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Daily Current Affairs

Sarat Chandra IAS Academy – UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 8th January 2022

CURRENT AFFAIRS 08-01-2022

Daily Current Affairs – Topics

  • The CSTO
  • Extinguishing the tobacco industry’s main narrative
  • Green Energy Corridor
  • Asian Water bird Census (AWC)
  • Clouded Leopard

1.The CSTO

#GS2-Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings

Context

  • The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-led military alliance, has dispatched troops to Kazakhstan to help suppress rising unrest.

In depth information

Kazakhstan’s current condition

  • Kazakhstan, which has long been regarded as one of Central Asia’s most stable ex-Soviet republics, is currently experiencing its worst crisis.
  • Protests against rising petrol prices have devolved into widespread turmoil.
  • The nationwide demonstrations are also indicative of a broader, regional desire for political change.
  • Under mounting pressure, Kazakhstan’s president requested that the CSTO force be deployed in the country.
  • Concerns over the deployment of CTSO troops
  • It has been suggested that Russian nationalists could use internal unrest to establish their rights in Northern Kazakhstan.

What exactly is CSTO?

  • The CSTO is a military alliance comprising seven former Soviet states led by Russia that was established in 2002.
  • Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, and Tajikistan are the current members of the CSTO.
  • In the CSTO, Afghanistan and Serbia have observer status.
  • Its goal is to ensure that any member facing external assault is protected collectively

CSTO’s main functions are outlined below.

  • Political scientists have referred to it as the Eurasian analogue of NATO, which has 29 member nations while the CSTO has only six.
  • Arms sales and manufacturing, as well as military training and exercises, are supported by the CSTO, making it the most important multilateral defence organisation in the former Soviet Union.
  • Non-proliferation of weapons: In order to achieve these goals, the CSTO coordinates efforts to combat the illegal circulation of weapons among member states and has established law enforcement training for its members.

What are the benefits of being a member of the CSTO?

  • While CSTO membership prevents member states from joining other military alliances, it does limit their relationship with NATO.
  • Benefits in Russian arms imports: Its members receive discounts, subsidies, and other incentives to purchase Russian weaponry, which facilitates military cooperation.
  • Assurance against military conquest: In the CSTO, an attack on one signatory is seen as an attack on all. However, it is unknown whether or not this feature works in practise.

 

2. Extinguishing the tobacco industry’s main narrative

#GS2-Health & Education

Context

  • Tobacco use is without a doubt extremely harmful to public health. We must identify ways and means to lower the demand for tobacco among current and prospective users.

In depth information

Tobacco’s impact

  • Tobacco is a commodity that kills over 13 lakh people in India each year.
  • Annual financial burden: Tobacco use is predicted to cost India 177,340 crore each year, accounting for more than 1% of the country’s GDP.
  • In India, almost 27 crore individuals over the age of 15 use tobacco in some form, while 8.5 percent of school-aged children in the age bracket 13-15 use tobacco in some way.
  • Is it true that price and tax policies are successful in reducing tobacco use?
  • When tobacco products become more expensive, people either stop using them or use them less frequently, and many people are encouraged to avoid starting the habit.
  • The tobacco industry is constantly creating techniques and storylines to avoid any form of tax rises on cigarette goods because it lowers both income and earnings.
  • The tobacco industry has long utilised the narrative of “growing illicit commerce” to deflect potential tax rises on tobacco goods in most countries throughout the world.

In India, the situation is similar.

  • According to a recent analysis by the Tobacco Institute of India, India’s illicit cigarette volume increased by 44 percent from 2011 to 2019, with high and rising tax rates providing a lucrative opportunity for tax evasion and encouraging growth in illegal trade.
  • According to a report published in 2018, illicit cigarettes account for 2.7 percent of the market, based on a survey of empty cigarette packs gathered from retail shops across India.
  • The second study, published in 2020, estimated that the percentage of illicit cigarettes was 5.1 percent in 2009-10 and 6.6 percent in 2016-17, based on tax-gap analyses.

Do tax increases result in an increase in the illegal tobacco trade?

  • According to estimates from the tobacco industry, illegal cigarette trade amounts for up to 25% of the cigarette market in India, and this would only grow with increased taxation.
  • These estimations and conclusions, on the other hand, are not based on any open investigations.
  • In recent years, two studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals estimated that the illicit cigarette trade accounts for 2.7 percent to 6.6 percent of the total market. When compared to the tobacco industry’s claims, this is a very small percentage.
  • Any tax rise on tobacco products will affect the tobacco industry’s revenue and earnings, hence it has always fought any attempt to raise taxes on tobacco goods.

a path forward

  • Protocol of the World Health Organization: One of the key goals of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products under the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is to eliminate all types of illicit trade in tobacco products through a package of measures.
  • Strong governance, the establishment of an international track and trace system, and the security of supply chains are among the tools and methods provided by the Protocol to eliminate or reduce illicit trade.
  • India has previously accepted the World Health Organization Protocol and should now take the lead in putting these safeguards in place to effectively combat even the modest levels of illicit trade.

Conclusion

  • There is no scientific or public health reason to keep tobacco taxes low because of a fictitious concern of increased clandestine traffic.

 

3.Green Energy Corridor

#GS2-Government Policies

Context

  • The Green Energy Corridor (GEC) Phase-II for Intra-State Transmission System was recently approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (InSTS).

 In depth information

GEC-1:

  • Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan are currently implementing Phase 1 of the Green Energy Corridor.
  • It is assisting with the grid integration and power evacuation of around 24 GW of renewable energy.

