Songbird may be eaten to extinction

According to a study, Songbird in Europe and Asia is being hunted to near extinction because of Chinese eating habits.

  • The study said that the population of the yellow-breasted bunting has plunged by 90% since 1980, all but disappearing from eastern Europe, Japan and parts of Russia.
  • China in 1997 banned the hunting of the species, known there as the “rice bird“.
  • The study says that the consumption of these birds has increased as a result of economic growth and prosperity in East Asia, with an estimate in 2001 claiming one million buntings were consumed in China’s Guangdong province alone.

About Songbird:

  • A songbird is a bird belonging to the clade Passeri of the perching birds (Passeriformes).
  • This group contains some 4,000 species found all over the world, in which the vocal organ typically is developed in such a way as to produce a diverse and elaborate bird song.

  • Songbirds form one of the two major lineages of extant perching birds, the other being the Tyranni which are most diverse in the Neotropics and absent from many parts of the world.
  • Songbirds are alike in having the vocal organ highly developed, though not all use it to melodious effect.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

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GDP grows by 7.3 % but fails to overtake China

A recently released data by the Central Statistics Office shows that India’s economy grew by 7.3% during 2014-15 failing to overtake China as the world’s fastest growing major economy.

Other Details:

  • Capital formation continued to be lower at 28.7% of GDP against 29.7% during 2013-14.
  • Gross fixed capital formation – a barometer for investments – slowed for the second straight year.
  • The manufacturing sector grew by 7.1% against the 2013-14 growth of 5.3%.
  • The prime drivers of the growth were the significantly stronger performance of ‘manufacturing’, ‘electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services’ and the ‘financial, real estate and professional services’.
  • Almost all sectors of the economy picked up during the year. The exceptions were the sectors of ‘agriculture, forestry and fishing’, ‘mining and quarrying’ and ‘public administration defence and other services’ that’s linked to government spending.

The International Monetary Fund has projected that India will outpace China during the current fiscal year.

Sources: The Hindu.

China doesn’t recognise ‘illegal’ McMahon Line

China has again termed the McMahon Line on the India-China boundary as illegal and has said that it was ready to work with India to resolve the vexed border issue at an early date through friendly consultations to create more favourable conditions for bilateral ties.

  • With this, China has reaffirmed its claims on Arunachal Pradesh, which, it says, is a part of Southern Tibet.

McMahon Line:

https://41.media.tumblr.com/d89a9c6d631579bb737486d2636b6338/tumblr_nb74z0P7dH1te10fgo1_500.jpg

The McMahon Line is a line agreed to by Britain and Tibet as part of the Simla Accord, a treaty signed in 1914.

  • It is the effective boundary between China and India, although its legal status is disputed by the Chinese government.
  • The line is named after Sir Henry McMahon, who was foreign secretary of the British-run Government of India and the chief negotiator of the convention at Simla.
  • It extends for 890 km from Bhutan in the west to 260 km east of the great bend of the Brahmaputra River in the east, largely along the crest of the Himalayas.
  • China rejects the Simla Accord, contending that the Tibetan government was not sovereign and therefore did not have the power to conclude treaties. The Simla Accord, or the Convention between Great Britain, China, and Tibet, in Simla, was an unequal treaty concerning the status of Tibet negotiated by representatives of the Republic of China, Tibet and the United Kingdom in Simla in 1913 and 1914. The Accord provided that Tibet would be divided into “Outer Tibet” and “Inner Tibet”.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

China sets up Silk Road gold fund

China, the world’s biggest gold producer, has set up a gold sector fund involving countries along the ancient Silk Road which is expected to raise $16.1 billion.

  • The fund, led by Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE), is expected to raise an estimated 100 billion yuan ($16.1 billion) in three phases and is said to be the largest fund set up by China.
  • In February 2015 China had also created a $40 billion infrastructure fund for Silk Road Initiative.

Silk Road Initiative:

The Silk Road, or Silk Route, is a series of trade and cultural transmission routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East by linking traders, merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, nomads, and urban dwellers from China to the Mediterranean Sea during various periods of time.

new silk road initiative china

  • The new project is an initiative by China to resurrect the ancient maritime Silk Road. It is perceived to be an attempt by China to ameliorate relations with South and Southeast Asia
  • The new initiative is a pet project of President Xi Jinping for connecting Asia with Europe along a land corridor, with China as its hub.
  • Under the new Silk Route, the Chinese want to open up the transportation channel from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea, from which would radiate rail and road routes, which would also connect with East Asia, West Asia, and South Asia.
  • The Silk Road strategy’s ambitious vision aligns with Beijing’s goals much more closely than the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a reflection of the U.S. international trade model writ large.
  • The Silk Road strategy aims to facilitate large-scale infrastructure construction, energy sale and transport, and relocation of manufacturing industries.
  • This initiative aspires to deepen linkages between China and its neighbours via trade, investment, energy, infrastructure, and internationalization of China’s currency, the renminbi.

