9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – August 14th, 2021

Dear Friends,

We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:

  1. Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
  2. We have widened the sources to provide you with content that is more than enough and adds value not just for GS but also for essay writing. Hence, the 9 PM brief now covers the following newspapers:
    1. The Hindu  
    2. Indian Express  
    3. Livemint  
    4. Business Standard  
    5. Times of India 
  3. We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
  4. Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
  5. It is our endeavor to provide you with the best content and your feedback is essential for the same. We will be anticipating your feedback and ensure the blog serves as an optimal medium of learning for all the aspirants.
  • For previous editions of 9 PM BriefClick Here
  • For individual articles of 9 PM BriefClick Here

Mains Oriented Articles 

GS Paper 2

GS Paper 3

Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)


Mains Oriented Articles


GS Paper 2

Is grain fortification the only way to meet India’s nutritional challenge?

Source: Business Standard

Syllabus: GS2 – Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger

Relevance: Article throws a light on pros and cons of food fortification

Synopsis: As the Centre presses ahead with its plan to distribute fortified rice through the public distribution system, in order to fight chronic anaemia and malnutrition, critics have raised questions on the strategy.

Context

In a recent reply in Parliament, the Centre has said it is running a pilot scheme to fortify rice and distribute it through the PDS for a period of three years starting 2019-20, with a total outlay of Rs 174.64 crore. The Central government is funding 90% of the scheme for the north-eastern and hilly states, and 75% for the rest of India. The pilot focuses on 15 districts across 15 states, preferably one district per domain.

Note: As we have already covered food fortification and its associated points in our 7PM initiative so we are covering only additional new points here. Please go through the following article first.

Must Read: Food Fortification in India – Explained, pointwise

Some are against while some are supportive of this strategy. Let us see both sides of the argument.

Against food fortification
  • Ignores the role of a balanced diet: The program of fortification ignores the central role of a balanced and diverse diet in addressing a variety of nutritional problems of India. Also, the new nutrient recommendations of the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) show that a diverse natural diet is adequate to meet the normal micronutrient needs of the population.
  • Avoidable expenditure: Fortification of only the rice delivered through the social safety networks will cost the public exchequer about Rs 2,600 crore annually. This, in the backdrop of the already ongoing public health initiatives of iron supplementation, represents an avoidable and wasteful expenditure with no palpable benefits.
  • Misdiagnosis of the scale of the prevalence of anaemia: On the prevalence of chronic anaemia, which has been elaborated as one of the main reason for the fortification programme, experts have said that it is magnified because of the use of inappropriate haemoglobin cut-offs to diagnose the malady in children and pregnant women. This creates an ongoing perception of stagnant or worsening anaemia prevalence. However, it does not reflect the true nutritional status of a population.
For Food fortification

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), in a cross-country mapping of the rice fortification programme done in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Sri Lanka, found that it is possible to improve the diet of millions of vulnerable people with fortified rice.

Suggestions

UNWFP, in a report released a few months back, suggested three key interventions by the national governments to make the programme a real success.

  1. Operationalization of fortified rice distribution channels to reach groups that can benefit most from the consumption of the grain is key to providing necessary incentives for production and supply in the initial phase.
  2. Public-private sector collaboration: Fortification programmes are most successful when driven by partnerships and trust between the public- and private-sector actors, with a final public health objective. Multi-sectoral collaboration between various ministries–agriculture, education and health in particular–as well as with academia and local and international NGOs helps create an enabling environment for rice fortification, with each stakeholder contributing their individual expertise and sphere of influence.
  3. Incentives to pvt sector: Finally, it said that the private sector should be provided with adequate incentives to build robust supply chains of fortified rice.

Thus, though there is ample evidence on the benefits of fortification to meet nutritional challenges, whether it is the only way available is a million-dollar question which policy makers and experts need to explore.

Terms to know


We, the people, miss our houses

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2 Parliament and its functioning

Relevance: To understand the issues regarding the functioning of parliament.

Synopsis: Over the years, the functioning of Parliament has declined, which is not good for a healthy democracy. So, let us understand the issue involved in the functioning of Parliament

Drafting of Indian Constitution

The constitution assembly held its first meeting to draft the constitution on 9 Dec 1946. India finally adopted its constitution on 26th Jan 1950.

What was exceptional about the drafting process was the diligent attendance of the committee and its vigorous debates. It exhibited an approach of rapprochement and engagement with the opposition. However, over the years its functioning leaves much to be desired.

Functioning of Indian Parliament

  • In 2020, Parliament sat in session for 33 days only.
  • In the 2021 Monsoon session, Lok Sabha was scheduled to work for six hours per day for 19 days. Instead, it sat for 21 hours in total or 21% of what was conceived, as per the PRS Legislative Research
  • In the past 10 years, the Rajya Sabha has functioned for less than 25% of its scheduled time.

Global examples:

  • All the above-mentioned figure is much low when compared to other countries like the USA that met physically for 113 days in 2020
  • Brazil Parliament, which adopted the usage of an application called Infoleg, functioned at higher rates than in pre-pandemic times, with extraordinarily high voting rates.

Also, according to PRS data, none of the 15 bills introduced in the monsoon session were referred to any Parliamentary committee. A sharp downward trend can be seen in referring the bill to Parliamentary committees. From 71% in 15th LS to 27% in 16th and 12% in the present one

Read more: Parliament is abdicating its oversight role

Way Forward

Rather than physical infrastructure for Parliament, we need to make the functioning of Parliament more effective.


GS Paper 3

PM launches scrap policy for unfit vehicles; projects gain for owners, economy

Source: Indian Express 1, Indian Express 2, Down to Earth, India Today, The Hindu

Syllabus: GS3 – Environmental pollution and degradation

Relevance: On Vehicle scrappage policy

Synopsis: A formal launch of National Vehicle Scrappage policy is an important step towards waste to wealth. A critical analysis of the policy.

Context

India’s National Vehicle Scrappage Policy, unveiled in March 2021, has been formally launched by the Indian Prime Minister. It will help phase out unfit and polluting vehicles and also promote a circular economy. This waste-to-wealth campaign has been linked with swachhata (cleanliness) and aatmnirbharta (self-reliance).

  • National Vehicle Scrappage policy is also known as Voluntary Vehicle-Fleet Modernization Programme.
Must Read: National Vehicle Scrappage policy – Explained

Note: Please go through the above article first. Only new points have been included in the present article.

How the policy aids circular economy?

When a car is scrapped, apart from metals including iron and steel, many other parts may emerge that can be refurbished and ploughed back into use. Recycled steel from scrap, even seats and plastic parts, have value in the scrap economy. It is similar to the economic activity of scrappage of old ships, like in Alang shipbreaking yard in Gujarat.

In a circular economy, products, materials, equipment and infrastructure are kept in use for longer, thus improving productivity.

Benefits
  • Investment and jobs: The new vehicle scrapping policy will attract Rs 10,000 crore worth of new investments in the country and create 35,000 new jobs
  • The new policy would provide a boost to the country’s automobile and metal industries.
  • Rare earth metals: When scrapping is done scientifically, it will be possible to recover rare earth metals that drive modern technology.
  • Aid in economic recovery: Globally, a scrappage policy has been followed by boost in demand in the auto manufacturing sector, especially in Europe and the US. This has also been a tool to deal with economic slowdown in the manufacturing sector and consumption due to recession.

Issues

One of the issues is that the entire onus of incentivizing vehicle renewal depends on the discretion of the state governments, like rebates in road tax etc. Given the fact these are important sources of state revenue, the extent to which the state governments will implement this is not yet known.

Suggestions/Measures
  1. Stimulus by central govt: The central government can allow Goods and Services Tax cuts for replacement vehicles and even consider direct incentives for targeted fleet renewal of most polluting old trucks and buses.
  2. A rebate can be given to the owners of end-of-life vehicles who are interested in ‘only scrapping’ the vehicle without immediate replacement. Higher incentives can be given for ‘scrappage and replacement’ of old / end-of-life vehicles.
  3. Incentive support for the personal vehicle segment on the other hand can be linked with voluntary electrification. A study carried out by the International Council on Clean Transportation has shown that in Germany, replacing old cars with new cars powered with internal combustion engine does not provide as much effective emissions gains as replacing with electric vehicles. Therefore, limiting the numbers of personal vehicles that can qualify for incentives and linking their voluntary replacement with electric vehicles can contribute towards accelerating the target of 30-40 per cent electrification by 2030.
  4. Increase limits on recoverable material: Under Automotive Industrial Standards – 129 (AIS 129) on reuse, recycling and material recovery from vehicles, 80-85% of material used in vehicle manufacturing by mass is to be recoverable / recyclable / reusable at the end of life. It should be extended to 85-95% to maximise material recovery as well as energy recovery from residual waste like used oil, non-recyclable rubber, etc.
  5. Align with the European regulation to include extended producer responsibility to make vehicle manufacturers responsible for their own waste.
    • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is an environmental policy approach in which a producer’s responsibility for a product is extended to the post-consumer stage of a product’s life cycle.

Seize the initiative on climate change, Mr Modi

Source: Business Standard

Syllabus: GS3 – Environment

Relevance: India’s fight against the climate crisis

Synopsis: Though, not caused by us, climate change induced by the historical emissions made by developed countries, is the stark reality. India should prepare its roadmap for COP 26 Glasgow summit and secure an adequately financed deal for the developing world. Climate change, is thus, affording us an opportunity for world leadership.

Context

The first part of the 6th IPCC Assessment Report has highlighted the severity of the climate change related events that are happening and will happen in future under business as usual scenario. The report is even more worrying for India because ours is the country most at risk from global warming and associated weird weather patterns and events. Our lives, livelihoods and macro-economy are dependent upon a fragile weather system.

Must Read: IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report – All you need to know
Concerns for India
  1. Unreliable monsoon: As per IPCC report, monsoon will be severely altered by global warming. A more intense, but patchy monsoon, with a later onset, will ch­a­nge how farmers must operate. It will render current cropping timetables and crop choices irrelevant. It will make hilly areas prone to far more landslides, and will increase catastrophic flooding in the lower reaches of the Gangetic and Brahmaputra basins.
  2. Warmer Indian Ocean: The report says that the Indian Ocean might warm more than other bodies of water, rendering life on the coasts far less comfortable.
  3. Rising sea level: Further, a rising sea level will mean coastal erosion, threats to densely populated coastal regions, and increasing salinity that will reduce the availability of fresh water for settlements and render ever more fertile land uncultivable.
  4. Climate refugee problem: India’s politics will also be increasingly disrupted by climate refugees of one kind or another. Many will be internal refugees, leading to regional tensions. Others will be from outside.
  5. International and inter-state water disputes: Disputes between Indian states and with our neighbours over water will take on a fresh edge.
  6. Heat stress: The number of days with temperatures over 40o C will increase dramatically. A large number of people will still work outside, doing manual labour, under the scorching sun. An increase in the number of heat stress days will lead to public health crises.
Way forward

The fact is that others have created this problem, but others will not solve it for us. That is unfair, but that is the reality. India needs to move forward on climate change to secure Indians’ futures. It needs to emerge from COP26 with a deal that the India can credibly claim will, over the next decade, mobilise trillions of dollars in climate-oriented private finance towards the emerging world, including India. This is the Indian government’s duty not just to its own people but to its own notion of developing-world leadership.


Bihar plans GPS trackers for endangered Greater Adjutant Storks

What is the news?

In a first, Bihar has decided to tag endangered greater adjutant storks (Leptoptilos dubius), locally known as ‘Garuda’, with GPS trackers to monitor their movement as a part of efforts to conserve them.

  • Bhagalpur’s Kadwa Diara floodplains area is the third-most popular breeding centre for the greater adjutant stork in the world after Assam and Cambodia. Conservation efforts in these areas have led to increase in their population in recent years.
Adjutant stork
Greater Adjutant Stork (Source: DTE)
Significance of the move

GPS trackers will help in studying their movement patterns and places where they go to.

About Greater adjutant storks
  • The greater adjutant is one of the most threatened stork species of the world and is widely considered to be a rare bird
  • The global population of the Greater Adjutant Stork is estimated to be roughly not more than 1,500 now.
  • Conservation status:
    • IUCN Red list: EN (Endangered)
    • Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule IV
  • There are only three known breeding grounds – one in Cambodia, two in India, in Assam and in Kadwa Diara of Bihar.
  • Cultural significance: The Garuda is the considered the mount of Vishnu, one of Hinduism’s prime deities. Some worship the bird and call it “Garuda Maharaj” (Lord Garuda) or “Guru Garuda” (Great Teacher Garuda). In Bihar, the campaign to teach the local communities about the bird stressed this aspect.

Chennai’s Urban Forests

Source: Live Mint

Syllabus: GS 3 – Environment

Relevance: To understand the Miyawaki method of creating urban forests in less time.

Synopsis: Urban areas have lost a lot of green covers. Miyawaki’s method promises to quickly create urban forests.

About Miyawaki method:

It is a method pioneered by Japanese Botanist Akira Miyawaki. Miyawaki is a technique pioneered by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki that helps build dense, native forests. The approach is supposed to ensure that plant growth is 10 times faster and the resulting plantation is 30 times denser than usual.

It mandates planting indigenous shrubs and trees close together, ensuring dense multi-layered forests that grow faster than those produced via traditional afforestation methods.

It can produce rich, dense forests in about 20-30 years.

Read more: “Miyawaki method” to create dense green patches

Implementation in Chennai

Chennai has lost a lot of forest cover. Many trees were lost due to encroachments. Cyclones have claimed a vast number of trees.

So the Miyawaki method is gaining popularity, particularly in urban landscapes where space availability is an issue. About 1300 saplings were planted by Chennai municipal authority (GCC – Greater Chennai Corporation). May NGO’s like TREES have joined hands with GCC to support these drives

Issues:

However, some disagree with the utility of the Miyawaki method. They claim:

  • Choking small spaces with numerous trees is not an ideal approach.
  • They suggest that a few well-grown trees can also sequester carbon effectively.
  • They also apprehend that this method may be used to justify the cutting of older trees.

Way forward

Despite its shortcomings, the Miyawaki method does have the potential of rapidly greening the barren urban landscapes.


Our GDP needs the HDP

Source: Indian Express

Syllabus: GS3 – Inclusive Growth and issues arising from it.

Relevance: Achieving sustainable and inclusive growth for all.

