Daily Current Affairs – 24-07-2023

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    Global Report on the Food Crises

    Syllabus: GS2/ Health, Government Policies & Interventions, Issues Arising out of their Design & Implementation

    In Context

    • The Global Report on the Food Crises (GRFC) 2023 was recently released.

    About the Global Report on the Food Crises

    • The GRFC is produced by the Food Security Information Network in support of the Global Network against Food Crises.
    • It makes the assessment of the acute food insecurity in countries.
    • The report sets the global contexts preceding and during the year under assessment, particularly paying attention to the increasing phenomenon of urbanisation, and its effects on food security.

    Key highlights of the Report

    • Global crisis & attainment of SDGs: This year’s report records the historic moments that had an impact on the assessment — a pandemic and ensuing economic crisis, a war (in Ukraine), soaring prices of food, and agricultural inputs. 
      • The Global Report starts with a qualified assertion that hunger is no longer on an alarming path upwards at the global level, but still far above pre-COVID pandemic levels, and that the world is far off track towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 — Zero Hunger
    • No progress for 2022: New estimates of Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), as per the report, “confirm that for 2022, no progress was made on food insecurity at the global level. 
      • Following a sharp increase from 2019 to 2020, the global prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity remained unchanged for the second year in a row, but remained far above pre-COVID-19-pandemic levels.” 
      • In 2022, an estimated 2.4 billion people did not have access to adequate food. 
        • This is still 391 million more people than in 2019. 
    • Undernourishment: Global hunger, measured by yet another metric — the prevalence of undernourishment — remained relatively unchanged from 2021 to 2022 but is, again, far above pre-COVID-19-pandemic levels, affecting around 9.2% of the world population in 2022 compared with 7.9% in 2019, according to the report.
    • Intake of healthy diet:The revised analysis presented in this year’s report shows that almost 3.2 billion people worldwide could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, with a slight improvement in 2021. 
      • The cost of a healthy diet increased globally by 6.7% between 2019 and 2021. 
      • It also projects that almost 600 million people will be chronically undernourished in 2030.
    • Stunting, wasting & obesity: Some good news is that stunting, another key metric, defined as the condition of being too short for one’s age, among children under five years of age has declined steadily, from 204.2 million in 2000 to 148.1 million in 2022. 
      • Simultaneously, child wasting, caused by insufficient nutrient intake or absorption, declined from 54.1 million in 2000 to 45 million in 2022. 
      • In terms of children who are overweight or obese, the study indicated a non-significant increase from 5.3% (33 million) in 2000 to 5.6 % (37 million) in 2022.

    What is Food Security?

    • Food security is defined (from the World Food Summit of 1996) thus: “When all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active, and healthy life”. 
    • The prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population is based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES).

    Key drivers of Food Insecurity

    • The report notes the following reasons as being responsible: 
      • slowing down, thanks to lockdowns, economic downturns, and other pandemic-related disruptions in 2020 that led to job losses and reduced incomes for many people; 
      • The Ukraine war; 
      • Governmental policies that may not be entirely favourable; and 
      • Increasing urbanisation that drives changes through the agrifood systems. 
    • The report’s comparison of food insecurity among rural, peri-urban and urban populations reveals that global food insecurity is lower in urban areas.

    GRFC Report Solutions for hunger reduction

    • Identifying vulnerability: The report helps identify vulnerable population groups, contributing to evidence to inform decision-making and effective action through the appropriate targeting and design of policies and programmes. 
    • Sound nutrition: As the authors record, sound nutrition is fundamental to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and must be central in government policy and supported by civil society and the private sector. 
    • Supporting healthier food outlets: Some of its recommendations include supporting healthier food outlets as key for enabling access to healthy diets. 
    • Policy incentives: Policy incentives are necessary to encourage shops to sell greater amounts of fresh and minimally processed foods. 
    • Nutritional safety and quality of street food: Another key input is on street foods, which an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide consume every day, thanks to the convenience and cost factor. 
      • The report calls for addressing multiple infrastructure and regulatory gaps to improve nutritional safety and quality of street food.
    • Improving investments & infrastructure: The GRFC also suggests building rural infrastructure, including quality rural and feeder roads to connect remote farms and enterprises to main road networks. 
      • Other public investments to support linkages between (mainly small) farms and small and medium enterprises could include warehousing, cold storage, dependable electrification, access to digital tools and water supply.
    • Role of local governments: It underlines several times the role of local governments as fundamental actors in leveraging multilevel and multi-stakeholder mechanisms that have proved effective in implementing essential policies for making healthy diets available and affordable for all.

