Current Affairs for IAS PCS Civil Services Exams : 14 March, 2019

Current Affairs : 14 March 2019

Relevant articles from PIB:

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  2. IPR related issues.

 

Cabinet Approves Proposal to Align with Global Trademark System

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Agreements- objectives, features, significance and benefits for India.

 

Context: Cabinet approves proposal for accession of India to:

  1. The Nice Agreement on the International classification of goods and services for the purposes of registration of marks.
  2. The Vienna Agreement for setting up an International classification of the figurative elements of marks.
  3. The Locarno Agreement for establishing an International classification for industrial designs.

 

Significance and benefits for India:

  • Accession to the Nice, Vienna and Locarno Agreements will help the Intellectual Property Office in India to harmonise the classification systems for examinational of trademark and design applications, in line with the classification systems followed globally.
  • It would give an opportunity to include Indian designs, figurative elements and goods in the international classification systems.
  • The accession is expected to instil confidence in foreign investors in relation to protection of IPs in India.
  • The accession would also facilitate in exercising rights in decision making processes regarding review and revision of the classifications under the agreement.

 

The following agreements are open to States party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883). Instruments of ratification or accession must be deposited with the Director General of WIPO.

  1. Nice Agreement:

The Nice Agreement, concluded at Nice in 1957, revised at Stockholm in 1967 and at Geneva in 1977, and amended in 1979, establishes a classification of goods and services for the purposes of registering trademarks and service marks (the Nice Classification).

 

  1. The Vienna Agreement for setting up an International classification of the figurative elements of marks:

The Vienna Agreement, concluded in Vienna in 1973 and amended in 1985, establishes a classification (the Vienna Classification) for marks that consist of, or contain, figurative elements.

 

  1. The Locarno Agreement for establishing an International classification for industrial designs:

The Locarno Agreement, concluded at Locarno in 1968 and amended in 1979, establishes a classification for industrial designs (the Locarno Classification).

 

Key facts- the three agreements:

  • Create a Union, which has an Assembly. Every State that is a member of the Union is a member of the Assembly.
  • Among the most important tasks of the Assembly is the adoption of the biennial program and budget of the Union.
  • Set up a Committee of Experts in which all members of the Union are represented. The main task of the Committee is the periodical revision of the Classification.

 

INDO-OMAN Joint Ex Al Nagah 2019

Context: Indo Oman Joint Exercise Al Nagah III 2019, a joint military exercise between Indian and Royal Army of Oman (RAO), commenced at HQ Jabel Regiment, Nizwa, Oman. Ex Al Nagah 2019 will contribute immensely in developing mutual understanding and respect for each other’s military as also facilitate in tackling the worldwide phenomenon of terrorism.

Relevant articles from various News Papers:

Paper 1:

Topics Covered:

  1. Women related issues.

 

IPU-UN Women map of Women in Politics

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: About IPU and findings of the report.
  • For Mains: Significance of women in politics, challenges present and ways to address them.

 

Context: Women’s representation in political decision-making continues to rise slowly, with slight improvements since 2017, according to the data presented in the 2019 edition of the biennial IPU-UN Women map of Women in Politics.

The map was launched at a press conference during the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 63) at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

 

Key Highlights of the report:

  1. The map, which presents global rankings for women in the executive and parliamentary government branches as of 1 January 2019, shows the proportion of women ministers is at an all-time high at 20.7 per cent, 2.4 percentage points higher compared to 2017. It also shows that the types of portfolios women ministers hold are diversifying.
  2. The global share of women Members of Parliament (MPs)—24.3 per cent—has increased by nearly one point compared with 2017. The share of women parliamentary speakers also increased by 0.6 percentage points to 19.7 per cent, and the share of women deputy speakers increased by 1.6 percentage points to 28.2 per cent.
  3. However, women’s representation in top-level leadership has decreased from 7.2 per cent of elected Heads of State to 6.6 per cent (10 out of 153), and from 5.7 per cent of Heads of Government to 5.2 per cent (10 out of 193).
  4. Among countries in Asia, Pakistan progressed from having no women ministers since 2012 to reaching its highest-ever share of women ministers at 12 per cent.
  5. In Europe, Slovenia dropped the most percentage points since 2017 from 50 per cent to 25 per cent women ministers. Lithuania no longer has women in ministerial positions, compared to 2017 when there were three out of 14, or 21.4 per cent.
  6. The number of countries with no women ministers decreased from 13 in 2017 to 11: Azerbaijan, Belize, Brunei Darussalam, Iraq, Kiribati, Lithuania, Papua New Guinea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Vanuatu.
  7. The types of portfolios held by women ministers are shifting.
  8. Strikingly, more women are in charge of portfolios traditionally occupied by men compared to 2017: 30 per cent more women ministers cover Defence, 52.9 per cent more women cover Finance, and 13.6 per cent more women cover Foreign Affairs.

 

Nine countries, up from six in 2017, have 50 per cent or more women in ministerial positions:

  1. 7%: Spain.
  2. 6%: Nicaragua.
  3. 4%: Sweden.
  4. 3%: Albania.
  5. 9%: Colombia.
  6. 9%: Costa Rica.
  7. 9%: Rwanda.
  8. 50%: Canada.
  9. 50%: France.

 

Way ahead:

Equal representation in government positions is fundamental for a democracy to be truly representative and effective. Despite some positive movement, the overwhelming majority of government leaders remain male. It is a shared responsibility between men and women to change this and ensure gender equality at all political levels. It is important to identify the main barriers that are stopping women from accessing decision-making positions.

More women in politics leads to more inclusive decisions and can change people’s image of what a leader looks like.

 

Sources: bs.

Mains Question: Critically comment on the role of women in electoral politics in the world and in India.

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

Global Chemical Outlook II

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Highlights of the report:
  • For Mains: Concerns highlighted, need for coordinated action and immediate measures needed.

 

Context: The second edition of the Global Chemicals Outlook has been released.

The Global Chemicals Outlook II – From Legacies to Innovative Solutions: Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, mandated by the UN Environment Assembly in 2016, seeks to alert policymakers and other stakeholders to the critical role of the sound management of chemicals and waste in sustainable development.

It takes stock of global trends as well as progress made and gaps in achieving the global goal to minimize the adverse impacts from chemicals and waste by 2020.

 

Important findings:

  • Countries will not meet the internationally agreed goal to minimize the adverse impacts of chemicals and waste by 2020, meaning that urgent action is required to reduce further damage to human health and economies.
  • The current chemical production capacity of 2.3 billion tonnes, valued at US$5 trillion annually, is projected to double by 2030.
  • Despite commitments to maximize the benefits and minimize the impacts of this industry, hazardous chemicals continue to be released to the environment in large quantities. They are ubiquitous in air, water and soil, food and humans. The world must take advantage of the many solutions that already exist and are highlighted in the report.
  • While international treaties and voluntary instruments have reduced the risks of some chemicals and wastes, progress has been uneven and implementation gaps remain. For example, as of 2018, more than 120 countries had not implemented the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.
  • The World Health Organization estimated the burden of disease from selected chemicals at 1.6 million lives in 2016, which is likely an underestimate. Chemical pollution also threatens a range of ecosystem services.
  • From pharmaceuticals to plant protection, chemicals play an important role in modern society and in achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Driven by economic development, population dynamics and other global megatrends, the chemicals market across a range of industry sectors is growing. For example, the chemicals market in the construction sector is expected to grow by 6.2 per cent annually, between 2018 and 2023.
  • Meanwhile, chemical production and consumption is shifting to emerging economies, in particular China.
  • Pesticides have been found to negatively impact pollinators, excess use of phosphorous and nitrogen in agriculture continues to contribute to ocean dead zone and chemicals used in sunscreens put pressure on coral reef ecosystems. Studies also indicate that releases of some antimicrobials, heavy metals and disinfectants contribute to antimicrobial resistance.

 

What next?

