Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Daily Current Affairs 4th October -2021

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy -UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 4th October -2021

Daily Current Affairs 4th October -2021

                                                                                                  

Topics                                                                                                                                               

  • The Plastic Waste Management (Second Amendment) Rules, 2021- Concerns
  • India extended support for protecting the Antarctic environment, the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas
  • Key provisions of the Draft E-Commerce Rules
  • Rakthamichthys Mumba
  • Index of Eight Core Industries

 

 

1.The Plastic Waste Management (Second Amendment) Rules, 2021- Concerns

#GS3-Environmental Pollution & Degradation

 

Context

  • The Plastic Waste Management (Second Amendment) Rules, 2021 were published in September of that year.

In particulars

  • With this amendment, the government reversed its previous position of prohibiting the use of recycled plastic or newspaper for food packaging.
  • The second amendment was announced just a few weeks after the first amendment, which listed 20 single-use plastic items to be phased out.
  • It was reported in accordance with subrule 4 of rule 5 of the Environment Protection Rules, 1986.

Criticism of the Plastic Waste Management Rules (Second Amendment), 2021

1.Non-compliance with previous progressive legislation

  • 2016 Plastic Waste Management Regulations
  • In a nutshell, it forbids the use of recycled plastic in food contact applications.

2.In contravention of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regulations

  • The FSSAI banned the use of recycled plastic or newspaper for food packaging on July 1, 2019.
  • Ideally, FSSAI is the apex body for food safety, so MoEFCC must have followed FSSAI’s lead.

3.Because this is not a part of the Draft rule, there will be no public discussion.

  • Two major rules were added to the Plastic Waste Management Rules without being included in the Draft Rules 2021.
  • First, the company was assured that more single-use plastic products would be added to the phase-out list only a decade after the notification of the first amendment in 2021.
  1. It effectively granted large corporations a 10-year moratorium on polluting.
  • The second step is to allow the use of recycled plastics in food packaging.
  1. Because these two issues were not included in the draught, there was no public consultation on them.
  2. It is opposite to the core essence of democracy.

Plastics from Recycled Sources

  • Plastic recycling is the process of converting waste plastic into new and useful products.
  • According to the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, India recycles 60% of its plastic waste.

Recycling’s Advantages Plastics

  • Reduced reliance on landfills
  • Protects the environment from plastic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by conserving resources.
  • Aids in the reduction of non-biodegradable plastic, which would otherwise end up in the environment, on land and in ocean garbage patches, for years.

Plastic Recycling Difficulties

  • Informal Workforce and Value Chain:
  • Kabadiwalas, waste pickers, itinerant buyers, and small-scale recyclers make up the majority of the value chain for plastic recycling.
  • Unscientific methods:
  • The use of crude/unscientific methods to manufacture plastic pellets raises concerns about contamination and purity of recycled plastic.
  • Unknown Recycled Plastic Source:
  • Plastic is used in a wide range of industries, from medicines to electronic equipment to chemical fertilisers.
  • Because recycled plastic may contain traces, it should not be used in food contact applications.
  • Inadequate Standards and Monitoring Mechanisms
  • It is nearly impossible to tell how much recycled plastic has been added to a blended product, which is made by combining virgin and recycled polymer.

For food applications, recycled plastics vs. recycled glass or metals

Metals/Glass Recycled

  • Materials such as glass, aluminium, and steel can be recycled indefinitely with a 75 percent efficiency.
  • The percentage of recycled materials in new containers can reach up to 70%.
  • They have been used safely for food contact applications with almost no risk of contamination.
  • They rarely degrade under normal conditions and are simple to work with, especially when dealing with contamination issues.

Plastics from Recycled Sources

  • Over 4,000 legacy chemicals are naturally present in post-consumer plastic.
  • These are primarily the result of plastic additives used to achieve desirable properties.
  • The substitution of used plastic for virgin plastic distorts fibres.
  • Contamination with carcinogenic and other toxic chemicals is extremely likely.
  • Furthermore, the informal workforce and unscientific recycling methods raise the hazard risk.

Suggestions for India

  • Transparency in information regarding the law’s intent and objectives
  • The laws/rules should not be enacted without extensive consultation with the public and experts.

Before the FSSAI considers including recycled plastic in food contact applications, we must ensure the following:

  • Recycling should only be done at authorised recycling facilities.
  • Data on the number and capacity of plastic recycling plants in the country is extremely limited.
  • We need a yardstick to understand our capacity to recycle correctly and reuse the material, thus closing the loop.
  • Initially, only non-food applications of recycled plastic were considered.
  • It will aid in understanding the issues that industries face in terms of production and social acceptability.
  • Inventory of the types of processes
  • It will aid in the identification of plastic recycling processes that are safe enough to produce recycled plastic for use in food contact applications.
  • Proper guidelines in accordance with US regulations
  • This should include the source of the post-consumer plastic waste, the type of polymer that can be used, the nature of the food material that can be packaged, the average time for which the plastic will be in contact with the food, and finally, the temperature that the packaging material may be subjected to while still in contact with the food material.
  • A working mechanism must be created.
  • It must include all stakeholders, including but not limited to the MoEFCC, FSSAI, the Central Pollution Control Board, all State Pollution Control Boards and Pollution Control Committees, the Urban Local Bodies, plastic industry representatives, including the plastic recycling industry, and consumers.
  • This will allow us to devise a logical solution for the use of recycled plastic.

 

2.India extended support for protecting the Antarctic environment, the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas

#GS3- Environmental Impact Assessment

 

Context

  • Recently, India expressed its support for protecting the Antarctic environment by co-sponsoring the European Union’s proposal to designate East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

In particulars

Goals and requirements

  • India supports long-term protection of the Antarctic environment, and the two proposed MPAs are critical for regulating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
  • The decision by India to consider extending support and co-sponsoring the MPA proposals is motivated by conservation and sustainable utilisation principles, as well as adherence to global cooperation frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Development Goals, UN Decade of Oceans, Convention on Biodiversity, and other treaties to which India has signed.
  • India urged member countries of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to keep India involved in the formulation, adaptation, and implementation mechanisms of these MPAs in the future.
  • The proposal to designate East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as MPAs was first presented to the CCAMLR in 2020, but it failed to gain traction at the time. Significant progress has been made since then, with Australia, Norway, Uruguay, and the United Kingdom agreeing to co-sponsor the proposal.
  • This is the first time India is considering co-sponsoring an MPA proposal at the CCAMLR, aligning itself with countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States, all of which are actively considering supporting MPA proposals.
  • India would join these countries in co-sponsoring the MPA proposals by the end of October 2021.

What precisely are Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)?

  • It is a marine protected area that protects all or some of its natural resources.
  • It entails the protection of natural areas in accordance with predefined management objectives.
  • MPAs can be protected for a variety of reasons, including economic resource conservation, biodiversity conservation, and species protection.
  • They are formed by delineating zones within which permitted and non-permitted uses exist.
  • It provides nature-based solutions to aid global efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Significance

  • Strictly protected MPA networks in coastal carbon habitats (mangroves, seagrasses, salt marshes) can ensure that no new emissions are produced as a result of these areas’ loss and degradation.
  • At the same time, they encourage new carbon sequestration by restoring degraded coastal habitats.
  • MPA networks that are well-integrated can help species survive by allowing them to move around and avoid certain pressures.
  • Furthermore, MPAs with controlled stressors can be used as sentinel (research) sites to help track the effects of climate change.

Issues

  • The majority of existing MPAs lack sufficient human and financial resources to properly implement conservation and management measures.
  • Our ability to support climate change adaptation and mitigation is hampered by a lack of MPAs that are strictly and permanently protected.

