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Article
25 Jun 2022

Let there be new data

Context

  • The government is going to launch fieldwork for the new Consumer Expenditure Survey on 1st July, 2022.
  • The survey will cover around 1.2 lakh households in rural areas and around 84,000 households in urban areas and will help draw poverty estimates after a decade-long gap.

Background

  • The last two such nationwide Consumer Expenditure Surveys (CES) were carried out in 2011-12 and 2017-18.
  • Unfortunately, the results of the 2017-18 survey were not released on grounds of unexplained “data quality issues”.
  • Studies based on leaked survey findings had pointed to a rise in poverty levels in 2017-18.
  • Thus the last Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES) was conducted in the 68th round (July 2011 to June 2012).
  • Effectively, it means there is no official data after 2011-12 for estimating poverty lines and ratios, based on consumption spending below a certain level and the percentage of households falling within that deprivation threshold.

About Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES)

  • Agency and Time frame: The consumer expenditure survey, usually conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) (now comes under the National Statistical Office), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, at quinquennial (every five years) intervals.
  • In May 2019, the Indian government passed the order to merge the NSSO with the Central Statistics Office (CSO) to form the National Statistical Office (NSO).
  • Items: It is designed to collect information regarding expenditure on consumption of goods and services (food and non-food) consumed by households. It is the amount of final consumption expenditure made by resident households to meet their everyday needs, such as food, clothing, housing (rent), energy, transport, durable goods (notably cars), health costs, leisure, and miscellaneous services.
  • Aim: It aims at generating estimates of household Monthly Per Capita Consumer Expenditure (MPCE) and the distribution of households and persons over the MPCE range separately for the rural and urban sectors across the country and for different socio-economic groups.

Significance of Consumer Expenditure Survey

  • Macro indicators: The results of consumer expenditure survey are used for rebasing of the GDP and other macroeconomic indicators. It also helps in calculating the demand dynamics of the economy.
  • Identify anomalies: The CES addresses the possible structural anomalies that may cause demand to shift in a particular manner in a specific socio-economic or regional division of the population.
  • Setting priorities: Helps in understanding the shifting priorities in terms of baskets of goods and services, thus providing pointers to the producers of goods and providers of services.
  • Negative effects: The delay in undertaking a household consumption expenditure survey leaves us unsure of the trend in poverty in India in recent years.

Revamped features in new survey

  • Coverage: The results will include separate data sets for rural and urban parts, and splice spending patterns for each State and Union Territory, as well as different socio–economic groups.
  • Enhanced visits: The three visits by an enumerator to a household in new Consumer Expenditure Survey to seek more detailed information on their consumption basket.
  • Interrogation: The three visits to a household to collect data on consumption expenditure will entail seeking information on daily use items (on a 7-day basis), regular items (on a 30-day basis) and consumer durables (on a 365-day basis).
  • Also, the detailed questions for seeking inputs on welfare subsidies such as food grains are learnt to have been included.
  • Expanded basket: The basket has been expanded in the new round with inclusion of items which have seen higher consumption trends in recent times.
  • Segregation: The largest category of ‘miscellaneous’ items has been segregated for detailed collection of data on consumption of those items them along with more detailed questions on food, education and health.
  • Increased manpower: About 1,700 investigators are likely to be engaged in the revamped consumer expenditure survey, as against 800-900 earlier.

Need for revamped survey

  • New items: It was felt that the earlier schedule doesn’t capture goods and services which have come more recently and they should be included.
  • Duration: It was also felt that survey time should not be more than 40 minutes. The old schedule used to take two hours.
  • Bifurcation: Now by adding more items it’ll take more time. So it was decided to be split into three visits of approximately 40 minutes each and collect different parts of the schedule at different points of time. The same investigator will visit the same house on each visit,” the source said.

