Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 4 June, 2021

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“Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana” – 30% recipients yet to get grains for May

What is the News?

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has informed about the status of food grains disturbed under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana(PMGKAY).

About Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana(PMGKAY):

  • Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana was announced as part of the relief package during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Aim: To ensure sufficient food for the poor and needy during the coronavirus crisis.
  • Nodal Ministry: Department of Food and Public Distribution under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
  • Features: Under the scheme, about 80 Crore National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries are eligible for an additional quota of free-of-cost foodgrains (Rice/Wheat). It is provided at a scale of 5 Kg per person per month over and above their regular monthly entitlement.

Performance of the Scheme:

  • Almost a third of all ration cardholders are yet to get their free foodgrains allocation for May under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.
  • However, almost 90% of beneficiaries have received their regular subsidised foodgrains for this month. This raises questions over why the free grain under PMGKAY has reached fewer beneficiaries.
  • Moreover, states such as Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Odisha and Rajasthan did not even begin distribution of the May quota under the PMGKAY.

Government advisory on Migrant workers without ration cards:

  • The Government of India has issued an advisory. In that, the Center asked the states to launch a special drive to issue ration cards to the most vulnerable sections of society, including migrant workers and street dwellers. There was a nationwide coverage gap of only 1.97 crore beneficiaries.
    • In May, the Supreme Court had directed that migrant workers and poor people without ration cards should be provided with dry ration in any scheme found suitable by the States and Centre.
  • However, these ration cards must be issued within the existing coverage allowed for each State under the National Food Security Act(NFSA).
  • Since most of the States had already reached their quota limits under NFSA. They would not be able to enrol any new beneficiaries.

Source: The Hindu

“H10N3 strain of Bird Flu” – China reports first human case

What is the News?

A man in China’s eastern province has been confirmed as the first human case of infection with the H10N3 strain of bird flu.

About H10N3 strain of Bird Flu:

  • H10N3 strain of bird flu is a subtype of the Influenza A virus which is commonly known as the bird flu virus.
  • The virus is normally fatal to wild birds and poultry because among animals it can be spread through respiratory droplets.
  • Risk: H10N3 is a low pathogenic or relatively less severe strain of the avian flu in poultry. Its risk of spreading on a large scale is very low.
  • Human-Human Transmission: There was no indication or cases of human-to-human transmission of the H10N3 virus.
  • Is it a Common Virus? H10N3 is not a very common virus and only around 160 isolates of the virus were reported in the 40 years to 2018.
    • However, still, flu viruses can mutate rapidly and mix with other strains circulating on farms or among migratory birds. This is known as reassortment. This reassortment can make genetic changes that pose a transmission threat to humans.

Source: The Hindu

World Bank report highlights the role of “Black Carbon” in the Himalayas

What is the News?

The World Bank has released a report titled “Glaciers of the Himalayas, Climate Change, Black Carbon and Regional Resilience”.

About the Report:

  • The report studies the impact of Black Carbon (BC) on Glacier melting. It covers the Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush (HKHK) mountain ranges.
  • In the end, it concludes that managing Black Carbon emissions in South Asia has the potential not only to achieve global and regional climate benefits but other valuable advantages like improved air quality and energy security.

Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush (HKHK) mountain region

  • The glaciers in the HKHK mountain ranges, containing almost 55000 glaciers. They store more freshwater than any region outside the North and South Poles.
  • Their ice reserves feed into three major river basins in South Asia—the Indus, Ganges, and the Brahmaputra. These rivers are home to 750 million people.

Key findings of the report:

  • South Asian countries can reduce BC deposition in the region by 23% by implementing policies currently in place. It can further reduce to an additional 50% by implementing new policies that are currently feasible.
  • Glaciers in the Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush (HKHK) mountain ranges are melting faster than the global average ice mass.
  • Even with all existing measures, water from glacier melt is still projected to increase in absolute volume by 2040, with impacts on downstream activities and communities.

Reasons for Glacier Melting:

  • Climate change: One major reason for the accelerating glacier melt is climate change, which is altering the patterns of temperature and precipitation.
  • Anthropogenic Black carbon: A second major reason may be deposits of anthropogenic black carbon (BC). It increases the glaciers melting process in two ways:
    • By decreasing surface reflectance of sunlight, and
    • By raising the air temperature.

About Black Carbon (BC):

  • Black carbon (BC) is a short-lived climate pollutant. It is the second-largest contributor to warming the planet after carbon dioxide(CO2).
  • It absorbs solar energy and warms the atmosphere. When it falls to earth with precipitation, it darkens the surface of snow and ice. Thus reducing their albedo (the reflecting power of a surface), and warming the snow, resulting in the faster glacial melting.
  • However, unlike other greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), BC is quickly washed out and can be eliminated from the atmosphere if emissions stop.
  • Source of Black Carbon in HKHK region:
    • Industry [primarily brick kilns] and residential burning of solid fuel together account for 45–66% of BC emissions
    • On-Road diesel fuels(7–18%) and
    • Open burning (less than 3% in all seasons).

