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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 29 July 2020

InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. Russia, India and China (RIC).

 

GS Paper 3:

1. What are pre-packs under the present insolvency regime?

2. High levels of ammonia in Yamuna water.

3. Green – Ag Project.

4. Global Tiger Day.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. AstroGen project.

2. Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR).

3. Ban on Chinese Apps.

4. Rafale fighter jets.

5. Pampa river.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Russia, India and China (RIC) grouping:

Context:

Amid the tensions on the Line of Actual Control, the dominant calls were for a more decisive westward shift in India’s foreign policy.

  • However, last month, India decided to attend a (virtual) meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China (RIC). This meeting seemed incongruous in this setting.

What is RIC?

Conceived by the then Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov in 1998.

The group was founded on the basis of “ending its subservient foreign policy guided by the U.S.,” and “renewing old ties with India and fostering the newly discovered friendship with China.”

Why was it formed?

  1. In the early 2000s, the three countries were positioning themselves for a transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world order.
  2. The RIC shared some non-West (as distinct from anti-West) perspectives on the global order, such as an emphasis on sovereignty and territorial integrity, impatience with homilies on social policies and opposition to regime change from abroad.
  3. Their support for democratisation of the global economic and financial architecture moved to the agenda of BRIC (with the addition of Brazil).

Significance and potential of the grouping:

  1. Together, the RIC countries occupy over 19 percent of the global landmass and contribute to over 33 percent of global GDP.
  2. All three are nuclear powers and two, Russia and China, are permanent members of the UN Security Council, while India aspires to be one.
  3. The trio could also contribute to creating a new economic structure for the world.
  4. They could work together on disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.

Present situation:

A lot has changed in recent times;

  • India’s relations with the U.S. surged, encompassing trade and investment, a landmark civil nuclear deal and a burgeoning defence relationship that met India’s objective of diversifying military acquisitions away from a near-total dependence on Russia.
  • China went back on the 2005 agreement, launched the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, worked to undermine India’s influence in its neighbourhood and expanded its military and economic presence in the Indian Ocean.
  • As U.S.-Russia relations imploded in 2014 (after the annexation/accession of Crimea), Russia’s pushback against the U.S. included cultivating the Taliban in Afghanistan and enlisting Pakistan’s support for it.

Importance of RIC for India:

RIC still has significance.

  1. India is in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is driven by Russia and China and includes four Central Asian countries.
  2. Central Asia is strategically located, bordering our turbulent neighbourhood.
  3. A sliver of land separates Tajikistan from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Pakistan’s membership of SCO and the potential admission of Iran and Afghanistan (as member states) heighten the significance of the SCO for India.

What needs to be done?

  1. It is important for India to shape the Russia-China dynamics in this region, to the extent possible. The Central Asian countries have signalled they would welcome such a dilution of the Russia-China duopoly.
  2. The ongoing India-Iran-Russia project for a sea/road/rail link from western India through Iran to Afghanistan and Central Asia, is an important initiative for achieving an effective Indian presence in Central Asia, alongside Russia and China.
  3. The defence and energy pillars of India’s partnership with Russia remain strong. Access to Russia’s abundant natural resources can enhance our materials security — the importance of which has been highlighted by COVID-19.
  4. With China too, we have to work bilaterally and multilaterally on a range of issues, even while firmly protecting our interests on the border, in technology and the economy.
  5. The Indo-Pacific is a geographic space of economic and security importance, in which a cooperative order should prevent the dominance of any external power.

Conclusion:

The current India-China stand-off has intensified calls for India to fast-track partnership with the U.S. This is an unexceptionable objective, but is not a silver bullet. National security cannot be fully outsourced. India’s quest for autonomy of action is based on its geographical realities, historical legacies and global ambitions — not a residual Cold War mindset.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is RIC group? When was it founded?
  2. WTO- establishment and objectives.
  3. What is G20?
  4. What is Paris agreement?

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of RIC grouping.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

What are pre-packs under the present insolvency regime?

Context:

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has set up a committee to look into the possibility of including what are called “pre-packs” under the current insolvency regime to offer faster insolvency resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).

So, what is a pre-pack?

Also called as a pre-packaged insolvency, It is an agreement for the resolution of the debt of a distressed company.

  • It is done through an agreement between secured creditors and investors instead of a public bidding process.
  • The process needs to be completed within 90 days so that all stakeholders retain faith in the system.

Benefits of a pre-pack:

  1. Faster: This process would likely be completed much faster than the traditional Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) which requires that the creditors of the distressed company allow for an open auction for qualified investors to bid for the distressed company.
  2. It would act as an important alternative resolution mechanism to the CIRP and would help lower the burden on the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
  3. In the case of pre-packs, the incumbent management retains control of the company until a final agreement is reached. This is necessary because Transfer of control from the incumbent management to an insolvency professional as is the case in the CIRP leads to disruptions in the business and loss of some high-quality human resources and asset value.
  4. Also, a financially distressed company can continue its operations during the period leading to a formal default, and even thereafter, without the resultant reputational risks, business disruptions, or value erosion.