Criticism of new survey

  • Tedious process: The revamped procedure would include an increase in the working time owing to enhanced visits and a possibility of overestimating consumption.
  • Incomparable estimates: The changes in data collection, items and methodology may make the results incomparable with previous consumer expenditure surveys and new poverty estimates will have to be drawn since they won’t be consistent with earlier ones.

Key Findings of Consumer Expenditure Survey 2011-12

  • The survey showed that average urban MPCE (at ₹2,630) was about 84% higher than average rural MPCE (₹1,430) for the country as a whole.
  • Food accounted for about 53% of the value of the average rural Indian household’s consumption during 2011-12.
    • In the case of urban households, it accounted for only 42.6% of the average consumption budget.
  • While education accounted for 3.5% of the rural household’s average spending, an urban household spent almost 7% of its monthly consumption budget on it.
  •  

Conclusion

  • The Planning Commission estimates in 1997 showed a slowing of the rate of poverty reduction soon after the reforms, resulting in a rise in the number of poor in 1993-94 for the first time in 15 years. However, the then government did not squash the study like the recently quashed 2017-18 one.
  • The high growth rates and government welfare programmes have little meaning, especially in India, if these do not result in reducing poverty. But without data, it’s difficult to gauge its regularity and improvements in indicators.
  • Since government decision-making has to be dynamic and responsive to changing ground situations, the data has to keep flowing. While the CES’s launch is timely, the government should move to doing surveys on a more regular basis.
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Article
25 Jun 2022

From April, India plans its own car crash-test ratings

In News:

  • Recently, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRT&H), Government of India, published a draft standard car assessment programme - Bharat New Car Assessment Programmes (NCAP).
  • Under Bharat NCAP, which is proposed to be rolled out from next April, automobiles in India shall be accorded 'Star Ratings' based on their performance in crash tests. 

What’s in today’s article:

  • The new car assessment program
    • About Bharat NCAP
    • Features
    • Need
    • Significance
  • About Global NCAP

The new car assessment program:

  • About Bharat NCAP:
    • It is proposed in the Draft General Statutory Rules (GSR) Notification of the MoRT&H.
    • It is a testing protocol, wherein automobiles in India shall be accorded Star Ratings based upon their performance in crash tests.
    • The proposed assessment will allocate Star Ratings from 1 to 5 stars.
    • It will be a voluntary programme under which the cost of a new car for the purpose of assessment shall be borne by the respective vehicle manufacturer or importer.
    • It will be rolled out from April 1, 2023.
  • Features:
    • While India has mandatory crash test norms for cars, the Bharat NCAP rating will be of superior standard and will be aligned with global crash-test protocols.
    • Unlike in other countries where the NCAP are carried out by non-government entities, there will be a Bharat NCAP Authority in India.
    • The authority will also host the safety ratings of all new car models on a website for public knowledge.
    • These safety ratings will be based on three vehicle features - Adult Occupant Protection (AOP), Child Occupant Protection (COP) and Safety Assist Technologies (SAT).
  • Need:
    • In India, a total number of 3,66,138 road accidents have been reported in 2020, claiming 1,31,714 lives and causing injuries to 3,48,279 persons.
    • The Bharat NCAP's safety ratings will help car buyers to make decisions wisely before purchasing a car and giving a boost to road safety in India.
  • Significance:
    • Bharat NCAP will serve as a consumer-centric platform, allowing customers to opt for safer cars based upon their Star-Ratings.
    • This will promote a healthy competition among original equipment manufacturers in India to manufacture safer vehicles. 

Global New Car Assessment Programme (Global NCAP):

  • It is a major project of the Towards Zero Foundation which is a United Kingdom registered charity.
  • It serves as a platform for cooperation among new car assessment programmes worldwide and promotes the universal adoption of the United Nations (UN) most important motor vehicle safety standards worldwide.
  • Global NCAP has adopted a Road Map for Safer Vehicles 2020 which provides a recommended timetable for UN Member States to apply the most important UN vehicle safety regulations.

