13th March Current Affairs
March 13, 2021
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March 16, 2021
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15th March Current Affairs

OPEC+ move to hit recovery

In News:

OPEC+ has agreed not to increase supply in April as they await a more substantial recovery in demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crude prices rose after the announcement and are up 33% this year.

Concerns for India:

India is the world’s third-biggest oil importer. India imports about 84% of its oil and relies on West Asian supplies to meet over three-fifths of its demand.

As one of the largest crude-consuming countries, India is concerned that such actions by producing countries have the potential to undermine consumption-led recovery and more so hurt consumers, especially in our price-sensitive market.

What is the Opec+?

Opec+ refers to the alliance of crude producers, who have been undertaking corrections in supply in the oil markets since 2017.

OPEC plus countries include Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan.

What is OPEC?

  • The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in Baghdad, Iraq, with the signing of an agreement in September 1960 by five countries namely Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. They were to become the Founder Members of the Organization.
  • OPEC is a permanent, intergovernmental organization.
  • OPEC’s objective is to co-ordinate and unify petroleum policies among Member Countries, in order to secure fair and stable prices for petroleum producers; an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations; and a fair return on capital to those investing in the industry.
  • It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
  • OPEC membership is open to any country that is a substantial exporter of oil and which shares the ideals of the organization.

FSSAI guidelines on GMO Crops

In News:

FSSAI issued an order on February 8 setting the permissible limit for genetically modified organisms (GMO) in imported food crops at 1%.

However, trade organisations have said that this threshold is unacceptably high.

Details:

It amounts to an advocacy for zero presence of GMO in food and some other consumables.

GMO regulation in India:

The task of regulating GMO levels in imported consumables was initially with the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Union environment ministry.

Its role in this was diluted with the enactment of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and FSSAI was asked to take over approvals of imported goods.

What are Genetically Modified Organism (Transgenic Organism)?

In GMO, genetic material (DNA) is altered or artificially introduced using genetic engineering techniques.

Genetic modification involves the mutation, insertion, or deletion of genes.

Inserted genes usually come from a different organism (e.g. In Bt cotton, Bt genes from bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis are induced).

Genetic modification is done to induce a desirable new trait which does not occur naturally in the species.

GM techniques are used in:

  • Biological and medical research,
  • Production of pharmaceutical drugs,
  • Experimental medicine (e.g. gene therapy),
  • Agriculture (e.g. golden rice, Bt cotton etc.),
  • Genetically modified bacteria to produce the protein insulin,
  • To produce biofuels from some GM bacteria, etc.

FSI Report on forest fires

In News:

The Forest Survey of India (FSI) has released a report on forest fires in the country.

Key findings:

At least 5,291 forest fires were recorded in Odisha between February 22 and March 1, 2021 — the highest in the country for the same period.

Collection of mahua flowers and kendu leaves, practice of shifting cultivation and grazing in forest areas are some of the reasons for forest fires in Odisha.

Telangana recorded the second-highest fires in the country at 1,527 during the same period, followed by Madhya Pradesh (1,507) and Andhra Pradesh (1,292), according to FSI data.

Concerns:

Forest fires have become an issue of global concern. In many countries, wildfires are burning larger areas, and fire seasons are growing longer due to global warming.

Globally, forest fires release billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, while hundreds of thousands of people are believed to die due to illnesses caused by exposure to smoke from forest fires and other landscape fires.

Causes of Forest Fire:

Forest fires are caused by Natural causes as well as Man-made or anthropogenic causes.

Natural causes such as lightning which set trees on fire. High atmospheric temperatures and low humidity offer favourable circumstance for a fire to start.

Man-made causes like flame, cigarette, electric spark or any source of ignition will also cause forest fires.

Traditionally Indian forests have been affected by fires. The problem has been aggravated with rising human and cattle population and the increase in demand for grazing, shifting cultivation and Forest products by individuals and communities.

High temperature, wind speed and direction, level of moisture in soil and atmosphere and duration of dry spells can intensify the forest fires.

India’s Initiative to Tackle Forest Fire:

National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF): It was launched in 2018 to minimise forest fires by informing, enabling and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivising them to work with the State Forest Departments.

The Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme (FPM) is the only centrally funded program specifically dedicated to assist the states in dealing with forest fires.

Fishing cats

The first-ever survey of the elusive fishing cat in and around Asia’s biggest brackish water lagoon, the Chilika lake in Odisha, started March 1, 2021.

Fishing cats are almost twice the size of the house cat.

They are generally found in the marshy wetlands of northern and eastern India and on the mangroves of the east coast.

GoM suggests steps to stem ‘negative narrative’:

A Group of Ministers (GoM) was formed to fine-tune government communication in an effort to neutralise what it calls a negative narrative.

  • GoM has come out with suggestions to track 50 negative and 50 positive influencers on social media, neutralise the people who are writing against the government without facts and setting false narratives/spreading fake news and take other steps.
  • The action points recommended by the GoM include enlarging the Prasar Bharati News Service into a “mainline news agency”.
  • The agreed long-term strategies include “coordination with schools of journalism as present students are the future journalists”.