Coral reefs are essentially just big limestone structures built by thousands of tiny coral creatures called polyps. They’re found in more than 100 countries, and just like pina coladas, they belong in tropical areas. But they’re not looking too healthy
Increased ocean temperature caused by climate change is the main cause of coral bleaching events
That’s when reefs expel the symbiotic algae responsible for their color. If that happens over longer periods, the corals can eventually die
The planet has already lost about half of its shallow water corals in in the past three decades. And at the current rate, up to 90% of them will disappear by the middle of the century
That really is a big deal, and not just because it would mean fewer BeReal posts from the Great Barrier Reef.
2.What are Coral reefs are good for
- Some 200 million people around the world depend on reefs to protect their coastal communities from storm surges and waves as flood protection
- Coral reefs act like low-crested breakwaters and absorb 97% of wave energy. This substantially reduces coastal flooding and erosion
- According to the United States Geological Survey, reefs help avert $1.8 billion in damage each year in areas like Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico
- And if those reefs lose just 1 meter in height, $5 billion in property and economic damage is at risk
- With coastal flooding predicted to worsen this century, reefs will play an even more important role
- Coral reefs cover less than 0.5% of the earth’s surface, but they are home to about 25% of all marine species
- It provides planetary resilience, a vast resource of potential scientific discoveries, and is the result of millions of years of evolution
- Almost everything we know about coral reefs is based on those close to our shores, but most of them are distant, biodiverse hotspots in otherwise barren ocean basins, where they act as food bowls, rest stops, and even navigation waypoints for critters on the go
- Ignoring the intangible loss of heritage, allowing the destruction of these reefs is like burning the Great Library of Alexandria
- A huge number of modern medicine’s drugs are derived from natural sources. And so far, most of those have come from land organisms
- But given 80% of life is under water, researchers are increasingly looking to marine organisms to satisfy the need for novel chemicals and enzymes to build the pharmaceuticals of tomorrow
- Some estimates say the prospects of discovering a new drug in the sea, particularly in coral reefs, is hundreds of times more likely than finding one on land.
- The anticancer agent Ara-C, included on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, is found in sea sponges on a Caribbean reef
- One promising molecule, eleutherobin, that is believed to slow cancer cell growth is found in a common species of soft coral
- Scientists have been able to use its genetic code to figure out how they might soon be able to manufacture the chemical in large quantities
- Another success story from nature’s medicine cabinet is trabectedin, found in the sea squirt Ecteinascidia turbinata, and used in chemotherapy
Humans eat about 150 million tons of seafood a year and these fish have to breed somewhere.
Coral reefs provide shelter and function as nursery grounds for some pretty commercially important fish, like grouper and snapper, as well as invertebrates like the lobster
Some studies put the value of coral reef fisheries at $6.8 billion a year globally
About one billion people source their food or income directly from reefs
In countries like the Maldives, it provides people with 77% of their dietary animal protein. If managed well, reefs can continue providing this important source of food.
Potential food shortages could be the consequence. Especially when combined with failing crops from climate change
A study of reef damage in Kenya revealed drastic declines in key fish catches after a combination of factors in 1998 warmed the ocean by between 1-2 degrees Celcius
There a myriad of ways to protect reefs local restoration efforts by transplanting coral, the establishment of marine protection areas which work like national parks, and stopping run-off from agricultural and effluence
Previous year Question:
1.Which of the following has Coral reefs
1.Andaman and Nicobar Islands
2.Gulf of Kuchh
3.Gulf of Munnar
Select the correct answer given code below
A.1, 2, 3
B.2 and 4
C. 1 and 3
D. 1, 2, 3 and 4
SOCIAL STOCK EXCHANGE
The National Stock Exchange of India received final approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to set up a Social Stock Exchange (SSE).
2. About Social Stock Exchange
- The SSE would function as a separate segment within the existing stock exchange and help social enterprises raise funds from the public through its mechanism.
- It would serve as a medium for enterprises to seek finance for their social initiatives, acquire visibility and provide increased transparency about fund mobilisation and utilisation.
- Retail investors can only invest in securities offered by for-profit social enterprises (SEs) under the Main Board.
- In all other cases, only institutional investors and non-institutional investors can invest in securities issued by SEs.
- Any non-profit organisation (NPO) or for-profit social enterprise (FPSEs) that establishes the primacy of social intent would be recognised as a social enterprise (SE), which will make it eligible to be registered or listed on the SSE.
The seventeen plausible criteria as listed under Regulations 292E of SEBI's ICDR (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2018
- At least 67 per cent of their activities must be directed towards attaining the stated objective.
- Corporate foundations, political or religious organisations or activities, professional or trade associations, and infrastructure and housing companies (except affordable housing) would not be identified as SE.
4. NPOs Raising Money
- NPOs can raise money either through the issuance of Zero Coupon Zero Principal (ZCZP) Instruments from private placement or public issue, or donations from mutual funds.
- SEBI had earlier recognised that NPOs by their very nature have primacy of social impact and are nonrevenue generating.
- Thus, there was a need to provide NPOs direct access to the securities market for raising funds.
- ZCZP bonds differ from conventional bonds in the sense that it entails zero coupons and no principal payment at maturity.
- The latter provisions a fixed interest (or repayment) on the funds raised through varied contractual agreements, whereas ZCZP would not provide any such return instead promising a social return.
- The NPO must be registered with the SSE for facilitating the issuance.
- The instrument must have a specific tenure and can only be issued for a specific project or activity that is to be completed within a specified duration as mentioned in the fundraising document (to be submitted to the SSE).
5. FPOs raise money
- For Profit Enterprises (FPEs) need not register with social stock exchanges before it raises funds through SSE.
- However, it must comply with all provisions of the ICDR Regulations when raising through the SSE.
- It can raise money through the issue of equality shares (on the main board, SME platform or innovators' growth platform of the stock exchange) or issuing equity shares to an Alternative Investment Fund including a Social Impact Fund or issue of debt instruments.
6. Disclosures need to be made
- SEBI's regulations state that a social enterprise should submit an annual impact report in a prescribed format.
- The report must be audited by a social audit firm and has to be submitted within 90 days from the end of the financial year.
For Prelims & Mains
For Prelims: National Stock Exchange of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Social Stock Exchange, Retail investors, For Profit Enterprises, ZCZP, SME, ICDR Regulations,
1. What is Social Stock Exchange and Discuss how will NPOs and FPOs raise funds through this exchange. (250 Words)
Source: The Indian Express
The United Kingdom and the European Union struck a deal on February 27 regarding postBrexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, with a view to removing the border between Britain and Northern Ireland running through the Irish Sea. The fact that the Republic of Ireland remained with the EU after Brexit led to complications on the trade front, a wrinkle that the U. K.’s conservative government ironed out with the Northern Ireland Protocol.
2. What is the backdrop of the issue?
- Ireland is an island that lies to the west of the British mainland and has two separate politically independent territories.
- Northern Ireland, about 1/6th of the total island, is a part of the UK and is administered as a relatively autonomous region.
- The rest of the island forms the 'Republic of Ireland' and is an independent sovereign nation since 1992.
- A hard-fought peace was secured only in 1998 under the Belfast Agreement, also called the Good Friday Agreement.
3. Relationship with the European Union
- Both the Republic of Ireland and the UK (thereby Northern Ireland) became members of the 'European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973.
- EEC later evolved to become the EU and also to a great extent helped to ease the tensions between the Unionists & Nationalists.
- As Britain left the EU and exited the single market and customs union, the relationship between Republican Ireland and Northern Ireland has become a challenging puzzle to solve.
- After Brexit, Northern Ireland remained its only constituent that shared a land border with the Republic of Ireland.
- Since the EU and the UK have different product standards, border checks would be necessary before goods could move from Northern Ireland to Ireland.
4. What is Northern Ireland Framework?
- Northern Ireland is a British-ruled province and part of the United Kingdom that shares a long porous border with Ireland, a member of the European Union.
- Trade over the open border when Britain left the EU was one of the most difficult parts of the Brexit negotiations, culminating in the Northern Ireland Protocol.
- The Protocol is part of the Brexit deal, which sets Northern Ireland's trade rules.
- It keeps Northern Ireland inside the EU's single market for goods.
- It keeps the Irish land border open but means products arriving in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are subject to checks and controls.
- The checks made trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland cumbersome.
- Features of Windsor Framework: The framework has two crucial aspects - the introduction of a two lanes system and the 'Stormont Brake".
Source: The Hindu
5. What is the Windsor Framework?
- Windsor Framework is a solution to allow Northern Ireland to remain within the EU's single market and customs union while rolling back many of the cumbersome checks imposed on goods arriving from mainland Britain under the original Brexit deal.
- The UK government had complained that the burden of new paperwork was disrupting trade and effectively created an internal border within a sovereign country.
- The new framework includes a "green" and "red" lane system that will separate goods traveling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland from those contained in the EU. Those not destined for the bloc will be subject to lighter border controls.
6. The Two Lanes system
- Goods from Britain destined for Northern Ireland will travel through a new "green lane", with a separate "red lane" for goods at risk of moving onto the EU.
Red lane goods would still be subject to checks.
Bans on certain products like chilled sausages entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain would be removed.
Northern Ireland would also no longer have to follow certain EU rules, for example, on VAT and alcohol duties. The new agreement reduces the proportion of EU rules applied in Northern Ireland to less than 3%.
7. The Stormont Brake
- It means the democratically elected Northern Island Assembly can oppose new EU goods rules that would have significant and lasting effects on everyday lives in Northern Ireland.
- For this, they will need the support of 30 members from at least 2 parties and the British government can then veto the law.
8. What is the outcome of this framework?
With the Windsor Framework, the UK hopes to improve trade and other ties with the EU. The deal has allowed sunk to do away with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill introduced by his predecessor Boris Johnson. The bill involved the UK government reneging on the promise it made to the EU to follow the Protocol.
For Prelims & Mains
For Prelims: United Kingdom, European Union, European Economic Community (EEC), BREXIT, Stormont Brake, Windsor Framework, Two lane system- Green lane and Red Lane.
For Mains: 1. What is Northern Island Protocol? Discuss the issues that are arising from this Protocol and explain what is proposed under Windsor Framework.
Source: The Hindu
BOWELS OF EARTH
Scientists have excavated a new secret from the Earth’s inner world. The researchers, in a new study, have confirmed the existence of a fifth new layer.
2.Layers of the earth
Starting at the center, Earth is composed of four distinct layers. They are, from deepest to shallowest, the inner core, the outer core, the mantle and the crust. Except for the crust, no one has ever explored these layers in person
The core is the centre of the earth and is made up of two parts: the liquid outer core and solid inner core. The outer core is made of nickel, iron and molten rock. Temperatures here can reach up to 50,000 C
This solid metal ball has a radius of 1,220 kilometers (758 miles), or about three-quarters that of the moon
It’s located some 6,400 to 5,180 kilometers (4,000 to 3,220 miles) beneath Earth’s surface
Extremely dense, it’s made mostly of iron and nickel. The inner core spins a bit faster than the rest of the planet
This part of the core is also made from iron and nickel, just in liquid form. It sits some 5,180 to 2,880 kilometers (3,220 to 1,790 miles) below the surface.
Heated largely by the radioactive decay of the elements uranium and thorium, this liquid churns in huge, turbulent currents. That motion generates electrical currents
This is the outside layer of the earth and is made of solid rock, mostly basalt and granite. There are two types of crust; oceanic and continental. Oceanic crust is denser and thinner and mainly composed of basalt. Continental crust is less dense, thicker, and mainly composed of granite
The mantle lies below the crust and is up to 2900 km thick. It consists of hot, dense, iron and magnesium-rich solid rock. The crust and the upper part of the mantle make up the lithosphere, which is broken into plates, both large and small
3.Fifth Layer of the earth
The four known layers of the Earth include the crust, mantle, outer liquid and inner solid core. The fifth layer the innermost inner core lies at the Earth’s centre, within the inner core
The fifth layer is made of iron and nickel, the same materials that comprise the rest of the inner core.
The difference between the two parts of the inner core could stem from how iron atoms are arranged to form a solid
The inner core as a whole was liquid in the early years of the Earth’s existence, turning into a solid as the Earth cooled
Scientists rely on seismic waves — shockwaves generated during an earthquake — to ‘see’ the Earth’s interiors
These waves behave differently as they pass through diverse materials. For example, they travel slower when they pass through hot materials.
This stems from the fact that waves from large earthquakes following a few set paths have been studied repeatedly, leaving the rest of the inner core unexplored.
Previous Year Questions:
1.Consider the following statements (2018)
1.Barren island is the active volcano located in the Indian territory
2.Barren Island lies about 140km east of Great Nicobar
3.Last time when barren Island volcano errupted was in 1991and it has remained inactive since then
Which of the above given statement is/ are correct
A.1 Only B. 2 Only C.Both 1 and 2 D. Neither 1 Nor 2
2.In the structure of the Planet earth, below the mantle, the core is mainly made up of which of the following? (2009)
A.Alluminium B.Chromium C.Iron D.Silicon
The Centre recently suspended the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of the Centre for Policy Research (CPR).
2. Key points
- This came five months after the Income Tax Department conducted "surveys" on the premises of the CPR, Oxfam India and the Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF), which funds a range of digital media entities.
- The licence was suspended following prima facie inputs regarding the violation of funding norms.
3. About CPR
- CPR is recognised as a not-for-profit society by the government of India and contributions to the Centre are tax-exempt.
- CPR receives grants from the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) and is a Department of Science and Technology (DST) recognised institution.
- CPR receives grants from a variety of domestic and international sources, including foundations, corporate philanthropy, governments and multilateral agencies.
Image Source: Telugu bharath.com
4. About FCRA
- The FCRA was enacted during the Emergency in 1976 amid apprehensions that foreign powers were interfering in India's affairs by pumping money into the country through independent organisations.
- These concerns were expressed in Parliament as early as 1969.
- The law sought to regulate foreign donations to individuals and associations so that they functioned "in a manner consistent with the values of a sovereign democratic republic".
|An amended FCRA was enacted under the UPA government in 2010 to "consolidate the law" on the utilisation of foreign funds and "to Prohibit" their use for "any activities detrimental to the national interest".|
- The law was amended again by the current government in 2020, giving the government tighter control and scrutiny over the receipt and utilisation of foreign funds by NGOs.
Broadly, the FCRA requires every person or NGO seeking to receive foreign donations to be
- Registered under the Act
- To open a bank account for the receipt of foreign funds in the State Bank of India, Delhi and
- To utilise those funds only for the purpose for which they have been received and as stipulated in the Act.
- They are also required to file annual returns and they must not transfer the funds to another NGO.
- The Act prohibits the receipt of foreign funds by candidates for elections, journalists or newspaper and media broadcast companies, judges and government servants, members of the legislature and political parties or their office-bearers and organisations of a political nature.
4.1. Amendments to the Act
- In July 2022, the MHA effected changes to FCRA rules through two gazette notifications and increased the number of compoundable offences under the Act from 7 to 12.
- The other key changes were the exemption from intimation to the government for contributions less than Rs 10 lakh the earlier limit was Rs 1 lakh received from relatives abroad and an increase in the time limit for intimation of the opening of bank accounts.
- Under the new rules, political parties, legislature members, election candidates, judges, government servants, journalists and media houses among others all barred from receiving foreign contributions will no longer be prosecuted if they receive foreign contributions from relatives abroad and fail to intimate the government within 90 days.
- However, the recipient will be required to pay 5 per cent of the foreign contribution received.
4.2. FCRA registration
- NGOs that want to receive foreign funds must apply online in a prescribed format with the required documentation.
- FCRA registrations are granted to individuals or associations that have definite cultural, economic, educational, religious and social programmes.
- Following the application by the NGO, the MHA makes inquiries through the Intelligence Bureau into the antecedents of the applicant and accordingly processes the application.
Under the FCRA, the applicant should not be fictitious or benami; and should not have been prosecuted or convicted for indulging in activities aimed at conversion through inducement or force, either directly or indirectly, from one religious faith to another.
- The applicant should also not have been prosecuted for or convicted of creating communal tension or disharmony;
- Should not have been found guilty of diversion or misutilisation of funds and
- should not be engaged or likely to be engaged in the propagation of sedition.
- The MHA is required to approve or reject the application within 90 days.
- In case of failure to process the application in the given time, the MHA is expected to inform the NGO of the reasons for the same.
4.3. Duration of the approval
- Once granted, FCRA registration is valid for five years. NGOs are expected to apply for renewal within six months of the date of expiry of registration.
- In case of failure to apply for renewal, the registration is deemed to have expired and the NGO is no longer entitled to receive foreign funds or utilise its existing funds without permission from the ministry.
- NGOs failing to apply before the due date can petition the ministry with cogent reasons within four months of the expiry of the registration, following which their applications can be reconsidered.
- Many NGOs do not apply for renewal for a variety of reasons, which include either the completion of the project for which the FCRA registration had been taken or the NGO itself folding up.
4.4. Cancellation of FCRA registration
The government reserves the right to cancel the FCRA registration of any NGO if it finds it to violate the Act.
- Registration can be cancelled if an inquiry finds a false statement in the application;
- If the NGO is found to have violated any of the terms and conditions of the certificate or renewal
- If it has not been engaged in any reasonable activity in its the chosen field for the benefit of society for two consecutive years
- Or if it has become defunct.
- It can also be cancelled if "in the opinion of the Central Government, the Public interest must cancel the certificate".
- Registrations are also cancelled when an audit finds irregularities in the finances of an NGO in terms of the misutilisation of foreign funds.
- According to FCRA, no order of cancellation of the certificate can be made unless the person or NGO concerned had been given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.
- Once the registration of an NGO is cancelled, it is not eligible for re-registration for three years.
- The ministry also has the power to suspend an NGO's registration for 180 days pending inquiry and can freeze its funds.
- All orders of the government can be challenged in the High Court.
For Prelims & Mains
For Prelims: FCRA, Ministry of Home Affairs, NGOs, High courts, ICSSR, DTS, IPSMF, CPR,
Previous year question
1. With reference to Foreign Direct Investment in India, which one of the following is considered its major characteristic?
1. It is the investment through capital instruments essentially in a listed company.
2. It is a largely non-debt creating capital flow.
3. It is the investment which involves debt-servicing.
4. It is the investment made by foreign institutional investors in Government securities.
1. Answer: 2
1. What is Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and discuss the major provisions of the Foreign Contribution Act and the need for such legislation. (250 Words)
Source: The Indian Express
FOREST COVER DATA
India is one of the few countries to have a scientific system of periodic forest cover assessment that provides "valuable inputs for planning, policy formulation, and evidence-based decision making". Since 19.53 % in the early 1980s, India's forest cover has increased to 21.71 % in 2021. Adding to this a notional 2.91 % tree cover estimated in 2021, the country's total green cover now stands at 24.62%, on paper.
2. Forest and Tree Cover in India
- While the Forest Survey of India (FSI) started publishing its biennial State of Forest reports in 1987, it has been mapping India's forest cover since the early 1980s.
- India counts all plots of 1 hectare or above, with at least 10% tree canopy density, irrespective of land use or ownership, within forest cover.
- This disregards the United Nation's benchmark that does not include areas predominantly under agricultural and urban land use in forests.
- All land areas with tree canopy density of 40% and above are considered dense forests and those between 10-40% are open forests.
- Since 2003, a new category-very dense forest was assigned to land with 70% or more canopy density.
- Since 2001, isolated or small patches of trees less than 1 hectare and not counted as forest are assessed for determining a notional area under tree cover by putting together the crowns of individual patches and trees.
3. National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) and FSI data
- The National Remote Sensing Agency (NSRA) under the Department of Space estimated India's forest cover using satellite imagery for periods 1971-1975 and 1980-1982 to report a loss of 2.79% from 16.89% to 14.10% in just seven years.
- While reliable data on encroachment is unavailable, government records show that 24,380 sq km nearly the size of Haryana of forest land was diverted for non-forest use between 1951 and 1980.
- However, the government was reluctant to accept such a massive loss and, after much negotiations, the NRSA and the newly established FSI "reconciled" India's forest cover at 19.53% in 1987.
- Significantly, the FSI did not contest the NRSA finding that the dense forest cover had fallen from 14.12% in the mid-1970s to 10.96% in 1981, and reconciled it to 10.88% in 1987.
3.1 National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC)
- National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) at Hyderabad.
- It is responsible for remote sensing satellite data acquisition and processing. It is also responsible for data dissemination, aerial remote sensing and decision support for disaster management.
- National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) at Hyderabad has been converted into a full-fledged centre of ISRO since September 1, 2008.
- Earlier, NRSC was an autonomous body called the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) under the Department of Space (DOS).
- NRSC has a data reception station at Shadnagar near Hyderabad for acquiring data from Indian remote sensing satellites as well as others.
- NRSC Ground station at Shadnagar acquires Earth Observation data from Indian remote-sensing satellites as well as from different foreign satellites. NRSC is also engaged in executing remote sensing application projects in collaboration with the users.
3.2 Forest Survey of India (FSI)
- Forest Survey of India (FSI), is a premier national organization under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, responsible for the assessment and monitoring of the forest resources of the country regularly.
- In addition, it is also engaged in providing the services of training, research and extension.
- Established on June 1, 1981, the Forest Survey of India succeeded the "Preinvestment Survey of Forest Resources" (PISFR), a project initiated in 1965 by the Government of India with the sponsorship of FAO and UNDP.
4. Loss of old Forest data
- In India, land recorded as forest in revenue records or proclaimed as forest under a forest law is described as a Recorded Forest Area.
- These areas were recorded as forests at some point due to the presence of forests on the land. Divided into Reserved, Protected and Unclassed forests, Recorded Forest Areas account for 23.58% of India.
- Over time, some of these Recorded Forest Areas lost forest cover due to encroachment, diversion, forest fire etc. And tree cover improved in many places outside the Recorded Forest Areas due to agro-forestry, orchards etc.
- In 2011, when the FSI furnished data on India's forest cover inside and outside the Recorded forest areas, it came to light that nearly one-third of Recorded Forest areas had no forest at all.
- Almost one-third of India's old natural forests over 2.44 lakh sq km (larger than Uttar Pradesh) or 7.43 % of India was already gone.
5. Shrinking of Natural Forests
- Even after extensive plantation by the forest department since the 1990s, dense forests within Recorded Forest Areas added up to cover only 9.96% of India in 2021.
- That is a one-tenth slide since the FSI recorded 10.88% dense forest in 1987.
- This loss remains invisible due to the inclusion of commercial plantations, orchards, village homesteads, urban housings etc as dense forests outside Recorded Forest Areas.
- The FSI provides no specific information on the share of plantations in the remaining dense forests inside Recorded Forest Areas.
- But its data offers some hints. Since 2003, nearly 20,000 sq km of dense forests have become non-forests.
- Much of that loss is compensated by nearly 11,000 sq km of non-forest areas that became dense forests in successive two-year windows since 2003.
6. Natural vs Man-made
The steady replacement of natural forests with plantations is worrisome.
- First, natural forests have evolved naturally to be diverse and, therefore, support a lot more biodiversity. Simply put, it has many different plans to sustain numerous species.
- Secondly, plantation forests have trees of the same age, are more susceptible to fire, pests and epidemics, and often act as a barrier to natural forest regeneration.
- Thirdly, natural forests are old and therefore stock a lot more carbon in their body and in the soil.
- In 2018, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) flagged India's assumption that new forests (plantations) reach the carbon stock level of existing forests in just eight years.
- On the other hand, plantations can grow a lot more and faster than old natural forests. This also means that plantations can achieve additional carbon targets faster.
- But compared to natural forests, plantations are often harvested more readily, defeating carbon goals in the long term.
7. India's Forest Cover
Image source: The Indian Express