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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 4th March 2022

  • IASbaba
  • March 5, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


International Criminal Court

Part of: Prelims and GS-II International Relations

Context: The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague announced that it would open an investigation into possible war crimes or crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

‘Laws of war’

  • There are specific international standards for war crimes, which are not to be confused with crimes against humanity.
  • War crimes are defined as serious violations of humanitarian laws during a conflict. 
    • The definition, established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), is derived from the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
    • It is based on the idea that individuals can be held liable for the actions of a state or its military.
  • The UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect separates war crimes from genocide and crimes against humanity. 
    • War crimes are defined as occurring in a domestic conflict or a war between two states, while genocide and crimes against humanity can happen in peacetime or during the unilateral aggression of a military towards a group of unarmed people.
  • Examples: The taking of hostages, willful killings, torture or inhuman treatment of prisoners of war, and forcing children to fight.

International Criminal Court

  • The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands
  • The ICC is the first and only permanent international court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. 
  • It is intended to complement existing national judicial systems.
  • It may exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals. 
  • The ICC lacks universal territorial jurisdiction and may only investigate and prosecute crimes committed within member states, crimes committed by nationals of member states, or crimes in situations referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council.

News Source: IE


Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Economy

Context: Ministry of Defence (MoD) has offered four projects to the Indian Industry for design & development under Make-I category of Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.

Make-I category (government funded)

  • The industry will be provided financial support for prototype development of these projects.
  • The list of projects which were accorded ‘Approval In-Principle (AIP)’ by Collegiate Committee of MoD is as follow:
    • Indian Air Force: Communication Equipment with Indian Security Protocols (Routers, Switches, Encryptors, VoIP Phones and their software)
    • Indian Air Force: Airborne Electro Optical pod with Ground Based System
    • Indian Air Force: Airborne Stand-off Jammer
    • Indian Army: Indian Light Tank
  • This is for the first time since the launch of DAP-2020 that Indian Industry has been involved in development of big ticket platforms such as Light tank and Communication Equipment with Indian security protocols. 

Make-II procedure

  • In addition, AIP has also been accorded to following five projects under industry-funded Make-II procedure:
    • Indian Air Force: Full Motion Simulator for Apache Helicopter
    • Indian Air Force: Full Motion Simulator for Chinook Helicopter
    • Indian Air Force: Wearable Robotic Equipment for Aircraft Maintenance
    • Indian Army: Integrated Surveillance and Targeting System for Mechanised Forces
    • Indian Army: Autonomous Combat Vehicle
  • Projects under ‘Make-II’ category involve prototype development of equipment or their upgrades or their components, primarily for import substitution/innovative solutions, for which no Government funding will be provided for prototype development purposes.

Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP)

  • The DAP contains policies and procedures for procurement and acquisition from the capital budget of the MoD in order to modernise the Armed Forces including the Coast Guard.
  • It is aligned with the vision of the Government of Atmanirbhar Bharat and empowering Indian domestic industry through Make in India initiative.

News Source: TH


(News from PIB)


India signs Host Country Agreement with the International Telecommunication Union

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III: Infrastructure: Telecommunications

In News: India signed Host Country Agreement with the International Telecommunication Union for establishment of Area Office & Innovation Centre at New Delhi.

  • Expected to serve South Asian countries namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India
  • India has been taking concrete steps towards development of telecom standards. The 5Gi standards developed within India have now been recognised by ITU as one of the three technologies for 5G. With more than 1.2 Billion telecom subscribers, a robust ecosystem of start-ups and innovation hubs, India is poised to contribute meaningfully in developing telecom standards further.
  • Signed during the World Telecommunications Standardisation Assembly-20 (WTSA-20) being held in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Note:

  • About World Telecommunications Standardisation Assembly: WTSA is a four-yearly global conference of ITU dedicated to standardisation of the Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). India has proposed to host the next WTSA to be held in 2024.
  • About International Telecommunication Union is the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs. ITU currently has a membership of 193 countries and over 900 private-sector entities and academic institutions.

News Source: PIB


Ministry of Science & Technology to promote India’s first Start-up in Daylight Harvesting Technology

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III: Science and Technology

In News: Ministry of Science & Technology has decided to promote a unique Start-up in latest Daylight Harvesting Technology

  • Aim: To reduce carbon footprint and improve the building energy efficiency.
  • The only Start-up company in India for Daylight Harvesting Technologies “Skyshade Daylights Private Limited” Hyderabad signed an MoU with Technology Development Board, a statutory body of Department of Science & Technology.
  • The company aims to create Green & Net zero buildings and to participate and contribute in national missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).

