QUESTION: Discuss the status of tiger population in India. What are the most severe threats to tigers in India?



  • Tiger Conservation Efforts In India


  • On International Tiger Day, July 29, India celebrated the increase in tigers from about 2,000 in 1970 to about 3,000 now. This is a result of over 50 years of incredible efforts but the annual growth rate has been lower than 1%. India has done better than other tiger range countries, but at what cost and what efficiency needs deeper scrutiny.


  • India has 70 percent of world’s tiger population.
  • Jim Corbett national park in Uttarakhand is the largest habitat of the big cats in India (231 tigers).
  • Corbett is followed by Nagarhole (127) and Bandipur (126), both in Karnataka.
  • India’s tiger population now stands at 2967 which is 70 percent of the global tiger population. A feather in India’s cap was added with the Guinness World Records recognizing the country’s efforts as the world largest camera trap survey of wildlife.


  • India’s 2018 Tiger Census has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world’s largest camera trapping wildlife survey.
  • The fourth cycle of the All India Tiger Estimation 2018 estimated 2,967 tigers or 75 per cent of the global tiger population in the nation. This is by far the biggest increase in terms of both numbers and percentage since the four-yearly census using camera traps and the capture-mark-recapture method began in 2006.


  • The success owes a lot to increased vigilance and conservation efforts by the Forest Department. From 28 in 2006, the number of tiger reserves went up to 50 in 2018, extending protection to larger numbers of tigers over the years.
  • Healthy increases in core area populations eventually lead to migrations to areas outside the core; this is why the 2018 census has found tigers in newer areas. Over the years, there has been increased focus on tigers even in the areas under the territorial and commercial forestry arms of Forest Departments. The brightest spot in the non-protected tiger-bearing areas is the Brahmapuri division of Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, which has more than 40 tigers.
  • The other important reason is increased vigilance, and the fact that organised poaching rackets have been all but crushed.
  • The increased protection has encouraged the tiger to breed. Tigers are fast breeders when conditions are conducive.
  • The rehabilitation of villages outside core areas in many parts of the country has led to the availability of more inviolate space for tigers.
  • Also, because estimation exercises have become increasingly more accurate over the years, it is possible that many tigers that eluded enumerators in earlier exercises were counted this time. Since state boundaries do not apply to the movement of tigers, conservationists prefer to talk about tiger numbers in terms of landscapes rather than of states. This is how the five tiger landscapes identified by the census have done over the years.


  1. Wildlife Acts:
  • Two legal instruments that enabled tiger recoveries in India were the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 and the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, which reinforced Project Tiger.
  • Tiger is listed under the schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 which provides absolute protection and offencesunder these are prescribed the highest penalties.
  • Tiger is listed as an endangered animal in the IUCN red data list.



  • Launched in Jim Corbett National Park of Uttarakhand in 1973, with 9 tiger reserves
  • Currently, The Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50 tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy.
  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change providing central assistance to the tiger States
  1. National Tiger Conservation Authority:
  • It was established in December 2005 following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force which was constituted by the Prime Minister of India for reorganised management of Project Tiger and the many Tiger Reserves in India.
  • The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 was amended in 2006 to provide for its constitution.
  • It is responsible for implementation of the Project Tiger to protect endangered tigers.
  • It is set up under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Environment and Forests.


  • The Inspector General of Forest will be ex-officio Member Secretary
  • 8 experts having qualifications and experience in wildlife conservation and welfare of people including tribals
  • 3 Members of Parliament (2 from Lok Sabha and 1 from Rajya Sabha)


  • Lay down normative standards, guidelines for tiger conservation in the Tiger Reserves, National Parks and Sanctuaries.
  • Provide information on protection measures.
  • Facilitate and support tiger reserve management in the States through eco-development and people’s participation


  1. Tiger Reserves:
  • India currently has 50 Tiger Reserves spread out in 18 tiger range states, with an area of about 73,000 sq. km.
  • The tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy.
  • The core areas enjoy the legal status of a national park or a sanctuary, whereas the buffer or peripheral areas are a mix of forest and non-forest land, managed as a multiple-use area.
  • With tigers coming out of Reserves and covering long distances, more areas in the country are needed to be declared as Tiger Reserves.


  • Even a rough calculation shows that India has the potential to hold 10,000 to 15,000 wild tigers.
  • But the country is lacking a pragmatic plan to get to that goal.
  • Since the last two decades, there has been a gradual transition of the field-oriented Forest Department to one with multiple bureaucratic layers.
  • It was followed by unnecessary and massive borrowings from the Global Environment Facility-World Bank combine to create new models for tiger recovery.
  • The present tiger management model including raped tapism has benefited the forest bureaucracy more than it did the tigers.
  • Excessive funding of a few reserves while neglecting large areas with greater recovery potential became the norm.
  • Progress on voluntary village relocation schemes from within reserves slowed down.
  • There has been a government monopoly over tiger management with lack of data transparency and rigorous, independent tiger monitoring.


  • India needs to evolve out its own Tiger Conservation model which suits its diverse terrain and climatic conditions.
  • The role of the forest bureaucracy should be once again restricted to wildlife law enforcement.
  • Project Tiger can be merged with other Central schemes for wildlife conservation.
  • Government monopoly over domains of tiger conservation such as tiger research, monitoring, nature education, tourism and possibly even conflict mitigation should be diminished.
  • The conservation plans must engage inputs by involving private enterprises, local communities, NGOs and scientific institutions.
  • The red tape and bureaucratic bottlenecks must be removed to see effective implementation of the conservation schemes and efforts.
  • India needs wildlife surveillance, good management of Tiger Reserves, strict poaching laws, awareness and education programmes on tiger conservation.


  • India’s tiger conservation needs a reboot to match the scale of the country’s aspirations in other domains. India needs a new vision that actively envisages saving tigers without the pressure to fare well in the tiger census but displays a genuine concern for the conservation of our National animal.


QUESTION: Detail some important challenges that stop India to become a self-reliant economy with respect to current perspective by giving remedies .





  • Foreign Policy of India


  • Self-reliance is the theme of India’s 74th Independence Day.
  • India has been maintaining strategic autonomy in its foreign policy since Independence. But the end of Cold War and growing closeness towards the U.S. raises concerns. This article addresses this issue.

 India’s foreign policy: characterised by autonomy

  • India has historically prided itself as an independent developing country which does not take orders from or succumb to pressure from great powers.
  • Indian maintained this stance in its foreign policy when the world order was bipolar from 1947 to 1991, dominated by the U.S. and Russia.
  • Also, when the world was unipolar from 1991 to 2008, dominated by the U.S.
  • Or when it is multipolar as at the present times.
  • The need for autonomy in making foreign policy choices has remained constant.


  • However, strategic autonomy has often been adjusted in India’s history as per the changing milieu.
  • During the 1962 war with China, Prime Minister Nehru, had to appeal to the U.S. for emergency military aid.
  • In the build-up to the 1971 war with Pakistan, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had to enter a Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union to ward off both China and the U.S.
  • And in Kargil in 1999, India welcomed a direct intervention by the U.S. to force Pakistan to back down.
  • In all the above examples, India did not become any less autonomous when geopolitical circumstances compelled it to enter into de facto alliance-like cooperation with major powers.
  • Rather, India secured its freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity by manoeuvering the great power equations and playing the realpolitik game.


  • The concept of self-reliance is commonly associated with the economy and production of key goods and services within the country in light of the global ‘supply shock’ caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • But the concept also has a parallel dimension in the domain of foreign policy.
  • If the domestic goal is to reduce dependence on imports for critical commodities, the foreign policy corollary is to recalibrate the time-tested axiom of ‘strategic autonomy’.


  • The current situation with tense India-China relations might mark another inflection point with regard to strategic autonomy.
  • With China and the U.S. sliding into a new Cold War like situation and with China challenging India’s security and sovereignty, the article argues that India’s adherence to the Non-alignment policy makes little sense.
  • The article argues the case for India’s alignment with the U.S. to meet the Chinese threat.
  • The article states that the fears that proximity to the U.S. will lead to loss of India’s strategic autonomy are unfounded given that India has never been subordinated to a superpower despite India aligning with such powers in the past.


  • As India is facing China’s growing aggression along the LAC, Non-alignment 2.0 with China and the U.S. makes little sense.
  • Fears that proximity to the U.S. will lead to loss of India’s strategic autonomy are overblown.
  • Because independent India has never been subordinated to a foreign hegemon.


  • In the threat environment marked by a pushy China, India should aim to have both- American support and stay as an independent power centre by cooperation with middle powers in Asia and around the world.
  • For India complete dependence on the U.S. to counter China would be an error.
  • Such complete dependence would be detrimental to India’s national interest such as its ties with Iran and Russia and efforts to speed up indigenous defence modernisation.
  • A wide and diverse range of strategic partners, including the U.S. is the only viable diplomatic way forward in the current emerging multipolar world order.


  • We are free and self-reliant not through isolation or alliance with one great power, but only in variable combinations with several like-minded partners. India is familiar with the phrase ‘multi-vector’ foreign policy. It is time to maximise its potential


  • Large-scale concerted endeavours would, however, be required, since self-reliance will not happen by itself.
  • State-funded R&D, including in basic research, by PSUs and research institutions and universities needs to be scaled-up significantly, well above the dismal 1% of GDP currently.
  • Upgraded and reoriented PSUs would also be crucial given their distinctive place in the ecosystem.
  • Private sector delivery-oriented R&D could also be supported, linked to meaningful participation in manufacturing at appropriate levels of the supply chain.
  • Finally, India’s meagre public expenditure on education needs to be substantially ramped up (as against current trends of privatisation which would only shrink access), including in skill development.
  • No country has achieved self-reliance without mass quality public education. And no country has developed without a much stronger public health system than what we have in India.

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