News: The Central Empowered Committee (CEC), constituted by the Supreme Court, has asked the Assam government to act on illegal construction in the identified wildlife corridors of the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.
About Kaziranga National Park:
Kaziranga National Park is a national park in the Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam, India.
The sanctuary, which hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses, is a World Heritage Site.
According to the census held in March 2018 which was jointly conducted by the Forest Department of the Government of Assam and some recognized wildlife NGOs, the rhino population in Kaziranga National Park is 2,413.
In 2015, the rhino population stood at 2401.
The park is home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.
Kaziranga is recognized as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International for conservation of avifaunal species.
When compared with other protected areas in India, Kaziranga has achieved notable success in wildlife conservation. Located on the edge of the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, the park combines high species diversity and visibility.
Kaziranga is a vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, criss-crossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of water.
2. KONKAN SHAKTI EXERCISE
News: As the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) gets ready for one of the biggest joint exercises — Konkan Shakti — with India’s armed forces, its aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has an added task — it aims to strengthen military as well as cultural ties with India with an intent to “demonstrate that democracies that have similar views of the world want to work together to keep peace and stability”.
Amid reports that the joint exercise may not be appreciated by China, which could see it as an answer to its might, the CSG’s top officer said peaceful negotiations remained the only answer but like-minded nations must stand together to protect free flow of trade.
Stationed 50 miles off the Mumbai coast, this is the first aircraft carrier in the world, designed from the outset to operate fifth generation combat aircraft, which will be hosting members from industry, trade, science and technology in coming days, including a chef.
Referring to the one of the biggest exercises with India, he pointed out that it was very few times that the U.K. as a nation held an exercise of maritime, land and air at the same time.
3. FOREIGN CONTRIBUTION (REGULATION) ACT
News: The Centre has told the Supreme Court that NGOs have no fundamental right to receive “unbridled foreign contributions” without regulations.
About Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act:
The FCRA regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect internal security.
First enacted in 1976, it was amended in 2010 when a slew of new measures were adopted to regulate foreign donations.
The FCRA is applicable to all associations, groups and NGOs which intend to receive foreign donations.
It is mandatory for all such NGOs to register themselves under the FCRA. The registration is initially valid for five years and it can be renewed subsequently if they comply with all norms.
Registered associations can receive foreign contribution for social, educational, religious, economic and cultural purposes.
Filing of annual returns, on the lines of Income Tax, is compulsory.
In 2015, the MHA notified new rules, which required NGOs to give an undertaking that the acceptance of foreign funds is not likely to prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India or impact friendly relations with any foreign state and does not disrupt communal harmony.
It also said all such NGOs would have to operate accounts in either nationalised or private banks which have core banking facilities to allow security agencies access on a real time basis.
Members of the legislature and political parties, government officials, judges and media persons are prohibited from receiving any foreign contribution. However, in 2017 the MHA, through the Finance Bill route, amended the 1976-repealed FCRA law paving the way for political parties to receive funds from the Indian subsidiary of a foreign company or a foreign company in which an Indian holds 50% or more shares.
The MHA on inspection of accounts and on receiving any adverse input against the functioning of an association can suspend the FCRA registration initially for 180 days.
Until a decision is taken, the association cannot receive any fresh donation and cannot utilise more than 25% of the amount available in the designated bank account without permission of the MHA. The MHA can cancel the registration of an organisation which will not be eligible for registration or grant of ‘prior permission’ for three years from the date of cancellation.
4. E – PRISIONS
News: The Union Home Ministry has advised the States to update recent photographs of prisoners released on parole/furlough/premature release in the “ePrisons” and Interoperable Criminal Justice System database to generate immediate alerts and facilitate easy tracking in the event of their violating the law.
About E – Prisons:
The States and the Union Territories were advised to review the existing practices and procedures governing grant of parole, furlough and premature release to inmates, as per provisions under the Model Prison Manual, 2016, and guidelines issued by the Home Ministry, the National Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court.
It was also advised that in order to ensure that the inmates released on parole, furlough and premature release do not violate law, systems must be put in place for monitoring and follow-up of each such case.
Taking into account the importance of initiating timely action in the event of any inmate absconding/escaping from custody/prison, it was considered necessary to have recent photographs of the prisoners updated in the system and also generate immediate alerts which would enable tracking of such inmates by the law enforcement agencies.
The ‘ePrisons’ and ‘Interoperable Criminal Justice System’ platforms could be deployed to address such issues.
5. GENE EDITING GUIDELINES
News: Even as the Centre investigates allegations that unauthorised genetically modified (GM) rice was exported to Europe, it is yet to decide on a research proposal from its own scientists which would allow plants to be genetically modified without the need for conventional transgenic technology.
Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute are in the process of developing resilient and high-yield rice varieties using such gene editing techniques, which have already been approved by many countries, and they hope to have such rice varieties in the hands of the Indian farmers by 2024.
However, the proposal for Indian regulators to consider this technique as equivalent to conventional breeding methods, since it does not involve inserting any foreign DNA, has been pending with the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee for almost two years.
The IARI has previously worked on golden rice, a traditional GM variety which inserted genes from other organisms into the rice plant, but ended trials over five years ago due to agronomic issues.
6. FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE (FATF)
News: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Thursday retained Pakistan in the ‘greylist’ yet again, observing that it needed to further demonstrate that investigations and prosecutions were being pursued against the senior leadership of UN-designated terror groups, which include the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
About Financial Action Task Force (FATF):
The Financial Action Task Force (on Money Laundering) (FATF), also known by its French name, Groupe d’action financière (GAFI), is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.
In 2001, its mandate was expanded to include terrorism financing.
The objectives of FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
FATF is a “policy-making body” that works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
FATF monitors progress in implementing its Recommendations through “peer reviews” (“mutual evaluations”) of member countries.
The 2003 Forty Recommendations require states, among other things, to:
Implement relevant international conventions
Criminalise money laundering and enable authorities to confiscate the proceeds of money laundering
Implement customer due diligence (e.g., identity verification), record keeping and suspicious transaction reporting requirements for financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions
Establish a financial intelligence unit to receive and disseminate suspicious transaction reports, and
Cooperate internationally in investigating and prosecuting money laundering
As of 2019 FATF had 38 full members, comprising 36 member jurisdictions and two regional organisations. The FATF also works in close co-operation with a number of international and regional bodies involved in combating money laundering and terrorism financing.