Daylight Harvesting Technology

  • Daylighting is basically bringing natural sunlight inside the rooms. The solar energy spectrum has 45% energy as visible light and this can be used to harvest building illumination for about 9-11 hours a day. 
  • The Technology used is completely indigenous, economically viable and easy to deploy and needs minimal maintenance with longevity. 
  • Moreover, the proposed technologies, harvest huge quantities of sunlight for a building and make available for building illumination which reduces electrical lighting energy consumption by 70-80%, besides reducing air-conditioning (cooling load) consumption.

Significance

  • With the world’s largest expansion plan in renewable energy sector, India aims at universal access to sustainable energy solutions and to enable a low carbon future, with significant economic, environmental and social impact. 
  • The country has set an ambitious target to achieve a capacity of 175 GW of its energy requirement from renewable energy sources by the end of 2022, and committed to achieve 500 GW by 2030

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


SCEINCE & TECH/ ETHICS

  • GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
  • GS-4: Ethics (Case studies)

Ethical Issues of Xenotransplantation

Xenotransplantation or heterologous transplant, is the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another.

  • It involves the transplantation of nonhuman tissues or organs into human recipients.

History of Xenotransplantation

  • The dream of animal-to-human transplants goes back to the 17th century, with stumbling attempts to use animal blood for transfusions. Early kidney and liver transplants were attempted from baboons and chimpanzees as these primates were considered closest to humans.
  • By the 20th century, surgeons were attempting transplants of organs from baboons into humans. Over the last several decades experts have found it difficult to surmount the challenge presented by the immune system’s rejection of an alien organ, ending in deadly outcomes for patients.
  • In the early 1960s, a surgeon Keith Reemtsma in New Orleans performed 13 chimpanzees-to-human kidney transplants. One of the recipients, a schoolteacher, lived for 90 days. However, most of these transplants failed and were gradually given up.

Recent Examples of Xenotransplantation

  • In September 2021, at New York Hospital, a medical team attached a kidney from a gene-edited pig to a person declared brain dead to see if the animal kidney was able to do the job of processing waste and producing urine. It did. 
    • In the United States there are apparently 90,000 persons waiting for a kidney transplant and this successful experiment would go some way towards meeting that need.
  • In January, 2022, is from the University of Maryland where a team of doctors used the heart of an animal, which had genetically modified features, as a replacement heart on a patient who had run out of available options
    • The earlier attempts of animal-to-human heart transplants have failed, largely because patients’ bodies rapidly rejected the animal organs. The most notable example was that of American infant Baby Fae, a dying infant in 1984 who lived 21 days with a baboon heart.
    • This time, the surgeons used a heart from a pig that had undergone gene editing to remove sugar in its cells that’s responsible for the hyper-fast rejection of organs.
  • The third case is the news report that a doctor in Germany, who has been working in the area of xenotransplants, plans to develop a farm to cultivate genetically modified organs for such transplants
    • In his view, this will ease the pressure on the medical system. In Germany alone there are 8,500 patients waiting for organ transplants.

What are the ethical issues that these medical advances raise for human societies?

  1. Medical Implications
  • Even well-matched human donor organs can be rejected after they are transplanted – and with animal organs the danger is likely to be higher.
  • While such treatments are very, very risky, some medical ethicists say they should still go ahead if the patient knows the risks.
  • Some argue that before any surgery, the procedure must have undergone “very rigorous tissue and non-human animal testing” to make sure it’s safe.
  1. Animal Rights
  • The animal rights movement has objected to these advances in medical science, of xenotransplantation, because it ignores the rights of animals. They argue that animals also have rights and it is our moral responsibility to support these rights. 
  • Such medical advances stems from a philosophy of anthropocentrism which places human beings at the centre of nature and regards all other living creatures as having only value if they can be of use to humans. Such anthropocentric thinking has been the basis of the ecological crises of climate change. 
  • The animal rights perspective places on us the classic utilitarian dilemma of whether it is better to kill an animal and save a human being or to save an animal and let the human die. 
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has condemned pig heart transplant as “unethical, dangerous, and a tremendous waste of resources”. Campaigners say it is wrong to modify the genes of animals to make them more like humans. 
  1. Religion
  • Pigs are chosen as the relevant organs are a similar size to humans’ – and because pigs are relatively easy to breed and raise in captivity.
  • However, in certain societies pig is considered a dirty animal, eating pork is considered disgusting and those who deal with pigs are given low social status. 
  • Transplanting from pigs may affect Jewish or Muslim or Jain or Vegetarian patients, whose religions have strict rules on the animal. Their belief system may forbid them to have anything to do with a pig.

Conclusion

The wide adoption of xenotransplant procedures diminish the illegal and immoral market in human organs, where people, even children, are abducted so that their organs can be harvested. Therefore, we need to have more debate on this field so that the advances in medical sciences benefits humankind.

