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09 May Current Affairs

Global Report on Food Crisis, 2020

In News:

The Global Report on Food Crisis, 2020 was released by the Global Network against Food Crisis. The report says that around 135 million people are living under food crisis.

Highlights:

According to the report, the numbers have increased. In 2019, the number of people living under food crisis were 113 million. Yemen was the at the top, with 15.9 million people under food crisis. This was 53% of population of the country.

The top 10 countries that were under food crisis contributed to 65% of the world population. These countries were Yemen, D R Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, Northern Nigeria and Haiti.

Key Findings of the report:

Over 75 million children were reported to be stunted and they were spread across 55 food crisis countries. As 2019, conflict and insecurity were the main drivers of food crisis in 2020 as well. Africa had the largest number of food insecure people in the world.

Global Network against Food Crisis:

The Global Network against food crisis was an initiative that was launched by European Union, World Food Programme, and Food and Agriculture Organization. The network aims at delivering and formulating nutrition and food security in food crisis. It works towards achieving zero hunger goal. Zero Hunger Goal is one of the Sustainable Development Agenda, 2030.

“Special Corona Fee” imposed on Liquor by Delhi Government

In News:

On May 4, 2020, the third phase of lock down began in India. Under the third phase, the liquor shops were opened in selected regions with certain restrictions.

Highlights:

With the liquor shops opening after a long gap, there were long queues at store all over the country. The Delhi Government acted swiftly on the same day evening, imposing 70% hike in liquor prices. The State Government has taken the step in spite of the fact that liquor revenue is one of the major sources of revenue of state government.

How does Liquor contribute to state revenue?

Except for the states of Gujarat and Bihar, where sale of liquor has been banned, liquor contributes certain amount to the exchequers of all other state and union territories. The states in general impose heavy excise duty on liquor. For instance, the state of Tamil Nadu imposes VAT (Value Added Tax) on liquor. Uttar Pradesh imposes “special duty on liquor” and uses the funds collected to maintain stray cattle.

RBI Report on Liquor revenue:

According to the report of Reserve Bank of India called State Finances: A study of Budgets of 2019-20, the excise duty on alcohol accounts to 10% to 15% of the state revenue of majority of the states. It is the second or third largest contributor. This was the main reason the state governments wanted liquor to be kept out of GST.

Earnings:

The RBI report says that in 2019-20, all the states together had earned Rs 1,75,501 crores. This was 16% higher than that of 2018-19.

State Excise:

The State Excise is levied on liquor. It includes country spirits, fermented liquor, foreign liquor, malt liquor, denatured spirits, medicated wines, toilet preparations containing alcohol, etc.

Indian American appointed as US representative to IBRD

In News:

On May 5, 2020, the US President Donald Trump had nominated Indian American Ashok Michael Pinto as the US representative to IBRD (International Bank of Reconstruction and Development).

Highlights:

Mr Pinto replaced Erik Bethel. Mr Bethel resigned from the post. Pinto was serving the Counselor to Under Secretary for International Affairs in the department of treasury of the US. It is to be noted that Mr Pinto was a special assistant to President George W Bush.

International Bank of Reconstruction and Development:

The IBRD is an international financial institution that was established in 1944. The headquarters of the bank is located in Washington D C. The bank offers loans to middle income developing countries. It is one of the five member institutions that compose the world bank.

The IBRD, its lending arms and the International Development Association are collectively known as World Bank.

Five member institutions:

The Five major member institutions that make up the World Bank include IBRD, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), International Development Association (IDA), International Finance Corporation (IFC) and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

International Development Association:

The International Development Association was established as a member in 1960. Generally, the IBRD and IDA are collectively called the World Bank. This is because, the other associations and institutions have relatively lesser importance.

West Bengal Red Flagged by the Inter-Ministerial Team

In News:

The Government of India had set up 10 Inter Ministerial Teams to visit districts in states such as Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Telangana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh. The team that had visited West Bengal has now submitted its report.

Highlights:

According to the report, the state had the highest mortality rate of 12.8% among COVID-19 patients. The report said that West Bengal has changed its protocol since April 30 that had reflected in death certificates and daily statistics.

The Central Government had announced that the death of COVID patients shall be indicated in daily statistics. Also, a committee of doctors have to be constituted to issue death certificate examining random samples. However, the state failed to comply with these rules.

Death Certificate in India:

The Death Certificate in India is a document issued by medical practitioner that declares date, location, and cause of a person’s death.

Legislation:

The birth and death certificates are issued in India under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969. Under the act, the Central Government shall appoint Registrar General of India. He issues directions regarding the registration of births and deaths.

The State Government shall appoint chief registrar for the state and for districts and other local regions as well.

What is the issue?

Though the state governments had rights to issue death certificates, the centre had passed orders to report such issuances to it. The state of West Bengal failed to do so according to the report.  As COVID-19 has now been made a “notified disaster”, according to Disaster Management Act, the states will certainly have to follow the orders of centre, though they have their own powers.

The report also said that the state had high mortality rate due to weak tracking and surveillance and low testing.

Smart City Programme: Control rooms in 50 cities for Lock Down 3.0

In News:

On May 4, 2020, the Government of India implemented phase III of COVID-9 lock down. With the third lock down relaxing restrictions all over the country, major cities are still vulnerable to the spread of the virus. Hence, to fight the virus more efficiently and maintain a routine life, control rooms have been set up in smart cities.

About the control Rooms:

The Control rooms have been designed by the private firm Honeywell. The rooms have sophisticated monitoring system. It uses artificial intelligence and camera feeds to monitor the city. The rooms help in generating clear report that will help the authorities to assess the effectiveness of the lock down.

Lock Down 3.0:

In Lock Down 3.0, over 130 red regions have been put under red zone. Alongside, 284 orange zones and 319 green zones have been specified. The regions have been sorted based on the cumulative cases and the doubling rate of the virus. Green Zones are those regions that have no confirmed cases in the past 21 days. Red zones are those regions where the number cases doubled. These regions require testing, surveillance feedback.

Need:

The cities, especially the metropolitans have become the nerve centres of the virus. On the other hand, they hold the key to economic revival as well. Also, they are the manufacturing hubs. When these cities come to standstill, human lives are greatly affected and so is the economy. Therefore, there is a need to focus both on lives and livelihood.

Hence, the control rooms are important.

GoI completes integrating Cold Chain Projects

In News:

On May 5, 2020, the Ministry of Food Processing held video conference to discuss about the completion of the integration of cold projects in the country. The promoters of the project were the main participants of the conference.

Highlights:

Over 38 cold chain project promoters participated in the conference. The promoters shared their challenges and experiences on completing the projects. The challenges in running the cold chain projects during lock down were also discussed.

Challenges:

The main challenge that was faced by almost all the promoters was piling up of stocks. The stocks of frozen vegetables and diary products piled up as their traditional markets such as hotels, restaurants and banquets were all closed due to lock down.

Another major challenge faced was the lack in working hours. This was because currently the cold chain is running only with one-third of the labour force. This has reduced the competitivity and increased the cost of production.

Discussions:

The discussions were also held on impact of lock down on operations, raw material availability and high cost, labour and logistics issues, liquidity crisis, high inventory costs.

Cold Chain Scheme:

The Cold Chain Scheme aims at value addition and preservation infrastructure to provide integrated cold chain. The integrated cold chain project was set under the scheme in partnership with Self Help Groups, Cooperatives, Corporations, Companies, Farmer Producer Organizations, PSUs, NGOs, etc.

Also the National Cold Chain Grid was launched under the scheme.

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