●Import duty on palm oil cut
•India has cut import duty on crude palm oil (CPO) and refined, bleached and deodorised (RBD) palm oil,
[also moved RBD oil from the “free” to the “restricted” list of imports]
•The move has been construed as retaliation against Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, who has criticised India’s internal policy decisions
◽ Implications of the move
•Indonesia and Malaysia together produce 85% of the world’s palm oil, and India is among the biggest buyers [Palm oil is not used in Indian homes ]
•Palm oil is use in nearly everything – it’s in close to 50% of the packaged products we find in supermarkets, everything from pizza, doughnuts and chocolate, to deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and lipstick.
•Crude oil contains fatty acids, gums and wax-like substances. Refining neutralises the acids and filters out the other substances
•On Malayasia: With imports to its largest market (India bought over 23% of all CPO produced by Malaysia in 2019)
[ If India does not issue licenses for importing refined oil, Malaysia will have to find new buyers for its product.]
●Bhuvan Panchayat 3.0
•Bhuvan Panchayat is part of ISRO’s Space-based Information Support for Decentralised Planning Update project.
•Aim: For better planning and monitoring of government projects.
•This version of the portal will provide database visualisation and services for the benefit of panchayat members, among others
•Using Bhuvan satellite imagery, hi-resolution database at 1:10,000 scale is applied to identify land use land cover, settlements, road and rail network etc.
•The space-based information support for decentralised planning programme was taken up in 2011 to empower panchayati raj institutions
●Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971
•Union Cabinet is set to consider a host of changes to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971. [To ease abortion laws in the country,]
•Amendments seek to increase the upper limit for termination of a pregnancy from 20 weeks to 24 weeks. [The move to amend the MTP Act, 1971 is a progressive step towards empowerment of women]
•It also seeks to extend the contraceptive-failure clause for termination to include “any woman or her partner” from the present provision for “only married woman or her husband”
• Countries like France, the UK, Austria, Ethiopia, Italy, Spain, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and even Nepal, allow for termination beyond 20 weeks on the diagnosis of foetal abnormalities.
●Spitzer telescope: NASA
•It is an infrared space telescope.[launched in 2003 and is planned to be retired on 30 January 2020]
•Spitzer’s discoveries extend from our own planetary backyard, to planets around other stars, to the far reaches of the universe
•It was the last mission of the NASA Great Observatories program, which saw four specialized telescopes (including the Hubble Space Telescope) launched between 1990 and 2003
•It has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes.
●Cheetah reintroduction project
•The Supreme Court has allowed the Centre to introduce the African cheetah to a suitable habitat in India
•The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had previously told the Supreme Court that African cheetahs would be translocated in India from Namibia and would be kept at Nauradehi wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh
•Reintroduction’ of a species: means releasing it in an area where it is capable of surviving.
•The cheetah is also the world’s fastest land mammal.
•It is listed as vulnerable in IUCN red listed species.
•Nauradehi in Madhya Pradesh was found to be the most suitable area for the cheetahs as its forests are not very dense to restrict the fast movement of the spotted cat. Besides, the prey base for cheetahs is also in abundance at the sanctuary
●India has added 10 more wetlands to sites protected by the Ramsar Convention
•With this, a total of 37 sites in the country have been recognised under the international treaty
1. Nandur Madhameshwar: 1st in Maharashtra
2. Keshopur-Miani: in Punjab
3. Beas Conservation Reserve : in Punjab
4. Nangal : in Punjab
5. Nawabganj: UP
6. Parvati Agra: UP
7. Saman, : UP
8. Samaspur, : UP
9. Sandi : UP
10.Sarsai Nawar: UP
•It is an international treaty for the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
It is named after the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the Caspian Sea, where the treaty was signed on 2 February 1971.
•Montreux Record under the Convention is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference
[It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List]
•Currently, two wetlands of India are in Montreux record: Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) and Loktak Lake (Manipur).
•Chilka lake (Odisha)was placed in the record but was later removed from it.
•Indian navy will perform HADR operations in Madagascar under ‘Operation Vanilla’.
•It has been launched to provide assistance to the affected population of Madagascar post devastation caused by Cyclone Diane
●Import duty on palm oil cut