Current Affairs (1st May 2021)
New Variety of Soyabean
- Scientists from MACS- Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India in collaboration with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi have developed a high-yielding and pest-resistant variety of soybean, called MACS 1407.
- MACS 1407 is suitable for cultivation in the states of Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and North-Eastern states.
- It is suitable for rain-fed conditions of north- east India.
- Its seeds will be made available to farmers for sowing during the 2022 Kharif season (crops are sown from June to July and Harvesting is done in between September-October).
- In 2019, India produced around 90 million tons of soybean, widely cultivated as oil seeds as well as a cheap source of protein for animal feed and many packaged meals and is striving to be among the world’s major producers of soybean.
- High-yielding, disease resistant varieties of the legume can help achieve this target.
- MACS 1407 gives 39 quintals per hectare making it a high yielding variety.
- It requires an average 43 days for 50% flowering and takes 104 days to mature from the date of sowing.
- It has white-coloured flowers, yellow seeds, and black hilum. Its seeds have 19.81% oil content, 41% protein content and show good germinability.
- Its thick stem, higher pod insertion (7 cm) from ground, and resistance to pod shattering make it suitable even for mechanical harvesting.
- Variety is also resistant to major insect-pests like girdle beetle, leaf miner, leaf roller, stem fly, aphids, white fly, and defoliators.
- Ethnic minority Karen’s insurgents attacked a Myanmar army post (on the west bank of the Salween river) near the border with Thailand. Then, Myanmar’s military launched air strikes on a village and outpost near the Thai border.
Karen National Union (KNU):
- It is Myanmar’s oldest rebel group.
- It is the dominant political organisation representing ethnic minority Karen communities in Karen, or Kayin, State, bordering Thailand.
- Its aim is self-determination for the Karen people in a region of about 1.6 million people, roughly the size of Belgium, where they are the ethnic majority in the state.
Conflict and Demand:
- Marginalised in then Burma’s post-independence political process, the KNU started a rebellion in 1949, which it waged for nearly 70 years.
- One of its key grievances was the majority Bamar community’s dominance of Myanmar’s state and military.
- The conflict has been described as one of the world’s “longest running civil wars”.
- Karen’s nationalists have been fighting for an independent state known as Kawthoolei since 1949.
- Recently, Strategic Cooperation Agreement between Iran and China has increased the chances of Chinese participation in the development of Chabahar Port.
- China also signed a landmark 25-year Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Iran, making a renewed commitment to their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership established in 2016.
Concerns related to Chinese investment:
- It endangers India’s Chabahar port deal.
- It raises critical concerns as port itself is often seen as a counter balance to Gwadar port, under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
- Addition of Iran in China-Pakistan poses a serious threat to the regional security of India and India’s interest in Afghanistan.
- China-Iran partnership in West Asia may weaken India’s position in Gulf region.
- Located in the Gulf of Oman at the Sistan-Baluchistan province of energy rich Iran on the Makran coast.
- It is jointly being developed by India, Iran, and Afghanistan for multi-modal transport of goods and passengers.
- This port has two terminals: Shahid Beheshti and Shahid Kalantari.
- Recently, incidents of child marriage have surfaced across the country raising serious concerns.
What is it?
- It is a marriage before the age 18.
- It is often linked to patriarchal attitudes towards girls, including the need to safeguard family ‘honour’.
- While some boys marry before the age of 18, the vast majority of children who marry are girls, often against their will and with grave consequences.
Disproportionate impact on girls
- Curtails their education.
- Compromises their health.
- Traps them in poverty.
- Undermining their prospects and potential.
- Isolation from their family, friends, and communities.
- Violence, abuse, and exploitation.
- Early pregnancy, with great risks for their own well-being and that of their babies.
- School drop-out
- Rescued children are not produced in most cases before the Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) and are often sent back to their parents if they are produced before the CWC resulting in forced marriage in secrecy.
- Others are forced to reside in the same socioeconomic cultural situation, leading to frustration and anxiety.
- Those who stay with their parents, face adversity and humiliation every day and such instances are discouraging adolescents to raise their voice against child marriage.
- Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 restricts the practice of child marriage.
- Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 was enacted to address and fix the shortcomings of the Child Marriage Restraint Act.
- Special Marriage Act, 1954 and Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men respectively.
- Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Act, 2015: Powers to safeguard the best interests of India’s children.
- For this purpose, Child Protection Committees, Child Protection Units and CWCs have been formed and are functioning at the district level.
- Committee by the Ministry for Women and Child Development aims to examine matters pertaining to age of motherhood, imperatives of lowering Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) and the improvement of nutritional levels among women.
- District Child Protection Unit (DCPU): Responsible for identification and rescues children in need of care and protection.
- District Child Protection Committee: Headed by the Chairperson of the Zilla Parishad and are nodal organisations at the district level to review and monitor the work related to ensuring child rights.
- State governments are trying to reduce child marriages to zero by 2030.
- Sustainable Developmental Goal (SDG) 5: It deals with gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls with an aim to prevent child marriage.
- After stopping a child marriage, the relatives should be monitored, and the child should be provided with support and protection.
- Strategies to delay or prevent child marriage:
- Empower girls with information, skills, and support networks.
- Provide economic support and incentives to girls and their families.
- Educate and rally parents and community members.
- Enhance girls’ access to a high-quality education.
- Encourage supportive laws and policies.
- Policymakers must pay attention to these strategies while continuing to test innovative approaches and evaluation techniques.
- Focus on those girls who are most at-risk.
- Mobilise those who influence families and wider society to give girls more control over their own lives and prospects.
- Programming across sectors to tackle the many aspects of this harmful practice, particularly in marginalized communities.
- Tackling the many challenges that perpetuate this rights violation, such as gender inequality and discrimination, lack of education, and poverty.
Oldest Water on Earth
- In 2009, the world’s oldest water (1.6 billion years old) was discovered from Kidd Creek mine on the 2.7-billion-year-old Canadian Shield.
- The age of this highly saline water (ten times saltier than sea water) was found using mass spectrometer in the UK’s Oxford University.
- The discovery of this water 2.4 km below the Earth’s surface will help in understanding the origin and evolution of Earth, the nature of water and life, as well as the possibility of finding life on Mars.
- Investigations into the highly saline water led to a discovery of chemolithotrophic microbes (bacteria that can thrive in the extreme surroundings) had been able to survive in the subterranean liquid.
- The microbes had been feeding on nitrogen and sulphate, and that the chemistry that supported them bore resemblance to ocean beds that are known to support similar such extreme life forms.
- Being a continental shield, which suffers the least from plate tectonic activity, the Canadian Shield is the closest analogue on Earth to the subsurface of Mars.
- Scientists argue that if life-supporting water can be found 2.4 km below the Earth, it may be possible that the same could be the case in Mars.
- This hypothesis provides an impetus for missions like Perseverance, which are looking for signs of present or past life on Mars.
- It is one of the world’s largest continental shields i.e., the oldest and least tectonically active parts of the Earth’s crust.
- In the past, it used to form an ocean floor. Over millions of years of flux, however, its horizontal seabed became vertical, now preserved in the mine’s rock walls.
New fly ash utilisation rule
- Recently, the Centre government drafted the New fly ash utilisation rule for Thermal Power Plants (TPPs).
- It is mandatory for TPPs to ensure 100% utilisation of fly ash within three to five years.
- Existing provisions allow TPPs to fully utilise fly ash in a four-year cycle in a staggered manner.
- It also introduced fines of Rs 1,000 on non-compliant plants under the ‘polluter pays principle’, considering utilisation targets from 1 April 2022.
- The ‘polluter pays’ principle is the commonly accepted practice that those who produce pollution should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment.
- Under this,the collected fines will be deposited in the designated account of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
- The fine collected by CPCB from the TPPs, and other defaulters shall be used towards the safe disposal of the unutilised ash.
- It also deals with unutilised accumulated ash (legacy ash) where TPPs will have to utilise it within 10 years from the date of publication of final notification in a staggered manner.
- If the utilization of legacy ash is not completed at the end of 10 years, a fine of Rs 1000 per tonne will be imposed on the remaining unutilised quantity which has not been fined earlier.