Additional info

Other types of Carbon:

  1. Blue Carbon: It refers to coastal, aquatic and marine carbon sinks held by vegetation, marine organisms and sediments.
  2. Green Carbon: It is the carbon that is stored in terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, pastures and soils.
  3. Brown Carbon: It is a light-absorbing particle in the Earth’s atmosphere that has the unique characteristics of both cooling the planet’s surface and warming its atmosphere.

Clean Cooking Fund (CCF):

  • It was launched by the World Bank at the UN 2019 Climate Action Summit.
  • The $500 million CCF seeks to scale up public and private investment and accelerate progress toward universal access to clean cooking by 2030.
  • Transitioning to cleaner fuels is necessary to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 on energy.
    • SDG7 – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Source: The Hindu

NITI Aayog releases “SDG India Index 2020-21”

What is the News?

NITI Aayog has released the SDG India Index 2020-21. It is the 3rd edition of SDG India Index.

Key Findings of the SDG India Index 2020-21:

  • India’s overall SDG score improved by 6 points — from 60 in 2019 to 66 in 2020-21.
    • This is due to improvement in providing facilities including clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy among others.
  • Categories: Currently, there are no states in the aspirant and achiever category. Around 15 states/UTs are in the performer category and 22 states/UTs in the front runner category.
  • States:
    • Kerala has topped the index with a score of 75.
    • It was followed by Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu with a score of 74.
    • Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam were the worst-performing states in the SDG India index.
  • UTs: Chandigarh maintained its top spot among the UTs with a score of 79, followed by Delhi (68).
  • Top Gainers: Mizoram, Haryana and Uttarakhand are the top gainers in 2020-21 in terms of improvement in score from 2019.

About SDG India Index:

  • The SDG India Index was launched in 2018 by NITI Aayog. It was developed in collaboration with the United Nations.
  • Aim: As the States, progress will determine India’s progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The index aims to instil competition among States to improve their performance across social indices.
  • Indicators Covered: The third edition of the index covered 16 SDG Goals on 115 quantitative indicators.
    • In 2018, around 13 SDG goals with 62 indicators were covered.

How are states ranked & classified?

  • Scoring: A composite score for SDG Index is computed in the range of 0–100 for each State/UT based on its aggregate performance across 16 SDGs.
    • The higher the score of a State/UT, the closer it is towards achieving the 2030 national targets.
  • Classification: States/UTs are classified based on the SDG India Index Score as follows:
    • Aspirant: 0–49
    • Performer: 50–64
    • Front Runner: 65–99
    • Achiever: 100

Significance of the index:

  • The index tracks the progress of all states and UTs on 115 indicators aligned with the National Indicator Framework (NIF) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
  • It evaluates the progress of states and Union Territories(UTs) on various parameters including health, education, gender, economic growth, institutions, climate change and environment.
  • The index helps in identifying crucial gaps related to tracking the SDGs and the need for India to develop its statistical systems.

Source: Indian Express

ILO releases “World Employment and Social Outlook” report

What is the News?

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has released the annual World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 (WESO) report.

About the World Employment and Social Outlook report:

  • The report analyses key labour market issues including unemployment, labour underutilisation, working poverty, income inequality, labour income share and factors that exclude people from decent work.
  • It highlights how the COVID-19 crisis had worsened pre-existing inequalities by hitting vulnerable workers harder.

 Key Findings of the World Employment and Social Outlook report

  • COVID-induced job loss: Covid-19 induced jobs loss will reach 75 million in 2021, before falling to 23 million in 2022.
    • Further, people who have held onto their jobs have seen their working hours cut dramatically.
  • Global Unemployment: Unemployment is expected to stand at 205 million people in 2022. This far greater than the 187 million in 2019. This corresponds to an unemployment rate of 5.7%.
  • Poor quality of jobs: The quality of newly created jobs would likely deteriorate in developing and emerging economies.
  • Increase in Poverty: Compared to 2019, an additional 108 million workers worldwide are now categorized as poor or extremely poor. This means they and their families live on the equivalent of less than US$3.20 per person per day.
  • Women: Covid-19 crisis has hit women disproportionately. They have lost jobs at a greater rate than men. Moreover, additional domestic responsibilities for women from crisis lockdowns have created the risk of a “re-traditionalization” of gender roles.
  • Child Labour: The crisis has also appeared to reverse the decade of progress in battling child labour and forced labour.

