CAO The Hindu NOTES – 11th July, 2018 (Daily News Paper Current Affairs Analysis)
Date:- 11th July 2018
Data that can save lives
Why In News:
- Data can help reduce the number of people impacted by natural disasters
- Since 1970, more than two million people have been killed by natural disasters in the ‘Ring of Fire’ region around the Pacific Ocean, an average of 43,000 a year, as per the United Nations(UN).
- In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami struck 14 countries, and killed more than 18,000 people in India.
- There is a way to dramatically cut down on the number of people impacted by such disasters, and that is by using data.
- If we are to save lives and prevent damage to economies, it is critical to identify the most vulnerable populations.
- Data on these communities can be used to pursue ‘risk-informed development’.
- Data also help identify the gaps and makes recommendations on where to allocate resources to mitigate risks from disasters.
- For example, flood-resistant roads can only be constructed if governments consider and review data about flood risks.
- With such information, they can allocate appropriate funds for better road construction.
Institution to study risks:
- In 2015, the UNDP partnered with the Tohoku University and Fujitsu to create a Global Centre for Disaster Statistics (GCDS).
- The aim is to gather and crunch ‘big data’ to meet the ambitious targets of the Sendai Framework to reduce the risks from disasters.
- Fujitsu’s cloud-based ecosystem captures data from a variety of sources, including unstructured sources like social media, high-resolution satellite imagery and drones.
- Specialised technical institutions like the Tohoku University can crunch and analyse these data sets to provide insights for policymakers about the impacts of disasters.
- This includes helping to monitor recovery, focussing on early warning, and assessing resilience.
- Big data also provides a deeper understanding about how an economy is interconnected: how devastation of a rice crop by a disaster can trigger a chain impact across several industries and services, such as transportation, rice-trading, packaging and retail.
- With such valuable information, governments can anticipate disasters and reduce risks through preventive measures such as early warning systems, safety drills, and resilient infrastructure. Of course, the data that matters the most is the number of lives saved.
Farmers hit by slump in pepper prices
Why In News:
‘Cheaper imports from Vietnam, via Sri Lanka, benefiting from duty pacts; southern producers in a fix’
- A sharp fall in the price of black pepper, coupled with low production of the spice, has put farmers in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka — the three major pepper producing States in the country — in a fix.
- “The influx of imported pepper from Vietnam via Sri Lanka was the major reason for the fall in prices in the Indian market.”
- The cheaper pepper from Vietnam continues to flood the market through Sri Lanka, aided by a low-duty structure under South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) pact and Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA).
- Under ISFTA, India could import 2,500 tonnes of pepper a year from Sri Lanka without duty, and above the quota, a duty of 8% would be imposed as per the SAFTA, Mr. Abdu said. But direct pepper imports from Vietnam attract a duty of 52% under the ASEAN trade agreement.
- According to data with the Spices Board, the total production of pepper in the country during the last fiscal was about 55,000 tonnes, including 20,000 tonnes from Kerala, 10,000 tonnes from Tamil Nadu, and the remaining from Karnataka.
Re-export to Brazil
- Domestic consumption comes to about 55,000 tonnes a year. However more than 35,000 tonnes of pepper were imported in 2017.
- The Ministry of Commerce had fixed a minimum import price (MIP) of 500 a kg of pepper in December 2017 to curb the imports.
- When import continued with the aid of loopholes in the order, the ministry further amended the restrictions for import a few months ago.
- More than 6,000 tonnes of pepper were imported this year for domestic and re-export purposes even after the amendment.
- Flooding of ‘smuggled’ pepper in Indian markets from Vietnam via Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal is the other threat to industry.
- Such trade takes place but avoids payment of GST and on a cash-and-carry basis which involves circulation of black money on a large scale.
- If the government strictly follow the norms on MIP it would help the farming community, said A. Muthanna, a farmer in Coorg district of Karnataka adding that otherwise they would be forced to abandon pepper cultivation.
Novel trial wipes out 80% of harmful mosquitoes
Why In News:
Insects were infected with bacteria to render them sterile.
- More than 80% of a dengue fever-spreading mosquito has been wiped out in an Australian town during a landmark trial, scientists said on Tuesday, offering hope for combating the dangerous pest globally.
- Researchers from Australia’s national science body CSIRO bred millions of non-biting male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in laboratory conditions at James Cook University (JCU) in a project funded by Google parent company Alphabet.
- The insects were infected with the Wolbachiabacteria, which renders them sterile.
Eggs did not hatch:
- They were then released into the wild at trial sites around the Queensland town of Innisfail where over three months they mated with females who laid eggs that did not hatch, causing the population to plummet.
- The Aedes aegypti mosquito is one of the world’s most dangerous pests.
- It is responsible for infecting millions of people around the world each year and JCU’s Kyran Staunton said the successful trial was a major step forward.
- The so-called sterile insect technique has been used before but the challenge in making it work for mosquitoes was being able to rear enough of them, identify males, remove biting females, and then release them in large enough numbers to suppress a population.
- Verily — a life sciences company funded by Alphabet — has developed a mosquito rearing, sex sorting and release technology as part of its global Debug project.
Nothing to hide
Why In News:
Look back at the Narasimha Rao government for lessons on how to handle the current controversy over human rights in Kashmir.
- India experienced a relentless assault during that era through “Friends of Pakistan” in the UK and US. A British-Pakistani sponsored “International Conference of Kashmir” held in Virginia, near Washington DC (July 12-14, 1991) saw nearly 700 delegates including Eric Avebury, chairman of the British Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, US Representative Dan Burton (R-Ind) and Abdullah Omar Nasseef, secretary general of the Muslim World League.
- It was considered a great diplomatic success by Pakistani lobbyists. Following this, Gerald Kaufman, British Labour Party “shadow foreign minister”, visited Jammu and Kashmir in August and proposed to the British parliament to set up a “British Commonwealth Eminent Persons’ Group” under then Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser to “investigate” the Kashmir crisis.
- Kaufman had already visited PoK in June. The reaction in our Parliament was conveyed by the then home minister, the late S B Chavan, who mocked Kaufman as “half-man”.
- They also rejected Pakistan’s complaint that the report lacked “objectivity”. “It is not the case that, as alleged, the original draft has been drastically changed.
- While it is true that the final text is somewhat more critical of Pakistan — particularly in relation to constitutional rights in Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas — it is no less critical of India.”
- By denying access to UNHRC since 2016, the Modi government has risked international opprobrium of our security forces, especially the army, as a cruel occupying force. We have also lost an opportunity to present evidence on Pakistan’s complicity to a UN body.
Iran criticises India for not making promised investments in Chabahar port
Why In News:
Iran on Tuesday criticised India for not fulfilling its promise of making investments in the expansion of the strategically located Chabahar port.
- Iran’s deputy ambassador and Charge d’Affaires Massoud Rezvanian Rahaghi said Iran will end the privileges being provided to India if tries to source oil from countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, the US and others to offset cut in Iranian oil.
- “It is unfortunate that Indian investment promises for expansion of Chabahar port and its connectivity projects have not been accomplished so far. It is expected that India takes immediate necessary measures in this regard if its cooperation and engagement in Chabahar port is of strategic nature.”
- The Chabahar port is being considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries in the wake of Pakistan denying transit access to New Delhi.
- The senior Iranian diplomat said it was important to work together to immunise the relationship between the two countries through adoption of necessary instruments and mechanisms.
- Shipping to Iran and ports in the country are also coming under the US sanctions.
- India is also expected to convey to the US the importance of the Chabahar port project considering that it can be a major link for trade with war-ravaged Afghanistan.
- President Donald Trump announced that the US was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal signed by the Obama administration in 2015, under which Tehran had agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow international inspectors in return for lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
- Rahaghi also suggested that a regional dialogue forum should be set up in the Persian Gulf and West Asia to resolve regional crises.
7 reasons why Iran’s Chabahar port is crucial to India
- The first and foremost significance of the Chabahar port is the fact that India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan. Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
- Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
- With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.
- With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed ban on Iran was lifted.
- Chabahar port will ensure in the establishment of a politically sustainable connectivity between India and Afghanistan. This is will, in turn, lead to better economic ties between the two countries.
- From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.
- The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway, setting up road access to four major cities in Afghanistan – Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.