World Heritage Day: 18th April
- Bellbirds have the loudest bird calls yet documented in the world, according to a study.
- The study found that their mating songs pack more decibels than the screams of howler monkeys and the bellows of bisons.
- The male white bellbird’s mating call is about three times louder than screaming phias – the previously loudest bird singer.
Part of: GS II – Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
Context: Yemen’s Houthi rebels have agreed to rid their ranks of child soldiers, who have fought by the thousands during the country’s seven years of civil war.
- The Houthis signed an “action plan” to end and prevent recruiting or using children in armed conflict, killing or maiming children and attacking schools and hospitals.
- The rebels have committed to identifying children in their ranks and releasing them within six months.
- More than 10,200 children have been killed or maimed in the war.
The recruitment and use of children as soldiers is one of the six U.N.-defined violations affecting children in times of war. The list also includes: the killing and maiming of children, sexual violence against children, child abductions, attacks against schools or hospitals and the denial of humanitarian access for children.
What led to this?
- Yemen’s civil war erupted in 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthis seized Sanaa and forced the government into exile. A Saudi-led coalition, including the United Arab Emirates, entered the war in early 2015 to try to restore the government to power.
- War monitors estimate the conflict has killed over 14,500 civilians and 150,000 people when combatants are included. The fighting also created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
The warring sides agreed earlier this month to the first nationwide truce in six years.
Who are Houthis?
- The Houthis are Zaydi Shiites, or Zaydiyyah. Shiite Muslims are the minority community in the Islamic world and Zaydis are a minority of Shiites, significantly different in doctrine and beliefs from the Shiites who dominate in Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere (often called Twelvers for their belief in twelve Imams).
- The American invasion of Iraq in 2003 deeply radicalized the Houthi movement. The Houthis adopted the slogan: “God is great, death to the U.S., death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam,” in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
- Yemen is at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula and borders Saudi Arabia and Oman.
- It has been in existence as a state in its current form since the early 1990s.
- Yemen is only 30km from Djibouti in Africa, which sits across the Bab al Mandab straits, which means Gate of Tears.
- Up to 18 million years ago, Yemen and the Horn of Africa were a single landmass. However, the Gulf of Aden’s rifting separated the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn region.
- Sanaʽa is the largest city in Yemen. Constitutionally, Sanaʽa is the capital of Yemen.
- Sanaʽa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a distinctive architectural character, most notably expressed in its multi-storey buildings decorated with geometric patterns.
- In the aftermath of the Houthi occupation, the capital moved to Aden – the former capital of South Yemen. Aden is located next to the Sarawat Mountains of Jabal An-Nabi Shu’ayb and Jabal Tiyal, considered to be the highest mountains in the country and amongst the highest in the region.
Pic Source: https://www.worldatlas.com/maps/yemen
Part of: Prelims and GS II – Separation of powers
Context: In connection with the Mullaperiyar dam dispute, the Supreme Court has asked the Centre and the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to consider a “”working arrangement” where the court-appointed Supervisory Committee may be entrusted with the functions and duties of the National Dam Safety Authority under the Dam Safety Act, 2021.
- The Dam Safety Act of 2021 has come as a panacea to end the prolonged and bitter legal battle over Mullaperiyar dam between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
- The 2021 Act comprehensively provides for surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance to prevent disasters caused by dams.
- Moreover, the Dam Safety Act mandates the setting up of two specialised bodies, National Committee on Dam Safety and the National Dam Safety Authority, to evolve policies.
Background: The SC constituted a permanent Supervisory Committee in 2014 to oversee all the issues concerning Mullaperiyar dam. The dam is a source of friction between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
What’s the issue?
- Kerala said the water level should not go above 139 feet, the same as what the court had ordered on August 24, 2018, when the State was hit by floods.
- Lives of 50 lakh people would be in danger if the water level in the dam is raised.
- Commissioned by the Kerala Government in the latter part of the 2000s, a study by IIT-Roorkee raised questions about the survival of the dam, located in seismic zone-3, in the event of an earthquake of a fairly high magnitude.
- A series of tremors felt in the area in 2011 caused alarm.
- Subsequently, the floods of 2018 and the erratic nature of annual monsoons ever since brought the focus back on the 126-year-old dam.
- However, Tamil Nadu objected to this decision citing the Supreme Court judgments of 2006 and 2014, which fixed the maximum water level at 142 feet.
