05 May, 2020
67 Min Read
|GS-II||World Press Freedom Index 2020|
|“The Saras collection” on Gem portal|
|Off Course-Issues related to Cauvery Water Management Authority||Governance|
|Centre’s Directive to use Aarogya Setu app|
|GS-III||Official Digital Currency-China||Economic Issues|
|Russia to launch first satellite to monitor artic climate|
|Kisan Sabha App||Economic Issues|
|Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi kendras playing vital role to combat CoVID 19-PMBJP||Economic Issues|
|India’s manufacturing sector activity hits record low in April amid lockdown: PMI Survey||Economic Issues|
|GS-IV||Ramadan marks the revelation of the Quran||Ethics|
|PT Pointer||UV Blaster|
|Important GS Topics||Arctic Council|
World Press Freedom Index 2020
Part of: GS-II- Major world reports (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
The latest survey of the global body, Reporters without Borders, that shows India dropping two places on the global press freedom index ranking to 142nd place in the list of 180 countries. India’s neighbours — Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka — are ranked higher in the list.
World Press Freedom Day was started by the UN General Assembly in December 1993 in accordance with recommendations by UNESCO’s General Conference.
This particular date 3 May was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek — the declaration of free press principles put together by newspaper journalists in Africa during a UNESCO seminar called Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press in Windhoek, Namibia in 1991.
The journalists’ statement called for an independent and pluralistic media across the world. It saw a free press as essential to democracy and a fundamental human right.
This special day is meant to be a reminder to governments about their need to commit to a free press. It also serves as a day for media professionals to reflect on issues of press freedom, professional ethics and their role.
“The Saras collection” on Gem portal
Part of: GS-II- Rural development (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj launched “The Saras Collection” on the Government e Marketplace (GeM) portal.
In addition, Government Potential buyers will be able to search, view, cart and procure such products through the stipulated modes of procurement. By providing SHGs with direct access to Government buyers, the Saras Collection will do away with intermediaries in the supply chain and will ensure better prices for SHGs and spurring employment opportunities at the local level.
Government e-Marketplace (GeM)
The chief features of the scheme are as follows:
The latest political row to erupt in Tamil Nadu is around the Centre’s April 24 notification bringing the Cauvery Water Management Authority under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti, which was created a year ago by combining two Ministries.
Issues in this Central notification
The Opposition, and some farmers’ associations were upset with the notification on the ground that the move has reduced the Authority to a “puppet” of the Centre.
They point out that the CWMA was created on the direction of the Supreme Court in February 2018. It is also argued that between June 2018-May 2019, when the Union Ministry of Water Resources was in existence, there was no public notification on the CWMA being designated as an organisation under the Ministry.
Such an argument is weak, as the CWMA, a body corporate, has been working all along under the Ministry. Even in the case of its predecessor, the Cauvery River Authority (1998-2013) with the Prime Minister as the Chairman and Chief Ministers of the basin States as Members, the Union Ministry of Water Resources had administrative control.
In fact, the CWMA has had only a part-time head, the chairman of the Central Water Commission (CWC), attached to the Ministry.
Besides, there are eight inter-State river water boards under the Jal Shakti Ministry. Along with the CWMA, four other bodies, including the Krishna and the Godavari Water Management Boards — which have been in existence since 2014 following the re-organisation of Andhra Pradesh — were designated to be under the Ministry.
The formalisation of the CWMA’s status corrects an apparent lapse on the Ministry’s part and addresses administrative issues.
The notification does not, in any way, alter the character, functions or powers of the CWMA that form part of a scheme drawn up a few years ago, and which was approved by the Supreme Court.
If there is anything the Centre can be blamed for, it is the way the CWMA functions. Even two years after its formation, the Authority does not have a full-fledged chairman.
The Centre would do well to act, at least now, in making the CWMA fully operational, when the southwest monsoon is about to set in.
The parties should realise that electoral gains or losses are not always linked to their stand on any one issue, even if it is the Cauvery, the lifeline of Tamil Nadu’s rice bowl.
Constitutional Provisions to solve the interstate water disputes
Entry 17 of State List deals with water i.e. water supply, irrigation, canal, drainage, embankments, water storage and water power.
