IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 11 June 2019

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Donate excess food, says Health Ministry

Topic: GS–II: Social Issues, Health

 The Union Health Ministry suggests “donating excess food and turning wet waste into compost” as the way forward to sustainable development.

More in news:

  • The Ministry is now advocating and promoting a “zero food wastage” campaign in restaurants. “Display a clear message, which conveys this to all customers and staff members. Excess food must be distributed among the poor and kitchen wet waste must be turned into compost,” says the Ministry.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that, every year, a third of food produced does not even reach the table.
  • The UN estimates nearly 40% of the food produced in India is wasted or lost, and adds that food wastage in India is happening at every level — from harvesting, transporting and processing to packaging and consuming.
  • Weddings, events, restaurants, hostels and houses are a major source of wastage of cooked food.
  • Union Health Minister recently launched ‘Eat Right’ campaign noted that food is everyone’s responsibility.
Eat Right campaign:

·         The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has launched national campaign ‘The Eat Right Movement’ to improve public health and combat lifestyle diseases.

The Eat Right Movement

·         It is voluntary and collaborative movement built on two broad pillars – “Eat Healthy and “Eat Safe”. It is collective effort to encourage people towards making right food and dietary choices. It focuses on both sides- demand and supply side to come together.

·         On demand side it focuses on empowering citizens to make right food choices. On supply side, it requests food businesses to reformulate their products, provide better nutritional information to consumers and make investments in healthy food as responsible food businesses.

·         Under this campaign, FSSAI has asked industry to voluntarily reduce salt, sugar and saturated fat in packaged food products. Edible oil industry, bakeries, halwais and FMCG companies, including Nestle India, HUL and Patanjali have took pledge to reduce the level of salt, sugar and fat in food products.

Modi to meet Xi, Putin at SCO

Topic: GS –II: International relations

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.

More in news:

  • Uzbekistan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov is also scheduled to hold a bilateral discussion with the Prime Minister.

Summit with Xi

  • Prime Minister Modi was expected to reiterate his invite to President Xi to visit India for an informal summit later this year. The first informal summit was held in Wuhan last year.
  • The SCO summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, on June 14 will be the first multilateral meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his re-election in the Lok Sabha election.
  • Issues related to terrorism, Afghanistan, regional security, multilateral dialogue and global scenario would be part of the discussion at the summit.

RATS participation

  • India was satisfied with the participation of the country in the Regional Anti-Terror Structure (RATS).
  • India has been participating in tactical drills and counter-terror cooperation with other SCO member countries under the RATS, which has its headquarters in Tashkent.
  • In August 2018, India joined Pakistan in a tactical military exercise under the SCO’s RATS.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization

·         It is a Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai, China by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter, formally establishing the organisation, was signed in June 2002 and entered into force on 19 September 2003.

·         The original five nations, with the exclusion of Uzbekistan, were previously members of the Shanghai Five group, founded on 26 April 1996.

·         Since then, the organisation has expanded its membership to eight countries when India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members on 9 June 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

·         The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO, it meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation.

·         Military exercises are also regularly conducted among members to promote cooperation and coordination against terrorism and other external threats, and to maintain regional peace and stability.

·         The SCO is widely regarded as the “alliance of the East“, due to its growing centrality in Asia-Pacific, and has been the primary security pillar of the region.It is the largest regional organisation in the world in terms of geographical coverage and population, covering three-fifths of the Eurasian continent and nearly half of the human population.

RATS Council

·         The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent organ which serves to promote cooperation of member states against three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism.

·         RATS established in June 2004 is engaged in furthering cooperation and ties between member countries on concerns of terrorism, security, drug trafficking, crime and cyber warfare.

Kerala to amend rules for elephant care

Topic: GS -III: Bio-diversity

The government will amend the rules to ensure that captive elephants in Kerala are looked after well.

More in news:

  • The amendment comes in the wake of the increasing harassment of elephants. It will ensure that captive elephants are looked after well and given proper diet and rest and the prescribed guidelines are followed while they are taken for public functions and festivals.
  • The number of captive elephants in the State had come down from 521 to 507 as 14 deaths had been reported after the first ever census of captive elephants held on November 29 last year by the Forests and Wildlife Department.

