Current Affairs 21st March, 2019

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1. Special Stamp on Ice Stupa

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The Indian Department of Post released a ‘special stamp cover on Ice Stupa’. The stamp was released by Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Postmaster General during a function organised at the Ice Stupa site at Gangles Village in Leh.

A number of officers and dignitaries from Army and civil administration were present on the occasion.

Objective

  • The special stamps aim to create awareness about depleting glaciers and affect the ecology around the Himalayas. Global warming and ecological imbalance have caused irreparable damage to the Himalayas in the past several years.

Why are Ice Stupas being built?

  • Ice Stupas also known as artificial glaciers, are being built with an aim to reduce the problem of water shortage, faced by Ladakhi farmers due to receding of glaciers.

  • Over 12 villages in Ladakh have built Ice Stupas this year in various villages.

Who is building them?

  • The idea of the Ice Stupa project was conceptualised by HIAL founder Sonam Wangchuk to reduce problems of Ladakhi farmers in spring.

  • The Ice Stupa team of Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL) with support and cooperation from Leh-Phodo society and Army, has built an Ice Stupa at Gangles village.

  • From next year, the team has planned to build more of such artificial glaciers in Leh. The village youth have also participated in the building of the ice Stupas with the technical and material support by HIAL.

  • This year, the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives has organised a competition among the villages on ice Stupas, to keep the engaged youth motivated.

How are the Ice Stupas formed?

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  • The artificial glaciers are being built by saving winter water, which flows waste, in a cone-shaped stupa that does not melt easily.

  • The stupas have been designed to melt slowly, as a result serving the purpose of drinking and irrigation for those living in the nearby villages.

Significance

The Ice Stupa is a survival technique that has been developed over a period. Each stupa has the capacity to store at least 30-50 lakh litres of water. This is apart from the naturally saved water in the slopes of mountains.


2. Shanghai Cooperative Organisation

The eight nation Shanghai Cooperation organisation (SCO) offered to smoothen a bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan so that the two countries can resolve their differences, following last month’s Pulwama terror attack in Kashmir.

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SCO

  • It is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation

  • Founded in 2001 in Shanghai

  • 8 members:

    • China, 

    • Kazakhstan, 

    • Kyrgyzstan, 

    • Russia, 

    • Tajikistan,

    • Uzbekistan,

    • India and

    • Pakistan

  • SCO evolved from Shanghai Five (All above minus Uzbekistan)

  • On July 10, 2015, the SCO decided to admit India and Pakistan as full members, and they joined as full members in 2017.

  • Main activities: cooperation on security, military activities, and economic and cultural cooperation

  • Member countries are rich in energy resources (both fossil fuels and uranium)

  • Members represent over 40% of humanity and nearly 20% of the global GDP.

  • HQ : Beijing, China


3. PM KISAN

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With just 10 days to go for the first payout deadline under PM-KISAN, only 2.74 crore farm families, or about 56% of the total list of 4.92 crore names submitted by States, have been paid so far. The remaining 2.18 crore farm families are still awaiting processing or are caught somewhere within a four-stage validation process set up belatedly to weed out fakes.

About Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi:

  • Under this programme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year.

  • This income support will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers, in three equal installments of Rs. 2,000 each.

  • The complete expenditure of Rs 75000 crore for the scheme will borne by the Union Government in 2019-20.

  •  Significance

    Around 12 crore small and marginal farmer families are expected to benefit from this. It would not only provide assured supplemental income to the most vulnerable farmer families, but would also meet their emergent needs especially before the harvest season. It would pave the way for the farmers to earn and live a respectable living.

     Similar programmes by states

    • Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana in Madhya Pradesh was sought to provide relief to farmers by providing the differential between MSPs and market prices.

    • The Rythu Bandhu scheme of the Telangana government provides ₹4,000 per acre for every season to all the farmers of the state. Similar initiatives have also be framed in Jharkhand and Odisha.

    • In December 2018, Odisha launched the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income augmentation (KALIA). KALIA is more complicated in design and implementation. It commits to give Rs 5,000 per SMF, twice a year, that is Rs 10,000 a year.

