India has been elected to the Executive Board of the first UN-Habitat Assembly.
This had happened at the Plenary Session of the UN Habitat Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya.The special theme for the UN-Habitat Assembly is “Innovation for Better Quality of Life in Cities and Communities”.
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme(UN-Habitat) is the United Nations agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development.It was established in 1978.
UN-Habitat is headquartered at Nairobi,Kenya.The twin goals of the Habitat Agenda are (a)adequate shelter for all and (b)development of sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world.
UN Habitat reports directly to the UN General Assembly.It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group(UNDP).
Sri Lanka has signed a deal with India and Japan to jointly develop the East Container Terminal at the Port of Colombo.This terminal would be beneficial for India as around 70% of Colombo Port shipment is related to India.
However,India’s role in developing the terminal had been opposed by Sri lankan President as involving foreign countries for developing national assets remains a politically sensitive issue in the island.But the agreement was reached after Japan stepped into the project.
Further,the involvement of India and Japan in the project is seen as a development aimed at neutralising the growing influence of China which has poured money into the Sri Lanka under its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure plan.
India and the US have been highlighting the concerns over the BRI projects which may leave a number of smaller countries in debt traps.The concerns grew louder after China took over Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port on a 99-year lease.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an ambitious programme to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors.It aim at improving (a)regional integration, (b) increasing trade and (c)stimulating economic growth.
The National Small Industries Corporation Limited(NSIC) has signed an MoU with Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises for the year 2019-20.
The MoU envisages provision of enhanced services by NSIC under its marketing, financial, technology and other support services schemes for MSMEs in the country.
Under the scheme of National SC-ST Hub,implemented by NSIC on behalf of the Ministry of MSME, it will continue to provide assistance to SC/ST entrepreneurs with the overall objectives to increase their participation in public procurement.
The NSIC also plans to enhance its activities in the areas of imparting entrepreneurship and skill development training to MSME by targeting 45 % growth in the number of trainees.
NSIC is a Government of India Enterprise under the Mini-Ratna Category.It was established in 1955.NSIC has been working to promote, aid and foster the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises in the country.It works under Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).
The Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to respond to a public interest litigation(PIL) for extending the time period to terminate pregnancy to 24 to 26 weeks in case of health risks to the mother or foetus.
The petitioner has sought amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,1971 which bars abortion post 20 weeks even if the foetus is found to have genetic abnormalities
The petitioner has contended that unmarried females and widows should also be allowed to undergo a legal abortion.
The petitioner said that many European countries including France, U.K. and Italy and even neighbouring country Nepal allows abortion after 20 weeks if foetal abnormalities are discovered.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,1971 allows women to abort foetuses up to 20-weeks-old.Permission of a High Court is required beyond 20 weeks and courts can make exceptions if abnormalities are detected and if there is substantial risk to the mother’s life and health.
A pending bill in Parliament proposes to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act to extend the legally permissible period to end a pregnancy to 24 weeks.
The German government has called on people to wear the Jewish kippah to show their solidarity with the country’s Jewish community in the face of rising anti-Semitism.
The move comes after a leading government official warned Jews in Germany not to wear the traditional skullcaps in public because of an increase in anti-Semitic attacks across the country.
Anti-Semitism is the hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group. The 2005 Report on Global Anti-Semitism defines anti-Semitism as hatred toward Jews—individually and as a group—that can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity.
IAF officials has said that the Indian Air Force(IAF) has identified a shortage of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft to provide round-the-clock surveillance as a major deficiency after the Balakot air strike.
An airborne warning and control(AWACS) system is an airborne radar picket system designed to detect aircraft, ships and vehicles at long ranges and perform command and control of the battlespace in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack aircraft strikes.
India operates only three Israeli Phalcon AWACS and two indigenous Netra AWACS developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO).
IAF is inducting the third Netra from DRDO.Separately,a proposal for two more Phalcon AWACS has been in the works as it is waiting for final approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
Recently, Afghan politicians and Taliban delegates have met in Moscow to revive peace talks aimed at ending the decades-long war.
The meeting was organised by Russia to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its diplomatic ties with Afghanistan.
During the meeting,Taliban and Russia has called for the withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition troops from Afghanistan denouncing the foreign presence in the country as a major obstacle to Afghan peace.
The Taliban has said that Afghanistan government representatives will not participate in the intra-Afghan conference as Taliban has refused to engage with Afghan government as it considers the government illegitimate.
This meeting in Russia come after direct peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban appear to have slowed down over the Taliban refusal to cease hostilities until all U.S.-led international forces withdraw from Afghanistan.
The Taliban has ruled large parts of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, before being ousted in a US-led invasion.After years of insurgency, it now controls half of the country mostly in rural areas.
The Government of India has constituted the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal to adjudicate whether or not there is sufficient reason to continue the ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Earlier,Central Government had extended the ban on the LTTE for another five years under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,1967.
