9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 18th, 2022
We have initiated some changes in the 9 PM Brief and other postings related to current affairs. What we sought to do:
- Ensure that all relevant facts, data, and arguments from today’s newspaper are readily available to you.
- 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:
- The Hindu
- Indian Express
- Business Standard
- Times of India
- Down To Earth
- We have also introduced the relevance part to every article. This ensures that you know why a particular article is important.
- Since these changes are new, so initially the number of articles might increase, but they’ll go down over time.
- 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.
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
GS Paper 2
- Improving cold chain systems
- On sedition, the Supreme Court has aligned itself with the collective conscience of India
- On Gyanvapi Mosque, we are debating the wrong question
GS Paper 3
- How to tackle the inflation spiral
- Needed: An economic response plan for a green transition shock
- Technological advancement often has a sting in its tail
- Boon to ban: How the wheat export story changed in two months
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
- Explained: What are urban heat islands, and why are they worsening during summers?
- Assistive aids remains inaccessible to bulk of those with disabilities, says global report
- Kerala did virtually nothing for Endosulfan victims for 5 years: SC
- Union Minister chairs meeting on Lab Grown Diamonds; Focus on Research and Development, setting up common facilities and skilling of adequate manpower
- Lancet Planetary Health Report: ‘At 2.4 million in 2019, India led world in pollution deaths’
- World may miss net zero by 2050, courtesy COVID-19: International Science Council
- Explained: How Sikkim became a part of India
- Need to triple investments for restoring degraded land by 2030: Seoul Declaration
- Global Food Policy Report 2022: 9 Crore Indians At Risk Of Hunger By 2030 Due To Climate Change: Report
Mains Oriented Articles
GS Paper 1
Source: The post is based on an article “A concerted effort in re-imaging museums” published in the “The Hindu” on 18th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS1 Indian Art and Culture
Relevance: Indian Museums
News: On the occasion of International Museum Day on May 18, the Ministry of Culture allowed free of cost admissions to all museums which are under its ambit for a week.
Advantages of making free admission into the museums
This will make our art and culture accessible to all and also provides an opportunity to propagate our civilisational heritage.
The provide an opportunity to re-imagine the progress made in our museums and cultural spaces.
What transformational shift has been visible with respect to our perspectives of our heritage?
First, there has been a shift from a museum-centric approach to a cultural spaces approach. As India is a continuously inhabited civilisational state, therefore, our art, culture and heritage are part of our museums as well as our day-to-day activities. Therefore, the government has moved to preserve and promote Indian heritage.
a) Now, the stolen heritages are restored to the original place it was taken from instead of putting into a museum. For example, the recently retrieved idol of Goddess Annapurna was returned to its rightful place at Kashi Vishwanath temple, Varanasi.
b) Second, the government has moved to build specific-purpose museums rather than rely on general purpose museums. For example,
– Ten tribal freedom fighter museums are being established across the country to recognise the role of tribal freedom fighters against colonial rule. For example, the Prime Minister launched the Birsa Munda museum in Ranchi.
– The Pradhan Mantri Sangrahalaya was inaugurated to showcase the contributions made by every Prime Minister of India and to pay a tribute to every PM of India since independence.
– In addition, the Statue of Unity to showcase the various facets of Patel, the Biplobi Bharat museum in Kolkata, the arms and armour museum at the Red Fort, a gallery on Gautama Buddha in Delhi, and the museum on Jammu and Kashmir have been established.
c) Third, now museums are looked at with a whole-of-government approach to provide a wholesome experience. India is home to over 1,000 museums representing different cultural, religious and scientific achievements. These museums do not just lie under the control of the Ministry of Culture. In fact, Other Ministries either manage or coordinate. For example,
– Indian railway manages the Railway museums,
– The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) assists the National Council of Science Museums, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture to manage its 25 science cities, centres and museums.
– The government is widening public access through modernisation and digitisation of collections and exhibitions.
Fourth, the government has moved towards modernisation, upgradation, and establishment of new museums. These institutions will be closer to international standards of museology in the 21st century.
What are the challenges?
The adoption of such approaches like a whole-of-government approach among other requires new specialized domains of skills and perspectives. It requires continued upgradation of Human capacities and domain knowledge.
There are also challenges in modernising our traditional museums to make them more interactive, through technology interfaces, innovative curatorial skills and imaginative storytelling. It needs more imaginative thinking and has a different set of challenges.
The efforts in digitisation and reprography are painstaking processes that can take several years to complete.
The new Indian Institute of Heritage that is being set up as a world class university aims to address these challenges.
