Daily Current Affairs – 07-07-2023

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    Adoption of the High Seas Treaty

    Syllabus :GS 2/International Agreements /GS 3/Conservation 

    In News

    Recently ,the UN adopted the Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) or the High Seas Treaty. 

    What are the high seas?

    •  According to the 1958 Geneva Convention on the High Seas,parts of the sea that are not included in the territorial waters or the internal waters of a country are known as the high seas
    • Simply put, it is the area beyond a country’s Exclusive Economic Zone which extends up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastline and till where a nation has jurisdiction over living and non-living resources.
    • No country is responsible for the management and protection of resources on the high seas.

    Importance 

    • The high seas account for more than 60% of the world’s ocean area and cover about half of the Earth’s surface, which makes them a hub of marine life. 
    • They are home to around 2.7 lakh known species, many of which are yet to be discovered. 
    • The high seas are fundamental to human survival and well-being. 
    • The high seas regulate the climate by playing a fundamental role in planetary stability by mitigating the effects of climate change through its absorption of carbon and by storing solar radiation and distributing heat around the globe.

    Background of the Treaty

    • The idea of protecting the marine environment emerged in 2002. 
    • By 2008, the need for implementing an agreement was recognised, which led to the UNGA resolution in 2015 to form a Preparatory Committee to create the treaty.  
    • The Committee recommended the holding of intergovernmental conferences (IGC) and after five prolonged IGC negotiations, the treaty was adopted in 2023.

    Current Status and objectives:

    • It is a framework to protect the world’s oceans by bringing them under protected areas. The treaty is designed to ensure the sustainable and equitable use of marine resources
    •  It became the third agreement to be approved under UNCLOS, after the 1994 and 1995 treaties, which established the International Seabed Authority and the Fish Stocks agreement.
    • The treaty is seen as a crucial component in the “30 by 30” targets agreed in Montreal, Canada, in December 2022. 
      • “30 by 30” is a global effort to bring 30 per cent of the world’s land and sea under protection by 2030.
      • The treaty’s objective is to implement international regulations to protect life in oceans beyond national jurisdiction through international cooperation.

    Major Highlights:  

    • The treaty aims to address critical issues such as the increasing sea surface temperatures, overexploitation of marine biodiversity, overfishing, coastal pollution, and unsustainable practices beyond national jurisdiction. 
    • The first step is establishing marine protected areas to protect oceans from human activities through a “three-quarterly majority vote,” which prevents the decision from getting blocked by one or two parties. 
    • On the fair sharing of benefits from marine genetic resources, the treaty mandates sharing of scientific information and monetary benefits through installing a “clear house mechanism.” 
    • Through the mechanism, information on marine protected areas, marine genetic resources, and “area-based management tools” will be open to access for all parties. 
      • This is to bring transparency and boost cooperation. 
    • The last pillar of the treaty is capacity building and marine technology. 
    • The Scientific and Technical Body will also play a significant role in environmental impact assessment. 
    • The body will be creating standards and guidelines for assessment procedures, and helping countries with less capacity in carrying out assessments. 

    Opposition:

    •  Many developed countries opposed the treaty as they stand by private entities which are at the forefront of advanced research and development in marine technology (patents relating to marine genetic resources are held by a small group of private companies). 
    • Russia and China also are not in favour of the treaty. 
    • Russia withdrew from the last stage of reaching a consensus in IGC-5, arguing that the treaty does not balance conservation and sustainability.

    Conclusion and Way Forward:

    • With the agreement on the UN High Seas Treaty, we take a crucial step forward to preserve the marine life and biodiversity that are essential for us and the generations to come .
      • It is also a proof of strengthened multilateral cooperation.
    • The UN High seas treaty is a huge step in the right direction. Many parts of the agreement are state-driven and will need a major step up.

    Source:TH

    July 4 is World’s Hottest Day

    Syllabus: GS1/Geography

    In News

    July 3 and July 4, 2023 have been measured to be the hottest two days for the earth ever.

