Insights Daily Current Affairs, 13 October 2017
Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
India 100th on global hunger index
Global Hunger Index for the year 2017 has been released.
Key facts on GHI:
- The report is released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
- The hunger index ranks countries based on undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting (low weight for height) and child stunting (low height for age).
- The GHI ranks countries on a 100-point scale. Zero is the best score (no hunger), and 100 is the worst, although neither of these extremes is reached in practice.
Performance of India:
- India has a “serious” hunger problem and ranks 100th out of 119 countries on the global hunger index. India stood at 97th position in last year’s rankings.
- The country’s serious hunger level is driven by high child malnutrition and underlines need for stronger commitment to the social sector.
- However, India has made considerable improvement in reducing its child stunting rate, down 29% since 2000, but even that progress leaves India with a relatively high stunting rate of 38.4.
India’s relative performance:
- India ranks below many of its neighbouring countries such as China (29th rank), Nepal (72), Myanmar (77), Sri Lank (84) and Bangladesh (88). It is ahead of Pakistan (106) and Afghanistan (107).
- India ranked behind North Korea, Bangladesh and Iraq but ahead of Pakistan. North Korea ranks 93rd while Iraq is at 78th position.
- India has the third highest score in all of Asia — only Afghanistan and Pakistan are ranked worse.
- India’s high ranking on the Global Hunger Index again this year brings to the fore the disturbing reality of the country’s stubbornly high proportions of malnourished children.
- More than one-fifth of Indian children under five weigh too little for their height and over a third are too short for their age.
- Even with the massive scale up of national nutrition-focused programmes in India, drought and structural deficiencies have left large number of poor in India at risk of malnourishment in 2017.
The on-going efforts are expected to make significant changes in improving the existing situation. India has developed and launched an action plan on ‘undernourishment free India’ by 2022. The plan shows stronger commitment and greater investments in tackling malnutrition in the coming years.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India denounces call to give up nukes, sign NPT
India has denounced a call to give up its nuclear weapons and sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) while it “remains committed to universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament”.
- This was in response to a call by a group calling itself the New Agenda Coalition that India – along with Israel and Pakistan – sign the NPT as NNWS (non-nuclear weapon states), which would effectively mean giving up its nuclear arsenal.
- However, India has reiterated its commitment “as a responsible nuclear power” to “a policy of credible minimum deterrence based on a No First Use posture and non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states”.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by the General Assembly with 122 votes in July, and the pact itself was open to signatures in September. India, along with the other nuclear-armed nations, boycotted the negotiations on the treaty, although North Korea voted for it.
It is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. The Treaty entered into force in 1970.
- Four UN member states have never joined the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan. North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal in 2003.
- Recognized nuclear-weapon states: The treaty recognizes five states as nuclear-weapon states: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China.
The NPT is interpreted as a three-pillar system, with an implicit balance among them: the three pillars are:
- The right to peacefully use nuclear technology.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
U.S., Israel quit UNESCO
The U.S. has announced its withdrawal from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), accusing it of “continuing anti-Israel bias.” Besides the US, Israel has also decided to pull out of UNESCO.
- As required by law, the U.S. has stopped funding UNESCO. The U.S. withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018. Until then, it will remain a full member.
Why the US is withdrawing?
The US and UNESCO have actually been at loggerheads since 2011.
- The key issue now, as with many US-UN disputes, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In October 2011, UNESCO admitted the Palestinian territories to the organization as an independent member-state called Palestine. This triggered a US law which cut off American funding for any organization that recognized an independent Palestine. The US had previously paid for 22 percent ($80 million) of UNESCO’s annual budget.
- Finally, in 2013, after the US missed several rounds of payments to UNESCO, the organization suspended US voting rights in its core decision-making bodies. So the US hasn’t been a real UNESCO member for a while.
UNESCO is a United Nations organization that helps preserve historical and cultural sites worldwide.
- It is a special multi-country agency, formed in 1945 and based in France, that promotes sex education and literacy as well as improving gender equality in countries around the world.
- It is also known for its work to preserve cultural and heritage sites such as ancient villages, ruins and temples, and historic sites such as the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq, which at one point came under threat of being destroyed by the Islamic State.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
El Nino caused record CO2 spike in 2015-16: NASA
Scientists have found that the impact of the 2015-16 El Nino-related heat and drought occurring in tropical regions of South America, Africa and Indonesia was responsible for the largest annual increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration seen in at least 2,000 years.
The findings are based on analysis of the first 28 months of data from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite.
- In 2015 and 2016, OCO-2 recorded atmospheric carbon dioxide increases that were 50% larger than the average increase seen in recent years preceding these observations.
- That increase was about three parts per million of carbon dioxide per year — or 6.3 gigatonnes of carbon. In recent years, the average annual increase has been closer to two parts per million of carbon dioxide per year — or four gigatonnes of carbon.
- These record increases occurred even though emissions from human activities in 2015-16 are estimated to have remained roughly the same as they were prior to the El Nino.
- South America, Africa and Indonesia released 2.5 gigatonnes (a billion tonnes) more carbon into the atmosphere than they did in 2011. In 2011, weather in the three tropical regions was normal and the amount of carbon absorbed and released by them was in balance.
Understanding how the carbon cycle in these regions responded to El Nino will enable scientists to improve carbon cycle models, which should lead to improved predictions of how our planet may respond to similar conditions in the future. These findings imply that if future climate brings more or longer droughts, as the last El Nino did, more carbon dioxide may remain in the atmosphere, leading to a tendency to further warm Earth.
About El Nino:
El Nino, Spanish for ‘The little boy’, is a weather disturbance first noticed (and named) by fishermen off the coast of South America centuries ago.
- Under normal weather conditions, trade winds ferry warm ocean currents westwards, from the eastern and central Pacific towards Indonesia and Australia. Warmer ocean waters in these regions then heat up the air above, leading to cloud formation and triggering the prodigious monsoon.
- But in the years where the El Nino takes shape, eastern and central Pacific regions experience abnormal warming of the sea.
- This leads to increased cloud formation and torrential rains in Peru and some sections of America. The ocean currents in the western Pacific remain cool, which means weak monsoon rains in Indonesia and Australia and sometimes in India.
Topic: Disaster and disaster management.
Calamities displace 23 lakh every year in India
According to the study, ‘A Global Disaster Displacement Risk Model’, conducted by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre of the Norwegian Refugee Council and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), calamities displace 23 lakh people every year in India.
Highlights of the report:
- India ranks the highest among the world’s most disaster-prone countries for displacement of residents, with 23 lakh, on average, uprooted due to calamities such as floods, cyclones and earthquakes. Rise in homelessness will continue, according to the report.
- The report however notes that the estimation of displaced people in India may be on the lower side considering that, in the recent Bihar floods alone, about 1.75 crore were affected and 8.55 lakh evacuated. Floods hit at least half a dozen other states this year.
- Most of this displacement is being driven by flooding, which is on the increase in a warming world where population growth in hazard-prone parts of the globe has increased exposure.
The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), created in December 1999, is the successor to the secretariat of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.
- It was established to ensure the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
- It is part of the United Nations Secretariat and its functions span the social, economic, environmental as well as humanitarian fields.
- UNISDR supports the implementation, follow-up and review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted by the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction on 18 March 2015 in Sendai, Japan.
UNISDR’s vision is anchored on the four priorities for action set out in the Sendai Framework:
- Understanding disaster risk.
- Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk.
- Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience.
- Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Sources: the hindu.