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[Newsbits] 20.12.2023 – Lumpy Skin Disease, Great Unconformity, Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme & more

newsbits mindmap notes
Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme (IFWCS) mind map
December 2023 News
Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change introduces IFWCS
When
Launched in December 2023
Why
Promote sustainable forest management and agroforestry
What
Sustainable Forest Management
Responsible, balanced use of forest resources
Meets present needs without compromising future generations
Agroforestry
Integrates trees/shrubs with crops/livestock
Combines agricultural and forestry practices
Types of Certifications
Forest Management Certification
Based on Indian Forest Management Standard
8 criteria, 69 indicators, 254 verifiers
Part of National Working Plan Code 2023
Tree Outside Forest Management Certification
New Trees Outside Forests Standard introduced
Chain of Custody Certification
Traces forest products
Applicability
Across India in forest and TOF plantations
Covers government, private, agroforestry, other lands
Includes timber and non-timber forest produce
Where
Applicable nationwide
Who
Indian Forest and Wood Certification Council
Advisory role
Various stakeholders involved
Representatives from eminent institutions
Indian Institute of Forest Management
Overall management of IFWCS
National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies
Under Quality Council of India
Conducts independent audits
Entities Involved
State forest departments
Farmers, Farmer Producer Organizations
Wood-based industries
How
Independent audits by National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies
Third-party certification of compliance
Incentives for complying entities
Pros/Significance
Encourages sustainable forest management
Provides market incentives for responsible practices
Enhances biodiversity conservation
Improves market accessibility globally
Addresses chronic problems in Indian forestry sector
Utilizes Compensatory Afforestation Fund for certification
Cons and/or Challenges
Issues in sector
Forest rights
Forest degradation
Biodiversity losses
Encroachments
Lack of manpower
Way Forward
Focus on identifying and resolving chronic forestry issues
Enhance third-party monitoring and evaluation
State-level workshops for awareness and technical assistance
Pilot projects in various states for certification

Summary: The Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme is a national initiative aimed at promoting sustainable forest management and agroforestry. It includes certifications for forest management, tree outside forest management, and chain of custody. This scheme is applicable throughout India and involves multiple stakeholders, including state forest departments, farmers, and wood-based industries. The scheme’s implementation is expected to provide market incentives for entities adhering to sustainable practices, thereby addressing various challenges in the forestry sector such as forest rights issues, forest degradation, and biodiversity losses.

New Tax Bills mind map
Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023
December 2023 News
Introduced in Lok Sabha
Date
December 13, 2023
Passed in Lok Sabha
Date
December 19, 2023
Ministry
Finance
Background and Objectives
Need for GST Appellate Tribunal
Overburdened High Courts
Alignment with Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021
Provisions
Amendment of Section 110
Advocate Eligibility
Ten years of experience
Experience in indirect taxes
Age Limit
Minimum 50 years for members
Age Limit Changes
President of Tribunal
From 67 to 70 years
Members
From 65 to 67 years
Section 109
Constitution of GST Appellate Tribunal
Second appellate authority within GST
Notification 28/2023-Central Tax
Date
July 31, 2023
Operationalisation of Tribunals
Statement by Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance Minister
Urgency of alignment with Tribunal Reforms Act
Provisional Collection of Taxes Bill, 2023
December 2023 News
Introduced in Lok Sabha
Date
December 13, 2023
Passed in Lok Sabha
Date
December 19, 2023
Ministry
Finance
Background and Objectives
Immediate effect for customs and excise duties
Repeal of 1931 Act
Provisions
Short Title and Definition
“Provisional Collection of Taxes Act”
Defined “declared provision”
Power to Make Declaration
Section 3
Central Government empowered
Immediate effect for customs or excise duties
Effect and Duration
Legal force post introduction
Ceases under certain conditions
Refunds in Certain Cases
Scenarios outlined for refunds
Repeal of Previous Act
Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1931
Financial Memorandum
No expenditure from Consolidated Fund of India

The Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Provisional Collection of Taxes Bill, 2023, are significant legislative developments introduced in December 2023. The former amends the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, primarily to establish a Goods and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal, aligning the Act with the Tribunal Reforms Act of 2021. This tribunal aims to relieve the burden on High Courts and provide a second appellate authority within the GST framework. Key changes include modifications in the qualifications for tribunal members and adjustments to age limits. The latter bill repeals the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1931, and focuses on providing immediate effect to certain customs and excise duty provisions. It ensures fiscal responsibility by not involving expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India. Both bills reflect the Indian government’s efforts to streamline tax legislation and administration.

mind map

Summary:- Plastic rocks, a novel and alarming form of pollution, have been found globally, across 11 countries and 5 continents, illustrating the severe extent of plastic pollution. First reported about a decade ago in Hawaii, these rocks form from the combination of rock and plastic polymers, mainly due to human waste. Various types, including plastistone, plastiglomerate, and plasticrust, have been identified. They are often created through burning plastic waste or its adherence to rocks, among other methods.

This phenomenon poses significant environmental risks, including the degradation of coastal ecosystems and marine life due to microplastic formation and toxic chemical release. It also highlights the health risks associated with carcinogenic contaminants. The formation of plastic rocks represents a substantial ecological footprint of modern human activity.

Addressing this issue requires a specialized approach to manage coastal plastic waste. Indonesia, a major plastic waste contributor, is actively working towards reducing this impact through beach cleanups, single-use plastic bans, and sustainable alternatives. These efforts are crucial in mitigating the environmental and health risks posed by plastic rocks.

/ Diseases
Lumpy Skin Disease mind map
December 2023 News
Parliamentary Committee Concerns
Doubts on Data Accuracy
Data Gap
Between Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD)
And Ground Reality
Questioned Reliability
On Cattle Deaths and Infections
DAHD's Data Source
State Governments
Union Territories
Recommendations
Ensure Proper Data Compilation
Address Unreported Cases
Devastating Impact
LSD Outbreak in 2021-22
Significant Harm to Cattle
Affects Milk Production
Impacts Farm Income
Infectious Viral Disease
Transmission Vectors
Mosquitoes
Biting Flies
Ticks
By Touch
Telangana High Court Inquiry
Lack of Specific Details
On Control Measures
On Vaccination Initiatives
State Government and Animal Husbandry Department
Directed to Submit Affidavit
Explaining Implemented Steps
When
Outbreak in 2021-22
Why
Infectious Viral Disease
Host-Specific Virus
Affects Large Ruminants
Cattle
Domestic Water Buffalo
Potential Reservoirs
Wild Ruminants
Climate Change Impact
Arthropod-Borne Disease
What
Economic Losses
Leather Damage
Decreased Milk Production
Abortion in Ruminants
Death in Ruminants
Global Spread
Economic Impact on Bovine Industry
Control Strategies Development
Where
Global Spread
Northern Hemisphere Countries
India
2022 Outbreak
Death of Over 97,000 Cattle
Affected 15 States
Starting from Gujarat and Rajasthan
Who
Parliamentary Standing Committee
On Agriculture
Animal Husbandry
Food Processing
DAHD
Relies on State Data
Telangana High Court
Division Bench
Chief Justice Alok Aradhe
Justice T. Vinod Kumar
Rayapuram Moulaiah
Law Student
PIL Originator
Special Government Pleader (SGP)
A Sanjeev Kumar
How
Disease Transmission
Vectors
Mosquitoes
Biting Flies
Ticks
By Touch
Vaccine Research
Indian Laboratories
Since 2019
Lumpi-ProVacInd
Launched in August 2022
Goat Pox Vaccine
Found Effective
Administered
Vaccine Manufacturing
Veterinary Biological Research Institute, Telangana
Indian Immunologicals
Hester Biosciences
Control Strategies
Preventive Measures
Based on Outbreak Presence
Challenges
Data Accuracy Issues
Gap Between Reported and Actual Situation
Impact on Cattle Population
Milk Production
Farm Income
Human Impact Clarifications
Non-Impact on Humans
Impact on Milk and Meat
Way Forward
Enhance Disease Surveillance
Improve Treatment
Develop Diagnostic Infrastructure
Veterinary Services Improvement
Capacity Building
For Animal Health Professionals
Holistic Measures
To Address Animal Pandemics

Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) is a significant infectious viral disease primarily affecting cattle and domestic water buffalo, with potential transmission to wild ruminants. Notably prevalent in the northern hemisphere, its emergence has been linked to climate change. The disease is characterized by severe economic losses due to cattle deaths, reduced milk production, and leather damage. In India, a notable outbreak in 2022 resulted in over 97,000 cattle deaths. Concerns about the accuracy of data on cattle deaths and infections have been raised, leading to recommendations for better data compilation and disease control. Efforts are ongoing to develop and administer effective vaccines, such as Lumpi-ProVacInd and the goat pox vaccine. The need for enhanced disease surveillance, improved veterinary services, and holistic measures to address such animal pandemics has been emphasized.

mind map

The Wireless Planning & Coordination Wing (WPC), functioning under the Ministry of Communications and the Department of Telecommunications in India, is responsible for managing the frequency spectrum, including licensing and monitoring. It also regulates the use and application of radio and wireless devices in India. WPC is headquartered in New Delhi and has regional branches in major cities.

The Wireless Monitoring Organisation (WMO), established in 1952, acts as the vigilant eye and ear of the WPC. It is responsible for monitoring all wireless transmissions in India and ensuring interference-free radio-communication services. The WMO comprises a network of 28 Wireless Monitoring Stations, including five International Monitoring Stations and one International Satellite Monitoring Earth Station located in Maharashtra. The organization plays a crucial role in spectrum monitoring, measurement, and inspection for efficient radio frequency spectrum management. Recent enhancements in the WMO include state-of-the-art equipment procurement, infrastructure improvements, and plans for further augmenting its capabilities, showcasing its commitment to technological advancements and operational efficiency.

In December 2023, the Wireless Planning & Coordination Wing (WPC) and the Wireless Monitoring Organisation (WMO) of India celebrated the International Monitoring Station (IMS) Day. This event, held on December 19, 2023, marks a significant milestone in the history of wireless monitoring and spectrum management in the country. It underscores the dedication of the personnel involved in ensuring an interference-free spectrum for public telecom services and wireless users in India.

/ Diseases
Noma Disease mind map
December 2023 News
WHO Recognition
Included in NTDs
Official list of neglected tropical diseases
Decision by
17th meeting of STAG-NTD
Strategic and Technical Advisory Group
Significance
Addresses underrecognized health challenges
Commitment to vulnerable populations
Why
Reasons for Recognition
Amplify global awareness
Catalyse research and funding
Boost control efforts
Multisectoral approaches
Universal health coverage
What
Disease Description
Gangrenous stomatitis
Cancrum oris
Affects mouth and face
Rapid progression
Affected Demographics
Young children
Age 2 to 6 years
Regions of extreme poverty
Global Presence
Mostly in sub-Saharan Africa
Reported in Americas and Asia
Where
Areas of Prevalence
Sub-Saharan Africa
Americas
Asia
Who
Vulnerable Populations
Malnourished children
Weakened immune systems
Extreme poverty
Key Personalities
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Role
WHO Director-General
Spearheading Nations
Nigeria
Submitted official request
On behalf of 32 Member States
How
Disease Progression
Starts as gum inflammation
Rapid spread
Destroys facial tissues and bones
Causative Agents
Bacteria in mouth
Risk Factors
Poor oral hygiene
Malnutrition
Infections
Weakened immune systems
Treatment and Prevention
Early Detection
Essential for effective therapy
Acute necrotizing gingivitis
Treatment Options
Antibiotics
Penicillin, sulfonamides
Amoxicillin, metronidazole
Nutritional Supplements
Vitamin A, high-protein diet
Hydration
Disinfectant Mouthwash
Chlorhexidine, salt water
Stages of Noma
Stage I to IV
Specific treatments
Reconstruction
Post-treatment
Oral and maxillofacial surgery
Plastic surgery
Usually one year after intervention
Prevention Strategies
Check for gingivitis
Oral hygiene education
High-protein diet
Vitamin A supplements

Noma disease, recently recognized as a neglected tropical disease by WHO, is a severe gangrenous condition affecting the mouth and face, primarily impacting malnourished children aged 2 to 6 in poverty-stricken regions. Its rapid progression leads to facial tissue and bone destruction, often resulting in death or severe disfigurement. Noma is caused by oral bacteria, exacerbated by poor hygiene, malnutrition, and weakened immunity. Early detection and treatment, primarily through antibiotics and nutritional support, are crucial. WHO’s inclusion of noma as an NTD underscores its commitment to addressing this long-neglected health challenge, aiming to boost awareness, research, and multisectoral intervention efforts.

/ Geography
The Great Unconformity mind map
December 2023 News
Adrian Tasistro-Hart's Research
Flood Theory
Sauk Transgression
Coastal and Marine Sediments
Found in Continental Interiors
Continental Flooding
Occurred Five Times
Past 510 Million Years
First Post-Great Unconformity
Active Subduction
At Continental Margins
Account for Flooding Events
Published Results
In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
C. Brenhin Keller's Research
Glacial Activity Theory
Continental Ice Sheets
Responsible for Lost Rock Formations
Study Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Glaciation and Tectonics
Contributed to Rock Loss
Research by Nanjing Institute
Late Ediacaran to Early Cambrian Strata
On Southern North China Craton
Global Sea-Level Fall
Led to Formation
Ediacaran-Cambrian Unconformity
Rebecca Flowers' Research
Multiple Great Unconformities
Characterization
Based on Modeling
Thermochronologic Results
From Grand Canyon
Different Thermal Histories
What
Geological Phenomenon
Missing Geological Time
Up to a Billion Years
Separation of Rocks
Full of Fossils
Largely Fossil-Free Rocks
When
Cryogenian Period
720 to 635 Million Years Ago
Ediacaran–Cambrian Transitional Period
Snowball Earth
Rock Carved Away
Up to 3 Miles Deep
Why
Ice Age Glacial Activity
Plate Tectonics
Assembly and Breakup of Rodinia
Subglacial Erosion
Glaciers Scouring Continents
Where
North America
North China Craton
Grand Canyon
East and West Sections
Central Canada
Tectonically Quiescent
Who
Adrian Tasistro-Hart
Sedimentary Geologist
Doctoral Student, Department of Earth Sciences
C. Brenhin Keller
Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences
Kalin McDannell
Postdoctoral Researcher in Earth Sciences
Rebecca Flowers
Thermochronologist, University of Colorado Boulder
Sun Yunpeng
Researcher, Nanjing Institute
How
Continental Ice Sheets Erosion
Subduction at Continental Margins
Global Geodynamics
Changing Mantle Dynamics
Oceanic Crust Dynamics
Buoyant and Expanding
Counterbalanced by Subsidence
Significance
Explains Geological Gaps
Insights into Earth's History
Emergence of Complex Organisms
Cambrian Explosion
Evolution of Multicellular Life
Challenges
Incomplete Geological Record
Due to Erosion
Diverse Theories
Different Explanations for Same Phenomenon
Way Forward
Further Testing
Against Geologic Record
Global Pattern Analysis
To Strengthen Theories
Compiling Data
Into Large Database for Gondwana

The Great Unconformity is a significant geological phenomenon characterized by a massive gap in the Earth’s geological record, spanning up to a billion years. It separates fossil-rich rocks from older, largely fossil-free rocks. Recent studies in 2023, including those by Adrian Tasistro-Hart and C. Brenhin Keller, have proposed different theories to explain this enigma. Tasistro-Hart suggests that continental flooding caused by active subduction at continental margins, particularly during the Sauk Transgression, contributed to the Great Unconformity. Keller’s research points to the role of glaciation during the Cryogenian period. Other researchers, like Rebecca Flowers, argue that there could be multiple Great Unconformities caused by a combination of factors, including glaciation and tectonics. These studies not only attempt to explain the geological gaps but also explore the implications for Earth’s history and the evolution of complex life.

/ Judiciary/Justice
Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021 comprehensive mind map
When
Passed by Parliament in August 2021
Replaced the Tribunals Reforms Ordinance, 2021
Why
Rationalization and streamlining tribunal functions
Shift functions to existing judicial bodies
Reduce the burden on specialized tribunals
What
Abolishment of Certain Tribunals
Film Certification Appellate Tribunal
Airports Appellate Tribunal, etc.
Transfer of Functions
To High Courts and other judicial bodies
Search-cum-Selection Committee
Composition
Chief Justice of India or Supreme Court Judge as Chairperson
Two Central Government-nominated Secretaries
Sitting/Outgoing Tribunal Chairperson or Retired Judge
Secretary of the Union Ministry (non-voting)
Function
Recommend appointments for tribunals
Tenure Provisions
Four-year tenure
Chairperson minimum age 50
Member tenure till 67 years
Chairperson tenure till 70 years
Amendments to Other Acts
Finance Act, 2017
Consumer Protection Act, 2019
Where
Across India
Who
Indian Parliament
Various Judicial and Quasi-judicial Bodies
How
Legislative Process
Introduction and Passing in Parliament
Pros
Reduces excessive tribunalization
Restores jurisdiction to actual courts
Increases accessibility to justice
Addresses non-functionality of some tribunals
Cons
Hasty passage without adequate discussion
Re-enactment of provisions previously struck down
Violates principle of separation of powers
Shifting of domain-specific cases to general courts
Increase in burden on High Courts
Expertise in tribunals overstated
Lost opportunity for meaningful reform
Way Forward
Implementing true reforms
Expanding district judiciary and High Courts
Establishing autonomous appointment mechanisms
Supervising tribunals by High Courts
Considering an All India Tribunal Service

Summary: The Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021, represents an attempt to streamline the tribunal system in India by abolishing certain tribunals and transferring their functions to existing judicial bodies. While it aims to reduce the burden on specialized tribunals and increase accessibility to justice, the Act has faced criticism for its hasty passage, potential violation of the principle of separation of powers, and for reintroducing provisions previously struck down by the Supreme Court. The way forward includes implementing true reforms, expanding the judiciary, and establishing autonomous mechanisms for appointments and oversight.

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