Polity & Governance
- World Happiness Report 2017: India slips to 122
- SBI-Mahila bank merger okayed
Environment & Ecology
- Uttarakhand HC recognizes Ganga and Yamuna rivers as ‘living entities’
- Green nod for Neutrino project suspended
Bilateral & International Relations
- International Diamond Conference “Mines to Market 2017”
Key Facts for Prelims
- China to take part in Brahmaputra festival
- Soumya Swaminathan named to UN group on antimicrobial resistance
- Global Millennium Summit
- World Poetry Day
- KCK International Award for excellence in Print Journalism
Polity & Governance
World Happiness Report 2017: India slips to 122
As per the recently released the World Happiness Report 2017, India ranked at 122 out of 155 countries.
- The World Happiness Report 2017 was published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network on the eve of International Day of Happiness (20 March).
- The rankings are based factors such as inequality, life expectancy, GDP per capita, public trust (i.e. a lack of corruption in government and business), and social support. Together they are used to generate a happiness score of country on a scale from 1 to 10.
- This year it is fifth such report since the first was published in 2012.
Highlights of the report:
- Top 10 Happiest Countries include Norway (1), Denmark (2), Iceland (3), Switzerland (4), Finland (5), Netherlands (6), Canada (7), New Zealand (8), Australia (9) and Sweden (10).
- 5 Saddest Countries include Rwanda (151), Syria (152), Tanzania (153), Burundi (154) and Central African Republic (155).
- The entire top ten were wealthier developed nations. But the report mentioned that money is not the only ingredient in the recipe for happiness.
- Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and those hit by conflict were ranked lower.
- India was ranked 122 in the happiness report, much behind most of the SAARC nations including Pakistan and Nepal. India’s rank was even lower than its previous rank of 118 in 2016.
- While Pakistan was ranked 80, Nepal stood at 99, Bhutan at 97, Bangladesh at 110 and Sri Lanka at 120.
- Maldives didn’t figure at all in the list and only the war-torn Afghanistan was ranked lower than India at 141.
- Another India’s neighbour, China, which has shown tremendous growth in its economy lately, featured very low on the list at 79. The report reveals that people in China are not any happier than they were 25 years ago.
SBI-Mahila bank merger okayed
The Union Finance Ministry has decided to merge the Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) with the State Bank of India (SBI).
- This merger seeks to ensure greater banking services outreach to a larger number of women, at a faster pace.
- The decision to merge BMB with SBI was taken in view of the advantage of the large network of SBI among other things.
Since its establishment in 2014, BMB has extended loans of Rs. 192 crores to women borrowers, while the SBI group has provided loans of about Rs. 46 thousand crore rupees. Besides, out of the total workforce of around 2 lakh employees in SBI, 22% are women. SBI group already has 126 exclusive all-women branches across the country while BMB has only seven.
About Bharatiya Mahila Bank:
- Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) is an Indian financial services banking company based in Mumbai, India.
- It was launched in 2013 on the occasion of the 96th birth anniversary of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
- India is the third country in the world to have a bank especially for women, after Pakistan and Tanzania.
Environment & Ecology
Uttarakhand HC recognizes Ganga and Yamuna rivers as ‘living entities’
The Uttarakhand High Court has recognized the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers as so-called living entities. It is for the first time any court in India has recognized a non-human as a living entity.
What does it mean?
In India, animals, for instance, are not considered living entities by law. Only humans are. But recognizing these rivers as a living entity, grants them new legal identity and all rights laid out in the Constitution of India.
- Thus, they have the right to be legally protected and not be harmed and destroyed.
- They also can be parties to disputes as their rights can be used to protect the interests of the rivers.
- It also means that if someone pollutes these rivers, the law will see it equal to harming a human being.
Need of the move:
- The two rivers are sacred for the Hindus, sustain millions of people in the country but have seen years of damage at the hands of humans.
- They have been in a state of neglect and even though several government initiatives, including the Centre’s Namami Gange programme, are aimed at restoring their health, not much has been achieved yet.
- Over 1500 million litres of raw sewage is discharged into the Ganga every day. This joins 500 million litres of industrial waste dumped by more than 700 highly polluting industries located along it.
- As per the verdict, Ganga and Yamuna, all their tributaries, streams are declared as legal persons [or] living persons in order to protect the recognition and the faith of society.
- They will have the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person in order to preserve and conserve them.
- Central government must constitute Ganga Management Board to look into the issue of cleaning and maintaining these rivers.
- The Director, Namami Gange project and the Chief Secretary and the Advocate General of Uttarakhand have been charged to protect, conserve and preserve the rivers and their tributaries.
- Earlier in March 2017, New Zealand Parliament passed a bill declaring 145km long Whanganui River as ‘legal person’, making it first river to get this status.
- Ecuador was first country to recognize Rights of Nature in its Constitution adopted in September 2008. The new Ecuadorian Constitution includes a Chapter: Rights for Nature.
Green nod for Neutrino project suspended
The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal has suspended the Environmental Clearance (EC) granted to the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) that was to come up in Theni and asked the project proponent to make a fresh application.
Why was it suspended?
NGT suspended the EC after petitioner submitted that the INO project was just 4.5 km away from Mathikettan Shola National Park in Idukki district (Kerala) and one kilometre from Kerala-Tamil Nadu border and falls under category ‘A’ project in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
What is the issue?
The Union Environment Ministry had categorised INO project as a Category ‘B’ project, for which an EIA is not necessary.
But, as per EIA Notification, 2006, any project specified in category ‘B’ will be treated as category A, if it is located in whole or in part within 10 km from the boundary of protected areas notified under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and inter-State boundaries.
What NGT says?
- INO is a category ‘A’ project, which meant EIA study has to be done by an accredited agency.
- Since the project was near a national park, INO needs to get a clearance from the National Board for Wildlife.
- It also needs to get necessary clearance from the Kerala government as well.
About India-Based Neutrino Observatory (INO):
- It country’s most ambitious basic science project proposed to come up in Bodi west hills of Theni district of Tamil Nadu.
- It aims at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approximately 1200 meter.
- Its mandate is to conduct basic research on the elementary particle called neutrino.
- It is jointly supported by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science & Technology (DST), with DAE acting as the nodal agency.
- The observatory will be located underground in order to provide adequate shielding to the neutrino detector from cosmic background radiation.
- It will comprise a complex of caverns which will house detector which is 130 metres long, 26 metres wide and 30 metre high.
Bilateral & International Relations
International Diamond Conference “Mines to Market 2017”
Recently, the Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council of India hosted the International Diamond Conference “Mines to Market 2017”.
- The conference was held with an objective of bringing together the leading Miners, Diamantaires, Retailers, Bankers and Analysts from across the globe on a platform to discuss the supply and demand issues faced by the Global Diamond Industry.
- The conference witnessed Ministers from mining countries, delegates from Mining Companies, heads of Retail and Luxury brands, Int. Diamond heads of various banks and other prominent personalities of the Diamond industry.
India is the largest cut and polished diamond manufacturer in the world. 93 % of its production is exported.
- The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) was set up by the Ministry of Commerce and industry, Government of India (GoI) in 1966.
- It was one of several Export Promotion Councils (EPCs) launched by the Indian Government, to boost the country’s export thrust, when India’s post-Independence economy began making forays in the international markets.
- Since 1998, the GJEPC has been granted autonomous status.
- The GJEPC is the apex body of the gems & jewellery industry and today it represents over 6,000 exporters in the sector.
Key Facts for Prelims
China to take part in Brahmaputra festival
- The five-day Brahmaputra river festival titled Namami Brahmaputra organised by the BJP-led government in Assam, will witness significant participation from China.
- The event is described as the “biggest river festival of India”.
- Various other countries such as Vietnam and Singapore are also attending.
- The Brahmaputra, 2,900 km long, is an international river with 918 km of it flowing in India, 1625 km in China and 337 km in Bangladesh.
Soumya Swaminathan named to UN group on antimicrobial resistance
- UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has appointed Soumya Swaminathan, Director of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in the high level group to provide expertise on and coordinate the global fight against antimicrobial resistance.
- The group comprises high level representatives of relevant UN agencies, other international organizations and individual experts across different sectors.
- Ms Swaminathan is also Secretary in the Department of Health Research in Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
- She is also a multi-award-winning paediatrician, clinical scientist and is known for her research on tuberculosis.
Global Millennium Summit
- The two-day Global Millennium Summit organised by the Shri Ram College of Commerce was recently held in Dubai.
- The theme of the summit is ‘Future of this Millennium’.
- The Global Millennium Summit is the first-of-its-kind initiative taken by students of Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi in association with the Office of International Programmes, SRCC.
- The Summit aims to provide the youth across the world with a platform to discuss, act and interact.
- The Summit witnessed students from the world’s leading universities and notable leaders from the fields of governance, business, technology and academia.
World Poetry Day
- The World Poetry Day was celebrated on 21 March 2017 across the globe.
- The objective behind the day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression as well as to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their societies.
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999.
- The day also provides an occasion to honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry.
KCK International Award for excellence in Print Journalism
- President Pranab Mukherjee presented the KCK International Award for excellence in Print Journalism.
- The awards were organized by Rajasthan Patrika in New Delhi.
- The award for the year 2014 was conferred upon Wanjohi Kabukuru’s team for the story How East Africa Lost Its Innocence that was published in New African magazine, London.
- The award for the year 2015 was awarded to Rakesh Sharma and his team for an investigative news series Sexual Harassment in Nari Niketan, published in Amar Ujala.
- The award carries the cash prize of USD 11000.