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11th January Current Affairs

Dhaka moves refugees to Bhashan Char island

In News:

Bangladesh has started moving Rohingya refugees to a controversial flood-prone Bhashan Char island in the Bay of Bengal despite opposition from rights activists.

What’s the concern?

The island was formed from a build-up of silt in the Bay of Bengal only 20 years ago, and concerns have been consistently raised about Bhasan Char’s exposure to extreme weather and distance from the mainland in emergencies since Bangladesh first raised the idea in 2015.

Who are Rohingyas?

They are an Ethnic group, mostly Muslims. They were not granted full citizenship by Myanmar.

They were classified as “resident foreigners or associate citizens”.

Ethnically they are much closer to Indo-Aryan people of India and Bangladesh than to the Sino-Tibetans of the Country.

Described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “one of, if not the, most discriminated people in the world”.

Where are they now?

About 860,000 Rohingya live in the world’s largest and most densely populated refugee camp in southern Bangladesh.

The Myanmar and Bangladesh governments continue to negotiate terms for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, there are approximately 40,000 Rohingyas living in India.

China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

In News:

China defends progress of Pak. corridor and rejects reports of seeking additional guarantees from Islamabad before sanctioning a loan for CPEC.

About CPEC:

The CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, aimed at enhancing Beijing’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.

The 3,000 km-long China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) consists of highways, railways, and pipelines.

CPEC eventually aims at linking the city of Gwadar in South Western Pakistan to China’s North Western region Xinjiang through a vast network of highways and railways.

The proposed project will be financed by heavily-subsidised loans, that will be disbursed to the Government of Pakistan by Chinese banks.

But, why is India concerned?

It passes through PoK.

CPEC rests on a Chinese plan to secure and shorten its supply lines through Gwadar with an enhanced presence in the Indian Ocean. Hence, it is widely believed that upon CPEC’s fruition, an extensive Chinese presence will undermine India’s influence in the Indian Ocean.

It is also being contended that if CPEC were to successfully transform the Pakistan economy that could be a “red rag” for India which will remain at the receiving end of a wealthier and stronger Pakistan.

Besides, India shares a great deal of trust deficit with China and Pakistan and has a history of conflict with both. As a result, even though suggestions to re-approach the project pragmatically have been made, no advocate has overruled the principle strands of contention that continue to mar India’s equations with China and Pakistan.

National Common Mobility Card (NCMC)

In News:

National Common Mobility Card expanded to the Airport Express Line of Delhi Metro, which was started in Ahmedabad last year.

Key features:

Dubbed as ‘One Nation One Card’, the inter-operable transport card would allow the holders to pay for their bus travel, toll taxes, parking charges, retail shopping and even withdraw money.

The idea was floated by the Nandan Nilekani committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India.

How it works?

NCMC is an automatic fare collection system. It will turn smartphones into an inter-operable transport card that commuters can use eventually to pay for Metro, bus and suburban railways services.

This card runs on RuPay card.

The stored value on card supports offline transaction across all travel needs with minimal financial risk to involved stakeholders.

Ministry of housing & urban affairs brought to the fore the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) to enable seamless travel by different metros and other transport systems across the country besides retail shopping and purchases.

Need for and significance of NCMC:

Public transport is extensively used across India as the economical and convenient mode of commuting for all classes of society. Cash continues to be the most preferred mode of fare payments across the public transport.

However, there are multiple challenges associated with the cash payment such as cash handling, revenue leakages, cash reconciliation etc.

Various initiatives have been taken by transit operators to automate and digitize the fare collection using Automatic Fare Collection System (AFC).

The introduction of closed loop cards issued by these operators helped to digitize the fare collection to a significant extent. However, the restricted usability of these payment instruments limits the digital adoption by customers.

International Blue Flag hoisted at 8 beaches across the Country

In News:

The beaches where the International Blue Flags were hoisted are: Kappad (Kerala), Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Ghoghla (Diu), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha) and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).

Details:

India had secured the International Blue Flag Certification for these 8 beaches on 6th October 2020, when an International Jury comprising of member organizations UNEP, UNWTO, UNESCO, IUCN, ILS, FEE etc. announced the award at Copenhagen, Denmark.

About Blue flag programme:

The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).

It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined.

What is a Blue Flag beach?

It is an ‘eco-tourism model’ and marks out beaches as providing tourists and beachgoers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities/amenities, a safe and healthy environment, and sustainable development of the area.

Criteria:

There are nearly 33 criteria that must be met to qualify for a Blue Flag certification, such as the water meeting certain quality standards, having waste disposal facilities, being disabled- friendly, have first aid equipment, and no access to pets in the main areas of the beach. Some criteria are voluntary and some compulsory.

Relevant facts for Prelims:

Spain tops the list with more than 560 such beaches; Greece and France follow.

India is now in the league of 50 “BLUE FLAG” countries.

Is Blue Flag certification available only for beaches?

No. It can be given to a beach, marina, or sustainable boating tourism operator.

Basically, the Blue Flag is a trademark.