Current Affairs Analysis

17th June 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Annular Eclipse of the Sun; Mental Illness; Mental Healthcare Act, 2017; India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA); Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region; World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCDD); International Criminal Court; Composite Regional Centre, Ranchi; Workplace Readiness Indicator; India Mobile Payments Market Report 2020; Major challenges being faced by Fertilizers industries; Nepal-Bharat Maitri; Ban on foreign channels in Nepal; Galwan region etc.
By IASToppers
June 17, 2020

Contents

Issues related to Health and Education

  • Insurance cover for Mental Illness

Economy

  • FIEO urges for fastening engagement with EU

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region
  • World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

Bilateral & International Relations

  • US sanctions against International Criminal Court

Geophysical Phenomena

  • Annular Eclipse of the Sun

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Composite Regional Centre, Ranchi
  • Workplace Readiness Indicator
  • India Mobile Payments Market Report 2020
  • Major challenges being faced by Fertilizers industries
  • Nepal-Bharat Maitri
  • Ban on foreign channels in Nepal
  • Galwan region

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Issues related to Health and Education

Insurance cover for Mental Illness

The Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre and the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India on a plea seeking directions to insurance companies to provide coverage for treatment of mental health illnesses.

Major Highlights:

  • The plea contended that under the Section 21(4) of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, insurers are bound to provide medical insurance for mental health illnesses on the same basis as they do for treatment of physical illness.
  • However, despite the existence of the provision, there has been no follow-up by the insurance regulatory body regarding its compliance nor has any action been taken against companies who failed to follow the order.
  • The inclusion of mental illnesses under the insurance coverage is a result of the Centre’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mental Healthcare Act, 2017:

Definition:

  • The new act defines mental illness as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation, or memory that grossly impairs judgment or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life, mental conditions associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs.

Rights of persons with mental illness:

  • The Act that ensures every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the appropriate government.
  • It assures free treatment for such persons if they are homeless or belong to Below Poverty Line, even if they do not possess a BPL card.
  • Every person with mental illness shall have a right to live with dignity and there shall be no discrimination on any basis including gender, sex, sexual orientation, religion, culture, caste, social or political beliefs, class or disability.
  • A person with mental illness shall have the right to confidentiality in respect of his mental health, mental healthcare, treatment and physical healthcare.
  • The photograph or any other information pertaining to the person cannot be released to the media without the consent of the person with mental illness.

Mental Health Authority:

  • The Act empowers the government to set-up Central Mental Health Authority at national-level and State Mental Health Authority in every State.
  • Every mental health institute and mental health practitioners including clinical psychologists, mental health nurses and psychiatric social workers will have to be registered with this Authority.

Functions:

These bodies will-

(a) register, supervise and maintain a register of all mental health establishments.

(b) develop quality and service provision norms for such establishments.

(c) maintain a register of mental health professionals.

(d) train law enforcement officials and mental health professionals on the provisions of the Act.

(e) receive complaints about deficiencies in provision of services.

(f) advise the government on matters relating to mental health.

  • A Mental Health Review Board is constituted to protect the rights of persons with mental illness and manage advance directives.

Suicide is decriminalized:

  • A person who attempts suicide shall be presumed to be suffering from mental illness at that time and will not be punished under the Indian Penal Code.
  • The government shall have a duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation to a person, having severe stress and who attempted to commit suicide, to reduce the risk of recurrence of attempt to commit suicide.
[Ref: The Hindu; Scroll]

Economy

FIEO urges for fastening engagement with EU

Exporters’ body FIEO has urged Ministry of Commerce and Industry to fast-track the process of engagement with the European Union on the long-pending free-trade agreement (FTA) with India and conclude it in an expeditious manner.

Major Highlights:

  • India and the EU are negotiating a comprehensive FTA, officially dubbed as the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), but the talks are stalled since May 2013 due to differences on several matters.
  • Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) has said that Vietnam, a strong competitor of India, has already signed a similar agreement with the EU, which is likely to be operational by July-August 2020.
  • The EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement has also been signed and, due to this, Vietnam will be attracting a lot of investments moving out of China particularly those with the EU as their market.

Concerns:

  • The EU is the largest market of our exports accounting for 18 per cent of our exports.
  • Vietnam is a close competitor of India in the market as our exports to the EU stood at USD 58.4 billion, while Vietnam exports were USD 52.2 billion in 2019.
  • With the signing of the agreement, Vietnamese products will get further edge in the EU markets as the landed price of their products would become cheaper as compared to Indian products.

