20th April 2020 Current Affairs in English
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20th APRIL 2020
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Ecommerce ﬁrms can’t supply nonessential goods, says govt.
- Goa is now COVID free
- Spare monkeys the virus, say biologists
- Islamophobia is rising in India: OIC
- Afghan girls turn car parts into ventilators
1. Ecommerce ﬁrms can’t supply nonessential goods, says govt.
Information in News
- The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday clarified that supply of non-essential goods by e-commerce companies will remain prohibited during the lockdown.
- There will be no inter-State movement of labourers.
- The relaxations will not apply to hotspots or containment zones, and public transport will remain prohibited till May 3.
- On April 15, the MHA had revised its guidelines issued under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to allow the States to decide on the additional public activities to be allowed from April 20 in non-hotspot zones.
- As per the April 15 order, “e-commerce companies” and vehicles used by their operators had been allowed but it was not specified if it was applicable to items others than essentials.
- CAIT demolished the sinister plan of e-commerce companies to trade in non-essential commodities. Accepting the objection of the CAIT, the MHA excluded the permission granted earlier and now e-commerce can trade only in essential commodities.
a. Essential Commodities Act 1955
- ECA enacted by Parliament in 1955 provides for the regulation and control of production, distribution and pricing of commodities which are declared as essential.
- States are the implementing agencies to EC Act, 1955.
- Government puts masks and hand sanitisers under Essential Commodities Act.
- Maintaining/increasing supplies/securing equitable distribution and availability of these commodities at fair prices.
- The Centre can include new commodities as and when the need arises, and can take them off the list once the situation improves (in view of public interest).
- Once a notification is issued, anybody trading or dealing in a commodity, be it wholesalers, retailers or even importers are prevented from stockpiling it beyond a certain quantity.
- The act provides for the control of production, supply, distribution, trade and commerce in any farm good deemed “essential” and “in the interest of the general public”.
- The list of items under the Act includes drugs, fertilisers, pulses and edible oils, and petroleum and petroleum products.
- It protects consumers against irrational spikes in prices of essential commodities.
- The Government has invoked the Act numerous times to ensure adequate supplies.
- It cracks down on hoarders and black-marketers of such commodities.
b. Disaster management act in 2005
- The enactment of the disaster management act in 2005, it has enacted a new multidisciplinary focus on disaster prevention and risk reduction and a move away from a relief-centric regime.
- The institutional framework under the Act mandated the creation of the National Disaster Management Authority and state disaster management authorities as the bodies responsible for disaster preparedness and risk reduction at the respective levels.
- The Disaster Management Division of the ministry of Home Affairs’ retained responsibility for steering the national disaster response overall.
- And, it mandated the concerned Ministries and Departments to draw up their own plans in accordance with the National Plan.
- The Act further contains the provisions for financial mechanisms such as the creation of funds for the response, National Disaster Mitigation Fund and similar funds at the state and district levels.
c. Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT)
- CAIT is the non-governmental apex body of trading community of India at National Level.
- It is headquartered at Vyapar Bhawan in New Delhi.
- It comprising of prominent Trade Bodies of different States.
- CAIT came into existence in 1990 with an aim and objective of the development of trade and traders in the country and has brilliantly evolved the understanding and co-ordination amongst traders throughout the Country. Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
2. Goa is now COVID free
Information in News
- Goa on Sunday became the first zero COVID-19 State in the country with the last seven positive cases also turning negative.
- This makes Goa the first green State in the country with no case of coronavirus being reported from April 3.
- Goa has in all tested over 800 people of whom seven had come positive.
- To ensure that we continue to remain a green zone State, social distancing will have to be maintained. State transport buses will ensure this while shifting government staff. Two-wheelers will have a single occupant and 1,000 thermal guns will be positioned at various places.
3. Spare monkeys the virus, say biologists
Information in News
- Feeding primates could lead to mutated SARS-CoV-2 infecting hapless animals. It should be discourage regardless of the pandemic, in order to prevent not just the spread of diseases but also to minimise problematic human-primate interaction.
- Feeding monkeys during the COVID-19 pandemic could have profoundly negative effects in the long-term, such as helping the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutate and infect primates.
- This could lead to many scenarios, such as the virus affecting the health of the affected animal populations or the animals serving as reservoirs or hosts and spreading the disease to other species or human populations.
- It is a matter of common sense to limit interaction between humans and wildlife, especially primates.
- Primates and humans share a complex relationship.
- Monkeys start associating humans with food, and when food is denied, can attack them.
- Citing a 2019 study on the , The rates of endoparasitic infections (Prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites) caused to lion-tailed macaques that were linked to human activity in forests and also due to relocation of bonnet macaques from conflict areas in the Central Western Ghats.
- A diverse group of animals represented by animals such as humans, monkeys, prosimians and apes is known as Primates.
- A primate is any member of the biological order Primates, the group that contains all the species commonly related to the lemurs, monkeys, and apes, with the latter category including humans.
- Primates are found all over the world.
- Non-human primates occur mostly in Central and South America, Africa, and southern Asia.
- A few species exist as far north in the Americas as southern Mexico, and as far north in Asia as northern Japan.
- The Primates order is divided informally into three main groupings: prosimians, monkeys of the New World, and monkeys and apes of the Old World.
Some Common Characteristics of Primates:
- Dexterous hands
- All primates have five fingers (pentadactyly), a generalized dental pattern, and a primitive (unspecialized) body plan.
- A generalized skeleton for great physical agility
- Another distinguishing feature of primates is fingernails.
- Large brain size
- keen vision.
- Mostly Smaller offspring than other animals, who require more attention in their rearing.
- Opposing thumbs are also a characteristic primate feature, but are not limited to this order; opossums, for example, also have opposing thumbs.
- Primarily in the tropical and subtropical regions of the New and Old Worlds.
- Never lived in Australia and most of the islands in the Pacific Ocean.
- Though there are evidences that around 55-50 million years ago the earliest primates also lived in North America and Europe.
4. Islamophobia is rising in India: OIC
Information in News
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said,
- Calling on the Indian government to take steps to protect Muslim minorities who are being “negatively profiled,” facing “discrimination and violence” amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has criticised what it called “growing Islamophobia” in India.
- It added, protect the rights of its persecuted Muslim minority as per its obligations under international Human Rights law by OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (OIC-IPHRC) on Sunday.
- The statement came on the same day Prime Minister Narendra Modi had clearly said that “unity and brotherhood” must be the response to the coronavirus, which does not see “race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or borders before striking.”
U.S. Commission (USCIRF) critized
- The U.S. Commission criticised India, Pakistan and Cambodia for “failure to protect vulnerable religious communities” and “increased stigmatisation”.
- The USCIRF reacted to reports, which the government denied, that COVID-19 patients were religiously segregated at a hospital in Ahmedabad.
- It also held an expert hearing on “Religious Freedom on South Asia”, organised by the “Hindus for Human Rights”, “Indian-American Muslim Council” and “International Christian Concern,” ahead of its annual USCIRF report release on April 28, where India has been categorised as a “tier 2 country of particular concern.”
The MEA spokesperson had said,
- As if its peremptory commentary on religious freedom in India is not enough, the USCIRF is now spreading misguided reports on the professional medical protocols followed to deal with spread of COVID-19 in India,”
- Meanwhile, on March 30, the United Nations’ Office of The Commissioner for Human Rights had issued a more general statement against the “exploitation” of coronavirus-related fears by groups and politicians to “scapegoat minorities” in various countries.
a. Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
- Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization founded in 1969, consisting of 57 member states.
- It is the 2nd largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations.
- The organisation states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony“.
- It routinely expresses solidarity with conflict hit Muslim regions such as Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Bosnia, as well as with the peoples of the Turkish Cypriot state, Kosovo and Jammu and Kashmir.
- The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union.
- Permanent Secretariat is in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
- Like NAM again, the OIC is a toothless tiger when it comes to dealing with squabbles among member states.
Significance of OIC for India
- India is not a member of the OIC. However, India was invited as a guest of honour at 46th Session of the Council of Foreign Minister in 2019. 2019 is the 50th anniversary of OIC.
- OIC’s growing economic and energy interdependence with India has become important in recent times.
- That India has one of the world’s largest Muslim populations, of course, is the immediate explanation of the surprising invite for Swaraj to address the OIC.
- Dsepite the fact that, India accounts for 12% of the world’s Muslim But inclusion of Infia in the OIC has been blocked by Pakistan.
b. Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of OIC
The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) is an expert body with advisory capacity established by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as one of the principal organs working independently in the area of human rights.
- The broad contours of an effective and independent human rights mechanism were envisaged in the OIC Ten-Year Programme of Action adopted by the 3rd Extraordinary Islamic Summit held in Makkah Al-Mukarramah, Saudi Arabia, on 7-8 December 2005.
- Accordingly, the creation of IPHRC was enunciated in the New OIC Charter adopted by 11th Islamic Summit held in Dakar, Senegal, on 13-14 March 2008. The Commission was formally launched with the adoption of its Statute by the 38th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) held in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 28-30 June 2011.
- The IPHRC Secretariat relocated from the OIC General Secretariat building to its independent Headquarters, which was provided by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in March 2017 in its capacity as the host country.
- From its first regular session, the Commission adopted a set of five guiding principles for its work which include the principles of complementarity, introspection, prioritization, incremental approach and credibility.
- The Commission identified concrete areas of priority, namely “rights of Women and Children”, “right to Education”with focus on “Human Rights Education”, “Right to Development”, “Islamophobia and Muslim minorities” as well as “Palestine”.
- IPHRC has also offered assistance to Member States in a variety of human rights areas such as reviewing and preparing the domestic legislations vis-à-vis obligations under international human rights instruments etc.
- It is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), 1998.
- It monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.
- Its recommendations are not binding and acts only as a conscience-keeper for the two branches in the US government the legislature and the executive.
- It uses international standards to monitor religious freedom violations globally, and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.
- USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and Congressional leaders of both political parties.
- Their work is supported by a professional, nonpartisan staff.
- It is separated from the State Department, although the Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom is a non-voting ex officio Commissioner.
5. Afghan girls turn car parts into ventilators
Information in News
- The members of Afghanistan’s prize-winning girls’ robotics team say they’re on a life-saving mission to build a breathing machine from used car parts and help their war-stricken country battle the virus. “If we even save one life with our device, we will be proud,” said Ms. Farooqi, 17(Team Head).
- Their pursuit is particularly remarkable in conservative Afghanistan.
- Farooqi, who was just 14 when she participated in the first World Robot Olympiad in the U.S., in 2017.
- Only a generation ago, during the rule of the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban in the late 1990s, girls weren’t allowed to go to school.
- Afghanistan faces the pandemic nearly empty-handed. It has only 400 ventilators for a population of more than 36.6 million. So far, it has reported just over 900 coronavirus cases, including 30 deaths, but the actual number is suspected to be much higher since test kits are in short supply.
- At the workshop, the team is experimenting with two different designs, including an open-source blueprint from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Tech entrepreneur Roya Mahboob, who founded the team and raises funds to empower girls, said group will finish building a prototype by May or June.
- In all, the team has 15 members who work on various projects. The ventilator model, once completed, would then be sent to the Health Ministry for testing, initially on animals, said spokesman Wahid Mayar.