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Current Affairs Analysis

22nd & 23rd April 2018 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

Earth Day; Minorities’ commission to seek constitutional status; National Commission for Minorities (NCM); potent molecule to treat chikungunya; Ramsar tag for Sunderbans; Sundarbans; Ramsar Convention; South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF); Development Committee (DC); International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC); India's 1st $100 billion company; e-court fee system by Madras High Court; G7 foreign ministers’ summit; Bacteria help remove sulphur from fossil fuels, etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
April 23, 2018

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Minorities’ commission to seek constitutional status

Issues related to Health & Education

  • IIT Roorkee develops a potent molecule to treat chikungunya

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Ramsar tag likely for Sunderbans

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Pune hosted the 12th edition of South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF)
  • Meeting of the Development Committee (DC) and IMFC of the World Bank Group and the IMF

Key Facts for Prelims

  • April 22: Earth Day
  • India’s 1st $100 billion company
  • e-court fee system introduced by Madras High Court
  • G7 foreign ministers’ summit
  • Bacteria help remove sulphur from fossil fuels

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Polity & Governance

Minorities’ commission to seek constitutional status

The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has decided to approach the government for granting it Constitutional status to protect the rights of minority communities more effectively.

Why NCM need a Constitutional status?

  • In its present form, the NCM has powers to summon officials, including chief secretaries and director generals of police, but has to rely on departments concerned to take action against them. If granted constitutional status, the NCM will be able to act against errant officials who do not attend hearings, follow its order or are found guilty of dereliction of duty. Also, the NCM can penalise or suspend an officer for two days or send him/her to jail.
  • The Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment (2017-18), in its 53rd report had also noted that the NCM is “almost ineffective” in its current state to deal with cases of atrocities against minorities.

About National Commission for Minorities (NCM):

The NCM was set up under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 to look into complaints from members of five religious communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians (Parsis).

NCM

  • Jain community was notified as a minority community in 2014.
  • The NCM adheres to the United Nations Declaration of 18 December 1992 which states that “States shall protect the existence of the National or Ethnic, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.”

State Minorities Commissions:

  • Besides NCM, 15 states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Assam, which are home to sizeable minority populace, have set up commissions at their respective levels.
  • Aggrieved persons belonging to the communities may approach the state minorities commissions concerned for redressal of their grievances or send their representations to the NCM after exhausting all avenues of remedies available.
  • The functions of the state commissions, inter-alia, are to safeguard and protect the interests of minorities provided in the Constitution and laws enacted by Parliament and state legislatures.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Issues related to Health & Education

IIT Roorkee develops a potent molecule to treat chikungunya

Researchers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee have identified two small potent molecules Pep-I and Pep-II, for their inhibitory activity to treat Chikungunya disease.

  • The antiviral activity of these molecules was so high that their small amount was able to achieve almost 99% reduction in virus.
  • Currently, there are no drugs to treat chikungunya or any vaccine to prevent it.

About Chikungunya:

Chikungunia-2018

  • Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that causes a disease characterised by fever and severe joint pain, often in hands and feet.
  • Symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.
  • Some patients will feel better within a week but many develop longer-term joint pain that can last up to years. Death is rare but can occur.

difference-zika-dengue-chickungunya-2018

[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Ramsar tag likely for Sunderbans

The West Bengal government has given its approval to the State Forest Department to apply for recognition of Sunderban Reserve Forest under the Ramsar Convention.

Implications:

  • Being conferred the status of a wetland of international importance will not only be a matter of pride for the Sunderbans but also bring a lot of international scientific attention and intervention to the area.
  • Once conferred a Ramsar site status, it will be the largest protected wetland in the country. It will also help promote the Sunderbans as an eco-tourism hotspot.

About Sundarbans:

Sundarbans is vast contiguous mangrove forest ecosystem in the coastal region of Bay of Bengal spread across India and Bangladesh.

  • It covers approximately 10,000 square kilometres of area of which 60% is in Bangladesh and remaining in India.
  • It is located in delta region of Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra river basins.
  • It is the largest tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world.
  • It was recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Fauna:

  • Sundarban forests are known for its self- Royal Bengal Tiger and other numerous species of animals, including Chital Deer, Crocodile and Snakes.

Threats:

  • It is facing threat from climate change and rise in sea level.
  • It also faces threat from widespread construction and clearing of mangrove forests for fisheries.

sundrabans

Significance of Sunderbans:

  • Apart from being the world’s largest tiger habitat, the mangrove forest in the Sunderbans is remarkable for the protection it provides to nearly 4.5 million people on the Indian side and another 3.5 million on the Bangladesh portion from tidal surge generated by cyclonic depression in the Bay of Bengal.
  • About one-third of the total area is used as protected area for the conservation of biological diversity. In addition, the abundant fish and biomass resources – timber, fuelwood, pulpwood, leaves, shells, crabs, honey and fish – are harvested by local communities.
  • The Sunderbans is also a major pathway for nutrient recycling and pollution abatement. The biodiversity of the Sunderbans is also diverse. The delta has the distinction of encompassing the world’s largest mangrove forest belt with 84 identified flora species, of which 34 are true mangroves.

