19-20 November 2021 Daily Current Affairs

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Prelims Specific Question

1) Sydney Dialogue sometimes seen in news is related to?

  1. cyber and critical technologies
  2. Climate change and sustainable development
  3. Global anti-terrorism efforts
  4. Vaccine production and IPR

Sydney Dialogue

  • It is an initiative of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
  • It is an annual summit of cyber and critical technologies to discuss the fallout of the digital domain on the law and order situation in the world.

2) With reference to S-400 Triumf missile system, consider the following statements:

  1. It is a long range, mobile & surface-to-air missile system (SAM) having an operational range of over 400 km.
  2. It can engage with aerial targets such as aircraft and ballistic missiles only.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

3) Lapis Lazuli Corridor was sometimes seen in news. It connects which of the following pairs?

  1. Australia and New Zealand.
  2. China and North Korea.
  3. Turkey and Afghanistan.
  4. US and Canada.

Important News Items of the Day

1) Pochampally village in Telangana is set to be named as one of the best Tourism Villages by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

Best Tourism Villages Initiative

  • The Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO Pilot initiative aims to award those villages which are outstanding examples of rural destinations and showcase good practices in line with its specified nine evaluation areas.
  • It also aims to support villages to enhance their rural tourism potential through training and access to opportunities for improvement.

Key objectives

  • Reduce regional inequalities in income and development
  • Fight rural depopulation
  • Progress gender equality and women’s and youth empowerment
  • Enhance education and skills development

2) Post NEP, Odisha all set to teach in tribal languages

The new National Education Policy lays emphasis on imparting teaching in mother tongue in primary classes. But when the language-base of Odisha’s adivasi communities is as diverse as 21 spoken languages further divided into 74 dialects, the task appears to be quite onerous.

However, Odisha’s decade-long experiment in multi-lingual education may come in handy to take up the challenge.

The ST and SC Development Department of the State government has already started working on project called ‘Samhati’ to address the language issues faced by tribal students in early grades or elementary classes. 

 International Relations

India-funded Jaffna Cultural Centre awaits inauguration

Nearly two years after its construction, the India-funded Jaffna Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province awaits inauguration, amid persisting uncertainty over who will run the facility.

Environment

1) Delhi Govt. pledges to clean Yamuna by 2025

2) Amazon deforestation surges to worst in 15 years

The area deforested in Brazil’s Amazon reached a 15-year high after a 22% jump from the prior year, according to official data published.

The National Institute for Space Research’s Prodes monitoring system showed the Brazilian Amazon lost 13,235 square kilometres of rainforest in the 12-month reference period from August 2020 to July 2021. That’s the most since 2006. The 15-year high flies in the face of the Bolsonaro Government’s recent attempts to shore up its environmental credibility, having made overtures to the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden and moved forward its commitment to end illegal deforestation at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow this month. The space agency’s report, released on Thursday, is dated October 27 — before talks in Glasgow began.

The Brazilian Amazon hadn’t recorded a single year with more than 10,000 square kilometers of deforestation in more than a decade before Jair Bolsonaro’s term started in January 2019. Between 2009 and 2018, the average was 6,500 square kilometres. Since then, the annual average leapt to 11,405 square kilometres. “It is a shame. It is a crime,” Márcio Astrini, executive secretary of the Climate Observatory, a network of environmental nonprofit groups, told The Associated Press.

3) India needs $10 tn. to meet net zero

To meet its goals of net zero, or being able to effectively eliminate carbon dioxide emissions by 2070, India will need close to $10 trillion (₹700 lakh crore), according to an analysis by climate and energy research firm, CEEW Centre for Energy Finance (CEEW-CEF). CEEW is the Council for Energy, Environment and Water Research, a think tank in New Delhi.

Most of this money, around $8.4 trillion, would be needed to significantly scale up generation from renewable energy and bringing together the necessary integration, distribution and transmission infrastructure. Another $1.5 trillion would have to be invested in the industrial sector for setting up green hydrogen production capacity to advance the sector’s decarbonisation.

Green hydrogen is hydrogen gas made from renewable energy and can be used for many things, from heating to powering batteries as well fuelling vehicles.

Polity

1) Sexual intent, not skin-to-skin contact, key: SC

The Supreme Court quashed a Bombay High Court decision to acquit a man charged with assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) solely on the grounds that he groped the child over her clothes without “skin-to-skin” contact.

“The act of touching a sexual part of the body with sexual intent will not be trivialized and not excluded under Section 7 of the POCSO Act,” a Bench of Justices U.U. Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat and Bela M. Trivedi held.

Section 7 mandates that “whoever with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person, or does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration is said to commit sexual assault”.

Justice Trivedi, who authored the judgment, observed that the “purpose of law is not to allow the offender to sneak out of the mesh of law”.

‘Absurd interpretation’

The court said limiting the ambit of “touch” to a narrow and pedantic” definition would lead to an “absurd interpretation”. The Bench noted that the most important ingredient in Section 7 was the sexual intent of the offender and not skin-to-skin contact.

“The court should not be overzealous in searching for ambiguity when the words in the section are plain. Someone can wear a surgical glove and exploit a child and get away scot-free.

Economy

WTO must rein in nations violating trade rules: Goyal

Ahead of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meet beginning later this month, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday hit out at countries not working transparently as per global trading rules, without naming China, and called for a reboot of the way the world body goes about its business to deal with such situations.

All About WTO –

  • The WTO is the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was created in 1947.
  • The Uruguay Round (1986-94) of the GATT led to the WTO’s creation. WTO began operations on 1st January, 1995.
  • The Agreement Establishing the WTO, commonly known as the “Marrakesh Agreement”, was signed in Marrakesh, Morocco in 1994.

About:

  • WTO is an international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations.
  • Main difference between GATT and WTO was that GATT mostly dealt with trade in goods, the WTO and its agreements could not only cover goods but also trade in services and other intellectual properties like trade creations, designs, and inventions.
  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Members:The WTO has 164 members (including European Union) and 23 observer governments (like Iran, Iraq, Bhutan, Libya etc).
  • India is a founder member of the 1947 GATT and its successor, the WTO.

Ministerial Conference:

  • Structure of the WTO is dominated by its highest authority, the Ministerial Conference, composed of representatives of all WTO members, which is required to meet at least every two years and which can take decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements.

General Council:

  • It is composed of all WTO members and is required to report to the Ministerial Conference.

Dispute Settlement Body and Trade Policy Review Body:

General Council convenes in two particular forms:

  • Dispute Settlement Body: To oversee the dispute settlement procedures.
  • Trade Policy Review Body: To conduct regular reviews of the trade policies of individual WTO members.

Editorials of the Day

Editorial 1 – The heavy lifting on climate action must begin

Context – Glasgow’s success was that it finished building the scaffolding for climate action initiated through the Paris Agreement. But true success depends on whether countries are receptive to these nudges.

What were the Glasgow climate meeting’s (COP26) successes and failures?

  • Strengthened Paris Agreement mechanism: Glasgow strengthened the Paris Agreement mechanism of eliciting pledges from countries and ratcheting them up over time.
  • It requested countries to update and strengthen 2030 emission targets in their NDCs by the end of 2022, earlier than previously expected.
  • Success at Glasgow was explicitly defined around ‘keeping 1.5 degrees alive’ through such pledges.

There are two problems with this interpretation.

  • First, the Paris, and Glasgow, approach focusing on target-setting gives insufficient importance to the challenge of implementing those targets. A focus on shorter term targets and their implementation — which India to its credit has been highlighting — will be important.
  • Second, by calling on countries to strengthen targets to align with the Paris Agreement objectives without explicitly considering that countries have different roles and responsibilities in doing so risks side-stepping, again, the long-standing issue of climate equity.

On coal specifically, India is actually on a strong footing substantively, as our investments in new coal-fired plants have been much less than projected even a few years ago. Nonetheless, the term ‘phase-out’ is of considerable importance to vulnerable countries, and, that India introduced the amendment although the language originated elsewhere, has given us a somewhat unnecessary diplomatic black eye.

A possible way out is for India to explicitly seek global support for an accelerated transition away from coal, an approach taken by South Africa.

Adaptation — preparing for the reality that some climate impacts are unavoidable — has long been neglected in global negotiations, reflecting a global power imbalance that places less weight on the concerns of vulnerable nations. In this context, it was a partial win that Glasgow set up an explicit two year work programme for a ‘global goal’ on adaptation.

 Paris rulebook

  • Completion of two elements of Paris Rulebook: There were two particularly important elements of what is called the ‘Paris Rulebook’ that were completed in Glasgow.
  • Transparency framework: First, the transparency framework was completed, which includes reporting rules and formats for emissions, progress on pledges and finance contributions.
  • Rules for carbon market: The second key was completion of agreed rules for carbon markets, the complexities of which had stymied agreement for four years.
  • Rules were put in place to limit the scope for ‘double-counting’ of credits by more than one country.

Editorial 2 – Regulating cryptocurrencies: Treating them as speculative assets

The story so far: The Union Government is said to be considering a proposal to tax cryptocurrency transactions in the country. The move would bring cryptocurrency trading, which has till date happened outside the ambit of the law, into the formal economy.

A Parliamentary Standing Committee recommended that cryptocurrencies be regulated rather than banned. The Government is also expected to table a bill that clarifies its position on cryptocurrencies in Parliament next year. In this context, the said proposal to classify cryptocurrency exchanges as ecommerce platforms and tax them under the goods and services tax framework comes as a relief to many. The move is seen as a sign that the Union Government might not be so keen on banning private cryptocurrencies outright, but may instead want to capitalise on the recent surge in the usage of cryptocurrencies to tax them and shore up its revenues.

Unlike the RBI, which has been vehemently opposed to the idea of legalizing cryptocurrencies, the Union Government has taken a more measured approach towards dealing with cryptocurrencies. This is in contrast to the heavy-handed way in which Chinese government has dealt with cryptocurrencies by banning them. The RBI, however, has stuck to its guns and continues to characterise private cryptocurrencies as a threat to financial stability.

Conclusion

  • There is no doubt that the acceptance of cryptocurrencies by the Government is likely to be limited.
  • While cryptocurrencies may be accepted as speculative assets, it is highly unlikely that they will be accepted as full-fledged currencies competing against the rupee.

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