Current Affairs Daily Current Affairs 22

30thMarch,2022 ; Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 30thMarch,2022

 (30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • Great Barrier Reef Suffers ‘Widespread’ Bleaching Event (DTE)
  • One Horned Rhinoceros and Its Habitat (TH, pg 6)
  • Sariska Tiger Reserve (TH, pg 14)
  • Inter-state border disputes in India (TH, pg 1)
  • The Question of OBC Reservation in Local Bodies (TH, pg 14)
  • Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (TH, pg 14)
  • P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft(TH, pg 12)
  • Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) (TH, pg 14)
  • Reasons for Crypto Taxation (BL)

 

  1. Great Barrier Reef Suffers ‘Widespread’ Bleaching Event (DTE)

  • Context:Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – world’s largest coral reef ecosystem stretching across 2,300 km –is experiencing a mass coral bleaching event due to high ocean temperatures, according to a recent report.
  • This is the sixth time that the coral reef system is being hit by a widespread and damaging bleaching event and the fourth time in six years that such an event has occurred.

Analysis

  • The reef has suffered significantly from coral bleaching caused by unusually warm ocean temperatures in 2016, 2017 and 2020.
  • The Australian Marine Conservation Society described the report as “disastrous news”, particularly during a La Nina weather pattern, which is usually associated with cooler ocean temperatures.
  • A mass bleaching event was occurred in 1998 when the El Niño weather pattern caused sea surfaces in the Pacific Ocean to heat up.
  • A United Nations delegation is due to assess whether the reef’s World Heritage listing should be downgraded due to the ravages of climate change.
  • The Great Barrier Reef—the world’s largest living structure, visible from space—was added to the list in 1981 for its “superlative natural beauty” and extensive biodiversity.
  • But the list is not permanently fixed, and sites can be downgraded or even removed entirely on the UN body’s recommendation.

What are coral reefs?

  • Corals are marine invertebrates or animals not possessing a spine.
  • Each coral is called a polyp and thousands of such polyps live together to form a colony, which grows when polyps multiply to make copies of themselves.
  • Corals are of two types — hard coral and soft coral.
  • Hard corals, also called hermatypic or ‘reef building’ corals extract calcium carbonate (also found in limestone) from the seawater to build hard, white coral exoskeletons.
  • Soft coral polyps, however, borrow their appearance from plants, attach themselves to such skeletons and older skeletons built by their ancestors.
  • Soft corals also add their own skeletons to the hard structure over the years and these growing multiplying structures gradually form coral reefs. They are the largest living structures on the planet.
  • Corals share a symbiotic relationship with single-celled photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae.
  • The coral provides the algae with a protected environment and compounds they need for photosynthesis.
  • In return, the algae produce oxygen and help the coral to remove wastes.
  • Most importantly, zooxanthellae supply the coral with glucose, glycerol, and amino acids, which are the products of photosynthesis. Infact, these algae are the coral’s primary food source.
  • The coral uses these products to make proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and produce calcium carbonate.
  • Zooxanthellae are also responsible for the unique and beautiful colours of many stony corals.
  • Because their algal cells need light for photosynthesis, reef corals require clear water.
  • For this reason, they are generally found only in waters with small amounts of suspended material, i.e., in water of low turbidity and low productivity.
  • This leads to an interesting paradox—coral reefs require clear, nutrient-poor water, but they are among the most productive and diverse marine environments.

What is coral bleaching? 

  • Bleaching happens when corals experience stress in their environment due to changes in temperature, overexposure to sunlight, runoff pollution or high levels of ocean acidity.
  • Increased ocean temperature caused by climate change is the leading cause of coral bleaching.
  • Exposure to the air during extreme low tides can cause bleaching in shallow corals.
  • Under stressed conditions, the zooxanthellae or food-producing algae living inside coral polyps start producing reactive oxygen species, which are not beneficial to the corals.
  • So, the corals expel the colour-giving zooxanthellae from their polyps, which exposes their pale white exoskeleton, giving the corals a bleached appearance. This also ends the symbiotic relationship that helps the corals to survive and grow.
  • When some pollutants enter the water, nutrient levels can increase, promoting the rapid growth of algae and other organisms that can smother corals.
  • Petroleum spills do not always appear to affect corals directly because the oil usually stays near the surface of the water, and much of it evaporates into the atmosphere within days.
  • However, if an oil spill occurs while corals are spawning, the eggs and sperm can be damaged as they float near the surface before they fertilize and settle.
  • Bleached corals can survive depending on the levels of bleaching and the recovery of sea temperatures to normal levels.
  • If heat-pollutions subside in time, over a few weeks, the zooxanthellae can come back to the corals and restart the partnership but severe bleaching and prolonged stress in the external environment can lead to coral death.

How Do Coral Reefs Form?

  • Coral reefs begin to form when free-swimming coral larvae attach to submerged rocks or other hard surfaces along the edges of islands or continents.
  • As the corals grow and expand, reefs take on one of three major characteristic structures —fringing, barrier or atoll.
  • Fringing reefs, which are the most common, project seaward directly from the shore, forming borders along the shoreline and surrounding islands.
  • Barrier reefs also border shorelines, but at a greater distance.
  • They are separated from their adjacent land mass by a lagoon of open, often deep water.
  • An Atoll is formed when a fringing reef around an island continues to grow while the volcano subsides completely below sea level while.
  • Atolls are usually circular or oval, with a central lagoon.
  • In addition to being some of the most beautiful and biologically diverse habitats in the ocean, barrier reefs and atolls also are some of the oldest.
  • It can take up to 10,000 years for a coral reef to form from a group of larvae.

Where Are Reef Building Corals Found

  • Reef-building corals cannot tolerate water temperatures below 18° Celsius.
  • Many grow optimally in water temperatures between 23° and 29° C, but some can tolerate temperatures as high as 40° C for short periods.
  • Most also require very saline (salty) water ranging from 32 to 42 parts per thousand, which must also be clear so that a maximum amount of light penetrates it.
  • The corals’ requirement for high light also explains why most reef-building species are restricted to the euphotic zone, the region in the ocean where light penetrates to a depth of approximately 70 meters.

Importance of Coral Reefs

  • Coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment. 25% of the marine life thrive around corals despite of the fact that corals form less than 1% of marine environment.
  • This biodiversity is considered key to finding new medicines for the 21st century.
  • Coral reefs act as barriers against storm surge and tsunamis.
  • Coral reefs are climatologically important because they provide an accurate long-term record of the climate change and help in extending our knowledge of seasonal climate variability in many remote tropical oceans.

Deep Sea Corals

  • Corals are not just warm-water creatures. They also live at depths of 40m down to 2,000m, in water temperatures as low as 4ºC.
  • There are also soft corals and deep water corals that live in dark cold waters.
  • Unlike tropical corals, cold-water corals don’t have symbiotic algae living in their polyps so they don’t need sunlight to survive.
  • They feed solely by capturing food particles from the surrounding water.
  • Their polyps tend to be much bigger than tropical corals.
  • Cold-water coral reefs are commonly found where current flow is accelerated.
  • They are found on the continental shelf, and also in deep-sea areas with topographic highs, such as seamounts, mounds, ridges, and pinnacles.
  • Deep-sea corals grow slowly in comparison to shallow-water tropical reefs.
  • Deep-sea coral reefs are made up of only a few coral species and also exhibit less species diversity than shallow-water tropical reefs in terms of important spawning and nursery grounds.

Corals in India

  • Coral reefs are present in the areas of Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Mannar, Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep Islands and Malvan.
  • All coral species are protected under Schedule-I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

Coral Triangle

  • Coral Triangle is a triangular area of the tropical marine waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor- Leste that contain at least 500 species of reef-building corals in each ecoregion.

