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Current Affairs Analysis

30th September 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

New Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2017; Sample Registration Survey (SRS); What is Infant mortality rate (IMR)? What is "Relief 123" service? India and Norway health cooperation; Report on law to deal with Internet Hate Speech; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
September 30, 2017

Contents

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Govt data shows India’s infant mortality rate has declined 8%

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Environment ministry notifies new wetland rules
  • VNL, BSNL launch disaster management service in India

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India and Norway sign Letter of Intent to extend health cooperation

Defence & Security Issues

  • Government Checking Report On Law To Deal With Internet Hate Speech

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Issues related to Health & Education

Govt data shows India’s infant mortality rate has declined 8%

According to recently released Sample Registration Survey (SRS), India has registered a significant decline of 8% in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in 2016.

iastoppers Infant mortality rate india

What is Infant mortality rate (IMR)?

  • IMR is the number of deaths per 1,000 live births of children under one year of age.

Highlights of SRS:

  • IMR in India has declined by three points from 37 per 1000 live births in 2015 to 34 per 1000 live births in 2016.
  • India has also recorded major drop in birth cohort, which has for first time came down to below 25 million. India has registered 90000 fewer infant deaths in 2016 as compared to 2015. The total number of estimated infant deaths have come down from 9.3 Lakhs in 2015 to 8.4 lakhs in 2016.
  • The gender gap in India for child survival is also reducing steadily. The gender difference between female and male IMR has reduced to below 10%, giving major boost to Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme.
  • Among Empowered Action Group (EAG) states and Assam, all states except Uttarakhand have reported decline in IMR compared to 2015. The decline is reported as 4 points in Bihar, 3 points in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Assam respectively and two points decline in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

Significance

  • The results signify that strategic approach of Health Ministry has started yielding dividends and also efforts of focusing on low performing States is paying off.
  • These remarkable achievements in short span of time are result of countrywide efforts to increase health service coverage through various initiatives of Government.
[Ref: Business Standard]

 

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Environment ministry notifies new wetland rules

In a major decision, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has notified new Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules 2017 to prohibit range of activities in wetlands.

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  • The new rules will replace earlier rules notified in 2010.

What are wetlands?

  • Wetlands can be defined as transitional land between terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems where water table is usually at or near surface or it may be land covered by shallow water.
  • It supports rich biodiversity and provides wide range of ecosystem services such as water storage, water purification, flood mitigation, erosion control, aquifer recharge etc.

Wetlands in India:

  • There are 115 wetlands officially identified by Central Government and of those 26 are identified as wetlands of international importance under Ramsar Convention (an international intergovernmental treaty for conservation of wetlands to which India is party).

Threats to wetlands:

  • Wetlands are threatened by reclamation and degradation due to activities like drainage and landfill, pollution, hydrological alteration, over-exploitation resulting in loss of biodiversity and disruption in ecosystem services provided by them.

Highlights of new rules:

  • It stipulates setting up of SWA in each State/UTs headed by State’s environment minister and include range of government officials. State government will also nominate one expert each in fields of wetland ecology, hydrology, fisheries, landscape planning and socioeconomics.
  • These authorities will develop comprehensive list of activities to be regulated and permitted within notified wetlands and their zone of influence.
  • They will also recommend additional prohibited activities for specific wetlands, define strategies wise use of wetlands and its conservation and undertake measures to enhance awareness within stakeholders and local communities on values and functions of wetlands. In this case, wise use has been defined as principle of sustainable uses that is compatible with conservation.
  • The State authorities will also need to prepare a list of all wetlands of the State or union territory within three months, a list of wetlands to be notified within six months, a comprehensive digital inventory of all wetlands within one year which will be updated every ten years.
  • The rules prohibit activities like conversion of wetland for non-wetland uses including encroachment of any kind, setting up of any industry and expansion of existing industries, manufacture or handling or storage or disposal of hazardous substances and construction and demolition waste, solid waste dumping, discharge of untreated wastes and effluents from industries, cities, towns, villages and other human settlements.

What are the concerns raised by the environmental experts about the new rules?