Synopsis: Despite the progress achieved in the field of technology; inequality and deprivation are still an important issue that needs to be addressed in India. Measuring Human Development Product might be a solution because GDP just indicates economic growth, while Human Development Product can help us identify and remove inequities and injustices

Inequity and deprivation in India
  • The median household income in India was Rs 15,000 per month, meaning just 500 rs per day (and 125rs per day per person for a family of four) for all the expenditure on food, clothing, housing, healthcare, festivals and more. Half of India lives with less than that.
  • The bottom 25% of households (about 300 million people in India) live on an income of less than Rs 8,500 per month or Rs 70 per day per person.
  • Inequities also exists across gender, caste, regions, and more.

These numbers do not account for the economic devastation that the pandemic has caused.

To solve such problems we need to measure them and GDP is not a holistic criterion as it limits itself to just economic growth of a country. We need to dig deeper and measure ‘Human Development Product (HDP)’. This concept includes measures that reflect progress on many other measures.

Parameters for HDP

There is necessity to add Human Development Product (HDP) as an additional parameter to measure GDP, since we can achieve only what we measure. HDP should consist of following five parameters:

  1. Female Labour Force Participation Rate(FLFPR)– It is currently at very low level (11-22). The empowerment of women through their economic independence is central to human development.
  2. Gender Income Parity- There should be equal wages for equal work between men and women. There is no point in more women participating in the labour force if they continue to get insecure and lower-paying jobs than men.
  3. Stunting- Stunting amongst children is about 35%, which indicates the dismal state of our public health, the nutritional status of our people, and environmental conditions.
  4. Water Quality and Availability- This is more difficult to measure, but we need an aggregate water health index. We can measure the quality and flow of 10 key rivers at specified geographical points and periodicity, as well as measure groundwater levels and quality in some of the most stressed areas. All this could give us an aggregate water health index.
  5. Quality of Polity- to check criminalization within politics. For this, we can measure the percentage of members of all our legislatures — state legislatures and Parliament — against whom criminal cases are pending or have convictions.
Importance of the parameters
  • Women related parameters- Two women related parameters mentioned above reflect deep structural issues, both in the economy and in society. Any progress on these two will happen only when there is broad-ranging progress across multiple factors such as education and an increase in employment opportunities
  • Stunting- it reflects the widespread conditions of public health, nutrition and public education.
  • Water- Tackling climate change and its effects on multiple fronts is a necessity. These can be measured in many ways. But nothing impacts an average person more than water.
  • Quality of polity– It reflects the condition of a country and vice versa
Way forward

The Human Development “Product”,  is product of many important factors — education, health, livelihoods, societal norms, political climate, environmental conditions, and more. Improvement in HDP will reflect and happen only with improvement on all these factors.

Conclusion

It’s time we devise a true marker of human progress. HDP might be the answer.


An Indian sail to navigate the maritime environment

Source: The Hindu

Syllabus: GS 3 – Security

Relevance: On maritime security

Synopsis: India’s leadership in the debate on maritime security has boosted its standing as a key player in the shared commons.

Background

A high level open debate was conducted by the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 9th August 2021. Its theme was “Enhancing Maritime Security: A Case For International Cooperation”.

Being the current chairman of UNSC, India urged the Global community to focus on maritime security and develop a common framework to deal with it. India’s emphasis is rooted in its geography and ancient maritime traditions. 

Maritime Traditions
  • India has a long coastline and large island chains spread-eagled across the Indian Ocean. It has a natural seaward orientation, with key sea lanes of communication coursing through its surrounding seas.
  • India has ancient maritime traditions as well. In the 15th century, Vasco de Gama was piloted to the west coast of India from Zanzibar by a Gujarati seaman. 
    • Long before that, India’s ancient mariners were trading with the old world. India’s maritime trade existed with Mesopotamia civilization 4,500 years ago. Further, Lothal was a key maritime centre of the Indus Valley civilization.
    • Buddhism and Hinduism spread to South-east Asia by the maritime route. Even Islam took the maritime route from India to South-east Asia.

Such traditions have ensured that India acts as a responsible maritime power. 

A responsible Maritime Power
  • India has always called for peaceful settlement of maritime disputes. This idea is rooted in India’s values of peace and non-violence. 
    • For instance, India gracefully accepted the award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2014 concerning the Indo-Bangladesh Maritime dispute. This helped the country to forge closer ties with Bangladesh.
  • The country has promoted mutual cooperation among the maritime neighbours and extended a helping hand in times of distress.
    • India’s role as ‘first responder’ in the Indian Ocean, whether in acting against piracy or providing relief after the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, is well- documented. 
    • The Indian Air Force airlifted 30 tonnes of relief material to Mauritius in August 2020 to contain an oil spill that threatened to engulf the island nation’s pristine coast.
    • India now has white shipping agreements with several countries (It is an agreement related to the exchange agreement between the navies of countries on the commercial ships on each others’ oceanic territories)
    • The Indian Navy’s state-of-the-art Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) based in Gurugram hosts officers from the United States, Japan, France, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Way Forward

The countries should come forward and work in the spirit of the 5 principles given by the Indian PM in the UNSC meeting.

Further, they should understand that Freedom of navigation and unimpeded commerce are key to the spread of prosperity. The critical supply chains depend on the concept of mare liberum (open seas) and not mare clausum (closed seas). For instance, the blockage in the Suez Canal earlier this year interrupted the flow of trade worth billions of dollars.

Terms to know


Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)


Private insurance companies benefited the most from PM Fasal Bima Yojana: Report

Source: Down to Earth

What is the news?

Under the flagship scheme for crop insurance PMFBY, it is the private insurance companies that have benefited the most than the public insurance companies.

Context

The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (crop insurance scheme) may have benefited some farmers, but insurance companies have made most of the benefits.

  • In the five years since the scheme was launched, these companies received Rs 1,26,521 crore in premium payments and paid back Rs 87,320 crore to farmers in loss claims — leading to overall savings of approximately 31%.
  • The department of agriculture and farmers welfare furnished these figures in its report to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture’s report.

Note: Under the scheme, farmers are only required to deposit 1.5% of the entire premium (in the Kharif season) and 2% in the Rabi season. The remainder of the premium is deposited jointly by the federal and state governments.

Must read: Parl panel flags Fasal Bima plan woes
Who benefited more?
  • Two out of five public sector insurers paid more claims than the premium charged in the period indicating they made losses.
  • Private enterprises, on the other hand, have grown by more than 30% in the last four years
  • Private corporations that lost money or made small profits dropped out of the arrangement
Recommendations
  • Spending profits on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)- Companies making profit from the scheme should spend it on rural development as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the districts where they generate such profit.
  • Opening offices in rural areas– insurance companies should not only open offices in rural areas, but also make the location and contact information public.
Must Read: Panel ‘disappointed’ about no data on complaints resolved under PMFBY 

Explained: What will happen to fish as oceans warm?

Source: Indian Express

What is the news?

The rise in oceanic temperature due to global warming is affecting the aerobic capacity of the fish and could impair their physiological performance in the future.

Context
  • The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has warned that ocean warming will continue over the 21st century and is likely to continue until at least the year 2300 even if we minimise carbon emissions.
  • According to the report the amount of ocean warming observed since 1971 will likely at least double by 2100 under a low warming scenario and will increase by 4-8 times under a high warming scenario.

Anthropogenic causes are held to be the biggest reason behind ocean warming

Impact on fish

Ocean warming oceans can cause stress, decrease the range, increase diseases and can wipe out many commonly eaten fish.

  • Creation of hypoxic and anoxic zones: Warming can aid in creation of both anoxic (waters that have no dissolved oxygen) and hypoxic (low oxygen concentration) zones
  • Forced adaptation– Several species are migrating towards pole or deep waters to stay in their ideal temperature range.
  • Reduction in fish size– Certain species of fish are becoming smaller and unable to move to better environments.
  • Limit the aerobic capacity of fish– As temperature increases, the demand for oxygen of many fish species will exceed their capacity to extract oxygen from the environment through their gills. As a result, the aerobic capacity of fish decreases in warming waters, and this reduction may be more important in larger fishes. This means that global warming could limit the aerobic capacity of fish, impairing their physiological performance in the future.
Impact on humans

The impact on fish will have serious implications for our food security, as many of the species we eat could become increasingly scarce or even non-existent in decades to come.

Terms to know:


At 100GW, India now 4th in solar, wind energy capacity

Source: Times of India

What is the news?

India’s renewable energy capacity, excluding large hydroelectric projects, hit 100 GW (gigawatts) on 12th Aug 21, making it the world’s fourth largest in terms of total installed green energy capacity.

The 100 GW renewable capacity accounts for 26% of India’s total installed generation capacity of 383 GW.

  • It should be noted that in 2015, India had announced its plan to build 175 GW renewable energy capacity by 2022. This target has been enhanced to install 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
Significance
  1. The milestone is commendable for the world’s third-largest polluter, as it has been achieved in a short span of five years.
  2. This milestone of reaching 100 GW, will help us to resist international pressure to declare a net-zero goal and India can call out the developed countries to increase their efforts to reduce carbon emission.
  3. It also shows India’s commitment to decarbonize its economy and will meet its NDC (nationally determined contributions) targets for power generation from non-fossil fuel sources and emission reductions

Candy sticks to earbuds: Govt bans single-use plastic from 2022

Source: Indian Express, The Hindu and PIB

What is the News?

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has notified the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021. 

Main Purpose of the Rules:

  1. The rules aim to prohibit the use of specific single-use plastic items which have “low utility and high littering potential” by 2022.

