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April 2, 2019
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01 April Current Affairs

Community Radio Stations and SVEEP

In News:

In a first of its kind initiative, the Election Commission of India has reached out to over 150 Community Radio stations from across the country to help educate and inform the voters.

Details:

Community radio is a type of radio service that caters to the interests of a certain area, broadcasting content that is popular to a local audience.

Community radio is confined to a small geographical area. It serves a community which uses common resources for livelihood, has common development issues and concerns, which are relatively localized, nevertheless connected to national and regional development goals.

Today, there are more than 180 community radio stations across India, broadcasting in languages like Bundelkhandi, Garhwali, Awadhi and Santhali — tongues that typically find little or no space on television.

Challenges to the Community Radio:

Lack of journalistic and technical skills and thus a consistent demand for training.

Community Radio derives its strength and popularity from community participation. In practise participation is harder than it seems, because it is labour intensive, requires the right attitude, skills and mobile equipment.

Without proper management skills, as well as some knowledge of financial management and income generation, it is very hard for Community Radio to survive without donor funding.

Community Radio is by definition relatively small and often situated in locations where basic services, like a constant supply of electricity, are lacking. Due to these conditions equipment suffers and needs to be vigorously maintained and/or regularly replaced.

Absence of a clear regulatory framework in which Community Radio operates.

Eligibility to apply for a Community Radio Station:

As per the 2006 policy of the Government, an organisation desirous of operating a Community Radio Station (CRS) must be able to satisfy and adhere to the following principles:

It should be explicitly constituted as a ‘non-profit’ organisation and should have a proven record of at least three years of service to the local community.

The Community Radio Station should serve a specific well-defined local community.

The ownership and management structure should be such that it reflects the community which it serves.

It should only broadcast programmes that cater to the educational, developmental, social and cultural needs of the community.

The organization must be a Legal Entitye. it should be registered (under the registration of Societies Act or any other such act relevant to the purpose).

Regarding the content, the two important provisions made are as follows:

At least 50% of content shall be generated with the participation of the local community, for which the station has been set up.

Programmes should preferably be in the local language and dialect(s).

The CRS license thus given by the government entitled them to operate a 100-watt (Effective Radiated Power) radio station, with a coverage area of approximately a 12-km radius. A maximum antenna height of 30 meters is allowed.

What is Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP)?

SVEEP is a programme of multi interventions through different modes and media designed to educate citizens, electors and voters about the electoral process in order to increase their awareness and participation in the electoral processes.

SVEEP is designed according to the socio-economic, cultural and demographic profile of the state as well as the history of electoral participation in previous rounds of elections and learning thereof.

‘Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism’ (CCIT)

In News:

In the wake of growing threats and acts of terrorism across the world, India and Bolivia have called for an early finalisation of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).

Details:

The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism is a proposed treaty which intends to criminalize all forms of international terrorism and deny terrorists, their financiers and supporters access to funds, arms, and safe havens. It is a draft proposed by India in 1996 that is yet to be adopted by the UNGA.

What does it call for?

Universal definition of terrorism: no good terrorist or bad terrorist.

Ban on all groups regardless of country of operation, cut off access to funds and safe havens.

Prosecution of all groups including cross border groups.

Amending domestic laws to make cross-border terror an extraditable offence.

It also addresses, among other things, the issue of Pakistan’s alleged support for cross-border terrorism in south Asia.

Concerns expressed by various countries:

US + allies: concerns over definition of terrorism, including acts by US soldiers in international interventions without UN mandate.

Latin American countries: concerns over international humanitarian laws being ignored.

There are also concerns that convention will be used to target Pakistan and restrict rights of self-determination groups in Palestine, Kashmir etc.

International Solar Alliance

In News:

Bolivia has joined the International Solar Alliance by signing the framework agreement on International Solar Alliance.

Background:

The agreement of the International Solar Alliance was open for signature during the COP22 at Marrakech on November 15, 2016. The signatories of the agreement include India, France, Australia, UAE, UK, Japan amongst others.

About ISA:

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 122 countries initiated by India, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, now extended to all members of UN.

The Paris Declaration establishes ISA as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries.

Objectives: The ISA’s major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.

As an action-oriented organisation, the ISA brings together countries with rich solar potential to aggregate global demand, thereby reducing prices through bulk purchase, facilitating the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, and promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity building.

When the ISA Framework Agreement entered into force on December 6th, 2017, ISA formally became a de-jure treaty based International Intergovernmental Organization, headquartered at Gurugram, India.

Article 370

In News:

The constitutional relationship between J&K and the Indian Union has been the subject of numerous discussions in recent times. Recently, Jammu and Kashmir, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said that the relationship between the Union and the State would be over if Article 370 of the Constitution is revoked.

Details:

Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is a ‘temporary provision’ which grants special autonomous status to Jammu & Kashmir.

Under Part XXI of the Constitution of India, which deals with “Temporary, Transitional and Special provisions”, the state of Jammu & Kashmir has been accorded special status under Article 370.

All the provisions of the Constitution which are applicable to other states are not applicable to J&K.

Important provisions under the article:

According to this article, except for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, Parliament needs the state government’s concurrence for applying all other laws. Thus the state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians.

Indian citizens from other states cannot purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir.

Under Article 370, the Centre has no power to declare financial emergency under Article 360 in the state. It can declare emergency in the state only in case of war or external aggression. The Union government can therefore not declare emergency on grounds of internal disturbance or imminent danger unless it is made at the request or with the concurrence of the state government.

Under Article 370, the Indian Parliament cannot increase or reduce the borders of the state.

The Jurisdiction of the Parliament of India in relation to Jammu and Kashmir is confined to the matters enumerated in the Union List, and also the concurrent list. There is no State list for the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

At the same time, while in relation to the other States, the residuary power of legislation belongs to Parliament, in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the residuary powers belong to the Legislature of the State, except certain matters to which Parliament has exclusive powers such as preventing the activities relating to cession or secession, or disrupting the sovereignty or integrity of India.

The power to make laws related to preventive detention in Jammu and Kashmir belong to the Legislature of J & K and not the Indian Parliament. Thus, no preventive detention law made in India extends to Jammu & Kashmir.

Part IV (Directive Principles of the State Policy) and Part IVA (Fundamental Duties) of the Constitution are not applicable to J&K.

How should the centre counter the growing unrest in the region?

Focus on investing in J&K’s infrastructure.

Absence of an effective information and communication plan has hobbled the government’s ability to respond even when it is on the moral high ground. This must be immediately corrected.

Standard operating procedures must require the use of lethal force only when there is an imminent threat to life and property, force should be used proportionately and not as a punitive measure.

What is needed at the moment is the deployment of new socio-cultural resources, and a new operational culture to wind down the militancy without alienating more locals who could either join or influence their relatives and friends to join various terrorist organisations.

Lethal force should be the last resort, used only when lives are threatened. Promptly investigating allegations of abuses and prosecuting those responsible is key to resolving this mess.

Externally, wide-ranging peace talks between India and Pakistan, the Indian administration and ‘azaadi’ groups is needed and internally, peace-building on the ground by multiple stakeholders involved is necessary.

Source: The Hindu

Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)

In News:

The move by the United States (U.S.) to terminate India’s designation as beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme because it no longer complied with the statutory eligibility criteria, is likely to affect plastic exports from India.

Details:

Some of the product segments which may face a decline in exports to U.S. due to withdrawal of GSP concessions include plastics raw materials, consumer and houseware items and polyester films.

Recent developments:

Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump decided to rescind the benefits Indian exports enjoy under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme.

The trigger for the latest downturn in trade ties was India’s new rules on e-commerce that restrict the way Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart-backed Flipkart do business in a rapidly growing online market set to touch $200 billion by 2027.

That, coming on top of a drive to force global card payments companies such as Mastercard and Visa to move their data to India and the imposition of higher tariffs on electronic products and smartphones, left a broader trade package the two sides were working on through last year in tatters.

Implications:

With this, India could lose a vital U.S. trade concession, under which it enjoys zero tariffs on $5.6 billion of exports to the United States.

Generalised System of Preferences (GSP):

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories.

What is the objective of GSP?

The objective of GSP was to give development support to poor countries by promoting exports from them into the developed countries. GSP promotes sustainable development in beneficiary countries by helping these countries to increase and diversify their trade with the United States.

Benefits of GSP:

Indian exporters benefit indirectly – through the benefit that accrues to the importer by way of reduced tariff or duty free entry of eligible Indian products

Reduction or removal of import duty on an Indian product makes it more competitive to the importer – other things (e.g. quality) being equal.

This tariff preference helps new exporters to penetrate a market and established exporters to increase their market share and to improve upon the profit margins, in the donor country.

What is the difference between GSP and the usual trade arrangement under WTO?

Under the normal trade laws, the WTO members must give equal preferences to trade partners. There should not be any discrimination between countries. This trade rule under the WTO is called the Most Favored Nation (MFN) clause.

The MFN instructs non-discrimination that any favorable treatment to a particular country. At the same time, the WTO allows members to give special and differential treatment to from developing countries (like zero tariff imports). This is an exemption for MFN. The MSP given by developed countries including the US is an exception to MFN.

What is the impact of GSP withdrawal on India?

India exports nearly 50 products of the 94 products on which GSP benefits are stopped. The GSP removal will leave a reasonable impact on India as the country enjoyed preferential tariff on exports worth of nearly $ 5. 6 billion under the GSP route out of the total exports of $48 bn in 2017-18.

Removal of GSP indicate a tough trade position by the US; especially for countries like India who benefited much from the scheme. India is the 11th largest trade surplus country for the US and India enjoyed an annual trade surplus of $ 21 bn in 2017-18.

Source: The Hindu

Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA)

In News:

EPCA comes out with parking management plan for Delhi. In report, agency flags free parking on public land, multiplicity of agencies to be key cause of congestion and parking menace.

Some of the key recommendations listed in the report are:

Implementing agencies are unanimous that residential parking will have to be regulated and managed.

Parking spill over from residential buildings will require management.

Multiplicity of responsibility is at the core of the problems of governance in the city and parking regulations must not add to this.

Pricing for residential parking should be determined jointly by the local agency and RWA/shop-keepers association but it must be based on the principle of charging differential and higher rates for additional cars.

The local parking plan must ensure that there is provision for movement of emergency vehicles and green areas, parks and footpaths may not be allowed to be used for parking.

The Delhi Police may be directed to greatly improve enforcement against illegal and unauthorised parking through state-of-the art equipment, including cameras and automated challans.

About Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA):

EPCA was constituted with the objective of ‘protecting and improving’ the quality of the environment and ‘controlling environmental pollution’ in the National Capital Region. The EPCA also assists the apex court in various environment-related matters in the region.

EPCA is Supreme Court mandated body tasked with taking various measures to tackle air pollution in the National Capital Region. It was notified in 1998 by Environment Ministry under Environment Protection Act, 1986.

Composition:

Besides the chairman, the EPCA has 14 members, some of whom are the environment secretary of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), chairperson of the New Delhi Municipal Council, transport commissioner of the NCT, the commissioners of various municipal corporations of Delhi and professors at IIT Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Functions:

To protect and improve quality of environment and prevent and control environmental pollution in National Capital Region.

To enforce Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in NCR as per the pollution levels.

Source: Down to Earth

El Niño

In News:

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has finally declared that weak El Nino conditions are prevalent in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Concerns for India:

In India, there is a relationship between El Nino events and hotter than usual summers along with a decrease in rainfall during the monsoon. Most of the time, these events have also led to drought conditions. The weak El Nino might have an effect on the onset and intensity of monsoon this year, an update on which is expected soon from the government of India.

In the 135 years between 1880 and 2014, around 90 per cent of all evolving El Nino years have seen below normal rainfall, and 65 per cent of them experienced droughts. In fact, six of the worst droughts in the country since 1871 have been triggered by El Nino — the most recent being in 2009.

What is ENSO?

ENSO is nothing but El Nino Southern Oscillation. As the name suggests, it is an irregular periodic variation of wind and sea surface temperature that occurs over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean. ENSO affects the tropics (the regions surrounding the equator) and the subtropics (the regions adjacent to or bordering the tropics). The warming phase of ENSO is called El Nino, while the cooling phase is known as La Nina.

What is El Nino?

El Nino is a climatic cycle characterised by high air pressure in the Western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern. In normal conditions, strong trade winds travel from east to west across the tropical Pacific, pushing the warm surface waters towards the western Pacific. The surface temperature could witness an increase of 8 degrees Celsius in Asian waters. At the same time, cooler waters rise up towards the surface in the eastern Pacific on the coasts of Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. This process called upwelling aids in the development of a rich ecosystem.

What causes El Nino?

El Nino sets in when there is anomaly in the pattern. The westward-blowing trade winds weaken along the Equator and due to changes in air pressure, the surface water moves eastwards to the coast of northern South America. The central and eastern Pacific regions warm up for over six months and result in an El Nino condition. The temperature of the water could rise up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Warmer surface waters increase precipitation and bring above-normal rainfall in South America, and droughts to Indonesia and Australia.

What are El Nino’s effects?

El Nino affects global weather. It favours eastern Pacific hurricanes and tropical storms. Record and unusual rainfall in Peru, Chile and Ecuador are linked to the climate pattern.

El Nino reduces upwelling of cold water, decreasing the uplift of nutrients from the bottom of the ocean. This affects marine life and sea birds. The fishing industry is also affected.

Drought caused by El Nino can be widespread, affecting southern Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands. Countries dependent on agriculture are affected.

Australia and Southeast Asia get hotter.

A recent WHO report on the health consequences of El Nino forecasts a rise in vector-borne diseases, including those spread by mosquitoes, in Central and South America. Cycles of malaria in India are also linked to El Nino.

Source: Down to Earth

Toluene

Toluene is one of the petrochemical wastes that get released without treatment from industries such as refineries, paint, textile, paper and rubber.

Toluene has been reported to cause serious health problems to aquatic life, and studies point that it has genotoxic and carcinogenic effects on human beings.

Eurasian Lynx

The Eurasian Lynx, found currently only in Ladakh and some parts of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, may have found its way into the Kashmir Valley, according to a report.

If confirmed, the lynx would be the third smaller cat species reported from the Kashmir Valley. The other two include the Jungle Cat and the Leopard Cat.

The Eurasian Lynx or Ee in Ladakhi is one of the medium-sized wild cats which roam the high and cold snow-covered mountains of Ladakh. The cat is agile and strong and is high adapted to the thin air atmosphere of Ladakh.

It inhabits temperate and boreal forests up to an altitude of 5,500 m (18,000 ft). Because of its wide distribution, it has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since 2008.

Two new bird species spotted in Kerala Sanctuary

Two new species of birds have been spotted in North Kerala’s Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary during a recent bird survey in the district.

The new species spotted were Woolly-necked Stork and White-bellied Drongo, both dry-land species.

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