Current Affairs 3RD MAY 2015 TO 9TH MAY, 2015
LOK SABHA PASSES LAND BOUNDARY AGREEMENT BILL
The Lok Sabha passed the Constitution 119th Amendment Bill on the land boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh on May 7, 2015. The Bill was unanimously passed by the Rajya Sabha with 180 votes in favour and zero against it. Earlier, the Cabinet was cleared which includes territories in Assam along with those in West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya. When the bill was introduced, it was numbered as the 119th Constitution Amendment Bill. When it was passed, it became the Constitution 100th Amendment Bill as several constitution amendment bills are introduced but the number of those which clear Parliament is less. The LBA aims at the acquiring of territories by India and the transfer of territories to Bangladesh through retaining of adverse possession in pursuance of the 1974 agreement between the two nations. Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya all fall under the bill. According to the agreement, Bangladesh took over 111 enclaves (17160 acres of land) from India’s possession and India received 51 enclaves (7110 acres of land) from Bangladesh. Enclaves are tiny landlocked territories that each country has within the borders of the other nation. The measure, apart from demarcating the boundaries, would also help checking illegal immigration.“The Lower House, showing rare unanimity, passed the Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill to allow the operationalisation of the 1974 India-Bangladesh Land Boundary agreement. The Bill refers to demarcated land boundaries in accordance with the IndiaBangladesh agreement signed on May 16, 1974. This agreement underwent further modification through letters exchanged thereafter and a protocol on September 6, 2011.
LOK SABHA PASSES JUVENILE JUSTICE AMENDMENT BILL-2014
A controversial Bill that provides for trying juveniles aged between 16 and 18 years for heinous crimes under laws for adults was cleared by the Lok Sabha on May 7, 2015. The government, arguing that the Bill had been framed to ensure no injustice was done to innocent children, finally used its numbers to squash all Opposition fears about possible misuse of the law. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, who piloted the Bill, informed the House that she had tried to be “pro-child” and to strike a “fine balance” between justice to victims and rights of children. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill was passed after the government agreed to delete a controversial clause that said that if a minor commits a crime between the ages of 16 and 18, but is caught after he has turned 21, should be tried under the IPC and not juvenile laws. The government moved at least 42 official amendments which were adopted. The new law stated that it was intended to deter juveniles from committing crimes that would spoil their lives. Referring to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics, she pointed out that in 2013, www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  around 3,887 juveniles had allegedly committed heinous crimes. Not just that, a recent Supreme Court order, she pointed out, had favoured a fresh look at the law in view of the growing number of juveniles involved in heinous crimes.
PM LAUNCHES THREE SOCIAL SECURITY SCHEMES
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched three schemes on May 9, 2015 in Kolkata. Three major social security initiatives are – Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) – are insurance schemes, while the third one Atal Bima Yojana (APY) would address old age income security needs. The decision on APY will benefit 2 crore subscribers in the first year, and that on the PMSBY and the PMJJBY will provide affordable personal accident and life cover to a vast population. These initiatives, announced in the government’s budget, are aimed at providing a universal social security net that will be linked to individual user’s bank accounts.
CONVICTION FOR FEMALE FOETICIDE RARE
Despite India’s declining child sex ratio, as many as 30 states and union territories have not convicted even a single person for pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic between 2011 and 2013, raising concerns about the poor implementation of the PCPNDT Act. The five states which have worst child sex ratio (CSR) — Daman and Diu (618 girls per 1,000 boys), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (775), Chandigarh (818), Delhi (866) and Andaman and Nicobar Islands (878) — have also not punished anyone during the period. Child sex ratio in India has reached an alarming low with 918 girls per 1,000 boys in 2011 from 927 in 2001, but not much seems to have been done to ensure strict implementation of the Act to deter female foeticide. According to data available with the Health Ministry, only 32 people have been punished in the whole country as against 563 cases reported for conducting sex determination tests between 2011 and 2013. The data shows that only four states [ 6 ] Weekly Current Affairs 3rd May 2015 to 9th May, 2015 www.ias100.in convicted 13 people in 2013. In 2012, eight persons were punished by three states and in 2011, 11 people by four states.
INS SARDAR PATEL COMMISSIONED
A strategically important new Naval base — INS Sardar Patel — was on May 8, 2015 commissioned in Porbandar, which Navy chief R.K. Dhowan noted will help boost security of Gujarat’s 1600-km coastline. The base was commissioned by Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who used the occasion to mount an attack on the earlier UPA government, accusing it of ignoring the security concerns on the state coastline. Ms. Patel unveiled the plaque and read the commissioning warrant of the new base which is second in the state for the Indian Navy after INS Dwarka near Okha. The new base will help Gujarat strengthen security on its coastline. Gujarat is a thriving maritime state, which has 1600 km long coastline. The state has 43 private and public ports which has contribution of 50 per cent in country’s maritime industries. Around 120 million tonnes crude reaches various refineries in Gujarat from the Gulf of Kutch. Besides, Gujarat has also a blooming ship building industry that comprises both the public and private ship yards. There are big fishing companies and also there are off—shore oil development area in sea blocks in Gujarat coast.
INDIA TEST-FIRES BRAHMOS ADVANCED VERSION
India successfully test-fired an advanced version of the BrahMos land-attack cruise missile from the Car Nicobar Islands on May 10, 2015. The land-toland configuration of BrahMos Block-III version was test launched from a Mobile Autonomous Launcher (MAL) for its full-range of 290 km. This test was the 48th test firing of the missile and met all flight parameters, including high-level manoeuvres. The supersonic cruise missile hit the designated land- based target with the desired accuracy. The BrahMos missile has been jointly developed by India and Russia. The multi—mission missile, having a range of 290—km and a Mach 2.8 speed, is capable of being www.ias100.in www.ias100.in  launched from land, sea, sub—sea and air against sea and land targets. The air version of the BrahMos is being readied for flight trials soon on Indian Air Force’s Su-30 MKI strike fighter.
CAG: TEJAS HAS LIMITED CAPABILITY
In critical observations pertaining to national security preparedness, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mark-I Tejas being inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) has limited capability and does not meet the force’s operational requirements. In a second report, it pointed to the ammunition shortage in the Army’s war reserves. The two reports were tabled in Parliament on May 8, 2015. The IAF had issued Air Staff Requirements (ASR) in 1985 for a light-weight multi-mission fighter aircraft to be inducted in 1994 to replace the MiG-21s in service. But LCA achieved initial operational clearance only by December 2013 and final operational clearance is expected only by 2018-end. LCA Mark-I does not meet the ASR. The deficiencies are now expected to be met in LCA Mark-II by December 2018, the CAG said in the report. The initial operational clearance version has 53 significant shortfalls in meeting ASR, resulting in reduced survivability and operational employability, it observed.
WHISTLE BLOWERS ACT AMENDMENT CLEARED
The Union Cabinet met on May 7, 2015 to approve an amendment that would effectively dilute the scope of the Whistle Blowers Protection Act of 2011. The amendment incorporates ‘necessary provisions’ to keep issues of national security out of its purview. Anti-corruption activists have argued that the new provisions could weaken the fight against corruption in key sectors like defence. In the past, several dubious deals like the Bofors, Scorpene, Tatra truck and Agusta Westland scams have been exposed by whistle blowers.
WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY
2015 Theme: Let Journalism Thrive! Towards better reporting, gender equality and media safety in the digital age World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day. It is an opportunity to: l Celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; l Assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; l Defend the media from attacks on their independence; l Pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This year UNESCO, the United Nations agency mandated to promote and protect press freedom worldwide, has named renowned journalist and CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour its Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression and Journalist Safety. UNESCO is focusing on three themes for World Press Freedom Day this year: l The need for “quality journalism” – reporting that is accurate and independent, remains a constant concern in a media landscape that is changing due to technological and commercial developments. l Gender imbalance continues in the media 20 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Change. Few women journalists are able to reach decision-making positions in the media. l The third theme is Digital Safety, a topic of growing concern because digital communications makes it difficult for journalists to protect themselves and their sources. The annual UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize ceremony took place on 3 May 2015 at the National Library of Latvia in Riga. The winner is Syrian journalist and human rights activist, Mazen Darwish, who is currently imprisoned. He was arrested in February 2012 along with his colleagues Hani Zaitani and Hussein Ghreir at the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression. All of them are accused of promoting terrorist acts.
