IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


19th September, 2019


Uttarakhand plans bio-fences to check man-animal conflict

To prevent wild animals from entering residential areas and to protect agricultural crops and livestock in areas adjoining to forests, the Uttarakhand government has decided to carry out bio-fencing by growing various species of plants in those areas.

According to officials, lemongrass, agave, rambans, and certain species of chilly and some other plant species have been identified to be grown at areas where wild animals enter residential areas and near forests.

Is Bio-fencing is effective in preventing Man-Animal Conflict:

-       Bio fencing with lemongrass will be done to prevent entry of elephants because elephants do not like the smell of lemongrass. Likewise, agave will be grown to deter elephant and wild boars.

-       This biotic method is environment-friendly and harvesting of such plants can also be economical for farmers.

-       Bio fencing will help save the money the government spends on building walls, digging pits and on solar-powered wire fencing.

-       Other Methods like solar-powered wire fencing is effective only when local villagers maintain them.

-       About Erection of walls in forest areas, building and repairing them is a costly affair.

Man –Animal Conflict

According to Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, more than 1000 people have lost their life due to man-animal conflict between 2014 and 2017.

Reasons behind Man-Animal Conflict:

-       Flaw in Wildlife Protection act: It assumes that best way to protect wildlife is through eliminating human intervention. This strategy works well for less populated and developed non rural economy. But, In India where a significant population is dependent on forest, man –animal conflict is bound to occur.

-       Less of Protected areas: Close to 29% of tiger population venture out of the protected areas. 100% wolves population is out of the protected area. They migrate to human settlement and create conflict.

-       Animal Behaviour: By Nature, Elephant likes to travel long distances and they venture out in human settlement.

-       Increase in agricultural activities around the protected areas. Forest Rights act has also encouraged it.

-       Depleting forest cover, declining pasture lands also compel animals to migrate.

-       Declining prey population in the forests.


-       Loss of human lives, crops and settlements.

-       Threat to wildlife population.

-       Undermines government efforts in bringing a balance between human and wildlife. It brings both community at odds to each other.

Government Initiatives:

-       Provisions under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 empower concerned authorities take necessary steps to handle problematic wild animals.

-       Standard Operating Procedures for management of major problematic animals like tiger, elephant, leopard, rhino etc. are being used by the respective state governments.

-       Construction of physical barriers, such as barbed wire fence, solar powered electric fence, bio-fencing using cactus, boundary wall etc. to prevent the entry of wild animals into crop field.

-       Improvement of wildlife habitats by augmenting the availability of food and water in forest areas to reduce the entry of animals from forest to human habitations

-       A network of Protected Areas namely viz., national park, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserving covering important wildlife habitat have been created all over the country under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to conserve wild animals and their habitat.

-       Wildlife corridors have been developed in many parts of the country. For example: In 2017, to protect elephant habitats, the Odhisa government had identified 14 corridors.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/uttarakhand-plans-bio-fences-to-check-man-animal-conflict-6008193/


Citing health, Cabinet clears Ordinance to ban e-cigarettes

Union Cabinet has approved an Ordinance that prohibits the production, import, distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes, and proposes a jail term for violating the provisions.

It provides for imprisonment of up to one year or fines up to Rs 1 lakh or both for the first offence; imprisonment of up to three years and a fine up to Rs 5 lakh for a subsequent offence.

Reasons behind the Ordinance:

-       It will protect population, especially the youth and children, from the risk of addiction through E-cigarettes.

-       It will complement government’s efforts for tobacco control.

-       It will help in reduction of tobacco use, reduction in associated economic, and disease burden.

-       Sixteen states and one UT have already banned e-cigarettes.

-       The decision is also backed by scientific reports, including a white paper brought out by the Indian Council of Medical Research, which pointed out that a typical e-cigarette cartridge contains “about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes and can act as a potential source for nicotine addiction”.

-       The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that there are 380 cases of lung illness across the US.

-       Tobacco farmers supported the move as tobacco used in E-Cigarette is grown outside the country. E-Cigarette will negatively effect the lives of tobacco farmers.

-       Governments across the world are taking a more stringent view of e-cigarettes.

-       E-cigarettes have very high amount of nicotine that is likely to damage human organs. It is also proven that nicotine in its pure form is carcinogenic.

-       These products have neither been assessed for safety in the national population, nor been approved under provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.


-       The move discriminates against a product that is less harmful than traditional tobacco products and helps people quit smoking.

-       Certain activists demanded that rather than banning government should have taxed it heavily.

-       There should at least be the option of supervised if not prescription use of e-cigarettes in order to make people quit smoking.

-       They are being increasingly mandated for legal sale by developed and progressive countries globally.

About E-Cigarettes:

-       E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a solution of nicotine and different flavours to create aerosol, which is then inhaled.

-       These devices belong to a category of vapour-based nicotine products called ENDS.

-       It can resemble pens and USBs.

E-Cigarette Market:

-       It was valued at over $15 million in 2017, according to analyst reports, and projected to grow nearly 60 per cent a year up to 2022.

-       E-cigarettes are the most common type of ENDS, with over 460 different brands and more than 7,700 flavours marketed in India currently.

-       Imports of e-cigarettes, their accessories and other ENDS products grew around 119 per cent from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/citing-health-cabinet-clears-ordinance-to-ban-e-cigarettes-6007995/


SC calls own verdict on SC/ST Act ‘against spirit of Constitution’

The Supreme Court questioned its own judgment forbidding arrest without prior permission for offences under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), calling it “against the spirit of the Constitution.

Earlier Court Verdict:

-       It allowed provision for anticipatory bail and vetting of complaint to determine if a case was made out before registration of FIR under the SC/ST Act to prevent vested interests.

-       To avoid false implication of an innocent, a preliminary enquiry may be conducted by the DSP concerned to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the Atrocities Act and that the allegations are not frivolous or motivated.

-       It also laid down that arrest can be made only with permission of the appointing authority where the accused is a public servant, and with sanction of the Senior Superintendent of Police of the district where the accused is not a public servant.

SC-ST atrocity Act:

The SC and ST (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was formed to prevent offences against the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes group.

-       This Act seeks to stop people from committing such oppression and providing victims with special rights and privileges.

-       Establishment of a fast-track court for complaints made by anyone from the SC and ST community

-       Public servant (non SC/ST) neglecting his duties related to SCs/STs will be punished with imprisonment for a term of 6 months to 1 year.

-       Ministry of Social Justice is the nodal ministry to enforce the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

NCRB Report on Atrocities on SC-ST:

-       National Crime Records Bureau shows that the proportion of false cases registered under the act has actually fallen.

-       India has over 180 million Dalit’s. A crime is committed against a Dalit every 15 minutes. Six Dalit women are raped every day.

-       Charge-sheets were filed in 78.3 per cent cases, and the conviction rate was 25.8 per cent.

-       Assaults on women with the intent to outrage modesty, at 7.7% (3172 cases), reported the highest number of cases of crimes/atrocities against Scheduled Castes (SCs).

-       In cities too, the trend was reflected with Lucknow reporting 88 cases of crimes against women. This accounted for more than 30% of all crimes against Dalits reported in Lucknow.



Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/sc-calls-own-verdict-on-sc-st-act-against-spirit-of-constitution-6008160/


Giving birth at 74: Issues in debate around setting an age limit for IVF

A 74-year-old woman from Andhra Pradesh was recently recorded as the oldest in the world to give birth to twins through in-vitro fertilisation or IVF.


-       The average life expectancy of an Indian woman is 70 and of a man 69, and the medical community has expressed concerns over future of children born to such an elderly couple.

-       Pregnancy in old age poses multiple risks — hypertension, diabetes, convulsions, bleeding, and cardiac complications to name a few.

-       Internationally this pregnancy is being condemned. Everything could have gone wrong. It sets a wrong precedent.

-       However, with no law in place — a Bill is pending — the assisted reproductive technology (ART) industry continues to operate in a grey zone.

-       In 2005, when ICMR drafted guidelines for ART, it had not set an age limit keeping in mind that reproductive rights were a fundamental right for a woman.

-       Since the Bill on ART has not been passed yet, legal action against such clinics is impossible. We expect ART clinics to self-regulate.


-       Societal pressure to have children.

-       The fear of living alone in old age without care.

-       The loss of an only child often encourage couples.

-       Some doctors argue that childbirth is a personal decision and each individual has the right to make that choice after counselling.

-       Still, a doctor has to conduct tests for the heart, bone structure, diabetes, blood pressure to judge the feasibility of pregnancy. And if the couple is found medically fit, it should be allowed to conceive.

Laws in Other Countries:

-       In the US, the upper limit for IVF is 50, and for ovum donation, 45.

-       In Australia, guidelines prohibit IVF beyond menopause (52 years).

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/giving-birth-at-74-issues-in-debate-around-setting-an-age-limit-for-ivf-6007827/


Price controls on agricultural inputs will work against farmers

The government has recently announced its intention of introducing price controls in crop protection chemicals. This comes almost four years after the Agriculture Ministry issued a price control order, giving it powers to fix the maximum retail price (MRP) of cotton seeds and also the trait value payable to the developer/licensor of genetically modified Bt technology.

Effects of Price Controls:

-       License Raj years in before liberalization didn’t bring high quality seeds in Market. But, post liberalization, research in the seeds brought high yield seeds for farmers leading to growth in income.

-       To double the income of farmers, rather than curtailing the prices of seeds, government should encourage the research and innovations.

-       If government controls prices, how big corporations will brings new variety of pesticides which are effective as well environmentally sustainable.

-       Seeds and pesticides input cost around 10% of total inputs. Controlling it wont bring much change in the input cost but will make big corporation exit from India.

-       Seed industry is already a competitive industry thus no monopoly can be exerted over there.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/price-controls-on-agricultural-inputs-will-work-against-farmers-6007866/

Slowdown: Direct tax collections now a crawl, shrink Govt’s space to cut GST

The impact of a slowing economy is showing up in government revenues with net direct tax collections in the first five-and-a-half months of 2019-20 making up just a third of the full-year target.

-       Net direct tax collections during April 1-September 15 grew just 5% to Rs 4.4 lakh crore.

-       The slowdown has translated into single-digit growth of 6% in advance tax collection up to September 15, as against 18% during the corresponding period last year.

-       This below-than-expected growth in direct tax collections will also muddy the government’s fiscal math and pose a challenge in meeting its fiscal deficit target of 3.3% of the GDP.

-       The poor show on the direct tax side will render it next to impossible for the government to make any meaningful cut in GST rates despite increasing pressure from industry.

-       The actual direct tax receipts for 2018-19 was Rs 11.37 lakh crore against targeted 12 lakh crore.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/business/economy/slowdown-direct-tax-collections-now-a-crawl-shrink-govts-space-to-cut-gst-6008045/


Explained: Electric or hydrogen cars? Why Asian economies are backing the latter

China, Japan and South Korea have set ambitious targets to put millions of hydrogen-powered vehicles on their roads by the end of the next decade at a cost of billions of dollars.

Why Hydrogen Vehicles:

-       It is as clean energy source as water.

-       It can be made from a number of sources, including methane, coal, water, even garbage.

-       Resource-poor Japan sees hydrogen as a way to greater energy security.

-       Driving ranges and refuelling times for FCVs are comparable to gasoline cars, whereas EVs require hours to recharge and provide only a few hundred kilometres of range.

-       Many backers in China and Japan see FCVs as complementing EVs rather than replacing them.

-       Hydrogen is seen as the more efficient choice for heavier vehicles that drive longer distances, hence the current emphasis on city buses.


-       A lack of refuelling stations.

-       The main reason cited for the lack of refuelling infrastructure is that there are not enough FCVs to make them profitable.

-       Consumer worries about the risk of explosions are also a big hurdle. This year, a hydrogen tank explosion in South Korea killed two people, which was followed by a blast at a Norway hydrogen station.

-       Then there’s the cost. Heavy subsidies are needed to bring prices down to levels of gasoline-powered cars.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-electric-or-hydrogen-cars-why-asian-economies-are-backing-the-latter-6005683/