13th February, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘India State of the Forest Report, 2017’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: It is a report which is released by Ministry of Environment and Forests. This report shows that there is an increase of 1,001 sq.km of tree cover in India. However, the report also shows a declining trend of tree cover observed in Kodagu and Shivamogga. The 19th edition of the report, brought out by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), tabulates tree cover every two years using satellite imagery. Karnataka ranks second in our country in terms of an increase in tree forest cover
Reasons for increase in tree cover:
- LPG connections which are given for free is also believed to have played a part in an increase of tree cover
- Better satellite data
- Large scale increase in plantations
- Increase in conservation efforts
- Density improvement of shrub forests
Reasons for decline in some areas:
- Cardamom plantations are being converted to coffee plantations which involves clearing of forests
- Clearing of forest for developing resorts and hotels
India ranks 10th in the world, with 24.4% of land areas under forest and tree cover. The goal of the Indian government since 1998 is to increase this to 33%. Andhra Pradesh has shown the most increase in its forest cover followed by Karnataka and then Kerala
‘Kambala’ (GS2: Government policies and issues arising out of it)
Issue: Supreme Court of India has refused to provide an interim stay order on the Karnataka government decision to allow Kambala by amending ‘Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act’ through an ordinance route
Kambala is an annual festival celebrated in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. The festival involves the traditional buffalo race, a popular and unique sport among the farming community of the state. The Kambala festival season starts in November and lasts till March.
The origin of the Kambala celebration can be traced back to more than a thousand years. During the early days of the festival it was known as Karaga celebrations. Later it came to be known as Kambala celebrations.
The Governor of a state can issue Ordinances under Article 213, when the state legislative assembly (or either of the two Houses in states with bicameral legislatures) is not in session. The powers of the President and the Governor are broadly comparable with respect to Ordinance making. However, the Governor cannot issue an Ordinance without instructions from the President in three cases where the assent of the President would have been required to pass a similar Bill
‘International Epilepsy Day’ (GS2: Issues relating to health)
Issue: International Epilepsy Day is a special event which promotes awareness of epilepsy in more than 120 countries each year. Every year on the second Monday of February people join together to celebrate and highlight the problems faced by people with epilepsy, their families and careers, the Day is a joint initiative by the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League against Epilepsy (ILAE)
India has a population of around 10 million suffering from Epilepsy. It is caused due to repeated seizures caused owing to disturbance in the bio-electric activity of the brain.
Nearly 75% of the people can lead a normal life with regular treatment
Awareness in this regard needs to be created in the society, the awareness should try to remove the prejudices that are associated with Epilepsy in India
‘Stents’ (GS2: Issues relating to development and management of social sector relating to health)
Issue: The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) on Monday announced new stent prices, capping trade margin at 8% and requiring price of catheters, etc. to be mentioned separately during billing.
A stent is a tiny tube that your doctor can insert into a blocked passageway to keep it open. The stent restores the flow of blood or other fluids, depending on where it’s placed.
Stents are made of either metal or plastic. Stent grafts are larger stents used for larger arteries. They may be made of a specialized fabric. Stents can also be coated with medication to help keep a blocked artery from closing.
National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)
NPPA is an organization of the Government of India which was established, inter alia, to fix/ revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995. The organization is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers. It also monitors the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels. Its parent department is Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers
‘Non Performing Assets’ (GS3: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources)
Issue: According to a joint study by Assocham and Crisil, gross NPAs in the banking system are estimated to increase to ₹9.5 lakh crore by March 2018, from ₹8 lakh crore a year earlier. The solution to this problem can only be solved by Governance reforms and recognition of losses. Even the recapitalization of the bank would achieve little if there are no governance reforms
What is NPA?
A nonperforming asset (NPA) refers to a classification for loans on the books of financial institutions that are in default or are in arrears on scheduled payments of principal or interest. In most cases, debt is classified as nonperforming when loan payments have not been made for a period of 90 days. While 90 days of nonpayment is the standard period of time for debt to be categorized as nonperforming, the amount of elapsed time may be shorter or longer depending on the terms and conditions set forth in each loan.
‘Look West Policy’ (GS2: Effect of policies on India’s interests)
Issue: The recent visits by Prime Minister Modi to Palestine, UAE and Oman demonstrates the importance of this region in India’s development strategy
What is Look West policy?
The doctrine, while operating within the broad framework of Indian foreign policy, injects a new sense of vigour, commitment, pragmatism, flexibility and action- oriented policies to achieve its twin purpose of national security and economic development.
