Polity & Governance
- Chhattisgarh has made DMF more inclusive and people-centric, says CSE
Government Schemes & Policies
- Prime Minister launches National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self Employed Persons
Issues related to Health & Education
- USFDA finds Salmonella bacteria in MDH sambar masala
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Drought-forecasting toolbox unveiled at UNCCD event
Bilateral & International Relations
- Show flexibility on Kartarpur corridor, India urges Pakistan
- Failed Rohingya repatriation from Bangladesh to Myanmar
- RM inaugurates first ever SCO Military Medicine conference hosted by India
- Indian, Chinese soldiers get into scuffle in Ladakh
Defence & Security Issues
- NATGRID wants to link social media accounts to central database
Science & Technology
- India joins the Global AMR Research and Development Hub
Key Facts for Prelims
- Samudra Laksamana
- White Water Rafting Expedition – ‘Rudrashila’ Flagged off at Jaisalmer
- Exercise MAITREE
- Water vapour discovered on potentially ‘habitable’ planet
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Polity & Governance
Chhattisgarh has made DMF more inclusive and people-centric, says CSE
In a public meeting organised to discuss the way ahead for implementation of District Mineral Foundation (DMF) in Chhattisgarh, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) welcomed the amendments made by the Chhattisgarh in the State DMF Trust Rules (2015).
- Chhattisgarh became the first state in July 2019 to amend DMF rules.
Key Provisions of DMF amendments made by Chhattisgarh
- Mandatory inclusion of 10 Gram Sabha members directly from mining-affected areas in the DMF Governing Council (GC).
- In Scheduled Areas, at least 50 per cent of the Gram Sabha members must be from Scheduled Tribes (ST).
- It mandated that from each Gram Sabha, there will be one male and one female member in the GC.
- A 20 per cent cap has been put on the use of DMF funds for developing physical infrastructure to stop misuse of the funds on big projects such as roads, bridges etc, and to create more scope to improve investment on soft resources.
- At least 50 per cent of the DMF funds must be spent on directly-affected areas. This is in addition to the requirement that at least 60 per cent of the DMF funds must be used on certain high-priority issues such as drinking water, livelihoods, healthcare etc.
- Districts have to develop five-year vision documents for the DMF Trusts through a need-based approach.
- One of the most important aspects of the amendments is specifying ‘sustainable livelihood’ as a high priority issue, including for forest rights holders.
- To ensure better public accountability, a two-step social audit process has been mandated.
District Mineral Foundation (DMF)
- District Mineral Foundations (DMFs) are statutory bodies in India established by the State Governments.
- DMF has been instituted as a non-profit Trust under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015.
- It aims to work for the interest and benefit of persons and areas affected by mining-related operations.
- For this, miners and mining companies are required to pay to the DMF of the district in which they are operating. In case of all mining leases executed before 12th January, 2015 (the date of coming into force of the Amendment Act) miners have to contribute an amount equal to 30% of the royalty payable by them to the DMFs. Where mining leases are granted after that date, the rate of contribution would be 10% of the royalty payable.
- DMF Rules of various state governments is guided by three laws: Article 244 read with Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution of India, the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996, and the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.
Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY)
- In 2015, the Union government announced the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY).
- It is a programme meant to provide for the welfare of areas and people affected by mining related operations, using the funds generated by District Mineral Foundations (DMFs).
Objective of PMKKKY
- To implement various developmental projects in mining affected area
- To minimize/mitigate the adverse impacts on the environment, health and socio-economics of people in mining districts
- To ensure long – term sustainable livelihoods for the affected people in mining area
- The Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY) will be implemented by the District Mineral Foundations (DMFs) of the respective districts using the funds accruing to the DMF.
Utilisation of Funds
High priority areas – at least 60% of PMKKKY funds to be utilized under following heads:
- Drinking water supply
- Environment preservation and pollution control measures
- Health care
- Welfare of Women and Children
- Skill development
These are some “high priority” issues for DMFs stipulated in various state DMF rules and the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Khestra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY) guidelines.
Other priority Areas – Up to 40% of the PMKKKY to be utilized under following heads:
- Physical infrastructure like roads, bridges, railways etc.
- Energy and Watershed Development
- Any other measures for enhancing environmental quality in mining district.