1 IN 6 SPECIES CAN FACE EXTINCTION BY END OF CENTURY DUE TO GLOBAL WARMING:
STUDY A new study has found that as a result of increasing global warming 1 out of 6 species could possibly extinct by the end of the century if the emission of carbon dioxide stays the same. The study explained that the endemic plants and animals of South America, Australia and New Zealand were especially at risk as for them there was nowhere else to go when their only homeland becomes uninhabitable. The study also revealed that total 16 percent of species in the world would face the risk of extinction because of climatic factors, rather than from habitat loss, environmental degradation or ocean acidification as currently the global average temperatures have reached about 4C higher than pre-industrial times by 2100. While, the species in North American and European regions have the lowest extinction risk due to climate change. The extinction risks from climate change will also accelerate for every degree rise in global temperature if everyone didn’t act now to limit future climate change. Climate change will affect wildlife directly and indirectly as it may lead to change in weather patterns that may affect the food they rely on or the habitat they live in.
CHARLIE HEBDO HONOURED WITH THE PEN FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION COURAGE AWARD
The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has received PEN American Centre’s Freedom of Expression Courage Award at the PEN Literary Gala in New York. The award was received by Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard. However, PEN American Centre, which awards a list of literary awards annually, faced flak upon its decision to award the French magazine. Many members in the literary community were of the reservation that the magazine, which was attacked by terrorists in January 2015 for its cartoons of the Prophet, did not deserve to be awarded and thus boycotted the function. The award has divided the literary community into two halves, one in favour of its recognition with the belief that the magazine was courageous in doing what it did, while the other half believes that their exercise of freedom of expression wasn’t worthy of recognition. The “irresponsible journal” has received the award for the courage it showed after the attack in January, 2015 and for how they kept working despite 11 casualties. Charlie Hebdo is a weekly French satirical news magazine. It is being published since 1970. The magazine is mainly known for its controversial provocative cartoons and caricatures that had targeted extreme right, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, politics, culture and others. Stephane Charbonnier, editor of the magazine had described the magazine as left-wing, secular and atheist. PEN American Centre which was founded in 1922 is an association of around 4000 United States writers who are working to break down barriers for free expression worldwide. These distinguished writers are having high achievements in literature and in the advancement of human rights.
FRANCE PASSES NEW SURVEILLANCE LAW IN WAKE OF CHARLIE HEBDO ATTACK
The French parliament has overwhelmingly approved sweeping new surveillance powers in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris in January that killed 17 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery in Paris. The new law will allow authorities to spy on the digital and mobile phone communications of anyone linked to a “terrorist” inquiry without prior authorisation from a judge. It forces internet service providers and phone companies to give up data upon request. Intelligence services will have the right to place cameras and recording devices in private homes and install so-called keylogger devices that record every key stroke on a targeted computer in real time. The authorities will be able to keep recordings for a month and metadata for five years. One of the most contentious elements of the bill is that it allows intelligence services to vacuum up metadata, which would then be subject to analysis for potentially suspicious behaviour. The metadata would be anonymous, but intelligence agents could follow up with a request to an independent panel for deeper surveillance that could yield the identity of users.
BRITISH PM DAVID CAMERON LED CONSERVATIVE PARTY WINS 2015 GENERAL ELECTION
Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservatives won a resounding victory in the British general election, with complete results on Friday showing that the party had secured an overall majority in Parliament. The vote was a stunning disappointment for the opposition Labour Party and its leader, Ed Miliband, who had shifted the party away from the more centrist strategy it pursued in the late 1990s and early 2000s under Tony Blair. Mr. Miliband stepped down on Friday, opening up a new debate over the party’s direction. The result defied pre-election opinion polls that suggested a tight race between the Conservatives and Labour. It returns Mr. Cameron to 10 Downing Street for a second term, with enough seats in the House of Commons to act on his agenda without having to rely on support from smaller parties. The Conservatives won 331 of 650 seats in the House of Commons, a gain of 24 seats from the last election, in 2010.
