Formation of Fog

In News

  • Recently, dense fog has enveloped northwestern India, including Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh, and parts of Rajasthan.


  • The fog episodes are likely to recur over the Indo Gangetic Plain for the next three days.
  • It will keep visibility poor in the hours before and after daybreak.

Fog Formation

  • Fog forms like clouds do — when water vapour condenses
  • Formation:
    • With the land surface cooling down at night, the air close to the surface also cools down. 
    • Since cooler air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air, the water vapour in the air condenses to form fog.
    • Fog begins to form in the early hours of the morning, when the temperature is at its lowest.
  • Favorable Conditions:
    • The presence of moisture and a fall in the temperature are key factors for the formation of fog. 
    • Fog can have “high spatial variability”, and its intensity can depend on factors like humidity, wind, and temperature
    • Areas near water bodies, for instance, may see denser fog because of the higher humidity.
    • The Indo Gangetic Plain is most vulnerable to fog occurrences, with major, weeks-long spells of dense fog in the months of December and January. 

Types of Fog

  • Radiation Fog (or ground fog):
    • These fog episodes last for a few mornings on account of calm winds and western disturbances, resulting in localised fog formation.
    • Once the temperature increases during the day, the fog dissipates.
  • Advection Fog:
    • Advection fog is larger in scale both in terms of the area covered and duration. 
    • Advection fog forms when warm, moist air passes over a cool surface, causing water vapour to condense. 
    • Advection fog mostly occurs where warm, tropical air meets cooler ocean water
    • If the wind blows in the right direction, sea fog can be transported over coastal land areas.
  • Valley Fog:
    • It is the result of mountains preventing dense air from escaping.
    • The fog is trapped in the bowl of the valley and can last for several days.
  • Freezing Fog:
    • It is the result of liquid droplets freezing on solid surfaces. 
    • Cloud-covered mountaintops often see freezing fog. 
    • These are not applicable to the Indo Gangetic Plain.

Conditions Favouring Fog over Northwestern India

  • Decreasing Temperature:
    • Temperatures have begun to dip over northwestern India. 
    • Recently, Delhi recorded the lowest minimum temperature of the season so far — 6 degrees Celsius. 
    • Cold wave conditions, in which the minimum temperature is significantly lower than normal, have been recorded recently over Punjab, Haryana, and parts of Rajasthan.
  • Dense Fog:
    • The fall in temperature along with moisture and light winds over the Indo Gangetic Plain has resulted in dense fog over the region.
  • Effect of Western disturbances:
    • Western disturbances, which are storms that originate in the Mediterranean Sea, bring moisture-bearing winds to northwest India. 
    • This can result in increased moisture levels over the region. 
    • In the absence of western disturbances, local moisture sources like water vapor from rivers and soil moisture can also cause fog.

Characteristics of the fog over Delhi

  • Warmer winter:
    • Delhi saw a warmer start to the winter this year, with maximum temperatures remaining above normal till around mid-December. 
    • Scientists attributed this to a lower number of western disturbances affecting the city. 
    • This means that northwesterly winds did not bring much moisture and did not lead to any significant fog formation until mid-December.
  • Highly Variable Fog Episodes:
    • Season to season, it shows very high variability with extreme fog of 25 to 35 days (200 to 285 hours) of dense fog” like in 2017-18. 
    • On the other hand, in some years — like in December 2021 — Delhi hardly sees any dense fog events.
  • Radiation fog:
    • An update from the SAFAR forecasting system categorised the recent fog episode in Delhi as “radiation fog”. 

Link between Pollution Levels and Fog

  • More Fog at Polluted Places:
    • According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Delhi being more polluted, records more fog days compared to others.
  • Fog increases Pollution: 
    • As temperature declines, local wind speed also falls. The inversion layer comes down and vertical mixing reduces. 
    • This results in fog formation and particulate matter hangs on the boundary layer, increasing pollution levels. 
    • Recently, Delhi recorded a spike in pollution levels with AQI in the ‘severe’ category.
  • Rapid Growth of Pollutants: 
    • Advection fog episodes last longer and secondary particulate formation then begins leading to rapid buildup of pollutants.

