Polity & Governance
- Rajasthan conversion Bill returned by Centre
Issues related to Health & Education
- Non-Communicable Diseases Rise in India: Report
- Urjit Patel appointed on BIS advisory board
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Centre to launch BS-VI fuel in Delhi from 2018 to battle smog
- India’s global rank up on Climate Change Performance Index
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, EU hold discussions on proposed free trade agreement
- Birsa Munda Jayanti
For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here
Polity & Governance
Rajasthan conversion Bill returned by Centre
The Religious Freedom Bill (Rajasthan Dharma Swatantraya Vidheyak) passed by the Rajasthan Assembly in 2008, aimed at banning forcible religious conversions, was returned by the Union government as it deviated from the national policy.
- According to the Union Home Ministry, the Bill was sent back for “further clarifications.”
- The Rajasthan government is making attempts to get the President’s nod for the Bill that has been pending since 2008, the year it was passed.
- A similar Bill of the Chhattisgarh government, Dharma Swatantraya Sanshodhan Vidheyak, 2006, has also been pending with the State.
Key features of the Bill:
- The Bill defined “conversion” as “renouncing one’s own religion and adopting another” through “fraudulent means” or any other “fraudulent contrivance.”
- The legislation seeks to stop conversions through use of “force or allurement or by fraudulent means”.
- An offence under the Act is cognizable and non-bailable. The punishment for violation of the provisions of the Act can be a minimum two years simple imprisonment, which may be extended up to five years and a fine of up to Rs.50000.
- It also contains a clause for cancellation of registration of organisations held guilty of abetting conversions.
- “Anti-conversion” laws come under the State List of the Constitution and the Centre has no jurisdiction in the matter.
Issues related to Health & Education
Non-Communicable Diseases Rise in India: Report
Recently, the findings of ‘India State Level Disease Burden’ report of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) were released.
- The report was prepared under the India State-level Disease Burden Initiative.
Key findings of the report:
- In 1990, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) accounted for 37.9% of all deaths—causing about four in ten deaths in India. In 2016, the share of non-communicable diseases had risen up to 61.8%–causing six in ten deaths in India, an increase of 23.9 percentage points from 1990.
- Every state of India now has a higher burden from non-communicable diseases and injuries than from infectious diseases, the extent of which varies widely between the states.
- Life expectancy rose, data revealed that six out of 10 Indians (in 1990 it was less than one in three) now succumb to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like heart diseases.
- Malnutrition continues to be the single largest risk for health loss in India, which is higher among females and is particularly severe in the empowered action group States [Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand] and Assam.
- while under-5 mortality was improving in every State, there was a four-fold difference in the rate of improvement among States, which again indicated health inequalities.
- The per person burden from many of the leading infectious and non-communicable diseases varies 5-10 times between different states.
What are non-communicable diseases (NCDs)?
- Noncommunicable – or chronic – diseases are diseases of long duration and generally slow progression.
- The four main types of noncommunicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancer, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.
- Others include diseases such as autoimmune diseases, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, and others.
- NCDs share several common, modifiable risk factors – tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet.
About India State-level Disease Burden Initiative:
- The India State-level Disease Burden Initiative is a joint initiative between the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Urjit Patel appointed on BIS advisory board
RBI Governor Urjit Patel was appointed to Financial Stability Institute Advisory Board (FSAB) or Bank of International Settlement (BIS).
About Financial Stability Institute (FSI):
- The Financial Stability Institute (FSI) of BIS assists financial sector authorities worldwide in strengthening their financial systems.
- The FSI was jointly established by BIS and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in 1998.
- Its mandate is to promote cross- sectoral and cross-border supervisory contacts and cooperation.
- Since beginning of 2017, FSI has been implementing new strategy that includes achieving closer interaction with central banks and financial supervisory agencies.
About FSI Advisory Board
- The advisory Board will provide strategic advice to help FSI continue to meet its mandate in way that is responsive to changing needs of its key stakeholders around the world.