 

Polity & Governance

Article
25 Jun 2022

A first: norms to protect rights of kids working on OTT platforms

In News:

  • The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has published draft guidelines to regulate child protection within the entertainment industry.

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
  • News summary

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in India

  • NCPCR is a statutory body in India. It was established by the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005.
  • It was established to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.

Composition of the commission

  • The commission consist of the following members namely:
    • A chairperson who, is a person of eminence and has done outstanding work for promoting the welfare of children; and
    • Six members, out of which at least two are woman, are appointed by the Central Government
      • These members must have experience in child related fields.

News Summary

  • Draft New rules have been published by the NCPCR, which is supposed to protect the rights of children working in the world of entertainment.

Key Highlights:

  • Increases the scope of the guidelines
    • The Guidelines to Regulate Child Participation in the Entertainment Industry were issued by the Commission in 2011.
    • However, the recent draft increases the scope of the guidelines to cover social media and OTT platforms for the first time.
    • The scope of the new guidelines will cover:
      • TV programmes including but not limited to reality shows, serials, news and informative media, movies;
      • Content on OTT platforms, content on social media, performing arts, advertising and
      • Any other kind of involvement of children in commercial entertainment activities.
  • Stringent penal provisions
    • The commission has further included stringent penal provisions for violating the guidelines, including imprisonment.
  • Mandatory registration of child artists
    • It has mandated that child artists and children being used in entertainment need to be registered with District Magistrates.
    • Producers will also have to run a disclaimer saying measures were taken to ensure there has been no abuse, neglect or exploitation of children during the entire process of the shooting.
  • Presence of at least one parent or legal guardian or a known person
    • At least one parent or legal guardian or a known person has to be present during a shoot.
    • For infants a registered nurse needs to be present along with the parent or legal guardian.
  • Need to ensure the child’s education under the RTE Act
    • The producer also needs to ensure the child’s education under the RTE Act, to ensure no discontinuity from school or lessons.
    • S/he also needs to ensure adequate and nutritious food, water to the children during the process of production and medical facilities.
  • Financial protection
    • At least 20 per cent of the income earned by the child from the production or event shall be directly deposited in a fixed deposit account in a nationalised bank in the name of the child which may be credited to the child on attaining majority.
  • Content created by the child or his family/guardian
    • Content created by the child or his family/guardian shall be treated as children working in a family enterprise as provided under Section 3(2)(a) of the Child Labour and Adolescent Labour Act, 1986.
  • Regulation of number of shifts
    • A child shall only participate in one shift per day, with a break after every three hours.
    • A minor, especially below the age of six years, shall not be exposed to harmful lighting, irritating or contaminated cosmetics.
  • Prohibits children being cast in certain in roles or situations
    • The guidelines prohibit children being cast in roles or situations that are inappropriate.
    • Consideration has to be given to the child’s age, maturity, emotional or psychological development and sensitivity.
    • A child cannot be exposed to ridicule, insult or discouragement, harsh comments or any behaviour that could affect his/her emotional health.
    • Children cannot be shown imbibing alcohol, smoking or using any other substance or shown to be indulging in any sort of antisocial activity and delinquent behaviour.
    • No child can be engaged in any situation involving nudity.
  • Provisions of different Acts protecting children have been included
    • Provisions of different Acts protecting children have been included in the guidelines.
    • This includes Acts such as:
      • the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, Child Labour Amendment Act, 2016,
      • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, etc.

Need for such guidelines

  • To fix the accountability
    • Children are now being used in videos across social media and in content on OTT platforms which had not been covered by the existing guidelines.
    • Hence, it was felt to bring social media and OTT platforms under the regulating mechanism.
    • Also, parents, who are using children to make money, have to be held accountable.
  • To ensure a healthy work environment for Children
    • With the boom of technology and social media, children are increasingly being used by parents/guardians for content creation.
    • Hence, the guideline is being brought in to ensure a healthy work environment for them with minimal physical and psychological stress.
  • To protect children from grave risk of exploitation
    • The children in the industry are at grave risk of exploitation because they lack the legal right to the earnings they generate, or safe working conditions and adequate protections via labour laws, etc.
    • Participating in an adult-oriented industry, children are often exposed to unsuitable, anxiety inducing, and at times, dangerous operational hazards.
    • Apart from the industry-specific risks, the children are also susceptible to a plethora of other crimes against children such as sexual exploitation, child trafficking, bonded labour, etc.

 

Social Issues

Article
25 Jun 2022

Parameswaran Iyer, who helped in Swachh Bharat rollout, replaces Kant as Niti CEO

In News:

  • The Appointments Committee of the Union Cabinet recently approved the appointment of retired civil servant Parameswaran Iyer as the new CEO of Niti Aayog.
  • Iyer, who was instrumental in the implementation of the Swachh Bharat Mission, will succeed Amitabh Kant, whose six-year tenure is coming to an end.

What’s in today’s article:

  • NITI Aayog (About, composition, objectives, functions, performance, Promoting federalism, challenges, way ahead)

NITI Aayog:

  • National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, was formed via a resolution of the Union Cabinet on 1 January 2015.
    • It was constituted to replace the Planning Commission, which had been instituted in 1950.
    • This step was taken to better serve the needs and aspirations of the people.
  • It is the premier policy think tank of the Government of India, providing directional and policy inputs.
  • Apart from designing strategic and long-term policies and programmes for the Government of India, NITI Aayog also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre, States and Union Territories.
  • An important evolutionary change, NITI Aayog acts as the quintessential platform to bring the States to act together in national interest and thereby fosters cooperative federalism.

Composition:

  • Chairperson: The Prime Minister (PM) of India
  • Governing Council:
    • It is chaired by the PM and comprises Chief Ministers of all the States and Union Territories with legislatures and Lt Governors of other Union Territories.
    • It is constituted/reconstituted by the Cabinet Secretariat.
  • Full time organisational framework:
    • Vice Chairperson: Appointed by the PM, s/he enjoys the rank of a Cabinet Minister.
    • Full-Time Members: Enjoys the rank of a Minister of State.
    • Part-Time Members: Maximum 2.
    • Ex-Officio Members: Maximum of 4 members of the Union Council of Minister to be nominated by the PM.
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO): Appointed by the PM for a fixed tenure, s/he enjoys the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.
  • Special Invitees: These will be experts with relevant domain knowledge to be nominated by the PM.

Objectives:

  • To foster cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation.
  • To formulate credible plans at the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government.
  • To ensure that the interests of national security are incorporated in economic strategy and policy.
  • To design strategic and long-term policy and programme frameworks and initiatives and monitor their progress and their efficacy.
  • To pay special attention to the sections of our society that may be at risk of not benefiting adequately from economic progress.
  • To focus on technology upgradation and capacity building for implementation of programmes and initiatives, etc.

Functions:

Performance of NITI:

  • As an action Tank: By collecting fresh and new ideas and sharing them with the government at the Central and State level, it ensures that there is no inactivity in any organisation or institution.
  • Improving innovation: A commendable work has been done by the Atal Innovation Mission (established under NITI Aayog), which has helped in improving the innovation ecosystem in India.
  • Bringing greater responsibility in the system: Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO) has been established by the NITI Aayog, which collects performance data of various Ministries on a real-time basis.
    • These data are then used at the highest policy-making levels to improve performance and establish accountability.
  • Some important initiatives of NITI Aayog: Some of the initiatives like Ayushman Bharat, water conservation measures, approach towards artificial intelligence, have been conceptualised in NITI Aayog and respective Ministries are taking them forward.
    • POSHAAN ABHIYAAN by NITI Aayog is cutting across the silos within the government and helping in reducing malnourished children in India.

