Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act
GS Paper: 2- Issues related to women and children
Prelims exam: POCSO Act
Mains exam: Features of the POCSO Act
Why in News
Activists claim that the POCSO Act puts Adivasis in Nilgiris in conflict with the law.
About POCSO Act
- In order to protect children from crimes of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography and to protect their interests throughout the legal process, the POCSO Act was enacted in 2012. It provides a strong legal framework that is the establishment of Special Courts for the trial of such offenses and matters connected therewith or Incidental thereto.”
- Under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, it was adopted in 2012.
Salient features of Act
- Mandatory Police verification: The new regulations mandate the police to do background checks on all employees working in schools and residential care facilities. They also provide processes for reporting pornographic or other sexually explicit content and mandate the teaching of age-appropriate child rights education.
- Reporting to the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU): As part of a campaign to combat child pornography, anyone who has come into contact with any pornographic material featuring children or information about such material is required to report the contents to the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU), the police, or the cybercrime portal.
- Child protection policy: In accordance with the regulations, State Governments are required to create a child protection policy based on the idea of zero tolerance for violence against children. This policy must be followed by all institutions, groups, and other organisations that work with or interact with children.
- Periodic training: To raise awareness of child safety and protection, the Central Government and each State Government shall give periodic training, including orientation programmes, sensitization workshops, and refresher courses, to all individuals coming into contact with children.
- Age-appropriate curriculum: The central and state governments have been tasked with developing age-appropriate educational resources and curriculum for children that will inform them about various aspects of personal safety, including safeguards for their emotional and mental wellbeing, protection from sexual assault, prevention of such assaults, and reporting mechanisms.
- Orientation programme: In accordance with the regulations, orientation programmes and intensive courses may also be established for police officers and forensic experts to help them regularly develop their skills in their respective professions.
- Background check: Every employee of any institution housing children or having regular contact with children, such as schools, daycare centres, sports academies, or other facilities for children, must undergo periodic police verification and background checks.
Need of the Rules
- Increasing child pornography: Sharing of a child’s nude photos and videos, who is not deemed mature until the age of 18, has led to a rise in child pornography.
- Less conviction rate: Only a small percentage of cases of child sexual abuse make it into the criminal justice system, and of those, only a tiny percentage result in a conviction. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data from 2016, only 11% of all POCSO cases nationwide were resolved by trial courts during that year, leaving 89% of cases unresolved nationwide.
- Sexual abuse: According to statistics made public by the National Crime Records Bureau, sexual offences committed against children have been steadily rising. Over 50% of the children assessed in a 2007 research by the Ministry of Women and Child Development reported experiencing sexual abuse of some kind.
- Strong criminal penalties included in the regulations are intended to serve as a deterrent, discouraging the trend of child sexual abuse.
- Child protection: It would help to safeguard the safety and dignity of young children who are at risk of harm in difficult situations.
|Section 7 and 8 of POCSO Act:
- Awareness: Many people particularly from the tribal community are not aware of the POCSO Act and its provisions. So, there needs to be an awareness campaign about the Act which should be initiated by the government.
- There is an appallingly low conviction rate for the POCSO Act, with 14% in 2014 and 18% in 2017. According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) for 2016, the conviction rate was 29.6%, while the pendency rate was 89%. The NCRB also notes that cases are not resolved within a year due to things like many postponements, the police’s failure to submit an investigation report, etc.
- The Act calls for the establishment of Special Children tribunals to hear the cases. Such courts were not established in many states. Re: Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in the State of Tamil Nadu v. Union of India & Ors Case brings this to light.
- The Act stipulates that the death sentence is the ultimate penalty. However, the 262nd Report of the Law Commission of India, 2015, and the Justice J.S. Verma Committee (established in response to the Nirbhaya case), both opposed the implementation of the death penalty in rape cases.
- The POCSO Act’s Section 8 mandates a mandatory three-year minimum punishment. State of J&K v. Vinay Nanda case, in this case the Supreme Court ruled that no sentence could be imposed that is less severe than the minimum required. This led to a number of difficulties, including
- The percentage of acquittals in POCSO cases is higher because judges believe the mandated minimum punishment imposed is excessive given the nature of the act.
- Else, the court may acquit the accused and punish him, as it did in the Satheesh v. State of Maharastra case which is punishing the offender in accordance with Section 354 of the IPC (Outraging the modesty of women).