    Way Ahead

    • Fixing the pre-existing schemes is the obvious answer to addressing India’s multi-dimensional nutrition challenge.
      • Getting the already existing schemes right requires greater involvement of local government and local community groups in the design and delivery of tailored nutrition interventions.
    • The need of the hour is to make addressing child malnutrition the top priority of the government machinery, and all year around.

    Source: TH

    ED’s Power to Arrest and Seek Custody

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions

    In News

    • Madras High Court recently upheld the legality of Tamil Nadu Minister V. Senthilbalaji’s arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

    What did the High Court rule?

    • ED can subject any person accused in a case booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, to custodial interrogation even after the expiry of 15 days from the date of arrest. 
    • The central question of the case was whether the ED has the power to seek custody of a person arrested. It accepted that ED officials are not police officers as per the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary versus Union of India (2022). 

    About  Directorate of Enforcement (ED)

    • The Directorate of Enforcement or the ED is a multi-disciplinary organization mandated with investigation of economic crimes and violations of foreign exchange laws. 
    • The origin of this Directorate goes back to 1st May, 1956, when an ‘Enforcement Unit’ was formed in the Department of Economic Affairs. There were 02 branches – at Bombay and Calcutta.
    • In the year 1957, this Unit was renamed as ‘Enforcement Directorate’, and another branch was opened at Madras.
    • In 1960, the administrative control of the Directorate was transferred from the Department of Economic Affairs to the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance
    • The statutory functions of the Directorate include enforcement of following Acts:
      • The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA)
      • The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA)
      • The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 (FEOA)
      •  The Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973 (FERA)
      •  Sponsoring agency under COFEPOSA 

    About Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002 

    • The Parliament enacted the PMLA as a result of international commitment to deal with the menace of money laundering.
    • Provisions:
      • Sec. 3 of PMLA defines the offence of money laundering as any process or activity connected with the proceeds of crime and projecting it as untainted property.
      • Prescribe obligation: PMLA prescribes the obligation of banking companies, financial institutions and intermediaries for verification and maintenance of records of the identity of all its clients. 
      • Empowerment of officers: PMLA empowers certain officers of the Directorate of Enforcement to carry out investigations in cases involving offence of money laundering and also to attach the property involved in money laundering. It empowers the Director of FIU-IND to impose fines on banking companies, financial institutions or intermediaries if they or any of its officers fails to comply with the provisions of the Act.
      • Setting up of Authority: PMLA envisages the setting up of an Adjudicating Authority to exercise jurisdiction, power and authority conferred by it and also envisages the setting up of an Appellate Tribunal to hear appeals against the order of the Adjudicating Authority and the authorities like Director FIU-IND.
      • Special Courts: It envisages the designation of one or more courts of sessions as Special Court to try the offences punishable under PMLA. 
      • Agreement for Central Government: It allows the Central Government to enter into an agreement with the Government of any country outside India for enforcing the provisions of the PMLA.

    What has the SC held in the past about the PMLA?

    • Vijay Madanlal Choudhary versus Union of India, 2022:  It upheld various provisions of the PMLA which relate to the powers of arrest, attachment, search, and seizure conferred upon the ED.
    • P. Chidambaram versus Directorate of Enforcement 2019: It rejected anticipatory bail and proceeded to grant custody to the ED reasoning that the case of money-laundering requires a ‘systematic and analysed’ investigation which would be frustrated if pre-arrest bail is granted. 

    Source: TH

    Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Mission

    Syllabus: GS3/ Space

    In News

    • The Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Mission was successfully tested by ISRO at the ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) in Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

    About Gaganyaan Mission

    • Three people from the crew will be sent into a 400 kilometer orbit for a three-day mission, and they will be brought safely down to Earth with a landing in the Indian Ocean planned.
    • This manned mission will be the first of ISRO’s human spaceflight missions.
    • The US, Russia and China are the only three countries to have conducted human spaceflights yet.
    • It is launched by ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk III (3 stages heavy-lift vehicle).

    Significance of Gaganyaan Mission

    • India’s goal of attaining self-reliance: It will support the Make in India Initiative’s capacity development for satellite launches as well as India’s goal of achieving self-reliance in accordance with Atma Nirbhar Bharat’s vision. It will lessen India’s reliance on outside assistance in this area.
    • R&D and robotics program: It will also advance scientific and technological research and development, particularly in the field of space. It is consistent with India’s advancements toward a long-term, reasonably priced program for robotic and human exploration of the solar system and beyond.
    • Focus on regional needs: Gaganyaan will concentrate on regional demands because there may not be enough International Space Stations (ISS) to meet all of the world’s needs.
    • Strengthening international ties: Through the exchange of ambitious yet peaceful goals, the initiative will promote international partnerships and global security. 

