in India

Details :

Why in News?

  • The Union government has withdrawn the special status conferred on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) under Article 370 of the Constitution. It has also divided the State into two regions and declared them as Union Territories.

 

The debate concerning with federalism:

Nations are described as ‘federal’ or ‘unitary’, depending on the way in which governance is organized.

  • In a unitary set-up, the Centre has plenary powers of administration and legislation, with its constituent units having little autonomy.
  • In a federal arrangement, the constituent units are identified on the basis of region or ethnicity, and conferred varying forms of autonomy or some level of administrative and legislative powers.

As the current political status of J&K — as two Union Territories — is a form of demotion from the sort of autonomy it enjoyed, it becomes an issue concerning federalism.

 

Is India a federal state?

Article 1 of the Constitution states, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”. While the Constitution doesn’t mention the term “federal”, it does provide for a governance structure primarily federal in nature. It provides for separate governments at the Union and in the states. Further, it specifies and demarcates the powers, functions and jurisdictions of the two governments. Last, it details the legislative, administrative and financial relations between the Union and the states.

S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, it has been held that “Democracy and federalism are essential features of our constitution and are part of its basic structure”. With increased political decentralization, India was ripe to evolve from a “union of states” to a “federation of states”.

There exist certain provisions in the Constitution which are considered to be going against the principle of federalism.

  • For example, article 200 of the constitution in which it is said that certain bills passed by state legislatures may be reserved by the governors for the consideration of the president of India.
  • The another article which is considered to be a deviation from the principle of federalism is Articles 356, 352 and 360 which gives the power to the president to declare emergency, which can transform federal system into a unitary system.
  • There are many circumstances in which the central government has used this power to dissolve the state governments of the opposite parties and to remain in power at the centre.

A disconcerting trend has been observed since 1950. While the Union and Concurrent Lists have expanded, the State List seems to have shrunk. This has led many to question the structure of Indian federalism and to propose its remodeling.

 

Why India is called ‘quasi-federal’:

The Supreme Court has commented on the nature of the Indian Union in several judgments. It has noted that the essence of a ‘federation’ is the existence of the Union of the States, and the distribution of powers between them.

  • In India, on the other hand, Parliament has the power to admit new States, create new States, alter their boundaries and their names, and unite or divide the States. The concurrence of States is not needed for the formation and unmaking of States and Union Territories.
  • Several provisions of the Constitution allow the Centre to override the powers of the States. For example existence of Concurrent List in Legislature.
  • In India, the residuary powers of legislation, that is the power to make law in a field not specified in the Constitution, is vested in Parliament, whereas in the U.S., residuary powers are with the States.
  • Further, in fiscal matters, the power of the States to raise their own resources is limited, and there is a good deal of dependency on the Centre for financial assistance.

Even though the States are sovereign in their prescribed legislative field, and their executive power is co-extensive with their legislative powers, it is clear that “the powers of the States are not coordinate with the Union”. This is why the Constitution is often described as ‘quasi-federal’.

 

Why is it said that India has asymmetric federalism:

  • The main forms of administrative units in India are the Centre and the States. But there are other forms, too, all set up to address specific local, historical and geographical contexts.
  • Besides the Centre and the States, the country has Union Territories with a legislature and Union Territories without a legislature. Parliament has overriding powers over any law made by the Assembly in the Union Territories.
  • Just as the Centre and the States do not have matching powers in all matters, there are some differences in the way some States and other constituent units of the Indian Union relate to the Centre. This creates a notable asymmetry in the way Indian federalism works.

 

Special status for J&K and how it worked:

The foremost example of asymmetry among Centre-State ties was in the way J&K related to India until August 6, 2019.

  • Under Article 370, the State was allowed to have its own Constitution, its own definition of ‘permanent residents’, the right to bar outsiders from holding property, and the privilege of not having any Indian law automatically applicable to its territory.
  • Indian laws had to be specifically permitted by its Assembly before it could operate there. It was allowed to have its’ own Penal and Criminal Procedure Codes.
  • The President was empowered to notify, from time to time, the provisions of the Constitution that could be extended to the State, with or without modifications.

