CAO The Hindu NOTES – 18th Feb, 2018 (Daily News Paper Current Affairs Analysis)

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Date:- 18th Feb 2018

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Apparel exports continue to decline, says AEPC {Economy}

In news

Apparel exports have declined by 14% in rupee and 8% in dollar terms in January this year compared with the year-earlier month.

Labour-intensive sector

  • Apparel is a labour-intensive sector and the ongoing issues are weakening it, said Raja Shanmugham, president, Tirupur Exporters’ Association.
  • While the refunds from the Centre are pending, the industry continues to make the mandatory payments every month.
  • Decline in apparel and textile exports will bring down the share of the sector in the export basket.

Ancient climatic changes and central India’s rare forest owlet {Environment}

In news

Central India’s now-endangered and rare forest owlet Scientists have also found that it belongs to the same genus as the commonly-seen spotted owlet, finally settling a century-old debate on its genetic relationship with other Indian owlets.

Fossil records

  • Using dated fossil records of ancient owls on this genetic tree, the team estimated the time at which the forest owlet diverged from its nearest relatives, the process by which new species evolve.
  • Their results show that the forest and spotted owlets split as different species between 4.3 and 5.7 million years ago, when drastic climatic changes occurred in the Indian subcontinent.

Climate played a major role in the speciation of the owlets.


Sundarbans mangroves struggle to find new ground {Environment}

In news

The India State of Forest Report (SFR) 2017 published recently has revealed that the mangrove cover in the country has increased by 181 sq km. But the Indian Sunderbans that comprise almost 43% of total mangrove cover have shown only a marginal rise of 8 sq km, at 2,114 sq km from 2,106 sq km in the 2015 SFR report.

Reason for decline

Climate change is being attributed to the decline of mangrove species worldwide and the authors emphasise the importance of involving the local population in conservation, keeping in mind the limited livelihood options and the extreme climate events that they have to grapple with.

The population density of the Indian Sunderbans outside the Tiger Reserve area is 1,000 people per sq km, and there is high malnourishment reported from here.

Highlights

  • This is in spite of large scale planting of mangroves by the State Forest department and NGOs over many years. The latest figures raise the question of whether enhanced human pressures on the only mangrove forest that harbours a healthy tiger population is affecting the ecosystem.
  • Unlike the rest of the country, large areas of mangrove forest in the Indian Sunderbans fall under Sunderban Tiger Reserve where human activities are prohibited. The Indian part of Sunderbans covers 4,263 sq km out of which 2,584 sq km is core and buffer area of the tiger reserve.
  • A detailed understanding of the threat to the mangroves of Indian Sunderbans has been highlighted in a ‘State of Art Report on Biodiversity in Indian Sundarbans’ published by World Wide Fund for Nature, India (WWF)
  • The publication reveals that along with climate change, the mangroves are threatened by habitat degradation due to industrial pollution and human disturbance, fuel-wood collection and lack of any high elevation spaces for the mangrove species to regenerate and thrive.
  • The report states that it is a matter of concern that if the present rates of change prevail, the Sundarbans mangroves could disappear as the sea level rises. This is because the forest’s natural response to retreat further inland is blocked by geographical features and man-made obstructions.

Mangroves and its species

  • The authors have suggested a “rehabilitation of former mangrove areas and creation of new mangrove habitations through intensified afforestation programmes.”
  • Of the 180 mangrove and associated species or halophytes (plants adapted to growing in saline conditions), 34 are true mangroves, of which 19 are major mangroves and 15, minor mangroves.
  • Mangroves are classified as plants having salt tolerance mechanisms like salt glands, aerial roots in the form of pneumatophores and viviparous germination (germinating before detaching from parent). They grow mostly in the inter-tidal spaces and are dispersed by water buyout propagules (seeds or spores).
  • Heritiera fomes or Sundari trees from which the Sundarbans draws its name, has a very restricted distribution in South Asia and is classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red list.
  • The publication lists five species of mangroves whose status, as per the IUCN Red List, ranges from Near Threatened to Critically Endangered. Sonneratia griffithii, one of the tallest trees of the Sunderbans referred to as Keora by locals is critically endangered while Ceriops decandra (Goran) is Near Threatened. C. decandra and Avicennia (locally known as Bain) are gathered in violation of law for supplementing fuel wood requirements by the residents.
  • Species like Xylocarpus granatum, which has a traditional medicinal use in treatment of cholera, diarrhoea and fever is also one of the species which faces threat due to illegal felling.
  • Among the many associates of mangrove, which grow as climbers and shrubs, some are used for firewood. The other category of flora, back mangroves, are not found in inter-tidal areas colonised by true mangroves. Excoecaria agallocha, commonly called Goria found towards the mainland along the small canal is one common example.
  • Among the salt marshes of Sunderbans, Sesuvium portulacastrum, with thick, fleshy leaves borne on succulent, reddish-green stems is a pioneer species. Salt marshes are found hosting the mangrove fern Acrostichum aureum.

Which states reported increase of mangroves cover?

  • Nationally, the SFR 2017 report estimates the maximum increase of mangrove cover from three States, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.
  • While the maximum increase of 82 sq km has been recorded in Maharashtra, where Thane district alone has witnessed an increase of 31 sq km, Raigarh has 29 sq km and Mumbai Suburban, 16 sq km.
  • Andhra Pradesh has seen a rise of 37 sq km in the SFR survey, done every two years, with districts like Guntur and Krishna contributing the most. Gujarat’s tally rose by 33 sq km in Bhavnagar, Junagarh, Kutch and Jamnagar districts.
  • In all three states, the increase has been attributed to plantation and regeneration. Tamil Nadu found an increase of 2 sq km of mangroves, taking the extent of such forests to 49 sq km, as recorded in the FSR report.
  • Among the striking features of Tamil Nadu’s efforts is that Nagapattinam district recorded a decrease of 16 sq km while Tiruvarur district posted a rise of 16 sq km. Districts like Cuddalore, Pudukkottai and Thoothukudi also have recorded a small increase of 1 sq km of mangrove cover each, compared to 2015.

It’s 2018, but still tough to get online in the Andamans {Governance}

In news

There are no unlimited downloads and fast smartphone connections in the low-bandwidth remote islands, hitting residents and tourists.

Why in news?

In October 2017, a bus with 39 students on its way to Billyground from a college in Mayabunder was gutted in a fire. There were no casualties, but Fire Services personnel reached late because mobile phones did not work at the site.

Cost of service

“Low-cost high-speed data services available in mainland India cannot be offered here because bandwidth is procured and maintained at very high cost,” BSNL’s Chief General Manager—A&N Islands.


 Rajasthan to get full share of Yamuna waters {Governance}

In news

Rajasthan will get its full share of 1.119 billion cusec metres of water from the Yamuna, with the Upper Yamuna Review Committee deciding over the weekend that 1,917 cusecs water will be released from the Tajewala headworks to Jhunjhunu, Churu and Sikar districts for drinking and irrigation.

Allocated 9% share

Though Rajasthan was allocated 9% share in the Yamuna waters, the desert State was not getting it even when excess water was available in the river between July and October every year.

The State will get its full share of water from Tajewala and Okhla headworks.

A detailed project report will be prepared shortly for bringing water from Tajewala to Rajasthan at an estimated expenditure of ₹20,000 crore.


India should act fast to save Maldives {International Relation}

In news

Mohamed Nasheed, exiled former President of the Maldives, on Saturday urged India to employ “gunboat diplomacy” to put pressure on the current regime in the island country to conduct free and fair elections.

Highlights

Mr. Nasheed said the current situation sprang from two recent developments.

  • First, the development of a state within the state of the Maldives by the ISIS.
  • Second, attempts by emerging powers to change state type, with a view to drive land grab.

When countries can’t pay back the debt, they ask for equity and we end up relinquishing sovereignty. Without firing a single shot, China has grabbed more land than what the East India company had, at the height of the colonial era. They have weaponised foreign direct investments.

Gunboat diplomacy 

In international politics, gunboat diplomacy refers to the pursuit of foreign policy objectives with the aid of conspicuous displays of naval power – implying or constituting a direct threat of warfare, should terms not be agreeable to the superior force.


Sex ratio at birth dips in 17 of 21 large States, Gujarat records 53 points fall {Social Issue}

Why in news?

The sex ratio at birth (SRB) saw a decline in 17 out of 21 large States of the country, with Gujarat recording an alarming dip of 53 points, a report released by the Niti Aayog stated and stressed on the need to check sex-selective abortion.

Highlights

  • “Sex ratio at birth is an important indicator and reflects the extent to which there is reduction in number of girl children born by sex-selective abortions,” the report added.
  • According to the report, among the 17 States which recorded substantial drop of 10 points or more, in Gujarat the SRB fell to 854 females from 907 females per 1,000 males born registering a drop of 53 points from 2012-14 (base year) to 2013-15 (reference year) in this indicator.
  • Gujarat is followed by Haryana, which registered a drop of 35 points, Rajasthan (32 points), Uttarakhand (27 points), Maharashtra (18 points), Himachal Pradesh (14 points), Chhattisgarh (drop of 12 points), and Karnataka (11 points), the ‘Healthy States, Progressive India’ report states.
  • “There is a clear need for states to effectively implement the Pre-Conception andPre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 and take appropriate measures to promote the value of the girl child,” the report stated.
  • According to the report, improvement in SRB was witnessed in Punjab, which registered a rise of 19 points, followed by Uttar Pradesh (10 points) and Bihar (9 points).

Sex ratio

  • The sex ratio is the ratio of males to females in a population. In most sexually reproducing species, the ratio tends to be 1:1.
  • This tendency is explained by Fisher’s principle. For various reasons, however, many species deviate from anything like an even sex ratio, either periodically or permanently.
  • Examples include parthenogenic species, periodically mating organisms such as aphids, some eusocial wasps such as Polistes fuscatus and Polistes exclamans, bees, ants, and termites.
  • The human sex ratio is of particular interest to anthropologists and demographers. In human societies, however, sex ratios at birth may be considerably skewed by factors such as the age of mother at birth, and by sex-selective abortion and infanticide.

As of 2014, the global sex ratio at birth is estimated at 107 boys to 100 girls (1000 boys per 934 girls).

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