Way Forward

  • Processes such as Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) can be used by countries to improve MPA management and help achieve multiple goals such as sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
  • Adaptation strategies, such as National Adaptation Plans and Programmes of Action, as well as mitigation efforts such as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, provide opportunities to use MPAs as a tool for ecosystem-based adaptation and mitigation.
  • Increased political commitments at all levels (national, regional, and international) can help improve the governance of MPA programmes and the resources available to them. This can ensure that MPAs are both effective and numerous enough to realise their full potential as a key tool for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The Weddell Sea

?       It is a large embayment of the Antarctic coastline that extends the Southern Ocean deep southward.

?       The Weddell Sea is bounded on the west by West Antarctica’s Antarctic Peninsula, on the east by East Antarctica’s Coats Land, and on the extreme south by frontal barriers of the Filchner and Ronne ice shelves.

Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)

?       It was established in 1982 by international convention with the goal of conserving Antarctic marine life. This was in response to rising commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources, a keystone component of the Antarctic ecosystem, as well as a history of over-exploitation of other marine resources in the Southern Ocean.

?       It is an international commission with 26 members, and the Convention has been ratified by an additional ten countries. The Commission agrees on a set of conservation measures that determine the use of marine living resources in the Antarctic based on the best available scientific information.

?       Since 1986, India has been a permanent member of the CCAMLR. The Ministry of Earth Sciences in India coordinates CCAMLR work through its attached office, the Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology (CMLRE) in Kochi, Kerala.

 

3.Key provisions of the Draft E-Commerce Rules

#GS3- Indian Economy & Related Issues

 

Context

  • The Industry Department and the Corporate Affairs Ministry have recently been outspoken in their opposition to key provisions of the Draft e-Commerce Rules.

In particular

  • The vice chairman of Niti Aayog has warned that they “will severely harm Ease of Doing Business and have an impact on small businesses.”
  • These include the sellers’ fallback liability, the proposed ban on flash sales, and the need for definitional clarity of terms in the draught rules, such as “cross-selling” and “mis-selling.”

Draft E-Commerce Regulations

The government has proposed changes to the Consumer Protection Act’s e-commerce rules in order to make the framework within which businesses operate more stringent.

 Ban on Flash Sales:

  • The draft rules seek to prohibit e-commerce entities from conducting “specific flash sales.”

Fall-back Liability:

  • The rules also include the concept of “fall-back liability,” which states that e-commerce firms will be held liable if a seller on their platform fails to deliver goods or services due to negligent behaviour, resulting in customer loss.

Manipulation Restrictions:

  • The rules also propose to prohibit e-commerce companies from “manipulating search results or search indexes.”

 Consumer Consent:

  • E-commerce companies will also be prohibited from disclosing consumer information to anyone without the consumer’s express and affirmative consent.

Provide Domestic Alternatives:

  • Companies will also be required to provide domestic alternatives to imported goods, bolstering the government’s push for made-in-India products.

 National Consumer Helpline:

  • The draught amendment also proposes that e-commerce companies be required to join the National Consumer Helpline.

Registration is required:

  • Any online retailer must first register with the Department of Promotion for Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

No Differential Treatment:

  • The proposed rules require that no logistics service provider of a marketplace e-commerce entity provide differentiated treatment between sellers in the same category.

Associated Enterprise:

  • An e-commerce platform’s “associated enterprise” is any entity with 10% or more common ultimate beneficial ownership.

Time-bound Information:

  • According to the draught rules, the e-commerce company must provide the information requested by the government agency “within 72 hours of receipt of an order from the said authority.”

Problems and Criticisms

Overreach:

  • The most serious criticism from within the government is related to the Consumer Affairs Department’s perceived “overreach” — venturing into areas where other departments, such as the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), already work.

Some contradictory rules:

  • Several contradictions in the draught rules have also been identified, causing confusion among sectoral players, including some provisions that contradict the DPIIT’s earlier rules governing the sector.