What is Ramsar Convention?

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called the Ramsar Convention, is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

ramsar

  • The Convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Since then, almost 90% of UN member states, from all the world’s geographic regions, have acceded to become “Contracting Parties”.
  • Every three years, representatives of the Contracting Parties meet as the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP), the policy-making organ of the Convention.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

Pune hosted the 12th edition of South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF)

Pune hosted the 12th edition of the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) meeting.

  • This was the sixth SASCOF meeting hosted by India.
  • The Forum was attended by meteorologists from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

12th-edition-of-South-Asian-Climate-Outlook-Forum-2018

About South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF):

  • South Asian nations, supported by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), have been conducting the South Asian Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) since 2010.
  • SASCOF was established as a platform where meteorologists from South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries along with Myanmar, could discuss some of the common weather and climate-related matters.
  • All these South Asian countries — except for Afghanistan, which is located in extreme northwest — experience common weather and climatological characteristics, like Southwest monsoon.
  • SASCOFs prepare consensus seasonal climate information on a regional scale that provide a consistent basis for preparing national level outlooks. Such forums also serve to interface with user sectors to understand and enhance the use of climate information as orchestrated and supported by the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).
[Ref: PIB]

 

Meeting of the Development Committee (DC) and IMFC of the World Bank Group and the IMF

Meeting of the Development Committee (DC) of the World Bank Group and the IMF and the Restricted Session of the International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC) were recently held in Washington D.C.

About Ministerial Committees:

The IMF Board of Governors is advised by two ministerial committees:

(1) The International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC)

  • The IMFC has 24 members, drawn from the pool of 187 governors. Its structure mirrors that of the Executive Board and its 24 constituencies. As such, the IMFC represents all the member countries of the Fund.
  • The IMFC meets twice a year, during the Spring and Annual Meetings. The Committee discusses matters of common concern affecting the global economy and also advises the IMF on the direction its work.
  • At the end of the Meetings, the Committee issues a joint communiqué summarizing its views. These communiqués provide guidance for the IMF’s work program during the six months leading up to the next Spring or Annual Meetings.
  • There is no formal voting at the IMFC, which operates by consensus.

(2) The Development Committee:

  • The Development Committee is a joint committee, tasked with advising the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank on issues related to economic development in emerging and developing countries.
  • The committee has 24 members (usually ministers of finance or development).
  • It represents the full membership of the IMF and the World Bank and mainly serves as a forum for building intergovernmental consensus on critical development issues.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

April 22: Earth Day

  • Earth Day was celebrated on April 22ndacross the globe. It is considered to be the largest secular world event.
  • Theme of Earth Day 2018 is ‘End Plastic Pollution’.
  • This day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970 and has ever since been an annual event. The person credited for organising the event 48 years ago is US Senator Gaylord Nelson.
  • Earth Day celebrations are coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.
  • The concept of observing Earth Day was formally proposed by John McConnell at a UNESCO conference on Environment in 1969.
  • Later in 1971, a proclamation was signed to observe international Earth Day annually on the Vernal Equinox by UN Secretary-General U Thant.
  • On Earth Day 2016, historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change was signed. The agreement is legally binding on signatory countries to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

 

India’s 1st $100 billion company

  • Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the country’s largest IT outsourcing company created history by becoming the first Indian company to reach $100 billion market capitalisation (m-cap) milestone.
  • Market capitalisation is value of company that is traded on stock market, calculated by multiplying total number of shares by present share price.

1st-billion-dollor-indian-company-2018

 

e-court fee system introduced by Madras High Court 

  • The Madras High Court has become the first court in south India and eighth in the country to introduce e-court fee payment facility.
  • The new system will enable litigants who file cases in High Court to pay judicial stamp duty to government through e-stamps, which can be purchased both online and offline.
  • It will pave way for easier and secured way of paying stamp duty. It will also help to tackle sale of counterfeit judicial stamps.
  • So far only the Supreme Court and the High Courts in Delhi, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh had introduced the e-court fee payment facility.

 

G7 foreign ministers’ summit

  • G7 foreign ministers’ summit is being held in Toronto. Participants discussed tensions with Moscow, Iran and North Korea.

G7:

  • The Group of 7 (G7) is a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Union is also represented within the G7.
  • These countries are the seven major advanced economies as reported by the International Monetary Fund: the G7 countries represent more than 64% of the net global wealth ($263 trillion).
  • A very high net national wealth and a very high Human Development Index are the main requirements to be a member of this group.

 

Bacteria help remove sulphur from fossil fuels

  • Scientists from CSIR-Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (CSIR-IMMT) have found four bacterial strains that remove sulphur from fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal.
  • Sulphur is one of the major pollutants emitted during the combustion of fossil fuels.
  • The four bacterial strains are Rhodococcus rhodochrous, Arthrobacter sulfureou, Gordonia rubropertinita and Rhodococcus erythropolis.
  • They use dibenzothiophene, an organic sulphur compound which is major contaminant of fossil fuel as energy source thereby getting rid of sulphur.

Bacteria-help-remove-sulphur-from-fossil-fuels-2018

 

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