2 December – Daily Current Affairs


The National Capital Region (NCR) is a planning region centred upon the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi in India. It encompasses Delhi and several districts surrounding it from the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan The NCR and the associated National Capital Region Planning Board were created in 1985 to plan the development of the region and to evolve harmonized policies for the control of land-uses and development of infrastructure in the region. Prominent cities of NCR include Delhi, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Gurugram, and Noida.

The NCR is a rural-urban region, with a population of over 46,069,000 and an urbanisation level of 62.6%. As well as the cities and towns, the NCR contains ecologically sensitive areas like the Aravalli ridge, forests, wildlife and bird sanctuaries. The Delhi Extended Urban Agglomeration, a part of the NCR, had an estimated GDP of $370 billion (measured in terms of GDP PPP) in 2015–16.


A total of 24 districts in three neighbouring states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan along with whole of the National
Capital Territory of Delhi constitute the National Capital Region (NCR) of India.


156 species recorded in Peechi-Vazhany wildlife division in a four day exercise  Abutterfly survey at the Peechi-Vazhani wildlife division has recorded a remarkable increase in the species’ numbers. Southern Birdwing, the largest butterfly in India, and Grass Jewel, the smallest, were found during the sur vey. Buddha Peacock, the State butterfly of Kerala, was also recorded.,


A whopping 1,160 elephants were killed in the country due to reasons other than natural causes in the past 10 years up to December 31, 2020, according to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

While electrocution claimed the lives of 741 elephants, train hits led to the death of 186 pachyderms, followed by poaching – 169, and poisoning – 64, a document accessed from the Ministry through the Right to Information (RTI) Act revealed.


The Ministry said in the document that India had a total of 29,964 wild elephants as per an estimation done in 2017. The southern region comprising Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra accounted for the highest population — 14,612 elephants.

The north-east region comprising Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland, the north region of West Bengal, Manipur and Mizoram stood second with 10,139 elephants.

Karnataka – 6,049, Assam – 5,719, Kerala – 5,706, and Tamil Nadu – 2,761 were the top four States that had the highest number of elephants as per the RTI reply from the Project Elephant Division of the MoEFCC.


Project Elephant was launched in 1992 by the Government of India Ministry of Environment and Forests to provide financial and technical support to wildlife management efforts by states for their free-ranging populations ofwild Asian Elephants. The project aims to ensure the long-term survival of the population of elephants in their natural habitats by protecting them, their habitats and migration corridors. Other goals of Project Elephant are supporting the research of the ecology and management of elephants, creating awareness of conservation among local people, providing IMPROVED VETERINARY CARE FOR CAPTIVE ELEPHANTS.


Project Elephant (PE) was launched by the Government of India in the year 1992 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with
following objectives:
To protect elephants, their habitat and corridors.
To address issues of man-animal conflict.
Welfare of captive elephants.
to promote not to harm elephants for their teeth.


Financial support is being provided to major elephant bearing States in the country. The Project is being mainly implemented in 16 States / UTs, viz. Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal. Main activities under the Project are as follows:

Ecological restoration of existing natural habitats and migratory routes of elephants are built better than before;

Development of scientific and planned management for conservation of elephant habitats and viable population of Wild Asiatic elephants in India;

Promotion of measures for mitigation of man-elephant conflict in crucial habitats and moderating pressures of human and domestic stock activities in crucial elephant habitats;  Strengthening of measures for the protection of Wild elephants from poachers and unnatural causes of death;

 Research on Elephant management related issues;
 Public education and awareness programmes;
 Eco-development
 Veterinary care
 Elephant Rehabilitation/Rescue Centers


The Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme is an international collaboration established by a resolution of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) at its 10th Meeting (Harare, 1997). MIKE is a monitoring system put in place across the entire range of African and Asian elephants to provide information for range States to make appropriate management and enforcement decisions, and to build institutional capacity in range States for the longterm conservation of their elephant populations. MIKE fosters dialogue among Parties and facilitates decision-making by the CoP regarding the protected status of elephants by providing reliable information on levels and trends in the illegal killing of elephants; determining changes in these trends over time; determining factors associated with those trends; and assessing the extent to which observed trends are related to CITES decisions on the ivory trade.