Government Schemes & Policies
Prime Minister launches National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self Employed Persons
The Prime Minister of India launched the National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self Employed Persons, a pension scheme for the Vyaparis (shopkeepers/retail traders and self-employed persons) with annual turnover not exceeding Rs 1.5 crore.
About National Pension Scheme for Traders and Self Employed Persons
- It is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme for entry age of 18 to 40 years with a provision for minimum assured pension of Rs 3,000 monthly on attaining the age of 60 years.
- The Central Government shall give 50 % share of the monthly contribution and remaining 50% contribution shall be made by the beneficiary.
- The enrolment under the scheme is free of cost for the beneficiaries.
- The enrolment is based upon self-certification.
- For self-employed shop owners, retail owners and other vyaparis
- Entry Age between 18 to 40 years
- Annual turnover should not exceed Rs 1.5 crore
Should not be
- Covered under any National Pension Scheme
- An income tax payer
- Enroled under Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana/Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maandhan Yojana
- An estimated 3 crore Vyaparis in the country are expected to be benefitted under the pension scheme.
Issues related to Health & Education
USFDA finds Salmonella bacteria in MDH sambar masala
At least three lots of MDH (Indian Spice company) sambar masala were recalled from retail stores in California this week after tests by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed positive for salmonella.
What is Salmonella?
- Salmonella is a group of bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses known as salmonellosis.
- The existence of the pathogen has been known since at least 1880, but it came to be called Salmonella from around 1900, after Daniel Elmer Salmon.
- Salmonella bacteria are widely distributed in domestic and wild animals. They are prevalent in food animals such as poultry, pigs, and cattle, as well as in pets, including cats, dogs, birds, and turtles.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies Salmonella as one of four key global causes of diarrhoeal diseases. Diarrhoeal diseases are the most common illnesses resulting from unsafe food.
Transmission and Treatment
- Salmonellosis in humans is generally contracted through the consumption of contaminated food of animal origin although other foods, including green vegetables contaminated by manure, have been implicated in its transmission.
- Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection.
- Usually, the illness lasts for 4-7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
Who is at Highest Risk for Salmonella Infection?
- Children under the age of 5 are at highest risk for Salmonella infection.
- Older adults and people with weakened immune systems too, are likely to have severe infections.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Drought-forecasting toolbox unveiled at UNCCD event
The ongoing 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) witnessed the official release of the Drought Toolbox.
About Drought Toolbox
- Drought Toolbox can be used by countries to assess drought risks in their regions much in advance, and prepare to deal with the water scarcity.
- It uses 30 parameters, including soil moisture, rainfall data and temperature data of the present and past, can accurately evaluate the vulnerability of different geographic regions to drought.
- The economic impact of drought has increased almost three-fold in the last few years.
- The cost of drought globally is increased to $80 billion a year from $29 billion between 2005-2015.
- Droughts have caused loss of food grains that can feed as many as 81 million people every day.
Worldwide example of Draught financing
- In Kenya, a water supply project was installed with the help of a World Bank loan. The loan was paid by users through digital payment gateway named M-Pesa.
- A successful insurance model from Africa for innovative financing to tackle drought is the Africa Risk Capacity (ARC). ARC, established in 2012 as a body of the Africa Union, aims to improve member countries’ prepared- redness for tackling extreme weather events and natural disasters.
Bilateral & International Relations
Show flexibility on Kartarpur corridor, India urges Pakistan
India urged Pakistan to show flexibility regarding some outstanding issues in the Kartarpur corridor project that would allow pilgrims to travel to the famed Gurudwara across the border in Pakistan.
- The India and Pakistan met recently as part of the ongoing consultation for the Kartarpur corridor project. However, the meeting had failed to finalise agreement due to below issues.
Issues related to Kartarpur corridor
- Pakistan insist to charge $20 per pilgrim as service charge, which is opposed by India.
- Pakistan also did not agree to Indian proposal to allow 10,000 pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib during the special occasion.
- Pakistan has been requesting to allow consular officer or protocol officers from India to accompany pilgrims every day for facilitating their visit, which was not welcomed by India.
- The Kartarpur Corridor is a border corridor between the India and Pakistan, connecting the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib (located in Punjab) and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur (in Punjab, Pakistan).
- The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is located on the banks of the Ravi River, near the border in Pakistan.
- It is intended to commence the pilgrimage through Kartarpur corridor on the auspicious occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
- For decades, Sikh devotees have been demanding that India and Pakistan collaborate to build a corridor linking it with the Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district.
- Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had first suggested the corridor in 1999.
- Pilgrims would be able to visit the holy shrine throughout the year, cutting more than 200 km to just 6 km.
- It could initiate meaningful confidence-building measure (CBM).
- The initiative can also become a template for cross-border exchanges based on faith, which could provide a balm for many communities. For example, Kashmiri Pandits, who have long asked for access to visit the Sharda Peeth in the Neelum Valley in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Sufis in Pakistan who wish to visit the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer, Rajasthan.
- More people-to-people contact can help improve ties between the two nations. History shows that religious triumphs can be a diplomatic tool to ease tension between countries.
- Over the past year, gurdwaras in Pakistan have been used for a pro-Khalistan campaign.
- A gurdwara in 2018 displayed posters and distributed pamphlets for the ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’ (campaign to separate Punjab from India).
- In Dera Baba Nanak Sahib, Guru Nanak (founder of Sikhism) assembled a Sikh community and lived there for 18 years until his death.
Failed Rohingya repatriation from Bangladesh to Myanmar
Bangladesh Prime Minister blamed Myanmar for the failure of a recent attempt to repatriate Rohingya refugees.
Who are Rohingyas?
- The Rohingya are a Bengali-speaking Muslim minority in Myanmar, whose government considers them illegal migrants from Bangladesh, and does not recognise them as citizens under the Burmese Citizenship Law of 1972.
- The Rohingya live mainly in the northern region of Myanmar’s Rakhine state, which was once part of the Kingdom of Arakan (1429-1785) that also included modern-day Chottogram (Chittagong) in Bangladesh.
What is the issue?
- In 2016, Myanmar’s armed forces started a major crackdown on Rohingya people in Rakhine State. As a result, some 1 million Rohingya fled Myanmar (majority in Bangladesh) since August 2017.
- In November 2017, Bangladesh announced that a joint working group of UNHCR, Bangladesh, and Myanmar would be set up to work out the terms of repatriation, which would be completed by 2019.
- In March 2018, Bangladesh submitted a list of 8,000 refugees for repatriation, however, Myanmar only accepted a little more than 1000 refuges.
- Myanmar and the UN signed a confidential memorandum of understanding in June 2018. When details were leaked online, refugees rejected it.
- In March 2019, Bangladesh decided to relocate refuges to the island of Bhasan Char in the Bay of Bengal due to high influx. However, Refugees began protesting and refused to relocate.
- During the British rule, there was a significant amount of migration of labourers to Myanmar from today’s India and Bangladesh. The migration of labourers was viewed negatively by the majority of the Myanmar native population.
- After independence, the government viewed the migration that took place during British rule as illegal, and it is on this basis that they refuse citizenship to the majority of Rohingya.
- Shortly after Myanmar’s independence from the British in 1948, the Union Citizenship Act was passed, which defined which ethnicities could gain citizenship. The Rohingya were not included in that.
- After the 1962 military coup in Myanmar, all citizens were required to obtain national registration cards. The Rohingya, however, were only given foreign identity cards, which limited the jobs and educational opportunities they could pursue.
- In 1982, a new citizenship law was passed, effectively rendering the Rohingya stateless. Under the law, Rohingya were again not recognised as one of the country’s 135 ethnic groups.
- The law established three levels of citizenship. In order to obtain the most basic level (naturalised citizenship), proof that the person’s family lived in Myanmar before 1948 was needed, as well as fluency in one of the national languages. Many Rohingya lack such paperwork because it was either unavailable or denied to them.
- As a result of the law, their rights to study, work, travel, marry, practice their religion and access health services have been and continue to be restricted.
- Since the 1970s, a number of crackdowns on the Rohingya in Rakhine State have forced hundreds of thousands to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh, as well as Malaysia, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries
RM inaugurates first ever SCO Military Medicine conference hosted by India
Raksha Mantri has called upon the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) countries to devise ways to effectively deal with new threats posed to soldiers by the ever advancing battle field technology.
About Armed Forces Medical Services
- It is the first tri-service (Army, Navy and Air Force) organization and one of the largest organized medical services in the country.
- It is an apex organization under Ministry of Defence, headed by a Lt Gen/equivalent officer of Navy or Air Force.
