News & Editorial Analysis 09 JUNE 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – Global Ocean Census:
The Ocean Census initiative is a new initiative that uses cutting-edge technology including high-resolution imaging, DNA sequencing, and machine learning to find 100,000 new marine species within ten years.
There is a need because only 10% of marine species, or about 2 million, have been formally described, according to scientists.
Multiple expeditions to marine biodiversity hotspots are planned by the Ocean Census, with the first mission currently operating in the Barents Sea. The project aims to expand on earlier initiatives like the Challenger Expeditions and the Census of Marine Life (2000–2010).
Carried out by:
The Nippon Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic organisation in Japan, and the Nekton Foundation, a marine scientific and conservation organisation in the U.K., jointly founded it to find undiscovered marine creatures.
Source à The Hindu
2 – Manual Scavenging:
The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJ&E) reports that just 508 of the country’s 766 districts have proclaimed themselves free of manual scavenging.
Manual scavenging is a common practise in India:
Meaning: Manual scavenging entails cleaning and maintaining septic tanks, sewers, and gutters as well as manually disposing of human waste from dry latrines, public roadways, and dry latrines.
The frequency in India: As of 2018, there were up to 58,000 persons employed as manual scavengers. Since 1993, 941 people have perished in accidents related to risky septic tank and sewer cleaning.
People from lower castes and Dalits are most likely to engage in the practise, which is said to be the worst remaining example of untouchability.
Abstraction of manual scavenging:
The 2013 Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act’s key characteristics are:
Manual scavenging is forbidden.
By encompassing all types of physical removal of human excreta, it expanded the definition of manual scavengers.
The organisation of training programmes (with a stipend of Rs. 3,000) and the provision of scholarships for their offspring place a strong emphasis on rehabilitation of the manual scavengers.
It makes manual scavenging a cognizable offence that is not subject to bail.
It makes it mandatory for firms to give employees safety equipment.
The manual scavengers’ rehabilitation programme: Under this, a one-time cash payment of 40,000 apiece has been made to the 58,000 recognised sewage workers.
22,000 of them have also been associated with skill-training courses.
NAMASTE scheme: To fully automate sewage work. The NAMASTE programme and the programme for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers have now been combined.
Lack of funding: The Union Budget for 2023–24 allocated just 100 crores for the NAMASTE programme and none for the rehabilitation programme.
Less than half of the sewage workers who have been identified are enrolled in programmes for skill development.
Manual scavenging is still done in India despite all efforts.
All local organisations are required to list and describe every septic tank/sewer worker in their respective regions.
Give them access to safety gear and occupational training.
Enrol them in the Ayushman Bharat health insurance programme.
The startup Genrobotics created the Bandicoot Robot as part of the Make in India and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan initiatives. It is the first robotic scavenger in the world.
Kerala became the first state in the nation to clean every commissioned manhole with robotic technology (Bandicoot).
Source à The Hindu
3 – Production of Pulses and Edible Oil in India:
India has relatively attained atma nirbharta (self-reliance) in pulses compared to edible oil.
India’s imports of edible oil have increased significantly between 2013–14 and 2022–23, from 8 mt to 16 mt (or from $7 to 21 billion in value terms).
Government initiatives to boost output of edible oil:
Oilseeds and Oil Palm National Food Security Mission (NFSM-OS and OP): From 2018–19, the government has been putting this centrally-sponsored programme into action to boost the nation’s output and productivity of oilseeds.
Oil Palm National Mission on Edible Oils [NMEO (OP)]
Concerns: The productivity (yield) difference between farmers’ practises and newly developed technologies ranged from 21% in sesame to 149% in sunflower.
India is the world’s top producer of pulses (25 percent of total output), consumer of pulses (27 percent of total consumption), and importer of pulses (14 percent).
Although both the Kharif and Rabi seasons are used to cultivate pulses, the Rabi season accounts for more than 60% of the total yield.
Data on imports: India’s pulse imports decreased in volume from 6.61 mt in 2016–17 to 2.52 mt in 2022–23.
Major pulses that India imports, broken down:
Reasons for the decrease in imports of pulses:
An rise in domestic production: India’s output of pulses climbed from 19 mt in 2013–14 to 28 mt in 2022–23, resulting in a self-sufficiency ratio of over 90% for pulses and 40% for edible oils.
Chickpea (chana) imports have shown sharp declines: Two significant government actions contributed to the increase in chana production. The first is the imposition of a 60% import charge on chana starting in March 2018.
The second intervention has been the use of minimum support prices (MSP) in government procurement.
These encouraged Indian farmers to cover more ground with the rabi (winter-spring) crop of pulses.
The issue is arhar/tur/pigeon pea. In 2022–2023, imports of arhar from Mozambique, Myanmar, Tanzania, Malawi, and Sudan reached a record-high 0.9 mt.
The effects of imports The inconsistent production of the majority of non-chana pulses has not resulted in a considerable decrease in overall import numbers. Inflation could emerge as a result, raising El Nino concerns.
To lessen reliance on imports, the government must solve concerns with micro-irrigation, high-quality seeds, marketing infrastructure, and government policy.
Source à The Hindu
4 – Phage Therapy:
Biotechnology related issues
According to a University of Exeter study, people are aware of and supportive of the use of phage treatment, or bacteria-killing viruses, as an alternative to antibiotics.
Phage therapy: what is it?
Phage therapy is a therapeutic strategy that makes use of bacteriophages, viruses that attack and eradicate particular bacteria. It entails employing these viruses as an alternative to antibiotics to target and eradicate bacterial illnesses.
How do they work?
The possibility of antibiotic resistance may be reduced by phages’ highly targeted action, which only targets the particular bacteria they are designed to kill. Phage therapy is being investigated as a potential medical research path for treating illnesses that are resistant to antibiotics.
How do Bacteriophages work?
Bacteriophages are viruses that replicate by infecting bacteria and using them as hosts. They can attack various bacterial species and are extremely varied. Frederick Willian Twort (Great Britain) and Felix d’Herelle (France) made the discovery in 1915 and 1917, respectively.
Antibiotic Resistance: What Is It?
The ability of bacteria or other microorganisms to withstand antibiotic effects renders them ineffective for treating infections brought on by these resistant germs. This condition is referred to as antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance will cause 10 million people each year to pass away from drug-resistant illnesses by the year 2050.
Source à The Hindu
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
TRANSITION TO LOW CARBON CITY:
A staggering 29 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide were released into the sky by cities in 2020. Low-carbon cities are essential to reducing the effects of climate change because of the considerable environmental impact that cities have.
A low-carbon city, also known as a decarbonized city, is one that relies on energy sources that emit little or no greenhouse gases (GHGs).
Since the middle of the 20th century, GHG emissions brought on by human activity have been the primary source of observable climate change.
We must incorporate mitigation and adaptation solutions across numerous sectors if we want to transition to low-carbon or even net-zero cities. This method, known as the “sector-coupling approach,” is essential to decarbonizing metropolitan systems.
Transitions in the energy system:
Urban carbon dioxide emissions might be reduced by about 74% with an energy system transformation.
We have also overcome the financial and technological barriers to implementing low-carbon solutions thanks to quick developments in clean energy and related technologies as well as plummeting prices.
Both the supply and demand sides must accomplish the transition.
The use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology as well as the phase-out of fossil fuels and an increase in the proportion of renewable energy sources in the energy mix are supply-side mitigation strategies.
Utilising the ‘avoid, shift, improve’ concept would mean lowering the demand for resources and energy and replacing them with renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels.
Second, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technology must be used to eliminate residual emissions in the energy industry.
Indeed, we have the necessary tools and knowledge to implement energy transitions to create net-zero urban systems.
Depending on a city’s features, different mitigation and low-carbon adaptation measures are used.
This is an important factor to take into account when developing socially and environmentally just energy transition policies. A city’s spatial form, land-use pattern, level of development, and level of urbanisation are among these factors.
An existing city can upgrade and repurpose its infrastructure to improve energy efficiency and encourage both active transportation like walking and bicycling as well as public transportation.
In fact, electrifying public transport and establishing district cooling and heating networks based on renewable energy sources can both dramatically reduce energy demand in walkable cities created for people.
A rapidly expanding city can attempt to co-locate housing and employment by designing the city in a way that brings workplaces closer to residential communities, so lowering the need for transportation energy.
With the help of energy-efficient services, infrastructure, and an urban design that prioritises the needs of its residents, new and rising cities have the greatest potential to cut emissions.
They can also enforce building regulations that demand net-zero energy usage, modify already-existing structures, and gradually transition to low-emission building materials.
Merely an energy transition:
Energy systems are connected to livelihoods, local economic growth, and the socioeconomic well-being of people working in many industries both directly and indirectly.
Therefore, a one-size-fits-all strategy is unlikely to guarantee a transition that is both socially and environmentally just.
Generally speaking, the energy supply must be balanced against the rapidly rising energy demand (caused, for example, by urbanisation), the requirement for energy security, and exports.
Land expropriation associated to large-scale renewable energy projects, the spatial concentration of poverty, the marginalisation of particular communities, gendered effects, and the dependence on coal for subsistence are further justice-related issues.
A commitment to social equity and justice is essentially what it means to transition to low-carbon cities. Because of this, we need to take into account the complicated, diverse problems that exist in many situations and places and create a comprehensive strategy that pays attention to a range of viewpoints and experiences.
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The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
OUR COLLECTIVE PRIDE:
Within the various societies around the world, there is diversity. Regarding India, it has been one of the most closely followed queer rights cases in Indian history.
While, it’s crucial to keep in mind other crucial occasions that contribute significantly to social advancement. It is an opportunity to evaluate the achievements and missed chances, and to make plans for a more equitable and inclusive future.
Important rulings and occasions that promote inclusivity in society:
Every year, the month of June is set aside to honour and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride.
One significant development was the Supreme Court’s decision to include transgender people, including trans masculine and non-binary people, in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act’s definition of women.
They can now obtain abortion services as a legal right. This was a legal standard given the increasingly stringent abortion laws in nations like the US.
The supreme court also adopted a number of measures to make the legal system inclusive of queers.
It included gay non-binary attorneys to its Gender Sensitization and Internal Complaints Committee. It produced a module to educate the judiciary on the LGBTQIA+ community, and other modest initiatives, like building accessible restrooms within the courthouse, were also greatly appreciated.
Increasing Ayushman Bharat’s scope:
The TG Plus card, which gives transgender people access to health and gender-affirming therapies, broadened the scope of Ayushman Bharat to encompass the health needs of transgender people.
Health insurance providers are now more frequently providing spouse benefits to same-sex couples. Making medical courses queer-inclusive has also advanced.
The political representation of transgender people is actively pursued. The first transgender municipal councillor in Delhi is Bobi Kinnar, who won a seat from Sultanpuri on the AAP ticket.
Another transgender person, Sonu Kinnar, also made history when he was elected to lead the Nagar Palika Panchayat in Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh.
The Transgender Persons Act mandated gender transition by medical or surgical means. The NALSA decision also made it possible for transgender people to change their name and gender in records without the need for medical attention, however regulations are frequently not put into practise in India.
A transgender man who had undergone surgery sued his company in a case before the Rajasthan High Court because they would not change his name and gender in their records. In addition to reiterating everyone’s freedom to express and affirm their designated gender, the court’s ruling went beyond the Transgender Act by directing the state government to establish district-level grievance redressal systems.
Accessing public settings is frequently challenging for transgender people. The recent move by the Karnataka government to provide free bus travel for transgender individuals was greatly needed. It must now pay particular attention to transgender people’s safety within the state.
The way forward: The subsequent actions that must be taken:
While we rejoice in these accomplishments, we must also be aware of the community’s unmet needs. In India, there is still no national legislation outlawing traumatising, inhumane, and unscientific conversion therapy.
Surgery to sex-normalize children who are intersex is unregulated. Sincere consideration and action are required to address the transgender community’s long-standing demand for horizontal reservations.
Despite the laws being in place for more than two years, numerous parts of the Transgender Persons Act have yet to be implemented. These provisions include creating transgender welfare boards, notifying rules, transgender protection cells, etc.
The SMILE programme for transgender individuals and the establishment of a few shelter homes known as Garima Grehs by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment have drawn criticism for only providing financing to the existing shelters.
The queer community takes pleasure in existing and surviving despite all odds, but society as a whole needs to make sure that every person has access to all of their rights. Then and only then can our nation’s pride be fully celebrated.
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