IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 25 September 2019

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Article 35, UN Charter

Topic: GS –II: International relations

In Mumbai on Sunday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru responsible for the existence of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as he had “declared an untimely ceasefire” to the hostilities after Pakistan had invaded Kashmir in October 1947. He said that had Nehru taken the matter to the United Nations under Article 51 of the UN Charter, instead of Article 35, the outcome would have been different.

The ceasefire

  • The ceasefire was brokered by a United Nations Mission. According to UN records, on January 1, 1948, the Government of India reported to the Security Council and brought the situation to the attention of the Security Council under Article 35 of the Charter.

Article 35

  • Articles 33-38 occur in Chapter 6 titled “Pacific Settlement of Disputes”. These six Articles lay out that if the parties to a dispute that has the potential for endangering international peace and security are not able to resolve the matter through negotiations between them, or by any other peaceful means, or with the help of a “regional agency”, the Security Council may step in, with or without the invitation of one or another of the involved parties, and recommend “appropriate procedures or methods of recommendation”. Specifically, Article 35 only says that any member of the UN may take a dispute to the Security Council or General Assembly.

Article 51

  • This Article occurs in Chapter 7 titled “Action With Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression”. The chapter assumes that the Security Council is already seized of the situation.
  • Article 51 essentially says that a UN member has the “inherent right of individual or collective self-defence” if attacked, “till such time that the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security”. It says that exercise of this right must be immediately reported to the Security Council by the member, and “shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security”.

The outcome

  • The decision to set up a United Nations Mission was taken on January 20. The UN invoked Article 34 to mandate the mission to investigate facts of the situation, and to exercise any “mediatory influence…likely to smooth away difficulties”.
  • The title of the agenda before the Security Council was also changed from the “Jammu & Kashmir question” to the India-Pakistan question. The five-member Mission, which had members nominated by India and Pakistan, and three others, eventually brokered the cessation of hostilities from January 1, 1949, and the establishment of a ceasefire line on July 27, 1949, which left Pakistan with the areas of Jammu & Kashmir that were under its control on that day. It was this ceasefire line that came to be termed the Line of Control in the Simla Agreement of 1972.

Warning signs

Topic: GS-III: Environment

The average global temperature for 2015-2019 is on track to be the warmest of any equivalent period on record, and July 2019 was the hottest month on record globally, a report released ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 in New York has found.

More in news:

  • The warmest five-year trend has especially affected large areas of the United States, including Alaska, eastern parts of South America, most of Europe and the Middle East, northern Eurasia, Australia and areas of Africa south of the Sahara.
  • The report ‘United in Science’ is a synthesis prepared by the Science Advisory Group of the summit. It has also found that greenhouse gases have reached “new highs”, heatwaves were the “deadliest” meteorological hazard in this period, and tropical cyclones led to the largest economic losses.

Key findings

  • GLOBAL TEMPERATURE: The average global temperature for 2015-19 is currently estimated to be 1.1°C above pre-industrial (1850-1900) times, the report said. Widespread and long-lasting heatwaves, record-breaking fires and other devastating events such as tropical cyclones, floods and drought have had major impacts on socio-economic development and the environment.
  • GREENHOUSE GASES: Levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have reached new highs. The last time Earth’s atmosphere contained 400 parts per million carbon dioxide was about 3-5 million years ago. In 2018, the report said, global carbon dioxide concentration was 407.8 parts per million (ppm), 2.2 ppm higher than 2017. Preliminary data from a subset of monitoring sites for 2019 indicate that carbon dioxide concentrations are on track to reach or even exceed 410 ppm by the end of 2019.
  • In 2017, globally averaged atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide were 405.6 ppm, methane at 1859 parts per billion (ppb) and nitrous oxide at 329.9 ppb. These values constitute, respectively, 146%, 257% and 122% of pre-industrial levels (pre-1750). The growth rate of carbon dioxide averaged over three consecutive decades (1985-1995, 1995-2005 and 2005-2015) increased from 1.42 ppm/yr to 1.86 ppm/yr and to 2.06 ppm/yr.
  • However, the report notes that emissions from the US and the European Union have declined over the past decade, while growth in China’s emissions have slowed significantly compared to the 2000s. Indian emissions are the fourth highest and are “growing strongly at annual rates in excess of 5%, albeit starting from a much lower base of per capita emissions.”
  • HEATWAVES: The report notes that heatwaves affected all continents and set many new national temperature records. It also mentions the heatwave that struck the subcontinent in mid-2015 where 2,248 deaths were reported in India, and 1,229 in Pakistan. “The 2019 summer saw unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic region with 50 megatons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere in June alone,” the report says.
  • PRECIPITATION: The effects of climate change were also seen on precipitation levels in the 2015-2019 period when compared to the five years preceding that. The average precipitation totals were higher in the latter period than in the former in large regions in southern South and North America, eastern Europe and most of Asia. “In contrast, less precipitation fell in large parts of Europe, south-west and southern Africa, northern North America and a large part of South America, the Indian Monsoon region, and northern and western Australia,” the report states.
  • SEA ICE: Arctic summer sea-ice extent has declined at a rate of approximately 12% per decade during 1979-2018, the report said. The four lowest values for winter sea-ice extent occurred between 2015 and 2019. Overall, the amount of ice lost annually from the Antarctic ice sheet increased at least six-fold between 1979 and 2017. Glacier mass loss for 2015-2019 is the highest for any five-year period on record.
  • Last week, Odisha’s Talcher fertiliser plant was awarded a contract for starting a coal gasification unit for the production of urea and Ammonia. It was part of the government’s initiative to revive closed fertiliser plants belonging to the Fertiliser Corporation of India Limited (FCIL) and the Hindustan Fertilisers Corporation Ltd (HFCL).
  • According to a press release by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, the decision is geared towards reducing India’s reliance on imports and helping the country meet its CoP-21 Paris Agreement commitments.