Solutions exist, however. Governments are taking regulatory action on many chemicals. Frontrunner companies are advancing standards beyond compliance and sustainable supply chain management. Consumers are driving demand for safer products and production.

Industry and entrepreneurs are developing green and sustainable chemistry innovations. Scientists are filling data gaps. Universities are reforming the way chemistry is taught. Management approaches – from chemical hazard assessment to risk management and life cycle analysis – are advancing.

Opportunities exist for key influencers such as investors, producers, retailers, academics and ministers to scale up these initiatives. This would not only protect human health and the environment, but also deliver economic benefits in the high tens of billions of United States dollars annually.

The development of a future global platform for the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 provides a window of opportunity. As the report highlights, this framework needs to bring together all relevant sectors and stakeholders and foster collaborative, ambitious action.

Given the critical role of the sound management of chemicals and waste in halting biodiversity loss, facilitating access to clean energy and achieving other Sustainable Development Goals and targets, opportunities exist to create synergies with these and other international policy agendas.

 

Sources: toi.

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  2. Conservation related issues.

 

Global Environment Outlook report

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: GEO- key findings.
  • For Mains: Concerns highlighted by the report, need for urgent measures and the need for international cooperation.

 

Context: Global Environment Outlook report has been released. The report is the sixth and is the UN’s most comprehensive report on the state of the global environment since the fifth edition in 2012.

 

About GEO report:

  • The GEO is often referred to as UN Environment’s flagship environmental assessment.
  • The first publication was in 1997 and was originally requested by Member States.
  • It is a flagship report because it fulfills the core functions of the organization, which date back to the UN General Assembly resolution that established the UNEP in 1972.

 

Key observations:

Pollution related risks:

  • A quarter of all premature deaths and diseases worldwide are due to manmade pollution and environmental damage.
  • Deadly emissions, chemicals polluting drinking water, and the accelerating destruction of ecosystems crucial to the livelihoods of billions of people are driving a worldwide epidemic that hampers the global economy.
  • There is a growing chasm between rich and poor countries as rampant overconsumption, pollution and food waste in the developed world leads to hunger, poverty and disease elsewhere.

 

Impact:

  • As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise amid a preponderance of droughts, floods and super storms made worse by climbing sea levels, there is a growing political consensus that climate change poses a future risk to billions.
  • But the health impacts of pollution, deforestation and the mechanised food-chain are less well understood. Nor is there any international agreement for the environment close to covering what the 2015 Paris accord does for climate.
  • Poor environmental conditions “cause approximately 25% of global disease and mortality” — around 9 million deaths in 2015 alone.
  • Lacking access to clean drinking supplies, 1.4 million people die each year from preventable diseases such as diarrhoea and parasites linked to pathogen-riddled water and poor sanitation.
  • Chemicals pumped into the seas cause “potentially multi-generational” adverse health effects, and land degradation through mega-farming and deforestation occurs in areas of Earth home to 3.2 billion people.
  • Species extinction rates also continue to increase at a pace that could compromise Earth’s ability to meet human needs, the report says.

 

What needs to be done?

The report called for a root-and-branch detoxifying of human behaviour while insisting that the situation is not unassailable. Food waste for instance, which accounts for 9% of global greenhouse gas emissions, could be slashed. The world currently throws away a third of all food produced. In richer nations, 56% goes to waste.

It also called for a rapid drawdown in greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide use to improve air and water quality.

 

Sources: the hindu.

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. India and its neighbourhood- relations.
  2. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

TIR convention

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features, significance and benefits of the convention.

 

Context: The first shipment under the United Nations ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers’ (TIR) conventionarrived in India from Afghanistan through Iran’s Chabahar Port.

 

What you need to know about the TIR convention?

The Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets, 1975 (TIR Convention), is an international transit system under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to facilitate the seamless movement of goods within and amongst the Parties to the Convention.

The 1975 convention replaced the TIR Convention of 1959, which itself replaced the 1949 TIR Agreement between a number of European countries.

The TIR system not only covers customs transit by road but a combination is possible with other modes of transport (e.g., rail, inland waterway, and even maritime transport), as long as at least one part of the total transport is made by road.

 

Benefits of TIR convention for India:

  1. It has far reaching benefits for trade and will save significant time and money by streamlining procedures at borders, reducing administration and cutting border waiting times.
  2. The TIR Convention will also facilitate India’s current national and multilateral connectivity-related initiatives to improve cross border road transport, facilitating overland trade integration with both eastern and western neighbours.
  3. It will also help India in implementing the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, which entered into force this year.
  4. The Convention will help Indian traders to have access to fast, easy, reliable and hassle free international system for movement of goods by road or multi- modal means across the territories of other contracting parties.
  5. With this convention, the need for inspection of goods at intermediate borders as well as physical escorts en route shall be obviated due to reciprocal recognition of Customs controls.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 

Facts for Prelims:

 

UK Issues New Black Hole Coin in Honour of Stephen Hawking:

Context: The British Royal Mint has commemorated professor Stephen Hawking in a new 50p coin, which references the late physicist’s pioneering work on black holes.

  • The honorary coin, which is available in three metal finishes, aims to celebrate the life and “ground-breaking” achievements of Hawking, who passed away in 2018.
  • It features Hawking’s name in capital letters above a rippling drawing of concentric circles, intended to represent a black hole.
  • Also on the coin is the formula for arguably Hawking’s most important scientific contribution. It references his discovery that black holes are not completely black, and instead emit radiation, meaning they eventually evaporate and disappear.

 

 

Project Varshadhare:

What is it? It is a cloud seeding project flagged off by the Karnataka government to enhance the amount of precipitation from the clouds to generate more rain. Special aircraft will disperse the chemical silver iodide as they fly through rain-bearing clouds that will trigger and enhance the precipitation.

 

World Kidney Day:

Context: World Kidney Day is observed annually on the 2nd Thursday in March.

WKD is a joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF). World Kidney Day started in 2006.

Theme for 2019: Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere.

 

Summaries of important Editorials:

 

A model policy for women in the police:

What’s the issue?

Women constitute about 7% of the police strength in India. This number is expected to rise, with many States and Union Territories providing for 30% (and more) reservation for women in the police in specific ranks. However, this is not enough. The discourse on mainstreaming women in the police by making policing inclusive, non-discriminatory and efficient in India is missing in policy circles.

 

What needs to be done?

  1. Develop a model policy that will challenge the deep-rooted patriarchy in the institution.
  2. A model policy, while laying the foundation for equal opportunities for women in every aspect of policing, should also strive to create a safe and enabling work environment.
  3. Merely providing reservation is not enough; police departments should develop an action plan to achieve the target of 30% or more in a time-bound manner. This also applies to States that have not provided a quota as yet.
  4. Departments should also undertake special recruitment drives in every district to ensure geographical diversity. To achieve the target, the police should reach out to the media and educational institutions to spread awareness about opportunities for women in the police.
  5. Current data reveal that most women in the police are concentrated in the lower ranks. Efforts should be made to change this. The impulse to create women-only battalions for the sake of augmenting numbers should be eliminated.
  6. The model policy should strive to ensure that decisions on deployment of women are free of gender stereotyping to facilitate bringing women into leading operational positions. Women police officers should be encouraged to take on public order and investigative crimes of all types, and should be given duties beyond the minimum mandated by special laws. Desk work too must be allocated evenly among men and women.
  7. Departments need to be mindful various needs of working police-women and exercise sensitivity in making decisions on transfers and posting of women personnel. As far as possible, women should be posted in their home districts in consultation with supervising officers.
  8. Most State police departments have received funds under the Modernisation of State Police Forces Scheme for providing separate toilets and changing rooms for women, and for constructing separate accommodation for women with attached toilets in all police stations and units. Police departments must ensure the best use of this fund.
  9. Police departments must also ensure safe working spaces for women and adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination and harassment, in order to make policing a viable career option for women.
  10. Departments are legally bound to set up Internal Complaints Committees to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace. Departments must operationalise the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013.

 

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