Karnataka Reservation Bill

In News

  • Recently, the Karnataka government tabled a Bill in the Legislative Assembly to increase reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the state.

Key Points

  • About:
    • The Chief Minister of Karnataka introduced The Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or posts in the services under the state) Bill, 2022.
    • It seeks to replace the ordinance of the same name.
  • Increasing Reservations:
    • Scheduled Castes- from 15 percent to 17 percent and 
    • Scheduled Tribes- from 3 percent to 7 percent.
    • While the SCs make up 16 percent of the state’s population, the STs constitute 6.9 percent.

Stand of Karnataka Government

  • Increase in Population:
    • The government has cited that while the number of Scheduled Castes have increased in the state as more groups were included within it, and the population of both the communities has grown by leaps and bounds, the reservation has remained the same.
  • Need to update Old Reservation Scheme:
    • The current reservation of 15 percent and 3 percent was decided when the erstwhile Mysore state, from which the state of Karnataka was formed.
    • Later, Mysore joined the Union of India in 1948, and the President included certain castes and tribes in the ‘Scheduled’ category under Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution.
  • Rising Demands:
    • There has been a continuous demand from the members of SC-ST communities for an increase in the reservation percentage, both in employment and educational institutions.

Opposition’s Concerns

  • Opposition raised concerns about the legality of the Bill’s provisions, as it breaches the 50 percent cap on quotas, and sought a discussion on it.
  • The ruling government is eyeing the SC/ST vote bank.
  • There would be legal hurdles for the legislation, as it has to be included in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution.

Observations of Various Committees

  • Justice Nagmohandas Committee Report
    • About:
      • In 2015, the Nayaka Students Welfare Federation approached the Karnataka High Court, seeking enhancement of SC-ST quota. 
      • Based on the HC’s orders, on July 22, 2019, the state government appointed a committee under former High Court judge Justice HN Nagamohandas.
    • Report:
      • The committee stated that there was evidence of social and educational backwardness among the communities. 
      • Such backwardness was much starker in populations living in the far-flung areas in the Western Ghats and in the drier regions of the state, adding that people here were unable to get the benefits of reservation. 
      • When compared with their population, there was evidence of inadequate representation of SCs and STs in education institutions and government jobs.
      • Based on the study, a special case was made for increasing the reservations for SCs up to 17 percent and STs up to 7 percent.
  • Justice Subhash Adi Report
    • About:
      • In March 2021, the ruling government set up another committee headed by retired high court judge Justice Subhash B Adi to study the issue. 
    • Report:
      • The report cited a study by National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, which states that 74 percent of tribal communities have remained invisible and their literacy rates are lower than 3 percent.
      • The report also mentioned that if there is a comparison made of the number of castes included under the SCs and STs in Karnataka vis a vis other states, it can be seen that though other states have notified a smaller number of castes, their percentage of reservation is higher
      • Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradeh were given as examples.

Way Ahead

  • Eliminating the Causes: 
    • Reservation should not be allowed to become a vested interest. 
    • Real solution, however, lies in eliminating the causes that have led to the social, educational, and economic backwardness of the weaker sections of the community.
  • Creating More Jobs:
    • The growing reservation demands are proving unmanageable
    • Talking about adequate and proportional representation isn’t going to solve the unemployment problem.
    • Instead of quotas, the Union Government and states need to focus on job creation

