Insights Daily Current Affairs, 04 March 2017

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

 

 


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 04 March 2017


 

Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

World Wildlife Day

 

World Wildlife Day was celebrated on March 3rd.

  • Theme for 2017 is “Listen to the Young Voices.” Given that almost one quarter of the world’s population is aged between 10 and 24, vigorous efforts need to be made to encourage young people, as the future leaders and decision makers of the world, to act at both local and global levels to protect endangered wildlife.
  • World Wildlife Day 2017 encourages youth around the world to rally together to address ongoing major threats to wildlife including habitat change, over-exploitation or illicit trafficking.

 

Background:

On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The UNGA resolution also designated the CITES Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance of this special day for wildlife on the UN calendar.

 

About CITES:

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international regulatory treaty between 182 member states. It was formed in 1973 and regulates the international trade in over 35,000 wild species of plants and animals.

The focus of the convention is not solely on the protection of species. It also promotes controlled trade that is not detrimental to the sustainability of wild species. It has become the best-known conservation convention in the world.

 

How does CITES work?

The convention works primarily through a system of classification and licensing. Wild species are categorised in Appendices I to III. This often reflects species’ threat status on the Red List of the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species first created in 1964.

  • Appendix I prohibits trade in species classified as highly endangered. Appendix II allows trade under very specific conditions. This requires exporting countries obtain a permit, but not the importing country. Appendix III species require only a certificate of origin to be traded.
  • National CITES management authorities may issue permits once scientific authorities show non-detriment findings. In other words, scientific evidence must demonstrate that species sustainability will not be adversely affected by trade. Where data is lacking, the precautionary principle applies.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

India to Host 10th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance: ICEGOV 2017

 

The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India, in collaboration with United Nations University and UNESCO, is organizing a three-day International Conference 10th ICEGOV 2017 in Delhi in March.

Theme: Building Knowledge Societies: From Digital Government to Digital Empowerment.

 

Key facts:

  • The key objective of ICEGOV2017 is to explore how Digital Government can lead to Digital Empowerment by local knowledge.
  • ICEGOV 2017 is the 10th edition of ICEGOV, which will focus on the use of technology to transform relationships between government and citizens, businesses, civil society.
  • It will try to inculcate an outlook to create new forms, paradigms, foundations for technology-enabled governance, collaboration, development.
  • The 10th ICEGOV will bring together academia, governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector to share the insights and experiences in theory and practice of Digital Government.
  • 560 papers from around 60 countries will be presented, which is highest number of paper submission in the history of ICEGOV.

 

About ICEGOV:

International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV) is an international conference series, established by the United Nations University in 2007, with the aim of bringing together practitioners, developers and researchers from government, academia, industry, non-governmental organizations and UN organizations to share the latest in theory and practice of Electronic Governance.

The ICEGOV series focuses on the use of technology to transform relationships between government and citizens, businesses, civil society and other arms of government (Electronic Governance). The Series looks beyond the traditional focus on technology-enabled transformation in government (Electronic Government), towards establishing foundations for good governance and for sustainable national development.

Sources: pib.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

Australia wants India to be a ‘consistent buyer’ of its cotton

 

Australia, the fifth-largest exporter of cotton, is looking at India to emerge as a consistent and major buyer of the commodity. In this regard, an eight-member delegation representing the Australian Cotton Shippers’ Association recently held meetings in Ludhiana, Mumbai, and Coimbatore.

 

Background:

Australia has close to 1,200 cotton growers and can supply even small quantities to India. China purchased more than 30% of Australia’s cotton production last year. However, this was lower than its usual purchase. India is a big market for cotton.