    Challenges of Gaganyaan Astronauts

    • Environmental dangers: It includes radiation risk and a hostile space environment devoid of gravity and atmosphere.
    • Artificial Atmosphere: Pure oxygen or an atmosphere composed of an Earth-like combination of oxygen and an inert gas such as nitrogen, helium, or argon are the two fundamental options. 
    • Astronauts may have medical issues due to:
      • Microgravity: Transition from one gravity field to another affects hand-eye and head-eye coordination leading to orientation-loss, vision, muscle strength, aerobic capacity, etc.
      • Isolation: Behavioural issues are likely to crop up when astronauts are confined into small spaces and have to rely on limited resources. They may encounter depression, cabin fever, fatigue, sleep disorder and other psychiatric disorders.
    • Aerospace Technology Challenges: Space travel demands far faster speeds than regular air travel. A rocket’s speed may go from zero to nearly 25,000 km per hour in a matter of minutes, making space travel similar to sitting atop an exploding bomb. During the launch, pre-launch, and post-launch periods, anything can go wrong, including the rocket exploding.

    Source: TH

    Captive-bred Vultures

    Syllabus: GS3/ Conservation

    In News

    • The Oriental white-backed vultures that were released into the wild at the Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centre in Haryana’s Pinjore were successfully nested. 

    About

    • The BNHS and Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) have been managing four Jatayu conservation breeding centres across the country in partnership with the State governments of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Assam. 
    • Through this conservation breeding programme, the BNHS-RSPB has bred more than 700 birds in captivity since 2004.  
    • There has been no report of veterinary non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) related mortality. 
    • The Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), a government body, had recently recommended a ban on the use, sale, and manufacture of veterinary drugs Aceclofenac and Ketoprofen, for animal use. 

    Vulture Population in India

    • BirdLife International: The vulture population crashed from over 40,000 in 2003 to 18,645 in 2015.
    • India has lost 99 per cent of the population of the three species — Oriental White-Backed Vulture, Long-billed Vulture and Slender-billed Vulture
    • The Red-headed and the Egyptian Vulture populations have also crashed by 91 percent and 80 per cent respectively.

    Major Threats

    • Use of Diclofenac, Lack of Nesting Trees, Electrocution by power lines, Food Dearth and Contaminated Food, Pesticide poisoning also threaten vultures across the country. 
    • Restoring the population is an uphill task as vultures are slow breeders. If they become extinct, there will be a huge ripple effect.

    Importance of Vultures

    • Act as Natural Scavengers: They feed on the infected carcass which kills the Pathogens and breaks the chain of infections. 
    • They prevent the contamination of water sources. 
    • Vultures are critically important to the Parsi community. The community leaves its dead atop the Towers of Silence to be consumed by vultures. Now, they use solar accelerators.

    Conservation efforts

    • Vulture Action Plan 2020-25
    • Vulture Conservation Breeding Programme by  Central Zoo Authority (CZA) & BNHS
    • Banning of Diclofenac by Drugs Controller General of India
    • India Signatory to Convention on Migratory Species 
    • In 2015, Tamil Nadu became the first state to ban the veterinary use of ketoprofen in Nilgiri, Erode and Coimbatore districts. 

    Way Ahead

    • Creating awareness among the cattle owners, property monitoring & implementation of Insecticide Act 1968.

    Source: TH

    Facts In News

    Ludwigia Peruviana

    Syllabus: GS 3/Environment 

    In Context 

    •  Ludwigia Peruviana is  threatening elephant habitats and foraging areas in Valparai, a Tamil Nadu hill station(Located within the Annamalai Tiger Reserve) close to the Kerala border.

    About Ludwigia Peruviana

    • It is an aquatic weed native to some countries in Central and South America, including Peru.
    • It grows fast along water bodies.
    • It is among the 22 priority invasive plants in Tamil Nadu.
    • It was probably introduced as an ornamental plant for its tiny yellow flowers .
    • Concerns  : It has infested the majority of the hill station’s swamps, locally known as vayals, where elephants used to find lush grass even in the summer. 
      • It is reviving the risk of human-elephant conflicts in the region.
    • Suggestions
    • Swamps are unique habitats that support amphibians and otters besides the large herbivores. They act as water storage areas that need to be preserved.
    • There is an urgent need to map all the swamps in Valparai, grading them as heavily invaded, invaded, getting invaded, or free of Ludwigia. 
    •  The focus should be on containing the spread by preventing invasion in swamps where smaller numbers are coming up.

    Source:TH

    Cannabis Medicine Project

    Syllabus: GS2/ Health, Government policies & intervention

    News

    • Jammu is set to lead India’s first Cannabis Medicine Project. It is a collaboration between CSIR-IIIM Jammu and a Canadian firm under PPP.

    Significance

    • Atma- Nirbhar Bharat: After getting all the approvals, the project will be able to produce export quality drugs meant for different kinds of neuropathies, diabetic pains etc.
    • Reduce import burden: It has the potential to produce those kinds of medicines which have to be imported from foreign countries.
    • Development of Jammu and Kashmir: This kind of project will give an impetus for huge investment in the state.
    • Since J&K and Punjab are affected by drug abuse, this kind of project will spread awareness 

    About Cannabis:

    • Cannabis (also called marijuana) is a psychoactive drug from the cannabis plant, and has been used for recreational and medicinal purposes for centuries. 
    • In India, while trade and consumption of cannabis is banned under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985, calls for legalizing its use for medicinal purposes have grown stronger over the years.
    • Cannabis is not completely prohibited in the country as its medical and scientific use is allowed after obtaining necessary permissions from state governments.
    • Cannabis-based medical treatment utilizes compounds like THC and CBD to manage conditions like chronic pain, nausea, muscle spasms, and epilepsy, interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system.

    Source:PIB

    INS Kirpan

    Syllabus :GS 3/Defence

    In News 

    The INS Kirpan decommissioned from the Indian Navy and  handed over to Vietnam People’s Navy with a complete weapon complement.

    • This is the maiden occasion of gifting a fully operational corvette by India to any Friendly Foreign Country.

    About INS Kirpan

    • INS Kirpan is the third indigenously built Khukri class missile corvette.
      • The Khukri class corvettes are equipped with Diesel Engines assembled in India, under license by Kirloskar Group. 
    • It is equipped with an array of weapons and sensors .
    • Manned by about 12 officers and 100 sailors, the ship is 90 meters long and 10.45 meters in width with a maximum displacement of 1450 tons.
    • It  has been an integral part of the Indian Navy’s Eastern Fleet since its commissioning in 1991 and has participated  in various operational and humanitarian assistance operations over the last 32 years. 

    Importance 

    • The transfer of INS Kirpan from the Indian Navy to the VPN symbolises the status of Indian Navy being the ‘Preferred Security Partner’ in the Indian Ocean Region and would definitely be a catalyst for enhancing the existing bilateral relations between the two navies.
    • The transfer of INS Kirpan to Vietnam resonates India’s vision of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ and ‘Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR)’. 

    Do you Know ?

    • India and Vietnam share historical linkages and existing relations are strong, multifaceted and rooted on cultural and economic pillars. 
    • The relationship between the two countries was upgraded from a Strategic Partnership to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in Sep 2016. 
    • After the signing of an MoU on Defence Cooperation by the two countries in November 2009, the relations have grown over the past decade. 
    • In June 2022, the two Defence Ministers have also signed a ‘Joint Vision Statement on India – Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030’.  

    Source:TH

     Tele MANAS

    Syllabus :GS 2/Health 

    In News

     The Tele-Manas helpline under the National Tele Mental Health Programme has received over 200,000 calls since its launch in October 2022. 

    About  Tele MANAS helpline 

    • It is the government’s national mental health helpline which is a toll-free service.
    • It was announced by the Union Ministry of Health in the Union budget 2022-23 as an acknowledgement to the mental health crisis in the country.
    • With 42 functioning Tele Mental Health and Normalcy Augmentation System (MANAS) cells in 31 states and Union Territories, the service is currently catering to more than 1,300 calls per day in 20 languages.
    • Features :  It is a novel initiative to enable people to seek support for their mental health issues while maintaining anonymity of the callers, thereby reducing the stigma generally surrounding mental health issues.
      • Toll-free helpline numbers — 14416 or 1-800-891-4416 — with multi-language provision allow callers to select the language of their choice for availing the services.

    The National Tele Mental Health Programme of India

    • It was inaugurated on the occasion of the World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2022. 
    • It focuses on building the mental health workforce of the nation through capacity building initiatives whilst simultaneously ensuring that mental health services can reach free of cost to every household and every individual, targeting the most vulnerable and unreached sections of society that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.