 

What does Article 371 provide?

Special status is not unique to Kashmir. However, the sort of asymmetry seen in J&K’s relationship to the Centre is not seen in other States. The ‘special provisions’ applicable to some other States are mainly in the form of empowering the Governors to discharge some special responsibilities. These States are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

  • Article 371 says the Governor of Maharashtra has a special responsibility to establish separate development boards for Vidarbha, Marathwada, and the rest of the State, while the Governor of Gujarat has a similar responsibility towards Saurashtra, Kutch and the rest of Gujarat. The responsibilities cover equitable allocation of funds for development expenditure, and providing facilities for technical education and vocational training.
  • Article 371A confers special status on Nagaland. Under this provision, no law made by Parliament in relation to Naga customary law and procedure, including civil and criminal justice matters, and ownership or transfer of land and resources will apply to Nagaland, unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland decides so. Further, the Governor of Nagaland has a ‘special responsibility’ regarding law and order in the State.
  • Article 371B contained a special provision for Assam under which a committee of legislators from the tribal areas was formed to look after their interest. The tribal areas later became Meghalaya State.
  • Under Article 371C, the Hill Areas of Manipur ought to have a committee of legislators. The Governor has a special responsibility to make an annual report to the President on the administration of the Hill Areas. The Centre is empowered to give directions to the State as far as these areas were concerned.
  • Article 371D is a detailed provision under which the President can pass an order to provide equitable opportunities and facilities to people belonging to different parts of Andhra Pradesh in public employment and education. In particular, the President can create local cadres in various classes of employment and allot civil posts to specified local cadres only.
  • Article 371F incorporated special provisions after the addition of Sikkim to India. One major objective was to grant protection to existing laws in Sikkim so that they are not declared unconstitutional after being brought under the Constitution of India.
  • Article 371G contains special provisions to preserve the religious and social practices of Mizos in Mizoram and their customary law and procedure and administration of criminal and civil justice, besides ownership of land.
  • Article 371H vests a special responsibility on the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh with respect to law and order. It makes clear that the Governor shall discharge this function after consulting the Council of Ministers, but exercise his individual judgment as to the action taken.

Other examples of decentralization of power:

There is another significant tier of administration under the larger framework of asymmetric federalism.

  • The Sixth Schedule to the Constitution contains provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. These create autonomous districts and autonomous regions administered by District Councils and Regional Councils respectively. These Councils can make laws with respect to allotment, occupation and use of land, management of forests other than reserve forests and water courses. Besides they can regulate social customs, marriage and divorce and property issues.
  • In Assam, the Karbi-Anglong Autonomous Council, Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council and the Bodoland Territorial Council have been set up under the Sixth Schedule. Another six autonomous councils have been formed by Acts of the legislature.
  • Ladakh has two autonomous hill development councils (Leh and Kargil).
  • The Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council is in West Bengal.

 

Recent Developments:

Typically, two opposite forces seem to operate: cooperative federalism and competitive federalism. Promoting both cooperative and competitive federalism has been an overarching theme of the government.

  • Cooperative federalism implies the Centre and states share a horizontal relationship, where they “cooperate” in the larger public interest.
  • Competitive federalism gained significance in India post the 1990s economic reforms.
  • The disbandment of the Planning Commission (PC) and its replacement by the NITI Aayog is specifically designed to promote cooperative federalism.
  • Institutional innovations such as the NITI Aayog and the GST council that now dominate Centre-state deliberations, and India today has a new framework for negotiating Centre-state relations.

 

Way Forward:

  • Cooperative and competitive federalism may be two sides of the same coin. Their complementarities are contingent on many affirmative steps.
  • Efforts at cooperative federalism have commenced but need to be strengthened.
  • An institutional mechanism like Inter-State Council must be reactivated where important issues are appropriately discussed with states for better policy coordination.

Vultures in India:

Vultures in India:
Endangered:
  • Experts said that breeding and conservation of vultures has become very important as the bird species are now endangered.
  • Almost 95% of vultures in India have disappeared.
  • They were said to have perished after consuming carcasses of cattle, which were tainted with Diclofenac, a pain-killer drug.
Vulture breeding:
  • The NBP is one of six institutes selected for the vulture breeding programme.
  • With financial support from the CZA, construction on a conservation breeding centre for white backed vultures began in 2011-12 in an off-exhibit area of Nandankanan.
  • However, it has been struggling to find vultures for captive breeding.
  • Now, with CZA ordering transfer of vultures to the Nandankanan zoo, its conservation breeding of white-backed vultures is expected to be back on track again soon.
Central Zoo Authority:
  • In India, functioning of zoos is regulated by an autonomous statutory body called Central Zoo Authority which has been constituted under the Wild Life (Protection) Act.
  • Its main objective is to complement the national effort in conservation of wild life.
  • Under the Recognition of Zoo Rules, 1992, standards and norms for housing, upkeep, health care and overall management of animals in zoos have been laid down.
  • Every zoo in the country is required to obtain recognition from the Authority for its operation. It also provides technical and financial assistance to the zoos.
  • The Central Zoo Authority also regulates the exchange of animals of endangered category listed under Schedule-I and II of the Wildlife (Protection Act) among zoos.
  • Exchange of animals between Indian and foreign zoos is also approved by the Authority before the requisite clearances under EXIM Policy and the CITES permits are issued by the competent authority.

Inland Waterways in India

Inland Waterways in India: A Background

  • Inland Waterways Transport is the transportation of cargo over rivers, backwaters, canals and creeks.

 

Advantages of IWT

  • IWT is the most inexpensive mode of transportation.
  • According to RITES Report of 2014 on “Integrated National Waterways Transportation Grid (INWTG)” the cost comparison is as below:
Mode Total Rs / Km
 Railways 1.41
 Highways 2.58
 IWT 1.06

 

  • Low Capital Cost: Unlike road construction or railway track laying, IWT is natural mode i.e. water flow.
  • Fuel efficient: 1 litre fuel can transport 105 tonne/km freight by waterways as compared to 24 tonne/km by road and 85 tonne/km by rail.
  • Low maintenance cost at about 20% that of road.
  • Besides IWT is environment friendly.
  • Inland navigation does not involve congestion, noise emissions, air pollution and other externalities.

 

IWT potential in India

  • India has an estimated 14500 km of navigable inland waterways, including river systems, canals, backwaters, creeks and tidal inlets.
  • About 5200 km of major rivers and 485 km of canals are suitable for inland transport.
  • However, IWT’s share in the cargo movement in India is less than 0.5%.

 

 

  • Compared to 8.5% in USA, 8.3% in China, 38% in Netherlands, 24% in Belgium and 13% in Germany.
  • 10% share of IWT in total transportation could reduce India’s transportation bill by at least Rs 10,000 crores.

 

What are National Waterways?

The principles for declaration of a national waterway are:

  • Capability of navigation by mechanically propelled vessels.
  • About 45 m wide channel and minimum 1.5m depth.
  • It should be a continuous stretch of 50 kms.
  • It should pass through more than one State.
  • It should connect Major Ports.
  • It should pass through a strategic region to provide logistic support for national security.
  • It should connect places not served by any other modes of transport.

 

National Waterways in India

  • As per The National Waterways Act, 2016, 111 waterways have been declared as National Waterways (NWs).
  • There were 5 NWs until 2016 when the Parliament declared another 106 waterways as NW across the country.
  • Out of the 111 NWs, NW-1, 2, & 3 are already operational.
  • Both cargo as well as passenger can ply on these waterways.

 

 

Section : Polity & Governance

CYCAS

CYCAS

  • Cycas are one of the most ancient plants whose fossils date to the Jurassic period and are often referred to as “living fossils”.
  • According to scientists, Cycas evolved on the earth as the first seeded plants and they grow very slowly, adding only a few centimetres every year.
  • Nearly 65% of Cycas are threatened but what makes the flora unique is that despite being a contemporary of the dinosaur, the genus continues to thrive.
  • There are over 100 species of Cycas found across the globe.

 

Cycas dharmrajii

  • Cycas dharmrajii is characterised by the abnormal branching habit of its giant trunk and its swollen base.
  • What makes the Cycas dharmrajii distinct from other Cycas found in the country is the well-defined 10 to 28 hook-like structures in the apex of the mega sporophyll (sporophyll are spore-bearing leaf-like female sex organ of the plant).

 

Cycas pschannae 

  • The sporophylls of Cycas pschannae are characterised by the presence of two lateral horn-like structures.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Northern River Terrapin (Batagur baska):

Northern River Terrapin (Batagur baska):
  • Physical features: It is a 60 cm long turtle, recognized by 4 claws in front feet where as other turtles have 5.
  • Habitat: The terrapin is found in tidal areas of large rivers, sandbars and riverbanks.
  • Status:
    • Presumed to be extinct in several Southeast Asian countries.
    • Described as the world’s second most endangered turtle (Yangtze giant soft shell turtle being the most endangered freshwater turtle).
    • In the Critically Endangered (CR) list of IUCN.
    • Protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, India.
    • Included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), making international trade in this species illegal.

Batagur turtles in India:

Of six large fresh water turtles of the genus Batagur, three are found in India:
  1. Batagur kachuga (Red-crowned roofed turtle)
  2. Batagur dhongoka (Three-striped roofed turtle) – found in the tributaries of the Ganga, such as Chambal.
  3. Batagur baska (The Northern river terrapin) – the most endangered of the three species.
News Summary:
  • A decade ago, the presence of Northern river terrapin had declined to “undetectable in the wild” in West Bengal and Odisha.
  • Since than, officials of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve and experts from Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), are running a recovery program, through captive conservation breeding.
  • Getting new enclosure for the breeding programme would protect the species against natural risks, and also facilitate genetic management.
  • The Northern river terrapin is set to get a new home – three fresh water ponds in the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve.
  • The turtles will be released with satellite transmitters to determine survival and dispersal.
Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA):
  • It was formed in 2001 as an IUCN partnership for sustainable captive management of freshwater turtles and tortoises.
  • It was formed in response to the Asian Turtle Crisis.
  • Since then it has become a recognised force in turtle and tortoise conservation globally.
Section : Environment & Ecology

Removal of Judge

Background of issue:

  • Issues within Supreme Court (SC):
    • On January 12, four senior judges of SC, in an unprecedented public airing of grievances, questioned the conduct of CJI over allocation of cases to judges. 
    • The judges have since met the CJI but there has been no indication so far of any headway made in breaking the impasse in the apex court.
  • Government’s stand: The government has already said that the government and political parties must stay out of the issue since the judiciary is capable of resolving its problems.
  • Oppositions’ stand: 
    • While opposition parties said impeachment motion against CJI is the only way the legislature can ensure an inquiry into “serious issues” raised by four senior judges of the Supreme Court. 
    • As per them all the three pillars of our democracy — legislature, executive and judiciary — must come together to resolve the serious issues. 
    • However they did not specify on which ground they will bring in an impeachment motion, if at all they do bring one.

Removal of SC Judge:

  • Under Art.-124(4) of the Constitution:
    • A Judge of SC can be removed only by the President on ground of ‘proved misbehaviour’ or ‘incapacity’ only after a motion to this effect is passed by both the Houses of Parliament by special majority (i.e., a majority of the total membership of that House and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting).
    • The President can issue the removal order only after an address by Parliament has been presented to him in the same session for such removal.
  • Under Article-124(5) of the Constitution: Parliament may by law regulate the procedure for the presentation of an address and for the investigation & proof of the misbehaviour or incapacity of a Judge. Thus Parliament enacted Judges Enquiry Act 1968.
  • The Judges Enquiry Act (1968) regulates the procedure relating to the removal of a judge of the Supreme Court by the process of  impeachment:
    • A removal motion signed by 100 members (in the case of Lok Sabha) or 50 members (in the case of Rajya Sabha) is to be given to the Speaker/Chairman.
    • The Speaker/Chairman may admit the motion or refuse to admit it.
    • If it is admitted, then the Speaker/Chairman is to constitute a three member committee to investigate into the charges. The committee should consist of: 
      • The chief justice or a judge of the Supreme Court
      • A chief justice of a high court 
      • A distinguished jurist
    • If the committee finds the judge to be guilty of misbehaviour or suffering from incapacity, the House can take up the consideration of the motion.
    • After the motion is passed by each House of Parliament by special majority, an address is presented to the president for removal of the judge.
  • Finally, the president passes an order removing the judge.
  • It is interesting to know that no judge of the Supreme Court has been impeached so far.

Past cases of impeachment of SC and HC judges:

Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme Court

  • The first and the only case of impeachment of any Supreme Court judge is that of Justice V Ramaswami.
  • Justice Ramaswami found himself in the eye of a storm in 1990 following media reports that he had made conspicuously lavish expenditure on his official residence during his tenure in Chandigarh. 
  • Some political parties came out with notice of a motion in Lok Sabha after which Speaker accepted the motion in March 1991 and set up a committee comprising Justice P B Sawant of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of Mumbai High Court P D Desai and Justice O Chinnappa Reddy, a retired judge of Supreme Court, to conduct an inquiry into the allegations. 
  • Though the enquiry Committee found him guilty of misbehaviour, he could not be removed as the impeachment motion was defeated in the Lok Sabha.  The Congress Party abstained from voting.

Justice Soumitra Sen of the Kolkata High Court

  • Justice Soumitra Sen of Kolkata High Court was faced with the removal process in Rajya Sabha on August 17, 2011. 
  • He was accused of appropriating Rs 32 lakh (in his capacity as a lawyer) when he was a court-appointed receiver in 1993 in a lawsuit between the Steel Authority of India Limited and the Shipping Corporation of India. 
  • A three-judge inquiry committee, set up in 2007, held the charges against Justice Sen. The CJI subsequently recommended his impeachment to the Prime Minister.
  • In 2009, 58 Rajya Sabha MPs moved a motion for his impeachment. After that House Chairman set up a committee consisting of Justice B Sudershan Reddy of SC, Punjab and Haryana HC Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and jurist Fali S Nariman. 
  • The panel upheld the charge. A motion for his removal was discussed and passed by Rajya Sabha on August 18, 2011. 
  • The Lok Sabha was scheduled to discuss the motion on September 5 and 6, 2011. 
  • However, Justice Sen put in his papers on September 1. The Lok Sabha consequently dropped the proceedings against him.

Justice Paul Daniel Dinakaran Premkumar of the Karnataka High Court

  • Justice Premkumar landed in controversy in August 2009 when several eminent people from the legal profession alleged him for indulging in corruption.
  • Rajya Sabha Chairman, admitting a motion for the removal, constituted a panel in January 2010 consisting of Justice Aftab Alam of the apex court, Karnataka High Court Chief Justice J S Khehar and senior advocate P P Rao to examine the allegations. 
  • He resigned on July 29, 2011, but registered his lack of confidence in the committee.  The Rajya Sabha proceedings became infructuous after his resignation.

Justice S K Gangele of the Madhya Pradesh High Court

  • Justice S K Gangele was the last to be faced with removal proceedings. He was accused with charges of sexual harassment of a woman additional district judge posed in Gwalior.
  • The committee had been set up by Ansari in April 2015 after admitting a motion supported by 58 members. However, the committee acquitted him in 2017. 
  • The complainant, who headed the Vishaka committee against sexual harassment, had put in her papers in 2014, maintaining that she had to resign to protect her “dignity, womanhood and self-esteem”.