India on Wednesday joined the G20 ‘Troika’. With this move, India has started the procedure for taking over the G20 presidency next year. Troika refers to the top grouping within the G20 that consists of the current, previous and the incoming presidencies — Indonesia, Italy and India. “India will assume the G20 presidency on December 1, 2022 from Indonesia, and will convene the G20 Leaders’ Summit for the first time in India in 2023,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. Italy hosted the G20 summit during October 30-31 that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi where India had raised the issue of Afghanistan’s future following the takeover by the Taliban. Indonesia took over the G20 presidency on Wednesday. In the coming months, Indonesia will hold rounds of discussion at various levels among the members of the G20 6 | P a g e before convening the G20 Leaders’ Summit scheduled for October 30- 31, 2022. Next year’s summit will be organised along the overall theme of “Recover Together, Recover Stronger”. “As a Troika member, India will work closely with Indonesia and Italy to ensure consistency and continuity of the G20’s agenda,” the Ministry of External Affairs said


The European Commission announced on Wednesday a plan to mobilise €300 billion ($340 billion) in public and private infrastructure investment around the world, a move seen as a response to China’s Belt and Road strategy. “Global Gateway will aim at mobilising investments of up to 300 billion euros between 2021 and 2027… bringing together resources of the EU, member states, European financial institutions and national development finance institutions,” a commission document said.

Global Gateway: The Global Gateway plan does not mention China’s rival and longer-standing international infrastructure strategy by name — but EU chief Ursula von der Leyen called it a “roadmap for major investment in infrastructure development around the world.” The money to be made available will not come from EU and member state coff ers, and the plan will need funding from international institutions and from the private sector if it is to get anywhere near its target. China launched its global investment strategy known as Belt and Road, a flagship project of President Xi Jinping, in 2013. Beijing has said it had invested $139.8 billion by 2020, including $22.5 billion last year alone. Officially, it aims to develop land and sea infrastructure to better connect China to Asia, Europe and Africa for trade and development, and it has found many partners around the world. The West, however, sees it as a tool for China to influence poorer countries. They criticise Beijing for inciting emerging economies to take on too much debt, and allege the secretive ten der process is prone to corruption. China argues that it respects its partners’ sovereignty while providing loans that benefit joint projects, while critics say Beijing’s contractual terms ignore abuses of human, labour and environmental rights. The EU strategy is an offshoot of a plan by G7 countries to offer developing countries an alternative to Belt and Road Initiative, presented in June at the industrial powers’ summit in Cornwall.


Exports stood at $12.26 bn, says Patel

India’s trade deficit with China stood at $30.07 billion during April-September 2021, Parliament was informed on Wednesday. India’s exports to China during the April-September 2021 period were $12.26 billion, while imports aggregated to $42.33 billion, according to data given by Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Anupriya Patel in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. She said the imports from China had increased from $60.41 billion in 2014-15 to $65.21 billion in 2020-21, exhibiting an increase of 7.94% over six years. However, the imports were static between 2019-20 and 2020-21, she said. “The government has made sustained efforts to achieve a more balanced trade with China, including bilateral engagements to address the non-tariff barriers on Indian exports to China,” Ms. Patel said. Schemes like the production-linked incentive scheme will help promote domestic manufacturing capacities and attract investments and reduce dependency on imports from China, the Minister said.


India’s merchandise exports slipped below the $30-billion mark for the first time in eight months in November to $29.88 billion, even as imports rose sharply, taking the monthly trade deficit to a fresh high. Imports outpaced exports, jumping 38% from pre-COVID levels compared with the 16% increase in exports, though they moderated slightly month-on-month to $53.1 billion from $55.4 billion in October. The trade deficit widened to a fresh record of $23.27 billion, from $19.9 billion in the previous month. This is almost 83% higher than the November 2019 levels. The previous highest monthly trade deficit of $22.6 billion was recorded in September. ‘Worrying deficit’ The trade deficit from April to November 2021 is now close to $122 billion, 7.5% over the same period in FY20. The sharp 16% sequential slide in exports led to a flare up in the trade deficit to a record-high, and the three months since September have now recorded a deficit of $65 billion, which is worrying, said ICRA chiefeconomist Aditi Nayar. Imports, she pointed out, had exceeded $50 billion in each of these months. “Holidays in the festive season have substantially dented the momentum in merchandise exports in November, bringing them down to 8 | P a g e the lowest level of FY22. We are cautiously optimistic that export momentum will revive, although the uncertainty engendered by the Omicron variant poses a concern regarding the immediate outlook,”



