Current Affairs Analysis

4th July 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Hagia Sophia; Article 164 (1A); Article 164; Millets into ICS in Odisha; Millets; Agroecology; Biofuels; Generations of biofuels; E-waste; E-waste recycling in India; Awareness Programme on Environmental Hazards of Electronic waste; Nagarhole National Park; Prerak Dauur Samman Awards; Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban MIS portal; Russia’s Constitutional Amendments; Baba Kalyani committee; Fit Hai To Hit Hai India program; Nimu, Leh; Botswana etc.
By IASToppers
July 06, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Strength of M.P. Ministry exceeds constitutional limit

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Odisha to introduce locally produced millets into ICDS, PDS

Social Issues

  • Need food system overhaul to combat global hunger

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • AI to study supply chain network of biofuels
  • E-waste to increase by 38% by 2030
  • Traffic on roads abutting Nagarhole Park to be monitored
  • Prerak Dauur Samman Awards

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Russia’s Constitutional Amendments
  • Why does Turkey want to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque?

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Baba Kalyani committee
  • Fit Hai To Hit Hai India program
  • Nimu, Leh
  • Botswana

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Polity & Governance

Strength of M.P. Ministry exceeds constitutional limit

Rajya Sabha MP in Madhya Pradesh has warned to move to the court as the strength of the Council of Ministers in the state reportedly exceeds the prescribed limit.

Major Highlights:

  • Recently 20 Cabinet Ministers and eight Ministers of State were included in the Council of Ministers, expanding it to 34.
  • This was described as illegal, as appointing Ministers more than 15% of the effective strength of the legislators at 206 the law has been violated.
  • It has been alleged that the BJP government had violated Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution.

Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution:

  • The total number of Ministers, including the Chief Minister, in the Council of Ministers in a State shall not exceed 15% of the total number of members of the Legislative Assembly of that State.

Article 164:

  • The Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and the Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor.
  • Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State.
  • The Governor shall administer to him the oaths of office and secrecy as set out in the Third Schedule before a Minister enters upon his office.
  • A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister.

 [Ref: The Hindu; COI]

Government Schemes & Policies

Odisha to introduce locally produced millets into ICDS, PDS

Locally cultivated ragi will be part of the Integrated Child Development Services scheme for the first time in Odisha.

Major Highlights:

  • The Keonjhar district, Odisha is introducing it as part of the pre-school meal from July 2020 onwards.
  • Additionally, 14 districts — a part of the state’s Millet Mission — will provide ragi through the public distribution system from September 2020.
  • All the districts will provide 1. 5 kilogrammes ragi per person (out of the five kg per person entitlement) through PDS.

Rationale:

  • The initiatives are part of the state’s millet mission which was initiated in 2017 to popularise local production of millets among farmers and increase local household consumption for better dietary diversity and nutritional gains.
  • It was one of the key commitments to integrate locally grown millets as part of public food systems such as ICDS and PDS, mid-day meals and eventually government-run hostels and homes.
  • To build climate resilience among farmers and promote agroecological farming methods for cultivation that draw on chemical-free agriculture practices and locally sustained food systems.

Concerns:

  • According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, Odisha has an immense malnutrition burden to address, where about 45 % of children are stunted and about 41 % of women have a below-normal body mass index.

What are Millets?

  • Millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human food.
  • They are important crops in the semiarid tropics of Asia and Africa (especially in India, Mali, Nigeria, and Niger), with 97% of millet production in developing countries.
  • The crop is favoured due to its productivity and short growing season under dry, high-temperature conditions.
  • The most widely grown millet is pearl millet, which is an important crop in India and parts of Africa.
  • Millets may have been consumed by humans for about 7,000 years.
  • They include jawar (sorghum), ragi, korra, arke, sama, bajra, chena/barr and sanwa millet.
[Ref: DownToEarth]

Social Issues

Need food system overhaul to combat global hunger

Amid COVID-19 pandemic to bring countries closer to the goal of eliminating hunger, there is a need to steer policy shifts towards sustainable food systems and bringing in a consumption model instead of a production one.

Major Highlights:

  • These are some recommendations from the United Nations Committee on World Food Security’s High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE).
  • The committee has called for sustainable food systems to ensure the availability and access of sufficient food to all, but particularly the poor and marginalised; the agency for all people and groups; and stability in the face of shocks and crises.
  • The committee identified actions that governments needed to take eliminate hunger by 2030. Some of them are:
    • Regenerative production practices such as agroecology.
    • Supporting the development of diverse distribution market networks were among them.
    • Improving coordination across sectors such as the economy, health, environment, agriculture and food.
    • Building more resilient systems and address climate change across food systems.

Agroecology:

  • Agroecology is an integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of food and agricultural systems.
  • It seeks to optimize the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system.
  • Agro-ecology is known to promote nutritional diets and helps achieve sustainable development goals.

Principles of Agroecology:

[Ref: DownTo Earth; FAO]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

AI to study supply chain network of biofuels

IIT Hyderabad is using artificial intelligence to study supply chain network of biofuels.

Major Highlights:

  • The researchers of the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad have started using computational methods to understand the factors and impediments in incorporating biofuels into the fuel sector in India.
  • The framework considers revenue generation not only as an outcome of sales of the biofuel but also in terms of carbon credits via greenhouse gas emission savings throughout the project lifecycle.
  • The team has considered multiple technologies available for bioenergy generation across several zones in the country and performed a thorough feasibility study using data of suppliers, transport, storage and production etc.
  • The analysis on country-wide supply chain network and the use of machine learning techniques have helped to capture the uncertainty in forecasting demands and other supply chain parameters and their effects on the operational and design decisions in the long run.

What are Biofuels?

  • Biofuels are a renewable energy source, made from organic matter or wastes, that can play a valuable role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Biofuels are one of the largest sources of renewable energy in use today.

Generations of Biofuels:

[Ref: PIB]

E-waste to increase by 38% by 2030

As per a new United Nations University report, Global e-waste — discarded electrical and electronic equipment — will increase by 38 % between 2020 and 2030.

Major Highlights:

  • There was 53.6 million tonnes (MT) e-waste in 2019.
  • Asia generated the greatest volume of e-waste in 2019 (24.9 MT), followed by the Americas and Europe.
  • Most E-waste in 2019 consisted of small equipment, large equipment and temperature exchange equipment.
  • Less than 18 % of the e-waste generated in 2019 was collected and recycled.
  • E-waste consisting of gold, silver, copper, platinum and other high-value, recoverable materials worth at least $57 billion was mostly dumped or burned rather than being collected for treatment and reuse.
  • The number of countries that have adopted a national e-waste policy, legislation or regulation has increased from 61 to 78 and includes India.

What is E-waste?

  • E-waste is a health and environmental hazard, containing toxic additives or hazardous substances such as mercury, which damages the human brain and/or coordination system.
  • Structured management of electronic waste (e-waste) in India is nascent and is mandated under the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016.
  • Some of the salient features of the rules include e-waste classification, extended producer responsibility (EPR), collection targets (EPR) and restrictions on import of e-waste containing hazardous materials.
  • E-waste is categorised into 21 types under two broad categories: Information technology and communication equipment and consumer electrical and electronics. These include their components, consumables, parts and spares.

E-waste recycling in India:

  • There are 312 authorised recyclers of e-waste in India, with the capacity for treating approximately 800 kilotonnes annually.
  • Formal recycling capacity remains under-utilised, as the large majority of the waste is still handled by the informal sector.
  • About 90 % of the country’s e-waste is recycled in the informal sector.
  • India needs an effective implementation of regulations for managing the e-waste.
  • It can be done through identifying and promoting cooperatives and expanding the scope of the 2016 E-Waste (Management) Rules to these cooperatives or the informal sector workers.

Awareness Programme on Environmental Hazards of Electronic waste:

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has initiated the project Awareness Programme on Environmental Hazards of Electronic waste on March 31, 2015.
  • This project is under the Digital India initiative of the Government of India and focuses on reuse and recycling of e-waste, which has the potential to conserve natural resources.
  • The project has three components viz., Content Development, Inventory Assessment and Awareness Generation amongst different stakeholders.
  • The project will help in effective implementation of E-waste Management, 2016.
  • MietY has played a key role in the dissemination of knowledge on e-waste rules in the past and wishes to engage all key stakeholders during this exercise.

Objective:

  • To create awareness among different stakeholders to reduce the adverse impact on environment and health due to improper disposal of e-waste.

 [Ref: DownToEarth]

Traffic on roads abutting Nagarhole Park to be monitored

The Karnataka Forest Department will soon put in place a traffic monitoring mechanism along the roads adjacent to Nagarhole National Park and criss-crossing Mysuru and Kodagu districts.

Aim:

  • To ensure better compliance of forest laws by motorists and minimise road kills.

Nagarhole National Park:

  • Nagarhole National Park is a national park located in Kodagu district and Mysore district in Karnataka, India.
  • It is one of India’s premier Tiger Reserves along with the adjoining Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
  • The park was established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1955 and was upgraded into a national park in 1988.
  • This park was declared the thirty seventh Project Tiger reserves of India in 1999.
  • It is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
  • The Western Ghats Nilgiri sub-cluster of 6,000 km2, including all of Nagarhole National Park, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site.
  • The park has rich forest cover, small streams, hills, valleys and waterfalls.
  • The park has a healthy predator-prey ratio, with many tigers, Gaur, elephants, Indian leopards, and deer (Chital, Sambar, etc.)
[Ref: The Hindu]

Prerak Dauur Samman Awards

Urban Affairs Minister has recently launched the toolkit for Swachh Survekshan-2021, the sixth edition of the annual cleanliness survey of urban India conducted by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

Major Highlights:

  • A new category of awards titled Prerak Dauur Samman as part of Swachh Survekshan-2021 was announced.
  •  The Prerak Daaur Samman has a total of five additional subcategories– Divya (Platinum), Anupam (Gold), Ujjwal (Silver), Udit (Bronze), Aarohi (Aspiring) – with top three cities being recognized in each.
  • This new category will categorize cities based on six select indicator-wise performance criteria. They are:
  • Segregation of waste into Wet, Dry and Hazard categories
  • Processing capacity against wet waste generated
  • Processing and recycling of wet and dry waste
  • Construction & Demolition (C&D) waste processing
  • Percentage of waste going to landfills
  • Sanitation status of cities.

Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban MIS portal:

  • The event witnessed the launch of integrated Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban MIS portal.
  • The launch of the integrated MIS portal is an effort by the Ministry to bring the numerous digital initiatives on a single platform thus ensuring a unified and hassle-free experience for states and cities.
  • It is aimed at enabling scaling up and better monitoring of outcomes along with increased citizen engagement.

Swachh Survekshan:

  • Swachh Survekshan is a ranking exercise taken up by the Government of India to assess rural and urban areas for their levels of cleanliness and active implementation of Swachhata mission initiatives in a timely and innovative manner.
  • It was first conducted in 2016 with 73 cities. The next survekshan rounds of the survey widened the coverage of the assessment to more than 1000 cities.
[Ref: PIB]

Bilateral & International Relations

Russia’s Constitutional Amendments

Russia’s President has ordered amendments that would allow him to remain in power until 2036.

Major Highlights:

  • Vladimir Putin can potentially stay in power for two more six-year terms after his term expires in 2024.
  • After a week-long vote, almost 78% of voters endorsed the amendments, while 21% voted against them, with 65% voter turnout.
  • The provision has been added to the Russian Constitution after voters approved the changes during a week-long plebiscite.
  • The Russian Constitution bars more than two consecutive presidential terms.

Other Amendments:

  • The changes included a reorganisation of the government, introducing a higher minimum pension and wages, a ban on gay marriage, restricting top officials from holding dual citizenship, enshrining faith in God as a core value and emphasising the primacy of the Constitution over international treaties and rulings.

Challenges ahead:

  • According to the IMF, the economy hasn’t expanded in dollar terms for a decade.
  • The Fund estimates the GDP to shrink by 6.6% this year.
  • The oil price fall will lower exports revenue.
  • Russia’s relationship with the West remains troublesome.
  • The sanctions imposed on Russia after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 are still in place.

 [Ref: The Hindu]

Why does Turkey want to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque?

Turkey’s highest court has convened to decide whether Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia museum can be turned into a mosque.

What is the Hagia Sophia?

  • The 1,500year-old structure is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, was originally a cathedral before it was turned into a mosque.
  • In the 1930s, 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.
  • There have been calls for long from Islamist groups and nationalists in the country to convert the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.
  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said that it had been a big mistake to turn the Hagia Sophia into a museum and that he was considering reverting it.

What is the controversy about?

  • Erdogan brought up the subject of converting the Hagia Sophia coincided with US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  • Observers believe that Erdogan’s plans for the conversion of the Hagia Sophia are closely connected with his attempts to score political points.
  • He aims to gather political support that he has seen diminishing following his loss in Istanbul’s municipal elections last year.

Why is Greece objecting to the conversion of Hagia Sophia?

  • In May 2020, Greece objected to the reading of passages from the Quran inside the Hagia Sophia on the 567th anniversary of the Ottoman invasion of the former Byzantine capital.
  • Greece’s Foreign Ministry said that this move was a violation of UNESCO’s ‘Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage’.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Key Facts for Prelims:

Baba Kalyani committee

  • The Baba Kalyani led committee constituted by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry to study the existing Special Economic Zone policy of India submitted its report in 2018.
  • It had a key suggestion to move the SEZ philosophy from export-oriented to broad-based Employment and Economic Growth approach.
  • The Union Commerce Minister has recently announced that action to recover SEZs is being taken as per the Baba Kalyani committee recommendations.

Objectives:

  • To evaluate the SEZ policy and make it WTO compatible.
  • To suggest measures for maximizing utilisation of vacant land in SEZs.
  • To suggest changes in the SEZ policy based on international experience.
  • To merge the SEZ policy with other Government schemes like coastal economic zones, Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor, national industrial manufacturing zones and food and textiles parks.

Fit Hai To Hit Hai India program

  • Union HRD Minister and Sports Minister launched the ‘Fit Hai to Hit Hai India’ under Fit India campaign for school children.
  • Objective: To inspire and motivate the school children about the importance and need to stay fit during COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 13,868 schools affiliated to CBSE have participated in various Fit India programs and 11,682 schools have also received the Fit India flag.
  • The campaign aims to make children both mentally and physically healthy.
  • Many fitness icons have joined this campaign to motivate students and encourage them to remain healthy and fit.

Nimu, Leh

  • Nimu is a small village, located about 50 km from Leh, visited by PM Modi recently at the height of the border tensions between India and China.
  • The village is surrounded by the Zanskar range, with a population of 1,100 people as per the 2011 Census, is at the confluence of rivers Indus and Zanskar.
  • It has a hydroelectric power plant known as the Nimu-Bazgo dam and is also used by tourists for rafting.
  • Nimu is strategically important, situated at 11,000 feet, near Kargil, it proved its worth during the 1999 war.
  • It served the Indian Army well when Pakistan attacked Kargil and is the reserve brigade headquarter of the 14 Corps of the Indian Army.
  • Its significance can also be ascertained from the fact that the Border Road Organisation (BRO) is constructing a road from Padum in the Zanskar Valley to Nimu, to connect Ladakh to Manali via the Lahaul Valley.

Botswana

  • Hundreds of elephants have died mysteriously in Botswana’s famed Okavango Delta.
  • They were not poached as the tusks were found intact and there is no clear cause of death.
  • Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population, estimated to be around 130,000.

Key facts about Botswana:

  • Botswana is a landlocked country in Southern Africa whose landscape is defined by the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta.
  • The country is a representative republic, with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections and the lowest perceived corruption ranking in Africa since at least 1998.
  • It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west and north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast.
  • Botswana has transformed itself into an upper-middle-income country, with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
  • The economy is dominated by mining, cattle, and tourism.
  • The massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve, with its fossilized river valleys and grasslands, is home to numerous animals.
  • Capital: Gaborone.
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