Look West Policy or Link West Policy” which is clearly visible: (a) Diaspora as Strategic tool; (b) institutionalising the security, Defence and anti-terror measures; (c) shaping the bilateral relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
West Asia, particularly the Gulf, accounts for the largest source of remittance for India. According to the Pew Research Center, India is the number one recipient country with $69 billion coming in 2012 with more than $35 billion coming from the Gulf countries which includes the UAE ($15 billion), Saudi Arabia ($8 billion), Kuwait ($3 billion), Oman ($2.6 billion), Qatar ($2.2 billion), and Bahrain ($760 million). Flows from the United Kingdom and Canada, by contrast, ranked below the UAE, the United States, and Saudi Arabia.
‘Climate Change’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: The adaptation projects are not helping the most vulnerable communities. Projects implemented have not taken unequal power structures
Reasons for failures of adaptation fund
- The first is enclosure, which is when private agents acquire public assets or expand their authority over them.
- Exclusion is the second mode of failure, which is associated with some stakeholders getting excluded or marginalised, thus limiting their access to decision-making processes.
- The third is encroachment, in which the adaptation actions undertaken during the project end up intervening in areas that are rich in biodiversity, thereby interfering with ecosystem services and often resulting in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
- The last is entrenchment, where the condition of those who are already disempowered or marginalised in the local social context, such as the poor, women or other minorities, worsens from the intervention.
Examples: A desalination plant was constructed in Melbourne, Australia, by seizing valuable land from the Bunurong aboriginal community and turning it over to private actors. In Norway, as there was low representation of community organizations and environmental groups during the coastal planning process, their interests were not represented or heard over the well-organized commercial actors in the area. In Alaska, the Army Corps of Engineers and private contractors built a barrier against the sea even though this was against the wishes of the local community.
Thus, while considering and designing climate change adaptation projects, in addition to vulnerabilities and costs, issues around equity, justice and social hierarchies must be equally considered.
‘Paris Climate Agreement is one of the important agreements to combat climate change’
Some of the highlights of this programme are:
- Reaffirm the goal of limiting global temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius, while urging efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees;
- Establish binding commitments by all parties to make “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs), and to pursue domestic measures aimed at achieving them;
- Commit all countries to report regularly on their emissions and “progress made in implementing and achieving” their NDCs, and to undergo international review;
- Commit all countries to submit new NDCs every five years, with the clear expectation that they will “represent a progression” beyond previous ones;
- Reaffirm the binding obligations of developed countries under the UNFCCC to support the efforts of developing countries, while for the first time encouraging voluntary contributions by developing countries too;
- Extend the current goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year in support by 2020 through 2025, with a new, higher goal to be set for the period after 2025;
- Extend a mechanism to address “loss and damage” resulting from climate change, which explicitly will not “involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation;”
- Require parties engaging in international emissions trading to avoid “double counting;” and
- Call for a new mechanism, similar to the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, enabling emission reductions in one country to be counted toward another country’s NDC.
‘India-Oman ties’ (GS2: Bilateral relations)
Issue: Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with the Sultan of Oman as the two sides signed eight agreements, including pacts on cooperation in the field of defense, health and tourism.
History of India-Oman ties
The Sultanate of Oman is a strategic partner of India in the Gulf and an important interlocutor at the Gulf Cooperation Council (AGCC), Arab League and Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) fora. Oman also accords a high priority to its ties with India. The two countries across the Arabian Sea are linked by geography, history and culture and enjoy warm and cordial relations, which are attributed to historical maritime trade linkages, intimacy of the royal family with India and the seminal role played by the Indian expatriate community in building of Oman, which is acknowledged by Omani Government.
India-Oman Defense cooperation has emerged as a key pillar of the strategic partnership between the two countries.
India and Oman conduct regular biennial bilateral exercises between all three services. The 2nd
Army exercise ‘Al Najah’ concluded in Mar 2017 in Himachal Pradesh. The Air Force exercise ‘Eastern Bridge’ culminated in Jan 2017 at Jamnagar and next Naval Exercise is scheduled in Dec 2017 in Oman. Since 2008, Oman has been extending its support to Indian Navy’s anti-piracy missions and Indian Naval Ships are regularly welcomed by Oman for Over Seas Deployments. Royal Navy of Oman’s sailing vessel ‘Shabab Oman’ along with INS Tarangini participated in the joint sailing voyage from Muscat to Kochi in end Nov 2015 tracing the ancient trading routes between India and Oman. The joint sailing was to commemorate the 60th anniversary of India-Oman diplomatic ties. Indian Air Force and Indian Navy aircraft regularly utilize Omani Airports for refueling and operational turnaround. Constant and continues senior leadership engagements have facilitated greater bonds of friendship.
Agreements signed in various sectors include
- Food processing
- Civil aviation
- Higher education and Manpower
4th Meeting of economic advisory council to the Prime Minister
Issue: Keeping in view the National Health Scheme announced by the Government in the Budget for the year 2018-19 presented in the Parliament on 1st February 2018, EAC-PM discussed the possible modalities of implementing the scheme.