Current Affairs 25th January

Chinese using Indian roads for trespass #GS2 #IR

As India and China started the ninth round of Corps Commander talks to address the nine-month-long standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, the head of one of the border villages claimed that Chinese vehicles were using Indian roads to enter Indian territory.

Vehicles turned away

On December 10, some villagers went there and saw that the Chinese had entered Indian territory and had transgressed more than 1 km from the border. We contacted the authorities who asked us to camp there and not recede even by an inch. We stood guard for four or five days. The two Chinese vehicles came back again on December 16, but this time the SDM and ITBP officials were there… We chased them away,” Mr. Urgain said.

Army personnel too

The area where the Chinese are trying to assert themselves is close to Patrolling Point 38. Our nomads have not been there for winter grazing for the past two years due to some illness in the livestock. We were shocked to find the Chinese sauntering in our areas this time around. This has never happened. They are using roads built by India to encroach on our territory; we will not let this happen,” Mr. Urgain said.

Benefit of the News– Recent India- China relations

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/chinese-using-indian-roads-for-trespass/article33652976.ece

Mock trials of remote voting project soon: CEC #GS2 #Governance

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said the trials of the Election Commission’s remote voting project would be carried out soon.

Research project

Already started a research project on remote voting using cutting-edge technology with IIT-Chennai and other leading institutions and it has made good progress.

The system being developed by the IIT-M uses blockchain for two-way remote voting at designated centres, an EC official had said when the project was started in 2020. Mr. Arora said “another significant change we can look forward to is grant of postal ballot facility to overseas electors”.

Digital move

In another development, electors will be able to download electronic versions of the elector photo ID card, or e-EPIC, with the Election Commission launching it during the National Voter Day celebration.

The e-EPIC would be a non-editable PDF version of the EPIC that can be downloaded on the phone and stored on the DigiLocker app or printed from a computer. All general voters who have valid EPIC numbers would be able to do so from February 1 and those who applied in November and December will be able to download it from Monday till January 31.

Benefit of the News– About e-EPIC, Brief about Remote Voting

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/mock-trials-of-remote-voting-project-soon-cec/article33653145.ece

India, China hold military talks #GS2 #IR

The ninth round of Corps Commander-level talks between India and China were under way at the Moldo border personnel meeting point on the Chinese side opposite Chushul in Eastern Ladakh as both sides attempt to work out a phased disengagement and de-escalation plan to end the nine-month stand-off.

Disengagement plan

It has to be a comprehensive disengagement plan beginning with all friction points in Eastern Ladakh and then de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control, the second official said, referring to China’s insistence on discussions centred on the South Bank of Pangong Tso first and taking up other friction areas later.

Officials have stated on several occasions that any withdrawal will be phased and will take time, given the large number of troops and equipment deployed by both sides and also verify compliance on the ground by the Chinese side at each step.

The talks are guided by the five-point-plan for disengagement and de-escalation agreed to by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Moscow on September 10 last year.

After the sixth round of talks on September 21, both sides for the first time issued a joint statement agreeing to “stop sending more troops to the frontline” and “refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground”.

Benefit of the News– Recent India- China relations

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/india-china-hold-military-talks/article33652931.ece

Sunderbans is home to 428 species of birds, says ZSI #GS3 #Environment

The Indian Sunderbans, which is part of the largest mangrove forest in the world, is home to 428 species of birds, a recent publication of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) states.

The publication, Birds of the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve , released earlier this month by the ZSI, not only documents the avifauna of the Sunderbans, but also serves as a comprehensive photographic field guide, with detailed distribution and locality data for all the species from the region.

Authors of the publication said the book, with photographs of the males and females of various species, is aimed to kindle interest and spread knowledge about birds among people from all walks of life — from forest staff to tourists to amateur birdwatchers.

The Indian Sunderbans, which covers 4,200 sq. km, also includes the Sunderban Tiger Reserve of 2,585 sq. km — home to about 96 royal Bengal tigers (as per the last census in 2020). It is a world heritage site and a Ramsar site (a wetland site designated to be of international importance).

The scientists said of the 428 birds listed, some, like the masked finfoot and the Buffy fish owl, are recorded only from the Sunderbans. The area is home to nine out of 12 species of kingfishers found in the country as well rare species such as the Goliath heron and the spoon-billed sandpiper.

India has over 1,300 species of birds and if 428 species of birds are from the Sunderbans, it means that one in every three birds in the country is found in the unique ecosystem. The publication not only highlights the ecological and conservation aspect of the Sunderbans, but through detailed description of bird species and localities where they are found we want to encourage birdwatching.

