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[Mission 2023] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 06 March 2023

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 ina 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. Karnataka BJP MLA and son’s bribery scandal: History, powers of the state’s Lokayukta
  2. G20 meeting shows a deepening crisis in multilateralism

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. Unused funds, unsuitable land: The problems with Compensatory Afforestation in India
  2. What is the UN High Seas Treaty and why is it needed?

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

  1. One Nation, One Challan initiative
  2. Mission Hariyali
  3. Bamboo Crash Barrier (“Bahu Balli”)

  

Facts for Prelims (FFP) 

  1. World Bank commits $1 billion to India for public healthcare infra
  2. World Bank index on the life cycle of working women
  3. SWAMIH investment fund 
  4. Hallmark Unique Identification Number (HUID)
  5. Swachh Sujal Shakti Samman 2023
  6. Demand for apples rises
  7. Chip redesign to optimize server ops, water to keep cool
  8. Bio-computers
  9. 50th anniversary of CITES

 

Karnataka BJP MLA and son’s bribery scandal: History, powers of the state’s Lokayukta

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Polity – Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

 

Source: Indian Express

Context: The Lokayukta has seized over Rs 8 crore of unaccounted cash from the residence and office of a BJP MLA, who was serving as the chairperson of the Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd (KS&DL).

  • A bribery case filed under Section 7 (a) (b) (public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

 

About Lokayukta Lokayukta is an anti-corruption authority or ombudsman appointed by the state government to investigate complaints of corruption and maladministration against public servants and elected representatives.
Through Act – Statutory body Lokayuktas are the state equivalents of the central Lokpal, as per the provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

Section 63 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 mandates that every state shall establish a body known as Lokayukta Composition The Lokpal should consist of a maximum of eight members, of which:

·         50% shall be judicial members, and

·         at least 50% should belong to the SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, or women. Powers: The Lokayukta can:

·         Investigate complaints against public servants, ministers, and elected representatives at the state level.

·         Recommend disciplinary action, including removal from office or prosecution, against a public servant, found guilty of corruption or maladministration.

·         Recommend changes to policies and procedures to prevent corruption and maladministration.

 

A timeline of the “Lokayukta” in Karnataka

  • The Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984 came into force on January 15, 1986, and was passed with the objective of improving the standards of public administration, by looking into complaints against administrative actions, including cases of corruption, favouritism and official indiscipline in the administrative machinery.
  • In 2016, an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) was created which issued subsequent notifications transferring the power to probe corruption cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, from Karnataka Lokayukta police to the ACB.
  • However, in 2022, a division bench of the Karnataka High Court in “Chidananda Urs B.G vs The State of Karnataka” ordered the abolishing of ACB and the revival of an anti-corruption police unit attached to the Karnataka Lokayukta, a quasi-judicial institution that works independent of the state. Since then, the Karnataka Lokayukta’s powers have been restored.

 

Insta Links:

  

Mains Link: UPSC 2019

‘A national Lokpal, however strong it may be, cannot resolve the problems of immorality in public affairs.’ Discuss

G20 meeting shows a deepening crisis in multilateralism

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

 

Source: IE

 Context: The G-20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Delhi was unable to agree to a joint communique, over differences between Russia and the West on the war in Ukraine.

 

Issues that needed to be addressed  at the recent meeting:

  • The war in Ukraine: The G20 members accept that security issues can have a big impact on the world economy but that the G20 is not the platform to address such issues.
    • The UNSC and UNGA resolution condemn Russia’s actions against Ukraine and call for its unconditional and total withdrawal from Ukrainian territory.
  • Upholding international law that safeguards peace and stability: This includes defending the Principles enshrined in the Charter of the UN and adhering to international humanitarian law.

 

The principal reason for the diplomatic failure in Delhi:

  • The decision by Russia to walk away from the Bali consensus (calling it a “thing of the past”) and China’s decision to support it.
  • Russia also feels that the meetings are about the economy, growth, development and other global challenges.

 

Implications: Underlines the deepening great power conflict and worsening crisis of multilateralism.

 

Other agreements at the meeting: A number of issues of interest to India and the developing world include –

  • Food and energy security,
  • Cooperation to counter-terrorism, climate change, global health and disaster management.