- It provides medical support to the Armed Forces during war as well as comprehensive health care to all service personnel, ex-servicemen and their dependents during peace.
What is Bioterrorism?
- Bioterrorism is a form of terrorism where there is the intentional release of biological agents (bacteria, viruses, or other germs). This is also referred to as germ warfare.
- While a biological agent may injure or kill people, animals, or plants, the goal for the terrorist is to further their social and political goals by making their civilian targets feel as if their government cannot protect them.
- Many biological agents are found in nature; however, they can be modified by the terrorist to make them more dangerous. Some of these agents can be transmitted from person to person, and the infection may take hours or days to become apparent.
- Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is the largest regional organisation in the world in terms of geographical coverage and population.
- SCO countries cover 22 per cent of the land mass, 40 per cent population and contribute to 20 per cent of world’s GDP.
Indian, Chinese soldiers get into scuffle in Ladakh
Indian and Chinese troops were reportedly involved in a heated exchange in eastern Ladakh near the Pangong Tso Lake recently. The reported exchange triggered after Chinese Army personnel objected to patrol by Indian soldiers in the area.
About Pangong Tso Lake
- Pangong Tso (‘high grassland lake’) is a long narrow endorheic (landlocked) lake situated at a height of more than 14,000 ft in the Ladakh Himalayas.
- The brackish water lake freezes over in winter, and becomes ideal for ice skating and polo (game played on horseback).
- The legendary 19th century Dogra general Zorawar Singh is said to have trained his soldiers and horses on the frozen Pangong lake before invading Tibet.
- The Line of Actual Control (LAC), which is the demarcation line between India and China, cuts through the lake. However, India and China do not agree on its exact location.
- A 45 km-long western portion of the lake is in Indian control, while the rest is under China’s control. Most of the clashes between the two armies occur in the disputed portion of the lake.
- By itself, the lake does not have major tactical significance. But it lies in the path of the Chushul approach, one of the main approaches that China can use for an offensive into Indian-held territory.
- As per India, if a major Chinese offensive comes, it will come through both the north and south of the lake. During the 1962 war, this was where China launched its attack. In retaliation, the Indian Army fought at Rezang La, the mountain passes on the southeastern approach to Chushul valley.
The dispute in the area
- In 1999, when the Army unit from the area was moved to Kargil for Operation Vijay, China took the opportunity to build 5 km of road inside Indian territory along the lake’s bank.
- The 1999 road added to the extensive network of roads built by the Chinese in the area, which connect with each other and to the G219 Karakoram Highway.
- From one of these roads, Chinese positions physically overlook Indian positions on the northern tip of the Pangong lake.
- The army calluses the mountains, which are on the lake’s northern bank as ‘fingers’. India claims that the LAC is coterminous with Finger 8.
- The disputed “Finger-5 to Finger-8” (mountainous spurs) area on the north bank of Pangong Tso had witnessed a violent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers, with stones and iron rods being used to injure each other, on August 15, 2017.
Defence & Security Issues
NATGRID wants to link social media accounts to central database
The ambitious National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) project wants to link social media accounts to the huge database of records related to immigration entry and exit, banking and telephone details among others.
- However, linking the social media accounts to sensitive government data could expose the system to trojan attacks.
About National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) project
- Initially started in 2009, NATGRID is an online database for collating scattered pieces of information of core security agencies and putting them on one platform.
- It was first proposed in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008.
- NATGRID will link 10 user agencies (such as the Intelligence Bureau, local police etc.) with certain databases to enable the generation of intelligence inputs.
- It is intending to set up an Entity Extraction, Visualization and Analytics (EVA) system that would collect and analyse information available from various data sources.
Science & Technology
India joins the Global AMR Research and Development Hub
India has joined the Global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research and Development (R&D) Hub as a new member.
About Global AMR R&D Hub
- The Global AMR R&D Hub was launched in May 2018 at the 71st session of the World Health Assembly, following a call from G20 Leaders in 2017.
- It aims to improve the coordination of international initiatives to tackle AMR while further increasing investments into R&D for AMR.
- The operation of the Global AMR R&D Hub is supported through a Secretariat, established in Berlin and currently financed through grants from the German government.
- India will be a member of the board of members of the Global AMR R&D Hub from 2019.
- Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) orsuperbugs happens when microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs. These microorganisms are also termed as “superbugs”.
