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Current Affairs – 22 November 2021

Renewable Wood-based Products

Down to Earth

GS 3: Environment

Context:

  • The report Food Products in the global Bioeconomy: Enabling substitution by wood-based products and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals has been recently released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Highlights:

  • Renewable wood-based products can help combat climate change and achieve Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Engineered wood products and wood-based textile fibres are two emerging forest product categories that can provide renewable and sustainable solutions to the global crisis.
  • The production and consumption of engineered wood products are rising, mainly due to increased application in wood-frame multi-story construction.
  • Lyocell fibres are modern wood-based textile fibres that have properties like viscose and polyester but are more environmentally friendly in production.
  • Bioeconomy has emerged as a concept for tackling challenges such as the over consumption of an overreliance on non-renewable natural resources. Forests and the forest sector are important components of a bioeconomy.

Way ahead:

  • This report brings together the most recent knowledge on the role of forest products in the global bioeconomy.
  • It examined forestry’s role in providing green solutions that can drive the global shift to a Net Zero future.
  • This can be achieved by promoting wood as a bio-based material that can substitute fossil sources to produce energy, food, feed, fibre and other manufactured goods.
  • Forest-based industries make an essential contribution to Net Zero emission targets, to which many businesses have committed in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • China, New Zealand, Turkey, the United States of America and the European Union have a dedicated bioeconomy strategy or action plan. The highest-level bioeconomy strategy is the National Bioeconomy Blueprint.
  • The federal bioeconomy strategic objectives included a strengthening of research and development, fast-forwarding innovations from laboratory to market roll-out, reducing regulatory barriers, development of a bioeconomy workforce and the fostering of partnerships.
  • The focus of these strategies and action plans varies significantly. Many of them relate to innovation and biotechnology to develop new value-added products or improve the productivity of biological resources and bioenergy.
  • Developing awareness as well as addressing knowledge and implementation gaps in the global forest product value chain is crucial in ensuring the sustainability of a circular forest-based bioeconomy, the authors noted.
  • The report included specific recommendations for governments, industry and international cooperation bodies on how to increase their contribution to sustainable development.

 

Life Expectancy Lower for Urban Poor

The Hindu

GS 1: Social Issues

Context:

  • The report on ‘Health Care Equity in Urban India’ is released recently by Azim Premji University in collaboration with 17 regional NGOs across India.

Highlights:                                          

  • Life expectancy among the poorest is lower by 9.1 years and 6.2 years among men and women, respectively, compared to the richest in urban areas.
  • It notes that a third of India’s people now live in urban areas, with this segment seeing a rapid growth from about 18% (1960) to 28.53% (2001) to 34% (in 2019). Close to 30% of people living in urban areas are poor.
  • The report, besides finding disproportionate disease burden on the poor, also pointed to a chaotic urban health governance, where the multiplicity of healthcare providers both within and outside the government without coordination are challenges to urban health governance.
  • The other key findings include a heavy financial burden on the poor, and less investment in healthcare by urban local bodies.
  • As urbanisation is happening rapidly, the number of the urban poor is only expected to increase. A well-functioning, better coordinated and governed health care system is crucial at this point.
  • The pandemic has brought to attention the need for a robust and resourced healthcare system. Addressing this now will benefit the most vulnerable and offer critical services to city dwellers across income groups.
  • It added that urban healthcare has received relatively less research and policy attention.

About:

  • This report explores health vulnerabilities and inequalities in cities in India.
  • It also looks at the availability, accessibility and cost of healthcare facilities, and possibilities in future-proofing services in the next decade.
  • The study also draws insights from data collected through detailed interactions with civil society organisations in cities and towns across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Surat, Lucknow, Guwahati, Ranchi, and Delhi.
  • This also included an analysis of the National Family and Health Surveys (NHFS), the Census of India, and inputs from State-level health officials on the provision of health care.