Key Provisions of the Rules:

Range of Plastics Banned:

  1. The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of the following single-use plastic commodities shall be prohibited with effect from the 1st July, 2022:
    • Earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene [Thermocol] for decoration; 
    • Plates, cups, glasses, cutlery, wrapping or packaging films around sweet boxes, invitation cards,  and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers.

The thickness of Plastic bags:

  1. The permitted thickness of the plastic bags, currently 50 microns, will be increased to 75 microns from 30th September 2021, and to 120 microns from 31st December 2022.
  2. This is because plastic bags with higher thickness are more easily handled as waste and have higher recyclability.

Plastic Wastes not banned:

  1. Compostable Plastics: The ban will not apply to commodities made of compostable plastic.
    • Instead of using plastic made from petrochemicals and fossil fuels, compostable plastics are derived from renewable materials like corn, potato, and tapioca starches, cellulose, etc. These plastics are non-toxic and decompose back into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass when composted.
  2. Plastic Packaging waste which is not covered under the phase-out of identified single-use plastic items should be collected and managed in an environmentally sustainable way through the Extended Producer Responsibility as per Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016.
    • Extended Producer Responsibility is a policy approach in which producers take responsibility for the management of the disposal of products they produce once those products are designated as no longer useful by consumers.

Other Plastic Commodities:

  1. For banning other plastic commodities in the future, other than those that have been listed in this notification, the government has given the industry ten years from the date of notification for compliance.

Implementation of Rules:

  1. The Central Pollution Control Board, along with state pollution bodies, will monitor the ban, identify violations, and impose penalties already prescribed under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.

MoHUA launches one brand -‘SonChiraiya’ – for Urban SHG products

Source: PIB

What is the News?

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has launched ‘SonChiraiya’.

About SonChiraiya:
  1. SonChiraiya is a brand and logo for the marketing of urban Self-Help Group (SHG) products. 
  2. This will help in improving visibility and global access for the products made by urban SHG women.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) has focussed on equipping the urban poor women with adequate skills and opportunities and enabling them to promote sustainable micro-enterprises.

Click here to read about DAY-NULM

Portal for Affordable Credit and Interest Subvention Access (PAiSA):
  1. It is a centralized IT platform which simplifies and streamlines the release of interest subvention under the DAY-NULM.
  2. It offers end to end online solution for processing, payment, monitoring and tracking of interest subvention claims from banks on a monthly basis

AB-PMJAY gave ₹2,794 cr. for COVID treatment

Source: The Hindu

What is the News?

The government of India has informed about the achievements of Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY). It has also released funds under India COVID-19 Emergency Response & Health System Preparedness Package: Phase-II (ECRP-II package).

About Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY):

  1. AB-PMJAY
Role of Ayushman Bharat in Covid-19 Treatment:
  1. Under Ayushman Bharat, the Union government has allowed beneficiaries to avail of free testing and treatment across all empanelled hospitals — both public and private.
  2. The National Health Authority(NHA) is the nodal agency responsible for the nationwide roll-out and implementation of the Ayushman Bharat scheme.
About India COVID-19 Emergency Response & Health System Preparedness Package:

Phase 1 of the Package:

  1. In March 2020, when the country was faced with the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government announced the “India Covid-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Package”.
  2. Aim: To provide critical impetus to the efforts of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and States/UTs and catalysing health systems activities for pandemic management.

Phase II of the Package:

  1. The Phase II of the package was announced in July 2021 during the second wave of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
  2. Aim: To accelerate the health system’s preparedness by providing an immediate response for early prevention, detection, and management with the focus on health infrastructure development including pediatric care.
  3. Duration of the Scheme: The scheme would be implemented from July 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022.
  4. Components: The scheme has Central Sector (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) components.

Whale shark caught in fishing net in Odisha dies

Source: Down To Earth

What is the News?

A female whale shark died after getting trapped in a fishing net off Odisha’s Paradip coast.

Whale Shark:

  1. Whale Shark(Rhincodon typus) is the largest known extant fish species.
  2. Features: Whale Sharks are a ‘filter feeder shark’ which means it does not eat meat like other sharks. They filter seawater and feed on tiny planktons.
  3. Habitat: The whale shark is found in open waters of the tropical oceans and is rarely found in water below 21 °C (70 °F). In India, they are mostly found in the Gulf of Mannar and Gujarat coast.
Conservation Status:
  1. IUCN Red List: Endangered
  2. CITES: Appendix II
  3. Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I 

Threats:

  1. Oil & gas drilling, shipping lanes 
  2. Accidental entanglement in fishing nets 

Govt. allows GM soy meal import to support poultry industry

Source: The Hindu

What is the News?

The Union Government of India has decided to allow the import of genetically modified (GM) soymeal.