Online monitoring

  • For implementing the guidelines, a mobile and web application has been prepared and online monitoring has commenced. A database of captive elephants is ready with the department on the basis of the findings of the census. Medical certificates had been made mandatory for captive elephants aged four years and above for parading at public functions.

Ryots sow seeds of defiance

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

Hundreds of farmers on Monday joined in, what they called, a ‘civil disobedience’ movement to protest the Centre’s indecisiveness in approving the next generation of genetically modified (GM) cotton.

More in news:

  • As a mark of protest, farmer sowed the seeds of the ‘illegal’ herbicide tolerant (HT) Bt cotton and Bt Brinjal in his own field at Akot in Akola district of Maharashtrta.
  • The open defiance of law was organised by Shetkari Sanghatana (SS), a farmers’ organisation and an advocate of open market in the field of agriculture.
  • The issue has gained momentum in the wake of Haryana government accusing two farmers of illegally growing genetically modified brinjal and destroying their crops.
  • The outbreak of pink bollworm in Maharashtra three years ago despite farmers using BG-2, Monsanto’s second generational insecticidal technology for cotton, is being blamed by the SS on Indian government’s ban on testing further enhanced version of the seed.
Some basic:

·         Brinjal has been genetically modified by inserting a protein gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis to give protection against certain pests.

·         Bt Brinjal, which was developed in India by Maharashtra-based seed company Mahyco, was on the verge of becoming India’s first GM food crop, when the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee cleared it for commercialisation in 2009, before doubts about the long-term impact on consumer health and plant biodiversity led the then Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, to slap an indefinite moratorium on the crop.

·         Bt Cotton was developed and sold in India by a joint venture between Mahyco and global GM giant Monsanto, which also developed HT cotton until the trial stage before withdrawing it from India in 2016.

About GM Crops

·         According to WHO, Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination. Foods produced from or using GM organisms are referred to as GM foods.

Indian Scenario

·         Till now, Bt cotton, a non-food crop, has been the only GM crop cultivated in India.

·         Attempts to commercially release Bt Brinjal were stalled by a moratorium in 2010 by the Environment Ministry.

·         With respect to DMH -11, a transgenic mustard developed at Delhi University, GEAC has demanded more tests before its commercial cultivation.

India may give Pak. its due for action against terror groups

Topic: GS -III: Security

A year after Pakistan was put on the “grey list” by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), is beginning to accept that Islamabad has taken some action against the terror organisations on the ground.

  • An official said Pakistani authorities had seized 771 seminaries — educational institutions run by the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its fronts, Jamaat-ud Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniyat, and the Jaish-e-Mohammad.
  • It is for the first time since early 1990s that Pakistan has begun to take action against India-focussed terror groups and freeze their assets.

Blacklist threat

  • To avoid being put on the blacklist, Pakistan has seized properties associated with terror groups in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as well.
  • Pakistan was on the “grey list” of countries of risk between 2012 and 2015 as well.

PM seeks five-year road map for each Ministry

Topic: GS –II: Constitution and Polity

In their first meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday after his re-election, Secretaries to the Government of India have been tasked with creating a five-year road map for each Ministry with well-defined targets.

  • Modi pointed out that each department had a role to play in making India a five-trillion dollar economy. While asking each Ministry to focus on ‘ease of living’, the Prime Minister added that India’s progress in ‘Ease of Doing Business’ should reflect in greater facilitation for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Govt. cautioned against rushing into electric vehicles

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

A day after industry bodies SIAM and CII called for a practical approach in formulating electric vehicle-related policies, two-wheeler makers Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor on Monday said “unrealistic” and “ill-timed” decisions will derail auto manufacturing in the country.

More in news:

  • The reactions come amid reports that the government plans to ban sale of internal combustion engine (ICE) three-wheelers by 2023 along with sales of less than 150 cc two-wheelers by 2025.

