Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021


A senior parliamentarian has expressed concern over the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which is in the final stages of consultations in the Joint Parliamentary Committee.


GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of Environment and Ecology)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021
  2. The need for amending Biodiversity Act 2002
  3. Concerns with the Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021

Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill 2021 seeks to amend the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 in order to fulfil India’s obligations under the Convention of Biological Diversity and Nagoya Protocol.
  • The Bill seeks to reduce the pressure on wild medicinal plants by encouraging the cultivation of medicinal plants.
  • The Bill proposes to exempt AYUSH practitioners from intimating biodiversity boards for accessing biological resources or knowledge.
  • The Bill also facilitates fast-tracking of research, simplify the patent application process, decriminalises certain offences.
  • The Bill brings more foreign investments in biological resources, research, patent and commercial utilisation, without compromising the national interest.
  • The bill focuses on regulating who can access biological resources and knowledge and how access will be monitored.
  • The Bill has also clarified and strengthened the role of state biodiversity boards.
  • In the direction of Decriminalization, Violations of the law related to access to biological resources and benefit-sharing with communities, which are currently treated as criminal offences and are non-bailable, have been proposed to be made civil offences.

The need for amending Biodiversity Act 2002

  • People from AYUSH medicine urged the government to simplify, streamline and reduce the compliance burden to provide for a conducive environment for collaborative research and investments.
  • They also sought to simplify the patent application process, widen the scope of access and benefit-sharing with local communities.
  • Ayush companies have been seeking relaxation of the benefit-sharing provisions.
  • Case study: Divya Pharmacy founded by Swami Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna in Uttarakhand. The Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) sent a notice to Divya Pharmacy in 2016 stating that the company was in violation of the Biodiversity Act for using biological resources from the state for its ayurvedic formulations, without intimating the board and that it was liable to pay an access and benefit-sharing fee.
    • The company filed a writ petition in the Uttarakhand high court challenging the powers of the biodiversity board to determine benefit-sharing by Indian companies.
    • The court in 2018 upheld the powers of the biodiversity board in its judgement.
    • Under the Biodiversity Act 2002, national and state biodiversity boards are required to consult the biodiversity management committees while taking any decision relating to the use of biological resources.

Concerns with the Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021

  • Experts criticized the law for prioritizing intellectual property and commerce over the Act’s primary goal of safeguarding biological resources.
  • The bill imposed a heavy “compliance burden” and made it difficult to conduct collaborative research and investments, as well as to simplify patent application processes.
  • According to the bill’s text, it also wants to “extend the scope of levying access and benefit sharing with local populations, as well as for greater conservation of biological resources.”
  • The Bill intends to exclude registered AYUSH medical practitioners and those who have access to codified traditional knowledge, among others, from notifying State biodiversity boards before utilizing biological resources for specific reasons.
  • The bill would “reverse all of the recent attempts to implement the Biological Diversity Act.”
  • There was not a single “suggested amendment provision to safeguard, conserve, or strengthen the stake of local communities in the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity.”
  • The modifications will allow “biopiracy” and eliminate the necessity for AYUSH manufacturing enterprises to get permits.

Urban Heat islands


Several parts of the country are reeling under heat wave conditions. Cities, especially, are a lot hotter than rural areas. This is due to a phenomenon called an “urban heat island”.

  • Recently, two areas in Delhi recorded temperatures close to 50 degrees Celsius.


GS I- Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is an urban heat island?
  2. Why are cities hotter than rural areas?
  3. How can urban heat islands be reduced?
  4. What has NASA said on urban heat islands in India?

What is an urban heat island?

  • An urban heat island is a local and temporary phenomenon experienced when certain pockets within a city experience higher heat load than surrounding or neighbouring areas on the same day.
  • The variations are mainly due to heat remaining trapped within locations that often resemble concrete jungles.
  • The temperature variation can range between 3 to 5 degrees Celsius.

Why are cities hotter than rural areas?

  • Larger green cover: Rural areas have relatively larger green cover in the form of plantations, farmlands, forests and trees as compared to urban spaces. This green cover plays a major role in regulating heat in its surroundings.
  • Transpiration : It is a natural way of heat regulation. This is the scientific process of roots absorbing water from the soil, storing it in the leaves and stems of plants, before processing it and releasing it in the form of water vapour.
  • Highrise buildings, roads in Urban areas: Urban areas lack sufficient green cover or gardens and are often developed with highrise buildings, roads, parking spaces, pavements and transit routes for public transport. As a result, heat regulation is either completely absent or man-made.
  • Heat absorption: Cities usually have buildings constructed with glass, bricks, cement and concrete — all of which are dark-coloured materials, meaning they attract and absorb higher heat content.
  • This forms temporary islands within cities where the heat remains trapped.

How can urban heat islands be reduced?

  • The main way to cut heat load within urban areas is increasing the green cover; filling open spaces with trees and plants.
  • Other ways of heat mitigation include appropriate choice of construction materials, promoting terrace and kitchen gardens, and painting white or light colours on terraces wherever possible to reflect heat.

What has NASA said on urban heat islands in India?

  • NASA recently pointed out heat islands in urban parts of Delhi, where temperatures were far higher than nearby agricultural lands.
  • NASA’s Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment (Ecostress) captured an image shortly, covering an area of about 12,350 square kilometres, which showed a large red patch around Delhi and smaller red patches around neighbouring cities of Sonipat, Panipat, Jind and Bhiwani.
  • These red patches, implying higher temperatures, were the heat islands, while the rural areas around the cities witnessing lower temperatures.

Ban on Wheat Export


Recently, the government effectively banned the export of wheat.


GS III- Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why were wheat exports banned?
  2. What led to the decrease in production?

Why were wheat exports banned?

  • The government revised down its wheat production estimates from 111.32 million tonnes (MT) to 105 MT for the crop year ending June.
  • The decrease in production estimates and a considerable fall in wheat procurement raised concerns that domestic consumption may get impacted.
    • Moreover, the local prices started to rise.
  • The wholesale inflation of wheat crossed the 14% mark, though it eased a bit to about 10% in April.
  • Retail inflation of wheat flour accelerated to 9.59% from an already higher 7.77% in March.
  • The average retail price of wheat flour was ₹33.05 per kg. The maximum price had touched ₹59/kg.
  • Both these factors forced the government to ban wheat exports after the decision to send delegates to nine countries to explore the option of enhancing exports was taken.

What led to the decrease in production?

  • The extreme temperatures recorded in March and April, across north India, were the reason behind the sudden turnaround of the government.
  • For instance, across Punjab, in April the maximum temperature was over 6°C higher than the usual, compared to the long period average.
  • The actual maximum temperatures have been consistently hovering over the 40°C mark across the State in April.
  • The extreme heat led to a marked decrease in wheat yields across north India.
    • For instance, in Punjab, crop cutting experiments showed that the wheat productivity was below 18 quintals per acre this year, down from the average yield of 19.7 quintals per acre last year.
  • Hence, the wheat arrivals in Punjab’s mandis were 20% lower in the first twenty days of the 2022 season compared to the same period in 2021.
  • In the first twenty days, 73 lakh metric tonnes of wheat had reached the mandis in 2022, compared to the 92.4 lakh recorded in 2021.

Vadnagar’s Ties with Buddhism


On the occasion of Buddha Purnima, Prime Minister declared in Lumbini that his birthplace of Vadnagar in Gujarat’s Mehsana district had been a renowned centre for Buddhist learning centuries ago.


GS I- History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Vadnagar’s ties with Buddhism
  2. Places associated with the life of Buddha

Vadnagar’s ties with Buddhism

  • The Gujarat state archaeology department began excavations in Vadnagar, a small town in Mehsana district of north Gujarat, in 2006.
  • In 2014, the excavation work was taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and the combined efforts have thrown up Buddhist relics and around 20,000 artefacts, some dating back to the 2nd century.
  • Among these, are an elliptical structure and a circular stupa along with a square memorial stupa of 2×2 metres and 130 centimetres in height with a wall enclosure.
  • It is like a platform which has a chamber in the centre that resembles a pradakshina path
  • Further, bowls said to be used by monks have been found during the excavations, which have a terracotta sealing with inscriptions of namassarvagyaya and a face-shaped pendant with tritatva symbol.
  • Sacred relics of the Buddha were even found in Devni Mori in Aravalli district of Gujarat.

Places associated with the life of Buddha

Astamahasthanas are eight great holy places associated with the life of Buddha.  These include four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha viz. Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagara and four other sites viz. Sravasti, Sankasya, Rajgir and Vaishali.


Lumbini is currently located in Kapilavastu district of Nepal. It is birth place of Buddha. At the time of birth of Buddha, Lumbini was a part of Shakya Janapada, which was a republic.


It is located in Bihar on the bank of river Neranjana {this river was known as Uruwela at that time}. It is known for place of enlightment of Buddha.


Sarnath is the deer park where Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon or Dhammachakraparivartan Sutra. At the time of Buddha, it was a part of Kashi Janapada.


Kushinara or Kushinagara is located in Kushinagar district of Uttar Pradesh. It is the site of Buddha’s death and mahaparinirvana. At the time of Buddha’s death, it was a capital of Malla janapada.


Sravasti was located in Uttar Pradesh around area of Balrampur in modern Uttar Pradesh. It is closely asscoiated with the life of Buddha because Buddha had spent 24 Chaturmasas {implies 24 years because one year as only one Chaturmasa between Ashadha to Kartika}. Thus, we can say that most of monastic life of Buddha was spent in Shravasti. In Buddha’s times, Shravasti was capital of Kosala Kingdom. Shravasti is also birthplace of Jaina Tirthankar Sambhavanath, and thus is important for Jains also.


It’s current location is Farrukhabad district of Uttar Pradesh. It has some faiths of Buddhism that Buddha after is death descended from heaven here.


Rajgir was the early capital of Magadh Janapada, which was ruled by Bimbisara during Buddha’s time. After the great departure (Mahabhinishkramana), Buddha had first gone to Rajgir. He started begging alms over there and living life of an ascetic. King Bimbisara had offered Buddha his throne which he turned down.


At the time of Buddha, Vaishali was in Vajji Janapada.  After leaving Kapilavastu for renunciation, he came to Vaishali first and had his spiritual training from Allara and Udaka.


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