Daily Current Affairs

29TH DECEMBER,2020 : MOST POWERFUL DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS CONCEPTS

UPSC PRELIMS+MAINS 

A) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

  1. Blue Flag Beaches (PIB)

  • Context: Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change virtually hoisted the international blue flags in 8 beaches across the country.
  • India secured the International Blue Flag Certification for these beaches in October 2020.
  • Blue Flag certification is a globally recognized eco-label accorded by the “Foundation for Environment Education in Denmark” based on 33 stringent criteria.

Analysis

  • The eight beaches are:
  • Shivrajpur in Gujarat,
  • Ghoghla in Daman & Diu,
  • Kasarkod and Padubidri beach in Karnataka,
  • Kappad in Kerala,
  • Rushikonda in Andhra Pradesh,
  • Golden beach of Odisha and
  • Radhanagar beach in Andaman and Nicobar.
  • Blue Flag beaches are considered the cleanest beaches of the world.
  • The event also saw the launch India’s own eco-label BEAMS (Beach Environment & Aesthetics Management Services) under its ICZM (Integrated Coastal Zone Management) project by hoisting the flag –#IAMSAVINGMYBEACH simultaneously at these eight beaches.
  • The concept of ICZM was introduced in 1992 during the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro and most of the coastal countries in the World have been adopting ICZM principles for managing their coastal zones.

Blue Flag Programme

  • The Blue Flag beach standards were established by a Copenhagen-based non-governmental, non-profit organisation called Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in 1985.
  • The Blue Flag Programme started in France in 1985.
  • The Blue Flag Programme promotes sustainable development in freshwater and marine areas.
  • A beach must be accessible to all (regardless of age, gender, political views, religion) in order to be eligible for Blue Flag accreditation.
  • If approved, beaches are given the qualification for a year and must apply annually to continue meriting the right to fly the flag at their locations.
  • The Blue Flag programme requires 33 standards in four areas (water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety) to make beaches environment-friendly, such as the water meeting certain quality standards, having waste disposal facilities, being disabled- friendly, have first aid equipment, and no access to pets in the main areas of the beach.
  • Some criteria are voluntary and some compulsory.

Some of the other important standards are:

  • Environmental education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users.
  • Information about bathing water quality must be displayed.
  • No industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area.
  • Algae vegetation or natural debris should be left on the beach (exceptions apply).
  • The local authority/beach operator should establish a beach management committee.
  • Facilities for the separation of recyclable waste materials should be available at the beach.
  • Wheelchair access and accessibility features must be in place for at least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality.
  • A beach must be plastic-free and equipped with a waste management system.
  • Clean water should be available for tourists, apart from international amenities.
  • The beach should have facilities for studying the environmental impact around the area.
  • Earlier, the Chandrabhaga beach on the Konark coast of Odisha became the first in Asia to get the Blue Flag certification — the tag given to environment-friendly and clean beaches, equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists.
  • More beaches in the country are being developed by the Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), an Environment Ministry’s body working for the management of coastal areas, in accordance with the Blue Flag standards.
  • These beaches are at Bhogave (Maharashtra), Miramar (Goa), Eden (Puducherry), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), etc.

Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM)

  • Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) has been established under the aegis of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change.
  • Its aim is to support the implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management of India and Enhancing Coastal and Ocean Resource Efficiency (ENCORE Project) in all 13 Coastal States /UTs of India. (Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Puducherry, Kerala, Karnataka, Daman and Diu, Andaman and Nicobar Island, Lakshadweep)
  • SICOM has also embarked upon the Pilot Blue Flag program first time in India under Beach Environment & Aesthetic Management Services (BEAMS) for Pilot Beaches.

B) Science and Technology, Defence, Space

2.Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) (IE)

  • Context: Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) unveiled India’s first indigenously developed pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), Pneumosil.
  • The world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by doses, SII is also the maker of Covaxin, the Indian version of the AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccine.

