Ojaank IAS Academy




25 May 2022 – Current Affairs

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Quad Leaders Summit

Paper 2 International Relations

Why in News?

Recently, on 24th May 2022, the Quad Leaders Summit was held in Tokyo, Japan, which was attended by the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, on behalf of India.

Key Points

• The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, attended the Summit of the Heads of Four Countries (Quad Leaders) in Tokyo, Japan on 24 May 2022, which was attended by Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Fumio Kishida, President of the United States, Mr. Joseph Joseph Biden and the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Anthony Albanese.
• This was the second individual meeting of the heads of the four countries, while a total of four meetings of the Quad have been held so far. First virtual meeting in March, 2021; The Summit was held in Washington DC in September 2021 and the third virtual meeting in March 2022.

About the meeting

• A number of global issues were discussed during the meeting. A joint statement issued after the meeting addressed concerns arising out of the crisis and member states discussed the reactions related to the conflict in Ukraine and the ongoing tragic humanitarian crisis and its assessment of its implications for the Indo-Pacific. At the same time, the focus has been on possible Chinese military steps in the Indo-Pacific region.
• In addition to the Ukraine crisis, the leaders also noted the post-coup crackdown in Myanmar, calling for the release of “all political detainees, including foreigners” and a “quick restoration of democracy”. In this regard, he welcomed the role of the special envoy of the ASEAN Presidency.
• The leaders of the Quad countries announced the formation of the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA) which will build a “faster, wider, and more accurate maritime picture of near-real-time activities in partners’ waters.”
• “The benefits of this (maritime) picture are vast: it will allow tracking of “dark shipping” and other tactical-level activities, such as rendezvous at sea, as well as improve partners’ ability to respond to climate and humanitarian events and to protect their fisheries, which are vital to many Indo-Pacific economies,” a factsheet regarding the summit announced.
• This common operating picture will integrate three critical regions — the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region – in the Indo-Pacific.
• In close consultations with regional partners, IPMDA will offer a near-real-time, integrated, and cost-effective maritime domain awareness picture, it stated adding this initiative will transform the ability of partners in the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean region to fully monitor the waters on their shores and, in turn, to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific.
• Defence officials said that deliberations are underway on how the roll out of this initiative. The grouping will enhance sharing of data as part of the “Quad Satellite Data Portal” that will enhance cooperation among the satellites of the member countries.
• Further, the politicians reaffirmed their commitment to uphold a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region and the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and peaceful resolution of disputes.
• They shared their perspectives on developments in the Indo-Pacific region and the conflict in Europe. The Prime Minister highlighted India’s consistent and principled position on the need to end hostilities, resume dialogue and diplomacy. The politicians also discussed the ongoing Quad cooperation and their vision for the future.
• Politicians reiterated their desire to combat terrorism, condemning the use of pseudo-terrorists and stressing the importance of denying terrorist groups any logistics, financial or military assistance that could be used to launch or plan terror attacks, including cross-border attacks.
• Reviewing the ongoing efforts of the Quad to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, politicians welcomed the increased manufacturing capacity of the Biological-E Labs facility in India and called for an early decision on EUL approval by who, to start distribution of vaccines.
• The leaders welcomed the gift of 525,000 doses of Made in India vaccines by India to Thailand and Cambodia in April 2022 under the Quad Vaccine Partnership. They will continue to adopt a holistic approach to addressing the distribution challenges associated with remote areas, enhancing regional health protection through cooperation in genomic surveillance and clinical trials, and managing the pandemic by strengthening the global health protection structure.
• Declaration of a Quad Climate Change Action and Mitigation Package (Q-CHAMP); Green shipping was undertaken to strengthen efforts towards clean energy including green hydrogen and climate and disaster resilient infrastructure. The Prime Minister reiterated the importance of assisting countries in the region with the commitments of COP26 in collaboration with climate finance and technology transfer.
• As part of the ongoing work relating to critical and emerging technologies, the General Statement of the Quad on the principles of critical technology supply chains was launched. The four countries will coordinate capacity building programmes in the Indo-Pacific region to strengthen the region’s critical cyber security infrastructure.
• The Prime Minister called for greater cooperation of the Quad to build a credible global supply chain and discussed the infrastructure being adopted in the country to create a semiconductor ecosystem in India.
• A Quad Partnership on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) was announced by politicians to enable a more effective and timely response to disasters in the Indo-Pacific region.
• The politicians agreed to make resources available to the countries of the region for earth observation data through the Quad Satellite Data Portal to help monitor climate-related events, disaster preparedness and sustainable use of marine resources. Given its long-term capabilities in harnessing space-based data and technologies for inclusive growth, India will play an active role in this endeavour.
• The Quad leaders welcomed a new, Indo-Pacific Maritime Zone Awareness Initiative, which will help countries respond to HADR incidents and enhance the capacity associated with tackling illegal fishing.
• The politicians reaffirmed their unwavering support for asean’s unity and centrality and called for their look forward to strengthening cooperation with partners in the region.
• The Prime Minister stressed the importance of fulfilling the positive and constructive agenda of the Quad and showing clear benefits to the region. The politicians agreed to continue their talks and consultations and look forward to the summit to be held by Australia in 2023.