The Ministry of Culture’s first-of-its-kind Global Summit on ‘Reimagining Museums in India’ taught a lot of things which can be incorporated to devise a blueprint for the development of new museums, nurture a renewal framework, and reinvigorate existing museums.
GS Paper 2
Source: The post is based on an article “Improving cold chain systems” published in the “The Hindu” on 18th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS2 Social Sector; health Sector
Relevance: Vaccine Cold Chain Management
News: The pandemic showed us that there were weak links in the supply chain, especially in the cold chain. This means that vaccines alone do not save lives. It requires a strong service delivery network,
What are the factors that can lead us to a sustainable vaccination programme?
A key factor is cold chain management because improper supply of vaccines can lead to decline in the potency or effectiveness of the vaccine.
In addition to cold chain management, electricity is required as a supportive infrastructure for cold chains.
Why should India build a strong foundation for the cold chain system?
India runs the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) to deliver routine immunisation. It was launched in 1985. Further, the programme was revitalized in 2014 to achieve full immunisation coverage of all children and pregnant women at a rapid pace.
India has rolled out one of the largest vaccination drives (Covid-19) in the world. The COVID-19 vaccination efforts relied on the cold chain infrastructure established under the UIP.
The pandemic has also encouraged an interest in preventive health technology, especially in vaccines.
Globally, nearly half the vaccines distributed around the world go to waste due to a failure to properly control storage temperatures.
In India, around 20% of temperature-sensitive healthcare products are found damaged due to insufficient cold chains.
The government has developed a cloud-based digital platform Co-WIN. This helped to facilitate registration, immunisations and appointments, and issues digital vaccine certificates, highlighting the benefits of digitisation.
The Health Ministry has been digitising the vaccine supply chain network through the use of cloud technology. For example, the Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) is being developed with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and implemented by the UN Development Programme. This will support healthcare workers in the last mile in supervising and maintaining the efficiency of the vaccine cold chain.
There is a need to improve electrification, especially in the last mile. The solar-driven technology can be explored to integrate sustainable development. For instance, 72% of the functioning health centres in Chhattisgarh have been solarised to tackle disruption in service.
The world including India need to build back better and stronger. In the post-covid era, there is an opportunity to develop unbroken and resilient cold chain systems that can augment the immunisation landscape.
The government needs to invest in the cold chain management for immunisation facilities. This would lead to India’s future pandemic preparedness.
Source: This post is based on the article “On sedition, the Supreme Court has aligned itself with the collective conscience of India” published in The Indian Express on 18th May 22.
Syllabus: GS2 – Fundamental Rights, Indian Constitution
Relevance: Sedition law
News: The Supreme Court’s seminal intervention in a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of section 124A of the Indian Penal Code is a watershed moment in the progressive expansion of human rights jurisprudence.
The SC directed the Union government and the states to refrain from using the law of sedition. In addition, the Supreme Court has also kept all previous cases under Section 124A of the IPC in abeyance till the matter is reconsidered in a comprehensive way.
Why SC’s intervention in this case is significant?
In what is seen as a first in judicial history, the Supreme Court has virtually rendered redundant the provision of a criminal law without expressly declaring it as unconstitutional.
In an example of judicial statecraft, the court has shielded individuals against a harsh law without violating Parliament’s legislative remit or the executive’s command over policy decisions.
The intervention of the SC leans in the favour of the libertarian bent of the Indian Constitution.
Why the sedition law must go?
Rampant abuse of the archaic colonial law in recent times, compromising the citizens’ right to liberty & legal due process, right to reputation and dignity.
Suppression of dissent: Cartoonists, journalists, activists, intellectuals, students and politicians have suffered prolonged incarceration and oppressive criminal trials for their convictions and beliefs.
For more – Click here
What is the likely impact of the SC’s intervention in this case?
It can nudge the government to enact an anti-lynching humanitarian law and a comprehensive law against custodial torture, considering the proven inadequacy of the guidelines issued by it for its elimination.
What is the situation wrt custodial torture in India?
A report by the National Campaign Against Torture has confirmed that 1,731 persons died in custody in 2019 alone.
The absence of an anti-custodial torture law, a glaring gap in the architecture of the criminal justice system, is inexplicable considering the Article 21, recommendations of the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha (2010), the Law Commission of India (2017) and the Human Rights Commission and the judgments of the Supreme Court (Puttaswamy, 2017; Jeeja Ghosh, 2016; and Shabnam, 2015).
It is expected likewise from the court to intervene suitably and read down the UAPA and other criminal laws that have been repeatedly misused to trample upon the civil liberties and rights of the people.