NITI Aayog: Promoting Federalism

  • Cooperative Federalism
    • NITI has provided a platform for direct issue-based interaction between States and Central Ministries thereby helping quick resolution of outstanding issues.
    • The NITI Forum for North East has been constituted and tangible sectoral proposals are being implemented by the States in partnership with the North East council.
    • NITI has designed some major initiatives for island development which are being implemented under the overall guidance of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
    • It is also envisaged that like the NITI Forum for the North East, other regional councils of contiguous States could be formed.
      • The first step has been taken by forming the Himalayan States Regional Council and forming a coalition of all thirteen central universities in these states.
  • Competitive Federalism
    • It promotes competitive federalism principally through pushing its sectoral indices which are put out in the public domain.
      • The indices on water, education, health, innovation, export preparedness, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have attracted significant positive attention.
    • It has also introduced a competition element in ‘Aspirational Districts Program’ by focusing on governance improvement on the ground.
      • These districts have shown significant improvement in indicators pertaining to health and nutrition, education etc.
    • Besides, several best practices in governance have emerged from these districts which are now being scaled up and replicated at the block level in some states.

Challenges:

  • The NITI Aayog cannot transform a deeply unequal society into a modern economy that ensures the welfare of all citizens. This is evident in the rising inequality in India.
  • NITI Aayog has no influence over private or public investment.
  • NITI Aayog does not appear to have an impact on long-term policy decisions. For example, the Goods and Services Tax.
  • NITI Aayog frequently provides uncritical support for government-sponsored schemes and programmes. However, it should keep an intellectual distance from the government.

Way ahead:

  • NITI Aayog should concentrate on policy implementation rather than just policy recommendations.
  • It should also be focusing on reforms and informing the government about where it will face consequences for failing to implement its policies and where it is falling short.

 

Polity & Governance

Article
25 Jun 2022

U.S. Supreme Court overturns abortion right

In News:

  • The US Supreme Court took the dramatic step of overturning the landmark 1973 Roe vs Wade ruling.
  • The 1973 Roe vs Wade ruling has been the basis for legal abortions across America for nearly half a century.

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • Major SC judgement of US concerning abortion - Roe v. Wade Ruling (1973), Planned Parenthood v. Casey case, 1992, significance of these judgements
  • News Summary – key highlights of judgement, criticism, Abortion laws in India

Background:                                            

  • In 2018, the Republican-majority legislature of the state of Mississippi banned most abortions after 15 weeks.
    • It was much before foetal viability, and sooner than was allowed by Roe case.
  • This law was challenged in lower court, which in turn struck it down, ruling that it “unequivocally” violated the constitutional rights of women.
  • Finally, the 2018 law reached the Supreme Court. The judgement of which was pronounced recently.

In Focus: Major SC judgement of US concerning abortion

Roe v. Wade Ruling (1973)

  • The case is sometimes referred to simply as “Roe”, the listed name of the 22-year-old plaintiff.
    • Wade was the defendant Henry Wade, the Dallas County (Texas) district attorney at the time.
  • The ruling struck down laws that made abortion illegal in several states, and ruled that abortion would be allowed up to the point of foetal viability.
    • Foetal viability is the time after which a foetus can survive outside the womb.
      • Foetal viability is often seen as the point at which the rights of the woman can be separated from the rights of the unborn foetus.
    • Foetal viability was around 28 weeks (7 months) at the time of the ‘Roe’ judgment.
    • However, experts now agree that advances in medicine have brought the threshold down to 23 or 24 weeks (6 months or a little less).
      • Newer studies show this could be further pegged at 22 weeks.
  • In this case, the Court ruled that the Constitution of the U.S. protects a pregnant woman's liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey case, 1992

  • In this case, the Supreme Court revisited and modified its rulings in Roe v. Wade judgement.
  • The Court reaffirmed that a woman's right to choose to have an abortion is constitutionally protected.
  • However, it rejected Roe's trimester framework in favour of a foetal viability (the time after which a foetus can survive outside the womb) threshold.
  • It also overruled the strict scrutiny criteria for considering abortion restrictions.

Significance of these judgements

  • Strengthened the concept of personal liberty
    • These judgements recognised the concept of personal liberty as enshrined in the Fourteenth Amendment against government interference with intensely personal decisions.
  • Social and ideological clash over the issue of abortion
    • It also resulted in a social and ideological struggle (between Democrats [pro-abortion] and Republicans [conservative, anti-abortion]).
    • This has further polarised the country's already divided society and politics.

News Summary

  • The United States Supreme Court has overturned by a 6-3 majority ‘Roe v. Wade’, the court’s landmark 1973 judgment that made abortion a constitutional right.

Key Highlights:

  • Upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law
    • The court upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks.
      • The Mississippi law allows abortions only when there is a medical emergency or a severe foetal abnormality.
      • It does not have an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
    • Abortion rights — which have been available to women for over two generations — will now be determined by individual States.
  • Constitution makes no reference to abortion
    • The top US court held that the Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision.
    • The Conservative justices held that the Roe decision was wrongly decided because the US constitution makes no specific mention of abortion rights.
      • The Roe decision allowed abortions performed before a foetus would be viable outside the womb — between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Ruling overturned the Casey decision as well
    • The current ruling overturned the Casey decision as well.
    • The SC in a 1992 ruling called Planned Parenthood of South-eastern Pennsylvania vs Casey reaffirmed abortion rights
    • It had prohibited laws imposing an undue burden on abortion access.

Criticism faced by Court

  • Infringes upon the rights of women
    • Many women say this ruling infringes on their rights over their own bodies.
    • As per the experts, decision will turn women into second class citizens.
    • They estimated that 36 million women who live in about 30 states that will be affected by the ruling.
  • Verdict came along ideological lines
    • The verdict came along ideological lines, with the court’s six conservative justices, including five men, voting in favour of the Mississippi abortion law.
    • The three liberal justices (including two women) dissented.

Where does US stand after this verdict?

  • By erasing abortion as a constitutional right, the ruling restored the ability of states to ban it. Now states are free to enact their own laws on this matter.

Abortion rights in major countries of the world

Abortion laws in India

  • Abortions in India is controlled by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) act 1971.
    • Initially, the MTP act said that abortion can be permitted up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
    • Through an amendment in 2021, the ceiling for abortions was raised to 24 weeks.
      • However, this was done only for special categories of pregnant women such as rape or incest survivors, that too, with the approval of two registered doctors.
    • In case of foetal disability, there is no limit to the timeline for abortion.
      • However, this is allowed by a medical board of specialist doctors set up by the governments of states and union territories.
    • In 1994, the PCPNDT (Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques) Act was enacted to prevent misuse of the MTP Act.
Social Issues

Current Affairs
June 25, 2022

ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE
An experimental Alzheimer’s drug – Crenezumab – aimed at slowing or preventing cognitive decline in people at risk of developing the disease early has failed in clinical trials, landing a blow to efforts aimed at finding a treatment to the neurodegenerative disease.
current affairs image

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

  • Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disorder that slowly robs people of their memory and thinking abilities.
  • Worldwide, it is the most common form of dementia or loss of cognitive functioning — thinking, remembering, and reasoning – contributing 60%-70% cases, according to the WHO.
  • Progressive and irreversible, it usually begins with mild memory loss, and as symptoms grow severe, patients lose the ability to perform even simple tasks.
  • The disease was discovered after Dr Alios Alzheimer examined a memory-loss patient’s brain after her death in 1906 and found abnormal clumps (beta-amyloid plaque) and bundles of fibres (neurofibrillary tangles).
  • Pathology of the disease is deposition of an abnormal protein called beta-amyloid in the brain. The plaque and tangles, along with loss of connections between the neurons to transmit messages inside the brain, are key markers of the disease.