- It is a masonry gravity dam built at the confluence of Mullayar and Periyar rivers.
- Although the dam is located in Kerala, it is operated by Tamil Nadu following an 1886 lease indenture for 999 years (the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement) that was signed between the Maharaja of Travancore and the Secretary of State for India for the Periyar Irrigation works.
- It was constructed between 1887 and 1895.
- It redirected the river to flow towards the Bay of Bengal, instead of the Arabian Sea and provide water to the arid rain region of Madurai in Madras Presidency.
National Dam Safety Authority
- The Dam Safety Act, passed by Parliament on December 8 last year, states that a National Dam Safety Authority will cooperate with State-level dam safety organisations and owners of dams for standardising safety-related data and practices.
- The Authority will be headed by a chairman and assisted by five members to lead its five wings:
- policy and research
- Resilience and administration and finance.
- The Authority will have its headquarters in Delhi and will be supported by four regional offices.
- The Centre also constituted a 22-member National Committee on Dam Safety which will be headed by the Chairman of the Central Water Commission.
- A key function of the Authority is to resolve any issue between the State Dam Safety Organisations of States or between a State Dam Safety Organisation and any owner of a specified dam in that state, as per the notification.
INTERNATIONAL/ HEALTH/ GOVERNANCE
- GS-2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora-
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, will perform the groundbreaking ceremony for the first-of-its-kind WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar, Gujarat.
What is traditional medicine?
- The WHO describes traditional medicine as the total sum of the “knowledge, skills and practices indigenous and different cultures have used over time to maintain health and prevent, diagnose and treat physical and mental illness”.
- Its reach encompasses ancient practices such as acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine and herbal mixtures as well as modern medicines.
- Traditional medicine in India is often defined as including practices and therapies — such as yoga, Ayurveda, Siddha — that have been part of Indian tradition historically, as well as others — such as homeopathy — that became part of Indian tradition over the years.
What will the GCTM be about?
- On November 3, 2020, WHO Director General announced the establishment of the WHO GCTM in India .
- The Union Cabinet in March 2022 approved its establishment in Jamnagar with the signing of a host country agreement between the Government of India and the WHO.
- India has committed an estimated $250 million to support the GCTM’s establishment, infrastructure and operations.
- The GCTM will aim to focus on evidence-based research, innovation, and data analysis to optimise the contribution of traditional medicine to global health.
- Its main focus will to develop norms, standards and guidelines in technical areas relating to traditional medicine.
- The GCTM will support efforts to implement the WHO’s Traditional Medicine Strategy (2014-23), which aims to support nations in developing policies & action plans to strengthen the role of traditional medicine in pursuing the goal of universal health coverage.
- The WHO and the central government are also aiming at using technology and innovation, such as artificial intelligence, to map traditional medicine trends, innovations and patents, linking to WHO’s Innovation Hub.
- According to WHO estimates, 80% of the world’s population uses traditional medicine.
Why has the WHO felt the need to advance knowledge of traditional medicine?
- First, the Jamnagar centre will serve as the hub, and focus on building a solid evidence base for policies and help countries integrate it as appropriate into their health systems.
- The WHO says 170 of its 194 WHO Member States have reported the use of traditional medicine, and these member states have asked for its support in creating a body of reliable evidence and data on traditional medicine practices and products.
- Second, WHO has stressed the need to conserve biodiversity and sustainability as about 40% of approved pharmaceutical products today derive from natural substances.
- For example, the discovery of aspirin drew on traditional medicine formulations using the bark of the willow tree.
- Contraceptive pill was developed from the roots of wild yam plants .
- Child cancer treatments have been based on the rosy periwinkle.
- Third, the WHO has referred to modernisation of the ways traditional medicine is being studied. Artificial intelligence is now used to map evidence and trends in traditional medicine.
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging is used to study brain activity and the relaxation response that is part of some traditional medicine therapies such as meditation and yoga, which are increasingly drawn on for mental health and well-being in stressful times.
- Fourth, the WHO has said traditional medicine is also being extensively updated by mobile phone apps, online classes, and other technologies. The GCTM will serve as a hub for other countries, and build standards on traditional medicine practices and products.
Has India taken up similar collaborative efforts earlier?
- Yes. In 2016, the Ministry of AYUSH signed a project collaboration agreement (PCA) with the WHO in the area of traditional medicine.