Different Types and Aspects of Symbiosis

  • Mutualism: Both organisms involved benefit.
  • Mutualistic interaction patterns occur in three forms.
  • Obligate mutualism is when one species cannot survive apart from the other.
  • Diffusive mutualism is when one organism can live with more than one partner.
  • Facultative mutualism is when one species can survive on its own under certain conditions.
  • On top of these, mutualistic relationships have three general purposes.
  • Trophic mutualism refers to the transfer of energy and nutrients between two species and is exemplified in lichens, which consist of fungi and either algae or cyanobacteria. The fungi’s partners provide sugar from photosynthesis and the fungi provide nutrients from digesting rock.
  • Defensive mutualism is when one organism provides protection from predators while the other provides food or shelter: an example is ants and aphids.
  • Dispersive mutualism is when one species receives food in return for transporting the pollen of the other organism, which occurs between bees and flowers.
  • Commensalism: One organism benefits while the other is neither helped nor harmed.
  • Amensalism: One organism is harmed while the other is neither helped nor harmed.
  • Parasitism: One organism benefits and the other organism is harmed, but not always killed.
  1. One Horned Rhinoceros and Its Habitat (TH, pg 6)

  • Context: The population of the greater one-horned or Indian rhinoceros in the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve has increased by 200 in four years, the latest census at Kaziranga national park has revealed.

Analysis

Rhinoceros

  • Rhinos are one of the oldest groups of mammals.
  • All rhinos have poor eyesight. Rhinos have blurred vision and tend to attack based on smell and hearing.
  • There are five species of rhino found in the world – two in Africa, and three in Asia.

Black Rhino

  • The black rhino lives in the grasslands and savannahs of Africa, where all four of its subspecies are listed as critically endangered.
  • One subspecies, Western Black Rhinoceros, was declared extinct in 2011.
  • Black rhinos have two horns on their heads, with the front one being larger.
  • Black rhinos aren’t actually black. Their name likely differentiates them from white rhinos, whose name is a corruption of the Afrikaans word “weit,” which means “wide” and describes the mouth of the rhinos.

White Rhino

  • There are two subspecies of the white rhino, the Southern White Rhino and the Northern White Rhino, which is presumed to be extinct.
  • The Southern White rhino is considered “near threatened,” and is the least endangered of the rhino species.
  • The white rhino is the largest of the rhino species, and have two horns, with the front one being larger.
  • The largest populations of white rhinos are found in South Africa.
  • White rhinos’ name comes from the Afrikaans word “weit,” meaning “wide,” which describes their mouths. English settlers misheard the name.

Javan Rhino

  • The Javan rhino is the rarest of the rhino species, with only between 27 and 44 individuals thought to live in the wild.
  • They are believed to have been poached from their former habitat in Vietnam and are now found only in Indonesia’s Ujung Kulon National Parkon the island of Java.
  • They are listed as critically endangered.
  • Javan rhinos are also the smallest of the rhinos,andhave only one horn on their head.
  • These solitary rhinos are very rarely seen.

Greater One-Horned Rhino

  • As its name suggests, the Greater One-horned rhino has only one horn.
  • They are similar in size to white rhinos.
  • Greater one-horneds are the most amphibious of the rhino species and will immerse themselves in water and munch on aquatic plants.
  • The greater one-horned rhino(Vulnerable)found in India and Nepal

Sumatran Rhino

  • The Sumatran rhino has two horns.
  • The Sumatran rhino(Critically Endangered) found on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

