📰 THE HINDU – CURRENT NOTE 24 January
💡What mackerel and a volcano can tell us about climate change
- A group of scientists and academics with the University of Massachusetts and other institutions made that assessment while conducting research about a long-ago calamity in New England that was caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora half a world away in Indonesia in 1815.
- The Tambora eruption was one of the most powerful in recorded history, and was followed by a short time of climate change specifically, global cooling and severe weather.
- Its impact on weather, food availability and human and animals deaths worldwide has been studied extensively. The year that followed the eruption, 1816, is often described as the “Year Without a Summer”.
- The Study Results:
- The researchers assert that that bit of history gives clues about what food security could be like in the modern era of climate change. A cooled climate led to deaths of livestock and changed fish patterns in New England, leaving many people dependent on mackerel, an edible fish that was less affected than many animals.
- Alewives, a fish used for everything from fertilizer to food by 19th century New Englanders, did not fare well. But mackerel had better survival rates and became a critical source of protein and jobs.
- As crops failed and famine began to spread, the little fish emerged as a staff of life. It’s a scenario similar to what parts of the developing world are experiencing today as climate change affects food security.
- There is a parallel between the need for immediate adaptation after Tambora and the challenges in coping with the climate-driven devastation caused by storms, floods and droughts today.
- The research group’s findings were published this month in the journalScience Advances .
💡N.K. Singh panel submits report on FRBM Act
- A committee constituted by the government last year to set a new fiscal consolidation roadmap has submitted its report. The panel has submitted its report on revising the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act to the finance minister.
- The government had mandated the committee to explore whether it should adopt a flexible fiscal deficit target instead of a fixed number every year.
Highlights of the report
- The committee has recommended major changes in the 13-year-old Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act and suggested ways to ensure responsible and higher growth, sources said.
- The committee says, “a new FRBM Act is critical to create better conditions for co-ordination between monetary and fiscal policy and also usher in a low interest rate regime.”
- There is also a suggestion that fiscal expansion or contraction should be aligned with credit contraction or expansion respectively in the economy.
- Since its introduction, the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act has been facing a rocky road in terms of implementation. Paused four times since its enactment in August 2003, including for a reset of the fiscal deficit target in 2008-09 following the global financial crisis, the FRBM Act has become a subject of animated debate.
💡 Budget before polls gets green light from SC
- Noting that there is “nothing concrete” to back the notion that presentation of the annual budget can sway the minds of people during the State Assembly polls, the Supreme Court has dismissed a petition seeking the postponement of the Central budget till the Assembly elections in five States.
- A petition was filed in the Supreme Court contending that policies like giving homes to the economically-deprived in States introduced in the annual budget influence people to vote in a particular fashion.
- “They present schemes like these in the budget to control the minds of the citizens. These schemes declared during election time are against the Model Code of Conduct,” the petitioner had argued.
Budget on February 1:
- The government last year decided to advance the presentation of budget. The objective behind this move is to have the Budget constitutionally approved by Parliament and assented to by the President, and all allocations at different tiers disseminated to budget-holders, before the financial year begins on April 1. The proposal for a change in the budget presentation date was first mooted by some of the government’s senior most bureaucrats as part of a ‘Transforming India’ initiative in January 2016.
💡 India rejects attempts by EU, Canada for global investment agreement
- India, along with Brazil, Argentina and some other nations, has rejected an informal attempt by the European Union (EU) and Canada to work towards a global investment agreement at the World Trade Organisation (WTO)-level that would incorporate a contentious Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism.
Reason for opposition:
- The ISDS mechanism has become contentious as it permits companies to drag governments to international arbitration without exhausting the local remedies and claim huge amounts as compensation citing losses they suffered due to reasons, including policy changes.
- Countries opposing this move say, “Only after all local options have been exhausted for settling disputes between a corporate and a government, do we want to permit issues to be taken up in international arbitration tribunals.”
- Also, they want such provisions to be a part of bilateral agreements only and not be allowed in a multilateral agreement.
💡SC for daily drug dosage regimen for TB patients
- The Supreme Court gave the government 9 months to replace the thrice-a-week dosage norm of tuberculosis drugs with a daily dosage regimen recently approved by the World Health Organisation to curb relapse of the deadly disease and deaths during treatment.
- The PIL termed the current dosage practice “unscientific” and “improper.” present TB protocol stipulated only an inadequate medicine regime to cut costs, adding that it promoted relapses and generated a lethal drug-resistant strain in patient.
- Over 10% of TB patients suffered relapse compared with the global average of 3%, noting that the relapsed cases were harder to treat than first-time infections.