Current Affair – April 26, 2021

Recognition to mass killings of Armenians as genocide 

  • U.S. Presi­dent Joe Biden officially recognised the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915­-16 as “an act of genocide”.
  • Up to 1.5 million Armenians are estimated to have been killed in the early stage of the First World War within the territories of the Ottoman Empire.

What is genocide?

  • According to Article II of the UN Convention on Genocide of December 1948, genocide has been described as carry­ ing out acts intended “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”.
  • Raphael Lemkin, the Polish lawyer who coined the term “geno­cide” in 1943, had written that he had been influenced by atrocities against Arme­nians as well as the Nazi kill­ings of Jews.

Armenians mass killings

  • Before the First World War broke out in 1914, there were 2 million Arme­nians in the Ottoman Em­pire.
  • In 1922, the Ar­menian population in the re­gion was about 387,800.
  • This has led historians to believe that up to 1.5 million Arme­nians were killed during the course of the War.
  •  Arme­nians were largely living in the eastern fringes of the Empire. The Ottoman Turks unleashed Turkish and Kur­dish militias upon them. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were deported from eastern Anatolia (today’s Turkey) to concentration camps in the Syrian steppe.

Victims of power contest

  • The Armenians were victims of the great power contests of the late 19th and early 20th centu­ries.
  •  When the Ottoman Em­pire was in decline on its fringes by the last quarter of the 19th century, Armenians were seen by the rulers in Constantinople as a fifth co­lumn.
  • The resentment start­ed building up after the Rus­so-Turkish war of 1877­-78 in which the Turks lost territo­ries. In the Treaty of Berlin,pressure was put on Ottoman to initiate re­forms “in the provinces inhabited by Armenians, and to guarantee their secur­ity against the Circassians and Kurds.”
  • This was seen as a sign of strengthen­ing ties between the Arme­nians and other rival coun­tries, especially Russia.
  • Post the treaty, there were a se­ries of attacks on Armenians by Turkish and Kurdish mili­tias.

Young Turks

  • In 1908, the Young Turks wrested control and promised to restore imperial glory. Un­der the Turks when the ad­ministration was run by the famous “Three Pashas” (Mehmed Talaat Pasha, the Grand Vizier or Prime Minis­ter; Ismail Enver Pasha, the Minister of War; and Ahmed Cemal Pasha, the Minister of the Navy) , the empire be­ came more “Turkik” and persecution against the eth­nic minorities picked up.
  • In October 1914, Turkey joined the First World War on the side of Germany. In the Cau­casus, they fought the Rus­sians, their primary geopol­itical rival.
  •  But the Ottomans suffered a catastrophic de­feat in the Battle of Sarikam­ish by the Russians in Janu­ary 1915.
  • The Turks blamed the de­feat on Armenian trea­chery. On April 24, the Ottoman government arrested about 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders. Most of them were later executed. (April 24 is the Remembrance Day).
  • As the War was still waging, the Ottomans feared that Arme­nians in eastern Anatolia would join the Russians if they advanced into Ottoman territories. The Ottoman government passed legislation to deport anyone who is a se­curity risk. Then they moved Armenians, including chil­dren, en masse to the Syrian Desert. That was a march of death.

Fall of empire

  • After the fall of the em­pire, many Ottoman officials were tried and exe­cuted for the atrocities com­mitted against Armenians. But the Three Pashas fled the country and took refuge in Germany.
  • Armenian resistance fighters under the banner of Operation Nemesis conti­nued to hunt down Ottoman officials.

Turkey’s response

  • Turkey has acknowledged that atrocities were commit­ted against Armenians, but denies it was a genocide (which comes with legal im­plications) and challenges the estimates that 1.5 million were killed.
  • Mr. Biden’s announcement on the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day could infuriate Turkey, America’s NATO ally.
Source: The Hindu

Oxygen concentrator

  • As cases surge and with oxygen cylinders in short supply, the concentrator is among the most sought after devices for oxygen therapy, especially among patients in home isolation and for hospitals running out of oxygen.

How does it work?

  • An oxygen concentrator is a medical device that concentrates oxygen from ambient air.
  • Atmospheric air has about 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. The oxygen concentrator takes in this air, filters it through a sieve, releases the nitrogen back into the air, and works on the remaining oxygen.
  • This oxygen, compressed and dispensed through a cannula, is 90-95% pure. A pressure valve in concentrators helps regulate supply, ranging from 1-10 litres per minute.
  • According to a 2015 report by the WHO, concentrators are designed for continuous operation and can produce oxygen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for up to 5 years or more.

90-95% purity

  • While it is not as pure as LMO (99%), experts say it is good enough for mild and moderate Covid-19 patients with oxygen saturation levels of 85% or above.
  • Concentrators can be attached with multiple tubes to serve two patients at the same time, but experts don’t recommend it since it carries risk of cross-infection.

