07 July 2021 Daily Current Affairs

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Panchmuli Lake, sometimes seen in the news recently, was located near?

a.   Bhakra Nangal Dam

b.   Sardar Sarovar Dam

c.   Nagarjuna Sagar Dam

d.   Krishnarajasagar Dam

2)Consider the following statements with respective to Fly Ash

1. It is collected from the exhaust gases by electrostatic precipitators or bag filters.

2. Its chemical composition includes calcium silicates, calcium aluminate and calcium aluminoferrite.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

a.   1 only

b.   2 only

c.   Both 1 and 2

d.   Neither 1 nor 2

3)Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) is located in which of the following states?

a.   Uttar Pradesh

b.   West Bengal

c.   Himachal Pradesh

d.   Bihar

Map of the Day

Draft Anti-trafficking Bill 2021:- The Ministry of Women and Child Welfare has invited suggestions and comments for its Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021 which it has released.

A re-attempted legislation

A previous draft had been introduced in 2018 and had been passed by Lok Sabha despite stiff opposition from both parliamentarians as well as experts.

It was later never introduced in Rajya Sabha.

Experts say that nearly all the concerns raised in 2018 have been addressed in this new draft Bill.

Draft Anti-trafficking Bill 2021 :-

The Bill has increased the scope of the nature of offences of trafficking as well as the kind of victims of these offences, with stringent penalties including life imprisonment, and even the death penalty in cases of an extreme nature.

Types of offenders

The scope of the Bill vis offenders will also include defence personnel and government servants, doctors and paramedical staff or anyone in a position of authority.

Penalty

In most cases of child trafficking, especially in the case of the trafficking of more than one child, the penalty is now life imprisonment.

While the penalty will hold a minimum of seven years which can go up to an imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of Rs 5 lakh.

In certain cases, even the death penalty can be sought.

Definition of exploitation

Exploitation has been defined to include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation including pornography.

It also includes any act of physical exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or forced removal of organs, illegal clinical drug trials or illegal bio-medical research.

Victims covered

The Bill also extends beyond the protection of women and children as victims to now include transgenders as well as any person who may be a victim of trafficking.

It also does away with the provision that a victim necessarily needs to be transported from one place to another to be defined as a victim.

Investigation Agency

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) shall act as the national investigating and coordinating agency responsible for the prevention and combating of trafficking in persons.

2) Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair :- 

A noted filmmaker has recently announced his decision to produce the biopic of Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair, an acclaimed lawyer and judge in the Madras High Court and one of the early builders of the Indian National Congress.

Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair

Nair was born in the year 1857 in Mankara village of Malabar’s Palakkad district.

He belonged to an aristocratic family and his great grandfather was employed by the East India Company to enforce peace in the Malabar region.

His grandfather was employed as the chief officer under the Civilian Divisional Officer.

Key positions held

In 1897 he became the youngest president of the INC in the history of the party till then, and the only Malayali to hold the post ever.

By 1908 he was appointed as a permanent judge in the Madras High Court. In 1902 Lord Curzon appointed him a member of the Raleigh University Commission.

In 1904 he was appointed as Companion of the Indian Empire by the King-Emperor and in 1912 he was knighted.

In 1915 he became part of the Viceroy’s Council, put in charge of the education portfolio.

3)Arctic’s ‘Last Ice Area’ :- A part of the Arctic’s ice called the “Last Ice Area”, located north of Greenland, has melted before expected. Scientists had believed this area was strong enough to withstand global warming.

What is the Last Ice Area?

In an article published in 2015, National Geographic noted that climate projections forecast the total disappearance of summer ice in the Arctic by the year 2040.

However, the only place that would be able to withstand a warming climate would be this area of ice called the “Last Ice Area”.

But while this piece of ice above northern Canada and Greenland was expected to last the longest time, it is now showing signs of melting.

WWF claims that WWF-Canada was the first to call this area the‘ Last Ice Area’.

Why is the area important?

The area is important because it was thought to be able to help ice-dependent species as ice in the surrounding areas melted away.

The area is used by polar bears to hunt for seals who use ice to build dens for their offspring.

Walruses too, use the surface of the ice for food search.

4)Indian Army Memorial in Italy :- During his four-day visit to the UK and Italy, the Indian Army Chief will inaugurate the Indian Army Memorial at Cassino in Italy, about 140 km away from Rome.

What is the memorial about?

