Τρίτη 23 Οκτωβρίου 2018

Final countdown for marine biodiversity

Successful completion of the 
“Save the Wave” project

Fish mistaking plastic debris in ocean for food, study finds. Behavioural evidence suggests marine organisms are not just ingesting microplastics by accident but actively seeking them out as food!
Fish may be actively seeking out plastic debris in the oceans as the tiny pieces appear to smell similar to their natural prey, new research suggests. The fish confuse plastic for an edible substance because microplastics in the oceans pick up a covering of biological material, such as algae, that mimics the smell of food, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Scientists presented schools of wild-caught anchovies with plastic debris taken from the oceans, and with clean pieces of plastic that had never been in the ocean. The anchovies responded to the odours of the ocean debris in the same way as they do to the odours of the food they seek.
The scientists said this was the first behavioural evidence that the chemical signature of plastic debris was attractive to a marine organism, and reinforces other work suggesting the odour could be significant.

The finding demonstrates an additional danger of plastic in the oceans, as it suggests that fish are not just ingesting the tiny pieces by accident, but actively seeking them out.
Matthew Savoca, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and lead author of the study, claims: “When plastic floats at sea its surface gets colonised by algae within days or weeks, a process known as biofouling. Previous research has shown that this algae produces and emits DMS, an algal based compound that certain marine animals use to find food. The research shows plastic may be more deceptive to fish than previously thought. If plastic both looks and smells like food, it is more difficult for animals like fish to distinguish it as not food.”
Plastic debris in the oceans, ranging from the microscopic to large visible pieces, is recognised as a growing problem as it does not readily degrade and hundreds of thousands of tonnes are dumped in the sea annually. Larger pieces have been found in the intestines of whales and seabirds, where they are thought to be potentially fatal, while the smallest pieces have been detected in the guts of even juvenile fish and molluscs. Numerous species of fish eaten by humans have been found to contain plastic, and the effect of eating these on human health is still unknown.

Efforts to reduce marine plastic have so far had little effect: microbeads widely used in cosmetics and other products have been banned in the US, the UK and other countries, but they only solve part of the problem, which is mainly caused by dumping of plastic rubbish. There could be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, campaigners have warned.

Fish eat microplastics driven by their odour. Above, debris found in the stomach of a fish in Portugal. Photograph: Paulo Oliveira/Alamy

Scientists have struggled to understand exactly how the massive increase in plastics may be affecting the behaviour of fish and marine ecosystems, and how to contain the problem.
A previous paper published in the journal Science that alleged juvenile fish were attracted to microplastics “like teenagers after junk food” was withdrawn earlier this year after controversy. The scientists involved in that paper, who have no relation to the authors of today’s study, were suspected of having exaggerated their data or failed to carry out the purported experiments properly. The new paper did not draw on that publication.
(Source: the Guardian, August 2017)

The Croatian group of participants to the “Save the Wave” project meeting, held from 13th to 19th September on Madeira island in Portugal, witnessed a sea turtle struggling in vain to dive into the ocean because of the plastic swallowed in its stomach. The sad event happened during a dolphin watch tour organized as part of the project activities of the 3 national groups from Croatia, Portugal and Greece under the frame of the Erasmus+ Youth Exchanges program.

The spectacle became even more dramatic when the Croatian young people realized that bureaucracy and lack of directions in emergency cases like that, are a serious obstacle obviously not only in Madeira, but in many other countries as well.

The objectives of that second and last meeting of the 3 national groups were to discover how much effort each participating country makes to fight plastic pollution, and which policies they develop and implement for the preservation of marine.
The three groups have also explored and researched, under the coordination of the Croatian organization “Udruga Prizma” and the support of the partner organizations “Teatro Metaphora” in Portugal and “Dione” local development centre in Greece, about their national poets, painters, sculptors, artists, who are deeply connected with nature and sea.

The conclusion of that project meeting was that we, like the Fall and the Drop, are all part of the same chain…

Σάββατο 20 Οκτωβρίου 2018

Catch the pulse of modern India and be part of the change!

Apply now to the Volunteer Paid Teaching and Youth Exchange projects

India has emerged as the fastest growing major economy in the world and is expected to be one of the top three economic powers of the world over the next 10-15 years, backed by its strong democracy and partnerships. 
India’s GDP is estimated to have increased 6.6 per cent in 2017-18 and is expected to grow 7.3 per cent in 2018-19. In April-July quarter of 2018-19, the GDP grew by 8.2 per cent. 
India has retained its position as the third largest startup base in the world with over 4,750 technology startups, with about 1,400 new start-ups being founded in 2016, according to a report by NASSCOM. 
India's labour force is expected to touch 160-170 million by 2020, based on rate of population growth, increased labour force participation, and higher education enrolment, among other factors, according to a study by ASSOCHAM and Thought Arbitrage Research Institute. 

