Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs of 3rd October -2020

 

1)UN Summit on Biological Diversity:

Conservation targets set a decade ago In Aichi, Japan to be achieved by 2020, have failed

  • Evidence is presented by the latest UN Global biodiversity Outlook 5 report
  • None of the 20 target has been fully met, many countries have chosen to ignore the connection between biodiversity and well-being and depleted ecological capital in pursuit of financial prosperity

The targets that fell by the wayside are

  • Reform or phasing out of subsidies that erode biodiversity
  • Steps for resource use within safe ecological limits
  • Preventing industrial fisheries from destroying threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems
  • End to pollution including growing plastic waste

Partial progress is made on protecting surface and subsurface water, inland, coastal and marine areas

WWF living planet index points to a decline in vertebrate population by 68%

Convention on Biological Diversity

  • CBD is legally binding convention recognized for the first time that the conservation of biodiversity is a common concern of humankind and is an integral part of development process
  • The agreement covers all the ecosystems, species and genetic resources

Three main goals

  • The conservation of biodiversity
  • Sustainable use of the components of biodiversity
  • Sharing the benefits arising from the commercial and other utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way

Cartagena protocol

  • Protocol on biosafety
  • Is a is a protocol to CBD
  • Access to and transfer of Technology
  • Appropriate procedures to enhance the safety of biotechnology Technologies

Nagoya protocol

Protocol on access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilization to the convention

 

2) CAG’s observations in its financial audit report on denial state’s share of taxes:

  • The Financial Audit Report of the Government of India by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) for 2018-19 placed in Parliament on September 23 has raised significant issues of a lack of transparency and propriety.
  • The C&AG’s report stated that the Government of India did not transfer ?6,466 crore of compensation cess revenue in 2017-18.
  • Thus, a total of ?47,272 crore was retained in the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI).
  • The report also alluded to the non-apportionment of a portion of Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) among the States and retaining it in the CFI.
  • Cesses are earmarked taxes and to ensure a minimum allocation to important and priority programs, this method of financing could be used
  • In India even after number of cesses and surcharge were abolished when GST was implemented there are as many as 35 cesses levied by the finance and other ministers of the Government of India
  • The ostensible reasoning following the success is the belief that ring-fencing of revenue for specified priority purposes may evoke greater tax compliance as people can link the benefits with the taxes paid

Why too many cesses?

  • A major reason for the proliferation of cesses in India is to be found in the inter-governmental fiscal arrangements.
  • Article 270 of the Constitution requires the Union government to distribute the proceeds from all Central taxes listed in the Union List based on the recommendation of the Finance Commission.
  • However, Article 271 excludes the distribution of the revenue from any surcharge or cess levied by the Union government for any specified purpose.
  • As the Finance Commissions are appointed once in five years, the Union government can raise additional revenue from taxes mainly through the levy of cesses and surcharges to avoid sharing them with the States.
  • This has been practised for long and despite the adverse comments of many Finance Commissions, the Union government has found the practice convenient.

Impact of too many cesses on states Revenue?

  • This is one of the ways to partially negate the recommendation of the Finance Commission, particularly when the Centre sees the recommendations as generous to the States.
  • After the Fourteenth Finance Commission recommended that the share of the States in the divisible pool be pegged at 42%, almost all discretionary increases in taxes were done by levying cesses and surcharges.
  • The large increases in additional excise duties on petroleum products this year will entirely accrue to the Centre.
  • The States’ share in the gross Central taxes was 35% in 2015-16, the first year of the Fourteenth Finance Commission’s recommendation, but decreased to 32% in 2019-20, and in the current year, it could be less than 30% as a large volume of revenue from petroleum products is sought to be raised through additional excise duties.

