Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Current Affairs 25th May-2021

CURRENT AFFAIRS 25-05-2021

Topics

  • Covid 19 and mental health
  • International energy Agency
  • India-Israel
  • Cyclone
  • Gold Hallmarking
  • Foreign Direct Investment:

 

  1. Covid 19 and mental health

Context: Helplines report spike in calls for mental health counseling amid Covid-19 pandemic.

Psychological impact of Covid-19:

  • It is inducing a considerable degree of fear, worry and concern.
  • Stress and anxiety because of quarantine, loneliness.
  • It is more among certain groups in particular, such as older adults, care providers and people with underlying health conditions.
  • Fear, worry, and stress are normal responses to perceived or real threats, and at times when we are faced with uncertainty or the unknown.

This stress can lead to:

  • Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances

Reasons behind:

  • Fear of contracting the virus.
  • Significant changes to our daily lives as our movements are restricted.
  • Faced with new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues.
  • The pandemic has also prevented people on long-term psychiatric treatment from accessing it.

Concerns for persons with mental illness:

  • Persons with pre-existing mental illnesses and substance use are particularly disadvantaged during the lockdowns.
  • For persons with mental illness or epilepsy, reduced access to medication can lead to relapse of symptoms, as can the compounded stress.
  • For persons with substance use disorders, sudden withdrawal leading to seizures, delirium, agitation, and even suicide have been described

Initiatives to address the problem of mental health:

  • The Mental Health Care Act (MHCA) 2017 came into force in 2018 to meet the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which India ratified in 2007.
  • KIRAN: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has launched a 24/7 toll-free helpline to provide support to people facing anxiety, stress, depression, suicidal thoughts and other mental health concerns.
  • Manodarpan Initiative: It is an initiative of the Ministry of Education under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. It is aimed to provide psychosocial support to students, family members and teachers for their mental health and well-being during the times of Covid-19.
  • WHO, together with partners, is providing guidance and advice during the COVID-19 pandemic for health workers, managers of health facilities, people who are looking after children, older adults, people in isolation and members of the public more generally, to help us look after our mental health.

Way forward:

  • The psychological impact of fear and anxiety induced by the rapid spread of pandemic needs to be clearly recognized as a public health priority for both authorities and policy makers who should rapidly adopt clear behavioral strategies to reduce the burden of disease and the dramatic mental health consequences of this outbreak.
  • Telemedicine should be really implemented especially in areas where mental health services are poorly represented or severely impaired by the rapid spread of pandemic and lockdown restrictions.
  • Community Partnership: By forming self-help groups of carers families along with NGO’s which brings community participation and helps reduce the social stigma associated with mental illness.
  • Marginalized populations such as elderly individuals or those with psychological problems should be able to actively consult with clinical psychotherapists to rapidly detect warning signs.
  • Increasing mental healthcare facilities and related infrastructure through more resource allocation in the budget.

 

  1. International energy Agency: Net zero by 2050

Context: Recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its Net Zero Emissions (NZE) Roadmap – named ‘Net Zero by 2050’.

Background:

  • This report is the world’s first comprehensive study of how to transition to a net zero energy system by 2050.
  • ‘Net zero emissions’ refers to achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere.
  • It sets out a cost-effective and economically productive pathway, resulting in a clean, dynamic and resilient energy economy dominated by renewables like solar and wind instead of fossil fuels.
  • The report examines key uncertainties, such as the roles of bioenergy, carbon capture and behavioural changes in reaching net zero.

Need of the Roadmap:

  • Despite many pledges and efforts by governments to tackle the causes of Global warming, co2 emissions from energy industry have increased by 60% since the signing of United Nations framework convention on climate change in 1992.