GEC-2:

  • Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh will benefit from grid integration and power evacuation for roughly 20 GW of renewable energy (RE) power projects.
  • The transmission systems will be built during a five-year period, from Financial Year 2021-22 to Financial Year 2025-26.
  • It is expected to cost Rs. 12, 031 crores to build, with the Central Finance Assistance (CFA) accounting for 33% of the entire project cost.
  • The CFA will aid in the offset of intra-state transmission expenses, lowering electricity costs.

Green Energy Corridor (GEC)

  • The Green Energy Corridor (GEC) scheme will provide an extra transmission line with a transformation capacity of 27,500 Megavolt-Amperes (MVA) of the substations through the Intra-State Transmission System.
  • In Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh, the scheme will enable grid integration and power evacuation of 20 GW of renewable energy power projects.
  • A third of the project’s cost will be covered by Central Financial Assistance, which will also help offset Intra-State Transmission costs. This will result in lower electricity prices for end-users.
  • The transmission systems will be built during a five-year period, from fiscal year 2021-22 to fiscal year 2025-26.

Significance

  • It will contribute to the country’s long-term energy security and encourage environmentally friendly growth by lowering carbon emissions.
  • The CFA will assist in reducing power costs by offsetting intra-state transmission tariffs. The end users will profit from the government’s assistance.
  • It will create a huge number of direct and indirect job opportunities in the power and allied sectors for both skilled and unskilled workers.

Ahead of Schedule

  • While the concept of green infrastructure has gained some traction in India, the government must also consider blue infrastructure as part of its sustainable transition.
  • While planning, it is critical to consider and protect both hydrological and ecological features of the urban landscape.

 

4.Asian Waterbird Census (AWC)

#GS3- Biodiversity and Species in News

Context

  • When comparing counts from the previous three years, the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) discovered lesser waterbird species diversity at East Delhi’s Sanjay Lake.
  • It is now taking place in portions of Delhi-NCR.
  • The census data is expected to aid in the identification and protection of vital waterbird habitat.

About the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC):

  • It began in 1987 in the Indian subcontinent and has quickly expanded to include key Asian regions such as Afghanistan, Japan, Southeast Asia, and Australasia.
  • The survey includes the whole East Asian-Australasian Flyway as well as a significant portion of the Central Asian Flyway.
  • The East Asia – Australasia Flyway stretches from Arctic Russia and North America to Australia and New Zealand’s southernmost points. It covers eastern India and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as well as a huge portion of East Asia and all of Southeast Asia.
  • Between the Arctic and Indian Oceans, and the adjacent island chains, the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) encompasses a huge continental area of Eurasia.

Benefits:

  • The count not only gives an indication of the number of birds at the wetland, but also of its health: a large number of waterbirds suggests that the wetland has enough feeding, resting, roosting, and foraging areas.
  • The data gathered aids in the nomination and management of internationally significant locations such as national parks, Ramsar Sites, East Asian-Australasian Flyway Network Sites, and Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs).
  • It also contributes to the implementation of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) goals (CBD).

Census results from the last few years

  • It only registered 13 species, down from 17 species between 2019 and 2021.
  • Only two are winter migratory species, with 11 being resident water birds.
  • The Common Moorhen, Indian Cormorant, White-throated Kingfisher, White-breasted Waterhen, Little Grebe, and Red-wattled Lapwing are among the resident species. Only one pair of Indian Spot-billed Ducks was located in these wetlands, despite the fact that they are normally plentiful.
  • The Great Cormorant, which migrates from Southeast Asia, and the Eurasian Coot, which migrates from Temperate Asia, were the two migratory species recorded.
  • This year, the number of birds has climbed from 90 in 2021 to 132.
  • It is, however, less than the 190 birds counted in 2019 and the 347 birds counted in 2020.
  • Only Indian Cormorants have increased in number from 11 last year to 62 this year.

Issues

  • Waterbirds, notably migrating birds, used to find Sanjay Lake to be a good home.
  • However, even migrating ducks, which have been observed here before, were not seen this time.
  • Because waterbirds are a good indicator of a lake’s health, a decrease in species diversity indicates that the lake is degrading.
  • The environment has been devastated by human disturbance produced by activities such as boating, and sewage has found its way into the lake, despite repeated fruitless attempts to plug it.
  • The lake also has a problem with water availability, as there isn’t a consistent supply of high-quality water.

Measures

  • The Delhi Jal Board has resolved to address the problem of water scarcity.
  • The DDA will also attempt to purify the water on-site.

 

5.Clouded Leopard

#GS3- Species

Context

  • At an elevation of 3,700 metres in a community-owned forest along the Indo-Myanmar border in Nagaland, a team of researchers recently captured photographic proof of clouded leopards.

 In depth information

Clouded Leopard Information

  • Neofelis nebulosa (scientific name)
  • It is a medium-sized cat that measures 60 to 110 cm in length and weighs between 11 and 20 kilogrammes.
  • It gets its name from the peculiar ‘clouds’ on its coat, which are ellipses with the insides a darker colour than the pelt’s background colour.
  • It has a stocky frame and the longest canine teeth of any extant feline in proportion.
  • Its natural habitat is tropical evergreen rainforests, but it can also be found in dry tropical forests and mangrove swamps.
  • It was discovered in the Himalayas at relatively high altitudes.
  • Southern China, Bhutan, Nepal, northeast India, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, and Bangladesh are among the nations where it can be found in Southeast Asia and the Himalayas.
  • In Taiwan, China, it is thought to be extinct.
  • They are thought to be in decline as a result of habitat degradation and poaching.
  • Protection Status: According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, it is classified as ‘Vulnerable.’

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