This would enhance India’s soft power in its engagement with the international community. The court-inspired initiatives would also validate the nation’s pre-eminent role in the shaping of a new world order.
Governments for their part must know that they can stand only when founded upon liberty and justice. For the present, the prime minister has done well in deciding to revisit a law that is anathema in a free country.
Source: This post is based on the article “On Gyanvapi Mosque, we are debating the wrong question” published in The Indian Express on 18th May 22.
Syllabus: GS2 – Govt policies and interventions
Relevance: Gyanvapi Mosque dispute
Context: Recently, the Varanasi court ordered a video survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque. The implied intention was to find out whether the fundamental claim of the petitioners that the mosque has been built by destroying or appropriating a temple is correct or not.
This issue here is not about secularism or that of minority rights. The question is, how will the “true nature” of our conflicted architectural sites be defined, and who has the power to define it.
Reading architecture with political philosophy tells us that that depends on what values we adopt in state formation.
How modern values of state formation are different?
Historically, rulers derived legitimacy primarily in two ways:
– In the case of intra-state matters, the legitimacy for the king to rule came from God in the Abrahamic world and from mythology in the Pagan world.
– The case of inter-state matters, kings asserted themselves through brute force and violence. The values of pre-modern state formation were divine/mythological and violent/expansionist.
It was against these values that those rulers judged the function of architectural sites. A ruler who possessed the building by conquering the city or by becoming the king through clerical legitimacy decided what a mosque, temple or palace will be appropriated into or whether it will be allowed to exist at all.
Since the French Revolution, the legitimacy is now not derived from divinity, or any historical practice, and rejects violence. This has generated a long history of political thought and modern states were created on the values of modern morality.
What is the legal position wrt conversion of a place of worship?
As per the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, the conversion of any place of worship from its religious character as that character existed on the 15th of August,1947 is prohibited.
– Basically, the Act states that if a site was a temple on August 15, 1947, it shall remain a temple and so on for all religious sites.
Reason for selecting 15th Aug 1947 as the cut-off date: The Act does so in the spirit of a modern nation-state. It means that since we resolved to become a modern nation on August 15, 1947, and realised it on January 26, 1950, we shall cut our ties with the systems of politics that defined our past.
– On the 15th of August 1947, India resolved to create a break from the past and redefine its values of political legitimacy. From that day onwards, India was to be defined by, and courts were to judge conflicts using the values of a modern state enshrined in the constitution. Not against the values of the systems of politics or mythology that existed before.
What are the issues with the court-ordered investigation in this case?
As per the Places of Worship Act 1991, we define the “true nature” of our architectural sites against the values of modernity and not those of mythology or medieval warfare. The philosophical and practical resolution to that, as understood in the Act, is to not entertain mythological claims to historical sites and to not investigate their archaeology for claims of possession. By ordering a survey of the Gyanvapi Mosque, the courts have done exactly the opposite.
By conducting such investigations into religious sites, the courts have, like they did in the case of Babri Masjid, legitimised the values of an anti-modern polity. They have acted against the values that they are supposed to uphold. Courts cannot be acting on claims of mythology or those of medieval capture.
Despite precedents that speak otherwise, the higher courts must maintain the status quo. Architecture of today shouldn’t be defined by an arbitrarily chosen portion of its history. Such petitions need to be rejected.
GS Paper 3
Source: The post is based on an article “How to tackle the inflation spiral” published in the Indian Express on 18th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 Indian Economy, Effects of liberalization on the Indian Economy
Relevance: Macroeconomic Situation
News: Recently, The World Economic Outlook, published by the IMF in April, expects global growth to be slower than the forecast made in January, with inflation on the rise.
The global macroeconomic situation is showing signs of macro instability. The global debt has increased sharply during the pandemic, inflation is on the rise, and macroeconomic uncertainties have increased due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
What are the causes?
Inflation has been caused due to war; and fiscal and monetary expansion that happened during the pandemic. This was witnessed in both the G20 emerging markets and developing countries like Brazil, Turkey, India and Indonesia.
As per the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, there has been revenue foregone and additional expenditure during Covid.
The problem of rising debt and inflation is going to compound macro challenges for the low-income developing countries.
Globally, the total support comprising revenue foregone, expenditure stimulus and liquidity support was estimated to be $17,000 billion. Out of this, the government guarantees were one-fourth of the total. In case of default, it can weaken the fiscal balance sheet in the medium term for items that are below the line at the moment.
There has been an increase in money supply during the last two years to support governments to deal with Covid..
There has been an increase in money supply due to the government operation and the central bank’s support to the government during Covid. In the year 2020, this support increased to 9%. In addition, the growth of the US central bank’s support to the government had increased immediately after the global financial crisis in 2010.
