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Current Affairs 04 May 2024

  1. H5N1 Outbreak Highlights Animal Welfare Concerns in India
  2. ILO Report Urges Climate-Proofing of Labour Conditions
  3. US Federal Reserve Holds Rates Amid Inflation Concerns
  4. INCOIS Study Explores Indian Ocean Floor Mapping
  5. Diplomatic Passport
  6. New Marine Tardigrade Species Named After Chandrayaan-3 Mission


The recent H5N1 outbreak has shed light on significant vulnerabilities in India’s industrial livestock sector, emphasizing the urgent need for a comprehensive reassessment of animal welfare within the country’s environmental and legal frameworks. This outbreak underscores the importance of the One Health principle, which integrates public health, ecosystem health, and biodiversity conservation.


GS III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Issues Faced by the Indian Poultry Industry
  2. Issue of H5N1 Avian Influenza
  3.  Steps Needed to Support the Poultry Industry

Issues Faced by the Indian Poultry Industry

Avian Diseases and Biosecurity

  • Outbreaks of Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease disrupt production and necessitate bird culling, impacting consumption and market stability.
  • Inadequate biosecurity measures in farms and live bird markets contribute to disease spread.

Concerns in Farming Practices

  • Overcrowding and stress in ‘battery cages’ lead to poor air quality, waste accumulation, and environmental pollution.
  • Antibiotic overuse raises concerns about antibiotic resistance and public health risks.

Feed Ingredient Prices and Import Dependency

  • Volatile prices of crucial feed ingredients like corn and soybean meal affect production costs and exacerbate import dependency.

Market Stability and Consumer Perception

  • Rumors and misinformation during disease outbreaks reduce consumption and affect market stability.
  • Limited cold chain infrastructure leads to spoilage and wastage during peak production periods.

Supply Chain Challenges

  • Fragmented supply chains with multiple intermediaries raise transaction costs and hinder farmer profits.
  • Poor transportation infrastructure affects product movement and delivery times.

Regulatory and Financial Issues

  • Overlapping regulations create confusion and compliance challenges for poultry farmers.
  • Limited access to formal credit hampers growth, while finding skilled labor is difficult.

Environmental Impact and Animal Welfare

  • Poultry farming contributes to water pollution and air quality issues without proper waste management.
  • Ensuring animal welfare standards across the industry remains a challenge.

Industry Transition Challenges

  • Exiting the industry is challenging due to contract farming arrangements, accumulated debts, and specialized skills required.

Issue of H5N1 Avian Influenza

  • The outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza underscores the urgent need to address animal welfare.
  • Originating in chickens, the first human infection of H5N1 occurred in 1997 in Hong Kong.
  • India reported its first H5N1 case in Maharashtra in 2006, with subsequent outbreaks spreading across 15 states in December 2020 and early 2021.
  • H5N1 has shown the ability to cross species barriers, causing mortality among polar bears in the Arctic and seals and seagulls in Antarctica, indicating its global impact.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the fatality rate for H5N1 at 52% since 2003, highlighting its severe threat to human health.
Various Provisions Related to the Poultry Sector in India

Status of Poultry Birds in India

  • India has 851.8 million poultry birds, with 30% categorized as ‘backyard poultry’ belonging to small and marginal farmers.
  • Poultry birds such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, and geese are reared for meat and eggs, with Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and West Bengal among the states with the highest poultry populations.
Legal Status of Poultry Units in India

Guidelines for Poultry Farmers, 2021

  • New definitions categorize poultry farmers based on bird count: Small (5,000-25,000 birds), Medium (more than 25,000 and less than 1,00,000 birds), and Large (more than 1,00,000 birds).
  • Medium-sized poultry farms require a Certificate of Consent from the State Pollution Control Board or Committee under the Water Act, 1974, and the Air Act, 1981, for establishment and operation, with permission granted for 15 years.
  • Implementation of guidelines falls under the Animal Husbandry Department at the state and district levels.

Other Provisions

  • Poultry units with over 5,000 birds are classified as polluting industries by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  • The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, prohibits intensive confinement of animals, including chickens, emphasizing animal welfare.
  • The 269th Law Commission of India Report in 2017 proposed draft rules for chicken welfare in meat and egg industries, aiming for improved animal welfare and safer food production.
  • However, the Draft Rules for the egg industry released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare in 2019 are considered inadequate despite recommendations.

 Steps Needed to Support the Poultry Industry

  • Infrastructure Development: Invest in infrastructure such as poultry farms, hatcheries, processing plants, and transportation facilities to enhance the efficiency and capacity of the poultry industry.
  • Research and Development: Support research and development initiatives focused on improving poultry genetics, feed efficiency, disease management, and environmental sustainability.
  • Training and Education: Provide training programs and educational resources for poultry farmers to enhance their knowledge and skills in areas such as animal husbandry, biosecurity, and sustainable farming practices.
  • Access to Finance: Facilitate access to financing options and credit facilities for poultry farmers to invest in modernization, expansion, and technology adoption.
  • Regulatory Support: Implement supportive regulatory frameworks that ensure food safety, animal welfare, environmental protection, and fair competition within the poultry industry.
  • Market Access: Facilitate market access for poultry products through trade agreements, export promotion initiatives, and market development efforts to enhance competitiveness and profitability.
  • Technology Adoption: Encourage the adoption of modern technologies and best practices in poultry farming, including automation, data analytics, precision farming, and renewable energy solutions.
  • Sustainability Initiatives: Promote sustainable practices such as organic farming, pasture-raised systems, waste management, and renewable energy integration to reduce environmental impact and enhance long-term viability.
  • Risk Management: Provide risk management tools and insurance schemes to mitigate risks associated with disease outbreaks, market fluctuations, natural disasters, and other unforeseen challenges.
  • Collaboration and Networking: Foster collaboration among stakeholders in the poultry value chain, including farmers, processors, suppliers, researchers, government agencies, and consumer groups, to address common challenges and seize opportunities for growth and innovation.

-Source: The Hindu


The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently released a report titled “Ensuring safety and health at work in a changing climate” to address the global health threats faced by workers. The report highlights the urgent need to climate-proof the future of labour and adapt to the evolving work environment due to climate change. It reveals that over a third of the world’s population is exposed to excessive heat annually, leading to nearly 23 million work-related injuries. The ILO emphasizes the necessity for an overhaul of existing Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) protections and laws to address the evolving risks posed by climate change, which have resulted in worker mortality and morbidity.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Emerging Hazards
  2. Sectors Affected the Most
  3. Laws Addressing Workplace Safety

Emerging Hazards

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) identifies six key impacts of climate change:
    • Excessive heat
    • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation
    • Extreme weather events
    • Workplace air pollution
    • Vector-borne diseases
    • Agrochemicals
  • These hazards can result in health issues such as stress, stroke, and exhaustion.
  • Agriculture workers, construction workers, conservancy workers, and those in transport and tourism are most affected by climate change.
  • Gig employment, a rapidly growing sector in India, is highly susceptible to heat-related hazards, comprising workers from ride-hailing apps, food and groceries delivery, home repair services, and courier services.
  • Approximately 80% of India’s workforce of 600 million in 2023 is susceptible to heat-related hazards, surpassing the entire current population of South America.

Sectors Affected the Most

Agriculture Sector:
  • Globally, agriculture is the most heat-susceptible sector, particularly in the developing world, where informal farm laborers lack adequate weather protection.
  • About 45.76% of India’s workforce was engaged in the agriculture and allied sector in 2022-23, a decrease from three decades ago.
  • Nearly 90% of Indian farmers own less than two hectares of land, earning modest incomes, with some in states like Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal earning as low as ₹4,895 per month.
  • Many farmers are in debt and lack access to modern agricultural technology, hindering their ability to adapt to climate change.
  • Communities have begun adjusting work timings to mitigate heat exposure, and the ILO recommends increasing hydration points, breaks, and rest shelters in plantations.
Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Sector:
  • India’s MSME sector employs over 123 million workers, contributing significantly to exports and manufacturing output.
  • Despite its size, the sector is largely informal, lacking oversight from State Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) departments, leaving workers vulnerable to heat hazards.
Building & Construction Sector:
  • With around 70 million workers, the building and construction sector comprises nearly 12% of India’s workforce.
  • Workers in this sector face challenges from the urban heat island effect and are prone to physical injuries and air pollution-related health issues, especially in cities with high pollution levels.

Laws Addressing Workplace Safety

  • India has over 13 central laws regulating working conditions across various sectors, including:
    • The Factories Act, 1948
    • The Workmen Compensation Act, 1923
    • The Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996
    • The Plantations Labour Act, 1951
    • The Mines Act, 1952
    • The Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979
  • These laws were consolidated and amended in September 2020 under the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 (OSH Code, 2020).
  • Despite criticisms from unions regarding diluted safety and inspection standards, the Union government has not yet officially notified its enforcement, leading unions and the judiciary to continue relying on older laws for redress and accountability.
  • The Factories Act defines a factory as an enterprise with “10 or more” workers, but the majority of India’s 64 million MSMEs are not registered under this law, thus evading governmental inspections.

Provisions Regarding Heat Hazards

  • The Factories Act broadly defines “ventilation and temperature,” leaving it to the states to determine optimal standards for specific industries.
  • However, these regulations were formulated decades ago, with Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu setting rules in 1963 and 1950, respectively, mentioning a maximum wet bulb temperature of 30°C and requiring “adequate air movement of at least 30 meters per minute.”

Provisions Regarding Other Climate Hazards

  • The OSH 2020 Code attempts remediation, but a clause allowing online inspection of safety by enterprises raises concerns about compromising an already weakly implemented law.

-Source: Indian Express


The US Federal Reserve recently announced its decision to maintain its benchmark interest rate unchanged, citing a rise in inflation. The Fed indicated that it would closely monitor incoming price data before considering any rate cuts. This decision contrasts with earlier predictions by analysts, who anticipated a rate cut at the Fed’s May 1 meeting and three cuts in total for 2024.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Inflation in US
  2. Importance of Signals from the US Fed
  3. Impact on Other Markets, including India

Inflation in US

  • The consumer price index in the US increased by 0.4% month-on-month and surged 3.5% year-on-year, according to data from the US Labour Department’s Bureau of Labour Statistics released on April 10.
  • The US Fed Chair emphasized that inflation was still too high and ruled out rate cuts until price growth moves down towards its 2% target.
  • There is uncertainty regarding making more progress in reducing inflation and the future course.

Importance of Signals from the US Fed

Monetary Policy and Its Impact

  • Similar to other central banks like the RBI, the US Federal Reserve uses monetary policy to influence employment and inflation.
  • Policy tools control the availability and cost of credit in the economy, with the federal funds rate being the main tool. Changes in this rate affect other interest rates.

Impact on Borrowing Costs

  • Lower interest rates make borrowing cheaper for households and businesses.
  • Reduced borrowing costs encourage households to spend more on goods and services.
  • Businesses are prompted to borrow for expansion and investment projects.
  • By adjusting interest rates, the Federal Reserve aims to stimulate or slow economic activity, impacting employment levels and inflation.

Impact on Growth Cycle

  • Increased demand for goods and services leads to higher wages and stimulates the growth cycle.
  • While the link between monetary policy, inflation, and employment is not immediate, it plays a crucial role in controlling prices and fostering growth.

Significance for Emerging Market Economies

  • A signal to cut policy rates in the US is positive for emerging market economies, particularly from a debt market perspective.
  • Emerging economies like India typically have higher inflation and interest rates compared to developed countries.
  • Investors borrow at lower US interest rates in dollars and invest in bonds of countries like India in rupee terms to earn higher interest rates.

Impact on Other Markets, including India

Currency Carry Trade Potential:

  • A US Federal Reserve rate cut could widen the interest rate differential between the US and other countries.
  • This enhances the appeal of countries like India for currency carry trade.
  • Currency carry trade involves borrowing from a low-interest currency to purchase a high-interest currency.
  • Goal: Profit from the interest rate difference, which can be significant with leverage.

Boost for Global Economic Expansion:

  • Lower US rates signal a push for growth in the US economy.
  • Positive outlook for US growth is beneficial for global economic expansion.
  • Particularly important amid concerns over China’s real estate crisis and slowing growth.
  • Reduced returns in US debt markets may lead investors to shift towards emerging market equities, boosting foreign investor sentiment.

Currency Market Dynamics:

  • Inflows of funds driven by lower US rates can influence currency markets.
  • Changes in currency valuations may occur, impacting global trade dynamics and financial markets.

Impact on RBI’s Policy Decisions:

  • Likelihood of future rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) partly depends on US Fed’s rate decisions.
  • RBI recently kept the repo rate unchanged at 6.5% for the seventh consecutive time on April 5.
  • Expectations of a rate cut later this year are raised, contingent upon the US Fed’s benchmark rate cuts.

-Source: Indian Express


Scientists at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) have recently undertaken a study aimed at mapping the Indian Ocean floor. This endeavor seeks to gain deeper insights into ocean currents and dynamics.


Facts for Prelims

Key Highlights of the Study:

Influence of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Maldives:

  • Significantly influence direction and speed of Indian Ocean currents.
  • Create deep-swirling patterns opposite to surface currents.

Improvements in Ocean Modelling:

  • Previous systems underestimated coastal currents around India.

Incorporating accurate bathymetry data resulted in:

  • Better predictions of upper ocean salinity, temperature, and currents near the coast.
  • Realistic estimation of the East India Coastal Current (EICC) flow at deeper depths (1,000 and 2,000 meters).

East India Coastal Current (EICC):

  • Western boundary current of the Bay of Bengal.
  • Reverses direction twice a year.
  • Flows northeastward along the Indian coast from February to September.
  • Reverses southward along Indian and Sri Lankan coasts from October to January.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Maldives Impact:

  • Identification of a boundary current along the Andaman and Nicobar Islands coast at 2,000 meters depth.
  • Understanding Maldives Islands’ influence on the Equatorial Under Current (EUC).

Importance of Accurate Oceanographic Forecasting:

  • Vital for the maritime industry and economic benefits.
  • Crucial for weather, climate, and maritime industry.
  • Improved observations and models essential for precision predictions.

Need for Accurate Bathymetry Data:

  • Essential for incorporating into ocean circulation models.
  • Aids in forecasting for the Indian subcontinent and nearby regions.

-Source: Indian Express


Recently, embroiled in a sex abuse case, one of the Indian political Party’s Member of Parliament (MP) fled to Germany on a diplomatic passport.


Facts for Prelims

Diplomatic Passport Overview

  • Appearance and Validity:
    • Maroon cover.
    • Valid for five years or less.
  • Privileges and Immunities:
    • Holders entitled to privileges and immunities under international law.
    • Includes immunity from arrest, detention, and certain legal proceedings in host country.
Issuing Authority
  • Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Consular, Passport & Visa Division
    • Issues diplomatic passports (‘Type D’ passports) to individuals falling into five categories:
    • Diplomatic status holders.
    • Government-appointed individuals for official business.
    • Officers of Indian Foreign Service (IFS) branches A and B, typically Joint Secretary rank and above.
    • Relatives and immediate family of IFS and MEA officers.
    • Select individuals authorized for official government travel.
Revocation of Passport
  • Passport Act 1967 governs revocation.
  • Passport authority may cancel passport with Central government approval.
  • Grounds for revocation include wrongful possession, suppression of information, court orders prohibiting departure from India, or criminal court proceedings.
Operational Visa Exemption Agreement

India’s Agreements:

  • Operational visa exemption agreements for diplomatic passport holders with 34 countries, including Germany.
  • Reciprocal deal with Germany since 2011 exempts Indian diplomatic passport holders from visa requirement for stays up to 90 days.

Similar Agreements:

  • India has similar agreements with countries like France, Austria, Afghanistan, Czech Republic, Italy, Greece, Iran, and Switzerland.
  • Additionally, agreements with 99 other countries provide visa exemption for stays up to 90 days for diplomatic, service, and official passport holders.

-Source: Indian Express


Researchers at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) have discovered a new species of marine tardigrade along the southeast coast of Tamil Nadu. Named Batillipes chandrayaani, the species pays homage to the Chandrayaan-3 moon mission.


Facts for Prelims

About Batillipes Chandrayaani


  • Found in intertidal beach sediments at Mandapam, Tamil Nadu.


  • Size: 0.15 millimeters in length, 0.04 millimeters in width.
  • Trapezoid-shaped head.
  • Four pairs of legs with sharp-tipped sensory spines.
  • Both sexes similar in morphology and size.
  • 39th species described under the genus Batillipes.


  • Commonly known as ‘water bears.’
  • Microscopic marvels found in diverse environments.
  • Marine tardigrades make up 17% of all known species, found in oceans worldwide.


  • Despite their small size, tardigrades are incredibly resilient.
  • Endure mass extinctions and extreme environmental conditions.
  • Highly regarded for their survival skills and ability to withstand harsh environments.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024