- India has 18 biospheres reserves, of which 11 have been included in the WNBR. The Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve (KBR) of Sikkim, the highest biosphere reserve in the country that includes the third highest mountain peak in the world, Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), has been included in the UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserve (WHBR) (in August 2018). With the inclusion of the KBR, one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1,220 m to 8,586 m above sea level, the number of biosphere reserves from the country included in World Network of Biosphere Reserves has increased to 11. The last biosphere reserve to be included was the Agasthyamalai Biosphere Reserve in Kerala in 2016. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve was the first reserve from the country to be included in the WNBR. India has 18 biospheres reserves, of which 11 have been included in the WNBR. The Khangchendzonga National Park (KNP), which comprises the core area of the KBR, was inscribed as India’s first “Mixed World Heritage Site” on July 17, 2016. Eighty six per cent of the core lies in the Alpine zone and the remaining portions are located in the Himalayan wet temperate and sub tropical moist deciduous forest. Simlipal National Park is part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2009. Sources: The Hindu and Wikipedia.
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designates the ‘World Network of Biosphere Reserves’.
- Fuel blending with ethanol varies from 85% (E85) in Australia to vehicles run on 100% (E100) ethanol in Brazil, where the ethanol blending mandate is 27% (E27). In contrast, India has an abysmal 2-4% blending rate due to the inconsistent supply of domestically produced ethanol. In India, The Centre has set a target of 10 per cent ethanol blending in petrol by 2022. Sources: The Hindu and The Hindu Business Line.
- ‘Blood Pheasant’ is the state bird of Sikkim.
- A Minister is not eligible for election or nomination to the financial Committees, DRSCs and Committees on (1) Empowerment of Women (2) Government Assurances (3) Petitions (4) Subordinate Legislation (5) Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. As committees of the legislature hold the executive accountable, having a minister on the select committee undermines the role of legislature as an oversight mechanism. A minister, as a representative of the executive being part of such committees may impede the ability of committees to effectively hold the executive accountable. The successful functioning of these Committees led to the constitution on 8 April, 1993 of 17 DRSCs. The year 1993 ushered in a new era in the history of Indian Parliament when 17 Departmentally Related Standing Committees were constituted. The number of Standing Committees has now been increased from 17 to 24. Sources: Lok Sabha Website, PRS and Introduction to Parliamentary Committees.
- The ‘Brus’ originally belong to the state of Mizoram. More than 32,000 Bru or Reang tribal people fled Mizoram in 1997 after ethnic clashes and have been living in six transit camps in Kanchanpur area of Tripura for the last 21 years. There have been seven phases of repatriation, but many returned to the camps saying that conditions in Mizoram were not conducive for living. Source: The Indian Express. Also read: The Hindu.
- Bedaquiline, which is in high demand for tuberculosis (TB) treatment but is not easily available, has been placed in the list of ‘priority’ drugs by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In previous guidelines, Bedaquiline was placed in ‘Group C,’ which indicates drugs that can be used ‘when agents in Group A and B cannot be used,’ that is when patients develop resistance to these drugs. The communication states that bedaquiline has been placed in ‘Group A’ – medicines to be prioritised – along with levofloxacin/ moxifloxacin. Bedaquiline was rolled out in Telangana. The drug is made available only to the Centre, which in turn rations it to the States. It is not available for private purchase as its use requires close monitoring and also because of concerns of drug-resistance by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes the disease. Read more at The Hindu Business Line. Also read: The Hindu.
- The correct pairing is (1) Salma Dam (Afghan-India friendship dam): Afghanistan; (2) Akhaura Railway Project (Akhaura-Agartala railway link): Bangladesh. Also read: The Hindu.
- The Inner Line Permit (ILP) is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to grant inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period. It is obligatory for Indians residing outside those states to obtain permission prior to entering the protected areas. Currently, the Inner Line Permit is operational in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. The document has been issued under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 and the conditions and restrictions vary from state to state. It can be issued for travel purposes solely. Source: India Today.
- The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs is headed by the Prime Minister. The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs has been in news as it is to decide on a proposal received by the Home Ministry to increase the number of seats in the Sikkim Assembly from 32 to 40. If approved, it will be the first expansion of the Assembly since Sikkim merged with India in 1975. The seats are being increased to accommodate the Limboo and Tamang communities, notified as Scheduled Tribes in January 2003. Also, under the Delimitation Act, 2002, the number of seats in an Assembly can be readjusted only on the basis of the first census after 2026. Under Article 82 of the Constitution, the Parliament by law enacts a Delimitation Act after every census. After coming into force commencement of the Act, the Central Government constitutes a Delimitation Commission. This Delimitation Commission demarcates the boundaries of the Parliamentary Constituencies as per provisions of the Delimitation Act. The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census figures under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002. Notwithstanding the above, the Constitution of India was specifically amended in 2002 not to have delimitation of constituencies till the first census after 2026. Thus, the present Constituencies carved out on the basis of 2001 census shall continue to be in operation till the first census after 2026. Sources: The Hindu and Election Commission of India.
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