1.International Tiger Day (PIB, NEWS ON AIR)
2.Not just a question of weeks (The Hindu)
1.International Tiger Day (PIB, NEWS ON AIR)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the declining tiger population and need to have conservation plan. (GS paper III)
- Tigers occupy an important place in the Indian culture. Since ages, it has been the symbol of magnificence, power, beauty and fierceness and has been associated with bravery and valour. The number of tigers in the wild from around 1,00,000, a century ago has been reduced to just about 3200 in 2010. With such an alarming decline in the number of tigers, the governments of the tiger range countries have joined hands along with the World Bank to save the majestic big cat of the Asian Jungle.
- Many of the tiger populations across the nation, particularly those outside protected reserves, face a variety of threats, including habitat fragmentation, encroachment, and poaching and developmental projects. These problems are directly or indirectly linked to anthropogenic factors.
- The tiger is a unique animal which plays a pivotal role in the health and diversity of an ecosystem. It is a top predator which is at the apex of the food chain and keeps the population of wild ungulates in check, thereby maintaining the balance between prey herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed. Therefore, the presence of tigers in the forest is an indicator of the well being of the ecosystem.
- The extinction of this top predator is an indication that its ecosystem is not sufficiently protected, and neither would it exist for long thereafter.
- In India, the tiger is found practically throughout the country, from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, except in Punjab, Kutch and the deserts of Rajasthan. In the northeast, its range extends into Burma. Tigers occupy a variety of habitats including tropical evergreen forests, deciduous forests, mangrove swamps, thorn forests and grass jungles.
International tiger day
- International Tiger Day or Global Tiger Day is celebrated on July 29 to raise awareness about tiger conservation, promote the protection of the natural habitat of tigers and support tiger conservation issues. International Tiger Day came into being in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in Russia. The conference of the heads of 13 countries, where tigers are found decided to observe July 29 as Tiger’s Day.
- The International Tiger Day 2017 is celebrated with the slogan ‘Fresh Ecology For Tigers’ Protection’.
St. Petersburg declaration
- Petersburg in Russia hosted the first ever high-level summit meeting to save an endangered species- The Tiger. The International Tiger Conservation Forum meeting which was organized by the government of the Russian Federation in association with the World Bank was the culmination of nearly a two year long consultation process between the 13 tiger range countries to evolve a global strategy to save the big cat as part of the Global Tiger Initiative of the World Bank.
- Russian Prime Minister along with leaders from India, China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam signed the St. Petersburg Declaration affirming their resolve to save wild tigers from extinction.
- As a part of the declaration the International Tiger Conservation Forum meeting endorsed the Global Tiger Recovery programme which aims to double the number of these iconic cats by the year 2022 from the present number of 3200.
- India played an important role in the process of the finalization of the 12 year Global Tiger Recovery programme. According to the World Wildlife Fund the biggest success of the summit was the promise of providing new funds of nearly 127 million dollars to support the Global Tiger Recovery plan.
- Tiger is symbol of wilderness and well-being of the ecosystem. By conserving and saving tigers the entire wilderness ecosystem is conserved. Hence conserving wilderness is important and crucial to maintain the life support system.
- Tigers play a pivotal role in the health of the ecosystem. It constitutes the top carnivores in the ecosystem and is at the apex of the food chain. The removal of a top carnivore from an ecosystem can have an impact on the relative abundance of herbivore species within a guild. Along with other major carnivores as leopard it acts as a control mechanism for herbivores or consumers. So saving tiger amounts to saving the ecosystem which is crucial for man’s own survival.
Question– Tigers constitute an important link in food chain and its extinction may cause unforeseen circumstances?
2.Not just a question of weeks (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It throws light on the need to take up the long-pending bill on updating provisions for abortion. (GS paper II)
- The case of a 10-year-old rape victim seeking the court permission to abort has once again brought to the forefront the issue of the need for a comprehensive law on Medical Termination of Pregnancy.
- With the 2014 draft Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill in limbo, the Supreme Court has agreed to look into whether a wider interpretation ought to be given to phrases like “risk to the life of the pregnant woman” and “grave injury to her physical and mental health”.
- Legal experts have argued that medical science and technology have made the 20-week ceiling redundant and that conclusive determination of foetal abnormality is possible in most cases after the 20th week of gestational age. So there is need to consider the decision to increase the legal limit for abortion from 20 weeks to 24 weeks.
Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill
- The draft Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill of 2014 seeks to amend Section 3 of the principle The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971 to provide that “the length of pregnancy shall not apply” in a decision to abort a foetus diagnosed with “substantial foetal abnormalities as may be prescribed”.
- The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in India was amended in 2003 to facilitate better implementation and increase access for women especially in the private health sector. However, unsafe abortions are widely prevalent even 40 years after the Act came into force.
- The current Act does not allow abortions above the gestational age of 20 weeks. However, legal experts have argued that medical science and technology have made the 20-week ceiling redundant and that conclusive determination of foetal abnormality is possible in most cases after the 20th week of gestational age.
- Besides increasing the legal limit for abortion from 20 weeks to 24 weeks, the draft Bill allows a woman to take an independent decision in consultation with a registered health-care provider. Under the 1971 Act, even pregnant rape victims cannot abort after 20 weeks, compelling them to move court.
- Unfortunately, the Bill is still awaiting approval. The Prime Minister’s Office is reported to have returned the proposed amendments and called for stricter implementation of the law. It believes that amendments to the Act are likely to give rise to illegal sex selection and abortion rackets.
- The World Health Organisation notes that “Legal restrictions on abortion do not result in fewer abortions nor do they result in significant increases in birth rates. Conversely, laws and policies that facilitate access to safe abortion do not increase the rate or number of abortions.
- Restricting legal access to abortion does not decrease the need for abortion, but it is likely to increase the number of women seeking illegal and unsafe abortions, leading to increased morbidity and mortality. Legal restrictions also lead many women to seek services in other countries/states, which is costly, delays access and creates social inequities.
- The WHO report also says that “laws and policies on abortion should protect women’s health and their human rights. Regulatory, policy and programmatic barriers that hinder access to and timely provision of safe abortion care should be removed.”
- There are several questions -From a women’s rights perspective, should not a pregnant mother have the right to decide whether to go through full-term when there is even the slightest chance of a foetal infirmity and not “substantial foetal abnormalities”. Should not the wishes and desires of the person who will be the caretaker be considered?
- Abortion the world over is a sensitive topic. Arguments cut both ways. Each country has its own time limit within which the pregnancy may be terminated, given the advancements in medical science; a lot of abnormalities can be determined by an ultrasound midway through a pregnancy. Unfortunately, there appear to be no guidelines relating to the conduct of ultrasounds. As a starting point, we need uniformity in medical standards.
- Irrespective of the marital status of women, access to safe abortion services and quality post-abortion care, including counselling, need to be guaranteed. A strong recognition of women’s right to freely exercise their reproductive and sexual rights, including the right to abortion, should be there.
Question– Throw light on provisions of MTP act. What reform measures are needed to make it more comprehensive and sensitive?