Current Affairs, 03 October 2018

Current Affairs, 03 October 2018

G.S Paper 2:

Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

WHO guidelines on sanitation and health

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Brief overview of guidelines, about WHO, key facts on SBM.
  • For Mains: Significance and need for global guidelines.

 

Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the first global guidelines on sanitation and health.

 

Highlights:

  • The new WHO Guidelines on Sanitation and Health summarize the evidence on the effectiveness of a range of sanitation interventions and provide a comprehensive framework for health-protecting sanitation, covering policy and governance measures, implementation of sanitation technologies, systems and behavioural interventions, risk-based management, and monitoring approaches.
  • Critically, the guidelines articulate the role of the health sector in maximizing the health impact of sanitation interventions.
  • The guidelines also identify gaps in the evidence-base to guide future research efforts to improve the effectiveness of sanitation interventions.

 

Need for global guidelines on sanitation and health:

Worldwide, 2.3 billion people lack basic sanitation (with almost half forced to defecate in the open). They are among the 4.5 billion without access to safely managed sanitation services – in other words a toilet connected to a sewer or pit or septic tank that treats human waste. Without proper access, millions of people the world over are deprived of the dignity, safety and convenience of a decent toilet.

Sanitation is a fundamental foundation of human health and development and underpins the core mission of WHO and ministries of health worldwide. WHO’s Sanitation and Health Guidelines are essential to securing health and wellbeing for everyone, everywhere.

 

Significance of the guidelines:

  • Poor sanitation is a major factor in transmission of neglected tropical diseases. Billions of people live without access to even the most basic sanitation services.
  • WHO developed the new guidelines on sanitation and health because current sanitation programmes are not achieving anticipated health gains and there is a lack of authoritative health-based guidance on sanitation.
  • By adopting WHO’s new guidelines, countries can significantly reduce the diarrhoeal deaths due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. For every US $1 invested in sanitation, WHO estimates a nearly six-fold return as measured by lower health costs, increased productivity and fewer premature deaths.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

UNESCO site status

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: UNESCO Global Geopark Network status- key facts, criteria for selection and sites in India.

 

Context: Geological Survey of India has chosen heritage locations in Maharashtra and Karnataka for UNESCO Global Geopark Network status. The Geopark tag is akin to that of a ‘World Heritage Site’ for historical monuments that can bring India’s famed geological features to the global stage.

The sites chosen are- Lonar Lake in Maharashtra and St. Mary’s Island and Malpe beach in coastal Karnataka are the GSI’s candidates for UNESCO Global Geopark Network status.

 

Global Geopark:

  • UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.
  • Their bottom-up approach of combining conservation with sustainable development while involving local communities is becoming increasingly popular. At present, there are 140 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 38 countries.
  • An aspiring Global Geopark must have a dedicated website, a corporate identity, comprehensive management plan, protection plans, finance, and partnerships for it to be accepted.

 

Once a UNESCO Global Geopark, always a UNESCO Global Geopark?

No, a UNESCO Global Geopark is given this designation for a period of four years after which the functioning and quality of each UNESCO Global Geopark is thoroughly re-examined during a revalidation process.

  • As part of the revalidation process, the UNESCO Global Geopark under review has to prepare a progress report and a field mission will be undertaken by two evaluators to revalidate the quality of the UNESCO Global Geopark. If, on the basis of the field evaluation report, the UNESCO Global Geopark continues to fulfil the criteria the area will continue as a UNESCO Global Geopark for a further four-year period (so-called “green card”).
  • If the area no longer fulfils the criteria, the management body will be informed to take appropriate steps within a two-year period (so-called “yellow card”). Should the UNESCO Global Geopark not fulfil the criteria within two years after receiving a “yellow card”, the area will lose its status as a UNESCO Global Geopark (so-called “red card”).

 

What is the Global Geoparks Network?

