Current Affairs (25th May 2021)
- In a major boost to export of GI certified products, season’s first consignment of Shahi Litchi from Bihar was exported to United Kingdom by air route.
- The phyto-sanitary certification for exports of Shahi Litchi was issued from newly established certification facility at Patna.
- The fruit is being exported by Cira Enterprises and sourced from farmers in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. The Litchi is being imported by H & J Veg, London.
- APEDA collaborated with Department of Agriculture, Bihar along with other stakeholders such as farmers, exporters, and importers for facilitating exports of Shahi Litchi.
- Because of short-shelf life of litchi, there is need to explore exports opportunities for the processed and value-added products.
- APEDA has been facilitating Bihar government in formulating State agri-export plan which would provide road map for boosting agricultural and processed food products exports from the State.
- After the finalisation of State agri-export plan, the export potential of Makhana, mango, litchi and other fruits and vegetables can be harnessed.
- Bihar government is making efforts in association with APEDA and other agencies for creating required infrastructures such as customs clearance facility, laboratory testing facility, pack-houses, pre-cooling facilities, which would harness and boost agricultural exports potential of the State.
- Shahi litchi was the fourth agricultural products to get GI certification from Bihar in 2018, after Jardalu mango, Katarni riceand Magahi paan.
- GI registration for Shahi Litchiis held with the Muzaffarpur-based Litchi Growers Association of Bihar.
- Muzzafarpur, Vaishali, Samastipur, Champaran, Begusarai districts and adjoining areas of Bihar have favorable climate for growing Shahi Litchi.
- India is the second largest producer of litchi (Litchi chin) in the world, after China. The translucent, flavoured aril or edible flesh of the litchi is popular as a table fruit in India, while in China and Japan it is preferred in dried or canned form. Bihar tops in terms of production of litchi.
Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery
- Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery is set to begin from 15th June 2021.In view of Covid, Government accepted the request of stakeholders to give jewellers some more time to get prepared for implementation and resolve issues. Earlier it was expected to be implemented from 1st June 2021.
- A committee was formed under Pramod Tewari DG (BIS)to ensure proper coordination and resolve the implementation issues.
- Under Hallmarking scheme of Bureau of Indian Standards, Jewellers are registered for selling hallmarked jewellery and recognise testing and Hallmarking centres. BIS (Hallmarking) Regulations were implemented with effect from June 2018.
- Earlier, Quality control order for mandatory hallmarking of Gold Jewellery/artefacts were issued by the Government in Jan 2020, but the last date was extended to June 2021 to clear old stock of non-hallmarked jewellery.
- Hallmarking will enable Consumers/Jewellery buyers to make a right choice and save them from any unnecessary confusion while buying gold. At present, only 30% of Indian Gold Jewellery is hallmarked.
- The Hallmarking of jewellery/artefacts is required to enhance the credibility of gold Jewellry and Customer satisfaction through third party assurance for the marked purity/fineness of gold, consumer protection.
- This step will also help to develop India as a leading gold market center in the World.
- According to the Report titled Protected Planet Report 2020, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that as many as 82 per cent of countries and territories increased their share of protected area and coverage of other effective area-based conservation measures (OECM) since 2010.
- The report underlined the progress the world has made toward the ambitious goals agreed by countries in 2010 at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity — to conserve 17 per cent of land and inland water ecosystems and 10 per cent of its coastal waters and oceans by 2020, known as Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, a set of 20 targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
- OECM are a conservation designation for areas that are achieving the effective in-situ conservation of biodiversity outside of protectedareas.
- Since 2010, over 21 million square kilometres has been placed within protected and conserved areas, meaning that 42 per cent of the area now within protected and conserved areas has been added in the last decade.
- As a result, at least 22.5 million square kilometres (16.64 per cent) of land and inland water ecosystems and 28.1 million square kilometers (7.74 per cent) of coastal waters and the ocean are within protected areas and OECMs as of May 2021.
- On an average, 62.6 per cent of key biodiversity areas (KBA) either fully or partially overlap with protected areas and OECMs.
- KBAs are sites that contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity, in terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems.
- The average percentage of each KBA within protected areas and OECMs is 43.2 per cent for terrestrial; 42.2 per cent for inland water and 44.2 per cent for marine (within national waters).
- There was an increase of 5 percentage points or less in each case since 2010, the greatest growth in marine and coastal areas.
- The report provided a strong starting point from which to begin working towards this ambitious goal.
- OECMs, which are being counted in this report for the first time, are likely to help reach that goal once they are mapped.
- The report also called for existing protected and conserved areas to be identified and recognised by accounting for the efforts of indigenous peoples, local communities, and private entities.
- A global network of effective and equitable protected and conserved areas will play a vital role in safeguarding the health of people and planet for generations to come.
- A new framework of goals is due to be agreed upon at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China, on October 11, where leaders are anticipated to scale up coverage and effectiveness of protected and conserved areas.
- Managed effectively, protected, and conserved areas can help to prevent further ecosystem degradation and consolidate progress on the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. It will be officially launched on June 5, 2021, the World Environment Day.
- This report is the first in the series to include data on OECMs in addition to protected areas.
- It was issued by UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with support from the National Geographic Society, a global non-profit.
Deaths due to COVID-19
- World Health Statistics report, 2021 has been published by the WHO.
- According to this report, the total number of global deaths attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was at least three million — 1.2 million more than the 1.8 million officially reported for that year.
- The report presents the latest data on more than 50 health-related Sustainable Development Goals and ‘triple billion’ target indicators.
- It includes preliminary estimates for global excess deaths attributable to COVID-19 for 2020 as well as the state of global and regional health trends from 2000-2019.
- Excess mortality is defined as the difference in the total number of deaths in a crisis compared to those expected under normal conditions.
- COVID-19 excess mortality accounts for both the total number of deaths directly attributed to the virus as well as the indirect impact, such as disruption to essential health services or travel disruptions.
- There were persistent disruptions at a considerable scale over one year into the pandemic, with 90 per cent countries reporting one or more disruptions to essential health services.
- Of the 23.1 million cases reported in the South-East Asia Region as of May 1, 2021, over 86 per cent were attributed to India.
- COVID-19 appear to be concentrated predominantly in high-income countries. The 20 most impacted HICs account for almost half (45 per cent) of the world’s COVID-19 cases, when they represent only an eighth (12.4 per cent) of the global population, as of May 1, 2021.
- Global life expectancy at birth was up from 66.8 years in 2000 to 73.3 years in 2019, with healthy life expectancy up from 58.3 to 63.7 years.
- Greatest gains are being made in low-income countries primarily due to rapid reductions in child mortality and communicable diseases.
- Global tobacco use is down by 33 per cent since 2000, but adult obesity is on the rise with up to a quarter of populations in high-income countries obese in 2016. Non-communicable diseases made up seven of 10 causes of death worldwide in 2019.
Sluggish pace of vaccination
- According to the report, fair and equitable access to the vaccines is a huge challenge.
- The inequality across income groups is pronounced with only 1 per cent of doses going to low-income countries as compared to the 19 per cent administered in lower -middle-income countries, 33 per cent in upper -middle-income countries and 47 per cent in high-income countries.
- Just over a billion COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered globally.
- The highest number of doses has been administered in the Region of the Americas (33 per cent) followed by the European Region and Western Pacific Region (23 and 22 per cent, respectively).