Focus of Roadmap:

  • The path to net-zero emissions is narrow, Staying on it requires the massive deployment of all available clean energy technologies – such as renewables, EVs and energy efficient building retrofits – between now and 2030.
  • A surge in clean energy investment can bring jobs and growth
  • To reach net zero emissions by 2050, annual clean energy investment worldwide will need to more than triple by 2030 to around $4 trillion.
  • This will create millions of new jobs, significantly lift global economic growth.
  • Net zero means huge declines in the use of coal, oil and gas.
  • This requires steps such as halting sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars by 2035, and phasing out all unabated coal and oil power plants by 2040
  • It will require greater international cooperation among countries, to ensure that developing economies have the financing and technologies they need to reach net zero in time.
  • It suggests the following on global electricity generation towards 2050:
  • 714% more renewables.
  • 104% more nuclear.
  • 93% less coal (and all remaining coal with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).
  • 85% less natural gas (with 73% of that with CCS)

Principles to be followed:

Technology Neutrality:

  • Technology neutrality, with adoption driven by costs, technological readiness, country and market conditions and trade-offs with wider societal goals.
  • Technology Neutrality is generally described as the freedom of individuals and organizations to choose the most appropriate and suitable technology to their needs and requirements for development, acquisition, use or commercialisation, without dependencies on knowledge involved as information or data.

Universal Cooperation:

  • Universal international cooperation, in which all countries contribute to net zero, with an eye to a ‘just transition’ and where advanced economies lead.

Minimizing Volatility:

  • An orderly transition that seeks to minimise stranded assets where possible, while ensuring energy security and minimising volatility in energy markets.

Criticism:

  • Ignorance: IEA did not consider historical emitters, ignoring the principle of ‘climate justice’.
  • Developed countries benefited from the Industrial Revolution at the cost of emitting GHGs, leading to climate change.
  • Hence, they have the economies to decarbonise, allowing space for poor and developing countries to get financing and innovation organised to switch to cleaner energy options.

About IEA:

  • Established in 1974 as per framework of the OECD in Paris, France, IEA is an autonomous intergovernmental organisation.
  • MISSION – To ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its member countries and beyond.
  • IEA mainly focuses on its energy policies which include economic development, energy security and environmental protection. These policies are also known as the 3 E’s of IEA.
  • Composition and eligibility:
  • It has 30 members at present. IEA also includes eight association countries.
  • A candidate country must be a member country of the OECD. But all OECD members are not IEA members.
  • India became an Associate member of IEA in March 2017
  • The World Energy Outlook Report is released by the IEA annually.
  • Other Reports:
    • Global Energy & CO2 Status Report.
    • World Energy Statistics.
    • World Energy Balances.
  • Recently, India has inked a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the IEA to strengthen cooperation in global energy security, stability and sustainability.

 

3.India-Israel

Context: India and Israel sign a three-year work program for cooperation in Agriculture

Background:

  • India and Israel have had bilateral relations since 1993 in the agricultural sector.
  • Both signed a three-year work program agreement for development in Agriculture cooperation, while affirming the ever-growing bilateral partnership and recognizing the centrality of agriculture and water sectors in the bilateral relationship.
  • India and Israel are implementing the “INDO-ISRAEL Agricultural Project Centres of Excellence” and “INDO-ISRAEL Villages of Excellence”.

Aim :

  • The work program will aim to grow existing Centres of Excellence, establish new centers, increase CoE’s value chain, bring the Centres of Excellence into the self-sufficient mode, and encourage private sector companies and collaboration.

“INDO-ISRAEL Villages of Excellence”:

  • It is a new concept aimed at creating a model ecosystem in agriculture.
  • The IIVOE program will focus on: (1) Modern Agriculture infrastructure, (2) Capacity Building, (3) Market linkage.
  • The program will promote the increase of net income and better the livelihood of the individual farmer, transforming traditional farms into modern-intensive farms.
  • Large-scale and complete value chain approach with economic sustainability, embedded with Israeli novel technologies and methodologies will be tailored to local conditions.

Advantages for India:

  • Mission for integrated development of Horticulture (MIDH), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer’s Welfare, Government of India, and MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation – are leading Israel’s largest G2G cooperation, across India in 12 States, implementing Advanced-Intensive agriculture farms with Israeli Agro-Technology tailored to local conditions.
  • The Centres of Excellence generate knowledge, demonstrate best practices and train farmers.
  • Every year, these COEs produce more than 25 million quality vegetable seedlings, more than 387 thousand quality fruit plants and train more than 1.2 lakh farmers about latest technology in the field of horticulture.
  • The exchange of technology will greatly improve the productivity and quality of horticulture, thereby increasing the income of farmers.