Way ahead:

  • The report then calls for strengthening community participation and governance; building a comprehensive and dynamic database on the health and nutrition status, including co-morbidities of the diverse, vulnerable populations; strengthening healthcare provisioning through the National Urban Health Mission, especially for primary healthcare services; and putting in place policy measures to reduce the financial burden of the poor.
  • It also advocates for a better mechanism for coordinated public healthcare services and better governed private healthcare institutions.

 

Threat to Gender Equality

The Hindu

GS 1: Women related issues

Context:

  • The global study titled “When schools shut: Gendered impacts of COVID-19 school closures” has been recently released by UNESCO.

Highlights:

  • Educational disruption due to prolonged closure of schools across the globe will not only have alarming effects on learning loss but also poses threat to gender equality.
  • At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 6 billion students in 190 countries were affected by school closures. They lost access to education and myriad benefits of attending school, at an unparalleled scale.
  • Educational disruption has alarming effects on school dropout, threats to gender equality, including effects on health, well being and protection that are gender specific.
  • The longer girls were out of school, the higher was the risk of learning loss. From April to September 2020, the share of girls reporting that they did not study at all increased from 1 to 10%.
  • In countries with data, adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 were less likely than boys to have used the internet in the past 12 months, and fewer of them owned a mobile phone.

Issue:

  • Though digital gender-divide was already a concern before the COVID-19 crisis, but during this tough time, in poorer contexts, girls’ time to learn was constrained by increased household chores. Boys’ participation in learning was limited by income-generating activities.
  • Girls faced difficulties in engaging in digital remote learning modalities in many contexts because of limited access to internet-enabled devices, a lack of digital skills and cultural norms restricting their use of technological devices.
  • Girls who did not own mobile phones reported that they relied on their relatives’ devices, typically those belonging to their fathers.
  • While some of the girls were able to use family members’ phones, they were not always able to do so. Their access was restricted since some parents were concerned that providing girls with access to smartphones would lead to misuse and could result into romantic relationships.

About:

  • This report brings to the fore that girls and boys, young women and men were affected differently by school closures, depending on the context.
  • It draws evidence from about 90 countries and in-depth data collected in local communities.

Conclusion:

  • COVID-19 pandemic is a timely reminder that schools are sites not only for learning, but also lifelines for girls and boys – an essential space for their health, well-being and protection.
  • To advance equal access to gender-responsive and inclusive remote learning, it is recommended to provide a range of remote learning options including low-tech and no-tech solutions spearhead.
  • There is a need to support efforts to reach the most at-risk learners design, develop gender-responsive educational resources and tools besides providing appropriate teacher support and training use formative assessments to track learning outcomes.
  • Continued efforts are needed to track trends and expand interventions to bring an end to child marriages as well as early and forced marriages. practices which rob girls of their right to education and health and reduce their long-term prospects.

 

INS Visakhapatnam

PIB

Prelims Fact

Context:

  • Indian Navy’s firepower got a major boost with the induction of INS Visakhapatnam, one of the four stealth guided-missile destroyer ships under Project 15B, at the Western Naval Command in Mumbai.

About:

  • Visakhapatnam is packed with an array of weapons and sensors, which include supersonic surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, medium and short-range guns, anti-submarine rockets and advanced electronic warfare and communication suits.
  • The ship is also equipped to fight under nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare conditions.
  • Amongst the largest destroyers constructed in India with an overall length of 163 metres and displacement of over 7400 tons, the warship is a potent platform capable of undertaking multifarious task and missions spanning the full spectrum of maritime warfare.
  • INS Visakhapatnam has the capability of embarking two integrated helicopters and boasts of a very high level of automation with sophisticated digital networks, combat management systems and integrated platform management systems.
  • It is the first stealth guided-missile destroyer of the Rs 35,000 crore Project 15B under which a total of four warships are being built.
  • The next ship is set to be commissioned in 2023 while the other two are planned to be inducted by 2025.
  • With the changing power dynamics in the Indian Ocean region, Visakhapatnam will augment the Indian Navy’s mobility, reach and flexibility towards the accomplishment of its role and tasks.

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