IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 02 October 2019

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Education Quality Index

Topic: GS–II: Education, Human Resources

The graphs below show average scores by students of three classes in 20 “large states” in the National Achievement Survey 2017, and detailed in the NITI Aayog’s report on the School Education Quality Index 2019, released.

More findings:

  • Kerala had the best overall performance at 76.6 percent and Uttar Pradesh had the worst performance, with 36.4 percent.
  • In Class 3, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have the highest average scores in language and mathematics, while Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have the lowest.
  • For class 5, Karnataka tops the list with the highest scores in both language and mathematics, while Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are again at the bottom.
  • For class 8, Rajasthan has the highest average scores for both language and mathematics, whereas Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have the lowest scores.

Bangladesh’s economic growth is stealing India’s thunder

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

The latest economic outlook update released by the Asian Development Bank has shown how Bangladesh, and not India, is the standout economy in terms of growth momentum in South Asia.

More in news:

  • Bangladesh is experiencing high and consistently rising economic growth rate while maintaining a stable level of inflation.
  • For instance, since 2016, Bangladesh has been growing at over 7 per cent and this financial year will see it cross the 8 per cent threshold as well – a mark it is expected to hit again next financial year, according to ADB estimates.
  • The other big economies of the region either have modest (like Sri Lanka) or fluctuating (like Pakistan) growth rates to offer.
  • India has seen a secular decline from the highs of 2016. The constant flow of falling sales and declining industrial productivity data suggests that the current financial year is unlikely to see a big enough change for India to get anywhere close to the 7 per cent-mark.
  • However, ADB expects the Indian economy to turn around in the next financial year when India is expected to grow by 7.2 per cent.

What distinguishes Bangladesh?

  • The structure of Bangladesh’s economy is quite different from India’s. Unlike India, where the services sector contributes overwhelmingly while industry’s contribution is much lower than desired, Bangladesh, as the Chart 3 shows, has a booming industrial sector.
  • This allows its economy to create jobs. In India, by contrast, the bulk of the population is still stuck in the agriculture sector, which contributes the least to the GDP. The industrial sector, which has the maximum potential to absorb surplus labour from agriculture, is struggling to grow fast enough and create employment.
  • It is the strength of Bangladesh’s domestic industries that, despite the trade war between global superpowers the US and China intensifying over the past year, Bangladesh’s exports have grown from 6.7 per cent in 2018 to 10.1 per cent in 2019.
  • “Growth in garment exports rose from 8.8% to 11.5%, reflecting strong demand from the US and newer markets for Bangladesh like Australia, Canada, India, Japan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the Republic of Korea,” states the ADB report. Such a remarkable exports performance stands out especially since “garments accounted for 84.2% of exports”.
  • Even at a time when the global demand is declining, and despite having a limited bouquet of export commodities, Bangladesh was able to push more exports by finding newer markets and edging out other garment exporters such as India. Compare this to India’s anaemic performance wherein exports have grown by just about 1.5 per cent per annum on an average since the financial year 2012-2013.

Odisha bans single-use plastic from today

Topic: GS-III: Environment

The Odisha government has banned single-use plastic in all urban areas of the State from Gandhi Jayanti.

  • The State Forest and Environment Department in a notification issued on September 30 said the government has prohibited manufacture, sale, trade, import, storage, transportation and distribution of single-use plastics, the official said.
  • The ban will be imposed on polythene carry bags of any shape, thickness and size (excluding compostable) and Polyethylene Terephthalate (Pet/Pete) bottles of less than 200 ml capacity, the notification said.
  • It also banned single-use disposable cutleries made of thermocol (polystyrene), polyurethane and similar products of plastic such as dish, spoon, cup, plate, glass, fork, bowl, pouch to store liquid and container of any size and shape except for packing and selling of milk and other ancillary milk products and thermocol decorative materials.

Polythene sheets

  • The vendors will not be allowed to use polythene sheets of less than 50-micron thickness for storing, transporting, dispensing or packaging of any article or commodity or food items, consumables, packaging of milk and milk products and edible oil in a sealed manner.
  • This, however, excludes any plastic carrying and transporting garbage and containers for milk products and polythene packing materials used in healthcare sector, the notification said.

Single-use plastics:

  • Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These items are things like plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging.
  • We produce roughly 300 million tons of plastic each year and half of it is disposable! World-wide only 10-13% of plastic items are recycled. The nature of petroleum based disposable plastic makes it difficult to recycle and they have to add new virgin materials and chemicals to it to do so. Additionally there are a limited number of items that recycled plastic can be used.
  • Petroleum based plastic is not biodegradable and usually goes into a landfill where it is buried or it gets into the water and finds it’s way into the ocean. Although plastic will not biodegrade (decompose into natural substance like soil,) it will degrade (break down) into tiny particles after many years. In the process of breaking down, it releases toxic chemicals (additives that were used to shape and harden the plastic) which make their way into our food and water supply.
  • These toxic chemicals are now being found in our bloodstream and the latest research has found them to disrupt the Endocrine system which can cause cancer, infertility, birth defects, impaired immunity and many other ailments.
  • We produce hundreds of millions of tons of plastic every year, most of which cannot be recycled. It’s obvious that we need to use less plastic, move towards environmentally sustainable products and services and come up with technology that recycles plastic more efficiently.