- It will comprise small diverse group of central bank Governors, heads of financial sector supervision and chairs of standard-setting bodies and regional supervisory groups.
About Bank of International Settlement (BIS):
BIS is international financial organisation owned by 60 member central banks, representing countries from around the world (about 95% of world GDP) including India.
- Established in 1930, BIS is the world’s oldest international financial organization.
- It fosters international monetary and financial cooperation and serves as bank for central banks.
- It carries out its work through its meetings, programmes and through Basel Process – hosting international groups pursuing global financial stability and facilitating their interaction.
- The mission of the BIS is to serve central banks in their pursuit of monetary and financial stability, to foster international cooperation in those areas and to act as a bank for central banks.
- Its headquarter is in Basel, Switzerland, with representative offices in Hong Kong and Mexico City.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Centre to launch BS-VI fuel in Delhi from 2018 to battle smog
Taking into account the serious pollution levels in Delhi and adjoining areas, Petroleum Ministry in consultation with Public Oil Marketing Companies has decided for preponement of BS-VI grade auto fuels in NCT of Delhi from 1st April 2018 instead of 1st April 2020.
- This measure is expected to help mitigate the problem of air pollution in NCT of Delhi and surrounding areas.
What are emission norms?
- Emission norms are the standards set by the government to regulate air pollutants emitted from internal combustion engines, including motor vehicles.
- These pollutants include carbon mono-oxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), and nitrous oxides (NOx) to name a few.
History of Bharat Stage emission norms
- They were first introduced in the year 2000 and are regulated by the Central Pollution Control Board under the recommendation of the government of India.
- The Ministry of Environment & Forests and climate change is responsible for determining the standards and timeline for the implementation of the norms.
- The harmful emissions that are identified for regulations in different Bharat Stages (BS) are carbon monoxide (CO), unburnt hydrocarbons (HC), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Particulate matter (PM).
- Each stage specifies a certain limit on the pollutants released, Higher the Bharat Stage goes lesser it emits pollutants.
- BS-II first came into the effect in 2001 in NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, and was later enforced throughout the country by April 2005.
- The previous emission norms, BS-III, came into the effect in April 2005 in National Capital Region (NCR) and 13 major cities and was made compulsory nationwide in October 2010.
- The current norms, BS-IV have already been in place in 13 major cities since April 2010, the norms will come effective nationwide from April 2017.
About BS VI Norms
- The BS-IV compliant fuels have Sulphur concentration of 50 parts per million (ppm).
- It will come down to 10 ppm in BS-VI compliant fuels and auto engines.
- It will result in lower level of harmful emissions and reduced incidence of lung diseases.
- Moreover, switch to BS-VI norms will also reduce concentration of carbon monoxide (CO), unburnt hydrocarbons, nitrous oxide (NOx) and particulate matter from emissions.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]
India’s global rank up on Climate Change Performance Index
On the sidelines of the UN Climate Change negotiations (COP23) in Bonn, environmental organisation Germanwatch has released Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2018.
About the Index:
- The CCPI was released by Germanwatch, an independent German NGO and Climate Action Network Europe.
- It is an instrument designed to enhance transparency in international climate politics. It is list of countries doing the most to combat climate change.
- It aims to put social and political pressure on those countries which have, up until now, failed to take ambitious action on climate protection.
- The index evaluates and compares the climate protection performance of 58 countries on the basis of standardised criteria.
- It uses four key categories to rank more than 50 nations — greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, clean energy, and climate policy.
- These 58 countries together are responsible for about 90% of global energy-related CO2 emissions.
Highlights of the report:
- India is ranked 14th, an improvement from its 20th position last year.
- Sweden was the best performing country, followed by Lithuania, Morocco and Norway.
- The bottom three of the index is formed by Korea (58), Iran (59) and Saudi Arabia (rank 60), all of which are showing hardly any progress or ambition in reducing its emissions and energy use.
- China, with its high emissions and growing energy use over the past five years, still ranks 41st.
