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26 November Current Affairs

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW)

In News:

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW) is observed every year across the world on 25 November.

Aim: To raise awareness about violence against women and girls, end violence against women. It also seeks to show that prevention is possible against violence of women.

Theme and its significance: “Orange the World: #HearMeToo”. It aims to reinforce UNiTE Campaign’s commitment to create world free from violence for all women and girls and reaching out to most marginalized people including migrants, refugees, indigenous peoples, minorities and populations affected by natural disasters and conflicts.

Background:

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was instituted by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in December 1999.

This day is commemorated in memory of Mirabal sisters who were three political activists from Dominican Republic. They were brutally assassinated during the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship (1930-1961) in 1960.

Why we must eliminate violence against women?

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it.

In general terms, it manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms, encompassing:

  • Intimate partner violence (battering, psychological abuse, marital rape, femicide).
  • Sexual violence and harassment (rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking, cyber- harassment).
  • Human trafficking (slavery, sexual exploitation).
  • Female genital mutilation.
  • Child marriage.

Violence against women- definition:

The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

Alarming Figures:

  • 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner
  • Only 52% of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care
  • Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday; while 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • 1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2012; while only 1 out of 20 men were killed under similar circumstances
  • 71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of these women and girls are sexually exploited
  • Violence against women is as serious a cause of death and incapacity among women of reproductive age as cancer, and a greater cause of ill health than traffic accidents and malaria combined.

Source: The Hindu

Titli cyclone is ‘rarest of rare’

In News:

The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) for Africa and Asia has termed ‘Titli’, the severe cyclonic storm that devastated Odisha in October, as ‘rarest cyclone’.

Details:

More than 200 years of cyclone track history in the Odisha coast reveals that the Titli cyclone is the rarest of rare in terms of its characteristics such as recurvature after landfall and retaining its destructive potential after landfall and recurvature away from the coastal areas for more than two days.

Background:

Earlier, India Meteorological Department had called the formation of Titli as a ‘rarest of rare’ occurrence. The severe cyclone had changed its path after landfall.

What can we learn from this?

The Odisha State Disaster Management Authority faced challenges in anticipating and managing Titli’s impact due to lack of impact-based actionable early warning information and prior experience not only in India but also elsewhere. The OSDMA, by learning the lessons from Titli cyclone, could evolve measures to minimise impacts in both coastal and non-coastal regions more effectively in future.

The RIMES has recommended that a detailed risk assessment has to be carried out for Odisha to understand the risks in the light of the Titli devastation.

About RIMES:

RIMES, an inter-governmental body registered under the United Nations. It is being owned and managed by 45 collaborating countries in Asia Pacific and Africa Region. The programme unit of the agency is located in Thailand. At present, India is chairing RIMES.

RIMES evolved from the efforts of countries in Africa and Asia, in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, to establish a regional early warning system within a multi-hazard framework for the generation and communication of early warning information, and capacity building for preparedness and response to trans-boundary hazards.

Source: The Hindu

Constitution Day of India

In News:

Constitution day which is also known as the Samvidhan Divas is celebrated every year on November 26 to mark the day on which the Constitution of India was adopted. While the adoption of the Constitution took place on November 26, 1949, it came into effect on January 26, 1950.

Details:

The draft of the constitution was prepared by the drafting committee under BR Ambedkar’s aegis. According to the government notification, the Constitution Day was also a tribute to Ambedkar.

Earlier, this day was commemorated as National Law Day, after a resolution by the Supreme Court Bar Association, a lawyers’ body, in 1979.

Celebrations this year:

With the collective efforts of the Buddhist Association for the blind and the Saavi Foundation and Swagat Thorat, for the first time the constitution will be made available in Braille. As part of the joint project, the constitution will be made available in five parts in Braille for the benefit of visually challenged individuals.

Source: The Hindu

ZSI report on Andaman & Nicobar Islands fauna

In News:

A recent publication by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) titled Faunal Diversity of Biogeographic Zones: Islands of India has for the first time come up with a database of all faunal species found on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, putting the number at 11,009.

