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Current Affairs 07 June 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Kosovo-Serbia Conflict
  2. KFON: Kerala’s scheme for internet connectivity for all households
  3. IRENA Report: Low-cost finance for energy transition
  4. Denial of Property Rights to ST Women Under Hindu Succession Act
  5. Norovirus
  6. Van Dhan Vikas Kendras
  7. Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR)

Kosovo-Serbia Conflict


Context:

Serbian protesters and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) peacekeepers recently clashed in Kosovo, leading to more than 60 injuries. It is the most serious violence seen in the region in over a decade.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What factors are contributing to the current tension?
  2. Kosovo-Serbia Conflict
  3. Current Status of Kosovo
  4. India’s Stand on the Status of Kosovo

What factors are contributing to the current tension?

  • Ethnic Divide: There is a longstanding divide between ethnic Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo. Northern Kosovo, where tensions are particularly high, has a majority Serbian population.
  • Blockade of Albanian Mayors: Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo have attempted to block Albanian mayors from assuming their positions in local councils. This has further escalated tensions between the two communities.
  • Boycott of Local Elections: In April 2023, Serbs in northern Kosovo boycotted the local elections, resulting in a very low voter turnout of less than 3.5%. As a result, the election results were rejected by the Serbs, who viewed them as illegitimate.

Kosovo-Serbia Conflict:

Serbia and Kosovo:
  • Serbia is a landlocked country in eastern Europe, while Kosovo is a small landlocked region southwest of Serbia.
  • Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s statehood.
  • Ethnic and Religious Composition:
  • Kosovo is home to different ethnic and religious groups, with the majority being Albanians (92%) and a minority of Serbs (6%).
  • Serbs are primarily Eastern Orthodox Christians, while Albanians in Kosovo are predominantly Muslim. Other minority groups include Bosnians and Turks.
The Battle of Kosovo:
  • Serbian nationalists view the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 as a significant moment in their national struggle.
  • Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians see Kosovo as their own and accuse Serbia of occupation and repression.
Breakup of Yugoslavia:
  • Yugoslavia was a country in the Balkans from 1945 to 1992, composed of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.
  • Nationalism and weakening central government led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, with each republic becoming independent.
  • Slovenia was the first to secede in 1991, and nationalist rhetoric fueled fear and mistrust among ethnic groups.
  • In 1998, ethnic Albanian rebels formed the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to challenge Serbian rule.
NATO Intervention:
  • NATO intervened in 1999 due to Serbia’s harsh response, leading to a 78-day air campaign against Kosovo and Serbia.
  • Serbia agreed to withdraw its forces from Kosovo, resulting in the return of Albanian refugees and the displacement of many Serbs.
  • Since June 1999, Kosovo has been under international administration, with its final status remaining unresolved. Serbian leaders faced war crimes indictments.

Current Status of Kosovo:

  • Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but Serbia does not recognize it as an independent country.
  • Recognition of Kosovo’s independence varies among different countries.
  • Countries such as India, China, and Russia do not recognize Kosovo as a separate country.
  • The United States, the majority of EU countries, Japan, and Australia recognize Kosovo’s independence.
  • Currently, 99 out of 193 United Nations (UN) member countries recognize Kosovo’s independence.

India’s Stand on the Status of Kosovo:

  • India does not recognize Kosovo as an independent country.
  • India argues that Kosovo does not meet the three principles required for recognition: defined territory, duly constituted government accepted by the people, and effective control over an area of governance.
  • India has opposed Kosovo’s membership in various international bodies, including UNESCO, Apostille Convention, Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, and Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units.
  • India’s non-recognition of Kosovo is based on its support for Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as the two countries have a longstanding relationship.

-Source: The Hindu


KFON: Kerala’s Scheme For Internet Connectivity For All Households


Context:

Recently, The Kerala government officially launched the Kerala Fibre Optical Network (KFON), one of its flagship projects envisaged during the first term of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. KFON: Kerala Fiber Optic Network
  2. The need for KFON
  3. Services provided by KFON

KFON: Kerala Fiber Optic Network

  • KFON is an infrastructure project in Kerala, India, aimed at providing high-speed broadband internet access to all households and government offices.
  • It consists of a 30,000 km optical fiber cable network with 375 Points-of-Presence (PoPs) spread across Kerala.
  • The infrastructure will be shared with all service providers, including cable operators, to ensure widespread connectivity.
Implementation:
  • The cable work for government offices will be undertaken by KFON, while individual beneficiaries will rely on private, local internet service providers (ISPs).
  • Kerala Vision Broadband, an initiative of cable TV operators, currently provides internet service in many districts and will also benefit from the KFON infrastructure.
  • Internet connectivity for households will be facilitated by local ISPs, telecom service providers (TSPs), or cable TV providers.
Objectives:
  • KFON aims to reduce the digital divide by ensuring high-speed broadband internet access for all households and government offices in Kerala.
  • It supports the state’s commitment to the right to internet as a basic right and seeks to promote e-governance and the development of a knowledge-based economy.
Coverage and Speed:
  • In the initial phase, KFON intends to provide connectivity to 30,000 government offices and 14,000 Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.
  • As of June 5, approximately 17,412 government offices and 2,105 houses have been connected, with cable network infrastructure laid down for 9,000 houses.
  • KFON promises internet speeds ranging from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps, enabling improved mobile phone calls and facilitating the transition to 4G and 5G technology when connected to mobile towers in Kerala.

The need for KFON:

  • KFON is positioned by the CPI(M) government in Kerala as part of their alternative model of development and commitment to the public sector.
  • Existing private telecom players have limited infrastructure in rural areas, providing limited bandwidth, and are not motivated to enhance connectivity infrastructure due to low business potential.
  • The Kerala State Wide Area Network (KSWAN) connecting government offices is limited in scope, necessitating the establishment of KFON for efficient service delivery, assured Quality of Service, reliability, interoperability, and security.

Services provided by KFON:

  • Creation of a core network infrastructure with non-discriminatory access for all service providers.
  • Reliable, secure, and scalable intranet connecting government offices and educational institutions.
  • Services include connectivity to government offices, leasing of dark fiber, internet leased line, fiber to the home, Wi-Fi hotspots, colocation of assets, internet protocol television, over-the-top services, and cloud hosting.
  • KFON holds Infrastructure Provider (category one) and Internet Service Provider (category B) licenses granted by the Union Department of Telecommunications.
Benefitting the poor:
  • KFON aims to provide internet connectivity to 20 lakh families below the poverty line.
  • In the initial phase, 14,000 BPL families will receive high-speed internet connections free of cost.
  • Over time, 100 BPL families in each of the state’s 140 Assembly constituencies will be selected to benefit from this scheme.

-Source: Indian Express


IRENA Report: Low-cost Finance For Energy Transition


Context:

A recent report called ‘Low-cost finance for energy transition,’ released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), has recognized and praised India’s outstanding progress in expanding its renewable energy capacity.

Relevance:

GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights of the Report
  2. About International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
  3. About Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA)

Key Highlights of the Report:

Unprecedented Growth in Renewable Energy Sector:
  • India has set ambitious targets of achieving 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and 500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030.
  • The country aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2070, requiring significant investment of around $10 trillion.
Renewable Energy Attractive Index:
  • India ranked third on the index in 2021, reflecting its strong commitment to renewable energy development.
  • The country possesses the fourth-largest solar and wind power base globally and has experienced rapid growth.
  • Comprehensive government policies have played a crucial role in supporting the achievement of national targets.
Praiseworthy role played by :
  • IREDA (Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency) has played a crucial role in financing and commissioning approximately 20 GW of renewable energy capacity.
  • Green bonds have attracted private sector investment, reducing the cost of capital for green projects.
  • The cumulative green bond issuance in India has reached $18.3 billion, with a record issuance of $7 billion in 2021.
  • IREDA has actively promoted emerging technologies such as battery energy storage systems, green hydrogen electrolysers, e-mobility, and waste-to-energy through innovative financing policies.
Supportive Government:
  • The Indian government’s sovereign bond issuance aims to reduce the supply of non-green bonds, resulting in lower overall bond yields.
  • Local banks and insurance companies have shown significant interest in purchasing green bonds, with some involvement from foreign banks as well.
  • Investments in green bonds qualify towards the Reserve Bank of India’s statutory liquidity ratio and are classified as infrastructure investments by insurance companies.
  • Investment in sovereign green bonds is categorized as specified securities, allowing unlimited investment by foreign investors.

About International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

  • Introduction to IRENA: IRENA is an intergovernmental organization that assists countries in their transition towards a sustainable energy future.
  • Establishment and Headquarters: IRENA was established on January 26, 2009, in Bonn, Germany. Its headquarters are located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
  • Membership: IRENA has a membership of 167 countries and the European Union, working together to promote the use of renewable energy worldwide.
  • India’s Membership: India joined IRENA in 2009 as the 77th Founding Member of the organization.
  • UN Observer Status: IRENA is an official United Nations observer, which allows it to participate in UN General Assembly meetings, as well as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

About Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA)

  • The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA) was established on 11th March, 1987 as a Public limited Government Company under the Companies Act, 1956 and it promotes, develops and extends financial assistance for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency/Conservation Projects.
  • The IREDA’s Motto is “Energy for Ever.”
  • The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) is a Non-Banking Financial Institution under the administrative control of this Ministry for providing term loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
  • It offers a credit enhancement guarantee scheme to support the issuance of bonds by wind and solar energy project developers. 
  • By providing unconditional and irrevocable partial credit guarantees, IREDA aims to enhance the credit rating of bonds for renewable energy projects, thereby improving their marketability and liquidity, and attracting lower-cost and longer-term funding for project developers. 
  • The amount raised by credit enhanced bonds shall only serve to repay existing debt partially or fully.
  • IREDA’s long-term objective is to contribute to the development of a bond market for renewable energy projects in India.

-Source: The Hindu


Denial of Property Rights to ST Women Under Hindu Succession Act


Context:    

The Union government is examining whether to issue notification under the Hindu Succession Act to apply beneficial provisions to Scheduled Tribe (ST) women, who profess Hinduism, to enable them to inherit equal share over properties of father/ Hindu Undivided Family (HUF)

Relevance:

GS II: Issues related to women

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Issues Raised Regarding Inheritance Rights for Scheduled Tribe Women
  2. Hindu Succession Act, 1956

Issues Raised Regarding Inheritance Rights for Scheduled Tribe Women

  • Exclusion from Hindu Succession Act: Scheduled Tribe (ST) women who follow Hinduism have been specifically excluded from the beneficial provisions of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956.
  • Unequal Inheritance Rights: This exclusion denies ST women equal rights to inherit ancestral property in comparison to women from other Hindu communities.
  • Inequality in Property Share: As a result, ST women do not have an equal entitlement to their father’s or Hindu Undivided Family’s (HUF) property, leading to ongoing gender disparities and hindrances in their financial empowerment.
  • Discrimination Based on Tribal Identity: Denying ST women equal inheritance rights based on their tribal identity goes against the principles of equality and non-discrimination enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
  • Supreme Court Intervention: In the case of Kamla Neti Vs Special Land Acquisition Officer and Ors., the Supreme Court has directed the Central government to assess whether amendments are required to remove the exemptions provided under the Hindu Succession Act that affect Scheduled Tribes.

