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08 November Current Affairs

Dangers of dioxins loom large over Brahmapuram

In News:

The levels of dioxin observed in residual ash samples analysed after the major fire at Brahmapuram were in the range observed in various infamous waste dumping sites in Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Netherlands, Greece, and the United States.

Details:

The study conducted by the CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (CSIR-NIIST).

Dioxins:

Dioxins are highly toxic chemical compounds which are harmful to health, and they are known as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

The average concentration of 158.5 ng TEQ (toxic equivalents)/kg observed in residual ash samples at Brahmapuram is in the range of dioxin levels observed in various infamous dumping sites of the world such as Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Netherlands, Greece, and the USA.

The dioxin levels reported at an infamous dumpyard soil in India at Perungudi in Chennai is 52 ng TEQ/kg.

Report by CSIR-NIIST:

The report prepared by the environmental technology division of the CSIR-NIIST found that:

The average dioxin levels observed in ambient air was 10.3 pg TEQ/ m3 at a distance of 50 metres to 100 metres from the fire.

The observed levels are 50 and 10 times higher than reference and field blank data.

Reasons:

Several fire breakouts had occurred in the past and were still occurring intermittently at Brahmapuram as well as at several small, medium and large-scale municipal solid waste open dumpyards across the State and the country.

The study findings indicate that alarmingly high levels of dioxins are getting emitted from such anthropogenic activities across the country.

The possible health consequences of human exposure to these highly toxic POPs are a matter of great concern, researchers said.

Background:

Dioxins are environmental pollutants. They belong to the so-called “dirty dozen” – a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Dioxins are of concern because of their highly toxic potential.

Sources of dioxin contamination:

Dioxins are mainly by-products of industrial processes but can also result from natural processes, such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires. Dioxins are unwanted by-products of a wide range of manufacturing processes including smelting, chlorine bleaching of paper pulp and the manufacturing of some herbicides and pesticides. In terms of dioxin release into the environment, uncontrolled waste incinerators (solid waste and hospital waste) are often the worst culprits, due to incomplete burning. Technology is available that allows for controlled waste incineration with low dioxin emissions.

Key facts:

Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds that are persistent environmental pollutants (POPs).

Dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment and they accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals.

More than 90% of human exposure is through food, mainly meat and dairy products, fish and shellfish. Many national authorities have programmes in place to monitor the food supply.

Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.

Due to the omnipresence of dioxins, all people have background exposure, which is not expected to affect human health. However, due to the highly toxic potential, efforts need to be undertaken to reduce current background exposure.

Prevention or reduction of human exposure is best done via source-directed measures, i.e. strict control of industrial processes to reduce formation of dioxins.

Effects of dioxins on human health:

Short-term exposure of humans to high levels of dioxins may result in skin lesions, such as chloracne and patchy darkening of the skin, and altered liver function. Long-term exposure is linked to impairment of the immune system, the developing nervous system, the endocrine system and reproductive functions.

Chronic exposure of animals to dioxins has resulted in several types of cancer. TCDD was evaluated by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 1997 and 2012. Based on animal data and on human epidemiology data, TCDD was classified by IARC as a “known human carcinogen”. However, TCDD does not affect genetic material and there is a level of exposure below which cancer risk would be negligible.

Due to the omnipresence of dioxins, all people have background exposure and a certain level of dioxins in the body, leading to the so-called body burden. Current normal background exposure is not expected to affect human health on average. However, due to the high toxic potential of this class of compounds, efforts need to be undertaken to reduce current background exposure.

Way forward:

Setting up of modern solid waste treatment plants and clearing of dumpyards of wastes by ‘bio-mining’ to separate combustible and inert materials.

An analysis of dioxins in animal origin food samples such as milk, egg, and meat and human milk.

Kartarpur: passports, OCI cards needed

In News:

Indian passports and Overseas Citizen of India cards will be necessary for pilgrims visiting the Kartarpur Sahib shrine for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

About Guru Nanak:

Date of Birth: April 15, 1469

Place of Birth: Rai Bhoi Ki Talvandi (present day Punjab, Pakistan)

Date of Death: September 22, 1539

Place of Death: Kartarpur (present day Pakistan)

Father: Mehta Kalu

Mother: Mata Tripta

Wife: Mata Sulakhni

Children: Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das

Successor: Guru Angad

Famous As: Founder of Sikkhism

Resting Place: Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartar Pur, Kartarpur, Pakistan

Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism, one of the youngest religions. Guru Nanak became the first Sikh Guru and his spiritual teachings laid the foundation on which Sikhism was formed. Considered a religious innovator, Guru Nanak travelled across South Asia and Middle East to spread his teachings. He advocated the existence of one God and taught his followers that every human being can reach out to God through meditation and other pious practices. Interestingly, Guru Nanak did not support monasticism and asked his followers to lead the life of honest householder. His teachings were immortalized in the form of 974 hymns, which came to be known as ‘Guru Granth Sahib,’ the holy text of Sikhism. With more than 20 million followers, Sikhism is one of the important religions in India.

About Overseas Citizen of India cards (OCIc):

The Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) is an immigration status permitting a foreign citizen of Indian origin to live and work in the Republic of India indefinitely. The OCI was introduced in response to demands for dual citizenship by the Indian diaspora, particularly in developed countries. It was introduced by The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2005 in August 2005. It was launched during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas convention held in Hyderabad in late 2005.

Eligibility:

A foreign national, – (i) who was a citizen of India at the time of, or at any time after 26th January, 1950; or

(ii) who was eligible to become a citizen of India on 26th January, 1950; or

(iii) who belonged to a territory that became part of India after 15th August, 1947; or

(iv) who is a child or a grandchild or a great grandchild of such a citizen; or

(v) who is a minor child of such persons mentioned above; or

(vi) who is a minor child and whose both parents are citizens of India or one of the parents is a citizen of India –

is eligible for registration as OCI cardholder. Besides, spouse of foreign origin of a citizen of India or spouse of foreign origin of an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder and whose marriage has been registered and subsisted for a continuous period of not less than two years immediately preceding the presentation of the application is also eligible for registration as OCI cardholder. However, no person, who or either of whose parents or grandparents or great grandparents is or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other country as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify, shall be eligible for registration as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder.

Cyclone Bulbul

In News:

Cyclone Bulbul is steadily gathering intensity over the Bay of Bengal and is expected to turn into a very severe cyclonic storm, according to fresh predictions released by the India Meteorological Department.

Details:

Cyclone Bulbul is expected to bring rainfall over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, north coastal Odish and coastal West Bengal. Bulbul may also cause damage to thatched houses, partial damage to communication and power lines, major damage to coastal crops and uprooting of trees, according to the IMD.

Coastal districts of West Bengal such as North and South 24 Parganas, East and West Medinipur, Howrah, Hooghly and Nadiya can expect heavy rainfall.

Facts:

Cyclone Bulbul is the seventh named storm of the unusually active 2019 North Indian Ocean cyclone season. The season has seen Cyclone Pabuk (South China Sea-Andaman Sea), Cyclone Fani (Bay of Bengal), Cyclone Vayu (Arabian Sea), Cyclone Hikka (Arabian Sea), Cyclone Kyarr (Arabian Sea) and Cyclone Maha (Arabian Sea).

Bulbul, whose name was contributed by Pakistan, is the seventh the series of named cyclones of this season. If IMD’s predictions hold true, Bulbul will also be the sixth storm to reach an intensity of very severe cyclonic storm.

Cyclone Bulbul comes around seven months after Cyclone Fani struck Odisha. Cyclone Fani was the strongest storm to hit the state since the devastating 1999 Super Cyclone that killed thousands of people.

Tippu Sultan

In News:

A meeting convened by a special committee to deliberate on whether lessons on Mysuru ruler Tipu Sultan should be dropped or modified in school textbooks saw heated arguments that went on for hours.

About Tippu Sultan:

Tippu Sultan, also spelled Tipu Sultan, also called Tippu Sahib or Fateh Ali Tipu, byname Tiger of Mysore, (born 1750, Devanhalli [India]—died May 4, 1799, Seringapatam [now Shrirangapattana]), sultan of Mysore, who won fame in the wars of the late 18th century in southern India.

Tippu was instructed in military tactics by French officers in the employ of his father, Hyder Ali, who was the Muslim ruler of Mysore. In 1767 Tippu commanded a corps of cavalry against the Marathas in the Carnatic (Karnataka) region of western India, and he fought against the Marathas on several occasions between 1775 and 1779. During the second Mysore War he defeated Col. John Brathwaite on the banks of the Kollidam (Coleroon) River (February 1782). He succeeded his father in December 1782 and in 1784 concluded peace with the British and assumed the title of sultan of Mysore. In 1789, however, he provoked British invasion by attacking their ally, the raja of Travancore. He held the British at bay for more than two years, but by the Treaty of Seringapatam (March 1792) he had to cede half his dominions. He remained restless and unwisely allowed his negotiations with Revolutionary France to become known to the British. On that pretext the governor-general, Lord Mornington (later the marquess of Wellesley), launched the fourth Mysore War. Seringapatam (now Shrirangapattana), Tippu’s capital, was stormed by British-led forces on May 4, 1799, and Tippu died leading his troops in the breach.

Tippu was an able general and administrator, and, though a Muslim, he retained the loyalty of his Hindu subjects. He proved cruel to his enemies and lacked the judgment of his father, however.

Joint Naval Exercise “Samudra Shakti”

In News:

India is jointly exercising its anti-submarine warfare corvette INS Kamorta along with Indonesian warship  KRI Usman Harun,  a multi-role corvette, in the Bay of Bengal as part of an ongoing bilateral exercise ”Samudra Shakti”.

Details:

The joint exercises include, manoeuvres, surface warfare exercises, air defense exercises, weapon firing drills, helicopter operations and boarding operations.

“INS Kamorta, an anti-submarine warfare corvette, is jointly exercising with Indonesian warship KRI Usman Harun, a multi-role corvette in the Bay of Bengal as part of the ongoing Indian Navy-Indonesian Navy bilateral exercise ”Samudra Shakti” from November 6-7,” the Indian Navy said in a statement.

KRI Usman Harun arrived at Visakhapatnam on November 4 to participate in the second edition of Ex ”Samudra Shakti”.

The harbor phase, which was conducted on November 4-5, included professional interactions in the form of subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE), cross deck visits, simulator drills, planning conferences, sports fixtures and social interactions.

‘BIMSTEC Ports’ Conclave’ in Vishakhapatnam

In News:

The first ever BIMSTEC Conclave of Ports, being held at Vishakhapatnam on 7-8 November, 2019 was inaugurated by Minister of State for Shipping(I/C), Shri Mansukh Mandaviya.

Aim:

The conclave aims at providing a platform to strengthen maritime interaction, port-led connectivity initiatives and sharing best practices among member countries.

Details:

Providing Connectivity is one of the key priorities among BIMSTEC countries.

SAGAR(Security and Growth for All in the Region) highlighting the motto of “ Sabka Saath  Sabka Vikas (Collective Efforts Inclusive Growth)” that provides Peace, Prosperity and Security for all in the Region.

MoUs:

Three Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) have been signed between Ranong Port (Port Authority of Thailand) and the Port Trusts of Chennai, Vishakhapatnam and Kolkata during the Conclave.

These MoUs will contribute to BIMSTEC objectives of strengthening connectivity and is part of India’s Act East Policy.

These MoUs will enhance connectivity between ports on Thailand’s West Coast and Ports on India’s East Coast i.e. Chennai, Vishakhapatnam and Kolkata.

What is BIMSTEC?

In an effort to integrate the region, the grouping was formed in 1997, originally with Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and later included Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan.

BIMSTEC, which now includes five countries from South Asia and two from ASEAN, is a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia. It includes all the major countries of South Asia, except Maldives, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs)

In News:

The Union Cabinet has approved the creation of an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) of Rs. 25,000 crore to provide last-mile funding for stalled affordable and middle-income housing projects across the country.

Key features:

The fund size will initially be Rs. 25,000 crore with the government providing Rs. 10,000 crore and the State Bank of India and the Life Insurance Corporation providing the balance

The funds will be set up as Category-II Alternative Investment Fund registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India and will be managed by SBICAP Ventures Limited.

The open-ended fund is expected to swell over time. The government is also in talks with sovereign bonds and pension funds to put in money in AIF further.

The Cabinet also approved the establishment of a ‘Special Window’ to provide priority debt financing for completion of stalled housing projects in the affordable and middle-income housing sector.

What are AIFs?

As defined in Securities and Exchange Board of India (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012, AIFs refer to any privately pooled investment fund, (whether from Indian or foreign sources), in the form of a trust or a company or a body corporate or a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).

AIF does not include funds covered under the SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996, SEBI (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations, 1999 or any other regulations of the Board to regulate fund management activities.

Hence, in India, AIFs are private funds which are otherwise not coming under the jurisdiction of any regulatory agency in India.

Categories:

As per SEBI (AIF) Regulations, 2012, AIFs shall seek registration in one of the three categories:

Category I: Mainly invests in start- ups, SME’s or any other sector which Govt. considers economically and socially viable.

Category II: These include Alternative Investment Funds such as private equity funds or debt funds for which no specific incentives or concessions are given by the government or any other Regulator

Category III : Alternative Investment Funds such as hedge funds or funds which trade with a view to make short term returns or such other funds which are open ended and for which no specific incentives or concessions are given by the government or any other Regulator.

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