- The POCSO Act is thought to be a victim-oriented statute (i.e., the damage caused to the victim assumes more importance). As a result, the Act is no longer impartial. For instance, Section 29 of the POCSO Act states that the special court “shall presume” that the accused is guilty if they are charged with a crime under the POCSO Act.
27th Conference of Parties (COP 27)
GS Paper: 3- Environment and Biodiversity
Prelims exam: COP 27
Mains exam: Climate change Issues
Why in News
The 27th session of the UN Conference of Parties (UN-COP) is being held in the Egyptian port city of Sharm El-Sheikh.
A brief summary
Along with Panchamrita, PM Modi pledged to India becoming net-zero, or effectively carbon neutral, by 2070 at the 26th edition of the COP in Glasgow, Scotland, last year.
The Indian delegation to COP-27 in Egypt will be led by the environment minister.
India is adamant about getting developed nations to fulfil its unfulfilled promise to provide $100 billion annually in climate funding by 2020 and every year thereafter till 2025.
About Conference of Parties (CoP)
- The CoP is governed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which was formed in 1994.
- The goal of the UNFCCC is to “stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.”
- It outlined a set of obligations for the member states, which included:
- creating strategies to reduce climate change
- working together to prepare for climate change adaption
- fostering climate change-related education, training, and public awareness
- There are 198 parties to the UNFCCC, including the USA, China, and India. Members of the COP have been meeting annually since 1995.
COP1 to COP25: Key takeaways
- COP1: The initial meeting took place in Berlin in 1995.
- COP3: At COP3 (wef 2005), which took place in Kyoto, Japan, the renowned Kyoto Protocol was adopted. The member states are obligated to work toward limiting or reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- COP8: The eighth COP was held in New Delhi, India, in 2002. The document outlined a number of actions, such as “strengthening technology transfer… in all relevant sectors, including energy, transportation, and R&D, and the strengthening of institutions for sustainable development.
- COP21: One of the most significant events of 2015 was the COP21, which took place in Paris, France. In this agreement, nations committed to cooperating to “keep global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, ideally below 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.”
Importance of COP
- In order to improve the global response to the threat of climate change, the event will bring together leaders from more than 190 nations with thousands of negotiators, researchers, and citizens.
- After many discussions, it is a crucial movement for the entire world to unite and advance the climate action plan.
Key agenda of COP27
- Loss and Damage funding: The term ‘Loss and Damage’ refers to the economic and non economic impacts of climate change, including extreme events in nations that are particularly susceptible to its negative effects.
- Rich countries, which have historically caused the climate issue, have intimidated poor countries to protect polluters from paying up for climate damages.
- The island nation of Vanuatu, representing the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), first proposed the term as a demand in 1991.
Neelakurinji flowers (Strobilanthes kunthiana)
GS Paper: 3 – Environment
Prelims exam: Neelakurinji flowers (Strobilanthes kunthiana)
Why in News
Neelakurinji flowers (Strobilanthes kunthiana) atop the Kallippara hills in Idukki have withered away. Neelakurinji largely bloomed on the Kallippara hills from the first week of October.
About Neelakurinji flowers
Source: The Indian Express
- It is a shrub that can be found in Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu’s shola forests of the Western Ghats.
- The flowers, which are locally known as Kurinji, grow at an altitude of 1,300 and 2,400 metres.
- The Blue Mountains, or Nilgiri Hills, received their name from the purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji, which bloom just once every 12 years.
- The kurinji is protected in its roughly 32 km2 core habitat in the villages of Kottakamboor and Vattavada around the Idukki district by the Kurinjimala Sanctuary of Kerala.
- These plants are also preserved at the Murugan-dedicated Kurinji Andavar temple in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu.
- It served as a guide for the tribal Paliyan people of Tamil Nadu when figuring out their ages.
- Each of the 45 species of Neelakurinji found in Karnataka blooms at intervals of six, nine, eleven or twelve years.
- Besides the Western Ghats, Neelakurinji can also be found in the Sanduru hills in the Bellary district of Karnataka’s Eastern Ghats.
One of the 46 Kurinji species known to exist in India is the Neelakurinji, which is a native of the Shola forest in the Western Ghats. The Sholas are tropical mountain forests which are nestled among rolling grasslands. The princess hills of Kodaikanal’s Shola woodland now display blue spots due to the Neelakurinji’s bloom.