India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement negotiations:

  • India and the EU began negotiations on a broad-based Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) in Brussels, Belgium on June 2007. 
  • These negotiations are to move towards 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.
  • The BTIA negotiations have been languishing since 2013 when the talks collapsed over certain demands from the EU such as greater market access for automobiles, wine and spirits, and further opening up of the financial services sector such as banking, insurance and e-commerce.
  • The EU wanted labour, environment and government procurement to be included in the talks.
  • India’s demand for easier work visa and study visa norms as well as data secure status, that would make it easier for European companies to outsource business to India, were also not received enthusiastically by the EU countries.
  • The last meeting was held on 13th May, 2013 in New Delhi and the negotiations are stuck since then.
[Ref: Economic Times]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region

The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences has published the first Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region.

Major Highlights:

  • The average surface air temperatures over India could rise by up to 4.4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century as compared to the period between 1976 and 2005.
  • 8.5 that calculates a radiative forcing of 8.5 watt per square metre due to the rising greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.
  • Under an intermediate scenario of Representative Concentration Pathway RCP 4.5, the country’s average temperature could rise by up to 2.4°C.
  • The rise in temperatures will be even more pronounced in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region where the average could reach 5.2°C.
  • By 2100, the frequency of warm days and warm nights might also increase by 55 per cent and 70 per cent respectively, as compared to the period 1976-2005 under the RCP 8.5 scenario (worst-case scenario).
  • The incidences of heat waves over the country could also increase by three to four times.  

Representative Concentration Pathway:

  • Radiative forcing or climate forcing is the difference between sunlight energy absorbed by the Earth (including its atmosphere) and the energy that it radiates back into space.
  • A Representative Concentration Pathway is a greenhouse gas concentration trajectory adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • Four pathways were used for climate modeling and research for the IPCC fifth Assessment Report in 2014.
  • They are: RCP8.5, RCP6, RCP4.5 and RCP2.6.

Key Facts:

  • According to the latest estimates by the IPCC, the global average temperature in the last century has gone up by 1.1°C.
  • Even if the Nationally Determined Contributions declared by countries under the 2015 Paris Agreement are met, the global average temperature could rise by around 3°C, which could be disastrous.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

June 17 is observed worldwide as the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.

About the day:

  • The day is observed annually by the United Nations observance.
  • Its purpose is to raise awareness of the presence of desertification and drought, highlighting methods of preventing desertification and recovering from drought.
  • Theme 2020: Food. Feed. Fibre

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification:

  • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.
  • It derives directly from the 1992 Earth Summit.
  • It was established in 1994 and addresses arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands.
  • Secretariat of UNCCD is at Bonn, Germany.
  • The UNCCD is particularly committed to a bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation.

Concerns:

  • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification has said that land use change, which prepares the ground for zoonoses like COVID-19, should be reversed urgently.
  • Over 70 per cent of all natural, ice-free land in the world is affected by human use.
  • This could further rise to 90 per cent by 2050, if global land use follows the same path. This land degradation affects some 3.2 billion people worldwide.
  • Agricultural land for food, animal feed and fiber are behind the land use change.
  • There is an urgency both at the policy and practical levels to slow down and reverse land use.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

Bilateral & International Relations

US sanctions against International Criminal Court

The US President Donald Trump has authorised sanctions against International Criminal Court officials involved in investigations into possible war crimes by US troops or those of its allies.

What is the issue?

  • The Trump administration has long considered ICC as a threat to US sovereignty,
  • It has announced the strict punitive measures generally reserved for use against terror groups and those accused of abusing human rights.
  • ICC has been accused as having a long history of financial corruption and malfeasance at the highest levels.
  • US officials have also blamed Russia for manipulating the ICC in its favour.

The International Criminal Court:

  • The ICC, a permanent judicial body based at The Hague in the Netherlands, was created by the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
  • It began functioning on 1 July 2002 when the Statute came into force.
  • The forum was established as a court of last resort to prosecute offences.
  • It has jurisdiction over four main crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
  • 123 nations are States Parties to the Rome Statute and recognise the ICC’s authority; the notable exceptions being the US, China, Russia, and India.
  • Unlike the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the ICC is not part of the United Nations system, with the UN-ICC relationship being governed by a separate agreement.
  • The ICJ, which is among the UN’s 6 principal organs, mainly hears disputes between nations.
  • The ICC prosecutes individuals– its authority extending to offences committed in a member state or by a national of such a state.

Current issue:

  • US has broadened the visa restrictions on ICC officials directly involved in probes against its nationals or those of its allies, and anyone who has materially assisted support to these officials.
  • Israel welcomed the US decision, with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu accusing the ICC of fabricating outlandish charges against his country.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Geophysical Phenomena

Annular Eclipse of the Sun

An annular solar eclipse will occur in India on 21 June, 2020.

Major Highlights:

  • The annular phase will be visible from some places of northern parts of the country (parts of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttarakhand) and it will be seen as partial solar eclipse from the rest part of the country.
  • The annular phase will also be visible in Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Pakistan, and China.

