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6th May Current Affairs

World Food Programme

(GS-II: Food security related issues)

In News:

The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) has said that it is in discussions with India on procurement of wheat as several countries face food security challenges amid the Ukraine war.

Background:

India, in February 2022, signed an agreement with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for the distribution of 50,000 MT of wheat that it has committed to sending Afghanistan as part of a humanitarian assistance.

India’s wheat production stood at 109.59 million tonnes in the 2020-21 crop year (July-June).

What is the UN WFP?

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.

Born in 1961, the WFP strives to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, with the ultimate goal in mind of eliminating the need for food aid itself.

It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its Executive Committee.

WFP food aid is also directed to fight micronutrient deficiencies, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat disease, including HIV and AIDS.

It works closely with the other two Rome-based UN agencies:

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which helps countries draw up policy and change legislation to support sustainable agriculture.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which finances projects in poor rural areas.

Funding:

The WFP has no independent source of funds, it is funded entirely by voluntary donations. Its principal donors are governments, but the organization also receives donations from the private sector and individuals.

Israel upholds expulsion order against West Bank hamlets

(GS-II: Effects of policies of developed nations)

In News:

Israel’s Supreme Court has upheld a long-standing expulsion order against eight Palestinian hamlets in the occupied West Bank, potentially leaving at least 1,000 people homeless.

Background:

The military declared the area a firing and training zone in the early 1980s. Israeli authorities have argued that the residents only used the area for seasonal agriculture and had no permanent structures there at the time. In November 1999, security forces expelled some 700 villagers and destroyed homes and cisterns. The legal battle began the following year.

What do the expelled families say?

The families say they have been there for decades, from long before Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war.

They practice a traditional form of desert agriculture and animal herding, with some living in caves at least part of the year, but say their only homes are in the hardscrabble communities now at risk of demolition.

Where is the West Bank?

It is a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, bordered by Jordan to the east and by the Green Line separating it and Israel on the south, west and north. The West Bank also contains a significant section of the western Dead Sea shore.

What are the disputed settlements here? Who lives there?

The West Bank was captured by Jordan after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Israel snatched it back during the Six Day War of 1967, and has occupied it ever since. During this war, the country defeated the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.

It has built some 130 formal settlements in the West Bank, and a similar number of smaller, informal settlements have mushroomed over the last 20-25 years.

Over 4 lakh Israeli settlers — many of them religious Zionists who claim a Biblical birthright over this land — now live here, along with some 26 lakh Palestinians.

The territory is still a point of contention due to a large number of Palestinians who live there and hope to see the land become a part of their future state.

When Israel took control of the land in 1967 it allowed Jewish people to move in, but Palestinians consider the West Bank illegally occupied Palestinian land.

Are these settlements illegal?

The United Nations General Assembly, the UN Security Council, and the International Court of Justice have said that the West Bank settlements are violative of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.

Under the Rome Statute that set up the International Criminal Court in 1998, such transfers constitute war crimes, as does the “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly”.

Citizenship (Amendment) Act Rules

(GS-II: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these)

In News:

Home Minister Amit Shah has reiterated the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, would be implemented once the Covid-19 pandemic ends.

About The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA):

It was passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019 and the Act was notified within 24 hours on December 12.

It seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The Citizenship Act,1955 provides various ways in which citizenship may be acquired.

It provides for citizenship by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation and by incorporation of the territory into India.

About CAA:

The objective of the CAA is to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities — Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian — from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Those from these communities who had come to India till December 31, 2014, facing religious persecution in their respective countries, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

The Act provides that the central government may cancel the registration of OCIs on certain grounds.

Exceptions:

The Act does not apply to tribal areas of Tripura, Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya because of being included in the 6th Schedule of the Constitution.

Also areas that fall under the Inner Limit notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, will also be outside the Act’s purview.

Issues surrounding the law:

It violates the basic tenets of the Constitution. Illegal immigrants are distinguished on the basis of religion.

It is perceived to be a demographic threat to indigenous communities.

It makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to equality.

It attempts to naturalise the citizenship of illegal immigrants in the region.

It allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences.

FSSAI’s Star Rating

(GS-III: Issues related to food security)

In News:

The “health star rating” system that the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) plans to adopt in order to help consumers reduce their intake of unhealthy foods has been opposed by close to a dozen consumer and health advocacy groups.

About FSSAI’s Star Rating:

In February 2022, the FSSAI decided to adopt the “health-star rating system”, which gives a product 1/2 a star to 5 stars, in its draft regulations for front of package labelling (FOPL).

It aims to help consumers reduce their intake of unhealthy foods.

The HSR format ranks a packaged food item based on salt, sugar, and fat content and the rating will be printed on the front of the package.

The underlying premise of the HSR is that positive ingredients such as fruits and nuts can offset negative nutrients such as calories, saturated fat, total sugar, sodium to calculate the number of stars ascribed to a product.

Applicability:

All packaged food items or processed food will have the HSR label. These will include chips, biscuits, namkeen, sweets and chocolates, meat nuggets, and cookies.

Exemptions: However, milk and its products such as chenna and ghee are EXEMPTED as per the FSSAI draft notified in 2019.

Need for HSR:

A lot of Indian consumers do not read the information available at the back of the packaged food item.

Also, India has a huge burden of non-communicable diseases that contributes to around 5.87 million (60%) of all deaths in a year.

HSR will encourage people to make healthy choices and could bring a transformational change in the society.

Why is it being opposed?

Some experts opposed the use of the HSR model in India, suggesting that consumers might tend to take this as an affirmation of the health benefits rather than as a negative warning of ill effects.

Impact on Sale: Certain organisations fear it might affect the sale of certain food products.

FSSAI:

FSSAI is an autonomous statutory body established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act).