Print Friendly, PDF & Email

[Mission 2024] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 3 November 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 3:

  1. India’s Most Favoured Nation (MFN) approach

 

GS Paper 4:

  1. Examples of Ethics (Impact of conflict on Children, Reconciliation over retribution)

 

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

  1.  2023 British Academy Book Prize: Nandini Das

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Kozhikode as the ‘City of Literature’ and Gwalior as the ‘City of Music’
  2. Hydroclimate extremes
  3. Bletchley Declaration
  4. Mercury contamination

 

Mapping

  1. Rafah border crossing

 


 

India’s Most Favoured Nation (MFN) approach

 GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Liberalization, International Trade

 

Source: IE

 Context: The Supreme Court’s recent decision on tax treaties sheds light on India’s Most Favoured Nation (MFN) approach.

 

What is the Most Favoured Nation (MFN)?

 It is a principle in international trade and diplomacy that promotes equal treatment among trading partners. When a country grants MFN status to another, it agrees to extend the same trade privileges and favourable terms to that partner as it does to its most favoured trading partner.

 

Explanation:

For example, if Country A gives Country B MFN status, it must offer the same trade benefits to Country B as it does to its best trading partner, Country C. This ensures fairness and non-discrimination in international trade.

 

Legal Status of MFN:

 Article 1 of GATT 1994 mandates WTO member countries to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to each other, ensuring equal trade treatment. There can be exceptions, like bilateral trade agreements and special access for developing nations.

 

For instance, India initially granted MFN status to all WTO members, including Pakistan. However, India suspended Pakistan’s MFN status in 2019 due to security concerns, and Pakistan never reciprocated MFN status for India.

 

Background of the MFN Controversy?

In 2020, India changed its dividend tax policies, creating relative advantages for investors from certain countries. The treaties India separately negotiated with new members of the OECD gave investors from these countries a relative advantage due to lower tax rates.

Now, investors from France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland (Old OECD members) also started to look for lower tax rates benefits from India. However, controversy arose over the question of whether the lower tax rates should automatically apply to the three countries without any formal notification.

 

What did the court say?

Delhi High Court ruled that no formal notification was needed, and benefits could be given immediately to investors from the 3 countries as well.

 

SC judgement:

SC reversed this HC judgment saying that a formal notification is required for changes under the MFN clause, meaning benefits don’t apply automatically. As a result, companies in the old OECD countries (such as the Netherlands) receiving dividends from India can’t claim lower tax rates based on treaties with new OECD members like Slovenia and must follow the original treaty rate.

 

Implications of the judgement:

  • The decision may lead to additional tax revenue for the Indian government but could potentially strain relations with tax treaty partners.

 

Benefits of Most Favored Nation (MFN) Status:

Benefit Explanation
Equal Trade Treatment MFN status ensures all trading partners receive the same trade privileges.
Non-Discrimination Prevents preferential treatment for specific countries, promoting fair trade relations.
Promotes Fair Competition Encourages competition on a level playing field, fostering innovation and economic growth.
Expanding Market Access MFN status allows access to a broader market with potentially more favourable trade terms.
Reduced Tariffs and Barriers Lower trade barriers and tariffs can result from MFN status, reducing costs for businesses.
Enhances Economic Cooperation Encourages countries to work together for mutual economic benefits.
Fosters Diplomatic Relations Trade ties built on MFN status can promote diplomatic and political relationships.

 

Major Issues with Most Favored Nation (MFN) Provision:

Issue Explanation Example
Unilateral Interpretations Countries may unilaterally interpret MFN clauses, causing potential conflicts and uncertainties in tax treaties. France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland unilaterally applied lower tax rates retroactively when new OECD members joined, leading to disputes and legal challenges.
Impact on Investors Changes in MFN provisions directly affect investors, influencing their tax liabilities and investment decisions. Investors from the Netherlands sought lower tax rates on dividends from India based on MFN clauses, impacting their investment strategies.
Tax Treaty Shopping Investors may exploit MFN provisions to seek more favourable tax treatment, potentially resulting in unequal treatment and revenue distortions. Prime examples are the Vodafone Case and Tiger Industries (Mauritius resident company although controlled by USA) where shares of Flipkart (Singapore based however primary assets were Indian bases) were sold to Luxembourg-based company SARL, in the whole Flipkart- Walmart deal.
Inconsistencies Among Treaties Varying MFN provisions and interpretations in different treaties create complexity and ambiguity in the tax landscape
Inconsistencies in its application The US and other members of the Group of Seven (G7) will revoke Russia’s “Permanent Normal Trade Relations (Pntr)” status (same as MFN) to punish Russia for war over Ukraine

