Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 16th June-2021

Topics

  • United Nations (UN) “High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought”
  • Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+)
  • FAME-II (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles)
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit
  • Eight Schedule

 

  1. United Nations (UN) “High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought”

Context:

  • The Prime Minister recently delivered a keynote address via video conference at the United Nations (UN) “High-Level Dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation, and Drought.”
  • He spoke as the President of the 14th Session of the Conference of Parties (CoP) of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) (UNCCD).
  • The Dialogue will encourage all member countries to adopt and implement LDN targets and National Drought Plans.

Highlighted Steps Taken by India:

  • India is on track to meet its national goal of achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) (Sustainable Development Goal target 15.3).
  • LDN is a state in which the amount and quality of land resources required to support ecosystem functions and services and improve food security remain stable or increase over time and across scales and ecosystems.
  • By 2030, we hope to have restored 26 million hectares of degraded land.
  • This would contribute to India’s commitment to achieving an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) target).
  • Around 3 million hectares of forest cover have been added in the last ten years.
  • For example, the Banni region in Gujarat’s Rann of Kutch suffers from severely degraded land and receives very little rainfall.
  • Land restoration in that region is accomplished through the development of grasslands, which aids in the achievement of land degradation neutrality.

Concerning the Challenges Facing the Developing World:

  • Today, land degradation affects more than two-thirds of the world’s population.
  • India is assisting developing countries in the development of land restoration strategies.
  • In India, a Center of Excellence is being established to promote a scientific approach to land degradation issues. It can be found at the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education.
  • The ICFRE, which is headquartered in Dehradun, is an autonomous body of the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change.

Land Degradation

  • Land degradation is caused by a variety of factors, including extreme weather, particularly drought.
  • It is also caused by human activities that pollute or degrade soil and land utility quality.

Land Degradation Impact:

  • Desertification is a process that results from severe land degradation and is defined as the formation of arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas.
  • It hastens climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as contributing to droughts, wildfires, forced migration, and the emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases.

Global Efforts to Check Land Degradation:

  • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was established in 1994 and is the only legally binding international agreement that connects the environment and development to sustainable land management.
  • The Delhi Declaration of 2019, signed by the 14th CoP of the UNCCD, advocated for improved land access and stewardship, as well as gender-sensitive transformative projects.
  • The Bonn Challenge is to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
  • Great Green Wall: A Global Environment Facility (GEF) initiative in which eleven countries in Sahel-Saharan Africa have focused efforts to combat land degradation and restore native plant life to the landscape.

India’s Land Degradation Efforts:

  • India is focusing on sustainable land and resource management for livelihood generation at the community level in order to make local lands healthier and more productive in order to provide a better homeland and a better future for its inhabitants.
  • In order to address the problems of desertification, the National Action Programme for Combating Desertification was developed in 2001.
  • Some of the major programmes currently being implemented to address issues related to land degradation and desertification are as follows:
  1. Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) (Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana)
  2. National Afforestation Programme (NAP),
  3. National Mission for Green India (GIM),
  4. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS),
  5. National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA)
  6. Command Area Development and Water Management (CADWM) programme,
  7. Soil Health Card Scheme, etc.

 

  1. Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+)

Context:

  • The European Parliament recently passed a resolution urging the European Union (EU) Commission to consider temporarily withdrawing Sri Lanka’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status.
  • In 2017, Sri Lanka regained GSP +, or the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences.
  • After China, the EU is Sri Lanka’s second-largest trading partner and its second-largest export destination.

In detail:

About (GSP) :

  • The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is a set of EU rules that allows developing-country exporters to pay lower or no duties on their exports to the European Union.
  • It assists developing countries in alleviating poverty and creating jobs in accordance with international values and principles such as labour and human rights.
  • In terms of coverage, the EU’s GSP is widely regarded as the most progressive.

Types:

  1. Standard GSP:
  • For countries with low and lower-middle incomes. This entails the elimination of customs duties on two-thirds of tariff lines.
  • If a developing country is classified as having an income level below “upper middle income” by the World Bank and does not benefit from another arrangement (such as a Free Trade Agreement) granting them preferential access to the EU market, it is automatically granted GSP.
  • Beneficiaries: Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar.
  1. GSP+:
  • The unique incentive arrangement for long-term development and good governance.
  • It reduces these tariffs (under standard GSP) to 0% for vulnerable low and lower-middle income countries that implement international conventions on human rights, labour rights, environmental protection, and good governance.
  • Beneficiaries: Armenia, Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, The Philippines and Sri Lanka.
  1. EBA (Everything But Arms):
  • The special arrangement for LDCs, which allows them duty-free and quota-free access to all products except arms and ammunition.

Monitoring Beneficiaries:

  • The EU continuously monitors and reviews the effective implementation of international conventions on human rights, labour rights, environmental protection, and good governance by GSP+ beneficiary countries.
  • This monitoring includes information exchanges, dialogue, and site visits, and it involves a variety of stakeholders, including civil society.

Generalised System of Preferences

  • The Generalized System of Preferences is an umbrella term for the majority of preferential schemes granted to developing countries by industrialised nations.
  • It entails lower Most Favored Nations (MFN) tariffs or duty-free entry of eligible products exported by beneficiary countries into donor-country markets.
  • The concept of granting developing countries preferential tariff rates in industrialised countries’ markets was first presented in 1964 at the first United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) conference.
  • The GSP was established in 1971 after being adopted at UNCTAD in New Delhi in 1968.
  • There are currently 13 national GSP schemes that have been reported to the UNCTAD secretariat.

Countries which Grant Generalized System of Preferences:

  • Australia, Belarus, Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, the Russian Federation, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States of America are among the countries represented.
  • The United States terminated India’s designation as a GSP beneficiary developing nation in 2019. This was done after it was determined that India had not assured the US of “equitable and reasonable access” to its markets.

Benefits:

Improves Growth:

  • Improves economic growth and development in developing countries by assisting beneficiary countries in increasing and diversifying their trade with developed countries.

Provides Employment:

  • Getting GSP imports to consumers, farmers, and manufacturers supports tens of thousands of jobs in the developed world.

Boosts Company Competitiveness:

  • It benefits from GSP because it lowers the cost of imported inputs used by businesses to manufacture goods.

Promotes Global Values:

  • It promotes global values by assisting beneficiary countries in providing their citizens with worker rights, enforcing intellectual property rights, and promoting the rule of law.

 

 

  1. FAME-II (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles)

Context:

  • In order to encourage the adoption of environmentally friendly vehicles, the central government recently decided to increase the subsidy on electric two-wheelers by 50% under the FAME-II (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles) scheme.

In detail:

New Modification:

  • The Centre has modified the FAME-II, increasing the demand incentive for electric two-wheelers to Rs. 15,000 per KWh from an earlier uniform subsidy of Rs 10,000 per KWh for all EVs, including plug-in hybrids and strong hybrids, except buses.
  • The government has also increased the cap on incentives for electric two-wheelers to 40% of vehicle cost, up from 20% previously.

Significance:

  • It will bring electric two-wheeler prices closer to those of IC (internal combustion engine) vehicles, removing one of the major impediments to the high sticker price of electric two-wheelers.
  • Together with other important factors such as extremely low operating costs, low maintenance, and zero emissions, such price levels will undoubtedly drive a significant demand for electric two-wheelers.

FAME-II:

  • The National Electric Mobility Mission (NEMM) Plan includes FAME India. The main goal of FAME is to encourage the use of electric vehicles by providing subsidies.
  • NEMM intends to make hybrid and electric vehicles the first choice for buyers, so that these vehicles can replace conventional vehicles and thus reduce the country’s liquid fuel consumption from the automobile sector.
  • Two Phases of the Scheme:
  1. Phase I: Started in 2015 and was completed on 31st March, 2019
  2. Phase II: Started from April, 2019, will be completed by 31st March, 2022.
  • The programme includes Hybrid and Electric technologies such as Mild Hybrid, Strong Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, and Battery Electric Vehicles.
  • The monitoring authority is the Department of Heavy Industries, which is part of the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.
  • Fame India Scheme has four focus areas:
  1. Technology development
  2. Demand Creation
  • Pilot Projects
  1. Charging Infrastructure
  • Demand incentives will be available to buyers (end users/consumers) at the point of purchase under this scheme, and will be reimbursed by manufacturers from the Department of Heavy Industries on a monthly basis.

Salient Features of FAME II:

  • The emphasis is on electrification of public transportation, which includes shared transportation.
  • Aims to support approximately 7000 e-buses, 5 lakh e-3 wheelers, 55000 e-4 wheeler passenger cars, and 10 lakh e-2 wheelers through subsidies.
  • Incentives in the 3-Wheel (W) and 4-Wheel (W) segments will primarily apply to vehicles used for public transportation or registered for commercial purposes.
  • The focus in the 2-Wheel (W) segment will be on private vehicles.
  • To encourage advanced technologies, incentives will be extended only to vehicles equipped with advanced batteries such as Lithium Ion batteries and other new technology batteries.
  • Proposes the installation of charging infrastructure, in which approximately 2700 charging stations will be installed in metros, other million-plus cities, smart cities, and cities in hilly states across the country, ensuring the availability of at least one charging station in a 3 km x 3 km grid.
  • The installation of charging stations on major highways connecting major cities is also proposed.

