September 2019

Daily Current Affairs (19-09-19)

INDIA – THE TOP SOURCE OF IMMIGRANTS ACROSS THE GLOBE

Related Topics: Immigration, UNDESA

News

According to a dataset released by the Union Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), India has emerged as the leading country of origin for immigrants across the world, with 17.5 million international migrants in 2019 coming from India, up from 15.9 million in 2015.

Key Highlights of the Report

  • As per the International Migrant Stock 2019, the number of international migrants in the world had reached an estimated 272 million in 2019 — 51 million more than in 2010.
  • The percentage of international migrants of the total global population has increased to 3.5% from 2.8% in 2000.
  • One-third of all international migrants originated from 10
  • After India, Mexico ranked second as the country of origin for 12 million migrants, followed by China (11 million), Russia (10 million) and Syria (8 million).
  • The European region hosted the highest number of the immigrants at 82 million in 2019, followed by North America (59 million) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (49 million).
  • Among countries, the S. hosts the highest number of international migrants (51 million), about 19% of the global population.
  • Around two-fifths of all international migrants had gone from one developing country to another.
  • Forced displacements continue to rise, with the number of refugees and asylum seekers increased by about 13 million from 2010 to 2017.

Migrants in India

  • While India remained as the top source of international migrants, the number of migrants living in India saw a slight decline from 5.24 million in 2015 to an estimated 5.15 million in 2019 – both 0.4% of the total population of the country.
  • Bangladesh was the leading country of origin for migrants in India.

About International Migrant Stock

  • It is a dataset released by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
  • It provides the latest estimates of the number of international migrants by age, sex and origin for all countries and areas of the world.
  • The estimates are based on official national statistics on the foreign-born or the foreign population obtained from population censuses, population registers or nationally representative surveys.

[Source: The Hindu]

 

MANGROVE GENETIC RESOURCES CONSERVATION CENTRE

Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Mangroves

News

A Mangrove Genetic Resources Conservation Centre has been developed in the core area of the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) in the Godavari estuary with 25 species collected from various places across the country, including the Sundarbans, Bitarkanika in Odisha, and the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary and Coringa in Andhra Pradesh.

About the Conservation Centre

  • A portion of the area (around one acre) has been set aside for the CWS for the centre, which is being funded by the United Nations Development Programme (Global Environmental Finance).
  • The East Godavari River Estuarian Ecosystem Foundation (EGREE) of the State Forest Department has been roped in to help the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) to develop the centre.
  • Free access is provided to academicians and scientists to conduct research on the genetic resources at one place.
  • The conservation centre is a brainchild of M.S. Swaminathan.
  • The centre will become a destination for future research on mangrove genetics.
  • It will also conserve the mangrove species which are dwindling at an alarming rate due to various reasons.
  • According to the research team, the species planted in the centre are expected to be ready for genetic research within three years.

What are Mangroves?

  • They are salt-tolerant vegetation that grows in intertidal regions of rivers and estuaries.
  • A mangrove ecosystem is the interface between terrestrial forests and aquatic marine ecosystems.
  • They are referred to as ‘tidal forests’ and belong to the category of ‘tropical wetland rainforest ecosystem’.
  • Mangroves are trees and shrub species that grow at the interface between land and sea in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, where the plants exist in conditions of salinity, tidal water flow and muddy soil.

Significance of Mangroves

  • The structural complexities of mangrove vegetation create unique environments which provide ecological niches for a wide variety of organisms.
  • They serve as breeding, feeding and nursery grounds for most of the commercial fishes and crustaceans on which thousands of people depend for their livelihood.
  • They give protection to the coastline and minimise disasters due to cyclones and tsunami.
  • Recent studies have shown that mangroves store more carbon dioxide than most other forests.
  • They are intermediate vegetation between land and sea that grow in oxygen deficient waterlogged soils which have Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S).
  • They perform important ecological functions like nutrient cycling, hydrological regime, coastal protection, fish-fauna production, etc.
  • Mangroves act as shock absorbers.
  • They reduce high tides and waves and help prevent soil erosion.
  • They also provide livelihood opportunities to coastal communities.

Need for Conservation

  • Mangroves are being destroyed and facing severe threats due to urbanisation, industrialisation, and discharge of domestic sewage, industrial effluents and pesticides.
  • Saltpans and aquaculture also pose major threat to the mangroves.
  • 40 per cent of mangrove forests in West Coast of India have been converted into farmlands and housing colonies over the last three decades.
  • Due to shrimp farming, about 35,000 ha of mangroves have been lost in India.
[Source: The Hindu, Down to Earth]

 

BAN ON E-CIGARETTES

Related Topics: Government Policies & Interventions, Public Health

News

Union Cabinet has approved a ban on e-cigarettes, citing the need to take early action to protect public health.

Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes Ordinance, 2019

  • Any production, manufacturing, import, export, transport, sale (including online sale), distribution or advertisement (including online advertisement) of e-cigarettes shall be a cognisable offence punishable with imprisonment of up to one year, or fine up to ₹1 lakh, or both for the first offence; and imprisonment of up to three years and fine up to ₹5 lakh for a subsequent
  • Storage of electronic-cigarettes shall also be punishable with imprisonment of up to 6 months or a fine of up to ₹50,000 or both.
  • As per a release issued by the Centre, owners of existing stocks of e-cigarettes on the date of commencement of the ordinance will have to suo motu declare and deposit these with the nearest police station.
  • The sub-inspector has been designated as the authorised officer to take action under the ordinance.
  • The Central or State governments may also designate any other equivalent officer(s) as authorised officer for enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance.
  • The ordinance will need to be approved by Parliament when it meets in November, 2019.

What are e-cigarettes?

  • E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that produce aerosol by heating a solution containing nicotine, which is the addictive substance in combustible cigarettes.
  • E-cigarettes may be manufactured to look like traditional cigarettes and are marketed as tobacco-free nicotine delivery devices.

Adverse Effects

  • Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes also deliver ultrafine particles and nicotine deep into the lungs, which is then absorbed by the blood.
  • A 2018 study found the use of e-cigarette daily was associated with a 79% increase in heart attack risk after other variables were taken into account.
  • According to a white paper on e-cigarettes by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), depending on the battery output voltage used, nicotine solvents can release in varying amounts potential carcinogens such as acetaldehyde, formaldehyde and acetone.
  • Flavours such as diacetyl used in e-cigarettes are linked to serious lung disease.
  • E-cigarettes also contain volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, such as nickel, tin and lead.

Public Health Concern

  • In 2016, the U.S. Surgeon General had concluded that “e-cigarette use among youths and young adults is a public health concern; exposure to nicotine during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain.”
  • Nicotine harms parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.”
  • Nicotine also changes the way synapses — connections between brain cells — are formed.
  • This is a serious concern as more synapses are formed in younger brains.

Can e-cigarette help people to quit smoking?

  • Manufacturers have promoted e-cigarettes as a harm-reducing product.
  • At present, compared with nicotine patches and nicotine gum, there is limited evidence to support the claim that e-cigarettes help people to stop smoking.
  • The delivery of nicotine is variable and difficult to assess as they come in different sizes.
  • The S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved e- cigarettes as an alternative to reduce smoking.
  • A 2015 survey cited by The Truth Initiative (an anti-tobacco organisation) found that almost 60% of those who used e-cigarettes also smoked cigarettes, called as dual users.

Are e-cigarettes addictive?

  • According to a National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2018 carried out by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 3.6 million kids in the U.S. are using e-cigarettes.
  • High school students in the U.S. who used e-cigarettes at least once in 30 days increased from 11.7% in 2017 to 20.8% in 2018; the increase was 48% for middle school children.
  • Flavours in e-cigarettes have been cited as one of the top three reasons for children to use them.
  • The misconception that “e-cigarettes are less harmful than other forms of tobacco such as cigarettes” is another main reason.
  • Youth who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to go on to smoke conventional cigarettes.


[Source: The Hindu]

 

FACTS OF THE DAY

GROUND HANDLING REGULATIONS FOR FOREIGN AIRLINES

India is planning to amend its ground handling regulations for foreign airlines to pacify the U.S., which in a retaliatory action recently barred Air India from performing ground operations on its own at American airports. On July 30, 2019, the U.S. Department of Transportation has served an order amending Air India’s foreign air carrier permit, and barring it from performing its own ground-handling functions in the U.S., after India failed to allow U.S. airlines to “exercise their bilateral right to perform their own ground handling (to “self-handle”) at Indian airports”. Air India is the only Indian carrier that currently flies to the U.S.

TEASER LOAN

State Bank of India’s (SBI) plan to offer fixed-cum-floating home loan rates — known as teaser loans — is likely to hit a regulatory hurdle as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is uncomfortable with such products. Teaser loans are those which charge comparatively lower rates of interest in the first few years after which the rates are increased. According to sources, the RBI is of the view that some borrowers may find it difficult to service the loans once the normal interest rate, which is higher than the rate applicable in the initial years, becomes effective. While such teaser products are not banned by the regulator, the standard asset provisioning requirement is higher for such loans. For normal home loans, the standard asset provisioning is 0.4%, but for teaser loans it is 2%. RBI had increased the provisioning by five times for such loans since these loans are perceived as more risky.

HEAD ON GENERATION (HOG) TECHNOLOGY

Ministry of Railways has decided to adopt Head on Generation (HOG) technology in all LHB Coaches trains within this year. Till date, 342 trains have been converted into HOG. In the new technology, the power will be drawn from the Overhead Electric supply. The power generator cars which used to make huge noise and emit fumes will no more be there. In place of two such generator cars there will be one standby silent generator car to be used for emergency. In place of the other car, there will be LSLRD (LHB Second Luggage, Guard & Divyaang Compartment). This LSLRD will also have capability to convert power from the overhead supply to be utilised in the entire train while providing space for luggage guard room and additional passengers.

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