10, October 2017

1.Union Home Minister to inaugurate First BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise

Source: PIB

BIMSTEC-DMEx-2017

This Exercise will be a platform for sharing Best Practices on all aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), strengthening regional response and coordination for Disaster Management among the BIMSTEC member countries.

  • The main focus of BIMSTEC-DMEx 2017 will be to test the inter-governmental coordination efforts, create synergy and synchronize efforts to institutionalize regional cooperation on disaster response among the member countries.
  • Joint exercises of this nature will address the important aspects of responding to disasters/calamities by pooling of resources and expertise and the imperative of presenting a strong and well-coordinated response to disaster situation in any of the BIMSTEC Countries.

Objectives of BIMSTEC-DMEx 2017:

The BIMSTEC-DMEx 2017 is expected to test the region’s preparedness and resilience to address the following specific challenges:

  • Effective activation of intergovernmental interaction/dialogue/agreements for immediate deployment of regional resources for disaster response.
  • Strengthen the effective utilization of the Search and Rescue Teams for Disaster Relief and Emergency Response, including Emergency Rapid Assessment Teams;
  • Effective activation of the national process for regional response and operationalisation of regional mechanism for collective response to disasters in the region (including information sharing on early warning);
  • Management of mass casualties which among others would involve communication breakdown and engineering difficulties;
  • Receiving of aid / humanitarian assistance as well as its effective and timely distribution;
  • Management of consular assistance to foreign tourists in the disaster area;
  • Coordination and information sharing with foreign embassies in the disaster affected country;
  • Role of international and local agencies/volunteers and their coordination with the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response -HADR (Govt.) authorities.
  • Special needs of vulnerable population i.e. women, children and people with disabilities in the disaster area.
  • Learning from the best practices followed by the participant countries in disaster response and preparedness.

Host of BIMSTEC-DMEx 2017:

  • The Government of India (GOI) would host BIMSTEC-DMEx 2017.
  • The exercise will run for a period of 4 days and would be coordinated by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), GOI – a specialized force in search, rescue and relief operations.

Proposed Disaster Scenarios:

The overarching disaster scenarios which will be simulated include:

  1. Response to flood situation
  2. Building Collapse (Collapsed Structure) Search and Rescue.

BACKGROUND

  • The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising of seven Member States; five deriving from South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and two from Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Thailand lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity.
  • The regional group constitutes a bridge between South and South East Asia and represents a reinforcement of relations among these countries.
  • BIMSTEC has established a natural platform for intra- regional cooperation.
  • The BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people which constitute around 22% of the global population with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.7 trillion economy (Source: Official website of BIMSTEC Secretariat , Dhaka).

Countries geological formations and Hazards:

  • Majority of the BIMSTEC countries are exposed to a variety of hazards due to the geo-climatic characteristics of the region.
  • These hazards range from avalanches and earthquakes to glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) in the Himalayas in the North, droughts and floods in the Plains, and cyclones that originate in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
  • Importantly, many countries in the region share common geological formations and river basins, and natural hazards frequently transcend national boundaries.
  • According to a UN ESCAP report, in the year 2015, Asia-Pacific continued to be the world’s most disaster prone region.

The key lessons from disasters in the region in recent past point to areas that require urgent attention

  1. Building urban resilience;
  2. Promoting regional cooperation for trans-boundary river basin floods and other cross-border disasters;
  3. Addressing slow-onset disasters like drought;
  4. Enhancing end-to-end multi-hazard early warning systems;
  5. Promoting the use of innovative technology; and
  6. Regional cooperation for response, relief and prep

UN ESCAP

  • The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region
  • Established in 1947 with its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • ESCAP provides a forum for its member States to promote regional cooperation and collective action in pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, assisting countries to achieve shared economic growth and social equity.

The region’s greatest challenges by providing results oriented projects, technical assistance and capacity building to member States in the following areas:

  • Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development
  • Trade, Investment and Innovation
  • Transport
  • Environment and Development
  • Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Social Development
  • Statistics
  • Subregional activities for development
  • Energy

ESCAP is committed to a resilient Asia and the Pacific founded on shared prosperity, social equity and sustainability

2.Namami Gange Programme

Source: PIB

National Mission for Clean Ganga has approved eight projects worth Rs. 700 crore, out of which four pertain to sewage management in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, three are related to treatment of drains through bio-remediation and one of inventorization and surveillance of river Ganga.

Namami Gange Programme:

  • Namami Gange programme was launched as a mission to achieve the target of cleaning river Ganga in an effective manner with the unceasing involvement of all stakeholders, especially five major Ganga basin States – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.
  • The programme envisages: River Surface Cleaning, Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure, River Front Development, Bio-Diversity, Afforestation and Public Awareness.
  • The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
  • In order to improve implementation, a three-tier mechanism has been proposed for project monitoring comprising of a) High level task force chaired by Cabinet Secretary assisted by NMCG at national level, b) State level committee chaired by Chief Secretary assisted by SPMG at state level and c) District level committee chaired by the District Magistrate.
  • The program emphasizes on improved coordination mechanisms between various Ministries/Agencies of Central and State governments

3.Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme–Series-III

Source:

The government has launched the Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2017-18 – Series-III, which will be issued by the Reserve Bank India on behalf of the Government of India.

The Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme:

  • The sovereign gold bond was introduced by the Government in 2015. While the Government introduced these bonds to help reduce India’s over dependence on gold imports, the move was also aimed at changing the habits of Indians from saving in physical form of gold to a paper form with Sovereign backing.

Key facts:

  • Eligibility: The bonds will be restricted for sale to resident Indian entities, including individuals, HUFs, trusts, universities and charitable institutions.
  • Denomination and tenor: The bonds will be denominated in multiples of gram(s) of gold with a basic unit of 1 gram. The tenor will be for a period of 8 years with exit option from the 5th year to be exercised on the interest payment dates.
  • Minimum and Maximum limit: The minimum permissible investment limit will be 1 gram of gold, while the maximum limit will be 4 kg for individual, 4 kg for HUF and 20 kg for trusts and similar entities per fiscal (April-March) notified by the government from time to time.
  • Joint Holder: In case of joint holding, the investment limit of 4 kg will be applied to the first applicant only.
  • Collateral: Bonds can be used as collateral for loans. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is to be set equal to ordinary gold loan mandated by the Reserve Bank from time to time.

4.Is the Devadasi system still being followed in southern India?

Source: The Hindu

Few media reports about a peculiar temple ritual of “offering” girl children to Goddess Mathamma in Chittor district of Andhra Pradesh have raised questions about the prevalence of the ancient Devadasi system, an oppressive practice of women and young girls being regarded as temple property and sexually exploited.

About the ritual:

  • As part of the ritual, girls are dressed as brides and once the ceremony was over, their dresses are removed by five boys, virtually leaving them naked. They are then forced to live in the Mathamma temples, deemed to be public property, and face sexual exploitation.
  • The Mathamma system has its equivalent in other regions of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The system is called ‘Basivi’ in Kurnool and Anantapur districts, ‘Saani’ in Krishna, East and West Godavari districts, and ‘Parvathi’ in Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts. Women are unable to leave the exploitative system due to social pressures.

Concerns:

  • Social activists say the girls are exploited, and forced to live as sex workers. Many die old and lonely and sick as they are forced to sleep in the Mathamma temples or outside the
  • Besides, the state authorities have not been able to take up scientific rehabilitation measures due to lack of proper data and non-cooperation from the victims and village elders.
  • As it is linked with the sentiments of the community, the official machinery and the political parties shy away from taking on the tradition. Moreover, the victimised community is largely viewed as a minority group, with no influence on vote-bank politics.

Devadasi system

  • Devadasi system is a religious practice whereby parents marry a daughter to a deity or a temple. The marriage usually occurs before the girl reaches puberty.
  • In recent decades, the practice has been used to push young girls into prostitution. While various state governments have enacted laws to stop such practices, the tradition remains entrenched in some parts of the country, especially some southern states.

Laws prohibiting its practice:

  • The practice of Devadasi system in any form is in total contravention of the provisions of Section 370 and 370A as amended through Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 as well as Section 372 of Indian Penal Code. It is also against Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.



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