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CURRENT AFFAIRSTHE HINDU : AUGUST 2019

Daily Current Affairs : 18th August 2019 : The Hindu News Analysis


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Ministries of Home Affairs guidelines on migrant camps

What is the reason for such guidelines?
The Delhi Police told the Supreme Court that nearly 500 illegal Bangladeshi migrants have been deported from the capital in the past 28 months. Last month, the Minister of State for Home, Nityanand Rai, informed the Lok Sabha that State governments have been instructed from time to time to set up detention centres. 

At present, there are 6 detention centres in Assam, the highest among the States. At least 10 more are set to come up before the final publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on August 31.


What are detention centres?
Detention centres are set up to house illegal immigrants or foreigners who have completed their jail sentence but their deportation process to the country concerned has not been initiated or completed.

It is also set up to accommodate foreign convicts in criminal cases who have completed their jail terms and await deportation.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, these holding camps are also to restrict the movement of foreigners staying back illegally and thereby ensure that they are physically available at all times for expeditious repatriation or deportation.

What are the points put forward by the Home Minsitry manual?
‘Model Detention Centre/Holding Centre/Camp Manual, which was framed by Home Ministry was circulated to all States and Union Territories on January 9.  Mr. Nityanand Rai informed the Lok Sabha on July 2 that State governments have been instructed from time to time (2009, 2012, 2014 and 2018), to set up detention centres.

The Central Government has the powers to deport foreign nationals staying illegally in the country under Section 3(2)(c) of The Foreigners Act, 1946.

Article 258(1) of the Constitution and under Article 239(1) for administrators of Union Territories have also entrusted these powers to State governments.

What has triggered such move?
A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on September 20, 2018 by activist Harsh Mander to highlight the plight of families languishing in 6 detention centres in Assam; family members who were declared foreigners were put in camps separated from each other.

It was in the response of this petition that the Centre informed the Supreme Court on November 5, 2018,  that it was framing new guidelines for keeping foreign nationals in detention centres across the country.

What is the total number of detention centers in the country?
Assam has six detention centres, the highest among the States. At least 10 more are to come up in the wake of the final publication of the NRC by August 31.

Since 1985, when Foreigners Tribunals (FTs) were first set up in Assam, till February 28 2019, as many as 63,959 persons were declared foreigners through ex-parte proceedings. 



Deep Ocean Mission : Why is INDIA pulled to deep-sea mining?

India is all set to launch its Deep Ocean Mission by the end of this year in October 2019. This ambitious mission comes under the guidance of Ministry of Earth Sciences and is an 8,000-crore plan to explore deep ocean minerals.

What is there to mine from the deep ocean?
One of the main aims of the mission is to explore and extract polymetallic nodules. These are small potato-like rounded accretions composed of minerals such as manganese, nickel, cobalt, copper and iron hydroxide.

They lie scattered on the Indian Ocean floor at depths of about 6,000 m and the size can vary from a few millimetres to centimetres. These metals can be extracted and used in electronic devices, smartphones, batteries and even for solar panels

Where do they mine?
The International Seabed Authority (ISA), an autonomous international organisation established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, allots the ‘area’ for deep-sea mining.

India was the first country to receive the status of a 'Pioneer Investor' in 1987 and was given an area of about 1.5 lakh sq km in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) for nodule exploration.

In 2002, India signed a contract with the ISA and after complete resource analysis of the seabed 50% was surrendered and the country retained an area of 75,000 sq km.

How much Polymetallic nodules are available under the ocean?
The estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential in the area is 380 million tonnes (MT), containing 4.7 MT of nickel, 4.29 MT of copper, 0.55 MT of cobalt and 92.59 MT of manganese, according to a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences. Further studies have helped narrow the mining area to 18,000 sq km which will be the First Generation Mine-site.

What are the countries that are involved in the mining from the deep ocean?
Apart from the Central Indian Ocean Basin, polymetallic nodules have been identified from the central Pacific Ocean. It is known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone.

China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Russia and also some small islands such as the Cook Islands, Kiribati have joined the race for deep sea mining. Most of the countries have tested their technologies in shallow waters and are yet to start deep-sea extraction.

What will be the associated environmental impact?
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), these deep remote locations can be home to unique species that have adapted themselves to conditions such as poor oxygen and sunlight, high pressure and extremely low temperatures.

Such mining expeditions can make them go extinct even before they are known to science. The deep sea’s biodiversity and ecology remain poorly understood, making it difficult to assess the environmental impact and frame adequate guidelines.

Further concerns have also been raised about the noise and light pollution from the mining vehicles and oil spills from the operating vessels.

Looking at the economic viability, the latest estimate from the ISA says it will be commercially viable only if about three million tonnes are mined per year. 




ZERO BUDGET NATURAL FARMING

What it is?
Zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) is a method of chemical-free agriculture drawing from traditional Indian practices. It was originally promoted by Maharashtrian agriculturist and Padma Shri recipient Subhash Palekar, who developed it in the mid-1990s as an alternative to the Green Revolution’s methods driven by chemical fertilizers and pesticides and intensive irrigation.

Without the need to spend money on the inputs — or take loans to buy them — the cost of production could be reduced and farming made into a zero budget exercise, breaking the debt cycle for many small farmers.

ZBNF promotes the application of jeevamrutha — a mixture of fresh desi cow dung and aged desi cow urine, jaggery, pulse flour, water and soil — on farmland, instead of commercially produced chemical inputs.

This is a fermented microbial culture that adds nutrients to the soil, and acts as a catalytic agent to promote the activity of microorganisms and earthworms in the soil.

The Process
About 200 litres of jeevamrutha should be sprayed twice a month per acre of land; after three years, the system is supposed to become self-sustaining. 

Only one cow is needed for 30 acres of land, with the caveat that it must be a local Indian breed — not an imported Jersey or Holstein.

A similar mixture, called bijamrita, is used to treat seeds, while concoctions using neem leaves and pulp, tobacco and green chillis are prepared for insect and pest management.

The ZBNF method also promotes soil aeration, minimal watering, intercropping, bunds and topsoil mulching and discourages intensive irrigation and deep ploughing. 

Why is it important?
According to the data released by National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), almost 70% of agricultural households spend more than they earn and more than half of all farmers are in debt.

In States such as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, levels of indebtedness are around 90%, where each household bears an average debt of Rs. 1 lakh.

In order to achieve the Central government’s promise to double farmers income by 2022, one aspect being considered is natural farming methods such as the ZBNF which reduce farmers’ dependence on loans to purchase inputs they cannot afford.

Which States are planning to roll out such methods?
In June 2018, Andhra Pradesh rolled out an ambitious plan to become India’s first State to practise 100% natural farming by 2024. It aims to phase out chemical farming over 80 lakh hectares of land, converting the State’s 60 lakh farmers to ZBNF methods.

Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Karnataka and Uttarakhand have also planned to train their farmers.

Way Ahead
NITI Aayog has been among the foremost promoters of idea of ZBNF method.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is studying the ZBNF methods practised by basmati and wheat farmers in Modipuram (Uttar Pradesh), Ludhiana (Punjab), Pantnagar (Uttarakhand) and Kurukshetra (Haryana), evaluating the impact on productivity, economics and soil health including soil organic carbon and soil fertility.

The Andhra Pradesh experience is also being monitored closely to judge the need for further public funding support.




NATIONAL SPORTS AWARDS 2019


These awards has been bestowed to various sports-persons recently in various categories namely :

  • Khel Ratna  
    • Bajrang Punia (wrestling)
    • Deepa Malik (para-athletics)
  • Arjuna Award
    • Tajinder Pal Singh Toor (athletics)
    • Mohammed Anas Yahiya (athletics)
    • S Bhaskaran (body building)
    • Sonia Lather (boxing)
    • Ravindra Jadeja (cricket)
    • Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (hockey) 
    • Ajay Thakur (kabaddi)
    • Gaurav Singh Gill (motor sports)
    • Pramod Bhagat (para sports-badminton)
    • Anjum Moudgil (shooting)
    • Harmeet Rajul Desai (table tennis)
    • Pooja Dhanda (wrestling)
    • Fouaad Mirza (equestrian)
    • Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (football)
    • Poonam Yadav (cricket)
    • Swapna Burman (athletics)
    • Sundar Singh Gurjar (para sports-athletics)
    • Bhamidipati Sai Praneeth (badminton) 
    • Simran Singh Shergill (polo)
  • Dronacharya Award (regular category) 
    • Vimal Kumar (badminton)
    • Sandeep Gupta (table tennis)
    • Mohinder Singh Dhillon (athletics)
  • Dronacharya Award (lifetime category) 
    • Mezban Patel (hockey) 
    • Rambir Singh Khokar (kabaddi)
    • Sanjay Bhardwaj (cricket)
  • Dhyan Chand Award 
    • Manuel Fredricks (hockey) 
    • Arup Basak (table tennis)
    • Manoj Kumar (wrestling) 
    • Nitten Kirrtane (tennis) 
    • C Lalremsanga (archery)




