1. Border Roads Organisation (BRO)
Context: Border Roads Organisation (BRO), is celebrating its Raising Day on 07 May 2018. It is celebrating its 58 years of glorious service to the nation.
Since its inception in 1960, so far the Organisation has grown from 02 to 19 projects. The works executed have ensured the territorial integrity and the socio-economic upliftment of the most inaccessible regions of the country as well as India’s neighbourhood.
- Functioning under the control of the Ministry of Defence since 2015, the BRO is engaged in road construction to provide connectivity to difficult and inaccessible regions in the border areas of the country.
- It is staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army personnel on extra regimental employment.
- Engineering Service and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
- Currently, the organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
- The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.
Significance of BRO:
- The Border Roads Organization has played a very important role in both maintenance of security and in the development of border areas. Most of the development in the North Eastern states of India can be attributed to the relentless work done by the BRO. Socio economic development in the most inaccessible nooks and corners of our country are a result of the infrastructural work undertaken by the BRO.
- Apart from its work in India, the BRO has undertaken work in numerous countries thus having contributed immensely towards maintaining friendly and diplomatic relations. The highly-skilled BRO personnel undertook and successfully completed construction of the Delaram-Zaranj Highway in Afghanistan in 2008. The Farkhor and Ayni air bases of Tajikistan were also restored and repaired by the BRO.
- The BRO works in close association with the Indian Army in cases of natural disasters. It is the brave men of the BRO who were responsible for much of the reconstruction work undertaken as a result of the 2004 Tsunami in Tamil Nadu, the 2010 Ladakh flash floods and even during the 2014 Jammu and Kashmir Floods.
With the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) far behind schedule in constructing 73 approved “Indo-China Border Roads” along the northern borders, the defence ministry, in 2017, empowered BRO officials with enhanced financial powers.
Despite attempts at reform, the BRO remains a divided organisation, with friction between BRO cadre officers, and army officers posted on deputation. The BRO cadre resents a large number of top executive and command positions going to the army.
2. Limit trans fats
Context: WHO has released draft recommendations on limiting the intake of trans fats. These draft recommendations, the first since 2002, are aimed at controlling non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are responsible for an estimated 39.5 million death (72%) of the 54.7 million deaths worldwide in 2016.
- Saturated fatty acids should not comprise more than 10% of your daily calorie intake.
- Trans fatty acids should not comprise more than 1% of your daily calorie intake.
- Use heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) as replacement.
- The recommendations are applicable to both adults and children.
Saturated fatty acids:
Saturated fatty acids are found in foods from animal sources such as butter, milk, meat, salmon, and egg yolks, and some plant-derived products such as chocolate and cocoa butter, coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.
- Trans fatty acids (TFAs) or Trans fats are the most harmful type of fats which can have much more adverse effects on our body than any other dietary constituent. These fats are largely produced artificially but a small amount also occurs naturally. Thus in our diet, these may be present as Artificial TFAs and/ or Natural TFAs.
- Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.
- In our diet the major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.
- TFAs pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats. While saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to protect us against heart disease. Trans fats consumption increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
- It is also associated with a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, infertility, certain types of cancers and can also lead to compromised fetal development causing harm to the yet to be born baby.
Why they are increasingly being used?
- TFA containing oils can be preserved longer, they give the food the desired shape and texture and can easily substitute ‘Pure ghee’. F
- These are comparatively far lower in cost and thus add to profit/saving.
The recommendations in these guidelines can be used by policymakers and programme managers to assess current intake levels of these fatty acids in their populations relative to a benchmark, with a view to develop measures to decrease the intake of saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids, where necessary, through a range of policy actions and public health interventions.
3. Hague Convention
Context: A committee set up by the Centre to prepare a report on the issue of inter-country parental child abduction has questioned one of the basic principles of the Hague Convention by arguing that the return of the child to his or her habitual residence may not necessarily be in the best interest of the child. The Committee recently submitted its report to the Women and Child Development Ministry.
The Justice Rajesh Bindal Committee was set up last year to suggest a model legislation to safeguard the interest of the child as well those of the parents when an NRI (Non Resident Indian) marriage goes sour and one of the parents flees from one country to another with the child.
In 2016, the government had decided not to be a signatory to the on the ground that it can be detrimental to the interest of the women fleeing an abusive marriage.
The issue of habitual residence:
- Under the treaty, there is the criterion of “habitual residence” of the child, which is used to determine whether the child was wrongfully removed by a parent as well as to seek the return of the child.
- The Committee feels that the concept of habitual residence is not synchronous with the best interest of the child. It is because returning a child to the place of habitual residence may result in sending the child to an inharmonious set-up as well as overlook the fact that a mother is the primary caregiver of the child.
Proposed draft law:
The panel has prepared a draft law to safeguard the interest of the children, as well as those of the parents, particularly mothers. The proposed legislation lays down nine exceptions under which a child will not be returned to the country of habitual residence.
The important conditions under which a child’s return can be refused are — best interest of the child, domestic violence or mental or physical cruelty or harassment against the parent who fled with the child, the parent claiming the return of the child was not exercising the custody rights at the time of removal, and if there is a grave risk that the child would be exposed to physical or psychological harm.
Significance of the Indian family system:
- The report highlights the importance of the “Indian family system” in ensuring the best interest of the child, seemingly to question the logic behind returning the child to a place of habitual residence outside India.
- With the older generation of womenfolk being home-makers, the households have great caregivers in terms of grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc., on either sides. A child, even if he may have stayed in some other country, would never be completely uprooted from the country of his parents’ origin, who have families back home in India.
About Hague Abduction Convention:
- The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or Hague Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) that provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another. The Convention entered into force between the signatories on 1 December 1983.
- The Convention was drafted to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence or wrongfully retained in a contracting state not their country of habitual residence.
- The primary intention of the Convention is to preserve whatever status quo child custody arrangement existed immediately before an alleged wrongful removal or retention thereby deterring a parent from crossing international boundaries in search of a more sympathetic court.
- The Convention applies only to children under the age of 16.
4. First organised census for Indus dolphins
Context: For the conservation of Indus dolphins – one of the world’s rarest mammals – the Punjab government along with WWF-India are conducting the first organised census on their population.
About Indus Dolphins:
- A blind species that communicates through echo like bats do, Indus dolphins are one of the seven freshwater dolphins found across the world.
- They are found only in India and Pakistan. In Punjab, they are confined to only a 185 km stretch between Talwara and Harike Barrage in India’s Beas river in Punjab.
- The most flourishing population of the Indus dolphin, platanista gangetica minor, is found across Pakistan where their numbers are estimated to be around 1,800 over a stretch of 1,500 km of the Indus river.
It is listed by the IUCN as endangered on its red list of threatened species. IUCN suspects the population size of the Indus river dolphins has reduced by more than 50% since 1944.
5. Brown peach aphid
What is it? It is an insect that attacks temperate fruit trees.
Why in news? It has been recorded for the first time in Kashmir Valley, the fruit bowl of India.
About Brown peach aphid:
- Aphids feed on the saps of plants, attacking plant tissues that transport food to all different plant parts. The brown peach aphid Pterochloroides persicae is a notorious pest of peach and almond trees in the Mediterranean regions. In India, the aphid was recorded for the first time in the 1970s from Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
- The tiny (nearly 3 mm long) aphids thrived best during the months of April, May, September and October.
The spread of the aphid could affect the local economy which is dependant on fruit trees to a large extent. But if the infestation is not controlled, the invasive aphid can spread fast.