News Probe [11-Feb-2019]

Daily Important News for UPSC Civil Services Examination
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Hilsa Maach

Hilsa Maach

  • Hilsa is the national fish of Bangladesh and considered to be a great delicacy in Bengali cuisine.
  • The largest and tastiest varieties of hilsa come from Bangladesh, found in its Padma-Meghna-Jamuna delta, the largest such natural feature in the world.
  • The hilsa is an anadromous fish. It lives most of its lives in the sea but around the monsoon, when it is time to spawn, the hilsa swims against the tide and goes back to the river where its mother had given birth to it
  • Over the past decades, hilsa production has seen a crisis, with overfishing and damming causing catches to nosedive. Much of this has to do with the Farakka Barrage dam on the Bhagirathi, a distributary of the Ganga.
  • Before the dam’s construction, hilsa was available upstream right till Allahabad but now the fish has mostly disappeared west of Bengal.
  • Water flow to the Padma fell the year the Farakka Barrage was commissioned in the 1990s. This, combined with overfishing of juvenile fish and pollution, means that fish production has gone down in Bangladesh too.
  • Now Bangladeshi fishermen have to go deep into the ocean to catch hilsa. Earlier the hilsa would move from the Bay of Bengal to Bangladesh’s rivers, the Padma and the Meghna, for spawning. It would also take the western route to the Ganga.
  • Now there is more hilsa in the west, in areas bordering Indian waters. Dubo chars (submerged sand islands) have increased in the ocean near Bangladesh in the past ten years. The hilsa, which prefers unhindered migration, has swum away from waters under Bangladeshi control.

This is a debated issue as the Farakka restricts hilsa’s movement. The area just below the barrage has become a point of indiscriminate fishing. Before the barrage was constructed, the fish would swim upstream as far as Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.


  • Now, after a gap of over 40 years, the hilsa will be able to swim down the Ganga all the way up to Allahabad this monsoon.
  • The barrage came with a navigation lock that blocked the free movement of Hilsa. This was being done as a part of the efforts to preserve the biodiversity of Ganga. A navigation lock is a device that is used to raise and lower boats and ships between stretches of water on a river.
  • This lock has now been redesigned to ensure smooth and safe migration of the hilsa shoal during the three mating seasons, particularly during monsoon.
  • The navigation lock being built at a cost of Rs 361 crore as a part of Jal Marg Vikas Pariyojna.
  • The pressure on the silver fish saw India-Bangladesh foreign relations come into play. With falling fish numbers, Bangladesh resented India sucking up large amounts during the monsoons. Domestic pressure has resulted in bans being placed on and off, the most recent one being clamped down in 2012.
  • India has been pro-active in trying to pressure Dhaka to reverse this ban. As part of the India-Bangladesh Joint Working Group on Trade, India has been hard at work trying to convince Bangladesh to allow the export of Hilsa from their deltaic country.

Global IP Index

Gloabl IP Index

  • According to the 6th edition of the latest international Intellectual Property (IP) index released by the US Chambers of Commerce’s  Global Innovation Policy Center’s (GIPC’s), India ranks 44th out of 50 countries wherein India’s overall score has increased substantially from 25% (8.7 out of 35) in 2017 to 30% (12.03 out of 40) in 2018.
  • In 2017, India ranked 43rd out of 45 countries in the index, with an overall score of 8.7 point.
  • USA topped the list with a score of 37.98 points, followed by United Kingdom (UK) and Sweden with scores of 37.97 and 37.03 respectively.
  • The report analyses the intellectual property (IP) climate in 50 world economies based on 40 unique indicators that benchmark activity critical to innovation development surrounding patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets protection.
  • The report mentions that India has broken free of the bottom ten percent of economies measured, and its score represents the largest percentage improvement of any country measured for the first time.

Key Areas of Strength

  • India’s performance on the Index finely captures the Government of India’s incremental, consistent initiatives over time to improve the country’s IP ecosystem, guided by the vision of the 2016 National IP Rights Policy:
  • Accession to WIPO Internet Treaties shows India’s recognition of international standards of copyright protection.
  • New pilot PPH program with the JPO is a positive step.
  • Generous R&D and IP-based incentives.
  • Global leader in targeted administrative incentives for the creation and use of IP assets for SMEs
  • Strong awareness raising efforts on the negative impact of piracy and counterfeiting.

The government’s pro-IP policies, have the potential to transform the government’s programmes such as ‘Accelerating Growth for New India Innovations,’ ‘Startup India’, and ‘Digital India’ to economic reality.

Key Areas of Weakness

  • Despite India’s improved show there are still substantial challenges regarding the country’s patenting and IP enforcement environment:
  • Barriers to licensing and technology transfer, including strict registration requirements.
  • Limited framework for the protection of biopharmaceuticals IP rights.
  • Patentability requirements outside international standards.
  • No RDP available or patent term restoration for biopharmaceuticals.
  • Lengthy pre-grant opposition proceedings.

Illegal Mining

Illegal Mining image

  • Mining is considered illegal when it is done without a license or outside the licensed area and when more than the permissible amount is extracted.
  • In August 2017, Supreme Court in the light of rampant illegal mining, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to revise the National Mineral Policy by December 2017.
  • India is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of mica, coal, iron ore, bauxite and manganese. It has long been grappling with illegal mining, primarily in Karnataka, Goa, Haryana, Rajasthan and Odisha, ever since it opened up mining to private companies in the 1990s.
  • From soil erosion and groundwater contamination to loss of forest cover and biodiversity, unbridled mining plays havoc with an ecosystem.
  • Maharashtra tops the list of states, registering highest number of illegal mining cases from 2009-10 to 2016-17.
  • Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu are the only four states that have registered a decline in illegal mining.
  • Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are the four states where the number of illegal mining cases of major minerals has increased.
  • In India, the classifications of ‘minor minerals’ and ‘major minerals’ have been done according to Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. Minerals such as coal, lignite and iron ore are considered as ‘major minerals’.
  • The Shah Commission is a high power panel set up by the Union Ministry of Mines in 2010 to look into the illegal mining of iron ore and manganese in the country.


  • The Ministry of Mines has formed a three pronged strategy for prevention of illegal mining:
  • The first is the constitution of a task force by state governments at the state or district level, which also includes a representative of Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM).
  • The second step is about requesting states to frame rules under Section 23C of the MMDRA Act, 1957:
  1. A Central Coordination-cum-Empowered Committee has been set by Government, with representation from State Governments and Central Ministries concerned, to consider all mining related issues, including specifically, matters relating to coordination of activities to combat illegal mining at regular intervals.
  2. The State Governments have been advised to set up State Coordination-cum-Empowered Committee (SCEC) to coordinate efforts to control illegal mining by including representatives of Railways, Customs and Port authorities. Separately the State Governments have also been advised to prepare and adopt an Action Plan with specific measures to detect and control illegal mining including, use of remote sensing, control on traffic, gather market intelligence, registration of end-users and setting up of special cells etc.
  • The third is about asking states to furnish quarterly returns on illegal mining for review by the Central government.
  • The Central Government amended Rule 45 of the Mineral Conservation and Development Rules, 1988, making it mandatory for all miners, traders, stockists, exporters and end-users to register with the Indian Bureau of Mines and report on movement of minerals to Indian Bureau of Mines and State Government as one of the measures to combat illegal mining.

States and their minerals

  • Karnataka
  • Minerals: Gold, iron, manganese, clay, ochre, quartz, gemstones, copper, kaolin, limestone, magnetite.
  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Minerals: Barites, iron-ore, semi-precious stones, granites, sand.
  • Goa
  • Minerals: Iron, manganese, bauxite.
  • Chhattisgarh
  • Minerals: Iron ore, coal and bauxite, 22 varieties of other minerals, including diamonds.
  • Odisha
  • Minerals: Iron ore, coal, bauxite, chromite, nickel and cobalt.
  • MP
  • Minerals: Diamond, copper, limestone, sand, manganese.
  • Rajasthan
  • Minerals: Marble, sandstone, rich non-metallic & industrial minerals, limestone, lignite
  • West Bengal
  • Minerals: Coal, apalite, asbestos, barytes, China clay, ochre, sand, graphite, mica, titanium ore.
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Minerals: Sand, bauxite, magnetite and granite quarrying also take place.
  • Haryana
  • Minerals: Minor but crucial in infrastructure projects: gravel, clay, sand.
  • Bihar
  • Minerals: Sand mining, stone quarrying in hilly areas.
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