What are some of the drawbacks of pre-pack?

Reduced transparency compared to the CIRP as financial creditors would reach an agreement with a potential investor privately and not through an open bidding process.

  • This could lead to stakeholders such as operational creditors raising issues of fair treatment when financial creditors reach agreements to reduce the liabilities of the distressed company.

Unlike in the case of a full-fledged CIRP which allows for price discovery, in the case of a pre-pack the NCLT would only be able to evaluate a resolution plan based on submissions by the creditors and the investor.

Do we need pre-packs?

Yes. It is because slow progress in the resolution of distressed companies has been one of the key issues raised by creditors regarding the CIRP under the IBC.

  • 738 of 2,170 ongoing insolvency resolution processes have already taken more than 270 days at the end of March.
  • Under the IBC, stakeholders are required to complete the CIRP within 330 days of the initiation of insolvency proceedings.

For IBC, please go through:

https://www.insightsonindia.com/2020/06/08/insolvency-and-bankruptcy-code/.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is insolvency and bankruptcy?
  2. Various institutions established under the IBC code.
  3. NCLT- composition and functions.
  4. What are debt recovery tribunals?
  5. Sections 7, 9 and 10 of IBC.
  6. Threshold for invoking insolvency under IBC.
  7. Composition of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board.

Mains Link:

Discuss how suspension of initiation of fresh insolvency proceedings will help shield companies impacted by the outbreak of Covid-19.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

High levels of ammonia in Yamuna water:

Context:

High levels of ammonia (3 ppm) were recently detected in the Yamuna river. 

What is the acceptable limit?

The acceptable maximum limit of ammonia in drinking water, as per the Bureau of Indian Standards, is 0.5 ppm. 

What is ammonia and what are its effects?

Ammonia is a colourless gas and is used as an industrial chemical in the production of fertilisers, plastics, synthetic fibres, dyes and other products.

  • It consists of hydrogen and nitrogen. In its aqueous form, it is called ammonium hydroxide.
  • This inorganic compound has a pungent smell. 
  • Occurrence: Ammonia occurs naturally in the environment from the breakdown of organic waste matter.
  • It is lighter than air.

synthetic_fibres

 Contamination:

It may find its way to ground and surface water sources through industrial effluents or through contamination by sewage.

  • If the concentration of ammonia in water is above 1 ppm it is toxic to fishes.
  • In humans, long term ingestion of water having ammonia levels of 1 ppm or above may cause damage to internal organs.

How does it enter the Yamuna?

The most likely source is believed to be effluents from dye units, distilleries and other factories in Panipat and Sonepat districts in Haryana, and also sewage from some unsewered colonies in this stretch of the river.

 What needs to be done?

Stringent implementation of guidelines against dumping harmful waste into the river.

Making sure untreated sewage does not enter the water.

Maintain a sustainable minimum flow, called the ecological flow. This is the minimum amount of water that should flow throughout the river at all times to sustain underwater and estuarine ecosystems and human livelihoods, and for self regulation.

Challenges ahead:

  1. Delhi dependent on Haryana for up to 70 per cent of its water needs.
  2. Haryana, with a large number of people involved in agriculture, has water paucity issues of its own.
  3. Both states have argued over maintaining 10 cumecs (cubic meter per second) flow in the Yamuna at all times.
  4. Both states have approached the courts several times over the past decade to get what they call an equitable share of water.
  5. The lack of a minimum ecological flow also means accumulation of other pollutants. After water is extracted from the river for treatment in North East Delhi, what flows is mostly untreated sewage and refuse from homes, run off from storm water drains and effluents from unregulated industry.

These challenges need to be addressed at the earliest.

Insta Facts:

  1. The river Yamuna is a major tributary of river Ganges.
  2. Originates from the Yamunotri glacier near Bandarpoonch peaks in the Mussoorie range of the lower Himalayas in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand.
  3. It meets the Ganges at the Sangam in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh after flowing through Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi.
  4. Tributaries: Chambal, Sindh, Betwa and Ken.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. River Yamuna Flows through how many states and UTs?
  2. Tributaries of Yamuna.
  3. How is Ammonia produced?
  4. Applications of Ammonia.
  5. Acceptable maximum limit of ammonia in drinking water?

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: acceptable maximum limit of ammonia in drinking water.

Green – Ag Project:

Context:

The Union government on July 28, 2020, launched the Green-Ag Project in Mizoram, to reduce emissions from agriculture and ensure sustainable agricultural practices.

  • Mizoram is one of the five states where the project will be implemented. Other states include Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttarakhand.

About the Project:

The Green-Ag Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility, while the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation, and Farmers’ Welfare (DAC&FW) is the national executing agency.

Other key players involved in its implementation are Food and Agricultre Organization (FAO) and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).

  • The project seeks to integrate biodiversity, climate change and sustainable land management objectives and practices into Indian agriculture.

 Pilot project:

The pilot project is supposed to end on March 31, 2026, in all states.

It aims to cover 35 villages and includes two protected areas — the Dampa Tiger Reserve and the Thorangtlang Wildlife Sanctuary.

Targets:

  1. Achieve multiple global environmental benefits in at least 1.8 million hectares (ha) of land in five landscapes, with mixed land use systems.
  2. Bring at least 104,070 ha of farms under sustainable land and water management.
  3. Ensure 49 million Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq) sequestered or reduced through sustainable land use and agricultural practices.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Green- Ag project is implemented in which states?
  2. Targets?
  3. About FAO.
  4. About GEF?
  5. Who manages GEF?

Mains Link:

Write a note Green- Ag project.

Sources: down to earth.

 

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Global Tiger Day:

Observed on 29 July. It was created in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit.

On this occasion, the Union Environment Ministry has released an updated report on India’s Tiger Survey from 2018.

Highlights:

  1. Country’s tiger population: 2,967 — unchanged from the government’s estimate last year
  2. India has nearly 70% of the world’s tigers.
  3. Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of tigers at 526, closely followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442).
  4. Chhattisgarh and Mizoram saw a decline in tiger population and all other States saw a “positive” increase.
  5. While Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of tigers, Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu registered the “maximum improvement” since 2014.

Guinness Record:

The fourth cycle of the All India Tiger Estimation 2018 recently entered the Guinness World Record for being the world’s largest camera trap wildlife survey.

  • Camera trapswere placed in 26,838 locations across 141 different sites and surveyed an effective area of 121,337 square kilometres.

All India Tiger estimation:

The All India Tiger Estimation done quadrennially is steered by the National Tiger Conservation Authority with technical backstopping from the Wildlife Institute of India and implemented by State Forest Departments and partners.

Conservation efforts- National and Global:

  1. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has launched the M-STrIPES (Monitoring System for Tigers – Intensive Protection and Ecological Status), a mobile monitoring system for forest guards.
  2. At the Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010,leaders of 13 tiger range countries resolved to do more for the tiger and embarked on efforts to double its number in the wild, with a popular slogan ‘T X 2’.
  3. The Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) programof the World Bank, using its presence and convening ability, brought global partners together to strengthen the tiger agenda.
  4. Over the years, the initiative has institutionalised itself as a separate entity in the form of the Global Tiger Initiative Council (GTIC), with its two arms –the Global Tiger Forum and the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program.
  5. The Project Tiger,launched way back in 1973, has grown to more than 50 reserves amounting to almost 2.2% of the country’s geographical area.

Insta Fact:

What are the different species of tigers?

There are different species of tigers – Siberian tigers, Bengal tigers, Indochinese tigers, Malayan tigers and South China.

The Bengal tiger is found primarily in India with smaller populations in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. It is the most numerous of all tiger subspecies with more than 2,500 left in the wild.

tiger_day

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Differences between National Parks, wildlife sanctuaries and biosphere reserves.
  2. M-STrIPES is related to?
  3. What is GTIC?
  4. When was project tiger launched?
  5. NTCA- composition and functions.
  6. Why the fourth cycle of the All India Tiger Estimation 2018 entered Guinness Record book recently?
  7. State with highest number of tigers.
  8. State with highest tiger density.

Mains Link:

The centrality of tiger agenda is an ecological necessity for the sustainability of our environment. In this context, examine the steps taken by India to conserve tigers?

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for Prelims


AstroGen project:

It is a genealogy project for academics — who earned doctorates on astronomy-related theses or supervised research for such dissertations.

  • It was launched recently by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and its Historical Astronomy Division.
  • The project allows these academics to trace their ‘ancestors’. In academic genealogy, however, a person’s ‘parent’ is their thesis advisor.

Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR):

It is the largest Tiger Reserve in India.

The reserve spreads over five districts in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The area consists mostly of the Nallamala Hills.

The Krishna river cuts its basin almost 200 m (660 ft) deep over a distance of 130 km (81 mi) through the reserve.

Ban on Chinese Apps:

  • Union information and technology ministryhas banned 47 new apps. The move comes nearly a month after the ban on 59 Chinese apps, taking the total number of mobile applications blocked to 106.
  • The new apps include clones and different versions of some of the original apps.

Why the government banned these apps?

These measures have been undertaken since there is credible information that these apps are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.

Relevant provisions:

For this, the Ministry has invoked its power under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009.

Rafale fighter jets:

Context:

Five Rafale jets arrived in India. These are part of the 36 twin-engine aircraft purchased from Dassault Rafale at approximately Rs 59,000 crore in 2016.

What is the Rafale Jet?

It is a twin-engine fighter jet manufactured by Dassault Aviation of France.

Pampa river:

Pampa is the third longest river in Kerala after Periyar and Bharathappuzha.

Sabarimala temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa is located on the banks of the river.

The river is also known as ‘Dakshina Bhageerathi’ and ‘River Baris’.


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