Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 09 December 2022

Parliament passes Wildlife Bill

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

The Rajya Sabha on 8 December 2022 passed the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2022, which has invited scrutiny on two major issues: the exemption made to allow the transfer of captive elephants, and the sweeping powers given to the Centre to declare species as vermin. Lok Sabha had cleared the Bill in August during the monsoon session.

The elephant question

  1. In 1927, the Indian Forest Act listed the elephant as cattle. When WLPA was enacted in 1972, it identified the elephant, along with bullockcameldonkeyhorse and mule, as a “vehicle”.
  2. Given the highest legal protection in 1977, the elephant is the only animal in WLPA’s Schedule-I that can still be owned legally — by means of inheritance or gift.
  3. Since 2003Section 3 of the WLPA prohibited trade in all captive wildlife and any (non-commercial) transfer across state boundaries without the permission of the respective chief wildlife warden.
  4. This made the live elephant trade go underground as traders switched to dressing up commercial deals as fake gift deeds to bypass the amendment.
  5. The WLPA amendment Bill 2021 proposed an exception to Section 43: “This section shall not apply to the transfer or transport of any live elephant by a person having a certificate of ownership, where such person has obtained prior permission from the State Government on fulfilment of such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government.”

The vermin conflict

  1. Since 1972, the WLPA has identified a few species — fruit batscommon crows and rats — as vermin. Killing animals outside this list was allowed under two circumstances:
  2. *Under Section 62 of WLPA, given sufficient reasons, any species other than those accorded the highest legal protection (such as tigers and elephants but not wild boars or nilgais) can be declared vermin at a certain place for a certain time.
  3. *Under Section 11 of WLPA, the chief wildlife warden of a state can allow the killing of an animal, irrespective of its status in the Schedules, if it becomes “dangerous to human life”.
  4. The state governments took the decisions under Section 62 until 1991 when an amendment handed over the powers to the Centre. The purpose was apparently to restrict the possibility of eliminating a large number of animals at a species level as vermin. Under Section 11, the states could issue culling permits only locally and for a few animals.
  5. In recent years, however, the Centre has started using its powers under Section 62 to issue sweeping orders declaring species as vermin at even state levels, often without any credible scientific assessment.
  6. For example, nilgais were declared as vermin across 20 districts in Bihar for a year in 2015. The Centre cited “large-scale destruction of agriculture” as the ground for declaring monkeys (Rhesus macaque) vermin in Shimla municipality in 2019.


Installation of 500 GW of renewable energy

GS Paper -1 (Resources)

According to a committee constituted by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), India’s plan to install 500 GW (gigawatt) of renewable energy capacity by 2030 will involve an investment of at least ₹2.44 trillion. As part of its international climate commitments, India would source roughly half its energy needs from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030Financing the energy transition of developing countries such as India is among the thorniest geo-political issues.

Transmission roadmap of energy

  1. The transmission plan includes systems required for transporting 10 GW of off-shore wind-based energy located in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu
  2. As renewable-energy generation is only available for a limited time every day, the plan envisages installing battery storage capacity worth 51.5 GW by 2030 to provide round-the-clock power to end-consumers.
  3. It has identified major non-fossil fuel generation centres in the country, including at Fatehgarh, Bhadla and Bikaner in Rajasthan, Khavda in Gujarat, and Anantapur and Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh.
  4. To promote India to be one of the most attractive destinations for investment in renewable energy, there will be a transparent bidding system, an open market, and an expeditious dispute resolution system.
  5. Cleaner fuel will comprise 50% of the installed capacity mix. The installed electricity-generating capacity in the country at present is 409 GW, including 173 GW from non-fossil fuel sources, which is about 42% of the total.


The Government has taken several steps to promote renewable energy, including wind energy, in the country. These include:

  1. Permitting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) up to 100 per cent under the automatic route
  2. Waiver of Inter State Transmission System (ISTS) charges for inter-state sale of solar and wind power for projects to becommissioned by 30th June 2025.
  3. Setting up of Ultra Mega Renewable Energy Parks to provide land and transmission to RE developers on a plug and play basis.
  4. Laying of new transmission lines and creating new sub-station capacity for evacuation of renewable power.
  5. Setting up of Project Development Cell for attracting and facilitating investments.
  6. Technical support including wind resource assessment and identification of potential sites through the National Institute of Wind Energy, Chennai.


BIMSTEC key to new South Asian regional order

GS Paper -2 (International Organizations)

Since South Asia cannot repudiate regionalism, reviving SAARC by infusing political energy into it and updating its dated Charter will be an ideal way forward. However, in the current scenario, this is too idealistic. The best scenario is to look at other regional instruments such as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral, Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), an intergovernmental organisation established in 1997.


Why SAARC has failed in its objectives:

  1. South Asia continues to be an extremely poor and least integrated region in the world.
  2. The intraregional trade and investment in South Asia are very low when compared to other regions such as the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  3. Pakistan has adopted an obstructionist attitude within SAARC by repeatedly blocking several vital initiatives such as the motor vehicles agreement, aimed at bolstering regional connectivity.
  4. Deepening hostility between India and Pakistan has made matters worse. Since 2014, no SAARC summit has taken place leaving the organisation rudderless, and practically dead.

BIMSTEC as an alternative to SAARC:

  1. BIMSTEC comprises five South Asian nations (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka) and two ASEAN countries (Myanmar and Thailand). Importantly, Pakistan is not a BIMSTEC member.
  2. In recent years, India seems to have moved its diplomatic energy away from SAARC to BIMSTEC. This resulted in BIMSTEC, after 25 years, finally adopting its Charter earlier this year. The BIMSTEC Charter is significantly better than the SAARC Charter.
  3. No country enjoys veto power to thwart economic integration between willing countries. Given the experience of SAARC, where Pakistan routinely vetoes several regional integration initiatives, it is surprising that BIMSTEC does not contain such a flexible participation scheme.


  1. 8 December is commemorated as SAARC Charter Day. It was on this day, 37 years ago, that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), an intergovernmental organisation, was established by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to promote economic growth in South Asia. Afghanistan acceded to SAARC later.
  2. South Asia, that is India’s neighbourhood, is important for India’s national interests. This is best captured in the India’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy.
  3. SAARC is the only intergovernmental organisation with a pan-South Asia reach. India can judiciously employ it to serve its interests in the entire region.
  4. The deterioration in India-Pakistan relations has coincided with the incapacitation of SAARC, much to the delight of Pakistan.
  5. weakened SAARC also means heightened instability in other promising regional institutions such as the South Asian University (SAU), which is critical to buttressing India’s soft power in the region.
  6. In South Asia, India can successfully use the instrument of bilateralism over regionalism to pursue its interests. While bilateralism is undoubtedly important, it can at best complement, not substitute, regional or multilateral efforts.

 A binary merger outside our Milky Way

GS Paper -3 (Space Technology)

In a first-of-its-kind detection, a team of astronomers has recorded a rare astronomical event involving a compact binary merger emitting long Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) twinned with a kilonova emissions — a never before scientifically accepted or proven combination.

More about the news:

  1. India’s largest optical telescope, the 3.6 metres Devasthal Optical Telescope (DOT) operated by Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital, was among the key global telescopes that together confirmed this rare combination.
  2. The burst of high energy light identified as GRB211211A,lasted for over 50 seconds, was because it unfolded nearby, that is, in the outskirts of our Milky Way at some one billion light years away.
  3. The typical long duration GRB features were missing; its features deviated from the standard non-thermal power law — all of these making the event a rarity.

Gamma Ray Burst (GRB):

  1. They are massive but extremely bright, high-energy short gamma radiations which get released when massive stars collapse or die in the Universe.
  2. The energy associated with GRBs is many folds larger than what our Sun can emit in its entire lifetime, making its study key to understanding the life and death of stars in our Universe.
  3. When a pair of binary compact systems — either two black holes, dense celestial bodies or neutron stars — rotate in a spiral fashion for billions of years, their ultimate merger leads to release of short GRBs.
  4. These emissions last for less than two seconds. And traditionally, Kilonova, the radiations emerging from the merger of neutron stars or any binary system, has been associated with short GRBs.
  5. On the other hand, when very massive stars die, the event results in the release of long GRBs and the associated gamma radiations last for more than two seconds or longer. And scientists have, so farassociated short GRBs with supernovae.
  6. The latest study has quashed the existing understanding for at least 30 years now, as scientists were unaware of any connection between a long duration GRB and Kilnovae.

Why seen at Nainital:

  1. DOT located in Nainital enjoys the longitudinal advantage which facilitated the viewing of the event.
  2. If there was no 3.6 metre optical telescope available, we could not have detected the event from here as well. To study more such events, we will need to build more sensitive instruments.

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