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Polity and Governance
In News
Recently, Two Supreme Court judges have recused themselves from hearing cases relating to
West Bengal.
On June 21, Delhi High Court judge Anup Bhambhani recused himself from hearing a
plea by digital media houses challenging the validity of the IT rules regulating
About Judge Recusal
When there is a conflict of interest, a judge can withdraw from hearing a case to
prevent creating a perception that she carried a bias while deciding the case.
For example, if the case pertains to a company in which the judge holds stakes, the
apprehension would seem reasonable.
Similarly, if the judge has, in the past, appeared for one of the parties involved in
a case, the call for recusal may seem right.
Another instance for recusal is when an appeal is filed in the Supreme Court
against a judgement of a High Court that may have been delivered by the
Supreme Court judge when she was in the High Court.
This practise stems from the cardinal principle of due process of law that nobody can
be a judge in her case.
Any interest or conflict of interest would be a ground to withdraw from a case
since a judge must act fair.
Process For Recusal
The decision to recuse generally comes from the judge herself as it rests on the
conscience and discretion of the judge to disclose any potential conflict of interest.
In some circumstances, lawyers or parties in the case bring it up before the judge.
If a judge recuses, the case is listed before the Chief Justice for allotment to a
fresh Bench.
There are no formal rules governing recusals, although several Supreme Court
judgments have dealt with the issue.
In Ranjit Thakur v Union of India (1987), the Supreme Court held that the tests
of the likelihood of bias are the reasonableness of the apprehension in the mind
of the party.
A Judge shall not hear and decide a matter in a company in which he holds
shares unless he has disclosed his interest and no objection to his hearing and
deciding the matter is raised,”
States the 1999 charter ‘Restatement of Values in Judicial Life’, a code of
ethics adopted by the Supreme Court.
Once a request is made for recusal, the decision to recuse or not rests with the judge.
While there are some instances where judges have recused even if they do not
see a conflict but only because such apprehension was cast.
There have also been several cases where judges have refused to withdraw from
a case.
For instance, in 2019, Justice Arun Mishra had controversially refused to
recuse himself from a Constitution Bench set up to re-examine a
judgement he had delivered previously, despite several requests from
the parties.
Justice Mishra had reasoned that the request for recusal was an excuse for
“forum shopping” and agreeing could compromise the independence of
the judiciary.
In the Ayodhya-Ramjanmabhoomi case, Justice U U Lalit recused
himself from the Constitution Bench after parties brought to his attention
that he had appeared as a lawyer in a criminal case relating to the case.
Recording of Reasons for Recusal
Since no formal rules are governing the process, it is often left to individual judges to
record reasons for recusal.
Some judges disclose the reasons in open court; in some cases, the reasons are apparent.
The two Supreme Court judges who have recused themselves from cases relating
to West Bengal had been Calcutta High Court judges.
The cases they have recused from relating to post-poll violence in the
state and the Narada scam, which have become political battles between
the state and Centre in court.
In his opinion in the National Judicial Appointments Commission judgment in 2015,
Justice (now retired) Kurian Joseph, who was a member of the Constitution Bench,
highlighted the need for judges to give reasons for recusal as a measure to build
It is the constitutional duty, as reflected in one’s oath, to be transparent and
accountable, and hence, a judge is required to indicate reasons for his recusal
from a particular case.
Recusal is also regarded as the abdication of duty. Maintaining institutional civilities are
distinct from the fiercely independent role of the judge as an adjudicator.
It is the constitutional duty, as reflected in one’s oath, to be transparent and
accountable, and hence, a judge is required to indicate reasons for his recusal from a
particular case.
Source: IE
In News :
The Odisha government has proposed to raise mangrove and casuarinas plantation in the
coastal belt.
Odisha is one the most cyclone-prone states in the country and it also is vulnerable to
various natural disasters like flood, hailstorm, drought due to its unique geo-climatic
The mangroves have acted as a bio-shield against the strong winds in all the cyclones
that struck the state.
Previously, the mangroves served as a natural barrier to cyclonic winds in
Bhitarkanika National Park during Cyclone Yaas.
As many as 96 cyclones have hit Odisha coast in the last 130 years.
Therefore, it is important to build a coastal shelter belt to protect the coastal areas.
The Odisha coastal area is a wildlife hotspot as well as an economic zone.
A mangrove is a small tree or shrub that grows along coastlines, taking root in salty
sediments, often underwater.
The word ‘mangrove’ may refer to the habitat as a whole or the trees and shrubs in the
mangrove swamp.
Lythraceae, Combretaceae, and Arecaceae.
The upper trunk, including the branches and leaves, of a mangrove tree, lives
completely above the waterline, while the lower trunk and the large root system are
partly covered by seawater.
Many species have roots diverging from stems and branches and penetrating the soil
some distance away from the main stem (like banyan trees).
Saline Environment: A speciality of mangroves is that they can survive under
extreme hostile environments such as high salt and low oxygen conditions.
Mangrove trees contain a complex salt filtration system and complex
root system to cope with saltwater immersion and wave action.
The roots filter out 90% of the salt they come into contact with within
the saline and brackish water they call home. Some species of mangrove
excrete salt through glands in their leaves.
Low oxygen: Underground tissue of any plant needs oxygen for respiration. But
in a mangrove environment, the oxygen in soil is limited or nil.
Hence the mangrove root system absorbs oxygen from the atmosphere.
Mangroves have special roots for this purpose called breathing roots or
the underground tissues.
Store Freshwater: Mangroves, like desert plants, store fresh water in thick
succulent leaves. A waxy coating on the leaves seals in the water and minimises
Mangroves are viviparous: Their seeds germinate while still attached to the
parent tree. Once germinated, the seedling grows into a propagule.
The mature propagule then drops into the water and gets transported to
a different spot, eventually taking root in a solid ground.
Distribution of Mangroves
Mangroves can be found in over 118 countries and territories in the tropical and
subtropical regions of the world.
Asia has the largest coverage of the world’s mangroves, followed by Africa,
North and Central America, Oceania and South America. Approximately 75% of
the world’s mangrove forests are found in just 15 countries.
In India:
The deltas of the Ganges, Mahanadi, Krishna, Godavari, and the Cauvery
rivers contain mangrove forests.
The backwaters in Kerala have a high density of mangrove forest.
The Sundarbans in West Bengal is the largest mangrove region in the
world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It spans from the Hooghly
River in West Bengal to the Baleswar River in Bangladesh.
The Bhitarkanika mangrove system in Odisha is India’s second-largest
mangrove forest.
Pichavaram in Tamil Nadu has a vast expanse of water covered with
mangrove forests. It is home to many aquatic bird species.
Importance of Mangroves
Mangrove forests act as natural barriers against storm surge, coastal flooding and sea-
level rise.
Their intricate root system stabilises the coastline, reducing erosion from storm
surges. Together with the tree trunks, they work like speed-breakers to slow
down the tides.
Mangrove thickets maintain water quality by filtering pollutants and trapping
sediments originating from land.
They provide habitat for a diverse array of terrestrial organisms.
Their branches provide homes for lizards, snakes and nesting birds. Many
species of coastal and offshore fish and shellfish rely exclusively on mangroves
as their breeding, spawning, and hatching grounds.
Mangroves also have a big impact on climate. Mangroves are powerhouses when it
comes to carbon storage.
Studies indicate that mangroves can sequester (lock away) greater amounts of
carbon than other trees in the peat soil beneath. They store this carbon for
thousands of years.
Many people living in and around mangroves depend on them for their livelihood.
The trees are a source of wood for construction and fuel. The ecosystem
provides local fishermen with a rich supply of fish, crabs and shellfish. The
ecosystem also supports tourism.
Major Threats
Scientists estimate that at least one-third of all mangrove forests have been lost during
the last few decades.
Coastal development, including the construction of shrimp farms, hotels, and
other structures, is the primary threat to mangroves.
Mangrove forests are cleared to make room for agricultural land and human
Mangrove trees are used for firewood, construction wood, charcoal production,
and animal fodder. In some parts of the world, there has been overharvesting
which is no longer sustainable.
Overfishing, pollution, and rising sea levels are the other threats to mangrove
forests and their ecosystem.
The mangroves have a crucial role in sustaining and preserving the coastal ecosystem.