- Fifty-six countries and the EU are together responsible for about 90% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- Global energy transition is taking up speed but no country is doing enough. For this, the countries have to strengthen targets and implementation.
- The data show encouraging growth in renewable energy, ever cheaper prices for solar and wind energy and successes in saving energy in many countries. This was responsible for stabilising global energy CO2 emissions in the last three years.
- But progress is achieved much too slow for a fully renewable energy based world economy in a few decades, because growing oil and gas consumption is higher than the welcomed reduction in coal use.
Bilateral & International Relations
India, EU hold discussions on proposed free trade agreement
The chief negotiators of India and EU held discussions on the proposed free trade agreement, officially dubbed as Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).
- Both the sides expressed willingness to address issues in a time-bound manner.
- Launched in June 2007, the negotiations for the proposed BTIA have witnessed many hurdles with both sides having major differences on key issues like intellectual property rights, duty cut in automobile and spirits, and liberal visa regime.
What are the differences between the two countries?
- Two-way trade between India and the EU dipped to USD 88.4 billion in 2015-16 from USD 98.5 billion in the previous fiscal.
- Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, the EU wants tax reduction in wines, spirits and dairy products, and a strong intellectual property regime.
- On the other hand, India is asking for ‘data secure nation’ status to be granted by the EU. The country is among the nations not considered data secure by the EU.
- The matter is crucial as it will have a bearing on Indian IT companies wanting market access.
- The two sides have to iron out differences related to movement of professionals.
About Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA):
- On 28th June 2007, India and the EU began negotiations on a broad-based Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) in Brussels, Belgium.
- These negotiations are pursuant to the commitment made by political leaders at the 7th India-EU Summit held in Helsinki in October 2006 to move towards negotiations for a broad-based trade and investment agreement on the basis of the report of India-EU High Level Technical Group.
- India and the EU expect to promote bilateral trade by removing barriers to trade in goods and services and investment across all sectors of the economy. Both parties believe that a comprehensive and ambitious agreement that is consistent with WTO rules and principles would open new markets and would expand opportunities for Indian and EU businesses.
- The negotiations cover Trade in Goods, Trade in Services, Investment, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade, Trade Remedies, Rules of Origin, Customs and Trade Facilitation, Competition, Trade Defence, Government Procurement, Dispute Settlement, Intellectual Property Rights & Geographical Indications, Sustainable Development.
Birsa Munda Jayanti
Birth anniversary of Birsa Munda was observed on November 15th.
- In recognition of his impact on the national movement, the state of Jharkhand was created on his birth anniversary in 2000.
- Recently, the Jharkhand state government launched the ‘Shaheed Gram Vikas Yojana’ to develop villages of freedom fighters. It was launched from Ulihatu Village, birth place of freedom fighter Birsa Munda.
Who is Birsa Munda?
- Birsa Munda was a freedom fighter, religious leader, and folk hero who belonged to the Munda tribe from Chhotanagpur area.
- He is known for leading Munda rebellion towards end of 19th century against British Raj.
- Munda rebellion began in the year 1895 to revolt against British administration interference in tribal politics and their religious matters
- Popularly known as ‘Dharti Abba’ or the Earth Father, Birsa Munda was a master at Guerilla Warfare techniques. He launched various surprise attacks in which many police officials were killed
- Bisra wanted to reform the tribal society and so, he urged them to let go of beliefs in witchcraft and instead, stressed on the importance of prayer, staying away from alcohol, having faith in God and observing a code of conduct. Based on these, he started the faith of ‘Birsait’.
- Bisra started a movement called ‘Ulgulan’, or ‘The Great Tumult’. His struggle against the exploitation and discrimination against tribals led to a big hit against the British government in the form of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act being passed in 1908. The act restricted the passing on of land from the tribal people to non-tribals.
- The Britishers were able to arrest Birsa Munda on Mar 3, 1900. He was sentenced to death but he died beforehand inside the jail due to cholera.