FORBES RELEASED GLOBAL 2000 COMPANIES LIST
Forbes on 6 May 2015 released Global 2000 Companies list. The Forbes Global 2000 is a comprehensive list of the world’s largest, most powerful public companies, as measured by revenues, profits, assets and market value. The list gives a snapshot of the world’s largest companies, and shows the dominance of the US and China in the current global business landscape. Forbes’s annual list is topped by the US with its share of 579 companies. The two countries split the top 10 spots for a second year in a row. According to the Forbes, for the first time, China’s four biggest banks own the top four spots and the South Asian giant is home to 232 of the world’s largest companies, adding more spots than any other country in the world and surpassing Japan for the first time. With 218 companies, Japan slid to the third spot.
10 INDIAN-ORIGIN MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT IN UK
A record number of 10 Indian-origin Members of Parliament (MPs) were elected in recently concluded general election that elected 56th Parliament of the UK. It has broken the previous 2010 general election record in which eight Indianorigin were elected. Following are the elected Indian-origin candidatesConservative Party: Priti Patel, Rishi Sunak, Alok Sharma, Shailesh Vara, and Suella Fernandes. Labour Party: Keith Vaz, Valerie Vaz, Virendra Sharma, Seema Malhotra, and Lisa Nandy. There were a total of 59 Indian-origin candidates in the fray from the Tories (17), Labour (14), Liberal Democrats (14), Green Party (4), United Kingdom Independence Party- UKIP (3), Independents (2) and one each from the smaller parties like All People’s Party, Christian Movement for Great Britain, National Liberal Party, Socialist Labour Party and Young People’s Party. David Cameron, who looks set to return as Prime Minister, has repeatedly gone on record during the campaign claiming that he is confident that the country’s “first Asian or black Prime Minister” will come from his Conservative party.
NORTH KOREA SUCCESSFULLY TEST-FIRED SUBMARINE-LAUNCHED BALLISTIC MISSILE
North Korea successfully conducted underwater test-fire of a newly developed Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM). This underwater ballistic missile is capable of striking and wiping out hostile forces in any waters. This successful test indicates the progress in the secretive state’s pursuit of building missile-equipped submarines which is described as a world level strategic weapon. It will also enhance North Korean nuclear threat to a new level as it will allow deployment of these submarines far beyond the Korean peninsula. This missile programme has violated the UN resolution that prohibits Pyongyang from conducting ballistic missile tests.
INDIA & WORLD
INDIA AND IRAN SIGN PORT DEAL
India reached a deal on May 7, 2015 to develop a strategic port in southeast Iran despite U.S. pressure not to rush into any such trade agreements before world powers clinch a final nuclear accord with Tehran. Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari and his Iranian counterpart Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the Chabahar Port on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran’s border with India’s arch rival Pakistan. Indian firms will lease two existing berths at the port and operationalise them as container and multi-purpose cargo terminals, the Indian government said in a statement, adding that a commercial accord would be needed to implement the pact. India and Iran agreed in 2003 to develop the port, but the venture has made little progress because of Western sanctions tied to Tehran’s disputed atomic programme.
PRESIDENT PRANAB MUKHERJEE VISIT TO RUSSIA
President Pranab Mukherjee has paid a fiveday visit to Russia from May 8 to 11, 2015. President Pranab Mukherjee met Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the full range of India-Russia ties. Both sides had a wide-ranging review of bilateral cooperation, including on energy and defence cooperation. The two Presidents discussed all the initiatives agreed to when President Putin visited Delhi in December, including ongoing talks on joint development of the Ka-226T helicopters as well as MoUs with ONGC for Sakhalin oilfields and Arctic explorations as well as GAIL for gas pipelines from Russia. President Putin and President Mukherjee agreed that current trade levels of about $10 billion must be raised to $30 billion and investment levels to $15 billion, and talked about developing the NorthSouth trade route at the earliest. The two leaders had also discussed how to increase annual bilateral trade five-fold in 10 years, from the current $6 billion to $30 billion, by encouraging businessmen on both sides as well as Indian purchases of hydrocarbons and of Russian investment in nuclear power plants in India.
