Current Affairs for today- 27th November 2019

GS Paper II

Govt. plans to merge Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli


The Union Minister of State for Home, G. Kishan Reddy introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha to merge the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.

What are the reasons stated?

  • The Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu (Merger of Union Territories) Bill, 2019 seeks to provide ‘better delivery os services to the citizens of both the UTs by improving efficiency and reducing paperwork’ that helps to expeditiously resolve issues.
  • The statement of objects and reasons says that having two separate constitutional and administrative entities in both Union Territories leads to lot of duplication, inefficiency and wasteful expenditure.
  • In view of the policy of the government to have minimum government, maximum governance, considering the small population and limited geographical area of both UTs and the use of services of officers efficiently, it has been decided to merge the Union Territories.
  • India currently has 9 Union Territories, with the recent move of bifurcating the State of Jammu and Kashmir into Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • If the merger is executed, then India’s Union Territories will be reduced to 8.

Highlights of the Bill:

  • The Bill amends the First Schedule to the Indian Constitution that specifies the territories that come under various states and UTs as it seeks to merge the two UTs as one.
  • The First Schedule to the Representation of the People Act, 1950 provides one seat in Lok Sabha to each of the two UTs.  The Bill seeks to amend the Schedule to allocate two Lok Sabha seats to the merged UT. 
  • The central government will determine whether every such person associated with service in the existing Union Territories will finally be allotted for service in the merged UT.
  • The central government may establish Advisory Committees to assist in ensuring fair treatment of all persons affected by these provisions and consideration of any representations made by them. Representations against any service orders must be made within three months from the date of publication, or notice of the order, whichever is earlier.
  • The Bill provides that the jurisdiction of the High Court of Bombay will continue to extend to the merged UT. 

GS Paper II, Paper III

Action to combat global warming inadequate: UNEP


Ahead of the 24th edition of the Conference of Parties (COP) in Madrid, Spain, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has warned that the countries’ action to combat global warming is inadequate to the need of the hour.

What’s in the news?

  • India is the 3rd largest emitter of Greenhouse gas (GHG) behind the United States and China respectively. India’s per capita emissions, however, are significantly below that of US, China and many others.
  • According to the UNEP, countries must cut GHG emissions at least three-fold to have a tough chance to contain the severest effects of global warming.
  • Unless the global GHG emissions fall by 7.6% each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to align itself to the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.
  • Each year, the UNEP assesses the gap between the anticipated emissions in 2030 and levels consistent with the 1.5°C and 2°C targets of the Paris Agreement.
  • The report finds that GHG emissions had risen 1.5% per year over the last decade, and the emissions in 2018, including from land-use changes such as deforestation, hit a new high of 55.3 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent.
  • With the global temperatures already risen about 1°C since pre-industrial times and negotiations, such as the COP, are aimed at preventing temperatures from rising more than 1 degree. Current commitments by countries will see temperatures rise by 3.2°C over pre-industrial levels.

Global warming?

Mainly because of human-initiated activities, the concentration of gases like CO2, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, nitrous oxide, etc. has increased in the earth’s atmosphere and hence resulted in Greenhouse Effect.

Due to this phenomena, the average global temperature has increased. This is called Global warming.

Conference of Parties (COP)

  • The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the supreme body of the UNFCCC, consisting of the representatives of the Parties to the Convention. COP24 is the informal name for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It took place in December 2018 in Poland.
  • COP holds its annual sessions and deliberates the decisions necessary to ensure the effective implementation of the provisions of the Convention and regularly review them.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

  • UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty adopted on 9 May 1992 and opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. It came into force on 21 March 1994.
  • The UNFCCC objective is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous (human) interference with the climate system.
  • The UNFCCC is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. Its sister Rio Conventions are the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification. The three are intrinsically linked.

In this context that the Joint Liaison Group was set up to boost cooperation among the three Conventions, with the ultimate aim of developing synergies in their activities on issues of mutual concern. It now also incorporates the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

  • Currently, there are 197 Parties (196 States and European Union) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • The UNFCCC secretariat (UN Climate Change) was established in 1992 when countries adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • With the subsequent adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2015, Parties to these three agreements have progressively reaffirmed the secretariat’s role as the United Nations entity tasked with supporting the global response to the threat of climate change.

Paris Agreement

  • The COP 21 (21st Session of COP) – The Paris Climate Change Conference 2015 led to the negotiation and making of the Paris Agreement, a global agreement on the reduction of climate change.
  • From 30th November – 11th December 2015, the governments of 195 nations gathered in Paris, France to discuss the regulations to combat climate change, by reducing the Greenhouse gas emissions and the human interference to meddle with it and set up an ideal global climate change agreement.
  • It entered into force in November 2016 after (ratification by 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions) had been met.
  • Paris Agreement is the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement that binds all its Parties to its regulatory mechanisms, unlike the Kyoto Protocol that did not mandate the participating countries to reduce its emissions.
  • Signatories: 195 as of 2019; 180+ countries have ratified; India signed and ratified in 2016.

Aims of the Paris Agreement

  1. Pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  2. Strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Ratification procedure:

Once the treaty has been signed, each state will deal with it according to its own national procedures. After the grant of approval under each State’s own internal procedures, it will notify the other parties that they consent to be bound by the treaty. This is called ratification.

Important points of the Paris Accord

  • To set a goal of limiting global warming to “well below 2°C” Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. It, however, pursues to set out an endeavour to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. (The 1.5°C goal will require zero-emissions sometime between 2030 and 2050)
  • The agreement calls for zero net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to be reached during the second half of the 21st century.
  • It also mentions the need to review each country’s contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge.
  • Rich countries should help poorer nations by providing “climate finance” to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.
  • The agreement is binding in elements regarding to reporting of the emission caps or targets but not to the setting of emission targets on individual countries.
  • The developed countries reaffirmed the commitment to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 and agreed to continue mobilizing finance at the level of $100 billion a year until 2025.
  • In 2017, the United States announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigations and regulations.

In accordance with Article 28 of the Paris Agreement, the earliest possible effective withdrawal date by the United States cannot be before November 2020. Thus, the U.S. will remain a signatory until November 2020.

GS Paper II, Paper III

Not so swachh


The most significant mass cleanliness campaign by the Government of India under the leadership of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 2nd October 2014. He initiated this cleanliness drive in Varanasi as well wielding a spade near River Ganga in Varanasi under the Clean India Mission.

Under the significance of sanitation, the PM then had addressed the health and hygiene problems that roughly half of the Indians families have to deal with due to lack of proper toilets in their homes.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

The Mission Coordinator for SBM is Secretary, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jalshakti with two Sub-Missions, the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). Together, they aim to achieve Swachh Bharat by 2019, as a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th Birth Anniversary.

In Rural India, this would mean improving the levels of cleanliness through Solid and Liquid Waste Management activities and making villages Open Defecation Free (ODF), clean and sanitised.

Strategy to reach the target of SBM(G)

  • Augmenting the institutional capacity of districts for undertaking intensive behaviour change activities at the grassroots level.
  • Strengthening the capacities of implementing agencies to roll out the programme in a time-bound manner and to measure collective outcomes.
  • Incentivizing the performance of State-level institutions to implement behavioural change activities in communities towards hygienic sanitation practices.

Objectives of SBM (G)

  • To bring about an improvement in the general quality of life in the rural areas, by promoting cleanliness, hygiene and eliminating open defecation.
  • To accelerate sanitation coverage in rural areas to achieve the vision of Swachh Bharat by 2nd October 2019.
  • To motivate communities to adopt sustainable sanitation practices and facilities through awareness creation and health education.
  • To encourage cost-effective and appropriate technologies for ecologically safe and sustainable sanitation by generating awareness among the citizens about its linkages with public health.
  • To develop, wherever required, community managed sanitation systems focusing on scientific Solid & Liquid Waste Management systems for overall cleanliness in the rural areas. (100% collection and scientific processing/disposal reuse/recycle of Municipal Solid Waste)
  • To create a significant positive impact on gender and promote social inclusion by improving sanitation especially in marginalized communities.
  • Conversion of insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets and eradication of open defecation.
  • Eradication of manual scavenging.
  • Strengthening of urban local bodies to design, execute and operate systems.
  • To create an enabling environment for private sector participation in Capital Expenditure and Operation & Maintenance (O&M) costs.
  • Sanitation Technology: It heralded the use and implementation of a flexible toilet technology based on the area’s topography, soil conditions, etc. The preferred system is a twin-pit toilet design that would not harm the environment but rather efficiently use the pit to build natural human waste (as a fertilizer) over the years or sell it off in the market.
  • Monitoring mechanism: The monitoring includes a robust community-led system, like Social Audit; community-based monitoring and vigilance committees that will help in creating peer pressure to be equally abiding by the sanitation regime in each area.