 

Key Actions to Address MFN Issues:

  • Clarity and Notification: Establish clear and standardized notification requirements for invoking MFN to reduce ambiguity and disputes.
  • Regular Treaty Reviews: Periodically review tax treaties to assess their economic benefits and adapt to changing economic conditions.
  • Global Cooperation: Promote international cooperation and coordination on tax treaty matters to ensure consistency and fairness across jurisdictions.
  • Independent Judicial Oversight: Ensure the inclusion of independent judicial members in tax treaty decision-making bodies, enhancing transparency and fairness.

 

About  Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement or DTAA:

It is a tax treaty signed between India and another country (or any two/multiple countries) so that taxpayers can avoid paying double taxes on their income earned from the source country as well as the residence country

 

What is Permanent Normal Trade Relations(PNTR)?

The status of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) is a legal designation in the United States for free trade with a foreign nation. It is the same as MFN, only that in the US it is called PNTR.

Insta Links:

 MFN Status

 

Prelims Links:

India enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 in order to comply with the obligations to (UPSC 2018)

(a) ILO
(b) IMF
(c) UNCTAD
(d) WTO

 

Ans: D

In the context of which of the following do you sometimes find the terms ‘amber box, blue box and green box’ in the news? (UPSC 2016)

(a) WTO affairs
(b) SAARC affairs
(c) UNFCCC affairs
(d) India-EU negotiations on FTA

 

Ans: A

Examples of Ethics (Impact of conflict on Children, Reconciliation over retribution)

GS  Paper  4

 Syllabus: Applications of Ethics

 

Source: TH

 

Example 1: Impact of Conflict on Children

Context: Kailash Satyarthi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner known for his work in safeguarding children’s rights, condemns the harm inflicted on children in the conflict ( the present Isreal-Palestine conflict has profoundly affected both Israeli and Palestinian children)

 

Ethical issues related to the impact of war on children:

Issue Description
Targeting of Children The deliberate targeting of children in armed conflicts is a clear violation of international humanitarian law.
Child Soldiers The recruitment and use of child soldiers by armed groups, exploit their vulnerability and violate their rights.
Mental and Emotional Trauma The long-lasting psychological and emotional trauma experienced by children due to exposure to violence, death, and destruction.
Displacement and Separation Forced displacement of children and the separation from their families, lead to a breakdown in family structures and safety.
Lack of Access to Education War disrupts education systems, denying children their right to education and hindering their future prospects.
Child Casualties The high number of child casualties, injuries, and deaths in armed conflicts, reflects a failure to protect the most vulnerable.
Recruitment for Propaganda The use of children in propaganda by armed groups to promote their cause, exploiting their innocence for political purposes.
Denial of Humanitarian Aid Obstacles to delivering humanitarian aid to children in conflict zones, cause unnecessary suffering and deprive them of basic necessities.

 

Example 2: Reconciliation over retribution

 Source: TH

Conflict: The article emphasizes the need for reconciliation over retribution in conflicts.

 

What is Reconciliation?

Reconciliation refers to the act of restoring or building harmonious relationships, often after a conflict or dispute. It involves resolving differences, promoting understanding, and fostering peace and cooperation among parties.

 

What is Retribution?

Retribution is the act of seeking revenge or retribution for a perceived wrong or harm. It typically involves punishing those responsible for an offence, often with the aim of seeking vengeance or inflicting pain as a form of payback. However, often Revenge Begets More Violence.

 

Difference between Reconciliation and Retribution:

Reconciliation focuses on resolving conflicts and fostering peace, while retribution is about seeking revenge and punishment.

 

Why Reconciliation over retribution is better way to resolve conflict?

Reconciliation focuses on healing, understanding, and building relationships, rather than perpetuating a cycle of revenge and harm. It promotes long-term peace, cooperation, and the potential for both parties to move forward positively.  E.g., Gandhi’s practice of non-violence defused animosity, contrasting with retaliatory tactics.

 

Why sometimes Retribution over Reconciliation is better?

Sometimes retribution over reconciliation may be considered a better way to resolve conflict when there’s a need to hold individuals or groups accountable for heinous crimes, and reconciliation could lead to impunity.

