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Evening News Digest: 23 October 2018

“Harit Diwali-Swasth Diwali” campaign

  • Environment Ministry has launched Harit Diwali, Swasth Diwali campaign.
  • This campaign was initiated in 2017-18 wherein large number of school children participated and took pledge to minimize bursting of crackers in Delhi NCR region.
  • It was quite successful in limiting the air pollution post Diwali.
  • This time it has been launched at Pan Indian level.
  • The Harit Diwali-Swasth Diwali campaign is now merged with “Green Good Deed” movement that has been initiated as a social mobilization for conservation and protection of environment.
  • Air Pollution in Delhi/NCR and North India

    • Every year in every autumn Delhi and other North Indian states prepare for festive season and government prepares for how to tackle the air pollution.
    • It’s not only crackers which cause air pollution but it is more attributed to dust rising from construction, burning of crop residue in several areas (Punjab and Haryana), vehicle exhaust emissions, and as in winter the air becomes denser the air pollution becomes problematic.
    • Delhi is one of the most polluted cities of the world but Banaras is the most polluted city of the world, according to the WHO report.
  • What is the problem?

    • Air pollution kills 7 million people every year around the globe.
    • About 25% deaths related to heart disease, stroke and lung cancer are cause by air pollution.
    • In Delhi, the most dangerous particle in the air are sometimes 10 times higher than the safe level.
  • How it is measured?

    • It is measured through Air Quality Index (AQI).
    • It includes five main pollutants like air particulate, ground-level gas density, carbon monoxide gas content, sulphur dioxide content and gas content.
    • Pollutants mainly included fine particulate matters, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone gas, and nitrogen dioxide.
    • Fine particulate matter also called PM2.5 in technical terms is an air pollutant that is a concern for people's health when levels in air are high. It is more harmful as particulate diameter is 2.5 microns in size.
  • The Business of Air

    • As water was once freely available but pollution forced people to switch for distilled and packaged drinking water.
    • Similarly, to breathe fresh air that is available free now won’t be freely available in the future.
    • The Air Purifier sales are growing in Asian and African countries as people are becoming concerned about their health.

India, China sign agreement on security cooperation

  • India and China on 22 Oct signed a first-ever agreement on security cooperation marking a new beginning between the two countries.
  • The agreement was signed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and China’s State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi.
  • Note: Currently, India does not have an extradition treaty with China, nor a pact to exchange each other’s sentenced prisoners.
  • Major Disputes between India and China

  • Border Disputes

    • In 1962, the two countries fought a brief war in Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, in which the Chinese People’s Liberation Army handed the Indian Army a comprehensive defeat.
    • Aksai Chin is administered by China but India claims to be a part of Jammu and Kashmir.
    • Indian state Arunachal Pradesh is claimed by China as South Tibet.
  • Stapled Visas

    • China sometimes issues a stapled visa to resident of Arunachal Pradesh as China says they don’t need visa to visit their own country.
    • It is a major flashpoint between India and China.
  • Tibet and Dalai Lama

    • Tibet being independent since 1913 was invaded by Chinese army in 1950.
    • In 2003, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee officially recognized the Tibet Autonomous region as integral part of Chins.
    • Dalai Lama, the spiritual guru with thousands of his supporters got refuse in India in 1950.
    • China accuses India of supporting anti-China activities by providing asylum to Dalai Lama.
  • String of Pearls

    • The route, which China claims as an important trade corridor, extends from its naval base in Hainan Island (South China Sea) to Bagamayo in Tanzania, Africa, with several of the ports encircling mainland India.
    • These include Hambantota (Sri Lanka), Gwadar (Pakistan), Chittagong (Bangladesh) and Marao Atoll (Maldives).
    • It’s a perception security dilemma as India sees itself encircled by China developed ports around the Indian Ocean.
  • Water Dispute

    • China is planning to build several dams on Brahmaputra which originates in Tsangpo in Tibet.
    • It is the main river of Northeast India and any upper level construction by China will disturb the flow.
  • Trade Imbalance

    • India has a massive trade deficit with China.
    • Decreasing Indian exports aside, strong Chinese regulatory systems have put off exports from India, especially from sectors like information technology (IT), meat and pharmaceuticals, where India is believed to have the upper hand.

India, Croatia sign two agreements

  • India and Croatia signed two agreements on 23 Oct to strengthen cultural and diplomatic cooperation between the two countries. 
  • The agreements were signed following External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Croatia Marija Pejčinović Burić in New Delhi.
  • Croatia

    • Croatia is an Eastern European country with a long coastline on the Adriatic Sea. 
    • It is also bordered by Slovenia to the northwest, Hungary to the north, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Serbia in the east, and Montenegro to the south.

ITER research project: India takes lead in delivering equipment

  • India has taken a lead over others nations in delivering equipment to France for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) research project which is aimed at generating energy through nuclear fusion.
  • India is one of the seven member entities including China, USA, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the European Union for the ITER, which is coming up in southern France.
  • ITER is a large-scale scientific experiment that aims to demonstrate that it is possible to produce commercial energy from fusion.
  • Nuclear Fusion

    • It is joining together of two nuclei of very small weight elements like Hydrogen (which is the lightest element). 
    • When this happens, a more stable and bigger (e.g. Helium) nucleus is formed.
    • The energy that is released is actually usable, and we want to convert that into electricity on earth.
    • Sun, and other stars of its kind has a core where this reaction happens all the time and that is how the energy of sun is produced- all the light and heat.
    • One thing to note is that the fusion takes place at a very high temperature.

Koreas, UN Command agree to demilitarize part of border

  • North Korea and South Korea and the US-led United Nations Command agreed on October 22, to demilitarize a section of the heavily fortified border dividing the peninsula.
  • The three parties agreed to carry out measures to withdraw firearms and guard posts at the Joint Security Area (JSA) by October 25.
  • The JSA, also known as the truce village of Panmunjeom, is the only spot along the tense, 250-kilometer frontier where troops from the two countries stand face to face.
  • Korean War and History

    • From 1910 to 1945, Korea was under the control of the Japanese empire after a long integration process that began with the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1876. After World War II, however, Japan’s imperial possessions were forfeited.
    • The United States and the USSR opted to split the peninsula Korea along the 38th parallel line. The Soviet Union would handle the north, and the United States would take of the south.
    • North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950 as the former declared itself as Communist state, USSR and China supported.
    • In response, USA supported South Korea with UN authorized forces.
    • This was became the climax of cold war and US policy of Containment was on the show.
    • The war ended in 1953 where again both countries were divided on 38th parallel line.
    • A 2 mile wide demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two states were created.
    • It’s been almost 70 years, but the Korean DMZ is still patrolled by troops and guarded with mines and artillery.
    • So the recent rapprochement between North and South Koreas mediated by USA is quite a welcome step to end the mindless rivalry between the two countries.

Cameroon: Paul Biya wins 7th presidential term

  • Cameroon's President Paul Biya has won a seventh term in office in polls
  • According to officials, Me. Biya received more than 70% of the total vote.
  • 85 year old president has been in power since 1982.
  • Cameroon

    • Cameroon is a Central African country situated on the Gulf of Guiena.
    • Its capital is Yaounde.
    • French and English are the official languages of Cameroon.
    • Cameroon heavily depends upon France in its foreign relations.

In urban U.P., 87% of waste from toilets goes to rivers, agri land

  • According to a study conducted by Centre and Science Environment; 87% of the toilet waste (excreta) goes to waterbodies or agricultural land.
  • Highlights of the report:

    • Building more toilets will only worsen the environmental, sanitation and manual scavenging situation, unless sewerage connections increase from the current 28% of households in the 30 cities studied.
    • As there is no designated site for disposal, the emptied faecal sludge ends up in open drains/nullahs/open fields, which eventually lead to polluting the Ganga and other rivers and surface water bodes.
    • In cities with a population over 10 lakh, such as Lucknow, Kanpur and Agra, the sewerage system covers 44% of the population.
    • However, only 28% of that wastewater is safely treated.

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