UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 19th March 2022
Topics for the day:
- Conflict not in anyone’s interest, Xi tells Biden
- 3 spotted deer die at IIT-M in suspected case of anthrax
- Prevention of sexual harassment or POSH Act
- ‘Meri Policy Mere Haath’ campaign
- Extinction Rebellion
- Original manuscripts from Nalanda to be translated
- National ST Commission is dysfunctional: House panel
- Suspected poisoning kills 100 vultures
Conflict not in anyone’s interest, Xi tells Biden
- S. President Joe Biden spoke with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, via a video call as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues.
- The call lasted just under two hours, as per the White House.
More on the meeting :
- “Countries should not come to the point of meeting on the battlefield” the Chinese readout said. “Conflict & confrontation are not in anyone’s interest. Peace & security are what the international community should treasure the most,” Mr. Xi said.
- The Chinese readout said that Mr. Xi told Mr. Biden that the “mishandling” of the Taiwan issue could disrupt bilateral ties.
- This is the second high level bilateral discussion between the two countries this week. Mr. Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had in person discussions with Communist Party of China Politburo member Yang Jiechi, in Rome.
- While a range of issues was discussed by both sides, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a significant part of the agenda, according to the White House.
- China, like India, had abstained from a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Moscow and calling for Russian troops to immediately withdraw from Ukraine.
- Also according to U.S. officials, Beijing was offering Moscow military assistance, a claim dismissed by Beijing as “disinformation”
Issues of contention between US – China
- The South China Sea is a major point of contention between the two nations. China claims virtually the entire South China Sea which is opposed by several countries in that region. The established rule-based system is being challenged by China’s territorial claims.
- The U.S. considers it to be a violation of the established rule-based system as China is increasing its maritime activities in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
- The U.S. opposes any further militarization of the region.
- Another point of contention is the S. stance on Taiwan. China considers U.S. relations with Taiwan as a threat to its One China Policy.
- Similarly, the S. stance on Hong Kong and its condemnation of the way the Chinese administration is dealing with the protesters is a point of contention between the two countries.
- The trade deficit has given rise to the trade war between the two countries. The U.S. started imposing tariffs on Chinese imports and retaliatory tariffs by China on U.S. goods strained the relations further.
- The U.S. labeled China as a currency manipulator after the Chinese central bank let the Yuan weaken significantly.
- The U.S. banned the use of Huawei equipment by U.S. federal agencies.
- China-U.S. tensions over the origin of the COVID-19 virus. Both of the countries blame each other for being the place of origin of the deadly virus.
- The U.S. has always criticized China’s dealing with Uighurs. The U.S. imposed sanctions on Chinese officials, companies, and institutions on the grounds of human rights violations
- North Korea is one of the grounds of contention between the two countries. Although both of the countries want North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, the U.S. alleges that China has violated the U.N. sanctions on North Korea.
3 spotted deer die at IIT-M in suspected case of anthrax
- Three deer on the IIT-Madras campus died in a suspected case of anthrax.
More on Anthrax :
- Anthrax is a disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a germ that lives in soil.
- It affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats more often than people.
- People can get anthrax from contact with infected animals, wool, meat, or hides. It can cause three forms of disease in people.
- Anthrax does not spread directly from one infected animal or person to another; it is spread by spores. These spores can be transported by clothing or shoes.
- Anthrax has been used in biological warfare by agents and by terrorists to intentionally infect. It was spread in the US through mail.
Exposure to anthrax :
- Occupational exposure to infected animals or their products (such as skin, wool, and meat) is the usual pathway of exposure for humans.
- Workers who are exposed to dead animals and animal products are at the highest risk, especially in countries where anthrax is more common.
- It does not usually spread from an infected human to a noninfected human.
- But, if the disease is fatal to the person’s body, its mass of anthrax bacilli becomes a potential source of infection to others and special precautions should be used to prevent further contamination.
- Anthrax can be contracted in laboratory accidents or by handling infected animals or their wool or hides.
- The standard treatment for anthrax is a 60-day course of an antibiotic. Treatment is most effective when started as soon as possible.
Prevention of sexual harassment or POSH Act
- Kerala High Court has asked organisations associated with the film industry to take steps to constitute a joint committee to deal with cases of sexual harassment of women, in line with the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013.
About the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013:
- Defines sexual harrassment – it includes “any one or more” of the following “unwelcome acts or behaviour”committed directly or by implication: Physical contact and advances, Sexually coloured remarks, Showing pornography, A demand or request for sexual favours, Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
- This Act lays down the procedures for a complaint and inquiry and the action to be taken.
- It mandates that every employer constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at each office or branch with 10 or more employees.
- A woman can be of any age, whether employed or not, who “alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment”, that means the rights of all the women working or visiting any workplace, in any capacity, are protected
Problems with the act
- The 2013 Act has entrusted the powers of a civil court to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC)without specifying if the members need to have a legal background.
- The 2013 act only imposed a fine of ?50,000 on employers for non-compliance with respect to the constitution of the ICC. This proved to be insufficient in ensuring that the employers constituted the ICC in a time-bound manner.
‘Meri Policy Mere Haath’ campaign
- ‘Meri Policy Mere Haath’ campaign was launched recently in Karnataka.
- The campaign is part of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. It is aimed at motivating all farmers in the country to insure their crops.
- Under this program, every farmer who has taken insurance under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) will get the policy documents at their doorstep.
More on the PMFBY:
- It provides a comprehensive insurance cover against failure of the crop thus helping in stabilising the income of the farmers.
- All food & oil seed crops and annual commercial/horticultural crops for which past yield data is available.
- The prescribed premium is 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all rabi crops. In the case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium is 5%.
- Premium cost over and above the farmer share was equally subsidized by States and GoI.
- The scheme was compulsory for loanee farmers availing Crop Loan/Kisan Credit Card (KCC) account for notified crops and voluntary for others.
- In order to ensure more efficient and effective implementation of the scheme, the central government had revamped PMFBY in the 2020 Kharif season it has the following features:
- Completely Voluntary: Enrollment 100% voluntary for all farmers from 2020 Kharif.
- Limit to Central Subsidy: The Cabinet has decided to cap the Centre’s premium subsidy under the scheme for premium rates up to 30% for unirrigated areas/crops and 25% for irrigated areas/crops.
- More Flexibility to States: The government has given the flexibility to states/UTs to implement PMFBY and given them the option to select any number of additional risk covers/features.
- Investing in IEC Activities: Insurance companies have to now spend 0.5% of the total premium collected on information, education and communication (IEC) activities.
- World over activists of Extinction Rebellion are staging protests in various formats.
What is the Extinction Rebellion, also referred to as ‘XR’?
- Initially, launched in the United Kingdom on October 31, 2018, as a response to a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
- Now, it is a global movement which seeks to “rebel”, and asks groups to “self-organise”, without the need for anyone’s permission, to come up with collective action plans as long as they adhere to the group’s core principles and values.
- It is a decentralised, international and politically non-partisan movement using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.
- The group has “three core demands” of governments around the world.
- It wants governments to “Tell the Truth”, to “Act Now”, and to “Go Beyond Politics” in order to confront the climate and ecological emergency that the world is faced with.
XR and India:
- The movement claims to have been inspired by 15 major civil disobedience movements around the world, including, apart from Women’s Suffrage and the Arab Spring, India’s struggle for Independence.
- It refers to Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt March in 1930.
- XR’s website says there are 19 groups in the country, including in the cities of Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Chennai.
Original manuscripts from Nalanda to be translated
- Steps are being taken to translate and publish hundreds of original Buddhist manuscripts from Nalanda and Vikramshila.
- The process has been started by the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies (CIHTS) at Sarnath.
- The manuscripts were saved from being burnt in the 12th and 13th centuries by Bakhtiyar Khilji’s Army and later brought back to India from Tibet by traveller, freedom fighter and monk Rahul Sankrityayan.
- The original Buddhist manuscripts were saved during the burning of two great ancient universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila and taken to Tibet.
- The manuscripts were brought back to India by Sankrityayan and are now housed in the Patna Museum.
- The manuscripts were written in Sanskrit by scholars of the two universities between the seventh and 12th centuries AD.
More about the universities :
Nalanda university :
- Kumaragupta of the Gupta dynasty founded Nalanda University in modern Bihar in the early 5th century, and it flourished for 600 years until the 12th century.
