[Mission 2024] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 28 May 2024 – Insights IAS

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Table of Contents:

GS Paper 3:

  1. State of Fire safety standards in India

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Global Species Action Plan Online Knowledge Platform (GSAP SKILLS)
  2. Manama Declaration
  3. India’s Trade Deficit
  4. WIPO Treaty
  5. AstroSat
  6. Nephrotic syndrome
  7. National Fossil Park in Ghugwa, Madhya Pradesh

Mapping

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  1. Indonesia’s Mount Ibu

State of Fire safety standards in India

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Disaster Management

 

Source: BS

 

Context: Recent tragedies at a children’s hospital in Delhi and a gaming zone in Rajkot, claiming 34 lives, have underscored the state of safety standards in India.

 In the Delhi hospital fire, seven newborns died, and concerns were raised about illegal cylinder refilling. The Rajkot gaming zone fire, which killed 27, was due to an electrical short circuit.

Status of Fire Accidents in India: 

  1. In 2022, In India, 7,435 people were killed in over 7,500 fire accidents (NCRB report 2022).
  2. Maharashtra and Gujarat, our two most highly urbanised states, account for about 30% of the country’s fire accident deaths.
  3. The India Risk Surveys 2018has placed India in 3rd position in fire incidents. This signifies the grave risks of fire incidents to urban habitats.

Challenges in preventing fire outbreaks:

  1. Absence of uniform safety legislation: Fire services are managed by states, leading to inconsistencies in safety standards due to resource constraints at the municipal level.
  2. National Building Code of India, 2016: While it includes provisions for ‘Fire and Life Safety’ audits, these are only recommendatory, not mandatory.
  3. Inadequate Fire Services: There is a significant shortfall in the number of fire stations and personnel compared to what is required, as revealed by the Central Government’s reply in Parliament in 2019.
  4. Poor Compliance: Examples include a hospital in Delhi operating with an inadequate and expired license, lacking fire extinguishers and emergency doors, and an indoor gaming centre in Rajkot lacking a no-objection certificate and conducting welding work during business hours.
  5. Suboptimal government oversight: Weak inspections and rare follow-up actions after major disasters indicate critical shortcomings in oversight and regulatory enforcement.

Causes for increased vulnerability of Urban areas to Fire Hazards: 

  1. Rapid and unplanned urbanisation is becoming predominant, especially in Asia and Africa. This, in turn, increases the vulnerabilities to multiple hazards including a fire in especially urban agglomerations such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, etc.
  2. The high density of settlements resulted in narrow and constricted circulation spaces.
  3. Limited access to structures by firefighting equipment because of flouting of planning regulations; Narrow lanes that hinder quick response to fires.
  4. Settlements are made up of flammable materials; a small fire can become a conflagration
  5. High use of electrical equipment and machinery, faulty electric connections and gadget failures; Unsafe electric practices by residents.
    1. Past incidents show that most fire accidents take place majorly due to electrical short circuits and gas cylinder/stove bursts, human negligence, and ill-formed habits.

 

Notable incidents:

  • Uphaar cinema blaze in Delhi that killed 59 people in 1997.
  • Kumbakonam school fire in Tamil Nadu in 2004 in which 94 children died.
  • The Mumbai Kamala Mills fire in 2017 killed 14 people and injured many.
  • Fire in a Surat coaching centre in 2019 resulted in the death of more than 20 young people.
  • Ahmednagar Hospital fire tragedy where 11 COVID-19 patients lost their lives

 

Aspect of fire safety standards in India: 

Aspect Details
Fire Service Authority State subject and included in the XII schedule of the Constitution
Establishment of Fire Services Many states have established Fire & Emergency Services through statutory Acts
Legislation Basis Acts based on the Model Fire Service Bill circulated by the Ministry of Home Affairs
Responsibility at the Local Level Municipal corporations and local bodies in some states are responsible for fire services
Fire Safety Norms National Building Code -2016 serves as the basis for fire safety norms in India
Central Level Mechanisms Director-General of Civil Defense, Home Guards, & Fire Services under the Ministry of Home Affairs oversees fire management. Assisted by the Fire Adviser for deliberations. Standing Fire Advisory Committee provides inputs for improvement
Training and Education National Fire Service College, Nagpur provides training and education for fire service personnel

 

Initiatives Taken for Fire Safety:

  1. Scheme for Expansion and Modernization of Fire Services in the States: Launched by the Centre in 2023, aimed at strengthening fire services in the States until 2025-26.
  2. Model Bill to Provide for the Maintenance of Fire and Emergency Service for the State: Circulated by the Centre to facilitate the maintenance of fire and emergency services at the state level.
  3. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines: NDMA has released guidelines covering scaling, types of equipment, and training for fire services across the country.

