DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS: 23 March 2024

Ministry of Environment tightens rules on bioplastics

Source: TH

Why in News: The Environment Ministry has recently implemented regulations that impose stricter criteria for labeling disposable plastic products as ‘biodegradable’. These regulations include a requirement for manufacturers of disposable plastic products to ensure the absence of any microplastics residue.Bioplastics : Classification, Types and Uses

What are the primary technological solutions to tackle plastic waste pollution in India?

  • Biodegradable Plastics: This involves treating plastic goods before they are distributed for sale.
  • Compostable Plastics: These plastics degrade but require industrial or large-scale municipal waste management facilities for decomposition.

What are the recent modifications?

According to the new revisions to India’s Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules of 2024, biodegradable plastics will now be defined as materials capable of degradation through biological processes in specific environments such as soil or landfills, while also ensuring they do not leave any microplastics residue.

What are the concerns with the recent changes?

  • Lack of Specificity: The regulations fail to specify which chemical tests can be utilized to determine the absence of microplastics.
  • Absence of Quantitative Guidelines: There is no clarification regarding the threshold for microplastics reduction in a sample to deem them eliminated.
  • Denial of Provisional Certificates: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has declined to issue ‘provisional certificates’ to manufacturers of disposable plastic products seeking biodegradable product licensing.



Ebola

Source: TOI

Why in News: Researchers have recently discovered a novel mechanism by which Ebola replicates within the human body, pinpointing a promising target for drug intervention aimed at thwarting the viral infection.

About Ebola:

Disease Overview:

  • Ebola virus disease (EVD), commonly known as Ebola, is an infrequent yet severe illness affecting humans.
  • It is caused by various species of viruses belonging to the genus Ebolavirus, primarily prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The name “Ebola” originates from the Ebola River, situated near one of the villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the disease was initially identified.

Transmission:

  • Ebola is not as contagious as more prevalent viruses like colds, influenza, or measles.
  • Transmission occurs through contact with the skin or bodily fluids of an infected animal, such as a monkey, chimpanzee, or fruit bat.
  • Subsequently, the virus spreads from person to person through similar means.
  • It is important to note that Ebola cannot be transmitted through air, water, or food, nor can an asymptomatic individual spread the disease.

Outbreaks:

  • Occasional outbreaks of Ebola occur among humans, primarily concentrated in African regions.

Symptoms:

  • Symptoms typically manifest between two to 21 days post-viral exposure.
  • Initially flu-like, symptoms can escalate to severe vomiting, bleeding, and neurological complications involving the brain and nerves.

Treatment:

  • Presently, there is no definitive treatment for Ebola; however, experimental vaccines and therapies are undergoing evaluation.
  • Current management involves maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance, along with administering blood and plasma to manage bleeding.

Mortality:

  • Mortality rates for EVD vary significantly, ranging from 25 percent to 90 percent, with an average of 50 percent.
  • Death often results from shock induced by fluid loss rather than blood loss.



4th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Startup Forum

Source: pib

Why in News: The most recent edition of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Startup Forum was recently hosted in New Delhi.4th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Startup Forum to catalyze innovation  and collaboration - India Shipping News

About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Startup Forum

Objectives:

  • Promoting Entrepreneurship: Sharing best practices to foster entrepreneurship and innovation, thereby establishing knowledge-exchange systems.
  • Corporate and Investor Engagement: Facilitating collaboration between corporates, investors, and startups to offer necessary support and market access to local entrepreneurs.
  • Social Innovation Solutions: Enhancing scaling opportunities for startups by delivering solutions in social innovation and presenting governments with a range of innovative solutions.
  • Cross-Border Programs:Facilitating cross-border incubation and acceleration programs to assist startups in exploring international markets and receiving focused mentorship.
  • Upcoming Events: India is scheduled to host the second meeting of the Special Working Group for Startups and Innovation (SWG) in November 2024 and the SCO Startup Forum 5.0 in January 2025.

Previous Initiatives:

  • SCO Startup Forum 1.0 (2020): Laid the foundation for multilateral cooperation and engagement among SCO Member States’ startups.
  • SCO Startup Forum 2.0 (2021): Held virtually, this two-day forum launched the SCO Startup Hub, serving as a centralized point of contact for the SCO startup ecosystem.
  • SCO Startup Forum 3.0 (2023): Organized by DPIIT, this was the first physical SCO Startup Forum, facilitating interaction among SCO Member States.
  • 1st Meeting of the SWG (2023): The inaugural meeting of the SCO Special Working Group on Startups and Innovation, chaired by India, was organized under the theme ‘Growing from Roots’.

Price stabilization fund

Source: LM

Why in News: The government has recently authorized the incorporation of wheat and rice into its price stabilization fund (PSF).Consumer Affairs on X: "Objectives of Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF)  scheme. #JagoGrahakJago #Consumerprotection #DidYouKnow  #pricestabilisationfund #PSF https://t.co/Kl9zJAxyln" / X

About Price Stabilization Fund (PSF):

Establishment and Transfer:

  • The Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) was established in the fiscal year 2014-15 under the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW). Subsequently, in 2016, the PSF scheme was transferred to the Department of Consumer Affairs (DOCA).

Fund Management:

  • The management of the fund is centralized and overseen by a Price Stabilisation Fund Management Committee (PSFMC), which grants approval to proposals put forth by both State Governments and Central Agencies.
  • The Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) maintains the PSF as a central corpus fund.

Objective:

  • The primary objective of the fund is to stabilize the prices of selected commodities by regulating their distribution or procurement, thus maintaining price stability within a defined range.
  • Typically, the fund is deployed for interventions aimed at either lowering or raising prices, particularly during periods of high or low price volatility.

Functions:

  • Regulating Price Volatility: The PSF plays a crucial role in managing the price volatility of significant agri-horticultural commodities, including onions, potatoes, and pulses, among others.
  • Utilization of Funds: The PSF is utilized to provide interest-free advances of working capital to Central Agencies, State/UT Governments, or Agencies to conduct market intervention operations.
  • Procurement Operations: In addition to domestic procurement from farmers and wholesale mandis, the PSF may also support import activities.
  • Interest-Free Loans: Interest-free loans are extended under the PSF scheme to State Governments/Union Territories (UTs) and Central Agencies to cover their working capital and associated expenses incurred in the procurement and distribution of these commodities.

 

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