As per its claims and target, the government claims that the Mission has accomplished it target of achieving clean and 100% Open Defecation Free India by 2019.

Insight into the Editorial

In the editorial, the author draws attention to the data provided by the National Statistical Office (NSO) states that the deficit in equipping the countryside houses with a toilet system is of 28% as of October last year and not 5% as the Government held. Only 71% of rural households had access to the toilets at a time when the Centre was claiming 95%. It cites that there is still more ground to cover as some States declared to be open defecation free do not comply or qualify for the status.

  • The ground data of Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu show that the lack of toilets is greater than the national average and hence has given the Government a clean opportunity to tackle the issue to restart its implementation and assessment.
  • The announcement of the claims of the Government on rural India becoming entirely open defecation free (100% ODF) according to the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation under Ministry of Jal Shakti with coverage of 5,99,963 villages rose from 38.7% in 2014 to 100% in 2019.
  • The author opines that there is an unquestionable rise in the number of toilets for which the taxpayers remitted about INR 20,600 crore as a cess since 2015, until the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), but it does not seem to have translated everywhere in establishing the access to toilets.
  • There is still a doubt whether INR 2.95 crore subsidized dwellings targeted to be built by 2022 under the government’s flagship program will be able to bridge the shortfall.
  • It is a cardinal priority that the States and local bodies (at the village-level) with low development indices lack in capacity and resources to bring universal sanitation to places even where the political will is present.  
  • Another article of NSO survey  (between July and December 2018) on sanitation debunked the claims of ODF India made by the flagship program SBM holding that that the large states that had been declared ODF were Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. The other States included Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  • NSO says that almost 42% of the rural households in Jharkhand had no access to a toilet at that time.
  • It is important to cater to the deprivation of the basic demands of social determinants such as education, housing and water supply that have a strong influence on the national adoption of sanitation.

Tid Bits

Free distribution of FASTags at toll plazas yet to take place

  • FASTag is an initiative started by the NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) under the guidelines of National Highways Authority of India and Indian Highways Management Co. Ltd for enabling easy toll payments.
  • These are prepaid rechargeable tags for toll collection that allow automatic payment deduction from the FASTag, they are normally affixed on the windscreen of your vehicle.
  • With the help of a FASTag, you will not have to stop your vehicle at toll plazas to pay the toll. As soon as the vehicle crosses the toll plaza, the toll fee will get deducted from the bank account/prepaid wallet linked to the FASTag affixed on the vehicle’s windscreen. An activated FASTtag works on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.
  • It will be mandatory for all vehicles to switch to electronic payment of toll fees from December 1st onwards and non-FASTag users will be charged double the toll.

Sharp-eyed Cartosat-3 to take the skies today

  • Advanced earth observation satellite Cartosat-3 was launched today morning from the second pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre-SHAR at Sriharikota in the coastal Andhra Pradesh.
  • The PSLV-C47 will carry the Cartosat-3 satellite along with the accompanying 13 commercial customer satellites.
  • It will bear the ‘sharpest-eye’ of civil remote sensing satellites in the world and is the most advanced satellite developed in India, according to ISRO chairman, K. Sivan.
  • Two US nano-satellites makeup the Secondary payloads amongst 13 others.
  • Cartosat-3, the ninth in its series is a third-generation agile or flexible satellite with high-resolution imaging capabilities.
  • This was the 74th launch vehicle mission from Sriharikota and its main objective is to provide special, spectral and temporal data for various fields including urban planning, agriculture, water resource management, environment, coastal land-use and land-cover, infrastructure and disaster management.
  • Many new built-in technologies are incorporated into this launch like highly agile camera, high-speed data transmission, advanced computer system and new power electronics.
  • The best view so far from Cartosat was 65 cm as put in the last few series of Cartosat-2 satellite- 2C, 2D, 2E and 2F. These were strictly and exclusively for use by the Armed Forces.
  • So far, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has orbited 8 Cartosats since May 2005.
  • Its weight stands at 1,625 kg, that is unusually heavy and more than double the mass of the previous 8 in the class of Cartosats.
  • The specialty of this satellite is the ability to view or pick up objects that are just 25 cm from its orbital perch at a distance (height) of 500 km.

Read more about PSLVs from 24th October 2019 Current Affairs

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About the Author

Manasa Sastry

Masters degree holder in Forensic Science. Currently, a UPSC Aspirant helping fellow learners to sort their daily current affairs preparation. Loves to learn and help others. Music, dance and art are just a few of my many hobbies.

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