current affairs
Current Affairs Analysis

14th & 15th January 2018 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Battle for Haifa; Teen Murti Memorial; 7th edition of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav-2018’; Mahadayi river water dispute; Kalasa-Banduri Nala project; Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017; What is Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? Global Manufacturing Index (GMI); India’s First Agri-commodity Options Contracts in Guar Seed; Elcysma Ziroensis; 25-year Environment Plan; India-U.K. to ink MoU on illegal migrants; India-Myanmar international border; Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat; Largest volcanic eruption in the ocean; India’s first-ever FDI in fertiliser sector; Kerala Accelerator Program; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
January 16, 2018

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Mahadayi river water dispute
  • Historians oppose Monuments Bill

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Seasonal affective disorder: Women more affected than men

Economy

  • India Ranked 30th On WEF’s Global Manufacturing Index
  • India’s First Agri-commodity Options Contracts in Guar Seed

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • New moth species discovered in Arunachal Pradesh
  • The UK government releases 25-year Environment Plan

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India-U.K. to ink MoU on illegal migrants

Defence & Security Issues

  • Villagers along India-Myanmar international border to get passes

Indian History

  • Delhi’s Teen Murti Chowk renamed after Israeli city Haifa

Art & Culture

  • 7th edition of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav-2018’

Geophysical Phenomena

  • Largest volcanic eruption in the ocean uncovered in New Zealand

Key Facts for Prelims

  • India’s first-ever FDI in fertiliser sector
  • Kerala Accelerator Program

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Polity & Governance

Mahadayi river water dispute

The row between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra over the sharing of the Mahadayi (Mandovi) river has escalated.

Mahadayi-river

  • With Karnataka headed for elections and the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal setting a February date for the final hearing, political parties in both States have upped the ante.

What is the dispute?

Mahadayi Water Disputes

  • The Mahadayi (called Mandovi in Goa) originates in Karnataka and flows to Goa and Maharashtra. The three states are locked in a protracted dispute over sharing its water for the last 30 years. Attempts at negotiations among the states were initiated by the central government way back in 1985.
  • In order to divert 7.56 tmcft of water to the Malaprabha river basin, Karnataka government proposed to build canals to link Kalasa and Banduri, the tributaries of Mahadayi.
  • However, objecting the move, Goa government argued that if Karnataka implemented the Kalasa-Banduri project, it would prove disastrous for the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats as the proposed project was deep inside the forest.
  • Karnataka had petitioned the tribunal seeking release of 7.56 tmcft of water for Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.
  • The tribunal, which gave its interim order after hearing arguments from both Karnataka and Goa, had rejected the state’s plea citing various grounds including ecological damage that the project may cause.

Timelines:

  • Kalasa-Banduri project planned in 1989; Goa raised objection to it.
  • Goa filed a complaint seeking setting up of a tribunal in July 2002.
  • The Ministry of Water Resources kept the clearance given to Karnataka in abeyance in September 2002.
  • Goa moved the Supreme Court in 2006 seeking constitution of a tribunal, withdrawing approval for any work in the basin.
  • The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal was set up in 2010.

About Mahadayi river:

The Mahadayi River also known as Mandovi or Mhadei river, is described as the lifeline of the Indian state of Goa.

mhadhai-river-goa

  • The river has a length of 77 km, 29 km in Karnataka and 52 km in Goa.
  • It originatesfrom a cluster of 30 springs at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in the Belgaum district of Karnataka.
  • The river has a 2,032 km2 catchment area in Karnataka and a 1,580 km2 catchment area in Goa.
  • Mahadayi (Mandovi) is a water deficit basin and water diversion could impact the environment.

What is the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project?

The Kalasa-Banduri Nala is a canal project undertaken by the Government of Karnataka to divert water from the Mahadayi river to the Malaprabha.

Kalasa-Banduri Nala project

  • The project aimed to improve drinking water supply to the Districts of Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag.
  • It involves building across Kalasa and Banduri, two tributaries of the Mahadayi river to divert 7.56 TMC of water to the Malaprabha river, which supplies the drinking water needs of the said 3 districts, i.e., Dharwad, Belagavi and Gadag.
  • The region is part of Karnataka’s arid area, which is second only to Rajasthan in water scarcity.
  • The project has been delayed for over a decade during which the state has seen two of the worst droughts in 40 years.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express, Economic Times]

 

Historians oppose Monuments Bill

Historians and archaeologists have expressed concern over amendments proposed to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (1958).

Historians-oppose-Monuments-Bill-ias

  • If the related Bill is passed in the Upper House, it could have disastrous consequences for historical monuments, they fear.
[Note: A detailed Mind Map on above topic will be posted soon]

 

Government Schemes & Policies

Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017

Recently the Government of Sikkim came up with a unique way of preserving trees by encouraging people to forge a relationship of brotherhood or sisterhood with trees through a practice locally known as Mith/Mit or Mitini.

heritage-tree-sikkim-ias

  • For this, Government of Sikkim has issued a notification titled Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017.

Highlights of Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017:

  • State government shall allow any person to associate with trees standing on his or her private land or on any public land by entering into a Mith/Mit or Mitini relationship.
  • A person can also adopt a tree “as if it was his or her own child in which case the tree shall be called an adopted tree.”
  • A third way to forge a relationship with a tree is by “preserving a tree in remembrance of a departed relative in which case the tree shall be called a smriti tree.”
  • In case an individual wants to forge a relationship with a tree which does not stand on his or her land but another’s, the person concerned shall execute an agreement with the owner and compensate him or her in terms of the market value of the timber or the wood contained in the tree.
  • In the second scenario if the person desires to enter into a relationship with a tree located on public land then permission from the said department or agency needs to be taken.
  • The Rules also prohibit felling or damage to any tree registered as Mith/Mit or Mitini, adopted or smriti and points out that any such violation shall be treated as a forest offence.

Background:

  • Sikkim is one of the cleanest and greenest north-eastern States.
  • As per the Forest Survey of India, 2015 the forest cover of Sikkim is 47.80 % of the State’s total geographical area.
  • Over the past few years the State government has also started an initiative of identifying heritage trees where 21 trees of 25-ft. girth and above and 32 trees of 20-25 ft. girth have been demarcated as heritage trees.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

Seasonal affective disorder: Women more affected than men

What is Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.

seasonalaffectivedisorder-1

  • Sometimes, it is mistaken to be a “lighter” version of depression, which is untrue. According to psychiatrists, it is a different version of the same illness and people with SAD are just as ill as people with major depression.

Where does SAD occur?

  • SAD occurs in climates where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year.
  • SAD generally starts in late fall and early winter and goes away during spring and summer. Depressive episodes linked to summer can occur, but are much rarer than winter episodes.

Symptoms:

  • Symptoms include fatigue, depression, a feeling of hopelessness and social withdrawal.

Seasonal-affective-disorder-(SAD)-symptoms-ias

Who are vulnerable to SAD?

  • Women are overwhelmingly more susceptible to SAD than men.
  • Statistics released by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) show that SAD occurs four times more often in women than in men.
  • The age of onset is estimated to be between 18 and 30 years but can affect anyone irrespective of age.

Prevention:

  • A few ways in which people can prevent winter depression include ensuring a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Staying well hydrated is key during the winter months since it gives you more energy, mental clarity and an enhanced digestive function.
  • Getting enough sunlight and engaging in regular outdoor physical exercise are also important.

Seasonal-Affective-Disorder-Infographic

Treatment:

  • Treatment for SAD involves enough light exposure, artificial light exposure, sun therapy and drugs, if needed.
  • Artificial light exposure is effective but may take four to six weeks to see a response, although some patients improve within days.
  • Therapy is continued until sufficient and daily natural sunlight exposure is available.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) ias

SAD in India:

  • In India, more than 10 million people experience similar or the same symptoms of this usually self-diagnosable ailment called Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Economy

India Ranked 30th On WEF’s Global Manufacturing Index

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked India at 30th position on a Global Manufacturing Index (GMI).

Global-Manufacturing-Index-(GMI)-ias

About the Global Manufacturing Index (GMI):

  • The index was released as part of WEF’s first Readiness for the future of production Report which analysed development of modern industrial strategies and urges collaborative action.
  • The report has been developed in collaboration with A T Kearney and calls for new and innovative approaches to public-private collaboration are needed to accelerate transformation.
  • The report has categorised 100 countries in four major groups for its ranking:
  • Leading (strong current base, high level of readiness for future).
  • High Potential (limited current base, high potential for future).
  • Legacy (strong current base, at risk for future).
  • Nascent (limited current base, low level of readiness for future).

Highlights of the report:

Various countries:

  • Japan has topped the list followed by South Korea, Germany, Switzerland, China, Czech Republic, the US, Sweden, Austria and Ireland.
  • Among BRICS nations, Russia is ranked 35th, Brazil 41st and South Africa at 45th place.
  • China (25th) was placed among ‘leading countries’. India and Russia were placed in ‘Legacy’ group while Brazil and South Africa are in ‘nascent’ ones.
  • Other countries that ranked below India include Turkey, Indonesia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius and UAE.

India’s performance:

  • India is at the 30th position, five places below China, but higher than the other BRICS members Brazil, Russia and South Africa.
  • India was ranked 9th in terms of scale of production and at 48th place for complexity. It was ranked 3rd for market size. It was ranked poorly (90th or even lower) in parameters like female participation in labour force, trade tariffs, regulatory efficiency and sustainable resources.
  • Overall, India ranked better than its neighbours Sri Lanka (66th), Pakistan (74th) and Bangladesh (80th).
  • India is 5th-largest manufacturer in world with total manufacturing value added of over US $420 billion in 2016.
  • India’s manufacturing sector has grown by over 7% per year on average in past three decades and accounts for 16-20% of India’s GDP. Demand for Indian manufactured products is rising.

Key note for India:

  • India has room for improvement across the drivers of production, except for demand environment where it ranks in the top 5.
  • Human capital and sustainable resources are the two key challenges for India.
  • India needs to continue to raise the capabilities of its relatively young and fast-growing labour force. This entails upgrading education curricula, revamping vocational training programmes and improving digital skills.
  • India should also continue to diversify its energy sources and reduce emissions as its manufacturing sector continues to expand.
[Ref: The Hindu, Economic Times, Indian Express]

 

India’s First Agri-commodity Options Contracts in Guar Seed

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launched options trading in guarseed on the commodity bourse National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX).

guarseed-ias

  • NCDEX is the second exchange after MCX to launch options trading in commodities. In October 2017, MCX had launched gold options. Guarseed is the first agri-commodity options.

Objective of the move:

  • Higher production has led to fall in prices of some agri-commodities in some places. Options trading is one of the major steps towards taking farmers out of this situation.
  • This new initiative will benefit farmers and ensure better prices in the coming days.

Key facts:

  • The largest commodity exchange by volume is the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) followed by National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX).
[Ref: PIB, Economic Times, Business Standard]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

New moth species discovered in Arunachal Pradesh

Researchers have discovered a new species of moth scientifically named Elcysma Ziroensis from the Talle Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh.

Elcysma Ziroensis iasoppers

  • This discovery represents the first record of Elcysma from Arunachal Pradesh.

About the Elcysma Ziroensis:

  • Elcysma Ziroensis is commonly called Apatani Glory, named after a local tribe called Apatani.
  • It was discovered at an elevation of 1,700m in Ziro.
  • This species has only been seen during autumn, notably in month of September. This indicates that it is univoltine species, meaning it has one brood of young in a year.
[Ref: Indian Express, Times of India]

 

The UK government releases 25-year Environment Plan

UK has launched its long-awaited 25 Year Environment Plan.

25-year-Environment-Plan-ias

What is the plan all about?

  • The Plan sets out comprehensive and long-term approach to protecting and enhancing the environment in England for the next generation.
  • The Plan is far-reaching, touching on topics ranging from plastics recycling, biodiversity and habitats to climate change and air pollution.

Key policies, commitments and statements contained the Plan are below:

Independent green watchdog –

  • The plan promises a consultation on a new independent body to hold government to account post-Brexit, alongside a new set of green principles to underpin policy-making.
  • A new set of metrics will also help assess progress against the 25 Year goals.

Green business council –

  • A new council is to be established to advise government on setting the right conditions to stimulate environmental entrepreneurism and innovation.
  • The group would also promote the business case for companies to address and report on natural capital risks and green opportunities in their supply chains.

2019 Year of Green Action –

  • The government has promised to launch a year-long youth-focused promotional campaign to engatge people with environmental issues.
  • Using #iwill hashtag the campaign will aim to increase action and engagement on the environment among 10 to 20 year olds.
  • Meanwhile, a range of events and activities will be staged to coincide with the 70th anniversary of National Parks and centenary of the Forestry Commission.

‘Natural Environment for Health and Wellbeing’ programme –

  • A cross-government alliance will establish a three-year programme promoting natural environment as a path for improving health and wellbeing.

