Topics of the day - The Hindu
Kerala village trains women to pack a punch
- In a first, 7,800 women of Kangazha panchayat in Kottayam district get self-defence instruction
- Kangazha village in Kottayam will earn the distinction of having all its women aged 10-60 trained in self-defence — a first for any local body.
- Launched as part of the Nirbhaya scheme in April 2017, the project has so far covered over 7,800 women and is slated to include the remaining 2,000-odd by mid-December. The training was imparted initially through a core team of five master trainers from the Kerala police, who then reached out to the Kudumbasree units. Classes were held on weekends and soon the attendance outgrew the space.
- training comprised modules on the various types of assaults women face, such as molestation on public transport and domestic violence.
- Instead of complex martial arts techniques, women are taught easy-to-remember defence tactics that incapacitate the attacker
Police recce Sentinel isle, sight tribals
- Police are taking painstaking efforts to avoid any disruption to the Sentinelese, a pre-neolithic tribe.
- The island is off-limits to outsiders.The death of the 27-year-old on November 17 has cast a new spotlight on efforts to protect one of the world’s last “uncontacted” tribes, whose language and customs remain a mystery to outsiders.
GST gives textiles a leg up
- A year after implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the system is getting streamlined for the intended purpose of achieving the objective of ‘One nation one tax’. In the excise regime, multiple tax systems had increased administrative costs for manufacturers and distributors. With GST in place, the compliance burden has eased.
- GST brought in developments and changed the way businesses conducted themselves.
- It is commendable on the part of the GST Council to arrive at decisions on a consistent basis, despite differences of opinion among various sectors and political parties.
- The textile sector is one of the oldest and largest in the country and a major contributor to the development of the economy. The industry employs both skilled and unskilled manpower and contributes over 10% of the total annual exports of the country, which is likely to increase under the GST regime.
- Many from the textile industry have stated that the overall tax burden has come down for the sector to 18% from 20% and that the new system has also increased transparency in the sector, which provides employment to 45 million people.
- A majority of the Indian industry functions in the unorganised sector or the composition scheme, creating a gap in the flow of input tax credit (ITC). If a registered taxpayer procures the input from taxpayers under the composition scheme or the unorganised sector, ITC will not be allowed for him.
- With the implementation of GST, the input credit system has smoothly shifted the balance towards the organised sector. By subsuming different taxes such as entry tax, luxury tax and octroi, the costs for manufacturers will be reduced in the textile industry.
- For textile mills, the import cost of the latest technology to manufacture textile goods is expensive because the excise duty paid for the same was not allowed in ITC. Under GST, ITC is available for all the tax paid on capital goods.
- The process of claiming ITC is simplified in GST, which allows the textile sector to be competitive in the export market.
- Expectations are high on three counts. First, yarn now attracts 5% GST and the machinery to manufacture yarn attracts 18%. This is uneven. Yarn manufacturers will be left with a huge input credit which they won’t be able to utilise.
- There is no provision under GST to get such accumulated credit as refund for capital goods. This will contribute to dead investment for the textile industry over several years.
- Second, a foreign manufacturing company is now permitted to set up a unit without any investment from the domestic market, bring in 100% of their share, and repatriate profit to their countries. This has made the domestic textile machinery manufacturing companies to compete in an unfavourable environment. To safeguard the domestic industry’s interest, government should create a level-playing field which will pave the way for ‘Make in India’ to prosper.
- It also keeps domestic industries healthy and facilitates a healthy employment environment. Also, more incentives must be given to the textile sector to help explore the export market at competitive prices.
- Finally, a simplified procedure is needed in the e-way bill legislation to ease transportation of goods by minimising documentation, physical verification and the like.
Amur falcon makes it to Somalia from Manipur
- A female Amur falcon named ‘Tamenglong’ after the place in Manipur by forest officials and set free by them with a GPS-fitted transmitter on November 5 reached Somalia at 1 pm on Saturday after flying a distance of 5,700 km.
- Every year Amur falcons take a long journey covering many countries including China, Mongolia, Russia and India to reach Somalia.
- A few thousands halt in Tamenglong district of Manipur and some parts of Nagaland where they feed on termites and other insects for about three weeks.
- In the recent past hunters caught Amur falcons in hundreds everyday in Tamenglong district. Live and barbecued falcons were on open sale in many parts. However, elders of the district have opposed wanton killings of these migratory birds, which help farmers by feeding on termites and other insects which destroy the verdant crops.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands: home to a tenth of India’s fauna species
The islands, comprising only 0.25% of country’s geographical area, has 11,009 species, according to a publication by the Zoological Survey of India
- The Narcondam hornbill, its habitat restricted to a lone island; the Nicobar megapode, a bird that builds nests on the ground; the Nicobar treeshrew, a small mole-like mammal; the Long-tailed Nicobar macaque, and the Andaman day gecko, are among the 1,067 endemic faunal species found only on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and nowhere else.
- A recent publication by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) titled Faunal Diversity of Biogeographic Zones: Islands of India has for the first time come up with a database of all faunal species found on the island, putting the number at 11,009. The documentation proves that the islands, comprising only 0.25% of India’s geographical area, are home to more than 10% of the country’s fauna species.
- The publication, however, also cautions that tourism, illegal construction and mining are posing a threat to the islands’ biodiversity, which is already vulnerable to volatile climatic factors.
- The presence of a large number of species in such a small area makes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands one of the richest ecosystems and biodiversity hot spots in India. Some of the species in A&N Islands are restricted to a very small area and thus more vulnerable to any anthropogenic threat.
- The total area of the A&N Islands, which comprises of 572 islands, islets and rocky outcrops, is about 8,249 sq. km. The population of the islands, which includes six particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) — Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa, Sentinelese, Nicobarese and Shompens — is not more than 4 lakh. The number of tourists visiting the islands has crossed the number of people residing in them, with latest data showing 4.87 lakh tourists visiting the islands annually.
- In a recent development, the Government of India relaxed the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) norms for some foreign nationalities notified under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963, to visit 29 of its inhabited islands, till December 31, 2022. This has triggered further concerns of increased anthropogenic pressures over the islands’ ecosystem.
- Some of the islands removed from the RAP list have no habitation except PVTG like Sentinelese in case of North Sentinel Island, and there is nothing other than a police outpost on the Narcondam Island.
- The development paradigm that we are pushing for this place at the macro level, such as tourism, construction and development of military, are not taking in account three factors — ecological fragility of the area (the endemism), geological volatility (earthquakes and tsunamis), and the impact they will have on local communities.
- The publication, running across 49 chapters and 500 pages, not only prepares a database of species found in particular category of animals, but also highlights the most vulnerable among them. Of the ten species of marine fauna found on the islands, the dugong/sea cow, and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, are both classified as Vulnerable under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.
- Among the 46 terrestrial mammalian species found, three species have been categorised as Critically Endangered — Andaman shrew (Crocidura andamanensis), Jenkin’s shrew (C. jenkinsi) and Nicobar shrew (C. nicobarica). Five species are listed as Endangered, nine species as Vulnerable, and one species as Near Threatened, according to the IUCN.
- Among birds, endemism is quite high, with 36 among 344 species of birds found only on the islands. Many of these bird species are placed in the IUCN Red List of threatened species under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA).
- Similarly, eight species of amphibians and 23 species of reptiles are endemic to the islands, and thus are at high risk of being threatened.
- Another unique feature of the islands’ ecosystem is its marine faunal diversity, which includes coral reefs and its associated fauna. In all, 555 species of scleractinian corals (hard or stony corals) are found in the island ecosystem, all which are placed under Schedule I of the WPA.