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1st August Current Affairs

New e-waste rules threaten jobs

(GS-III: Environment Conservation)

In News:

Government has proposed a new framework for regulating e-waste in India that may upset informal sectors.

In News:

E-Waste refers to all items of electronic and electrical equipment (EEE) and its parts that have been discarded by their owner as waste without the intent of re-use. India is the third-largest e-waste generator in the world after China and the USA (Global E-waste Monitor 2020).

Status of E-waste in India:

One of the fastest-growing waste streams in the world

95% of e-wastein India is recycled by the informal sector

What is the issue about?

Under E-Waste Management Rules 2016, it is mandatory for the organization to comply with the Extended producer responsibility of recycling e-waste. Complying with that, most firms outsourced recycling to organizations called Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) (CPCB has registered 74 PROs)

In May this year, Environment Ministry issued a draft notification that does away with PRO and dismantlers and vests all responsibility of recycling with authorized recyclers, only a handful of whom exist in India.

Now, Authorized Recyclers will source a quantity of waste, recycle them and generate electronic certificates. Companies can buy these certificates equivalent to their annual committed target and thus do not have to be involved with engaging PROs and dismantlers.

Benefits:

Streamline and standardize the system

Introduce an Electronic management system that would track the material that went in for recycling

Make recycling remunerative: Currently, the entire system isn’t remunerative for recyclers, who actually do the job of recycling.

Increase reliability: The current system managed by PRO isn’t always reliable as there have been several instances of double-counting (where the same articles recycled once for one company are credited into the account for multiple companies).

Objection against the move:

Job loss: Several PROs have mailed their objections to the Environment Ministry arguing that dismantling a fledgling system was detrimental to the future of e-waste management in India and job loss.

Loss of investment for established PROs

Loss of accountability: PROs provide check and balance against unauthorised recycling

Electoral bonds

In News:

Donations to political parties through electoral bonds (EBs) have crossed the Rs 10,000-crore mark

What are electoral bonds?

Electoral Bond is a financial instrument for making donations to political parties.

Electoral bonds are purchased anonymously by donors and are valid for 15 days from the date of issue.

The bonds are issued in multiples of Rs. 1,000, Rs. 10,000, Rs. 1 lakh, Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 1 crore without any maximum limit.

State Bank of India is authorised to issue and encash these bonds, which are valid for fifteen days from the date of issuance.

These bonds are redeemable in the designated account of a registered political party.

The bonds are available for purchase by any person (who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India) for a period of ten days each in the months of January, April, July and October as may be specified by the Central Government.

A person being an individual can buy bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.

Donor’s name is not mentioned on the bond.

Eligibility: only the political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and have secured not less than 1 per cent of the votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly, as the case may be, are eligible to receive electoral bonds.

INSTC

In News:

Recently, Containers from Russia’s Astrakhan port crossed the Caspian Sea and eventually reach Nhava Shiva port in Mumbai, signalling the launch of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

Details:

INSTC is a 7,200-km multi-modal transport corridor that combines road, rail and maritime routes connecting Russia and India via Central Asia and Iran. The corridor is expected to consolidate the emerging Eurasian Free Trade Area.

Legal Framework: The legal framework for the INSTC is provided by a trilateral agreement signed by India, Iran and Russia at the Euro-Asian Conference on Transport in 2000.

Significance of INSTC:

Reduce freight costs by 30% and the journey time by 40% in comparison with the conventional deep-sea route via the Suez Canal

Complement East-West axis: INSTC can shape a north-south transport corridor that can complement the east-west axis of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Bypass Pakistan to access Afghanistan, Central Asiaand beyond

Departure from non-alignment to multi-alignment: E.g., India’s working under QUAD, SCO and INSTC.

‘Chabahar Day’ is observed to promote Chabahar – Ministry of Port, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) in association with India Ports Global observed ‘Chabahar Day’ to mark the Chabahar – Link to INSTC – Connecting Central Asian Markets.

War against Drug

In News:

Government was moving toward a “drug-free India”

Data:

Higher seizer: Agencies have seized between 2014 and 2021 at 3.3 lakh kilograms; this number was 1.52 lakh kilograms between 2006 and 2013

Higher arrests: Registration of cases related to drugs has seen a 200% rise, while the percentage of arrests in drug cases has gone up to 260% during the same period.

Three-pronged formula to solve drug menace: Strengthening of the institutional structure, empowering and coordination of all narcotics agencies at the Centre and State, and awareness campaigns.

Initiative by the government against drugs:

NCORD and NIDAAN portals have been initiated.

Seizure Information Management System (SIMS)which will create a complete online database of drug offences and offenders (by Narcotics Control Bureau)

National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse

National Drug Abuse Surveyto measure trends of drug abuse in India (Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment)

‘Nasha Mukt Bharat’, or Drug-Free India Campaign focuses on community outreach programs.

‘Project Sunrise’ (2016) to tackle the rising HIV prevalence in north-eastern states in India.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, (NDPS) 1985: Prohibits a person from producing, possessing, selling, purchasing, transporting, storing, and/or consuming any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.

State Government:

Himachal Pradesh: State government 2019 launched a toll-free drug prevention helpline number ‘1908’ with an aim to encourage the general public to share information about drug traffickers.

Mobile app ‘ Drug-Free Himachal’ on which the people could provide information to the police about drug trafficking, its sale and use.

The impact of social media on young India’s mental health

(GS-II: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources)

In News:

The growing dependency on social media is very worrying as its constant use leads to many problems like exposure to risky content, changes in behavioural patterns, inferiority complex, cyber-bullying etc.

Details:

The World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of well-being, where an individual realises their capabilities, can cope with the normal stressors of life, work productively, and is able to contribute to their community.

There can be many problems, which can be highlighted, but the most important of them are:

Depression:

According to UNICEF, 1 in 7 Indians aged 15 to 24 years feel depressed. Depression is linked to lack of self-esteem, poor concentration and other maladaptive symptoms, and can lead to difficulties in communication, failure to work or study productively, amplified risk of substance use and abuse, as well as suicidal thoughts. One of the key risk factors for these prevalent rates of depression is social media.

Internet Persona:

Body dysmorphia– It is common among young people and has increased over the past few years.

Lack of socialization:

Excessive social media use takes time away from doing other things that may benefit your mental health like connecting with others in person, spending time in nature and taking care of yourself.

The Suggestions/Solutions:

We must take action on mental health seriously and monitor the incidence of psychiatric disorders (like, depression, anxiety) and identify the factors of risk and resilience.

There is a need to conduct a disaggregated situational assessment of the diverse young demographic in our country. Such an assessment should keep in mind the differences associated with class, gender and other social factors.

Need to focus on socialization in family schools and professional spaces along with physical exercises and meditation. Let us bring ourselves closer to nature and natural things.

Need of creating awareness and dialogue that would help in de-stigmatising the issue, in order to allow autonomy for the individual to share feelings in a safe space.

Pragmatic government policies based on empirical evidence, strong political will, social inclusion, mental health literacy, vibrant media and a responsive corporate sector coupled with innovative technologies and crowdsourcing could mitigate this apathy.

Government Initiatives:

Constitutional Provision: Right to Health (including mental healthcare) is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution.

National Mental Health Program (NMHP) ( To address the huge burden of mental disorders and shortage of qualified professionals)

Mental HealthCare Act 2017 (Guarantees every affected person access to mental healthcare and treatment from services run or funded by the government)

Kiran Helpline (Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (2020) launched a 24/7 toll-free helpline)