- As a result, the medicines or drugs become ineffective and infections persist in the bodyfurther increasing the risk of spread to others.
Dangers of AMR
- AMR causes a reduction in the effectiveness of medicines, making infections and diseases difficult or impossible to treat.
- AMR is associated with increased mortality, prolonged illnesses in people and animals, production losses in agriculture, livestock and aquaculture. This threatens global health, livelihoods and food security.
- AMR also increases the cost of treatmentsand care.
Why are bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics?
- Overuse and misuse of antibioticsallows the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- Every time a person takes antibiotics, some bacteria are killed, but resistant bacteria are left to grow and multiply. Hence, taking antibiotic repeatedly multiply its growth some resistant bacteria are always left when on take antibiotic.
- Widespread use of antibiotics for common cold, flu etc. is an example of how overuse of antibiotics can promote the spread of antibiotic resistance.
How do bacteria become resistant to antibiotics?
- Neutralize an antibiotic by changing it in a way that makes it harmless.
- Push an antibiotic back outside of the bacteria before it can do any harm.
- Change their outer structure so the antibiotic has no way to attach to the bacteria it is designed to kill.
- Bacteria can also become resistant through mutation of their genetic material.
India’s vulnerabilities to AMR
- Bacteria spread easily in India because half of Indians defecate outdoors, and much of the sewage generated by those who do use toilets is untreated. As a result, Indians have among the highest rates of bacterial infections in the world and collectively take more antibiotics, which are sold over the counter here, than any other nationality.
- A study found that Indian children living in places where people are less likely to use a toilet tend to get diarrhoea and be given antibiotics more often than those in places with more toilet use.
- All those drugs that create resistance to antibiotics find their way into hospital sewage, which is mostly dumped untreated into rivers, canals and pits in the surrounding community where pregnant women can become infected.
- Equally worrisome has been the rapid growth of India’s industrialised animal husbandry, where antibiotics are widespread. Most large chicken farms here use feed laced with antibiotics banned for use in animals in the United States.
- Also, antibiotics are still readily available over the counter, and people still self-medicate. The Indian government has notably failed to institute and implement real regulations to stop chemists from handing out antibiotics like cheap candy.
Key Facts for Prelims
- As part of Indian Navy’s Overseas Deployment to South East Asia and Western Pacific, Indian Navy ships Sahyadri and Kiltan made a port call at Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia for three days’ visit.
- During the port call, the Indian Navy and the Royal Malaysian Navy would be participating in the bilateral exercise Samudra Laksamana.
Location of Malaysia:
- Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia.
- It is separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo).
- Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines and Vietnam.
White Water Rafting Expedition – ‘Rudrashila’ Flagged off at Jaisalmer
- The white water Rafting Expedition christened ‘RUDRASHILA’ being was Flagged Off at Jaisalmer Military station.
About Expedition ‘Rudrashila’
- The expedition christened ‘Rudrashila’ has been organised to commemorate the 75th Raising day of the Kalidhar Battalion.
- ‘Rudrashila’ takes its name from the famed Rudraprayag tributary of the Ganges River in the Mountains of Uttarakhand.
- MAITREE, the joint military exercise between India and Thailand, will be conducted at Foreign Training Node, Umroi, in Meghalaya, from September 16 to 29.
- It is an annual training event between Indian Army and Army of Thailand.
- It is being conducted alternatively in Thailand and India since 2006.
- The scope of this exercise covers joint training on counter-terrorism operations in jungle and urban scenario.
Water vapour discovered on potentially ‘habitable’ planet
Water vapour has been detected on K2-18b, a potentially habitable planet, by a team of scientists using NASA and the European space agency’s Hubble Space Telescope.
- The findings also indicated the presence of hydrogen and helium in the planet’s atmosphere.
- K2-18b is an exoplanet that orbits around a small red dwarf star K2-18.
- K2-18b was first discovered in 2015 by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope.
- Having a mass that is eight times greater than Earth’s, K2-18b is also known as Super-Earth (Super Earths are exoplanets with masses between those of Earth and Neptune).
What are exoplanets?
- Planets outside our solar system are called exoplanets. Most of these are part of star systems. There are some “rogue” exoplanets, which are not attached to any star system.
- The Kepler satellite mission discovered nearly two-third of all known exoplanets.