    About

    • July 3 was the first time that the global average daily temperature crossed the 17 degree Celsius mark.
    • The average temperature on July 3 was measured to be 17.01 degree Celsius and July 4 recorded 17.18 degree Celsius.
    • Before this, the hottest daily temperature was 16.92 degree Celsius, recorded in August 2016.

    Why is it a concern?

    • A 17 degree Celsius temperature may not appear to be particularly warm. But this temperature was not over any one place or region.
    • This is a measure of the global average temperature for the day, the average over both land and ocean, including the ice sheets in the polar region and the snow of the high mountains where surface temperatures are well below zero degree Celsius.
    • Average temperatures over oceans are around 21 degree Celsius (oceans occupy nearly 70 % of the earth’s surface).

    Reason

    • This has been attributed to the onset of El Nino conditions.
    • Recently, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) announced the formal onset of the El Nino phase in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.
    • El Nino is the warmer-than-normal phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, during which the sea surface temperatures (SST) in a region of the equatorial Pacific Ocean known become warmer than the average by 0.5 degree Celsius or more.

    Way ahead: WMO Predictions

    • In its annual State of Global Climate report published in May 2023, the WMO, had said that at least one of the next five years (2023 to 2027) would be the warmest year on record, leaving 2016, the current record holder, behind.
    • There was a 66 % chance that at least one of these years would also breach the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold, meaning that average global temperatures in that year would be at least 1.5 degree Celsius higher than pre-industrial times.

    Source: IE

    Global Peace Index (GPI) 2023 

    Syllabus: GS2/IR

    In News

    The 2023 Global Peace Index (GPI) has released its annual ranking of the most peaceful countries in the world.

    About

    • This is the 17th edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI), which ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness. 
    • It is produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) and it is the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness.

    Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)

    • It was founded by IT entrepreneur and philanthropist Steve Killelea in 2007.
    • It aims to create a paradigm shift in the way the world thinks about peace by developing global and national indices, calculating the economic cost of violence, analysing country level risk and fragility, and understanding Positive Peace.
    • It’s research is used extensively by governments, academic institutions, think tanks, non‑governmental organisations and by intergovernmental institutions such as the OECD, The Commonwealth Secretariat, the World Bank and the United Nations. 
    • The Institute is headquartered in Sydney, Australia.

    Methodology

    • The GPI covers 163 countries comprising 99.7 percent of the world’s population, using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources. It measures the state of peace across three domains:
      • Societal safety and security
      • Ongoing domestic and international conflict
      • Militarisation

    Major Findings of the Index

    • Deterioration of Global Peace:  It reveals the average level of global peacefulness deteriorated for the ninth consecutive year, with 84 countries recording an improvement and 79 a deterioration. 
      • This demonstrates that the deteriorations were larger than the improvements, as the post-COVID rises of civil unrest and political instability remain high while regional and global conflicts accelerate.
      • The two indicators with the largest deteriorations in 2022 were conflict-related, external conflicts fought and deaths from internal conflict, followed by political instability.
    • Political Instability: There were 59 countries where political instability deteriorated over the past year, compared to just 22 where the indicator improved.
    • Global Conflicts: Deaths from global conflict increased by 96% to 238,000. New data shows a higher number of conflict deaths in Ethiopia than Ukraine, eclipsing the previous global peak during the Syrian war.
      • 79 countries witnessed increased levels of conflict including Ethiopia, Myanmar, Ukraine, Israel, and South Africa.
      • Conflicts are becoming more internationalised with 91 countries now involved in some form of external conflict, up from 58 in 2008.
    • Economic impact of violence: The global economic impact of violence increased by 17% or $1 trillion, to $17.5 trillion in 2022, equivalent to 13% of global GDP.
      • A Chinese blockade of Taiwan would cause a drop in global economic output of $2.7 trillion, almost double the loss that occurred due to the 2008 global financial crisis.
    • Military Expenditure: Despite the conflict in Ukraine, 92 countries improved on military expenditure and 110 decreased their military personnel.

