Polity & Governance
- Measurement of Liveability Index
Issues related to Health & Education
- Tax processed foods: FSSAI panel
Bilateral & International Relations
- India wins stay at International Court of Justice in Kulbhushan Jadhav case
- Project “LOcal Treatment of Urban Sewage Streams for Healthy Reuse) (LOTUS HR)
Science & Technology
- Now, turn any surface into touchscreen with a spray paint
Key Facts for Prelims
- Buddha Purnima/Vesak
- Darbar Move
- Indian Navy ships; INS Karwar and Kakinada decommissioned
- 10 May: World Migratory Bird Day
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Polity & Governance
Measurement of Liveability Index
Ministry of Urban Development will launch measuring of Liveability Index of cities in the next month.
- The aim of the assessment will be to instill a sense of healthy competition among cities and towns in the country and to help them focus their attention on improving governance and infrastructure availability.
- The Ministry of Urban Development has already released a detailed document on “Methodology for Collection and Computation of Liveability Standards in Cities”.
- The index will be based on indigenously evolved methodology.
- The index will measure the Liveability Standards of 140 cities including 53 cities with population of 1 million and above.
- To carry out the assessment, the Ministry has invited bids for selecting the agency.
- Cities will be assessed on 15 core parameters relating to Governance, social infrastructure pertaining to education, health and safety and security, economic aspects and physical infrastructure like housing, open spaces, land use, energy and water availability, solid waste management, pollution etc.
- Totally, based on 79 aspects, the Cities would be ranked on the Liveability Index.
Issues related to Health & Education
Tax processed foods: FSSAI panel
An expert panel set up by food regulator FSSAI recently submitted its report to the government.
- The report by the 11-member panel on ‘Consumption of Fat, Sugar and Salt (FSS) and its health effects on Indian population’ suggests ways to cut consumption of unhealthy food products and reduce rising burden of chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes.
- The FSSAI had constituted the panel consisting of experts from different fields like medicine, nutrition and dietetics from well-known medical research and academic institutions.
Significance of the report:
- This report will serve as a guideline document for all the stakeholders, including the industry, the FSSAI and consumers, in reducing consumption of fat, sugar and salt through processed food products.
Important recommendations made by the committee:
- Additional tax on highly processed commodities and sugar sweetened beverages.
- Imposing additional tax on the purchase of commodities such as pre-packaged foods with high salt and fat content, sugar sweetened beverages, etc. can be a pragmatic approach to reduce their intake.
- Imposition of excise tax on unhealthy eating products would lead to positive health effects among population.
- The nutrition-related programmes of the government can be supported through profit from taxing unhealthy food products.
- Advertisement ban for foods high in FSS during children TV shows or kids TV channels is urged. In fact, the country should progress towards a total ban law as being done in a few other countries like Chile.
- Celebrity endorsements of such foods need to be discouraged, adding that online social media websites should also comply with advertising ban for unhealthy foods.
- Reliable monitoring systems should be there to examine FSS intake periodically at the national level.
- The industry should be encouraged for “voluntary reformulation” of food products to cut down FSS intake in packaged food items.
- Like total calories, amount of carbohydrates, sugar, fat, protein, sodium, dietary fibre, amount of trans-fat added in food should be mandatory for labelling in food products.
- On nutrient-specific recommendations, the panel said fats should be largely consumed in the unsaturated form.
- The consumption of unsaturated fatty acids, especially the long chain mono- and poly unsaturated-fatty acids, should be encouraged in everyday diets.
- In India, the rising burden of mortality and morbidity due to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular, respiratory diseases, diabetes and cancers is alarming.
- In the next 25 years, the burden of chronic diseases will tend to increase continuously as a ramification of the rapidly transitioning food intakes, changing dietary patterns and other lifestyle factors.
- As per a study on urban populations, a salient finding was that Low Income Groups (LIG) reportedly consumed more fried snacks and sweets than High Income Groups (HIG) and, the highest consumption of bakery items was in slums.
Bilateral & International Relations
India wins stay at International Court of Justice in Kulbhushan Jadhav case
India has received a stay order preventing Pakistan from executing the death sentence awarded to the former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav from the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
- India’s team of lawyers led by senior advocate Harish Salve accused Pakistan of gross violations of international laws.
- They also pointed out the violations of the Geneva convention that deals with Consular relations.
- Pakistan had denied consular access to India despite 15 attempts. It also refused to give any details of Jadhav’s arrest and trial until the death sentence was passed.
- India has rarely approached the ICJ especially when it comes to Pakistan. India is always hesitatant to “internationalise” its bilateral relations. But given the nature of Jadhav’s case in which Pakistan refused to follow any established principle India was forced to take the extreme measure of taking the case to the ICJ.
About International Court of Justice:
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).
- It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.
- The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).
- Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).
- Its official languages are English and French.
- The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ.
Role of the court:
- The Court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.
- As stated in the UN Charter, all 193 UN members are automatically parties to the Court’s statute. Non-UN members may also become parties to the Court’s statute.
- Once a state is a party to the Court’s statute, it is entitled to participate in cases before the Court.
- However, being a party to the statute does not automatically give the Court jurisdiction over disputes involving those parties.
Nature of judgements:
- Its judgments have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned.
Project “LOcal Treatment of Urban Sewage Streams for Healthy Reuse) (LOTUS HR)
Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and NWO, the Netherlands Science Agency have announced a joint call for proposals for cleaning the Barapullah drain.
- Accordingly, work has begun on Cleaning the Barapullah Drain in New Delhi under the Project “Local Treatment of Urban Sewage Streams for Healthy Reuse (LOTUS HR).
About LOTUS HR:
The project Local Treatment of Urban Sewage Streams for Healthy Reuse (LOTUS HR) is an Indo-Netherlands joint project funded by Department of Biotechnology(DBT), Govt of India and NWO/STW, The Govt of Netherlands.
- The project has stakeholders from both Academia and Industry from India and Netherlands.
- It is coordinated by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi with participation of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi and National Environment Research Institute, Nagpur from India while Technical University Delft is coordinating it from The Netherlands, with participation of Environmental Engineering and Water Technology Department, UNESCO, Wageningen University and its Aquatic Ecology Department.
- There is also commitment from industry, especially from The Netherlands, in terms of both cash and kind towards the project.
- The project aims to demonstrate a novel holistic (waste-) water management approach, that will produce clean water that can be reused for various proposes (e.g. industry, agriculture, construction etc.), while simultaneously recovering nutrients and energy from the urban waste water, thus converting drain into profitable mines. Special attention will be paid to pathogen removal and removing conventional and emerging pollutants.
- The project will develop an innovative pilot scale plant, suitable to cope with Indian conditions in a location specific manner.
- The final design of the pilot plant will be scalable and modular, to fit into the highly populated urban terrain.
Science & Technology
Now, turn any surface into touchscreen with a spray paint
Scientists have developed a new technology that can turn any surface — including walls, furniture and steering wheels — into a touchscreen using tools as simple as a can of spray paint.
- For this, the scientists used a well-known technique called electric field tomography.
About the technology:
- With the new technology dubbed Electrick, conductive touch surfaces can be created by applying conductive paints, bulk plastics or carbon-loaded films among other materials.
- The “trick” is to apply electrically-conductive coatings or materials to objects or surfaces, or to craft objects using conductive materials.
- By attaching a series of electrodes to the conductive materials, researchers showed they could use a well-known technique called electric field tomography to sense the position of a finger touch.
Key Facts for Prelims
- Vesak (Buddha Purnima, Buddha Jayanti) is a Buddhist festival that marks Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.
- It falls on the day of the full moon in May. Interestingly, Buddha Purnima, celebrated in May every year, is even more special because the Buddha’s enlightenment and mahaparinirvan also happened during the Purnima in the month of May.
- May 10, 2017 marks the 2561st Buddha Jayanti, the birthday of the Buddha, and Buddha Purnima.
- The United Nations has declared it an international holiday.
- To mark the day that is also known as Vesak, in some countries such as Vietnam, China and Japan the Buddha’s idol is bathed in water and flowers. It is more like an abhishekam popular in India.
- On this day, monks, or the Buddha’s disciples, from Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other countries gather to discuss world peace.
- Bodh Gaya is the place where Gautama Buddha obtained the Enlightenment after many years of Tapa, Sarnath is the place where he first taught the Dharma, Lumbini is his birth place and Kushinagar is death place.
- Leaders in Jammu and Kashmir have floated the idea of abrogation of the 146-year-old Dogra-era practice of ‘Darbar Move’.
- Under this the State’s civil secretariat shuttles between summer capital Srinagar and winter capital Jammu bi-annually. It was introduced by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1872.
- Terming this as a costly affair, leaders have asked for bifurcation of the offices.
- Every year, over 7,000 employees of the civil secretariat shuttle between Srinagar and Jammu along with the files, which are ferried in buses and tracks. It costs the State over ₹40 crore.
Indian Navy ships; INS Karwar and Kakinada decommissioned
- Indian Naval Ships Karwar and Kakinada were recently decommissioned.
- INS Karwar (M67), was the first of the ‘Natya’ class minesweepers acquired from the erstwhile USSR. The ship operated from Vishakhapatnam till 2013 after which, the ship was based at Mumbai. INS Karwar had her motto ‘Hamesha Tayyar’.
- INS Kakinada (M70), was the second of the same class. Like her sister ship, Kakinada also operated from Vishakhapatnam till 2013 before shifting base port to Mumbai.
- With the decommissioning of the two minesweepers, the Navy is now left with a fleet of four Soviet-origin minesweeping ships will also be decommissioned by the end of 2018.
10 May: World Migratory Bird Day
- The World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) 2017 was observed across the world on 10 May 2017.
- The theme for WMBD 2017 is “Their Future is our Future – A Healthy Planet for Migratory Birds and People.”
- The theme for the year throws light on the topic of Sustainable Development for Wildlife and People.
- The World Migratory Bird Day is observed with an aim to raise awareness and highlight the need for the protection of migratory birds and their habitats.
- The World Migratory Bird Day is an annual global celebration initiated in 2006 by the United Nations.
- The event was founded as an effort of the UN’s Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement).
About UN’s Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds:
- The Agreement is an independent international treaty developed under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Convention on Migratory Species.
- It was founded to coordinate efforts to conserve bird species migrating between European and African nations.
- Its current scope stretches from the Arctic to South Africa, encompassing the Canadian archipelago and the Middle East as well as Europe and Africa.
- The agreement focuses on bird species that depend on wetlands for at least part of their lifecycle and cross international borders in their migration patterns. It currently covers 254 species.