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[pib] Redefined units of measurement of kilogram, Kelvin, mole and ampere

Mains Paper 3 : Awareness In The Fields Of It, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-Technology, Bio-Technology |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Units and Measurements

Mains level : Read the attached story



News

  • The General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) at BIPM held on 16 November 2018 has unanimously adopted the resolution to redefine four of the seven base units.
  • These included kilogram (SI unit of weight), Kelvin (SI unit of temperature), mole (SI unit of amount of substance), and ampere (SI unit of current).
  • The new SI is being implemented worldwide from 20th May 2019 i.e. the World Metrology Day.

Global standards of Kg

  • The global standards for measurement are set by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), of which India became a member in 1957.
  • At BIPM in Sèvres, near Paris, stands a cylinder of platinum-iridium locked in a jar.
  • Since 1889, the kilogram has been defined as the mass of this cylinder, called Le Grand K, or International Prototype Kilogram (IPK).
  • In India, CSIR-NPL maintains the National Prototype Kilogram (NPK-57), which is calibrated with IPK.

Redifining Kg

  • The IPK was the last physical artifact used to define any of the fundamental units.
  • IPK would put on a little extra mass when tiny dust particles settled on it; when cleaned, it would shed some of its original mass.
  • Scientists have long stressed that the fundamental units should be defined in terms of natural constants.
  • On November 16, 2018 representatives of 60 countries agreed that the kilogram should be defined in terms of the Planck constant.
  • The Planck constant is a quantity that relates a light particle’s energy to its frequency.
  • Using a machine called a Kibble balance, in which the weight of a test mass is offset by an electromagnetic force, the value of the Planck constant was fixed, the kilogram was redefined.

How was this achieved?

  • The new definition for kilogram fits in with the modern definitions for the units of time (second) and distances (metre).
  • Today, the second is defined as the time it takes for a certain amount of energy to be released as radiation from atoms of Caesium-133.
  • By its modern definition, a metre is the distance travelled by light in vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second (which is already defined).
  • This is where the Planck constant comes in.
  • It has been measured precisely at 6.626069… × 10^(-34) kilograms per second per square metre.
  • With the second and the metre already defined, a very precise definition for the kilogram

Benefits of recalibration

  • What was 1 kg earlier is still 1 kg today. An updated kilogram doesn’t mean that weights everywhere will be thrown off balance.
  • All that has changed is the definition, for the sake of accuracy.
  • A mass measured as 1 kg earlier would have meant 1 kg, plus or minus 15-20 micrograms.
  • Using the new definition, a mass measured as 1 kg will mean 1 kg, plus or minus 1 or 2 nanograms.

About World Metrology Day

  • The World Metrology Day (WMD) is celebrated annually on this very day as the Metre Convention was signed by representatives of seventeen nations on May 20, 1875.
  • The Convention set the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement and in its industrial, commercial and societal applications.

Assist this newscard with:

 

[pib] World’s standard definition of kilogram now redefined

How much is a kilogram? Here comes a new way to measure it

Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction

Mains Paper 3 : Disaster Management |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction

Mains level : Multiple facets of Disasters in India and thier effective management



News

  • United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) conferred Sasakawa Award 2019 for Disaster Risk Reduction to Dr. Pramod Kumar Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to Prime Minister of India.

Why this Award?

  • Mishra was awarded for his concentrated efforts and dedication towards serving the communities that are most exposed to disasters.
  • He has selflessly worked to the cause of social inclusion to reduce inequality and poverty, ultimately benefitting the socially and economically marginalized in the country.

Sasakawa Award

  • The UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction is awarded to an individual or institutions that have taken active efforts in reducing disaster risk in their communities and advocates for disaster risk reduction.
  • It was instituted in 1986 and is jointly organized by the UNDRR and the Nippon Foundation.
  • A total grant of USD 50,000 is distributed among the winners which can be either organizations or individuals.
  • The theme of the 2019 Sasakawa award was “Building Inclusive and Resilient Societies”.
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

India signs ‘Christchurch Call to Action’

Mains Paper 3 : Social Media Networks & Internal Security |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Christchurch Call to Action

Mains level : Regulating role of social media against organized terrorism



News

  • To combat online extremism, India has decided to sign an international call initiated by the governments of France and New Zealand along with top social media companies after the Christchurch attacks.

Christchurch Call to Action

  • The dissemination of such content online has adverse impacts on the human rights of the victims, on our collective security and on people all over the world was declared by the 17 signatory countries.
  • The Call outlines “collective”, “voluntary” commitments from Governments and online service providers intended to address the issue of terrorist and violent extremist content online.
  • The document highlights, “All action on this issue must be consistent with principles of a free, open and secure internet, without compromising human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression.
  • While the document stresses on the need to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of free speech of citizens of any country, the US has decided not to sign the document amid free speech concerns.
  • The meeting held in Paris was attended by representatives of online giants like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon.

The document states that the governments/signatories should commit to:

  • Counter the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism by strengthening the resilience and inclusiveness of societies to enable them to resist terrorist and violent extremist ideologies, including through education, building media literacy to help counter distorted terrorist and violent extremist narratives, and the fight against inequality.
  • Ensure effective enforcement of applicable laws that prohibit the production or dissemination of terrorist and violent extremist content, in a manner consistent with the rule of law and international human rights law, including freedom of expression.
  • Encourage media outlets to apply ethical standards when depicting terrorist events online, to avoid amplifying terrorist and violent extremist content.
  • Support frameworks, such as industry standards, to ensure that reporting on terrorist attacks does not amplify terrorist and violent extremist content, without prejudice to responsible coverage of terrorism and violent extremism.
  • Consider appropriate action to prevent the use of online services to disseminate terrorist and violent extremist content, including through collaborative actions, such as:

The documents draw in the online service providers to commit to:

  • Take transparent, specific measures seeking to prevent the upload of terrorist and violent extremist content and to prevent its dissemination on social media and similar content-sharing services.
  • Provide greater transparency in the setting of community standards or terms of service, including by:
  • Outlining and publishing the consequences of sharing terrorist and violent extremist content;
  • Describing policies and putting in place procedures for detecting and removing terrorist and violent extremist content.

With inputs from:

India Today

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Global Drug Survey Report 2018

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GDS

Mains level : Read the attached story



News

  • A global survey of recreational drug-use, which for the first time polled respondents from India, has found that Indians — more than from other nationalities — are seeking help to reduce their alcohol intake.

Global Drug Survey

  • The Global Drug Survey (GDS) is an anonymised online survey that uses a detailed questionnaire to assess trends in drug use and self-reported harms among regular drug users and early adopters of new trends.
  • The survey is not designed to determine the prevalence of drug behaviour in a population.
  • It throws light on stigmatized behaviours and health outcomes of a hidden population that is otherwise difficult to reach.
  • GDS use its data and expertise to create digital health applications delivering screening and brief interventions for drugs and alcohol.
  • GDS also produces a range of drug education materials for health and legal professionals, the entertainment industry and the general public.

Drugs menace in India

  • Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis were the most common stimulants used by Indians.
  • Of the nearly 1,00,000 respondents from 30 countries, Indians reported ‘being drunk’ on an average of 41 times in the last 12 months — behind the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Australia and Denmark in that order but well above the global average of 33 times.
  • Indian respondents to the survey, conducted online October-December 2018, appeared more than other nationalities eager for help with reducing their alcohol intake.
  • According to the 2019 GDS, 51% of the respondents wanted to ‘drink less’ in the following year and 41% ‘wanted help to do so’ — again the highest percentage among other countries.
  • About 6% of the female Indians surveyed reported seeking ‘emergency medical treatment’ in the last 12 months. The global female average was about 13%.
  • None of the males in India reported seeking medical treatment, compared to the global average of 12%.

Less cannabis

  • Only 2% sought emergency medical treatment after using cannabis.
  • Similar to alcohol use, 51% said they wanted to use ‘less cannabis’ in the following year; more than any other nationality and well above the global average of 31%.
  • Alcohol and tobacco apart, the most used drugs globally were cannabis, MDMA (or Ecstacy), cocaine, amphetamines, LSD (or ‘acid’), magic mushrooms, benzodiazepines, prescription opioids, ketamine, nitrous oxide.
  • The survey also found that globally approximately 14% (11,000) reported being taken advantage of sexually while intoxicated in their lifetime and 4% in the last 12 months.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

[pib] Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)

Mains Paper 3 : Disaster Management |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GFDRR

Mains level : Disaster management in India



News

  • India is unanimously chosen as co-chair of the Consultative Group (CG) of Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) for the fiscal year 2020.
  • The decision was taken during the CG meeting of GFDRR held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery

  • GFDRR is a global partnership that helps developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change.
  • GFDRR is a grant-funding mechanism, managed by the World Bank that supports disaster risk management projects worldwide.
  • It is presently working on the ground with over 400 local, national, regional, and international partners and provides knowledge, funding, and technical assistance.

