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Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th June 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC PDF Download

WIPO Treaty Protecting Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge

Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th June 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC
Context: 
  • The recent WIPO treaty on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, and Associated Traditional Knowledge is a significant achievement for countries like India.

What does the WIPO Treaty Entail?

  • Protection of Biodiversity: The treaty aims to harmonize the rights of biodiverse countries and traditional wisdom with global Intellectual Property Rights.
  • Inclusive Innovation: It encourages inclusive innovation by acknowledging the link between local communities and their resources.
  • Disclosure Requirements: Contracting parties must enforce disclosure obligations for patent applicants regarding the origin of genetic resources in claimed inventions.

Significance for India and the Global South

  • India: India's rich biodiversity and traditional knowledge gain recognition and protection under the treaty.
  • Prevention of Misappropriation: The treaty safeguards Indian resources and knowledge from unauthorized use.
  • Global Standards: It establishes global benchmarks for countries providing genetic resources and traditional knowledge.
  • Global South: Nations in this region possess valuable traditional knowledge safeguarded by the WIPO Treaty.

Past Cases Related to Traditional Knowledge and Genetic Resources in IPR

Traditional Knowledge Cases:
  • The Turmeric Case: The US patent for turmeric's wound healing properties was later revoked due to prior Indian knowledge.
  • The Neem Case: A controversy arose over a patent for neem's properties, highlighting conflicts in patenting traditional remedies.
Genetic Resources Cases:
  • Wheat Varieties Case (2003): Indian wheat varieties were patented by a European company but later revoked due to Indian evidence.
  • Basmati Rice Case (2000): A US patent for Basmati rice was challenged, leading to narrowed patent claims.

India's Initiatives for Protecting Traditional Knowledge and Genetic Resources

Traditional Knowledge Initiatives:
  • Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL): A database preserving medicinal formulations to prevent erroneous patents.
  • Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005: Mandates disclosure of biological resource origins in patent applications.
  • Trademark Act, 1999: Protects agricultural and biological products, empowering indigenous communities.
Genetic Resources Initiatives:
  • National Gene Bank: Safeguards genetic diversity for future use.
  • Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001: Ensures fair benefits for breeders and farmers sharing Plant Genetic Resources.
  • National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR): Preserves and utilizes plant genetic diversity in India.
  • National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR): Conserves animal genetic resources for sustainable livestock development.

Cyclone Triggered Landslides in Northeast India

Context:

Recently, Cyclone Remal led to landslides in Northeast India, emphasizing the importance of multi-hazard disaster resilience despite advancements in cyclone early warnings.

What is a Landslide?

A landslide involves the movement of rock, debris, or earth down a slope, falling under the category of mass wasting driven by gravity.

  • Falls, topples, slides, spreads, and flows are various modes of slope movements that constitute landslides.
  • Landslides result from factors like geology, morphology, and human activities, where weak rocks, deforestation, and construction play significant roles.

How Vulnerable is India to Landslides?

India faces significant landslide risks, especially in the Northeast region, with about 13% of the country's landmass prone to landslides.

  • Heavy rainfall and human activities like mining contribute to landslide vulnerability in India.
  • Hilly states such as Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam, and Nagaland are particularly susceptible to landslides.

Government Initiatives to Mitigate Landslide Risk

Efforts like the National Landslide Risk Management Strategy and early warning system development aim to reduce landslide risks in India.

  • The Landslide Atlas of India and initiatives by organizations like CBRI and IIT Roorkee focus on risk assessment and monitoring.

Challenges in Mitigating Landslide Risks

Limited understanding of landslide-prone areas, unsustainable land-use practices, and resource constraints pose challenges in mitigating landslide risks in India.

  • Resource limitations hinder the implementation of effective mitigation measures like retaining walls and drainage systems.
  • Public awareness and preparedness in landslide-prone areas need improvement.

Way Forward

Recommendations from reports like the Madhav Gadgil Committee and the Kasturirangan Committee highlight strategies for landslide mitigation, emphasizing sustainable practices and community involvement.