The Global Geoparks Network (GGN), of which membership is obligatory for UNESCO Global Geoparks, is a legally constituted not-for-profit organisation with an annual membership fee. The GGN was founded in 2004 and is a dynamic network where members are committed to work together and exchange ideas of best practise and join in common projects to raise the quality standards of all products and practises of a UNESCO Global Geopark. While the GGN as a whole comes together every two years, it functions through the operation of regional networks, such as the European Geoparks Network that meets twice a year to develop and promote joint activities.

 

Difference between UNESCO Global Geoparks, Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites:

UNESCO Global Geoparks, together with the other two UNESCO site designations Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites, give a complete picture of celebrating our heritage while at the same time conserving the world’s cultural, biological and geological diversity, and promoting sustainable economic development.

  • While Biosphere Reserves focus on the harmonised management of biological and cultural diversity and World Heritage Sites promote the conservation of natural and cultural sites of outstanding universal value, UNESCO Global Geoparks give international recognition for sites that promote the importance and significance of protecting the Earth’s geodiversity through actively engaging with the local communities.
  • In case an aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark includes a World Heritage Site or Biosphere Reserve, a clear justification and evidence has to be provided on how UNESCO Global Geopark status will add value by being both independently branded and in synergy with the other designations.

 

Key facts:

  • Lonar lake is an ancient circular lake created by a meteorite strike in Maharashtra. It is the only known meteorite crater in basaltic rock. Lonar crater became a geo-heritage site in 1979. It is relatively young geologically, at just 50,000 years old.
  • Mary’s Island, declared a national geo-heritage site in 1975, is estimated to be an 88-million-year-old formation that goes back to a time when Greater India broke away from Madagascar.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

International Solar Alliance

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: ISA- key facts, significance and India’s potential.

 

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated the first Assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in New Delhi. The same event also marked the inauguration of the second IORA Renewable Energy Ministerial Meeting, and the second Global RE-Invest (Renewable Energy Investors’ Meet and Expo).

 

About ISA:

The Paris Declaration establishes ISA as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries.

Objectives: The ISA’s major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.

What it does? As an action-oriented organisation, the ISA brings together countries with rich solar potential to aggregate global demand, thereby reducing prices through bulk purchase, facilitating the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, and promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity building.

When it entered into force? When the ISA Framework Agreement entered into force on December 6th, 2017, ISA formally became a de-jure treaty based International Intergovernmental Organization, headquartered at Gurugram, India.

 

About IORA:

  • The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), is an international organisation consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean.
  • The IORA is a regional forum, tripartite in nature, bringing together representatives of Government, Business and Academia, for promoting co-operation and closer interaction among them.
  • The IORA is an association of 21 countries and 7 dialogue partners which have identified 6 areas of cooperation including medicinal plants. The Coordinating Secretariat of IORA is located at Ebene, Mauritius.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3:

Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country.

 

Soil moisture map

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: ISA, Soil Moisture Map- significance and need.
  • For Mains: Renewable energy and its significance, India’s leadership in the sector.

 

Context: With the rabi season around the corner, a countrywide forecast has been prepared. This forecast, following a joint exercise by IIT Gandhinagar and the India Meteorological Department (IMD), for the first time, provides a country-wide soil moisture forecast at seven and 30-day lead times.

 

How was it developed?

  • The experts used the ‘Variable Infiltration Capacity’ model to provide the soil moisture prediction.
  • The product, termed ‘Experimental Forecasts Land Surface Products’, is available on the IMD website. It has been developed using the hydrological model that takes into consideration soil, vegetation, land use and land cover among other parameters.

 

Highlights of the findings:

  • In Bundelkhand, most farmers keep their land fallow or just grow some fodder crop during the kharif season since the rains are unpredictable and there could be extended dry spells after sowing. They then mainly cultivate the rabi crop using the soil moisture left behind by the monsoon rains.
  • It is a similar trend in Bihar, in low lying areas of Seemanchal and Kosi belt, where no crop is grown during Kharif because of inundated lands. This means that if there is not enough rainfall in one or two months, these are regions which will demand heavy irrigation whether that comes from groundwater or surface water storage (reservoirs).
  • Based on observed conditions at present, Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and parts of Andhra Pradesh are deficient in terms of soil moisture right now.