    Ranking of the Countries

    • Top 10 Most Peaceful Countries: Iceland, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Austria, Singapore, Portugal, Slovenia, Japan, Switzerland.
    • Least peaceful countries: 154- Iraq, 155- Sudan, 156- Somalia, 157- Ukraine, 158- Russia, 159- Democratic Republic of the Congo, 160 -South Sudan, 161- Syria, 162- Yemen, 163- Afghanistan.
    • India: India has occupied the 126th spot in the rankings, two higher than its previous position. 
      • India experienced an improvement of 3.5 percent in overall peacefulness over the past year, owing to improvements in violent crime, neighbouring countries’ relations, and political instability. The improvement on the neighbouring countries relations indicator occurred because of fewer incidences of cross border violence and ceasefire violations with Pakistan and China in 2022.
    • Among other countries, Nepal, China, Sri Lanka, United States of America, and Pakistan, have been ranked 79, 80, 107, 131, 146, respectively.

    Source: IE

    Farmers Distress Index

    Syllabus: GS3/Indian Economy

    In News

    The Farmers Distress Index is under development and will be launched in coming months by the Government.

    What is the Farmers Distress Index? 

    • The Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), an institution under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) started working on a kind of an early warning system called ‘farmers distress index’ in 2022, a first of its kind for India. 
    • Aim: The main aim behind creating such an index is to minimise the agrarian distress in the form of crop loss/failure and income shock. 
      • Farmers’ exposure to shocks have increased in the recent years, with an increase in extreme climate events as well as market and price fluctuations, many times driving them to death by suicides. 
    • The index will try to anticipate this distress and prevent its spread from a few farmers to the village or block level by pre-warning different stakeholders, including central, state, local and also non-government agencies so that they can take timely preventive measures.
    • The index is currently being worked out in the form of a mobile or desktop application. 

    Methodology

    • First Step: To look for localised incidence of farmers distress such as issues with debt repayment, death by suicide, pest attacks, drought, floods, migration, among others through local newspapers, other news platforms and social media platforms.
    • Next Step: Following this, contacts of marginal and small farmers or tenant farmers from the area will be collected to conduct telephonic interviews, which will have 21 standardised questions to gauge early signs of distress.
    • The answers will be mapped against seven indicators: 
      • exposure to droughts, floods, crop failure due to pest attacks, livestock deaths,
      • Debt,
      • adaptive capacity of farmer and local government through different schemes,
      • land holding and irrigation facilities,
      • sensitivity, mitigation and adaptation strategies like growing of contingency crops if main crop fails,
      • triggers for immediate distress like health-related expenditure,
      • socio-psychological factors and impacts. 
    • Identification of distress: Based on these 21 questions, the degree of distress will be identified. 
      • The index will have values from 0-1. 
      • A value between 0-0.5 will indicate ‘low distress’, 0.5-0.7 will indicate ‘moderate’ distress and above 0.7 will indicate ‘severe’ distress. 
      • If the index is severe, it will identify which component, among the seven, is more severe and contributes maximum to farmers’ distress. 

    Implementation

    • CRIDA will be handing over the index to the Union government and it will be made available to different state governments, agriculture departments, rural development departments, agriculture universities, which have databases of local farmers as well as non-profits and civil society organisations. 
    • These different agencies can then carry out interventions to prevent income shocks to farmers depending on the severity of distress. 
    • The current solutions that are being thought upon are direct money transfer, mid-term release of claims under government’s crop insurance scheme (Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, PMFBY) in case of crop failures, providing work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, enhanced rationing under Public Distribution System.

    Source: DTE

    Facts In News

    Smart Bandage

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have built a new ‘Smart Bandage’ for treating chronic wounds.