- During the era of Harshavardhana and the Pala monarchs, it rose to popularity.
- Until the 12th century 1193 AD, when Turkish ruler Qutbuddin Aibak’s general Bakhtiyar Khilji demolished Nalanda University, the university remained a hub of intellectual activity.
- It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- In 2010, the Government of India passed a resolution to revive the famous university, and a contemporary institute, Nalanda University, was established at Rajgir.
- Even though it taught about all sects of Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism was the primary subject of instruction, although other secular disciplines like grammar, logic, epistemology, and science were also covered.
- Famous scholars of Nalanda are Nagarjuna (Madhyamika Shunyavad) and Aryabhatta, the astronomer.
- During King Harsha’s reign, Chinese traveler Huen Tsang visited Nalanda University and wrote a detailed account of the university
- I-Tsing, a Chinese scholar, stated that Nalanda housed 2,000 students and was supported by money from 200 villages.
- Archaeological evidence also indicates contact with the Indonesian Shailendra dynasty, one of whose kings built a monastery in the complex.
Vikramshila university :
- The Pala dynasty ruler Dharmapala (783–820 AD) founded Vikramashila in response to a perceived decrease in the level of study at Nalanda.
- Dharampala was Gopala’s son, who founded Odantapuri University.
- This demonstrates how important education was to the Pala rulers of Bengal and Bihar.
- Around 1203 AD, it was destroyed by Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khalji’s forces
- It was a center for Vajrayana Buddhism and employed Tantric preceptors.
- Logic, Vedas, astronomy, urban development, law, grammar, philosophy, and other disciplines were also taught.
- Vikramshila University drew students from all over the country as well as from other countries
- One of the students at this university was Atia Dipankara, the founder of the Tibetan Buddhist Shakra traditions
National ST Commission(NSTC) is dysfunctional: House panel
- The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has been dysfunctional for four years and has not delivered a single report to Parliament, a House panel has said in a recent report.
- The pending reports include a study of the impact of the Indira Sagar Polavaram Project in A.P. on the tribal population and a special report on the rehabilitation and resettlement of tribal people displaced by the Rourkela steel plant
What is the NSTC?
- NCST was set up with effect from 19th February, 2004 by amending Article 338 and by inserting a new article 338A in the Constitution through the 89th Constitution Amendment Act, 2003. Hence, it is a constitutional body
Composition of the NSTC :
- It consists of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and 3 other Members who are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
- At least one member should be a woman.
- The Chairperson, the Vice-Chairperson and the other Members hold office for a term of 3 years.
- The members are not eligible for appointment for more than two terms.
Powers of the commission :
- To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the STs under the Constitution or under any other law for the time being in force or under any order of the Government.
- To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the STs.
- To participate and advise in the planning process of socio-economic development of the STs and to evaluate the progress of their development.
- To present to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards.
- To make in such reports, recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or any State for effective implementation of those safeguards.
- To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes as the President may specify
Suspected poisoning kills 100 vultures
- At least 100 vultures, all Himalayan griffons, died of suspected poisoning in Assam.
- However 12 vultures and a steppe eagle, which is also a scavenger, were saved.
- A study by the Bombay Natural History Society and other organisations in the 1990s found that the population of the Gyps group – Himalayan griffon, white rumped and slender billed vultures are among its members in India and Nepal declined from about 40 million by 99.9% in just two decades.
Himalayan Griffons :
- It is one of the two largest Old World vultures and true raptors.
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status: Near Threatened species.
- This species is found along the Himalayas and the adjoining Tibetan Plateau
- Himalayan vultures are also susceptible to toxicity induced by diclofenac, a drug whose residues in domestic animal carcasses affect the kidneys of these vultures.
- Uncontrolled veterinary usage of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), including Aceclofenac, Ketoprofen and Nimesulide are toxic to vultures if they feed on carcasses within 72hrs of death.
White rumped vultures :
- This species qualifies as Critically Endangered because it has suffered an extremely rapid population decline of >99% over three generations, primarily as a result of feeding on carcasses of animals treated with the veterinary drug diclofenac.
- It is found in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia
- It occurs mostly in plains and less frequently in hilly regions where it utilises light woodland, villages, cities, and open areas.
- It is social and usually found in conspecific flocks
UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 19th March 2022
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