Current Affairs Analysis

3rd & 4th August Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Hoolock Gibbons; Turkey and Greece; About Hagia Sophia; Bharat Air Fibre service; Draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020; RADx initiative; Parliamentary Panel on Labour recommendations; Code on Social Security, 2019; Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN); Eastern Hoolock Gibbons; Western Hoolock Gibbons; Indicators that shows upliftment of agriculture; Sources of uncertainty in agriculture; Extreme weather in coastal plains and Western Ghats of southern India; What are Sholas? Danger to Shola;etc.
By IASToppers
August 04, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Bharat Air Fibre service
  • Draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020
  • Parliamentary Panel on Labour Recommendations

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN)

Economy

  • In farm promise, some concerns

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Extreme weather a danger for Nilgiri ecosystem
  • Hoolock Gibbons

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Tensions between Turkey and Greece

Key Facts for Prelims

  • RADx initiative

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Government Schemes & Policies

Bharat Air Fibre service

Recently, the Union Minister of State for HRD, Electronics, Communication, and IT inaugurated the Bharat Air Fibre Services in Maharashtra.

About Bharat Air Fibre services:

  • Introduced by BSNL as part of Digital India initiative.
  • Aims of providing Wireless Connectivity in the range of 20 KMs from the BSNL Locations.
  • Connectivity up to 100 Mbps speed and unlimited free voice calling.

Expected Benefits:

  • Benefits customers in remote areas.
[Ref: PIB]

Draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020

Recently, the Ministry of Defence has formulated a draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020 (DPEPP 2020).

Goals and objectives:

  • To achieve a turnover of Rs 1,75,000 Crores (US$ 25Bn) including export of Rs 35,000 Crore (US$ 5 Billion) in Aerospace and Defence goods and services by 2025.
  • To develop a dynamic, robust and competitive Defence industry, including Aerospace and Naval Shipbuilding industry to cater to the needs of Armed forces with quality products.
  • To reduce dependence on imports and take forward “Make in India” initiatives through domestic design and development.
  • To promote the export of defence products and become part of the global defence value chains.
  • To create an environment that encourages R&D, rewards innovation, creates Indian IP ownership and promotes a robust and self-reliant defence industry.

Focus Areas:

  • Procurement Reforms
  • Indigenization & Support to MSMEs/Startups
  • Optimize Resource Allocation
  • Investment Promotion, FDI & Ease of Doing Business
  • Innovation and R&D
  • DPSUs and OFB
  • Quality Assurance & Testing Infrastructure
  • Export Promotion

Expected benefits:

  • Provide impetus to self-reliance in defence manufacturing.
  • Support Atmanirbhar Bharat Package.
  • Position India amongst the leading countries of the world in defence and aerospace sectors.
[Ref: PIB]

Parliamentary Panel on Labour Recommendations

  • The Parliamentary Panel on Labour has submitted its report to Lok Sabha speaker containing recommendations to Code on Social Security, 2019.

Key Recommendations:

  • Supports universal social protection for unorganized sector workers.
  • Bring uniformity across states on welfare schemes.
  • A social security fund for unorganized sector workers and others should be set up and clearly defined in the Bill stipulating contributions from the employees, employers, central government, state governments.  Social security fund for the unorganized sector should be spent on the important categories of social protection, hospitalization, health insurance, life insurance, and old-age pension
  • A national-level database for all unorganized sector workers and the schemes they are registered in, to ensure that in case of migration from one state to another, the benefits are extended to them.
  • The definition of gig workers needs to be more specific and that of platform workers needs to be expanded.

Brief information about Code on Social Security, 2019

  • The Code on Social Security, 2019 was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
  • The Code replaces nine laws related to social security and is focused to amend and consolidate the laws relating to social security of the employees and related issues.
  • The Bill was referred to a standing committee following certain disputes.
[Ref: Livemint]

Issues related to Health & Education

Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN)

Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) has ensured essential immunization services during the COVID pandemic

About eVIN:

  • The Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) is an innovative technological solution aimed at strengthening immunization supply chain systems across the country.
  • This is being implemented under the National Health Mission (NHM) by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • Aims to provide real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows, and storage temperatures across all cold chain points in the country.
  • Combines state-of-the-art technology, IT infrastructure and trained human resource to enable real-time monitoring of stock and storage temperature of the vaccines kept in multiple locations across the country.
  • eVIN has reached 32 States and Union Territories (UTs) and will soon be rolled out in the remaining States and UTs of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Ladakh and Sikkim.

Benefits:

  • Helped create a big data architecture that generates actionable analytics encouraging data-driven decision-making and consumption-based planning that helps in maintaining optimum stocks of vaccines leading to cost savings.
  • Vaccine availability at all times has increased to 99% in most health centres.
  • While instances of stock-outs have reduced by 80%.
  • Time taken to replenish stocks has also decreased by more than half, on an average.
[Ref: PIB]

Economy

In farm promise, some concerns

Agriculture is definitely one sector where things are closest to business-as-usual in today’s Covid-ravaged Indian economy.