Environmental experts, however, are not happy. They pointed out that

iastoppers-Environmental-experts-not-happy

  • Provisions like “central government may consider proposals from the state government or union territory administration for omitting any of the (prohibited) activities on the recommendation of the authority” in the new rules can be misused.
  • The new Wetland Rules have laudable objectives. However, it falls short in details.
  • Another major objection is about the process of appeal against the decisions of wetland authorities. According to the 2010 rules, anyone aggrieved with the CWRA’s decisions could have filed an appeal with the National Green Tribunal, but the new 2017 rules are silent on the appeal process.
  • The other big gap is the subjective definition of “wise use” which is to be determined by the state wetland authority. While the subject head talks about restrictions and the activities listed are to be prohibited, the provision gives ample space for undoing everything that ought to be prohibited.
  • At the outset, the identification process by the State Wetland Authority does not distinguish between existing wetlands and especially those past wetlands which have been encroached and can be proved through legal documents.
  • It also does not take into account the Jagpal Singh judgment of Justice Katju for restoration of encroached wetlands throughout the country
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

VNL, BSNL launch disaster management service in India

Domestic telecom equipment provider Vihaan Networks Limited (VNL) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to launch “Relief 123” service to provide disaster management in India.

iastoppers-Relief-123

  • The model can also be scaled for SAARC countries, wherein BSNL would have roaming agreements with local mobile service operators.

What is “Relief 123” service?

The “Relief 123” service is an integrated disaster response solution for first responders and public safety agencies.

  • The solution is designed and manufactured by VNL and the backhaul connectivity will be provided by BSNL.
  • The “Relief 123” is based on “ResQMobil”, an integrated portable communication solution which packs in the required hardware into a portable transportable trailer-on-wheels.

Significance:

  • Given that our country is prone to natural disasters, the availability and quick deployment of comprehensive communications solutions will help disaster management agencies mount faster and more reliable search and rescue operations.
  • The comprehensive communication solution will bring BSNL and disaster management agencies — National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) on one platform for better coordination.
  • The service will restore connectivity at disaster sites, help locate the affected people and integrate information across platforms for quick relief.

Background:

  • Both companies have partnered in the past for the roll out of voice and data connectivity in the worst Left-wing extremism-affected areas of the country.
[Ref: Economic Times]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

India and Norway sign Letter of Intent to extend health cooperation

India has signed Letter of Intent (LoI) with Norway to extend the cooperation within health sector through the Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI) for a period of three years starting from 2018.

iastoppers-India-Norway-health-cooperation

  • Through this letter, the cooperation between India and Norway will continue to be aligned with the development goals of the Indian Government as outlined in its National Health Policy 2017 for achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Key facts:

  • The cooperation would mainly focus on global health issues of common interest.
  • It would also include areas related to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, adolescent health and strengthening of the health system.
  • It would also build on experiences from NIPI phase I and II.
  • Besides this, it would focus on innovative, catalytic and strategic support taking the Indian Government’s Intensification Plan for Accelerated Maternal and Child Survival in India as the starting point.

Background:

  • In 2006, governments of India and Norway had agreed to collaborate towards achieving MDG 4 in order to reduce child mortality based on commitments made by the two Prime Ministers.
  • The partnership, based on India’s health initiative- the National Health Mission (NHM), was aimed at facilitating rapid improvement in the quality of child and maternal health services in four high focus states – Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
  • Besides the four states, the partnership initiative will now also be extended to the state of Jammu & Kashmir.

Location of Norway:

Norway map ias

Norway map iastoppers

[Ref: PIB]

 

Defence & Security Issues

Government Checking Report On Law To Deal With Internet Hate Speech

The Home Ministry is examining a report given by a high-level committee formed to propose new laws or amendments to deal with hate speech on the internet.

iastoppers Internet Hate Speech

  • The committee, headed by TK Viswanathan, has submitted a report on this to the Home Ministry recently.

Recommendations made by the committee:

  • Section 78 of the IT Act needs to be substituted and Section 153 and 505A of the Indian Penal Code need to be amended.
  • Section 78 primarily dealt with capacity building and needs to be relooked at with a view to sensitise law enforcement agency officers. Under it, a police officer of the rank of inspector or above was empowered to investigate offences.
  • Each state should have a State Cyber Crime Coordinator which should be an officer not below the rank of Inspector General of Police.
  • Each district to have a District Cyber Crime Cell headed by an officer not below the rank of sub-inspector.

Background:

  • The TK Viswanathan committee was formed after the Supreme Court struck down section 66A of the Information Technology Act.
  • Section 66A defines the punishment for sending “offensive” messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet. A conviction can fetch a maximum of three years in jail and a fine.
  • Considering the growing menace of hate speech and abuse on the internet in the absence of the provision, the committee was reportedly set up to propose new laws and amendments in existing laws.

 [Ref: The Hindu]

 

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