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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

15 Apr, 2021

25 Min Read

Fukushima Radioactive Water to be Released in Seas

GS-III : Disaster and Disaster management Natural disaster

Japan is planning to release about 1 million metric tons of radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

About Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant:

  • Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is located in the town of Okuma, Japan. The reactor is located on the country’s east coast. It is about 220 km north-east of the capital Tokyo.
  • The 2011 Earthquake, destroyed the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant’s electricity and cooling capacity. Since then, Japan is struggling with the piling-up of contaminated water from the nuclear plant.

How is Fukushima Radioactive Water being treated?

  • Japan is using an extensive pumping and filtration system known as “ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System)”.
  • The ALPS process is used to extract tonnes of newly radioactive water each day. It also filters out most radioactive elements.
  • The ALPS process removes most of the radioactive isotopes. It will make the nuclear content in water levels lower than the international safety guidelines for nuclear plant wastewater.
  • However, it cannot remove some radioactive isotopes. Such as tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen.

Release of Fukushima Radioactive Water:

  • Japan is planning to release the contaminated water containing tritium into the ocean.
  • Tritium considered to be relatively harmless because it does not emit enough energy to penetrate human skin. But when ingested tritium can create cancer risks.

Concerns:

  • Some scientists have pointed out that the long-term effects on marine life are unknown.
  • Strontium released in the ocean can start to concentrate in the bones of both fish and humans. Thereby increasing cancer risks.

Source: TH

WHO guidelines to control Transmission of Zoonotic Diseases

GS-II : Governance Health

  • The World Health Organization(WHO), World Organization for Animal Health and United Nations Environment Programme jointly released guidelines to control “Zoonotic Diseases” for governments.
  • Guidelines ask to reduce the risk of transmission of zoonotic pathogens to humans in food production and marketing chains.

What are Zoonotic Diseases?

  • Zoonosis is an infectious disease that jumps from a non-human animal to humans.
  • Zoonotic pathogens may be bacterial, viral, or parasitic. They can spread to humans through direct contact or through food, water, and the environment.

Key Guidelines issued by WHO:

  • Countries should suspend the sale of live animals captured from the wild in food markets. This is an emergency measure as they are the leading source of emerging infectious diseases like the coronavirus.
  • Strengthening the regulatory base for improving standards of hygiene and sanitation in traditional food markets. This will reduce the risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases.
  • Adequately training food inspectors to ensure businesses comply with regulations to protect consumers’ health.
  • Strengthening animal health surveillance systems for zoonotic pathogens. This includes both domestic and wild animals. This will provide an early warning for pathogen emergence. Further, it will also help in developing the control measures.
  • Developing and implementing food safety information campaigns. The campaign should create awareness to market traders, stallholders, consumers, and the wide public. These campaigns should communicate the principles of food safety and the risks of transmission of zoonotic pathogens.

Source: TH

Indian Rhino Vision 2020

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Conservation

Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020) ended with the release of two rhinos. An adult male and a female rhino transported to Assam’s Manas National Park from Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.

Indian Rhino Vision Plan 2020:

  • Indian Rhino Vision Plan 2020 was launched in 2005.
  • The vision of IRV was:
    • Increase the Rhino Population in Assam from about 2000 to 3000 by 2020.
    • Ensure that one horned rhinos are spread over seven protected areas in the Indian state of Assam by the year 2020.
  • Seven Protected Areas: The seven protected areas are Kaziranga, Pobitora, Orang National Park, Manas National Park, Laokhowa wildlife sanctuary, Burachapori wildlife sanctuary and Dibru Saikhowa wildlife sanctuary.
  • The plan is implemented by the Department of Environment and Forest Assam in partnership with Bodo Autonomous Council.
  • The plan is supported by WWF India, WWF areas (Asian Rhino and Elephant action strategy) program, the international rhino foundation(IRF), US fish and wildlife service, and others.

Achievements of Indian Rhino Vision Plan 2020:

  • The Indian Rhino Vision Plan 2020 is believed to have achieved its target of attaining a population of 3,000 rhinos in Assam.
  • However, the plan to spread the one-horned rhinos across four protected areas beyond Kaziranga National Park, Orang National Park and Pobitora could not materialise.

Why was the Indian Rhino Vision plan launched?

  • Assam had at least five rhino-bearing areas till the 1980s. Better conservation efforts helped maintain the population of the one-horned rhinoceros in Kaziranga, Orang and Pobitora National Parks.
  • But the encroachment and poaching wiped out the one-horned rhinos from Manas and Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • This led to the Manas National Park (known for the near-extinction of the pygmy hog) losing the World Heritage Site tag it received in 1985 along with Kaziranga from UNESCO.
  • However, the translocated rhinos helped Manas National Park get back its World Heritage Site status in 2011.