Multi-State Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Bill-2022

In News

  • The Lok Sabha has recently referred the Multi-State Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Bill-2022 to a joint committee of Parliament.
    • The government had introduced the Bill that proposes merger of any cooperative society into an existing multi-state cooperative society.
About joint committee of Parliament Meaning: It is one type of ad hoc Parliamentary committee constituted by the Indian parliament.Powers: A JPC can obtain evidence of experts, public bodies, associations, individuals or interested parties suo motu or on requests made by them. If a witness fails to appear before a JPC in response to summons, his conduct constitutes contempt of the House. Formation: A Joint Parliamentary Committee is formed when motion is adopted by one house, and it is supported or agreed by the other house.Another way to form a Joint Parliamentary committee is that two presiding chiefs of both houses can write to each other, communicate with each other and form the joint parliamentary committee.Membership: It comprises 21 members from the Lower House and 10 from the Upper House.Chairman: Speaker will appoint one of the members of the committee as its chairperson.What are multi-State cooperatives?Multi-State cooperatives are societies that have operations in more than one state.Such MSCSs are registered under the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act 2002.Their regulation lies with the Central Registrar. The board of directors are from all the States these collectives operate in and control all finances and administration function. There are close to 1,500 MSCSs registered in India, the highest number being in Maharashtra.

History of India’s cooperative movement

  • Meaning: cooperatives are people-centred enterprises jointly owned and democratically controlled by and for their members to realise their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations.
  • German model: India’s cooperative movement was formalised at the end of the 19th century, inspired by the German model of agricultural credit banks. 
  • Colonial Law: In 1904, the British government in India enacted the Cooperative Credit Societies Act.
    • While this Act dealt solely with the extension of credit, the sector was opened to other activities in 1912. 
    • Administrative reforms in 1919 transferred cooperatives to provincial control.
  • Post-Independence: the framers of the Constitution placed cooperatives in the State list.
    • States made their own laws to regulate cooperatives within their jurisdiction.
    • In 1984, the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act (amended in 2002) was enacted by Parliament to consolidate different laws at the central level.
  • Prevention of exploitation: India’s cooperative movement originated in the agriculture and related sectors as a means for farmers to pool their resources to prevent exploitation by money lenders.
  • Constitutional provision: Article 43B of the Constitution inserted by the 97th Amendment says that states shall endeavour to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of cooperative societies.
Data/FactsAccording to the Ministry of Cooperation there are around 8.5 lakh cooperatives in India with about 1.3 crore people directly attached to them.As per NCUI data from 2018: the percentage of cooperative members in proportion to the total population increased from 3.8% in 1950-51 to 22.2% in 2016-17.

Provisions of the Multi-State Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Bill-2022

  • Current Law:
    • It was enacted 20 years ago which says that only multi-state cooperative societies can amalgamate themselves and form a new multi-state cooperative society. 
  • New Law on Merger:
    • Any cooperative society may by a resolution passed by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting at a general meeting of such society can decide to merge into an existing multi-state co-operative society.
    • Such resolution shall be subject to provisions of the respective State Cooperative Societies Act for the time being in force, under which such cooperative society is registered.
  • Cooperative election authority:
    • The Bill also seeks to establish a cooperative election authority to bring electoral reforms in the cooperative sector. 
    • The government has proposed to substitute Section 45 of the 2002 Act. 
    • As per the proposed amendment, the authority will consist of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and a maximum of three members to be appointed by the Centre.
  • Co-operative Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Development Fund
    • The Bill seeks to insert a new Section 63A in the principal Act. 
    • This relates to establishment of the Cooperative Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Development Fund for revival of sick multi-state cooperative societies.
  • Section 70A:
    • The bill proposes to insert a new Section 70A relating to concurrent audit for such multi-state societies with an annual turnover or deposit of more than the amount as determined by the Centre.
  • Cooperative Information Officer and a Cooperative Ombudsman:
    • To make the governance of these societies more democratic, transparent and accountable, the Bill has provisions for appointing a Cooperative Information Officer and a Cooperative Ombudsman. 
    • To promote equity and inclusiveness, provisions relating to the representation of women and Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe members on MSCS boards have been included.
  • Penalty:
    • The Bill increases the penalty amount for violation of the law to Rs. 1 lakh and potential imprisonment from six months to a year.  

Major issues with the Bill 

  • Against the federal structure: The bill seeks to take away state governments’ rights and is against the country’s federal structure.
    • The Bill seeks to amend Section 17 of the principal act to allow the merger of any State cooperative society with an existing MSCS. 
    • Opposition members argued that this was beyond the Centre’s legislative competency as State cooperatives are not its domain.
  • Mismanagement and corruption: Government and legislative control of cooperatives increased over the years, there were increasing reports of mismanagement and corruption.
  • Burden: The new fund will put an additional burden on MSCSs and affect their autonomy.

Major issues with the cooperative sector

  • Multiple controls from the Centre: MSCSs were formed to ease the operation of collectives throughout the country.
    • But MSCSs are facing issues regarding trust which is the very basis of cooperation. 
    • MSCSs were, therefore, brought under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 in 2018 and all urban and MSCS banks were brought under the radar of the Reserve Bank of India in 2020. 
    • These developments have brought MSCSs under multiple controls from the Centre, giving rise to fears that monitoring would take a top-down approach as opposed to a grassroots one.
  • Non application of recommendations: In 1991, the Choudhary Brahm Perkash Committee of the planning commission made far-reaching recommendations to reorganise MSCSs.
    • But the Act has not been modified as per the report. 
    • Andhra Pradesh was the first to apply the recommendations and form a new model of cooperative societies.

Significance of the Bill

  • Transparency and accountability: The Bill seeks to bring transparency and accountability in the co-operative sector.
  • Good Governance: It aims to strengthen governance, reform the electoral process, improve the monitoring mechanism, and ensure ease of doing business in multi-State co-operative societies.
  • Financial discipline: The Bill also seeks to improve the composition of the board and ensure financial discipline, besides enabling the raising of funds in MCSCs.

Way Forward

  • SC judgment: The constitutional domain of States in regulating cooperative societies was upheld by the Supreme Court last year when it struck down a part of the 97th Constitution Amendment.
    • The court held that the Centre required the ratification of the Amendment by 50% of the state legislatures as it sought to give a framework for State legislation on cooperative societies. 
    • SC upheld only the part of the amendment that related to MSCSs, for which Parliament was competent to enact laws.

Rupee Trade Settlement Mechanism

n News

  • Recently, Sri Lanka has agreed to use the Indian rupee (INR) for international trade.

More about the news

  • Indian rupee trade settlement mechanism:
    • The Government of India said it is looking at ways to bring countries that are particularly short of dollars into the ambit of Indian rupee trade settlement mechanism.
  • Sri Lanka’s move:
    • The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) said it is waiting for RBI’s (Reserve Bank of India) approval to designate the Indian rupee as foreign currency of Sri Lanka.
    • Sri Lankan banks have reportedly opened a special rupee trading account called – Special Vostro rupee accounts, or SVRA – for trading in INR.
  • Russia’s move:
    • Russia is also expected to be one the first countries to use the Indian rupee trade settlement mechanism.
  • Other countries in the league:
    • Not just Sri Lanka and Russia India’s rupee trade settlement mechanism is also attracting interest from other countries including Tajikistan, Cuba, Luxembourg and Sudan.
    • India is in talks with the UAE and Saudi Arabia to allow settlement of trade in the Indian rupee.
    • Also, the neighbouring island nation has requested RBI to facilitate and promote trade as well as tourism in the SAARC region.