 

Significance and the need for data on soil moisture:

Soil moisture is crucial for agriculture since it directly affects crop growth and how much irrigation is required for the area. It is because crucial information needed for agriculture is not revealed only through rainfall data.

Soil moisture gives us more information on what is needed for crop growth in different parts of the country. Besides, timely soil moisture forecasts will help target interventions, in terms of seed varieties for better planning in agriculture.

 

Sources: pib.


Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)

 

What to study?

  • Prelims: What, WHEN AND WHO is PMI?
  • Mains: Economic growth indicators and significance.

 

Context: India’s manufacturing economy recorded an improvement in growth during September amid firmer gains in new orders, output and employment.

The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 52.2 in September from 51.7 in August. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion while one below 50 denotes a contraction.

 

What is a PMI?

PMI or a Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity — both in the manufacturing and services sectors. It is a survey-based measures that asks the respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from the month before. It is calculated separately for the manufacturing and services sectors and then a composite index is constructed.

 

How is the PMI derived?

The PMI is derived from a series of qualitative questions. Executives from a reasonably big sample, running into hundreds of firms, are asked whether key indicators such as output, new orders, business expectations and employment were stronger than the month before and are asked to rate them.

 

How does one read the PMI?

A figure above 50 denotes expansion in business activity. Anything below 50 denotes contraction. Higher the difference from this mid-point greater the expansion or contraction. The rate of expansion can also be judged by comparing the PMI with that of the previous month data. If the figure is higher than the previous month’s then the econ-omy is expanding at a faster rate. If it is lower than the previous month then it is growing at a lower rate.

 

What are its implications for the economy?

The PMI is usually released at the start of the month, much before most of the official data on industrial output, manufacturing and GDP growth becomes available. It is, therefore, considered a good leading indicator of economic activity. Economists consider the manufacturing growth measured by the PMI as a good indicator of industrial output, for which official statistics are released later. Central banks of many countries also use the index to help make decisions on interest rates.

 

What does it mean for financial markets?

The PMI also gives an indication of corporate earnings and is closely watched by investors as well as the bond markets. A good reading enhances the attractiveness of an economy vis-a- vis another competing economy.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

BSE first to launch commodity derivatives contract in gold and silver

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Meaning and significance of derivatives.

 

Context: The Bombay Stock Exchange became the first stock exchange in the country to launch commodity derivatives contract in gold and silver.

 

Background:

Till date, commodity derivatives contract are available only on MCX and NCDEX, the two specialised commodity derivatives exchanges in the country. The launch of commodity derivatives platform on the BSE will help in efficient price discovery, reduce timeline and make it cost-effective.

 

Definition: A derivative is a contract between two parties which derives its value/price from an underlying asset. The most common types of derivatives are futures, options, forwards and swaps.

Description: It is a financial instrument which derives its value/price from the underlying assets. Originally, underlying corpus is first created which can consist of one security or a combination of different securities. The value of the underlying asset is bound to change as the value of the underlying assets keep changing continuously. Generally stocks, bonds, currency, commodities and interest rates form the underlying asset.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

‘World Peace Monument’ dome:

The world’s largest dome has been inaugurated at the Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT)’s World Peace University (MIT-WPU) campus at Loni Kalbhor on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

  • The World Peace Monument dome has a diameter of 160 feet, compared with the Vatican Dome’s 139.6 feet, and stands 263 feet tall with a bell hanging from the centre, and the prayer hall is of around 30,000 sq ft.
  • It is supported by 24 massive columns, each 63 feet tall, at the periphery of the dome and underneath — inside and outside — stand imposing bronze statues of 54 of the biggest names in world history stand, irrespective of nationality or religion.
  • The dome is built atop the MIT World Peace Library and the World Peace Prayer Hall, which are named after the 13th century poet-saint and philosopher Dnyaneshwar — a pivotal figure of the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra.