Indian and Silk Road Initiative:

  • Aware of India’s sensitivities regarding the perceived expansion of Chinese influence, a Beijing-Kathmandu-New Delhi trilateral development partnership is proposed as a confidence building step.
  • Relations between China and India are mutually reinforcing. From a historical point of view India is the converging point of the Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road on land.
  • Based on that, the Chinese government believes inevitably that naturally India is one of the important partners to build one belt and one road.
  • India also benefits from at least reasonable ties with most stakeholders in the New Silk Road, including Iran, where India has invested heavily in the Chabahar Port. But India must also make serious efforts to strengthen its links with Southeast Asia, and for this it must develop stronger ties with Bangladesh.
  • India will also need to work towards a manageable relationship with Pakistan, which would not only facilitate pipeline projects like TAPI, but also enable access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
  • India needs to change its approach towards border regions, and not allow security to cloud its overarching vision. One of the important cornerstones of China’s Silk Road vision has been its emphasis on utilizing border regions, while also making use of their strategic location.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Nelong Valley opens for tourists first time since 1962

The picturesque Nelong Valley near the India-China border, which was closed for civilians after the 1962 war, has been opened for tourists.

Uttarakhand-Garhwal-MAP

About the Valley:

  • Location: Gangotri National Park, Uttarkhand (45km from the India-China).
  • Flora and fauna: It has an arid landscape and is a cold desert. Nelong boasts a rich wildlife, which includes the snow leopard, Himalayan blue sheep and musk deer, along with rare bird and plant species.
  • Importance: Before the war, it was an important trade route.
  • Interestingly, foreigners are not allowed in the valley.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

India grants e-visas for Chinese nationals

Prime Minister of India, during his Chinese tour, has announced that India has decided to extend electronic tourist visas to Chinese nationals.

  • The Prime Minister also said that it was part of a concerted effort by Indian government to bring the world’s two largest populations in closer contact.
  • The e-visa facility would enable Chinese applicants to apply for visas online a few days before they travel.
  • The e-visa announcement will boost an MoU on tourism cooperation, as 2015 and 2016 have been designated ‘Visit India’ and ‘Visit China’ years respectively, given that Chinese tourists to India now number less than two lakh a year.

e-visa:

e-Tourist Visa Facility is available for holders of passport of over 40 eligible countries.

  • Validity of these Visas: Visas to be issued under this scheme will be for single-entry and valid for only 30 days’ stay from the date of arrival in India.
  • Entry into India must be through any of the nine designated airports.

Eligibility:

  • International Travellers whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation , sight seeing , casual visit to meet friends or relatives, short duration medical treatment or casual business visit.
  • Passport should have at least six months validity from the date of arrival in India. The passport should have at least two blank pages for stamping by the Immigration Officer.
  • International Travellers should have return ticket or onward journey ticket,with sufficient money to spend during his/her stay in India.

Non Eligible:

  • Not available to Diplomatic/Official Passport Holders.
  • Not available to individuals endorsed on Parent’s/Spouse’s Passport i.e. each individual should have a separate passport.
  • Not available to International Travel Document Holders.

Sources: The Hindu, indianvisaonline.gov.in.

eVisa to Chinese nationals likely

India is planning extend e-visa on arrival facility to Chinese nationals, a move that has been held up for several years due to opposition from security agencies.

eVisa:

  • eVisa facility is available for citizens of over 40 eligible countries.
  • The application for e-Tourist Visa must be made minimum 4 days in advance of the date of arrival.
  • Visa is valid for 30 days from the date of arrival and can be obtained twice in a calendar year.
  • e-Tourist Visa allows arrival at only 9 airports in the country.

Who is not eligible?

  • Not available to Diplomatic/Official Passport Holders.
  • Not available to individuals endorsed on Parent’s/Spouse’s Passport i.e. each individual should have a separate passport.
  • Not available to International Travel Document Holders.

e-Tourist Visa Facility is available for holders of passport of following countries

Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Guyana, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand,Niue Island, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands,Sri Lanka,Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam.

Visa-free entry

Citizens of the following countries do not require visas to enter India (unless arriving from mainland China), and may remain in the country without any limit of stay (unless otherwise noted)

  •  Bhutan
  •  Maldives (90 days)
  •    Nepal

In March 2015 Indian Government announced a 3-month visa exemption for the citizens of Seychelles

Travelers possessing a Persons of Indian Origin Card or an OCI document are also exempt from visa obligation. Citizens of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China (Mainland), Nepal, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka are generally not entitled to hold a PIO card or Overseas Citizenship.

e-Tourist Visa allows arrival at the following airports:

9 AIRPORT FOR e Tourist Visa

  • Bengaluru
  • Chennai
  • Delhi
  • Goa
  • Kochi
  • Kolkata
  • Mumbai
  • Hyderabad
  • Thiruvananthapuram

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, Indiavisa.