Daily Current Affairs - 2nd March 2023

UPSC Daily Current Affairs – Mains [2nd March 2023]

GS 2

FCRA license of think tank CPR suspended

Syllabus: Role of NGOs

Source: Indian Express

In News

The Centre suspended the license of the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) due to prima facie indications of funding norm violations.

About CPR

As per its website, CPR is recognized by the Government of India as a not-for-profit society, and donations made to the Centre are eligible for tax exemption.

What is the FCRA?

  • The FCRA is a law that was introduced in 1976 during the Emergency period.
  • It was brought in because there were concerns that foreign powers were influencing India by providing money through independent organizations.
  • The aim of the FCRA was to regulate foreign donations to individuals and associations.
  • In 2010, an amended FCRA was introduced to consolidate the law on the use of foreign funds and to prohibit their use for activities that could harm the national interest.
  • The FCRA was amended again in 2020 to increase government control and scrutiny over the receipt and use of foreign funds by NGOs.

Under the FCRA, any individual or NGO that intends to receive foreign donations must comply with the following requirements: register under the Act, open a bank account with the State Bank of India in Delhi to receive foreign funds, and ensure that such funds are utilized solely for the purpose for which they were received and in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

The Act bars candidates for elections, journalists or newspaper and media broadcast companies, judges and government servants, members of the legislature and political parties or their office-bearers, and organizations of a political nature from receiving foreign funds.

How is FCRA registration granted?

Individuals or associations that have definite cultural, economic, educational, religious, and social programmes are eligible to be granted FCRA registration.

GS 3

Forest Cover Data

Syllabus: Conservation-related issues

Source: IE 

In News

The article discusses India’s forest cover mapping spanning four decades and emphasizes the significance of providing free access to this data for enhancing the quality of this crucial policy input.

India’s forest and tree cover

  • The Forest Survey of India (FSI) has been publishing its biennial State of Forest reports since the early 1980s.
  • India’s forest cover has increased from 19.53% in the early 1980s to 71% in 2021.
  • The total green cover in the country stands at 62%, which includes 2.91% of tree cover estimated in 2021.
  • The forest maps are based on images purchased from the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), which is another government arm under the Department of Space.

How have these figures arrived?

  • These figures have been determined by counting all plots of 1 hectare or more, with at least 10% tree canopy density, as part of forest cover, regardless of land use or ownership.
  • Land areas with a tree canopy density of 70% or more are considered very dense forests, while those with a density of 40% or more are considered dense forests, and those between 10-40% are considered open forests.
  • Additionally, isolated or small patches of trees that are less than 1 hectare in size and are not counted as forest are assessed to determine tree cover.

What are the issues in India’s green cover?

  • India’s green cover data fails to meet UN benchmark:
    • Excludes areas primarily used for agriculture and urban purposes within forested areas
  • Land recognized as forest in India:
    • Recorded Forest Area (RFA)
    • Comprises 58% of the country
    • Categorized into Reserved, Protected, and Unclassed forests
  • Issues with India’s forest classification:
    • Commercial plantations, orchards, village homesteads, and urban housing are often included as dense forests
    • Replacing natural forests with plantations could impact biodiversity and carbon sequestration
  • Limitations in forest coverage estimation in India:
    • Satellites have refined forest coverage estimates
    • Forest Survey of India’s ability to verify quality of remote sensing data is limited by manpower shortages
  • Access to forest data in India:
    • Forest Survey of India has not made its data accessible to the public or media for review of its geo-referenced maps
  • Best practices in forest data management:
    • Brazil’s TerraBrasilis web platform:
      • Provides open access to data on deforestation, forest cover change, and forest fires
      • Allows for analysis and dissemination of data.

India has a unique and scientific system for periodically assessing forest cover, which offers valuable inputs for policy formulation, planning, and evidence-based decision-making. By making the field data openly accessible to the public, individuals can volunteer to verify the country’s forest data on the ground.

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