Threats to Neelakurinji
- The fire has devastated about 1,000 acres of forestland, grantis and eucalyptus plantations, and grassland.
- These extensive wildfires could have completely destroyed the seeds of the rare flowers, including Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiiana), which blossom widely after a period of 12-years.
- According to some claims, the regions that would be covered by the projected Kurinji sanctuary were burned down in an effort to prevent the germination of Neelakurinji seeds.
Indian black honeybee
GS PAPER 3: Environment (Species)
Prelims Exam: Status & Location of Species
Mains Exam: Honey bee industry of India
Why in News?
A new species of endemic honeybee has been discovered in the Western Ghats. The new species has been named Apiskarinjodian and given the common name Indian black honeybee.
- The last honeybee described from India was Apisindica in 1798 by Fabricius.
- Fabricius named the Indian bee Apisindica, it was not considered a valid species till now.
- The research team restored the status of Apisindica based on a new measure for species discrimination in honeybees termed ‘Radio-Medial Index’(RMI).
- To prove the distinct identity of Apisindica, led to the discovery of Apiskarinjodian.
- Apiskarinjodian has evolved from Apisceranamorphotypes that got acclimatised to the hot and humid environment of the Western Ghats.
- Molecular analysis of mitochondrial DNA and molecular sequence database NCBI-GenBank helped confirm the species status of the new honeybee.
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI
- The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) is part of the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM), a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It is approved and funded by the government of the United States. The NCBI is located in Bethesda, Maryland, and was founded in 1988 through legislation sponsored by US Congressman Claude Pepper.
- The NCBI houses a series of databases relevant to biotechnology and biomedicine and is an important resource for bioinformatics tools and services. Major databases include GenBank for DNA sequences and PubMed, a bibliographic database for biomedical literature. Other databases include the NCBI Epigenomics database. All these databases are available online through the Entrez search engine.
|National Gene Bank
The GenBank database is designed to provide and encourage access within the scientific community to the most up-to-date and comprehensive DNA sequence information. Therefore, NCBI places no restrictions on the use or distribution of the GenBank data. However, some submitters may claim patent, copyright, or other intellectual property rights in all or a portion of the data they have submitted. NCBI is not in a position to assess the validity of such claims, and therefore cannot provide comment or unrestricted permission concerning the use, copying, or distribution of the information contained in GenBank
GS PAPER 3: Environment (Species)
Prelims Exam: Status & Location of Species
Mains Exam: Conservation of Wildlife
Why in News?
The first-ever recording of the snow leopard from the Baltal-Zojila region has renewed hopes for the elusive predator in the higher altitudes of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
- Camera trapping exercises by researchers from Nature Conservation Foundation (India)also raised hopes for other important and rare species such as the Asiatic ibex, brown bear and Kashmir musk deer in the upper reaches of the northernmost part of India.
- The Snow Leopard Population Assessment of India (SPAI) has been concluded so far in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The estimated population of the great cat is 50 and 100, respectively, in these two States.
About Snow Leopard
|The Snow Leopard Population Assessment of India (SPAI) project is the first-ever unified effort to estimate the snow leopard population across the whole of India. It is in sync with the larger effort for the Population Assessment of the World’s Snow Leopards which is being coordinated by the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program, which India is part of.
GSLEP, the Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Program, is an unprecedented alliance of all snow leopard range countries, non-governmental organizations, multi-lateral institutions, scientists and local communities, united by one goal,saving the snow leopard and its mountain ecosystems.
|Camera trapping exercises
Camera traps are nothing but cameras mounted on posts such as tree trunks or wooden poles approximately 3.5 – 4 m. on both sides of a potential animal trail, with an infrared beam (invisible to animals) set at a height of about 45 cm. Animals such as tigers, leopards and hyaenas repeatedly travel along certain trails, communicating with other individuals of their species through scent markings. Camera traps are placed on such routes to maximise their photo-capture. Camera trap points are selected based on the presence of signs such as scats, scrapes, tracks, claw markings and scent deposits. When an animal cuts the infrared beam, the circuitry triggers the camera and a picture is taken. A set of two cameras, one on each side of the trail, helps in identifying unique individuals as the pattern on both sides of the body varies.