 

Historical Example: The Nuremberg Trials after World War II, where Nazi war criminals were held accountable and faced retribution for their actions, were considered necessary to ensure justice and prevent future atrocities.

 

Other methods of Conflict resolution:

Method Description
Communication and Dialogue Open and honest communication to understand each other’s perspectives and find common ground.
Mediation A neutral third party helps disputing parties reach an agreement through facilitated discussions.
Negotiation Parties directly engage in discussions and make concessions to reach a mutually acceptable solution.
Legal Resolution Involves using the legal system, such as arbitration or litigation, to settle disputes.
Conflict Prevention Proactively addressing issues to prevent conflicts from arising in the first place.
Restorative Justice Focuses on repairing harm and restoring relationships, often used in criminal justice.
Empathy and Understanding Practising empathy and actively listening to build understanding and empathy.

 

Mains Links:

Discuss the significance of reconciliation as a key virtue pivotal in the development of individuals in a country, and give suitable examples to substantiate. (15M)

Kozhikode as ‘City of Literature’ and Gwalior as the ‘City of Music’

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB 

Context: Kozhikode, a city in Kerala, and Gwalior, a city in Madhya Pradesh, have been included in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network (UCCN).

  • These cities were chosen to represent specific creative fields, with Kozhikode falling under the category of literature and Gwalior under music.
  • Indian cities that are part of this network include Varanasi (music), Srinagar (crafts and folk arts), Hyderabad(Gastronomy), Jaipur (Crafts and Folk Arts) and Chennai (music).

 

About Kozhikode

It has a rich literary tradition and is known for producing prominent writers and cultural figures. The city has a history of significant literary contributions, with the first Malayalam novel, Kundalatha, being authored there in 1887

 

UNESCO Creative Cities Network: 

  1. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (established in 2004 by UNSECO), consists of 350 cities in over a hundred countries. Its purpose is to encourage cooperation among cities that recognize creativity as a key element for sustainable urban development
  2. Categories include: Crafts and folk arts 2. Media arts 3. Film 4. Design 5. Gastronomy 6. Literature and 7. Music.
  3. The network aims to leverage the creative, social, and economic potential of cultural industries, aligning with UNESCO’s objectives of promoting cultural diversity and enhancing resilience to challenges like climate change, inequality, and rapid urbanization.
  4. It promotes a culture of creativity in urban planning and solutions to urban issues.

2023 British Academy Book Prize: Nandini Das

Content for Mains Enrichment (CME)

 

Source: TH

 Context: India-born author Nandini Das has won the 2023 British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, receiving a prize of GBP 25,000 for her book ‘Courting India: England, Mughal India and the Origins of Empire.’

 

About the book:

The book provides a fresh perspective on the origins of the British Empire through the story of the first English ambassador to India in the 17th century, Sir Thomas Roe. The prize recognizes works of non-fiction that contribute to understanding different world cultures and their interactions.

  

About the Prize:

The British Academy Book Prize, established in 2013 (formerly the Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize), recognizes outstanding non-fiction works in fields like humanities and social sciences. It honours books that display rigour, and originality, and enhance understanding of global cultures and interactions.

  

Prestigious literary awards and their distinguished Indian-origin recipients:

Literary Award Description Notable Indian-Origin Recipients
Pulitzer Prize Awarded for excellence in various fields Vijay Seshadri, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Geeta Anand, Jhumpa Lahiri, Danish Siddiqui, Sanghamitra Kalita, Gobin Behari Lal, and others
Booker Prize Recognizes the best novel in English Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, Aravind Adiga, and others
International Booker Prize Honours translated literature works Geetanjali Shree for “Tomb of Sand” (2022)
Nobel Prize in Literature Prestigious award for remarkable literary contributions Rabindranath Tagore (1913)

 

Usage: The examples can be quoted as India’s achievement in literature in Essay/Science Questions.

Hydroclimate extremes

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB 

Context: A recent study at Banaras Hindu University examined the impact of global warming on hydroclimate extremes over the Indian River Basins (IRBs).

  • Hydroclimatic extremes are extreme events that can have substantial impacts on human societies and ecosystems. These events include Floods, Droughts, Heatwaves, and Rainstorms.
  • The study used high-resolution simulated precipitation data from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project-6 (CMIP6) experiments.