Broad definition of “related party”:

  • A “broad definition” of “related party” has been identified — one “that can potentially include all entities such as those involved in logistics, any joint ventures, etc.”
  • This definition greatly broadens the scope of the new rules.
  • The definition needs to be clarified; otherwise, it will be difficult for not only foreign players like Amazon and Flipkart, but also homegrown companies like Tata and Reliance to sell their various brands like 1mg, Netmeds, Urban Ladder, Milkbasket, and so on on their super-apps.

Some joint ventures will also face difficulties, such as the one between the Tata Group and Starbucks, which would be considered a related party under the proposed provisions and thus would be unable to sell products on a Tata super-app.

  • According to the draft rules, every e-commerce marketplace must ensure that no related parties or associated enterprises do anything that the e-commerce entity itself cannot do. According to sources, the provisions may be changed to include specific exclusions in the definition to address these concerns.

Fall-back liability:

  • It has been noted that in some cases, provisions such as fall-back liability run counter to the DPIIT’s policy for foreign funding of e-commerce companies, which prohibits these companies from having control over their inventory.
  • In light of the Product Liability provision in Section 2(34) and Chapter VI of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, the concept of ‘fall back liability’ may be examined.

Flash Sale:

  • The government’s initial proposal stated that all flash sales would be prohibited, but a later clarification stated that this would not apply to ‘conventional’ flash sales.
  • These are usually pre-planned sales events for new smartphones with limited supplies at a discount. It is unclear what constitutes a traditional flash sale.
  • The definitions of Cross Selling, Miss-selling, and Flash Sale should be reconsidered.
  • These ideas are covered in the section on ethical and responsible e-commerce.

Strict Regulations:

  • Some of the proposed provisions, such as having a compliance officer, complying with law enforcement requests, and so on, follow in the footsteps of MeitY’s Information Technology (Intermediary) Rules, 2021.
  • Several courts, including the Delhi High Court, the Bombay High Court, and the Karnataka High Court, are considering legal challenges to these IT rules.

Conclusion

  • These rules appear to further restrict consumer choices.
  • There is an urgent need to incorporate all stakeholders’ concerns.

 

4.Rakthamichthys Mumba

#GS3- Species in News

 

Context

  • In a Mumbai well, a new species of swamp eel belonging to the genus Rakthamicthys that is endemic to India was discovered.

In particulars

  • It was given the scientific name Rakthamichthys mumba.
  • The mumba lacks eyes, fins, and scales, has jaws that are equal in forwarding extent, a different gill aperture, and a crescentic-shaped cephalic shape.
  • The species is distinguished from its congener from India’s Western Ghats by the presence of jaws that project forward equally when viewed laterally, the absence of eyes, and the presence of more vertebrae.
  • The species’ current known habitat is only the Mumbai well.
  • Members of the family synbranchidae are very unusual, relict lineages of percomorphs that consist of eel-like fishes that are found in every country except Antarctica. This family currently consists of 26 valid species that are distinguished from other teleosts by the absence of paired, median, and caudal fins.

 

5.Index of Eight Core Industries

# GS3- Indian Economy & Related Issues

 

Context

  • The Office of Economic Adviser, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, published the Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) for August 2021.

In particulars

  • The combined Index of Eight Core Industries was 133.5 in August 2021, up 11.6 percent (provisional) from the Index of August 2020.
  • Coal, Natural Gas, Refinery Products, Steel, Cement, and Electricity production increased in August 2021 compared to the previous year.

Concerning the Index of Eight Core Industries

  • The output of coal, crude oil, natural gas, steel, cement, fertilisers, electricity, and refinery products is captured by the Index of Eight Core Industries.
  • These core industries are regarded as the main or key industries of the economy, and they serve as the foundation for all other industries.
  • The index has a weight of 40.27 percent in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), indicating a sharp contraction in that indicator.
  • In order to align with the new series of IIP, the index’s base year has been changed from 2004-05 to 2011-12.

Daily Current Affairs 4th October -2021

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