TOPIC: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
FOREIGN ENVOYS VISIT KASHMIR
Context: A 15-member foreign envoys’ delegation arrived in Srinagar on a two-day visit on 9th January to J&K and met over 100 people, including senior Valley-based politicians, top newspaper editors and grassroots representatives.
- They are seeking a feedback on the ground situation post the revocation of the State’s special status, Pakistan’s attempts at interference and immediate demands of the people.
- The 17 nations that are visiting the Kashmir Valley are USA, Vietnam, South Korea, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Niger, Nigeria, Morocco, Guyana, Argentina, Philippines, Norway, Maldives, Fiji, Togo, Bangladesh and Peru.
- Earlier, a delegation of 23 EU MPs was taken on a two-day visit to assess the situation in the Union Territory by the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, a Delhi-based think tank.
- During their meetings with the politicians, local editors and elected grassroots leaders like panchs and councillors, the envoys posed pointed questions on the revocation of Article 370 and wanted to know if Pakistan was making attempts to interfere
- There was a common demand for restoration of Internet service.
- In August 2019, as Home Minister Amit Shah of India told parliament, a decree abolishing Article 370 of the constitution that gave a measure of autonomy to the Muslim-majority Himalayan region had been signed by president and measure came into force “at once”
- Following which the government had placed restrictions on movement of people and communications besides putting many Kashmiri political leaders in preventive detention.
- In recent weeks, the government has removed some of the restrictions on communications, allowing post-paid mobile services and SMS messaging services.
- Some of the politicians placed in preventive detention have also been set free.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE VISIT
The invite is expected to dispel some of the criticism that the government has faced over the communications blackout and detentions in Kashmir from international media and foreign governments and politicians.
TOPIC: OVERVIEW OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION.
NCRB PUBLISHES CRIME IN INDIA REPORT 2018
Context: The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) published the annual Crime in India Report 2018 on 9th January.
It was published with provisional data, as five States West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Sikkim did not send clarifications sought by the NCRB despite repeated reminders.
- According to the report, 3, 78,277 cases of crime against women were reported in the country, up from 3, 59,849 in 2017.
- Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 59,445 cases, followed by Maharashtra (35,497) and West Bengal (30,394).
- The conviction rate in rape-related cases stood at 27.2% even though the rate of filing charge sheets was 85.3% in such cases.
- Cruelty by husband or his relatives (31.9%) followed by assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (27.6%) constituted the major share of crimes against women, the report said.
- A total of 50, 74,634 cognisable crimes 31,32, 954 Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes and 19,41,680 Special & Local Laws (SLL) crimes were registered in 2018, showing an increase of 1.3% in registration of cases compared to 2017 (50,07,044 cases).
- The crime rate per lakh population, however, came down from 388.6 in 2017 to 383.5 in 2018.
- The NCRB also released the Accidental Death and Suicides in India 2018 report, which said that 10,349 people working in the farm sector ended their lives in 2018, accounting for 7.7 % of the total number of suicides in the country.
- The total number of people who committed suicide in 2018 was 1, 34, 516, an increase of 3.6% from 2017 when 1, 29,887 cases were reported.
- The majority of the suicides were reported in Maharashtra (17,972) followed by Tamil Nadu (13,896), West Bengal (13,255), Madhya Pradesh (11,775) and Karnataka (11,561)
- To understand the position of crime, crime rate is a good and reliable indicator.
- The report helps policy makers to make better and more effective laws to improve the law and order situation of the country
- In the wake of high suicides in the country, a proper assessment and study on the subject is needed to address the issue.
TOPIC: HISTORY & CULTURAL HERITAGE
(INDIA AND KARNATAKA)
BENGALURU INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Context: The Bengaluru International Film Festival will be held from February 26 to March 4.
The logo of the festival and the dates were unveiled by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on 9th January.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FILM FESTIVAL
- The inauguration of the festival, which will be organized by the Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy (KCA) and Department of Information and Public Relations, will be held at the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium.
- The film screenings will be held at 11 screens in PVR Cinemas and Orion Mall and tickets will be priced at Rs 800 for the general public and Rs 400 for students, film society members and people from the film fraternity.
- Nearly 200 films from 50 countries will be screened under the categories ‘Contemporary World Cinema’, ‘Retrospective’, ‘Country Focus’, ‘Grand Classics’, ‘Homages and Remembrances’, ‘International Federation of Film Critics’, Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema’, ‘Unsung Incredible India’ and ‘Bio Pics’.
- The festival will also host interactive forums on film making and film appreciation.
- Indian and Kannada cinema will be screened and awards for the best films will be given in a separate category.
- The other award categories will include ‘Best Indian film’ and ‘Best Asian Film’.
- The festival is said to have grown by 35 per cent and filmmakers have acknowledged that it had helped improve the quality of Kannada cinema.
TOPIC: OVERVIEW OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION.
DEFENDING ACB, GOVT. TELLS HC THAT LOKAYUKTA’S POWER NOT DILUTED
Context: The State government on January, 9th defended setting up of the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to probe corruption cases under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, 1988, by withdrawing the power which was earlier vested with the Lokayukta police.
- The state government defended during the hearing of petitions challenging the legality of the creation of ACB.
- State-Advocate General also contended that the Lokayukta had nothing to do with the PC Act and establishment of ACB does not amount to diluting the power of the Lokayukta.
- Arguing that the government has the executive power under Article 162 of the Constitution to issue an order for creating a separate police wing.
ANTI CORRUPTION BUREAU
- The ACB is a separate wing in the police to exclusively investigate cases under the PC Act on the lines of special wings like cybercrime, economic and narcotics control bureau.
- It will function under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
- The State government has the power to declare a police station under Section 17 of the PC Act.
- The ACB works under the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms, which is controlled by the Chief Minister.
- Karnataka Lokayuktais the ombudsman institution of the Indian state of Karnataka.
- It was established in 1984 to investigate and report on corruption in the Government of Karnatakaand to redress public grievances related to state government employees.
- This Lokayuktathat was once considered the most powerful such institution in the country.
- However, it was stripped off its investigative powers before transferring them to the Anti-Corruption Bureau in 2016.
PAPER IV: GENERAL STUDIES 3
TOPIC: CHALLENGES AND ISSUES OF DEVELOPMENT ON ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY.
HESARGHATTA AS A CONSERVATION RESERVE
Context: With the state government reinstating the proposal to set up a film city in Bengaluru at Hesaraghatta environmental activists are urging the government to declare Hesaraghatta as a conservation reserve.
- A section of them are writing to Chief Minister urging the government to drop the 345-acre grassland as a possible location for the film city or other projects on the grounds that development activity would pose a threat to animal farms in the area.
- They argue that it could pose a biosecurity hazard to the various animal farms in the area and have strongly recommended protection of the grasslands
- Hesaraghatta Lake is a manmade reservoir located 18 km to the north-west of Bengaluruin Karnataka.
- It is a fresh water lakecreated in the year 1894 across Arkavathy River to meet the drinking water needs of the city.
- Sir K. Seshadri Iyer, the then Dewanof erstwhile Mysore state and the then Chief Engineer of Mysuru, M. C. Hutchins, planned to build the scheme called the “Chamarajendra Water Works” to store a three-years’ water supply to the city.
HESERAGHATTA AS A RESERVOIR OF BIODIVERSITY
- Environmentalists have pointed out that the Hesaraghatta lakebed area and grasslands in the surrounding catchment area are an important reservoir of biodiversity.
- It is a refuge for endangered wildlife species like the lesser florican and leopard, and yet they remain outside the protected area network and face severe threats to its biodiversity.
- The area is a large carbon sink for the city and can be a powerful tool to mitigate climate change and counter the rapid urbanisation of Bengaluru.
- The landscape surrounding the lakebed is the last remaining grassland habitat in the Bengaluru region and supports unique biodiversity.
- The Hesaraghatta Lake was an important source of drinking water to the city till 1994 and could be revived as a catchment area.
- The greater Hesaraghatta area, not limited to the 345 acres of grassland, is an ecologically sensitive zone and a necessary part of the community livelihood as local farmers graze their cattle.
- The government should not consider this area for building a film city.
- The Forest Department should declare the 5,000 acres as a Conservation Reserve under section 36A of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
- It is the only way to ensure that this area remains as it is.
- An aggressive campaign from the general public is required to pressurize the government to drop the proposal of a film city in Hesaraghatta.
WILDLIFE PROTECTION ACT, 1972
- The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of plants and animal species.
- The Act established schedules of protected plant and animal species; hunting or harvesting these species was largely outlawed.
- The Act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants; and for matters connected there with or ancillary or incidental thereto.
- It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection.
QUESTION: With the state government reinstating the proposal to set up a film city in Bengaluru at Hesaraghatta, discuss the significance of Hesaraghatta as a reservoir of biodiversity. (20 marks)