INDIA-PAKISTAN TO REVIVE CRICKET TIES
The India and Pakistan cricket boards have agreed to resume bilateral cricket ties. The Pakistan Cricket Board chief, Shahryar Khan, made the announcement in the presence of the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Jagmohan Dalmiya, in Kolkata on May 10, 2015. The PCB chairman revealed that the UAE was ready to host a series, which will include three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s. This is part of an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) signed between the two boards in 2014, and both sides are keen to abide by it. The series in the UAE will see the revival of Indo-Pak cricket. At the joint news conference, Dalmiya, too, was confident that the series will go ahead as planned. He added that a lot will depend on how the two governments support the initiative.
INDIA-PALESTINE AGREE TO BETTER TIES
India and Palestine have identified areas of further cooperation and identified mechanisms to improve existing relations. At the end of the first round of Foreign Office consultations between India and Palestine in Ramallah, on May 4, New Delhi said it continued support to the Palestinian cause and is extending assistance to the latest developments in the Middle East peace process. Palestine has reiterated its support to the efforts and aspirations of India to obtain a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
CHINA PROPOSES JOINT MINING OF INDIAN OCEAN
China has said it is “eager to cooperate” with India on deep seabed mining in the Indian Ocean where its deep diving vessel reported to have discovered large deposits of precious metals like gold and silver. With quickening oceanic development and increasing mineral exploration in the Indian Ocean, China is eager to cooperate with India on deep seabed mining. China and India are both developing countries and contractors with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) so both countries have a lot in common and plenty of opportunities for further cooperation. The association is China’s official organisation engaged in exploration and development of ocean floor and subsoil.
MOBILE NUMBER PORTABILITY TILL JULY
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) extended the date of implementation of the full Mobile Number Portability (MNP) by two months, from earlier 3 May 2015, to 3 July 2015 on the basis of a request made by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). According to COAI telecom operators have to make some technical changes to their networks due to changes in National Numbering Plan (NNP) which would take about eight weeks. The full MNP will allow telecom subscribers to retain their mobile number in any part of the country even when they change their operator or telecom circle. At present, partial MNP allows subscribers to retain their number while changing mobile network only within a telecom circle. In November, 2014 DoT on of recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) ordered Indian telecom companies to implement full MNP by 3 May 2015.
LOK SABHA PASSED GOODS AND SERVICES TAX BILL, 2014
Lok Sabha has passed the Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2014 which is also known as Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill by a division with 336 yes, 11 against and 10 abstentions. Thus, the bill was approved with two-thirds majority of the house, as required. The proposed GST would harmonise a mosaic of state and central levies into a national sales tax which business and policy makers hope would boost manufacturing and reduce corruption.
MODIFICATIONS IN THE SCHEME OF INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT FOR FOOD PROCESSING: MEGA FOOD PARKS
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the modification in Mega Food Park Scheme guideline of infrastructure development for food processing. These modifications will streamline the implementation of the scheme and make the implementation of the Mega Food Parks smooth. These modifications are expected to trigger further investment in the food processing sector and ensure smooth implementation of the Mega Food Parks scheme particularly, projects at initial phases of the scheme’s implementation. The Scheme will be implemented in a market driven manner commensurate with both global and national demands. Innovative supply chain management will be the key to implementation of this scheme. The project proposals for focusing on the processing and preservation of perishable food products will be given weightage in selection.
CABINET GIVES NOD TO REVISE DTAA WITH SOUTH KOREA
The Union Cabinet gave its nod for revising the existing double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) with South Korea. The new agreement will among other things provide for effective exchange of information for tax administration purposes. It will also have limitation of benefit clause so that the benefits of the DTAA are availed of by genuine residents of both the countries. The revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) will provide tax stability to the residents of India and Korea and facilitate mutual economic cooperation as well as stimulate the flow of investment, technology and services between the two countries. The revised DTAA provides for source based taxation of capital gains, provisions for making adjustments to profits of associated enterprises on the basis of arm’s length principle, provides for residence based taxation of shipping income, provisions for service of permanent establishment, rationalizes tax rates in the articles on dividend, interest and royalties and fees for technical services. The agreement further incorporates provisions for effective exchange of information and assistance in collection of taxes between tax authorities and also incorporates limitation of benefits provisions, to ensure that the benefits of the agreement are availed of by genuine residents of both countries.
