Related Topics: Innovation, Single use plastics
A packaging material that is made from the Mexico’s prickly pear cactus plant has been developed by a Mexican researcher.
Mexico’s prickly pear cactus, which is inscribed on the country’s flag, could soon play a new and innovative role in the production of biodegradable plastics.
The invention is a promising solution to one of the world’s biggest pollution conundrums.
Around 500 billion disposable plastic bags are used worldwide each year, while one million plastic drink bottles are purchased every minute.
A CPCB estimate in 2015 says that Indian cities generate 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste daily and about 70% of the plastic produced in the country ends up as waste.
While plastics have a wide variety of applications, the global rally is against the so-called “single use” or disposable plastic — used in bottles, cups, wrapping paper and bags.
UN is committed to significantly reduce single-use plastics over the next decade.
India has pledged to eliminate single use plastics from India by 2022.
About Prickly Pear Cactus
It is highly nutritious and is endowed with good medicinal properties.
It is of great economic value, and is extensively grown in Mexico, parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean region.
The cactus can be dehydrated, pulverized and made into capsules.
Mexico exports huge quantities of prickly pear cactus to Japan as a herbal medicine.
It is used in making a highly effective water-proof paint for homes.
The technique originated in Mexican rural areas and is probably pre-Columbian.
It was mostly used in the 16th to 18th centuries for painting churches and convents and the smooth paint gave a shiny, silk-like finish if white of eggs were added to the mixture.
The plants are well adapted to dry regions.
With thick water-retaining stem, lack of leaves and extensive root system, the cacti is well adapted to dry environmental conditions, and it can be raised with minimal care and attention.
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Wild Fauna and Flora)
Related Topics: Wildlife Protection, International Conventions
Why in News
India has submitted proposals regarding changes to the listing of various wildlife species in the CITES secretariat meeting, scheduled later this month in Geneva, Switzerland.
News in Detail
The proposals submitted are regarding changes in the listing of the smooth-coated otter, small-clawed otter, Indian star tortoise, Tokay gecko, wedgefish and Indian rosewood.
The country seeks to boost the protection of all the five animal species as they are facing a high risk of international trade.
For the Indian rosewood, the proposal is to remove the species from CITES Appendix II.
The species covered by CITES are listed in three appendices on the degree of protection they require.
India is among the parties proposing the re-listing of the star tortoise from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I.
The species faces two threats: loss of habitat to agriculture and illegal harvesting for the pet trade.
With regard to the two otter species, India, Nepal and the Philippines have proposed that the listing be moved from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I for the more endangered species.
A similar proposal has been made to include the Tokay gecko in Appendix I.
Why India proposed to remove rosewood from CITES Appendix II?
The species grows at a very fast rate and has the capacity to become naturalised outside its native range, even it is invasive in some parts of the world.
The regulation of trade in the species is not necessary to avoid it becoming eligible for inclusion in Appendix I in the near future and the harvest of specimens from the wild is not reducing the wild population to a level at which its survival might be threatened by continued harvesting or other influences.
What is CITES?
It is an international agreement to which States and regional economic integration organizations adhere voluntarily.
States that have agreed to be bound by the Convention (‘joined’ CITES) are known as Parties.
Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
The CITES Secretariat is administered by UNEP and is located at Geneva, Switzerland.
It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of IUCN (The World Conservation Union).
The text of the Convention was finally agreed at a meeting of representatives of 80 countries in Washington, D.C., the United States of America, on 3 March 1973, and on 1 July 1975 CITES entered in force.
It is also known as Washington Convention.
Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties, it does not take the place of national laws.
Rather it provides a framework respected by each Party, which must adopt their own domestic legislation to implement CITES at the national level.
CITES classifies plants and animals according to three categories, or appendices, based on how threatened. They are.
Appendix I species: It lists species that are in danger of extinction. It prohibits commercial trade of these plants and animals except in extraordinary situations for scientific or educational reasons.
Appendix II species: They are those that are not threatened with extinction but that might suffer a serious decline in number if trade is not restricted. Their trade is regulated by permit.
Appendix III species: They are protected in at least one country that is a CITES member states and that has petitioned others for help in controlling international trade in that species.
ISRAEL’S BERESHEET MISSION
Related Topics: Lunar Mission, Lunar Library
An Israeli lunar lander called Beresheet (Hebrew for ‘the beginning’) began its journey to the Moon aboard a SpaceX rocket in its quest to be the first privately-funded spacecraft to land on the Moon.
On February 21, Beresheet began its journey to the Moon.
A month later, it was reported, Beresheet had crash-landed and was irredeemably broken except, for a curious, quirky payload called the Lunar Library.
According to the Arch Mission Foundation, which is behind the Lunar Library, a tiny biological sample from India may have already made it to the Moon ahead of the Chandrayaan 2.
The Lunar Library
It is a 30 million page archive of human history and civilisation, covering all subjects, cultures, nations, languages, genres, and time periods.
In the event of human extinction, it’s meant to be a ‘backup ‘ of earth-life.
It is housed within a 100 gram nanotechnology device that resembles a 120mm DVD.
However it is actually composed of 25 nickel discs, each only 40 microns thick.
The device was conceived courtesy the Arch Mission Foundation (AMF), a U.S.-based nonprofit whose mission is to create repositories of human civilisation and spread them through space.
AMF recently controversially revealed that the Lunar library also contained thousands of tardigrades — small, multicellular animals, first found by scientists in Antarctica, and known to be extremely resilient in hostile environments.
They can survive without food and water for decades. Assuming that the Lunar library has survived they could be the first living organisms splashed across the surface of the moon.