Tensions have flared in Eastern Europe and on the Belarusian-Polish border with thousands of asylum seekers attempting to enter Poland, which constitutes the external border of the European Union (EU). Belarus is accused of permitting visa-free entry to refugees, in particular Kurds, from the war-torn West Asia and encouraging their passage to the EU border. Since the EU’s external border constitutes its only line of defence against unwanted migrants, Poland used water cannon and tear gas to repel the asylumseekers, and except for the gravely ill, those who breached the border have been pushed back. In freezing conditions, some 15 or more refugees have died. This crisis and escalation of rhetoric between the EU, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine subserve aspects of the foreign and domestic agendas of all these governments. For Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko, under sanctions by the EU since last year’s election when he secured a sixth dubious term, this is brinkmanship with both the EU and Russia. Belarus has economic and military alliances with Russia, effectively making it the Russian last frontier against an encroaching North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). While Belarus is entirely dependent on Russia, this does not preclude a client state from proving a difficult partner. North Korea is troublesome for China, Haiti for the United States, and there are other examples nearer home. Mr. Lukashenko even threatened to block the pipeline transporting Russian gas through Belarus to the EU, a threat speedily negated by Moscow.

A focus on the EU

President Lukashenko denies inviting migrants to Belarus, instead blaming the EU for closing its borders. He seeks to pressure the EU with a scenario akin the 2015 refugee crisis, when the EU gave money and non-financial incentives to Turkey and certain Libyan warlords to restrain the migration exodus. Finding these tactics blocked, he proposed that Germany take in 2,000 refugees while 7,000 others would be repatriated, but this was rejected, and the majority of migrants are refusing to go home. Politicians in 9 | P a g e West and East Europe accuse Moscow as instigator of the crisis amid claims that Russia is about to invade Ukraine. It defies logic why Russia would stage a crisis with Germany, the destination of the asylum seekers, and invade Ukraine, when procedures are afoot to certify Nord Stream 2, a pipeline to deliver gas to the EU bypassing Ukraine and Belarus. The argument of instigating Russia into reckless action in volving Belarus and Ukraine in order to derail Nord Stream 2 makes much more sense, particularly from an American viewpoint. After initially declaring that it saw no evidence of Russian mobilisation, Ukraine changed tack and endorsed NATO claims of an imminent invasion. Russian grievances concern the use of Turkish built drones in the Donbass breakaway provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, and provocative NATO activities close to its land and sea borders.

The 2015 Minsk agreement was designed to end the conflict in Donbass through provincial elections, decentralisation and the restoration of socio-economic relations between Kiev and the breakaway self styled republics, but there has been no constitutional amendment, no elections, and Donbass is subject to an economic blockade. Moscow has evidently lost hope in Kiev observing the Minsk agreement for substantial regional autonomy. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decree of 2019 allowed Donbass people to claim Russian citizenship, and the latest Kremlin moves to integrate Donbass economically, will turn Ukraine’s east, like Crimea, slowly into a de facto Russian region.

Poland seems the unwilling victim of the tactics of Belarus, but the refugee crisis is a godsend for Warsaw when both Poland and the EU are entangled in a bitter dispute over the rule of law after Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal invalidated some provisions of the EU Treaty.

Contrary to EU’s principles, Warsaw promotes ‘traditional values’ which include homophobic legislation, LGBT free zones and a ban on abortions. Poland has imposed a ban on journalists and NGOs within three kilometres of its frontier, and is under criticism from human rights groups and the Council of Europe, but the tension affords Warsaw scope to boost anti-Russian rhetoric and proclaim itself a defender of Europe, despite antiimmigrant tirades being a staple of its farright politics. The border problem also gives the EU the opportunity to prove its worth to Poland by extending its fulsome support. The larger issue

The crisis on the Belarus-Poland border is symptomatic of the wider refugee problem. In recent months the United States has turned away Haitians, Thailand Burmese, India Rohingyas and Afghans. More than 25,000 people arrived in Britain by sea this year, causing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to fulminate against France’s failure to stem the refugees of whom 27 drowned recently. The migrant crisis is not confined to a few countries, has led to wars like the one between India and Pakistan 50 years ago, and requires corrective action at the transnational level. There are now an estimated 26 million refugees in the world and no country has a creditable record on this issue.

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