Current Affair – April 12, 2021

New study on Indus and Ganges River Dolphins

  • Currently, both  are classified as two subspecies under Pla­tanistagangetica.
  • A news detailed analysis of South Asian river dolphins has revealed that the Indus and Ganges River dolphins are not one, but two separate species.
  • Body growth, skull morphology, tooth counts, colouration and genetic ma­keup were studied.

Study Findings

  1. Indus and Ganges river dolphins may have diverged around 550,000 years ago.
  2. From the sequences in the DNA, it was quite clear that the Ganges dolphins and the Indus dol­phins were quite different.

Difficulties in carrying study Ganges Dolphin

  • The Ganges dolphin is a Schedule I animal under the Indian Wildlife (Protec­tion) Act 1972, and has been included in Annexure – I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), so one cannot transfer any tissue or sample to foreign countries without getting CITES permission from the Competent Author­ity of Government of India.
  • Finding dead animals were uncommon because they either float downstream or sink, and museum collec­tions worldwide contain on­ly a few specimens and most of them are damaged.

Threats to Dolphin

  • Physical barriers such as dams and barrages created across the river reduced the gene flow to a great extent making the species vulnerable.
  • River flow is also declin­ing very fast as river water is being diverted through the barrages and this has affect­ed the dolphin habitats.
  • Previously fishermen used to hunt dolphins and use their oil as bait, but though that practice of directed kill­ing has stopped and they are not being hunted intention­ally they end up as acciden­tal catches.
  • Before the 1990s, there were oar boats and country boats; but now me­chanised boats are also caus­ing accidental injury to the dolphins.
  • Both point and non-point sources of pollution are affecting the dolphin habitat.

Way forward

  • Recently Chinese river dol­phin went extinct.
  • Though the Indian government has given legal protection to the dol­phin, more ground action and close work with local communities are needed to help them survive.
Source: The Hindu

Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 2021

  • The Tribunals Reforms Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in February, but was not taken up for consideration in the last session of Parliament.
  • The President later issued the ordinance.

Features of ordinance

  1. It scraps the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT).
  2. Eight other appellate authorities have also been disbanded with immediate effect.
  3. The ordinance has amended The Cinematograph Act, 1952, and replaced the word ‘Tribunal’ with ‘High Court’.


  • FCAT is a statutory body that had been set up to hear appeals of filmmakers against decisions of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), and transfers its function to other existing judicial bodies.
  • It was established in 1883 as a statutory body under The Cinematograph Act.
  • It is headed by a member from the legal fraternity.
  • Before the FCAT, filmmakers had to approach the court to seek redressal against CBFC certifications or suggested cuts. So, the FCAT acted like a buffer for filmmakers.

Film certification process:  Films meant for distribution in theatres require to be certified as

  • ‘U’ (unrestricted public exhibition),
  •  ‘UA’ (unrestricted public exhibition subject to parental guidance for children below the age of 12),
  • ‘A’ (restricted to adult audiences) or
  • ‘S’ (restricted to specialised audiences such as doctors or scientists) by the CBFC, which has an examining committee and a revising committee.

Importance of FCAT in the process

  • In the context of a ban on a film or an order to delete scenes and dialogues from a film, the FCAT was called upon to frame the objections of the certification board in the context of the constitutional framework of freedom of expression.
  • The rationale for setting up the FCAT was to reduce the burden on courts by functioning as an appellate body.
  • Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee examined the certification process and suggested recommendations. Neither the Mudgal committee nor the Shyam Benegal committee recommended that the FCAT be scrapped.  Both the committees suggested an expansion of the body’s jurisdiction.
  • Now that the FCAT has been disbanded, it will be left to the already overburdened courts to adjudicate.

Supreme Court Madras Bar Association vs. Union of India order

  • In November 2020, it directed the government to constitute a National Tribunals Commission.
  • It said the Commission would “act as an independent body to supervise the appointments and functioning of Tribunals, as well as to conduct disciplinary proceedings against members of Tribunals and to take care of administrative and infrastructural needs of the Tribunals, in an appropriate manner”.
  • The top court, addressing the issue of dependence of tribunals on the executive for administrative requirements, recommended the creation of an umbrella organisation that would be an independent supervisory body to oversee the working of tribunals.
Source: The Hindu

Irrawaddy Dolphin population

  • The population of dolphins in Chilika, India’s largest brackish water lake, and along the Odisha coast has doubled this year compared with last year.
  • The wildlife wing of the State Forest and Environment Department released the final data on the dolphin census conducted in January and February this year.
  • Participants in the exercise: Wildlife activists, academicians, Forest Department officials, NGO members, boat operators and researchers from the Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, participated in the estimation exercise.
  • The population estimation exercise for dolphins and other cetacean species covered almost the entire coast of Odisha.
  • Three species were recorded during the census, with 544 Irrawaddy, bottle­ nose and humpback dolphins sighted this year, compared with 233 last year.

About Irrawaddy Dolphin

  • These are endangered species and mostly found in Chilika lake.
  • Chilies lake boasts of the highest single lagoon population of Irrawaddy Dolphin in the world.
  • Irrawaddy dolphins are found in coastal areas in South and Southeast Asia, and in three rivers

Increase in population

  • The humpback dolphins were not part of any riverine systems, so they cannot be identified as residential mammals. They were spotted travelling along the Odisha coast and the number is likely to fluctuate in the next census.   The population  jumped from 146 in 2020 to 162 this year.
  • Apart from Chilika, 39 Irrawaddy dolphins were sighted in the Rajnagar mangrove division, though their number has come down from 60 in 2020.
  • The highest growth has been noticed in the case of humpback dolphins. Two humpbacks were sighted in the Rajnagar mangrove in 2020. In 2021, however, this population grew astronomically to 281.
Source: The Hindu

Egypt new discovery “lost golden city”

  • A three-millennia-old “lost golden city” from the era of 18th-dynasty king Amenhotep III was found in Egypt. AmenhotepIII ruled ancient Egypt from 1391 to 1353 B.C., was found in Egypt.


  • The newly discovered city is located on the west bank of the Nile river, close to the Colossi of Memnon, MedinetHabu and the Ramesseum, or mortuary temple of King Ramses II, all of which are popular tourist destinations.
  • With mud-brick houses, artefacts, and tools discovered from the reign of the Pharaohs, some are even calling the find an “ancient Egyptian Pompeii”.
  • Achaeologists found city walls and even rooms filled with utensils used in daily life.
  • They have found clay caps of wine vessels, rings, scarabs, coloured pottery, and spinning and weaving tools.
  • Some mud bricks discovered here bear the seal of King Amenhotep III, who is considered to be one of Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs.
  • The site contains a large number of ovens and kilns for the city was once the largest administrative and industrial settlement of the pharaonic empire and many foreign missions who were looking for the settlement had not been able to find it.
Source: Indian Express

India-Netherlands virtual summit

  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and H.E Mr. Mark Rutte,Prime Minister of the Netherlands held a Virtual Summit.
  • India and the Netherlands have a strong and steady relationship, nurtured by the shared values of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights and the historic bonds of friendship between the two countries.
  • During the Summit, the two leaders had a detailed review of the entire spectrum of bilateral engagements and exchanged views on further expanding and diversifying the relationship in trade and economy, water management, agriculture sector, smart cities, science & technology, healthcare and space.
  • The two Prime Ministers agreed on instituting a ‘Strategic Partnership on Water’ to further deepen the Indo-Dutch cooperation in the water related sector, and upgrading the Joint Working Group on water to Ministerial-level.
  • The leaders also exchanged views on regional and global challenges such as climate change, counter-terrorism and Covid-19 pandemic and agreed to leverage the emerging convergences in new areas like Indo-Pacific, Resilient Supply Chains and Global Digital Governance.
Source: PIB

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