Entry 56 of Union List empowers the Union Government for the regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valleys to the extent declared by Parliament to be expedient in the public interest.
According to Article 262, in case of disputes relating to waters:
a.Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley.
b.Parliament may, by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as mentioned above.
Mechanism for Inter-State River Water Disputes Resolution
# (According to its provisions, if a State Government makes a request regarding any water dispute and the Central Government is of opinion that the water dispute cannot be settled by negotiations, then a Water Disputes Tribunal is constituted for the adjudication of the water dispute.)
# (The amendments mandated a one year time frame to setup the water disputes tribunal and also a 3 year time frame to give a decision.)
Active River Water Dispute Tribunals in India
Issues with Interstate Water Dispute Tribunals
The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2017
App for one season: Centre’s Directive to use Aarogya Setu app
The Centre’s national directive for the mandatory use of its contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu, as part of its COVID-19 combat measures, falls short of established legal standards for the protection of privacy.
Issues in making it mandatory to use Aarogya Setu app
The first requirement laid down by the Supreme Court in K.S. Puttaswamy, namely, a law authorising the involuntary use of such an app, has not been fulfilled.
The government has no power to make the app’s use compulsory without legislative authorisation.
There is no legislative guidance for the app’s purpose, functioning, and the nature of the use of the sensitive personal data it collects.
Lawyers and activists have raised concerns not only over privacy; they also fear that assessments made on the basis of information collected may be used to restrict public movement and access.
The absence of a sunset clause or a rule limiting the purpose for which the data can be used or spelling out the entities authorised to use them are all valid concerns.
It is mandatory for:
Going by the directive issued under the Disaster Management Act, all people residing in ‘containment zones’, all government and public sector staff and all employees, both public and private, who are allowed to work during the lockdown, will have to download the app, which also cautions against not keeping the phone’s location and Bluetooth on.
Aarogya Setu seems to be quite popular
However, Aarogya Setu seems to be quite popular — downloads have crossed 75 million. And what the government has going for itself is that many countries are implementing mobile app use for contact tracing.
More and more governments are introducing applications for automated location services to trace the contacts of those infected.
India should abide by best practices elsewhere. The EU has laid down guidelines to the effect that such app use should be voluntary, that it should preserve user privacy and should not be used after it becomes no longer necessary.
Israel’s Supreme Court recently struck down emergency powers given to the country’s intelligence agency to trace the phone location of COVID-19 patients without enabling legislation.
Australia’s tracking app has sparked privacy concerns, but the government has released a privacy impact assessment.
While the intention behind the app’s introduction may be good — as it is a given that the government is keen on doing everything possible to keep a watch on the spread of the virus so that the lockdown, as well as relaxations given to zones based on colour-coding, are effective — it would be well-advised to heed privacy concerns raised by the Opposition, allay fears that it may become a permanent mass surveillance instrument and ensure that there is sufficient anonymising of data and its limited access. It has a duty to resort to methods that cause the least harm.
Official Digital Currency-China
Part of: GS-III- Digital currency (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
Recently, China has started testing its official digital currency which is unofficially called “Digital Currency Electronic Payment, DC/EP”.
India’s Stand on Digital Currency
Russia to launch first satellite to monitor artic climate
Part of: GS-III- S&T (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
Russia will launch first Arktika-M satellite for monitoring Arctic climate this year at the end of the year, General Director of Lavochkin aerospace company Vladimir Kolmykov told sputnik news agency. He said as of now first satellite is developed and the launch is planned for 2020. The satellite will be launched by Soyuz-21b carrier rocket with frigate booster. The remote sensing Artika-M will monitor the meteorological conditions in the polar region.
India and Arctic
I. The National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research has been renamed as the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research.
Three decades after its first mission to Antarctica, the government is refocusing priorities to the other pole — the Arctic — because of opportunities and challenges posed by climate change.
This month, it has renamed the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) — since 1998, charged with conducting expeditions to India’s base stations to the continent — as the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research. It’s also in talks with Canada and Russia, key countries with presence in the Arctic circle, to establish new observation systems, according to a source. Now, India only has one Arctic observation station near Norway.
Along with the Arctic, India’s earth sciences community also views the Himalayas as a “third pole” because of the large quantities of snow and ice it holds, and proposes to increase research spends towards understanding the impact of climate change in the Himalayas. It has already established a high-altitude research station in the Himalayas, called HIMANSH, at Spiti, Himachal.
While annual missions to maintain India’s three bases in Antarctica will continue, the new priorities mean that there will be more expeditions and research focus on the other poles, earth science ministry.
Climate change, said the source, was a decisive factor in India re-thinking priorities. Sea ice at the Arctic has been melting rapidly — the fastest in this century. That means several spots, rich in hydrocarbon reserves, will be more accessible through the year via alternative shipping routes.
India is already an observer at the Arctic Council — a forum of countries that decides on managing the region’s resources and popular livelihood and, in 2015, set up an underground observatory, called IndARC, at the Kongsfjorden fjord, half way between Norway and the North Pole.
Why Artic research?
A big worry for India is the impact of melting sea ice on the monsoon. Over the years scientists across the world are reporting that the rapid ice-melt in the Arctic is leading to large quantities of fresh water into the seas around the poles. This impedes the release of heat from the water and directs warm water into the seas around India, the theory goes, and eventually weakens the movement of the monsoon breeze into India. “Therefore we need more observations and stations in the Arctic countries to improve understanding of these processes,” the source added.
II. India’s Antarctic Missions
III. India’s Vishnu Nandan will be the only Indian aboard the multidisciplinary drifting observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition.
He will be aboard the German research vessel Polarstern, anchored on a large sheet of sea ice in the Central Arctic, drifting along with it during the pitch-black Polar winter.
Why study and understand about changes in the Arctic?
Kisan Sabha App
Part of: GS-III- Agriculture (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
The CSIR-Central Road Research Institute (CSIR-CRRI), New Delhi has developed the Kisan Sabha App to connect farmers to the supply chain and freight transportation management system. The app also intends to provide a robust supply chain management required to facilitate the timely delivery of the products at the best possible prices during the present situation of Covid-19.
CSIR-Central Road Research Institute (CSIR-CRRI)
Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi kendras playing vital role to combat CoVID 19-PMBJP
Part of: GS-III- Economy (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadi Kendras are playing a vital role in COVID-19 situation as around ten lakh persons per day are visiting such Kendras to source quality medicines at affordable prices. Currently, six thousand Jan Aushadi Kendras are working round the clock across the country where at par quality medicines are sold at cheaper price by 50 percent to 90 percent of average market price. Last month, around 52 crore rupees worth of medicines have been supplied throughout the country. These Kendras are also selling Hydroxy chloroquine, N95 masks, three-ply masks, hand sanitizers and other items at cheaper price.
The scheme aims at educating the masses about the generic medicines and that high prices are not always synonymous with high quality. It intends to cover all therapeutic groups and create demand for generic medicines through medical practitioners.
Jan Aushadi Sugam Application
The PMBJP launched a mobile application in order to help people locate the Janaushadhi Kendras in the areas around them.
Since smartphones are seen accessible to all the groups of the society, the PMBJP aims to promote their affordable healthcare scheme through available technology. Affordable healthcare seeker can easily find these PMBJK and get generic medicines at a substantially low cost compared to that of the branded OTC (over-the-counter) ones.
What is a Generic Medicine?
Generic medicines are unbranded medicines which are equally safe and having the same efficacy as that of branded medicines in terms of their therapeutic value. The prices of generic medicines are much cheaper than their branded equivalent.
Outreach of generic medicines:
India’s manufacturing sector activity hits record low in April amid lockdown: PMI Survey
Part of: GS-III- Economic data (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
The country's manufacturing sector activity witnessed unprecedented contraction in April amid national lockdown restrictions, following which new business orders collapsed at a record pace and firms sharply reduced their staff numbers, a monthly survey said.
The headline seasonally adjusted IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 27.4 in April, from 51.8 in March, reflecting the sharpest deterioration in business conditions across the sector since data collection began over 15 years ago.
The index slipped into contraction mode, after remaining in the growth territory for 32 consecutive months. In PMI index, a print above 50 means expansion, while a score below that denotes contraction.
Amid widespread business closures, demand conditions were severely hampered in April. New orders fell for the first time in two-and-a-half years and at the sharpest rate in the survey's history, far outpacing that seen during the global financial crisis, the survey said.
What is a PMI?
PMI or a Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of business activity — both in the manufacturing and services sectors. It is a survey-based measures that asks the respondents about changes in their perception of some key business variables from the month before. It is calculated separately for the manufacturing and services sectors and then a composite index is constructed.
How is the PMI derived?
The PMI is derived from a series of qualitative questions. Executives from a reasonably big sample, running into hundreds of firms, are asked whether key indicators such as output, new orders, business expectations and employment were stronger than the month before and are asked to rate them.
How does one read the PMI?
A figure above 50 denotes expansion in business activity. Anything below 50 denotes contraction. Higher the difference from this mid-point greater the expansion or contraction. The rate of expansion can also be judged by comparing the PMI with that of the previous month data. If the figure is higher than the previous month’s then the economy is expanding at a faster rate. If it is lower than the previous month then it is growing at a lower rate.
What are its implications for the economy?
The PMI is usually released at the start of the month, much before most of the official data on industrial output, manufacturing and GDP growth becomes available. It is, therefore, considered a good leading indicator of economic activity. Economists consider the manufacturing growth measured by the PMI as a good indicator of industrial output, for which official statistics are released later. Central banks of many countries also use the index to help make decisions on interest rates.
What does it mean for financial markets?
The PMI also gives an indication of corporate earnings and is closely watched by investors as well as the bond markets. A good reading enhances the attractiveness of an economy vis-a- vis another competing economy.
Ramadan marks the revelation of the Quran, which places knowledge above all
(Rahamathunnissa A) The writer is national secretary, women’s department, Jama’at-e-Islami
Many think that Ramadan is a month of fasting and giving charity. But is it just for that? What is the actual reason for believers being commanded to observe fasting during this month? These are important questions and their answers will help anyone to utilise this time in a way that will benefit both believers as well as all of humanity.
The Quran says that it was during Ramadan that its revelation took place: “The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran, guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.” 2:185
“Do they not observe the camels: How they were created? And the sky: How it was raised high? And the mountains: How they were fixed? And the earth: How it spread out?” 88: 17 to 20.
The Islamic world influenced medieval European life and culture in various fields. The European scholar Gerard of Cremona learned Arabic because of the “abundance of books in Arabic on every subject” and he translated 87 books from Arabic into Latin. Ramadan is the time to revisit the verses of the Quran and do more research on how to boost the world economy after the pandemic passes, as well as other issues facing the world.
UV Blaster: DRDO develops WiFi-enabled UV disinfection tower
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an ultraviolet (UV) disinfection tower that can be used for rapid and chemical-free disinfection of infection-prone areas.
"UV blaster" is a UV-based area sanitizer designed and developed by Laser Science & Technology Centre (LASTEC), DRDO's Delhi-based premier laboratory.
The equipment has six lamps each with 43 watts of UV-C power at 254 nm wavelength for 360-degree illumination. For a room of about 12 x 12 feet dimension, the disinfection time is about 10 minutes and 30 minutes for 400 square feet area by positioning the equipment at different places within the room.
UV Blaster is useful for high-tech surfaces like electronic equipment, computers and other gadgets in laboratories and offices that are not suitable for disinfection with chemical methods. The product is also effective for areas with a large flow of people such as airports, shopping malls, metros, hotels, factories, offices, etc.
Part of: GS-II- International organisation (PT-MAINS-PERSONALITY TEST)
The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
The Arctic Council works as a consensus-based body to deal with issues such as the change in biodiversity, melting sea ice, plastic pollution and black carbon.
History of Arctic Council
Formation of the Arctic Council
Criterion for Admitting Observers
In the determination by the Council of the general suitability of an applicant for observer status the Council will, inter alia, take into account the extent to which observers:
Mechanism of Council
Working of Council
Accomplishment of Council
The first, the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic, was signed in Nuuk, Greenland, at the 2011 Ministerial Meeting.
The second, the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic, was signed in Kiruna, Sweden, at the 2013 Ministerial meeting.
Third, the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation, was signed in Fairbanks, Alaska at the 2017 Ministerial meeting.
India and the Arctic
Commercial and Strategic Interests
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