What is Quad?

• QUAD stands for Quadlateral Security Dialogue, an informal strategic forum for four countries of the world, including the US, Japan, India and Australia .
• In fact, after the tsunami in December 2004, Japan, Australia, India and the Us formed a core group that aimed to lead the support of international community.
• Then in 2007, Japan mooted the idea of formalising this informal grouping and thus Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe established the Quad Forum in collaboration with US Vice President Dick Cheney, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh .
• Then China and Russia opposed it and its formation was postponed after Australia’s departure in 2008 under pressure from China . This idea was stalled for many years.
• This was followed by the idea of establishing a ‘Democratic Security Diamond’ in 2012 with Australia, India and the US to ensure maritime security from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean at the initiative of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and then in November 2017, the Quad group was established to eliminate the influence of any external power in the Indo-Pacific region and the ASEAN Summit. The meeting was held a day earlier. Thus the Quad came into existence in real terms.
• In fact, the first meeting of the quad officials was held in May 2005, but from November 2017, such meetings started taking place regularly.
• The first meeting of foreign ministers was held in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2019. The second meeting of the Foreign Ministers was held in Tokyo in October 2020. In February 2021, foreign ministers spoke by telephone. For the first time in March 2021, the leaders of the quad countries joined through video conferences. For the first time in September 2021, leaders of the four countries met face-to-face. In February 2022, the fourth meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Quad countries was held. In March 2022, the Quad leaders met via video conference and finally now in May 2022, the Quad Leaders’ Summit was held in Tokyo.
• The aim was to develop a new strategy to keep major sea routes free from any influence amid China’s growing military presence in the strategically important Indo-Pacific region.

The objective

• Quad aims to keep important sea routes in the Indo-Pacific region free from any military or political influence. It is seen as a strategic group created primarily to reduce Chinese dominance.
• Quad aims to work towards making the Indo-Pacific region free, open and prosperous.
• QUAD focuses not only on security but also on other global issues ranging from economic to cyber security, maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, climate change, epidemics and education.

Source – The Hindu

National monument authority

Paper 1 Art & Culture

Why in News? 

Recently, the National Monuments Authority (NMA) has made special progress in making several heritage bye-laws (by-laws- HBL) to protect the ancient heritage located in the country.

Key Points 

• The National Monuments Authority (NMA) has set a record of framing 101 Heritage By-Laws (HBL) covering a total of 126 centrally protected monuments during the Covid period (since 2019).
• This is comparable to the five Heritage By-Laws (HBL) framed for the 31 centrally protected monuments that were finally included in the last ten years and reflects a 20-fold increase in the number of heritage by-laws (during the last two years).
• It may also be noted that as per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASR) and the order given to the NMA, the work of the Heritage By-Laws (HBL) covering the entire cluster of more than 3600 centrally protected monuments across India was to be completed by 2012.
• The work of preparing heritage bye-laws (HBL) by the National Monuments Authority (NMA) has been expedited in some recent times and a separate HBL department has been created with four experts headed by a conservation architect.
• The meetings of this department are being held three times a week. These meetings included inviting the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India from every part of the country and various other regional directors, especially from eastern, central and north India, as well as surveyor archaeologists, which ultimately resulted in smooth flow of survey maps and drafting of the HBL.
• With this, the NMA has taken up the 14th century Vishnu temple in Manipur, the Jagannath temple in Puri; Chausath Yogini, Jabalpur; Finalized the heritage bye-laws for jagatgram ashwamedh sthal and lakha mandal group of shiva temples in Uttarakhand.
• It may be mentioned that the National Monuments Authority was constituted in accordance with the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains (AMASR) (Amendment Verification) Act, 2010 and it was entrusted with the responsibility of considering allowing applicants for conservation and related activity in conservation areas in centrally restricted and regulated areas.

Why was the National Monuments Authority set up? 

• The need for HBL was experienced due to the increasing rate of urbanization, growth, increasing population pressure, as well as increasing pressure on land around centrally protected monuments as it was often disrupted and also in front of the monument’s 300-meter peripheral jurisdiction.
• This situation made it imperative to regulate the property and its personal development around monuments as well as to balance it due to the need to protect and preserve monuments.
• Such circumstances and requirements of the hour have played a key role in the preparation of heritage bye-laws (HBL) by NMA which regularly notifies these on its website and invites their comments and suggestions from locals for its HBL content.

Speed up the process

• Recently, the work of the Government’s Heritage Bye-laws (HBL) and the issuance of No Objection Certificates has been very fast.
• They are discussed after a period of 30 days from the people after receiving their comments and suggestions. In the event of being found suitable, amendments are made to the Heritage Bye-laws (HBL) and sent to the Ministry of Culture for their confirmation, after which they are approved by parliament as final approval.
• The capacity of the National Monuments Authority (NMA) has been greatly expanded as a total of 41 new top heritage bodies have now been included in the NMA panel to prepare heritage by-laws (Heritage by-Laws (HBL).
• Along with these efforts, the achievements of the NMA are also historic, bringing the undertrial of NOC to zero due to online facilities and as 82% acceptance of 1118 NOCs out of 1360 can be seen as a record that it has significantly accelerated the process for print transparency keeping in view the interests of the applicants.
• At present, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is awaiting the finalization of the draft Heritage By-Laws (HBL) and it has the Taj Mahal to send them for parliament’s approval; Qutub Minar; Dwarkadhish Temple Dwarka; Monuments like Hemis Gompa, Leh and Martand Temple, Kashmir have been included.
• It is also a remarkable progress that now the National Monuments Authority (NMA) will be able to complete within a year the remaining works of the HBL along with the achievement of these targets while fulfilling the ministry’s assurance in Parliament.

About National Monuments Authority 

• The National Monuments Authority (NMA) has been set up under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India in accordance with the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010, which was enacted in March, 2010.
• The National Monuments Authority has been entrusted with a number of tasks relating to conservation and preservation of monuments and sites through management of prohibited and regulated area adjacent to centrally protected monuments.
• The National Monuments Authority, in its responsibilities, also considers granting permission to the applicants for construction activities in the prohibited and regulated area.
• With increasing urbanization, development, population growth and increasing pressure, the pressure on land is increasing, including land adjacent to centrally protected monuments. Since it is often used to make monuments/monuments. The sites are adversely affected, therefore, it is important that such development in the vicinity of the centrally protected monuments is well regulated, balancing the needs of citizens on the one hand, development and development and growth and conservation of these monuments on the one hand and the needs for conservation and preservation of these monuments on the other.
• These provisions have been amended in 2010 after the amendment in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act. National Monument Authority and Competent Authorities (CA) have been set up and now all applications for construction work in the prohibited and regulated area are submitted to the competent authorities and, thereafter, to the National Monument Authority.
• The Act provides for constitution of a National Monuments Authority with a provision of one full-time Chairperson and a maximum of 5 full-time and 5 part-time members and one Member Secretary. Director General, Archaeological Survey of India is its ex-officio member.

Source – PIB

‘Bhashini’ – National Language Translation Mission

Paper 3 Science Technology

Why in News?

Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and IT, Government of India, held a brainstorming conference with researchers and startups to strategize on India’s first AI-enabled language translation platform – Digital India ‘Bhashani’.

Key Points

• The Ministry of Electronics and IT held brainstorming sessions with researchers and start-ups. The aim of the session was to shape the strategy for the Digital India language.
• The session deliberated on Mission Digital India ‘Bhashani’ [Language Interface for India] – National Language Translation Mission (NLTM) from 73 startups in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Language Technology.
• It is worth mentioning that multilingualism presents a huge opportunity for startups to develop innovative solutions and products that are of use to them contrary to the known language of all Indian citizens.
• Enabling access to knowledge resources and digital empowerment of citizens is a high priority to achieve the goals of Digital India.
• Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Shri Rajiv Chandrashekhar said “to connect all Indians digitally and facilitate their digital inclusion by leveraging AI/NLP by overcoming language barriers around the Internet”. shared his wish.
• “Startups are an important part of our digital ecosystem and through Mission Digital India Bhashani, they will get support to develop IT solutions capable in India-specific and Indian languages. He expressed hope that this could increase the number of AI/language-based startups and eventually unicorns.
• The Minister also said that initiatives arising out of the combination of AI techniques and NLP will increase the scope of governance, such as development of speech and text translation techniques. As public websites become multilingual and interactive, the reach of public welfare schemes will also increase.
• He also emphasized on the important role of startups in technological innovation in our ecosystem and appealed to startups to join hands with the government and work in Mission Digital India Language to break the language barrier.
• The startups also shared their views on how they can actively engage with and participate in the mission to help the government achieve the objectives of this mission.

What is the Bhashani Platform? 

• The Bhashani platform will actually make artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) resources available to MSMEs, startups and private innovators in the public domain.
• The objective of this mission is to empower Indian citizens by connecting them to the country’s digital initiatives in their own language so as to lead to digital inclusion.
• The Bhashani platform is inter-powered and will catalyze the entire digital ecosystem. This is a big step towards realizing the goal of digital government.
• Bhashani will act as a planner to unite a large diverse network in government, industry, academia, research groups and start-ups. So that all his contributions can be brought to an open repository.
• The mission will create and nurture an ecosystem that will include central/state government agencies and start-ups and they will work together to develop and deploy innovative products and services in Indian languages.
• A brainstorming conference was held through video conferencing on 24 May 2022 to encourage the participation of startups. Leading startups working in the Indian language domain participated in the conference.
• Thus Mission Digital India Language aims to substantially enhance content in Indian languages on the Internet in areas of public interest, especially in governance and policy, science and technology etc., which will encourage citizens to access the Internet in their own language.

Source – PIB

Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal (FIFP)

Paper 3 Economics

Why in News?

Recently, foreign investment facilitation portal (FIFP) has completed its 5 years, let’s know about it.