  • Focus on Ecologically Sensitive Zones, sustainable land-use practices, community engagement, and innovative slope stabilization methods offer potential solutions.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th June 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:
What is the purpose of the WIPO treaty on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, and Associated Traditional Knowledge?
View Solution

Amazon Forest Fire

Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th June 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context:

  • Recently, Brazil's Amazon rainforest has faced the most extensive forest fires on record in the initial four months of 2024.
  • A historic drought in the Amazon area, influenced by the El Nino climate phenomenon and global warming, has intensified dry conditions, fueling the fires.

Key Facts About the Amazon Rainforests

About the Amazon Rainforests:

  • These rainforests extend across 8 countries, covering an area twice the size of India.
  • Comprising approximately 40% of Brazil's total area, it is bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north, the Andes Mountains to the west, the Brazilian central plateau to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

Characteristics:

  • The Amazon Rainforests are vast tropical regions occupying the drainage basin of the Amazon River and its tributaries in northern South America, spanning an area of 6,000,000 square km.
  • These regions are extraordinarily wet, receiving over 200 cm of rainfall annually, either seasonally or year-round, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 35°C.
  • Similar forests are located in various continents including Asia, Australia, Africa, Central America, and Mexico.

Significance:

  • These rainforests are home to more than 400 distinct indigenous groups, with around 300 indigenous languages spoken, showcasing cultural and linguistic diversity.
  • Despite covering only about 1% of the Earth's surface, the Amazon rainforest shelters 10% of all known wildlife species, playing a crucial role in mitigating global warming by absorbing significant amounts of greenhouse gases.

Causes of the Amazon Forest Fires

Deforestation and Slash-and-Burn Practices:

  • Ranchers and farmers frequently utilize slash-and-burn methods to clear land for cattle grazing or agriculture, leading to uncontrollable fires during dry seasons.

El Nino and Droughts:

  • Research indicates a correlation between El Nino events and increased fire activity in the Amazon, with severe fires often aligning with El Nino-related droughts.

Climate Change and Accidental Ignitions:

  • Climate change is causing higher global temperatures and altered weather patterns, potentially resulting in drier conditions in the Amazon and increased fire risks.
  • Accidental ignitions from discarded items like cigarettes, sparks from machinery, or lightning strikes can also contribute to fires.

Industrial Farming:

  • The rising global demand for food, particularly meat, has positioned Brazil as the world's largest beef exporter and the second-largest exporter of soybeans, necessitating further deforestation for agricultural purposes.

Way Forward

Enforcing Laws and Regulations:

  • Implementing forest fire prevention laws and regulations, such as restrictions on burning debris and campfire bans during dry periods, can help mitigate accidental fires.
  • Strict enforcement of penalties for violating fire safety regulations is crucial to discourage irresponsible behavior.

Early Detection Systems:

  • Deploying early detection systems like surveillance cameras, satellite monitoring, and lookout towers can aid in identifying fires in their initial stages, facilitating quicker containment.

Engaging Indigenous Communities:

  • Incorporating indigenous communities, with a history of sustainable forest management, is vital in fire prevention efforts.
  • For instance, initiatives like the Joint Forest Management (JFM) program involve local communities in sustainable forest management practices, including controlled burns and fire line creation.

Global Initiatives:

  • Global efforts should focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to minimize drought risks in the Amazon.
  • For example, initiatives like the Amazon Fund utilize donations from developed nations to support conservation and sustainable development projects in the region.

Promotion Not a Fundamental Right

Context:

  • The recent Supreme Court ruling emphasizes that promotion is not an inherent right for government employees in India, as there are no specified criteria in the Constitution for filling promotional positions.
  • Decisions regarding promotions are at the discretion of the legislative and executive branches of the government.

Constitutional Provisions Related to Reservation

  • Article 15 (6): Allows the State to make special provisions for the advancement of economically weaker sections, including reservations in educational institutions, encompassing both aided and unaided private institutions, with exceptions for minority institutions under Article 30 (1).
  • Article 16 (4): Permits the State to reserve appointments or posts for any backward class not adequately represented in the State services.
  • Article 16 (4A): Authorizes the State to provide reservation in promotions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes if they are underrepresented in State services.
  • Article 16 (4B): Enables the carry forward of unfilled SC/ST quotas from one year to the next, established by the 77th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1995.
  • Article 16 (6): Empowers the State to make reservations in appointments, capped at 10% in addition to existing reservations.
  • Article 335: Acknowledges the necessity for special measures to consider the claims of SCs and STs for services and posts to ensure their equitable representation.
  • 82nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2000: Introduced provisions for the relaxation of qualifying marks for SC/ST members in examinations.

