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In News:

On the opening day of Budget Session of Parliament recently, President Ram Nath Kovind had addressed the joint sitting of both the Houses of the Parliament.

In Brief:

  • Article 87(1) of the Constitution provides:- “At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons.”

When President addresses joint sitting of the both houses?

  • In the case of the first session after each general election to Lok Sabha, the President addresses both Houses of Parliament assembled together after the members have made and subscribed the oath or affirmation and the Speaker has been elected.
  • In the case of beginning of the first session of each year, the President addresses both Houses of Parliament at the time and date notified for the commencement of the session of both the Houses of Parliament.

Star Campaigner

The Election Commission has recently ordered the removal of BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma from the party’s list of star campaigners for Delhi polls over their controversial remarks.

Who is Star Campaigners?

  • A recognised political party can have 40 star campaigners and an unrecognised (but registered) political party can have 20.
  • The list of star campaigners has to be communicated to the Chief Electoral Officer and Election Commission within a week from the date of notification of an election.
  • The expenditure incurred on campaigning by such notified star campaigners is exempt from being added to the election expenditure of a candidate.
  • However, this only applies when a star campaigner limits himself to a general campaign for the political party he represents.

What if a star campaigner campaigns specifically for one candidate?

  • If a candidate or her election agent shares the stage with a star campaigner at a rally, then the entire expenditure on that rally, other than the travel expenses of the star campaigner, is added to the candidate’s expenses.
  • Even if the candidate is not present at the star campaigner’s rally, but there are posters with her photographs or her name on display, the entire expenditure will be added to the candidate’s account.
  • This applies even if the star campaigner mentions the candidate’s name during the event. When more than one candidate shares the stage, or there are posters with their photographs, then the expenses of such rally/meeting are equally divided between all such candidates.

Does removal from the star campaigner’s list ban them from campaigning?

  • No, the final decision will only be taken by the EC once the two leaders reply to the showcase notices served to them.
  • However, the removal from the star campaigner’s list does make campaigning difficult for them.
  • This is because whichever constituency they now hold their election meeting or rally at, irrespective of whether they limit themselves to general party propaganda or not, the entire expenditure of the event will be added to the account of the BJP candidate contesting from that seat.

INCCU

Union Human Resource Development Minister chaired the meeting of the Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (INCCU) in New Delhi.

In Brief:

  • India has been a founding member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a specialized agency of the United Nations since its inception in 1946.
  • Article VII of the constitution of UNESCO requires that each Member State shall make such arrangements as suit its particular conditions for purposes of associating its principal bodies interested in educational, scientific and cultural matters with the work of the Organization, preferably by the formation of a National Commission broadly representative of the government of such bodies.
  • The National Commission or National Co-operating delegations to the General Conference and to their Governments in matters relating to the Organization and shall function as agencies of liaison in all matters of interest to it.

About INCCU:

  • Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (INCCU) was formed by the Government of India in 1949.It was made a permanent commission in 1951.
  • It functions under the Department of Secondary and Higher Education in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • The main objective of the Commission is to advise the Government in matters falling in the domain of UNESCO and to play a role in UNESCO’s work particularly in the formulation and execution of its programmes.
  • The Commission consists of five Sub-Commissions namely (i) Education (ii) Natural Sciences (iii) Social Sciences (iv) Communication and (v) Culture.

No Fly List

In News:

Four airlines in India have banned a stand-up comedian from taking flights after he allegedly heckled television news anchor on-flight

What is No-fly list?

  • In 2017, the government issued rules for preventing disruptive behaviour by air travellers and laid down guidelines for a no-fly list.
  • The No-fly list specifies a list of passengers who are banned from flying for a minimum of three months to more than two years.
  • The behaviours for which a passenger can be barred has been categorised into three levels.
    • Level 1 refers to behaviour that is verbally unruly, and calls for debarment up to three months.
    • Level 2 indicates physical unruliness and can lead to the passenger being debarred from flying for up to six months.
    • Level 3 indicates life-threatening behaviour for which the debarment would be for a minimum of two years.

