04 November, 2021 Daily Current Affairs

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Prelims Specific Questions :-

1) Which statements about InvITs are Correct :-

  1. Minimum subscription amount in case of InvITs is Rs. 1 lakh
  2. Insurance companies are not allowed to invest in InvITs.

Options :

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None

2) Panchamrit Goals were in news recently , they are

  1. 5 goals of Panchsheel
  2. 5 goals on Climate change
  3. 5 goals on World Peace
  4. None of the Above

3) which statements about NHRC are correct

  1. Speaker of Lok sabha is a part of the committee suggesting name of the Chairperson and member of NHRC
  2. The members of the NHRC can be reappointed

Options :

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None

Environment / Groups

At COP26, T.N. teenager tells leaders that youth are angry

Vinisha Umashankar, now 15, developed a solar-powered ironing cart, which would replace the conventional charcoal ironing box, would power a steam ironing box to do its job. Her innovation brought her laurels from around the world, including the prestigious Children’s Climate Prize in November 2021. The prize given by the Sweden-based Children’s Climate Foundation is one of the most significant climate-related awards for young innovators.

Ms. Umashankar’s mobile ironing cart has solar panels with a roof connected to a 100 Ah battery. It takes five hours of bright sunshine to fully charge the battery, which in turn powers the steam ironing box for six hours.

Polity

NHRC asks Tripura government to submit report on violence

About National Human Rights Commission (NHRC):

  • It is a statutory body established on 12th October, 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993.
  • The Act also provides for the creation of the State Human Rights Commission as well.

Composition:

  • The chairperson is a retired chief justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court.
  • They are appointed by the President on the recommendations of a six-member committee consisting of:
  • Prime Minister (head)
  • Speaker of the Lok Sabha
  • Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
  • Leaders of the Opposition in both the Houses of Parliament
  • Union Home Minister.

Term and removal:

  • They hold office for a term of three years or until they attain the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
  • The President can remove them from the office under specific circumstances.

International Relations

U.S. puts Israeli maker of Pegasus spyware on ‘black list’

U.S. authorities put the Israeli maker of the Pegasus spyware on a list of restricted companies, taking aim at software central to a scandal over surveillance of journalists and officials.

Pegasus are essentially turned into pocket spying devices, allowing the user to read the target’s messages, look through their photos, track their location and even turn on their camera without them knowing.

Society

NCPCR issues notice to NCERT on transgender inclusion manual

The training material explains concepts such as gender identity, gender incongruence, gender dysphoria, gender affirmation among various others. It also provides definitions of terms that people use to identify themselves; some of these are gender fluid, agender, transfeminine, and transmasculine.

What is Gender Dysphoria :-

Gender dysphoria is a term that describes a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity. This sense of unease or dissatisfaction may be so intense it can lead to depression and anxiety and have a harmful impact on daily life.

The training material contains a section titled ‘Success Stories of Transgender Persons to Serve as Role Models.‘ It features engineer Grace Banu, bodybuilder Aryan Pasha, dancer Narthaki Nataraj, community researcher Santa Khurai, university professor Manobi Bandyopadhyay, medical doctor and professor Dr Aqsa Shaikh, news anchor Padmini Prakash, human resource professional Siddhant More, and Vihaan Peethambar, who serves as an Expert Committee Member in the National Council for Transgender Persons.

The document titled ‘Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap’ was published by the Department of Gender Studies at NCERT.

Major issues with the Manual: –

The main issues of contention were the manual’s recommendation to use gender-neutral toilets and remove gender binaries in school infrastructure and processes. “Such an approach will expose children to unnecessary psychological trauma due to contradictory environments at home and in school,” said the NCPCR notice. The manual’s suggestion to teachers to discuss the availability of puberty blockers or hormone treatments for adolescents experiencing gender dysphoria also came in for criticism.

“There is respect for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender queer or questioning) individuals in Indian society. But when nature has given you certain genders, trying to convince students that they might not be the same gender to which they are born is just tampering and interfering with the natural process,”

About National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

  • NCPCR is a statutory body set up in March 2007 under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005.
  • It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
  • The Commission’s mandate is to ensure that all laws, policies, programmes, and administrative mechanisms are in consonance with the child rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • It inquires into complaints relating to a child’s right to free and compulsory education under the Right to Education Act, 2009.
  • It monitors the implementation of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

Economy

1) Excise duty on petrol cut by ₹5, diesel by ₹10

“To give a further fillip to the economy, the Government of India has decided to significantly reduce the excise duty on diesel and petrol,” the ministry added.

What are the impacts of high rates of petrol & petrol? –

  1. Inflation increases due to expensive transportation cost
  2. Less consumption of goods slows down the economy.

2) Canada funds to pick up 50% in NHAI InvIT

About InvIT –

  • In India, InvITs are governed by SEBI (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) (Amendment) Regulations, 2016.
  • InvITs are fast becoming a preferred route for private equity investors to hold operating infrastructure assets and for infrastructure developers to monetize their investments in these projects.
  • The InvIT is designed as a tiered structure with a sponsor setting up the InvIT which in turn invests into the eligible infrastructure projects either directly or via special purpose vehicles (SPVs).
  • The sponsor of the InvIT is responsible for setting up the InvIT and appointing the trustee. The sponsor should hold a minimum 15% of the units issued by the InvIT with a lock-in period of three years from the date of issuance.
  • In 2019, capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India reduced the minimum investment limits on InvITs and REITs, making them more accessible. The minimum subscription limit for REITs was brought down to Rs50,000, from the earlier Rs2 lakh. For InvITs, it was reduced from ₹10 lakh to ₹1 lakh. InvIT invests in infrastructure projects.
  • The projects can be in sectors such as transport (road, bridges, railways), energy (electricity generation, transmission, distribution), communication, etc.
  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) has allowed insurers to invest in debt securities issued by InvITs and real estate investment trusts (Reits).

Editorial of the day

Editorial 1 – Batting for ‘One South Asia’ makes more sense

India’s record since the 2015 Paris Accord and initiatives such as the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), as a part of which Mr. Modi (along with other leaders) launched the ‘Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS)’ at the World Leaders Summit at COP-26 were widely welcomed.

The announcement of India’s new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the “Panchamrit” or five goals for the future are –

  1. First– India will increase its non-fossil energy capacity to 500GW (India had earlier extended its target to 450GW out of which 100GW is already installed) by 2030.
  2. Second– India will meet 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
    1. Please note that renewable energy sources are different from non-fossil sources. Non-fossil sources also includes, scalable nuclear power and hydroelectricity.
  3. Third– India will reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now onwards till 2030.
  4. Fourth– By 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45%.
    1. India has achieved 25% of emission intensity reduction of GDP b/w 2005 -2016, and is on the path to achieve more than 40% by 2030.
  5. Fifth By the year 2070, India will achieve the target of Net Zero.
‘Panchamrit’ is a traditional method of mixing five natural foods — milk, ghee, curd, honey and jaggery. These are used in Hindu and Jain worship rituals. It is also used as a technique in Ayurveda.

India has also given the slogan of One LIFE, One World, at Glasgow.

LIFE is shorthand for Lifestyle For Environment Today which entails the need for all of us to come together with collective participation, to take Lifestyle For Environment (LIFE) forward as a campaign.

Reasons for South Asia’s feeble voice

  • India-Pakistan tensions that have led to the degradation of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) process, especially since 2014, when the last SAARC summit was held.
  • Events in Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover which will bring it closer to its Central Asian rather than South Asian neighbours.
  • The differences over pollution issues within the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) grouping that has held up its initiatives like the common Motor Vehicle Agreement (due mainly to Bhutan’s opposition); and
  • Slow movement amongst the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries along the Bay of Bengal that have yet to bring about a common charter at the global level despite adding climate change as an area of cooperation a decade ago.

Impact of climate change

  • South Asia is slowly becoming the world’s biggest area of concern when it comes to climate change. According to this year’s Global Climate Risk Index, India and Afghanistan are among the top 10 countries worldwide in terms of vulnerability, but South Asia classifies for the overall lowest values.
  • By one estimate, 20 out of 23 major cyclone disasters in the world in the past have occurred around the Bay of Bengal region, and global warming, coastal degradation and soil salinity as well as water scarcities cause the deaths of thousands in South Asia each year.
  • The Asian Development Bank now predicts a decrease of 11% in South Asian GDPs by 2100 if “Business-As-Usual (BAU) Emissions” are maintained. With global warming and sea levels rising, other estimates predict there will be nearly  3 million climate migrants in South Asia by 2050 (“Costs of Climate Inaction: Displacement and Distress Migration)

Author says there is a need for climate justice, global funding and climate adaptation technology transfer, India’s voice would only be strengthened multiple times if it speaks for South Asia as a whole.

According to the World Bank’s newly launched South Asia road map, climate-smart investment opportunities in South Asia total a whopping $3.4 trillion, with “energy-efficient green buildings” alone representing an investment potential of more than $1.5 trillion. Green transport connectivity and infrastructure, electric vehicles could represent another $950 billion in investment opportunities by 2030. This does not include the vast sums of funding available for cross-regional solar grids, wind-farms and run-of-river energy projects.

Other drawbacks-

While India and other countries in the region access global banks, including the BRICS-led New Development Bank (NDB), the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and Asian Development Bank for projects individually, there is no single South Asian entity the banks could work with for a more targeted focus and more concessional financing for the problem that faces the region.

Growing carbon footprints as well as post-COVID-19 economic compulsions are driving countries into closer regional coalitions, looking for solutions closer home, than those provided by globalization and long-distance supply chains. South Asia has remained an exception, persistently showing lower interregional trade and connectivity, and lower levels of cooperation on migrant labour issues, interstate tourism and cross-border employment than other regions.

Editorial 2 – India’s 5G leap is about powering tomorrow

The fifth generation mobile network, or 5G, is the next level of mobile network that will shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industrial 4.0, quality of service delivery, innovation, etc. by facilitating smarter and developing societies. Commercial 5G networks began to be deployed in 2020 and are expected to reach 12% of world mobile connections (1.1 billion) and generate revenues up to U.S.$1.3 trillion by 2025 for operators. The technology that 5G uses will improve data transfer speed at unexpected higher levels — almost 100 times more — and reduce latency times helping mission-critical services.

Some roadblocks –

  • Department of Telecommunications (estimated to be more than ₹90,000 crore has further exacerbated the financial condition of telecom companies.
  • The Number of telecom operators has come down to a handful from around 15 a few years back.
  • In this scenario, the huge investment required for 5G may add to their worries. The trial run of 5G in developed countries such as Japan and the United States reveals that the investment is very high, ranging from $6 million per small city to $60 million per large or densely populated city.

Uses of 5G

India may encompass enhanced outdoor and indoor broadband, the Internet of things, smart cities, smart agriculture, energy monitoring, remote monitoring, smart grids, telehealth, industrial automation, remote patient monitoring and industrial automation to name some of the areas. There is great potential for India to move to an advanced digital revolution.

What needs to be done

The immediate priority for India will be in identifying end users and population to be covered, analysis of the existing network and operators, identification of cities for the 5G roll out, working out an investment model, and minimisation of the digital risk and pricing based on the externalities and usage of various sectors.

The deployment of 5G in India needs to be carefully planned after a cost benefit analysis by independent experts which will create a level-playing field through market mechanism such as facilitating, simulating, auctioning, ensuring competition, functioning markets, etc.

As the deployment of 5G network is expensive, both the Central and State governments may need to consider measures which stimulate fibre investment, attract investment through public private partnerships (PPPs) and facilitate investment funds on a nominal interest basis.

Steps such as a moratorium on dues, redefining adjusted gross revenue, and reducing spectrum charges will help all telecom companies, more so Airtel and Vodafone Idea who face precarious financial situations.

Allowing 100% foreign direct investment in the telecom sector under the automatic route along with these policy reforms augurs well for the sector to attract investment.

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