geography

Arctic Region and Arctic Council

The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth.

8 Jul, 2020

BRAHMAPUTRA AND ITS TRIBUTARIES

About Brahmaputra River: The Brahmaputra called Yarlung

3 Jul, 2020
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    Current Affairs – 7th September 2021

    1.    PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT (POCSO)

    • News: The Bombay High Court has acquitted a man of charges of raping and sexually assaulting a five-year-old. It said, “It is well known that a child witness, by reason of his/her tender age, is a pliable witness. He/she is amenable to tutoring and inducement and is often prone to telling imaginative and exaggerated stories.”
    • About Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act:
      • In order to effectively address the heinous crimes of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children through less ambiguous and more stringent legal provisions, the Ministry of Women and Child Development championed the introduction of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
      • The Act has been enacted to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and provide for establishment of Special Courts for trial of such offences and related matters and incidents.
      • The Act was amended in 2019, to make provisions for enhancement of punishments for various offences so as to deter the perpetrators and ensure safety, security and dignified childhood for a child.
    • Salient features of the Act and its amendment
      • The Act is gender neutral and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as a matter of paramount importance at every stage so as to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
      • The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and regards the best interests and well-being of the child as being of paramount importance at every stage, to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
      • It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography, and deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority vis-à-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
      • People who traffic children for sexual purposes are also punishable under the provisions relating to abetment in the Act. The Act prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine.
      • It defines “child pornography” as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child which include photograph, video, digital or computer generated image indistinguishable from an actual child, and image created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict a child;’

    2.    BRICS, SCO AND QUAD

    • News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a meeting of BRICS leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of Brazil and South Africa on Thursday, the first in a series of summit-level meetings he is expected to attend in September that will be dominated by discussions on the situation in Afghanistan. The meeting will be held in virtual format due to COVID-19 restrictions.
    • About BRICS:
      • BRICS is the acronym coined to associate five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs.
      • Since 2009, the governments of the BRICS states have met annually at formal summits. Russia hosted the most recent 12th BRICS summit on 17 November 2020 virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • BRICS is the acronym coined to associate five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The BRICS members are known for their significant influence on regional affairs.
      • Since 2009, the governments of the BRICS states have met annually at formal summits. Russia hosted the most recent 12th BRICS summit on 17 November 2020 virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • Members of G20, as of 2018, these five states had a combined nominal GDP of US$19.6 trillion, about 23.2% of the gross world product, a combined GDP (PPP) of around US$40.55 trillion (32% of the world’s GDP PPP), and an estimated US$4.46 trillion in combined foreign reserves.
      • The BRICS have received both praise and criticism from numerous commentators.
      • Bilateral relations among BRICS states are conducted mainly based on non-interference, equality, and mutual benefit.
      • The existence of the BRICS grouping does not signify a formal or informal alliance; there are multiple economic, territorial, and political disputes between the five governments.
      • The BRICS is an association formed by countries in four continents: Brazil in South America, Russia in Europe, India and China in Asia and South Africa in Africa.
    • About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):
      • The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), or Shanghai Pact, is a Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance, the creation of which was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai, China by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Charter, formally establishing the organization, was signed in June 2002 and entered into force on 19 September 2003.
      • The original five members, with the exclusion of Uzbekistan, were previously members of the Shanghai Five group, founded on 26 April 1996.
      • Since then, the organization has expanded its membership to eight states when India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members on 9 June 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
      • The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO, it meets once a year and adopts decisions and guidelines on all important matters of the organisation.
      • Military exercises are also regularly conducted among members to promote cooperation and coordination against terrorism and other external threats, and to maintain regional peace and stability.
      • The SCO is the largest regional organisation in the world in terms of geographical coverage and population, covering three-fifths of the Eurasian continent and nearly half of the human population.
      • The Council of Heads of State is the top decision-making body in the SCO. This council meets at the SCO summits, which are held each year in one of the member states’ capital cities. Because of their government structure, the prime minister of the parliamentary democracies of India and Pakistan attends the SCO Council of Heads of State summits, as their responsibilities are similar to the presidents of other SCO nations.
    • About Quadrilateral Security Dialogue:
      • The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD, also known as the Quad) is a strategic dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia and India that is maintained by talks between member countries.
      • The dialogue was initiated in 2007 by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the support of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
      • The dialogue was paralleled by joint military exercises of an unprecedented scale, titled Exercise Malabar.
      • The diplomatic and military arrangement was widely viewed as a response to increased Chinese economic and military power, and the Chinese government responded to the Quadrilateral dialogue by issuing formal diplomatic protests to its members.