Roles and responsibilities of the government for risk mitigation:

  • Policy-driven planning:
    • A policy should be written to address cities that are expected to grow significantly in size in the near future.
    • Through this, cities should be required to reserve physical spaces for fire stations, fire hydrants, and fire lanes/parking spots, thus ensuring ready access.
  • Increasing the investment:
    • Growing high-rises in urban areas necessitate the procurement of specialised equipment for fire-fighting.
    • There must be continued investments in equipment and infrastructure to guarantee the safety of the citizens.
      • Sadly, the fire and disaster management budget for Mumbai has declined by 38% over 3 years to 2020.
    • Prevention measures:
      • Fire drills and evacuation drills should be conducted regularly in consultation with the city Fire Brigades and a log of the same shall be maintained.
      • Also, in Mumbai, for instance, often, buildings or shops that hold less than 50 people do not have fire code restrictions.
        • Such loopholes should be closed, ensuring clear guidelines for all kinds of establishments. Also, they should be actively enforced by the city governments.
      • Capacity building:
        • There is a considerable gap in the operational capabilities of fire and emergency services in Indian cities.
        • Measures needed in this regard include
          • Installation of firefighting systems
          • Restriction of cooking to designated spaces
          • The use of safer cooking energy sources and lighting means
          • Improvements in vehicle access routes to neighbourhoods
        • Focusing on residential buildings:
          • Most fire-related fatalities happen in residential buildings; 58% of the fatalities in 2019. In contrast, around 2% of fatalities were in factories.
          • So, the focus has to be on residential buildings in order to cut down on both accidents and related fatalities.
          • Here, proper implementation of the National Building Code (NBC) of 2016 that sets out guidelines has to be ensured. E.g.,
            1. Carrying out a fire safety audit in all buildings over 15 metres once in 2 years by an independent entity.
            2. Constructing the building with fire-resistant/retardant materials and installing smoke detection systems and fire alarms.
  • Fire compartmentalisation (area/floor wise) should be made mandatory to restrict the spread of fire through horizontal and vertical spaces.
  1. Once electrical and fire installations are in place, they should be certified by authorised persons and agencies.
  • Ensuring easy access:
    • There have to be dedicated access lanes for the quick movement of emergency vehicles.
    • Under the Smart Cities Mission, ‘smart control rooms’ should be able to guide emergency vehicles through the shortest route and enable coordination among various departments.

 

 

Measures needed at the civilian level:

  • Awareness generation:
    • In schools, the curriculum should have a chapter on fire safety.
      • Regular drills should be conducted so that children are prepared to handle such incidents.
    • Communities managing housing and commercial premises need to regularly organise awareness programmes with assistance from authorised persons and agencies.
      • These need to be not only on fire safety but also on other disasters such as earthquakes and floods.
    • Community-based fire risk management:
      • Local communities should be actively engaged in the identification, analysis, treatment, monitoring, and evaluation of fire risks to reduce their vulnerabilities and enhance their capacity.
    • Capacity building at the root level:
      • Efficient communication links should be established between civilian groups in vulnerable areas and city fire brigades.
      • The social and informal networks within the settlement should be capitalised for rescue and assistance during fire outbreaks.
        • For this to work effectively, the fire hydrants existing within the settlement’s boundaries should be kept in working condition through regular monitoring, and necessary replacements will have to be made.

Conclusion

India and all countries around the world must see the importance of fire safety when building and extending cities. It is high time safety is taken seriously and violators are brought to book. An integrated mechanism involving government players and the community could go a long way in reducing risks and bringing down fatalities.

 

Insta Links:

Global Species Action Plan Online Knowledge Platform (GSAP SKILLS)

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: IUCN

 Context: IUCN launched the Global Species Action Plan Online Knowledge Platform, known as GSAP SKILLS, at the Fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation, Convention on Biological Diversity.

About GSAP Skills:

The Global Species Action Plan (GSAP) SKILLS platform brings GSAP content online, enabling real-time updates of technical tools and resources. Its purpose is to facilitate global collaboration and partnerships by connecting decision-makers, species conservation practitioners, and experts at all levels. The platform’s objectives include providing real-time updates on technical resources and ensuring their accessibility and relevance. It also offers information on species conservation interventions, actions, and sub-actions for each Global Biodiversity Framework target, along with details on actors and technical tools.

Managed by IUCN, the platform meets the needs of governments and stakeholders for species conservation actions. Additionally, it receives support from the Ministry of Environment, the Republic of Korea, and the Tech4Nature Initiative launched by IUCN and Huawei in 2020.

Manama Declaration

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: HT

 Context: Recently, the Arab League called for UN peacekeeping forces in the Palestinian territories during a summit in Manama, Bahrain.

The “Manama Declaration” (Manama is the capital and largest city of Bahrain) urged international protection and UN peacekeeping forces in the occupied Palestinian territories until a two-state solution is achieved. It also demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an end to forced displacement in the region.

About the Arab League: 

It is a regional organization of Arab states in the Middle East and parts of Africa. Formed in Cairo on March 22, 1945, it aims to promote Arab interests and coordinate political, cultural, economic, and social programs among its members. The League also seeks to settle disputes among member states and provide mutual military support. Its headquarters is in Cairo, Egypt, and its official language is Arabic. The League has 22 members, with founding members including Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. Four nations have observer status: Brazil, Eritrea, India, and Venezuela.