About Rhinos:

  • There are three species of rhino in Asia — Greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran.
  • Two greatest threats: Poaching for the horns and habitat loss
  • The five rhino range nations: India, Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • These Nations have signed a declaration ‘The New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019’ for the conservation and protection of the species.

Protection Status

  • IUCN Red List
    • Javan and Sumatran Rhino: Critically endangered
    • Greater one-horned rhino: vulnerable
  • All three listed under Appendix I (CITES).
  • Greater one-horned rhino: Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • In India, rhinos are mainly found in Kaziranga National Park (NP), Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS), Orang NP and Manas NP in Assam, Jaldapara NP and Gorumara NP in West Bengal and Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in UP.

Source: TH

Mandatory Gold Hallmarkings

GS-II : Governance Institutions

The government said that it is fully prepared to implement the mandatory hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts from June 1, 2021.

What is Gold hallmarking?

  • Gold hallmarking is a purity certification of precious metal. At present, It is voluntary in nature.

Gold Hallmarking in India:

  • In 2019, the Government announced that hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts will be made mandatory across the country.
  • The government had given jewellers more than a year to shift to hallmarking and register themselves with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

Key Features of Gold Hallmarking:

  • Hallmarked gold jewellery will only available in three grades – 14-carat, 18-carat and 22-carat. Currently, it is available in ten grades.
  • The Hallmarked Gold jewellery will contain four marks. Such as BIS mark, purity in carat, assay centre’s name and jewellers’ identification mark.
  • The rule is applicable only to sales by retailers and not to consumers. However, it is available for consumers if they want to get their old jewellery hallmarked.
  • Anybody found violating the provision, will have to pay a minimum fine of Rs 1 lakh or 5 times the price of the article.

Benefits of Gold Hallmarking:

  • Gold Hallmarking will protect the public against lower caratage. It also ensures consumers do not get cheated while buying gold ornaments.
  • It will also help to get the purity, bring in transparency and assure the consumers of quality.
  • The new system will also weed out anomalies and corruption in the system of manufacturing of jewellery.

Note: India is the largest importer of gold. In volume terms, the country imports 700-800 tonne of gold annually, draining the exchequer in terms of outflow of foreign reserves.

Source: PIB

Danube Sturgeon- Illegal Selling

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Conservation

Danube Sturgeon- Illegal Selling

According to a report released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), illegal sale of Danube Sturgeon, one of the most endangered species in the world, is rampant in the lower Danube (River) region, especially in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine.

Danube is the second longest river in Europe after the Volga. It rises in the Black Forest mountains of western Germany and flows for some 2,850 km to its mouth on the Black Sea.

https://www.drishtiias.com/images/uploads/1618311178_image9.png

Danube Sturgeons

  • Sturgeons have existed since the time of dinosaurs, for about 200 million years. Some of the species can grow up to eight metre in length and live more than a century.
  • They are called ‘living fossils’ because their appearance has altered very little over the years.
    • Living Fossil is an organism that has remained unchanged from earlier geologic times and whose close relatives are usually extinct.
  • Other than Sturgeons, Horseshoe crab and ginkgo trees are examples of living fossils.
  • Because the sturgeons live for so many years, mature late and spawn with long intervals, they take a long time to recover from environmental and human pressures, according to WWF. This makes them great indicators for the health of the river and other ecological parameters.

Habitat:

  • There are 27 species of sturgeons and paddlefishes distributed across the Northern hemisphere. While some species inhabit only freshwater, most species are anadromous, spawning in freshwater but spending much of their life history in marine or brackish environments.
  • Danube sturgeons live mostly in the Black Sea, migrating up the Danube and other major rivers to spawn.

Threats:

  • Over-exploitation and poaching (exacerbated by poor fishery management and insufficient legal enforcement of fishing bans).
  • Blocked migration routes through dams.
  • Loss or degradation of habitats.
  • Pollution.

Protection Status:

  • IUCN Red list: There are 6 species of sturgeon in the Danube River. Five of them are now listed as critically endangered.
  • CITES: Appendix-II.

World Wildlife Fund for Nature

  • It is the world’s leading conservation organization and works in more than 100 countries.
  • It was established in 1961 and is headquartered at Gland, Switzerland.
  • To conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.

Important Initiatives by WWF

  • TX2 Goal
  • TRAFFIC
  • Living Planet Report
  • Earth Hour

Black Sea

https://www.drishtiias.com/images/uploads/1618311159_image10.png

  • Black Sea is an inland sea located between far-southeastern Europe and the far-western edges of the continent of Asia and the country of Turkey.
  • It connects to the Mediterranean Sea first through the Bosporus Strait, then through the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles Strait, then south through the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Crete.
  • The Black Sea is also connected to the Sea of Azov by the Strait of Kerch.
  • Bordering countries include Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, and Turkey.

