Polity & Governance
- FSSAI proposes double ash content in noodles
- India seeks market access for sesame seeds in Japan
Environment & Ecology
- Rare ‘Cutest Falcon’ spotted in Bastar
- Premature deaths will rise minus air quality norms: IEA
- Tribunal rejects Beijing’s claims on South China Sea
Defence & Security Issues
- INS karna – Marine Commandos get a new Base at Visakhapatnam
Polity & Governance
FSSAI proposes double ash content in noodles
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a draft notification proposing doubling of permitted ash content in noodles and pasta.
- Ash content is now allowed up to one per cent. The new notification has proposed to increase it to two per cent for seasonings or tastemakers.
- Recently, the presence of excess ash in various noodle samples was reported by the Uttar Pradesh State Food and Drug Authority. District official alleged total ash content in samples of prominent noodle brands like Ching’s (1.83 per cent), Hindustan Unilever’s Knorr Soupy Noodles (1.89 per cent) and Foodles (2.37 per cent) from GSK Healthcare were higher than the permissible limit.
- Nestle’ Maggi instant noodle came under the state regulator’s scanner in March this year as it was found to contain 85 per cent higher ash than the permitted level.
India seeks market access for sesame seeds in Japan
India will seek greater market access in the Japanese market for its farm products such as sesame seeds as well as for its services professionals including nurses, when senior officials of both the countries meet during the upcoming joint committee meeting.
- The focus on sesame seeds is because Japan is the world’s second largest importer of the item (after China) with annual imports of around 1.6 lakh tonnes.
- Sesame seeds are used in Japanese cuisine in salads, soups, snacks, candies, and for flavouring and baking.
- India is the world’s largest sesame seed producer with an annual production of around 7 lakh tonnes. India is also the world’s largest exporter of the item.
- Sesame oil is used in cooking, and in manufacture of soaps, perfumes and pharmaceuticals, while sesame meal (a by-product of the oil) is used as poultry feed.
- Following the detection of pesticides and insecticides such as DDT and malathion in some sesame seeds consignments from India over two decades ago, Japan has been reluctant to import the commodity from India. However, there is no official ban in Japan on import of sesame seeds from India.
Environment & Ecology
Rare ‘Cutest Falcon’ spotted in Bastar
Fondly called as ‘cutest falcon’ among the birdwatchers, Amur Falcon was spotted for the first time in Central India with photographic authentication, at Bastar region.
- Earlier, spotted in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, the Falcon crosses 22,000 kilometres via India and halts in MP and Chhattisgarh as well.
About Amur falcon:
- The Amur falcon is a small raptor of the falcon family.
- It breeds in south-eastern Siberia and Northern China before migrating in large flocks across India and over the Arabian Sea to winter in Southern Africa.
- It was earlier treated as a subspecies of the red-footed falcon and known as the eastern red-footed falcon.
- The wide breeding range and large population size of the Amur falcon have led to the species being assessed as being of least concern.
- Of the 69 species of raptors known from India, Amur Falcon was one of the least talked about species till recently.
- Primarily recorded from northeast India, with a few scattered sight records in peninsular India, the species is generally considered rare.
In 2012, mass trapping and capture of migrating Amur falcons in Nagaland (India) was reported in the media and a successful campaign was begun to prevent their killing.[Ref: ToI]
Premature deaths will rise minus air quality norms: IEA
According to a study by the International Energy Agency (IEA), less than one per cent of India’s population lives in areas that meet World Health Organisation air quality guidelines. But if stringent air pollution regulations are in place, this could increase to almost 10% by 2040.
- The “Energy and Air Pollution, World Energy Outlook Special Report” assesses the role of energy in air pollution and makes emissions projections for 2040 based on two scenarios.
- The existing policy scenario includes policies adopted or announced by the government, and the clean air scenario highlights what could be achieved through stronger action.
Highlights of the report:
- Housing over one-sixth of the world’s population but using only six per cent of energy, India’s energy use is bound to rise.
- Thermal power stations, vehicles, back-up generators, brick kilns, industrial activity and biomass burning for cooking and heating are major sources of energy-related pollution.
- The report identifies sources for three big pollutants: NOx (nitrates), SO2 (sulfates) and PM2.5 (particulate matter).
- Transport is the major contributor of nitrates, power sector for sulfates and residential sector for particulates.
- Without policy efforts, sulfates and particulates would roughly double by 2040 and nitrates would grow almost 2.5 times.
- The report acknowledges the role of Environmental Protection Amendment Rules (EPA) 2015 in strengthening emission standards for new and existing plants. But the results will not be delivered without effective compliance, which has to be monitored at the plant level, with penalties for violations.
Tribunal rejects Beijing’s claims on South China Sea
An international tribunal ruled that China’s claims to historic and economic rights in most of the South China Sea have no legal basis, dealing a setback to Beijing that could intensify its efforts to establish its control by force.
- The ruling came from an arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which both China and Philippines have signed. The ruling is binding but the tribunal has no powers for enforcement.
- China immediately rejected an international ruling on the South China Sea, which went in favour of the Philippines, as “null and void” and devoid of any “binding force”.
While the ruling cannot reverse China’s actions, it still constitutes a rebuke, carrying with it the force of the international community’s opinion.
What was the ruling in the South China Sea case?
- The court opined that the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea superseded China’s “Nine-dash line” – the locus of China’ 69-year-old claim to nearly 85 percent of the South China Sea.
- China has violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights and also caused severe harm to the coral reef environment by building artificial islands in South China Sea.
- China’s rights are incompatible with the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) provided in the UNCLOS.
What’s the South China Sea case?
- China claims almost all of the South China Sea along the nine-dash line on the map. The Philippines argues that the claim made by China is against international law.
- The current round of tension between the two countries began in 2008-2009 after a tense but bloodless stand-off over the Scarborough Shoal (an island in the South China Sea), which led to China gaining de facto control of it in 2012.
- In 2013, the Philippines had filled the case at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea at The Hague, seeks to counter the Chinese claims in the South China Sea.
- Earlier in 2013, China also had set up an ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) over similarly disputed territory in the East China Sea.
Importance of South China Sea:
- The South China Sea rich in energy (reserves of natural resources around them including petroleum), mineral and fishing resources.
- It is strategically located and major international shipping route as world’s half merchant ships passes through it.
- The SCS is a busy international waterway, being one of the main arteries of the global economy and trade. More than $5 trillion of world trade ships pass through the SCS every year.
- Immediately after China lost the case on its “historic rights” on the South China Sea in an international court, India joined Japan and the U.S. indicating that the verdict shows strengthening of the “international law”.
- India asked all parties involved in the South China Sea row to resolve the dispute through peaceful means without threat or use of force and “show utmost respect” to the verdict by a UN-backed tribunal.
Defence & Security Issues
INS karna – Marine Commandos get a new Base at Visakhapatnam
The Navy’s dedicated base for its Special Operation Forces – MARCOS – INS Karna was recently commissioned in Visakhapatnam.
- The commissioning of INS Karna, has added a new base to the Special Forces of the Indian Navy as they deploy to safeguard our nation’s vast maritime interests.
- The Marine Commando Force (MCF), also called as the ‘MARCOS’, was raised in February 1987 as the Indian Marine Special Force (IMSF), capable of operating in all three dimensions, at sea, in air and on land.
- MARCOS have successfully taken part in operations undertaken by the Indian Navy such as Operation Zabardast (Sri Lanka February 1993), Operation Leech (1998), Operation Tasha (1990-2009) and Operation Sagittarius (anti-piracy operations in Malacca Strait) and Operation Rahat, among others.