INDIA-BHUTAN RELATIONS

Key Highlights of the recent visit

  • PM Narendra Modi visited Bhutan and held talks with the Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering in which he discussed steps to further expand the bilateral partnership across several sectors. 
  • Mangdechhu hydroelectric power plant was inaugurated by PM Modi in Bhutan and he also launched stamps to commemorate five decades of India-Bhutan hydropower cooperation.
  • The two countries signed 10 MoUs in the fields of space research, aviation, IT, power and education.

  • He also launched the RuPay Card in Bhutan by making a purchase at Simtokha Dzong, built in 1629 by Shabdrung Namgyal, which functions as a monastic and administrative centre and is one of the oldest dzongs in Bhutan.
  • Currency swap limit for Bhutan under the SAARC currency swap framework, was also increased  and was mooted as India's "positive" approach. Also, additional $100 million will be available to Bhutan under a standby swap arrangement to meet the foreign exchange requirement.
  • The two leaders also unveiled an e-plaque on the interconnection between India’s National Knowledge Network and Bhutan’s Druk Research and Education Network.
  • Ground Earth Station and SATCOM network, developed with assistance from ISRO for utilization of South Asia Satellite in Bhutan was jointly inaugurated by both the PMs.



DIFFERENTIAL VOTING RIGHTS (DVRs)

Ministry of Corporate Affairs has amended the provisions relating  to Differential Voting Rights (DVRs) under the Companies Act.

Promoters or Founders who are instrumental in starting the company often lose control of the firm when they dilute their stakes to raise multiple rounds of funding. DVRs do not follow the common rule of one share-one vote

These enable promoters to retain control over the company even after many new investors come in, by allowing shares with superior voting rights or lower or fractional voting rights to public investors.

What are the recent changes?

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has amended the provisions relating to issue of shares with DVRs provisions under the Companies Act. This has been done with the objective of enabling promoters of Indian companies to retain control of their companies, even as they raise equity capital from global investors.

The key changes made includes :

  • Raising the existing cap of 26% of the total post issue paid up equity share capital to 74% of total voting power in respect of shares with DVRs of a company.
  • Removal of the earlier requirement of distributable profits for 3 years for a company to be eligible to issue shares with DVRs.


QUICK FEEDS
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), snakebites claim more than 100,000 lives globally. India sees 45,000 snakebite deaths every year, finds the 2011 ‘Million Death Study.
    • On May 23, WHO launched a new programme — ‘Snakebite Envenoming: A Strategy for Prevention and Control’, the core of which is to bring down the number of snakebite deaths and casualties by 50% before 2030
    • In 2017, WHO included snakebite in the list of ‘Neglected Tropical Diseases’ to improve research and funding, and to draw the attention of policy-makers to this silent killer.
  • A NASA satellite found that Greenland's ice sheet lost about 255 billion metric tons a year between 2003 and 2016, with loss rate generally getting worse.
    • It will take centuries for all the Greenland's massive ice sheet to melt, but how fast is the key question. If warm water plays a bigger role than scientists suspect, by the year 2100, Greenland alone could be the reason for 3-4 feet rise in the sea level. 
    • It is to be noted that Greenland contains enough ice to make world sea levels to rise by 20 feet if it were all to melt.
  • Nepal officers have formally proposed new safety rules in an effort to address deadly human traffic jams on Mount Everest and weed out inexperienced climbers. These rules includes :
    • Climbers would have to prove that they have scaled another major peak.
    • Tourism companies would be required to have at least 3 year's experience in organizing high-altitude expeditions before they can lead climbers on Everest.
    • To discourage cost-cutting that can put climber's lives at risk, clients of expedition companies would have to prove, before setting out, that they had paid at least $35,000 for the expedition.



MUST READ 
17th August 2019 Current Affairs
16th August 2019 Current Affairs
THE CONSTITUTION (ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIFTH AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019

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