SCIENCE & TECH
NASA’S 10-ENGINE ELECTRIC PLANE COMPLETES FLIGHT TEST NASA
has developed and successfully flight tested a battery-powered plane with 10 engines that can take off and land like a helicopter and fly efficiently like an aircraft. The Greased Lightning or GL-10 prototype successfully transitioned from hover to wing-borne flight during several test flights. It could be used for small package delivery or vertical takeoff and landing, long endurance surveillance for agriculture, mapping and other applications. A scaled up version — much larger than what NASA is testing now — would make also a great one to four person size personal air vehicle. The GL-10 is currently in the design and testing phase.
ARMY INDUCTS AKASH MISSILE
The Army inducted the first regiment of the indigenously-developed Akash surface-to-air missile system, capable of targeting a multitude of aerial threats up to a range of 25 km on May 5, 2015. Akash has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and is being built by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). It was originally planned as part of the five missiles under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme initiated in 1984. The capability that we have with this system will ensure that it takes care of the vulnerability of our assets. Akash is a step towards self-realisation of indigenisation. Each regiment of Akash consists of six launchers with each launcher having three missiles. The Army had placed orders for two regiments worth about Rs. 19,000 crore. An Air Force variant of Akash has already been inducted. The Akash system can simultaneously engage multiple targets in all weather conditions and has a large operational envelope from a low altitude of 30 metres to a maximum of up to 20 km and can also engage Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in addition to helicopters and fighter planes. At 96 per cent indigenisation, it represents a major capability development for a crucial weapon system.
NASA’S ‘ROBOTIC EEL’ TO EXPLORE EUROPA
NASA is developing a ‘robotic eel’ that could explore the icy water of Jupiter’s moon Europa and power itself with energy derived from local magnetic fields. The U.S. space agency has selected 15 proposals for study under Phase I of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), a programme that aims to turn science fiction into science fact through the development of pioneering technologies. One of the selected proposals calls for the use of a soft-robotic rover for missions that can not be accomplished with conventional power systems. This rover would resemble an eel with a short antenna on its back that harvests power from locally changing magnetic fields. The goal is to enable amphibious exploration of gas-giant moons like Europa. Another proposal will look at using two gliderlike unmanned aerial vehicles connected by an ultra-strong cable at different altitudes that sail without propulsion.
ECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT
ONE IN SIX SPECIES CAN FACE EXTINCTION DUE TO GLOBAL WARMING
A new study has found that as a result of increasing global warming 1 out of 6 species could possibly extinct by the end of the century if the emission of carbon dioxide stays the same. The study explained that the endemic plants and animals of South America, Australia and New Zealand were especially at risk as for them there was nowhere else to go when their only homeland becomes uninhabitable, the study reported. The study also revealed that total 16 percent of species in the world would face the risk of extinction because of climatic factors, rather than from habitat loss, environmental degradation or ocean acidification as currently the global average temperatures have reached about 4C higher than pre-industrial times by 2100. Mark Urban, the author of the study noted that no one knows how long the extinctions would take, but the rare species would get extinct for sure as it would happen due to the changing climate like habitat loss and environmental degradation.
CABINET NODS TO COMPENSATORY AFFORESTATION FUND BILL
The Union Cabinet recently cleared the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill 2015 which will pave the way for expeditious utilisation of funds realised for forest land diverted to nonforest purposes in transparent manner. The Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its approval to the Bill which will also ensure utilisation of accumulated unspent funds already available with Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). The proposed legislation seeks to provide an appropriate institutional mechanism, both at the Centre and states and Union Territories to ensure expeditious utilisation in an efficient and transparent manner of amount, realised in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose. This would mitigate impact of diversion of such forest land. The Bill also ensures that there is a mechanism in place which would not put any additional expenditure on the central government. It also provides for establishment of the National CAF and the state CAF to credit amounts collected by state governments and union territory administrations to compensate loss of forest land diverted for nonforest purpose.