Criticism of levying cess

  • When there are as many as 35 earmarked cesses, it is difficult to see all of them as priority areas requiring protection of funding
  • There is also a possibility of limiting the funding of important and priority areas to the amount of cess collected even when they require much larger amounts
  • Too many cesses also complicate the tax system and add to administrative and compliance cost
  • The operation of cesses involving collections and transfer to designated funds in the public accounts makes the entire process opaque as the operation of these funds to needs to be monitored and audited

In addition to

  • Off budget borrowings to cover Fertilizer and food subsidy
  • Financing irrigation projects from the long term irrigation fund created by National bank for Agriculture and Rural Development-NABARD
  • Financing of railway Projects through borrowings from the Indian Railway Finance Corporation IRFC
  • Short transfer of cess revenue to public accounts is a method used to obfuscate the budget to show lower revenue and fiscal deficits

 

3) Tribes India e-Marketplace’ Tomorrow:

India’s largest handicraft and organic products marketplace, Tribes India E-Marketplace (market.tribesindia.com) launched Keeping in line with the vision of the Prime Minister of making India Aatmanirbhar and self-reliant, this path breaking initiative of TRIFED under Ministry of

Tribal Affairs will showcase the produce and handicrafts of tribal enterprises from across the country and help them market their produce/ products directly, is also a major leap towards the digitization of tribal commerce.

Other TRIFED initiatives:

  • The inauguration of Tribes India’s 123rd and 124th outlets in Rishikesh and Kolkata
  • Inclusion of new tribal product ranges from the states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh
  • Partnership of TRIFED/ Tribes India with Amazon in their Seller Flex program.
  • Launch of Pakur Honey by Trifed & Tribes India.
  • It is 100% natural honey which is Multi Floral, Forest Fresh, gathered by Santhal Tribals and Vulnerable Pahadhiya tribes from Pakur, Jharkhand.
  • Tribes India e-Marketplace is an ambitious initiative through which TRIFED aims to onboard 5 lakh tribal producers for sourcing of various handicraft, handloom, natural food products across the country and brings the best of tribal produce.
  • The suppliers comprise of individual tribal artisans, tribal SHGs, Organizations’/ Agencies/ NGOs working with tribals.
  • The platform provides the tribal suppliers with an Omni-channel facility to sell their goods through their own retailers and distributors, TRIFED’s network of Outlets and ecommerce partners as well as their own account in e-Marketplace.
  •  The E-Marketplace will also facilitate B2B trade connecting tribals dependent on Minor Forest Produces and Medicinal plants to large buyers /manufacturers.

This in turn will help ensure livelihoods for the tribal populations of our country and go a long way in making them self-reliant.

 

4) Sarkar & Chattopadhyay form of entropy formula:

New formula to help estimate the mass of Black Hole

  • Black holes (BH) cannot be observed directly, but their presence can be detected by the huge amount of energy that is liberated through temporary accumulation of matter outside the BH, before it dives into the BH, a process called accretion.
  • The formula that can assess the spectrum emitted from the accretion discs around black holes.
  • Spectra of accretion discs can help estimate the mass of the black hole.
  • Accretion flow around BH is composed of ionized plasma, which is a soup of bare electrons and protons.
  • Since electrons are more prone to radiative losses than the protons, it is expected that around a BH, electrons and protons would settle down into two separate temperature distributions.
  • Scientists from Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India, investigated the nature of these two-temperature flows.
  • The new formula called the Sarkar & Chattopadhyay form of entropy formula that can only be applied near the horizon where gravity overpowers any other interactions like energy exchange terms between ions and electrons.
  • Entropy is the measure of randomness in any system. This new formula allows to measure the entropy of the flow close to the black hole horizon.
  • The second law of thermodynamics says nature selects or prefers those processes which maximize entropy.
  • Using this formula, the scientists found that with the increase of the mass supply to the central BH, the accretion disc becomes brighter and more high energy photons are emitted.
  • With the increase of mass of the BH, luminosity increases, and the bandwidth of the emitted spectrum, both in the high energy and low energy range, increases, but the spectral shape does not change.
  • In other words, matter around a massive BH will produce a lot of photons in the low energy and high energy band, but around a smaller BH, it will emit predominantly in the X-rays.
  • The results could contribute in the understanding of physical processes around extreme objects like BHs

 

5) Data Governance Quality Index:

Department of Fertilizers under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has been ranked 2nd amongst the 16 Economic Ministries /

Departments and 3rd out of the 65 Ministries / Departments with a score 4.11 on a scale of 5 on Data Governance Quality Index (DGQI)

  • A Survey conducted by Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO), Niti Aayog to assess different Ministries /Departments’ performance on the implementation of Central Sector Schemes (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS).

In this survey, an online questionnaire was prepared under six major themes of DGQI:

  • Data Generation
  • Data Quality
  • Use of Technology
  • Data Analysis, Use and Dissemination;
  • Data Security
  • HR Capacity and Case Studies.
  • Weightages were assigned to the themes and sub-weightages to each question within every theme to arrive at final DGQI scores

To avoid straight-forward irrelevant comparisons, Ministries / Departments were classified in 6 (six) categories: Administrative, Strategic,

Infrastructure, Social, Economic and Scientific.

The ranking will immensely help improve the implementation framework of government policies, schemes and programmes to achieve the desired goals

 

6) INDIA’S MERCHANDISE TRADE:

Context: India’s merchandise exports registered a positive growth of 5.27%

  • India’s merchandise imports, showed a decline of 19.60%
  • India is net importer, with a trade deficit of USD 2.91 billion with a substantial improvement of 75.06%
  • Value of non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports registered a positive growth of 11.12%
  • Non-oil and non-gold imports had a negative growth of 13.29%
  • Top 5 commodities of export which have recorded positive growth are: Other cereals, Iron ore, Rice, Oil meals and Carpet
  • Top 5 commodity groups of import showing negative growth in are: Silver, Cotton Raw and Waste, Newsprint, Gold, Transport equipment

 

7) BONGOSAGAR AND IN-BN CORPAT:

The second edition of Indian Navy (IN) – Bangladesh Navy (BN) Bilateral Exercise Bongosagar is scheduled to commence in Northern Bay of Bengal.

  • Exercise Bongosagar, whose first edition was held in 2019, is aimed at developing inter-operability and joint operational skills through conduct of a wide spectrum of maritime exercises and operations.
  • Ships from both navies will participate in surface warfare drills, seamanship evolutions and helicopter operations.
  • This exercise will be followed by the 3rd edition of IN – BN Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT) in Northern Bay of Bengal from 4 to 5 October 2020, wherein IN and BN units will undertake joint patrolling along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
  • Conduct of CORPATs has strengthened understanding between both the navies and instituted measures to stop conduct of unlawful activities.
  • Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kiltan, an indigenously built Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvette and INS Khukri, an indigenously built Guided-Missile Corvette are participating along with Bangladesh Naval Ship (BNS) Abu Bakr, a Guided-Missile Frigate and BNS Prottoy, a Guided-Missile Corvette.
  • Maritime Patrol Aircraft from both navies and integral helicopter(s) would also be participating in the exercise.
  • India and Bangladesh have a close, long-standing relationship covering a wide spectrum of activities and interactions, which has strengthened over the years.
  • The people of India and Bangladesh also share close cultural bonds and a shared vision of democratic society and a rules-based order.
  • This edition of Exercise Bongosagar assumes greater significance since it is being conducted during Mujib Barsho, the 100th birth anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
  • Exercise Bongosagar and IN – BN CORPAT will be undertaken over three days and reflects the priority that Indian Navy accords to Bangladesh Navy as part of Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region).

 

8) Legislations to protect women:

Context: Union Minister for women and child development addressed, UN on 25th anniversary of the Beijing declaration and platform for action to highlight India’s achievement in gender equality

  • The UNGA high-level meeting was held under the theme accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls
  • The Minister spoke about a shift in India from a paradigm of women’s development to women LED development

Legislations like those pertaining to

  • Sexual harassment of women at workplace
  • Protection of women from domestic violence
  • Protection of children from sexual offence and our criminal laws, amendments have been strong enablers, of women empowerment and protection of children specially girls

The Government of India took a series of measure for ensuring safety security and wellbeing of women during covid pandemic

Criticism:

  • Activists said that omission of caste and religious divide and domestic violence, were glaring in her speech
  • Different governments in the world today are pushing behind women’s agenda
  • The lack of priority given to women’s needs and safety can be seen from the budget of the ministry of women and child development

where a mere 4% of the budget has been allocated towards service and empowerment of women and prevention of crimes

Beijing declaration

  • The 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, was one of the largest ever gatherings of the United Nations, and a critical turning point in the world’s focus on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
  • The Beijing Declaration was a resolution adopted by the UN at the end of the Fourth World Conference on Women.
  • The resolution adopted to promulgate a set of principles concerning the equality of men and women.
  • 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995)

 

9) Islamist ‘separatism in France:

President Emmanuel Macron, trying to rid France of what authorities say is a “parallel society” of radical Muslims thriving outside the values of the nation, is laying the groundwork Friday for a proposed law aimed at helping remedy the phenomenon.

  • Separatism is the term used to describe the underworld that thrives in some neighborhoods’ around France where Muslims with a radical vision of their religion take control of the local population to inculcate their beliefs.
  • Among the goals of the proposed law is strengthening public services, better controlling local associations and bringing clarity to the financing of religious organizations.
  • It is meant to be aimed at all kinds of “separatism” but is expected to focus on Islamism, raising concerns among some in France’s largely moderate Muslim community and some on the left that it will further stigmatise the country’s No. 2 religion.
  • The issue is particularly sensitive in a country strongly attached to secularism and a 1905 law separating church and state.

 

10) Anti-dumping probe against China:

India has initiated an anti-dumping probe against two products imported from China, following complaints by domestic companies.

  • The Commerce Ministry’s investigation arm Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) is probing alleged dumping of ‘Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) Blends’, used in commercial and residential air conditioning; and ‘Decor paper’ from China.
  • On the basis of the duly substantiated written application by or on behalf of the domestic industry, and having satisfied itself, on the basis of the prima facie evidence submitted by the domestic industry, the DGTR has initiated the investigations, according to two separate notifications of the directorate.
  • If it is established that dumping has caused material injury to the domestic players, the DGTR would recommend imposition of anti-dumping duty on the imports from China.
  • The finance ministry takes the final decision to impose the duties.
  • Countries start anti-dumping probes to determine whether their domestic industries have been hurt because of a surge in cheap imports.
  • As a countermeasure, they impose these duties under the multilateral regime of the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation (WTO).
  • The duty is aimed at ensuring fair trading practices and creating a level-playing field for domestic producers vis-a-vis foreign producers and exporters.
  • India has already imposed an anti-dumping duty on several products to tackle cheap imports from various countries, including China.

What is anti-dumping? What is its purpose in International Trade?

  • Dumping is said to occur when the goods are exported by a country to another country at a price lower than its normal value.
  • This is an unfair trade practice which can have a distortive effect on international trade.
  • Anti-dumping is a measure to rectify the situation arising out of the dumping of goods and its trade distortive effect.
  • Thus, the purpose of anti-dumping duty is to rectify the trade distortive effect of dumping and re-establish fair trade.
  • The use of anti-dumping measure as an instrument of fair competition is permitted by the WTO.
  • In fact, anti-dumping is an instrument for ensuring fair trade and is not a measure of protection per se for the domestic industry.
  • It provides relief to the domestic industry against the injury caused by dumping.

Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)

  • The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) provides duty-free treatment to goods of designated beneficiary countries.
  • The program was authorized by the Trade Act of 1974 to promote economic growth in the developing countries and was implemented on January 1, 1976.

 

11) Indian leopard:

  • Vulnerable on iucn red list
  • Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation poaching illegal trade

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