Key Points

• The Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal (FIFP) is an online single point interface of the Government of India to facilitate FDI to investors.
• It is administered by the ‘Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry’. It was formed in place of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).
• Recently, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry informed that since the closure of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), 853 FDI proposals have been settled through the Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal (FIFP).
• It may be recalled that the proposal to close the FIPB was approved by the Union Cabinet in its meeting on May 24, 2017. After the conclusion of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), the task of granting government approval for foreign investment under the existing FDI policy and The Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regulations was entrusted to the administrative ministries/departments concerned and the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry was made the nodal department for the same.
• Since then, the FDI proposals were required to be submitted on the Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal (FIFP Portal) run by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
• Proposals submitted on FIFP portal are forwarded to the concerned administrative ministry as well as sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MEA) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for necessary comments as per FDI policy/FEM regulations besides sending them to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for necessary security clearances.
• In order to bring FDI proposals, including documents to be filed through FIFP portal, into further process, DPIIT had laid down and prepared a standard operating procedure (SOP) on June 29, 2017 and which was revised again on January 09,2020.
• Since then, not only has foreign direct investment (FDI) increased, but the number of countries bringing FDI into India has also increased. The FDI inflows into India in the financial year 2014-15 were only US$ 45.15 billion, which increased to US$ 60.22 billion in 2016-17 and the highest increase during the financial year 2021-22 to US$ 83.57 billion despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent Russo-Ukraine conflict.
• FDI has been reported from 101 countries during the financial year 2021-22 as compared to 97 countries during the previous financial year (2020-21).
• Automated alerts are being used through SMS and email to the concerned Ministries/Departments to regulate the under consideration of FDI proposals. Secretary, DPIIT reviews FDI proposals pending/under consideration in all the Ministries/Departments on monthly basis. This has accelerated the disposal of FDI proposals. Regular training sessions are also being conducted to inform the Ministries/Departments about judicious and expeditious processing of FDI proposal.
• Regular round table meetings are held with investors and law firms to keep up-to-date information about the practical issues and problems being faced at the ground level. The FDI proposal form is regularly reviewed on the FIFP portal to reduce the compliance burden on the applicants. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) have been updated and placed on the DPIIT website and FIFP portal for ease of access to them. Thus, to ensure that India remains an investor-friendly destination, constant efforts are made by DPIIT.

What is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)?

• FDI stands for Foreign Direct Investment. The investment of a company from one country in another country is called foreign direct investment (Foreign Direct Investment/ FDI).
• By such an investment, investors get some share in the management of the company in the other country in which their money is invested. It is generally believed that a foreign investor has to buy 10 percent of the shares in a company at least to get FDI status for an investment. Along with this, he also has to get the franchise in the investment company.
• For example, an American company Walmart has invested a lot of money in the Indian company Flipkart.
• It is worth mentioning that FDI has been granted an automatic and governmental permission in India.
There are mainly two types of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) :
1. Green field investment – under this a new company is established in another country,
2. Portfolio Investment – Under this, shares of a foreign company are purchased or the foreign company owned by it is acquired.

Benefits of FDI

India has the following benefits from foreign direct investment (FDI):
• FDI investment increases India’s capital and also increases India’s revenue tax.
• This would have boosted India’s GDP growth rate and also increased foreign exchange reserves.
• More FDI investments improve India’s supply chain as well as save food grains that are wasted by the lack of storage globally.
• FDI investment also helps India in the development of local people and industries for more quality products.
• FDI increases India’s international trade.
• FDI investment also leads to higher benefits to farmers and reduction in the rate of food inflation by consumers by purchasing food products from large companies.
• FDI companies provide more employment opportunities as there are many types of jobs available in this sector.

Loss from FDI

India has the following losses from foreign direct investment (FDI):
• FDI investment hurts indigenous investments and this increases the foreign investment’s control over indigenous industries.
• FDI investments threaten to acquire foreign companies on the brand and protection of indigenous products.
• FDI investment is also expected to hurt the domestic markets, small and medium enterprises as these foreign companies work with automated systems and the use of such machines and systems in India is very low.
• FDI investment companies have a higher rate of production and due to this, the supply of the product in the market becomes more, which makes the goods cheaper and the industries that produce the same product indigenously suffer.
• Competitions with the country’s investments increase due to foreign investment, leading to a drastic fall in the profits of domestic industries, besides a decline in major household savings.

Source – PIB

‘ABHA’ mobile application

Paper 2 Health, Education, Human Resources

Why in News?

Recently, the National Health Authority announced the revised ‘ABHA’ mobile application, let’s know what is ABHA Mobile Application?

Key Points

• Under its flagship scheme Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDAM), the National Health Authority (NHA) has announced the launch of the revised version of the Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) mobile application.
• It is worth mentioning that the ABHA app was earlier known as the NDHM Health Records app, which is available on the Google Play Store. It has been downloaded more than four million times.
• The upgraded version of ABHA has a new user interface (UI) and has added other practical things to it, so that people can see their health records anytime and anywhere. Those using the existing ABHA app can update the new version instead of the old version.
• Anyone on the ABHA mobile application can create an ABHA address (username@abdm), easily connect the remembering user-name to a 14-digit ABHA number. This number app will be ready on its own.
• Through the mobile application, the user can add the health records prepared in the ABDM based health facility and view it on their smartphone. The application also has the facility that the health records which are kept in ABDM based health lockers can also be digitally linked to it, such as clinical reports, prescription of doctors, CoWin vaccination certificates, etc. All of these can be connected through abdm network after the approval of the concerned user.
• In addition, there are new practical things in the ABHA mobile application, such as linking and un-linking the edit profile, ABHA number (14 digit) with the ABHA address. Apart from this, scanning facilities of QR code at ABDM based facility counters on log-in and registration through Face Authentication/Fingerprint/Biometric will also be introduced soon.