Pros and Cons of Reservation in Promotion

Pros of Reservation

  • Social Justice & Inclusion: Facilitates representation of historically marginalized groups in higher service positions.
  • Breaks Caste & Social Barriers: Encourages diversity in leadership roles, promoting a more inclusive environment.
  • Empowerment & Upliftment: Provides opportunities for underprivileged communities to progress.
  • Positive Discrimination: Addresses past injustices and barriers faced by disadvantaged groups.

Cons of Reservation

  • Merit vs Reservation: Raises concerns about selection based on merit versus reserved quotas.
  • Demotivation & Frustration: Can lead to discontent among general category candidates who feel overlooked.
  • Creamy Layer Issue: Risks benefitting the affluent within reserved categories, defeating the purpose of uplifting the marginalized.
  • Seniority & Efficiency: Disrupts seniority-based promotion systems, potentially affecting overall efficiency.

Reservation Related Developments in India

  • Indra Sawhney Judgment, 1992: Upheld reservation in appointments but capped it at 50% to ensure equality under Article 14.
  • M. Nagaraj Judgment, 2006: Introduced conditions for reservations in promotions for SCs/STs, focusing on adequate representation and efficiency.
  • Jarnail Singh vs Union of India, 2018: Altered the need for quantifiable data to implement reservation quotas for SC/ST communities.
  • Janhit Abhiyan v. Union of India, 2022: Challenged the 103rd Constitutional Amendment regarding reservations for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).

Way Forward

  • Data-Driven Approach: Assess current representation of SC/ST/OBCs to set targets for reservation quotas.
  • Focus on Merit with Relaxation: Emphasize merit while providing slight relaxation in qualifying marks for SC/ST/OBC candidates.
  • Addressing Concerns: Provide rigorous training for promoted employees to bridge skill gaps and ensure success.
  • Long-Term Vision: Highlight reservations as a temporary measure for achieving equality, advocating for educational and resource initiatives.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court's evolving stance on reservations in promotions balances equality and affirmative action, ensuring administrative efficiency and public interest.

Pandemic Treaty

Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th June 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context:

  • The World Health Assembly (WHA) in its recent annual meeting has approved crucial amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR).
  • Concrete commitments have been made to finalize negotiations on a global pandemic agreement by 2025.

Key Amendments to IHR

  • Definition of Pandemic Emergency: A new definition has been introduced to enhance international collaboration during potential pandemics.
  • This definition includes criteria such as wide geographical spread, overwhelming health system capacities, societal and economic disruptions, and the necessity for rapid global action.
  • Solidarity and Equity Commitment: Establishment of a Coordinating Financial Mechanism to provide support for identifying and accessing necessary finances for addressing the priorities of developing nations.
  • This commitment also involves developing and reinforcing core capacities related to pandemic emergency prevention, preparedness, and response.
  • Cooperation for Effective Implementation: Creation of a States Parties Committee to enhance cooperation and aid in the effective implementation of the revised regulations.
  • Additionally, the formation of National IHR Authorities to enhance coordination within and among countries for implementation purposes.

Importance of Global Health Cooperation

Curbing Infectious Diseases:

  • Instances like the COVID-19 pandemic underscore how interconnected the world is, where outbreaks in one region can swiftly spread globally.

Addressing Antibiotic Resistance:

  • Global collaboration is crucial in establishing standardized practices for antibiotic usage in humans and animals to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Chronic Disease Management:

  • Collaboration facilitates the sharing of best practices in managing non-communicable diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Health Equity and Access:

  • Global cooperation promotes technology transfer, aiding developing nations in enhancing their healthcare systems and ensuring access to essential resources like affordable generic drugs.

Existing Framework for Global Health Cooperation

Multilateral Agencies:

  • Organizations such as WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and UNAIDS play vital roles in specific health domains.
  • WHO serves as the central coordinating body for global health within the UN system, setting standards and coordinating responses to health crises.

