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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 9 July 2021

Contents

  1. Dept of Public Enterprises now under Finance Ministry
  2. MEA rejects OIC’s offer
  3. WHO on Deaths by exposure to hazardous chemicals

Dept of Public Enterprises now under Finance Ministry

Context:

The government has reallocated the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) to the Finance Ministry from the Ministry of Heavy Industries in a bid facilitate its ambitious disinvestment programme.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Policies & Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Buildup to this shifting of DPE
  2. About the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE)

The Buildup to this shifting of DPE

  • In their report, the Estimates Committee of 3rd Lok Sabha (1962-67) stressed the need for setting up a centralized coordinating unit, which could also make continuous appraisal of the performance of public enterprises.
  • This led to the setting up of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) in 1965 in the Ministry of Finance.
  • In 1985, BPE was made part of the Ministry of Industry and in 1990, BPE was made a full-fledged Department known as the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE).
  • The 2021 move shifting the DPE to the Ministry of Finance will help in efficient monitoring of the capital expenditure, asset monetisation and financial health of the CPSEs.
  • The DPE will now be the sixth department in the finance ministry besides economic affairs, revenue, expenditure, financial services and Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM).

About the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE)

  • The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) is the nodal department for all the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) [companies in which the direct holding of the Central Government or other CPSEs is 51% or more] and formulates policy pertaining to CPSEs.
  • The DPE lays policy guidelines on performance improvement and evaluation, autonomy and financial delegation and personnel management in CPSEs.
  • The DPE also collects and maintains information in the form of a Public Enterprises Survey on several areas in respect of CPSEs.
  • Other Major Functions of DPE are:
    • Coordination of matters of general policy affecting all Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs).
    • Restructuring or closure of PSEs including the mechanisms.
    • Rendering advice relating to revival.
    • Counselling, training and rehabilitation of employees in CPSEs under Voluntary Retirement Scheme.
    • Categorisation of CPSEs including conferring ‘Ratna’ status, among others.

-Source: The Hindu


MEA rejects OIC’s offer

Context:

Recently, the Ministry of External Affairs rejected the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) proposal to assist a dialogue between India and Pakistan.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Foreign Policies, International Groupings and Organizations)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
  2. India and OIC
  3. About the recent stand taken by OIC on Pakistan

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

  • The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization founded in 1969, consisting of 57 member states, with a collective population of over 1.8 billion as of 2015 with 53 countries being Muslim-majority countries.
  • The organisation states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”.
  • The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union.
  • Some members, especially in West Africa and South America, are – though with large Muslim populations – not necessarily Muslim majority countries.
  • A few countries with significant Muslim populations, such as Russia and Thailand, sit as Observer States.

India and OIC

  • The OIC has been generally supportive of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir, and has issued statements criticising the alleged Indian “atrocities” in the state/Union Territory.
  • In 2018, the OIC General Secretariat had “expressed strong condemnation of the killing of innocent Kashmiris by Indian forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir”.
  • OIC has criticised the Government of India over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and the Babri Masjid verdict of the Supreme Court. OIC has also criticised the Indian government for what it called “growing Islamophobia” in India.
  • In 2019, India made its maiden appearance at the OIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting, as a “guest of honour” and this first-time invitation was seen as a diplomatic victory for India, especially at a time of heightened tensions with Pakistan following the Pulwama attack.
  • At the 45th session of the Foreign Ministers’ Summit in 2018, Bangladesh, the host, suggested that India, where more than 10% of the world’s Muslims live, should be given Observer status, but Pakistan opposed the proposal.
  • India has always maintained that OIC has no locus standi in matters strictly internal to India including that of Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir which is an integral and inalienable part of India.

About the recent stand taken by OIC on Pakistan

  • The OIC offered to arrange a meeting between India and Pakistan and proposed to send a delegation to Jammu & Kashmir in line with resolutions of the OIC council of foreign ministers.
  • Pakistan has repeatedly sought to raise the Kashmir issue at the OIC against the backdrop of India’s dramatically improved relations with several key players in West Asia and in the Islamic organisation, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Indonesia and Bangladesh.
  • The OIC should be watchful that their platform is not subverted by “vested interests” such as Pakistan to interfere in internal affairs of India or for anti-India propaganda through biased and one-sided resolutions.

-Source: The Hindu


WHO on Deaths by exposure to hazardous chemicals

Context:

According to latest estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) Deaths due to exposure to hazardous chemicals worldwide rose in 2019.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Pollution and Environmental degradation), GS-II: International Relations (Internal Treaties and Agreements)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Introduction to Hazardous Chemicals
  2. Highlights of the WHO report on Hazardous Chemicals
  3. Lead Poisoning
  4. International Conventions and Agreements regarding Chemicals

Introduction to Hazardous Chemicals

  • A hazardous chemical is a chemical that has properties with the potential to do harm to human or animal health, the environment, or capable of damaging property.
  • Hazardous chemicals are categorized as follows:
  • Flammable or explosive (e.g., petroleum, TNT, plastic explosives)
  • Irritating or corrosive to skin, lungs, and eyes (e.g., acids, alkali, paints, fumes)
  • Toxic chemicals (e.g., carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, cyanide, heavy metals).

Highlights of the WHO report on Hazardous Chemicals

  • Deaths due to exposure to hazardous chemicals worldwide rose almost 30% in 2019 from what they were in 2016.
  • Two million people died due to exposure to hazardous chemicals in 2019 and around 5000 people died every day due to unintentional exposure to chemicals.
  • Lead Poisoning was responsible for nearly half of the deaths in 2019.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from occupational exposure to particulates (dust, fumes and gas) and cancers from occupational exposure to carcinogens (arsenic, asbestos and benzene), too accounted for a substantial share of the preventable deaths.
  • In 2019, 53 million disability-adjusted life-years were lost (Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) is the sum of the number of years of life lost due to premature death and a weighted measure of the years lived with disability due to a disease or injury.) This is an increase by over 19% since 2016.

Lead Poisoning

  • Lead is added to paints for various reasons, including enhancing the colour, reducing corrosion and decreasing the drying time.
  • Lead exposure causes cardiovascular diseases (CVD), chronic kidney diseases and idiopathic intellectual disability.
  • Just 41% of countries including India, have legally binding controls on the production, import, sale and use of lead paints.
  • Approximately 800 million globally have blood lead levels at or above the permissible quantity (5 micrograms per decilitre (µg/dL) according UNICEF in 2020.

International Conventions and Agreements regarding Chemicals

  • Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) on protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of POPs (i.e., toxic chemicals).
  • Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.
  • Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury and protecting human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury and its compounds.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine

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