Polity & Governance
- India raises with Pak alleged abduction and conversion of two Hindu girls in Sindh
Issues related to Health & Education
- Swine flu cases dip in Delhi
- Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
- India has highest number of poor despite 27 crore moving out of poverty in 10 years
- RBI slaps Rs 2 crore penalty on PNB for violating SWIFT norms
- India’s energy demand outpaces global growth: IEA
Key Facts for Prelims
- Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA-19)
- Mountain Makalu
- President Kovind honoured with highest civilian award of Croatia
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Polity & Governance
India raises with Pak alleged abduction and conversion of two Hindu girls in Sindh
India has raised with Pakistan the alleged abduction of two minor Hindu girls in that country and their alleged conversion to Islam.
- The government raised the matter through a note verbale sent to the Pakistan Foreign Ministry.
- Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan.
What is a Note Verbale?
- A note verbale is a diplomatic communication from one government to another, delivered through each other’s diplomatic representatives.
- Note verbale is French, and literally means a verbal note, because it was meant to be delivered orally to the recipient, it is a written note in present times.
- A note verbale is written on the sending entity’s letterhead, and stamped with that entity’s seal, but not signed.
- It is written in the third person.
Such other types of formal types of diplomatic communication:
- A demarche is a more formal type of communication of one government’s official position, views, or wishes on a given subject to an appropriate official in another government.
- Demi official (DO), is a first person communication that begins with a “Dear…” and is signed by the writer, usually a high representative of the sending entity.
- DOs are used only when the addressee and the representative know each other extremely well and occupy high office.
- A non-paper is written on a blank sheet of paper with no signatures and is addressed to no one, giving those party to the discussions deniability.
- An aide-memoire has to have an addressee, and indicates the sender’s identity, usually with an initial.
Issues related to Health & Education
Swine flu cases dip in Delhi
With the rise of H1N1 virus cases, commonly known as swine flu, 21 deaths (Till March 24) alone have been reported so far this year in the national capital.
About Swine Flu:
- Swine influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that normally only affects pigs. It is commonly caused by H1N1 strains of swine influenza A virus.
- However, other strains, such as H1N2, H3N1 and H3N2 also circulate in pigs. While it is not usual for people to get swine flu, human infections do occasionally happen, mainly after close contact with infected pigs.
- Swine flu is contagious, and it spreads in the same way as the seasonal flu.
- In 2009, a new strain of swine influenza virus emerged in Mexico, and started to cause illness in humans. The World Health Organisation says that this new strain of influenza, called Influenza A (H1N1), can spread from person to person. Later, the World Health Organization declared the swine flu pandemic officially over.
- Swine influenza is present in all pig-producing countries around the world. Outbreaks in pigs occur throughout the year. However, many countries routinely vaccinate pigs against swine influenza.
- When people are infected with swine flu viruses, their symptoms are usually similar to those of seasonal influenza. These include fever, tiredness, and lack of appetite, coughing and a sore throat.
- Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhoea. Some people infected with influenza A (H1N1) have had severe illness and died.
- However, in most of the cases the symptoms of influenza A (H1N1) have been mild, and people have made a full recovery.
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Why in News:
- Hyderabad-based pharma company Laurus Labs Limited announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Global Fund for a period of 3.5 years for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
About Global Fund:
- The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, often called the Global Fund, was created in 2002 as an innovative financing mechanism that seeks to rapidly raise and disburse funding for programs that reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in low- and middle-income countries.
- Its aim is to attract, leverage and invest additional resources to end the AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to achieve the criteria defined by Sustainable Development Goals established by United Nations.
- The organization maintain its secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.
- The Global Fund was formed as an independent, non-profit foundation under Swiss law and hosted by the World Health Organization in January 2002.
- In January 2009, the organization became an administratively autonomous organization, terminating its administrative services agreement with the World Health Organization.
- The Global Fund is structured as a partnership between developed countries, developing countries, the private sector, civil society and affected communities.
- The Fund does not implement its own programs, it funds national actions to fight the three diseases, thereby promoting government ownership.
Importance of Global Fund for India:
- India is home to one-sixth of the world’s population which accounts for about a quarter of the global TB burden.
- India is also the country with the second-highest number of estimated HIV-TB coinfections, after South Africa. However, the government of India is committed to fighting the disease.
- In March 2017, the government announced a new plan to end TB in the country by 2025. The Global Fund is supporting the country with investments to help it meet its goals.
- HIV in India is mainly concentrated among key populations, but because of its huge population, the country has a large number of people living with HIV, at about 2.1 million. Nevertheless, the country has recorded great progress against the disease.
- Since 2010, new HIV infections have decreased by 46 percent and AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 22 percent. India has also made significant progress in the fight against malaria, halving the number of malaria cases since 2000, and making great progress toward elimination.
India has highest number of poor despite 27 crore moving out of poverty in 10 years
According to the Global MPI 2018 Report prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, India has reduced its poverty rate from 55% to 28% in 10 years.
What is Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)?
MPI is a measure that takes into account the incidence of poverty and the extent of deprivation. Going beyond just monetary measures, the MPI takes into account several factors.
- The report measures multidimensional poverty index, which it says can be broken down to show “who is poor” and “how they are poor”.
- This factors in two measures, poverty rate as a percentage of the population, and intensity as the average share of deprivations that poor people experience. The product of these two is MPI.
- The economists who measure “multidimensional poverty” identify ten indicators; if people are deprived in at least one-third them, they are multidimensionally poor.
- The global MPI covers 105 countries in total, which are home to 77 per cent of the world’s population, or 5.7 billion people.
- For the 2018 global MPI, five of the ten indicators have been revised jointly by OPHI and UNDP to align the MPI with the 2030 Agenda.
- This is in response to the Agenda’s call for a better measure of progress toward Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 – “to end poverty in all its forms” – and to help achieve the principle of leaving no one behind.
Highlights of the report:
- India still had 364 million poor in 2015-16, the largest for any country, although it is down from 635 million in 2005-06.
- In India, poverty reduction among children, the poorest states, Scheduled Tribes, and Muslims was fastest.
- Although Muslims and STs reduced poverty the most over the 10 years, these two groups still had the highest rates of poverty.
- Bihar was the poorest state in 2015-16, with more than half its population in poverty.
- The four poorest states —Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh — were still home to 196 million MPI poor people, which was over half of all the MPI poor people in India.
- Jharkhand had the greatest improvement, followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Nagaland.
About United Nations Development Programme:
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the United Nations’ global development network.
- UNDP was established in 1965 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Status of UNDP:
- The status of UNDP is that of an executive board within the United Nations General Assembly.
- The UNDP Administrator is the third highest-ranking official of the United Nations after the United Nations Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General.
UNDP’s work is concentrated on four main focus areas:
- Poverty Reduction and Achievement of the MDGs
- Democratic Governance
- Crisis Prevention and Recovery
- Environment and Energy for Sustainable Development
- UNDP is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from member nations.
- The organization operates in 177 countries, where it works with local governments to meet development challenges and develop local capacity.
- Additionally, the UNDP works internationally to help countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
- Currently, the UNDP is one of the main UN agencies involved in the development of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
- UNDP provides expert advice, training, and grant support to developing countries, with increasing emphasis on assistance to the least developed countries.
- To accomplish the MDGs and encourage global development, UNDP focuses on poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS, democratic governance, energy and environment, social development, and crisis prevention and recovery.
- UNDP also encourages the protection of human rights and the empowerment of women in all of its programs.
RBI slaps Rs 2 crore penalty on PNB for violating SWIFT norms
The RBI has slapped a penalty of Rs 2 crore on Punjab National Bank (PNB) for non-compliance of regulatory directions with regard to SWIFT operations.
What is SWIFT?
SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) is a messaging network that financial institutions use to securely transmit information and instructions through a standardized system of codes.
- Under SWIFT, each financial organization has a unique code which is used to send and receive payments.
- SWIFT code is used when the transfer between two banks happens internationally as we use IFSC codes for the domestic transfers i.e. financial transactions within the geographical territory of India.
- SWIFT does not facilitate funds transfer: rather, it sends payment orders, which must be settled by correspondent accounts that the institutions have with each other.
- The SWIFT is a secure financial message carrier — in other words, it transports messages from one bank to its intended bank recipient.
About SWIFT India:
- SWIFT India is a joint venture of top Indian public and private sector banks and SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication).
- The company was created to deliver high quality domestic financial messaging services to the Indian financial community.
- It has a huge potential to contribute significantly to the financial community in many domains.
India’s energy demand outpaces global growth: IEA
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s Global Energy & CO2 status report, India’s energy demand outpaced global demand growth in 2018.
- The 2018 Global Energy & CO2 status report provides a snapshot of recent global trends and developments across fuels, renewable sources, and energy efficiency and carbon emissions, in 2018.
According to the report:
- The higher energy demand was driven by a global economy that expanded by 3.7 per cent in 2018.
- Energy consumption is increased driven by a robust global economy and higher heating and cooling needs in some parts of the world.
- Coal-fired power generation continues to be the single largest emitter, accounting for 30 per cent of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.
- Emissions from all fossil fuels increased, the power sector accounted for nearly two-thirds of emissions growth, coal use in power alone surpassed 10 Gt CO2, mostly in Asia.
- China, US, and India together accounted for nearly 70 per cent of the rise in energy demand.
- China, India, and US accounted for 85 per cent of the net increase in emissions, while it declined for Germany, Japan, Mexico, France and the United Kingdom.
- The United States had the largest increase in oil and gas demand worldwide. Gas consumption jumped 10% from the previous year, the fastest increase since the beginning of IEA records in 1971.
- India’s emissions growth this year was higher than that of the United States and China — the two biggest emitters in the world — and this was primarily due to a rise in coal consumption
- India emitted 2,299 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018, a 8% rise from last year.
- India saw primary energy demand increase 4 per cent or over 35 million tonne of oil equivalent.
- The growth in India was led by coal for power generation and oil for transport. Indian oil demand grew 5 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017, a year when demand was lower due to the impact of the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax and demonetisation.
- India’s per capita emissions were about 40% of the global average and contributed 7% to the global carbon dioxide burden.
About International Energy Agency (IEA):
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis.
- The Governing Board is the main decision-making body of the IEA, composed of energy ministers or their senior representatives from each member country.
- Unlike the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the IEA does not dispense grants or make loans.
- The IEA has 30 member countries and 8 Association countries.
- An IEA collective action would be initiated in response to a significant global oil supply disruption and would involve IEA Member Countries making additional volumes of crude and/or product available to the global market (either through increasing supply or reducing demand), with each country’s share based on national consumption as part of the IEA total oil consumption.
- To focus on the “3Es” of effectual energy policy: (i) Energy security, (ii) Economic development and (iii) Environmental protection
Before becoming a member country of the IEA, a candidate country must demonstrate that it has:
- crude oil and/or product reserves equivalent to 90 days of the previous year’s net imports, to which the government has immediate access (even if it does not own them directly) and could be used to address disruptions to global oil supply;
- a demand restraint programme to reduce national oil consumption by up to 10%;
- legislation and organisation to operate the Co-ordinated Emergency Response Measures (CERM) on a national basis;
- legislation and measures to ensure that all oil companies under its jurisdiction report information upon request;
- measures in place to ensure the capability of contributing its share of an IEA collective action.
- A candidate country must be a member country of the OECD. However, membership in the OECD does not automatically result in membership in the IEA.
- Reports published by IEA: Global Energy & CO2 Status Report 2017, World Energy Outlook, World Energy Statistics 2017, World Energy Balances 2017, Energy Technology Perspectives.
Key Facts for Prelims
Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA-19)
Why in News:
- Indian Navy’s ship Kadmatt arrived at Langkawi, Malaysia on a seven days official visit on Monday 25 Mar 19.
- The ship is scheduled to participate in the 15th edition of Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition, LIMA-19 during the visit.
- The ship is fitted with state-of-the-art weapons, sensors and machinery and is also designed to embark the Seaking anti-submarine helicopter.
About Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition:
- It is a largest show within the Asia-Pacific region.
- It takes place once every two years in Langkawi, Malaysia.
- This exhibition has a remarkable list of international exhibitioner and suppliers, which range from government officials, military and civil delegates.
- It is focused mainly on the defence industry, but also supports civilian industries.
- LIMA initiated in 1991 with the motive to provide ideal platform where industry stakeholders could engage and expand their networks towards forgoing new partnerships and business agreements.
Why in news?
- First Indian Army Mountaineering Expedition to Mt Makalu (8485m) was flagged off on 26 Mar 2019.
- In furtherance of the objective of summiting all challenging peaks above 8000M, Indian Army is launching its maiden expedition to Mt Makalu in Mar-May 2019.
About Mountain Makalu
- Mt Makalu is considered amongst the most dangerous peaks and summiting the peak is considered extremely challenging due to inclement weather conditions and freezing temperatures.
- Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world at 8,485 metres.
- It is located in the Mahalangur Himalayas 19 km southeast of Mount Everest.
- The first climb on Makalu was made by an American team led by Riley Keegan in the spring of 1954.
- The mountain is notorious for its steep pitches and knife-edged ridges that are completely open.
- The Barun Valley, one of the natural wonder lies at the base of Mountain Makalu.
President Kovind honoured with highest civilian award of Croatia
- President Ram Nath Kovind has been honoured with Croatia’s highest civilian award the Grand Order of the King of Tomislav.
- The award is given to heads of state for their important contribution towards the development of state relations between Croatia and their respective countries.
Location of Croatia:
- Croatia is a country at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, on the Adriatic Sea.
- It borders Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro to the southeast, sharing a maritime border with Italy.