Recent Developments 

With the improvement in the economic scenario, there have been various investments in various sectors of the economy. The M&A activity in India increased 53.3 per cent to US$ 77.6 billion in 2017 while private equity (PE) deals reached US$ 24.4 billion. Some of the important recent developments in Indian economy are as follows: 
  • Exports from India increased 20.7 per cent year-on-year to US$ 221.83 billion in April-August 2018. 
  • Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) was at 51.7 in August 2018, showing expansion in the sector. 
  • Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the country has reached US$ 74.8 billion in 2018 (up to August). 
  • Income tax collection in the country reached Rs 10.03 lakh crore (US$ 137.75 billion) in 2017-18. 
  • Companies in India have raised around Rs 21,000 crore (US$ 2.88 billion) through Initial Public Offers (IPO) in 2018 (up to August). 
  • India's Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) equity inflows reached US$ 389.60 billion between April 2000 and June 2018, with maximum contribution from services, computer software and hardware, telecommunications, construction, trading and automobiles. 
  • India's Index of Industrial Production (IIP) rose 5.4 per cent year-on-year in April-July 2018. 
  • Retail inflation in the country was at a 10 month low of 3.69 per cent in August 2018, while wholesale inflation was at 4.53 per cent. 
  • Around 10.8 million jobs were created in India in 2017. 
  • The top 100 companies in India are leading in the world in terms of disclosing their spending on corporate social responsibility (CSR), according to a 49-country study by global consultancy giant, KPMG. 
  • The bank recapitalisation plan by Government of India is expected to push credit growth in the country to 15 per cent, according to a report by Ambit Capital. 
  • India has improved its ranking in the World Bank's Doing Business Report by 30 spots over its 2017 ranking and is ranked 100 among 190 countries in 2018 edition of the report. 
  • India's ranking in the world has improved to 126 in terms of its per capita GDP, based on purchasing power parity (PPP) as it increased to US$ 7,170 in 2017, as per data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 
  • India is expected to have 100,000 startups by 2025, which will create employment for 3.25 million people and US$ 500 billion in value, as per Mr T V Mohan Das Pai, Chairman, Manipal Global Education. 
  • The World Bank has stated that private investments in India is expected to grow by 8.8 per cent in FY 2018-19 to overtake private consumption growth of 7.4 per cent, and thereby drive the growth in India's gross domestic product (GDP) in FY 2018-19. 
  • Moody’s upgraded India’s sovereign rating in November 2017 after 14 years to Baa2 with a stable economic outlook. 
Government Initiatives 

