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Daily Current Affairs 08.06.2022 (India aims to join NSG: Minister, Joint count of elephant and big cats)

Daily Current Affairs 08.06.2022 (India aims to join NSG: Minister, Joint count of elephant and big cats)

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1. India aims to join NSG: Minister

S. Jaishankar was speaking on foreign policy decisions of the government

In a message aimed at China blocking India’s membership at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on June 7 said that India looks forward to joining the NSG, overcoming “political impediments”.

Mr. Jaishankar was addressing foreign diplomats in Delhi, on the foreign policy achievements of the Modi government in the past eight years.

“We want to make in India, but make with the world. India has a deep belief of the world being a family and expresses it through greater development. Last eight years has seen a tripling of our lines of credit commitments,” Mr. Jaishankar said.

The 48-member NSG is an elite club of countries that deals with the trade in nuclear technology and fissile materials besides contributing to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

“Strengthening a rules-based order is a natural inclination of a polity like India. We value all opportunities to contribute to it,” he said.

Mr. Jaishankar said India’s membership of the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime), Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement are significant.

All these groupings are multilateral export control regimes.

Stating that “India is proof that democracies can deliver”, the Minister said the country’s neighbourhood first policy is “clearly associated with a generous and non reciprocal approach to our immediate proximities”.

Mr. Jaishankar remarked that the Indian foreign policy has been displaying greater conceptual and operational clarity. “There has been a spike in our activities for the global south,” he said.

“FTAs that India has concluded and negotiations on the way with others have picked up momentum,” Mr. Jaishankar added.

Regarding COVID-19, the Union minister said that the pandemic has brought out “the overcentralised model of globalisation.” China has been stridently opposing India’s NSG bid primarily on the grounds that New Delhi is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Its opposition has made India’s entry into the group difficult as the NSG works on the principle of consensus.

“The India that you live in and report on is obviously different from the one before. It is a proof that democracies can deliver,” he said.

(With PTI inputs)

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

  • Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a group of nuclear supplier countries that aims to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technologies that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
  • Established in 1975, it consists of 48 member states that have voluntarily agreed to coordinate their export controls to non-nuclear weapon states.
  • The NSG governs the transfers of civilian nuclear material and nuclear-related equipment and technology.
  • The aim is to prevent nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons.
  • To ensure that their nuclear exports are not used for making nuclear weapons, the NSG members are expected to forgo nuclear trade with governments that are not subjecting themselves to confidence-building international measures and inspections.
  • As a part of the organisation, the member nations periodically review the NSG Guidelines to add new items that pose a risk of proliferation or to eliminate goods that no longer require special trade control.
  • An annual plenary, which is chaired on a rotating basis among the members, is held to discuss the regime’s operation, including possible changes to Guidelines.
  • All NSG decisions are made by consensus.
  • Members also participate in regular meetings of two separate standing bodies, the Dual-Use Consultations and the Joint Information Commission. These meetings review Part II of the Guidelines and exchange relevant information.

How did NSG come to be?

  • The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty granted non-nuclear weapon states access to nuclear materials and technology for peaceful purposes only.
  • After realising that peaceful nuclear programmes could be turned into weapon programmes, several NPT nuclear supplier states sought to determine the conditions for sharing specific equipment and materials with non-nuclear weapon states.
  • In the year 1971, these supplier states had set up the Zangger Committee with an aim to not supply nuclear material and equipment to non-nuclear weapons states outside NPT unless International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards were in place.
  • In 1974, this committee had come up with a Trigger List that consisted of a list of items that could be transferred to non-nuclear weapon states outside NPT only on condition of certain safeguards and assurances.
  • India’s explosion of a nuclear device in 1974 reiterated that nuclear material and technologies for peaceful purposes could be diverted to build nuclear weapons.
  • This incident led to several Zangger Committee members, along with France, who was not a member of NPT at the time, to establish NSG to further regulate nuclear-related exports.
  • The Nuclear Suppliers Group also added supplemental technologies to the original Zangger Committee’s Trigger List.
  • Additionally, NSG members agreed to apply their trade restrictions to all states, not just non-members of the NPT.

NSG guidelines

Nuclear Suppliers Group has two sets of Guidelines listing the specific nuclear materials, equipment and technologies that are subjected to export control.

Part I:

  • Part I lists materials and technology designed specifically for nuclear use.
  • These include fissile materials, nuclear reactors and equipment and reprocessing and enrichment equipment.
  • This list was first published in 1978 in response to India’s 1974 diversion of nuclear imports for supposedly peaceful purposes to conduct a nuclear explosion.
  • To be eligible for importing Part I items from an NSG member, the country must have ample IAEA safeguards covering all nuclear facilities and activities.

Part II:          

  • This list identifies dual-use goods including non-nuclear items with civilian uses that can be used for developing nuclear weapons.
  • Machine tools and lasers are two types of dual-use goods.
  • This list was adopted in 1992 after discovering how close Iraq came to developing a nuclear weapon.
  • The items in the Part II list require the IAEA safeguard only for specific nuclear activity or facility designated for the import.

At a meeting conducted in May 2004, NSG members decided to authorise members to block any export that is suspected to be destined for a nuclear weapons programme. These states are supposed to report their export denials to each other so that the potential proliferators cannot approach other suppliers with the same request and receive a different response.

Why is India not part of NSG?

  • India has not been admitted into the NSG because:
  • It is not a party of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The current NSG guidelines state that a non-NPT state cannot become a member of the NSG.
  • China opposes Indian membership since 2015, insisting that the NSG membership for non-NPT parties should be considered on a non-discriminatory basis, which means not on cases by case basis.
  • Pakistan’s continuous lobbying against India’s NSG membership.

Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

  • The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is an international treaty that aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.
  • Entered into force in 1970, this treaty also aims to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear technology and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament.
  • The UN member states that have never accepted the NPT are India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan.
  • North Korea, though acceded in 1985, withdrew from the NPT after the detonation of nuclear devices in violation of the core obligations.
  • India refused to sign NPT as:
  • The treaty defines nuclear weapon states are those countries that have built and tested a nuclear explosive device before 1st January 1967. These include the USA, Russia, UK, France and China, while not including India.
  • This treaty does not fix a specific deadline for disarmament.
  • NPT is considered to be unfair as nuclear-weapon states are not obligated to give up their nuclear weapons while the non-nuclear weapon states are banned from having the same.

2. Joint count of elephant and big cats

Survey will rely on robust scientific methods to count the animal population

The Union government will for the first time this year present a unified count of the tiger, leopard and elephant populations of the country, according to officials in the Union Environment Ministry.

The tiger survey is usually held once in four years and elephants are counted once in five years. According to the most recent 2018-19 survey, there are 2,967 tigers in India. According to the last count in 2017, there are 29,964 elephants.

Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, on August 12, 2021 made public the population estimation protocol to be adopted in the all-India elephant and tiger population survey in 2022.

Elephant numbers would be estimated by States based on DNA analysis of their dung droppings and statistical techniques.

Tigers are counted by deploying camera traps, identifying individuals based on stripes, as well as statistical analysis.

Obsolete methods

Tiger scat and its DNA analysis is usually used only when camera traps are impractical to deploy say, in difficult terrain, said Y. Jhala, wildlife scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, and an expert on wildcat surveys. Because elephants number more than tigers and are hard to tell apart from camera-trap images alone, it is more economical and feasible to use their dung for identification.

The ‘head count’ method, or one currently deployed to count elephants, was “obsolete” and frequently led to double-counting, he added.

“Resources, time and energy will be saved from having a common estimate. This is the first time that a robust scientific method based on statistical techniques will be implemented,” said S.P. Yadav, Director of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

National Tiger Conservation Authority

NTCA is one of the most important authorities when it comes to studying environment for UPSC Civil Services. In this article, we will discuss about NTCA in detail.

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) is a statutory body constituted under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • NTCA was established in 2005, following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force constituted by the then Prime Minister of India to for reorganised management of Project Tiger and tiger reserves in India.
  • NTCA cooperates with bodies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and the other departments by issuing alerts for any illegal poaching activities.

NTCA composition

  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority is set up under the chairmanship of the minister for environment and forests.
  • The Authority will have eight experts or professionals having qualifications and experience in wildlife conservation and welfare of people including tribals, apart from three Members of Parliament of whom two will be elected by the House of the People and one by the Council of States.

Objectives of NTCA

NTCA has the following objectives

  • Providing statutory authority to Project Tiger so that compliance of its directives become legal.
  • Fostering accountability of Center-State in management of Tiger Reserves, by providing a basis for MoU with States within our federal structure.
  • Providing for an oversight by Parliament.
  • Addressing livelihood interests of local people in areas surrounding Tiger Reserves.

Powers of NTCA and functions of NTCA

  • To approve the tiger conservation plan prepared by the State Government.
  • To evaluate and assess various aspects of sustainable ecology and disallow any ecologically unsustainable land use such as, mining, industry and other projects within the tiger reserves
  • To lay down normative standards for tourism activities and guidelines for project tiger from time to time for tiger conservation in the buffer and core area of tiger reserves and ensure their due compliance
  • To provide for management focus and measures for addressing conflicts of men and wild animal and to emphasize on co-existence in forest areas outside the National Parks, sanctuaries or tiger reserve, in the working plan code
  • To provide information on protection measures including future conservation plan, estimation of population of tiger and its natural prey species, status of habitats, disease surveillance, mortality survey, patrolling, reports on untoward happenings and such other management aspects as it may deem fit including future plan conservation
  • To approve, co-ordinate research and monitoring on tiger, co-predators, prey habitat, related ecological and socio-economic parameters and their evaluation
  • To ensure that the tiger reserves and areas linking one protected area or tiger reserve with another protected area or tiger reserve are not diverted for ecologically unsustainable uses, except in public interest and with the approval of the National Board for Wild Life and on the advice of the Tiger Conservation Authority
  • To facilitate and support the tiger reserve management in the State for biodiversity conservation initiatives through eco-development and people\’s participation as per approved management plans and to support similar initiatives in adjoining areas consistent with the Central and State laws
  • To ensure critical support including scientific, information technology and legal support for better implementation of the tiger conservation plan.

Project Elephant

Project Elephant is a Central Government sponsored scheme launched in February 1992.

Through the Project Elephant scheme, the government helps in the protection and management of elephants to the states having wild elephants in a free-ranging population. 

It ensures the protection of elephant corridors and elephant habitat for the survival of the elephant population in the wild.

This elephant conservation strategy is mainly implemented in 16 of 28 states or union territories in the country which includes Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

The union government provides technical and financial help to these states to carry out and achieve the goals of project elephant. Not just that, assistance for the purpose of the census, training of field officials is also provided to ensure the mitigation and prevention of man-elephant conflict.

The National Heritage Animal

The government of India in the year 2010 declared Elephant as the national heritage animal of the country on the recommendations of the standing committee of the national board for wildlife. This was done to make sure that sufficient protection to elephants was provided before their numbers fall to panic levels like in the case of tigers.

A proposed National elephant conservation authority (NECA) on the lines with NTCA has been proposed to be constituted by amending the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Project Elephant Objectives

  • To ensure the Welfare of domesticated elephants
  • Protection of elephants, their habitats and elephant corridors.
  • Mitigation and prevention of human-elephant conflict.

Aims of Project Elephant

  • Develop and promote scientific and planned management strategies for Elephant conservation.
  • Prevent illegal trade of ivory and ensure elephant protection from hunters and poachers.
  • Develop strategies to prevent unnatural causes of elephants’ death in India.
  • Ensure ecological restoration of the natural elephant habitats and their migratory routes.
  • To mitigate and prevent the increasing conflict in elephant habitats between humans and elephants.
  • Reduce and remove domestic livestock grazing, the pressure of humans and their activities in important elephant habitats.
  • Promote scientific research on issues related to elephant conservation and educating the public on these issues.
  • To facilitate veterinary care for proper breeding and health care of domesticated elephants and to facilitate Eco-development for the elephants.

MIKE Programme

  • MIKE the abbreviation of the Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants program was started in South Asia in 2003 after the conference of parties a resolution of CITES.
  • The aim of MIKE was to provide the information required by the elephant range countries for proper management and long-term protection of their elephant populations.
  • The objectives of the MIKE program is as follows:
  • To measure the levels and trends in the illegal poaching and ensure changes in the trends for elephant protection.
  • To determine the factors responsible for such changes, and to assess the impact of decisions by the conference of parties to CITES.

Campaign Haathi Mere Saathi

The Ministry of Environment and forests in partnership with Wildlife Trust of India has launched a campaign Hathi Mere Sathi. The aim of the campaign was to increase public awareness and develop friendships between elephants and the local population. The campaign Haathi Mere Saathi was for the welfare of the elephants, to conserve and protect the elephants in India.

The campaign was launched in Delhi on 24th May 2011 at Elephant- 8 ministerial meetings. The countries that are a part of the Elephant-8 ministerial meeting are Kenya, Srilanka, Botswana, Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Indonesia, Thailand, and India.

Elephant Task Force

The increased tension due to rampant retaliatory killing of elephants and human-elephant conflict prompted the government to set up the Elephant Task Force along the lines of the Tiger Task Force. The focus of the Elephant Task Force was to bring pragmatic solutions for the conservation of elephants in the long-term.

The ETF was headed by a wildlife historian and political analyst, Dr Mahesh Rangarajan. And the other members included were conservation and animal welfare activists, elephant biologists, and a veterinarian.

India has around 25000 – 29000 elephants in the wild. However, the tuskers (male) in India are as threatened as the Tigers as there are only around 1200 tusker elephants left in India.

The Asian elephants are threatened by habitat degradation, man-elephant conflict, and poaching for the Ivory. This problem is more intense in India which has around 50% of the total population of the world’s Asian elephants.

Project Elephant is considered a success in the view of many conservationists as it has been able to keep the population of elephants in India at a stable and sustainable level.

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