According to the IMF international debt statistics for 2022, both domestic and external debt stock increased sharply during the pandemic. The external debt stock to the export ratio, export to debt service ratio and the share of public sector external debt in total external debt has shown increase for low-and middle-income countries during this period.
The central banks in many countries including India have raised interest rates for inflation management.
Reduction of debt takes time, but management of inflation can’t wait.
The global economy needs coordinated policy for monetary tightening and fiscal sustainability.
There is a need to start fiscal normalisation without creating adverse distributional consequences. For this, every country needs to chart out a fiscal normalisation plan which are sequenced in a proper manner to bring back global economy on track,
There is a need to enhances fiscal resources for the government for public investment in the social and economic sector
The government should also create a framework for sector-specific differentiated responses for a full recovery.
There is a need for a quick and efficient resolution of the challenges arising due to the elevated debt levels of low-income countries.
There should be greater international cooperation to ensure more resource flow to the poorer regions of the World. This will lead to an equitable, fair and sustained recovery during post-Covid.
Source: The post is based on an article “An economic response plan for a green transition shock” published in the Live Mint on 18th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 Indian Economy; Environment and Ecology
Relevance: Green Transition
News: India is facing severe heat waves in many parts of the country. This is a reminder that the risks from climate change are rising.
What are the issues involved in transition towards a green economy?
Around a fifth of Indian households have access to either air-conditioners or coolers in their home. Nearly half of the Indian labour force works outdoors in the sun during heat waves month.
This excess heat will have an impact on India’s wheat crop. This can lead to other supply shocks in the coming years
The existing capital stock in several sectors such as energy or mobility will become prematurely obsolete because of the government’s tax policy or regulations that seek to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate climate events.
The debate on how the costs (based on discount rate) should be borne to tackle climate change should be spread over time
If a lower discount rate is imposed. It means today’s generation bears a bigger burden of the costs.
If a higher discount rate is imposed, It means that the costs of mitigation can be pushed further into the future for coming generations to pay.
The ‘green interest rate’ refers to how the welfare of future generations is to be treated while decisions are made today.
– Frank Ramsey developed a mathematical framework for a proportion a nation should optimally save from its income. His insights have been used for a range of other applications, including climate change computations. He insisted that the well-being of future people should be given the same weight as that of present people.
What are the challenges?
The climate scientists have shown that the window available for serious action is closing by the year.
A green transition can only be achieved over time. Any sudden action will almost certainly lead to economic collapse.
The costs of the transition will be spread over multiple generations, as most commitments to reach carbon neutrality are between 2050 and 2070. The challenges are how to distribute the costs (discount rate) over time, or who will bear than burden, i.e., present or future generation?
There is a different viewpoint on discount rates. For example, Nicholas Stern argued for a discount rate of 1.4%. William Nordhaus (the Nobel Prize Winner for economics in 2018), has argued for 4.3% in his model. He argued that the discount rate should be based on actual observed behaviour, and especially real interest rates in financial markets. On the contrary, Stern used a discount rate which was derived broadly on ethical considerations.
The green transition will involve a supply shock that will reduce potential growth.
Over the next decade, the fiscal policy will be constrained because the public debt across the world had bloated because of government spending during the pandemic. Therefore, the green investments will be a political and economic challenge.
The green transition will open up opportunities in new technologies, better infrastructure and the redesign of cities.
In the coming future, there should be significant reallocation of both capital as well as labour, assuming factor markets are flexible.
In addition to fiscal policy, the central banks will have a dilemma about whether they should add climate change mitigation to the policy targets to address inflation, growth and financial stability.
The fiscal authorities as well as central banks should maintain low interest rates to help new investments in a green economy. It will effectively make it easier for enterprises with older technologies to survive. The higher interest rates will kill polluting enterprises and make investments in new technologies more expensive.
The central banks can also choose one interest rate for green activities and another one for brown activities. This will lead to credit planning.
Much depends on how a society either values or should value benefits that will be available only many years down the line.
Source: The post is based on an article “Technological advancement often has a sting in its tail” published in the Live Mint on 18th May 2022.
Syllabus: GS3 E-technology in the aid of farmers and Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.
Relevance: Agricultural innovation
Context: In his book Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari made the somewhat controversial statement that human beings have been domesticated by wheat. In other words, every science-driven improvement in agriculture has come at a price.
How science has enabled humankind to overcome many of the challenges we face as a species?