The Union Budget for 2018-19 was announced by Mr Arun Jaitley, Union Minister for Finance, Government of India, in Parliament on February 1, 2018. This year’s budget will focus on uplifting the rural economy and strengthening of the agriculture sector, healthcare for the economically less privileged, infrastructure creation and improvement in the quality of education of the country. As per the budget, the government is committed towards doubling the farmers’ income by 2022. A total of Rs 14.34 lakh crore (US$ 196.94 billion) will be spent for creation of livelihood and infrastructure in rural areas. Budgetary allocation for infrastructure is set at Rs 5.97 lakh crore (US$ 81.99 billion) for 2018-19. All-time high allocations have been made to the rail and road sectors. 
India's unemployment rate is expected to be 3.5 per cent in 2018, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). 
Numerous foreign companies are setting up their facilities in India on account of various government initiatives like Make in India and Digital India. Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, has launched the Make in India initiative with an aim to boost the manufacturing sector of Indian economy, to increase the purchasing power of an average Indian consumer, which would further boost demand, and hence spur development, in addition to benefiting investors. The Government of India, under the Make in India initiative, is trying to give boost to the contribution made by the manufacturing sector and aims to take it up to 25 per cent of the GDP from the current 17 per cent. Besides, the Government has also come up with Digital India initiative, which focuses on three core components: creation of digital infrastructure, delivering services digitally and to increase the digital literacy. 
Some of the recent initiatives and developments undertaken by the government are listed below: 
  • The Union Cabinet gave its approval to the North-East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS) 2017 in March 2018 with an outlay of Rs 3,000 crores (US$ 460 million) up to March 2020. 
  • Around 855,000 houses have been constructed up to August 21 2018, under Government of India’s housing scheme named Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). 
  • Village electrification in India was completed in April 2018. 
  • Around 10.16 million households have been electrified up to August 09, 2018 under the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA). 
  • Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) will be continued with an outlay of Rs 5,500 crore (US$ 755.36 million) for three years from 2017-18 to 2019-20, according to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). 
  • In February 2018, The Union Cabinet Committee has approved setting up of National Urban Housing Fund (NUHF) for Rs 60,000 crore (US$ 8.24 billion) which will help in raising requisite funds in the next four years. 
  • The target of an Open Defecation Free (ODF) India will be achieved by October 2, 2019 as adequate funding is available to the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), according to Ms Uma Bharti, Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India. 
  • The Government of India has decided to invest Rs 2.11 trillion (US$ 32.9 billion) to recapitalise public sector banks over the next two years and Rs 7 trillion (US$ 109.31billion) for construction of new roads and highways over the next five years. 
  • The mid-term review of India's Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20 has been released by Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, under which annual incentives for labour intensive MSME sectors have been increased by 2 per cent. 
  • The India-Japan Act East Forum, under which India and Japan will work on development projects in the North-East Region of India will be a milestone for bilateral relations between the two countries, according to Mr Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador of Japan to India. 
  • The Government of India will spend around Rs 1 lakh crore (US$ 13.73 billion) during FY 18-20 to build roads in the country under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). 
  • The Government of India plans to facilitate partnerships between gram panchayats, private companies and other social organisations, to push for rural development under its 'Mission Antyodaya' and has already selected 50,000 panchayats across the country for the same. 
  • The Government of India and the Government of Portugal have signed 11 bilateral agreements in areas of outer space, double taxation, and nano technology, among others, which will help in strengthening the economic ties between the two countries. 
Road Ahead 

India's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to reach US$ 6 trillion by FY27 and achieve upper-middle income status on the back of digitisation, globalisation, favourable demographics, and reforms. 
India's revenue receipts are estimated to touch Rs 28-30 trillion (US$ 385-412 billion) by 2019, owing to Government of India's measures to strengthen infrastructure and reforms like demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST). 
India is also focusing on renewable sources to generate energy. It is planning to achieve 40 per cent of its energy from non-fossil sources by 2030 which is currently 30 per cent and also have plans to increase its renewable energy capacity from to 175 GW by 2022. 
India is expected to be the third largest consumer economy as its consumption may triple to US$ 4 trillion by 2025, owing to shift in consumer behaviour and expenditure pattern, according to a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report; and is estimated to surpass USA to become the second largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) by the year 2040, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

(Source: ibef, 16.10.2018) 

Serving the purpose of the better understanding of international communities and upliftment of education of disadvantaged school children in India by providing them exposure and opportunity to mingle with and understand different world cultures, Sagreen international Educational Trust (SIET) -a registered trust in India committed in providing quality Volunteer Paid Teaching opportunities in India in the field of language, sports, Music, Arts, Crafts and Youth Exchange since 1999- 
and “Dione” local development centre established in 2012 at Ancient Olympia in Greece, 
provide international Volunteer Paid Teaching and Youth Exchange projects at host schools in the States of Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Punjab and Andaman & Nicobar Islands in India. 

Choosing a period between 4 and 12 months, international Volunteers and Interns can participate to the Volunteer English Teaching Internship program, the Volunteer Montessori Teaching Internship program, the Volunteer Sports Internship program, the Volunteer Music/Arts/Crafts/Sciences Teaching Internship program and the Youth Exchange Programs. 

Accommodation, meals, monthly stipend (Rs.8500- Rs.20000), two day beach holiday upon arrival, Wi-Fi, laundry facility and other organised services are provided by the Program. 
The project provides a unique opportunity to the Interns to take classes in Kindergartens, Pre-school, Elementary school, Middle school and High school. 

In addition, the teaching interns will have the opportunity to assist in academic works and participate in academic seminars and workshops. An internee who participates in the internship program becomes part of a unique Indian culture and community sharing knowledge of his culture and language with teachers and students. In return an internee can experience life in Indian culture and community and acquire sharing of knowledge, skill and learn different languages. 

Credit Certificates after successful completion of teaching in India will be provided to each Volunteer. 

Take the opportunity and apply now! 

Contact: Vaso Charitopoulou, vasso-charitopoulou@hotmail.com & ldcdioni@otenet.gr