    Source:TH

    National Broadcasting Day 2023 

    Syllabus: GS2/ Miscellaneous 

    In News

    • July 23 marked the National Broadcasting Day in India.

    About

    • All India Radio is India’s Public Service Broadcaster, the Radio vertical of Prasar Bharati having the motto – ‘Bahujan Hitaya : Bahujan Sukhaya’. 
    • Background: The Indian Broadcasting Company (IBC) came into being on July 23, 1927.
      • The famous Akashvani tune was composed by Indian Jewish refugee Walter Kauffman in 1930.
      • In 1936, the Indian State Broadcasting Service became All India Radio (AIR).
      • The AIR came under the purview of the Department of Information and Broadcasting in British India in 1941.
      • In 1957  the Vividh Bharati Services started.
      • All India Radio (AIR) has been officially known since 1956 as ‘Akashvani’. The name Akashvani (voice or announcement from the skies) was formally adopted by the national broadcaster in 1956. 
      • The name was derived from a poem of the same name by Rabindranath Tagore in 1938. 
    • Recently, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has decided to enforce a provision of the law by which the radio vertical of Prasar Bharati will now be called only Akashvani. 

    Organizational Structure

    • The Directorate General, All India Radio functions under Prasar Bharati.
      • Prasar Bharati is a statutory autonomous body established under the Prasar Bharati Act and came into existence in 1997. 
      • It is the Public Service Broadcaster of the country under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
    • Three-tier Broadcasting System: AIR has a three-tier system of broadcasting. These three levels of programmes are the National, Regional and Local each having distinct audiences.
    • Today, Akashvani is one of the world’s largest networks. Its programmes from the External Services Division are broadcast in 11 Indian and 16 foreign languages, reaching more than 100 countries.

    Source:IE

    International Seabed Authority (ISA) 

    Syllabus: GS3/ Environmental Pollution & Degradation

    In News

    • The ISA member nations agreed on a two-year road map for the adoption of deep-sea mining regulations in pursuance of efforts to enact a code for the exploitation of nickel, cobalt and copper in deep seabed areas outside national jurisdictions.

    About International Seabed Authority (ISA)

    • It is an international organization established in 1994 to regulate mining and related activities in the international seabed beyond national jurisdiction
    • The ISA was established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which codified international law regarding territorial waters, sea-lanes, and ocean resources.
    • Headquarters: Kingston, Jamaica.
    • The supreme authority of the ISA is the assembly, in which all ISA members are represented. The assembly sets general policies, establishes budgets, and elects a 36-member council, which serves as the ISA’s executive authority. 
    • The council approves contracts with private corporations and government entities for exploration and mining in the international seabed, oversees implementation of the seabed provisions of the UNCLOS
    • The secretary-general of the ISA is nominated by the council and is elected by the assembly to a four-year term
    • The ISA’s annual plenary sessions, which usually last two weeks, are held in Kingston.
    • In 2006 the ISA established the Endowment Fund to Support Collaborative Marine Scientific Research on the International Seabed Area to assist and encourage scientists from developing countries to contribute to world marine studies.  

    Source: TH

    Child Care Institutions (CCIs) 

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government policies & interventions

    In News

    • The Union Minister for Women and Child Development recently said that the Government will provide all the support to establish Child Care Institutions (CCIs). 

     About Child Care Institutions (CCIs)

    • CCI are Children’s Home, Open Shelter, Observation Home, Special Home, Specialised Adoption Agency (SAA) and a Fit Facility recognised under Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
    • It provides for care and protection to children, who are in need of such services.
    • Under the JJ Act, 2015 , the Child Welfare Committees have been empowered to take decisions with regard to the children in need of care and protection. They are also mandated to monitor the functioning of the Child Care Institutions (CCIs).
    • The JJ Act allows institutional facilities for children to be set up by both government and non-government organisations (NGOs).
    • However, as per law, all CCIs are required to be compulsorily registered under JJ Act 2015 within six months of the JJ Act 2015 having been enacted. 
    • Even those institutions that are not receiving government funds are also required to register.
    • Further, getting a registration is an obligation and not a right.  The State Government may refuse or withhold registration in case institutions fail to meet the necessary standards as laid out in the law. 
    • In case the registration of an institution is cancelled, the management of the institution will be passed on to the State Government till the registration is renewed or granted. This is to ensure that children in the institution are not displaced and are cared for.
    • As per the JJ Act, persons who are in charge of institutions and who fail to comply with the provisions of Act, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to one year or a fine of not less than one lakh rupees or both.

    Source: AIR