Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 13, 2021

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First “Quad Summit” Held Virtually

What is the news?

The first-ever leadership Quad summit held virtually.

About the First Quad Summit:

  • Participation: Indian Prime Minister, US President, Australian PM, and Japanese PM participated virtually in the first Quad summit.

What were the key takeaways from the Summit?

 Free and Open Indo-Pacific:

  • The leaders have called for a free and open Indo-Pacific. They aim for an Indo-Pacific that is inclusive, healthy, backed by democratic values, and not by coercion.
  • The leaders have also pledged to promote a free, open rules-based order, rooted in international law to advance security and prosperity and counter threats to both in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

Working Groups: The leaders have decided to create three working groups:

  • Vaccine Expert Working Group: It comprises top scientists and officials. They will design an implementation plan for the vaccine partnership.
  • Climate working group: The group will work to strengthen the implementation of the Paris Agreement and strengthen climate actions globally for mitigation, adaptation, resilience, and climate finance.
  • Critical and emerging technology working group: It will facilitate cooperation on international standards and innovative future technologies and their safe and judicious use.

Quad summit Vaccine Initiative:

  • The Quad summit  leaders agreed on a Quad Vaccine initiative. It aims to send 1 billion coronavirus vaccines across Asia by the end of 2022.
  • Under this initiative, India will use its manufacturing capacity to make US vaccines.  Finances for that will come from the US International Development Finance Corporation and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.
  • Australia will finance training and provide last-mile logistical support for the distribution of vaccines.

About Quad summit:

  • Quad summit is the strategic dialogue between four countries viz. India, United States, Japan, and Australia.
  • Origin:
    • The grouping traces its genesis to 2004, when the four countries came together to coordinate relief operations in the aftermath of the tsunami.
    • However, the idea of Quad summit was initiated in 2007 by the Japanese Prime Minister. But it was dropped with the withdrawal of Australia. It was later revived in the year 2017.
  • Objective: It is viewed as a group of four democracies. They have a shared objective to ensure and support a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
    • The foundation of Quad summit is also based on collective effort and shared commitment to counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief, maritime security cooperation, development finance, and cybersecurity.

Source: The Hindu

Panel Recommendations to improve “Air Quality in Kerala”

What is the news?

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) appointed a joint committee to study air pollution in Kerala. It made several recommendations to improve air quality in Kerala.

What are the key recommendations of the panel?

  1. Installation of vapor recovery systems at fuelling stations
  2. Retrofitting of diesel vehicles with particulate filters to improve air quality.
    • Reason: The petrol refueling stations are a major source of benzene emissions, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter 2.5. Hence, the installation of a vapor recovery system is an important step in improving air quality.
  3. Promoting battery-operated vehicles and banning old diesel vehicles in a phased manner.
  4. Greening of open areas and creation of green buffers along traffic corridors.
  5. Short Term Measures: The panel has also recommended several short term measures that include:
    • Strict actions against visibly polluting vehicles (to be initiated by the Motor Vehicles Department)
    • Introduction of Wet/Mechanised vacuum sweeping of roads,
    • Controlling dust pollution at construction sites
    • Ensuring transport of construction materials in covered vehicles.

About Benzene Pollution

  • Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air.
  • Source: Benzene is formed from both natural processes and human activities. Natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires. It is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.
  • Uses: Benzene is a widely used industrial chemical. It is found in crude oil and is a major part of gasoline. It’s also used to make plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, rubber lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.
  • Exposure to Benzene:
    • Industrial processes: Benzene occurs naturally in crude petroleum. Thus, human activities using petroleum, lead to exposure. These activities include processing petroleum products, coking of coal, and their use in industrial and consumer products.
    • Indoor residential air: In homes, benzene may be found in glues, adhesives, cleaning products, paint strippers, tobacco smoke, and gasoline. Levels are increased in homes close to petrol filling stations.
  • Side Effects: Human exposure to benzene has been associated with a range of acute and long-term adverse health effects and diseases, including cancer and hematological effects.

Source: The Hindu

SC Ruling on Appointment of “State Election Commissioners”

What is the news?

The Supreme Court held that independent persons should be appointed State Election Commissioners, not the Bureaucrats holding government office.

What was the case?

  • The Supreme Court gave this judgment in a case related to Goa. There the law secretary was given the charge of State Election Commissioner.

What are the key observations of the Supreme Court Judgment?

  • States should appoint independent persons and not bureaucrats holding government office as Election Commissioners. Because the independence of EC cannot be compromised at any cost.
  • The court has also asked all states to comply with the constitutional scheme of the independent State Election Commissioner(SEC).
    • Under the constitutional mandate, it is the duty of the State to not interfere with the functioning of the State Election Commission.

About State Election Commission(SEC):

  • State Election Commission is a constitutional authority. It is constituted under the provisions of Article 243K read with article 243ZA of The Constitution of India.
  • Purpose: They were constituted for superintendence, direction, and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for all elections to the Panchayats and the Municipalities.
  • Composition: The State Election Commission is a single-member Commission comprising the State Election Commissioner.
  • Appointment: Governor appoints the State Election Commissioner of the State. They enjoy the same powers as Election Commission of India(ECI). SEC can only be removed from his office on the same grounds and procedures as a judge of a High Court.

Source: The Hindu

“AsterX” – France’s First Military Exercise in Space

What is the news?

French Space Command(CDE) launched its first military space exercise called AsterX.

