03rd May 2017, Editorial – The Hindu

GS II: Issues relating to poverty & hunger.GS III: Food processing and related industries in India – scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.

Powering Up Food

  • Food fortification is relied upon my many countries to prevent malnutrition.
  • The World Health Organisation estimates that deficiency of key micronutrients such as iron, vitamin A and iodine together affects a third of the world’s population.

What are micronutrients?

  • needed only in minuscule amounts.
  • produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development.
  • As tiny as the amounts are, however, the consequences of their absence are severe.
  • Iodine, vitamin A and iron are most important in global public health terms; their lack represents a major threat to the health and development of populations the world over, particularly children and pregnant women in low-income countries.

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Iron Deficiency

  • Iron deficiency contributes to 20% of maternal deaths and is associated with nearly half of all maternal deaths.
  • 2 billion people – over 30% of the world’s population – are anaemic.
  • In developing countries every second pregnant woman and about 40% of preschool children are estimated to be anaemic.
  • Worm infections, malaria and other infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis aggravate the iron deficiency.

Vitamin A Deficiency

  • For children, lack of vitamin A causes severe visual impairment and blindness, and significantly increases the risk of severe illness, and even death, from such common childhood infections as diarrhoeal disease and measles.
  • An estimated 250 000 to 500 000 vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight.
  • In pregnant women VAD causes night blindness and may increase the risk of maternal mortality.

Iodine Deficiency

  • Iodine deficiency is the world’s most prevalent, yet easily preventable, cause of brain damage.
  • one of the main cause of impaired cognitive development in children.
  • Serious iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, and congenital abnormalities such as cretinism – a grave, irreversible form of mental retardation that affects people living in iodine-deficient areas of Africa and Asia.
  • Thankfully iodized salt is the most simple, universally effective, wildly attractive and incredibly cheap technical weapon which, as per UNICEF estimates, is accessible in 66% of the households.
  • iodine deficiency as a public health problem has halved over the past decade . However, 54 countries are still iodine-deficient.

FSSAI And Fortification

  • Fortification is a low-cost solution however its efficacy will depend on it enforcement.
  • It is important to ensure that all sections of producers meet the norms, since the FSSAI plans to get local flour mills to add premixed nutrients.
  • A well-functioning public distribution system is the best channel to reach precisely those sections that need fortified food the most.
  • These standardization will lead to mothers consuming them and ultimately the babies while being breast-fed.

Is only a short to medium term solution at best.

  • In the long term, public health goals on prevention and elimination of nutritional deficiencies should aim at encouraging people to adopt a diversified and wholesome diet.
  • Children, including those in school, should get a wholesome cooked meal that is naturally rich, and augmented with vegetables, fruits, dairy and other foods of choice.

Conclusion

  • Fortified foods will only help fill the gaps.
  • Also,the entire programme will yield results only if it is affordable to the poorer sections of the populations.

Image Source: Inter Press Service.net

Source: The Hindu, WHO


GS II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Turkish Detour

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History between the two countries:

  • India-Turkey ties date back centuries: Mughal rulers and the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire exchanged diplomatic missions.
  • Greatest exponents of SufismMevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, Yunus Emre, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Nizamuddin Auliya and Amir Khurso have had their roots in Turkey. The socio-religious legacy of these poet philosophers emphasised tolerance, universal brotherhood and humanism – timeless values – which are the key to peace and social harmony in present, turbulent times.
  • The poet Rumi and the Sufi movement there found easy synergy with the Bhakti and Sufi movements here.
  • In the 20th century India’s freedom fighters supported the Turkish independence movement.
    • The mission of Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari to Turkey in 1912 which he undertook to render medical assistance during the Balkan War.
    • Our national leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru had empathized, without reservation, with Turkey’s leaders as they fought for the freedom of their country from foreign rule.

Jump to present: Political Climate in Turkey

  • Erdogan has just won by a thin margin, a vote legalising his de facto executive presidency along with a vast number of additional powers that currently belong to other state institutions, without introducing the checks and balances required to safeguard Turkey against a further authoritarian turn.
  • Internationally, Turkey is isolated and at odds with its western allies on a variety of fronts. The prospects for an improvement in Turkey’s relationship with the European Union and the US are assessed as being dim.
  • The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced deep concern at mass arrests and sackings of public employees in Turkey and the renewed state of emergency there, saying a “climate of fear” now reigned.
  • Turkey expelled more than 3,900 people from the civil service and military as threats to national security in the second major purge since President Tayyip Erdogan won sweeping new powers in a referendum last month.
  • There are 151 journalists in jail in Turkey, according to the International Press Institute, which calls the country the world’s leading jailer of journalists.
  • The general opinion is that domestic politics will continue to shape Ankara’s foreign policy, making Turkey a somewhat unpredictable and capricious partner.

