PIB Analysis : 21st and 22nd July 2020

PIB Analysis for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. DDT
  2. Vriksharopan Abhiyaan
  3. Comet Neowise
  4. Union Internationale Des Chemins / International Union of Railways
  5. Facts for Prelims

1 . DDT

Context : HIL (India) Limited, a PSU under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has supplied 20.60 Metric tonne of DDT 75 % WP to South Africa for their Malaria control program yesterday.

About DDT

  • DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) was developed as the first of the modern synthetic insecticides in the 1940s.
  • It was initially used with great effect to combat malaria, typhus, and the other insect-borne human diseases among both military and civilian populations.
  • It also was effective for insect control in crop and livestock production, institutions, homes, and gardens. 
  • DDT’s quick success as a pesticide and broad use led to the development of resistance by many insect pest species. 

Regulation and Health Effects

  • Regulatory actions in the late 1950s and 1960s to prohibit many of DDT’s uses because of mounting evidence of the pesticide’s declining benefits and environmental and toxicological effects. The publication in 1962 of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring stimulated widespread public concern over the dangers of improper pesticide use and the need for better pesticide controls.
  • Since then, studies have continued, and a relationship between DDT exposure and reproductive effects in humans is suspected, based on studies in animals. In addition, some animals exposed to DDT in studies developed liver tumors. As a result, today, DDT is classified as a probable human carcinogen
  • DDT is known to be very persistent in the environment, will accumulate in fatty tissues, and can travel long distances in the upper atmosphere.

Current Status

  • Under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme, countries joined together and negotiated a treaty to enact global bans or restrictions on persistent organic pollutants (POPs), a group that includes DDT. This treaty is known as the Stockholm Convention on POPs.
  • The Convention includes a limited exemption for the use of DDT to control mosquitoes that transmit the microbe that causes malaria – a disease that still kills millions of people worldwide. 
  • In September 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared its support for the indoor use of DDT in African countries where malaria remains a major health problem, citing that benefits of the pesticide outweigh the health and environmental risks.
  • The WHO position is consistent with the Stockholm Convention on POPs, which bans DDT for all uses except for malaria control.
  • DDT is one of 12 pesticides recommended by the WHO for indoor residual spray programs. It is up to individual countries to decide whether or not to use DDT.

Manufacturing of DDT

  • HIL (India)  is the sole manufacturer of DDT globally.
  • The company was incorporated in the year 1954 to manufacture and supply DDT to Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for malaria control programme.
  • In the year 2019-20, the product was supplied to 20 States in the country.
  • The Company is also exporting the product to many African countries. 
  • The Department of Health, South Africa shall be utilising DDT  in three province adjoining Mozambique. The region is highly affected with Malaria and it has reported maximum morbidity and mortality due to the disease in recent years. Malaria continues to be one of the major public health problems gobally.
  • In 2018, an estimated 228 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide and most malaria cases and deaths (93%) were reported from African Region.
  • In the South East Asia Region, India accounts for majority of cases and death. Spraying of insecticides inside the human habitants i.e. Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) has proven to be effective mosquito control tool.
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends DDT as one of the efficient IRS chemical to curb malaria mosquito menace and it is widely used by Southern African countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique etc. and India.  

2 . Vriksharopan Abhiyan

Context : Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah will launch Vriksharopan Abhiyan in the presence of Union Minister of Coal, Mines and Parliamentary affairs, Shri Pralhad Joshi in New Delhi tomorrow. During the launch event, Union Home Minister will inaugurate and lay the Foundation stone of 6 Ecoparks/ Tourism sites.

About Vriksharop Abhiyan

  • Vriksharopan Abhiyan initiative will involce large scale plantation in mines, colonies, offices and other suitable areas of Coal/Lignite PSUs and seedlings will be distributed in the nearby areas for promoting plantation by the society.
  • The eco-parks/tourism sites would provide avenues for recreation, adventure, water sport, bird watching etc. for the people residing in nearby areas and may also be integrated to form part of tourism circuit. These sites are being planned to generate revenue for self-sustenance and create employment potential for local people.
  • Going Green is the key thrust area of coal sector involving maximization of green cover through ecological reclamation of mined out areas and overburden dumps, plantation in and around mines and avenue plantationat suitable places
  • Ministry’s Going Green initiative will kick start through active participation of coal/lignite PSUs as well as private miners.
  • This year, three coal/lignite PSUs i.e. Coal India Limited( CIL),  NLC India Limited ( NLCIL) and Singareni Collieries Company Ltd ( SCCL)   have set an ambitious target to cover 1789 Ha of area in and around the coalfields under bio-reclamation/plantation (1626 Ha), creation of grass land (70 Ha), Hi-tech Cultivation (90 Ha) and Bamboo Plantation (3 Ha).