Having learnt farming or how to create stable and easily-accessible sources of food, the human beings gave up the hunter-gatherer and Nomadic way of life. The humans’ beings now settle in one place to cultivate crops
A series of innovations are: a) the Haber-Bosch process allows us to artificially enrich the soil with nitrogen-based fertilizers, b) agricultural automation made it possible for machines to do the work of many men, and c) genetic engineering improved crop yields by making them resistant to pests and disease.
More recently, this discussion led to increased interest in developing plant-based alternatives to meat. They can lead to nutritional equivalent of animal meat and the same taste and mouthfeel. These plant-based alternatives can reduce current dependence on animal meat and reduce ethical cruelty implicit in the animal farming industry. For example, demand for soyabean.
Had we not industrialized our agricultural processes, we would not have been able to avert the threat of global hunger.
How agricultural innovations have come at a price?
Agriculture altered human existence as well as it transformed the planet. The small towns have grown into cities.
The demand for enough food to support burgeoning human populations far exceeded the land’s capacity to fulfil it.
There have been a lot of issues with agricultural innovations. These are (1) Although fertilizers improve food yields, but their overuse has become a threat to our environment, (2) Genetically engineered plants are resistant to pests. But there are concerns around the allergic reactions, production of toxins and their reduced nutritional value.
Now, agricultural activity has become an industrial activity. It has led to disproportionate utilization of the scare land resources.
The plant-based alternatives to meat are unlikely to take place without serious consequences. For example, with a surge in demand for soybean, there has been resultant increase in deforestation and displacement around the globe. Same thing may happen with other plant-based meats.
Scientific progress always challenges our notions of what is right. Their benefits lead to their acknowledgement. Further, the new technologies inevitably throw up new challenges to be solved.
Source: This post is based on the article “Boon to ban: How the wheat export story changed in two months” published in The Hindu on 18th May 22.
Syllabus: GS3 – Indian EconomyRelevance: Export of Wheat
News: On May 13, the government effectively banned the export of wheat.
Why were wheat exports banned?
On May 4, the government revised down its wheat production estimates from 111.32 million tonnes (MT) to 105 MT for the crop year ending June.
– 18 MT of wheat were procured till May 14 of the ongoing 2022-23 marketing year, much less than the 36.7 MT in the year-ago period.
- the decrease in production estimates and
- a considerable fall in wheat procurement
raised concerns that domestic consumption may get impacted.
Moreover, the local prices started to rise. In March, the wholesale inflation of wheat crossed the 14% mark, though it eased a bit to about 10% in April.
In April, retail inflation of wheat flour accelerated to 9.59% from an already higher 7.77% in March. As of May 17, the average retail price of wheat flour was ₹33.05 per kg. The maximum price had touched ₹59/kg.
These factors forced the government to ban wheat exports on May 13, two days after the decision to send delegates to nine countries to explore the option of enhancing exports was taken.
What led to the decrease in production?
The extreme temperatures recorded in March and April, across north India, were the reason behind the sudden turnaround of the government. For instance, across Punjab, between April 8 and 14, the maximum temperature was over 6°C higher than the usual, compared to the long period average.
The extreme heat led to a marked decrease in wheat yields across north India. Hence, the wheat arrivals in Punjab’s mandis were 20% lower in the first twenty days of the 2022 season compared to the same period in 2021.
Prelims Oriented Articles (Factly)
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: What are urban heat islands, and why are they worsening during summers?” published in Indian Express on 18th May 2022.
What is the News?
Several parts of India are reeling under heatwave conditions. Cities, especially, are a lot hotter than rural areas. This is due to a phenomenon called an “urban heat island”.
What are Urban Heat Islands?
An urban heat island is a local and temporary phenomenon experienced when certain pockets within a city experience a higher heat load than surrounding or neighbouring areas on the same day.
For example, a greener locality like Pashan in Pune often records cooler temperatures than urban areas like Shivajinagar, Chinchwad or Magarpatta.
The variations are mainly due to heat remaining trapped within locations that often resemble concrete jungles
Why are cities hotter than rural areas?
Rural areas are often covered with plants, grass, trees, and crops. Plants take up water from the ground and release it into the air as vapour through a process called transpiration which acts as nature’s air conditioner. Evaporation from water bodies also helps in cooling down these areas.
On the contrary, urban areas lack sufficient green cover or gardens and are often developed with highrise buildings, roads, parking spaces, pavements and transit routes for public transport. As a result, heat regulation is either completely absent or man-made.
Why do cities absorb more heat?
According to Physics, black or any dark-coloured object absorbs all wavelengths of light and converts them to heat, while white reflects it.
Cities usually have buildings constructed with glass, bricks, cement and concrete — all of which are dark-coloured materials, meaning they attract and absorb higher heat content. This forms temporary islands within cities where the heat remains trapped.
