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October 6, 2017

India disputes ILO’s modern slavery report

  • The government has written to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) challenging a recent study on “modern slavery” conducted by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation (WFF) on behalf of the global body. The report does not mention India.
  • The Labour Ministry shot off a strong letter to the ILO regarding its report titled ‘Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage 2017.’ The report, released on September 19, does not contain any India-specific findings, barring a mention that 17,000 people were interviewed for the survey.
  • The letter follows a missive from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to the government about documentation by multiple international organisations on slavery in India that can hurt India’s image and exports.
  • In a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office and Labour Ministry, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) mentioned the following reports — the 2016 United Nations Special Rapporteur Report on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, the 2015 ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations on Forced Labour, the 2016 Global Slavery Index 2016 and ILO-WFF joint report of 2017.

Snow leopard photographed in Arunachal

  • Scientists have obtained the first evidence of the elusive snow leopard in Arunachal Pradesh.The presence of the species outside a protected areas highlights the importance of community support for conservation as well as landscape-scale planning, says World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-India), which conducted the camera trap study. The camera-trapping, part of a State-wide survey initiated in March 2017 by WWF-India in collaboration with the Arunachal Pradesh Environment and Forest Department, focused on unexplored snow leopard habitats.

Small habitat

  • With only a small fraction of snow leopard habitats falling in the two protected areas (the Dibang Biosphere Reserve and Namdapha National Park) in the State, scientists tapped into the knowledge of locals — including herders and former hunters — to understand the current distribution of snow leopards and other mammals. Over 80% of the respondents confirmed the presence of snow leopards in their area.
  • The research team deployed camera traps in select areas to document the species and obtained the photograph of a snow leopard in the Community Conserved Area (CCA).
  • In 2004, WWF-India introduced the concept of CCAs in the State to empower local communities to become active decision-makers and implement conservation initiatives.
  • Local communities in these CCAs form committees to undertake wildlife monitoring, patrolling and community-based tourism activities.
  • Arunachal Pradesh is one of the 22 priority landscapes of the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program and while locals and researchers knew that there were snow leopards in the area, scientists had not been able to get photographs thus far.

Govt. to hold talks with Nagas today

  • The decision to create seven new districts in Manipur, which led to massive protests and blockade of national highways linking the State, will be reviewed at a tripartite meeting called by the Union Home Ministry for Friday in Senapati district, an official said.
  • The representatives of the United Naga Council (UNC) and the Central and State governments will attend the meeting.
  • The UNC, the apex political body of the Nagas residing in the hill districts of Manipur, staged protests after the districts were created, alleging that the measure would bifurcate the ancestral land of the Nagas. It demanded that the meeting be held in Senapati, its headquarters, and not in Imphal. It also demanded that the Centre send its representative to the meeting.
  • In 2016, the organisation imposed an economic blockade for 139 days on National Highway-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and National Highway-37 (Imphal-Jiribam), the lifelines of the landlocked Manipur. The blockade was withdrawn in March after the BJP came to power in the State and assured the UNC that its demands would be considered, the official said.

SC to hear freedom of speech issue

  • The Supreme Court on Thursday referred to a five-judge Constitution Bench several issues such as whether a public functionary or a Minister could claim freedom of speech while expressing views on sensitive matters which were under investigation.