 

India’s twin ambitions as G20 President:

  • To continue the campaign to reform multilateralism and
  • To get the world to take greater cognisance of the challenges faced by the “Global South”.

 

Way ahead for India as G20 President:

  • It is clear that India cannot rely on the language of the Bali Summit.
  • The Sherpas will need to craft fresh language on Ukraine – an innovative formula that considers Russian concerns as well as the western desire to condemn Russia’s conduct.
  • India can leverage Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), whose foreign ministers are going to meet soon after the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting.

 

Conclusion: As host, India is in the ‘hot seat’ balancing the G7 camp on one side and the Russia-China combine on the other, to ensure that a middle path is found.

 

Insta Links:

A new global vision for G20

 

Mains Links:

“The long sustained image of India as a leader of the oppressed and marginalised nations has disappeared on account of its newfound role in the emerging global order.’ Elaborate (UPSC 2019)

Unused funds, unsuitable land: The problems with Compensatory Afforestation in India

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

 

Source: IE

 Context: Compensatory afforestation forms a significant component of various reforestation programmes being implemented in India.

 

Background:

  • India has promised to increase its forest and tree cover to absorb an additional 2.5 – 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030.
  • However, the forestry target is difficult to achieve due to the need for rapid industrial, infrastructure development, and urbanisation.
  • In the last 10 years, more than 1,611 square km of forest land (a third of this in the last three years) has been cleared.
  • But government data shows that total forest cover had increased by 1,540 square km in the two years between 2019 and 2021.

Programmes with compensatory afforestation component:

  • Green India Mission,
  • National afforestation programme
  • Tree plantation exercises along the highways and railways
  • National rural employment guarantee scheme (MGNREGS)
  • Namami Gange, etc

 

What is Compensatory Afforestation?

  • The compensatory afforestation programme ensures that forest lands getting ‘diverted’ for non-forest purposes is mandatorily accompanied by afforestation on an equal area of land.
  • It was made a legal requirement through the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act 2016.
  • Though the law came in 2016, the concept has existed since the 1980s, as an offshoot of the Forest Conservation Act 1980.

 

 

Salient provisions of the CAF Act 2016:

  • Newer parcels of land are earmarked for development as forests.
  • Project developers (public/private) are required to fund the entire afforestation activity on these new lands.
  • Project developers are also asked to pay for the Net Present Value (NPV) of the forests being cleared, as the new lands cannot be compared with the fully grown forests getting diverted.
  • According to recent calculations, companies have to pay NPV between Rs 9.5 lakh and Rs 16 lakh per hectare, depending on the quality of forests getting diverted.
  • All this money is meant for increasing/improving the quality of forest cover in the country.

 

How money is disbursed for compensatory afforestation?

  • The money is parked in special funds created for this purpose at the Central and state levels.
  • The money is first deposited in the Central fund, from where it gets disbursed to states where the projects are located.
  • State governments prepare an annual plan of operations → approved by the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) at the Central level → the state government transfers funds to the state forest departments → carry out the work.
  • The Central fund can keep up to 10% of the total money for administrative expenses.

 

Issues faced by the compensatory afforestation:

  • Legitimised clearing of forests and see it as an example of greenwashing.
  • Money collected before 2016 had remained largely unutilised. For example, much of the Rs 55,000 crore in the state funds remains locked.
  • Allegations of misutilisation or diversion of these funds.
  • Lack of availability of suitable land/unavailability of land in a contiguous stretch remains the biggest problem.
  • Land made available for afforestation cannot be used for any other purpose and is unsuitable for growing plantations.
  • Often the plantations are monocultures, which is against the core concept of biodiversity.
  • Biotic pressures – plantations face nearby human habitations and cattle.

 

Conclusion: As the clearing of forests cannot be entirely eliminated, compensatory afforestation is a good mechanism to make up for these losses to some extent. However, the above issues need to be addressed.

 

Insta Links:

CAMPA Funds

What is the UN High Seas Treaty and why is it needed?

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

 

Source: BBC

 Context: After more than a decade of negotiations, the UN members have agreed (in New York, US) on the first-ever treaty – the UN High Seas Treaty, to protect the world’s oceans outside national boundaries.

 

What are the high seas?

  • 2/3rd of the world’s oceans are currently considered international waters/high seas.
  • But until now only about 1% of these waters have been protected.
  • According to the IUCN,
    • Nearly 10% of marine species on the high seas were found to be at risk of extinction mainly due to overfishing and pollution.
    • 41% of the threatened species are also affected by climate change (more CO2 absorption, more acidic, increased marine heat waves), and deep sea mining.
  • For example, Dugongs used to be common marine animals but now less than 1000 remain in the wild.
  • Therefore, the issue of climate change in the sea involves implementing other global agreements such as the Paris Agreement.

 

What is in the High Seas Treaty?

  • It places 30% of the world’s international waters into protected areas (MPAs) by 2030, and puts more money into marine conservation and new rules for mining at sea.
  • It also provides for
    • Arrangements for sharing marine genetic resources, such as biological material from plants and animals in the ocean.
    • Requirements for environmental assessments for deep sea activities like mining.
  • Richer nations have pledged money for the delivery of the treaty. For example, the EU announced nearly 820m euros (£722.3m).
  • The treaty can have benefits for society (pharmaceuticals and food) and will help reverse biodiversity losses and ensure sustainable development.

 

Concerns:

  • There were debates, particularly around what a marine protected area is – sustainable use/fully protected from fishing, shipping and exploration activities like deep-sea mining.
  • Developing nations were disappointed by the limited funding options included in the text of the treaty.
  • If the MPAs are not properly connected, it might not have the desired impact as many species are migratory.

 

Way ahead: The treaty must be formally adopted and will enter “into force” once enough countries (~ 40) have signed and legally passed it in their own countries.

 

Insta Links:

How to save our high seas from overfishing, and pollution?

 

Prelims Links: UPSC 2014

Consider the following international agreements :

  1. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
  2. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
  3. The world Heritage Convention

Which of the above has/have a bearing on biodiversity?

    1. 1 and 2 only
    2. 3 only
    3. 1 and 3 only
    4. 1, 2 and 3

 

Ans: 4

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)


One Nation, One Challan initiative

Source: IE

The Gujarat government is in the process of setting up virtual traffic courts in the state under the One Nation, One Challan initiative.

  • Aim: To bring all agencies related to traffic violations, such as traffic police and Regional Transport Office, on one platform for seamless collection of challans and data transfer.
  • Process: The system involves detecting traffic violations through the CCTV network and generating e-challans with relevant penalty amounts that are sent to the mobile number linked with the vehicle. Virtual traffic courts will be automatically notified if the challan amount is not paid within 90 days.

Usage: Such e-governance examples can be used in Governance papers to show the use of technology, and collaboration between various departments and provide a speedy justice system

 

Mission Hariyali

Source: DTE

It is a volunteer-led initiative in Nalanda district, Bihar, that aims to bring more greenery to the area. The volunteers distribute 500-600 saplings daily in public places, schools, and markets, encouraging children and elders to take a plant home and plant it in available common spaces.

Impact: It has facilitated the planting of over 1 million fruit trees in Nalanda (since 2016). The return of trees in Nalanda has had multiple benefits, including a rise in fruit production and the potential for residents to sell the produce for income.

Usage: To show values such as Environmental consciousness, Community engagement, and how Individual action can make a difference

 

Bamboo Crash Barrier (“Bahu Balli”)

 Source: PIB

The world’s first 200-meter-long Bamboo Crash Barrier, named Bahu Balli, has been installed on the Vani-Warora Highway in Maharashtra, India.

Material: The bamboo species used is Bambusa Balcoa, which has been treated with creosote oil and coated with recycled High-Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE).

Significance: Will create more avenues for the bamboo industry in India and it provides an alternative to steel barriers, addresses environmental concerns, and is a rural and agriculture-friendly industry.

About Bamboo:

 Bamboos are a diverse group of mostly evergreen perennial flowering grasses (it is no longer considered a ‘tree’ in India). Madhya Pradesh is the largest producer of bamboo in India. More than 50% of the bamboo species are found in northeast India alone. China has the largest diversity (India’s the 2nd largest) and is the largest producer of Bamboo in the world.

Usage: Such examples can be used to show innovation, sustainability, and care for safety on roads

 


Facts for Prelims (FFP)


World Bank commits $1 billion to India for public healthcare infra

 Source: HT

 

 Programmes being supported by World Bank are:

  • Public Health Systems for Pandemic Preparedness Program (PHSPP): To enhance India’s capacity to detect and report epidemics and pathogens, including zoonotic diseases and to build the institutional capacity of core public health institutions
  • Enhanced Health Service Delivery Program (EHSDP): To redesign the primary health care model, Support National Quality Assurance Standards certification and transform health sector governance and accountability

 

World Bank index on the life cycle of working women

 

Source: TH

 Context: India scores 74.4 in the World Bank index on the life cycle of working women

  • The report measures laws that affect women’s economic opportunity
  • Indicators considered by the report for ranking: Mobility, Workplace, Pay, Marriage, Parenthood, Entrepreneurship etc.

Issues faced by working women (as per the Report):

 Global:

  • Women enjoy only 77% of the legal rights that men do
  • At the current pace, it would take at least 50 years to approach legal gender equality everywhere

India:

  • Laws affecting pay, pension, inheritance and property rights
  • Laws affecting women’s work after having children
  • Constraints on women starting and running a business

 Suggestions by the report:

  • India consider reforms to improve legal equality for women
  • India should consider mandating equal remuneration for work of equal value
  • Allowing women to work at night in the same way as men (Several State Governments including Karnataka, UP has allowed factories to employ women on night shifts)
  • Allowing women to work in industrial jobs in the same way as men

 

Swachh Sujal Shakti Samman 2023

 Source: PIB, PIB

 Context: President of India presented the Swachh Sujal Shakti Samman 2023 and graced the launch of Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch The Rain -2023 in New Delhi.

  • The award is given for remarkable contributions by women leaders at the grass-root level (Women Champions) who have contributed exceptionally to ODF Plus Model Villages, Har Ghar Jal Villages, Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), Jal Jeevan Mission, and National Water Mission.
  • Ministry: Ministry of Jal Shakti

Example of work done: Women of the self-help group from Khadki village of Burhanpur district of Madhya Pradesh came together to ensure tap connection to every house of the village.

About the Catch the Rain campaign (“Catch the rain, where it falls, when it falls”)

  • It encourages all stakeholders to create rainwater harvesting structures(RWHS) from March 22 to November 30 (from Pre Monsoon to Post Monsoon Period).
  • Implementation: National Water Mission(NWM), Ministry of Jal Shakti
  • Coverage: In both rural and urban areas.
  • States have been requested to open Rain Centers in each district, to provide technical guidance in the Rainwater harvesting system (RWHS).

 

SWAMIH investment fund

 Source: Indian Express

Context: SWAMIH has so far provided final approval to about 130 projects with sanctions worth over Rs 12,000 crore. In three years since its inception in 2019, the Fund has already completed 20,557 homes and aims to complete over 81,000 homes in the next three years across 30 tier 1 and 2 cities.

About SWAMIH Fund:

  • The Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) Investment Fund I is a social impact fund specifically formed for completing stressed and stalled residential projects.
  • The Fund is sponsored by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and is managed by SBICAP Ventures Ltd., a State Bank Group company.
  • The fund considers first-time developers, established developers with troubled projects, developers with a poor track record of stalled projects, customer complaints and NPA accounts, and even projects where there are litigation issues
  • It is considered the lender of last resort for distressed projects.
  • The Fund’s presence in a project often acts as a catalyst for better collections and sales primarily in projects that were delayed for years.

 

Hallmark Unique Identification Number (HUID)

Source: PIB

Context: Bureau of India Standards (BIS) has prohibited the sale of hallmarked gold jewellery or gold artefacts without a 6-digit alphanumeric Hallmark Unique Identification Number (HUID) after 31st March 2023.

  • HUID in accordance with the Indian Standards specified in IS 1417: 2016 as
  • Hallmarked jewellery lying with consumers as per old schemes shall remain valid.

About Hallmarking:

  • Hallmarking scheme was started by BIS in the year 2000.
  • Mandatory Hallmarking has been successfully implemented with effect from 23 June 2021 vide Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery and Gold Artefacts Order, 2022, and its amendment dated 04 March 2022.
  • Before the implementation of 6 digit Hallmark Unique Identification (HUID) number, hallmarking of Gold jewellery consisted of 4 logos viz, the BIS logo, purity of the article as well as logo of the jeweller and Assaying and Hallmarking Centre.
  • After the introduction of HUID, the hallmark consists of 3 marks viz, BIS logo, purity of the article and six-digit alphanumeric HUID.
  • A consumer can check and authenticate hallmarked gold jewellery items with a HUID number using ‘verify HUID’ in BIS CARE appwhich is available on both Android as well as iOS.

