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September 20, 2021
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September 22, 2021
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21st September Current Affairs

Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and Rohingya Crisis

(GS-III: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism)

In News:

Indian security agencies have reported that the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and its functionaries might have taken refuge in the country.

What is ARSA?

ARSA, formerly known as Harakah al-Yakin, or ‘Faith Movement’, is currently active among the Rohingya residents in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

It claims to be fighting for the rights of the Rohingya population in Myanmar, which were denied by the government.

What’s the issue?

The United Nations has described Rohingya as “the most persecuted minority in the world” due to the systematic discrimination they face. A tide of displaced people are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries since 2017 as they fled Myanmar with horrifying claims of gang rape, torture and murder at the hands of Myanmar’s security forces.

Who are Rohingyas?

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

They are, basically, stateless, Indo-Aryan ethnic group who reside in Rakhine State, Myanmar.

There were an estimated 1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar before the 2016–17 crisis. An estimated 625,000 refugees from Rakhine, Myanmar, had crossed the border into Bangladesh since August 2017.

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

Protection available to Rohingyas under the International Conventions:

The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol:

They define the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of refugees, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.

The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom.

However, the concern now is that Bangladesh is not a signatory to this convention.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):

Even though the refugees are foreigners in the country of asylum, by virtue of Article 2 of the ICCPR, 1966, they could enjoy the same fundamental rights and freedoms as nationals- the right to equality before the law, equal protection of the law and non-discrimination.

‘Sea snot’ outbreak in Turkey

(GS-III: Conservation and Pollution related issues)

In News:

The sea snot that dominated the landlocked Marmara Sea earlier this year is nowhere to be seen on the surface nowadays, but its fallout appears to be bigger than experts initially hoped.

Impact of sea snot:

Overall, 60% of species have already disappeared.

The layers have sunk and are beginning to decompose.

The decomposition consumes oxygen in the water, which in turn promotes the formation of new marine mucilage.

In October, the conditions will be particularly favorable for a new spread. Therefore, the sludge may be visible on the surface again in November.

The slime could also spread to the Black Sea and the Aegean and may cause a regional ecological crisis.

Background:

Turkey’s Sea of Marmara, that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, has witnessed the largest outbreak of ‘sea snot’. The sludge has also been spotted in the adjoining Black and Aegean seas.

What is sea snot?

It is a slimy layer of grey or green sludge, which can cause considerable damage to the marine ecosystem.

It is formed when algae are overloaded with nutrients.

A ‘sea snot’ outbreak was first recorded in the country in 2007. Back then, it was also spotted in the Aegean Sea near Greece.

Overloading of nutrients happens because of warm weather caused by global warming, water pollution, uncontrolled dumping of household and industrial waste into the seas etc.

What are the impacts? Concerns?

It has spread through the sea south of Istanbul and also blanketed harbours and shorelines.

It is posing a severe threat to the marine ecosystem of the country- it has caused mass deaths among the fish population, and also killed other aquatic organisms such as corals and sponges.

If unchecked, this can collapse to the bottom and cover the sea floor, causing major damage to the marine ecosystem.

Over a period of time, it could end up poisoning all aquatic life, including fishes, crabs, oysters, mussels and sea stars.

Besides aquatic life, the ‘sea snot’ outbreak has also affected the livelihoods of fishermen.

It can also cause an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera in cities like Istanbul.

Steps taken by Turkey to contain its spread:

Turkey has decided to declare the entire Sea of Marmara as a protected area.

Steps are being taken to reduce pollution and improve treatment of waste water from coastal cities and ships.

A disaster management plan is being prepared.

5G technology

(GS-III: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights)

In News:

Vodafone Idea (Vi) claimed to have achieved a peak 5G data speed of 3.7Gbps on the mmWave spectrum band in a recent test conducted in Pune, Maharashtra. Peak download speeds of up to 1.5Gbps in the 3.5Ghz band 5G trial network in Gandhinagar and Pune.

What is 5G?

5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace, or at least augment 4G LTE connection.

Features and benefits of the 5G technology:

Operate in the millimeter wave spectrum (30-300 GHz) which have the advantage of sending large amounts of data at very high speeds.

Operate in 3 bands, namely low, mid and high frequency spectrum.

Reduced latency will support new applications that leverage the power of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence.

Increased capacity on 5G networks can minimize the impact of load spikes, like those that take place during sporting events and news events.

Significance of the technology:

India’s National Digital Communications Policy 2018 highlights the importance of 5G when it states that the convergence of a cluster of revolutionary technologies including 5G, the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics, along with a growing start-up community, promise to accelerate and deepen its digital engagement, opening up a new horizon of opportunities.

What are the potential health risks from 5G?

To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies.

Tissue heating is the main mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency fields and the human body. Radiofrequency exposure levels from current technologies result in negligible temperature rise in the human body.

As the frequency increases, there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye).

Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated.

What are the international exposure guidelines?

Two international bodies produce exposure guidelines on electromagnetic fields. Many countries currently adhere to the guidelines recommended by:

  • The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.
  • The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, through the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety.
  • These guidelines are not technology-specific. They cover radiofrequencies up to 300 GHz, including the frequencies under discussion for 5G.

International efforts- International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project:

WHO established the International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project in 1996. The project investigates the health impact of exposure to electric and magnetic fields in the frequency range 0-300 GHz and advises national authorities on EMF radiation protection.

National Snakebite Awareness Summit

(GS-II: Issues related to Health)

In News:

National Snakebite Awareness Summit was recently organised in virtual mode by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing Council, New Delhi.

Details:

The summit was held on the eve of the International Snakebite Awareness Day, observed on 19 September every year.

What’s the issue?

India is registering an alarming number of deaths due to snakebite. Most of the deaths are preventable with greater awareness and accessible healthcare.

There is no mechanism of management in the peripheral system to treat snakebites – doctors and paramedical staff need to learn snakebite management but there are no modules.

What needs to be done?

Establishment of a dialysis centre attached to the PHCs to offer immediate treatment to those with renal failure due to snakebite.

Region-specific treatment protocols to treat snakebite victims and to administer the anti-venom injection, when required.

Besides, we need to include tribal healers who have the knowledge of traditional medicine and medicinal plants.

Snakebite should be a notifiable disease and industry can bring in easy solutions but we need help from policymakers in doing that.

Need more localized surveys as preventing snakebite will bring equity – most affected people include children working with parents on fields, villagers and tribals.

Snakebite cases in India:

In the 20-year period from 2000 to 2019, the country recorded 1.2 million snakebite deaths with an average of 58,000 deaths every year.

As much as 97 per cent of these deaths happened in villages and more than half of the dead were men in their most productive years.