Analysis

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine can prevent pneumococcal disease.
  • Pneumococcal disease refers to any illness caused by pneumococcal bacteria.
  • These bacteria can cause many types of illnesses, including pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs.
  • Pneumococcal bacteria are one of the most common causes of pneumonia.
  • Besides pneumonia, pneumococcal bacteria can also cause:
  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Meningitis (infection of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord)
  • Bacteremia (bloodstream infection)
  • Sepsis
  • Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but children under 2 years of age, people with certain medical conditions, adults 65 years or older, and cigarette smokers are at the highest risk.
  • Most pneumococcal infections are mild. However, some can result in long-term problems, such as brain damage or hearing loss.
  • Meningitis, bacteremia, and pneumonia caused by the pneumococcal disease can be fatal.
  • Infants and young children usually need 4 doses (you just remember “multiple doses” for the exam) of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, at 2, 4, 6, and 12–15 months of age.
  • Redness, swelling, pain, or tenderness where the shot is given, and fever, loss of appetite, fussiness (irritability), feeling tired, headache, and chills (you just remember “there can be side effects of the vaccine” for the exam) can happen after administering the vaccine.
  • WHO recommends the inclusion of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) in childhood immunization programmes, particularly in countries with high childhood mortality.
  • While PCVs have helped reduce pneumococcal deaths, they are difficult for many countries to afford.
  • The unique feature of the WHO pre-qualified PCV is its composition which is specially tailored to the serotype of the bacterium, S penumoniae, in India and other regions of the world.
  • The vaccine also makes SII the world’s third supplier of PCVs under the pneumococcal Advance Market Commitment, and the first developing country vaccine manufacturer to access the global PCV market.

Conjugate Vaccines

  • Conjugate vaccines use specific pieces of the germ — like its protein, sugar, or capsid (a casing around the germ).
  • Because these vaccines use only specific pieces of the germ, they give a very strong immune response that’s targeted to key parts of the germ.
  • They can also be used on almost everyone who needs them, including people with weakened immune systems and long-term health problems.
  • One limitation of these vaccines is that you may need booster shots to get ongoing protection against diseases.
  • Key advantages of conjugate vaccines compared with polysaccharide vaccines include:
  • Improved immune and memory response,
  • Longer lasting protection,
  • The protection of infants and toddlers,
  • Their effect on bacterial carriage,
  • The creation of herd immunity.

C) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues

3.What is the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme? (PIB)

  • Context: The Minister of State for Tourism and Culture (I/C) took a review meeting of the “Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan” project

Analysis

  • The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India runs the “Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan” project which is a collaborative effort by the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, Archaeological Survey of India and State/ UTs Government for developing tourism amenities at heritage/ natural/ tourist sites spread across India for making them tourist friendly, in a planned and phased manner.
  • The project aims to encourage companies from public sector, private sector, trusts, NGOs, individuals and other stakeholders to become ‘Monument Mitras’ and take up the responsibility of developing and upgrading the basic and advanced tourist amenities at these sites.
  • The sites/monument are selected on the basis of tourist footfall and visibility and can be adopted by private and public sector companies and individuals — known as Monument Mitras — for an initial period of five years.
  • The Monument Mitras are selected by the ‘oversight and vision committee,’ co-chaired by the Tourism Secretary and the Culture Secretary, on the basis of the bidder’s ‘vision’ for development of all amenities at the heritage site. There is no financial bid involved.
  • The oversight committee also has the power to terminate a memorandum of understanding in case of non-compliance or non-performance.
  • The corporate sector is expected to use corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for the upkeep of the site.
  • They would also look after the Operation & Maintenance of the same.
  • The Monument Mitras, in turn, will get limited visibility on the site premises and on the Incredible India website.
  1. From Our Home to your Home Campaign (PIB)

  • Context: More tribal products have found a new home in Tribes India outlets and website in the 8thedition of “From Our Home to your Home”’ campaign.