Key highlights of the report:

The documentation proves that the islands, comprising only 0.25% of India’s geographical area, are home to more than 10% of the country’s fauna species. It has 11,009 species.

Endemic species: The Narcondam hornbill, its habitat restricted to a lone island; the Nicobar megapode, a bird that builds nests on the ground; the Nicobar treeshrew, a small mole-like mammal; the Long-tailed Nicobar macaque, and the Andaman day gecko, are among the 1,067 endemic faunal species found only on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and nowhere else.

Among birds, endemism is quite high, with 36 among 344 species of birds found only on the islands. Many of these bird species are placed in the IUCN Red List of threatened species under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA).

Endemic reptiles: Eight species of amphibians and 23 species of reptiles are endemic to the islands, and thus are at high risk of being threatened.

Marine faunal diversity: Includes coral reefs and its associated fauna. In all, 555 species of scleractinian corals (hard or stony corals) are found in the island ecosystem, all which are placed under Schedule I of the WPA. Similarly, all species of gorgonian (sea fans) and calcerous sponge are listed under different schedules of the WPA.

Concerns: The publication cautions that tourism, illegal construction and mining are posing a threat to the islands’ biodiversity, which is already vulnerable to volatile climatic factors. Some of the species in A&N Islands are restricted to a very small area and thus more vulnerable to any anthropogenic threat. Any stress can have a long-lasting impact on the islands’ biodiversity, devastating the population size of any endemic fauna, followed by extinction within a limited span of time.

Vulnerable species: Of the ten species of marine fauna found on the islands, the dugong/sea cow, and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, are both classified as Vulnerable under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. Among the 46 terrestrial mammalian species found, three species have been categorised as Critically Endangered — Andaman shrew (Crocidura andamanensis), Jenkin’s shrew (C. jenkinsi) and Nicobar shrew (C. nicobarica). Five species are listed as Endangered, nine species as Vulnerable, and one species as Near Threatened, according to the IUCN.

Background:

The total area of the A&N Islands, which comprises of 572 islands, islets and rocky outcrops, is about 8,249 sq. km. The population of the islands, which includes six particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) — Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa, Sentinelese, Nicobarese and Shompens — is not more than 4 lakh.

What’s made the location more vulnerable?

In a recent development, the Government of India relaxed the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) norms for some foreign nationalities notified under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963, to visit 29 of its inhabited islands, till December 31, 2022. This has triggered further concerns of increased anthropogenic pressures over the islands’ ecosystem. Some of the islands removed from the RAP list have no habitation except PVTG like Sentinelese in case of North Sentinel Island.

The development paradigm that is being pushed for this place at the macro level, such as tourism, construction and development of military, are not taking in account three factors — ecological fragility of the area (the endemism), geological volatility (earthquakes and tsunamis), and the impact they will have on local communities.

Source: The Hindu

SSB to patrol Dudhwa tiger reserve

In News:

Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Sashastra Seema Bal have joined hands to provide security to Dudhwa forests and its rich wildlife.

Details:

It has been agreed that joint long route patrolling comprising SSB, STPF and DTR field staff would be held at regular intervals.

Stress will be laid on intelligence and information sharing among various security agencies about activities of wildlife and forest criminals.

A mechanism to establish SSB border outpost level communication and information sharing will be developed to strengthen the safety of Dudhwa.

Dudhwa Tiger Reserve:

It is protected area in Uttar Pradesh that stretches mainly across the Lakhimpur Kheri and Bahraich districts.

It comprises Dudhwa National Park, Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary.

It shares north-eastern boundary with Nepal, which is defined to large extent by Mohana River.

The area is vast Terai alluvial floodplain traversed by numerous rivers and streams flowing in south-easterly direction.

Faunal diversity: Apart from tigers, it is also home to swamp deer, sambar deer, barking deer, spotted deer, hog deer, Indian rhinoceros, sloth bear, ratel, jackal, civets, jungle cat, fishing cat, etc.

Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB):

It is Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) entrusted with guarding country’s border with Nepal and Bhutan.

It was established in 1963 and functions under administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Its headquarters are in New Delhi.

It has specialist jurisdictions for national border patrol, security, and integrity.

Source: The Hindu

Scientists mull stratospheric barrier to curb global warming

In News:

Scientists have found that spraying sun-dimming chemicals high above the earth to slow global warming could be remarkably inexpensive costing about $2.25 billion a year over a 15-year period.

Details:

This geo-engineering technique known as stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) could limit rising temperatures that are causing climate change.

What are Stratospheric Sulphur Aerosols?

Stratospheric sulfur aerosols are sulfur-rich particles which exist in the stratosphere region of the Earth’s atmosphere. The layer of the atmosphere in which they exist is known as the Junge layer, or simply the stratospheric aerosol layer.

These particles consist of a mixture of sulfuric acid and water. They are created naturally, such as by photochemical decomposition of sulfur-containing gases, e.g. carbonyl sulfide.

 

Sulfur aerosols are common in the troposphere as a result of pollution with sulfur dioxide from burning coal, and from natural processes.

Volcanoes are a major source of particles in the stratosphere as the force of the volcanic eruption propels sulfur-containing gases into the stratosphere.

What is Stratospheric Aerosol Injection (SAI)?

Under SAI delivery of precursor sulfide gases such as sulfuric acid, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) or sulfur dioxide (SO2) by are sprayed by artillery, aircraft and balloons.

It would involve the use of huge hoses, cannons or specially designed aircraft to spray large quantities of sulphate particles into the upper layer of the atmosphere to act as a reflective barrier against sunlight.

Total costs estimated to launch a hypothetical SAI effort 15 years from now would be $3.5 billion and average annual operating costs would be about $2.25 billion a year over 15 years.

Discounting other methods of deployment because of cost and feasibility, the research assumes a special aircraft can be designed to fly at an altitude of about 20 km and carry a load of 25 tonnes.

Significance:

This proposed method could counter most climatic changes, take effect rapidly, have very low direct implementation costs, and be reversible in its direct climatic effects.

Benefits of the SAI:

Mimics a natural process. It is technologically feasible. The method is economically feasible and efficient.

Possible side effects:

  • Tropospheric Ozone depletion.
  • Whitening of the sky.
  • Tropopause warming and the humidification of the stratosphere.
  • Involves Health effects.
  • Stratospheric temperature rise and circulation change.

Source: The Hindu

Impact Based Forecasting Approach

In News:

A new technology called ‘Impact Based Forecasting Approach’ has been developed by IMD to assess the rise of water level in rivers and reservoirs by rain and can help state governments to minutely monitor the impact of rainfall.

Details:

The technique is designed to forecast the expected impact as a result of expected weather. Hazard (a geophysical or human-induced element that poses a level of threat to life, property or environment) and vulnerability (susceptibility of exposed elements such as human beings and their livelihood and property) are taken into consideration in this forecast approach.

Need:

The heavy downpour had led to floods in Kerala and was result of climate change. State Government had blamed IMD for lapses in its part for wrong rain forecast. IMD had forecasted estimated 98.5 mm rain in the state between 9 and 15 August, 2018 but Kerala received was 352.2 mm of rainfall resulting in severe flooding.

Significance:

Pre-event scenario will help state governments authorities to minutely monitor impact of rainfall and take real-time decisions. It will help to avoid disastrous situation similar to Kerala floods. It can generate scenario to help take decisions to release water or not from reservoirs after heavy downpour. It will be helpful for every state authority to take decision. This system can be run in pre-event scenario.

India Meteorological Department (IMD):

It is national meteorological service of the country and chief government agency dealing in everything related to meteorology, seismology and associated subjects. It was formed in 1875. It functions under Ministry of Earth Sciences. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Mandate:

Undertake meteorological observations and provide current information and forecasting information for most favorable operation of weather-dependent activities such as irrigation, agriculture, aviation, shipping etc.