Middle path

  • Bajaj suggested that an appropriate middle path may be put in place in the first phase to target such a changeover through corporate average fuel efficiency norms and electric vehicles for all vehicle categories from a particular date such as 2023 or 2025 starting with most-polluted cities.
  • Venu Srinivasan, chairman at TVS Motor Company, pointed out that automakers everywhere were supportive of the overall goal of introducing electric vehicles (EV) and as a result, have been doing serious development work to ensure a mass market EV products, while adding that supporting infrastructure for charging also needs to be as robust as conventional fuel options.
  • “The auto industry globally is still a long way away from all of this, as is India.
  • “To force an unrealistic deadline for mass adoption of electric two and three-wheelers will not just create consumer discontent, it risks derailing auto manufacturing in India that supports four million jobs,” he cautioned.
  • On Sunday, SIAM president Rajan Wadhera warned that “such unrealistic expectations and policies would not only adversely affect the world number one two/three-wheeler industry, but may not help in making EVs acceptable to the customer and the market.”
  • “…the [government’s EV] ambition needs to be tempered with a practical approach and what is possible without needlessly disrupting the automotive industry,” Mr. Wadhera, who is also president of automotive sector at M&M said.

MoSPI proposes to use big data analytical tools to improve official statistics

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

The statistics ministry said that it proposes to set up a ‘National Data Warehouse’ with a view to leveraging big data analytical tools to further improve the quality of macro-economic aggregates.

More in news:

  • Efforts are also on to evolve a legislative framework under which the National Statistical Commission (NSC) may function with independence and give holistic guidance for improving the national statistical system, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) said.
  • In its release, the Ministry further said as far as the statistical reforms are concerned, it is important to note that system reforms are an ongoing process and are necessary for ensuring responsiveness to the changing needs of society.

Quality statistics

  • “Over a period of time, there have been increasing demands on the statistical system for the production of relevant and quality statistics. The advent of technology necessitates reforms in statistical processes and products with an aim to synergise the existing resources so that the system remains responsive.
  • The recent step for the merger of CSO and NSSO was aimed at leveraging the strengths of the two organisations so that it can meet the increasing demands.
  • MoSPI has been criticised in some sections for the quality of macro-economic data.
  • The Ministry said revision in GDP estimates occur when data coverage from administrative sources improves over time and these improvements get well documented.
  • Consequently, the initial estimates of GDP tend to be conservative.
  • To improve this, the release said it would require concomitant changes in the sectoral data flows and associated regulatory framework in the data source agencies to facilitate the use of more macro modelling techniques.
  • The Ministry is also proposing to establish a National Data Warehouse on Official Statistics, where technology will be leveraged for using big data analytical tools for further improving the quality of macro-economic aggregates.

Banks can offer cheque books for no-frills accounts

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed banks to offer cheque book facility and other services to the no-frills account holders, but said they could not ask such account holders to maintain any minimum balance for such services.

More in news:

  • The basic savings bank deposit account or no-frills account was designed as a savings account which will offer certain minimum facilities, free of charge, to the holders of such accounts.
  • Banks are free to provide additional value-added services, including issue of cheque book, beyond the above minimum facilities, which may/may not be priced (in non-discriminatory manner) subject to disclosure. The availment of such additional services shall be at the option of the customers.
  • As per the norms of no-frills account, account holders are not required to maintain minimum balance and can get certain minimum facilities for free. These facilities include, four withdrawals from ATMs in a month, deposit of cash at bank branch and ATM card or ATM-cum-debit card.

News in brief:

Vote trading

  • This refers to any manner of voting where people agree to vote in certain ways in which they would not have voted otherwise in exchange for immediate or future benefits.
  • A certain political party that is in Opposition, for instance, may decide to support a certain legislation that it would not have supported otherwise in exchange for favours it expects to receive from the ruling party.
  • Vote trading is considered to be unethical by some political observers who have a problem with the purely transactional nature of such voting. While common in the political arena, vote trading is also present in other places like big businesses and other large organisations.

Editorial section:

Foreign policy challenges five years later – The Hindu

Striking a balance – The Hindu

Artificial Intelligence, the law and the future – The Hindu

Why language matters – The Hindu

 

 

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