India’s Trade Deficit

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: Th

 Context: According to recent official data, India recorded a trade deficit with nine of its top 10 trading partners, including China, Russia, Singapore, and Korea, in 2023-24.

What is Trade Deficit?

A trade deficit occurs when a country’s imports exceed its exports, meaning it buys more goods and services from other countries than it sells to them. This results in a negative balance of trade, indicating that more money is flowing out of the country to pay for imports than is coming in from exports.

India’s total trade deficit narrowed to about $238 billion in 2023-24, down from $265 billion the previous year. The trade deficit widened with China, Russia, Korea, and Hong Kong but narrowed with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Indonesia, and Iraq.

China became India’s largest trading partner with over $118 billion in bilateral trade, surpassing the U.S., which had over $118 billion in trade. India maintains free trade agreements with Singapore, the UAE, Korea, and Indonesia. Significant trade surpluses were recorded with the U.S. (of over $36 billion), the U.K., Belgium, Italy, France, and Bangladesh.

WIPO Treaty

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: WIPO

 Context: WIPO member states approved a historic new Treaty on intellectual property (IP), genetic resources (GR), and traditional knowledge (TK), following decades of negotiations.

Need for the Treaty:

  1. Addressing Biopiracy: Ensures traditional knowledge is not exploited without permission or compensation.
  2. Utilization: Genetic resources and traditional knowledge are often used in patented inventions and scientific research.

About the Treaty:

  1. Inclusive: It marks the first WIPO Treaty to include provisions for Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
  2. New Disclosure Requirement: Patent applicants must disclose the country of origin or source of GR and the Indigenous Peoples or local community that provided the associated TK.
  3. Membership: Any WIPO member state can join.
  4. Non-Retroactivity: The treaty does not apply to patents filed before its entry into force.

About WIPO: 

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was established in 1967 through the WIPO Convention, transforming the earlier United International Bureau for the Protection of Intellectual Property (BIPRI) into WIPO. As a specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO serves as a global forum for intellectual property (IP) services, policy, information, and cooperation. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, WIPO boasts a membership of 193 member states, including India. WIPO administers several key treaties, such as the Berne Convention, Washington Treaty, Paris Convention, and the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, among others

AstroSat

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: ISRO

 Context: AstroSat has facilitated the discovery of ‘aperiodic modulation’ in high-energy X-ray photons during an ‘unusual’ outburst phase in a black hole X-ray binary (BH-XRB) system

  • BH-XRB system consists of a black hole and a companion star that is locked in gravitation.

About AstroSat: 

It was launched by ISRO in 2015 via PSLV-C30 into Low Earth Orbit and stands as India’s premier multi-wavelength space observatory. Designed to explore celestial sources across X-ray, optical, and UV spectral bands simultaneously, it hosts five payloads for comprehensive multi-wavelength observations. Its objectives include unravelling high-energy processes in binary star systems, identifying new transient X-ray sources, and investigating star birth regions, among others.

Nephrotic syndrome

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: HT

 Context: A recent study has unveiled a breakthrough in identifying and tracking renal diseases associated with nephrotic syndrome.

Employing a hybrid methodology, scientists discovered that anti-nephrin autoantibodies serve as a reliable biomarker for monitoring disease progression, offering the potential for personalized therapeutic strategies. Biomarkers, like blood pressure, are used in clinical assessments.

About Nephrotic syndrome:

It is a kidney disorder characterized by excessive protein loss from blood into urine, leading to scarring or damage to the kidney’s filtering units called glomeruli. These small blood vessels filter waste and excess water from the blood, excreting them as urine. Various disorders, including diabetes and lupus, can cause nephrotic syndrome by affecting different parts of the body.

National Fossil Park in Ghugwa, Madhya Pradesh

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: TOI

 Context: Archaeologists from Ashoka University recently unearthed prehistoric artefacts made from fossil wood at the National Fossil Park in Ghugwa, Madhya Pradesh.

About Ghughwa National Fossil Park: 

Located in the Dindori district, Madhya Pradesh, was established as a National Park in 1983. Situated in a tropical dry deciduous landscape, it boasts fossilized plants dating back between 40 million and 150 million years ago. The park is renowned for its preserved fossils of various woody plants like eucalyptus, date palm, and neem, as well as climbers, leaves, flowers, fruits, and even dinosaur egg fossils.

Indonesia’s Mount Ibu

Mapping

Source: HT

 Context: Indonesia’s Mount Ibu on Halmahera island erupted, sending ash 4 km high with purple lightning flashing around its crater.

About Mount Ibu 

Mount Ibu is a stratovolcano on the northwest coast of Halmahera Island, Indonesia. It stands 1,377 meters above sea level and spans 16 km east-west and 13 km north-south. Known for frequent eruptions, it recorded 21,100 eruptions in 2023, making it the second most active volcano in Indonesia.

About Stratovolcanoes

Stratovolcanoes are tall, steep, cone-shaped volcanoes found mainly above subduction zones, forming major parts of regions like the Pacific Ring of Fire. They differ from the flatter shield volcanoes and makeup about 60% of the Earth’s volcanoes.


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