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Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS: 4th August 2021

Today Current Affairs: 4th August 2021 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc


India-Bangladesh Commercial Railway Link:

Bangladesh and India started regular operation of freight trains through the restored Haldibari-Chilahati rail route after over 50 years, which will strengthen railway connectivity and bilateral trade between the two countries.

  • The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link is one such route that was operational till 1965.
  • Another rail link, between Agartala-Akhaura, is scheduled to open by the end of 2021.
  • After the Partition in 1947, seven rail links were operational between India and Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) until 1965.
  • Presently, there are Five rail links between Bangladesh and India that are operational.
  • They are Petrapole (India)-Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India)-Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India)-Rohanpur (Bangladesh), Radhikapur (India)-Birol (Bangladesh), Haldibari (India)-Chilahati (Bangladesh).

Halam Sub-tribes Clash:

People of Halam sub-tribes, who took refuge in Assam following clashes with Bru refugees in north Tripura, are returning to their village Damcherra in North district of Tripura.

  • The Brus came to Tripura in 1997 to escape an ethnic clash in Mizoram and started staying at six relief camps in the North District.

Halam Sub-tribes:

  • Ethnically, Halam communities (categorised as a scheduled tribe in Tripura) belong to the Kuki-Chin tribes of Tibeto-Burmese ethnic group.
  • Their language is also more or less similar to that of the Tibeto-Burman family.
  • Halams are divided into several sub-clans which are referred to as “Barki-Halam”.
  • As per 2011 Census, their total population is 57,210 and distributed throughout the State.

Bru Refugees:

  • Bru or Reang is a community indigenous to Northeast India, living mostly in Tripura, Mizoram and Assam. In Tripura, they are recognised as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.
  • In Mizoram, they have been targeted by groups that do not consider them indigenous to the state.
  • In 1997, following ethnic clashes, nearly 37,000 Brus fled Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram and were accommodated in relief camps in Tripura.
  • Damcherra is Tripura’s last village before the inter-state boundary with Mizoram.
  • Since then, 5,000 have returned to Mizoram in eight phases of repatriation, while 32,000 still live in six relief camps in North Tripura.
  • In June 2018, community leaders from the Bru camps signed an agreement with the Centre and the two state governments, providing for repatriation in Mizoram. But most camp residents rejected the terms of the agreement.
  • In January 2020, the Centre, the governments of Mizoram and Tripura and leaders of Bru organisations signed a quadripartite agreement.
  • Under the pact, the Home Ministry has committed to incur the whole expenditure of settlement in Tripura.
  • A package was assured in the accord that each refugee family would get:
  • A plot, fixed deposit of Rs. 4 lakh, free ration and a monthly stipend of Rs. 5,000 for two years.
  • In addition, each family will also be provided Rs. 1.5 lakh to construct a house.

ISSUE: The northeast has had a history of ethnic conflicts — not only between the “indigenous” and “settlers” but inter-tribe too — and issues could also arise within smaller sub-groups within the same tribe.

  • The decision to settle Bru Tribal People in Tripura could also throw up questions of citizenship, specifically in Assam where a process is on to define who is indigenous and who is not.
  • The move on the Brus legitimises the settlement of foreigners under Citizenship (Amendment) Act too, creating conflicts with the indigenous people as well as communities that settled earlier.
  • It could also lead to loss of space and revenue for other communities in Tripura.
  • Further, the inter-state border disputes have come under fresh focus after the recent violent clash on Assam-Mizoram border.

Food Fortification

A group of scientists and activists have warned the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) of the adverse impacts of Food Fortification on health and livelihoods.

  • It is a pushback against the Centre’s plan to mandatorily fortify rice and edible oils with vitamins and minerals.
  • In order to fight chronic anaemia and undernutrition, the government is making plans to distribute fortified rice through the Integrated Child Development Services and Mid Day Meal Schemes across the country from the year 2021, with special focus on Aspirational districts.
  • Many of the studies which FSSAI relies on to promote fortification are sponsored by food companies who would benefit from it, leading to conflicts of interest.
  • Recent studies published in the medical journal Lancet and in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which show that both anaemia and Vitamin A deficiencies are overdiagnosed, meaning that mandatory fortification could lead to hypervitaminosis.
  • Hypervitaminosis is a condition of abnormally high storage levels of vitamins, which can lead to various symptoms such as over excitement, irritability, or even toxicity.
  • One major problem with chemical fortification of foods is that nutrients don’t work in isolation but need each other for optimal absorption. Undernourishment in India is caused by monotonous cereal-based diets with low consumption of vegetables and animal protein.
  • Adding one or two synthetic chemical vitamins and minerals will not solve the larger problem, and in undernourished populations can lead to toxicity.
  • A 2010 study that showed iron fortification causing gut inflammation and pathogenic gut microbiota profile in undernourished children.
  • Mandatory fortification would harm the vast informal economy of Indian farmers and food processors including local oil and rice mills, and instead benefit a small group of multinational corporations who will have sway over a Rs.3,000 crore market.
  • Just five corporations have derived most of the benefits of global fortification trends and these companies have historically engaged in cartelising behaviour leading to price hikes.
  • The European Union has been forced to fine these companies for such behaviour.
  • Dietary diversity was a healthier and more cost-effective way to fight malnutrition. Once iron-fortified rice is sold as the remedy to anaemia, the value and the choice of naturally iron-rich foods like millets, varieties of green leafy vegetables, flesh foods, liver, to name a few, will have been suppressed by a policy of silence.

About Food Fortification:

  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food fortification is defined as the practice of deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and to provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.
  • It can be noted that biofortification differs from conventional food fortification in that biofortification aims to increase nutrient levels in crops during plant growth rather than through manual means during processing of the crops.

About Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI):

  • FSSAI is an autonomous statutory body established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act).
  • It has its headquarter in Delhi and its administrative Ministry is Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

What Is Skyglow?

A recent study has shown that the Skyglow forces dung beetles in the city to abandon the Milky Way as their compass, they rely instead on earthbound artificial lights as beacons

About Skyglow:

  • The Skyglow, is an omnipresent sheet of light across the night sky in and around cities that can block all but the very brightest stars from view.
  • The brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas because of streetlights, security floodlights and outdoor ornamental lights cause the Skyglow.
  • This light floods directly into the eyes of the Nocturnal (active at night) and also into the skies and misleads their path.
  • ‘Skyglow’ is one of the components of light pollution.

About Light Pollution:

  • The inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light – known as Light Pollution (LP) – can have serious environmental consequences for humans, wildlife, and our climate.
  • Components of light pollution include:
    • Glare: Excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort
    • Skyglow: Brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas
    • Light trespass: Light falling where it is not intended or needed
    • Clutter: Bright, confusing and excessive groupings of light sources.

Caretaker Government Of Myanmar:

Myanmar army chief appoints himself Prime Minister and also pledged to hold elections by 2023.

  • The State Administration Council of Myanmar has been reformed as ‘Caretaker government of Myanmar’ headed by the Chief of the Myanmar military Senior General Min Aung Hlaing as the Prime Minister.
  • General Hlaing took over power in Myanmar in February after removing the government headed by the State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, a day before the newly elected parliament was set to meet. Since then, the State Administration Council has been performing the duties of the government in Myanmar.
  • Myanmar has witnessed regular protests since February against the military government.
  • According to the human rights watchdog Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 940 people have been killed and 6994 people arrested in protests against the military government till now.

New Frog Species: Minervarya Pentali:

A new frog species was discovered in the Western Ghats and named after former DU Vice-Chancellor and plant geneticist Deepak Pental.

  • The new frog species named Minervarya Pentali belongs to the family of Dicroglossidae.
  • The family Dicroglossidae comprises 202 species of semiaquatic frogs distributed by the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Asia and Papua New Guinea.
  • The family contains large-sized (e.g., genus Hoplobatrachus) and dwarf species, with a total length about 30 mm (e.g., genus Nannophrys).
  • It was discovered from the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot, extending along the southwest coast of the Indian Peninsula.
  • This new species is endemic to the southern Western Ghats.
  • This species is also among the smallest known Minervarya (genus) frogs.

Hunger Hotspots – August To November 2021:

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) released a report named Hunger Hotspots – August to November 2021.

  • The 2021 Global Food Crises Report released in May 2021 had already warned of acute food insecurity, soaring to a five-year high, pushing at least 155 million people into acute food insecurity in 2020.

Major Hunger Hotspots:

  • Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan, northern Nigeria and Yemen are among 23 countries where acute food insecurity will worsen from August through November, 2021.
  • Ethiopia and Madagascar are the world’s newest “highest alert” hunger hotspots.
  • Ethiopia faces a devastating food emergency linked to ongoing conflict in the Tigray region.
  • Meanwhile, in southern Madagascar the worst drought in 40 years is expected to push 28,000 people into famine-like conditions by the end of 2021.

About Food and Agriculture Organization:

  • FAO is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
  • World Food Day is celebrated every year on 16th October to mark the anniversary of the founding of the FAO in 1945.
  • It is one of the UN food aid organisations based in Rome (Italy). Its sister bodies are the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

About World Food Programme:

  • It is the leading humanitarian organization saving lives and changing lives, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.
  • It was award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 for its efforts to combat hunger
  • It was founded in 1961 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) with its headquarters in Rome, Italy.
  • WFP focuses on emergency assistance as well as rehabilitation and development aid.
  • Two-thirds of its work is in conflict-affected countries, where people are three times more likely to be undernourished than elsewhere.

The 12th Round Of India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting:

The 12th round of India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting was held at the Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Indian side.

  • The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on resolution of remaining areas related to disengagement along the Line of Actual Control in the Western Sector of India-China border areas.
  • Both sides had undertaken partial disengagement from Patrolling Points (PP) 15 and 17A in Gogra and Hot Springs last July after disengagement from PP14 in Galwan, but the process was stalled after the aggressive actions on the south bank of Pangong Tso in August.
  • Chushul or Spanggur Gap is in the Leh district of the Indian state of Ladakh region.
  • The meeting point is named after the nearby town (Chushul) or the mountain pass (Spanggur Gap).

Preventive Detention:

Preventive detention, the dreaded power of the State to restrain a person without trial, could be used only to prevent public disorder, the Supreme Court held in a judgment.

  • Preventive detention is a necessary evil only to prevent public disorder.
  • The court must ensure that the facts brought before it directly and inevitably lead to a harm, danger or alarm or feeling of insecurity among the general public or any section thereof at large, a Bench, led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, observed.
  • The State should not arbitrarily resort to “preventive detention” to deal with all and sundry “law and order” problems, which could be dealt with by the ordinary laws of the country.
  • Preventive detention must fall within the four corners of Article 21 (due process of law) read with Article 22 (safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention) and the statute in question.