Indicators that shows upliftment of agriculture

Sowings:

  • Farmers have in the current kharif (monsoon) season so far planted 13.9% more area compared to 2019’s coverage at this time. Moreover, acreages are higher in all major crops, barring jute.
  • The increased plantings have been due to a normal southwest monsoon, with the all-India area-weighted rainfall during June-July, at 453.3 mm. The same period last year, recorded 412.3 mm rain — an 8.8% shortfall.

Sale of fertilizers to farmers

  • July month marked the 9th consecutive month of it registering double-digit growth in sale of fertilizer. That has a strong correlation with the monsoon.
  • In 2019, rainfall was 32% below normal in June. However, there was heavy rainfall afterwards and the monsoon season as a whole ended up with 10.4% surplus precipitation. But the main kharif sowing window (May-July) was already over by then.
  • The benefits from rainfall after June lead to a significant recharging of groundwater tables, were reaped only in the rabi (winter-spring) cropping season. Rabi plantings went up 9.5% and it was also reflected in fertiliser sales from November.

Sources of uncertainty

There are at least three sources of uncertainty for agriculture right now:

Monsoon

  • India received 17.6% above-normal rains in June. But July reported a 9.9% deficit.
  • The India Meteorological Department has forecast rainfall during August-September to be 104% of long-period average. The prediction assumes “neutral” ENSO (El Nino) and Indian Ocean Dipole conditions continuing during the remaining part of the monsoon season.
  • As things stand, though, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, mainland Gujarat, Vidarbha, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are among the regions beginning to experience some moisture stress. That could have a bearing on the already-planted crop in vegetative growth stage.

Desert locusts

  • The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has warned that the breeding of these insects is under way along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border.
  • In India, numerous adult groups and swarms are laying eggs over a wide area of Rajasthan between Jodhpur and Churu, while hatching and band formation from earlier laying have occurred further south from Phalodi to Gujarat.
  • The problem would arise when the immature winged adults resulting from this breeding form swarms that can feed on the growing kharif crop.

Milk

  • Milk is India’s largest crop both by volume and value. As a crop that is harvested and sold daily, it is source of supplementary income as well as liquidity for most farmers. The crash in milk prices since the lockdown will certainly impact rural incomes.
  • Out of the country’s estimated 50 crore litres of daily production, 12-12.5 crore litres is handled by organised cooperative and private sector dairies. A short price fall even on this means an income loss of Rs 120-125 crore per day.
  • The losses could mount with the start of buffalo calvings and milk production rising in the natural course as temperatures dip along with improved fodder availability.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Extreme weather a danger for Nilgiri ecosystem

A region where climate change caused weather extremities are exceedingly apparent are the coastal plains and Western Ghats of southern India.

Extreme weather in coastal plains and Western Ghats of southern India

  • In last 4 years, coastal plains and Western Ghats of southern India region has been affected by 8 tropical cyclones and extreme rainfall events in last two years. These bouts of intense storms have been interspersed with severe droughts, heatwaves, deficient and failed monsoons.
  • In August 2019, the Avalanche and Emerald valley regions, which are part of the Kundha watershed, received an unprecedented 900 mm rainfall within 24 hours. It broke the record for the highest rainfall in Tamil Nadu.
    • Kundha river flows in the Erode district of of Tamil Nadu. The upper watershed of the Kundha river is a complex of several peaks above 2,400 m and broad deep valleys. The river, which is a primary tributary to the Bhavani river that feeds into the Cauvery, is fed by numerous streams and rivulets at the headwater sections.

What are Sholas?

  • Classified as ‘Southern Montane Wet Temperate Forest’, the Sholas are found in the upper reaches of the Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • These forests are located in valleys with sufficient moisture and proper drainage, at an altitude of more than 1,500 metres. The upper reaches are covered with grasslands, known as Shola grasslands.
  • These patches of shola forest are usually separated from one another by undulating montane grassland.
  • They are old-growth vegetation and harbour several endemic and rare species of flora and fauna.
  • The vegetation that grows in Shola forests is evergreen. The trees are stunted and have many branches. Their rounded and dense canopies appear in different colours. Generally, the leaves are small in size and leathery.
  • Red-coloured young leaves turning into different colours on maturity is a prominent characteristic of the Shola forests. Epiphytes like lichens, ferns and bryophytes usually grow on the trees.

