Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Daily Current Affairs 20th September -2021

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 20th September -2021

 

 Daily Current Affairs 20th September -2021

 

Topics

  • Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO)
  • Issues with Agreement on Agriculture
  • Global Methane Pledge
  • Five Country Biosphere reserve
  • SPIN (Strengthening the Potential of India)

 

 

1) Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)

#GS2 #Important International Institutions #Bilateral, Regional & Global Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests

 

Context: Russia-led CSTO to hold military drills in Central Asia due to situation in Afghanistan

 

Key Details:

  • Collective Security Treaty Organization is planning to hold military exercises in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan due to the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.
  • CSTO members include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.

Significance of the military exercise:

  • Central Asians states bordering Afghanistan are concerned about security threats emanating from the it and the possibility for tens of thousands of refugees to pour over the border.
    • Out of the six-members of CSTO, Tajikistan is the only country that shares a border with Afghanistan.
  • The Taliban has sought to reassure neighboring countries and Russia that it poses no threat since gaining control over much of Afghanistan’s territory, including Kabul, the capital.
    • It has pledged to rule differently than during its brutal regime of the 1990s that saw women confined to their homes, most entertainment banned, and punishments that included stonings and public executions.
  • But their promises are being treated with scepticism by many Afghans and governments around the world.
  • Moscow has moved to reiterate its position as a key player in the region after the United States’ hasty retreat from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
    • Russia, which has military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, has vowed to defend Moscow’s allies in Central Asia against any security threat from Afghanistan.
  • The group also said it has taken “collective measures” to ensure Tajikistan’s security in case of an “aggravation” on its border with Afghanistan.

About Collective Security Treaty Organization:

  • It is an intergovernmental military alliancethat came into effect in 2002.
  • It was signed by Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan on May 15, 1992 as part of Collective Security Treaty, 1992 (Tashkent Treaty).
  • Current members include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan
    • Afghanistan and Serbia hold observer status in the CSTO.
  • The headquarter is in Moscow.
  • Main aim of the CSTO is to strengthen peace, international and regional security including cybersecurity and stability, the protection on a collective basis of the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the member states.

 

Highlights of CSTO Charter:

  • The CSTO charter reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force.
  • Signatories would not be able to join other military alliances or other groups of states.
  • While aggression against one signatory would be perceived as an aggression against all.
  • The Treaty also provides a mechanism for consultations in case of a threat to security, territorial integrity and sovereignty of one or more member-states or a threat to international peace and security.
  • CSTO holds yearly military command exercises for the CSTO nations to have an opportunity to improve inter-organization cooperation.

 

 

2) Issues with Agreement on Agriculture

 #GS3 #Agriculture #Issues Related to Direct & Indirect Farm Subsidies & Minimum Support Prices #Issues of Buffer Stocks & Food Security #GS2 #WTO Reforms

 

Context:Recently,while attendingG-33 Virtual Ministerial Meeting, India pointed out that Agreement on agriculture at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was riddled with a deep imbalance that favours the developed countries.

Key Details:

  • G-33 Virtual Ministerial Meeting was organised by Indonesia to discuss priority issues for the upcoming Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC-12) of WTO.
  • Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goel in his brief intervention advised to correct the historical asymmetries and imbalance as the first step in agriculture reform, to ensure a rule-based, fair and equitable order.
  • He urged that G33 to work for positive outcomes on a permanent solution to Public Stockholding (PSH) for food security purposes, finalization of a Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) quickly and a balanced outcome on Domestic Support.

About the Agreement on Agriculture:

  • WTO members concluded the Agreement on Agriculture, to address government policies that distort markets and restrict trade.
  • Agreement on Agriculture was negotiated during the Uruguay Round (1986-1994).
  • This came into force in 1995.
  • This initiated reductions in subsidies and trade barriers to make markets fairer and more competitive.
  • It also provided for members to continue negotiations for further reform, taking into account concerns such as food security and the environment.
  • These ongoing talks led in 2015 to a historic decision to abolish agricultural export subsidies and new rules for other forms of farm export support.
  • The WTO’s Agriculture Committee oversees implementation of the Agreement and provides a forum for members to address related concerns.

The Agreement covers:

  • Market access — the use of trade restrictions, such as tariffs on imports.
    • This provision calls for access to imported agricultural goods in the member countries.
    • Market Access includes provisions on tariffication, tariff reduction and trade facilitation in agriculture.
  • Domestic support
    • Domestic support refers to the government subsidies that guaranteed Minimum Price (or Input subsidies) which are provided at the domestic level either directly or product-specific or both.

 

Under this, Subsidies are categorized into:

  • Export competition — the use of export subsidies and other government support programmes that subsidize exports.
    • These may be in Cash or in kind.
  • Under the Agreement, WTO members agree to “schedules” or lists of commitments that set limits on the tariffs they can apply to individual products and on levels of domestic support and export subsidies.

G-33:

  • The G33 is a coalition of developing countries, established prior to the 2003 Cancun ministerial conference, that have coordinated during the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, specifically in regard to agriculture.
    • India is a part of the G33, which is a group of 47 developing and least developed countries.
  • It was created in order to help group countries which were all facing similar problems.
  • The group has concerns regarding agriculture in relation to WTO negotiations, and wants to limit the degree of market opening required of developing countries.
  • The group has supported the creation of a “special products” exemption, which would let developing countries to exempt certain products from tariff reductions, and also a “special safeguard mechanism” which allows developing countries to raise tariffs on agricultural imports that are injurious to domestic farmers.

 

3) Global Methane Pledge

#GS3 #Environmental Pollution & Degradation #Conservation #GS2 #Effect of Policies & Politics of Developed & Developing Countries on India’s Interests

 

Context:The European Union and the United States recently announced the Global Methane Pledge.

  • It isan initiative to reduce global methane emissions to be launched at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November in Glasgow.
  • It aims to cut methane emissions by a third by the end of this decade.
  • President Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged countries at the US-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) to join the Pledge.

Key Details:

  • Countries joining the Pledge commit to a collective goal of reducing global methane emissions by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030.
  • It also envisages on moving towards using best available inventory methodologies to quantify methane emissions, with a particular focus on high emission sources.
  • The European Union and 08 countries have already indicated their support for the Global Methane Pledge.
    • These countries include 06 of the top 15 methane emitters globally and together account for over one-fifth of global methane emissions and nearly half of the global economy.

Significance of the Pledge:

  • Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, about 80 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide,
    • As per recent IPCC report, it accounts for about half of the 1.0 degrees Celsius net rise in global average temperature since the pre-industrial era.
  • Delivering on the Pledge would reduce warming by at least 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2050.
    • The world is now about 1.2C hotter now than in pre-industrial times.
  • Methane reduction brings additional vital benefits, including improved public health and agricultural productivity.
    • As per the Global Methane Assessment from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), achieving the 2030 goal can prevent over 200,000 premature deathsand over 20 million tons of crop losses a year by 2030 by reducing ground-level ozone pollution caused in part by methane.

Methane Gas:

  • Methane is the simplest hydrocarbon, consisting of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms (CH4).
  • It is flammable, and is used as a fuel worldwide.
  • Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas.
  • Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil.
  • Methane emissions also result from livestock and other agricultural practices, land use and by the decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills.
  • China, the United States, Russia, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Mexico are estimated to be responsible for nearly half of all anthropogenic methane emissions.

Reduction Opportunities for Methane:

  • Industry: Upgrading the equipment used to produce, store, and transport oil and natural gas can reduce many of the leaks that contribute to CH4 emissions.
    • Methane from coal mines can also be captured and used for energy.
  • Agriculture: Methane from manure management practices can be reduced and captured by altering manure management strategies.
    • Additionally, modifications to animal feeding practices may reduce emissions from enteric fermentation.
  • Waste from Homes and Businesses: Because CH4 emissions from landfill gas are a major source of CH4 emissions, emission controls that capture landfill CH4 are an effective reduction strategy.

 

4) Five Country Biosphere reserve

 #GS3 #Biodiversity and conservation #In-situ & Ex-Situ

#Ecological Hotspots#National Guidelines, Legislations & Other Programmes.

 

Context: Recently, UNESCO declares world’s first 5-country biosphere reserve in ‘Amazon of Europe’.

 

Key Details:

  • Mura-Drava-Danube (MDD) was declared as the world’s first ‘five-country biosphere reserve’ by the UN Agency.
  • The 1-million hectare Mura-Drava-Danube is the now the largest riverine protected area in Europe.
  • The biosphere reserve covers 700 kilometres of the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers and stretches across Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia.
  • As per World Wide Fund, this reserve “represented an important contribution to the European Green Deal and contributed to the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy in the Mura-Drava-Danube region.”
    • The strategy’s aim is to revitalise 25,000 km of rivers and protect 30% of the European Union’s land area by 2030.

Significance of the declaration:

  • This recognition was a decree to all 05 countries to jointly advance the protection and revitalisation of the Mura-Drava-Danube area and boost sustainable business practices.
  • This Reserve has one of the richest species diversity in Europe.
    • It is home to floodplain forests, gravel and sand banks, river islands, oxbows and meadows.
  • It is home to continental Europe’s highest density of breeding white-tailed eagle as well as endangered species such as the little tern, black stork, otters, beavers and sturgeons.
  • It is also an important annual resting and feeding place for more than 250,000 migratory birds, according to WWF.
  • Almost 900,000 people live in the biosphere reserve.
  • Projects implemented in the reserve have a combined funding of around 20 million Euros and are co-financed by the European Union.
    • These projects put river revitalisation, sustainable business practices enhancing cross-border cooperation into focus.

Biosphere Reserve (BR)

  • BR is an international designation by (UNESCO) for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large areas of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination of both.
  • The main characteristics of biosphere reserves are:
    • Achieving the 03 interconnected functions: conservation, development and logistic support;
    • Outpacing traditional confined conservation zones, through appropriate zoning schemes combining core protected areas with zones where sustainable development is fostered by local dwellers and enterprises with often highly innovative and participative governance systems;
    • Demonstrating sound sustainable development practices and policies based on research and monitoring;
    • Fostering dialogue for conflict resolution of natural resource use;
  • BRs are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located.
  • Their status is internationally recognized.
  • There are 727 biosphere reserves in 131 countries, including 22 transboundary sites.

Zone Divisions:

  • Core Areascomprises a strictly protected zone that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation.
  • Buffer Zonessurrounds or adjoins the core area(s), and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training and education.
  • The transition area is where communities foster socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable economic and human activities.

 

5) SPIN (Strengthening the Potential of India)

 #GS2 #Government policies and interventions #GS3 #Employment #Indigenization of Technology

 

Context: Recently, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) launched the SPIN (Strengthening the Potential of India) scheme to empower marginalized potters’ community.

About SPIN Scheme:

  • KVIC acts as a facilitator for financial aid to potters through bank and also providing training to the artisans, opting for this scheme.
  • This will help the potters to branch out their activities and increase their income.
  • It is aimed at sustainable development by creating local self-employment which is aligned with the Prime Minister’s commitment of “Job to Every Hand” (Har Hath Me Kaam).

 

Salient features of the scheme:

  • It is a no-subsidy program.
  • KVIC facilitates potters to get bank loans under Pradhan Mantri Shishu Mudra Yojana.
  • No financial burden on the exchequer.
  • Beneficiaries can repay the loans in easy installments.
  • It will reduce their dependence on government subsidy and thus make potters self-reliant.

About Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana:

  • It is a flagship scheme of Government of India to “fund the unfunded” by bringing such enterprises to the formal financial system and extending affordable credit to them.
  • It faciltates a small borrower to borrow from all Public Sector Banks such as PSU Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Cooperative Banks, Private Sector Banks, Foreign Banks, Micro Finance Institutions (MFI) and Non Banking Finance Companies (NBFC) for loans upto Rs 10 lakhs for non-farm income generating activities.
  • The scheme was launched in 2015.
  • Loans under this scheme are collateral-free loans.
  • Any Indian Citizen who has a business plan for a non-farm sector income generating activity whose credit need is less than Rs 10 lakh can approach for the loan.
  • Types of loan provided:
    • Shishu: Covering loans up to Rs. 50,000.
    • Kishore: Covering loans above Rs. 50,000 and up to Rs. 5 lakh.
    • Tarun: Covering loans above Rs. 5 lakh and up to Rs. 10 lakh.

Daily Current Affairs 20th September -2021

 

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