Current Affairs 9th February, 2019

Paper 2 and 3

Topics Covered

  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

  • Conservation related issues.

Small Grants Programme(SGP)

Image result for Small Grants Programme(SGP)

What to read?

Prelims: What is SGP, overview of GFE and UNDP.

Mains: Significance of SGP and its role in environmental conservation, its approach and the need for such kind of approach.

A workshop on Small Grants Programme (SGP) was recently held in New Delhi.

 About Small Grants Programme (SGP):

The Global Environment Facility GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP)provides financial and technical support to communities and Civil Society Organizations to meet the overall objective of global environmental benefits secured through community-based initiatives and actions. 

It was launched in 1992 with 33 participating countries.

The Program is specifically designed to mobilize bottom-up actions by empowering local civil society organizations, and poor and vulnerable communities, including women and Indigenous Peoples.

 How it functions?

Through a decentralized, national-level delivery mechanism, SGP finances community-led initiatives to address global environmental issues.

It is currently implemented by UNDP on behalf of the GEF partnership.

The Programme funds grants up to a maximum of $50,000. In practice, the average grant has been around $25,000. In addition, the SGP provides a maximum of $150,000 for strategic projects. These larger projects allow for scaling up and cover a large number of communities within a critical landscape or seascape.

 Significance:

Community-driven and civil society-led initiatives can generate environmental benefits, while supporting sustainable livelihoods, gender equality and civil society empowerment. These are actions needed at the local and regional level to address global environmental challenges and complement other areas where the GEF works.

 Need for SGP:

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Environment degradation such as the destruction of ecosystems and the species that depends upon them, increasing level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, pollution of international waters, land degradation and the spread of persistent organic pollutants are life – threatening challenges that endanger us all. However, it is the poor and vulnerable communities that are most at risk as they are directly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods and subsistence. SGP aims to support these vulnerable communities through community led approaches towards environmental conservation and livelihoods enhancement.


Paper 2

Topics Covered

  • Schemes for the vulnerable sections of the society.

Ujjwala Utsav

Image result for Ujjwala Utsav

What to read?

Prelims: About Ujjwala Utsav, PMUY, PMUY anthem.

Mains: PMUY- objectives, features, significance and measures needed to sustain the momentum.

 Ujjwala Utsav observed recently to celebrate the stellar role played by various stakeholders in making PMUY a success.

  • The event was organised under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum &Natural Gas to encourage, motivate as well as felicitate all frontline field force for their outstanding contribution to PMUY.

  • The occasion also saw the launch of the PMUY anthem – Ujjwala Bharat Ujjwala – composed and developed by eminent singer and film industry personality Padma Shri Kailash Kher.

 About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana:

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.

 Who is eligible? 

Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.

Identification of households: Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories. The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

 Key objectives of the scheme are:

Image result for Ujjwala Utsav objectives

  • Empowering women and protecting their health.

  • Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.

  • Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.

  • Preventing young children from significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.

What makes LPG adoption necessary?

A large section of Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.

According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.

 Way ahead:

The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognised that this is just a first step. The real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas. Truly smokeless kitchens can be realized only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.


Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  • e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.

  • Infrastructure- waterways.

River Information System

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What to read?

Prelims: About IWAI, RIS.

Mains: Significance, objectives and the need for RIS.

 To boost cargo movement on Ganga, the second phase of river information system (RIS) was recently inaugurated between Farakka and Patna.

 About RIS:

It is a combination of modern tracking equipment related hardware and software designed to optimize traffic and transport processes in inland navigation.

RIS is being implemented under the overall responsibility of Inland Waterway Authority of India, a statutory body administered by the Ministry of Shipping.

The system enhances swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and shore (Base stations) through advance and real-time exchange of information. This would facilitate:

  • Enhancement of inland navigation safety in ports and rivers.

  • Better use of the inland waterways.

  • Environmental protection.

 RIS enables achievement of safe and efficient inland water transport by avoiding the following risks:

  • Ship- to – Ship collisions.

  • Ship – Bridge collisions.

  • Groundings

Paper 2

Topics Covered

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Image result for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

 What to read?

Prelims and Mains: The Fund, its objectives, need for funding, significance and challenges.

 What is it?

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (or simply the Global Fund) is an international financing organization that aims to “attract, leverage and invest additional resources to end the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to support attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations.”

Founded in 2002, the Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases.

The organization maintains its secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.

 Historical background:

The Global Fund was formed as an independent, non-profit foundation under Swiss law and hosted by the World Health Organization in January 2002. In January 2009, the organization became an administratively autonomous organization, terminating its administrative services agreement with the World Health Organization.


Paper 2

Topics Covered

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Macedonia signs accord to join NATO

Image result for Macedonia signs accord to join NATO

What to read?

Prelims and Mains: About NATO- formation, members, objectives, significance and issues associated latest members. 

Macedonia has signed accession papers with NATO. The signing of accession papers allows Macedonia take part in NATO ministerial meetings as an invitee.

To acquire full membership, all 29 current members must ratify the accession protocol.

 Why is Russia worried about these developments?

  • Russia has raised concerns against Macedonia becoming part of NATO. Russia has always accused NATO of destabilising the Balkans by pushing Macedonia and Montenegro to join NATO.

  • Russia sees Balkan nations as its sphere of influence and is against NATO or any other body led by US or EU making inroads to these Balkan countries.

  • Russia is mainly concerned because NATO’s membership provides a guarantee of mutual defence, provides a welcome insurance policy against possible incursions. Russia perceives this as an attempt by the west to contain it by making inroads to the areas which Russia considers its sphere of influence.

 About North Atlantic Treaty Organization (North Atlantic Alliance)

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  • It is an intergovernmental military alliance.

  • Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.

  • Headquarters — Brussels, Belgium.

  • Headquarters of Allied Command Operations — Mons, Belgium.

Significance: It constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.

 Objectives:

Political NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.

Military NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO’s founding treaty – Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organisations.