Benefits for Sri Lanka

  • Liquidity support:
    • Severe economic crisis and dollar crunch have been weighing on Sri Lanka for almost a year. 
    • Designating the Indian rupee as a legal currency will provide the island nation with much-needed liquidity support.
  • Holding more amount in physical form:
    • With the opening of Vostro accounts, people in Sri Lanka can now hold USD 10,000 (Rs 8,26,823) in physical form.
  • Substituting Dollar:
    • Also, Sri Lankans and Indians can use Indian rupees instead of US dollars for international transactions between each other.
Indian rupee trade settlement mechanismAbout:The RBI has announced the setting up of this mechanism to carry out international trade in Indian rupees.The Indian rupee trade settlement mechanism is a means of using the Indian rupee in all international transactions instead of dollars and other big currencies.Special vostro rupee accounts, or SVRA, have been opened by the Indian banks with the banks of Mauritius, Russia, Sri Lanka.Indian Banks’ Association leading awareness:The Finance Ministry of India has also asked the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) and the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) to initiate an awareness campaign to sensitise stakeholders about the rupee trade.For Importers in India:Importers in India undertaking imports through the mechanism will be required to make payment in rupees which must be credited into the Vostro account of the correspondent bank of the partner country, against the invoices for the supply of goods or services from the overseas seller or supplier.For exporters of India:In a similar way, exporters of India exporting goods and services through this mechanism must be paid the export proceeds in the Indian currency from the balance in a designated Vostro account of the correspondent bank of the partner country.

Significance of Indian rupee trade settlement mechanism for India

  • Exports and imports in the Indian currency:
    • The mechanism will enable all exports and imports to be denominated and invoiced in the Indian currency.
      • The exchange rate between the trading partners will be settled by the market.
  • Reducing India’s trade deficit:
    • Notably, the rupee becoming an international currency would possibly reduce India’s trade deficit and will help strengthen it in the global market.
  • Disruptions in the market:
    • The kind of disruption due to the Russia-Ukraine war which have been experienced all over, countries are looking at alternative modes of payment & the rupee trade settlement mechanism is the effective way out for India.
  • India’s trade with Russia:
    • This mechanism assumes significance amid a widening trade gap between Russia and India.
      • While Russia has swiftly become India’s top oil supplier, Indian exports to the sanctions-hit country are declining as exporters are wary of western sanctions and the lack of a smooth payment mechanism.
  • UAE & Saudi Arabia: 
    • The UAE is a big market for India, so obviously the traders in the country will benefit from this move. 
    • Similarly, Saudi Arabia is a significant trading partner of India.
      • However, the problem lies in the fact that we are a net importer from both these countries, so the excess rupee management can be an issue

Way Ahead

  • There are other countries looking into the business. So cost, competitiveness and several factors will play a role. 
  • Indian exporters have a diversified market.
Vostro & Nostro AccountA vostro account is a record of money held by a bank or owed to a bank by a third party (an individual, company or bank).The nostro account is a way of keeping track of how much of the bank’s money is being held by the other bank

Low-value Loans Fuelling NPAs in Education Sector

In Context

  • Recently, the data on Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) in education loans of Public Sector Banks (PSBs) was obtained through the Right to Information Act.

The data highlights

  • Loans for premier institutes vs secondary institutes:
    • The data shows that the default rate is much lower for loans disbursed to students in premier institutes as compared to those in secondary institutes.
      • About 239 institutes like the IITs, IIMs, NITs and AIIMS are categorised as premier institutes by banks.
  • Low-value education loans:
    • Low-value education loans (up to Rs 7.5 lakh) constitute a bulk of the defaults in the education loan portfolio of bank.
  • Bank specific data:
    • According to the data, 4.7 percent of the total education loans disbursed by the State Bank of India, Canara Bank, Union Bank of India and Indian Overseas Bank have turned into NPAs. 
    • These four banks together constitute about 65 per cent of the total loan portfolio of PSBs.
    • PSBs:
      • Overall, about 8 percent of all education loans disbursed by 12 PSBs, where repayments have started, have turned into NPAs.
  • Lenders in the market:
    • PSBs are the largest lender in the education loan sector and have a market share of about 91 percent. 
    • RRBs (regional rural banks) and private banks constitute the remaining 9 percent of the market.
More about the education loansMoratorium period & repayment:For education loans, students get a moratorium period of up to 12 months after they complete their studies. So, for a four-year BTech course, the repayment starts only after the completion of the fifth year if the student fails to get a job. The repayment starts early if the student starts earning.Model loan scheme:According to the model loan scheme, education loans of up to Rs 4 lakh don’t require any collateral to be provided by the borrower.Eeducation loans of up to Rs 7.5 lakh can be obtained with collateral in the form of suitable third-party guarantee.Education loans above Rs 7.5 lakh require tangible collateral. In all these cases, co-obligation of parents is necessary.Vidya Lakshmi Portal (VLP):The government has also launched an online portal, the Vidya Lakshmi Portal (VLP) to ensure hassle-free education loans through a single window system to students.Sanction/rejection of Education Loans:Normally, sanction/rejection will be communicated within 15 days of receipt of a duly completed application with supporting documents in the bank.Rejection of loan application, if any, shall be done with the concurrence of the next higher authority and conveyed to the student stating the reason for rejection. Further, the sanction, as well as rejection (with reasons), should also be reported by the bank concerned on the VLP portal.

Issues & Challenges

  • Potential Impact on students in secondary institutes:
    • Following the high rate of defaults in low-value education loans of PSBs, banks have slowed such lending, impacting students enrolled in secondary institutes across the country.
  • Low-value loans:
    • High defaults are being reported in low-value loans (up to Rs 7 lakh). 
    • Defaults in the lower band education loans are becoming a concern for banks, which may not be looking to expand their loan portfolio by providing credit to low-value loans.
    • Major cause of defaults:
      • Defaults in the low-end segment may have aggravated post-Covid. 
      • The issue of joblessness among students passing out of medium-level institutes have aggravated post-Covid, leading to such a situation.
About Non-Performing Asset (NPA)About:NPAs are loans or advances made by a financial institution, on which both principal or interest is unpaid for a specified period of time. Thus, NPAs are those loans that have ceased to generate income for the bankThey are recorded on a bank’s balance sheet after a prolonged period of non-payment by the borrower.NPAs can be classified as a substandard asset, doubtful asset, or loss asset, depending on the length of time overdue and probability of repayment.Types of NPA:Sub Standard:  A sub-standard asset is one that is classified as an NPA for a period not exceeding twelve months.Doubtful: A doubtful asset is one that has remained as an NPA for a period exceeding twelve months.Loss: A loss asset is one where loss has already been identified by the bank or an external institution, but it is not yet completely written off, due to its recovery value, however little it may be.Why do banks write off loans?After a loan turns bad, a bank writes it off when chances of recovery are remote. It helps the bank reduce not only its NPAs but also taxes since the written off amount is allowed to be deducted from the profit before tax.After write-off, banks are supposed to continue their efforts to recover the loan using various options. They have to make provisioning also. Causes for NPAs:Several factors – including prevailing macroeconomic conditions, sectoral issues, global business environment, delayed recognition of stress by banks, aggressive lending during upturns, improper risk pricing and poor credit underwriting – were attributed towards NPA build-upPoor management and governance issues in such banks stemming from government ownership have been cited as the major causes of the crisis.Most of NPAs arose due to defaults by private sector non-financial firms.A large proportion of NPAs arose because of exogenous shock.

Project Cheetah & CAMPA

In News

  • Recently, the Union government said that Funds from Project Tiger as well as the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management & Planning Authority (CAMPA) were used to finance the project to bring African cheetahs to India.
    • The Centre was asked the details of the cost of transfer and yearly maintenance cost of African Cheetahs. 

More about the news

  • Other suitable sites:
    • Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary and Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.
    • Shahgarh Bulge, Bhainsrorgarh Wildlife Sanctuary and Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan had been identified as other suitable areas for the cheetah in India.
  • New site for Lions in Saurashtra:
    • Barda Wildlife Sanctuary has been identified and assessed by the Wildlife Institute of India as a potential site for the lions.
      • Critics: It is barely 100 km from Gir forest and hence not geographically isolated from Gir to be able to effectively mitigate conservation risks to the lion population.

Project Tiger

  • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
  • It was launched in 1973.
  • Aim:
    • It has the aim of ensuring that the population of Bengal tigers is well-maintained in their natural habitats, this project continues to do everything possible to protect and save the tiger.
  • Tiger protecting force: 
    • The government has also set up a tiger protecting force that ensures there is no poaching of any kind or any human-tiger conflict. 
    • This invariably will help in preventing tigers from being extinct.
  • Increasing the number of tigers:
    • In 2006, surveys suggested that the number of tigers was just 1,411 which was a cause of concern worldwide.
    • In over a decade, India has seen a consistent rise in the number of tigers.
  • Tiger Reserves:
    • There are 50 tiger reserves across 18 Tiger Range States in India.
  • Objectives of Project Tiger:
    • To ensure that any factor leading to the reduction of tiger habitats is limited.
    • Any damages done to these habitats should be repaired so that the ecosystem is balanced
    • Maintain a viable tiger population.
  • Significance:
    • Tiger is an umbrella species which ensures viable populations of other wild animals (co-predators, prey) and forest, thereby ensuring the ecological viability of the entire area and habitat, which also ensures the water and climate security of the region.
    • India has 80 per cent of the world’s tiger population
  • What is a viable tiger population?
    • A viable tiger population is one which has 80-100 tigers with a minimum of 20 breeding females, with a sex ratio skewed towards females.
  • How are tiger reserves notified?
    • Proposal is obtained from the State.
    • In-principle approval is communicated from the National Tiger Conservation Authority, soliciting detailed proposals under section 38V of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
    • The National Tiger Conservation Authority recommends the proposal to the State after due diligence.
    • The State Government notifies the area as a Tiger Reserve.
  • What is Conservation Assured | Tiger Standards?
    • CA|TS is a tool or a comprehensive system that will provide a reference point to evaluate the existing management effectiveness of tiger conservation within integrated landscape planning, and ensure that benefits from these efforts are optimised. 

What are CAMPA Funds?

  • Establishment:
    • In 2004, the Ministry of Environment and Forests constituted the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) to oversee and manage the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) as directed by the SC.
  • Meaning:
    • CAMPA Act or Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act is an Indian legislation that seeks to provide an appropriate institutional mechanism, both at the Centre and in each State and Union Territory, to ensure expeditious utilisation in efficient and transparent manner of amounts released in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose which would mitigate impact of diversion of such forest land. 
  • Objectives of CAMPA: 
    • Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) are meant to promote afforestation and regeneration activities as a way of compensating for forest land diverted to non-forest uses.
    • National CAMPA Advisory Council has been established with the following mandate:
      • Lay down broad guidelines for State CAMPA.
      • Facilitate scientific, technological and other assistance that may be required by State CAMPA.
      • Make recommendations to State CAMPA based on a review of their plans and programmes.
      • Provide a mechanism to State CAMPA to resolve issues of an inter-state or Centre-State character.

Project Cheetah

  • Project Cheetah:
    • The introduction of cheetahs in India is being done under Project Cheetah.
    • It is the world’s first intercontinental large wild carnivore translocation project.
  • Coexistence approach:
    • India has opted for this approach. 
    • It is even more unique because this is the first-time cheetahs will be reintroduced in an unfenced protected area (PA).
      • Significance of Coexistence approach
        • The Coexistence approach is considered more favourable by social scientists.
        • Fencing has proven to be a valuable tool in eliminating cheetahs’ tendency to range over wide distances in South Africa and Malawi, thus allowing for population growth.
        • The core conservation area of KNP is largely free of anthropogenic threats.
      • Challenges associated with Coexistence approach 
        • Kuno NP will be more challenging, as it is not enclosed / fenced.
        • There have been no successful cheetah reintroductions into unfenced systems.
        • Anthropogenic threats to cheetah survival include snaring for bush meat and retaliatory killings due to livestock depredation.
        • This would place them at the risk of human-related mortality including snaring and retaliatory killings by livestock farmers.
  • Other method (Fortress conservation):
    • Cheetahs have been reintroduced several times in various African countries. 
    • But these reintroductions were all done in fenced PAs as fencing provides safety from human-animal conflict caused due to cheetahs killing livestock. 
African CheetahAsiatic Cheetah
IUCN status: Vulnerable  Distribution: Around 6,500-7,000 African cheetahs present in the wild. Characteristics: They are bigger in size as compared to Asiatic Cheetah.IUCN status: Critically endangered  Status in India: The Asiatic Cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952. Distribution: They are only 40-50 and found only in Iran. Characteristics: Smaller and paler than the African cheetah.

Way Forward 

  • CAMPA funds are meant for restoration of forests, particularly the ones that have been diverted for industrial purposes.
    • There have been demands that this money should be given to Gram Sabhas so that they can be financially empowered to restore forests.
  • Indigenous and forest-dwelling communities‘ country-wide are struggling for sustainable finance.
    • CAMPA funds should be used to empower them. 

INS Vagir and Project 75

In News 

  • The fifth Scorpène submarine, Vagir of Project – 75 Kalvari Class submarines has been delivered to the Indian Navy by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) Mumbai.
    • The submarine would shortly be commissioned into the Navy and enhance its capability.
About Project 75 Project 75 includes the indigenous construction of six submarines of Scorpene design. These submarines are being constructed at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) Mumbai, under collaboration with Naval Group, France.Six Scorpene submarines are being built under Project-75 by MDL under technology transfer from Naval Group of France under a $3.75 billion deal signed in October 2005. The project is about four years behind schedule.

About INS Vagir

  • Vagir was launched into water on November 12, 2020, and commenced sea trials on February 1, 2022.
  • It has completed all major trials including the weapon and sensor trials in the shortest time in comparison to the earlier submarines.

Other submarines

  • The sixth and last of the Scorpène-class submarines,  Vagsheer, was launched into water in April 2022 and is expected to be delivered to the Navy by end 2023.
    • The first submarine INS  Kalvari was commissioned in December 2017, second submarine INS  Khanderi in September 2019, the third one INS  Karanj in March 2021 and the fourth one INS  Vela joined service in November 2021.
  • Parallelly, the tender to build six more advanced conventional submarines under Project-75I is in the Request For Proposal (RFP) stage but has suffered delays.
Do You Know?The Navy currently has 15 conventional and one nuclear submarine in service. It includes seven Russian Kilo-class submarines, four German HDW submarines, four Scorpene class submarines and the indigenous nuclear ballistic missile submarine INS  Arihant.The Navy has drawn up plans to install Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) modules on all Scorpene submarines as they go for their refit beginning with INS Kalvari in the next couple of years to enhance their endurance. Development of an indigenous AIP module developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is in the advanced stages.

Rule 267 of the Rajya Sabha

In News

  • Rule 267 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook has become a bone of contention in the Upper House. 

About Rule 267

  • It allows for the suspension of a day’s business to debate the issue suggested by a Member.
    • The Rule gives special power to a Rajya Sabha member to suspend the pre-decided agenda of the House, with the approval of the Chairman.
  • The Rajya Sabha rule book defines “Rule 267” under “suspension of rules” as an instance where “any Member, may, with the consent of the Chairman, move that any rule may be suspended in its application to a motion related to the business listed before the council of that day and if the motion is carried, the rule in question shall be suspended for the time being.”
    •  provided further that this rule shall not apply where specific provision already exists for suspension of a rule under a particular chapter of the Rules”.


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