The memorial commemorates over 3,100 Commonwealth servicemen who took part in the effort to liberate Italy in World War II.

Apart from this, 900 Indian soldiers were also commemorated on this memorial.

What was happening in Italy in WWII?

Under Benito Mussolini, Italy had joined Nazi Germany in 1936 and in 1940 it entered WWII (1939-1945) against the Allies.

But in 1943, Mussolini was overthrown and instead, Italy declared war on Germany.

The invasion of Italy by the Allies coincided with an armistice that was made with the Italians.

Even so, the UK’s National Army Museum notes that for two years during WWII, Italy became one of the war’s most “exhausting campaigns” because they were facing a skilled and resolute enemy.

What was India’s involvement in World War II?

In the first half of the 1940s, India was still under British rule and the Indian Army fought in both the world wars.

It comprised both Indian and European soldiers.

Apart from this, there was the East India Company Army that also recruited both Indian and European soldiers and the British Army, which was also present in India.

India the largest volunteer

Indian Army was the largest volunteer force during WWII, with over 2.5 million (more than 20 lakh) Indians participating.

These troops fought the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) as part of the Allies.

By 1945, the Allies had won, Italy had been liberated, Adolf Hitler was dead and India was barely a couple of years short of independence.

However, while millions of Indians participated, their efforts are not always recognized.

5)NIPUN Bharat Programme:- Union Minister for Education has launched a National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat).

NIPUN Bharat

This scheme aims for ensuring that every child in the country necessarily attains foundational literacy.

It has been launched under the aegis of the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha.

It would cover the learning needs of children in the age group of 3 to 9 years.

The unique feature is that the goals of the Mission are set in the form of Lakshya Soochi or Targets for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy.

The Lakshyas are based on the learning outcomes developed by the NCERT and international research and ORF studies.

6) IGNCA :

The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) was established in 1987 as an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture, as a centre for research, academic pursuit and dissemination in the field of the arts.

The IGNCA has a trust (i.e. Board of Trustees), which meets regularly to give general direction about the Centre’s work. The Executive Committee, drawn from among the Trustees, functions under a Chairman.

It is a research unit under Project Mausam.

Project ‘Mausam’ is a Ministry of Culture project with Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), New Delhi as the nodal agency.

7)Ethiopia is building one of the largest dams in the world, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), on the river Nile near the Sudan border.

Key Points :-

It is Africa’s biggest dam project and will have lasting impacts on its longest river- Nile.

The hydroelectric dam is being built on the Nile (north-flowing river in Africa), in the lowlands of Ethiopia.

Concerns: The Nile is under serious threat of severe pollution, climate change and Egypt’s growing population.

Egypt is one of the driest countries on earth, with 95% of its people living along the Nile (or its overflowing Delta).

It relies almost totally on the Nile for its water supply and the construction of this dam will further cut down Egypt’s water supply by 12-25%.

8) What is OPEC+?

The non-OPEC countries which export crude oil along with the 13 OPECs are termed as OPEC plus countries.

OPEC plus countries include Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan.

Saudi and Russia, both have been at the heart of a three-year alliance of oil producers known as OPEC Plus — which now includes 11 OPEC members and 10 non-OPEC nations — that aims to shore up oil prices with production cuts.

Why OPEC plus came into existence?

When Russia concluded the Vienna Agreement in 2016, the Russian leadership believed that it would help prepare the country for the Russian presidential elections in March 2018.

For Saudi Arabia, turning what had been an ad hoc coalition into a formal group provides a hedge (protection) against future oil-market turbulence.

For Russia, the formalization of the group helps expand Putin’s influence in the Middle East

However, both reportedly aimed at causing a drop in oil prices in order to hit US shale producers, who have continued to benefit from OPEC production cuts by expanding their market share.

Editorials of the Day

Seeking a paradigm shift in mental health care :-

Context

Recently, a High Court suggested that homeless persons with health conditions be branded with a permanent tattoo, when vaccinated against COVID-19.

Issue

  • In many countries, persons with severe mental health conditions live in shackles in their homes, in overcrowded hospitals, and even in prison.
  • On the other hand, many persons with mental health issues live and even die alone on the streets.
  • Three losses dominate the mental health systems narrative: dignity, agency and personhood.
  • Issues with the laws: Far-sighted changes in policy and laws have often not taken root and many laws fail to meet international human rights standards.
  • Many also do not account for cultural, social and political contexts resulting in moral rhetoric that doesn’t change the scenario of inadequate care.
  • There is also the social legacy of the asylum, and of psychiatry and mental illness itself, that guides our imagination in how care is organised.