Kaziranga National Park

  • It is inhabited by the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses.
  • More than 90 percent of Assam’s rhinos were now concentrated in just one park — Kaziranga National Park— with small populations in Orang National Park and Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Along with the iconic Greater one-horned rhinoceros, the park is the breeding ground of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.
  • The park has 57% of the world’s wild water buffalo population, one of the largest groups of Asian elephants and one of the highest Royal Bengal tigers’
  • Over the time, the tiger population has also increased in Kaziranga, and that’s the reason why Kaziranga was declared as Tiger Reserve in 2006.
  • Also, the park is recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for the conservation of avifaunal species.
  • Kaziranga National Park is also a World Heritage Site in India in the natural category.
  • The rhino may well be a keystone species – known to have a disproportionately large impact on its environment relative to its population.
  • There are five species of rhinos, of which only one — the Indian rhino — is found in the country.
  • Their horns are made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair and fingernails.
  • The Indian rhino was moved from its status of endangered (since 1986) to vulnerable in 2008 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The first successful attempt to move rhinos out of Assam and re-introduce them into a similar habitat was made in 1984 in Uttar Pradesh’s Dudhwa national park.

Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020)

  • The ambitious Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020) came to a close recently.
  • Designed in 2005, the IRV2020 is believed to have achieved its target of attaining a population of 3,000 rhinos in Assam.
  • Launched in 2005in response to the declining population of rhinos in Assam, the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 was aimed to boost the population of rhinos in Assam State (3,000 by 2020) and expand the species’ range within the state from three protected areas (Kaziranga, Pobitora, and Orang National Parks) to seven (Kaziranga, Pobitora, Orang National Park, Manas National Park, Burachapori and Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuaries and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park).

Invasive species threaten protected areas in Assam State

  • In 2018, biologists observed the invasive plant Parthenium, known locally as congress grass, establishing itself in grasslands of India’s Pobitora National Park.
  • Invasive species threaten protected areas in Assam state, and herbivores like the greater one-horned rhinos that live within them, by crowding out the native plants animals rely on for food.
  • Each of Assam state’s four rhino reserves currently faces threats from invasive plants including Parthenium, Mimosa, Mikania and water hyacinth.
  • Experts are contemplating the use of several strategies to tackle invasive plants, including manual removal and the introduction of biological control agents such as the Mexican beetle that feeds on Parthenium.
  1. Sariska Tiger Reserve (TH, pg 14)

  • Context: More than 200 people and two IAF helicopters were pressed into service to control a wildfire spread over 10 sq. km. of the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan’s Alwar

Analysis

  • Sariska represents a tiger habitat spread over the world’s oldest mountain range- the Aravallis.
  • It has the unique distinction of successfully reintroducing the tiger after its local extinction.

Rajasthan now has four tiger reserves

  • Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RTR) in Sawai Madhopur,
  • Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR) in Alwar, and
  • Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve (MHTR) in Kota.
  • The Ramgarh Vishdhari wildlife sanctuary received a nod from the National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA) in 2021 becoming the 4th Tiger reserve of Rajasthan.

Do you know?

  • On an isolated mountain in Sariska Tiger Reserve stands the Neelkanth temple.
  • It was built in the 6th century and has a collection of erotic statues on its walls bearing a similarity to Khajuraho temple.
  1. Inter-state border disputes in India (TH, pg 1)

  • Context:Assam and Meghalaya have partially resolved a 50-year-old border dispute in six of the 12 sectors along their 885-km boundary.
  • Note: You have already prepared this topic in detail from the13th Jan 2022 file.
  1. The Question of OBC Reservation in Local Bodies (TH, pg 14)

  • Context:Rajya Sabha members from the DMK and the BJP unusually made common cause to demand that the government bring in a law to break the constitutional deadlock in the enforcement of OBC reservations in local body elections.
  • The Supreme Court in a recent judgment held that OBC reservations in local body elections could be implemented only when empirical data is available and only when a dedicated commission approves it.
  • Note: You have already prepared this topic in detail from the 21 Jan 2022 file.
  1. Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (TH, pg 14)

  • Context:After a strong protest by tribal people of south Gujarat, the Centre has decided to put the Par-Tapi-Narmada river-linking project on hold.

Analysis

  • The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 has replaced the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, enacted during the British regime.

The main objectives of the LARR Act are:

  • The process to procure land can only be undertaken in consultation with gram sabhas.
  • The consent of 80% land owners required for private projects.
  • The consent of 70% land owners required for Public-Private Partnership projects.
  • No consent is required for government projects.
  • To ensure that compensation offered to the affected families is fair and near to market prices.
  • SIA (Social Impact Assessment) is mandatory for all projects except:
  • (i) in cases of urgency as outlined in Section 40 or
  • (ii) for irrigation projects where an Environmental Impact Assessment is required.
  • Irrigated multi-cropped land cannot be acquired beyond a limit specified by the government.
  • The acquisition of agricultural land for all projects in a district/state must not exceed the total net sown area of the district/state.
  • The Act provides the option of employment to one member of an affected family as part of the R&R award.
  • The Act provides for the establishment of a Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Authority which may be approached in case a person is not satisfied with an award under the Act.
  • If land acquired under the Act remains unutilised for five years from taking possession, it must be returned to the original owners or a land bank.

The scope of the Act

  • Its provisions do not apply to land acquisitions under 13 prevailing legislations including the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005, the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, the Railways Act, 1989, etc.
  • Interestingly, the Act also has an urgency clause for accelerating the land acquisition which may only be invoked for security and national defence, and in case of emergencies where rehabilitation to the people affected from natural disasters is to be provided.
  1. P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft (TH, pg 12)

  • Context:The Indian Navy formally commissioned its second squadron of P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft, ‘Condors’, at INS Hansain Goa.

Analysis

  • The ‘Game Changer’ aircraft from USA is a potent platform for maritime surveillance and strike, electronic warfare missions, search and rescue, providing targeting data to weapon platforms, time-critical surveillance information to the Army and the Air Force. It was also the platform of choice for detecting and neutralising enemy ships and submarines in the IOR.
  • P-8Is will come installed with encrypted communication systems since India has now signed the foundational agreement Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the U.S.
  • The squadron has been named ‘Condors’, one of the largest flying land birds/vultures found in the Americas with a massive wingspan.
  1. Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) (TH, pg 14)

  • Context: The national regulator, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), has granted permissions to conduct clinical trials for administration of mixed vaccine regimen.

Analysis

  • The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) is headed by the Drugs Controller General of India,under Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.
  • It is the Central Drug Authority for discharging functions assigned to the Central Government under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
  • Under the Drug and Cosmetics Act, the regulation of manufacture, sale and distribution of Drugs is primarily the concern of the State authorities while the Central Authorities are responsible for:
  • approval of New Drugs and Clinical Trials in the country,
  • laying down the standards for Drugs,
  • control over the quality of imported Drugs,
  • coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organisations
  • banning of drugs and cosmetics and providing expert advice with a view of bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
  • Further CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.
  1. Reasons for Crypto Taxation (BL)

  • Context: The Union Budget contained a rude shock for users and traders of crypto and other virtual digital assets. All transfer or sale of these assets was brought into the tax net.

Analysis

  • The Centre is worried about the increase in activity on unregulated crypto-trading platforms such as WazirX, CoinDCX, Zebpay, etc.
  • Gullible investors who are unaware that the cryptocurrencies do not have any underlying worth, have been lured by the meteoric rise in the prices of these assets in 2020 and 2021.
  • But the extremely volatile and speculative nature of these assets puts investor money at great risk.

Why are experts calling it a punitive taxation?

  • The Centre is clear that it is viewing trading in cryptocurrencies on a par with other speculative activity such as lottery or gambling.
  • That is the reason why the tax on income is much higher than the capital gains tax charged on other capital assets.
  • The amendment to the Finance Bill further clarified that cryptocurrencies cannot be construed as capital assets.
  • Disallowing setting-off of losses, not allowing deduction of any expenses and taxing gifts are punitive and another way of telling investors to stay away from these assets.
  • The compliance burden is going to be onerous and many exchanges are likely to shut shop.
  • Investors may not want to buy and sell on Indian cryptocurrency platforms due to the requirement to pay high income tax. They could shift their activity to other unregulated overseas trading platforms.
  • Unilateral ban or regulation of these trades by one country is unlikely to work because the ecosystem is virtual.