    3.    MANDA BUFFALO

    • News: Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) has recognised the Manda buffalo, found in the Eastern Ghats and plateau of Koraput region of Odisha, as the 19th unique breed of buffaloes found in India.
    • Details:
      • The Manda are resistant to parasitic infections, less prone to diseases and can thrive on modest resources.
      • This buffalo germ-plasm was first identified through a survey conducted by the Animal Resource Development (ARD) department of Odisha in collaboration with the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT).
    • About Manda/Ganjam Buffalo:
      • These buffaloes are found in whole Koraput district and adjoining parts of Malkangiri and Nawarangpur district in Orissa, spread over an area of around 10,000 sq. km.
      • Body colour of these buffaloes is ash grey and grey with copper coloured hairs. Some animals are silver white in colour.
      • The lower part of the legs up to elbow is light colour with tuft of yellowish/copper coloured hairs at knee and fetlock. Horns are broad and emerge slightly laterally, extending backward and inward making half circles.
      • Jaws and nostrils are wide and prominent.
      • Manda buffalo comes to heat at around 40 months and drops its first calf at around 51 months of age.
      • Average calving interval of these buffaloes is 18 months with gestation period of 307 days.
      • These buffaloes are moderate milk yielders having lactation milk yield of around 700 lt. in a lactation length of 290 days.
      • These animals are famous for longevity, hard work and length of working life.
      • Female Manda buffaloes at some places are used in agricultural operations along with buffalo bullocks.

    4.    FOOD EMERGENCY IN SRI LANKA

    • News: On August 30, 2021, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, using powers vested in the country’s Public Security Ordinance, declared Emergency regulations pertaining to the distribution of essential food items. The regulations sought to empower authorities to provide essential food items at a “concessionary rate” to the public by purchasing stocks of essential food items, including paddy, rice and sugar, at government-guaranteed prices, and prevent market irregularities and hoarding.
    • Details:
      • Criticism of the Emergency regulations has largely been over the government’s legal choices, and their political implications.
      • In a commentary on the regulations published in Sri Lankan media, senior constitutional lawyer, and former parliamentarian Jayampathy Wickramaratne argued that the government — with a comfortable parliamentary majority — “had all the time in the world” to bring in any legislation needed to deal with the crisis but opted not to do so.
      • The possibility has grabbed international headlines, with the government’s drastic measures against hoarding, triggering speculation over food security in Sri Lanka that is home to 21 million people. Fuelling the speculation are different factors, including the country’s known reliance on imports for essentials — such as petroleum, sugar, dairy products, wheat, medical supplies — its fast-dwindling foreign reserves, from $7.5 billion in November 2019 to $2.8 billion in July 2021, and the daunting foreign debt repayment schedule in the coming years.
      • The pandemic’s lethal blow since early 2020, to all major sources of foreign exchange earnings — exports, worker remittances and tourism — has further compounded the economic stress.
      • Sri Lanka’s economy contracted by 3.6 % last year. According to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan rupee depreciated by 10.1% against the dollar this year. It hovered around 200 against a dollar last week.
      • The fear of a possible food shortage also stems from the Rajapaksa administration’s decision in April to ban import of chemical fertilizers and adopting an “organic only” approach.
      • Prices of essential commodities — including rice, dhal, bread, sugar, vegetables, fish — have risen several times during the pandemic, and more rapidly in recent weeks.