Air quality in four Bihar cities back to pre-Covid levels: Report
Most cities in the state recorded a rising trend in annual particulate matter (PM)2.5 level in 2021 after the initial drop in air pollution level in 2020 due to Covid-induced lockdown, as per new analysis of regional pollution trends done by Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
The analysis, released recently, showed that Muzaffarpur’s annual average of PM2.5 had jumped from 74 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) in 2020 to 78 in 2021 while Patna’s annual average of PM2.5 rose to 75 in 2021 against 64 µg/m3 in 2020. The annual average of PM2.5 level in Hajipur was 60 µg/m3 and it was 49 µg/m3 in Gaya.
The national limit is 40 micrograms while the World Health Organisation’s recently set annual standard for PM2.5 is 5 micrograms. PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and trigger several diseases, including fatal ones like cancer.
UN’s largest Single Country appeal
The United Nations recently launched the largest country specific appeal for Afghanistan. The appeal was launched after Pakistan called the international organization to revive the banking system in the Afghanistan.
It is a 5 billion USD appeal. That is, according to the United Nations member countries, 5 billion USD is required to save Afghanistan. The United Nations members have appealed to save the collapsing services in Afghanistan.
Need for the appeal
Afghanistan is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Half of the Afghans are facing hunger. More than nine million in the country are homeless. Around 22 million are in need of assistance. 5.7 million Afghans are in need of help beyond the borders.
Henley Passport Index 2022
Henley Passport Index 2022 was recently released. The latest edition shows record-breaking levels of travel freedom for the top-ranking countries, Japan and Singapore.
- The report also reveals that, there was the widest recorded global mobility gap since the index was created 17 years ago.
- Passport holders of two Asian nations, Japan and Singapore, can now enter 192 destinations worldwide visa-free. It is 166 more than Afghanistan.
- Afghanistan has been listed at the bottom of this index.
India’s Passport Power
As per the Index, in first quarter of 2022, India has improved its passport power. India has climbed seven places up and has been ranked at 83rd position. In 2021, it was ranked at 90th position. Now, India has access to 60 countries without a prior visa. In 2021, visa free scope was valid for just 58 countries. Oman and Armenia have been recently added to the list of prior visa requirement.
- Japan and Singapore have been ranked 1st, with passport holders have accessibility of 192 destinations visa-free.
- Germany and South Korea have been placed at 2ndposition, with passport holders able to access 190 destinations visa-free.
The index provide ranking to 199 passports in accordance with the number of destinations their holders can access visa-free or visa-on-arrival. The index is updated in real time throughout the year. It is prepared on the basis of exclusive data provided by International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Developing Country Tag at WTO
The World Trade Organization recently provided the “developing country” tag. This couldn’t be accepted by several countries.
The organization has officially not created any definitions for “Developed” or “developing “countries. However, when a tag is provided other countries can challenge the offering. Though, WTO has not provided the definition, two – third of its members claim themselves as developing countries. As the members can themselves declare them as developing, China has taken advantage to declare itself as developing. With this, China is trying to widen its dominance in the world trade.
The per capita income of the Chinese in 2020 was 10,435 USD. On the other hand, the per capita income of India was 1,928 USD. India has questioned the Chinese stand based on World Bank Definition of a developing country.
The World Bank classifies the countries into four groups based on the per capita income of the countries. Here are the types based on the per capita income:
- Lower Income Countries: 1,0256 USD or less
- Lower middle-income countries: 1.026 USD and 3,995 USD
- Upper Middle-income countries: 3,996 USD and 12,375 USD
- High Income Countries: Greater than 12,375 USD
IUCN assessment on Red Sanders
The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) recently categorised the Red Sanders (or Red Sandalwood) again into the ‘endangered’ category in its Red List.
- The species, called Red Sanders, is scientifically called as Pterocarpus santalinus.
- It is an Indian endemic tree species and its geographical range is restricted to Eastern Ghats.
- The species is endemic to a distinct tract of forests in Andhra Pradesh.
- It was classified as ‘near threatened’ in 2018. It was a moment of celebration when species was lifted off from the endangered category since 1997.
25th National Youth Festival
25th National Youth Festival was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Puducherry on the occasion of birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.
On the occasion, prime minister highlighted that; world looks at India’s young demography with hope & faith and India is young in its thoughts & consciousness.
India’s thinking and philosophy have always accepted change.
Youth have democratic values as well as demographic dividend and India considers the youth as a demographic dividend and development driver.
The festival will be held on January 12 and 13, in virtual mode because of covid-19 pandemic.
Youth festival is being organised with the aim of shaping the minds of Indian youth and transforming them into “united force for nation building”.
It also aims to bring diverse Indian cultures and integrate them into a united thread of ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’.
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