8th June, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Bio-medical waste’ (GS3: Environmental pollution)
Issue: A private hospital is part of a pilot project by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to dispose of dangerous bio-medical waste in an eco-friendly manner.
About the project
- The city generates more than 40 tonnes of bio-medical waste per day, a majority of which is incinerated. Such waste comprises human blood, cultures and stocks, syringes and so on.
- The project raises awareness about segregation of bio-medical waste in four categories of bins: yellow (cultures, placenta, expired drugs), red (catheters, drip bags), blue (glass) and white (needles).
- UNIDO is promoting the microwaving system of treatment in which dry waste is micro-waved to sterilize the waste that can later be buried in landfills.
UNIDO is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability.
As of 17 May 2018, 168 States are Members of UNIDO. They regularly discuss and decide UNIDO’s guiding principles and policies in the sessions of the Policymaking Organs.
The mission of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), as described in the Lima Declaration adopted at the fifteenth session of the UNIDO General Conference in 2013, is to promote and accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID) in Member States.
Accordingly, the Organization’s programmatic focus is structured in four strategic priorities:
- Creating shared prosperity
- Advancing economic competitiveness
- Safeguarding the environment
- Strengthening knowledge and institutions
‘Whites-only compartment’ (GS1: Indian History)
Issue: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj undertook a train journey on Thursday from Pentrich to Pietermaritzburg, a railway station in South Africa where a young Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of a “Whites-only” compartment 125 years ago.
About the incident
On the night of June 7, 1893, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, then a young lawyer, was thrown off the train’s first class compartment at Pietermaritzburg station after he refused to give up his seat as ordered by racially prejudiced officials. The incident led him to develop his Satyagraha principles of peaceful resistance and mobilize people in South Africa and in India against the discriminatory rules of the British.
‘Hague Treaty’ (GS2: International treaties)
Issue: The government is not yet ready to sign the Hague treaty on inter-country abduction of children by parents fleeing a bad marriage, said a senior official of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD).
Reason for India’s reluctance to sign the treaty
- The government has long held the view that the decision could lead to harassment of women escaping marital discord or domestic violence.
- A committee constituted by the Centre to examine legal issues involved in international parental abduction submitted its report in April, opposing a central provision of the Hague Convention. It said that the criterion of habitual residence of the child, which is used to determine whether the child was wrongfully removed by a parent as well as to seek the return of the child to the country of habitual residence, was not in the best interest of the child.
- It also recommended setting up of a Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority to act as a nodal body to decide on the custody of the child as well as a model law to deal with such disputes.
About the Hague treaty
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) that provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another.
The Convention was concluded 25 October 1980 and entered into force between the signatories on 1 December 1983. The Convention was drafted to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence or wrongfully retained in a contracting state not their country of habitual residence.
The primary intention of the Convention is to preserve whatever status quo child custody arrangement existed immediately before an alleged wrongful removal or retention thereby deterring a parent from crossing international boundaries in search of a more sympathetic court. The Convention applies only to children under the age of 16.
‘Women Entrepreneurs’ (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: The UN India Business Forum and the Women Entrepreneurial Platform of NITI Aayog on Thursday formed a consortium to reduce gender disparities in start-up investments by providing mentorship and networking opportunities and accelerating financial and market linkages for women entrepreneurs.
About the forum
- UN India-NITI Aayog Investor Consortium for Women Entrepreneurs will bring together key ecosystem stakeholders, including venture capitalists and impact investors, international donor and funding agencies, private sector partners and state governments,
- The consortium aims to strengthen women’s entrepreneurship by creating an enabling ecosystem for investments. Women entrepreneurs will be identified through key partners, including WEP, UN Women, and UNDP. The consortium secretariat will then connect entrepreneurs, according to their requests, with relevant members.
‘G7 summit’ (GS2: Multilateral organizations)
Issue: Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations are set to clash with a combative US President Donald Trump on Friday when they pressure him to lift sanctions on steel and aluminium they fear could lead to a trade war.
The Group of Seven or G7 is a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries, with 7 of the largest advanced economies in the world, represent more than 62% of the global net wealth ($280 trillion). The G7 countries also represent 46% of the global gross domestic product (GDP) based on nominal values (i.e. evaluated at market exchange rates, without taking into account differences in cost of living among countries); and 32% of the global GDP based on purchasing power parity. The European Union is also represented at the G7 summit.
‘World bank on Indian economy’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Indian economy will see a robust GDP growth of 7.3% in 2018-19 and 7.5% for the next two as “factors holding back growth in India fade”, the World Bank has forecast, allowing the country to retain the tag as the world’s fastest growing major emerging economy in its global economic prospect report
Factors credited for the growth
- Robust private consumption
- Strengthening investment
- Moderate inflation
- Meeting fiscal deficit targets
- Effects of GST and Demonetization are reducing
About Global Economic Prospect report
Global Economic Prospects is a World Bank Group flagship report that examines global economic developments and prospects, with a special focus on emerging market and developing economies. It is issued twice a year, in January and June. The January edition includes in-depth analyses of topical policy challenges while the June edition contains shorter analytical pieces.
‘Foreign Direct investment in India’ (GS3: Mobilization of resources)
Issue: India’s foreign direct investment (FDI) outflows more than doubled in 2017 to $11.3 billion while FDI inflows fell 9% to $40 billion during the year, according to the latest World Investment Report, 2018, released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Investment (UNCTAD).
Observations made in the report
- The drop in FDI inflows happened despite India having one of its largest FDI deals as Petrol Complex Pte Ltd (Singapore), owned by Rosneftegaz (Russian Federation) acquiring a 49% stake of Essar Oil Ltd, the second largest privately owned Indian oil company, for $13 billion.
- Among overseas foreign investments made by Indian companies, state-owned oil and gas company Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC) bought a 15% stake in an offshore field in Namibia from Tullow Oil (founded in Ireland and headquartered in the United Kingdom) in 2017.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964 as a permanent intergovernmental body.
UNCTAD is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment, and development issues. The organization’s goals are to: “maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries and assist them in their efforts to integrate into the world economy on an equitable basis.”
The primary objective of UNCTAD is to formulate policies relating to all aspects of development including trade, aid, transport, finance and technology. The conference ordinarily meets once in four years; the permanent secretariat is in Geneva.
One of the principal achievements of UNCTAD (1964) has been to conceive and implement the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). It was argued in UNCTAD that to promote exports of manufactured goods from developing countries, it would be necessary to offer special tariff concessions to such exports. Accepting this argument, the developed countries formulated the GSP scheme under which manufacturers’ exports and import some agricultural goods from the developing countries enter duty-free or at reduced rates in the developed countries. Since imports of such items from other developed countries are subject to the normal rates of duties, imports of the same items from developing countries would enjoy a competitive advantage.
The creation of UNCTAD in 1964 was based on concerns of developing countries over the international market, multi-national corporations, and great disparity between developed nations and developing nations. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was established to provide a forum where the developing countries could discuss the problems relating to their economic development. The organisation grew from the view that existing institutions like GATT (now replaced by the World Trade Organization, WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Bank were not properly organized to handle the particular problems of developing countries. Later, in the 1970s and 1980s, UNCTAD was closely associated with the idea of a New International Economic Order (NIEO).
‘Discovery of a new planet’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: A team of scientists from the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, discovered a sub-Saturn or super-Neptune size exoplanet, which is about 27 times the mass of Earth and six times the radius of Earth.
About the newly discovered planet
The planet revolves around a Sun-like star, some 600 light years away from Earth.
The discovery was made by measuring the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed ‘PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-Sky Search’ (PARAS) spectrograph integrated with 1.2m telescope at PRL’s Gurushikar Observatory in Mount Abu. With this discovery, India has joined a select league of countries which has discovered planets around stars.
The surface temperature of the planet was found to be around 600 degrees Celsius, as it is very close to the host star. It is seven times nearer to its star, in comparison with Earth-Sun distance. This might make it uninhabitable
‘OPERATION NISTAR’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Indian Naval Ship Sunayana entered Porbandar harbour at 0900 hrs today on 07 Jun 2018 after successfully evacuating 38 Indian Nationals at/ off Socotra Islands during a swift Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Operation (HADR), code named Operation NISTAR.
About the rescue effort
The Indian Nationals were stranded for nearly ten days after severe Cyclonic Storm – Mekunu devastated the area around Socotra Island. INS Sunayna was diverted from Gulf of Aden deployment to Socotra Island for search and rescue operations after Indian Navy received a distress call from Directorate General of Shipping and Indian Sailing Vessels Association.