Coal gasification and project at Talcher

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

Coal gasification is the process of converting coal into synthesis gas (also called syngas), which is a mixture of hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The syngas can be used in a variety of applications such as in the production of electricity and making chemical products, such as fertilisers.

  • According to the International Energy Agency’s Energy Technology Systems Analysis Programme (ETSAP), the coal gasification process holds good potential in the future, with coal being the most abundantly available fossil fuel across the world, and that even low-grade coal can be used in the process.
  • According to the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, urea is currently produced using pooled natural gas, which comprises of both domestic natural gas and imported LNG. The usage of locally available coal for making fertilisers would help reduce the import of LNG.
  • India currently imports 50 to 70 lakh tonnes of urea every year, and that the revival of the units would help increase the availability of domestically produced fertilisers. The Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers D V SadanandaGowda said that the project would generate direct and indirect employment of around 4,500 people
  • The press release added that the project’s environment-friendliness would help India in meeting its commitments under the CoP-21 Paris Agreement.

Greta Thunberg’s campaign

Topic: GS-III: Environment

For Greta Thunberg, 16, it has taken just one year to traverse the distance from being a regular ninth-standard student in Stockholm to becoming the most recognised face of climate change activism who can give world leaders a dressing-down at a United Nations summit. Along the way to her widely publicised speech at the UN climate conference on Monday, she has found a cult following, mingled with heads of states, given a TED talk, sailed across the Atlantic to spread climate awareness, been interviewed by countless media organisations, and has a detailed Wikipedia page. Earlier this year, she has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The background

  • Thunberg, then 15, shot to fame in August last year, when she sat against the outer wall of the main building of Swedish Parliament. She carried a sign that read “School strike for the climate” in Swedish. She herself had decided to skip school to demand from her country’s lawmakers more concrete and urgent action on climate change. For a child her age in Sweden, attending school is compulsory. She was, in effect, breaking the law by not attending.
  • Her strike and protest outside Swedish Parliament brought her instant fame, and a following on the Internet. She became a favourite of the well-networked climate change NGOs, and became the centre of massive campaigns in the run-up to last year’s climate change conference in Poland, where she was given the opportunity to address one of the plenaries.

Her message

  • Thunberg is not saying anything that the world doesn’t know of, or has not been said earlier. In fact, she sounds rhetorical in her well-choreographed speeches. But her young age, and the fact that she represents the generation that is likely to experience the worst impacts of climate change, is seen as bringing a moral force to the argument. She presents a stern face, and talks with the seriousness of someone who is helplessly witnessing her future getting ruined.

The impact

  • With her massive following, and support from NGOs and the scientific community, Thunberg has managed to create awareness about the issue, especially among the young. Her school strike campaign is now held across the world, with students skipping schools for a few days in protest against inaction on climate.
  • However, it is debatable whether her campaign has brought any change in policy, or forced any country to announce additional climate action. International decision-making is governed by realpolitik and not by moral force or calls to conscience.

No more waste mounds on Siachen

Topic: GS-III: Environment

Since January 2018, nearly 130 tonnes of waste has been brought down from the Siachen Glacier and disposed of.

More in news:

  • On an average, 236 tonnes of waste is generated every year on Siachen glacier. There is now a SOP, for every link patrol or administrative column to bring the waste down. The capacity of each person to carry is 10-15 kg due to the extreme weather. Efforts are on to increase the disposal rate to 100 tonnes a year.
  • In the past, waste disposal work was fragmented and intermittent, but the Army is looking to cut waste in the rations and utilities delivered on the glacier, and make Siachen garbage-free in 12-15 years.
  • India has held the glacier’s dominating heights since it occupied them in 1984 under ‘Operation Meghdoot’. The 130 tonnes disposed of include 48.4 tonnes of biodegradable garbage, 40.32 tonnes of non-biodegradable, non-metallic waste and 42.45 tonnes of metallic scrap. The biggest challenge was the high altitude as most posts were located between 18,000 and 21,000 feet. Nothing degrades at sub-zero temperatures, so everything had to be brought down.
  • The three types of wastes are disposed of differently. Biodegradable waste consists of cartons and packets rolled using baling machines. For the non-biodegradable, non-metallic waste, three incinerators have been set up at Siachen base camp, Partapur, and near Bukdang village, at 10,000 feet.

Police gear up to scan underworld of Internet

Topic: GS -III: Security

The Kerala police have set up a state-of-the-art lab complete with enabling software to intervene and crack down on the rising criminal activities over the Darknet, known as the underworld of the Internet.

More in news:

  • Spearheading the programme is Cyberdome, the State police department’s premier facility dedicated to prevent cybercrime and mitigate security threats to the State’s critical information infrastructure.

Intentionally hidden

  • Darknet is a layer of the Internet accessible only by using special software like Tor (The Onion Router), or I2P, which stands for Invisible Internet Project. Websites and information on the Darknet are intentionally hidden and cannot be accessed using traditional search engines like Google.
  • A pool of four analysts has been trained and deployed in shifts for round-the-clock monitoring of Darknet. Since the expertise for imparting training in tracking the Darknet is limited in the country, the analysts were given 14-day training by roping in an expert from Israel.

Drug smuggling

  • The relative impermeability of Darknet has made it a major haven for drug dealers, arms traffickers, child pornography collectors and other criminals involved in financial and physical crimes so much so that one can buy anything from tigers to hand grenades to any kind of narcotic substances, provided the potential buyer finds the right website on the Darknet.


Ramanujan prize for U.K. mathematician

The SASTRA Ramanujan prize for 2019 will be awarded to mathematician Adam Harper, Assistant Professor with the University of Warwick, England.

About SASTRA Ramanujan Prize

  • It is an annual award bestowed on young mathematicians for his outstanding contributions to areas of mathematics influenced by the Srinivasa Ramanujan.
  • It was established in 2005 by Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology& Research Academy (SASTRA) University. It is named after great Indian Mathematician autodidact Srinivasa Ramanujan.
  • The age limit for the prize is 32 because Ramanujan had achieved so much in his brief life of 32 years. The prize is given annually to recipient at Kumbakonam which is Ramanujan’s hometown.

DadasahebPhalke award for Amitabh Bachchan

The country’s highest film honour, the DadasahebPhalke award, conferred for “outstanding contribution for the growth and development of Indian cinema” will be presented this year to Amitabh Bachchan.

More in news:

  • He made his debut in 1969 with Khwaja Ahmad Abbas’ Saat Hindustani about seven Indians attempting to liberate Goa from Portuguese colonial rule.
  • The same year he also did the voiceover for MrinalSen’sBhuvanShome, one of the earliest films of Indian parallel cinema. Interestingly, the DadasahebPhalke award itself was first presented in the year of Mr. Bachchan’s debut. It was introduced by the government in 1969 to commemorate the “father of Indian cinema” who directed Raja Harishchandra (1913), India’s first feature film, and it was awarded for the first time to Devika Rani, “the first lady of Indian cinema.”
  • One of the most influential figures in Indian cinema, Mr. Bachchan, with four national awards and 15 Filmfare trophies behind him, has had a many-splendoured stint in the world of entertainment.
  • The award comprises a Swarna Kamal (Golden Lotus), a shawl and a cash prize of ₹1,000,000.

Editorial section:

 Another chance in Afghanistan-The Hindu

Climate for action-The Hindu

Defeated, discredited and diminished-The Hindu

BalakotRedux-The Hindu

The attack on agroecology-The Hindu




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