How can urban heat islands be reduced?
The main way to cut heat load within urban areas is by increasing the green cover; filling open spaces with trees and plants.
Other ways of heat mitigation include the appropriate choice of construction materials, promoting terrace and kitchen gardens, and painting white or light colours on terraces wherever possible to reflect heat.
Source: The post is based on the article “Assistive aids remains inaccessible to bulk of those with disabilities, says global report” published in The Hindu on 17th May 2022.
What is the News?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have jointly released the first Global Report on Assistive Technology(GReAT).
What is the Global Report on Assistive Technology(GReAT)?
Released by: World Health Organization(WHO) and UNICEF
Purpose: The report is the culmination of the 71st World Health Assembly resolution in 2018 to prepare a global report on effective access to assistive technology.
What is Assistive Technology(AT)?
Assistive technology(AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program or product system that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.
These include a very wide range of technologies and devices such as prosthetics, braces, walkers, special switches, special-purpose computers, screen readers and specialized curricular software.
What are the key findings of the report?
People Need Assistive Products: More than 2.5 billion people need one or more assistive products, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, or apps that support communication and cognition.
People Denied Assistive Products: A billion of them are denied access, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where access can be as low as 3% of the need for these life-changing products.
Number of People in Need of Assistive Products in Future: The number of people in need of one or more assistive products is likely to rise to 3.5 billion by 2050 due to the ageing population and the prevalence of non-communicable diseases rising across the world.
Large Gaps in Service Provision and Trained Workforce: A survey of 70 countries featured in the report found large gaps in service provision and trained workforce for assistive technology, especially in the domains of cognition, communication and self-care.
What are the recommendations given by the report?
Adopt a national essential or priority assistive products list, based on population needs and available resources.
Emerging technologies have begun to impact the field of AT: artificial intelligence, robotics and additive manufacturing. Connectivity between assistive products and the surrounding digital infrastructure is important for independence and user participation.
Financing mechanisms are critical: loans, instalments or rebate system, including refurbishment and reuse of assistive products; the reduction and if possible, elimination of tariffs and taxes on internationally and locally produced and/or procured assistive products.
Establish coordination systems to facilitate information, referral, procurement and delivery of assistive products in humanitarian crises, particularly for children.
Source: The post is based on the article “Kerala did virtually nothing for Endosulfan victims for 5 years: SC” published in The Hindu on 17th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Supreme Court has slammed the Kerala government for State’s inaction in providing relief to the Endosulfan pesticide exposure victims.
This also amounts to a breach of the Supreme Court’s 2017 judgment which had ordered the State to pay ₹5 lakh each to the victims in three months.
What is Endosulfan?
Endosulfan is a widely-banned pesticide with hazardous effects on human genetic and endocrine systems.
Use of Endosulfan: Sprayed on crops like cotton, cashew, fruits, tea, paddy, tobacco etc. for control of pests such as whiteflies, aphids, beetles, worms etc.
Effects of Endosulfan
Environment: Endosulfan in the environment gets accumulated in food chains leading to higher doses and causing problems. If Endosulfan is released into water, it is expected to absorb into the sediment and may bioconcentrate in aquatic organisms.
Humans And Animals: The endosulfan ingestion results in diseases ranging from physical deformities, cancer, birth disorders and damage to the brain and nervous system.
Ban on Endosulfan
The Supreme Court in India has banned the manufacture, sale, use, and export of endosulfan throughout the country, citing its harmful health effects in 2011.
It is also listed under the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent.
The use of endosulfan is also banned by Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
Union Minister chairs meeting on Lab Grown Diamonds; Focus on Research and Development, setting up common facilities and skilling of adequate manpower
Source: The post is based on the article “Union Minister chairs meeting on Lab Grown Diamonds; Focus on Research and Development, setting up common facilities and skilling of adequate manpower” published in PIB on 17th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Union Minister for Commerce & Industry chaired a meeting with the representatives of Lab-Grown Diamonds Industry today in New Delhi.
What are Lab Grown Diamonds?
Lab-grown diamonds are diamonds which are grown inside a lab using cutting-edge technology that replicates the natural diamond growing process and the result is a man-made diamond that is chemically, physically and optically the same as those grown beneath the Earth’s surface.
Process: Lab-grown diamonds can be created by two processes: 1) High-Pressure High Temperature(HPHT) which is used in China and 2) Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) which is used in the USA and India.
Uses: It is used in the jewellery industry, computer chips, satellites, and 5G networks as they can be used in extreme environments as it has potential to operate at higher speeds while using less power than silicon-based chips.