Solar eclipse:

  • A solar eclipse occurs on a new moon day when the Moon comes in between the Earth and the Sun and when all the three objects are aligned.
  • A solar eclipse can only take place at the phase of new moon, when the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth and its shadows fall upon Earth’s surface.
  • An annular solar eclipse will occur when the angular diameter of the Moon falls short of that of the Sun so that it cannot cover up the latter completely.
  • As a result, a ring of the Sun’s disk remains visible around the Moon.

Types of Solar eclipses:

  • Partial solar eclipses occur when the Moon only partially obscures the Sun’s disk and casts only its penumbra on Earth.
  • Annular solar eclipses take place when the Moon’s disk is not big enough to cover the entire disk of the Sun.
  • Total solar eclipses happen when the Moon completely covers the Sun, and it can only take place when the Moon is near perigee, the point of the Moon’s orbit closest to Earth.
  • Hybrid Solar Eclipses, also known as annular-total eclipses, are the rarest type. They occur when the same eclipse changes from an annular to a total solar eclipse, and/or vice versa, along the eclipse’s path.

Why isn’t a solar eclipse every New Moon night?

  • Eclipses do not happen at every new moon because the moon’s orbit is tilted just over 5 degrees relative to Earth’s orbit around the sun.
  • For this reason, the moon’s shadow usually passes either above or below Earth, so a solar eclipse doesn’t occur.
  • But as a rule, at least twice each year (and sometimes as many as five times in a year), a new moon will align itself in just such a way to eclipse the sun. That alignment point is called a node.
  • Depending on how closely the new moon approaches a node will determine whether a particular eclipse is central or partial.
  • The moon’s distance from the Earth will ultimately determine whether a central eclipse is total, annular or a hybrid.

Precautions:

  • Eclipsed Sun should not be viewed with the naked eye, even for a very short time.
  • It will cause permanent damage of the eyes leading to blindness even when the moon covers most portion of the Sun.
  • Safe technique to observe the solar eclipse is either by using proper filter like aluminized Mylar, black polymer, welding glass of shade number 14 or by making projection of Sun’s image on a white board by telescope
[Ref: PIB; The Hindu]

Key Facts for Prelims

Composite Regional Centre, Ranchi

  • The Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment inaugurated the Composite Regional Centre (CRC) in Ranchi through video conferencing on 17 June 2020.
  • CRC-Ranchi will provide rehabilitation services including Physical medicine, Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, Audiology and Speech Therapy, Psychology, Prosthetics & Orthotics, Special Education, Early intervention & treatment etc., to persons with disabilities in the state of Jharkhand and adjoining areas.
  • The centre will also implement various schemes of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities including skill development programme.

Workplace Readiness Indicator

  • Researchers in Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru have developed ‘Workplace Readiness Indicator’ for organizations to insulate their workplaces from Corona pandemic.
  • It is an online assessment tool developed in collaboration with the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority for ensuring safe workplaces.
  • The Indicator developed will help plan and establish pandemic-specific policies, procedures and necessary management practices.
  • An organization can enter relevant information about their workplace and the tool developed by IISc will calculate readiness using ten specific indices like infrastructure, precautions, outreach, employee’s interaction level, transport among others.

India Mobile Payments Market Report 2020

  • India Mobile Payments Market Report 2020 has been released by S&P Global Market Intelligence recently.
  • As per the report, the Mobile payments and card transactions exceeded cash withdrawals from automated teller machines (ATMs) for the first time in 2019.
  • This indicates that the country’s push towards digital payments is bearing fruit.
  • Google Pay and PhonePe led the UPI payment space as the two handled more than 7 billion transactions in total, representing more than two-thirds of UPI transactions in 2019.

Major challenges being faced by Fertilizers industries

  • Delay in payment of pending subsidy bill to fertilizer companies.
  • Shortage of laborers due to their migration to native places.
  • Restriction on import of skilled manpower.
  • Restriction on import of machinery/ equipment for execution.

Nepal-Bharat Maitri

  • India has pledged to construct a ₹2.33 crore sanitation facility at Pashupatinath Temple complex in Nepal to improve the infrastructure in the holy shrine for the pilgrims.
  • The project would be constructed under the Nepal-Bharat Maitri: Development Partnership as a high impact community development scheme by India.
  • Pashupatinath Temple is the largest temple complex in Nepal and stretches on both sides of the Bagmati River and sees thousands of worshippers from Nepal and India every day.

Ban on foreign channels in Nepal

  • Foreign news channels, including those from India, may not receive permission to air in Nepal if they fail to produce advertisement-free content.
  • This is part of the clean feed policy for foreign TV networks that the Nepal government began to activate soon.
  • The policy stems from the Nepal’s Advertisement (Regulation) Act-2019.

Galwan region

  • India and China recently engaged in their first deadly conflict in at least 45 years, resulting in 20 deaths on the Indian side at Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.
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