3 . Comet Neowise

Context : Nehru Science Centre in its ‘Lockdown Lecture’ series organised ‘Comet NEOWISE – A Primer’ to discuss the exploration aspectsrelated to comets. Director, Nehru Planetarium, New Delhi Dr. N Ratnashree explained comets, their position in the sky and how one can observe a comet through a telescope, DSLR camera or even naked eye.

About Comet Neowise

  • Comet Neowise officially known as C/2020F3 is the brightest comet that can be seen in the  sky and will be visible across the globe as it is closest to the earth these days.
  • The Neowise, once disappears will be visible only after 6800 years.
  • ‘Comet Neowise’ was first spotted by NASA’s spacecraft mission Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) on 27 March 2020 and hence the name NEOWISE.
  • Comet is an icy small body which consists mostly of rocky materials, dust and ice. As they come closer to the sun there is evaporation of volatile contents from these comets. When they start melting, the particles start glowing by the reflected sunlight. This makes the ‘dust tail’ of Comets.
  • The Neowise comet has been found close to the sun during early July, which came in the view of NASA’s solar mission SOHO, which exclusively studies the sun and its activities. India also has a similar space venture Aditya-L1 mission which is due to go up in the sky, to study the corona of the Sun.
  • Though the comet is visible to the naked eye, one may find it difficult to locate it in the sky especially those trying it for the first time. Those trying to observe the Comet should first locate the constellation Big Dipper (Ursa Major) or Saptarishi, the seven stars in the sky. Once it is located, try to find the part which is pointing towards Polaris. The comet will be visible in the opposite direction of the Polaris or the Pole Star

4 . Union Internationale Des Chemins / International Union of Railways

Context : Mr. François Davenne, The Director General of UIC has intimated Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman, Railway Board that under the 96th UIC General Assembly decision, Shri  Arun Kumar, DG/RPF has been nominated as the Vice-Chairman of the Security platform from July 2020 to July 2022. DG/ RPF will then take over as Chairman of the Security Platform from July 2022 to July 2024.

About UIC

  • UIC (Union Internationale Des Chemins) is a French word the meaning of which in English is International Union of Railways. It is headquartered in Paris
  • UIC is the worldwide organisation for the promotion of rail transport at a global level and collaborative development of the railway system.
  • It brings together some 200 members on all 5 continents, among them rail operators, infrastructure managers, railway service providers, etc.
  • UIC original principal task: to harmonise and improve conditions for railway constructions and operations
  • The idea of creating an international organisation, bringing together the railway
    companies, was developed in the wake of the international conference of Portorosa,
    in Italy on 23 November 1921, followed by the international conference of Geneva on
    3 May 1922.
  • State representatives favoured the “creation of a permanent rail administration
    focusing on international traffic for the standardisation and improvement of conditions
    of railway construction and operations “. The international conference founding UIC was
    held in Paris on 17 October 1922.
  • Initially the UIC had 51 members from 29 countries including Japan and
    China, which were soon joined by the railways from the USSR, the Middle East and
    North Africa.
  • Indian Railway is a member since 1957

Overall objectives for UIC

To enable UIC to effectively fulfil its mission, 3 levels have been defined for international cooperation activities:

  • Strategic level: coordination with and bet­ween the 6 UIC Regions created as part of the new Governance (activities steered by the UIC Regional Assemblies for Africa, Asia, North America, South America, Europe and Middle-East).
  • Technical/professional cooperation level (structured around the following railway activities): Passenger, Freight, Rail System –
    including infrastructure, rolling stock, opera­tions – and Fundamental Values including cross-sector activities such as Sustainable Development, Research Coordination, Safety, Security, Expertise Development). Strategic priorities for technical cooperation activities are set out by forums and platforms composed of member representatives.
  • Support services level: (Finance, Human Resources, Legal, Communications and Institutional Relations).

UIC Security Platform

  • The UIC Security Platform is empowered to develop and formulate analysis and policy positions on behalf of the rail sector in matters relating to security of persons, property and installations.
  • The security platform promotes the exchange of information and experience among the security agencies of UIC members and proposes common interest projects and activities in the field of railway security as dictated by requirement of members or external events.
  • The COVID-19 Task Force setup by UIC security platform has proved to be very useful in exchange of ideas, precautions to be taken, restoration efforts and experience sharing during the current pandemic.
  • RPF, on behalf of Indian Railways, has always been an active member of the UIC security platform and contributed to discussions, deliberations, exchange of ideas and best practices since long. It has also organized UIC Security Conferences in 2006 and 2015 in New Delhi.

5 . Facts for Prelims

India Ideas Summit

  • The Summit is being hosted by the US-India Business Council.
  • This year marks the 45th anniversary of the formation of the Council.
  • The theme for this year’s India Ideas Summit is ‘Building a Better Future’.

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