Concerns:

  • Electric vehicle adoption is dependent on a number of factors, including a robust charging infrastructure, easy financing, and adequate performance in real-world conditions. These necessitate significant government intervention and planning, especially given the sector’s infancy.
  • E-rickshaw drivers rely on unsafe, and sometimes illegal, power sources to charge their vehicles.Charging is done in unsafe conditions, which poses a danger to both the driver and the commuter.

Way Forward

  • Such initiatives, combined with the government’s mass awareness campaign and low-interest financing from public sector banks, will bring us closer to the target of 30 percent of the two-wheeler market becoming electric in five years.
  • The government’s continued support for EV adoption, with a particular emphasis on locally built electric two-wheelers, will position India as an EV manufacturing hub.
  • Establishing proper coordination among the three pillars of the EV industry, namely urban planning, transportation, and power, will aid in the systematic adoption of EVs.

 

  1. North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit

Context: 2021 NATO Summit was held recently in Brussels with the leaders of all 30 Allied nations.

Outcomes of the meet:

  • The heads of the NATO countries said they “remain firmly committed to NATO’s founding Washington Treaty, including that an attack against one Ally shall be considered an attack against us all, as enshrined in Article 5.”
  • It included language about updating Article 5 to include major cyberattacks, which have become a significant and growing concern.
  • NATO leaders declared China a constant security challenge and said the Chinese are working to undermine global order.
  • They called on China to uphold its international commitments and to act responsibly in the international system.
  • This message is in sync with US President Joe Biden’s efforts to get allies to speak out with a more unified voice against China’s trade, military and human rights practices.

About North Atlantic Treaty Organization:

  • NATO is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949, by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.
  • A key provision of the treaty, the so-called Article 5, states that if one member of the alliance is attacked in Europe or North America, it is to be considered an attack on all members. That effectively put Western Europe under the “nuclear umbrella” of the US.
  • NATO has only once invoked Article 5, on September 12, 2001 following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in the US.
  • Headquarters of Allied Command Operations — Mons, Belgium.

Composition:

  • Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 30. The most recent member state to be added to NATO was North Macedonia on 27 March 2020.
  • NATO membership is open to “any other European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.”

 

5.Eight Schedule

Context: The Tulu speakers, mainly in Karnataka and Kerala, have been requesting the governments to give it official language status and include it in the eighth schedule to the Constitution.

About ‘Tulu’ Language:

  • Tulu is a Dravidian language spoken mainly in two coastal districts Dakshina Kannada and Udupi of Karnataka and Kasaragod district of Kerala.
  • This region is informally known as Tulu Nadu. There has been a demand for separate statehood for Tulu Nadu.
  • As per the 2011 Census report, there are 18,46,427 Tulu-speaking people in India.
  • The oldest available inscriptions in Tulu are from the period between 14th to 15th century AD.
  • Robert Caldwell (1814-1891), in his book, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages, called Tulu “one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family”.
  • Tulu was introduced as a language in school by the Karnataka Government a few years ago.

Tulu Art and Culture:

  • Tulu has a rich oral literature tradition with folk-song forms like paddana, and traditional folk theatre yakshagana.
  • Tulu also has an active tradition of cinema with around 5 to 7 Tulu language movies

produced a year.

Case for Recognition:

Article 29 of the Constitution: It deals with the “Protection of interests of minorities”. It states that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script or culture of its own, shall have the right to conserve the same.

Yuelu Proclamation:

The Yuelu Proclamation was adopted at the first international conference on language resources protection in Changsha, Central China’s Hunan province in 2018 by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

It calls upon the international community, states, governments and non-governmental organizations, among others, to reach a consensus on the protection and promotion of linguistic diversity in the world.

Eighth Schedule of the Constitution:

  • The Constitutional provisions relating to the Eighth Schedule occur in Article 344 (1) and 351 of the Constitution.
  • The languages listed under Eighth Schedule are: (1) Assamese, (2) Bengali, (3) Gujarati, (4) Hindi, (5) Kannada, (6) Kashmiri, (7) Konkani, (8) Malayalam, (9) Manipuri, (10) Marathi, (11) Nepali, (12) Oriya, (13) Punjabi, (14) Sanskrit, (15) Sindhi, (16) Tamil, (17) Telugu, (18) Urdu (19) Bodo, (20) Santhali, (21) Maithili and (22) Dogri.

 

Advantages of Recognition under Eighth Schedule:

  • Recognition from the Sahitya Akademi.
  • Translation of Tulu literary works into other languages.
  • Members of Parliament (MP) and Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) could speak Tulu in Parliament and State Assemblies, respectively.
  • Option to take competitive exams in Tulu including all-India competitive examinations like the Civil Services exam.
  • Special funds from the Central government.
  • Teaching of Tulu in primary and high school.

 

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