The threats posed by human activities can disrupt the natural balance and cause their
Hence, efforts need to be taken to compensate for the plants that are damaged due to
various natural and anthropogenic activities with proper plantation drives.
Pandemic and Malnutrition Syllabus: GS2/ Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services
relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
In News The Parliamentary panel asked the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD) to conduct a survey on the impact of the pandemic on anganwadi services and malnutrition levels among children. About
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports fixating on the need for data to understand “how anganwadi services were delivered on the ground during the pandemic, and to assess the impact of COVID-19 on stunting and wasting levels”.
Recently, the government has launched an app called Poshan Tracker to monitor delivery of services at 14 lakh anganwadis, but here also the data is beginning to be uploaded only from June 1.
The Ministry also made a presentation on children orphaned during COVID-19 and apprised the panel of various measures being taken to help them, including
funds for family and institutional care, revising norms for child care institutions as well as maintaining monthly reports on foster care for such children.
The secondary impacts of the COVID-19 crisis are aggravating the challenges faced by many families, especially in terms of access to affordable and nutritious food. This could reverse some of the recent gains in reducing malnutrition.
The term malnutrition addresses 3 broad groups of conditions: Undernutrition, which includes wasting (low weight-for-height), stunting (low
height-for-age) and underweight (low weight-for-age); Micronutrient-related malnutrition, which includes micronutrient deficiencies (a
lack of important vitamins and minerals) or micronutrient excess; and Overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (such as heart
disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers). India's Malnutrition Profile
There are about 189.2 million undernourished people in India; a majority of whom are women and children.
According to government figures from the year 2015-2016, 22.9% of women in the 15-29 age group are underweight, as compared to 20.2% of men in the same age group.
Further, according to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 report, in 2016, nearly 51.4 percent of women of reproductive age in India were suffering from anemia.
Almost 50% of women are facing severe undernutrition and Anaemia. In fact, around 60 million children, which is roughly about half, of all children in India are
underweight, about 45 per cent are stunted, 21 percent are wasted, 57 percent are vitamin A deficient, and 75 percent are anemic.
Malnutrition has thus become the major contributor to the under-five mortality rate in India.
These statistics indicate that undernutrition in India is a gendered problem. The root cause for these male-female differentials can be found in native socio-
cultural norms and mindsets. Such norms, rooted in patriarchy, would suggest that distribution of resources---including food---should be done in a hierarchical manner, with male members of the family typically at the top of the ladder.
Malnutrition and the widespread prevalence of stunting, wasting, and nutritional deficiencies among women and children are well-recognised elements of India's profile in the Global Hunger Index.
The prevalence of malnutrition in India has notably declined over the last decade, and the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey 2016-18 revealed that major challenges remain.
Initiatives by GoI to Address Malnutrition and Food Security The initiatives covered under the National Food Security (NFS) Act, 2013:
Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), the Mid-Day meals (MDM) and The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).
POSHAN Abhiyaan (2018), an ambitious, multi-sectoral programme with the vision to attain a malnutrition-free India by 2022.
An example of the success of POSHAN Abhiyaan is the increase in the coverage
of iron folate supplementation for adolescent girls under the Anaemia Mukt
Bharat Campaign, which reduced the prevalence of anaemia from 20 percent to 39 percent in two years.
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana: Centrally sponsored Scheme Started in 2017 Rs.6,000 is transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women and
Lactating Mothers for availing better facilities for their delivery to compensate for wage loss
Eligible for First Child of the family Implementation of the scheme is closely monitored by the central and state
governments through the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana - Common Application Software (PMMVY-CAS).
Anemia Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan: Launched in 2018, The mission aims at accelerating the annual rate of decline of anaemia from one to
three percentage points. Challenges
Income loss being faced by the population amid Covid 19 Supply chains are disrupted causing harm to farmers, specially the small and marginal
ones. Health systems and services are strained due to lack of infrastructure and also because
of the fear in people’s minds that if they visit a Doctor, their chances of catching the virus will increase.
Malnutrition is on rise again as shown by recent trends. Awareness about immunity boosters and nutrition rich diets is the need of the hour.
Health budget for nutrition and other aspects needs to increase if we wish to achieve the SDGs by 2030
Nutrition actions: Maximise maternal, infant and young child nutrition actions. It is paramount to provide appropriate support for mothers to breastfeed, including those with COVID-19.
