1. UN rights body to move SC on CAA
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has announced that it will file a plea in the Indian Supreme court, to be impleaded to petitions challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The Geneva-based UN organisation plans to ask the court to appoint the Commissioner for Human Rights as an assitant or amicus curiae in the case.
The Ministry of External Affairs has said that the UN body has no right to carry out such a move. Other experts have also called it an ‘overreach’.
Rupert Colville, OHCHR spokesperson said, “The High Commissioner [Michelle Bachelet] intends to submit an amicus curiae brief shortly on the Citizenship [Amendment] Act [CAA] in the Indian Supreme Court, in accordance with the Court’s established procedures, and she has informed the Indian Permanent Mission in Geneva of her intention.”
The MEA spokesperson has said that the UN body has no right to intervene in India’s internal matter. “We strongly believe that no foreign party has any locus standi on issues pertaining to India’s sovereignty.We are confident that our sound and legally sustainable position would be vindicated by the Honourable Supreme Court,” he added.
2. Two Noida schools shut after Delhi man infected
In a massive coronavirus scare, two private schools in Noida were shut down after the father of one of their students tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. The patient had recently travelled to Italy and tested positive for the virus. He is currently in a quarantine ward at Safdarjung hospital.
One of the schools will remain shut from March 4 to March 6, while the other will be closed till Saturday. Board exams will take place at these schools as per schedule.
Fearing that his family members were infected, they were quarantined or put in isolation. Samples have been collected from five students at the school.
The health ministry has also appealed to passengers who were on the same flight as the infected patient - AI1-54 Vienna-Delhi on Feb 25 to follow protocol.
Meanwhile, the UP health minister Jai Pratap Singh said that 34 samples have been sent for testing to NIV, Pune, from people who had been in contact with the Delhi patient. This includes six persons in ‘high risk category’, who have also been sent to Safdarjung hospital.
3. Parliament comes to a stand still over Delhi violence
No legislative business happened in the Lok Sabha of the parliament for a second day, as opposition members continued to demand legal action against MOS for food processing Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti. Jyoti had made controversial remarks on Delhi violence.
Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti has landed into a big trouble after she passed some communal remarks in a BJP rally over Delhi violence.Though she accepted and regret her mistakes, there was still an uproar in the house.
Both the Lok sabha and the Rajya Sabha members demanded a statement from PM Modi to explain his stand on the issue.The opposition members are putting her remarks as punishable under the IPC section and are demanding that the minister be sacked.
4. Black carbon levels spike at Himalayan glaciers
Black carbon concentrations have risen by nearly 400 times in the summer, due to forest fires and stubble burning from agricultural waste, reported scientists from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG). This event has triggered a melting of the glaciers.
The WiHG team of scientists, led by PS Negi, measured variations of black carbon concentration at Chirbasa, near the Gangotri glacier in the Indian Himalaya, located at an altitude of 3,600 metres, during the year 2016. “The monthly mean concentration of EBC (equivalent black carbon) was found to be minimum in August and maximum in the month of May. The observed seasonal mean concentrations of EBC indicated a pristine glacial source and an absence of EBC sources in the locality,” a press statement noted.
Black carbon occurs when fossil fuels and biomass go through an incomplete combustion. The residue particles absorb light and energy about a million times higher than carbon dioxide in the air. They are the largest contributors to climate change after C02, though they only stay in the atmosphere for a shorter span - from a few days to weeks. After this, they descend as rain or snow.
India is the second largest emitter of black carbon in the world, with emissions expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades, says an April 2019 study in the journal Atmospheric Research , with the Indo Gangetic plains said to be the largest contributor.
5. Taliban attacks Afghan bases,throwing peace talks in doubt
The Taliban carried out attacks on Afghan army bases on March 3. There have been more than a dozen attacks, which happened immediately after the ending of a partial cease fire between Kabul and insurgents.
Afghan army bases were rocked with dozens of attacks that were done by the Talibans.The strange thing is that the temporary truce between Kabul and insurgents just ended a few hours before the attacks.This has put a doubt on the peace talks and can derail the process further.
According to a deal signed in Doha between US-Taliban,the Intra-Afghan negotiations are going to begin from March 10. Doubts loom over the peace talks, especially over a swap of prisoners. The Taliban were to free 1,000 prisoners, while the Afghan government was to free 5,000 insurgents in exchange. The attacks have led to apprehensions that the talks may just end.
The president of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani though has denied this offer and refused to do it before the start of the negotiations.This is going to complicate the matter more as the Taliban ended their partial cease fire and conducted a series of attacks .
33 attacks occured in 16 provinces of Afghanistan, killing 6 civilians and injuring 14 others.
6. Google cancels annual developer conference among concerns of COVID-19:
The Coronavirus has now spread its fear over the technology also as the IT giant Google has cancelled its biggest annual developer conference that was scheduled for May 12-14 in its Mountain view headquarters.
Google has decided to cancel its annual developer conference which otherwise was going to happen in mid May.The company is already exploring other options to engage with its developer base.
The annual developer event is the latest tech event that has been cancelled because of the worldwide spread of the Coronavirus that has already claimed around 3,100 people around the world out of which 9 were from the United states
Facebook has already cancelled its two conferences one of which was the big annual event F8 amid the spread of Coronavirus.Before this the Mobile world congress was also cancelled that was scheduled to be held in Barcelona.While the companies like Microsoft and Apple are fearing that their sales may get a hit because of the spread of the virus.
7. PIB - Agriculture ministry releases figures to the parliament
The Agriculture ministry made disclosures in the parliament related to developments in the field of agriculture, responding to queries from other parliamentary legislators.
I) Decrease in agricultural holdings
As per figures from the latest agricultural census, the average size of arable land holdings has declined from 2.28 hectares in 1970-71 to 1.08 hectares in 2015-16. Fragmented holdings due to rising population is a possible reason why.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is now conducting research programmes to make small holdings more viable, enhancing their productiviInterest Subvention Scheme, Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Neem Coated Urea, Pradhan MantriKrishiSinchayeeYojana (PMKSY), Pradhan MantriFasalBimaYojana (PMFBY), National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) etc.
Meanwhile, production and productivity for crops has increased over the decades - from 196.81 million tonnes in 2000-01 to an estimated 291.95 hectares in 2019-20.
II) Cultivation of GM crops:
Area, production and productivity of GM crops like BT cotton has increased exponentially from 2002-03 to 2019-20 (322.67 lakh bales) as per data released from the Directorate of Economics and Statistics.
Currently, BT cotton is the only GM crop approved by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) in 2002 for commercial cultivation in the country. Genetic variants for GM brinjal and mustard are being considered for their feasibility.
III) Financial condition of farmers
Though the last NSSO survey (2013) received no data on the financial condition of Indian farmers, it did indicate that rural India had a total of 90.2 million agricultural households, a majority of which reported cultivation as their main source of income.
Among households with less than 0.01 hectare land, about 56% reported wages as their main source of income, while 23% were dependent on livestock. 44% had a MGNREGA job card while 52% were estimated as under debt. As agricultural indebtedness is a state subject, state governments need to take appropriate measures to develop agriculture here.
To help them, the government is
IV) Calculation of MSP:
In line with the government’s minimum support price (MSP) recommendations, to keep MSP at one and half times the cost of production, MSP for all mandated Kharif, Rabi and other commercial crops has been set with a return of at least 50% for the agricultural year 2018-19.
The government has also decided to provide remunerative prices to farmers for their produce, implementing e-National Agricultural Market (eNAME), enacting the Model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2017 and promoting Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs).
There is also the recently launched ‘Pradhan MantriAnnadataAaySanraksHanAbhiyan (PM-AASHA)’, which will provide a complete assurance of remunerative prices for farmers.
V) Improve organic farming:
The government is promoting organic farming under 2 schemes - Mission Organic Value Chain Development North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER) and ParamparagatKrishiVikasYojana (PKVY) since 2015 through state governments. Under these schemes, support is provided for formation of farmers’ clusters/ Farmer Producer Organization; input procurement, value addition including postharvest infrastructure creation, packaging, branding, publicity, transportation, organic fairs etc.
Organic Farming is also supported under other schemes like RashtriyaKrishiVikasYojana (RKVY) and Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), Network Project on Organic Farming under ICAR.
VI) Steps to double farmers income
The government is developing and implementing schemes for farmers’ welfare by increasing production, remunerative returns and income support. For this, the government has identified seven sources of income -
- improvement in crop productivity
- improvement in lifestock productivity
- Resource use efficiency
- Increase in cropping intensity
- diversification of high-value crops
- improvement in real prices received
- shift from farm to non-farm operations