(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Judiciary
- Recently, The Supreme Court upheld an Allahabad High Court order which had granted immunity from investigation and prosecution if one declared illegal possession of exotic wildlife species between June and December, 2020.
- This was under a new amnesty scheme announced by the Centre.
Important value addition
Government’s voluntary disclosure scheme
- Ministry: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC)
- It released an advisory on a one-time voluntary disclosure scheme that allows owners of exotic live species that have been acquired illegally to declare their stock to the government between June and December 2020.
- With this scheme, the government aims to address the challenge of zoonotic diseases, develop an inventory of exotic live species for better compliance under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and regulate their import.
- Presently, the amnesty scheme is just an advisory and not a law.
- The disclosure has to be done online through MoEFCC’s Parivesh portal.
- The advisory has defined exotic live species as animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the CITES.
- It does not include species from the Schedules of the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Relations; Fundamental Rights
- In Cuba, a campaign by artists and activists demanding greater freedom of expression has been in news recently.
- Cuba has been under an authoritarian communist regime for more than 60 years.
- The Movimiento San Isidro, or the San Isidro Movement (MSI), started two years ago to protest state censorship of artistic works.
- It started in September 2018, when the Cuban government sought to enforce Decree 349 which is a law that would have given powers to the nation’s Culture Ministry to restrict cultural activity it did not approve of.
- To protest against the decree, artists, poets, journalists and activists gathered in San Isidro, It is a Black-majority locality that is among Havana’s poorest yet most culturally active wards, and which also forms part of the Old Havana UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- After 2015 deal between Cuba and the US, one of whose provisions stipulated that the Cuban regime should allow its people greater internet freedoms, the protesters managed to connect and amplify their message over the internet with relative ease.
- It has now become a platform for Cuban dissidents both within and outside the country.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy
- The NASDAQ stock exchange in the US may soon require all listed companies to include at least one female board member and one member from a racial minority group or from the LGBTQ community on their board of directors.
- There also diversity requirements from Indian companies and they are expected to comply with these rules.
- All public companies which are listed on stock exchanges and companies with either a paid-up capital of Rs 100 crore or annual turnover over Rs 300 crore are required to have at least one woman board member under the Companies Act.
- The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) further requires, since April 1, 2020, that the top 1000 listed companies by market capitalisation have a woman board member who is also an independent director.
Do you know?
- According to data compiled by Institutional Investor Advisory Services (IIAS), 17% of directors in the Nifty 500 companies were women.
- The report by IiAS noted that only 3% of Nifty 500 companies had no women directors.
- SEBI: Click here
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy
- All the states except Tamil Nadu have availed benefits of the newly announced scheme for Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure.
- The scheme was announced as a part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package.
- Aim: Boosting capital expenditure by the State Governments who are facing a difficult financial environment this year due to the shortfall in tax revenue arising from the COVID 19 pandemic.
- Capital Expenditure enhances the future productive capacity of the economy, and results in a higher rate of economic growth.
- The government had announced that the Centre will offer Rs. 12,000 crore special interest-free 50-year loan to states, exclusively for capital expenditure.
- Parts of the scheme: (1) Part–I of the scheme covers the north-eastern region (Rs. 200 crores); (2) Part-II is for all other States (Rs. 7500 crores); (3) Part-III of the scheme is aimed at pushing various citizen-centric reforms in the States.
- Under Part III, an amount of Rs. 2000 crores is earmarked.
- This amount will be available only to those States which carry out at least three out of the four reforms specified by the Ministry of Finance.
- Four Reforms: One nation one ration card, ease of doing business, urban local body/ utility reform and power sector reforms.
- As of now, Rs. 4,939.81 crore has been released as the first instalment out of Rs. 9,879.61 crore worth of capital expenditure proposals of 27 States.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy
- Government has exempted handicraft and GI Toys from Quality Control Order.
- Taking steps towards the Prime Minister’s vision of making India a global manufacturing hub for sale and export of toys, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, DPIIT has devised a comprehensive action plan.
- Quality Control order has been issued by the Department for standardization and quality adherence of Toys which will become effective from 1st January next year.
- However, DPIIT has released Toys (Quality Control) Second Amendment Order, 2020.
- It exempts goods manufactured and sold by artisans registered with Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), from use of Standard Mark under licence from Bureau of Indian Standards.
- The Amendment Order also exempts products registered as Geographical Indications from following Indian Toy Standards and compulsory use of Standard Mark licence.
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Health
- Recently, the Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System has been launched online which is a step towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in India.
- It is a first-of-its-kind participatory, countrywide initiative, in collaboration with world’s leading health journal The Lancet and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University.
- Objective: To enable participatory public engagement to develop a citizens’ blueprint for the implementation of UHC.
- Mission: (1) To lay out the path to achieving UHC in India in the coming decade; (2) To formulate a roadmap for realising a resilient health system that offers accessible, inclusive, and affordable quality health care to all citizens in India; (3) To gather insights from across India through grassroots surveys, public consultations and online discussions; (4) To build partnerships and work closely with academic institutions, civil society and other stakeholders to catalyse dialogue and knowledge sharing across fields.
