09&10, April 2017

1.What you need to know about the HIV/AIDS prevention Bill and its provisions

Source: The Hindu

Bill and its provisions:

  1. It aims to end the epidemic by 2030 in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. There are approximately 21 lakh persons living with HIV in India.
  2. The Bill has been drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. The provisions of the Bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.
  3. A person living with AIDS cannot be treated unfairly at employment, educational establishments, renting a property, standing for public or private office or providing healthcare and insurance services.
  4. The Bill also aims to enhance access to healthcare services by ensuring informed consent and confidentiality for HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research.
  5. Every HIV infected or affected person below the age of 18 years has the right to reside in a shared household and enjoy the facilities of the household.
  6. The Bill also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.
  7. No person shall be compelled to disclose his/her HIV status except with their informed consent, and if required by a court order.
  8. The State and Central government should ensure prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS, provide anti-retroviral therapy, and facilitate access to welfare schemes especially for women and children.
  9. Every person in the care and custody of the State shall have right to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and counseling services.
  10. The Bill suggest that cases relating to HIV positive persons shall be disposed’ off by the court on a priority basis and duly ensuring the confidentiality.

2.What is the lowdown on sharing of Teesta waters?

Source: The Hindu

What is it?

  • Sharing the waters of the Teesta river, which originates in the Himalayas and flows through Sikkim and West Bengal to merge with the Brahmaputra in Assam and (Jamuna in Bangladesh), is perhaps the most contentious issue between two friendly neighbours, India and Bangladesh.
  • The river covers nearly the entire floodplains of Sikkim, while draining 2,800 sq km of Bangladesh, governing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
  • For West Bengal, Teesta is equally important, considered the lifeline of half-a-dozen districts in North Bengal. Bangladesh has sought an “equitable” distribution of Teesta waters from India, on the lines of the Ganga Water Treaty of 1996, but to no avail. The failure to ink a deal had its fallout on the country’s politics, putting the ruling Awami League in a spot.

How did it come about?

  • Following a half-hearted deal in 1983, when nearly equal division of water was proposed, the countries hit a roadblock. The transient agreement could not be implemented. Talks resumed after the Awami League returned to power in 2008 and the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Dhaka in 2011. Officials were directed to conclude the “[interim] agreements” on a “fair and equitable basis,” as per the joint statement.
  • In 2015, Prime Minister visit to Dhaka generated more ebullient lines: “deliberations were under way involving all the stakeholders…[to conclude the agreement] as soon as possible.” As both countries are gearing up for another general election, Teesta remains an unfinished project and one of the key stakeholders — West Bengal Chief Minister— is yet to endorse the deal. Her objection is connected to “global warming.”
  • Many of the glaciers on the Teesta basin have retreated, says Strategic Foresight Group, a Mumbai-based think-tank. “Estimates suggested that the Teesta river has a mean annual flow of approximately 60 billion cubic metre (BCM).
  • A significant amount of this water flows during the wet season, between June and September. The importance of the flow and the seasonal variation of this river is felt during the lean season (from October to April/May) as the average flow is about 500 million cubic metre (MCM) per month. Consequently, there are floods during monsoons and droughts during the dry periods,” the 2013 report said.
  • The West Bengal Chief Minister opposed an arrangement in 2011, by which India would get 42.5% and Bangladesh 37.5% of the water during the lean season, and the plan was shelved.

Why does it matter?

  • India witnessed a surge in insurgency in the northeast during the rule of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) from 2001 to 2005. A new policy to befriend the BNP backfired.
  • Bangladesh allegedly sheltered insurgents engaged in anti-India activities, and nearly all the Home Ministry-level talks ended without agreement, and India had to increase the security budget for the northeast.
  • In a couple of years of assuming office in 2008, the Awami League targeted insurgent camps and handed over the rebels to India.
  • As India’s security establishment heaved a sigh of relief, the relationship improved on multiple fronts. But in 2017, the Awami League is on a sticky wicket.
  • It will be facing one of its toughest elections in two years and water-sharing will be one of the key issues. As the former Bangladesh High Commissioner in Delhi, Tariq Karim, put it, even if most of the agreements are delivered, many in Bangladesh will “only ask why has Teesta not been done.”

What next?

  • The answer, according to leading Bangladeshi hydrologist and architect of Ganga Water Treaty, embedded in the construction of giant artificial reservoirs, where the monsoon water can be stored for the lean season.
  • The reservoirs need to be built in India as the country has some mountain-induced sites favourable to hosting dams with reservoirs, unlike Bangladesh.
  • West Bengal CM, however, cannot be sidestepped as water is a State subject. But the silver lining is the presence of stakeholders — at the highest level — in Delhi this week. Hopefully, they will be able to strike gold by the next general election in Bangladesh.

Tributaries:

The Teesta River is a 309 km (192 mi) long river flowing through the Indian state of Sikkim.

left      Dik Chhu, Rangpo River, Lang Lang Chu, Lachung River, Rani Khola

– right   Ranghap Chhu, Rangeet, Ringyong Chhu

teesta tributaries

3.Coal India’s new projects in Jharkhand, Bengal to cut import bill

Source: Indian Express

While one plant will be set up in Ranging in West Bengal, two will be located in Jharia in Jharkhand.

State-owned Coal India will come up with three coal bed methane and coal mine methane projects in Jharkhand and West Bengal in 2017-18, a move that may help lower the country’s import bill and cut carbon emission.

Key facts:

  • “Coal India (CIL) will come up with three CBM and CMM projects in the current fiscal,” an official in the know said, adding that the action plan for the same is at the implementation stage.
  • The government had earlier said the domestic coal gas can be used as feedstock for producing urea and other chemicals that can help limit the country’s import bill by USD 10 billion in five years and reduce carbon emission.

Coal Bed Methane and Coal Mine Methane

  • CBM, an unconventional form of natural gas found in coal deposits or coal seams, is now considered as an alternative source of augmenting the energy resource.
  • CMM is a type of gas present in active, working mine sites, which is extracted from air in the coal mine, helping improve safety and preventing uncontrolled release of methane to atmosphere.
    • Methane released from the worked coal face can be diluted and removed by large ventilation systems designed to move vast quantities of air through the mine. These systems dilute methane within the mine to concentrations below the explosive range of 5-15%, with a target for methane concentrations under 1%.

 

4.100 years of Champaran Satyagraha: Facts to know about Mahatma Gandhi’s first movement against British Raj

Source: Indian Express

Prime Minister inaugurate an exhibition titled “Swachhagraha – Bapu Ko Karyanjali – Ek Abhiyan, Ek Pradarshani” in the national capital on Monday to mark the 100 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s first experiment of Satyagraha in Champaran to mark the 100 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s first experiment of Satyagraha in Champaran.

  • The Bihar government will kick off the year-long commemorative celebrations, as it was on April 10, 1917 that Gandhi set foot in the state for the first time.
  • Patna has several landmarks and heritage trails associated with the legacy of Gandhi and his stay in the capital 100 years ago after he had alighted from a third-class compartment at Patna railway station (then Bankipore station).

Things to know about Champaran Satyagraha movement:

  1. Mahatma Gandhi’s first Satygraha was undertaken in the erstwhile undivided Champaran district in northern Bihar in April 1917 after he learned about the abuses suffered by farmers, who were forced into growing indigo by British planter’s/estate owners. ‘The Champaran tenant’, informed Gandhi, ‘was bound by law to plant three out of every twenty parts of his land with indigo for his landlord’. This system was called Tinkathia.
  2. Gandhi was initially reluctant to commit himself to the task but he was so thoroughly persuaded by indigo cultivator Rajkumar Shukla that he decided to investigate the matter.
  3. Gandhi’s plan was to carry out an extensive inquiry in the district and demand action based on its findings. The local authorities did not find Gandhi’s visit welcoming and they unsuccessfully tried to dissuade him from undertaking his inquiry.
  4. During this time, Gandhi was served with a court summon while he was making a spot visit to a village on an elephant back. Gandhi was charged with violating Section 144 of CrPC but he refused to leave Champaran.
  5. In the meantime, the Bihar administration grew anxious at Gandhi’s prolonged stay in Champaran. Thus on June 4, 1917, Sir Edward Gait, the Lieutenant Governor of Bihar, declared the formation of a formal inquiry committee with Gandhi aboard. But Gait had to concede that Gandhi and volunteers could remain in the district and Gandhi would not cease to be an advocate of the ryats (tenants).
  6. On July 11, 1917, the Champaran Inquiry Committee began its preliminary meeting and after several sittings and spot visits, it submitted its final report on October 4. The government accepted almost all its recommendations to the benefit of the ryats. The principal recommendation accepted was the complete abolition of Tinkathia system.
  7. On November 29, the Champaran Agrarian bill was submitted in the Bihar Legislative Council. On March 4, 1919, with the formal signature of the Governor General, this bill turned into a law. Almost a year after Gandhi’s arrival, the exploitative tinkathia system had finally been abolished.
  8. The victory at Champaran established Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in India’s struggle against the British raj

5.Indo – Mongolian Joint Exercise : Nomadic Elephant

Source: PIB

  • Twelfth iteration of Indo – Mongolian Joint Military Exercise Nomadic Elephant is presently underway at Vairengte from 05 April 2017 till 18 April 2017.
  • Mongolian Army is represented by nine officers and 36 soldiers of the elite 084 Special Forces Task Battalion while Indian Army is represented by a contingent comprising of three officers, four JCOs and 39 soldiers of the Jammu & Kashmir Rifles.
  • Nomadic Elephant is aimed at training the troops in Counter Insurgency & Counter Terrorism Operations under the United Nations mandate.
  • The joint training will also lay emphasis on conducting operations by a joint subunit, comprising of troops from both the armies, in adverse operational conditions aimed at enhancing the interoperability between the two armies.

6.Web Portal “Bharat ke Veer”

Source: PIB

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has launched web portal and mobile application named “Bharat ke Veer” to enable people to contribute towards family of martyrs from central paramilitary forces.

It was launched by Union Home Minister on the occasion of Valour Day of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

Key facts

  • The portal and application is an IT based platform to enable willing donors to contribute towards the family of a brave heart who have sacrificed their life in line of duty or towards the ‘Bharat Ke Veer’ corpus.
  • This online donation platform is technically supported by National Informatics Centre (NIC) and powered by State Bank of India (SBI).
  • The amount so donated through it will be credited to the account of ‘Next of Kin’ of those Central Armed Police Force or Central Para Military Force soldiers.
  • To ensure maximum coverage, a cap of Rs. 15 lakh is imposed on donation and donors will be alerted if amount exceeds, so they can choose to divert part of the donation to another account or the corpus.
  • Bharat Ke Veer corpus will be managed by a committee made up of eminent persons of repute and senior Government officials. The committee will decide to disbursement of fund equitably to braveheart’s family on need basis.

7.NASA’s Kepler space telescope discover Venus twin around dim star

Source: Indian Express

Astronomers using NASA’s Kepler space telescope have discovered a Venus-like planet orbiting a dim star called Kepler-1649.

The newly found planet is one-fifth the diameter of our Sun and is only slightly larger than Earth. It is located 219 light years away from Earth.

Key facts

  • The Venus-like planet tightly embraces its low-temperature star Kepler-1649 by encircling it every nine days. The tight orbit around the star causes the flux of sunlight reaching it to be 2.3 times as great as the solar flux on Earth.
  • For comparison, the solar flux on Venus is 1.9 times the terrestrial value (on earth). The discovery will provide insight into the nature of planets encircling around M dwarf stars, by far the most common type in the universe.

Venus

  • Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days.
  • It is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. It is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth’s “sister planet” because of their similar size, mass, proximity to Sun, and bulk composition. It has no natural satellite.
  • But it is radically different from Earth in other respects. It has densest atmosphere of four terrestrial planets, consisting of more than 96% CO2. The atmospheric pressure at its planet’s surface is 92 times that of Earth.
  • Note: Venus is by far the hottest planet in the Solar System, with a mean surface temperature 462 °C even though Mercury is closer to the Sun.

Kepler Space Telescope (KST)

  • KST is an unmanned space observatory launched in 2009 by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
  • It is tasked with determining how commonly, Earth-like planets occur throughout the Milky Way galaxy. KST works by observing a dimming in the light of a star, known as a transit, each time an orbiting planet passes in front of it.
  • It has been designed for a statistical mission and not to probe into the environmental conditions of planets that exist in the so-called Goldilocks zone (Habitable zone) of their stars.

 



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