     Benefits of direct cash transfers

    • It has immediate impact on reducing hunger and rural poverty.

    • They can help households to overcome credit constraints and manage risk. This can increase productive investment, increase access to markets and stimulate local economies.

    • Income support can be used to make a repayment or at least activate a bank account which can then receive a loan.

    • It can increase investment in agricultural inputs, including farm implements and livestock.

    • It can serve as an important complement to a broader rural development agenda, including a pro-poor growth strategy focusing on agriculture.

     

    4. Right of Children caught in parental conflict needs focus

    A proactive step need to be taken to focus on child rights, specifically in cases of parental conflict, the Supreme Court has highlighted.

    • The rights of children caught in the middle of an ugly divorce or a custody battle between parents need specific articulation.

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    • Divorce and custody battles are a quagmire and it is heart-wrenching to see an innocent child ultimately suffer for the legal and psychological war waged between the parents, the Supreme Court has observed.

    Different kinds of Custody in India

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    In the case of child custody, there are different kinds of custody that can be awarded by the Indian courts to parents:

    1. Physical custody of child – The physical custody of the child means that the child shall live with the parent who is granted the physical custody. The other parent is usually given visitation rights over the weekend. The parent who has the physical custody is usually the primary guardian.

    2. Legal custody of child – In legal custody, the parents have the right to make important decisions regarding educational and religious upbringing, financial support and medical care that affect the welfare of the child. This decision making is generally shared among parents and the expenses and maintenance are borne by both the parents.

    3. Joint custody of child – Recently, a new concept of joint custody has been evolving which gives both parents equal physical and legal custody. Though there are no legal provisions on shared parenting, the judiciary has been taking steps to bring about joint custody in India. Through this, children of separated parents can get the benefit of having both parents as active members in their life thus doing away with the concept of primary guardianship.

    General Law For Child Custody Cases

    The court has the right to appoint a guardian for a minor’s person or property or both under the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890

    Child Custody Under Hindu Law

    Under the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, the custody of all children below the age of 5 years is given to the mother. The custody of boys and unmarried daughters is given to the father. Custody of illegitimate children is given to the mother first and then the father while the guardianship of a married girl is given to her husband. The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 exists in harmony with the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890.

    Child Custody Under Muslim Law

    Under Muslim personal law, the right to a child’s custody is given solely to a mother unless she is seen as an unfit guardian. This is called the right of hizanat and can be enforced against any person including the father.

    Child Custody Under Christian Law

    The Christian laws do not have any special mention about child custody rights. Hence the Indian Divorce Act, 1869, becomes applicable for all matters pertaining to Christian children and their guardianship. As per Section 41 of this said Act, the courts have the right to pass orders as to the custody, education and maintenance of Christian children.

    5. WPI

    Inflation based on wholesale prices rose to 2.93% in February over the previous month due to hardening of prices of primary articles, fuel and power, according to government data released.

    Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is based on the price prevailing in the wholesale markets or the price at which bulk  transactions are made.

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    • It includes three components

      • Manufactured products = 65% approx (64.2% now)

      • Primary articles = 20% approx (22.6% now)

      • Fuel and power = 15% approx (13.1% now)

    New WPI series

    • Base year has been changed from 2004-05 to 2011-12

    • The number of items covered in the new series of the WPI has increased from 676 to 697.

    • Under the primary articles, new vegetables and fruits like radish, carrot, cucumber, bitter gourd, mosambi (sweet lime), pomegranate, jackfruit, and pear have been added.

    • Under the mineral group, new items like copper concentrate, lead concentrate and garnet have been added and other items like copper ore, gypsum, kaolin, dolomite, and magnesite have been dropped.

    • Under the manufacturing items, 173 new items including conveyer belt, rubber tread, steel cables, tissue paper, and wooden splint have been added, while 135 items like khandsari, poppadom, and video CD players have been taken out.

    • Under the new series of WPI, weight of manufactured items has decreased to 64.2 per cent from 64.9 per cent in old series.

    • Similarly, the weight of fuel and power has decreased to 13.1 per cent from 14.9 per cent.