Other Collaborations of India and Israel in Agriculture:

  • Agriculture forms the second largest area of cooperation between the two countries after defence.
  • The two nations in 2008 started an agricultural fund worth $50 million that focused on dairy, farming technology and micro-irrigation. This constituted the Indo-Israel Agricultural Project.
  • MASHAV is the name of the agency of Israel that assists the Indian Ministry of Agriculture in its efforts.
  • Some of the important contributions being made by the Centres are: developing new varieties of crops by mixing Indian and Israeli varieties, training is being given to farmers and horticulturalists with regard to state-of-the-art technology for growing healthy and price worthy grains and fruits.
  • Vertical farming, drip irrigation and soil solarization are some of what is taught at the centres. Farming at these centres focuses on mangoes, tomatoes, pomegranates, and citrus fruits.
  • The irrigation and water management systems developed by Israel are coming of great help to India and cooperation has been entered into to utilize that technical knowhow. India’s largest micro irrigation project in Karnataka has been set up with the help of Israel.

 

  1. Cyclone ‘Yaas’

Context: A low-pressure area formed over the North Andaman Sea and adjoining east-central Bay of Bengal around May 22, 2021, and has further intensified into a severe cyclonic storm, named ‘Cyclone Yaas’.

About Yaas:

  • Cyclone Yaas has been classified as a ‘Very Severe Cyclonic Storm (VSCS)’
  • The cyclone has been named Yaas by Oman which means ‘Jasmin’ in English.
  • States to be affected: West Bengal, Orisha, Assam and Meghalaya Bay of Bengal and Cyclone Yaas.

Tropical Cyclones:

  • Tropical cyclones are violent storms that originate over oceans in tropical areas and move over to the coastal areas bringing about large scale destruction caused by violent winds, very heavy rainfall and storm surges.
  • They are known as Cyclones in the Indian Ocean, Hurricanes in the Atlantic, Typhoons in the Western Pacific and South China Sea, and Willy-willies in the Western Australia. Tropical cyclones originate and intensify over warm tropical oceans.

The conditions favourable for the formation and intensification of tropical storms are:

(i) Large sea surface with temperature higher than 27° C

(ii) Presence of the Coriolis force

(iii) Small variations in the vertical wind speed

(iv) A pre-existing weak low-pressure area or low-level-cyclonic circulation

(v) Upper divergence above the sea level system.

  • The energy that intensifies the storm, comes from the condensation process in the towering cumulonimbus clouds, surrounding the centre of the storm. With continuous supply of moisture from the sea, the storm is further strengthened.
  • On reaching the land the moisture supply is cut off and the storm dissipates. The place where a tropical cyclone crosses the coast is called the landfall of the cyclone. The cyclones, which cross 20o N latitude generally, recurve and they are more destructive.
  • A mature tropical cyclone is characterised by the strong spirally circulating wind around the centre, called the eye. The diameter of the circulating system can vary between 150 and 250 km. The eye is a region of calm with subsiding air.
  • Around the eye is the eye wall, where there is a strong spiralling ascent of air to greater height reaching the tropopause. The wind reaches maximum velocity in this region, reaching as high as 250 km per hour. Torrential rain occurs here.
  • From the eye wall rain bands may radiate and trains of cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds may drift into the outer region. The diameter of the storm over the Bay of Bengal, Arabian sea and Indian ocean is between 600 – 1200 km. The system moves slowly about 300 – 500 km per day. The cyclone creates storm surges and they inundate the coastal low lands. The storm peters out on the land.

 

  1. Gold Hallmarking:

Context: Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery to begin from 15th June.

What is Gold Hallmarking?

Gold hallmarking is a purity certification of precious metal started in 2000. At present, It is voluntary in nature.

Background:

  • Earlier, Quality control order for mandatory hallmarking of Gold Jewellery/artefacts were issued by the by Department of Consumer Affairs on 15thJan 2020, but the last date was extended to 1stJune 2021 to clear old stock of non-hallmarked jewellery.
  • Under Hallmarking scheme of Bureau of Indian Standards, Jewellers are registered for selling hallmarked jewellery and recognise testing and hallmarking centres.
  • Hallmarked gold jewellery will be only in three grades – 14-carat, 18-carat and 22-carat instead of current availability of ten grades.
  • It will contain four marks: BIS mark, purity in carat, assay centre’s name and jewellers’ identification mark.
  • Anybody found violating the provision, will have to pay a minimum fine of Rs 1 lakh or 5 times the price of the article.
  • According to World Gold Council, India has around 4 lakh jewellers, out of this only 35879 have been BIS certified. At present, only 30% of Indian Gold Jewellery is hallmarked as it is optional.