Danger to Shola

  • The recent episode of extreme precipitation, which caused landslides, are detrimental to sholas. Montane grassland stretches have also experienced large landslides. (The montane grasslands occur where sholas do not grow in).
  • The shola-grassland mosaic (shola + montane grasslands) is most adept at absorbing high rainfall amounts and releasing it slowly throughout the year, giving rise to perennial streams. The native tussock grasses can hold the soil strongly together on steep slopes. However, even this ecology is now giving way under pressure from extreme weather events.
  • The shola-grassland mosaic ecology cannot withstand the high amounts of rainfall that occur in significantly short periods.

Cause of landslides

  • In 2018, unusually high rainfall over the highland districts of Idukki and Coorg caused landslides. A predominant view was that this was because of the indiscriminate construction of roads and proliferating concretisation of the hills.
  • However, even within the highly stable shola-grassland ecology, a large number of landslides occurred in spots with no disturbance such as roads and pathways cut through them. This signifies that climate change has reached a level that is beyond the capacity of the ecosystem and land resilience.

Destruction by dams and tunnels

  • The Kundha watershed region can be broadly divided into two — the higher slopes and the descending valleys.
  • Shola-grassland ecology dominates the higher slopes with various types of land uses such as tea cultivation and non-native tree plantations dominating the descending valleys.
  • The descending valleys are covered with several dams and hydroelectric structures. The Kundha Hydro-Electric Power Scheme is one of the largest hydropower generating installations in Tamil Nadu with 10 dams. This system is now getting two more dams and a series of tunnels to set up a pumped storage hydropower facility.
  • It is disastrous to add larger dams and tunnels. The intensity of floods has turned so strong that even the largest dam complexes in the world face threats of being breached.

Way forward

  • Safeguarding the last remaining zones of ecology and biodiversity from threats of direct destruction is crucial. Concurrently, the larger worldwide urban-industrial-agricultural complex, from where the climate crisis stems from, needs drastic change.
  • The constant incursions into more and more ecological spaces in the form of new dams, roads, and buildings are also connected to this complex.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

Hoolock Gibbons

  • Hoolock Gibbons threatened with extinction in two Manipur districts

About Hoolock Gibbons:

  • The hoolock gibbons are three primate species of genus Hoolock in the gibbon family and are native to eastern Bangladesh, Northeast India, Myanmar and Southwest China. Northeastern India is home to two ape species: eastern and western hoolock gibbons.
  • Gibbons are diurnal (active during the day) and arboreal (live on trees).
  • Their diet consists mainly of fruits, insects and leaves.
  • They live together in monogamous pairs.
  • Threats (applicable to both):  Deforestation for timber, forest fires and hunting.
Western Hoolock Gibbons. Eastern Hoolock Gibbons:
Found in all the states of north-east India, restricted between the south of the Brahmaputra river and east of the Dibang river. Also found in Bangladesh and north-west Myanmar. Inhabits specific pockets of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in India, and southern China and north-east Myanmar.
Western hoolock is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Redlist.

Eastern hoolock is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Redlist.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

Bilateral & International Relations

Tensions between Turkey and Greece

  • Tensions are rising between Turkey and Greece over the past two weeks.
  • Both countries are part of the 30-member NATO alliance. Greece is a part of the European Union while; Turkey is officially a candidate for full membership of the European Union.

Causes:

  • Hagia Sophia row: Turkey converted the 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque, considered to be a revered monument under the Orthodox Christianity.
  • Hydrocarbons exploration rights:  Recently, Turkey announced that the drilling ship Oruc Reis would be exploring a disputed part of the sea for oil and gas. Greece responded by placing its air force, navy and coastguard on high alert. The dispute over rights to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea has been raging since the past 40 years. 
  • Migrants crossing into Greece.

Background:

  • For centuries, Turkey and Greece have shared a chequered history. Greece won independence from modern Turkey’s precursor, the Ottoman Empire, in 1830.
  • In 1923, the two countries exchanged their Muslim and Christian populations.
  • The two nations oppose each other on the decades-old Cyprus conflict, and on two occasions have almost gone to war over exploration rights in the Aegean Sea.

About Hagia Sophia

  • The centuries-old Hagia Sophia, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, was originally a cathedral in the Byzantine Empire before it was turned into a mosque in 1453 when Constantinople fell to Sultan Mehmet II’s Ottoman forces.
  • In the 1930s, however, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, shut down the mosque and turned it into a museum in an attempt to make the country more secular.
  • Under the current Turkish President, the structure was again converted into a mosque.
[Ref: The Indian Express]

Key Facts for Prelims

RADx initiative

  • The United States of America launched the RADx programme to support innovative technologies to make millions of rapid Covid-19 tests.
  • The aim behind the initiative is to significantly increase the number, type and availability of tests by millions per week by fall (September to December).
Topics
Current Affairs Current Affairs Analysis
Tags

IT on Facebook

Facebook Pagelike Widget

Comments

Calendar Archive

September 2020
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930