About Exercise AsterX:

  • The exercise has been named AsterX in reference to the first French satellite, which was put into orbit in 1965.
  • Purpose: During the exercise, the French Military aims to monitor a potentially dangerous space object. It will also analyze threats to its own satellite from another foreign power possessing a considerable space force.
  • Participation: The new US Space Force and German space agencies are also taking part in this exercise along with France.
  • Significance of this exercise:
    • The exercise is a part of France’s strategy to become the world’s third-largest space power after the USA and China.
    • These space military exercises are also the first-ever attempt not only for France but also for Europe.

Why is this exercise conducted by France?

  • In 2017, Russian spy-satellite “Olymp-K” tried to intercept the transmissions from a Franco-Italian satellite “Athena-Fidus”. This satellite was in use by both Italian and French armies for secure communications. This act of Russia was called “an act of espionage” by France.
  • Hence, to prevent such attacks in the future, France in 2019 announced its French Space Command and is also conducting this exercise.

Source: Indian Express

MHA directive on “Influx of Illegal Migrants From Myanmar”

What is the News?

Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) has written to states, sharing international boundaries with Myanmar. Chief Secretaries of these states (Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh) are asked to take appropriate action to check illegal influx from Myanmar into India.

Why was this directive issued?

  • Myanmar’s military has seized full control of the country’s government. After that, it ordered a crackdown on protesters.
  • Due to this situation in Myanmar, several Myanmar citizens are illegally entering India.

What are the other directives MHA has issued?

  • The State governments had no powers to grant refugee status to any foreigner.
  • India is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.
  • The directive also recalled the guidelines addressed to all States in 2017. In the guidelines, instructions were issued to sensitize all law enforcement and intelligence agencies for taking prompt steps in identifying the illegal migrants. So that, they can initiate the deportation processes expeditiously and without delay.
  • Further, another set of guidelines were sent to States in 2018. The guideline provides for the appropriate steps for identifying illegal migrants, such as:
    • Restrictions of Illegal Migrants specific locations as per provisions of law
    • Capturing their biographic and biometric particulars
    • Cancellation of fake Indian documents and
    • Initiating legal proceedings including deportation proceedings as per provisions of law.

About United Nations Refugee Convention,1951:

  • The 1951 Refugee Convention also known as Geneva Convention. It is a United Nations multilateral treaty for the protection of refugees
  • Who is a refugee? The convention defines a refugee as a person who fled their homes and countries due to a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion is a refugee.
  • The Convention also sets out which people do not qualify as refugees, such as war criminals.
  • Non-Refoulement: The cornerstone of the 1951 Refugee Convention is the principle of non-refoulement. According to this principle, a refugee should not be returned to a country where he or she faces serious threats to his or her life or freedom.

Source: The Hindu

Commemorative “Dandi March” to mark 75 years of Independence

What is the News?

The Prime Minister flagged off a commemorative 2021 Dandi March. It was to launch the celebrations of the 75th year of Independence – ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

About 2021 Dandi March:

  • 81 walkers will participate in The 2021 Dandi March. They will travel through the 386 km Dandi March route in memory of 78 companions of Mahatma Gandhi in the 1930 march from Ahmedabad to Dandi. 2 others joined mid-route.
  • The descendants of those who had walked the Salt March (in 1930) will also be honored.
  • Further, the subsequent journey will see big events at six places associated with Gandhi. These include MK Gandhi’s birthplace Porbandar along with Rajkot, Vadodara, Bardoli (Surat), Mandvi (Kutch) and Dandi (Navsari).

About the Dandi March:

  • Dandi March: It was a 24-day march from March 12 to April 5, 1930. It was a tax resistance campaign against the British salt monopoly. The march was based on Gandhi’s principle of non-violence or Satyagraha.
  • Why did Gandhi call for the Dandi March? The 1882 Salt Act gave the British a monopoly in the manufacture and sale of salt. Even though salt was freely available on the coasts of India, Indians were forced to buy it from the colonizers. Hence, Gandhi decided to inaugurate the civil disobedience using salt.

What happened at Dandi March?

  • On March 12, 1930, Gandhiji started the march from Sabarmati with 78 followers on a 241-mile march to the coastal town of Dandi on the Arabian Sea.
  • There, Gandhiji picked up a small amount of natural salt lying in a small pit. The act was symbolic but hugely covered by the press.
  • After that, Gandhiji] planned to stage a satyagraha at the Dharasana Salt Works. However, Gandhiji was arrested just days before the planned action at Dharasana.

Impact of the Dandi March: Due to Dandi March, similar acts of civil disobedience took place in other parts of India:

  • In Bengal, led by Satish Chandra Dasgupta and in Bombay led K.F Nariman walked with volunteers to prepare salt.
  • Further, the illegal manufacture and sale of salt were accompanied by the boycott of foreign cloth and liquor.
  • Forest laws were also flouted in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and the Central Provinces. Peasants in Gujarat and Bengal refused to pay land and chowkidari taxes.
  • Acts of violence too broke out in several states. But unlike what happened during the non-cooperation movement, Gandhi refused to suspend the civil disobedience movement this time.

Significance of the Dandi March:

  • The Dandi march was the most significant organised movement against the British Raj after the non-cooperation movement of the early 1920s.
  • The March was also a turning point in the Indian Independence movement. It received attention from the national, international media, and world leaders.

Source: Indian Express

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