Way forward: A responsive care system

  • We must understand mental health conditions for what they are and for how they are associated with disadvantage.
  • These situations are linked, but not always so, therefore, not all distress can be medicalised.
  • Adopt WHO guidelines: Follow the Guidance on Community Mental Health Services recently launched by the World Health Organization.
  • The Guidance, which includes three models from India, addresses the issue from ‘the same side’ as the mental health service user and focuses on the co-production of knowledge and on good practices.
  • Drawn from 22 countries, these models balance care and support with rights and participation.
  • Open dialogue: The practice of open dialogue, a therapeutic practice that originated in Finland, runs through many programmes in the Guidance.
  • This approach trains the therapist in de-escalation of distress and breaks power differentials that allow for free expression.
  • Increase investment: With emphasis on social care components such as work force participation, pensions and housing, increased investments in health and social care seem imperative.
  • Network of services: For those homeless and who opt not to enter mental health establishments, we can provide a network of services ranging from soup kitchens at vantage points to mobile mental health and social care clinics.
  • Small emergency care and recovery centres for those who need crisis support instead of larger hospitals, and long-term inclusive living options in an environment that values diversity and celebrates social mixing, will reframe the archaic narrative of how mental health care is to be provided.

Conclusion

Persons with mental health conditions need a responsive care system that inspires hope and participation without which their lives are empty. We should endeavour to provide them with such a responsive care system.

2) Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) Project :-

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has issued orders appointing an advisory committee for its Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) project.

What does one mean by ‘Open-source’?

  • An open-source project means that anybody is free to use, study, modify and distribute the project for any purpose.
  • These permissions are enforced through an open-source licence easing adoption and facilitating collaboration.

What is ONDC Project?

  • ONDC seeks to promote open networks, which are developed using the open-source methodology.
  • The project is aimed at curbing “digital monopolies”.
  • This is a step in the direction of making e-commerce processes open-source, thus creating a platform that can be utilized by all online retailers.
  • They will encourage the usage of standardized open specifications and open network protocols, which are not dependent on any particular platform or customized one.

What processes are expecting to be open-sourced with this project?

  • Several operational aspects including onboarding of sellers, vendor discovery, price discovery and product cataloguing could be made open source on the lines of Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
  • If mandated, this could be problematic for larger e-commerce companies, which have proprietary processes and technology deployed for these segments of operations.

What is the significance of making something open-source?

  • Making a software or a process open-source means that the code or the steps of that process is made available freely for others to use, redistribute and modify.
  • If the ONDC gets implemented and mandated, it would mean that all e-commerce companies will have to operate using the same processes.
  • This could give a huge booster shot to smaller online retailers and new entrants.

What does the DPIIT intend from the project?

  • ONDC is expected to digitize the entire value chain, standardize operations, promote inclusion of suppliers, derive efficiencies in logistics and enhance value for stakeholders and consumers.

What is a ‘Digital Monopoly’?

  • Digital monopolies refer to a scenario wherein e-commerce giants or Big Tech companies tend to dominate and flout competition law pertaining to monopoly.
  • The Giants have built their own proprietary platforms for operations.
  • In March, India moved to shake up digital monopolies in the country’s $ 1+ trillion retail market by making public a draft of a code of conduct — Draft Ecommerce Policy, reported Bloomberg.
  • The government sought to help local start-ups and reduce the dominance of giants such as Amazon and Walmart-Flipkart.
  • The rules sought to define the cross-border flow of user data after taking into account complaints by small retailers.

Processes in the ONDC

  • Sellers will be onboarded through open networks. Other open-source processes will include those such as vendor and price discovery; and product cataloguing.
  • The format will be similar to the one which is used in the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
  • Mega e-commerce companies have proprietary processes and technology for these operations.
  • Marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato, BigBasket and Grofers will need to register on the ONDC platform to be created by DPIIT and QCI.
  • The task of implementing DPIIT’s ONDC project has been assigned to the Quality Council of India (QCI).

Back2Basics: Quality Council of India

  • QCI was set up in 1997 by the government of India jointly with Indian industry (represented by CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM) as an autonomous body under the administrative control of the department.
  • QCI establishes and operates the National Accreditation Structure for conformity assessment bodies; providing accreditation in the field of education, health and quality promotion.

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