Reasons for Hallmarking:

  • Hallmarking will enable Consumers/Jewellery buyers to make a right choice and save them from any unnecessary confusion while buying gold and ensure consumers do not get cheated while buying gold ornaments.
  • It will also help to get the purity as marked on the ornaments.
  • This will also help to develop India as a leading gold market center in the World.
  • It will bring in transparency and assure the consumers of quality.
  • The government had informed about these hallmarking norms to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which will help exporters get to know the changes in advance in importing country like India. (Indiais the world’s largest importer of gold, with annual imports of 700-800 tonne)

Bureau of Indian Standards

  • BISis the National Standard Body of India for the harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods.
  • BIS has been providing traceabilityand tangibility benefits to the national economy in a number of ways by
  • Providing safe reliablequality
  • Minimizing health hazardsto consumers.
  • Promoting exports and imports
  • Control over proliferationof varieties etc through standardization, certification and testing.

 

6.Foreign Direct Investment:

Context: India attracted highest ever total FDI inflow of US$ 81.72 billion during 2020-21, 10% more than the last financial year.

Key Points:

  • India has attracted highest ever total FDI inflow of US$ 81.72 billion during the financial year 2020-21 and it is 10% higher as compared to the last financial year 2019-20 (US$ 74.39 billion).
  • FDI equity inflow grew by 19% in the F.Y. 2020-21 (US$ 59.64 billion) compared to the previous year F.Y. 2019-20 (US$ 49.98 billion).

Top Investors and Key sectors:

  • In terms of top investor countries, ‘Singapore’ is at the apex with 29%, followed by the U.S.A (23%) and Mauritius (9%) for the F.Y. 2020-21.
  • ‘Computer Software & Hardware’ has emerged as the top sector during F.Y. 2020-21 with around 44% share of the total FDI Equity inflow followed by Construction (Infrastructure) Activities (13%) and Services Sector (8%) respectively.
  • Gujarat is the top recipient state during the F.Y. 2020-21 with 37% share of the total FDI Equity inflows followed by Maharashtra (27%) and Karnataka (13%).
  • Out of top 10 countries, Saudi Arabia is the top investor in terms of percentage increase during F.Y. 2020-21. It invested US$ 2816.08 million in comparison to US$ 89.93 million reported in the previous financial year.
  • 227% and 44% increase recorded in FDI equity inflow from the USA & the UK respectively, during the F.Y. 2020-21 compared to F.Y.2019-20.

Measures taken by government to increase FDI:

  • Measures taken by the Government on the fronts of FDI policy reforms, investment facilitation and ease of doing business have resulted in increased FDI inflows into the country.
  • In 2020, Production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for electronics manufacturing, have been notified to attract foreign investments.
  • The government permitted 26% FDI in digital sectors.
  • FDI in manufacturing was already under the 100% automatic route, however in 2019, the government clarified that investments in Indian entities engaged in contract manufacturing is also permitted under the 100% automatic route provided it is undertaken through a legitimate contract.
  • Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal (FIFP) is the online single point interface of the Government of India with investors to facilitate FDI. It is administered by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • Valuable sectors such as defence manufacturing where the government enhanced the FDI limit under the automatic route from 49% to 74% in May 2020, could also attract large investments going forward.

What is FDI:

  • Any investment from an individual or firm that is located in a foreign country into a country is called Foreign Direct Investment.
  • Generally, FDI is when a foreign entity acquires ownership or controlling stake in the shares of a company in one country, or establishes businesses there.
  • It is different from foreign portfolio investment where the foreign entity merely buys equity shares of a company. In FDI, the foreign entity has a say in the day-to-day operations of the company.
  • FDI is also the inflow of technology, knowledge, skills and expertise/know-how.
  • It is a major source of non-debt financial resources for the economic development of a country.

Routes through which India gets FDI:

  • Automatic Route: In this, the foreign entity does not require the prior approval of the government or the RBI.
  • Government route: In this, the foreign entity has to take the approval of the government.

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