CURRENT AFFAIRS


16th Oct, 2020

India’s Public Debt Ratio projected to increase

As per the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India’s public debt ratio is projected to increase by 17% to almost 90% because of an increase in public spending due to Covid-19.

The ratio is projected to stabilise in 2021. 

It will slowly decline up to the end of the projection period, in 2025. 

The pattern of public debt in India is similar to the pattern around the world. 

This debt-to-GDP ratio is used to compare a country’s public debt to its GDP. 

It is often expressed as a percentage. 

By comparing what a country owes (debt) with what it produces (GDP), the debt-to-GDP ratio

indicates a particular country’s ability to pay back its debts. 

A country with a high debt-to-GDP ratio finds it difficult to pay off public debts.


Pakistan gets re-elected to the UNHRC

Recently Pakistan was re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Pakistan is currently serving on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) since 1st January, 2018. 

With its re-election, Pakistan will continue as a member for another three-year term starting from 1st January, 2021.

This is the fifth time that Pakistan has been elected to the UNHRC.

A total of 15 countries were elected to the 47-nation council. 

Russia and Cuba were elected unopposed. 

Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Nepal and China were elected from the Asia-Pacific region.

Pakistan has been re-elected despite opposition from activist groups over its low human rights records. With a number of countries with questionable rights records being elected, the current system of entry to UNHRC is in serious need of reform.

Except for the Asia-Pacific contest, the election of 15 members was decided in advance because all the other regional groups had unopposed states.

However, there is a silver lining to repressive countries being elected to the council. It is far more difficult for them to hide their own human rights abuses because of their position as the supposed guardian of human rights makes 

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

The Council was created through the resolution 60/251. 

Established in: 2006.

Headquarter: Geneva, Switzerland

Aim:

(1) To Promote and protect human rights around the globe;

(2) To investigate alleged human rights violations.

Features: The UNHRC has 47 members elected for three-year terms on a regional group basis from 5 groups.

Membership: To become a member, a country must receive the votes of at least 96 of the 191 states of the UN General Assembly (an absolute majority).

Members are elected directly by secret ballot by the majority of the UN General Assembly.

Five regional groups for membership: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

The members are elected for a period of three years, with a maximum of two consecutive terms.

Sessions: The UNHRC holds regular sessions three times a year.


DAY-NRLM Special Package for J&K and Ladakh

Recently, the Union Cabinet approved a special package worth Rs. 520 crore in the Union Territories (UTs) of J&K and Ladakh for a period of five years under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM).

The Centre aims to universalise all centrally sponsored beneficiary-oriented schemes in J&K and Ladakh in a time-bound manner.

The package has been approved for a period of five years till 2023-24. 

It has been decided to ensure funding on a demand-driven basis without linking allocation with poverty ratio during the extended period. 

Around two-third rural women from the UTs will be covered and 10.58 lakh women will get the benefit from the special package.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission

It is a centrally sponsored programme,

Ministry: Ministry of Rural Development

Aim:

(1) To eliminate rural poverty through the promotion of multiple livelihoods and improved access to financial services for the rural poor households across the country;

(2) To reach out to all rural poor households and impact their livelihoods.

It involves working with community institutions through community professionals. 

It is implemented in a Mission mode by special purpose vehicles. 

The government plans to take the scheme to 10 crore women.


Tur dal to be released from Buffer Stocks

The Union government plans to release 40,000 tonnes of tur dal from its buffer stock into the retail market in small lots, in order to cool down the recent hike in pulses prices.

Major consuming centres (Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu) of urad and tur dal have seen a 20% hike in prices recently. 

At an all-India level, the average retail prices of urad have shot up almost 40% in comparison to 2019, while the average retail prices of tur dal have increased by almost 24%.

The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) has introduced retail intervention. 

It is a mechanism to use the buffer stock of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED).

For such retail intervention, offer prices are fixed on the basis of MSP itself.

The DoCA has also decided to release 40,000 metric tonnes of tur from the buffer stock in Open Market Sale (OMS) Scheme in small lots so that the releases may reach the retail market sooner and help in cooling off rising prices.

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India

Registered under: Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002.

Set up in: 1958 

Objective: To promote cooperative marketing of agricultural produce to benefit the farmers.

Agricultural farmers are the members of the General Body of NAFED, who participate in the decision-making process.

Minimum Support Price

It is the rate at which the government buys grains from farmers.

Objective: To counter the price volatility of agricultural commodities due to the factors like variations in the supply, lack of market integration and information asymmetry.

It is fixed on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).


Parasitic Infections found in One-Horned Rhinoceros

Recently, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) India has published report – ‘Prevalence of Endoparasitic Infections in Free-Ranging Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros’ for Assam and West Bengal.

The report highlights the natural causes due to which these rhinos die along with poaching. These natural causes have not been studied in great detail yet.

Since 2017, the Rhino Task Force of Assam and WWF India have been undertaking steps to study pathogens found in fresh rhino dung samples in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

According to the researchers, habitat degradation can lead to an increased exposure to pathogens

From the samples from Assam and West Bengal, the study concluded that parasites from four genera were present in an estimated 68% of India’s rhino population.

The overall prevalence of endoparasites was 58.57% in Assam and 88.46% in West Bengal. 

Results from UP are pending.

Endoparasites are parasites that live in the tissues and organs of their hosts, such as tapeworms, flukes, and protozoans of vertebrates.

There are three species of rhino in Asia — Greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran.

Two greatest threats: Poaching for the horns and habitat loss 

The five rhino range nations: India, Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia.

These Nations have signed a declaration ‘The New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019’ for the conservation and protection of the species.

Protection Status

IUCN Red List

  • Javan and Sumatran Rhino: Critically endangered  
  • Greater one-horned rhino:  vulnerable

All three listed under Appendix I (CITES).

Greater one-horned rhino: Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

In India, rhinos are mainly found in Kaziranga National Park (NP), Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS), Orang NP and Manas NP in Assam, Jaldapara NP and Gorumara NP in West Bengal and Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in UP.

Conservation Efforts by India

Recently, the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has begun a project to create DNA profiles of all rhinos in the country.

National Rhino Conservation Strategy: It was launched in 2019 to conserve the greater one-horned rhinoceros.

Indian Rhino Vision 2020: It was launched in 2005. Aim: To attain a wild population of at least 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos spread over seven protected areas in the Indian state of Assam by the year 2020.


Madhuca Diplostemon

Recently, Madhuca diplostemon tree has been rediscovered after a gap of more than 180 years from a sacred grove in Kollam district, Kerala.

The tree is locally known as Kavilippa in Malayalam.

It was identified by the scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) at Palode, Kerala.

The threatened species of the Western Ghats was believed to be extinct.

IUCN has included it in the endangered species list. 

The JNTBGRI is planning to undertake the ex-situ conservation of this species through the institute’s species recovery programme.


 






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