- The aim was to create benchmarks for training in yoga, Ayurveda, Unani and Panchakarma, for traditional medicine practitioners.
- The collaboration also aimed at promoting the quality and safety of traditional medicine and consumer protection.
- At least 32 MoUs for undertaking collaborative research and development of traditional medicine have been signed with institutes, universities and organisations from the US, Germany, UK, Canada, Malaysia, Brazil, Australia, Austria, Tajikistan, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Japan, Indonesia etc.
- Also, the CSIR and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have signed an MoU to identify opportunities for scientific and technological research in traditional medicine as well as beyond.
Connecting the dots:
- GS-3: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, basics of cyber security.
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context: Amid a surge in cyberattacks on India’s networks, Centre is yet to implement the National Cyber Security Strategy which has been in the works since 2020.
What is National Cyber Security Strategy?
Conceptualised by the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) headed by Lt General Rajesh Pant, the report focuses on 21 areas to ensure a safe, secure, trusted, resilient, and vibrant cyberspace for India.
Here are the main sectors of focus of the report:
- Large scale digitisation of public services: Focusing on security in the early stages of design in all digitisation initiatives, developing institutional capability for assessment, evaluation, certification, and rating of the core devices and timely reporting of vulnerabilities and incidents.
- Supply chain security: Monitoring and mapping of the supply chain of the Integrated circuits (ICT) and electronics products, scaling up product testing and certification, leverage the country’s semiconductor design capabilities globally at strategic, tactical and technical level.
- Critical information infrastructure protection should include monitoring digitisation of devices, evaluating security devices, maintaining a repository of vulnerabilities, devising audit parameters for threat preparedness and developing cyber-insurance products
- Digital payments: Mapping and modeling of devices and platform deployed, routine threat modeling exercises to disclose vulnerabilities, threat research and sharing of threat intelligence, timely disclosure of vulnerabilities
- State-level cyber security: Developing state-level cybersecurity policies, allocation of dedicated funds, critical scrutiny of digitization plans, guidelines for security architecture, operations, and governance
- Security of small and medium businesses: Policy intervention in cybersecurity granting incentives for higher level of cybersecurity preparedness, developing security standards, frameworks, and architectures for the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) and industrialisation
To implement cybersecurity in the above-listed focus areas, the report lists the following recommendations:
- Budgetary provisions: A minimum allocation of 0.25% of the annual budget, which can be raised upto 1% has been recommended to be set aside for cyber security.
- Research & innovation: The report suggests investing in modernisation and digitisation of Integrated Circuits (ICT), set up a short and long term agenda for cyber security via outcome-based programs and host hackathons, hands-on workshops & simulations.
- Human Resources: A national framework should be set to provide global professional certifications in security. DSCI further recommends creating a ‘cyber security services’ with cadres chosen from the Indian Engineering Services.
- Crisis management: For adequate preparation to handle crisis, DSCI recommends holding cybersecurity drills which include real-life scenarios with their ramifications.
- Cyber Diplomacy: Cyber security preparedness of key regional blocks like BIMSTEC and SCO must be ensured via programs, exchanges and industrial support. To further better diplomacy, the government should promote brand India as a responsible player in cyber security and also create ‘Cyber envoys’ for the key countries/regions.
Progress on implementation of the policy
- Centre clarified that it has formulated a draft National Cyber Security Strategy 2021 which holistically looks at addressing the issues of security of national cyberspace.
- Without mentioning a deadline for its implementation, Centre added that it had no plans as of yet to coordinate with other countries to develop a global legal framework on cyber terrorism.
Connecting the dots:
- Cyber Threats
- Cybersecurity & banks
- India needs a Cybersecurity Strategy
- Global Cyber Security Index
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1) ‘Marib’ was in news recently. Where is it located?
Q.2) ‘Houthis’ have a strong presence in
Select the correct code:
- 1 Only
- 1 and 2
- 2 and 3
- 1, 2 and 3
Q.3) The issue of ‘Mullaperiyar Dam’ is disputed between which of the following states?
- Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
- Kerala and Tamil Nadu
- Karnataka and Kerala
- Karnataka and Telangana
ANSWERS FOR 19TH APRIL 2022 – TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
On India’s stand in Ukraine crisis:
On Sri Lanka’s economic crisis:
On utility of UN in Ukraine Crisis: