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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 03 November 2022

 

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

 

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: The bumpy road travelled so far

 

GS Paper 3:

1. COP26 a year later: where do last year’s climate pledges stand?

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Ela Bhatt

2. Convicted legislators and their disqualification

3. Demand for Statehood

4. Pahari Ethnic Group

5. Fertilizer Subsidy

6. 2022 AP7 asteroid

7. India’s first data centre

8. International Day for Biosphere Reserves

9. Rhino horns are shrinking

10. Panamaram heronry

11. Mapping


 

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: The bumpy road travelled so far

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: International Relations

 

Source: Indian Express

 Context: In reference to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), India’s External Affairs Minister recently reiterated that connectivity projects should respect sovereignty and territorial integrity.

 

Background: While attending a virtual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) Council of Heads of Government hosted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, India’s External Affairs Minister made this comment about the CPEC, which is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

  

About the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): 

  • CPEC is a sea-and-land based corridor started in 2013, with a collection of infrastructure projects (hydroelectric-nuclear projects, railways, highways, economic corridors) that are under construction throughout Pakistan.
  • It is intended to link Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang province to Gwadar deep sea port close to Pakistan’s border with Iran.
  • Originally valued at $47 billion, the value of CPEC projects is worth $62 billion as of 2020.
  • In 2016, CPEC became partly operational, while some major power projects were commissioned by late 2017.

 

Significance of the project:

  • For Pakistan:
    • It intends to build modern transportation networks, various energy projects and special economic zones in order to rapidly modernise Pakistan’s essential infrastructure and strengthen its economy.
    • It aims to widen and deepen economic ties between Pakistan and its “all-weather friend” China.
  • For China:
    • Energy security: It is aimed to secure passage for China’s energy imports from the Middle Eastern countries (Gwadar lies close to Strait of Hormuz) by avoiding existing routes from the Straits of Malacca.
    • Strengthening trade ties with Europe: Developing Gwadar port in the Arabian Sea, as well as connecting this port to Xinjiang Province would be a shortcut to improve trade between Europe and China.
    • National security and economic development: It is also seen as addressing a national security issue for China by economic development of the Xinjiang region thus reducing militant influence on Muslim separatists.
    • Geopolitical aspirations: The CPEC is part of China’s larger regional transnational Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), formerly known as One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
      • BRI’s two arms are the land-based New Silk Road and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
      • Beijing aspires to establish a Silk Road Economic Belt that will span a vast swath of Asia and eastern Europe and be covered by a network of transportation, energy supply and telecommunications lines. 

 

Concerns for India:

  • Impinges on India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity: As the project passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) it violates universally accepted international norms, principles of openness, transparency and equality
  • Participation of other countries: Pakistan and China, during a recent CPEC Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting had decided to extend CPEC to interested third countries (most probably Afghanistan).
  • Chinese dominance: A China that is more accepted and integrated into the rest of the global economy will have a stronger voice in the UN and with individual nations, which may be bad news for India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
  • Dilemma – to participate or not: Given the hype surrounding the benefits that the CPEC will bring to the region, several experts argue that India must engage with China and Pakistan creatively.

 

Way ahead:

  • At this moment, India must develop a holistic outlook based on a serious reassessment of the possible benefits and drawbacks of the CPEC project.
  • India could expedite work on its own strategic projects, such as the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar Economic Corridor), Chabahar Port and the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor.

 

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):

●        It is an eight-member multilateral political-economic-security organisation, established in 2001 in Shanghai, China by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

●        In 2017, at the historic summit in Astana, India and Pakistan officially joined SCO as full- members.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Shanghai Five?
  2. When was SCO charter signed and when it entered into force?
  3. SCO founding members.
  4. When did India join the group?
  5. Observers and dialogue partners of SCO.
  6. Permanent bodies under SCO.
  7. Official languages of SCO.

Mains Link:

Q. Discuss the objectives and significance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. (10M)

COP26 a year later: where do last year’s climate pledges stand?

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Environmental pollutions and degradation.

 

Source : Indian Express

Directions: This Article discuss the current update on outcomes of the COP26. Go through it once, you can use it for value addition.

 Context:  A year ago at the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, countries, banks and business leaders announced a slew of climate plans and pledges.

 

Cop 26 and its outocmes:

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) was held in Glasgow, UK with the aim to finalise the rules and procedures for implementation of the Paris Agreement and to get all countries to commit to a net-zero target by a specific year..

  

Outcomes of the Glasgow Climate Change Conference and current updates on it:

  • National emission plans: Nearly 200 countries agreed at the COP26 summit to improve their emissions-cutting pledges, called Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs, in time for COP27.
    • But only two dozen countries have so far done so.
  • Deforestation: More than 100 countries pledged last year to end deforestation by 2030.
    • To achieve that goal, however, the area deforested would need to shrink by 10% each year from the 2020 cover.
      • Instead, deforestation fell last year by just 6.3%, according to the Forest Declaration Platform which tracks progress on the goal.
    • Amazon deforestation last year hit its highest level since 2006.
  • Methane pledge: To date, 119 countries, and blocs including the United States and the EU pledged to slash methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.
    • But only 15 of them have come up with concrete plans to do so, according to a report by the World Resources Institute.
  • Quitting fossil fuels: Around 20 countries including Germany, and the United States pledged to stop public financing for fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of 2022, except in “limited” circumstances that comply with climate goals.
    • Majority of them are yet to publish such policies, and questions remain about how strict those plans will be.
  • $100 billion by 2023: Rich countries’ failure to deliver promised finance to poorer nations has eroded trust at recent climate talks and made collective progress harder.
    • Rich countries fell $16.7 billion short of the target in 2020 and have signalled that it won’t be met until 2023.
  • Greening business: Launched ahead of last year’s U.N. talks, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) acts as the umbrella group for financial services firms looking to reach net-zero emissions across their portfolios.
    • Since joining, 118 asset managers, 44 asset owners, and 53 banks have set shorter-term targets to cut emissions.
  • Data reporting standards: Announced during COP26, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) was set up to establish baseline standards for the reporting of environmental data from companies globally.
    • Despite its establishment, the European Union and U.S. regulators have moved to launch their own rules leading to ambiguity in the market.

 

Insta Links

 Prelims link

 

Mains Links:

Q. ‘Climate Change’ is a global problem. How India will be affected by climate change? How Himalayan and coastal states of India will be affected by climate change? (UPSC CSE MAINS 2017)

Q. Climate risks may become irreversible despite taking actions. Should the focus be also on adaptation along with mitigation? Critically comment. (10M)

 

Facts for Prelims


Ela Bhatt

Source: DTE

Context: Elaben Bhatt, 89, noted Gandhian, leading women’s empowerment activist and renowned founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) passed away recently

 

Life of Elaben Bhatt: 

  • Born in Ahmedabad in 1933, she studied law and joined the legal cell of the Majur Mahajan Sangh or the Textile Labour Association (TLA).
  • Bhatt founded SEWA in 1972, which has since worked at empowering women in various ways.
  • She was felicitated with the Padma Shri, the Padma Bhushan, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize and many other accolades.
  • She was also a Member of the Rajya Sabha and of the Planning Commission of India in the 1980s.
  • She served as a World Bank advisor and addressed the United Nations General Assembly.
  • She propounded the idea of ‘hundred-mile communities’ in her book Anubandh: Building Hundred-Mile Communities published in 2015.

 

 

Convicted legislators and their disqualification

Source: The Hindu

Context:  Two Uttar Pradesh legislators were convicted on criminal charges in recent days, but only one of them has been disqualified.

 

When does conviction attracts disqualification?

  • Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951, contains provisions aimed at decriminalising electoral politics.
  • There are two categories of criminal cases that attract disqualification upon conviction.
    • Offences that entail disqualification for a period of six years upon any conviction.
      • If the punishment is a fine, the six-year period will run from the date of conviction, but if there is a prison sentence, the disqualification will begin on the date of conviction, and will continue up to the completion of six years after the date of release from jail.

  1. All other criminal provisions form a separate category under which mere conviction will not entail disqualification.
    1. A sentence of at least two years in prison is needed to incur such disqualification.

 

Is there legal protection for legislators against disqualification?

  • Under Section 8(4) of the RPA, legislators could avoid immediate disqualification until
  • But In Lily Thomas vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court struck down clause (4) as unconstitutional, thus removing the protection enjoyed by lawmakers.

 

Can the disqualification may be removed?

  • The Supreme Court has the power to stay not only the sentence, but also the conviction of a person.
    • In some rare cases, conviction has been stayed to enable the appellant to contest an election.
  • Power of Election commission: Under Sec. 11 of the Act, the EC may record reasons and either remove, or reduce the period of, a person’s disqualification.
    • For instance, in Sikkim Chief Minister S. Tamang case.

 

 

Demand for Statehood

Source: The Hindu

 Context: There has been protests in Leh, Kargil for Statehood as Ladakh completes 3 years as U.T. There are also demands for Special status under the 6th Schedule.

 Background: Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act was passed on August 5, 2019, which divided the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two parts: the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Insta link on the provisions of the Act here

 Legal-Constitutional Provisions related to Statehood:

6th Schedule: It provides for the administration of tribal areas in 4 northeastern states, namely Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram. The special status and administrative structure are created for protecting tribal culture which has led to demands from many State/UTs to be added to it.

 

Pahari Ethnic Group

Source: The Hindu

 Context: The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has now cleared the way for the inclusion of the ‘Pahari ethnic group’ in the Scheduled Tribes list of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.

 Constitutional provisions related to Scheduled Tribes:  The constitution does not define the term or provide a criterion for recognition of Scheduled Tribes. Article 342 empowers the President of India to notify such tribes.

 

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was set up in 2004 by inserting a new article 338A in the Constitution through the 89th Constitution Amendment Act, 2003.

Pahari Community are people speaking the local Pahari language and is a cover term for a number of heterogeneous communities inhabiting the Indian regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

Currently, Jammu and Kashmir has 12 communities that have been notified as STs.

 

Current Procedure of providing the Scheduled Tribe status to a community:

 

Fertilizer Subsidy

Source: The Hindu

Context: Considering the huge increase in the prices of fertilizers in the global market, the Centre has ‘doubled’ the Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizer subsidy for this Rabi season.

 

Fertilizer pricing in India:

Under the Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) Scheme (2010), the prices are fixed by companies (decontrolled ) but a fixed amount of subsidy decided on an annual basis is provided on each grade of subsidized Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) fertilizers, except for Urea, based on the nutrient content present in them, so as to keep the prices within reasonable level.

  • Under the Department of Fertilizers under the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers.

 

Urea Pricing policy:

Due to natural gas-based feedstock, the MRP of urea is statutorily fixed by the Government of India. The Centre pays subsidy on urea to fertiliser manufacturers on the basis of cost of production at each plant and the units are required to sell the fertiliser at the government-set Maximum Retail Price (MRP).

 

How subsidies are paid?

The Direct benefit transfer (DBT) system was introduced in 2018. The retailer’s point-of-sale (PoS) machine is linked to the Department of Fertilizers’ e-Urvarak DBT portal . Farmers purchasing fertilizers provide identity proof (Aadhar or Kisan Credit Card) to certify sales. Only sales registered on the e-Urvarak portal get DBT for the companies.

 

Related News: India aims to end urea imports from 2025

India is the top importer of urea, and it imports ~ 30% of its average 35 million tons of annual consumption.

To end this import dependence, India is to commission 5 new Urea plants by 2025 to add 6.5 million tons of capacity to its existing 32 plants with a total 26 million tons of capacity.

Additionally, India is boosting nano urea production (target: 5 million tons by 2025) to reduce consumption by improving consumption efficiency.

 

India’s first data centre

 Source: Business Standard

Context: North India’s first hyper-scale data centre Yotta Yotta D1 was established recently.

 

About Yotta D1: ‘Yotta D1’ features Internet peering exchanges and direct fibre connectivity to and from global cloud operators, making it extremely useful for global connectivity. It will help in accessing services like public cloud service, cyber security, and disaster recovery.

 

A data center is a facility that centralizes an organization’s shared IT operations and equipment for the purposes of storing, processing, and disseminating data and applications.

 

Need for and significance of the data centre:

  1. To increase storage capacity of 250 MW against current 400 MW.
  2. It comes in the backdrop of Global Investors Summit 2023 to create avenues for investment
  3. The policy also takes care of building investor confidence by:
    1. simplifying land allotment procedures
    2. procedures for availing electricity.
    3. It will also provide financial and nonfinancial incentives to investors

 

Concerns: However, concerns about security of data prevail as centralisation of huge data would mean higher risks of cyber attacks.

A comprehensive digital infrastructure envisions optimisation of resources. The data centre paves way for Industrial Revolution 4.0 in India. However, concerns must be addressed through data decentralisation measures can also be taken including Edge Computing, etc.

 

International Day for Biosphere Reserves

Source: The Hindu

 Context:  November 3 will be the first ‘The International Day for Biosphere Reserves’, to be celebrated beginning 2022.

 

Biosphere reserves:

  • Biosphere Reserve (BR) is an international designation by UNESCO for representative parts of natural and cultural landscapes extending over large area of terrestrial or coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination thereof.
  • The World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) was formed in 1971, as a backbone for biodiversity conservation, ecosystem restoration, and living in harmony with nature.
    • Nilgiris stretching over Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala was the first biosphere reserve of India designated by UNESCO in 2000.
  • Spain has the maximum 53 biosphere reserves.
  • Governments alone decide which areas to nominate. Before approval by UNESCO, the sites are externally examined.
    • If approved, they will be managed based on a plan, reinforced by credibility checks while remaining under the sovereignty of their national government.

 

Which one of the following are Agasthyamala biosphere reserve? (UPSC CSE 2019)

a)      Neyyar, peppara and shendurney wildlife sanctuaries and kalakad mundanthurai tiger reserve

b)      Mudumalai sathayamangalam and Wayanad wildlife sanctuaries and silent valley national park

c)      Kaundinya gundla bhrameshwaram and papikonda wildlife sanctuaries and mukurthi national park

d)      Kawal and Shree Venkateshwara wildlife sanctuaries; and Nagarjunasagar-srisailam tiger reserve

 

Answer : A

Justification: Agasthyamalai biosphere consists of Neyyar, Peppara and Shendurney Wildlife sanctuaries and their adjoining areas.

 

Rhino horns are shrinking

Source: The Hindu

Context:  According to a study, published in the latest edition of People and Nature by the British Ecological Society, the horns of rhinoceroses may have become smaller over time from the impact of hunting.

One-horned Rhinos

  • Also known as Indian rhino, it is the largest of the rhino species.
  • It is identified by a single black horn and a grey-brown hide with skin folds.
  • Food: They primarily graze, with a diet consisting almost entirely of grasses as well as leaves, branches of shrubs and trees, fruit, and aquatic plants.

Protection status

  • IUCN Red list: Vulnerable
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I.
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): Appendix I

Other conservation efforts:

  • The New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019 signed by the five rhino range nations (India, Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia) for the conservation and protection of the species.
  • Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) efforts of DNA Profilings of all the rhinos in the country.
  • National Rhino Conservation Strategy
  • Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020): launched in 2005 to increase the rhino population in Assam to 3,000 by establishing populations in new areas.

Other species of Rhinos

 

Consider the following statements: (UPSC CSE 2019)

1.      Asiatic lion naturally found in India only

2.      Double-humped camel is naturally found in India only

3.      One-horned rhinoceros is naturally found in India only

Which one of the statement given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Answer:  A

 

Panamaram heronry

Source: The Hindu

Context:  Panamaram heronry, the largest breeding ground of different species of herons in the Malabar region, is set to get a fresh lease of life, thanks to the intervention of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) and the Panamaram grama panchayat.

 

Panamaram heronry:

  • It is one of the largest mixed species heronry in Kerala and important site for breeding 9 species of water birds,
    • which includes species like black headed-ibis, purple heron, large egret, median egret, little egret, pond heron, night heron, and little cormorant.
    • The site is also the only location in State where the cattle egret breeds.
  • The heronry, formed on a sandbank on the Panamaram river (Wayanad district, Kerala) is covered with vegetation, predominantly bamboo groves.
    • Panamaram Riveris a tributary of the Kabani River along with Mananthavady, Babali, Noolpuzha and Nugu Rivers.
  • Major threats: Destruction of bamboo groves after a massive blossoming of the plant and illegal sand-mining near the islet.

 

What is heronry?

  • It is the breeding grounds of herons.
  • Herons are long-legged, long-necked, freshwater and coastal birds some of which are referred to as egrets or bitterns rather than herons.
  • Herons, by evolutionary adaptation, have long beaks.
  • IUCN: Least Concern

 

 

Mapping


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