Analysis

  • The campaign had been launched by TRIFED under Ministry of Tribal Affairs in order to source as many effective, natural, and attractive products from diverse indigenous tribes across the country so that these can reach a wide variety of audience.
  • Key among the products are the natural, fresh, organic produce from the Malayali tribes of Tamil Nadu, such as Giant Rock Bee Honey, honey, variants of millet rice, tamarind and black pepper.
  • Malayali is a tribal group from the Eastern Ghats in North Tamil Nadu.
  • With a population of around 3,58,000 people they are the largest Scheduled tribes in that region. The tribals are usually hill farmers and they cultivate different types of millet.
  • Among the other products sourced include vibrant and eye-catching micro-beaded jewelry (mainly neckpieces) from the Patelia tribe from Madhya Pradesh.
  • Other products include organic varieties of dals and spices locally sourced from the Vasava tribes of Gujarat and an assortment of produce – such as honey, jams and two unique variants of rice from the Kharwar and Oraon tribes of Jharkhand and some interesting wooden products (chakla and belan) and attractive metal jalis from the Adim Janjati tribes and Lohra tribes of Jharkhand.

TRIFED

  • Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development of India Ltd., (TRIFED) is an organization under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and is engaged in marketing development of tribal products including tribal art & craft under the brand name “TRIBES INDIA”.
  • The main mandate of TRIFED is capability enhancement of the tribals, promotion of tribal products and creation of marketing opportunities for the tribals with a view to ensuring them fair prices for their products and augmenting their income on a sustainable basis.
  • All the products supplied by TRIFED carries “Tribal Craft Mark” in form of hologram/ label/tag for its genuineness and authenticity.
  • Ministry of Tribal Affairs along with Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation Ltd (TRIFED), organizes “AADI MAHOTSAV”- a celebration of the spirit of Tribal Culture, Cuisine and Commerce.
  • Recently, Tribal Cooperative Marketing Federation (TRIFED) signed an agreement to partner with Amazone’s Global Selling Programme to sell products made by tribes.

D) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments

5.Food Commission and the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 (TH)

  • Context: The much awaited formation of the Food Commission in Rajasthan, with the appointment of government officers as its ex-officio chairperson and members, has left the social activists disappointed.

Analysis

  • Activists said this would result in the officers sitting in judgment on their own acts against which the complaints will be made to the Commission.
  • The intention behind establishing the Food Commission was that if the government does not implement or inadequately implements National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, depriving the exploited and vulnerable groups of its benefits, then there should be an independent body with the powers to hold the government accountable for the deficiencies.

National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013

  • Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution enacted National Food Security Act (NFSA) in July, 2013.
  • It gives legal entitlement to 67% of the population (75% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas) to receive highly subsidized foodgrains.
  • Under the Act, foodgrain is allocated @ 5 kg per person per month for priority households category and @ 35 kg per family per month for Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households, which constitute the poorest of the poor, at a highly subsidized price of Rs. 1/-, Rs. 2/- and Rs. 3/- per kg for nutri-cereals, wheat and rice respectively.
  • There is no identified category of BPL under the NFSA.
  • Coverage under the Act is based on the population figures of Census, 2011.
  • The Act is now being implemented in all 36 States/UTs and covers about 81.35 crore persons.
  • The Act also has a special focus on the nutritional support to women and children.
  • Pregnant women and lactating mothers will be entitled to meals and maternity benefits of not less than Rs 6000.
  • It is however restricted to two children only.
  • The eldest women of the household of age 18 years or above will be the head of the household for the purpose of issuing ration cards.
  • Children upto 14 years of age will be entitled to nutritious meals as per the prescribed nutritional standards.
  • In case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains or meals, the beneficiaries will receive food security allowance.
  • Government has also universalized Kishori Shakti Yojana to improve the nutritional and health status of girls in the 11 to 18 years age group.
  • This scheme is a redesign of the already existing Adolescent Girls (AG) Scheme being implemented as a component under the centrally sponsored Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme.
  • Note: Export from public stockholding is not compliant to WTO norms.