Connecting the dots:


INTERNATIONAL/ ECONOMY

  • GS-2: International Relations
  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

Russia-Ukraine War impact, beyond oil

Context: The current Russian invasion of Ukraine — unlike previous wars in Iraq and Libya or sanctions against Iran — is having an impact not just on energy prices.

  • The effects of shipping disruptions through the Black and Azov Seas, plus Russian banks being cut off from the international payments system, are extending even to the global agri-commodities markets.

Russia and global commodity market

Russia is 

  • world’s third biggest oil (after the US and Saudi Arabia) 
  • second biggest natural gas (after the US) producer, 
  • No. 3 coal exporter (behind Australia and Indonesia). 
  • Second largest exporter of wheat after EU. 
  • Russia and its next-door ally Belarus are the world’s No. 2 and No. 3 producers of muriate of potash (MOP) fertiliser, at 13.8 mt and 12.2 mt in 2020, respectively, behind Canada (22 mt).

Ukraine and global commodity market

  • At No. 4 position in wheat exports, after EU, Russia and Australia (26 mt), is Ukraine, at 24 mt. 
  • Ukraine, moreover, is the world’s third largest exporter of corn/maize, with a projected 33.5 mt in 2021-22, after the US (61.5 mt) and Argentina (42 mt)
  • Ukraine and Russia are also the top two exporters of sunflower oil, at 6.65 mt and 3.8 mt, respectively in 2021-22

How global commodity prices have moved?

  • It should not surprise, therefore, that Russia’s war on Ukraine hasn’t stopped at driving up Brent crude to $110-15/barrel and international coal prices to unprecedented $440/tonne levels. 
  • The shutting down of ports in the Black Sea have also sent prices of wheat and corn.
  • The Ukraine crisis has also led to prices of vegetable oils and oilseeds skyrocketing. That includes not just sunflower and its immediate competitor, soyabean.

How it can benefit India?

  • Skyrocketing global prices have made Indian wheat exports very competitive and in a position to at least partially fill the void left by Russia and Ukraine. 
  • High export demand for wheat – India has already shipped out 5.04 mt of the cereal in April-December 2021 – could result in lower government procurement this time.
    • 43.34 mt and 38.99 mt of wheat was procured by government in 2020-21 and 2019-20 respectively.
  • A lot of wheat from western and central India may end up getting exported rather than in the Food Corporation of India’s godowns.
  • The benefits of rising vegetable oils should flow to mustard growers in Rajasthan and UP, who are set to market their crops in international market.
  • Brent at $110-115/barrel is also helping lift the prices of cotton (because of synthetic fibres becoming costlier) and agri-commodities that can be diverted for production of ethanol (sugar and corn) or bio-diesel (palm and soyabean oil).
  • High prices (above MSP) and a good monsoon (hopefully) can act as an inducement for farmers to expand acreages under cotton, soyabean, groundnut, sesamum and sunflower in the upcoming kharif planting season. 
  • That will serve the cause of crop diversification – especially weaning farmers away from paddy, if not sugarcane.

Are there any other challenge for India apart from increase in crude oil prices?

  • The ongoing Black Sea tensions are impacting fertiliser prices. Out of the total 5.09 mt that was imported in 2020-21, nearly a third came from Belarus (0.92 mt) and Russia (0.71 mt). With supplies from there virtually choked, more quantities would have to be procured from other origins such as Canada, Jordan and Israel.
  • International prices of other fertilisers (urea, di-ammonium phosphate and complexes) and their raw materials/intermediates (ammonia, phosphoric acid, sulphur and rock phosphate), too, have gone up.

Conclusion

  • In short, the challenges that Ukraine will present in the coming days are going to be vastly different from those in the aftermath of Corona. And this war and the associated sanctions are also different from those experienced vis-à-vis Iraq, Libya and Iran. The effects are not confined to oil.

Connecting the dots:


(Sansad TV: Perspective)


March 2: Resolution paving way for global action to Beat Plastic Pollution – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/pollution/175-countries-commit-to-forge-internationally-binding-treaty-on-plastic-pollution-by-2024-81776 

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation

Resolution paving way for global action to Beat Plastic Pollution

Context: Representatives from 175 countries meeting at the resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) in Nairobi March 2, 2022, agreed to end plastic pollution and formulate an internationally binding treaty by 2024.

  • The global plastic market in 2020 has been estimated at around $580 billion according to a report Plastics Market– Global Industry Analysis, Market Size, Opportunities and Forecast, 2020-2027
  • But the monetary value of losses of marine natural capital is estimated to be 4.3 fold or as high as $ 2.5 trillion per year, according to a study published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin
  • Climate will also pay a cost since greenhouse gas emissions from the production, recycling and incineration of plastics could account for 19 per cent of the Paris Agreement’s total allowable emissions in 2040.