India and GFDRR

  • India became member of CG of GFDRR in 2015 and expressed its interest to co-chair in last meeting of CG held in October 2018.
  • India’s candidature was backed by its consistent progress in disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the country and its initiative to form a coalition on disaster resilient infrastructure.
  • This is the first time that India has been afforded the opportunity of co-chairing the CG meeting of GFDRR.
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Basel Convention

Mains Paper 1 : Urbanization, Their Problems & Remedies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Basel Convention

Mains level : Curbing Plastic Pollution


News

  • Nations agreed to add plastic to the Basel Convention, a treaty that regulates movement of hazardous materials from one country to another, in order to combat the dangerous effects of plastic pollution around the world.

Amending the Basel Convention

  • Parties to the Basel Convention have reached agreement on a legally-binding, globally-reaching mechanism for managing plastic waste.
  • The Geneva meeting amended the 1989 Basel Convention on the control of hazardous wastes to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework.
  • The new amendment would empower developing countries to refuse “dumping plastic waste” by others.
  • The resolution means contaminated and most mixes of plastic wastes will require prior consent from receiving countries before they are traded, with the exceptions of mixes of PE, PP and PET.
  • For far too long, developed countries like the U.S. and Canada have been exporting their mixed toxic plastic wastes to developing Asian countries claiming it would be recycled in the receiving country.

What is Basel Convention?

  • The Basel Convention stands for the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.
  • It is an international treaty that was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries (LDCs).
  • It aims to assist LDCs in environmentally sound management of the hazardous and other wastes they generate.
  • The Convention was opened for signature on 22 March 1989, and entered into force on 5 May 1992.
  • As of October 2018, 186 states and the EU are parties to the Convention. Haiti and the United States have signed the Convention but not ratified it.
  • It does not, however, address the movement of radioactive waste.
  • The Convention is also intended to minimize the amount and toxicity of wastes generated, to ensure their environmentally sound management.

Why such move?

  • Instead, much of this contaminated mixed waste cannot be recycled and is instead dumped or burned, or finds its way into the ocean.
  • Plastic waste pollution has reached “epidemic proportions” with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans.
  • Even though the U.S. and a few others have not signed the accord, they cannot ship plastic waste to countries that are on board with the deal.
  • Much of the contaminated mixed waste cannot be recycled and is instead dumped or burned.

Ban on two chemicals           

  • The meeting also undertook to eliminate two toxic chemical groups — Dicofol and Perfluorooctanoic Acid, plus related compounds.
  • The latter has been used in a wide variety of industrial and domestic applications, including non-stick cookware and food processing equipment, as well as carpets, paper and paints.
Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

India facing critical shortage of healthcare providers: WHO

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Healthcare lacunae in India


News

  • Despite the health sector employing five million workers, India continues to have low density of health professionals.

Critical Shortage in India

  • India faces the problem of acute shortages and inequitable distributions of skilled health workers as have many other low- and middle-income countries.
  • The figures for India are lower than those of Sri Lanka, China, Thailand, United Kingdom and Brazil, according to a WHO database.
  • This workforce statistic has put the country into the “critical shortage of healthcare providers” category.
  • Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are the worst hit while Delhi, Kerala, Punjab and Gujarat compare favorably.

Health workforce in India

  • The health workforce in India comprises broadly eight categories, namely: doctors (allopathic, alternative medicine); nursing and midwifery professionals; public health professionals (medical, non-medical); pharmacists; dentists; paramedical workers (allied health professionals); grass-root workers (frontline workers); and support staff.

WHO says

  • Data on the prevalence of occupational vacancies in the health care system in India overall is scarce.
  • Government statistics for 2008, based on vacancies in sanctioned posts showed 18% of primary health centres were without a doctor, about 38% were without a laboratory technician and 16% were without a pharmacist.
  • The need of the hour is to design courses for different categories of non-physician care providers.
  • Competencies (and not qualification alone) should be valued and reform must be brought in regulatory structures to provide flexibility for innovations.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitrary Tribunal

Mains :

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the tribunal


News

  • Justice A.K. Sikri of the Supreme Court turned down an offer from the government to nominate him to the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitrary Tribunal (CSAT).

Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitrary Tribunal

  • The CSAT was established to meet the requirements of the Agreed Memorandum on the Commonwealth Secretariat (1964) in London.
  • It resolves disputes of the Commonwealth organisations, international or intergovernmental.
  • The Tribunal entertains only such cases in which organisations agree to surrender to its jurisdiction.
  • The statute of the CSAT, which was adopted first by Commonwealth governments in 1995, requires the eight-member CSAT to comprise Commonwealth nationals of “high moral character”,
  • They should have held “high judicial office in a Commonwealth country” or jurists of recognised competence with not less than 10 years’ experience.
  • Their tenure is four years with room for one additional term.

WHO for eliminating industrially produced trans fats by 2023

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Trans Fats

Mains level : Health issues over consumption of Trans Fats


News

  • Trans fat also called the worst form of fat in food, responsible for over 5,00,000 deaths globally from coronary heart disease each year.
  • It could be eliminated from the industrially produced global food supply by 2023 if the World Health Organization (WHO) has its way.
  • The WHO has partnered with the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) to achieve this target.

Regulatory action by WHO

  • The commitment made by the IFBA is in line with the WHO’s target to eliminate industrial trans fat from the global food supply by 2023.
  • Of particular note was the decision by IFBA members to ensure that the amount of industrial trans fat in their products does not exceed two grams per 100 grams fat/oil globally by 2023.

About Trans Fats

  • Trans fat, also called trans-unsaturated fatty acids or trans fatty acids, is a type of unsaturated fat that occurs in small amounts in nature, but became widely produced industrially from vegetable fats starting in the 1950s.
  • It is used in margarine, snack food, packaged baked goods, and for frying fast food.
  • Since they are easy to use, inexpensive to produce and last a long time, and give foods a desirable taste and texture, they are still widely used despite their harmful effects being well-known.

Hydrogenation Process

  • Artificial Trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
  • Hydrogenation increases the shelf life and flavor stability of foods.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

How China, followed by India, has led greening efforts across world

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MODIS

Mains level : Afforestation in India


News

  • A new satellite-based study shows that China and India are leading the increase in “greening efforts” across the world.

The findings of MODIS

  • The research team set out to track the total amount of Earth’s land area covered by vegetation and how it changed over time (2000-17).
  • Through NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, the team found that the global green leaf area has increased by 5% since the early 2000s.
  • This translates to a net increase in leaf area of 2.3% per decade, which is equivalent to adding 5.4 × 106 sq km new leaf area over the 18-year period of the record (2000 to 2017).
  • This is equivalent to the area of the Amazon.
  • China alone accounts for 25% of the global net increase in leaf area. India has contributed a further 6.8%.
  • The greening in China is from forests (42%) and croplands (32%) but in India is mostly from croplands (82%) with minor contribution from forests (4.4%).

What is MODIS?

  • MODIS is a key instrument aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites of NASA.
  • With its low spatial resolution but high temporal resolution, MODIS data is useful to track changes in the landscape over time
  • MODIS is playing a vital role in the development of validated, global, interactive Earth system models able to predict global change accurately enough to assist policy makers in making sound decisions concerning the protection of our environment.
  • Its data helps improve our understanding of global dynamics and processes occurring on the land, in the oceans, and in the lower atmosphere.

Highlights of the study

  • The study was entirely based on satellite data with access to forest inventory data.
  • There were no physical checks carried out in either China or India to assess what kind of trees or vegetation was preferred.
  • The quality of trees is good in view of leaf abundance.
  • Satellite data do not have the ability to accurately recognise the species at the global scale.
  • When the greening of the Earth was first observed, it was thought due to a warmer, wetter climate and fertilization from the added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to more leaf growth in northern forests, for instance.
  • Now, with the MODIS data that lets us understand the phenomenon at really small scales, we see that humans are also contributing.

India’s growth

  • With only 2.7% of the global vegetated area, India accounts for 6.8% of the global net increase in leaf area.
  • It is as expected because most of the land cover type in India is cropland (2.11×106 sq km).
  • Total cereal production in India increased by 26% during the same period.
  • There are only a few forests in India, and that is why their contribution is small.
  • Data show that since Independence, a fifth of India’s land has consistently been under forests.
  • The Forest Survey of India’s State of Forest Report 2017 had recorded that forest cover had increased by 6,600 sq km or 0.21% since 2015.
Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

Sand, a global sustainability challenge: UN report

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Illegal sand mining in India


News

  • The UNEP has released a report, Sand and Sustainability: Finding new solutions for environmental governance of global sand resources.
  • It highlights a problem that has largely stayed under the radar: sand consumption globally has been increasing and we are extracting it at rates exceeding natural replenishment rates.

Sand Mining

  • Sand and gravel are the second largest natural resources extracted and traded by volume after water, but among the least regulated.
  • Sand is created by slow geological processes, and its distribution is not even.
  • Desert sand, available in plenty, is not suited for construction use because it is wind-smoothed, and therefore non-adherent.
  • While 85% to 90% of global sand demand is met from quarries, and sand and gravel pits, the 10% to 15% extracted from rivers and sea shores is a severe concern due the environmental and social impacts.
  • Aggregates (a term for crushed rock, sand and gravels used in construction materials) are necessary for building the infrastructure the world needs, especially developing countries bringing their populations out of poverty.
  • Quoting studies, the report estimates that a 40-50 billion tonne of crushed rock, sand and gravel is extracted from quarries, pits, rivers, coastlines and the marine environment each year.
  • The construction industry consumes over half of this, and will consume even more in the future.

Hazards of excessive mining

  • Their extraction often results in river and coastal erosion and threats to freshwater and marine fisheries and aquatic ecosystems, instability of river banks leading to increased flooding, and lowering of ground water levels.
  • The report notes that China and India head the list of critical hotspots for sand extraction impacts in rivers, lakes and on coastlines.
  • Most large rivers of the world have lost between half and 95% of their natural sand and gravel delivery to ocean the report says.
  • The damming of rivers for hydro-electricity production or irrigation is reducing the amount of sediment flowing downstream.
  • This broken replenishment system exacerbates pressures on beaches already threatened by sea level rise and intensity of storm-waves induced by climate change, as well as coastal developments.
  • There are also indirect consequences, like loss of local livelihoods — an ironic example is that construction in tourist destinations can lead to depletion of natural sand in the area, thereby making those very places unattractive — and safety risks for workers where the industry is not regulated.

China and India: Leading in global infrastructure

  • China increased its concrete use by 540% in the last 20 years, exceeding the use of all the other countries combined.
  • Even as domestic consumption rates begin to stabilize, China overseas investment in infrastructure development through the Belt and Road Initiative will drive demand for aggregates in approximately 70 countries.
  • Furthermore, domestic demand in India is expected to drive strong future growth in Asia.

India leads in reusing

  • The alternative substitute materials the report points to, are several from India, including oil palm shell, waste foundry sand, crushed tiles, granite powder, mine waste, bottom ash, and discarded rubber.
  • It also cites the use in India of non-toxic municipal waste in road-building.

Way Forward

  • The report suggests better spatial planning and reducing unnecessary construction — including speculative projects or those being done mainly for prestige — thereby making more efficient use of aggregates.
  • It calls for investing in infrastructure maintenance and retrofitting rather than the demolish and rebuild cycle, embracing alternative design and construction methods, even avoiding use of cement and concrete where possible, and using green infrastructure.
  • The report concludes with a call for large-scale multipronged actions from global to local levels, involving public, private and civil society organisations.
  • This will mean building consensus, defining what success would look like, and reconciling policies and standards with sand availability, development imperatives and standards and enforcement realities.
Coal and Mining Sector

India re-elected as observer to Arctic Council

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Arctic Council

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

  • The 11th Arctic Council ministerial meeting is being held at Rovaniemi, Finland.
  • India has been re-elected as an observer to intergovernmental forum Arctic Council.

India’s interest in Arctic

  • Indian researchers have been studying whether there is a co-relation between Indian monsoon and the Arctic region.
  • India’s National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, an institute under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, has set up a research station, ‘Himadri’, in Svalbard in Norway.
  • It studies the mass balance of glaciers, the effect of the warming on the marine system, the formation of clouds and precipitation, and the effect on biodiversity.

About Arctic Council

  • It is an advisory body that promotes cooperation among member nations and indigenous groups as per the Ottawa Declaration of 1996.
  • Its focus is on sustainable development and environmental protection of the Arctic.
  • It promotes cooperation, coordination and interaction among Arctic states, the region’s indigenous communities and other inhabitants on common issues, particularly on sustainable development and environmental protection.
  • The Arctic Council consists of the eight Arctic States: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
  • India and China are one of the observer countries since 2013.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Global Assessment Report by IPBES

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the report

Mains level : Threats of mass extinction


News

Global Assessment Report

  • It is compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries and is a cornerstone of an emerging body of research the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
  • Known as the Global Assessment, the report found that up to one million of Earth’s estimated eight million plants, insect and animal species is at risk of extinction, many within decades.
  • It suggests the world may need to embrace a new “post-growth” form of economics if it is to avert the existential risks posed by the mutually-reinforcing consequences of pollution, habitat destruction and carbon emissions.

About IPBES

  • The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body, established by member States in 2012 under the auspices of UNEP.
  • The objective of IPBES is to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.
  • The IPBES secretariat is based in Bonn, Germany.

Findings of the report

  • The report identified a range of risks, from the disappearance of insects vital for pollinating food crops, to the destruction of coral reefs that support fish populations that sustain coastal communities, or the loss of medicinal plants.
  • It found that the average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900.
  • The threatened list includes more than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals, and more than a third of all marine mammals.
  • The picture was less clear for insect species, but a tentative estimate suggests 10% are at risk of extinction.

Threats posed by human activities

  • Relentless pursuit of economic growth, twinned with the impact of climate change, has put one million species at risk of extinction.
  • The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed.
  • This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.
  • Only a wide-ranging transformation of the global economic and financial system could pull ecosystems that are vital to the future of human communities worldwide back from the brink of collapse.

Various Causes

  • The authors identified industrial farming and fishing as major drivers with the current rate of species extinction tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the last 10 million years.
  • Climate change caused by burning the coal, oil and gas produced by the fossil fuel industry is exacerbating the losses, the report found.

Way Forward

  • The report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global.
  • By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.
  • The findings will also add to pressure for countries to agree bold action to protect wildlife at a major conference on biodiversity due to take place in China towards the end of next year.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

U.S. Commission says religious freedom in India deteriorated in 2018

Mains Paper 1 : Communalism, Secularism, Regionalism |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

  • The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan, independent federal government commission has said that there is an “overall deterioration of religious freedom conditions in 2018” in India.

Declining religious freedom across world

  • India continues to remain a Tier 2 country, according to the Commission, a list it has been unable to get off of since 2009.
  • Tier 2 countries are those in which “violations engaged in or tolerated by the government during 2018 are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of the ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious” CPC (Country of Particular Concern) standard.
  • CPCs are designated by the State Department and the latest list, from November 2018, contains 10 countries (including Burma, China, Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia).
  • In these countries the government has tolerated or engaged in “particularly severe religious freedom violations, meaning those are systematic, ongoing, and egregious.”
  • Other Tier 2 countries for 2018 are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.
  • The Commission says in several countries where it found religious freedom declining, it also found an increased securitization and politicization of religion.

Indian case

  • In countries like India, it is increasingly difficult to separate religion and politics, a tactic that is sometimes intentional by those who seek to discriminate against and restrict the rights of certain religious communities.
  • The report says conditions for minorities in India have deteriorated over the last decade, adding that a “multifaceted campaign by various right wing nationalist groups.
  • It calls out the role of extremist groups, India’s anti-conversion laws, cow-protection lynch mobs, concerns that millions from Assam will be incorrectly left out of the NRC and a lack of transparency on denying international NGOs registration and political targeting of NGOs.

UNSC designates Masood Azhar as global terrorist

Mains Paper 2 : Important International Institutions |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNSC 1267

Mains level : Blacklisting of Azhar and its implications for India


News

Context

  • Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar was listed as a designated terrorist by the UN Security Council 1267 Committee.
  • It would mean a travel ban, arms embargo and asset freeze on Azhar.
  • The listing is a victory for India in a decade-old diplomatic battle waged primarily by it and supported by its friends at the UNSC.

Paradigm shift by China

  • Since China had blocked it four times at the UNSC Resolution 1267 Sanctions committee, US felt that this would put China in an awkward position.
  • It would have to publicly defend the veto — and, in effect, a terrorist.

Image source: TOI

 

Speculating Chinese intentions

  • China’s decision appears to be a well-rounded exercise aimed at encouraging India to bond with Eurasia instead of the Indo-Pacific.
  • It has taken its “all weather” ally Pakistan on board before taking the decision.
  • China’s move followed Russia’s decision last month to honour Mr. Modi with ‘Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First,’ –Russia’s highest civilian award, in the midst of the election campaign.
  • Both China and Russia want New Delhi to consolidate its ties with Eurasia on Mr. Modi’s watch, rather than allow India to drift further in the direction of the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific strategy.
  • India is already a member of the Eurasia-centred Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Again a bliss for Pakistan

  • Beijing had decided to announce listing after the Belt and Road Forum (BRF), so as not to embarrass visiting Pakistan PM Imran Khan, who was guest at the conclave.
  • Pakistan may not be averse to Azhar’s designation, as it could help avoid being “blacklisted” by the FATF.
  • Otherwise it could advance Islamabad’s economic isolation.
Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism

Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2019

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2019

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

  • The Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) report 2019 was recently published.

Global Talent Competitiveness Index

  • Launched in 2013, the GTCI is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.
  • The report, which covers 125 economies and 114 cities, is based on research conducted by in partnership with The Adecco Group and Tata Communications.
  • It aims to advance the current debate around entrepreneurial talent, providing practical tools and approaches to leverage the full potential of individuals and teams as an engine and a basis for innovation, growth, and ultimately competitiveness.

Performance worldwide

  • In the 2019 GTCI, six Asia-Pacific countries rank in the top 30: Singapore takes the lead in the region (2nd globally), followed by New Zealand (11th), Australia (12th), Japan (22nd), Malaysia (27th) and South Korea (30th).
  • Top-ranking countries share several characteristics; including having talent growth and management as a central priority, openness to entrepreneurial talent, open socio-economic policies as well as strong and vibrant ecosystems around innovation.
  • Singapore continues to occupy the top spot in Asia Pacific. It is the highest-ranked country in three of the six pillars – Enable, Attract, and Global Knowledge Skills.
  • It is also one of the strongest performers with respect to the pillar on Vocational and Technical Skills. However, it ranks low in Retain, signifying its relative weakness in retaining talent.

India’s Performance

  • India remains the laggard in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) region.
  • It was ranked 80 even as Singapore retained its leading position in the Asia-Pacific region for the sixth consecutive year.
  • It performs better than its lower-income peers when it comes to growing talent, primarily by virtue of the possibilities for Lifelong Learning and Access to Growth Opportunities.
  • An above-average Business and Labour Landscape and Employability raise the scores of the pillars related to Enable and Vocational and Technical Skills that are otherwise hampered by the remaining sub-pillars, the report said.

Challenges to India

  • Notwithstanding the scope for improvement across the board, India’s biggest challenge is to improve its ability to Attract and Retain talent.
  • Above all, there is a need to address its poor level of Internal Openness —in particular with respect to weak gender equality and low tolerances towards minorities and immigrants.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Global Deal for Nature (GDN)

Mains Paper 1 : Climatic Change |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GDN, Mass extinction

Mains level : Climate change and associated threats


News

  • Saving the diversity and abundance of life on Earth may cost $100 billion a year, say scientists who have proposed a policy to prevent another mass extinction event on the planet.
  • There have been five mass extinctions in the history of the Earth.

Global Deal for Nature (GDN)

  • Scientists have proposed new science policy to reverse the tide, called A Global Deal for Nature (GDN).
  • It is a time-bound, science-based plan to save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth.
  • The GDN campaign is being driven by One Earth, an initiative of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation that aims to gather support from international institutions, governments, and citizens of planet Earth to support ambitious conservation goals.
  • The policy’s mission is to save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth — for the price tag of $100 billion a year.

WHat would GDN do?

  • Societal investment in the GDN plan would, for the first time, integrate and implement climate and nature deals on a global scale to avoid human upheaval and biodiversity loss.
  • The study outlines the principles, milestones and targets needed to avoid the disastrous extinction threats of a two degrees Celsius global warming forecast.

Why GDN?

  • Scientists now estimate that society must urgently come to grips this coming decade to stop the very first human-made biodiversity catastrophe.

Goals

  • To protect biodiversity by conserving at least 30% of the Earth’s surface by 2030;
  • Mitigate climate change by conserving the Earth’s natural carbon storehouses; and
  • Reduce major threats.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[pib] Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific (RCAP) Congress

Mains Paper 1 : Climatic Change |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RCAP

Mains level : Building climate resilient urban infrastructure


News

  • The 4th Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific (RCAP) Congress 2019 was organized by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).

Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific

  • RCAP is the annual global platform for urban resilience and climate change adaptation.
  • It is convened by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and co-hosted by the World Mayors Council on Climate Change and the City of Bonn.
  • It was launched in 2010 with the goal of forging partnerships and dialogues that matter.
  • The success of the series ‘Resilient Cities – The Annual Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation’ that attracts hundreds of participants to Bonn, Germany, every year since 2010 is a clear indication of how pressing the issue of adaptation and resilience is perceived among local governments worldwide.
  • The RCAP is a response to heightened demand from the Asia Pacific Region, which encouraged ICLEI to expand the congress series to include Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific, bringing the event and the focus to the Asia-Pacific region, catering to the situation, challenges and opportunities of local governments specifically in this region.
  • It aims to provide an Asian platform for urban resilience and climate change adaptation where partnerships are forged and concrete dialogues are happening, with the ultimate goal of identifying solutions and creating lasting impacts for cities in the region.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

IMO’s new rule on electronic information exchange between ships and ports comes into force

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IMO, FAL Convention

Mains level : Easing maritime logistics and its impact


News

  • A new global rule mandated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for national governments to introduce electronic information exchange between ships and ports has come to effect.

New rules to FAL Convention

  • The FAL Convention contains standards and recommended practices and rules for simplifying formalities, documentary requirements and procedures on ships’ arrival, stay and departure.
  • The requirement, mandatory under IMO’s Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL Convention) is part of a package of amendments adopted in 2016.
  • The new FAL Convention requirement for all public authorities to establish systems for the electronic exchange of information related to maritime transport.
  • It marks a significant move in the maritime industry and ports towards a digital maritime world, reducing the administrative burden and increasing the efficiency of maritime trade and transport.

What are new rules in actual practice?

  • The Convention encourages use of a “single window” for data, to enable all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, persons and cargo, to be submitted via a single portal, without duplication.
  • The rules seeks to make cross-border trade simpler and the logistics chain more efficient, for the more than 10 billion tonnes of goods which are traded by sea annually across the globe.

India: On IMO’s footsteps-

PCS 1x

  • India launched a Port Community System — ‘PCS1x’— at ports in December 2018. ‘PCS 1x’ is a cloud-based technology developed by Mumbai-based logistics conglomerate JM Baxi Group.
  • PCS1x offers value-added services such as notification engine, workflow, mobile application, track and trace, better user interface, better security features, improved inclusion by offering dashboard for those with no IT capability.
  • A unique feature of ‘PCS1x’ is that it can latch on to third party software which provides services to the maritime industry thereby enabling the stakeholders to access wide network of services.
  • PCS1x offers a database that acts as a single data point to all transactions.
  • It captures and stores data on its first occurrence thereby reducing manual intervention, the need to enter transaction data at various points and thereby reducing errors in the process.

Back2Basics

International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

  • IMO is the UN specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
  • Its primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.
  • IMO is governed by an assembly of members and is financially administered by a council of members elected from the assembly.
Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

Asian Development Outlook 2019

Mains Paper 3 : Inclusive Growth & Issues |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the report

Mains level : India’s economic growth: prospects and challenges


News

  • Asian Development Bank has published its flagship report Asian Development Outlook 2019.

Asian Development Outlook 2019

  • ADB, in its report mentioned that recent policy measures by the GoI to improve the investment climate and boost private consumption and investment will help India to lift economic growth in the next two fiscal years.
  • For the entire Asia, the multilateral agency forecasted that growth will soften to 5.7 per cent in 2019 and 5.6 per cent in 2020.
  • India will remain one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world this year given strong household spending and corporate fundamentals said the report.
  • Income support to farmers, hikes in procurement prices for food grains, and tax relief to tax payers earning less than Rs 5 lakh will boost household income.
  • Declining fuel and food prices are also expected to provide an impetus for consumption.
  • An increase in utilization of production capacity by firms, along with falling levels of stressed assets held by banks and easing of credit restrictions on certain banks, is expected to help investment grow at a healthy rate.

About ADB

  • The ADB is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966 which is headquartered in Philippines.
  • ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.
  • The bank admits the members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
  • The ADB was modeled closely on the World Bank, and has a similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions.
  • The president has a term of office lasting five years, and may be reelected.
  • Traditionally, and because Japan is one of the largest shareholders of the bank, the president has always been Japanese.
  • ADB is an official United Nations Observer.
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc