Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 02 December 2022

Supreme Court floats idea of ‘Project GIB’

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

To protect the endangered bird Great Indian Bustard (GIB), the Supreme Court asked if a ‘Project GIB’, on the lines of ‘Project Tiger’, could be launched. Project Tiger' is touted by the government as one of the most successful conservation programmes for a single species in the world.

What is the Great Indian Bustard (GIB)

 This is a large bird, found mainly in Rajasthan and Gujarat, has been categorised as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

  1. These are among the heaviest birds with flight; they prefer grasslands as their habitats.
  2. Its historic range included much of the Indian sub-continent, it has now shrunk to just 10 percent of that.
  3. The terrestrial birds spend most of their time on the ground, feeding on insects, lizards, grass seeds, etc.
  4. They are considered the flagship bird species of grassland and hence barometers of the health of grassland ecosystems.

 Why endangered status

  1. The biggest threats to the GIBs are overhead power transmission lines. Due to their poor frontal vision, the birds can’t spot the power lines from a distance, and are too heavy to change course when close. Thus, they collide with the cables and die.
  2. According to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), in Rajasthan, 18 GIBs die every year after colliding with overhead power lines.

 Conservation efforts

  1. The Supreme Court in April 2021 ordered that all overhead power transmission lines in core and potential GIB habitats in Rajasthan and Gujarat should be made underground.
  2. The court sought reports from the chief secretaries of Rajasthan and Gujarat on installation of bird diverters (reflector-like structures strung on power cables) in priority areas.
  3. It also asked to assess the total length of transmission lines that need to go underground in the two states.
  4. In 2015, the Centre had launched the GIB species recovery programme. Under this, the WII and Rajasthan forest department jointly set up breeding centres where GIB eggs harvested from the wild were incubated artificially.

 Project Tiger and its significance

  1. It launched in April 1973, which aims at ensuring a viable population of the Bengal tigerin its natural habitats, protecting it from extinction, and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage that represent the diversity of ecosystems across the tiger's range in the country.
  2. The project's task force visualised these tiger reservesas breeding nuclei, from which surplus animals would migrate to adjacent forests.

 

French baguette gets UN world heritage status:

GS Paper -1 (Art and Culture)

The humble baguette, the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world, is being added to the U.N.’s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity.

 More about the news:

 UNESCO experts decided that the simple French flute, made only of flour, water, salt, and yeast deserved United Nations recognition, after France’s culture ministry warned of a “continuous decline” in the number of traditional bakeries, with some 400 closing every year over the past half-century.

  1. The U.N. cultural agency’s chief, said, the decision honours more than just bread; it recognizes the “savoir-faire of artisanal bakers” and “a daily ritual.”
  2. More than six billion are baked every year in France, according to the National Federation of French Bakeries, and the U.N. agency's "intangible cultural heritage status" honours the tradition.
  3. It is important that such craft knowledge and social practices can continue to exist.
  4. The French government planned to create an artisanal baguette day, called the “Open Bake house Day,” to connect the French better with their heritage.
  5. The “artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread” was inscribed at the Morocco meeting among other global cultural heritage items, including Japan’s Furyu-odori ritual dances, and Cuba’s light rum masters.

 Flashback

  1. Baguette symbolizes the world. It’s universal. It was said to have been invented by Vienna-born baker August Zang in 1839. The product’s zenith did not come until the 1920s.
  2. Despite the decline in traditional bakery numbers today, France’s 67 million people still remain voracious baguette consumers purchased at a variety of sales points, including in supermarkets. The problem is that they can often be poor in quality.
  3. baguette normally costs just over 90 euro cents (just over $1), seen by some as an index on the health of the French economy.
  4. The baguette is indeed serious business. France’s “Bread Observatory”a venerable institution that closely follows the fortunes of the flute, notes that the French munch through 320 baguettes of one form or another every second. That’s an average of half a baguette per person per day, and 10 billion every year.

 

Panel for gas pricing freedom

GS Paper -1 (Resources)

A government-appointed gas price review panel, led by Kirit Parikh, submitted its report to the government, recommending a floor and ceiling price for legacy fields and complete pricing freedom starting 1 January 2026.

Objectives of committee

  1. The committee was tasked with suggesting a "fair price to the end-consumer" while ensuring a "market-oriented, transparent and reliable pricing regime for India's long-term vision for ensuring a gas-based economy".
  2. Its mandate was to suggest a regime that would help raise domestic production to help meet the goal of 15% of energy coming from gas by 2030 and provide fair prices to consumers.

It looked at the pricing of gas from two sources

  1. The first set is the legacy or old fields which were given to ONGC and OIL on a nomination basis without any condition of sharing profits and therefore the government controls its price.
  2. Gas from legacy fields is sold to city gas distributors who had to raise rates of CNG and piped cooking gas by over 70% after prices went up from $2.90 per million British thermal unit till March to $6.10 in April and further to $8.57 last month, reflecting a surge in global rates.
  3. The second set is for the ones that are in difficult geology.

What prompted the review of rates?

Due to the rise in rates, it narrowed the gap between CNG and polluting diesel, prompting the review.

Findings of panel:

  1. fixed band of pricing for gas from legacy fields, which makes up for two-thirds of all natural gas produced in the country, would ensure a predictable pricing regime for producers and at the same time moderate prices of CNG and piped cooking gas which has shot up by 70% since last year on the back of a surge in input cost.
  2. The panel has suggested linking the price of gas produced by state-owned firms from fields given to them on a nomination basis to imported crude oil prices rather than benchmarking them to gas rates in international markets, adding the rates thus arrived would be subject to a floor and ceiling.
  3. The ceiling rate for this gas from legacy or old fields, called APM gas, will be increased by $0.5 per mmBtu annually.
  4. The panel also suggested including natural gas in the one-nation-one-tax regime of GST by subsuming excise duty charged by the central government and varying rates of VAT levied by state governments

 

China is upset by an India-US exercise

(GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

Yudh Abhyas, a joint India-US military exercise being held in Uttarakhand, some 100 km from the Line of Actual Control, has raised China's alarm, according to India (LAC).

What

  1. The spirit of the agreements reached between India and China in 1993 and 1996 is violated by the joint military exercise between India and the U.S. near the LAC at the China-India boundary.
  2. According to Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, it undermines the mutual confidence between China and India.

FLASHBACK:

  1. The 18th iteration of the Indo-US joint training exercise "Yudh Abhyas 22" is currently taking place in Auli, Uttarakhand.
  2. The goal of this annual training event between Indian and American soldiers is to exchange best practices, tactical ideas, and operational guidelines.
  3. The last joint exercise between India and the US, which is done annually to exchange best practices, strategies, tactics, and procedures, took place at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Alaska.

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