Current Affairs August 4

Chapman’s pygmy chameleon facing extinction

  • Chameleons occur almost exclusively on mainland Africa and the nearby island of Madagascar and most species inhabit rainforests. Because these rainforests are naturally fragmented by the more arid savanna vegetation types, forest-living chameleons have been naturally isolated from each other for millions of years.
  • This isolation has resulted in many populations evolving into distinct species that are highly adapted to forest life. They cannot survive anywhere else. These forest adapted chameleons are doomed if their forests disappear.
  • Unfortunately, this is what’s happening for many species. Nearly 40 per cent of 218 chameleon species are threatened with extinction, with another 19 per cent considered near-threatened.
  • The reason for this is clear — forests are being removed through uncontrolled slash and burn clearing, primarily for agriculture.
  • One of the chameleon species facing extinction is the tiny, forest-living Chapman’s pygmy chameleon (Rhampholeon chapmanorum) from the Malawi Hills in southern Malawi.


After flood challenges

  • Research based on floods across the country have highlighted the severe short- and long-term health consequences of flooding, ranging from stunting and malnutrition in children to infectious diseases to mental illnesses like stress, anxiety and depression.
  • As water in flood-hit areas is contaminated and sanitation is a problem,
  • Rise in water-borne infections like diarrhoea, cholera and leptospirosis,”
  • Several medical teams shipped doxycycline and paracetamol tablets to flood-hit regions last week to prevent diseases like leptospirosis and gastroenteritis
  • Huge amount of wet mud and sludge left behind after the water receded, which mostly caused fungal infections,
  • Flood-hit areas had received supplies of syrups for children, tetanus shots, bandages, ointments, etc.


Global food system and Women

  • the United Nations flagged in one of its ‘Action Track’ reports flagged the urgency to protect the livelihoods of women living in times of vulnerability.
  • It called for social protection systems that uphold their livelihoods to go beyond poverty-reduction rhetoric to enhance opportunities that helps build assets and create wealth for them.
  • Women farmers are disproportionately more affected by climate change and land degradation, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. They face high levels of obesity and are more susceptible to chronic disease.
  • Indigenous women play a crucial role in eradicating hunger and malnutrition; there are 185 million indigenous women in the world. But limitations in the recognition and exercise of rights have hampered access to equitable systems of food.
  • Migration among youths over the course of urban transition as well as the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have had impacts on the gendered nature of economic roles.
  • Such migration has entailed a growing gap between the location of food production and food consumption, the report said. This may have been followed by a change in lifestyle, including dietary habits.
  • The impacts of COVID-19 pandemic have not been gender-neutral: More women have been at the receiving end of increased poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition, and disease prevalence.
  • A 2020 UN report had hinted how epidemics can significantly reduce women’s economic and livelihood activities, increasing poverty rates and exacerbating food insecurity
  • Rural women were among the worst affected among the food insecure population of 821 million (as of 2017), according to an Oxfam report published 2019.
  • Rural women account for nearly half the agricultural workforce in developing countries, face discrimination. They have very little land rights, face difficulties attaining ownership, do not have access to credit and are engaged in unpaid work


Poverty in India

  • There is a clear trajectory of the incidence of poverty falling from 1973 to 2012.
  • In fact, since India began collecting data on poverty, the incidence of poverty has always fallen, consistently. It was 54.9% in 1973-4; 44.5% in 1983-84; 36% in 1993-94 and 27.5% in 2004- 05.
  • This was in accordance with the Lakdawala poverty line (which was lower than the Tendulkar poverty line)
  • the absolute number of poor has risen: from 217 million in 2012 to 270 million in 2019-20 in rural areas; and from 53 million to 71 million in the urban areas.
  • The reasons for increased poverty since 2013 -demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax, both delivered body blows to the unorganised sector and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
  • The economic slowdown followed.
  • Private investment fell from 31% inherited by the new government, to 28% of GDP by 2019-20.
  • Public expenditure was constrained by a silent fiscal crisis.
  • Exports, which had never fallen in absolute dollar terms for a quarter century since 1991, actually fell below the 2013-14 level ($315 billion) for five years.
  • Consumption stagnated and household savings rates fell.
  • Joblessness increased to a 45-year high by 2017-18 (by the usual status), and youth (15-29 years of age) saw unemployment triple from 6% to 18% between 2012 and 2018.
  • Real wages did not increase for casual or regular workers over the same period, hardly surprising when job seekers were increasing but jobs were not at anywhere close to that rate.
  • Hence, consumer expenditure fell, and poverty increased.