Different from oxygen cylinders and LMO

  • Oxygen concentrators are the easiest alternatives to cylinders but can only supply 5-10 litres of oxygen per minute (critical patients may need 40-50 litres per minute) and are best suited for moderately ill patients.
  • Concentrators are portable and unlike LMO that needs to be stored and transported in cryogenic tankers, need no special temperature.
  • Unlike cylinders that require refilling, concentrators only need a power source to draw in ambient air.
Source: Indian Express

International Religious Freedom Report 2021

  • The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended putting India on a list of CPCs or Countries of Particular Concern for the second year in a row due to the violations of religious freedoms in the year 2020.
  • Earlier, in its 2020 Human Rights Report, the US State Department pointed out several Human Rights issues in India.

International Religious Freedom Report 2021

  • It is the  annual Report to the US Congress.
  • It describes the status of religious freedom, government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies promoting religious freedom. The report is a survey of the state of religious freedom across the world.
  • The report focuses on two groups of countries-  Countries of Particular Concern and Special Watch List Countries.
  • It also focusses on the Entities of Particular Concern.

Observations made by USCIRF for India:

  • The report stated that religious freedom conditions in India continued their negative trajectory in 2020.
  • Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA): In early 2020, the government passed CAA which is a fast track to citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan residing in India. The country witnessed widespread protest against the religiously discriminatory CAA.
  •  Delhi Riots: The national capital witnessed the worst Hindu-Muslim mob violence in more than three decades.
  • As per Delhi Minorities Commission, the violence and allegations of police brutality and complicity were ‘seemingly planned and directed to teach a lesson to a certain community which dared to protest against a discriminatory law’.
  • National Register of Citizens (NRC): The USCIRF in its report underscored that in conjunction with the proposed NRC, CAA could subject Muslims, in particular to statelessness, deportation or prolonged detention.
  • Anti-conversion Law in Uttar Pradesh: In late 2020, UP Government passed an ordinance to void any marriage conducted for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion or vice-versa.
  • Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA): In September 2020, the Indian Parliament amended the FCRA, imposing restrictions on NGOs, leading civil socities, religious and human rights organizations to shut down.
  • Dissemination of false information: At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, government officials and non-state actors continued to harass and spread hatred and disinformation against minority communities, including Muslims, Christians, and Dalits.
  • Images with false information on social media implicated religious communities in cow slaughter and other alleged offences.
  • The report took note of acquittal of individuals accused of demolishing Babri Masjid, Crackdown on expressing dissent.
Religious Freedom in India Articles 25-28 of the Indian Constitution grants religious freedom in India and Articles 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution deals with the protection of interest of minorities.
Article 25: Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.
Article 26: Freedom to manage religious affairs.
Article 27: Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion.
Article 28: Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions.
Article 29: Any citizen/section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture have the right to conserve the same. No discrimination would be done on the ground of religion, race, caste, or language.
Article 30: All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.    

Recommendations of USCIRF:

  • It has recommended the US government to

 designate India as a CPC for engaging in and tolerating systematic ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations.

  • The US Government must impose targeted sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by freezing those individuals’ or entities’ assets and/or barring their entry into the United States.

India’s response

  • For its 2020 report, India had said the USCIRF’s “biased and tendentious” comments against the country were “not new”, but that, on this occasion, “its misrepresentation has reached new levels”.
Source: The Hindu

Net Zero

  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have raised the global average temperature by around 1°C from the pre-industrial era.
  • The consequences of driving this temperature rise onward are already severe and will be catastrophic.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the world must reach net zero emissions by 2050 for the increase in temperature to remain below 1.5°C.
  • This target has become a new marker of climate ‘ambition’, with the world now divided into countries with net zero targets, and those without.

What is Net zero?

  • The United Nation’s IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C says ‘net zero’ is a state in which “human activities result in no net effect on the climate system”.
  • This involve balancing all residual emissions with emission (CO2) removal.
  •  This will also involve accounting for regional or local bio-geophysical effects of human activities that affect local climate or surface albedo (light reflected by a surface).

An Offsetting process

  • Getting to net zero means we can still produce some emissions, as long as they are offset by processes that reduce GHGs already in the atmosphere.
  • However, to meet the goal of net zero, new emissions of GHGs must be as low as possible.
  • Global net human-caused emissions of CO2would need to fall by 45% by 2030 from the 2010 levels, and radically regenerate nature at the same time,reaching net zero around 2050.
  • This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.
  • The IPCC 1.5°C report notes that effectiveness of techniques and technologies to remove CO2 from the air remains unproven at scale, and some may even carry significant risks for sustainable development.


  • Net zero is also intrinsically inequitable.
  • Big polluters are setting net zero targets of 2050 for themselves. This will not do. Given the fact that there is a huge and completely disproportionate difference in the emissions of the old-developed world and now newly developed China and the rest of the world, it would be logical to say that if the world needs to be net zero by 2050, then these countries needed to have already turned net zero or do so by 2030. No later.
  • Then it would provide space for countries like India—way below in the historical emissions and current emissions—to declare a net zero goal by 2050.
Source: Downtoearth

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