UPSC Prelims News of 18 March 2023
Barda Wildlife Sanctuary
Context: The government of Gujarat has planned to translocate Asiatic lions to the Barda Wildlife Sanctuary in the state.
Reasons for Translocation
- There is a need to conserve the species from extinction in case of epidemic diseases.
- The natural prey base of lions in their existing home of Gir has declined.
- Translocation will help in diversifying the gene pool.
About Barda Wildlife Sanctuary
- Barda Wildlife Sanctuary is located near Porbandar, about 100 kilometres west of Gir Forest National Park.
- Before being declared a wildlife sanctuary, Barda was a private reserve for Porbandar and Jamnagar.
- Climate and topography:
- The terrain is hilly and undulating. The tropical climate is characterized by very hot summers.
- Bileshvary River and Joghri River flow through the sanctuary.
- Flora and fauna:
- The sanctuary is a mix of southern tropical forest, southern dry mixed deciduous forest and northern tropical thorn forest.
- Important fauna: blue bull, chinkara, blackbuck, and wolf.
- Residents: The ethnic groups such as Maldharis, Bharvads, Rabaris and Gadhvis live in this region.
- The Asiatic lions (Persian Lions) separated from main species about 55,000 years ago and then evolved into a different subspecies.
- The Asiatic lions were found across north Africa along the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, India and also a part of Europe.
- Currently, Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is the only abode of the Asiatic lion in the world.
- Protection status:
- Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972
- Appendix I of CITES
- Endangered on IUCN Red List
- Habitat fragmentation: Road and railway lines passing through Gir National Park has prevented lions from freely migrating from one area to another.
- Genetic inbreeding: Asiatic lion faces threat of genetic inbreeding because of a single population living in one place.
- Disease outbreak: The population of a whole sub-species present in a single area could make them vulnerable to disease outbreak, increasing chances of extinction.
Olive Ridley Turtles
Context: Carcasses of endangered Olive Ridley turtles washed up on the shore in Andhra Pradesh.
About Olive Ridley Turtles
- They are the second smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
- They are mostly found in the warm and tropical waters of Pacific and Indian Oceans but can also be found in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Protection status:
- IUCN: Vulnerable
- CITES: Appendix I
- Schedule I of Wildlife protection Act, 1972
- Habitat in India
- Olive Ridley nesting sites can be found on both east and west coast of India, apart from Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep islands.
- Gahirmatha wildlife Sanctuary in Odisha is the world’s largest nesting site for Olive Ridley Turtles.
- Accidental bycatch in fishing nets
- Degradation of nesting habitats
- Predation of eggs from their nesting sites
- Marine pollution affecting their prey base
- Warmer temperature is resulting in decline of male hatchlings
- Measures for their protection
- Indian Coast Guard’s “Operation Olivia” helps in protection of Olive Ridley turtles during their breeding season.
- The Marine Turtle Conservation Program was initiated in 2010 to protect turtle breeding sites on beaches.
- Declaring the nesting grounds of Olive Ridley Turtles as protected areas.
- Fishermen have been instructed to use Turtle Excluding Devise (TED) to avoid accidental catch.
International Criminal Court (ICC)
Context: The International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague has issued an arrest warrant against the Russian President for “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children.
About the ICC
- The ICC is an intergovernmental organisation formed as a standing body to investigate war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute of 1998.
- The ICC was a successor to ad hoc international tribunals set up in the 1990s to address the atrocity committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
- ICC is different from the International Court of Justice, an organ of the United Nations that hears disputes between states.
- As of 2019, 123 states are parties to the Statute of the Court. India is neither a member nor has it signed the Rome Statute.
- The Presidency
- The Chambers
- The Office of the Prosecutors
- The Registry
- The mandate of the Court is to try individuals (rather than States), and to hold such individuals accountable for the most serious crimes against humanity.
- However, the jurisdiction only applies to signatory parties.
- ICC has the authority & powers over genocide crimes against humanity, war crimes & crimes of aggression under Article 5 of Rome Statute.
- Minimum age of the accused for prosecution must be eighteen years at the time of commission of the offence.
- However, ICC does not have any retroactive authority over crimes that were committed before the Statute was enforced.
- Many governments and civil society have questioned ICC on its bias actions, especially against African states.
- ICC lacks universal territorial jurisdiction as it can only investigate and prosecute crimes committed within member states or by nationals of member states.
Context: Ruling party has written to Lok Sabha Speaker to set up a special committee or parliamentary committee of privileges.
About Special Committee
- Formation: It could be formed by moving a motion for the establishment of such a committee and its terms of reference.
- Governance: Special committees are not under any particular rule that governs the business of the Lok Sabha.
- Power to set up: It is the inherent power of the house [Lok Sabha] to appoint a committee to investigate a matter.
- Membership: It depends on the strength of each political party in the house.
- Previous Instance: A special committee was formed in 2005 that held that 11 members of Parliament should be expelled for taking money to ask questions in the Parliament.
About Parliamentary Committee of Privileges
- Parliamentary Privilege: Article 105 of the Indian Constitution defines a set of special rights, exemptions and immunities, known as parliamentary privileges, which are enjoyed by both Houses of the Parliament, committees and their members.
- Four major privileges enjoyed by parliamentarians are freedom of speech in Parliament, freedom from arrest, right to prohibit the publication of proceedings and right to exclude strangers (who are not members of the House).
- About Rule 223 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha
- It discusses about the question of (parliamentary) privilege.
- This rule allows a member to raise a question, with the Speaker’s consent (under Rule 222), in the Parliament on the matter of breach of privilege committed by a member or a committee.
- Upon deliberation on the matter, the Speaker may refer the case to a Committee of Privileges (constituted by the Speaker) for further investigation and report.
East African Rift
Context: Scientists have predicted that a new ocean would be created as Africa will gradually split into two separate parts.
About East African Rift
- It is a crack that stretches 56 kilometres and appeared in the desert of Ethiopia in 2005.
- Occurrence: The three plates — the Nubian African Plate, Somalian African Plate and Arabian Plate — are separating at different speeds.
- The Arabian Plate is moving away from Africa at a rate of about an inch per year, while the two African plates are separating even slower, between half an inch to 0.2 inches per year.
- As the Somali and Nubian tectonic plates continue to pull apart from each other, a smaller continent will be created from the rift, which will include present-day Somalia and parts of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.
- Effects: The Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea will eventually flood into the Afar region in Ethiopia and the East African Rift Valley.
- It could trigger the formation of a new sea and new Coastline.
- This geological process will divide the continent, resulting in currently landlocked countries, such as Uganda and Zambia, obtaining their own coastlines in due time, which would take five to 10 million years.
Impact of the Rift
- Economic Potential: These countries will have access to new ports for trade, as well as fishing grounds and sub-sea internet infrastructure.
- Humanitarian Crisis: It will result in the displacement of communities, settlements and various flora and fauna.
- These c hanges will impact their habitats due to climate change, resulting in environmental degradation. Rapid urbanization and increased settlements will put pressure on natural resources.
- Uncontroll ed waste disposal will also be a significant concern.
- Ecology: Some species will disappear, while others will become endangered due to habitat changes.
- Rifting refers to the geological process in which a single tectonic plate is split into two or more plates separated by divergent plate boundaries.
- Rifting process leads to the emergence of a lowland region known as a rift valley, which can occur either on land or at the bottom of the ocean.
- These rift valleys occur due to the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates.
Content Blocking In India
Context: According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, 4,999 YouTube links have been blocked by the Union Government so far.
Content Blocking in India
- Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, empowers government to block online content.
- Grounds: Section 69A allows the government to order the blocking of content on the grounds of it being necessary or expedient to do so in the interest of sovereignty and integrity, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for inciting cognizable offence relating to above.
- Backing law: Under Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information for Public) Rules, 2009, government passed the order.
- A Review Committee is required to meet at least once in two months to see if blocking under Section 69A were necessary.
- None of the 32,325 blocking orders passed since 2014 have been overturned by the Review Committee.