Daily Current Affairs

20TH DECEMBER,2020 : MOST POWERFUL DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS CONCEPTS

UPSC PRELIMS+MAINS 

A) Art, Culture and History

1. Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta and Mallakhamba in Khelo India Youth Games 2021 (PIB)

  • Context: The Sports Ministry has approved the inclusion of four Indigenous Games to be a part of Khelo India Youth Games 2021, scheduled to take place in Haryana.
  • The games include: Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta and Mallakhamba.
  • Recently, the Sports Ministry formally recognised yogasana as a competitive sport, which will enable the ancient practice to avail government funding.
  • The Sports Minister also said yogasana will be inducted in future Khelo India Games programme.

Analysis

Indian Martial Arts

  • India has a long history of martial arts.
  • Shaolin Kung Fu, a term that includes a large variety of Chinese martial arts, traces its lineage to Bodhidharma, the Indian monk who, according to popular legend, introduced Buddhism to China during the 6th century AD.
  • Sadly, while Chinese and Japanese fighting forms such as kung fu and ju-jitsu have become national institutions, many of India’s ancient fighting techniques languish as forgotten art forms.

Kalaripayattu

  • Often known as the ‘Mother of All Martial Arts’, this 3000-year old art form originating from Kerala, draws inspiration from the raw power, swift movements and sinuous strength of majestic animals – the lion, tiger, elephant, wild boar, snake and crocodile.
  • The term ‘kalari’ refers to the place where this combat style is taught while ‘payattu’ means to practise.
  • This combat style has different levels through which one learns how to fight, with and without, hand-held weapons.
  • This legendary warrior art form most was recently popularised by 76-year-old Meenakshiamma’s heroic exhibition of swordplay against a man half her age.

Thang Ta (Huyen Langlon)

  • Thang-Ta, which literally means ‘sword and spear’, is one aspect of Huyen Langlon (art of war or method of safe guarding), a traditional martial art from
  • Its other aspect is Sarit Sarak that involves unarmed combat.
  • This martial art form integrates various external weapons – the sword, spear and dagger- with the internal practice of physical control through soft movements coordinated with breathing rhythms.
  • However, the heart of Thang-Ta is the sword. There are hundreds of different sword drills that teach the basic strokes and stepping patterns of this fighting style.

Silambam

  • Closely linked to Kerala’s Kalaripayattu, Silambam is an ancient stick-martial art of Tamil Nadu.
  • According to Sangam-era literature, there were a number of exercise centres called silambak-koodams all over the Dravida Nadu region.
  • The age-old art—patronized by the Chera, Chola and Pandya rulers—is recorded as one of the 64 art forms of ancient India.
  • The word ‘Silam’ (in Tamil) stands for hills and ‘Mambam’ (the Marhat word for bamboo) stands for bamboo from the hills; these sticks are usually found on the hills in that particular region.

Gatka (Shastar Vidya)

  • Originating from the state of Punjab, Gatka is believed to be a battle technique created by Sikh warriors during the martial period of great Sikh Gurus.
  • A style of stick fighting between two or more practitioners, Gatka is a toned-down version of the deadlier Shastar Vidya, the fighting style of the fearsome Akali Nihangs, the blue-turbaned sect of Sikh fighters banned by the British after the Anglo-Sikh wars.
  • The sharp swords of Shastar Vidya have been replaced by wooden sticks (soti) and shields (farri) in Gatka.

Sqay

  • Sqay is an ancient martial art traditionally practiced by the people of
  • Armed sqay makes use of a curved single-edge sword paired with a shield, while unarmed techniques incorporate kicks, punches, locks and chops.

Mardaani Khel

  • Originally from Maharashtra, Mardani Khel is a weapon-based martial art form.
  • It owes its development to the geographic conditions of the state (hills, caves and valleys).
  • A very ancient form of art, it saw its emergence during the Maratha dynasty.
  • Kolhapur used to be the centre of the Maratha kingdom and the villages around it had talims(training centres) where skilled elders prepared youngsters for war.
  • After the revolt of 1857, the British banned the use of weapons and the talimswere forced to turn mardani khel into a folk game to ensure its survival.

Kushti (Malla Yuddha)

  • A form of traditional wrestling, Kushti developed during the Mughal Empire by combining the native sport of malla-yuddha(combat wrestling) with influences from Persian varzesh-e bastani (warrior athletics).
  • Interestingly, the words pehlwaniand kushti derive from the Persian terms pahlavani and koshti

Mallakhamb

  • Mallakhamb or Mallar Khambam in Tamil, a traditional Indian sport that is in the spotlight now, thanks to the World Mallakhamb Championship held in Mumbai in February 2019.
  • This is a unique sport, where a gymnast performs aerobic and acrobatic stunts, and yoga poses on a fixed or hanging pole, or a rope.
  • Mallakhamb is a sport that is hardly talked about and not many know that it originated in India.
  • It was devised originally as an exercise for wrestlers and warriors,
  • It is a State sport of many Indian States.

Khelo India – National Programme for Development of Sports

  • A Scheme called Khelo India – National Programme for Development of Sports is being implemented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports as a central sector scheme from 2017-18.
  • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan (RGKA) and Urban Sports Infrastructure Scheme (USIS) were subsumed in the “Khelo India – National Programme for Development of Sports”.
  • The Programme aims at mainstreaming sport as a tool for individual development, community development, economic development and national development.
  • The 1st Khelo India School Games (KISG) 2018 were successfully conducted in New Delhi.
  • The 2nd edition of Games, i.e., ‘Khelo India Youth Games Maharashtra, 2019’ were successfully conducted in Pune.
  • The third Khelo India Youth Games was held from 10 January 2020 and 22 January 2020 in Guwahati, Assam, India.
  • Objective of Scheme
  • a) Mass participation of youth in annual sports competitions through a structured competition;
  • b) Identification of talent;
  • c) Guidance and nurturing of the talent through existing sports academies and new set up either by the central Government or State Government or in PPP mode;
  • d) Creation of Sports Infrastructure at mofussil, Tehsil, District, State levels, etc.
  • To accomplish the above objectives, Khelo India programme has been divided into 12 verticals, namely:

  • Among other things the scheme provides for creation of sports infrastructure that includes making of Synthetic athletic track, synthetic hockey field, synthetic turf football ground, multipurpose hall and other similar facilities.

Revamped Khelo India Programme (September-2017)

Salient features:

  • An unprecedented Pan Indian Sports Scholarship scheme, which would cover 1,000 most talented young athletes each year across select sports disciplines.
  • Each athlete selected under the scheme shall receive an annual scholarship worth Rs. 5.00 lakh for 8 consecutive years.
  • State/Union Territory (UT)-wise allocation or release of funds is not made under this vertical, which is implemented centrally by Sports Authority of India (SAI).
  • The Programme aims to promote 20 universities across the country as hubs of sporting excellence, which would enable talented sports persons to pursue the dual pathway of education and competitive sports.
  • The Programme also aims at creating an active population with healthy life-style.
  • The Programme would cover about 200 million children in the age group of 10-18 under a massive national physical fitness drive, which will not only measure the physical fitness of all children in the age group, but also support their fitness related activities.
  • The programme also aims at engaging youth living in disturbed and deprived areas, in sporting activities, to wean them away from unproductive and disruptive activities and mainstream them in the nation-building process.
  • The programme strives to raise the standards of competition, both at school and college level, to have maximum access to organized sports competitions.
  • The Khelo India national school games will be organised for the under 17 age group.
  • For the first time a sports broadcaster will broadcast live the national school games.
  • The top 1,000 athletes from this event will be entitled to Rs 5 lakh scholarships for eight years.
  • Every year, the Sports Ministry will keep adding 1,000 more athletes for creating a pool of young talent.
  • Khelo India Youth Games is a part of the revamped national programme for development of sports, Khelo India.
  • After the success of the Khelo India School Games in 2018, its bigger and better version, as the Youth Games was introduced in 2019.
  • Students from colleges and universities participate in these youth games.

B) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues

2. Sentinelese and the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) (TH)

  • Context: Any exploitation of the North Sentinel Island of the Andamans for commercial and strategic gain would spell the death knell for its occupants, the Sentinelese, a most secluded, particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) who reside in complete isolation on the island, the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) has said.

Sentinelese

  • The Sentinelese is a negrito tribe who live on the North Sentinel Island of the Andamans.
  • The Sentinelese have been fiercely hostile to outside contact.
  • The inhabitants are connected to the Jarawa on the basis of physical, as well as linguistic similarities.
  • These are also a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)

  • While some tribal communities have adopted a mainstream way of life, at the other end of the spectrum, there are certain Scheduled Tribes, 75 in number, known as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), who are characterised by:
  • pre-agriculture level of technology
  • stagnant or declining population
  • extremely low literacy
  • subsistence level of economy/ economic backwardness
  • PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups.
  • 75 tribal groups have been categorized by Ministry of Home Affairs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs implements the 100% Central Sector Scheme of “Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)” exclusively for them.
  • The Scheme is flexible because it enables each State to focus on areas that they consider relevant to the PVTGs and their socio-cultural environment.
  • The share of funds in respect of each of the PVTG States/UT is in proportion to PVTG population in the State.
  • In respect of States with very small total PVTG population, a minimum limit of Rs. 50 lakhs for each PVTG shall be fixed.
  • PVTGs reside in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands.
  • Among 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha (13), followed by Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana) (12).
  • Six tribal groups consisting of the Great Andamanese, the Jarawa, the Onge, the Shompen, the Sentinelese, and the Nicobarese live in the A&N Islands today.
  • Excluding the Nicobarese, the rest fall under the PVTG category.
  • According to the 2011 census, there are only 15 Sentinelese, 44 Great Andamanese, 101 Onge, 229 Shompen, and 380 Jarawa are remaining.
  • Out of the eight north-eastern States, PVTGs are found only in Tripura and Manipur.

C) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

3. India’s Biological Diversity Act 2002 and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (TH)

  • Context: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has extended the time limit for constitution of biodiversity management committees (BMC) and preparation of people’s biodiversity registers (PBR) in view of the ongoing pandemic.

Analysis

What is the status of India’s biodiversity in comparison with the World?

  • India is one of the 17-mega biodiversity countries of the world. With only 2.4% of the land area, India already accounts for 7-8% of the recorded species of the world.

We already have a number of Acts relating to forestry, wildlife etc. Why do we need this legislation on biodiversity?

  • The purpose of the Biodiversity Act is to realize equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources and associated knowledge.

What are the implementation structures of Biodiversity Act – 2002

  • The Act and the Rules are implemented in India through a decentralized system.
  • A three-tiered structure has been established under the Act at the national, state and local levels.

National Biodiversity Authority

  • The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) was established in 2003 by the Central Government to implement India’s Biological Diversity Act (2002).
  • The NBA is a statutory body and that performs facilitative, regulatory and advisory function for Government of India on issue of conservation, sustainable use of biological resource and fair equitable sharing of benefits of use.
  • The NBA has its Headquarters in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
  • The Biological diversity Act (2002) mandates implementation of the provisions of the Act through decentralized system with the NBA focusing on advice the Central Government on matters relating to the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of biological resources; advice the State Government in the selection of areas of biodiversity importance to be notified under Sub-Section (1) of Section 37 as heritage sites and measures for the management of such heritage sites.
  • The State Biodiversity Board (SBBs) focus on advice the State Governments, subject to any guidelines issued by the Central Government, on matters relating to the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of biological resources.
  • The SBBs also regulate by granting of approvals or otherwise upon requests for commercial utilization or bio-survey and bio-utilization of any biological resource by the Indians.
  • The Local Level Biodiversity Management committees (BMCs) are responsible for promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity including preservation of habitats, conservation of land races, folk varieties and cultivators, domesticated stocks and breeds of animals and microorganisms besides chronicling of knowledge relating to biological diversity.

What are the mandates of the National Biodiversity Authority?

  • The National Biodiversity Authority is mandated to:
  • regulate use of India’s biological resources;
  • facilitate/ enable conservation action; and
  • provide advice to Central and State Governments on issues of conservation, sustainable use and access and benefit sharing.

What is the legal status of NBA, SBBs and BMCs?

  • All of these institutions are statutory, autonomous bodies established under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

Is there any overlap in the functions of NBA and SBBs?

  • There is no overlap in the functions of NBA and SBBs on issues of ABS. Their domains and functions are very distinct from each other.
  • All matters relating to requests by foreign individuals, companies or institutions and all matters relating to transfer of results of research to any foreigner, approvals for intellectual property protection where biological resources and associated knowledge are involved will be dealt with by NBA.
  • All matters relating to access by Indians for commercial purposes will be under the purview of the concerned State Biodiversity Boards. However, the benefit sharing guidelines are to be issued by the NBA.

Will this legislation affect research by Indians in biological resources?

  • There is no requirement under the legislation for seeking permission for carrying out research, if it is carried out in India by Indians, as well as under collaborative research (only research collaboration and not commercialization) projects that have been drawn within the overall policy guidelines formulated by the Central Government.
  • The only situations that would require permission of the NBA are:
  • (i) when the results of any research which has made use of the country’s biodiversity is sought to be commercialized,
  • (ii) when the results of research are shared with a foreigner or foreign institution, and
  • (iii) when a foreign institution/individual wants access to the country’s biodiversity for undertaking research and
  • (iv) when any intellectual property protection is sought on Indian biological resources.
  • Do Indian researchers require approval for obtaining biological resource for research purposes?
  • The Indian researchers neither require prior approval nor need to give prior intimation to SBB for obtaining biological resource for conducting research in India.
  • In case the results are used for commercial purposes, prior intimation to the State Biodiversity Board is required under Section 7 of the Biological Diversity Act 2002.

How will the Act check biopiracy?

  • To check misappropriation of Indian biological resources, the Act provides that access to Indian biological resources and associated knowledge are subject to terms and conditions, which secure equitable sharing of benefits.
  • Further, it would be required to obtain the approval of the National Biodiversity Authority before seeking any IPR based on biological material and associated knowledge obtained from India.

Does the legislation provide for any exemptions?

  • The legislation provides for the following exemptions:
  • a. Exemption to local people and communities of the area for free access to use biological resources within India;
  • b. Exemptions to growers and cultivators of biodiversity and to Vaids and Hakims to use biological resources;
  • c. Exemption through notification of normally traded commodities from the purview of the Act only when used as commodity;
  • d. Exemption for collaborative research through government sponsored or government approved institutions subject to overall policy guidelines and approval of the Central Government
  • Moreover, commercial utilization specifically excludes traditional practices and use in agriculture, horticulture, poultry, dairy farming, animal husbandry etc.

Why value added products have been excluded from the definition of biological resources?

  • The intention of the Act is not to cover value added products of biological resources.
  • Value added product implies products containing portions/extracts of plants and animals in unrecognizable and physically inseparable form.
  • Though the biological resources by definition do not include value added products, an explicit exemption has been mentioned to allay the fears of Indian industry so that export of value added products is not hampered.

How the concept of prior informed consent (PIC) with the concerned local people be formalized?

  • The provision of mandatory consultation of BMCs by the NBA and SBBs would ensure formalization of PIC by the communities and the involvement of BMCs in the decision making process.

Does the legislation provide for protection of traditional knowledge?

  • The Act covers the traditional knowledge in the preamble itself. It also provides for issues related to traditional knowledge under the umbrella of associated knowledge within various provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

How is NBA promoting creation of Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs)?

  • NBA has issued a set of guidelines for the establishment and operationalization of BMCs.
  • It also provides financial support for establishment of BMCs.
  • Working close with the Ministry of Panchayat Raj, NBA has facilitated issuance of a direction from Ministry of Panchayat Raj that requests all local bodies to establish the BMCs.

How will the beneficiaries of benefits be identified?

  • The BMCs main function is to prepare the People’s Biodiversity Register (PBRs).
  • These registers are used, where available, to identify the BMCs where from the biological resources are accessed and benefits will be provided to the Local Biodiversity Funds (LBFs) maintained by BMCs.
  • People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR) is a legal document that contains details of biological resources occurring within a BMC and contains associated knowledge as well.
  • The PBR acts as a source of inventory of biological resources and knowledge and for benefit sharing purposes under the ABS component.
  • NBA, through SBBs, provide financial assistance for preparation of PBRs.

What kinds of benefits are envisaged under the benefit sharing arrangement approved by the NBA?

  • The benefits could include monetary and non-monetary components.
  • Examples could include grant of joint ownership of IPRs, transfer of technology, association of Indian Scientists in R&D, setting up of venture capital fund etc.

Is there any overlap between Biological Diversity Act and Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act?

  • There is no overlap between Biological Diversity Act and Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Rights Act (PPV&FRA).
  • In order to harmonise both the legislations, an exemption has been provided under Section 6 (3) of the Biodiversity Act for applicants seeking protection under the PPV&FRA.
  • This exemption has been provided to harmonise the two legislations and to avoid overlap of procedural requirements.
  • The purport of Section 6(3) is to ensure that before grant of IPRs, it becomes possible to realize equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources and knowledge.
  • As the PPV&FRA also has a provision for benefit sharing, an exemption has been provided in the Biological Diversity Act for applicants seeking protection under the PPV&FRA.
  • The Authority under the PPV&FRA legislation would be required to endorse a copy of the rights granted under this Act to the NBA.

Is there any overlap between the Biological Diversity Act and Patents (second Amendment) Act 2002?

  • There is no overlap between these two legislations. The scope and objectives of the two legislations are different.
  • The patent applicant should disclose the source and geographical origin of the biological material when used in an invention.
  • Further, non-disclosure or wrongful disclosure of source of biological material and any associated knowledge will result in opposition to the grant of patent or revocation of the patent.

How does the approval process for IPR work under the Biological Diversity Act?

  • Section 6(1) provides that prior approval of NBA is necessary before applying for any kind of IPRs in India and outside based on any research or information on a biological resource obtained from India.
  • However, in case of patents, permission of the NBA may be obtained after application is made but before sealing of the patent.

What is the concept of Biodiversity Heritage sites? How are they different from Protected Areas?

  • Section 37 provides for designating Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS).
  • These are areas of biodiversity importance, which harbour rich biodiversity, wild relatives of crops, or areas, which lie outside the protected area network.
  • The purpose is not to cover the already designated protected areas such as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

Who will initiate the process of declaring a BHS?

  • An application for designating a BHS shall originate from BMCs.

In case of research of Human stem cell for obtaining patent does NBA’s prior approval needed?

  • As per the provisions of BD Act human genetic material is excluded from the definition of biological resources and prior approval of NBA is not needed.

If a company multiplies seeds or vegetatively produced planting materials in India from a variety that has been developed outside India do they need any documents/or approvals from the National Biodiversity Authority to export the seeds or vegetatively produced planting materials again as it is their material (including possible agreements with third parties)? What steps a company needs to take with regard to the NBA?