The report cautions that in absence of any decisive action, COVID-crisis will impact the global labour market for the long term.

Source: Indian Express

Govt Launches “Seed Minikit Programme”

What is the News?

The Ministry of Agriculture has launched the Seed Minikit Programme.

About Seed Minikit Programme:

  • Seed Minikit Programme aims to distribute high yielding varieties of seeds of pulses and oilseeds to farmers.
  • Nodal Agencies: The seed mini-kits are being provided by the following central agencies –
    • National Seeds Corporation(NCS)
    • NAFED
    • Gujarat State Seeds Corporation
  • Funding: The programme is wholly funded by the Center through the National Food Security Mission.
  • Significance: This programme is a major tool for introducing new varieties of seeds in fields and instrumental in increasing the seed replacement rate.
    • Seed Replacement Rate (SRR): Out of the total area of a crop planted in a season, SRR is the percentage of total area sown using certified/quality seeds other than the farm-saved seed (the practice of saving seeds to plant in the next season).

Pulses and Oilseeds Production in India:

  • The Government of India in collaboration with states has been implementing programmes to enhance the production of pulses and oilseeds under the National Food Security Mission.
  • Since 2014-15, there has been a renewed focus on increasing the production of pulses and oilseeds. The efforts have yielded good results.
    • Oilseeds production has increased from 27.51 million tonnes in 2014-15 to 36.57million tonnes in 2020-21.
    • On the other hand, pulses production has increased from 17.15 million tonnes in 2014-15 to 25.56 million tonnes in 2020-21.
    • However, India still imports a lot of pulses and edible oils to meet domestic demand.

About National Food Security Mission(NFSM):

  • The National Food Security Mission(NFSM) was launched in 2007-08 by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
  • Aim: To increase the production of rice, wheat and pulses through
    • area expansion and productivity enhancement
    • restoring soil fertility and productivity
    • Creating employment opportunities and
    • enhancing farm level economy.
  • Coarse cereals were also included in the Mission from 2014-15 under NFSM.

Source: PIB

CBSE can’t refuse to change names after declaring results: Supreme Court

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has directed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to allow changes in name or date of birth in school certificates issued by it even after the publication of results.

What is the issue?

  • A petition was filed in the Supreme Court challenging the CBSE’s Examination Bye-Laws of 2007. The law prohibited students from changing or correcting their names on Board certificates.

What did the Supreme Court say?

    • The Supreme Court said that the Right to Change Name is part of the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression subject to reasonable restrictions.
    • Hence, the court directed the CBSE to allow students to change their name on the Board certificates issued by them.
    • The CBSC argued that it is denying students to change their name on certificates as it would affect their administrative efficiency. But, the court said that these certificates are used by students to go for higher studies and gain employment. So the presumption of CBSE on administrative efficiency is wrong.
    • The Supreme court also held that the decision of CBSE is in violation of the Right to be forgotten. As the CBSE decision of refusing to change the name forces the student to live with the scars of the past.

What is the Right to be forgotten?

The right to be forgotten (RTBF) is the right to have private information about a person be removed from Internet searches and other directories under some circumstances. For example,

  • If there is a juvenile accused of being in conflict with the law or is a sexual abuse victim. But his identity is leaked due to lapses by the media or the investigative body.
  • The juvenile may consider changing the name to seek rehabilitation in the society in the exercise of his right to be forgotten.

Source: The Hindu

Journalists need protection against “sedition charges”: Supreme Court

What is the News?

Supreme Court of India has quashed the FIR lodged against a senior journalist for sedition charge and other offences. In that, the court held that the Journalists need protection against sedition charges.

What was the case?

  • A sedition case was filed against a senior journalist over his YouTube show where he had criticized the Prime Minister and the Union Government.
  • The journalist approached the Supreme Court seeking the quashing of the FIR. He told the Supreme Court that criticism of the government was not in itself seditious unless it instigated the violence.

What did the Court say?

  • The Supreme Court invalidated the sedition case registered against the journalist.
  • Criticism & disapproval doesn’t amount to sedition: The court said that strong words of disapproval about the ruling government is not sedition.
    • Moreover, mere criticism of governments is not sufficient to constitute sedition. Honest and reasonable criticism is a source of strength to a community rather than a weakness.
  • The Court also referred to the 1962 Kedar Nath Singh verdict and said that under it every journalist is entitled to protection from sedition charges.

Kedar Nath Singh Judgment,1962

  • In Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar (1962), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the sedition law.
  • The Court said that sedition is a reasonable restriction on free speech as provided in Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
  • However, the court made it clear that a citizen has the right to say or write whatever she/he likes about the government or its measures.
  • But this is only as long as s/he does not incite people to violence against the government and not do things with the intention of creating public disorder.

Source: The Hindu


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