Sunderbans are the most diverse of natural landscapes and accounts for 60% of all mangrove forests in the country. The mudflats exposed in the low tides, rich in microorganism deposited during tidal activity, are ideal feeding for migratory birds. The mudflats and wetlands of the Sunderbans act as a stopover site for migratory flight south [southwards] and back.

Benefit of the News– About Sunderban and its rich biodiversity

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/sunderbans-is-home-to-428-species-of-birds-says-zsi/article33652937.ece

Million shots in under a week #GS3 #SnT

India took less than a week to vaccinate over a million beneficiaries, the Union Health Ministry, stating that the country is ahead of the U.S. (10 days) and the U.K. (18) in achieving this mark.

More than 31,000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated in five States on the ninth day of the countrywide COVID-19 vaccination programme. A total of 31,466 beneficiaries were in Haryana (907), Karnataka (2,472), Punjab (1,007), Rajasthan (24,586) and Tamil Nadu (2,494.

India’s active COVID-19 cases stood at 1,84,408, with 15,948 recoveries in the last 24 hours. Five States — Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal — accounted for 75% of the total active cases in the country. Kerala reported the maximum number of single-day recoveries, with 5,283 recoveries. Maharashtra followed with 3,694 recoveries.

A total of 14,849 new cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours and 80.67% of the new cases were concentrated in six States and Union Territories. Kerala reported the maximum daily new cases numbering 6,960 in the last 24 hours.

Benefit of the News– Vaccination situation across world.

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/million-shots-in-under-a-week/article33652934.ece

Covid deepened inequalities: wealth, education, gender #GS3 #SnT

A new report by Oxfam has found that the Covid pandemic deeply exacerbated existing inequalities in India and around the world. The report, titled ‘The Inequality Virus’, has found that as the pandemic stalled the economy, forcing millions of poor Indians out of jobs, the richest billionaires in India increased their wealth by 35 per cent.

The wealth of Indian billionaires increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown and by 90 per cent since 2009 to $422.9 billion ranking India sixth in the world after US, China, Germany, Russia and France.

According to Oxfam’s calculations, since March, as the government announced possibly the strictest lockdown anywhere in the world, India’s top 100 billionaires saw their fortunes increase by Rs 12.97 trillion — enough money to give every one of the 138 million poorest Indians a cheque for Rs 94,045 each. In stark contrast, 170,000 people lost their jobs every hour in the month of April 2020

The report states that Covid has the potential to increase economic inequality in almost every country at once — the first time this has happened since records began over a century ago.

Oxfam details how the pandemic aggravated all manners of inequalities.

Sectorally, India’s large informal workforce was the worst hit as it made up 75 per cent of the 122 million jobs lost. Informal workers had relatively fewer opportunities to work from home and suffered more job loss compared to the formal sector. The 40-50 million seasonal migrant workers, typically engaged working in construction sites, factories etc. were particularly distressed

In terms of healthcare, Oxfam found that since India does not report case data desegregated by socio-economic or social categories, it is difficult to gauge the distribution of the disease amongst various communities. But India currently has the world’s second-largest cumulative number of COVID-19 positive cases and globally, the poor, marginalised and vulnerable communities have higher rates of COVID-19 prevalence.

In this regard, it found that only 6 per cent of the poorest 20 per cent households had access to non-shared sources of improved sanitation, compared to 93 per cent of the top 20 per cent households in India.

In terms of caste, just 37.2 per cent of SC households and 25.9 per cent of ST households had access to non-shared sanitation facilities, compared to 65.7 per cent for the general population.

The unemployment rate among women rose from already high 15 per cent before Covid to 18 per cent. “This increase in unemployment of women can result in a loss to India’s GDP of about 8 per cent or $218 billion.

Beyond income and job losses, poorer women also suffered healthwise because of the disruption in regular health services and Anganwadi centres. “It is predicted that the closure of family planning services will result in 2.95 million unintended pregnancies… 1.80 million abortions (including 1.04 million unsafe abortions) and 2,165 maternal deaths,” states the report.

The pandemic also fueled domestic violence against women. As of November 30, 2020, cases of domestic violence rose by almost 60% over the past 12 months. Oxfam has argued the urgent need for policymakers to tax the wealthy individuals and rich corporates and use that money to “invest in free quality public services and social protection to support everyone, from cradle to grave”.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/covid-deepened-inequalities-wealth-education-gender-7160341/

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