Mitras Analysis of News : 15-7-2017

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1.Saving Oceans (Down Earth)

2.Awareness alone not enough to address lifestyle diseases (The Hindu)

3.Explained: Impact of GST on tribals


1.Saving Oceans (Down Earth)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the need to conserve the oceans and steps to be taken by shipping industry. (GS paper III)


  • Development and business go hand in hand. The idea of sustainable development has brought in business organisations to the UN’s Ocean Conference.
  • All sustainable development goals (SDGs) are relevant to businesses. However, it seems that SDG 14, is not an obvious topic for many businesses. All businesses affect the oceans. Some like marine tourism have a direct effect on the health of oceans.
  • The shipping industry depends directly on the oceans and played a prominent part throughout the day. They organised side events and were there at the SDG media zone twice to talk about how they plan to make a difference.

A way to sustainable shipping

  • To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on emissions and to de-carbonise by the end of the century, the shipping industry is looking forward to go green.
  • At present, ships run on diesel and are like floating industries. Though the ships are carbon efficient, they are big in size and create huge emissions. There are also plans to shift to alternative fuels. For example, hydrogen fuel cell technology could be one such option.
  • Though these are expensive, the economy of scale would keep the prices down.
  • Sweden-based Echandia Marine, Global Compact member, has completed its first electrically-propelled passenger ferry installation, shuttling citizens throughout the city’s archipelago.
  • The ferry has demonstrated commercial viability and can operate for an hour on just 10 minutes of charging.
  • The ferry consumes just 500 Mwh of energy per year, and operates at 90 per cent energy efficiency, compared to 28 per cent to 35 per cent for a standard diesel engine, according to the company. Their system uses magnetic electrical motors to power the ferry, which are cooled using the surrounding sea water.

Dealing with micro plastics

  • The problem of plastic waste floating in the waters, remains unaddressed. Petroleum Geo Services, a Norwegian marine geophysical company, plans to help reduce plastic waste in the oceans. It plans to collect wastes and process them on the site. The plastic waste will be compressed and prepared for recycling.
  • But this is not going to help reduce the level of micro plastics in water. Most of the times, micro plastics are added deliberately into consumer products like cosmetics, detergents and synthetic clothes. These particles then make their way to the oceans.

Way ahead

  • Some businesses are already making a change. These include businesses such as the initiative taken by Adidas and Parley for the Oceans, who are using ocean plastics to make sports shoes. The upper part of the shoe is made of yarns and the filaments from reclaimed ocean wastes. The green wave pattern across the shoe uppers is made from reclaimed and often illegal gillnets, while the rest of the upper portion is made from plastics collected from beaches on the Maldives.
  • After collection and processing of the plastics, the shoes are brought to life using a 3D-printing technology. They plan to manufacture a million shoes by the end of 2017. They have also recently launched a new line of commercial swim wear made from same materials.

Question What are micro-plastics? What challenge they pose to the ocean ecology?


2.Awareness alone not enough to address lifestyle diseases (Down to Earth)

 Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue relating to addressing the lifestyle diseases (GS paper III)


  • India has the second highest number of obese children in the world, with 14.4 million reported cases. The incidence of obesity has doubled since 1980 in over 70 countries of the world.
  • Indian kids have reasonable knowledge about lifestyle diseases and their risk factors, but this knowledge does not translate into preventive action, a new study has revealed.

Knowledge is not sufficient factor

  • Even though the occurrence of obesity among children was lower than adults, childhood obesity has grown at a faster rate than adult obesity in many countries. In 2015, over 2 billion children and adults across the world were overweight. Of these, nearly 108 million children and more than 600 million adults had body mass index (BMI) above 30, which is the threshold for obesity.
  • Adolescent children know that unhealthy food is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), yet they indulge in eating junk food and unhealthy snacks.
  • In spite of better awareness, there is a knowledge-practice gap among teenagers, the study done among school children in Kolkata has found.
  • Most of these teenagers (who are aware) showed poor and unhealthy eating lifestyles like more than three major meals a day, frequent snacking (more than four times in a day) and consumption of street food. The trend of poor eating habits was visible more in older students and those belonging to affluent families as compared to students from low or middle-class socio-economic status.
  • Researchers collected data on knowledge about lifestyle diseases, physical activity, and eating patterns from these adolescents. They found that about 20% of the participants reported a family history of CVDs while a majority had little information about heart disorders.
  • Boys tended more to be involved in physical activity (adequate physical activity as one hour every day) along with those who had better knowledge about risk factors.
  • About 82% of the adolescents did not perceive themselves to be at risk for future CVDs and even those who perceived the risk showed poor dietary practices. One of the probable explanations might be that adolescents considered CVDs to be problem of the aged, and underestimated their own future risks.

Way ahead

  • Compared to the West, in India, the transition from predominantly infectious disease to non-communicable diseases has happened over a rather brief period of time.
  • Solutions require strategies such as emphasis on prevention, early detection, treatment using both conventional and innovative techniques along with effective implementation of evidence-based policy.
  • Promotion of school-based cardiovascular health programs might be crucial in dispelling myths and misconceptions with eventual prevention of early onset atherosclerotic changes in arterial walls

Question Lifestyle diseases are called as silent killers and they constitute a huge threat to India’s young population. What can be the ways to tackle the menace of non-communicable diseases?


3.Explained : Impact of GST on tribals   (GS paper III)


  • Tendu leaf, a Minor Forest Produce (MFP) used to roll beedi, is the financial lifeline of the forest tribes of central India. The tribals collect the leaf as part of their right defined under Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA).
  • However, from July 1, as India entered a new system of taxation, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), a centralised tax was imposed on tendu leaf for the first time. The GST on the leaf is set at 18 per cent.

Minor forest produce

  • MFP, as defined by the FRA is “all non-timber forest produce of plant origin and includes bamboo, brushwood, stumps, canes, Tusser, cocoon, honey, waxes, Lac, tendu/kendu leaves, medicinal plants and herbs, roots, tuber and the like.” Tribals have the right to procure and sell these products.The tendu leaf, due to its use in the production of beedi, fetches a good price.

What is changed?

  • Earlier, only sales tax (VAT) was levied on MFP like tendu leaves. But VAT wasn’t applied everywhere and it varied from state to state. In Rajasthan, 5.5 per cent that was charged from the traders. Now with GST in place, this tax has sky rocketed, increasing by around 200 per cent in places like Rajasthan, which is a cause of concern for many.

 Impact on tribal 

  • This hike from 5.5 per cent to 18 per cent is a lot. Now, as the tax is high, the traders who get the tender from state corporations to collect tendu leaves will pay even less to the tribals collecting the leaves.
  • This will also lead to a reduction in the funds given to the Gram Sabhas who are entitled to the profit made in the process of selling the leaves by the state corporation.
  • The lack of clarity is also present in the Tribal Co-operative Mareting Development Federation of India (TRIFED), a government body under Ministry of Tribal Affairs to market tribal products. They are still collecting information on the issue of GST and currently are not sure how the new tax regime will function.

 Way ahead

  • The government officials have time to think the new tax structure through. But confusion apart, the hike in taxation will surely take a toll on the tribals who depend on the leaves for subsistence.

Question–  What is the main aim of Forest rights Act? How it protects the livelihood of farmers?

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