Background:

  1. Soymeal is the protein-rich solid left after the oil is extracted from the bean. It is used as a raw material for poultry feed.
  2. Since the last few months, domestic prices of soymeal have risen from Rs 40/kg to Rs 110/kg.
  3. As a result, the production cost for poultry farmers has increased, which was already impacted by the Covid-19 and Avian Influenza.
  4. Hence, due to this, the poultry industry has been asking the government to import soy meal to overcome domestic shortages and high prices. But the import was not being allowed due to Government’s regulation regarding genetically modified ingredients.
Read more: Poultry industry seeks extension of loans, import of GM soybean

What has the Government done now?

  1. The Government of India has allowed the import of 15 lakh tonnes of genetically modified (GM) soymeal. But the import would be allowed as soya de-oiled cake as it is a non-living organism.
Read more: What are GM Crops?

Why has the Government allowed the import of Soymeal?

  1. The import of genetically modified organisms and living modified organisms is restricted in India.
  2. However, soya de-oiled cake or meals do not fall under these categories. It falls under the non-living organism category.
  3. Hence, on this basis, the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change ruled that the import of Soymeal would not require permission from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee(GEAC) and has allowed the import of Soymeal.
Read more: GM Crops in India: Issues and Challenges

What are the concerns raised by Environmentalists?

  1. Firstly, environmental activists have raised concerns about the permission given for something derived from a genetically modified plant to enter the human food chain, given that India’s regulatory system has yet to approve GM foods.
  2. Secondly, consumer rights groups have termed the decision highly objectionable and legally untenable. It said that the 1989 rules of the Environment Protection Act applied not just to GM organisms, but also products and substances thereof.

First Nasal Vaccine Developed by Bharat Biotech supported by DBT-BIRAC gets nod of regulator for Phase 2 Trial

Source: PIB

What is the News?

BBV154, the first Nasal Vaccine against Covid-19 has received the regulator’s nod for conducting Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials.

About BBV154:

  • BBV154 is an intranasal replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus SARS-CoV-2 vectored vaccine.
  • It is the first Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine being developed by Bharat Biotech.

Click Here to read about Intranasal vaccines

About Mission COVID Suraksha 

  1. Mission COVID Suraksha was launched to reinforce and accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development efforts as part of the third stimulus package, Atmanirbhar 3.0. 
  2. Aim: To consolidate and streamline available resources towards a warpath for accelerated vaccine development in order to bring a safe, efficacious, affordable and accessible COVID-19 Vaccine to the citizens at the earliest with a focus on Atma Nirbhar Bharat.
  3. Implemented by: The mission is led by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and implemented by a dedicated Mission Implementation Unit at the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council(BIRAC).

About BIRAC

  1. BIRAC is a not-for-profit Section 8, Public Sector Enterprise set up by DBT.
  2. Mandate: It has been set up as an Interface Agency to strengthen and empower the emerging biotech enterprises to undertake strategic research and innovation for globally competitive product development to address unmet needs.

Union Minister releases ‘IndiGau’ SNP based chip for conservation of cattle breeds

Source: PIB

 What is the News?

Union Minister of Science & Technology has launched “IndiGau’.

About IndiGau:

  1. IndiGau is India’s first Cattle Genomic Chip for the conservation of pure varieties of indigenous cattle breeds like Gir, Kankrej, Sahiwal, Ongole etc.
  2. Developed by: National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NAIB), Hyderabad, an autonomous institution under the aegis of the Department of Biotechnology.

Significance of IndiGau Chip:

  1. Firstly, IndiGau is purely indigenous and the largest cattle chip in the world. It has 11,496 markers (SNPs) more than that placed on 777K Illumina chips of US & UK breeds.
  2. Secondly, the chip will have practical utility in the Government’s schemes to achieve the goal of conservation of our own breeds with better characteristics and help towards doubling farmers income by 2022.

About SNP Chip:

SNP stands for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism. It is a type of DNA microarray which is used to detect polymorphisms within a population.

SNP chips are DNA microarrays that test genetic variation at many hundreds of thousands of specific locations across the genome. SNP chips have proven to be excellent for studying common genetic variation, which can be used to assess ancestry as well as predisposition to many complex multifactorial diseases.


Arunachal’s hornbill is inspiring — from forest guards to tribes, people protect nature

Source: TOI

About Great Hornbill:

  1. The great hornbill (Buceros bicornis) is also known as the concave-casqued hornbill, great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill.
  2. It is one of the larger members of the hornbill family. It is found in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
  3. The most prominent feature of the Great Hornbill is the bright yellow and black casque (hard structure on the head of some birds) on top of its massive bill.
  4. Festival: The Hornbill Festival celebrated in Nagaland is named after the bird – Hornbill, which is the most revered and admired bird for the Nagas.
  5. Cultural Symbol: They are the cultural symbols of some ethnic communities in the northeast, specifically the Nyishi of Arunachal Pradesh.
  6. State Bird: Great Hornbill is the state bird of Arunachal Pradesh and Kerala.
  7. IUCN Status: Vulnerable
  8. Indian Wildlife Protection Act,1972: Schedule I

About Pakke Tiger Reserve

  1. Click Here to Read about Pakke Tiger Reserve

About Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary:

  1. Eaglenest or Eagle’s Nest Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area of India in the Himalayan foothills of West Kameng District, Arunachal Pradesh. 
  2. It conjoins Sessa Orchid Sanctuary to the northeast and Pakhui Tiger Reserve across the Kameng river to the east. It is also a part of the Kameng Elephant Reserve.
  3. The sanctuary derives its name from the Red Eagle Division of the Indian army which was posted in the area in the 1950s.
  4. The sanctuary is notable as a prime birding site due to the extraordinary variety, numbers and accessibility of species.
  5. Eaglenest is the site where Bugun liocichla (a passerine bird species) was first discovered in 1995 and again observed and described in 2006.

New museums on J&K, Buddha, freedom struggle

Source: The Hindu

What is the News?

The Ministry of Culture has planned to inaugurate new museums on Jammu and Kashmir, Gautam Buddha, Indian armour and the freedom struggle by the end of 2021.

Museum on Jammu and Kashmir(J&K):

  1. The museum on Jammu and Kashmir will capture the essence and spirit of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh as an integral part of the nation since ages.
  2. The museum elaborates this by tracing the roots of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh since prehistoric times to the present day and telling unheard stories of the region and people which have been lost in the centuries of time.

Museum on Gautam Buddha:

  1. The museum on Gautama Buddha focuses on the religious and traditional aspects of Buddhist heritage in India.
  2. The museum would have over 200 objects from the 1st Century CE to 19th Century CE, including stone and bronze sculptures, terracotta heads and costumes.

Museum on Freedom Struggle:

  1. The museum will narrate the story of the country’s freedom struggle in an interactive manner. Further, the museum will provide more emphasis on the unheard stories of people’s participation in India’s freedom movement representing contribution of all regions.
  2. Another museum will be developed which would showcase arms and armour of India through the ages.
  3. Moreover, the Ministry is also in the process of setting up a museum dedicated to freedom fighters at the Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata, called ‘Biplobi Bharat’.

Can Dholavira withstand a flood of tourists

SourceLiveMint

What is the news?

Recently the UNESCO added Dholavira, a Harappan City, to its list of World Heritage Sites. One of the unique characteristics of Dholavira is that the city lies on the island of Khadir Bet in Great Rann of Kutch.

Read more: Dholavira in Gujarat on UNESCO World Heritage list

About few salient features of Dholavira:

  1. Trade: It was a flourishing manufacturing centre for various Harappan items like beads, bangles, copper objects. These items were traded with other Harappan cities & as well as other civilizations like Mesopotamia
  2. Water Management: Dholavira had only two seasonal streams which would swell and then dry up quickly. So administrators paid extreme attention to water management.
    • Almost 10% of the city was reserved for reservoirs that could store up to 10Million litres of water.
    • Rivulets were dammed and water was diverted to large reservoirs.
    • There was a large underground stormwater drain in the city. This collected surface run-off and channelled it to the reservoir.
  3. Building material: The main materials used here were sandstone & limestone from local quarries, while other Harappan cities used mud brick. Limestone was also transported to Mohenjo-Daro & Harappa for pillars
  4. Another modern feature: Open spaces were present between the citadels. The middle ground, which is a large rectangular ground, is possibly India’s first stadium. Archaeologists believe that this ground was also be used for other purposes- crematorium ground, Bazar, sports etc.

With the inclusion of Dholavira in World Heritage sites, it has become important to maintain the integrity of sites & regulate the number of tourism

What steps can be taken to protect the site:

  1. Creation of pathways to ensure tourists don’t clamber onto ancient structures
  2. Planned walks & good guides to regulate the flow
  3. Inspiration of other Harappan sites like Harappa for proper planning & resource management

Terms to know


Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment to Flag-Off ‘Operation Blue Freedom – Land World Record at Siachen Glacier’

SourcePIB

About the news:

Recently, The Government of India has permitted a team of people with disabilities to scale Siachen Glacier. The team of people with disabilities was trained by ‘Team CLAW’ a team of Armed Forces veterans. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment will flag off this operation on the Independence Day

Operation Blue Freedom

  • It is an attempt to create a world record by the team of disabled people to scale Siachen Glacier – the World’s highest battlefield.
  • The expedition will take place till Kumar post
  • The team of disabled people are trained by “Team CLAW—a team of Armed Force Veterans”.
  • This operation shall place India on the global stage as a leader in empowering Divyangjan & will set the benchmark for other nations also.

Team Claw

  • Team CLAW (Conquer Land, Air, Water) is a team of ex-Indian Special Forces commandos.
  • Its members are either from the Indian Army Para Commandos or the Naval Marine Commandos, also known as the MARCOS.
  • The initiative was taken by Major Vivek Jacob, a Para (Special Forces) officer.

_______________________________

Print Friendly and PDF[social_warfare]