CURRENT AFFAIRS


3rd Oct, 2020

India participates in PMNCH Accountability Breakfast

The Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare participated in the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) ‘Accountability Breakfast’ to discuss the issues of maternal and child health.

The event was co-hosted by the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) and Every Woman Every Child (EWEC).

Theme of the Event: Protecting gains in Reproductive, Maternal and Child Health from the Covid pandemic.

PMNCH

It is a global health partnership founded in 2005.

It is hosted at the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Accountability Breakfast aims to convert talk into action for the health and rights of women, children and adolescents.

Every Woman Every Child (EWEC) Movement

Launched by: United Nations during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010.

It is a global movement that mobilizes and intensifies international and national action by governments, the private sector, and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women, children, and adolescents around the world.


ESG Funds Becoming Popular in India

The ESG funds are increasingly becoming popular in the mutual fund industry in India.

ESG Fund

ESG is a combination of three words – Environment, Social and Governance.

It is a kind of mutual fund. 

Its investing is used synonymously with sustainable investing or socially responsible investing.

The ESG fund focuses on companies with environment-friendly practices, ethical business practices and an employee-friendly record while other funds don’t.

The fund is regulated by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

As ESG funds gain momentum in India, companies will be forced to follow better governance, ethical practices, environment-friendly measures and social responsibility.

The first ESG mutual fund was launched by the State Bank of India – SBI Magnum Equity ESG Fund.


Wetlands being identified in Rajasthan to protect biodiversity

The wetlands, which play an important role in the storage of sediment and nutrients, are being identified in Rajasthan for ensuring their utilisation and enabling the local authorities to maintain them.

While six wetlands are already identified in the State, 52 more have been earmarked for time-bound development.

Wetlands would be strengthened for increasing vegetation of aquatic plants and protecting biodiversity.

No waste would be allowed to be dumped at the wetlands and effective steps would be taken for water conservation

Strict action would be taken against those running submersible pump sets for illegal salt mining in the Sambhar Lake.

The State Government’s Directorate of Environment and Climate Change will function as the secretariat of the State Wetland Authority.

The fresh and saline lakes supporting unique ecosystems in the State would be protected with the strict implementation of the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2019

Wetlands

They are highly productive ecosystems that provide the world with nearly two-thirds of its fish harvest.

They play an integral role in the ecology of the watershed. 

They  provide an ideal environment for organisms that form the base of the food web and feed many species of aquatic animals.

They help in carbon sequestration (removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).

They provide habitat for animals and plants and support plants and animals that are found nowhere else.

They are also an important source of ground water recharge.

Threats to Wetlands

Urbanization

Agriculture: Construction of a large number of reservoirs, canals and dams have altered the hydrology of the associated wetlands.

Pollution: Due to mercury from industrial sources 

Climate Change: Increased air temperature; increased frequency of storms, droughts, and floods; increased sea level rise 

Dredging and sand mining: Dredging of streams lowers the surrounding water table and dries up adjacent wetlands.

Exotic Species: Exotic introduced plant species such as water hyacinth and salvinia clog waterways and compete with native vegetation.


Memorandum signed under Poshan Abhiyaan

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of AYUSH and Ministry of Women and Child Development for controlling Malnutrition as a part of POSHAN Abhiyaan.

The specific areas identified under the MoU for co-operation include:

(1) Integration of AYUSH into POSHAN Abhiyaan;

(2) Control of malnutrition through the principles and practices of Ayurveda, Yoga and other Ayush systems.

The Anganwadi worker who is providing the Ayurveda nutrition message to the community at ground level may be designated as ‘DHATRI’ – Dedicated Health Activist to Replenish the Innutrition.

The two Ministries have also decided to launch the hashtag #Ayush4Anganwadi for generating awareness about the activities on the digital media.

POSHAN Abhiyaan

It is Government of India’s flagship programme

Ministry: Ministry of Women & Child Development 

Objective: To improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.


Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 passed

Lok Sabha has passed the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which decriminalizes a number of technical and filing-related corporate offences.

It allows direct listing of Indian companies on foreign stock exchanges.

It revokes the criminal provisions added to the Companies Act for violations of provisions of corporate social responsibility rules.

48 sections of the Companies Act, 2013 will be amended to decriminalize various offences. 

However, there will be no relaxation for serious offences, including fraud, deceit and those that cause injury to the public.

There will also be a new chapter on producer organization which will be helpful for farmer producer organizations (FPOs) in the country.

17 provisions in the Companies Act, 2013, have also been amended which paves way for easy and user friendly fulfillment of statutory compliances.


Arsenic-affected Habitations Increased

According to data shared in the Parliament, the number of arsenic-affected habitations in India has increased by 145% in the last five years (2015-20).

India had 1,800 arsenic-affected habitations in 2015. 

This increased to 4,421 habitations as of September 2020.

Most of the arsenic-affected habitations lie in the Ganga and Brahmaputra alluvial plains –

Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh (UP).

Assam had the highest share of such habitations (1,853), followed by West Bengal (1,383).

However, the number of fluoride affected habitations has significantly come down.

Arsenic Poisoning

It is naturally present at high levels in the earth’s crust and groundwater in a number of countries. 

It is highly toxic in its inorganic form.

Contaminated water used for drinking, food preparation and irrigation of food crops poses the

greatest threat to public health from arsenic.

Long-term exposure to arsenic can cause cancer, skin disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

In early childhood exposure, it may cause reduced cognitive development and increased deaths in young adults.

According to the WHO’s guidelines for drinking water quality (2011), the permissible limit of Arsenic in groundwater is 0.01 mg per litre.

Fluoride Toxicity

Excessive fluoride intake usually occurs through the consumption of groundwater naturally rich in fluoride, particularly in warm climates.

Such exposure may lead to dental fluorosis (tooth decay) or crippling skeletal fluorosis.

A new Sub-programme under National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) – National Water Quality Sub-Mission (NWQSM) was started by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in 2017 to address the urgent need for providing clean drinking water in about 28,000 Arsenic & Fluoride affected habitations.


Modern Grand Solar Minimum

The magnitude of the Sun’s solar activity is decreasing. 

This period of decreased solar activity is known as the Modern Grand Solar Minimum that will last from 2020 to 2053.

This is done by observing the number of Sunspots at any given time. 

The number of sunspots is directly proportional to solar activity. 

More Sunspots mean more solar activity.

The last time such an event occurred was during the Maunder Minimum, from 1645 CE to 1710 CE.

Impact

The surface temperatures on Earth may go down during the Modern Grand Solar Minimum due to a 70% reduction in solar magnetic activity.

Variations in solar irradiance will lead to heating of the upper layer of the Earth’s atmosphere and influences the transport of solar energy towards the planet’s surface.

Decreased solar activity has complex impacts on the abundance of ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere.

It also affects the climatic cycles of Earth such as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).


Lantana

It is an invasive species which was introduced in tropical regions as an ornamental plant.

It is generally deleterious to biodiversity.

It is an agricultural weed.

It was recently in news as a special drive to uproot its bushes in the Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary was carried out 

It is native to Central and South America.


Sajjangarh Wildlife Sanctuary

Location: Udaipur, Rajasthan

It is a part of Sajjangarh Palace built in 1884.

Flora and Fauna: Animals like chitals, panthers, hares, blue bulls (Nilgais), jackals, wild boars, hyenas, and sambhar.

It is famous for Long-billed vulture, commonly known as the Indian vulture: IUCN Red List

Status: Critically Endangered; CITES Status: Appendix II; Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 Status: Schedule I

Invasive Species

An invasive species is an organism that is not indigenous, or native, to a particular area and causes harm.

They are capable of causing extinctions of native plants and animals, reducing biodiversity, competing with native organisms for limited resources, and altering habitats.

They can be introduced to an area by ship ballast water, accidental release, and most often, by humans.

Exercise Bongosagar

The second edition of Indian Navy (IN) – Bangladesh Navy (BN) Bilateral Exercise Bongosagar is scheduled to commence in Northern Bay of Bengal on 03 October 2020.

Aim: To develop interoperability and joint operational skills through conduct of a wide spectrum of maritime exercises and operations.

Ships from both navies will participate in surface warfare drills, seamanship evolutions and helicopter operations.

This exercise will be followed by the 3rd edition of IN – BN Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT) wherein IN and BN units will undertake joint patrolling along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

Conduct of CORPATs has strengthened understanding between both the navies and instituted measures to stop conduct of unlawful activities.


 






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