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[Newsbits] 21.09.2023

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Khalistan Movement

Tensions between India and Canada have escalated in recent times, primarily linked to the Sikh independence movement and concerns surrounding Khalistan supporters. This longstanding issue has historical roots dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, primarily centered in the state of Punjab, where a majority of the population practices Sikhism.

Background

  • Sikh Independence Movement: During the 1970s and 1980s, Punjab witnessed a Sikh independence movement, advocating for a separate Sikh state called Khalistan.
  • Duration: This movement persisted for over a decade, leading to significant unrest.
  • Suppression by Indian Government: The Indian government took strong measures to suppress the movement, resulting in thousands of deaths, including the notable killing of Sikh militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

Key Events

  • 1984 Golden Temple Operation: In 1984, Indian security forces stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar to remove separatists, resulting in significant damage to the holy Sikh shrine.
  • Indira Gandhi's Assassination: Following the storming of the Golden Temple, then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards. This event triggered anti-Sikh riots across India.

Current Status in Punjab

  • Some Khalistan Supporters Remain: While there is no active insurgency today, some Khalistan movement supporters still exist in Punjab.
  • Indian Government's Actions: The Indian government has issued warnings of a potential resurgence of Khalistani terrorists and has made arrests of individuals linked to the movement. Additionally, the farmers' protests in 2020 initially saw claims of Khalistan linkage, though these protests were primarily focused on agricultural laws, which were later retracted.

Recent Events

  • Arrest of Sikh Leader Amritpal Singh: The arrest of Amritpal Singh, a 30-year-old preacher known for fiery speeches and calls for Khalistan, drew national attention.

Khalistan Movement Outside India

  • Indian Requests to Other Countries: India has called upon other countries like Australia, Canada, and the UK to take action against Khalistani terrorists.
  • Protests Outside India: Protests outside India have sometimes taken a confrontational turn, including incidents like the removal of the Indian flag at the high commission in London.
  • Indian Response: In response to these incidents, India's foreign ministry denounced them, summoned diplomatic representatives, and protested against security breaches at its embassies.
  • Accusations Against Khalistan Supporters in Canada: In Canada, which has a significant Sikh population (nearly 2% of the total), there have been accusations of Khalistan supporters being involved in acts such as vandalizing Hindu temples with "anti-India" graffiti and attacking the Indian High Commission offices in Ottawa during a March protest.

Global Biodiversity Framework Fund

During the 78th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, an event titled "Nature and People: From Ambition to Action" highlighted Germany's significant contribution of 40 million euros to a special trust fund under the Global Environment Facility (GEF). This financial commitment is a crucial step in supporting developing countries' efforts to address pressing environmental challenges, including biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution. Here's an in-depth look at the significance and purpose of this contribution:

The Special Trust Fund under GEF

The special trust fund, operating under the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is dedicated to supporting developing countries in addressing critical environmental issues. GEF, a well-established international organization, focuses on conserving biodiversity, mitigating climate change, and tackling pollution.

Significance for Global Biodiversity

This contribution holds immense significance in the context of achieving the goals and targets set forth in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBFF). The primary objective of the framework is to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. To meet this ambitious goal, substantial funding is required, estimated at $200 billion annually.

The Purpose of the Fund

The special trust fund's primary purpose is to mobilize and accelerate investments in the conservation and sustainability of wild species and ecosystems. It aims to address threats stemming from various sources, including:

  • Wildfires: Funding will support efforts to combat and prevent devastating wildfires that pose a severe risk to biodiversity.
  • Flooding: Measures to mitigate the impact of flooding on ecosystems will be a key focus.
  • Extreme Weather: Preparing for and adapting to the effects of extreme weather events on wildlife and natural habitats will be prioritized.
  • Human Activities: Urban sprawl and other human activities that encroach upon and harm ecosystems will be addressed to ensure sustainable coexistence.

Timeline and Funding Details

The ratification of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBFF) took place in August 2023 at the Global Environment Facility Assembly. To launch the fund successfully, a minimum of $200 million is needed from at least three donors by December 2023.

Contributions made during the Assembly include:

  • Canada: Pledged 200 million Canadian dollars to support biodiversity conservation efforts.
  • UK: Committed 10 million GBP to contribute to the fund.

However, there remains a shortfall of $40 million, highlighting the need for additional donor contributions to fully launch the trust fund and accelerate global efforts to address biodiversity loss.

Pterygotrigla intermedica

In a remarkable scientific discovery, a new species of vibrant orange-colored marine fish has been found in the coastal waters of Digha Mohana in West Bengal. This intriguing find adds to our understanding of marine biodiversity and is of particular significance for the following reasons:

The New Species

Commonly Known As: The newly discovered marine fish belongs to the family Triglidae and is commonly known as "gurnards" or "sea-robins." These fish are characterized by their vibrant orange coloration, making them stand out in the underwater world.

Family Triglidae: This species belongs to the family Triglidae, which is known for its diverse range of fish species. In fact, there are a total of 178 species within the Triglidae family worldwide.

Similarity to Pterygotrigla hemisticta: The newly discovered fish species exhibits similarities with species like "Pterygotrigla hemisticta," which is another member of the Triglidae family.

Significance of the Discovery

This discovery is particularly significant due to the following reasons:

Fourth Species of Pterygotrigla Genus in India: The newfound marine fish represents the fourth species of the "Pterygotrigla" genus to be reported in India. This contributes to the growing knowledge of the unique marine ecosystems in Indian waters and highlights the country's importance in terms of marine biodiversity.

Where Was It Found?

The discovery of this vibrant new marine fish species took place in the coastal waters of Digha Mohana, located in the state of West Bengal, India. This region is known for its rich marine life and is a valuable site for marine research and conservation efforts. The finding underscores the need to protect and preserve these coastal habitats to ensure the continued existence of diverse marine species.

Political declaration on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response

In a historic development, the United Nations General Assembly has adopted a crucial political declaration aimed at better preparing the world for future pandemics. This significant milestone represents a collective global effort to prevent the catastrophic impacts witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Historical Political Declaration

Aim: The primary objective of this historical political declaration is to enhance global preparedness for future pandemics, learning from the lessons of the past.

Highlights of the Declaration

Fair and Equitable Sharing of Pathogen Benefits

  • Encouragement for the fair, equitable, and timely sharing of benefits arising from pathogens with pandemic potential. This includes sharing genomic sequences and information through a multilateral system.

Access to Vital Health Technologies

  • A call to member nations to improve access to vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other health technologies, ensuring their quality, safety, effectiveness, and affordability. Methods include building capacity for local and regional production, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Strengthening the Health Workforce

  • Addressing the global shortfall of health workers as per the Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030 by investing in their education and employment. This declaration also emphasizes the need for the protection of health workers from violence, attacks, harassment, and discriminatory practices.

Utilizing Innovative Technologies

  • Embracing innovative technologies, such as remote mental health services, to promote access to telemedicine and other essential technologies. This is seen as essential both during and beyond the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, considering the lasting impacts of pandemics.

Support to Developing Countries

  • A commitment to providing support to developing countries in building expertise and local and regional manufacturing capacities. This includes efforts under the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility.

International Collaboration in Research and Development

  • Recognizing the importance of international collaboration in research and development, including multi-country clinical trials, vaccine trials, rapid diagnostics test development, and assay development.

Rigorous Scientific Evidence

  • Acknowledgment of the need for further rigorous scientific evidence, protocols, and standards to guide pandemic response efforts.

Countering Health-related Misinformation

  • Addressing the negative effects of health-related misinformation on social media platforms, which can impact both physical and mental health, including vaccine hesitancy.

Push for Pandemic Accord

  • A call to push for a Pandemic Accord by May 2024, with negotiations scheduled for November, December, and January to conclude discussions.

Amending International Health Regulations

  • Urging governments to work on amending the International Health Regulations (2005), which are the only legally binding global rules for health emergencies.

Why This Declaration Matters

This historic declaration is driven by the need to prevent catastrophic impacts on health and socio-economic aspects, as witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It recognizes the importance of global cooperation, access to vital health technologies, and the protection of health workers to ensure a more resilient response to future pandemics.

Where It Was Approved

The draft of this critical declaration was formally approved by President of the 78th UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, at the first-ever summit of its kind, underlining the significance of this global commitment to pandemic preparedness.

Pollution Response Table-Top Exercise

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) recently conducted a comprehensive Pollution Response Table-Top exercise and demonstration, showcasing its commitment to environmental protection and cooperation with Thailand. This exercise brought together Indian and Thai personnel in a collaborative effort to address maritime pollution scenarios effectively.

What is the Pollution Response Table-Top Exercise and Demonstration?

The Pollution Response Table-Top Exercise and Demonstration was an extensive pollution response exercise organized by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) to test and enhance Thailand's Maritime Pollution Response contingency plan. The exercise aimed to foster knowledge sharing and create an interactive environment among various services, ensuring better cooperation during real-life oil pollution scenarios.

Exercise Involvement

  • Scenario Testing: The exercise involved scenario testing to assess Thailand's preparedness in responding to maritime pollution incidents. It was conducted in collaboration with the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), highlighting the importance of international cooperation in addressing environmental challenges.

Knowledge Sharing

  • Interactive Environment: The exercise provided an interactive platform for sharing knowledge and expertise in pollution response. This cooperation among different services is vital for effective response during actual oil pollution incidents.

Demonstration of ICG’s Capabilities

During the exercise, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) demonstrated its pollution response capabilities, showcasing India's commitment to ensuring a cleaner and safer maritime environment in the region.

Outreach Activity: Pattaya Beach Clean-up

As part of the event, an outreach activity took place during the visit, involving various participants, including ship's crew, National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets, and representatives from the Embassy of India. This activity focused on an international outreach beach clean-up at Pattaya Beach.

Objectives of the Initiative

  • Clean Sea Shores: The primary objective of the clean-up initiative was to rid sea shores of plastic and other waste, contributing to the preservation of marine ecosystems.
  • Raise Awareness: Another crucial goal was to raise awareness about the importance of cleanliness and responsible waste disposal.

Collaboration with Local Thai Youth Organizations

To enhance the impact of the initiative, collaboration took place with local Thai youth organizations that promote environmental responsibility. This partnership reflects the broader commitment to fostering a sense of responsibility towards our natural surroundings.

Who Participated?

The participants in the Pollution Response Table-Top Exercise and Demonstration included Indian personnel and a diverse range of Thai personnel, including representatives from the Maritime Enforcement Coordination Centre (MECC), Customs Department, Marine Department, Royal Navy, Fisheries Department, and other government officials.

Where Did It Happen?

The Pollution Response Table-Top Exercise and Demonstration occurred at the Khlong Toei Port in Bangkok, Thailand, underlining the strategic location chosen for testing pollution response strategies.

Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam

In recent news, the Lok Sabha has made history by passing the Women's Reservation Bill, officially known as the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Eighth Amendment) Bill in the year 2023. This bill has been a long-pending demand and could bring significant changes to the Indian political landscape.

Long-pending Demand for Women's Reservation

  • If passed successfully, the bill will provide a remarkable 33% reservation for women in both Lok Sabha and State assemblies.
  • The Union Minister, Mr. Meghwal, introduced this groundbreaking bill, and upon its passage, the number of seats allocated for women in Lok Sabha will increase to 181.

Bill Proposal and Key Highlights

  • The proposed reservation will be effective for a duration of 15 years.
  • Within the reserved seats, there will also be a quota for SC/STs.
  • Jairam Ramesh, General Secretary of Communication Congress, stated that the reservation would become effective after the next census publication and delimitation exercise.

Reservation Details

  • The bill aims to allocate "as nearly as may be" one-third of the total seats in Lok Sabha and State assemblies through direct elections.
  • The delimitation exercise involves redrawing boundaries of both Lok Sabha seats and State assembly seats.
  • Its purpose is to represent changes in population and provide equal representation to different segments of society.

Government Perspective and Goals

  • The government views this bill as a means to encourage greater participation of women in policymaking at both the state and national levels.
  • It aligns with the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam's goal of making India a developed country by 2047.

Bill Passing Criteria

  • The bill will require ratification from a minimum of 50% of the states, as it affects state rights.

Pros of the Women's Reservation Bill

Entry Issues

  • The bill may address the issue of more women entering legislative houses but potentially leading to the loss of experienced legislators.

Community Representation Challenges

  • OBCs and Muslims have faced challenges due to low women empowerment in their communities, and this bill may help address this issue.

Seat Issues

  • While the bill's rotation effect may result in less dedicated MPs and MLAs, it aims to provide opportunities for a wider range of representatives.

Cons of the Women's Reservation Bill

Short-term Issues

  • Some critics argue that the bill may hinder the resolution of new talents among women representatives in the short term.

Community Empowerment

  • There is a contrary perspective that incentivizing women's empowerment could avoid the risk of lower representation in the long run.

Male Politicians' Strategy

  • Male politicians might explore a wider range of seats to maintain their political presence.

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