Offer warning against severe weather phenomenon such as tropical cyclones, norwesters, dust storms, heat waves, cold waves, heavy rains, heavy snow, etc.

Provide met-related statistics needed for agriculture, industries, water resources management, oil exploration, and any other strategically important activities for the country.

Engage in research in meteorology and allied subjects.

Detect and locate earthquakes and evaluate of seismicity in various parts of the country for developmental projects.

Source: The Hindu

New species of shark identified in Indian Ocean

A new species of a deep sea shark- the Pygmy false catshark, has been found in the northern Indian Ocean, the first such discovery in India since 2011 when the Mangalore houndshark was identified.

The Pygmy false catshark is currently known only from deep waters (200-1000m depth) and has a length of about 65cm. It is dark brown without any prominent patterns.

The new species was found off the southwestern coast of India and north of Sri Lanka.

Its scientific name is Planonasus indicus – from ‘planus’ meaning flat and ‘nasus’ meaning nose.

The new species was first observed was on April 26, 2008, when it was caught in fishing nets in Kochi, Kerala.

70-feet tall statue of Lord Buddha unveiled at Rajgir in Nalanda district

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has unveiled 70-feet tall statue of Lord Buddha at Rajgir in Nalanda district of state. It is second tallest statue of Buddha in the country.

Key Facts:

The statue has been installed above 16 metre radius pedestal in middle of lake Ghora Katora. Ghora Katora is natural lake surrounded by five hills.

It has been made from 45,000 cubic foot pink sand stone.

Odisha now has a lexicon for rare tribal languages

The Odisha government has come out with lexicons of 21 tribal languages.

The bilingual tribal dictionaries will be used in multilingual education (MLE) initiated by the State government at the elementary level in tribal-dominated districts.

The bilingual tribal dictionaries for MLE and trilingual tribal language proficiency modules in all the 21 tribal languages have been formulated by the Special Development Council. Both will help in enhancing proficiency in tribal languages.

Background: Odisha has a unique place on the tribal map of India for having the maximum number of Scheduled Tribe communities. The State is home to 62 different tribal communities, including 13 particularly vulnerable tribal groups. These tribes speak 21 languages and 74 dialects. Of the 21 tribal languages, seven have their own scripts. However, Odia is used as the medium of communication in the dictionaries.

Kartarpur corridor

  • Union Cabinet approved the building and development of the Kartarpur corridor.
  • The corridor extends from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the international border.
  • It is built in order to facilitate pilgrims from India to visit GurdwaraDarbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of the Ravi Riverin Pakistan, where first Sikh Guru Nanak Dev spent eighteen years.
  • Pilgrims would then be able to visit the holy shrine throughout the year.

Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill

  • Union Cabinet has approved the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 for regulation and standardization of education and services by allied and healthcare professionals.
  • It provides for the establishment of a central and corresponding State allied and healthcare councils.
  • Which contains 15 major professional categories including 53 professions in Allied and Healthcare streams.
  • The Bill thus seeks to establish a robust regulatory framework which will play the role of a standard-setter and regulator for Allied and Healthcare professions.

Transgenic Rice

  • CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute have developed transgenic rice by inserting a novel fungal gene.
  • The new innovation will results in reduced arsenic accumulation in rice grain.
  • In India large number of people are affected by arsenic toxicity, it is imperative to develop rice with lesser arsenic content and high yield.

Ken-Betwa Link Project

  • Ken River is one of the major rivers of the Bundelkhand region of central India, it originates from Kaimur Range in Jabalpur district.
  • Betwa River or Betravati is a tributary of the Yamuna, It rises in the Vindhya Range, north of Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh
  • The Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) is India’s first river linking project started in 2017.
  • It aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken River in MP to Betwa in UP to irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region spread across the two states.

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