What does the ABHA Mobile App do?

• The ABHA app will facilitate citizens to maintain their overall health record. Patients can access their health records in seconds with the help of their ABHA address.
• Because of this, they will be very comfortable. It will provide them with complete details of their health in one place and help them to share their health records anywhere, anytime.
• This will not lead to the loss of their records. The digitization of data exchange will ensure better decision-making of treatment and continued care. ”
• Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) Mobile App (formerly known as NHDM Health Records or PHR App) can be downloaded from Google Play Store. The i-OS version of ABHA Mobile will be launched soon.

About Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

• The launch of Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15, 2020. After which the Mission was launched in mission mode in 6 Union Territories of the country (Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu, Ladakh, Lakshadweep and Puducherry).
• On September 27, 2021, the scheme has been launched for the entire country.
• Through this scheme, a database of health records of the citizens of the country will be prepared. Citizens will be provided with a health ID card .
• This health ID card will store the health database of citizens. This database can be viewed by the doctors with the consent of the citizens. All important information related to the health of citizens such as advisories, reports etc. will be digitally stored in the database.
• Now the citizens of the country will not be required to keep their medical records physically. Apart from this, information of all hospitals and doctors will be stored through this mission. Now the citizens of the country will also be able to get consultation from any doctor of the country sitting at home. This scheme will bring about a welfare change for the health sector.

The goal

• The main objective of the scheme is to support and develop the integrated digital health infrastructure of the country.
• More than 40 digital health services have been covered under the scheme.
• Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will be effective in directly benefiting the citizens living far away. Apart from this, citizens will also be provided with other facilities ranging from doctors through online medium.
• The flagship scheme will digitalise healthcare by creating a countrywide digital health ecosystem that will enable patients to store, access and consent to share their health records with doctors and health facilities of their choice.

Source – The Hindu

Swachh Survekshan 2023 launched

Paper 3 – Infrastructure

Why in News?

Recently, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched swachh survekshan 2023 under Swachh Bharat Mission Urban 2.0.

Key Points

• Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission Urban 2.0 on October 1, 2021 with a vision of waste-free cities.
• Under this, Shri Manoj Joshi, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched the 8th edition of Swachh Survekshan (SS) – SS 2023 under Swachh Bharat Mission Urban 2.0 in a virtual event on 24th May 2022.
• It is worth mentioning that as its inspiring philosophy, designed with the theme of ‘Waste to Wealth’, SS 2023 is geared towards achieving achievements in an all-round direction in waste management. The survey will prioritize the principle of three Rs – Reduce Recycle and Reuse, i.e. reduce, recycle and reuse garbage.
• It is worth mentioning that over the years, swachh survekshan has emerged as the largest urban sanitation survey in the world. The seventh event of Swachh Survekshan – ‘Azadi @75 Swachh Survekshan 2022’ was a landmark survey, as it coincided with Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
• The SS 2022 survey visited 4,355 cities, 85,860 wards, 2.12 lakh locations, assessed 5.5 lakh documents, obtained their views from 1.14 crore citizens, 4.77 lakh citizen verifications were done, 23.38 lakh photos and videos were collected as evidence and 17.24 lakh data points were collected. The SS 2022 survey has been completed and the results are being prepared.

salient features of Swachh Survekshan 2023

• It was observed that whenever the SS survey starts, the level of activities carried out by the cities increases and the cities appear clean during the months of being surveyed. Therefore, in SS 2023, evaluation will be carried out in 4 phases instead of 3 phases during earlier events and field assessment of citizen verification and processing facilities is also being initiated in Phase 3 in addition to Phase 4.
• The theme of SS 2023 is ‘Waste to Wealth’ and is in line with the commitment to promote circularity in Swachh Bharat Mission Urban 2.0 Waste Management, which is one of the key objectives under the Mission.
• In SS 2023, additional importance has been given to waste source segregation, increase in the waste processing capacity of cities to match waste generation and reduce waste going to the dumpsite.
• Indicators with additional weightage have been introduced to reduce plastic in a phased manner, processing of plastic waste, encouraging waste for wonder parks and emphasis on zero waste events.
• The ranking of wards within the cities is also being promoted through Swachh Survekshan 2023. Mayors of cities are being encouraged to participate in the rankings and honour the cleanest wards.
• Apart from the above, cities will also be evaluated on indicators dedicated to the issues of ‘open defecation’ (yellow spots) and ‘spitting in the open’ (red spots), which the cities are facing. In addition, this year the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is also promoting cleaning of back lanes of residential and commercial areas.

About he Swachhta Survey

• Swachh Survekshan Ranking Exercise is an activity of the Government of India which aims to assess the levels of sanitation efforts by the States and Urban Local Bodies in a time-bound and innovative manner and record the improvement achieved after the last Swachh Survekshan and, in addition, it also helps in categorizing the cities vis-a-vis others in terms of sanitation levels.
• Swachh Survekshan was launched in 2016 as a competitive framework by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to encourage cities to improve the state of urban sanitation and encourage participation of citizens at large .
• Swachh Survekshan has been instrumental for years in speeding up the mission in cities. This has led to a healthy competition among cities to improve their performance on sanitation standards, thereby improving the delivery of sanitation services to citizens.
• The swachh survekshan yatra started with a population of more than one million in only 73 cities in the year 2016, 434 cities in 2017, 4,203 cities in 2018, 4,237 cities in 2019, 4,242 cities in SS 2020, 4,320 cities in SS 2021 And the SS has increased manifold in 2022 with 4,355 cities including 62 cantonment boards .
• Through the launch of SS 2023 with the theme of ‘Waste to Wealth’, Swachh Bharat Mission Shayari 2.0 reiterates its commitment to move towards a circular economy in waste management, leveraging the immense potential of the realization of The Shayari 2.0 Waste Kanchan.

Source – PIB

PM’s cooperation meeting with US and Japan

Paper 2 International Realtions

Why in News?

Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, met us President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during the recent Quad meeting.

Key Points

• On May 24, 2022, the Quad Leaders Summit was held in Tokyo, Japan, in which four countries- India, Japan, the United States and others participated.
• The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on the Indian side, Mr. Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Joseph Joseph Biden, President of the United States of America and Mr. Anthony Albanese, Prime Minister of Australia.
• Pm Modi also met the Us President Joseph Joseph Biden and the Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Fumio Kishida separately and discussed a number of global issues.

Meeting with the President of the United States

• The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, called on the President of the United States of America, Mr. Joseph R. Biden, in Tokyo. The two leaders met warmly and had fruitful conversations. The meeting yielded concrete results which will further deepen and give momentum to the bilateral partnership.
• The meeting marks the continuation of regular high-level interactions between the two leaders. The two leaders had a personal meeting in Washington, D.C. in September 2021, and then held talks at the G20 and COP26 summits. Recently, there was a virtual interaction between them on April 11, 2022.
• The India-US Comprehensive Strategic Global Partnership is based on a shared commitment to democratic values, the rule of law and a commitment to uphold a rules-based international order. The two leaders expressed their happiness at the progress made in all areas in the bilateral agenda.
• The two leaders welcomed the signing of an investment incentive agreement that enables the US Development Finance Corporation to continue to provide investment support in India in shared priority areas such as full health, renewable energy, MSMEs, infrastructure, etc.
• The two sides launched the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (ICT) to facilitate India-US result-oriented cooperation. The National Security Council Secretariat in India and the U.S. Under the co-leadership of the National Security Council,close ties in education and industry will be established between the governments of the two countries in areas such as ICT AI, quantum computing, 5G/6G, biotech, space and semiconductors.
• Noting that defence and security cooperation is an important pillar of the India-US bilateral agenda, the two sides discussed how they can further strengthen the cooperation. In this context, the Prime Minister invited american industry to partner with india to build in india under make in india and self-reliant india, which can be mutually beneficial for both countries.
• Taking forward their growing cooperation in the health sector, India and the US extended the long-standing Vaccine Action Programme (VAP) to 2027 to continue joint biomedical research, resulting in the development of vaccines and related technologies.
• To strengthen people-to-people contacts between the two countries, the Prime Minister called for strengthening higher education cooperation which could be of mutual benefit.
• The two leaders exchanged views on regional issues of mutual interest, including south Asia and the Indo-Pacific region, reaffirming their shared vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
• The Prime Minister welcomed the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) and said That India stands ready to work closely with all partner countries to shape a resilient and inclusive IPEF, keeping in mind the respective national circumstances.
• The leaders agreed to continue their fruitful dialogue and take forward their shared vision of taking the India-US partnership to a higher level.

Meeting with The Prime Minister of Japan

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Japanese PM Fumio Kishida and the two leaders agreed to further enhance bilateral security and defence cooperation, including in the area of defence manufacturing.
• The two leaders had a productive exchange of views on enhancing bilateral relations in various spheres as well as on some regional and global issues. The two leaders concurred that the next 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting may be held in Japan at the earliest, it said, adding that they appreciated the growing economic ties between the two countries.
• They agreed that both sides should work jointly towards implementing their decision to have 5 trillion yen (USD 39.3 billion) in public and private investment and financing from Japan to India in the next five years.
• Modi highlighted the steps taken by India to improve ease of doing business, logistics through the ‘Gati Shakti’ initiative and urged Kishida to support greater investments by Japanese companies in India.
• “Such investments would help in creating resilient supply chains and would be mutually beneficial. In this context, Prime Minister Modi appreciated that Japanese companies were increasing their investments in India and that 24 Japanese companies had successfully applied under the various Production Linked Incentive schemes,”
• The two leaders noted the progress in implementation of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project and welcomed the signing of exchange of notes of the 3rd tranche of loan for this project. They agreed to encourage greater collaboration between private sectors of both sides in development of next generation communication technologies.

Source – Indian Express

Ban on export of sugar

Paper 3 Agriculture

Why in News?

Recently, the Government of India has banned the export of sugar.

Key Points 

• Ten days after the ban on export of wheat, India also banned the export of sugar on 25 May 2022 . The central government has said that the move has been taken to maintain domestic availability and price stability.
• The Directorate General of Foreign Trade under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry has issued this order, which will be effective from June 1, 2022. According to this order, only exports up to a total of 10 million (1 crore) tonnes will be allowed till the sugar marketing season ending in September .
• “In view of the unprecedented increase in export of sugar and the need to maintain adequate stock of sugar in the country as well as the need to protect the interests of the common citizens of the country while keeping the prices of sugar under control, the Government of India has decided to regulate it,” a statement issued on May 24 said. Sugar mills and exporters will have to issue export release orders (ERO) from the Directorate of Sugar, Department of Food and Public Distribution. “
• It is worth mentioning that India is the second largest exporter of sugar after Brazil. The government termed the export of sugar in the current sugar season 2021-22 as “historically highest” and said the decision came in the light of “record exports of sugar”.
• “Sugar season 2017-18, only 6.2 lakh MT, 38 lakh MT in 2018-19 and 59.60 lakh MT of sugar was exported in 2019-20.
• The statement said that about 70 LMT has been exported against the target of 60 lakh metric tonnes in the sugar season 2020-21. In the current sugar season 2021-22, export contracts of about 90 lakh mt have been signed, about 82 lakh metric tonnes of sugar has been sent from sugar mills for export and about 78 lakh mt has been exported.
• This decision will ensure that the closing stock of sugar at the end of sugar season (30 September 2022) will remain at 60-65 lakh metric tonnes, which is the two to three months stock required for domestic use. According to the government, the monthly requirement of sugar in those months is around 24 lakh metric tonnes.
• It is worth mentioning that the new crushing season starts in the last week of October in Karnataka and in The last week of October to November in Maharashtra and in November in Uttar Pradesh. So usually sugar is supplied by November from last year’s stock.
• The wholesale price of sugar in India is between Rs 3150 and Rs 3500 per quintal while retail prices are in the range of Rs 36-44 in different parts of the country.
• On May 13, the government banned the export of all types of wheat from the country with immediate effect to maintain “food security”.

Source – Indian Express

Greenhouse gases increase by 49% in 10 years

Paper 3 : Environment, Pollution

Why in News?

Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported in a report that greenhouse gases have increased by 49% in the last ten years , leading to an abnormal rise in temperature.

Key Points

• According to scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), greenhouse gas pollution caused by people’s activities increased the heat in the atmosphere by 49% more in 2021 than in 1990.
• Recently NOAA released its annual greenhouse gas index, known as AGGI. It provides information of heat-enhancing gases including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and 16 other chemicals.
• The annual greenhouse gas index (AGGI) transforms complex scientific calculations about how much extra heat these gases can increase in the same number, which can be easily compared to previous years and the rate of change is monitored.
• The AGGI was established in 1990, this year for the Kyoto Protocol as well as this year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also published the first scientific assessment on climate change.
• In fact AGGI tells us the rate by which information about the rising temperature is obtained. Its measurements show that while the major gases responsible for climate change are growing rapidly, the damage caused by climate change becomes more pronounced. Scientific findings suggest that humans are responsible for this growth.
• Aggi levels reached 1.49 in 2021, meaning that human-emitted greenhouse gases have raised 49 percent more heat in the atmosphere than in 1990. Because it is mainly based on highly accurate measurements of greenhouse gases in air samples collected worldwide, but there is little uncertainty in its results.

Increasing greenhouse gases

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

• Carbon dioxide (CO2) is by far the most abundant human-emitted greenhouse gas. About 36 billion metric tons of CO2 is emitted every year through transportation, power generation, cement manufacturing, deforestation, agriculture and many other methods. A large portion of the CO2 emitted today will remain in the atmosphere for more than 1,000 years.
• Measurements of NOAA showed that the global average concentration of CO2 in 2021 was 414.7 parts per million (PPM). The annual growth during this year was 2.6 PPM, which was about the average annual growth of the previous decade and much higher than the growth measured during 2000 to 2009.
• Co2 levels have increased by 61 PPM since 1990, accounting for 80 percent of the increased heat tracked by AGGI since that year.
• Climate scientists said that CO2 is primarily responsible, as it has lived in the atmosphere and oceans for thousands of years and is by far the biggest culprit for rising temperatures. He said eliminating CO2 pollution should be first and foremost in any effort to tackle climate change.

Methane (CH-4)

• One of the most important questions for climate scientists is why the second-largest greenhouse gas—methane—has been growing rapidly and steadily since 2006.
• The level of atmospheric methane, or CH-4, averaged 1,895.7 parts per billion during 2021. The 16.9 PPB increase recorded in 2021 was the fastest since the early 1980s.
• Methane levels are currently about 162 per cent higher than pre-industrial levels. Scientists at NOAA estimate that the amount of methane emitted in 2021 was 15 percent higher than in the period from 1984 to 2006.
• Methane is the second largest greenhouse gas in warming the world. The effect of the heating of CH-4 from pre-industrial period is about a quarter of that of CO 2.
• The reasons for the increase that has been occurring since 2007 are not fully understood, but scientists at NOAA have concluded that microbial sources are behind the changes in the composition of atmospheric methane over time, pointing to wetlands, agriculture and landfills. They suggest that fossil fuel emissions are responsible for a small portion.
• The scientist said we should look at man-made methane emissions thoroughly, especially from fossil fuels, as it is technically possible to control them.
• If these are releasing more methane due to rising temperatures in the wetlands and the rain is changing around the world due to rising levels of CO2, then this is something we can’t control directly. It will be very worrying in the times to come.