Green infrastructure standards –

  • Natural England will lead on new cross-government project to review and update existing standards for green infrastructure by summer 2019, with government supporting local councils to assess developments against these new standards.

Tree planting –

  • The government reiterates goals to plant one million trees in England’s towns and cities by 2022, and endorses proposals for a new Northern Forest.
  • It will also appoint a national Tree Champion and design a new woodland creation grant scheme.
  • A Tree health Resilience Plan is also scheduled for 2018.

Plastic waste targets and taxes 

  • The government said it aims to eliminate all “avoidable” waste by 2050, and all “avoidable plastic waste” by the end of 2042.
  • A call for evidence on using the tax system to eradicate single-use plastics is also on its way this year, while government says it will “explore whether we can ban other problematic materials where suitable alternatives exist”.

Water refill points –

  • To cut plastic bottle waste, the government wants to help retailers and transport hubs to offer up free water refill points in every major city and town in England, while the water industry will be encouraged to create nationwide network of refill points.

Global deforestation initiative –

  • A cross-government global resource initiative is to be set up this year that will work with businesses, NGOs, producer countries, and intermediary countries to identify supply chain actions to boost the sustainability of products and reduce deforestation.

Strengthened carbon offsetting –

  • The government wants to set up a stronger domestic carbon offset mechanism and carbon guarantee scheme to encourage private sector investment in tree planting and other activities. The scheme will include a reporting framework for businesses

Bioeconomy Strategy – 

  • The government will “shortly” set out plans this year for a new strategy to ensure the UK develops a bio-based economy by “removing our dependence on finite fossil fuel resources”, focusing on biotechnology and bioscience. It will be linked to the forthcoming waste strategy.
[Ref: The Hindu, BusinessGreen]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

India-U.K. to ink MoU on illegal migrants

India and United Kingdom (UK) have signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on following areas.

India-U.K

1. MoU on return of illegal Indian migrants:

  • It paves way for quicker and more efficient process for documentation and return of Indians who are illegally residing in United Kingdom.
  • It also commits both countries to take more flexible approach to verify identity and nationality of individuals to speed up returns process.

2. MoU on criminal records exchange: 

  • It will help in sharing of criminal records, fingerprints and intelligence between Indian and British law enforcement bodies.
  • It will help police forces from both countries to strengthen their law enforcement and protect the public from known criminals including sex offenders.
  • It will also allow courts of both countries to get access to more information to support tougher sentencing decisions.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Defence & Security Issues

Villagers along India-Myanmar international border to get passes

India and Myanmar are all set to streamline free movement of people within 16 km along their borders.

Indo-Myanmar-agreement-on-land-border-crossing-iastoppers

India-Myanmar international border:

  • India and Myanmar share an unfenced border of 1,643 km, touching four states: Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km), Manipur (398 km) and Mizoram (510 km).

What’s the border pass?

  • The Centre has asked the four states that share unfenced border with Myanmar to distribute “border pass” to all the residents living within 16 km from the boundary line.
  • The border pass will be given only to the domiciles. All residents going across the border for agriculture, work or to meet relatives should carry the pass at all times. There will be no restrictions on their movement.
  • The Centre has also asked the governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram to enrol the border residents under Aadhaar on war footing.

Background:

  • Both the countries had been intending to put a system in place after India raised the issue of movement of extremists and smugglers freely across the border.
  • On January 3, the Union Cabinet has approved an agreement between India and Myanmar on land border crossing. The agreement is expected to enhance economic interaction between people of the two countries.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Indian History

Delhi’s Teen Murti Chowk renamed after Israeli city Haifa

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu today attended a solemn ceremony at the Teen Murti Memorial in New Delhi.

Teen-Murti-Memorial-ias

  • At this occasion, the iconic Teen Murti Chowk has been renamed after the Israeli City Haifa.
  • The move is aimed at being symbolic gesture of India’s friendship with Israel.
  • This year marks the centenary year of Battle for Haifa.

Historical significance of Battle for Haifa:

Teen-Murti history

  • There are various accounts of this battle – all narrate the valour with which the lancers undertook the assault on the garrisoned city protected by a joint force of Ottomans, Germany and Austria-Hungary.
  • The liberation of Haifa cleared a supply route for the Allies to the city through the sea.
  • During the World War I, the Israeli City Haifa was liberated from Ottoman occupation by Indian soldiers. (in 1918)
  • A large number of Indian soldiers of the 15th Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade died during the battle to free the city and nearly 900 were buried in Israel.
  • September 23 is celebrated as Haifa Day in India and Israel every year as a mark of respect for the soldiers who lost their lives in the battle and to mark the end of 400 years of Turkish control over the city.

