IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 3rd March 2018
Only energy-positive campus in India
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Energy security
- The Energy Management Centre (EMC), an autonomous institution under the Kerala government, has grabbed the global spotlight for its energy-positive campus, located at Sreekaryam in the State capital.
- The ‘Global Status Report 2017: Towards a zero-emission, efficient, and resilient buildings and construction sector,’ published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has listed the EMC campus as one of the recent achievements in the deployment of key technologies for energy-efficiency in buildings.
- The 40,000-square foot building is the only one from India to figure in the list, along with five other projects worldwide.
- According to the report, the EMC’s energy-positive campus was designed to allow natural cross-flow ventilation from building forms and openings.
- The EMC campus uses daylighting controls, CFC-free heating, ventilation and cooling systems, along with a halogen-free fire-fighting system.
- Solar reflectance index coating, combined with high-albedo painting and turbo-vents for passive cooling, has been used, and tropical rainforest trees help create cool surroundings.
- Only certified green construction materials, recycled wood boards, low-emitting paints and adhesives, and green-plus certified carpets have been used.
- Up to 94% of the built-up space is daylight illuminated.
Article link: Click here
Sea ice cover in Antartica on decline
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Environment, Conservation
- Sea ice cover in Antarctica has dropped to its second-lowest on record.
- Understanding the process of changes and the variability in the sea ice cover should be a “high priority”.
Importance of sea ice:
- The ice cover plays a crucially important role both in the global climate system.
- It is a key habitat for a wide range of biota from micro-organisms to great whales.
- Sea ice conditions also have a major impact on shipping and logistical operations in the Southern Ocean.
Article link: Click here
General Studies 3:
- Economic Development – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment;
General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
National Finance Regulatory Authority(NFRA)
Almost all major economies today have independent audit regulators, with the most prominent ones being set up between 2000 and 2005.
To share knowledge and experiences, the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators (IFIAR) was set up in 2006. Today, IFIAR has 52 independent audit regulators worldwide.
These facts indicate the significance, need and acceptability of independent audit regulators.
In India, discussions on setting up an independent oversight body had commenced almost a decade ago, however it is only now that it is finally close to being implemented.
The inclusion of an independent audit regulator, National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA), in the Companies Act, 2013 despite all the opposition, was in itself a significant step at the time. But it has stayed in limbo.
Conflict with ICAI:
The arguments against setting up an independent regulatory body have always primarily centred around the fact that the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has sufficient safeguards to ensure that the process does not result in self-regulation, particularly with the lack of awareness regarding the extent of responsibilities of an auditor among non-auditors.
Objective of NFRA:
- The overarching objective is to enhance audit quality which, in turn, will enhance investor protection and public interest.
- NFRA’s extensive powers includes its ability to investigate, impose penalty and banning operations of auditors and audit firms.
- While we have witnessed penalisation of auditors (life time debarring) as well as audit firms (ban from undertaking specific work), we are yet to see any regulator in India prescribing remedial measures. NFRA will be addressing this shortcoming.
For the success of NFRA, we need to ensure the following:
- The body remains operationally independent.
- Its decisions are subject to scrutiny and are transparent.
- Members maintain highest level of independence and prohibiting conflicts of interes.
- Clarity in the inter-se relationships with the professional bodies, clear distinction in the respective roles and responsibilities
- The Government and those involved in the process of defining the role of NFRA need to provide enough and equal attention to the other objectives, such as setting standards, monitoring compliance and, most importantly, suggesting measures for improvement in quality of audits.
Operationalisation of NFRA is a step in the right direction and will help in reinstating the confidence of stakeholders and regulators.
Most independent audit regulators have been set up on the back of audit failures, inadequate reporting and recognising the inherent weaknesses in self-regulation. What works to our advantage is that there is enough experience and knowledge across countries in setting up such a body. Their best practices can be used by NFRA. This will be instrumental in ensuring a robust, world-class oversight mechanism.
Connecting the dots:
- The government has recently decided to operationalize the National Financial Regulatory Authority(NFRA). What would be the functions of this organisation and why is it needed? Discuss.
Reference article: National Financial Regulatory Authority(NFRA)
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
- Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders
India needs a law against genetic discrimination
The Delhi High Court recently ruled against discrimination in health insurance by United India Insurance Company involving a person with a heart condition which was perceived to be a genetic disorder.
This is a critical court decision around the broader question of discrimination on the basis of one’s genetic predisposition.
As technology for genetic testing and tools to gather family history and compile them in databases become cheaper and more widespread, it becomes imperative that due social and ethical consideration be given to genetic discrimination as the implications are far-reaching and can affect everyone.
- In the U.S., researchers recorded hundreds of cases of misuse of genetic information obtained through family history, genetic tests, or by employers and insurers accessing personal data.
There are many examples of employers and insurers using genetic information to engage in discriminatory policies.
- In the U.S., the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) was signed into law in 2008.
GINA provides strong protection against access to genetic information and genetic discrimination in the context of health insurance and employment.
It prohibits insurers from “requesting or requiring” genetic tests from an individual or members of the person’s family, or using genetic information to determine eligibility or establish premiums.
It also prohibits employers from “requesting or requiring” genetic information for hiring or promotional decisions, or when determining eligibility for training programmes.
Other global examples:
- Canada’s recent Genetic Non-Discrimination Act makes it illegal for insurers or employers to request DNA testing or results.
- Insurers in the U.K. are currently under a voluntary moratorium agreed upon between the Association of British Insurers and the government until 2019. Based on this agreement, results from genetic tests are not to be used for health or life insurance except for Huntington’s disease, which is dominantly inherited with a high penetrance.
A complex future:
The situation is likely to get worse as people become more accepting of predictive genetic tests and insurance companies insist on them; at the moment, they generally use family medical history as the basis for determining premiums.
In the medium term, there are also serious concerns related to the protection and privacy of medical and genetic data. Breaking into databanks is not impossible as even America’s Federal Bureau of Investigations and other secure firewalls have been breached.
India too needs a law that prevents genetic discrimination.
In this era of rampant genetic testing, we need to prevent discrimination and uphold “equal treatment under the law”. Equality under the law cannot have exceptions.
Everyone has genes for some predisposition or the other, this being the human condition. There should therefore be no discrimination based on genetic information.
Connecting the dots:
- India needs a law against genetic discrimination. Discuss.
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