International Health Regulations (IHR):

  • This binding agreement among 196 countries delineates their responsibilities during public health events with global implications.

Global Health Initiatives:

  • Targeted programs like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, focus on specific health challenges.

Public-Private Partnerships:

  • Collaboration between governments, NGOs, and the private sector, exemplified by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leverages resources and expertise.

Regional Organizations:

  • Bodies like the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the African Union coordinate health efforts within their respective regions.

Conclusion:

  • The recent amendments made by the World Health Assembly to the International Health Regulations (IHR) and the commitment to a global pandemic agreement by 2025 represent substantial progress toward enhancing global health security.
  • These changes, including a defined framework for pandemic emergencies, an emphasis on equity and financial support, and reinforced national and international cooperation, aim to equip the world to detect, prevent, and respond effectively to future health threats.

Question for Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th June 2024) Part - 1
Try yourself:
What is one of the main factors that has intensified the dry conditions in the Amazon rainforest, leading to the recent forest fires?
View Solution

Rising Global Temperatures

Context:

  • The world is currently observing a worrying trend of exceptionally high temperatures worldwide, a phenomenon exacerbated by the effects of global warming.
  • From the scorching 56.7°C documented in Death Valley, California more than a century ago to the recent 52.9°C recorded in Delhi, instances of extreme temperatures are becoming more common as the Earth continues to warm up.
  • If validated, the 52.9°C recorded in Delhi would mark a new record high for India.

Historical Context of Global Temperature Records

  • The highest temperature ever recorded on Earth was 56.7°C in Death Valley, California, in 1913.
  • In July 2022, the United Kingdom surpassed 40°C for the first time.
  • China registered its highest temperature of 52°C in a northwestern town the previous year.
  • Sicily, Italy, reached 48.8°C in 2021, setting a new record for the continent of Europe.
  • In 2016, Rajasthan's Phalodi recorded the highest temperature of 51°C in India.
  • An analysis indicates that nearly 40% of the Earth experienced its highest-ever daily temperature between 2013 and 2023, spanning regions from Antarctica to various parts of Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

Global Warming and Its Impact on Global Temperatures

  • Global warming refers to the sustained increase in Earth's average surface temperature attributed to human activities, particularly the release of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).
  • Greenhouse gases trap heat within the Earth's atmosphere, hindering its escape into space.
  • Elevated concentrations of these gases intensify this greenhouse effect, resulting in greater heat retention and elevated global temperatures.
  • Since the late 19th century, the planet's average surface temperature has surged by about 1°C, primarily due to escalated greenhouse gas emissions and other human-driven activities.
  • The recent years have witnessed numerous record-breaking temperatures, with 2023 and 2024 displaying unprecedented temperature spikes.

Global Warming Trends in India

  • India's temperature escalation is comparatively lower than the global average.
  • Since 1900, temperatures in India have risen by 0.7 degrees Celsius, while global land temperatures have surged by 1.59°C.
  • When factoring in oceans, global temperatures now stand at a minimum of 1.1°C higher than pre-industrial levels.
  • Global warming contributes to a rise in global temperatures and the frequency of heatwaves, with India experiencing more severe heatwave conditions.

Factors Influencing Geographical Temperature Variances

  • Global warming does not uniformly elevate temperatures worldwide due to various factors:
  • Polar Amplification results in accelerated warming in regions like the Arctic due to melting sea ice and permafrost.
  • Land warms faster than oceans, causing continental interiors to warm more rapidly than coastal areas.
  • Higher elevations undergo slower warming as the atmosphere traps less heat.
  • Regions affected by warm ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream, experience faster warming.
  • Landlocked regions exhibit less evaporative cooling and experience more extreme temperature fluctuations.

Consequences of Escalating Global Temperatures

  • Rising temperatures lead to the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, contributing to sea level rise and endangering coastal areas, communities, and ecosystems.
  • Global sea levels have increased by approximately 8 inches since 1880 and are projected to rise by at least a foot by 2100, with a high-emissions scenario potentially raising levels by up to 6.6 feet.
  • Oceans absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, causing acidification that adversely affects marine life and disrupts crucial ocean ecosystems.
  • Climate change intensifies hurricanes, making them stronger and more destructive, resulting in heightened storm intensity and rainfall rates.
  • Anticipated impacts include more severe droughts, heatwaves, and wildfires, along with biodiversity loss and disruptions to food production, leading to shortages and price hikes.
  • Rising temperatures also exacerbate air quality issues, increase heat-related illnesses, facilitate disease spread, and incur substantial economic costs in infrastructure repair, declining agricultural yields, and escalating disaster relief.

Strategies for Mitigating Climate Change

  • Follow the United Nations Environment Programme's six-sector solution to reduce emissions across energy, industry, agriculture, forests, transport, and buildings.
  • Invest in carbon offsetting initiatives like reforestation and carbon capture and storage to draw down atmospheric carbon.
  • Transition to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro power to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Implement energy-efficient practices in residential, industrial, and transportation sectors to significantly cut energy consumption.
  • Adopt climate-smart agricultural techniques, enhance food storage and distribution systems, reduce deforestation, promote regenerative agriculture, and advocate for plant-based diets.
  • Provide support to populations most vulnerable to climate change impacts, including those residing in low-lying coastal regions and developing nations.

KAZA Summit 2024 and Wildlife Product Trade

Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th June 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

Context:

  • Recently, the 2024 Heads of State Summit for the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA) was held in Livingstone, Zambia. Member states reiterated their stance to withdraw from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • The call to withdraw came after being repeatedly denied permission to sell their abundant ivory and other wildlife products.

Key Issues Discussed at the 2024 Summit

The KAZA-TFCA Initiative:

  • KAZA-TFCA covers five southern African countries: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, situated along the Okavango and Zambezi river basins.
  • Approximately 70% of KAZA land is dedicated to conservation, consisting of 103 wildlife management areas and 85 forest reserves.
  • This region is home to over two-thirds of Africa's elephant population, with Botswana and Zimbabwe holding significant portions.

Historical Dispute with CITES:

  • In 2022, at the Conference of Parties in Panama, southern African nations proposed legalizing ivory trade to support conservation efforts and mitigate human-wildlife conflicts.
  • Their proposal was rejected, with countries accusing CITES of favoring anti-trade ideologies over science-based conservation practices.

Economic Concerns and Wildlife Product Trade:

  • Delegates at the Livingstone Summit highlighted the economic drawbacks of existing CITES restrictions, advocating for rights to sell wildlife products.
  • They emphasized the impact on conservation funding due to the ban on ivory trade, noting potential revenue loss that could aid wildlife management.
  • Decisions were criticized for lacking scientific basis and being influenced by populism and political motives, undermining CITES' role in promoting sustainable conservation.

Proposed Actions and Responses:

  • Renewed appeals to exit CITES were made at the summit, suggesting it could lead CITES to reconsider or empower KAZA states to manage their wildlife resources independently.
  • In response to stricter trophy hunting import regulations from western nations, Zimbabwe and other KAZA states are exploring alternative markets, particularly in the East.
  • Trophy hunting, involving the selective hunting of wild animals for body parts such as antlers or horns, is being considered for diversifying revenue sources and promoting conservation.

The document Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th June 2024) Part - 1 | Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly.
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FAQs on Weekly Current Affairs (1st to 7th June 2024) Part - 1 - Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly - UPSC

1. What is the WIPO Treaty Protecting Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge?
Ans. The WIPO Treaty aims to protect genetic resources and traditional knowledge by providing a legal framework for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use.
2. How did Cyclone Triggered Landslides impact Northeast India?
Ans. Cyclone Triggered Landslides in Northeast India caused significant damage to infrastructure, loss of lives, and displacement of communities due to the heavy rainfall and resulting landslides.
3. What were the consequences of the Amazon Forest Fire?
Ans. The Amazon Forest Fire led to widespread deforestation, loss of biodiversity, air pollution, and negative impacts on the global climate due to the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
4. Is promotion considered a fundamental right?
Ans. Promotion is not considered a fundamental right, as it is typically based on merit, performance, and organizational policies rather than being a legally guaranteed entitlement.
5. What is the purpose of a Pandemic Treaty?
Ans. The Pandemic Treaty aims to enhance global cooperation, coordination, and preparedness for future pandemics by establishing guidelines for response, information-sharing, and resource allocation among countries.
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