Export of Lab-Grown Diamonds: India exports polished Lab Grown diamonds to the USA, Hongkong, UAE, Israel and Belgium. The USA accounts for around 67% of India’s exports followed by Hongkong with a share of 14%.
India in Lab-Grown Diamonds: Like natural diamonds, India has proved its leadership role in the cutting and polishing of lab-grown diamonds. Currently, India contributes around 15% of the global production of lab-grown diamonds for which it is presently self-sufficient.
Source: The post is based on the article “At 2.4 million in 2019, India led world in pollution deaths” published in TOI on 18th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health has published “The Lancet Planetary Health Report”.
What are the key highlights from the report?
Pollution was responsible for 9 million premature deaths in 2015 making it the world’s largest environmental risk factor for disease and premature death.
Ambient air pollution accounted for nearly 75% of all deaths with fatalities in China the highest at 1.8 million.
Reductions have occurred in the number of deaths attributable to the types of pollution associated with extreme poverty.
However, these reductions in deaths from household air pollution and water pollution are offset by increased deaths attributable to ambient air pollution and toxic chemical pollution.
More than 90% of pollution-related deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries.
Findings related to India
Pollution led to over 2.3 million (23 lakh) premature deaths in India in 2019, accounting for over a fourth of the nine million such fatalities worldwide.
Economic losses from modern forms of pollution — including ambient air and toxic chemicals —now amount to at least 1% of the country’s GDP.
India continued to account for the world’s largest estimated pollution-related deaths in 2019 — ahead of China.
Ambient air pollution alone may have led to nearly 1.7 million deaths in India in 2019. But fatalities attributed to traditional sources of pollution — indoor air and water — have dropped to less than half of the number compared to 2000.
Source: The post is based on the article “World may miss net zero by 2050, courtesy COVID-19: International Science Council” published in Down To Earth on 17th May 2022.
What is the News?
The International Science Council has released a report titled “Unprecedented and Unfinished – COVID-19 and Implications for National and Global Policy”.
According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic may prevent the world from achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
What is the International Science Council?
Formed in: 2018
Purpose: It is an international non-governmental organization that unites scientific bodies at various levels across the social and natural sciences.
Headquarters: Paris, France
What are the key highlights from the report?
The report considered three potential scenarios through the year 2027:
First: It is the most likely scenario. COVID-19 will have worsened inequalities in health, economics, development, science and technology, and society.
Second: COVID-19 will have become an endemic disease worldwide and low-income states risk health system collapse and growing food insecurity. Mental health concerns will grow even further.
Third: It is the most pessimistic scenario. The world faces high levels of harm to social wellbeing — with long-term school closures, unemployment and increased gender-based violence. Growing nationalism and polarization will inhibit cooperation on global vaccinations and trade and give rise to conflict.
What are the recommendations given by the report?
Increase adoption of the One Health approach to minimize environmental impacts and future pandemic risks.
Increase investment and knowledge sharing from high-income states.
Address the challenges of disinformation and strengthen diverse scientific advice systems to increase trust in science thereby protecting societies from acute health risks and the breakdown of social cohesion.
National and global policy considerations should address widening global inequalities not only in vaccine distribution but also related to inclusive governance, economic recovery and the digital and educational divide.
Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: How Sikkim became a part of India” published in Indian Express on 17th May 2022.
What is the News?
It was on May 16, 1975 that Sikkim became the 22nd State of the Union of India. Let’s understand how Sikkim became a part of India.
About the Sikkim Rulers before the advent of Europeans
In 1642, Sikkim came under the rule of the Chogyal (or kings) of the Namgyal dynasty of Tibetan descent who ruled the kingdom for close to 333 years.
Back then, the kingdom of Sikkim spread from Chumbi Valley, now in China, to Darjeeling, now in West Bengal, and beyond.
After 1706, there were a series of conflicts between the powers of the region, which included Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet, resulting in a shrinking of Sikkim’s territorial boundaries,
The arrival of the East India Company
When the British arrived, their expansion plans in the Indian subcontinent included controlling the Himalayan states.
Meanwhile, the kingdom of Nepal continued with its attempts to expand its territory. This resulted in the Anglo-Nepalese war (1814 to 1816) also known as the Gorkha war which was fought between the Gorkhali army and the East India Company.
In 1814, Sikkim allied with the East India Company in the latter’s campaign against Nepal. The Company won and restored to Sikkim some of the territories that Nepal had wrested from it in 1780.
Administrative Control of British
A turning point in the history of Sikkim involves the appointment of John Claude White as Political Officer of Sikkim.
Sikkim by then was a British Protectorate under the Treaty of Tumlong signed in March 1861.
The scenario of Sikkim after 1947
In 1950, Sikkim became a protectorate of India through a treaty. A clause in the treaty read: “Sikkim shall continue to be a Protectorate of India and, subject to the provisions of this Treaty, shall enjoy autonomy in regard to its internal affairs.”
Public discontent against monarchy: The period between the 1950s and the 1970s marked growing discontent in Sikkim.
Anti-monarchy protests grew in 1973. Indian troops arrived after the monarch was left with no choice but to ask New Delhi to send assistance.
Finally, a tripartite agreement was signed between the chogyal, the Indian government and three major political parties, so that major political reforms could be introduced.
Attempts for constitutional development: In 1974, elections were held, where the Sikkim State Congress won defeating pro-independence parties. That year, a new constitution was adopted, which restricted the role of the monarch.
In the same year, India upgraded Sikkim’s status from protectorate to “associated state”, allotting it one seat each in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Accession into India
A referendum was held in 1975 where an overwhelming majority voted in favor of abolishing the monarchy and joining India.
Sikkim’s new parliament proposed a bill for Sikkim to become an Indian state which was accepted by the Indian government.
Source: The post is based on the article “Need to triple investments for restoring degraded land by 2030: Seoul Declaration” published in Down To Earth on 17th May 2022.
What is the News?
The Seoul Declaration was adopted at the XV World Forestry Congress.
What is the World Forestry Congress?
World Forestry Congress is a forum for the exchange of views and experiences on all aspects of forests and forestry. This may lead to the formulation of broad recommendations applicable at national, regional and global levels.
The Congress is held approximately once every six years. The first Congress was held in Italy in 1926.
Organized by: Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) helps host countries organize the congress.
Where was XV World Forestry Congress organized?
Organized by: Republic of Korea and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Theme: Building a Green, Healthy and Resilient Future with Forests.
What are the key highlights from Congress?
Adoption of Seoul Declaration
The Seoul Declaration focuses on how forests can help combat the multiple crises humanity faces, including climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, hunger and poverty. The key provisions of the declaration are:
Firstly, responsibility for forests should be shared and integrated across institutions, sectors and stakeholders underlining that forests transcend political, social and environmental boundaries and are vital for biodiversity and the carbon, water and energy cycles at a planetary scale.
Secondly, investment in forest and landscape restoration globally needs to triple by 2030 to meet internationally agreed commitments and targets on restoring degraded land.
Thirdly, it called for innovative green financing mechanisms to upscale investment in forest conservation, restoration and sustainable use, and highlighted the potential of sustainably produced wood as a renewable, recyclable and versatile material.
Fourthly, healthy, productive forests must also be maintained to reduce the risk of future pandemics and to provide other essential benefits for human physical and mental health.
Lastly, the declaration urged the continued development and use of emerging innovative technologies and mechanisms to enable evidence-based forest and landscape decision-making.
Global Food Policy Report 2022: 9 Crore Indians At Risk Of Hunger By 2030 Due To Climate Change: Report
Source: The post is based on the article “9 Crore Indians At Risk Of Hunger By 2030 Due To Climate Change: Report” published in NDTV on 16th May 2022.
What is the News?
International Food Policy Research Institute’s(IFPRI) has released the Global Food Policy Report 2022 titled ‘Climate change and food systems’.
What are the key findings of the report?
Global food production will grow by about 60% by 2050 as compared to the levels in 2010.
However, regional differences in access to food mean that nearly 50 crore people would still remain at the risk of going hungry. Seven crores of these 50 crores would not have been at risk if not for climate change.
Findings related to India
Hunger: India’s food production could drop by 16% and the number of those at risk of hunger could increase by 23% by 2030 due to climate change.
– Without climate change, 7.39 crore Indians would have suffered due to hunger by 2030. However, if climate change is taken into account researchers found that 9.06 crore citizens (22.69% more) will be at risk of hunger.
Temperature: The average temperature across India will rise in the range of 2.4 degrees Celsius to 4.4 degrees Celsius by 2100 and heatwaves during summer are projected to triple by that year.
What are the recommendations given by the report?
1) R&D for climate-resilient, resource-efficient, and sustainable innovations in food systems, 2) Holistic, inclusive governance and management of water, land, forests, and energy resources, 3) Promoting healthy diets and increased sustainability of food production, 4) Improving value chain efficiency, facilitating trade, and reducing food loss, 5) Inclusion and social protection and 6) Reorienting financial flows and attracting new finance.
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NITI Aayog and TIFAC Launch Report on Future Penetration of Electric Two-Wheelers in the Indian Market
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