It is believed that the Lunar Library survived the crash of Beresheet and is intact on the Moon according to team of scientific advisors of AMF based on imagery data provided by NASA.
Why it’s relevant to India
The Lunar Library contained a small sample from the Bodhi tree in India, along with material on learning Hindi, Urdu and information on music.
The management of Mahabodhi stupa (Bihar) privately gave a leaf from the Bodhi tree and some soil from under the Bodhi seat to the team behind Lunar Library.
They mixed these with relics from saints and yogis, as well as earth from sacred caves and tiny bits of relics from India, China, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal and Tibet.
The first microbes on the Moon are those left behind in the human faeces from the astronauts aboard the Apollo missions of 1968-1972.
Outer Space Treaty is a global, United Nations-backed agreement that bars countries from pursuing actions that could “harmfully contaminate” outer space including the Moon.
Funded almost entirely by donations, the Beresheet project is the first privately backed lunar lander mission.
Related Topics: Tourism, Culture, Awards & Honours
Why in News
The Virasat-e-Khalsa museum in Punjab’s Anandpur Sahib town is all set to find a place in the Asia Book of Records for becoming the most visited museum in the Indian sub-continent on a single day.
News in Detail
The museum had witnessed a record footfall of 20,569 visitors on a single day on March 20, becoming the most visited museum in the Indian sub-continent on a single day.
Over 10 million visitors have visited the museum so far in a short span of eight years of its opening.
With its name in the Asia Book of Records, it would be the third entry for the museum in record books. Earlier, Virasat-e-Khalsa made it to Limca Book of Records in the February 2019 edition and India Book of Records.
The Limca Book of Records and India Book of Records had listed ‘Virasat-e-Khalsa’ as the country’s top-ranked museum in terms of the number of visitors.
About the Museum
Virasat-e-Khalsa (formerly known as Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex) is a museum located at Anandpur Sahib.
The museum gives an insight to the events that took place in Punjab five hundred years ago which gave birth to Sikhism and finally the Khalsa Panth.
The museum throws light on the vision of the great Gurus, the eternal message of peace and brotherhood which they delivered to the whole mankind and the rich culture and heritage of Punjab.
The museum is intended to commemorate 500 years of Sikh history and the 300th anniversary of the Khalsa, the scriptures written by the 10th and last Guru Sh. Guru Gobind Singh Ji founder of modern Sikhism.
After thirteen years of construction it has been inaugurated on November 25, 2011.
CHANGES IN PMLA ACT
Related Topics: Money Laundering, Enforcement Directorate
The Centre has issued a notification on certain changes in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), some of which tend to treat money laundering as a stand-alone crime and also expand the ambit of “proceeds of crime” to assets that may have been derived from any other criminal activity related to scheduled offences.
Measures to enhance effectiveness of PMLA
Deletion of provisions in sub-sections (1) of Section 17 (Search and Seizure) and Section 18 (Search of Persons), doing away with the pre-requisite of an FIR or charge sheet by other agencies that are authorized to probe the offences listed in the PMLA schedule.
Insertion of an explanation in Section 44, which states that “The jurisdiction of the Special Court, while dealing with the offence under this Act, during investigation, enquiry or trial under this Act, shall not be dependent upon any orders passed in respect of the scheduled offence, and the trial of both sets of offences by the same court shall not be construed as joint trial.”
An explanation added to Section 45 clarifies that all PMLA offences will be cognizable and non-bailable. Therefore, ED officers are empowered to arrest an accused without warrant, subject to certain conditions
The scope of “proceeds of crime”, under Section 2, has been expanded to empower the agency to act against even those properties which “may directly or indirectly be derived or obtained as a result of any criminal activity relatable to the scheduled offence”.
The amendment to Section 3 makes concealment of proceeds of crime, possession, acquisition, use, projecting as untainted money, or claiming as untainted property as independent and complete offences under the Act.
These activities have been explicitly declared to be continuing offences until such time a person is directly or indirectly “enjoying the proceeds of crime”.
Section 72 now includes a part, giving power to the Centre to set up an Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee for inter-departmental and inter-agency coordination for operational and policy level cooperation, besides consultation with all stakeholders on anti-money laundering and counter-terror funding initiatives.
Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 is an Act of the Parliament of India to prevent money-laundering and to provide for confiscation of property derived from money-laundering.
The law was enacted to combat money laundering in India and has three main objectives:
(i) To prevent and control money laundering.
(ii) To provide for confiscation and seizure of property obtained from laundered money.
(iii) To deal with any other issue connected with money-laundering in India.
Do You Know?
Directorate of Enforcement which is a specialized financial investigation agency under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, is empowered to conduct a Money Laundering investigation under PMLA Act.
FACTS OF THE DAY
- Kerala State government inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) for developing the Kerala Space Park Project in Thiruvananthapuram. Under the agreement, the VSSC will support the State’s effort to set up the country’s first state- of-the-art space systems park.
- President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, presented Bharat Ratna Awards to Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumously), Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika (posthumously) and Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
- International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is globally observed on August 9 with an aim to promote and protect rights of indigenous population. The theme for the year 2019 is ‘Indigenous Languages’ and will focus on the current situation of indigenous languages around the world. The Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea has the highest number of ‘living’ indigenous languages in the world (840), while India stands fourth with 453.
- Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) launched Samagra Shiksha-Jal Suraksha drive to create awareness about Water Conservation among all school students in the country.
- Manipur has topped the rankings in Breastfeeding and Infant and Young Child Feeding Practices in the country. Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar are at the bottom positions in the report card, which was released by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.