What is the Ramsar concept of “wise use” of wetlands? What is the significance of Ramsar Convention in wetland conservation? (15 marks)

What is the Ramsar concept of “wise use” of wetlands? What is the significance of Ramsar Convention in wetland conservation? (15 marks)

Approach:

  • Introduce with wetlands
  • Explain ‘wise use’ concept – ecological character, ecosystem approach and sustainable development
  • Explain significance of Ramsar Convention for wetland conservation
  • Conclude appropriately

Model Answer :

Wetlands are transitional zones between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. They periodically get inundated with water. Swamps, marshes and mangroves are examples of wetlands. Wetlands are considered as biologically the most diverse of all ecosystems. The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) is an international treaty designed to address global concerns regarding wetland loss and degradation.

“Wise use” of wetlands:

Wise use of wetlands is about maintaining wetland values and functions, while at the same time delivering services and benefits now and into the future, for human well-being. Wise use of wetlands is the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development. Thus, the three key elements of wise use are:

  • Ecological character, which is the combination of the ecosystem components, processes and benefits/services that characterise the wetland at a given point in time
  • Ecosystem approaches, which consider the complex relationships between every element of an ecosystem, and promote the integrated management of land, water and living resources (including humans)
  • Sustainable development, which is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come.

Significance of Ramsar convention in conserving wetlands:

  • Listing important sites: The Convention encourages member countries to nominate sites that are important for ecological, botanical, zoological, limnological or hydrological significance to the List of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites).
  • Obligations to conserve listed sites: Member countries are obliged to promote the conservation of Ramsar wetlands and wise use of all wetlands and work to ensure that Ramsar sites are managed to protect their ecological character.
  • Methods: They include restricting access to the majority portion of wetland areas, as well as educating the public to combat the misconception that wetlands are wastelands.
  • Support for conservation: The Ramsar Convention works closely International Organization Partners (IOPs), which support the work of the Convention by providing expert technical advice, helping implement field studies, and providing financial support.
  • Awareness: It raises public awareness about wetlands and promote their conservation and wise use.

In order to achieve sound decisions on wetland use and management, decision-makers at local, regional and national levels need to enable participation by relevant stakeholders and balance a variety of objectives and perspectives.

Subjects : Ecology and Environment

Assam announces two-child limit for jobs in govt

Headline : Assam announces two-child limit for jobs in govt

Details :

In News

  • In a revolutionary move, the Assam Cabinet has approved Two Child norms and Prohibition of Child Marriage Act norms for entry and continuation in government service.
  • The move comes two months after Prime Minister flagged the issue of “population explosion” in his Independence Day speech.
  • The move claims that it recognises that rapid population growth could severely derail progress in reaching the primary goal to achieve a high quality of life for everyone in Assam.

 

Background

  • A resolution on the Population and Women Empowerment Policy of Assam had been passed in the state assembly in 2017.
  • Last year, Assam had passed the Assam Panchayat (Amendment) Act, 2018, according to which those contesting panchayat polls cannot have more than two children.
  • Other states with similar norms for local body polls include Uttarakhand, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.

 

Population Statistics of Assam

  • The population of Assam increased to 3.12 crore (Census 2011) from 2.66 crore (Census 2001). Further, the state’s population density is 398 as per 2011 census as against 340 in 2001.
  • Although there is a decline in the decadal growth of population, the rate of increase of 17.07 is at an unsustainable level.
  • While, Assam’s TFR of 2.3 is on par with the national rate, Assam’s average family size is 5.5, which is above the national average.

 

High Mortality rates

  • Assam’s MMR ratio is the worst amongst all states in India at 300.
  • The State’s infant mortality rate (IMR) is also considerably high with 54.
  • Assam tops the chart, in under-5 child mortality rate with 73 per 1,000 live births against the national average of 49.

 

New Rules

  • Those who have a child after two children will not be eligible for a government job after January 1, 2021.
  • After January 1, 2021, action can be taken against those in government jobs who have a child after two children.
  • While, twins will be treated as one unit in the second child category.
  • Moreover, these rules are applicable to permanent government jobs only.