Priority Households

  • The word “Priority household” means Households identified by the State Government on the basis of inclusion and exclusion criteria.

AAY families

  • As per the guidelines issued by the Government, the AAY families are to be identified by States/Union Territories (UTs) as per the following criteria:
  • Landless agriculture laborers, marginal farmers, rural artisans/craftsmen, slum dwellers and persons earning their livelihood on daily basis in the informal sector, destitute and other similar categories in both rural and urban areas;
  • Households headed by widows or terminally ill persons/disabled persons/persons aged 60 years or more, single women or single men with no family with no assured means of subsistence or societal support;
  • All primitive tribal households;
  • All eligible Below Poverty Line (BPL) families of HIV positive persons.
  • Foodgrains under Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) are given family wise, and the number is fixed for every State/UT.

Annapurna Yojna (Ay) Ration Card

  • Annapurna Yojna (AY) Ration Card is a special type of ration card issued only to the elderly poor people above 65 years.
  • They are entitled for 10kgs of food grain on the monthly basis from the government side.

E) Art, Culture and History

6.Pagri Sambhal Jatta movement and its connection with ongoing farmers protests (IE)

Fig. Sardar Ajit Singh

  • Contact: A 1907 ballad of defiance has made a quiet comeback over a century later to inspire protesting Punjab farmers who have dig in their heels against Centre at Delhi’s gates.

Analysis

  • ‘Pagri Sambhal Jatta’, a song by by Banke Dayal, the editor of Jhang Sayal, was introduced at a peasants rally in Lyallpur that year.
  • It soon became an anthem that defined the farmers’ agitation against three British laws – the Doab Bari Act, Punjab Land Colonisation Act and the Punjab Land Alienation Act.
  • The tales of that unrest led by Bhagat Singh’s uncle, Ajit Singh, continue to inspire the current protesters who refuse to budge in their fight against the Union government.

Threat to ownership rights

  • Farmer unions part of the ongoing protests in Delhi claim that farm laws passed by Parliament will ultimately force them to sell their land to corporates.
  • It was a similar grouse that fueled the farm protests in 1907. Farmers felt threatened by the Colonisation Act that they said would reduce owners to contract workers on their own land.
  • Farmers, especially in and around district Lyallpur (now in west Punjab), who were given forest land by the British to develop, were being told that the government will take back the allotted land under the Act.
  • As unrest started brewing against the colonial rulers, Bhagat Singh ‘s father, Kishan Singh, and uncle, Ajit Singh, and their revolutionary friend Ghasita Ram had formed Bharat Mata Society with an ultimate aim to spark a revolt against British government.

Song that defined agitation

  • Over a 100 years ago, just after the Lala Lajpat Rai addressed a gathering of protesting farmers on March 3, 1907, Banke Dayal, had read out his historic composition ‘Pagrhi Sambhal Jatta’ in front of the assembly.

The stark difference

  • The farmer agitation this year has remained largely non-violent. The British, however, had to face violence in 1907.
  • The result of all this agitation was that all the three bills were cancelled

F) International Relations

7.Shifting the Rohingya to Bhashan Char (TH)

  • Context: A United Nations (UN) human rights investigator had requested Bangladesh to allow a safety assessment of the remote islet of Bhashan Char, where the Bangladesh government had shipped 1,600-odd Rohingya refugees.

Analysis

  • Bhashan Char is a char-land of around 13,000 acres, formed by the accumulation of silt where the river Meghna meets the Bay of Bengal carrying rich alluvial deposits.
  • Char-lands are a common feature in Meghna and Padma rivers and literally mean “shifting landmass”.
  • As the name reveals, the char was not part of the permanent land feature of Bangladesh, but appeared recently.
  • Bhashan Char is surrounded by a mangrove forest that has given it geographical stability.
  • The main argument for the char-land being unsafe is that these lands are known to be unstable and flood-prone.
  • The other fear factor includes the tropical cyclones that visit the area every year.
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