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Project Snow Leopard (PSL)

Context:

On the International Snow Leopard Day 2020, the Minister of State for Environment has mentioned that the government is committed to landscape restoration for snow leopard habitat conservation.

Project Snow Leopard (PSL):

  • The project was launched in 2009
  • Objective: To protect the snow leopard and its habitat ensures protection of the major Himalayan rivers that support the teeming millions downstream. 
    • It also ensures that the ecological balance is maintained in these fragile ecosystems.
  • Under the project, the First National Protocol was launched on Snow Leopard Population Assessment which has been very useful for monitoring populations.
  • In 2009 the government hosted the 4th Steering Committee of the GSLEP program in New Delhi. 
  • This meeting resulted in the “New Delhi Statement” of strengthening the resolve of the snow leopard range countries towards conservation of the mountain ecosystems of Central and South Asia.

Initiatives:

  • Flagship Species: The Government of India has identified the snow leopard as a flagship species for the high-altitude Himalayas.
  • SECURE Himalaya: Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded the project on conservation of high altitude biodiversity and reducing the dependency of local communities on the natural ecosystem. 

Snow Leopard:

  • The snow leopard is found in 12 countries India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Mongolia, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • The snow leopard is found along the upper reaches of the Himalayan range and, in India, it is found in Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.

Conservation status:

  • In IUCN red list it is under the Vulnerable category.
  • Schedule I in the Wild Life Protection Act 1972.
  • It is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

Source: The Hindu

India, US Ministerial Meeting

Context:

India and the US are preparing for the third 2+2 ministerial meeting between External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister, and US Secretary of State.

  • The meeting will mainly focus on the various agreements signed between the two countries. 

Agreements signed between the two nations:

The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA):

  • BECA largely pertain to geospatial intelligence and sharing information on maps and satellite images for defense.
  • The signing of BECA will allow India to use the US’s advanced geospatial intelligence and enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.
  • The agreement will give access to topographical and aeronautical data and products that will aid navigation and targeting.
  • It will also provide Indian military systems with a high-quality GPS to navigate missiles with real-time intelligence to precisely target the adversary.

The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement  (LEMO):

  • LEMO was signed between India and the US in August 2016.
  • It allows the military of each country to replenish from the other’s bases i.e. access supplies, spare parts, and services from the other country’s land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed.
  • It is extremely useful for Navy-to-Navy cooperation since the US and India are cooperating closely in the Indo-Pacific.
  • In military terms, one’s Naval ships are strategic assets and the use of another country’s base would expose one’s military asset to the host.

The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA):

  • The agreement was signed in September 2018, after the first 2+2 dialogue.
  • It allows the US to provide India with its encrypted communications equipment and systems so that Indian and US military commanders, aircraft, and ships can communicate through secure networks in peace and war.
  • COMCASA paved the way for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India to facilitate “interoperability” between their forces and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secure data links.

Source: The Hindu

Nazca Lines

Context:

The Nazca Lines grabbed the spotlight after the discovery of a hitherto unknown massive carving that of a resting cat on the slope of a steep hill.

Nazca Lines:

  • In 1927 Nazca Lines were first discovered in Peru.
  • In 1994 Nazca Lines were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
  • The Nazca Lines are a group of geoglyphs or large designs made on the ground by creators using elements of the landscape such as stones, gravel, dirt, or lumber.
  • The Nazca Lines are believed to be the greatest known archaeological enigma, owing to their size, continuity, nature, and quality.
  • The images on the ground are so big in size that the best way to get a full view of them is overflying them.
  • It is known for its depictions of larger-than-life animals, plants, and imaginary beings.

Peru:

  • It is a country in western South America.
  • Peru is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the west by the Pacific Ocean.
  • Peru is a megadiverse country with habitats ranging from the arid plains of the Pacific coastal region in the west to the peaks of the Andes mountains vertically extending from the north to the southeast of the country to the tropical Amazon Basin rainforest in the east with the Amazon river.
  • Peru is the 19th largest country in the world and the third-largest in South America.
  • Peru is a developing country, ranking 82nd on the Human Development Index.
  • In Peru, the poverty rate is around 19 percent.

Source: Indian Express