    About

    • This wearable, wireless, mechanically flexible “smart bandage” is as big as a finger.
    • This device can deliver drugs while monitoring the healing status and transmitting data to a smartphone.

    Working

    • The device is assembled on a soft, stretchable polymer that helps the bandage maintain contact with and stick to the skin.
    • The bioelectronic system consists of biosensors that monitor biomarkers in the wound exudate.
    • Data collected by the bandage is passed to a flexible printed circuit board, which relays it wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet for review by a physician.
    • A pair of electrodes control drug release from a hydrogel layer as well as stimulate the wound to encourage tissue regrowth.

    Comparison with Earlier Technologies

    • While scientists have previously used biosensors to track wound-healing, they have monitored a single feature of the wound bed. The new setup, in contrast, can monitor multiple features, building the sort of picture required to fully understand the wound status.
    • In the past, the exudates (fluids exiting the wound) have limited the biosensors’ sensitivity. In the new design, the researchers enclosed the sensors in a porous membrane, protecting their parts and increasing their operational stability.

    Source: TH

    Ubinas 

    Syllabus :GS 1/Places in News

    In News

    Peru declared a state of emergency for sixty days in areas around the Ubinas volcano.

    About Ubinas 

    •  Ubinas is in Moquegua, a region that lies 1,200 kilometers southeast of the capital city Lima and is the country’s most active volcano.
    • The zone is part of the “Ring of Fire” along the edges of the Pacific Ocean known for volcanic activity and earthquakes.

    Peru

    • Lima – the capital.
    • It is  located on the western side of South America
    • It  shares borders with five countries: Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, Bolivia to the southeast, and Chile to the south. Its western border lies along the Pacific Ocean.
    • This region includes the towering peaks of the Andes Mountains, among them Huascarán, the highest peak in Peru.
    • This region is also home to Lake Titicaca, which Peru shares with Bolivia.

    Source:News on air

    Threads  app 

    Syllabus :GS 3/Science and Technology 

    In News

    Meta has unveiled an app called Threads to rival Twitter, targeting users looking for an alternative to the social media platform owned — and frequently changed — by Elon Musk.

    About Threads 

    • Based on Instagram’s account system, the app allows users to share text updates, post links, reply or report messages, and join public conversations.
    • It appears to function much like Twitter, emphasizing public conversations, with users able to follow people they already do on Instagram. 
    • It launched in more than 100 countries — including the U.S., Britain, Australia, Canada and Japan.
    • Features  : On Threads, there are buttons to like, repost, reply to or quote a thread, and users see the number of likes and replies that a post has received.
      • Posts are limited to 500 characters, which is more than Twitter’s 280-character threshold, and can include links, photos and videos up to five minutes long. 
      • Instagram users will be able to log in with their existing usernames and follow the same accounts on the new app. New users will have to set up an Instagram account.
    • Issues : Meta’s new offering, however, has raised data privacy concerns. 
    • Threads could collect a wide range of personal information, including health, financial, contacts, browsing and search history, location data, purchases and “sensitive info.
    • Road ahead : Meta’s product chief Chris Cox expressed his vision for Threads: a secure, user-friendly, and dependable platform where creators can find a “stable home to build and grow their audiences.”

    Source:BS

    Scheme for Expansion and Modernization of Fire Services in the States

    Syllabus: GS3/Disaster Management

    In News

    The Union Ministry of Home Affairs, has launched a “Scheme for Expansion and Modernization of Fire Services in the States”.

    About the Scheme

    • Background: The Scheme finds its origin from the recommendation of the Fifteenth Finance Commission which allows an allocation of 12.5 percent of each of the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for the Funding Window of Preparedness and Capacity Building.
    • Objective: To expand and modernize Fire Services in the States.
    • Aim: Several key initiatives are being taken to ensure ‘zero death’ and minimum loss of property during disasters by strengthening the disaster risk reduction system in India to make it disaster resilient.
    • Funding: Out of the total National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) corpus, an amount of Rs. 5,000 Crore was earmarked for priority “Expanding and Modernization of Fire Services”. 
      • For seeking funds for the projects/proposals under the Scheme, the concerned State Governments shall have to contribute 25% (except for the North-Eastern and Himalayan (NEH) States which shall contribute 10%) of total cost of such projects / proposals from their budgetary resources.