  • If the biological resources used by the company in India does not contain any Indian germplasm*(biological resource) in their development or multiplication or production or research, then it will not come within the ambit of the NBA.
  • If the biological resources handled, researched, developed, multiplied, produced etc., contain any strain of an Indian germplasm (biological resource) then prior approval of NBA is required under Section 3 of the Act, for companies covered by the section.
  • * Indian germplasm is any plant genetic material that originated in Indian Territory or has been introduced and/or adapted to Indian Agro-ecologies where they have developed distinctive properties.

Can molecular marker assisted breeding/selection be considered as ‘Conventional Breeding’ (as this is mentioned under Commercial utilization).

  • Molecular marker aided selection is not yet considered as conventional breeding.
  • Patent applicatons filed prior to the coming into force of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Rules 2004 (01st July 2004) do not come under the purview of the Act.
  • The activity of “video graphing” and “camera trapping” do not fall within the regulatory scope of the Act and therefore no approval is required from NBA
  • There is no need for the non-Indian scientists / researchers / students visiting Herbaria / Museum / Universities for comparing the species with the holotype/herbaria/ other samples available with the Herbaria/ Museum/ Universities/ BSI /ZSI in the institute itself. However, they cannot carry these materials with them.

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

  • The CBD is one of the key agreements adopted during the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
  • This legally binding multilateral environmental agreement has near universal membership.
  • It has entered into force on 29th December 1993.
  • The Convention, while reaffirming sovereign rights of nations over their biological resources, establishes three main goals:
  • the conservation of biological diversity,
  • the sustainable use of its components, and
  • the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.

How does CBD recognize the biological resources at country level?

  • The CBD provides sovereign rights to countries over their biological resources, and requests countries to facilitate access to the genetic resources by other parties subject to national legislation and on mutually agreed terms.
  • CoP-10 to the CBD in October 2010 had adopted a Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for 2011-2020, with five goals and 20 Aichi Targets.
  • The Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets are the overarching framework on biodiversity not only for CBD and biodiversity related conventions, but for the entire UN system.
  • The UN General Assembly has declared 2011-2020 as the UN Decade on Biodiversity, coinciding with the duration of the Strategic Plan.
  • India successfully hosted the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in October 2012, in Hyderabad, India, following the sixth Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP 6).

Sixth National Report to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) 

  • India was among the first five countries in the world, the first in Asia and the first among the biodiversity rich mega-diverse countries to have submitted NR6 to the CBD 
  • Submission of national reports is a mandatory obligation on Parties to international treaties, including CBD.
  • The NR6 provides an update of progress in achievement of 12 National Biodiversity Targets (NBT) developed under the Convention process in line with the 20 global Aichi biodiversity targets
  • With well over 20 percent of its total geographical area under biodiversity conservation, India has exceeded the terrestrial component of 17 percent of Aichi target 11, and 20 percent of corresponding NBT relating to areas under biodiversity management.
  • Similarly, India has also made noteworthy achievement towards NBT relating to access and benefit sharing (ABS) by operationalising the Nagoya Protocol on ABS.
  • The objective of this Protocol is the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources.

International Day for Biological Diversity 2020

  • The UN has proclaimed 22 May the International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.
  • It is celebrated to commemorate the adoption of the Convention on Biological diversity (CBD).
  • The theme of the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) on 22 May 2020 is “Our solutions are in nature”

D) Miscellaneous

4. What is a severe cold day (TH)

  • Delhi recorded a “severe” cold day.
  • A “cold day” is when the minimum temperature is less than 10 degrees Celsius and the maximum is at least 4.4 degrees Celsius below normal.
  • A “severe” cold day is when the maximum temperature is at least 6.5 notches below normal.

5. Aligarh Muslim University centenary celebrations (PIB)

  • AMU became a University in 1920, through an Act of Indian Legislative Council by elevating the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental (MAO) College to the status of a Central University.
  • MAO College was set up in 1877 by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
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