- It will be on the architecture of India’s health system.
- Principles: (1) UHC covers all health concerns; (2) Prevention and long-term care are key; (3) The concern is financial protection for all health costs; (4) Aspiring for a health system that can be accessed by all who enjoy the same quality.
UNESCO Award For Creative Economy
- The UNESCO has decided to launch an international prize in the field of ‘creative economy’ in the name of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
- It shall start from November 2021.
- The $50,000 award will be given away once in two years for global economic initiatives of the youth.
- The award will recognise exceptional initiatives taken by cultural workers and organizations in the development of the creative economy.
- UNESCO has declared 2021 as ‘International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development’.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
- He was a Bangladeshi politician and statesman.
- He is called the “Father of the Nation” in Bangladesh.
- He served as the first President of Bangladesh and later as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1971 – 1975
- He was assassinated on 15 August 1975.
- He is considered to be the driving force behind the independence of Bangladesh.
- He is popularly dubbed with the title of “Bangabandhu” by the people of Bangladesh.
Topic: General Studies 2, 3:
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
Context: Virtual Climate Ambition Summit, co-convened by the UN to mark five years of the Paris Agreement.
What is Paris Agreement?
- Objective: It is a multilateral agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); signed to reduce, mitigate greenhouse-gas-emissions.
- Temperature Targets: To slow the process of global warming by limiting a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- Emission Goals: Another crucial point in this agreement was attaining “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100. Nations have pledged “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”.
- Burden Sharing: Developed countries were also told to provide financial resources to help developing countries in dealing with climate change and for adaptation measures. Other countries are invited to provide support on voluntary basis.
- Non-binding Voluntary Targets: The Paris Agreement requires that all countries — rich, poor, developed, and developing — slash greenhouse gas emissions. Nations voluntarily set their emissions targets and incur no penalties for falling short of their targets.
- Review Mechanism: A review every five years with first mandatory world review at 2025. Each review will show an improvement compared with the previous period.
- Climate-related loss: The agreement also includes a mechanism to address financial losses faced by less developed nations due to climate change impacts like droughts, floods etc. However, developed nations won’t face financial claims since it “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”.
What is Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)?
- It means the contributions that need to be done by each country to achieve the overall global goal.
- The contributions need to be reported every 5 years to UNFCCC.
- The contributions are not legally binding.
- The goal is to make sure that all countries have access to technical expertise and financial capability to meet the climate challenges.
How is Paris Climate different from Kyoto Protocol?
- In the Kyoto Protocol, there was a differentiation between developed and developing countries which were mentioned as Annex 1 countries and non-Annex 1 countries respectively.
- However, in the Paris agreement, there is no difference between developing and developed countries.
Financial Support pledged during the Paris 2015 Agreement
- Developed countries have committed $ 100 Billion a year.
- Finance would be balanced between mitigation and adaptation.
- G7 countries announced the US $ 420 Million for Climate Risk Insurance and the launching of the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative.
- $ 3 Billion commitment for Green Climate Fund.
India’s Greenhouse gas emissions
- India’s GHG emissions accounted for 6.5% of 2014 global total, according to data from the World Resources Institute. This made the country the fourth-largest emitter after China, the United States and the European Union.
- Per capita, India’s emission from fossil fuels (in 2017) is by far the lowest among major economies:
- India: 1.83 MT carbon dioxide (CO2)
- China: 7.72 MT in China
- The EU: 6.97 MT
- The US: 15.74 MT
What are India’s Climate commitments?
In 2015, ahead of the UN significant climate conference in Paris, India announced three major voluntary commitments called the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC):
- Improving the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33–35% by 2030 over 2005 levels
- Increasing the share of non-fossil fuels-based electricity to 40% by 2030.
- Enhancing its forest cover, thereby absorbing 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide
India’s progress in fulfilling its Climate Commitments
- India has reduced emission intensity by 21% over 2005 levels.
- Solar capacity has grown from 2.63 GigaWatts in 2014 to 36 GigaWatts in 2020.
- Renewable energy capacity is the fourth largest in the world and will reach 175 GigaWatts before 2022.
- India has also set new target of 450 GigaWatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
- On the world stage, India has pioneered two major initiatives: (1) The International Solar Alliance; (2) Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
- The Emissions Gap Report 2020 of the UNEP includes India among nine G20 members who are on track to achieve their unconditional commitments under the Paris pact, based on pre-COVID-19 projections.
- The Climate Action Tracker website has rated its climate efforts as “2-degree compatible” — that can contribute to limiting warming by the end of the century to 2° Celsius; making India the only major economy to be so highly rated.
How has COVID-19 Pandemic impacted the Climate Commitments?
- The brief reduction in global GHG emissions brought about by the pandemic has given all countries an opportunity to review their development trajectories.
- The unprecedented event has enabled them to deploy an extraordinary fiscal stimulus for rehabilitation of economies — estimated at $12 trillion globally — making green growth a possibility.
- India faces a particular challenge, in moving its pandemic rehabilitation spending away from traditional brown sector policies aligned with fossil fuel use to green territory.
