The Intersessional meeting of Kimberley Process (KP) is being hosted by India in Mumbai.
India is currently the Chair of Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) since 1st January 2018. It was handed Chairmanship by the European Union during KPCS Plenary 2018, which was held in Brussels, Belgium.
India is founding member of KPCS.
What is the Kimberley Process?
The Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme that regulates trade in rough diamonds. It aims to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds, while helping to protect legitimate trade in rough diamonds.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) outlines the rules that govern the trade in rough diamonds.
The KP is not, strictly speaking, an international organisation: it has no permanent offices or permanent staff. It relies on the contributions – under the principle of ‘burden-sharing’ – of participants, supported by industry and civil society observers. Neither can the KP be considered as an international agreement from a legal perspective, as it is implemented through the national legislations of its participants.
What are Conflict diamonds?
“Conflict Diamonds” means rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments. It is also described in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
Who is involved?
The Kimberley Process (KP) is open to all countries that are willing and able to implement its requirements. The KP has 55 participants, representing 82 countries, including the European Union and its Member States counting as a single participant. KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds.
In addition, the World Diamond Council, representing the international diamond industry, and civil society organisations, such as Partnership-Africa Canada, participate in the KP and have played a major role since its outset.
How does the Kimberley Process work?
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’ and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade.
Under the terms of the KPCS, participating states must put in place national legislation and institutions; export, import and internal controls; and also commit to transparency and the exchange of statistical data.
Participants can only legally trade with other participants who have also met the minimum requirements of the scheme, and international shipments of rough diamonds must be accompanied by a KP certificate guaranteeing that they are conflict-free.
Rough diamond trading under the KPCS:
As per the Scheme, each shipment of rough diamonds being exported and imported by crossing an international border be transported in a tamper proof container and accompanied by a validated Kimberley Process Certificate. The shipment can only be exported to a co-participant country in the KPCS. No uncertified shipments of rough diamonds are permitted to enter a participant country.
Global Peace Index 2019
Global Peace Index is released by Australian think tank Institute for Economics & Peace. The GPI was founded by Steve Killelea, an Australian technology entrepreneur and philanthropist.
The report covers 99.7 per cent of the world’s population and uses 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources to compile the index.
This year’s report includes new research on the possible effects of climate change on peace.
It ranks countries according to their level of peacefulness based on three thematic domains:
Performance of India:
India’s rank has slipped five places to 141 this year.
India’s neighbours: In South Asia, Bhutan topped the index with 15th rank, followed by Sri Lanka 72, Nepal 76 and Bangladesh 101. The neighbouring country Pakistan has been ranked 153rd on the index.
India together with Philippines, Japan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan are the nine countries with the highest risk of multiple climate hazards. The country has the 7th highest overall natural hazard score.
India, the US, China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia are the top five countries with the largest total military expenditure.
According to the report, South Asia’s score for every indicator in ongoing conflict is less peaceful than the global average, with four out of six deteriorating last year. Only deaths from internal conflict improved, with fewer fatalities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India than the year prior.
The score for internal conflicts fought had the highest rating at five in both India and Pakistan. China, Bangladesh, and India, score in the bottom half of the GPI and have significant exposure to climate hazards, with 393 million people in high climate hazard areas.
Performance of other countries:
Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008.
It is joined at the top of the Global Peace Index (GPI) by New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, and Denmark.
Afghanistan is now the least peaceful country in the world, replacing Syria, which is now the second least peaceful. South Sudan, Yemen, and Iraq comprise the remaining five least peaceful countries.
While global peacefulness improved for the first time in five years, as per the index findings, the world remains less peaceful than a decade ago.
Since 2008 global peacefulness has deteriorated by 3.78 per cent.
State sponsored terror has declined markedly over the last decade, with 62 countries improving their scores while only 42 deteriorated. However, incarceration shows the opposite trend with 95 countries increasing the incarceration rate compared to 65 that improved.
Source: The Hindu
Asia Media Summit
16th Asia Media Summit 2019 was organised in Siem Reap province, Cambodia to deliberate on many issues pertaining to media & broadcasting industry.
About the AMS Summit:
It is an annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) Kuala Lumpur.
Scope: The Summit would encourage regional and bilateral dialogue and cooperation to respond to challenges to the broadcasting sector in the region. It would provide a unique opportunity for broadcasters in the Asian region to share their thoughts on software and hardware aspects of Broadcasting. There are also opportunities for networking, facilities for business to business meetings and prospective translation of these meetings into trade and economic relations after the summit.
Participants: Participants would represent organizations like Ministries responsible for Information and Broadcasting in the Asian region, International Organizations UNESCO, FAO, UN; Regulators; Radio and Television broadcasting companies both national/ public and private broadcasters; Television channels and networks, Institutes/Academies of Communication, Media Research; Community Radio groups; Press and Media, and broadcast equipment manufacturers.
The Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) was established in 1977 under the auspices of UNESCO. It is hosted by the Government of Malaysia and the secretariat is located in Kuala Lumpur.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) are founding organisations of the Institute and they are non-voting members of the General Conference.
The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) is a founding organisation of the Institute and is a non-voting member of the General Conference.
Full membership of the AIBD is confined to sovereign states and they are invited to designate the broadcasting authority of the country to be the beneficiary. The AIBD currently has 26 Full Members (countries), represented by 34 organisations, and 67 Affiliate Members (organisations) with a total membership of 101 representing 48 countries and regions and over 50 partners in Asia, Pacific, Europe, Africa, Arab States and North America.
Role and mandate:
It is a unique regional inter-governmental organisation servicing countries of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) in the field of electronic media development. It is mandated to achieve a vibrant and cohesive electronic media environment in the Asia-Pacific region through policy and resource development.
Source: The Hindu
Spitzer space telescope of NASA will be retired on January 30, 2020. Spitzer is going to shut down permanently after about 16 years of exploring the cosmos in infrared light. By 2020, Spitzer space telescope will have operated for more than 11 years beyond its prime mission.
Launched into solar orbit on August 25, 2003, Spitzer was initially scheduled for a minimum 2.5-year primary mission. But the space telescope has lasted far beyond its expected lifetime.
Spitzer’s discoveries extend from our own planetary backyard, to planets around other stars, to the far reaches of the universe. And by working in collaboration with NASA’s other Great Observatories, Spitzer has helped scientists gain a more complete picture of many cosmic phenomena.
Spitzer has logged over 106,000 hours of observation time in the past 15 years. It has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes.
The space telescope also assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, among other accomplishments.
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope was launched in 2003 to study the universe in the infrared. It is the last mission of the NASA Great Observatories program, which saw four specialized telescopes (including the Hubble Space Telescope) launched between 1990 and 2003.
The goal of the Great Observatories is to observe the universe in distinct wavelengths of light. Spitzer focuses on the infrared band, which normally represents heat radiation from objects. The other observatories looked at visible light (Hubble, still operational), gamma-rays (Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, no longer operational) and X-rays (the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, still operational.)
Spitzer’s highly sensitive instruments allow scientists to peer into cosmic regions that are hidden from optical telescopes, including dusty stellar nurseries, the centers of galaxies, and newly forming planetary systems.
Spitzer’s infrared eyes also allows astronomers see cooler objects in space, like failed stars (brown dwarfs), extrasolar planets, giant molecular clouds, and organic molecules that may hold the secret to life on other planets.
Source: The Hindu
The US space agency NASA has announced that its asteroid probe OSIRIS-REx set a new record for the closest-ever orbit of a planetary body made by a man-made spacecraft.
The recent maneuver has placed the spacecraft into an orbit 680 meters above the asteroid Bennu’s surface for about seven weeks.
About the mission:
OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.
OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers program, which previously sent the New Horizons spacecraft zooming by Pluto and the Juno spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter.
Why was Bennu chosen?
Bennu was selected for a the OSIRIS-REx mission from over 500,000 known asteroids, due to it fitting a number of key criteria. These include:
Proximity to Earth: In order for OSIRIS-REx to reach its destination in a reasonable timeframe, NASA needed to find an asteroid which had a similar orbit to Earth.
Size: Small asteroids, those less than 200m in diameter, typically spin much faster than larger asteroids, meaning the regolith material can be ejected into space. Bennu is around 500m in diameter, so rotates slowly enough to ensure that the regolith stays on its surface.
Composition: Bennu is a primitive asteroid, meaning it hasn’t significantly changed since the beginning of the Solar System (over 4 billion years ago). It is also very carbon-rich, meaning it may contain organic molecules, which could have been precursors to life on Earth.
Additionally, Bennu is of interest as it is a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA). Every 6 years, Bennu’s orbit brings it within 200,000 miles of the Earth, which means it has a high probability of impacting Earth in the late 22nd Century.
Sahitya Akademi announces winners of Bal Sahitya Puraskar, Yuva Puraskar
Sahitya Akademi, India’s national academy of letters, has announced a list of 22 winners of the Bal Sahitya Puraskar and 23 recipients of the Yuva Puraskar for this year.
While the Bal Puraskar will be conferred upon the winners on the Children’s Day, the day for the Yuva Puraskar is yet to be decided.
About Bal Sahitya Puraskar: The Awards relate to books 1st published during five years period immediately before the year Award is conferred, which means between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2017. However, during initial 10 years (from 2010 to 2019) award may also be given to an author based on his/her total contribution to Children Literature.
About Yuva Puraskar: This Award relates to books published by an author who is 35 years of age and below as on 1st January of the year of award.
Akshaya Patra, a Bengaluru-based non-profit organisation (NGO) running one of the world’s largest school meals project in India was recently awarded BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) World Service Global Champion Award for the programme.
Funded by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Akshaya Patra is a Bengaluru-based not-for-profit organisation that works with the government on mid-day meal schemes. It has a state-of-the-art kitchen in Vrindavan.
Today, Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) Mid-Day Meal Programme serving wholesome food every school day to over 1.76 million children from 14,702 schools across 12 states in India.
About BBC World Service Global Champion Award: It is awarded to recognise a person or project who is changing the way world produces, processes, consumes or thinks about food for the better.
Juneteenth is considered the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.
It was originally celebrated on June 19, the day that Union soldiers in 1865 told enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and they were free.
The celebration started with the freed slaves of Galveston, Texas. Although the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the South in 1863, it could not be enforced in many places until after the end of the Civil War in 1865.
The term Juneteenth is a blend of the words June and nineteenth. The holiday has also been called Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day.
RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM)
Canada’s RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) was launched successfully into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The constellation of three satellites will provide daily images of Canada’s vast territory and maritime approaches, as well as images of the Arctic, up to four times a day.
It will have daily access to 90 percent of the world’s surface.
The RCM is also equipped with an Automatic Identification System (AIS), allowing improved detection and tracking of ships, including those conducting illegal fishing.
The RADARSAT Constellation Mission will provide improved data for the critical services our government provides to Canadians, including monitoring climate change, protecting the health of our oceans, forests and crops; and supporting our first responders’ disaster relief efforts.