About Teen Murti Memorial:

  • Teen Murti Chowk was named to mark role of the three cavalry regiments.
  • The three bronze statues at Teen Murti represent Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers who were part of 15 Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade in British Indian Army.
  • The brigade had carried out victorious assault on fortified city of Haifa also known as Battle for Haifa on September 23, 1918, during World War I.
[Ref: Indian Express, Economic Times]

 

Art & Culture

7th edition of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav-2018’

The 7th edition of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav (RSM) – 2018’ under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme was held in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

Rashtriya-Sanskriti-Mahotsav-2018-iastoppers

  • The State paired with Karnataka is Uttarakhand.
  • The event was organised by Union Ministry of Culture.

About Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav (RSM):

iastoppers-rashtriya-sanskriti-mahotsav-rsm-2016

  • RSM was conceived by the Ministry of Culture in the year 2015 with an intent to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Country in all its rich and varied dimensions.
  • RSM aims to celebrate national integration and idea of unity in diversity of country.
  • It celebrates rich culture and heritage of India.
  • It aims to provide platform to bring together artists from each corner of country.
  • It covers events including art forms from classical and folk, music and dance, theatre to literature and visual arts.
  • It also showcases gallery of Indian art forms and tradition for the discerning audience.

About Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat:

“Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” was announced by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 31st October, 2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Subsequently, the Finance Minister announced the initiative in his Budget Speech for 2016-17.

Ek-Bharat-Shreshtha-Bharat-Yojana-iastoppers

  • It was launched to celebrate the cultural vibrancy of India while establishing a concrete mechanism to inculcate nationalism and cultural awareness among the fellow citizens of our nation.
  • All States and UTs will be covered under the programme. There will be pairing of States/UTs at national level and these pairings will be in effect for one year, or till the next round of pairings. The State/UT level pairings would be utilized for state level activities. District level pairings would be independent of the State level pairings.
  • The activity will be very useful to link various States and Districts in annual programmes that will connect people through exchanges in areas of culture, tourism, language, education trade etc. and citizens will be able to experience the cultural diversity of a much larger number of States/UTs while realising that India is one.

Objectives of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat:

The broad objectives of the initiative are as follows:

  1. To CELEBRATE the Unity in Diversity of our Nation and to maintain and strengthen the fabric of traditionally existing emotional bonds between the people of our Country;
  2. To PROMOTE the spirit of national integration through a deep and structured engagement between all Indian States and Union Territories through a year-long planned engagement between States;
  3. To SHOWCASE the rich heritage and culture, customs and traditions of either State for enabling people to understand and appreciate the diversity that is India, thus fostering a sense of common identity;
  4. TO ESTABLISH long-term engagements and
  5. TO CREATE an environment which promotes learning between States by sharing best practices and experiences.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Geophysical Phenomena

Largest volcanic eruption in the ocean uncovered in New Zealand

Researchers have found that the world’s largest deep ocean volcanic eruption happened in New Zealand.

Havre Largest volcanic eruption in ocean ias

  • Named as Havre, the deep ocean volcanic eruption was first discovered in 2002.
  • A solidified volcanic rock known as pumice raft — 400 square kilometres in size — found floating in the ocean near New Zealand in 2012 showed that underwater eruption had occurred.
  • The eruption involved 14 aligned vents causing a “massive rupture”.

Havre location

Key facts:

More than 80 per cent of the world’s volcanoes located underwater.

[Ref: Economic Times]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

India’s first-ever FDI in fertiliser sector

India’s-first-ever-FDI-in-fertiliser-sector-ias

  • Norwegian fertiliser giant Yara International announced the completion of its acquisition of Tata Chemicals Ltd’s 1.2 million tonnes per annum production capacity urea plant at Babrala in Uttar Pradesh.
  • This marks the first foreign direct investment in India’s highly regulated urea sector.

 

Kerala Accelerator Program

Kerala-Accelerator-Program-ias

  • Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) in association with Zone Startups India has launched ‘Kerala Accelerator Program’.
  • Kerala Accelerator Program is a virtual accelerator program for three months, to promote startups in the early revenue stage.
  • It will help startups achieve product-market fit through a curated customer validation process.

 

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