  • India used to purchase 5-7% of cotton produced in Australia every year. In 2016, it shot up to close to 23 % due to a drop in production in India. Indian textile mills use Australian cotton as a blend to produce high-value garments.
  • India is the largest producer and consumer of cotton globally.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

West Bengal passes Bill to rein in private hospitals

 

The West Bengal Assembly has passed the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency Bill) Bill 2017 aimed at overhauling private healthcare and taking stringent measures against health institutions indulging in medical negligence and corrupt practices. The legislation repealed The West Bengal Clinical Establishment (Regulation) Act, 2010.

 

Highlights of the Bill:

  • The law is aimed at bringing transparency, ending harassment of patients and checking medical negligence in private hospitals and nursing homes. The law also covers clinics, dispensaries and polyclinics.
  • The state will set up a regulatory commission to oversee private healthcare facilities, deciding for them what they can charge and deal with complaints from people receiving treatment.
  • Under the new law, hospitals must “strictly follow fixed rates” for clinical investigations and facilities, and in the event of any complication requiring a change in course of treatment, hospitals will not be allowed to charge anything extra.
  • Curbs have been imposed on measures to realize dues from patients with the law saying that hospitals cannot delay the release of a deceased patient even if the family cannot pay up immediately.
  • The law also says victims of accidents will have to be provided care even if he or she cannot immediately pay for it.
  • The law reiterates hospitals that received land from the state government will have to provide free treatment to one in five outdoor patients, and one in 10 patients admitted to the hospital, but does not clearly say how compliance is to be audited.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Supreme Court seeks reply of govt, EC on PIL on convicts fighting polls

 

The government and the Election Commission have been granted the last opportunity by the Supreme Court to spell out their stand on a plea for debarring convicts from contesting polls for life and stopping them from entering the judiciary and the executive.

 

Background:

A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a lifetime ban on convicted politicians from holding any political office or post, instead of the present six-year ban.

  • “In the Executive and Judiciary, when a person is convicted for any criminal offence, he/she is suspended automatically and debarred from his services for life. This rule, however, is applied differently in case of convicted persons in the legislature,” the petition says.
  • The petitioner argues decriminalisation of the polity is impossible without debarring convicted people from electoral politics for life.
  • It has also sought implementation of poll reforms proposed by Election Commission, Law Commission and National Commission to review the working of the Constitution.
  • The PIL also seeks a direction to them to fix minimum educational qualification and a maximum age limit for persons contesting elections.

 

Concerns:

  • Even after conviction and undergoing a sentence, a convicted person can form his own political party and is eligible to become the office bearer of any political party.
  • In addition, a convicted person is eligible to contest the election and eligible to become member of the legislature and even minister after expiry of a six year period from the date of conviction.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

U.S. nixed India’s plea on reforms in medicine

 

A month after the 140th World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Executive Board meeting, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) response has revealed that the United States government had opposed including agenda items proposed by India, which aimed at reforming medical innovation that currently pump up drug prices to unaffordable levels.

 

What’s the issue?

The Indian government — along with 11 South East Asian countries — had proposed a discussion on an ‘Access to Medicines’ report by the United Nations High Level Panel that had recommended reforms in the funding of biomedical research and development.

However, the set of documents released by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), a not for profit organisation that gives technical advice to governments, reveals that both the United States and the WHO opposed including the proposal by India. They observed that they were mainly concerned about the narrow mandate of the recommendations.

 

Background:

The U.N. Access to Medicines report had recommended solutions for remedying the policy incoherence between justifiable rights of inventors, trade rules and global public health targets. The report recommended that “governments and the private sector must refrain from explicit or implicit threats, tactics or strategies that undermine the right of WTO Members to use TRIPS flexibilities.”

  • The U.N. report says there is a need for an RD treaty and it recommended reforms in the area of biomedical R&D.
  • The 11 member-states — Bangladesh, Bhutan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Timor-Leste — as well as Brazil, Iran, and South Africa supported the inclusion of the agenda item.
  • The delays by WHO to place the UN HLP recommendations on the agenda of the WHO’s EB and subsequently at the World Health Assembly have drawn widespread criticism from Asian civil society organisations.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Low MR vaccine coverage in TN a worry

 

According to a report, only about 50% of children aged nine months to 15 years in Tamil Nadu have been vaccinated by the measles-rubella (MR) combination vaccine since the campaign was launched.

 

Experts say, unless and otherwise the vaccination coverage is increased to over 90%, there is a high possibility that the State would witness more rubella infections among older age groups. Why?

  • It is because the present situation would lead to an increase in the number of newborns with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) — hearing impairments, eye and heart defects and brain damage — when women get infected with rubella virus during the early stages of pregnancy.
  • When the rubella childhood immunisation coverage in communities is sub-optimal, there will more number of CRS cases than before as the infection shifts to an older age group. This is called the paradoxical increase in CRS. There will be fewer CRS cases initially (one-three years) after immunisation. But in four-five years, as the infection shifts to an older age group, there will be more CRS cases than before.

 

Why worry about this?

Greece and Brazil witnessed the paradoxical increase in CRS due to shift of age distribution of rubella cases. In 1993, a major rubella epidemic took place [in Greece] affecting women of child-bearing age at a rate higher than in previous years. Following the rubella epidemic, Greece saw the largest number of babies born with CRS.

  • In Greece, during the later 1970s and the 1980s, rubella vaccination coverage remained “consistently” below 50% and did not reach 50-60% before 1990. As a result, the proportion of pregnant women susceptible to rubella showed a steady increase — from 12% in 1971-75 to 24% in 1984-89 to 36% in 1990-91.
  • In 1993, the mean age of patients with rubella was 17 years and 64% were 15 years or older.

 

Background:

Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) can occur in a developing fetus of a pregnant woman who has contracted rubella, usually in the first trimester. If infection occurs 0–28 days before conception, the infant has a 43% risk of being affected. If the infection occurs 0–12 weeks after conception, the risk increases to 51%. If the infection occurs 13–26 weeks after conception, the risk is 23% of the infant being affected by the disease. Infants are not generally affected if rubella is contracted during the third trimester, or 26–40 weeks after conception. Problems rarely occur when rubella is contracted by the mother after 20 weeks of gestation and continues to disseminate the virus after birth.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

For Olive Ridleys, it’s paradise lost

 

Tens of thousands of eggs laid by Olive Ridley sea turtles this year in Gahirmatha Sanctuary in Odisha, one of the world’s largest nesting grounds, are getting destroyed due to shrinking coastal space.

 

Background:

6,04,046 turtles have come to lay eggs at Nasi II island of Gahirmatha from February 22. The turtles had largely given the island a miss in 2016, with only 50,000 coming to nest.

Since the small island can not host all those that turned up this year, only 50% of eggs may survive.

 

About Gharimatha Marine Sanctuary:

Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is a marine wildlife sanctuary located in Odisha. It extends from Dhamra River mouth in the north to Mahanadi river mouth in the south. It is very famous for its nesting beach for olive ridley sea turtles. It is the one of world’s most important nesting beach for turtles.

Olive Ridley sea turtle has found place in Schedule – I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (amended 1991). All the species of sea turtles in the coastal water of Odisha are listed as “endangered” as per IUCN Red Data Book. The sea turtles are protected under the ‘Migratory Species Convention’ and CITES (Convention of International Trade on Wildlife Flora and Fauna). India is a signatory nation to all these conventions. The ‘Homing’ characteristics of the Ridley sea turtles make them more prone to mass casualty.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment. 

 

Centre dithers on Western Ghats issue

 

After several years of discussions, the government has finally notified nearly 57,000 square km area in the Western Ghats region as ecologically sensitive area (ESA) where all kinds of mining activities, large constructions, thermal power plants and highly polluting industries would no longer be allowed. The 56,825 square km of land is spread over six states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

  • The notification covers an area that is slightly less than the 59,940 square km of area identified by a committee headed by ex-ISRO chief K Kasturirangan in 2013.

Background:

Western Ghats is a 1,500-km biodiversity-rich geological formation along the western Indian coast, which is also rich in minerals. Demarcation of an ESA is an effort to protect the fragile eco-system from indiscriminate industrialisation, mining and unregulated development. Two committees were appointed in the last eight years to identify the areas that needed to be kept out from such activities. The first of these, called the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, headed by noted environmentalist Madhav Gadgil had recommended that the entire region should be made out of bounds for new industrial activities. The other one, headed by Kasturirangan, had suggested that only about 37 per cent of the entire region needed be demarcated into an ESA. State governments and local populations at many of the identified places had resisted the formation of ESA fearing loss of livelihood and a ban on developmental activities.

 

Way ahead:

Concerned state governments and other stakeholders have 60 days’ time to raise objections or make suggestions on the decision to notify the area as ESA. If no changes have to be made, the notification will become final.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 1 Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

 

Lakkaram tank regains lost glory

 

The Lakkaram tank of Kakatiya period here has received a new lease of life following near total restoration of the water body at an estimated cost of Rs 13.5 crore under the Mission Kakatiya scheme.

 

Mission Kakatiya:

Mission Kakatiya is the Telangana government’s flagship programme aimed at restoring minor irrigation sources like tanks and other water bodies to help small and marginal farmers.

The name ‘Mission Kakatiya’ is given in the remembrance and tribute to the Kakatiya rulers who developed large number of the irrigation tanks.

 

About kakatiya dynasty-Key facts:

The 12th and the 13th centuries saw the emergence of the Kakatiyas. They were at first the feudatories of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyana, ruling over a small territory near Warangal. Prataparudra I established a sovereign dynasty in 1163 CE. The dynasty saw powerful leaders like Ganapathi Deva and Rudramadevi.

  • Prataparudra I, also known as Kakatiya Rudradeva, was the son of the Kakatiya leader Prola II. It was under his rule that the Kakatiyas declared sovereignty. He ruled the kingdom till 1195 A.D.
  • It was under the rule of Prataparudra I that usage of Telugu language in inscriptions began.
  • Before the establishment of Orugallu/Warangal as the capital, Hanamakonda was the first capital of the Kakatiyas.
  • The great Italian traveller Marco Polo visited the Kakatiya Kingdom sometime during Rudramadevi’s tenure as the ruler of the Kakatiya Dynasty and made note of her administrative style; admiring her extensively.
  • The iconic Kakatiya Thoranam was built by Rudramadevi’s father in the 12th Century. This ornate arch is said to have many similarities with the gateways at the Sanchi Stupa and is also the emblem of Telangana.
  • The scenic Pakhal lake in Warangal was built by Ganapathi Deva.
  • The 1000 pillar temple in Warangal was built during the Kakatiya Rule and is another example to the exquisite Kakatiya Architecture.
  • Under the Kakatiya rule, the caste system was not rigid and in fact, it was not given much significance socially. Anyone could take up any profession and people were not bound to an occupation by birth.
  • The Koh-i-Noor Diamond, which is now among the jewels set in the British Crown, was mined and first owned by the Kakatiya Dynasty.
  • Since the end of 13th Century and the early of 14th Century, Kakatiya Kingdom faced several attacks by the Delhi Sultanate. The attacks started under Alauddin Khilji’s rule and it is said that it is during this time that the Koh-i-Noor went into the hands of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • The Kakatiya rule finally came to an end in 1323 A.D. when Warangal was conquered by the Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, the then Sultan of Delhi.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims

 

India to train Myanmar Navy:

  • Indian Navy will set up meteorological facilities and impart training for the Myanmar Navy. This was agreed upon during a recent visit of a Myanmar delegation to Kochi. Myanmar will soon send a proposal with its requirements.
  • This fits into India’s overall effort to boost strategic cooperation under the ‘Act East’ policy and will help offset increasing Chinese presence in its neighbourhood.