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General Studies-02

N. Korea tests ‘hydrogen’ bomb, sparks outrage {IR}

News:

  • North Korea tested a ‘hydrogen’ bomb which it can mount on a missile, declaring its biggest-ever nuclear detonation a “perfect success.”

How hydrogen bombs work

Beyond News:

  • Experts are judging it by the its explosion, and it was appeared to be its most powerful explosion yet.
  • This sparked a strong rebuke from U.S. President Donald Trump who slammed the act “dangerous.”
  • But world reaction to the country’s sixth nuclear test was swift and angry. China rebuked its ally and began emergency monitoring for radiation at its border with the North.
  • Hours before the test, the North released images of leader Kim Jong-un at the Nuclear Weapons Institute, inspecting what it said was a miniaturised H-bomb that could be fitted onto an intercontinental ballistic missile.

No separate labour rights for transgenders{Rights Issues}

News:

The NDA government has dropped plans to recognise transgender persons as the ‘third gender’ in the country’s labour law framework.

Beyond news:

  • In 2014, the Supreme Court had for the first time recognised transgender persons as the ‘third gender’ and asked the Centre and the States to give them equal opportunities in education and employment.
  • But now this reform, part of the Labour Ministry’s draft law to codify wages and aimed at protecting transgender workers from discrimination, has been shelved following reservations expressed by the Law Ministry.
  • The Wages Code Bill was drafted under an exercise to rationalise the country’s 44 labour laws into four codes covering all the regulations pertaining to wages, industrial relations, social security and safety, and health and working conditions.

General Studies-03

Economy outlook still cloudy {Indian Economy}

News:

The government’s move this past week to publish economic data for the April to June quarter of this year needs a look.

Beyond News: 

  • The real growth of GDP, i.e. after removing the impact of inflation, was only 5.7%, much lower than expected.
  • For the past six consecutive quarters, the growth rate has gone down steadily, from 9.2% at the end of the quarter ending March 2016, to 7.9%, 7.5%, 7.0%, 6.1% and now 5.7% at the end of the June quarter.
  • This steady declining trend in the growth rate is all the more troublesome because the economy otherwise enjoys a rather conducive combination of macroeconomic parameters. Inflation has been moderate, and touched a low of 1.5% recently.

Current scenario:

  • Both trade and fiscal deficits are moderate and manageable.
  • The interest rate has been cut repeatedly over the past year and a half.
  • Even oil prices, the bane of the Indian economy, have been stable and comfortably low.
  • Finally, the monsoon has been normal. So despite these favourable macro factors, we have not managed to convert them into a higher growth rate.

Economic Survey:

  • As cautioned in the Economic Survey tabled recently in Parliament, it looks as if the growth rate will be below 7% this fiscal year.
  • That would be a potential loss of 1% growth, which we can legitimately aspire for.
  • In nominal terms, one percentage less of growth translates into a loss of Rs. 1.5 lakh crore of national income.
  • This is a notional loss, or is rather what might have been.
  • It also signifies millions of jobs not created.

‘Give proof of incentivising farmers’ {Agriculture}

News:

  • The National Green Tribunal has directed the governments of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to submit before it specific cases of small farmers being given incentives to desist them from burning crop residue in a bid to prevent air pollution.

Beyond News:

  • A Bench headed by NGT chairman Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the four northern States to submit within three weeks at least 10 such cases.
  • It asked the Additional Chief Secretary, Principal Secretaries and Special Secretary of Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to be present and assure the tribunal that within three weeks they would bring at least 10 cases, of preferably marginal farmers, and provide due incentive, help and means to them, so that they do not follow the traditional methodology of crop residue burning in the field s.
  • The direction came after a group of farmers alleged that the Punjab government was not taking any effective steps on the issue except passing orders and not providing infrastructure or any kind of benefits to them.

Investing in the ecosystem {Environment}

  • In April 2016, while inaugurating the third Asia ministerial conference on tiger conservation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to nature.
  • Invoking the Buddha, he said, “The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness. It affords protection to all beings, offering shade even to the axe-man who destroys it.”
  • Natural resources are a critical yet often ignored part of our country’s national infrastructure.
  • Boasting 11% of the world’s floral and faunal species, India is one of the 17 most ecologically diverse countries.
  • These biomes directly contribute billions of dollars to the Indian economy, annually.
  • The financial value of India’s forests, for example, which encompass economic services such as timber and fuel wood, and ecological services such as carbon sequestration, is estimated to be $1.7 trillion.

‘Earth Overshoot Day’, a figurative calendar date when humanity’s total annual resource consumption for the year overshoots the earth’s capacity to regenerate it, has advanced every year at an alarming rate. This year it was observed on August 2.

  • As we approach the limits of natural capital stocks, we need to rethink the cascading effects that this would have on the economy, the environment and society.
  • Scientists have identified nine earth system processes to have boundaries which mark the safe zones, beyond which there is a risk of ‘irreversible and abrupt environmental change’.

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