Community-based services: Continue to provide critical community-based nutrition services using innovative/digital delivery systems for basic services such as promotion of breastfeeding, micronutrient supplementation, and basic primary health care including immunisations.
Partnership with agriculture: Needed to increase access to healthy and diverse food. Strengthening local supply chains for vegetables, fruit and other perishable foods that are subject to waste, especially in the context of lockdowns.
Strengthen food supply: To ensure smooth transportation of food supply, transportation costs should be reduced, and transporters incentivized while public buildings can be used as temporary storage facilities for increasing storage capacity.
Special Attention: Focus needs to be on those who are most at risk of facing food shortages such as daily wage earners and returning migrant workers.
School feeding and nutrition: As schools are closed due to COVID-19, comprehensive guidance should be provided to school staff, parents and children on the importance of social distancing, consumption of safe and healthy diets, hygiene and physical activity for school-aged children.
Establish nutrition surveillance: Regular collection and analysis of maternal and child nutrition data at state and district levels will assist in identifying areas where malnutrition is increasing.
Communication Campaigns: Roll out national communication campaigns on COVID-19 Reiterating the need for social distancing while continuing to safely breastfeed infants, promoting handwashing, and emphasising the need for healthy diets, basic nutrition services such as vitamin A supplementation and immunisation.
India has taken important steps and a few more concerted actions can get us closer to ensuring nutrition and food needs of the people are adequately met during these unprecedented times.
By joining efforts, the Government, civil society, development partners, private sector, academia, the United Nations and other stakeholders can support the continued, safe and appropriate delivery of nutrition programmes.
United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition On 1 April 2016, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed 2016–2025 the
United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition. The Decade is an unprecedented opportunity for addressing all forms of malnutrition. Led by WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO),
the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition calls for policy action across 6 key areas: creating sustainable, resilient food systems for healthy diets; providing social protection and nutrition-related education for all; aligning health systems to nutrition needs, and providing universal coverage of
essential nutrition interventions; ensuring that trade and investment policies improve nutrition; building safe and supportive environments for nutrition at all ages; and strengthening and promoting nutrition governance and accountability,
everywhere. 5 D’s for Nutrition
As India puts all its efforts to deal with the crisis and revive the economy, in order to strengthen the health and nutrition landscape it must focus on the 5D’s: Dialogue, Decentralize, Digitalize, Data and Diversification.
Dialogue is essential to empower the frontline workers to help them deal with the current crisis, and after that, to bring all stakeholders together to foster effective convergence and generate awareness among the community about their rights, entitlements and roles.
Decentralizing responsibility and accountability is a must to enable local governance to provide customized solutions in a timely fashion.
Digital outreach is extremely necessary to ensure the masses receive the correct messages, particularly in these times of multiple communication channels and fake news.
Data must be the basis for taking strategic decisions, and comprehensive data visualization tools should be used to scale up and optimise resource utilization.
Diversified approaches are needed to involve multiple sectors, and make health and nutrition a focus of the non-health sector too.
Sources: TH
Pygmy Hogs Conservation Syllabus: GS 2, Government Policies and Interventions, GS 3, Conservation
In News Recently, 8 of 12 captive-bred pygmy hogs have been released in the Manas National Park of western Assam.
This is the second batch to have been reintroduced into the wild under the Pygmy Hog
Conservation Programme (PHCP) in 2021.
Pygmy Hogs Scientific Name: Porcula salvania Features
o These are the world’s rarest and smallest members of the pig family. o It is one of the very few mammals that build its own home, or nest, complete
with a ‘roof’. o It is an indicator species as its presence reflects the health of its primary
habitat, tall and wet grasslands. A number of other endangered species like the one-horned rhino, tiger,
hog deer, eastern barasingha, water buffalo, hispid hare, and the Bengal florican, are also dependent on the grasslands.
Wet grasslands also serve as buffer against floods in the monsoons, while maintaining high groundwater level in the dry season, thereby benefiting agriculture and the farming community that live on its fringes.
Habitat o Once found in the narrow strip of tall and wet grassland plains on the
Himalayan foothills, from Uttar Pradesh to Assam, through…

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