So, addressing plastics pollution is a prudent investment in nature and climate, as well as a socio-economic opportunity.

Managing plastic waste is increasingly becoming a global environmental and economic challenge.

  • Plastic waste is a risk to public health as it enters our food chain, creates congestion problems in drains, causing flooding, ends up in river beds and oceans, depleting ecosystems and marine biodiversity, and makes solid waste management more expensive as landfills and open incineration do not provide an acceptable solution for disposal.
  • The production process for plastic produces greenhouse gas, thus contributing to climate change.
  • At landfills, it disintegrates into small fragments and leaches carcinogenic metals into groundwater. Plastic is highly inflammable — a reason why landfills are frequently ablaze, releasing toxic gases into the environment. It floats on the sea surface and ends up clogging airways of marine animals.

The Resolution

The resolution, based on three initial draft resolutions from various countries, establishes an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which will begin its work in 2022, with the ambition of completing a draft global legally binding agreement by the end of 2024.

  • The three draft resolutions of Peru, Rwanda and Japan were based on the principle of a legally binding target.
  • The Indian draft resolution titled Framework for addressing plastic product pollution including single use plastic product pollution, was based upon the principle of immediate collective voluntary action by countries.

The INC is expected to present a legally binding instrument, which would reflect diverse alternatives to address 

  • The full lifecycle of plastics
  • The design of reusable and recyclable products and materials
  • The need for enhanced international collaboration to facilitate access to technology, capacity building and scientific and technical cooperation.

Under the legally binding agreement, countries will be expected to 

  • Develop, implement and update national action plans reflecting country-driven approaches to contribute to the objectives of the instrument.
  • Promote national action plans to work towards the prevention, reduction and elimination of plastic pollution and to support regional and international cooperation.

INC’s mandate does not grant any stakeholder a two-year pause. In parallel to negotiations over an international binding agreement, UNEP will work with any willing government and business across the value chain to shift away from single-use plastics, as well as to mobilise private finance and remove barriers to investments in research and in a new circular economy.

The Way Forward

  • International partnerships will be crucial in tackling a problem that affects all of us.
  • The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee should aim towards a systemic change, for solutions applied throughout the entire plastic value chain.
  • It should aim towards a rethinking of how plastics are produced, used and disposed of, with the double-dividend of not just delivering on a greener planet, but new employment opportunities. This requires ambitious, bold and measurable action by governments, civil society and the private sector at all levels
  • There is a need for the UN to continue to support and advance the work of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter, while strengthening scientific, technical and technological knowledge with regard to plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. This is significant as 11 million tonnes of plastic waste flows annually into oceans according to an analysis by the Pew Charitable Trust. This may triple by 2040 to 29 million tonnes.

Important value addition

Plastic 

  • It is a synthetic organic polymer made from petroleum. 
  • Applications: 
    • Packaging
    • Building and construction
    • Household and sports equipment 
    • Vehicles 
    • Electronics 
    • Agriculture
  • It is cheap, lightweight, strong and malleable.
  • Sources of Marine Plastic: 
    • Land-based and storm runoff
    • Sewer overflows
    • Beach visitors 
    • Inadequate waste disposal 
  • Impact of Plastic Pollution 
    • Ingestion, suffocation and entanglement of hundreds of marine species.
    • The transfer of contaminants between marine species and humans through seafood consumption. 
    • Contribution to global warming

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Essay: There is no Plan B because we do not have a Planet B.
  2. Examine the issue of marine pollution with special focus on plastics. How does plastic waste threaten the oceans? Discuss.
  3. Do you think a complete ban on single-use plastic can address the problem of pollution in a sustainable manner? Isn’t sustainable management of plastic use through the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ approach a better way to handle pollution? Critically examine.

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding International Criminal Court:

  1. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands. 
  2. The ICC is the first and only permanent international court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. 

Which of the above is or are correct? 

  1. 1 only 
  2. 2 only 
  3. Both 1 and 2 
  4. Neither 1 nor 2 

Q.2 World Telecommunications Standardisation Assembly shall be conducted by which of the following country in 2024? 

  1. India 
  2. Afghanistan
  3. Sri Lanka
  4. Bangladesh 

Q.3 Which of the following is not true? 

  1. Plastic is easy to break down.
  2. Whenever, plastic disintegrates, it breaks down first into microplastics and then nanoplastics. 
  3. Microplastics have also been found in high glaciers, deep oceans and in food.
  4. Recently, the U.N. Environment Assembly has voted to adopt a resolution that paves the way for a legally binding agreement on plastic pollution by 2024.

ANSWERS FOR 4th March 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 A
3 A

Must Read

On India and Ukraine conflict:

The Hindu

On Children orphaned by the Pandemic:

The Hindu

On effective alternative to LPG:

Indian Express

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