Regional integration pegged to SAARC revival
Successful regional integration — both economic and security — depends on the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) becoming fully functional at the highest levels, Sri Lanka’s former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said recently.
He proposed an ‘Economic Integration Road Map (EIRM)’, conceptualised as a “sub-region”, consisting of the five southern States of India, and Sri Lanka, to tap the total population of 300 million people and a combined GDP of over $500 billion.
Basic Facts –
- SAARC was founded in 1985.
- Secretariat – Kathmandu, Nepal.
- Member states – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan joined SAARC in 2007.
Journey so far –
- South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) – Signed in 2004 during 12th SAARC Summit held in Islamabad. The Agreement entered into force on 1 January 2006.
- Bring their duties down to 20% by 2009, which is yet to be implemented.
- Intra-SAARC trade amounts to 1% of SAARC’s GDP, in contrast, in ASEAN – 10% of its GDP.
- SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme
- South Asian University
- SAARC Disaster Management Centre
- “SAARC Chamber” of Commerce & Industry.
- South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) – Signed in April 1993 and entered into force in December 1995 to enhance mutual economic cooperation in the region.
- South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC).
Recent developments –
- South Asia Satellite – “Pakistan has decided to opt-out of the satellite project. So it cannot be called a SAARC satellite. It will be a South Asia satellite”.
- Framework agreement in power sector – Electricity trading through grid connectivity.
- India Business Card for SAARC trade: “India Business Card” to be given to businessmen of high repute in SAARC countries.
BIMSTEC = SAARC- (Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) + (Thailand and Myanmar)
New highway threatens tiger territory in Arunachal Pradesh
Reports say that Arunachal Pradesh government plans to build a 692.7 km highway through the 862 sq km Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) in East Kameng district. What has set alarm bells ringing for environmentalists is a 40 km elevated stretch through the heart of the PTR.
About Namdapha National Park –
- Namdapha National Park is the largest protected area in the Eastern Himalayan Biodiversity Hotspot and is the 3rd largest national park in India in terms of area.
- The area is also known for extensive Dipterocarp forests among the last great remote wilderness areas of Asia. It lies close to the Indo-Myanmar-China tri-junction.
- Namdapha was established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1972. It was declared a tiger reserve and national park in 1983. And it is the eastern-most Tiger Reserve of India.
- Namdapha National Park is famous for being the only park in India to have four big cat species, like leopard, tiger, clouded leopard and snow leopard.
- The entire area is mountainous and comprises the catchment of the Noa-Dihing River, a tributary of the great Brahmaputra river which flows westwards through the middle of Namdapha.
- It is bordered on the north by the Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary (550m to 4200 m), Lohit district.
About Pakke Tiger Reserve –
- Pakke Tiger Reserve, also known as Pakhui Tiger Reserve, is a Project Tiger reserve in the East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India.
- Previously it was declared a Wildlife sanctuary in 2001, and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2002 .
- This Tiger Reserve has won India Biodiversity Award 2016 in the category of ‘Conservation of threatened species’ for its Hornbill Nest Adoption Programme.
- Pakke Tiger Reserve has a subtropical climate with cold weather from November to March.
- Flora includes semi-evergreen, evergreen forest and Eastern Himalayan broad leaf forests.
- Among the famous fauna, the Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, clouded leopard etc. are seen here.
MM Hills sanctuary to be a tiger reserve
The decks have been cleared to notify the Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka’s Chamarajanagar district as a tiger reserve.
- Once notified, Chamarajanagar district will have the rare distinction in the country of having three tiger reserves. It already has Bandipur and Biligiri Ranganatha Temple (BRT) Tiger Reserve within its territorial limits.
- With this inclusion, Karnataka will have six tiger reserves, the others being Nagarahole, Bhadra, and Anshi Dandeli, apart from Bandipur and BRT Tiger Reserves.
- The sanctuary will be renamed Malai Mahadeshwara Hill Tiger Reserve with a core area of 670.95 sq km spread across Malai Mahadeshwara Reserve Forest, Hanur Reserve Forest and Yediyarahalli Reserve Forest.
- The MM Hills wildlife sanctuary is contiguous to BRT Tiger Reserve (584 sq km) on one side, Satyamangalam Tiger Reserve (1,412 sq km) on the other, while the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (1,027 sq km) also borders it, thus providing a contiguous forest cover of over 3,500 sq km that can act as a sink to absorb surplus tiger population and help increase their numbers.
No country is doing enough to protect children’s health, finds study
No single country is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their future, according to a recently released report by a Commission of more than 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world. The Commission was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and The Lancet.
- The report, titled “A Future for the World’s Children?”, finds that the health and future of every child and adolescent worldwide is under immediate threat from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at them.
- In the report assessing the capacity of 180 countries, India stands 77th (sustainability index) and is at 131st position on a ranking that measures the best chance at survival and well-being for children.
- The report says although India has improved in health and sanitation, it has to increase its spending on health.
- The parameters of comparison included child survival, child wellbeing, health and education, sustainability, child nutrition.
Happiness curriculum makes students more responsible
After visiting a government school recently, Delhi’s Education Minister said that ‘happiness curriculum’ has been instrumental in making students evolve as good and responsible human beings. The Minister said that focus on studies has also improved and apart from providing them with quality education and making them responsible professionals.
What is ‘Happiness Curriculum’?
The Happiness curriculum is the scheme of Delhi government launched in July 2018. Its Objectives include-
- Developing self-awareness and mindfulness,
- Inculcating skills of critical thinking and inquiry.
- Enabling learners to communicate effectively and helping learners to apply life skills to deal with stressful and conflicting situations around them
The curriculum is designed for students of classes’ nursery through the eighth standard.
- Group 1 consists of students in nursery and KG, who have bi-weekly classes (45 minutes each for one session, which is supervised by a teacher).
- Group II comprises students from classes 3-5.
- Group III is comprised of students from classes 6-8.