Hindu Succession Act, 1956

  • Scope and Applicability: The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 is a codified law that governs the succession and inheritance of property among Hindus. It applies to individuals who are not Muslims, Christians, Parsis, or Jews. Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, and followers of Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj are also considered Hindus under this law.
  • Male-Centric Tradition: Traditionally, the law recognized only male descendants as legal heirs in a joint Hindu family, along with their mothers, wives, and unmarried daughters. They held the family property jointly.
  • Amendment in 2005: The Act was amended in September 2005 to grant equal rights to women as coparceners. Section 6 of the Act was amended to make daughters of coparceners coparceners by birth, with the same rights and liabilities in the ancestral property as sons.
  • Class I Heirs: The Act categorizes relatives into different classes of heirs. Class I heirs include the deceased’s children, grandchildren, and their respective mothers. If there are no Class I heirs, the property passes to Class II heirs, which include the father, son’s daughter’s son, brother, sister, father’s widow, brother’s widow, etc.
  • Testamentary Succession: The Act recognizes testamentary succession, allowing individuals to dispose of their property through a valid will, subject to legal requirements and restrictions.
  • Rights of Widows: The Act acknowledges the rights of widows to inherit property from their deceased husbands. A widow has a share in the property left by her husband, along with other legal heirs.

-Source: The Hindu


Norovirus


Context:

Twenty-five crew members and 152 of the 2,144 passengers onboard the 2023 voyage of the Celebrity Summit recently reported norovirus symptoms.

Relevance:

GS II- Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is norovirus?
  2. What are the symptoms?
  3. What precautions can one take?
  4. Treatment

What is norovirus?

  • Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that is also sometimes referred to as the ‘stomach flu’ or the ‘ winter vomiting bug’.
  • It can be transmitted through contaminated food, water, and surfaces.
  • The primary route is oral-faecal.
  • It is similar to diarrhoea-inducing rotavirus and infects people across age groups.
  • Disease outbreaks typically occur aboard cruise ships, in nursing homes, dormitories, and other closed spaces.
  • According to the WHO, emerging evidence suggests that “norovirus infection is associated with intestinal inflammation, malnutrition and may cause long-term morbidity”.
  • It adds that an estimated 685 million cases of norovirus are seen annually, including 200 million cases amongst children under 5

What are the symptoms?

  • The initial symptoms of norovirus are vomiting and/or diarrhoea, which show up one or two days after exposure to the virus.
  • Patients also feel nauseous, and suffer from abdominal pain, fever, headaches and body aches.
  • In extreme cases, loss of fluids could lead to dehydration.

What precautions can one take?

  • One may get infected multiple times as the virus has different strains.
  • Norovirus is resistant to many disinfectants and can withstand heat up to 60°C.
  • Therefore, merely steaming food or chlorinating water does not kill the virus. The virus can also survive many common hand sanitisers.
  • The basic precaution is also the most obvious — repeatedly washing hands with soap after using the lavatory or changing diapers.
  • It is important to wash hands carefully before eating or preparing food.

Treatment:

  • The disease is self-limiting. The infection, even though it takes a lot out of the patient, normally lasts only two or three days, and most individuals who are not very young, very old, or malnourished can ride it out with sufficient rest and hydration.
  • Diagnosis is done by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.
  • No vaccines are available for the disease.
  • It is important to maintain hydration in the acute phase. In extreme cases, patients have to be administered rehydration fluids intravenously.

-Source: Indian Express


Van Dhan Vikas Kendras


Context:

Around 120 tribal women members of the Odisha state’s Van Dhan Vikas Kendras prepare laddus, cakes, jam, toffees, pickles, squash, pakodas and biscuits using dry mahua flowers and supply them in the local market.

Relevance:

GS II: Government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Van Dhan Vikas Kendras
  2. Mahua Tree

About Van Dhan Vikas Kendras:

  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) launched the Van Dhan scheme in 2018 to improve tribal income through the value addition of tribal products.

Structure and Functioning:

Formation and Clustering:
  • VDVKs are established as self-help groups (SHGs) or tribal cooperatives.
  • They bring together tribal gatherers and artisans involved in the collection and processing of forest produce.
  • The gatherers are organized into clusters based on their geographical proximity.
Skill Development:
  • VDVKs provide skill development and capacity-building training to tribal gatherers.
  • The training focuses on various aspects such as sustainable harvesting, primary processing, value addition, packaging, branding, and marketing.
Value Addition and Processing:
  • VDVKs facilitate value addition to the collected forest produce.
  • They promote activities like grading, sorting, processing, packaging, and manufacturing of products from forest resources.
  • This adds value to the products, increases their marketability, and generates higher income for tribal gatherers.
Marketing and Linkages:
  • VDVKs assist in marketing the processed forest produce by establishing market linkages.
  • They connect tribal entrepreneurs with potential buyers, wholesalers, retailers, and export markets.
  • This helps in creating a sustainable market for the tribal products and ensures fair prices for the gatherers.
Support and Finance:
  • VDVKs receive support and financial assistance from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and other relevant agencies.
  • They can avail loans, grants, subsidies, and technical support for their operations and infrastructure development.
  • The financial assistance aims to strengthen the VDVKs and enhance the income-generating potential of tribal entrepreneurs.
Impact and Benefits:
  • VDVKs empower tribal gatherers by providing them with a platform for collective action and entrepreneurship.
  • They contribute to poverty alleviation, rural development, and socio-economic upliftment of tribal communities.
  • VDVKs promote sustainable utilization of forest resources, conservation of biodiversity, and preservation of traditional tribal knowledge.
  • The initiative creates employment opportunities, reduces migration, and promotes inclusive growth in tribal regions.

Mahua Tree

The Mahua tree (Madhuca longifolia) is a plant widely cultivated and harvested in Southern Asia for its edible flowers and oil seeds. Here are some important facts about this remarkable tree:

Common Names:

  • The Mahua tree is known by various names such as madhūka, madkam, mahuwa, Butter Tree, mahua, mahwa, mohulo, Iluppai, Mee, or vippa chettu.

Adaptability:

  • This species is frost-resistant and can thrive in marginal areas of dry tropical and subtropical forests. It can grow at altitudes ranging from 1200 to 1800 meters.

Habitat:

  • Mahua trees can be found scattered in pastures, crop fields in central India, and along river banks in semi-evergreen forests. They have adapted to diverse ecological conditions.

Climate Requirements:

  • The Mahua tree flourishes in regions with an annual rainfall between 500 mm and 1500 mm. It can tolerate temperatures ranging from 2 to 46°C, showcasing its adaptability to different climates.

Soil Preferences:

  • It prefers loamy or sandy-loam soils with good drainage. However, it can also be found on shallow stony, clayey, and calcareous soils, indicating its ability to grow in diverse soil conditions.

-Source: Down To Earth


Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR)


Context:

A 15-year-old tiger has died after being found in an injured condition near the Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR) in Madhya Pradesh’s Balaghat district.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR)
  2. Significant Features

Kanha Tiger Reserve (KTR)

  • Kanha Tiger Reserve, also known as Kanha National Park, is the largest national park in Madhya Pradesh, India.
  • It is situated in the Mandla and Balaghat districts of Madhya Pradesh, within the Maikal range of Satpuras, which forms the central Indian highlands.
  • Kanha National Park was established on 1 June 1955 and later designated as a tiger reserve in 1973.
  • Some believe that the forest depicted in Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel, The Jungle Book, was inspired by jungles including this reserve.

Significant Features

  • Kanha Tiger Reserve holds the distinction of being the first tiger reserve in India to introduce an official mascot named “Bhoorsingh the Barasingha.”
  • The park is renowned for its efforts in conserving the Barasingha, the state animal of Madhya Pradesh, from near extinction.

Flora:

  • The lowland forest in Kanha is a blend of sal (Shorea robusta) and other mixed forest trees, interspersed with meadows.
  • The highland forests exhibit a different character, featuring tropical moist dry deciduous trees and slopes covered with bamboo (Dendrocalamus strictus).

Fauna:

  • Kanha Tiger Reserve is home to a significant population of Royal Bengal Tigers, making it an important habitat for these majestic creatures.
  • Other notable wildlife species found in the reserve include leopards, sloth bears, Indian wild dogs, and a diverse range of flora and fauna.

-Source: The Hindu


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