Why Hallmarking:

  • Maintain the quality of gold in the market.
  • Consumer protection.

 

Demand for apples rises

Source: ET

 

Issues with Apple farming:

  • High cost of production: Due to rising input costs and high taxation
  • No legally guaranteed procurement at an MSP (only J&K has MSP on apple)
  • Higher imports of apples: It creates a glut in the domestic market and lowers the profit for farmers.

 

Chip redesign to optimize server ops, water to keep cool

 Source: Indian Express

Context: Data centres and the Cloud are major energy consumers, with most of the energy consumed in keeping the servers cool, rather than processing data.

New design:

  • A new server architecture is being developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne experiments with what is called a “multi-core architecture template with an integrated on-chip microfluidic fuel cell network” to draw heat out of a stacked chip and cool it faster without overheating.
  • This technology aims to improve server efficiency and drastically improve energy efficiency, reducing carbon footprint.

Other technology solutions being tried globally include Subsea Cloud’s proposal to put commercial data centres in deep ocean waters, and Microsoft’s plan to build a tube with closed ends, placing servers inside and dropping the tube down to the ocean floor.

 

Bio-computers 

Source: The Hindu

Context: Scientists at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) recently outlined a potentially revolutionary new area of research called “organoid intelligence”, which aims to create “biocomputers”: where brain cultures grown in the lab are coupled to real-world sensors and input/output devices.

About Bio computers:

  • Bio computers are computing devices that use biological components such as DNA, proteins, and cells to perform computational tasks. Biocomputers use the properties of biological systems to perform computations, such as molecular recognition, self-assembly, and amplification.
  • Researchers coupled the organoids with machine learning by growing the organoids inside flexible structures affixed with multiple electrodes (similar to the ones used to take EEG readings from the brain).
  • These structures will be able to record the firing patterns of the neurons and also deliver electrical stimuli, to mimic sensory stimuli. The response pattern of the neurons and their effect on human behaviour or biology will then be analyzed by machine-learning techniques.
  • Recently, scientists were able to grow human neurons on top of a microelectrode array that could both record and stimulate these neurons.

Opportunities for ‘bio-computers’

  • They could also help decode the pathology of drug development for devastating neurodevelopmental and degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and microcephaly.
  • Their ability to perform massively parallel computations, operate at the molecular level and potentially be more energy-efficient.

 

 

50th anniversary of CITES

Source: DTE, IE

Aim of the CITES: It is aimed at ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.

  • It accords varying degrees of protection to over 37,000 species of animals and plants, listed in three Appendices, depending on their level of threat (see infographic).
  • It is further expanded into the conservation of marine life and oceans, and on collaborating with businesses and funding conservation activities.

Permit System: All import, export and re-export of species covered under CITES must be authorised through a permit system.

COP: Every two years, the Conference of the Parties (CoP), the supreme decision-making body of CITES, applies a set of biological and trade criteria to evaluate proposals from parties to decide if a species should be in Appendix I or II.

  • Recently, in November 2022, CoP19 (also known as the World Wildlife Conference) was held in Panama City.

Related News:

 SC expands the jurisdiction of the Committee responsible for the Transfer of elephants

 Source: HT

The Supreme Court of India has expanded the jurisdiction of a high-powered committee (Verma Committee) responsible for the transfer and transportation of elephants bred in captivity in the North-East.

Expanded Jurisdiction: The committee now has a pan-India mandate to deal with the transfer, import into India, or procurement of wild animals by any rehabilitation centre or zoo in the country, and can address any approval or grievance related to these issues.

 

Related News:

West African lion

Source: DTE

Numbers: 120-374 West African lions are estimated to remain in the wild

Lions were recently classified into two subspecies:

  1. Panthera leo leo (‘northern lion’): Inhabiting west Africa, north Africa, West Asia and India

IUCN: Critically Endangered

 

  1. Panthera leo melanochaita (‘southern lion’): Inhabits eastern and southern Africa

IUCN: Vulnerable

 

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