 

 

Similar provision in Other states

Rajasthan

  • For government jobs, candidates who have more than two children are not eligible for appointment.
  • The Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act 1994 says that if a person has more than two children, he will be disqualified from contesting election as a panch or a member.
  • However, the previous government relaxed the two-child norm in case of a disabled child.

Madhya Pradesh

  • The state follows the two-child norm since 2001. Under Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (General Condition of Services) Rules, if the third child was born on or after January 26, 2001, one becomes ineligible for government service.
  • The rule also applies to higher judicial services.
  • MP followed the two-child norm for candidates of local body elections until 2005, when it was discontinued by the then government after objections were raised on the ground that such a rule was not applicable in assembly and parliamentary elections.

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

  • Under Telangana Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, a person with more than two children shall be disqualified from contesting election.
  • However, if a person had more than two children before May 30, 1994, he or she will not be disqualified.
  • The same sections in the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, apply to Andhra Pradesh, where a person having more than two children shall be disqualified from contesting election.

Gujarat

  • In 2005, the government amended the Gujarat Local Authorities Act.
  • The amendment disqualifies anyone with more than two children from contesting elections for bodies of local self-governance — panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations.

Maharashtra

  • The Maharashtra ZillaParishadsAnd Panchayat Samitis Act disqualifies people who have more than two children from contesting local body elections (gram panchayats to municipal corporations).
  • The Maharashtra Civil Services (Declaration of Small Family) Rules, 2005 states that a person having more than two children is disqualified from holding a post in the state government.
  • Women with more than two children are also not allowed to benefit from the Public Distribution System.

Uttarakhand

  • The state government had decided to bar people with more than two children from contesting panchayat elections and had passed a Bill in Vidhan Sabha in this regard.
  • But the decision was challenged in the High Court by those preparing for village pradhan and gram panchayat ward member elections, and they got relief from the court.
  • Hence, the condition of two-child norm was applied to only those who contested the elections of zila panchayat and blocks development committee membership.

Karnataka

  • The Karnataka (Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj) Act, 1993 does not bar individuals with more than two children from contesting elections to local bodies like the gram panchayat.
  • The law, however, says that a person is ineligible to contest “if he does not have a sanitary latrine for the use of the members of his family”.

Odisha

  • The Odisha ZillaParishad Act bars those individuals with more than two children from contesting.
Section : Polity & Governance

World’s northernmost coral reef bleached

Headline : World’s northernmost coral reef bleached

Details :

Bleaching in Japanese waters:
  • Researchers found that bleaching has damaged the world’s northernmost coral reef off the coast of Tsushima island in Japan.
  • This lies in the temperate zone, near the Kyushu islands.
  • Earlier, there was large-scale coral bleaching in Japan’s subtropical Okinawa chain of islands last summer.
  • In response, coral in Okinawa were taking refuge in waters with lower temperatures, expanding their habitat range to (waters off) Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu.
  • But now coral in refuges are also threatened, and the situation is serious.
High ocean temperatures:
  • It is the latest example of a global phenomenon that scientists have attributed to high ocean temperatures.
  • Since 2015, all tropical coral reefs have seen above-normal temperatures, and more than 70 percent experienced prolonged high temperatures that can cause bleaching.
Importance of corals:
  • Healthy coral reefs protect shores from storms and offer habitats for fish and other marine life, including ecologically and economically important species.
Coral Bleaching:
  • Corals are in a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae (algae) that grow inside of them.
  • Algae are vital to the coral. Corals use the organic products of photosynthesis produced by algae to help it grow. The algae also gives the corals their vibrant colours.
  • Coral bleaching occurs when corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients.
  • When this happens, the zooxanthellae leave the corals’ bodies.
  • This changes the color of corals to white (as color of coral are due to algea) and can also in effect starve them of nutrients.
  • The loss of algae makes the host vulnerable to disease and can lead to their death.
After bleaching:
  • However, coral can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to re-colonise them.
  • While coral can recover from mild bleaching, severe or long-term episodes are often lethal.
  • After coral dies, reefs quickly degrade and the structures that coral build erode.
Section : Environment & Ecology