Challenges with India’s path ahead
- Issues with afforestation and Carbon sink
- At the recent summit, Mr. Modi took credit for expansion of forests, which, according to the national pledge under the Paris Agreement, will serve as a carbon sink of 2.5 bn to 3 bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030.
- This is a key goal, given that it has multiple benefits, protecting biodiversity, influencing the climate system and providing resources for communities.
- But it is fraught with uncertainty. The Centre has questioned the veracity of State afforestation data and said only a fourth of the claims they made were deemed credible.
- Clearly, without a cohesive policy on verifiable afforestation, the carbon sink approach may yield poor dividends, with questions hanging over the spending.
- Issue with Renewable energy additions and emissions
- Achieving 100 gigawatts of solar power capacity within the overall renewables goal, from 36 GW now, needs a steep scale-up that must actively promote rooftop solar installations.
- There is little evidence that this is a high priority for most States.
- Transport-related emissions, which are a major component of the whole, have risen sharply in the unlock phase of the pandemic as people prefer personal vehicles, but the issue received little support from States which failed to reorder cities for cycling and pedestrianisation.
- Large-scale agriculture insurance against climate disasters also needs attention
In the year that remains before countries meet at the UN Climate Change conference in Glasgow in 2021, India needs to focus on future emissions and plan green investments that qualify for global climate funding.
Connecting the dots:
US Withdrawal from Paris Climate deal: Click here
INTERNATIONAL / SECURITY
Topic: General Studies 2:
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
Context: Bangladesh transported more than 1,600 Rohingya refugees to a low-lying island Bhashan Char.
- Bangladesh government has announced a controversial relocation policy to move 1,00,000 of Rohingya refugees to Bhashan Char island.
- Almost a million Rohingya — most of whom fled a military offensive in neighbouring Myanmar three years ago — live in squalid camps in south-eastern Bangladesh. Any return to Myanmar appears unlikely for now.
- On December 10, agencies reported that a UN Human Rights investigator had requested Bangladesh to allow a safety assessment of the remote islet of Bhashan Char, where the government had shipped 1,600-odd Rohingya refugees.
Is the islet safe?
- Bhashan Char is a char-land of around 13,000 acres, formed by the accumulation of silt where the river Meghna meets the Bay of Bengal carrying rich alluvial deposits.
- Char-lands are a common feature in Meghna and Padma rivers and literally mean “shifting landmass”.
- As the name reveals, the char was not part of the permanent land feature of Bangladesh, but appeared recently.
- Bhashan Char is surrounded by a mangrove forest that has given it geographical stability.
- Sensing a tourism opportunity, the Bangladesh government had declared Bhashan Char as a protected forest land in 2013.
- It is a two-and-a-half-hours boat ride away from Cox’s Bazar in Chittagong.
- The main argument for the char-land being unsafe is that these lands are known to be unstable and flood-prone. The other fear factor includes the tropical cyclones that visit the area every year.
What is the arrangement for the Rohingya?
- Over the past few years, Bangladesh has constructed roads and brought modern telecommunication networks to Bhashan Char.
- The Bangladesh government has earmarked around 1,350 acres for the Rohingya refugees, of which 432 acres is dedicated to their rehabilitation and the rest remains for future projects.
- The government has constructed a large number of housing units in the section designated for the Rohingya.
- 1600 Rohingya refugees are now being housed in red-roofed residential units and most houses are built four feet above the ground to help them withstand unexpected high tidal waves
Why is Bangladesh moving the refugees?
- Rohingya refugees of Kutupalong, near Cox’s Bazar, have been living in a large refugee camp near the forested borders with Myanmar since 2017, when they were forced to traverse the forest and the rivers that constitute the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar’s Rakhine province.
- Ever since their arrival, the refugees, numbering 1 million, have been living in Kutupalong refugee camp under bamboo and tarpaulin structures.
- The camp is located on a hillock, which was a sanctuary for elephants and other wild animals.
- Also, Kutupalong has also been in the news for its rising crime rate.
- Bangladesh argues that the islet will provide a safer place.
Why are human rights agencies upset?
- Amnesty International said Bangladesh must “drop” its plans to shift Rohingya refugees to Bhashan Char as the char-land had not yet been declared safe for habitation by the United Nations.
- It is alleged that many Rohingya who were asked to relocate said they were coerced.
- Human Rights agencies are arguing that any decisions relating to the relocation of refugees must be transparent and involve the full participation of the Rohingya people.
What happens next?
- Diplomatic sources have confirmed that Dhaka does not plan to relocate the entire refugee settlement and only aims at reducing the congestion in Kutupalong.
- The country’s long-term plan for Rohingya refugees is to seek their repatriation to the Rakhine province of Myanmar.
Connecting the dots:
- ICJ’s ruling on Myanmar Rohingyas: Click here
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
- Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.
- Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.
Q.1 Which of the following international organization has recently announced 2021 as ‘International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development’?
Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding the Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System:
- It shall cover only non-communicable diseases.
- Affordability is one of its objectives.
Which of the above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
ANSWERS FOR 15th December 2020 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)
About Convergence of agrarian discontent in South Asia:
About India’s nutrition agenda:
About Ayurveda doctors to practise general surgery: