CONTENTS

  1. SINO-INDIA BOUNDARY TALKS
  2. INCREASING DEATHS DUE TO MANUAL SCAVENGING
  3. IRON SNOW
  4. CARBON DOTS TO DETECT HERBICIDE POLLUTION
  5. PLANT EXTRACTS AND HEAT CAN KILL CANCER CELLS
  6. BS-VI PRE-BUYING TO BOOST DEMAND
  7. HOMO ERECTUS SETTLEMENT

SINO-INDIA BOUNDARY TALKS

Why in News?

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a statement after 22nd Sino-India Boundary talks, led by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi.

Talks were held under the framework of Special Representatives’ dialogue.

Details

  • Both parties resolved to intensify their efforts to achieve a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution.
  • Both sides agreed that it was important to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas for overall bilateral relationship.
  • Both countries are planning on 70 events to celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties next year.
  • This meeting was significant as China has been critical of India’s decision to end the special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

INCREASING DEATHS DUE TO MANUAL SCAVENGING

  • The deaths have been higher in states like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh where there has been rapid and unplanned urbanisation.
  • Reducing human intervention in cleaning septic tanks and sewers is important to bring these numbers down.

Background

  • Manual scavenging refers to the practice of manually cleaning, carrying, disposing or handling in any manner, human excreta from dry latrines and sewers.
  • The practise of manual scavenging is linked to India’s caste system where so-called lower castes were expected to perform this job.
  • Manual scavengers are amongst the poorest and most disadvantaged communities in India.
  • Frequent deaths occur as manual scavengers don’t even have adequate tools and protective gear to clean the manhole. It often involves using the most basic of tools such as buckets, brooms and baskets.
  • However, while manual scavenging for many may have ended as a form of employment, the stigma and discrimination associated with it lingers on.
    • This makes it difficult for liberated manual scavengers to secure alternative livelihoods.
    • People could once again return to manual scavenging in the absence of other opportunities to support their families.
  • Correctly identifying manual scavengers remains a key challenge.

Related legislation

Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993.

  • Prohibition of employment of manual scavengers for manually cleaning dry latrines and also the construction of dry toilets (that do not operate with a flush), providing for imprisonment.

Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

  • Wider in scope and importance, acknowledging the urgency of rehabilitating manual scavengers.
  • The act seeks to reinforce this ban by prohibiting manual scavenging in all forms and ensures the rehabilitation of manual scavengers to be identified through a mandatory survey.
  • Features:
    • Prohibits the construction or maintenance of insanitary toilets.
    • Prohibits the engagement or employment of anyone as a manual scavenger violations could result in a years’ imprisonment or a fine of INR 50,000 or both.
    • Prohibits a person from being engaged or employed for hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank.
    • Offences under the Act are cognizable and non-bailable.
    • Calls for a survey of manual scavengers in urban and rural areas within a time-bound framework.

The Government of India has adopted a two-pronged strategy of eliminating insanitary latrines through demolition and conversion into sanitary latrines and developing a comprehensive rehabilitation package for manual scavengers through a survey


IRON SNOW

  • The Earth’s inner core is capped by snow made of tiny particles of iron, a study published in the journal JGR Solid Earth finds.
  • The iron­ snow falls from the molten outer core and piles up in the inner-core of the Earth creating stacks that are up to 320 km thick.

Significance

  • Decades of studies on sound waves bouncing around inside our planet show they slowdown in an unusual way when they pass through the lower layers of the outer core. This iron snowfall will create a material that would slow down seismic waves in just the right way.
  • The data suggests there’s a marked difference in how the waves are transmitted on either side of the core, slowing down more across the western surface than the eastern. It’s almost as if the core is covered in something viscous, and that coating isn’t uniform all the way around.
  • The Iron snow can also explain why the core isn’t a perfect sphere.

CARBON DOTS TO DETECT HERBICIDE POLLUTION

  • Using the commonly found invasive plant water hyacinth to produce carbon nanoparticles is a waste-­to-wealth feat.
  • These Carbon Dots can be used for detecting a commonly used herbicide, pretilachlor, hence making it possible to detect contamination and pollution.
  • When a nanoparticle is less than 10 nanometre we call it a dot or nano-dot.

PLANT EXTRACTS AND HEAT CAN KILL CANCER CELLS

  • Lipid-­based nanoparticles encapsulating chlorophyll-rich extract of a medicinal plant Anthocephalus cadamba  and a near-­infrared dye has been found to selectively kill cancer cells when exposed to near-­infrared light.
  • The extract showed selectivity in killing only cancer cells; the extract released inside normal cells caused insignificant cell death.
  • The nanoparticles, which encapsulate the extract, had no adverse effect on mice, indicating their biocompatibility

BS-VI PRE-BUYING TO BOOST DEMAND

  • BS VI norms are kicking in from the next financial year.
  • Demand would improve in the January-March quarter as a result of pre-buying and avoiding purchase of BS-IV Vehicles
  • BS VI vehicles would raise the cost of ownership- But fuel efficiency and productivity improvements brought in through the new technology would be key value propositions

Background

Bharat Stage Norms

  • Bharat stage (BS) emission standards are emission standards instituted by Central Government to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.
  • The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under Ministry of Environment & Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • These standards are based on European regulations were first introduced in 2000.

BS-VI

  • The Union Government (in October 2016) had decided to skip one stage and migrate to BS-VI directly from BS-IV from April 2020 to fight the growing pollution.
  • At present, all new vehicles being registered are BS- IV-emission compliant.
  • By switching to BS-VI, India will join league of US, Japan and European Union, which follow Euro Stage VI emission norms.

Implications of BS-VI standard on environment

  • BS-IV fuels contain 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, while BS-V and BS-VI grade fuel will have 10 ppm sulphur.
  • It will also bring down NOx emissions from diesel cars by 68% and 25% from petrol engine cars.
  • Cancer causing particulate matter emissions from diesel engine cars will also come down by a phenomenal 80%.

HOMO ERECTUS SETTLEMENT

  • The last known settlement of Homo erectus was situated in Ngandong on the Indonesian island of Java.
  • According to the researchers, the human ancestors existed on the Indonesian island between 1,08,000 and 1,17,000 years ago.

Background

  • Humans are just one ape on the primate family tree. We, along with the other apes, split off from chimps around six or seven million years ago.
  • After that, various upright walking apes from several genera evolved.
  • All of the upright walking species, including us, are called hominids, from family Hominidae.
  • We are Homo sapiens, belonging to the genus Homo.
  • There are several extinct members of genus Homo.
  • One is Homo neanderthalensis, with whom we have interbred, while another is Homo habilis, who was known for being one of the early stone tool users.
  • Homo erectus is another fellow member of our genus –
    • First to leave Africa and the first to master the use of fire. This may have helped them migrate and adapt to different climates in parts of Asia. They also made complex stone tools, a technique which they passed on to succeeding generations for more than a million years
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