What Makes WHO Declare A Disease Outbreak A Public Health Emergency?

In News:

The Corona Virus outbreak has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO), as it continues to spread to more than 18 countries outside China.

In Brief:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) uses the term “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC) to refer to “an extraordinary event” concerning public health.

How does the WHO define a PHEIC?

  • Two criteria to define an outbreak as such.
    1) Firstly, the outbreak must pose a risk to more than one country.
    2) The second requirement is that an outbreak requires “a coordinated international response.”
  • In the WHO’s official definition, they say this means a “situation that is serious, unusual or unexpected.”
  • A panel of experts, called the IHR Emergency Committee, is convened to discuss the situation. IHR stands for International Health Regulations — 196 countries including all WHO member states agreed to its most recent revision in 2005.
  • Ultimately, after assessing evidence including human-to-human transmission rates, the final decision rests with the WHO Director General, currently Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

How often does the WHO designate outbreaks as PHEICs?

  • The WHO has made such a declaration roughly once every two years since the term was coined.
  • The WHO tends to be cautious in declaring public health emergencies, as it also weighs up the economic risks and the impact on industries like tourism. The regulations specifically seek to “avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.
  • The WHO has also faced considerable criticism in the past for being either to quick or too slow to declare a global health emergency.
  • The procedures to declare a PHEIC were implemented in 2005, as a response to the outbreaks of SARS and H5N1 (bird flu) in the early 2000s.
  • It has previously declared five global public health emergencies:
    • Swine flu, 2009 – The H1N1 virus spread across the world in 2009, with death toll estimates ranging from 123,000 to 575,400.
    • Polio, 2014 – Although closer than ever to eradication in 2012, polio numbers rose in 2013.
    • Zika, 2016 – The WHO declared Zika a public health emergency in 2016 after the disease spread rapidly through the Americas.
    • Ebola, 2014 and 2019 – The first emergency over the virus lasted from August 2014 to March 2016 as almost 30,000 people were infected and more than 11,000 died in West Africa.
    • A second emergency was declared last year as an outbreak spread in DR Congo.

UN’s New Rules For Ships In The Artic Region

In News:

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), the shipping agency of the United Nations, issued new rules aiming to reduce sulphur emissions, due to which ships are opting for newer blends of fuels.

In Brief:

What IMO Rules say?

  • The IMO has banned ships from using fuels with a sulphur content above 0.5 per cent, compared with 3.5 per cent previously.
  • Sulphur oxides (SOx), which are formed after combustion in engines, are known to cause respiratory symptoms and lung disease, while also leading to acid rain.
  • The new regulations, called IMO 2020, have been regarded as the biggest shake up for the oil and shipping industries in decades. It affects more than 50,000 merchant ships worldwide.
  • The new limits are monitored and enforced by national authorities of countries that are members of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI.
  • Under the new policy, only ships fitted with sulphur-cleaning devices, known as scrubbers, are allowed to continue burning high-sulphur fuel.
  • Alternatively, they can opt for cleaner fuels, such as marine gasoil (MGO) and very low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO)

World Sustainable Development Summit

In Brief:

  • The World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) is the annual flagship event of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) started in 2001.
  • The Summit has become a focal point for leaders and stakeholders across the world to bridge thought and action for sustainable development.
  • It is continuing the legacy of Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) which was initiated in 2001 with the aim of making ‘sustainable development’ a globally shared goal.
  • WSDS 2020 Theme Towards 2030 is to making the Decade Count.

SAMPRITI-IX

  • SAMPRITI –IX is the ninth edition of India-Bangladesh 14-day Joint military exercise Sampriti.
  • The exercise commenced at Umroi, Meghalaya on February 03, 2020. The objective of SAMPRITI-IX is to provide basic counter-terrorism training for mountainous and jungle locations.
  • As per the government agencies, a delegation of Bangladesh Army comprising of 31 officers and 138 other ranks are participating in the joint military exercise.
  • Another side a company group of Indian Army is showing its skill in SAMPRITI-IX.