Daily Current Affairs 29th August –Topics
- China’s interest in Taliban ruled Afghanistan
- BRICS Agricultural and Environmental ministerial meetings, 2021
- Merger of three supermassive Blackholes spotted
- SEBI and Sweat Equity Rules
- The Deepar Beel Wildlife Sanctuary :Eco-sensitive zone
- Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme
1.China’s interest in Taliban ruled Afghanistan
#GS2 #India and its Neighborhood – Relations #Effect of Policies & Politics of Developed & Developing Countries on India’s Interests
Context: With the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and Taliban taking over Afghanistan, China has come out as one of the first nations to develop diplomatic channels with the Taliban. This engagement stems from China’s economic and security interest in Afghanistan.
- China has over the past 20 years of US-led governance of Afghanistan, kept a very low profile in Afghanistan.
- Lithium reserves: Afghanistan is possibly home to what may be the globe’s largest reserves of lithium.
- China at present has regulatory stakes in cobalt mines in Democratic Republic of Congo, niobium mines in Brazil, platinum group metals in South Africa, and lithium reserves in Australia, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.
- Afghanistan remained the outlier with large-scale rare earth resources and almost insignificant Chinese presence.
- However, given United States exit from the area, the Taliban-controlled state may soon become part of China’s resource feeder nations.
- Mineral Deposits: Afghanistan is estimated to have mineral deposits worth up to $3 trillion.
- They include resources like gold, oil, bauxite, rare earths, chromium, copper, natural gas, uranium, coal, iron ore, lead, zinc, gemstones, talc, sulphur, travertine, gypsum and marble.
- China’s Belt and Road Initiative: China’s strategic Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI) could get more spread if it can extend the initiative from Pakistan to Afghanistan, with a Peshawar-to-Kabul motorway.
- Given its location at the crossroads of Central, South and South-West Asia, Afghanistan is poised to benefit from and provide benefit to China within the central and southern belts.
- Within the BRI plans, data connectivity falls under the Digital Silk Road. Under this initiative, China has invested in the fibre optics sector in Afghanistan.
- With Chinese investment, 25 provinces of Afghanistan are now linked to fibre optics in China through the Wakhan Corridor.
China’s Security Concerns in Afghanistan:
- According to the UN security council, the Turkistan Islamic Movement (TIM) or the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) had roots in Afghanistan as it received support from the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the 2000s.
- ETIM is a Uyghur Islamic extremist organisation originated in Western China with the objective of establishing an independent state called East Turkestan in the place of Xinjiang.
- Since 2002, the ETIM has been listed as a terrorist organisation by the UN Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee. However, the US removed it from its list of Terrorist Organizations in 2020.
- Thus, ETIM poses a direct threat to China’s national security and territorial integrity.
- China is worried that Afghanistan could become a potential haven for the Uyghur extremist group, which could strike back against the widespread repression of Uyghurs.
Impact of China-Taliban Engagement on India:
- A new route of BRI through Kabul would render India’s reluctance to join BRI less significant.
- With China-Taliban partnership, there can be development of a new regional geopolitical alliance between China-Pakistan-Taliban, which may go against India’s interest.
- China’s grip in Afghanistan will also hamper connectivity projects to Central Asia via Afghanistan.
- For example, Chabahar Port, International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), TAPI Pipeline.
- Engaging in talks with Taliban would let India to seek security guarantees from the insurgents in return for continued development assistance.
- India can also encourage the Taliban to explore the possibility of its autonomy from Pakistan.
- There is a need for the global community to fight against the global concern of terrorism.
- In this context, it high time to adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (proposed by India at UN in 1996).
2.BRICS Agricultural and Environmental ministerial meetings, 2021
#GS2 # Bilateral, Regional & Global Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests # Important International Institutions
#GS3 #Climate change and conservation
Context: Recently, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Environment and Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting was virtually held under the chair of India.
11th Meeting of Agriculture Ministers of BRICS:
- Union Agriculture Minister Shri Narendra Singh Tomar chaired this meet.
- Agriculture ministers of BRICS deliberated virtually on the theme “BRICS Partnership for Strengthening Agro Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Security”
BRICS Agricultural Research Platform (BARP):
- The Ministers articulated their intent to make the BRICS Agriculture Research Platform developed by India functional and encourage research cooperation to improve the use and application of agricultural technologies for meeting the needs of producers and processors.
- It has been set up in India for strengthening the cooperation in the field of agricultural research & innovations amongst the BRICS member States.
- It will promote cooperation in the areas of agricultural research, extension, technology transfer, training and capacity building.
- As a global platform for science-led agriculture, BARP will help in addressing the problems of world hunger, undernutrition, poverty and inequality by promoting sustainable agricultural development through strategic cooperation in agriculture and allied sectors.
Action Plan of 2021-24 for Agricultural Cooperation Adopted:
- This provides for greater cooperation in the field of agriculture amongst BRICS nations and concentrates on the themes of food security, welfare of farmers, conservation of agrobiodiversity, resilience of food and agricultural production systems, promotion of digital agricultural solutions etc.
- These are integral to the sustainable development of agriculture.
- India highlighted its efforts in conserving the agro-biodiversity by:
- Establishing and preserving the National Gene banks for plants, animals, fish, insects and agriculturally important microorganisms at different respective Bureaus.
- Actively encouraging the diversification of its agri-food systems through nationwide programs such as pulses, oilseeds, horticultural crops, National Bamboo Mission and the recently launched National Palm Oil Mission.
- The goal of these policies is to increase farmers income along with providing diversification in both farm and plate.
7th BRICS Environment Ministerial 2021:
Focus Areas of the meet:
- Air pollution, circular economy, fighting marine plastic litter and single use plastic product pollution, forestry, as well as the prevention and mitigation of forest fires, and biodiversity conservation.
- BRICS nations also agreed to bring coordinated efforts on waste management.
- As the efficient management of wastes including recovery of energy and secondary raw materials is crucial for resource conservation, healthy ecosystem and quality of life of the people.
New Delhi Statement on Environment was Adopted:
- Statement is aimed at promoting the spirit of Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus in Environment among the BRICS Nations, especially ahead of the COP15 Biodiversity meet and COP26 (Climate Change) later this year.
Daily Current Affairs 29th August 2021 – BRICS Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy Dialogue:
- India has started this initiative to enable the exchange of knowledge and finest practices on waste management, resource efficiency and circular economy.
- The countries will also engage in dialogues on construction, agriculture, solar, biofuels, packaging, electronic wastes, food, water and textiles.
- India acknowledged that the 2021 Climate Change Report by the IPCC may be the last indication for taking tangible collective global actions against global environmental and climate challenges.
- Actions should be directed by equity, national priorities and circumstances, and the principles of “Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC)”.
3.Merger of three supermassive Blackholes spotted
#GS3 #Science and technology- Awareness in different fields-Space # Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology
Context: Recently, Indian researchers have discovered the merger of 03 supermassive black holes from 03 galaxies to form a triple Active Galactic Nucleus.
- Many Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) pairs have been discovered in the past, but triple AGN are extremely rare, and only a few has been detected before using X-ray observations.
- Supermassive black holes are hard to detect because they do not emit any light.
- But they can make known their presence by interacting with their surroundings.
- When the dust and gas from the surroundings fall onto a supermassive black hole, some of the mass is swallowed by the black hole, but some of it is transformed into energy and discharged as electromagnetic radiation that makes the black hole appear very luminous. They are called active galactic nuclei (AGN) and release enormous amounts of ionized particles and energy into the galaxy and its environment.
- Both of these in due course contribute to the growth of the medium around the galaxy and eventually the evolution of the galaxy itself.
- Scientists were studying the AGN in the two massive barred spiral galaxies NGC7733 and NGC7734 when they detected unfamiliar emissions from the centre of the latter and a curious movement of a large bright clump within it, having a different velocity than that of NGC7733.
- As the 03rd one was a separate galaxy, the scientists named it NGC7733N.
- All 03 merging black holes were part of galaxies in the Toucan constellation.
- Toucan Constellation: It is situated in the southern hemisphere of the sky. It is visible at latitudes south of 15 degrees between August and October.
- It is completely below the horizon for anyone north of 30 degrees. It is a tiny constellation, occupying an area of 295 square degrees. This ranks it 48th in size among the 88 constellations in the night sky.
- They are quite far away when compared to the nearest galactic neighbour – the Andromeda galaxy is 2.5 million light years away.
- This study used data from the Ultra-Violet Imaging Telescope (UVIT) onboard the first Indian space observatory ASTROSAT, the European integral field optical telescope called MUSE mounted on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and infrared images from the optical telescope (IRSF) in South Africa.
Collision of Galaxies:
- If two galaxies collide, their black hole will also come closer by shifting the kinetic energy to the surrounding gas.
- The distance between the blackholes reduces with time until the separation is around a parsec (3.26 light-years).
- The two black holes are then incapable of losing any further kinetic energy to get even closer and merge. This is known as the final parsec problem.
Significance of this discovery:
- The existence of a third black hole can solve the final parsec problem. The two galaxies can come closer when another black hole or a star passes by and takes away some of their combined angular momentum.
- The finding shows that multiple accreting black holes may be more common in our universe and especially common in galaxy groups. So, the growth of black holes may be driven by such mergers in groups.
About Black Hole:
- A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying.
- Because no light can get out, people can’t see black holes. They are invisible.
- Space telescopes with special tools can help find black holes. The special tools can see how stars that are very close to black holes act differently than other stars.
- In April 2019, the scientists at the Event Horizon Telescope Project released the first-ever image of a Black Hole (more precisely, of its shadow).
- The concept was theorized by Albert Einstein in 1915 and the term ‘black hole’ was coined in the mid-1960s by American physicist John Archibald Wheeler.
- Usually, the black holes belong to two groups:
- One group vary between a few solar masses and tens of solar masses. These are thought to form when massive stars die.
- The other group is of supermassive black holes. These vary from hundreds of thousands to billions of times that of the sun from the Solar system to which Earth belongs.
- Gravitational waves are formed when 02 black holes orbit each other and merge.
4.SEBI and Sweat Equity Rules
#GS3 #Statutory Bodies, Quasi-Judicial Bodies #Mobilisation of Resources-Capital Market
Context: The SEBI (Share Based Employee Benefits and Sweat Equity) Regulations, 2021 were recently implemented by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The regulations have broadened the pool of employees eligible for stock (equity) options.
- The SEBI (Share Based Employee Benefits) Regulations, 2014 (SBEB Regulations) and the SEBI (Issue of Sweat Equity) Regulations, 2002 have been merged (Sweat Equity Regulations).
- SEBI is a statutory body established by the provisions of the SEBI Act of 1992. Its primary function is to protect the interests of securities investors and to regulate the securities market.
- Sweat equity is a non-monetary contribution made by a company’s individuals or founders to the company. Startups and business owners who are short on cash typically use sweat equity to fund their ventures.
- Sweat equity shares, as defined in Section 2(88) of the Companies Act of 2013, are equity shares issued by a company to its directors or employees at a discount or for consideration other than cash.
- It will be issued for the purpose of providing know-how or making available rights in the form of intellectual property rights or value additions.
- The maximum yearly limit of sweat equity shares that a listed company can issue has been set at 15% of the existing paid-up equity share capital within the overall limit, not exceeding 25% of the paid-up capital at any time.
- Furthermore, for companies listed on the Innovators Growth Platform (IGP), the yearly limit will be 15% and the overall limit will be 50% of the paid-up capital at any time. It will be in effect for ten years from the date of incorporation of the company.
- SEBI launched IGP, formerly known as the ‘Institutional Trading Platform,’ in 2019 for the listing of issuers who make extensive use of technology, information technology, intellectual property, data analytics, biotechnology, or nanotechnology to provide products, services, or business platforms with significant value addition.
- This proposal will benefit all new start-up businesses looking to list on the IGP platform.
Share-based Employee Benefits:
- Employees who work exclusively for a company or any of its group companies, including a subsidiary or an associate, will now be able to receive share-based employee benefits.
- It is expected to not only assist companies in making better use of share-based employee benefits in order to retain employees for a longer period of time, but also to instil in the employee a sense of responsibility and ownership, motivating him/her to work for the company’s growth.
- The regulations have waived the requirement of a minimum vesting period and lock-in period (minimum 1 year) for all share benefit schemes in order to provide immediate relief to an employee or his/her family in the event of permanent incapacity or death.
- The new rules will only apply to publicly traded companies because they were developed by SEBI, which only regulates publicly traded companies.
- A listed company is a stock exchange-listed company with openly tradable shares, whereas an unlisted company is one that is not listed on the stock exchange.
- Any changes required for unlisted companies must be incorporated into the Companies Act 2013.
5.The Deepar Beel Wildlife Sanctuary :Eco-sensitive zone
#GS3 #Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
Context: The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change has declared the Deepar Beel Wildlife Sanctuary on the south-western outskirts of Guwahati an eco-sensitive zone.
- The notification designated an eco-sensitive zone “to an extent varying from 294 metres to 16.32 km,” with a total area of 148.9767 square kilometres.
- For decades, the wetland has been threatened by a railway track on its southern rim, a garbage dump, and encroachment from human habitation and commercial units.
The latest move has the following ramifications:
- Except for small temporary structures for eco-tourism activities, no new commercial hotels and resorts shall be permitted within 1 km of the protected area’s boundary or up to the extent of the eco-sensitive zone, whichever is closer.
- Hydroelectric projects, brick kilns, commercial use of firewood, and discharge of untreated effluents into natural water bodies or land areas are among the activities prohibited in the eco-sensitive zone.
About Deepar Beel:
- Deepar Beel is one of Assam’s largest freshwater lakes, as well as the state’s only Ramsar site and an Important Bird Area.
- It is a permanent freshwater lake located in a former Brahmaputra River channel to the south of the main river.
Why does this wetland require protection?
- Deepar Beel’s wetland is a one-of-a-kind habitat for aquatic flora and avian fauna.
- The sanctuary is home to approximately 150 bird species, two of which are critically endangered, one endangered, five vulnerable, and four near-threatened.
- Elephants visit the wetland on a regular basis from the adjoining Rani and Garhbhanda Reserve Forests, and the wetland is an important part of the elephant habitat.
- Aside from these, the sanctuary has 12 species of reptiles, 50 species of fish, six species of amphibians, and 155 species of aquatic macrobiota.
What exactly are Eco-sensitive Zones (ESZs)?
- The MoEFCC designates Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) around Protected Areas, National Parks, and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
- The goal of declaring ESZs is to act as “shock absorbers” for protected areas by regulating and managing activities in and around them.
- They also serve as a transition zone between areas of high protection and areas of lower protection.
- The term “Eco-Sensitive Zones” is not mentioned in the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986.
- According to the Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2002, an ESZ could extend up to 10 kilometres around a protected area.
- Moreover, in the case where sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, are beyond 10 km width, these should be included in the ESZs.
6.Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme
#GS3 #Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced the launch of the Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2021-22 Series VI, which will be available for subscription from August 30 to September 3, 2021.
Concerning the Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme:
- The government issued the sovereign gold bond in 2015.
- The government issued these bonds to help reduce India’s reliance on gold imports.
- The move was also intended to shift Indians’ saving habits away from physical gold and toward paper savings with Sovereign backing.
- The bonds will only be available for purchase by resident Indian entities such as individuals, HUFs, trusts, universities, and charitable organisations.
Tenor and denomination: :
- The bonds will be denominated in gram(s) of gold multiples, with a basic unit of 1 gramme. The tenor will be for eight years, with an exit option beginning in the fifth year that can be exercised on the interest payment dates.
Minimum and maximum allowable values:
- The minimum permissible investment limit will be one gramme of gold, while the maximum limit will be four kilogrammes for individuals, four kilogrammes for Hindu Undivided Families, and twenty kilogrammes for trusts and similar entities, as notified by the government from time to time.
- In the case of joint ownership, the investment limit of 4 kg will apply only to the first applicant.
- Bonds can be used as loan collateral. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is to be set at the same level as the Reserve Bank’s regular gold loan mandated from time to time.
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