USA  new approach

  • S. commitment to working with allies and partners for the promotion of peace and prosperity and upholding a ‘rulesbased order’, the code word critical of China’s behaviour.
  • Sherman became the highest U.S. dignitary to visit Mongolia since 2016. Despite its close relationship with Beijing, Mongolia looks for devices to assert its independence
  • The visit by Mr. Austin ( July 23-30) covering three important ASEAN member-states — Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines — turned out to be the most productive in that it reiterated the necessity for a U.S. military presence in the region.
  • Blinken’s trip to Delhi and Kuwait drew attention for its positive outcomes.
  • The India visit was more in the nature of a consultative, confirmatory dialogue rather than one that results in signing of new agreements.
  • Blinken spoke the truth, tipping his hat to India’s strategic autonomy. He defined the Quad as four like-minded countries “coming together to work collectively … on regional challenges, while reinforcing international rules and values”.
  • Together, what do the three visits signal?
  • First, that America’s China policy and the Rest of the Indo Pacific policy will run in tandem, with inner consistency ensured by Mr. Biden.
  • Second, Washington maintains a tough attitude towards Beijing, but it desires to keep the doors open for dialogue. The relationship with China is marked by three characteristics — adversarial, competitive and cooperative — and is likely to stay that way.
  • Third, the U.S. is willing to resist and counter China firmly, but with the full engagement of and contribution by the like-minded states of the region.
  • Therefore, Mr. Austin’s exposition of “integrated deterrence”, defined as “using every military and non-military tool in our toolbox, in lock-step with our allies and partners….”, assumes significance

Why US exit from Afghanistan?

  • Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is not getting out of Afghanistan a defeated nation.
  • It stayed there as long as it needed to, as President Joe Biden stated, achieving its objective “to degrade the terrorist threat to keep Afghanistan from becoming a base from which attacks could be continued against the United States.”
  • The U.S.’s exit from Afghanistan represents a fundamental shift in its strategic objectives
  • it is time for it to move on and focus on more important strategic priorities such as “threats from China, an aggressive Russia, North Korea, and Iran — as well as zoonotic pandemics”.
  • By exiting Afghanistan, the U.S. has left the problem of containing what remains of the Taliban’s brand of Islamic fundamentalism to its concerned neighbours.
  • The most aggrieved by this exit will be the Afghans who, after enduring 20 years of conflict, were looking forward to better times, but are instead being abandoned by the U.S.
  • This is what happened to the South Vietnamese when the U.S. withdrew from the Vietnam war in 1973.
  • With the kind of surveillance that the U.S. and its allies are able to mount on countries and individuals today, it is unlikely that the Taliban will, even if they wrest control of Afghanistan, be in a position to nurture another terrorist like Osama Bin Laden, as they have been accused of doing.
  • It is this confidence, not frustration, that has enabled Mr. Biden to announce American military disengagement in Afghanistan

Insolvency bankruptcy Amendment bill 2021

  • There has been a demand for offering a simplified version of IBC that saves time and cost of bankruptcy proceedings for small businesses in distress.
  • Accordingly, an Ordinance was promulgated in April this year that offered what is called a ‘pre-packaged’ or pre-pack resolution scheme.
  • The IBC (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks to replace this Ordinance.
  • Unlike general bankruptcy provisions, proprietors or major shareholders of a small business do not lose operational control of the enterprise to lenders once a pre-pack insolvency scheme commences.
  • The ‘debtor-in-control’ feature ensures that the business does not suffer any disruption.
  • it was expedient to provide an “efficient alternative insolvency resolution process for corporate persons classified as MSMEs” under the IBC.
  • The idea was to “ensure quicker, cost-effective and value maximising outcomes for all the stakeholders, in a manner which is least disruptive to the continuity of their businesses and which preserves jobs.
  • Almost 60% of the over 13 lakh active companies in the country will be eligible for the pre-pack bankruptcy resolution scheme.
  • That is because a large part of the functional companies fit the definition of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which are incorporated.
  • An MSME which has not met its payment obligation of ₹10 lakh, could either on its own initiate a pre-pack bankruptcy resolution scheme with approval from lenders or lenders representing 66% of the debt of the business could initiate the process.