The ban was extended due to LTTE’s objective for a separate homeland (Tamil Eelam) for all Tamils that threatened the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India and amounted to secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union.
The UAPA is a legislation to provide for the more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations and for dealing with terrorist activities.The Act defines unlawful activity as any action by an individual or association which is intended to bring about cession/secession or such action as to disrupt or question the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 was amended in 2004 to criminalise the raising of funds for a terrorist act, holding of the proceeds of terrorism, membership of a terrorist organisation, support to a terrorist organisation, and the raising of funds for a terrorist organisation.
It was again amended in 2012 to comply with the guidelines of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).The definition of “terrorist act” was expanded to include offences that threaten economic security, counterfeiting Indian currency and procurement of weapons.
The Cauvery Water Management Authority has ordered Karnataka to release 9.19 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu from river Cauvery in June.
This order has come after the representatives from Tamil Nadu placed a request in the meeting, to direct Karnataka to release water in time for the Kuruvai crops in the delta districts of Tamil Nadu.
Since pre-independence years, the sharing of Cauvery water has been an area of contestation between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In 2018, the Supreme Court gave its final verdict on the Cauvery water dispute. The judgment was passed on a batch of appeals by the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala challenging the 2007 award passed by the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal.
Supreme Court curtailed Tamil Nadu’s share of Cauvery water and increased Karnataka’s share. According to the verdict, Karnataka should release 177.25 tmcft water from Billigundlu dam on Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border to Mettur dam on Cauvery every year to Tamil Nadu for the next 15 years.
Following the verdict, the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) was put in place by the government of India in June 2018 to give effect to the decision of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal as modified by the Supreme Court.
The Cauvery River originates in Karnataka’s Kodagu district, flows into Tamil Nadu, and reaches the Bay of Bengal at Poompuhar. Parts of three Indian states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka – and the Union Territory of Puducherry lie in the Cauvery basin.
Recently, a 34-member panel of the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) has voted in favour of designating a new geological epoch — the Anthropocene. An epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale. It is longer than an age but shorter than a period.
The geological periods basically reflect the natural patterns and changes of Earth history. The periods are further divided into Epochs and Ages.
The current epoch is the Holocene Epoch of the Quaternary Period. The Holocene epoch began 11,700 years ago. The proposed Anthropocene epoch would mark the end of the Holocene epoch.
The term ‘Anthropocene’ was coined in 2000 by Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer. It describes the present geological time interval in which human activity has profoundly altered many conditions and processes on Earth.
According to the AWG, the characteristics of the Anthropocene epoch are: a) unprecedented increase in erosion and sediment transport associated with urbanisation and agriculture, b) marked and abrupt anthropogenic perturbations of the cycles of elements such as carbon, environmental changes generated by these perturbations, including global warming, sea-level rise, and ocean acidification, c) rapid changes in the biosphere and d) proliferation and global dispersion of many new ‘minerals’ and ‘rocks’ including concrete, fly ash and plastics, and ‘technofossils’ produced from these and other materials.
In the future course of action, scientists would have to find Global boundary Stratotype Section and Point for the Anthropocene epoch. It is a definitive geologic marker or golden spike which marks the beginning of an epoch. It must be present globally and should be a part of deposits for geological record.
The AWG needs to make a formal proposal to designate the new geological epoch as Anthropocene. This would be considered by several more groups of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. The final ratification will be made by the executive committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences- an international non-governmental organization devoted to international cooperation in the field of geology.
Malaysia has said that it will return 450 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste to the countries that shipped it, in a refusal to become a dumping ground for the world’s trash.
The waste-filled containers will be shipped to Malaysia from the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh.
Malaysia has been struggling with foreign waste ever since China banned plastic waste imports in 2018 in an effort to improve its environment. China’s move have resulted developed nations to frequently export waste to other developing nations such as Malaysia.
According to a November 2018 Greenpeace report, Malaysia is the “new dumping site” for plastic waste from more than 19 countries. Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines have also become common grounds for plastic waste from other countries.
Recently, during the Basel Conference of the Parties, 180 Governments except the United States, amended the Basel Convention to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework. The aims is to ensure make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, whilst also ensuring that its management is safer for human health and the environment
The Basel Convention came into force in 1992.It intends to reduce trans boundary movements of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries (LDCs) and ensure their safe disposal as closely as possible to the source of generation
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that “burnout” remains an “occupational phenomenon” that could lead someone to seek care but it is not considered a medical condition. The clarification has come a day after the WHO mistakenly said it had listed burnout in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) for the first time.
According to the WHO, “burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Further, the WHO has noted that burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be used in other contexts.
The WHO has said that burnout is characterised by: a) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, b) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job and c) Reduced professional efficacy.
International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health problems is a handbook of recognised medical conditions. It defines the universe of diseases, disorders, injuries and other related health conditions