Source: Down to Earth

Jordan's 100th Anniversary as a Kingdom

GS-II : International Relations West Asia

100th anniversary of the Kingdom of Jordan

PM recently congratulated King Abdullah II on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Kingdom of Jordan.
He emphasized importance of region and applauded Jordan as a powerful voice and a global symbol of moderation and inclusivity.
He appreciated Aqaba Process has contributed to promoting coordination on regional peace and security.

The Aqaba Process is an initiative by His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan to enhance global coordination and cooperation to counter terrorism.

https://d18x2uyjeekruj.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/jord.jpg

Recent Political Instability in Jordan

The royal household in Jordan has recently seen intense drama, with the King’s popular half-brother and former crown prince was placed under de facto house arrest.

Signs of a Coup

  • Jordanian government statements have has stated that there had been an attempted coup to destabilize the country, mentioning unnamed “foreign entities” involved in the plot.
  • The events have thus put a spotlight on Jordan’s unique position as one of the most stable countries in the Arab world, and given rise to questions about who could stand to benefit from the alleged coup.

Jordan’s Importance in the Region

  • Jordan, which this year celebrates 100 years since its creation after World War I, has for decades remained stable in a part of the world that is prone to conflict and political uncertainty.
  • For its allies in the West and in the Gulf, Jordan is a strategic partner which can be relied upon for furthering political objectives in the region, which includes war-torn Syria and Iraq as well as conflict-prone Israel and Palestine.
  • The support of Jordanian intelligence has proven critically important in the fight against terrorism.
  • Though impoverished, the country of about a crore people has served as a haven for refugees in the conflict-ridden region.

The asylum giver

  • After the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967, Jordan received waves of refugees, to the point that about half of Jordan’s population today is made up of Palestinians.
  • It has also welcomed refugees after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and currently hosts over 10 lakh from Syria, where a protracted civil war is going on.
  • Jordan is also considered important to any future peace deal between Israel and Palestine.

Jordan’s Relation with Other Countries

West

  • Traditionally, Jordan has maintained close relations with the US, and the fellow Sunni Muslim powers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which together stand against Shia Iran.
  • It also has diplomatic relations with Israel, and the two countries have been bound by a peace treaty since 1994.

Within Gulf

  • In recent years, however, Jordan’s relations with the Saudis and UAE have seen ups and downs.
  • It has been particularly since the rise of their respective crown prince’s Mohammed bin Salman (known by initials MBS) and Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ).
  • One of the points of friction was Saudi-UAE’s blockade of Qatar in 2017.
  • It caused further consternation in Saudi and Emirati circles by maintaining strong ties with Turkey.

Ties with Israel

  • Jordan’s role as the region’s interlocutor has also diminished since last year, after the UAE normalized relations with Israel.

India-Jordan Relations

India is the 4th largest trading partner of Jordan. The trade agreement between India and Jordan is governed by the 1976 bilateral agreement. When King of Jordan visited India in 2018, 18 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between India and Jordan, to increase collaboration in the sphere of defense, cultural exchange, trade, health and education.

Political Relations between India and Jordan:

  • In 2015, Jordan inaugurated Mahatma Gandhi road and also dedicated an olive tree for world peace during the visit of India’s President to Jordan.
  • India and Jordan in 2015 launched 860 million US dollars JIFCO Joint Venture.

Cultural Relations between India and Jordan:

  • Jordon has participated in 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, Hindi Diwas, National Voters Day and ICCR Foundation Day.
  • An annual iftar event was jointly organized in Amman in 2019 for 100 kids of different orphan schools.
  • Jordon participated in the 4th International Day of Yoga in 2019.

Commodities Exported by India to Jordan

  • India exports various commodities to Jordan. The list of items are given below.
    • Machinery
    • Cereals
    • Frozen Meat
    • Engineering and Automotive Parts
    • Animal Fodder
    • Organic and Inorganic chemicals.

Way Forward:

  • Both the countries have the potential to work as natural allies as both countries are peaceful, stable and are witnessing rapid economic growth and have similar positions on regional and global affairs. Their attempts to bring stability and prosperity to the region should be complemented with well-thought out policies and strategic diplomacy.
  • Indian businesses should utilize the expansive web of FTAs available with Jordan. ICT, renewable energy, financial/banking services, leather, automobile, higher education, tourism, Bollywood, pharmaceuticals and construction sectors present good potential for increased trade and investment.
  • India should carefully weigh its options about the possible coup in the region and take steps to ensure stability remains maintained in the region.

Source: PIB

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