PARTICULATE MATTER HIGHER THAN WHO LIMIT
In 2010, air pollution killed nearly 600,000 people in India, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The situation has not changed in the last five years. A recent study shows that a significant population of Indian subcontinent breathes air with much higher particulate matter that is lesser than 2.5 micrometre (PM2.5) in size than the limit set by the WHO. Outdoor air pollution [ 2 0 ] Weekly Current Affairs 3rd May 2015 to 9th May, 2015 www.ias100.in as a whole, especially the particulate matter, has been declared as class-1 cancer-causing agent (carcinogen) in 2013 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the WHO. Besides, it causes other respiratory and heart diseases. The PM2.5 is particularly dangerous and can cause adverse health effects owing to its greater penetrability into the human respiratory system and eventual accumulation in human organs and blood. Rural women, children and elderly population are more prone to diseases caused by air pollution. Rural women, in particular, face a greater risk from indoor pollution — locally made mud stoves fuelled by solid biofuel emit a far greater amount of finer particulate matter. Air quality of any area depends on local emissions, long-range transport, local and regional weather patterns, and to some extent the topography of the region. Due to increased buoyancy and efficient ventilation in summer, pollution plumes rise effortlessly to the free atmosphere. This leads to a reduced level of surface level PM2.5 concentration in our breathing zone. The problem gets aggravated during winter. Adverse conditions during winter help trapping of pollution leading to elevated level of surface PM concentration.
SATELLITE DATA ANALYSIS: EVEREST MAY HAVE SHRUNK
The devastating earthquake that has rocked Nepal not only killed thousands but may have also shrunk the height of the world’s tallest peak — Mount Everest — by about 2.5 cm, according to analysis of satellite data. The first good view of the aftermath of Nepal’s deadly earthquake from a satellite showed that a broad swath of ground near Kathmandu lifted vertically, by about 1 metre, which could explain why damage in the city was so severe. The data also indicated the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, got a wee bit shorter, Live Science reported. The new information comes from Europe’s Sentinel-1A radar satellite. Scientists are racing to interpret the Sentinel data, which were made available last week just hours after the satellite passed over Nepal. The devastating 7.9- magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25,2015 has claimed over 7,500 lives and injured another 16,390 people. The Home Ministry said that a total of 2,79,234 houses have been completely damaged and 2,37,068 partially damaged due to the quake.
PARLIAMENTARY PANEL CRITICISES GREEN BUDGET CUTS
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment and Forests has expressed displeasure over the fund cuts for the Ministry this financial year. The committee has found that the Plan allocation for centrally-sponsored schemes in the current year has gone down by almost 50 per cent. While the total allocation for Plan and non-Plan expenditure was Rs. 2,510 crore in 2014-15, it is down to Rs. 2,047 crore in 2015. In its report, tabled in both Houses of Parliament on April 27, 2015, it has noted that despite greater funding to States being provided under the 14th Finance Commission, the primary responsibility for environmental protection ought to rest with the concerned Union Ministry. It has further recommended the Ministry to take close monitoring and corrective steps and present an Action Taken Report in this regard. The committee has also found that funds allocated in previous years remain underutilised. The committee has come down heavily on the Centre for the drastic cut in allocation to the National River Conservation Plan. The report noted that the complete lack of funding either under the Central Plan or State Plan in 2015-16, means that the existing funds are not even enough to carry out ongoing sanctioned works. For the financial year 2015-16, against a projected requirement of Rs. 295 crore, a provision of only Rs. 40 crore has been made available.
HEALTH WHO DECLARES LIBERIA EBOLA-FREE The U.N. health agency on May 9, 2015 declared Liberia Ebola-free, hailing the monumental achievement in the West African country where the virus has killed more than 4,700 people. The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia is over, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement, adding that 42 days had passed since the last confirmed case was buried. The period is twice the number of days the virus requires to incubate, and WHO hailed its eradication as an enormous development in the long crisis. At the height of the crisis in September 2014, Liberia was suffering more than 400 new cases a week, with uncollected and highly infectious bodies piling up in the streets of Monrovia, a sprawling, chaotic city at the best of times. The health system — embryonic before the crisis, with some 50 doctors and 1,000 nurses for 4.3 million people — was devastated, losing 189 health workers out of 275 infected.