What is the India scenario?

  • In India, only 1 in 10 people with dementia receive any diagnosis, treatment or care for the disease, according to the World Alzheimer’s Report, 2021.
  • An increasing prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity is expected to drive up the incidence of dementia in India in the coming decades.
  • According to the Global Burden of Disease study published this year in The Lancet, India could see a 197% jump in dementia, including Alzheimer’s, from 3.84 million cases in 2019 to 11.44 million cases by 2050.
Source : Indian Express
Health

Current Affairs
June 25, 2022

U.S. GUN SAFETY BILL
The United States Senate has passed a gun safety bill, the most significant action against rising gun violence in the country.
current affairs image

About:

  • The bill was passed on June 23, hours after the US Supreme Court ruled that Americans have a constitutional right to carry firearms in public for their safety and self-defence.
  • The bill will now be sent to the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives, where it is likely to sail through, after which it will be sent to US President Joe Biden for his approval.
  • The bill has been called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The bipartisan bill focuses on firearms and improving medical care in the US.
  • The bill seeks to ensure strict background checks for gun buyers, especially minors. The bill will also release funds for educational institutions, to expand their mental health resources and make schools safer.

Recent Killings

  • The bill was passed exactly a month after a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman stormed an elementary school and killed 21 people, including 19 children.
  • The Uvalde incident came days after a racial shooting in a Buffalo supermarket in New York, where 10 black people were fatally shot.
Source : Indian Express
International

Current Affairs
June 25, 2022

ECO-SENSITIVE ZONES
Farmers in Kerala continue to protest across several high ranges of the state against the Supreme Court’s recent order to establish 1-km Eco-Sensitive Zones around all protected areas, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. The widespread unrest is borne out of the fear of farmers losing their livelihood.
current affairs image

About:

  • As per the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016), issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, land within 10 km of the boundaries of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries is to be notified as eco-fragile zones or Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ).
  • While the 10-km rule is implemented as a general principle, the extent of its application can vary. Areas beyond 10-km can also be notified by the Union government as ESZs, if they hold larger ecologically important “sensitive corridors.

Activities allowed and prohibited

  • The ESZs are not meant to hamper the daily activities of people living in the vicinity, but are meant to guard the protected areas and “refine the environment around them”.
  • Guidelines list the activities prohibited in an ESZ, such as commercial mining, saw mills, commercial use of wood, etc., apart from regulated activities like felling of trees.
  • Lastly, there are permitted activities like ongoing agricultural or horticultural practices, rainwater harvesting, organic farming, among others.

Why are Eco-Sensitive Zones created?

  • ESZs are created as “shock absorbers” for the protected areas, to minimize the negative impact on the “fragile ecosystems” by certain human activities taking place nearby.
  • Furthermore, these areas are meant to act as a transition zone from areas requiring higher protection to those requiring lesser protection.
Source : Indian Express
Environment

Current Affairs
June 25, 2022

INDIA-AFGHANISTAN RELATIONS
In a major step towards re-establishing its presence in Afghanistan, India sent a “technical team” of officials to be based in Kabul and reopened its Embassy.
current affairs image

About:

  • India also sent its first consignment of earthquake relief assistance to Afghanistan, where more than 1,000 Afghans have been killed in an earthquake outside the city of Khost. Paktika province in the south-east has been the most affected.
  • The move to reopen the embassy, 10 months after the government shut it down, marks a reversal of the government’s policy on engaging the Taliban.
  • The Indian Embassy will become the 15th mission to be open in Kabul with staff deployed there under the Taliban regime, along with Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, European Union and four Central Asian states.
  • The opening of the embassy is a step towards working more closely with the Taliban regime, particularly as India worries about the impact of terrorist groups, drug trade and migration on the region. 
Source : The Hindu
International
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