 

IBSAMAR VI:

The sixth edition of IBSAMAR, a joint Multi – National Maritime Exercise between the Indian, Brazilian and South African Navies, is being held at Simons Town, South Africa.

About IBSAMAR:

IBSAMAR are a series of naval exercises between the navies of India, Brazil, South Africa. The aim of the exercise is to undertake collective training for participating navies, building interoperability and mutual understanding as well as sharing of best practices. The first exercise took place in 2008.

 

Editorial: In Parliament’s court


 

Context:

The Supreme Court has stuck to the letter of the law in putting the onus on Parliament to frame a law to prevent people with criminal charges against them from contesting elections and entering the house, even as it has made it clear that political parties need to do a lot more to clean up politics.

The court mentioned that it was not within its powers to disqualify politicians facing criminal cases from contesting election, but recommended that Parliament enact a strong law.

However, the court made it mandatory for political parties and candidates themselves to make public disclosure through print and electronic media.

 

Statistics of Criminal Charge Representatives in Politics:

Data from the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) indicate 179 out of the 543 elected MPs in the present Lok Sabha have some kind of criminal cases pending against them.

Going by ADR estimates, there are more than 1500 MPs and MLAs in parliament and State Assemblies with criminal cases pending against them.

Some of them of course, may be of frivolous in nature, but some of the cases involve allegations of their involvement in serious crimes.

In case of over 100 MPs, the cases were of a very serious nature, such as crimes against women and kidnapping.

In the previous Lok Sabha of 2009, 163 had criminal cases pending against them, many of them were of a serious nature.

The profile of the members of the Upper House is no better, 228 members of the Rajya Sabha for whom data was analysed, 20 have cases of serious crimes pending against them.

 

Supreme Court Issued Guidelines for disclosure of Charges:

It has issued five broad guidelines related to better labelling and disclosure of such charges.

These are to make sure that a candidate for political office declares his or her criminal antecedents:

  • While filing their nominations, the candidates must declare, if there are pending criminal cases against them in courts.

 

  • Political parties are also responsible for putting up details of criminal cases filed against their candidates on their websites.
  • Parliament must legislate on the matter to ensure that candidates with criminal antecedents do not enter public life or become lawmakers.

 

  • While filing the nomination forms, candidates must declare their criminal past and the cases pending against them in bold letters.
  • Political parties should publicise the background of their candidates via the electronic media and issue declarations.

Making these details public will work in two ways.

One, of course, is to ensure that people aren’t voting for someone without knowing the facts.

The other is deterrence, because these charges will now be well-known, perhaps politicians will be more careful.

 

Political Parties raised Concern:

Political parties say that barring the candidates having been charged for heinous crimes is not practically feasible.

They say that this could lead to wrong cases being filed against the candidates. This may appear to be valid as data shows that there are 2.7 lakh under-trials, not convicted and hence innocent, but locked up in jails.

The contention is all the candidates and the legislators should be deemed innocent until proven guilty.

 

Conclusion:

There is serious doubt whether the given judgment by Supreme Court would in any way help in making our politics cleaner than before.

The chances of Parliament acting fast on this issue are dim. The reasons are simple and obvious. No political party is free of this problem.

The issue is far more important and serious than the attention being paid to it by the policy makers.

While the Election Commission has limited powers to legislate on such laws, it is only Parliament which can legislate to bring about the desired change.

 

Way Forward:

With the SC order, political parties will now find it difficult to make excuses for choosing tainted candidates.

To be sure, law enforcement and legal systems will have to become more effective and efficient to ensure that they weed out politically-motivated charges from actual criminal ones.

Thus, despite a functional democracy where voters deliberately vote for a ‘criminal politician’, who thrives because of fractured governance systems and absence of rule of law, only an electorate that categorically rejects the criminalisation of politics can ensure a thorough cleanse of the system.

This move will not clean up politics overnight, but it does add ammunition to the battle for probity in political office.

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