    Source: PIB

    Japan India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX 23)

    Syllabus: GS3/Internal Security

    In News

    The seventh edition of the bilateral Japan-India Maritime Exercise 2023 (JIMEX 23) hosted by the Indian Navy. 

    About

    • This edition marks the 11th anniversary of JIMEX, since its inception in 2012.
    • It is being conducted between Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) and the Indian Navy for maritime security cooperation.
    • The exercise is to be conducted over six days in two phases at/off Visakhapatnam.
    • JIMEX 23 will witness the participation of INS Delhi (India’s first indigenously built Guided Missile Destroyer) INS Kamorta (Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvette), fleet tanker INS Shakti, maritime patrol aircraft P8I and Dornier, ship-borne helicopters and fighter aircraft. 

    Other exercises between India and Japan

    • Dharma Guardian: Military Exercise.
    • Veer Guardian: Air  Exercise.
    • Malabar Exercise: Multilateral Exercise between India, Japan,USA and Australia.

    Source:PIB

    IN-USN Salvage and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Exercise – SALVEX

    Syllabus: GS3/Internal Security

    In News

    The Seventh edition of Indian Navy-US Navy (IN–USN) Salvage and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) exercise, SALVEX was conducted at Kochi.

    About

    • IN and USN have been participating in exercise since 2005. 
    • The exercise spanned over 10 days, included the ships – INS Nireekshak and USNS Salvor in addition to Specialist Diving and EOD teams. 

    Objective

    • conduct of joint training exercises towards enhancing interoperability, cohesiveness and gaining from best practices mutually in Maritime Salvage and EOD operations.
    • It enhances the skill-sets of the Diving teams in a number of diverse disciplines such as mine detection and neutralization, wreck location and salvage. 

    Source:PIB

    Bahubali Cattle Fence

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    In News

    The National Highway Authority of India has adopted the Bahubali cattle fence to prevent cattle entry onto highways.

    Bahubali cattle fence

    • The fence will be 1.20 meters high and will be installed on section 23 of NH-30 as a comprehensive solution.
    • Material:The cattle fence constructed using a bamboo crash barrier known as Kooch  Kawach.The bamboo is treated with creosote oil and coated withHigh Density Polyethylene(HDPE) to provide strength.

    Significance

    • It offers a fully effective and environmentally friendly solution,making it a stronger alternative to steel.
    • The fence has a fire rating of Class 1, ensuring safety, and aligns with the principles of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, which aims to make all highways sustainable and minimize harm to wildlife and cattle.

    Source:TOI

    First overseas IIT campus

    Syllabus: GS2/Education

    In News

    India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tanzania for setting up the campus of IIT-Madras in Zanzibar.

    About

    • The academic programmes, curricula, student selection aspects and pedagogical details will be set by IIT-Madras, while the capital and operating expenditure will be met by the government of Zanzibar-Tanzania.IIT-Madras degrees will be awarded to students enrolled in the campus. 
    • It is the first overseas IIT campus.Two more global campuses of IIT Delhi and IIT Kharagpur are set to come up in Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur.

    Significance

    • The initiative is to strengthen South-South cooperation as well as forge stronger people-to-people ties with Africa.
    • The move is also in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which recommends that “high performing Indian universities will be encouraged to set up campuses in other countries”.
    • The setting up of the IIT campus  is a step towards internationalizing Indian education and expanding India’s diplomatic relationships.

    Zanzibar

    • Zanzibar is an archipelago off the coast of east Africa that united with Tanganyika in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania.
    • It is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania.

    Source:IE