India & Turkey Meet Highlights

  1. On Combating terrorism
    • PM Modi and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for early conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).
  2. On India’s membership of the MTCR
    • Turkey bid support for India’s membership of the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) and its application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group as well as Wassenaar Arrangement – an export control regime for arms.
    • Rider: Pakistan to be included as well.
  3. Turkey supported India’s bid to be  permanent member of the UN Security Council.
    • Rider: Other countries to be included as well
  4. Bilateral Trade:
    • Currently stands at $ 6 Billion.
    • Aims to achieve $ 10 Billion by 2020.
  5. Improve cooperation in the fields of hydrocarbons, renewable energy (solar and wind) and energy efficiency.
  6. Improving air connectivity, extending cultural relations etc.
  7. On Indo-Pak relations:
    • Erdogan wanted Turkey to mediate between India and Pakistan for dispute resolution even while being aware of India’s consistent position on resolving the Kashmir issue bilaterally.
    • India rejected Turkey’s offer since Turkey has supported Pakistan’s position on Kashmir at different forums.

Conclusion:

While it is clearly evident that Turkey has been biased towards Pakistan,India too has been dealing with hectic diplomacy by welcoming leaders from Cyprus and conducting official visits to Armenia.

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Note that Vice-President Hamid Ansari recently visited Armenia to celebrate their 25 year old diplomatic ties. Armenia’s relations with Turkey stuck on the great Armenian genocide. Between 1915 and 1917, the then Ottoman government allegedly exterminated 1.5 million Armenians.

India simultaneously played host to Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades with whom we signed several bilateral agreements while the latter agreed to extend itself as a gateway for Indian exports into the European markets.

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Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus and the President’s single largest obstacle would be reunification of Cyprus (Northern Cyprus is under Turkish control).  Cyprus used its EU position to block several chapters of Turkey’s EU accession negotiations, which have now hit a dead end. 

These engagements highlighted the need for India to carefully balance the fragile Geopolitics between the three countries it seeks to build relations with.

Image Source: Business Standard, Getty Images

Source: The Hindu, Business Standard, Reuters


GS III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Refuge from the sinking islands.

Taking cognition of the crisis

June 1992: Small Island Developing States are first recognized as a distinct group of countries at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. One hundred and seventy nine nations acknowledged that “small island developing states are a special case both for environment and development … [and] are considered extremely vulnerable to global warming and sea level rise.” 

April 1994: UN Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States adopts the Barbados Programme of Action. The Programme sets forth specific actions and measures at the national, regional and international levels in support of the Small Island Developing States.

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The 52 low-lying vulnerable island nations sustain 62 million people and emit less than 1% of global greenhouse gases (GHGs), yet are among the first victims of climate disruption.

A sea level rise of 0.5 to 2 m could leave between 1.2 and 2.2 million people displaced from the Caribbean Sea and the Indian and Paciic Oceans.

Response of neighbouring nations:

  1. On request from Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, New Zealand agreed to allow a meagre 75 Tuvaluans to relocate annually to their country, a migration that should stretch over 140 years.
  2. Australia refused to make any offers when approached similarly.

Costs to adapt:

  • The cost of adaptation is bound to be exorbitant.
  • The Pacific Possible programme of the World Bank predicts the cost of adaptation to be $18,500 per person for Marshall Islands and $11,000 for Solomon Islands over a period of 30 years from 2012.

With the policies in force today, GHG emissions are projected to grow by 50% by 2050. Any amount of decrease in GHG emissions cannot save the islands from sinking, but a significant decrease in emissions could delay the island nations from becoming uninhabitable, thereby postponing the burden of accommodating mass migration.

Remedies:

  1. Lack of political will is major drawback. Develop a forum to deal with the issue.
    • The forum would take decisions on the legal status of displaced migrants.
    • develop strategies to protect their dignity and cultural identities.
  2. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) obligates countries to provide finance to resist global warming.
    • The said forum could create and manage a fund in the form of mandatory contributions from member countries.
  3. The forum would have a judicial arm which would assess the situation of the islands on a case by case basis and resort to international assistance if and when required.
  4. The forum would also create procedures and standards for enabling migration, gin access to compensation and formulate other remedies.

Image Source: UNCTAD

Source: The Hindu, UN.org


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