 

Findings:

  • The findings indicate that the frequency of extreme rainfall is expected to increase over the Western Ghats and Northeast River basins, while heavy rainfall intensity is projected to increase over the Upper Ganga and Indus basins.
  • The research highlights an agricultural drought in the lower Ganga basin due to a decline in mean rainfall.

 

Significance:

  • It emphasizes the need for policymakers to develop strategies to manage water surplus or scarcity. The study predicts a 4% to 10% increase in heavy rainfall over the western part of Indian River basins and significant precipitation changes in specific areas.
  • These changes in hydroclimate extremes could have a substantial impact on agriculture, health, and socio-economic conditions.
  • The study also identifies major hotspots for future urban flooding in highly populated cities, suggesting that policymakers should design basin-specific climate adaptation and mitigation strategies, including water and emergency services policies, to minimize the risk associated with extreme events in these basins.

Bletchley Declaration

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE, Reuters

 

Context: Bletchley Park, the historic site known for its crucial role in World War II, is hosting the world’s first global summit on artificial intelligence (AI) safety in 2023.

  • Britain, along with 28 other countries and the European Union, published the “Bletchley Declarationat Bletchley Park, England.

  

The focus of the Bletchley Declaration:

 This declaration aims to enhance global collaboration on artificial intelligence (AI) safety. It has a two-fold focus: identifying shared AI-related risks and enhancing scientific understanding of these risks, as well as creating cross-country policies to address them.

  

About Bletchley Declaration

Aspect Details
Recognition of AI Potential Acknowledges AI’s potential to enhance human well-being.
Risks Associated with AI Recognizes the risks posed by AI, including Frontier AI (highly capable foundation generative AI models)
Nature of Risks Highlights that substantial risks may arise from potential intentional misuse or unintended control issues related to alignment with human intent. The complexity of these capabilities makes prediction difficult.
International Cooperation Emphasizes the need for international cooperation to address AI-related risks, as they are inherently global.
Collaborative Approach States that all actors, including companies, civil society, and academia, must collaborate to address these risks.
Mitigation Agenda Outlines the agenda for risk mitigation, which will focus on building a shared scientific understanding and developing risk-based policies that span across countries.

  

Historical Importance of Bletchley Park:

  • During the war, Bletchley Park played a pivotal role in breaking the ‘unbreakable’ Enigma code, which was used by the Nazis.
  • The site is also known for creating the Turing Bombe, a device that expedited code-breaking efforts.
  • Bletchley Park contributed to the development of the Colossus, often considered the world’s first programmable electronic computer.

Mercury contamination

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: Tropical birds in Central and South America are exhibiting signs of mercury contamination due to artisanal and small-scale gold mining operations, according to a new study.

  • Birds living within 7 km of gold mining activity were found to have mercury concentrations over four times higher than those in other areas.

  

Why mercury is used in Gold mining?

Mercury is used in gold mining because it forms an amalgam with gold, allowing for the extraction of gold from ore. This amalgamation process is a simple and effective way to capture fine gold particles, but it also leads to significant environmental and health concerns due to mercury pollution.

 

Key Findings:

  • The research suggests that mercury may be playing a role in the declining biodiversity of tropical birds, which has been observed in recent decades.

Mercury contamination has been linked to neurological illness, immune diseases, and reproductive failure in both humans and birds. Birds are considered sensitive indicators of ecosystem health and are often referred to as the “canary in the gold mine” for their ability to signal environmental issues.

Rafah border crossing

Mapping

 

Source: HT

Context: Egypt agreed to receive wounded Palestinians from Gaza, and Palestinian dual nationals from its Rafah border crossing. This decision comes in response to the recent conflict between Hamas militants and Israel.

 

About the Rafah Crossing:

The Rafah Crossing is the southernmost exit point from the Gaza Strip and shares a border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. It is controlled by Egypt and is the only exit that does not lead to Israeli territory. Currently, both Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings, controlled by Israel, are closed, making Rafah the primary entry and exit point for Gaza’s people and humanitarian aid.

 

Download the Daily Current Affairs in PDF Format here

 


Follow us on our Official TELEGRAM Channel HERE

Subscribe to Our Official YouTube Channel HERE

Please subscribe to Our podcast channel HERE

Official Facebook Page HERE

Follow our Twitter Account HERE

Follow our Instagram Account HERE

Follow us on LinkedIn: HERE