India’s Heaviest Monsoon in 25 Years Kills 1,600

Topic: GS-III: Environment

The heaviest monsoon rains to lash India in 25 years have killed more than 1,600 people since June, as authorities battled floods in two northern states and muddy waters swirled inside Patna.

More in news:

  • The monsoon, which typically lasts between June and September, has already delivered 10% more rain than a 50-year average, and is expected to withdraw only after early October, more than a month later than usual.
  • The extended rains have wreaked havoc, with northern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar the worst hit in the latest spell of intense downpours, killing 144 people since last Friday.
  • In Patna, Bihar’s riverside capital city that is home to around two million people, residents said they were wading through waist-deep water to buy essential items like food and milk.
  • Data released by the federal home ministry shows that 1,673 people have died because of floods and heavy rains this year, as of Sept. 29.
  • Officials said that many of these fatalities were caused due to wall and building collapses, including in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, the western state that has seen 371 flood-related deaths in 2019, the highest in the country.
  • India’s flood prevention and forecasting systems are lacking, other experts say, even as the total flood prone area in the country has increased in recent decades because of deforestation, degradation of water bodies, and climate change.

Volcanoes play their own role in warming Earth: Study

Topic: GS-III: Environment

All of Earth’s volcanoes are emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) and have played their own role in warming the planet, despite humanity’s emissions in the past 100 years exceeding them greatly.

  • Scientists at the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) have found that even a handful of volcanic events have caused catastrophic releases of carbon, leading to a warmer atmosphere, acidified oceans, and mass extinctions.
  • DCO is a 10-year global research collaboration of more than 1,000 scientists to understand the quantities, movements, forms, and origins of carbon in Earth.
  • Researchers from DCO’s DECADE (Deep Earth Carbon Degassing) subgroup found that volcanoes and volcanic regions outgassed (release of trapped gaseous material) an estimated 280-360 million tonnes (0.28 to 0.36 Gigatonnes or Gt) of CO2 per year.
  • This includes the contribution from active volcanic vents, from the diffusing and widespread release of CO2 through soils, faults, and fractures in volcanic regions, volcanic lakes, and from the mid-ocean ridge system.
  • Contrast that with humanity’s role in producing emissions. For the past 100 years, humanity’s annual carbon emissions through the burning of fossil fuels and forests were 40 to 100 times greater than those from geologic sources such as all volcanic emissions, said DECADE.
  • About 400 of the 1500 volcanoes active since the last Ice Age 11,700 years ago are venting CO2 today, said DECADE.
  • Another 670 could be producing diffuse emissions, with 102 already documented. Of these, 22 ancient volcanoes that have not erupted since the Pleistocene Epoch (2.5 million years ago to the Ice Age) are outgassing.
  • More than 200 volcanic systems emitted measurable volumes of CO2 between 2005 and 2017. Of these, several regions of degassing have been documented. These include Yellowstone in the United States, the East African Rift, and the Technong volcanic province in China.
  • The Earth’s total annual outgassing of CO2 via volcanoes and through other geological processes such as the heating of limestone in mountain belts is estimated by DCO experts at roughly 300 to 400 million metric tonnes (0.3 to 0.4 Gt).

A fine balance

  • The quantity of carbon released from Earth’s mantle has been in relative balance, the experts said, with the quantity returned through the downward subduction of tectonic plates and other processes.
  • However, this balance has been upended about four times over the past 500 million years by the emergence of large volcanic events — one million or more square kilometres (the area of Canada) of magma released within a timeframe of a few tens of thousands of years up to one million years.
  • These ‘large igneous provinces’ degassed enormous volumes of carbon (estimated at up to 30,000 Gt — equal to about 70 per cent of the estimated 43,500 gt of carbon above the surface today).
  • Any imbalance to the carbon cycle could cause rapid global warming, changes to the silicate weathering rate, changes to the hydrologic cycle, and overall rapid habitat changes that could cause mass extinction as the earth rebalanced itself, the report by the scientists warned.
  • The scientists also calculated that just two-tenths of one per cent of Earth’s total carbon — about 43,500 Gt — is above surface in the oceans, on land, and in the atmosphere. The rest is subsurface, including the crust, mantle and core — an estimated 1.85 billion Gt in all.
  • The findings are part of estimations by the DCO scientists of the Earth’s immense interior carbon reservoirs, and how much carbon the deep Earth naturally swallows and exhales.
  • While around 37,000 gt carbon (85.1 per cent) is in the deep ocean, 3,000 gt (6.9 per cent) lies in marine sediments.

Editorial section:

 Recovering Gandhi’s religious vision-The Hindu

The worst may be over-The Hindu

What would Gandhi say about the Indian media? -The Hindu

Difficult compromise-The Hindu

Gandhi has not spoken his last word-The Hindu

A struggle against social orthodoxy-The Hindu




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