Nitrous oxide (N2O)

• The third largest greenhouse gas is nitrous oxide, or N2O, another long-lived gas that is growing every year. But it is different in the sense that it is increasing by the growth of the population, not by the demand for energy. N2O pollution is mainly caused by the use of fertilizer to increase agriculture and food production.
• The GML scientist who led the AGGI report said we could find alternative energy sources to replace fossil fuels, but cutting emissions associated with food production is a very difficult task.
• These three greenhouse gases, as well as the two banned ozone-depleting chemicals, account for about 96 percent of the excess heat accumulated in the atmosphere due to human activity since the 1750s. The remaining 4% is from 16 other greenhouse gases, which have also been tracked by AGGI. Overall they have increased the amount of heat equivalent to 508 Ppm of CO2 in 2021.

About the AGGI Index

• The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an American scientific and regulatory agency within the United States Department of Commerce that forecasts weather, monitors oceanic and atmospheric conditions, charts the seas, conducts deep sea exploration, and manages fishing and protection of marine mammals and endangered species in the U.S. exclusive economic zone.
• Scientists at NOAA issued the first AGGI in 2006 to help policymakers, educators and the public understand the impact of greenhouse gases on climate over time .
• AGGI is based on thousands of air samples collected from different parts of the world each year from NOAA’s Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.
• The amounts of these greenhouse gases and other chemicals are determined through the analysis of those samples at NOAA’s global monitoring laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. Scientists then calculate the amount of excess heat deposited by these gases into the Earth system.

Source – Down to Earth

Avian influenza or Bird flu

Paper 2 Health

Why in News?

Recently, a few days ago, a four-year-old child in China’s central Henan province was found to be infected with the bird flu virus, this in itself was a shocking news, let’s know what is this bird flu?

Key Points

• Avian influenza (H5N1) or bird flu is a highly contagious disease that affects both domestic and wild birds. Birds, mammalian species infected with avian influenza virus are isolated so that the infection does not spread.
• However, from mammal species, which include rats, weasels, ferrets, pigs, cats, tigers, dogs and horses, as well as humans, the infection has appeared less.

First case of bird flu

• This genealogy of bird flu originated around 1996 and was first found in a domestic duck in China. The virus continues to change itself and its first major wild bird outbreak occurred around 2005 in a major wetland in Central Asia.
• The subsequent changes in the virus started in 2014 in the U.S. through the Pacific Northwest. It severely affected the U.S. poultry industry and forced the killing of about 40 million turkey birds and chickens as a control measure.
• Historically, ducks such as The Mallard have been considered super-spreaders of avian influenza. which infect wild birds and poultry alike. The dubbling ducks act as powerful vehicles to spread the virus and further the virus into the wild bird reservoir.
• They can carry highly disease-spreading variants and look completely symptomless. At the same time they swim and fly so that they can transfer the virus in various ways, including local water bodies.
• Researchers point out that the virus was first detected in the wild bird Black-BackGul in 2021. Gul birds can travel strong, long distances that take advantage of favorable air to travel over the sea and spread the virus very fast.
• About 40 species of birds have been infected in the Currently North American outbreak, including domestic birds such as crows and sparrows, as well as predatory birds such as owls and hawks. This outbreak has a larger geographical range and is affecting the wider diversity of species in North America than the 2014 outbreak.

How much is the risk to humans from avian influenza or bird flu?

• Although avian influenza is zoonotic, its dangers to people are very low. Researchers say there is a practically non-existent risk for the average person. It is a little more dangerous for those who regularly handle birds, such as wildlife professionals, or people working in poultry farms.
• The avian influenza virus was recently detected in a person in Colorado, US, which was the first human case in North America during this outbreak. He used to do poultry work and got infected due to a sick bird. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the person had mild symptoms, was isolated and recovered.

Bird flu knocks in India

• India had witnessed an outbreak of flu in birds in 15 states between 2006 and 2015. So far, no human being in the country has been infected with it. splendor
• Rat had declared herself virus-free in September 2019 . However, some time ago, cases of new variants of bird flu were reported in some states of India.
• A few days ago, a four-year-old child in China’s central Henan province was found to be infected with the HF3N8 virus of bird flu.

Prevention of bird flu

• In addition to antiviral treatments to prevent its spread, public health management includes personal protective measures such as drying hands with regular hand washing etc. should be followed.
• Covering the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, using tissues and disposing of them correctly.
• When a person is unwell, infected with fever and other symptoms of influenza, the first thing to do is isolate yourself from him.
• Avoid close contact with sick people. Also, avoid touching someone’s eye, nose or mouth.

Source – Down to Earth

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