Current Affair – June 18, 2021

WHO Report ‘Children and Digital Dumpsites’

  • The new report, titled Children and Digital Dumpsites was recently published by World Health Organization (WHO).

· The e-waste from high-income countries is dumped in the middle or low income countries for processing every year.

  • It underlined the risk children working in the informal processing faced due to discarded electronic devices or e-waste.

Report Findings

  • More than 18 million children and adolescents working at e-waste dumpsites in low and middle income countries are potentially at the risk of severe health hazards
  • As many 18 million children — as young as five years — and about 12.9 million women work at these e-waste dumpsites ever year.
  • The dumped e-waste is dismantled and recycled by children. It contains over 1,000 precious metals and other substances like gold, copper, mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The processing is done in low-income countries, which do not have proper safeguarding regulation and which makes the process even more dangerous.

Vulnerability of children

  • Children are especially preferred at these dumpsites because of their small and dexterous hands.
  • Children are particularly more exposed to the toxic chemicals used and released during the processing of e-waste. They are less likely to metabolize or eradicate pollutants absorbed.
  • Children working at these ‘digital dumpsites’ are more prone to improper lung function, deoxyribonucleic acid damage and increased risk of chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • Several women, including expectant mothers, also work there. Processing e-waste exposes them as well as their children to these toxins, which can lead to premature births and still birth.

Inadequate E-waste management

  • Improper e-waste management is a rising issue that many countries do not recognize as a health problem yet. If they do not act now, its impacts will have a devastating health effect on children and lay a heavy burden on the health sector in the years to come.
  • The volume of e-waste generated is surging rapidly across the globe. About 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste was generated in 2019, according to the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership.
  • Only 17.4% of this e-waste was processed in formal recycling facilities. The rest of it was dumped in low or middle- income countries for illegal processing by informal workers.
  • This is likely to increase in the coming years because of the rise in the number of smart phones and computers.

Way forward

The report called for the monitoring, safe disposal of e-waste and raising awareness about its outcomes on the health of children and women working at these dumpsites.

Source: Down-to-earth

Impact of child’s marriages on economy

  • The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted the lives and livelihoods of people. With incomes under threat, families are increasingly likely to get their daughters married before they come of age.
  • Recent estimates by United Nations Children’s Fund projected that an additional 10 million girls globally will be at risk of child marriages over the next decade due to COVID-19. This may be the case despite years of significant global gains.
  • These numbers are in addition to the 100 million girls who were already at risk of child marriage in the next decade, before the threats of pandemic loomed over.
  • India is home to the largest number of child brides in the world, accounting for one-third of child marriages globally. Nearly 1 in 4 girls were married by the age of 18 years in India (27%), accounting for at least 1.5 million girls each year, according to the fourth National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) in 2015-16.

Vicious cycle

  • The risks associated with child marriage do not end with girls who are married before 18. It leads to an

intergenerational cycle of poverty that adversely impacts the economy.

  • It puts girls at risk of being denied access to education, which impacts their autonomy and their access to health care.

· Child marriages perpetuate gender discrimination, which in turn lead to malnutrition and reproductive health issues.

Impact of COVID-19

  • The ongoing pandemic has undermined the progress made towards achieving gender rights and educational parity for girls.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on family incomes has impacted the education and agency of girls, because economic stress frequently drives families to marry their daughters off early.

Case study of Rajasthan

  • The numbers of child marriages in Rajasthan are more alarming. According to NFHS-4 1 in 3 girls were married by age 18 years in the state (35%). Among adolescent girls aged 15-19 years in the state, 6% have already begun childbearing.
  • School closures due to the current pandemic are likely to exacerbate these already worrying numbers.
  • The Rajasthan government recently appointed additional officials in all 33 districts of the state to check child marriages.
  • It resolves to build a conducive environment towards initiating difficult conversations with communities that are already dealing with the pandemic and its ramifications. The synergy between government and social agencies aims to help protect young girls from a future they did not choose for themselves.
Source: Down-to-earth

Shenzhou12 Mission

  • The first group of Chinese astronauts on June 17 entered the country’s under construction space station.

The Shenzhou12 spaceship, carrying the three astronauts, completed an “automated rendezvous and docking” with the Tianhe module. This signified that for the first time the Chinese have entered their own space station

About the Mission

  • Shenzhou12 was launched on Thursday morning from the Jiuquan launch centre in the Gobi desert, and the astronauts entered Tianhe around six and a half hours later.
  • The three-man crew will be in orbit for three months. This is the first of two manned space missions planned for this year, part of an intense schedule of launches aimed at completing the space station in 2022.
  • The mission will help test technologies related to long-term astronaut stays and health care, the recycling and life support system, the supply of space materials, extravehicular activities and operations, and in orbit maintenance.”
  • China’s space programme had last month launched the Tianzhou2 cargo spacecraft, which carried vital supplies for the space station. At least five more missions are planned for the year.
Source: The Hindu

The Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2021

  • The Information and Broadcasting Ministry amended the rules regulating cable television networks.
  • It now provides for a “statutory” mechanism for complaints raised by citizens regarding any content broadcast.
  • At present, there are over 900 TV channels that are required to comply with the Programme and Advertising Code laid down by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the Cable Television Network Rules.

The New Rules

  • The Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2021, provides for a three-level grievance redressal mechanism
  • Self regulation by broadcasters,

Ø Self-regulation by the self regulating bodies of the broadcasters, and

  • Oversight by an Interdepartmental Committee at the level of the Centre.

· A viewer could file a complaint directly to the broadcaster, who would have to respond within 15 days.

  • If the complainant was not satisfied with the response, the complaint could be escalated to the self regulating bodies set up by TV channels, which should deal with the case in 60 days.
  • If the complainant is not satisfied with the decision of the self regulating body, he may, within 15 days of such decision, prefer an appeal to the Central government for its consideration under the Oversight Mechanism.

·  Such appeals would be dealt with by the InterDepartmental Committee set up under the Oversight Mechanism. The Committee would be headed by the Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and have members from the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Home Ministry, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Defense, and representatives of other Ministries and organisations, including experts.

  • This third tier was not only kept aside to hear the appeals, it could take up complaints that come directly to the Centre.
Source: The Hindu

‘Vital Statistics of India Based on The Civil Registration System’ Report Findings

· The level of registration of births and deaths in the country improved in 2019.

  • Some States and Union Territories were, however, lagging behind.

· The level of birth registration increased from 87.8% in 2018 to 92.7% in 2019; and death registrations went up from 84.6% to 92% during the period.

  • While 14 States/Union Territories achieved 100% level of birth registrations, 19 States/Union Territories achieved the same level in cases of death.

Sex ratio at birth

  • The share of institutional births in the total registered births was 81.2%.

· In the case of registration of births within the prescribed period of 21 days, 15 States/Union Territories achieved more than 90% registration.

  • The highest sex ratio at birth (SRB) based on registered events was reported by Arunachal Pradesh (1,024), followed by Nagaland (1,001) Mizoram (975) and Andaman & Nicobar Islands (965).
  • The lowest SRB was reported by Gujarat (901), Assam (903) and Madhya Pradesh (905), followed by Jammu & Kashmir (909).

Registered deaths

  • The number of registered deaths increased from 69.5 lakh in 2018 to 76.4 lakh in 2019. The share of male and female was 59.6% and 40.4%.
  • Based on the information received from 31 States /Union Territories, the share of institutional deaths in total registered deaths was 32.1%.

Infant deaths

  • Eleven States/Union Territories achieved more than 90% registration of deaths within the prescribed period of 21 days.

· In the case of registration of infant deaths, the share of urban area was 75.5% com pared to 24.5% in rural areas.

  • In the northeast, Arunachal Pradesh reported 100% registration of births, but only 38.6% of deaths. Nagaland also registered 100% births, but just 30% deaths, while Manipur recorded 67.7% births and only 21.4% deaths. In Sikkim, there was 100% registration of deaths, but 61.2% registration of births.

Full registration

  • Mizoram and Tripura reported 100% registration of both births and deaths. Meghalaya had 100% registration of births and 97.6% registration of deaths, while Assam reported 100% registration of births and 74% registration of deaths.
  • In Bihar and Jharkhand, the levels of registration of births were 89.3% and 84.3% and the levels of registration of deaths were 51.6% and 58.8%. In Daman & Diu, the figures were 50.7% and 61%.

Limitations of the report

  • The level of registration of States Union Territories and India level presented in the report was arrived at using the mid- year projected population of the respective States/Union Territories of 2011-19 based on 2011 census (Report of the Technical Group on Population Projections, July 2020, National Commission on Population, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare) and, therefore, was not comparable with rates presented in previous reports.
  • The level of registration was arrived at using Sample Registration System Rates for 2018 as the survey for 2019, which was scheduled for 2020, could not be completed due to the COVID19 pandemic.
  • Besides, some States/Union Territories submitted incomplete or partial data, which was not included.
Source: The Hindu

Mangrove belt as natural barrier

  • The Odisha government has proposed to raise mangrove and casuarinas plantation in around 109 and 4,000 hectares of land, respectively, in the coastal belt. The state has around 480-kilometres-long coastal belt.
  • The mangrove forests will be raised under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP) Phase-II; the casuarinas will be planted by the state resources. The coastal belt plantation aims to erect a strong, natural barrier against the strong winds during cyclones.

Odisha vulnerability and the Mangroves

  • Odisha is one of the most cyclone-prone states in the country.
  • Currently, the state has 219 square kilometres of mangrove forests in three districts. The actual area under mangrove plantation was less than the recorded area as prawn cultivators in Bhitarkanika often encroach the land..
  • The mangroves served as a natural barrier to cyclonic winds in Bhitarkanika National Park during Cyclone Yaas, which hit the state on May 26, 2021. The cyclone, with wind speed of around 145 km, devastated a few other areas, but its impact was not felt in Kalibhanjadiha island inside the national park due to the presence of mangroves.
  • It was important to build the coastal shelter belt to protect the coastal areas. The Odisha coastal area is a wildlife hotspot as well as an economic zone.
  • The mangroves have acted as a bio-shield against the strong winds in all the cyclones that struck the state. As many as 96 cyclones have hit Odisha coast in the last 130 years
  • Odisha is vulnerable to various natural disasters like cyclone, flood, hailstorm, drought due to its unique geo-climatic condition.
Source: Down to earth

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