Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 24 February 2020
Global study puts India at 131st rank in terms of children’s health
- No single country is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their future, according to a recently released report by a Commission of more than 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world. The Commission was convened by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and The Lancet.
- The report, titled A Future for the World’s Children?, finds that the health and future of every child and adolescent worldwide is under immediate threat from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at them.
- The index shows that children in Norway, the Republic of Korea and the Netherlands have the best chance at survival and well-being, while children in the Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger and Mali face the worst odds.
- In the report assessing the capacity of 180 countries, India stands 77th (sustainability index) and is at 131st position on a ranking that measures the best chance at survival and well-being for children.
- The report says although India has improved in health and sanitation, it has to increase its spending on health. It also cautions that globally, the number of children and adolescents who are obese has increased from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016 — an 11-fold increase.
New highway poses threat to Arunachal tiger habitat
- Even as work is under way since 2013 to lay a two-lane, 156 km road through the Namdapha National Park, India’s easternmost tiger reserve, a new highway project has been cleared through yet another big cat reserve in Arunachal Pradesh.
- Documents received in response to an RTI inquiry by Seijosa-based green activist TanaJorjo Tara reveal that the BJP government in the State plans to build a 692.7 km highway through the 862 sq km Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) in East Kameng district.
- The administrative office of the PTR is in Seijosa, a sub-divisional headquarters situated by the Pakhui or Pakke River.
- Named the East-West Industrial Corridor, the highway aims to connect Bhairabhunda in West Kameng district and Manmao in Changlang district along Arunachal Pradesh’s border with Assam.
- The project makes no mention of compensation for people likely to be displaced.What has set alarm bells ringing for environmentalists is a 40 km elevated stretch through the heart of the PTR as advised by a Gujarat-based firm.
- Mr. Tara said the proposed highway had been realigned to bisect PTR after the NHPC turned down the original proposal to let the corridor pass near its hydroelectric project on the Subansiri River.
Government set to make Chattisgarh a steel hub of the country
- Union Minister for Petroleum, Natural Gas and Steel DharmendraPradhan has said that the government aims to make Chhattisgarh a steel hub of the country.
- Talking to media persons in Bhilai city today, Mr.Pradhan said that the steel industry has an important role to play in making India a five trillion dollar economy.
- During his two-day visit to Chhattisgarh, Union Steel Minister visited the Bhilai Steel Plant in Durg district and held meetings with the plant officials.
- He directed the officials of Steel Authority of India Ltd- SAIL to draw an Action Plan to enhance production and ensure safety at its plants.
- The Minister also held a discussion with the representatives of MSMEs to promote steel ancillaries in the region by developing a supporting local eco-system.
- Mr.Pradhan today visited iron ore mines of the Bhilai Steel Plant in Dallirajhra town in Balod district and laid the foundation of a beneficiation plant there.
IMF warns on COVID virus threat to global economy
- International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that the deadly coronavirus epidemic could put at risk the recovery of an already fragile global economy.
- IMF chief KristalinaGeorgieva said that global growth is poised for a modest rebound to 3.3 per cent this year, up from 2.9 per cent last year.
- Speaking after a two-day meeting of G20 Finance Ministers and central bank governors in Riyadh yesterday, she said the projected recovery is fragile.
- Georgieva said the COVID-19 virus - a global health emergency - has disrupted economic activity in China and could put the recovery at risk.
- At the meeting in Saudi Arabia, financial leaders also discussed ways to achieve consensus on a global taxation system for the digital era by the end of 2020. The gathered financial leaders vowed to enhance global risk monitoring of the outbreak.
Israel claims airstrikes near Damascus airport
- Israel has claimed to struck bases of the Islamic Jihad militant group near the Syrian capital Damascus. Syria, however, rejected the claims saying its air defences shot down enemy missiles.
- The Israeli army said in a statement yesterday that fighter jets struck Islamic Jihad terror targets south of Damascus following rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
- Islamic Jihad operates in both the Palestinian territories and Syria and fired more than 20 rockets from Gaza yesterday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attacks were near the Damascus international airport.
- The Syrian state news agency Sana said that most of the enemy missiles were shot down before reaching their targets. It stressed that no airport was struck.
- Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria, mainly targeting government forces as well as allied Iranian forces and Hezbollah fighters. However, it is rare for them to claim such strikes directly.
China claims COVID virus is its biggest health emergency since 1949
- The COVID-19 epidemic that has killed over 2,400 people is communist China’s “largest public health emergency” since its founding in 1949, President Xi Jinping said on Sunday.
- It is necessary to learn from “obvious shortcomings exposed” during China’s response, Mr. Xi added at an official meeting to coordinate the virus fight — a rare acknowledgment by a Chinese leader.
- Mr. Xi acknowledged that the epidemic will “inevitably have a large impact on the economy and society”, but he stressed the effects will be “short-term” and controllable.
- South Korea has put the country on high alert after the number of infections surged over 600 with six deaths. A focal point was a church in the southeastern city of Daegu, where a 61-year-old member of the congregation with no recent record of overseas travel tested positive for the virus.
- In Italy, the number of cases jumped to above 130 from just three before Friday. Authorities sealed off the worst affected towns and banned public gatherings in much of the north, including halting the carnival in Venice, where there were two cases, to try to contain the biggest outbreak in Europe.
::SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY::
Three species classified as endangered migratory species at CMS COP13
- On February 20, 2020, Asian Elephant, Indian Bustard and Bengal Florican were declared as “Endangered Migratory Species” at the CMS COP 13. The proposal was accepted by 130 countries.
- India declared Indian Elephant as “National Heritage Animal”. This provides highest degree of legal protection to the animal under Schedule I of Wildlife Protection) Act, 1972.
- The Asian elephants are called Indian Elephants in the country. The threats to the Indian Elephants include habitat loss, human elephant conflict, habitat fragmentation, illegal trade and poaching.
- The population of the species has declined greatly due to habitat loss. The Bengal Florican does not breed outside the protected areas today.It is listed as the critically endangered species under the IUCN list and is of the topmost conservation priority.
- The Great Indian Bustard is also listed under critically endangered species in IUCN Red List. In order to protect the species, the Indian Government has declared their habitats as conservation reserves. According to the Wildlife Institute of India, there are only 150 Great Indian Bustards left in the country.
New Zealand beats India in first test
In cricket, India lost the first Test match against New Zealand by 10 wickets at Basin Reserve in Wellington today. After conceding a huge lead of 183 runs, India were bundled out for a paltry 191 runs in their second innings.
New Zealand scored nine runs required to win the match in just 10 balls to lead the two-match series one-nil. This victory marks the 100th Test win for New Zealand. Earlier, New Zealand were bowled out for 348 runs in their first innings in reply to India's 165 runs.