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[Mission 2024] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 13 March 2024

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. Citizenship Amendment Act rules notified: Continued

 

GS Paper 3:

  1. India-EFTA Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA)

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Sponge Iron industry
  2. SC Judgement on Rajya Sabha elections
  3. R. Bommai case completes 30 years
  4. ‘Democracy Report 2024’
  5. Yaounde Declaration
  6. IRDAI New Regulation
  7. Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Index Providers Regulations, 2024
  8. Karnataka bans harmful dyes
  9. Blue Leaders Alliance

 

Mapping

  1. Exercises in News

 


 

Citizenship Amendment Act rules notified: Continued

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Indian Polity: Citizenship

 

Context: This is in continuation to yesterday’s Article: Citizenship Amendment Act rules notified

 

Citizenship Rules 2024 (amended the Citizenship Rules, 2009), to enforce the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019.

 

Qualifications:

  1. Applicants must submit documents such as birth certificates, rental agreements, and educational certificates issued by authorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Bangladesh.
  2. Documents proving entry into India before December 31, 2014
  3. The applicant must provide an “eligibility certificate” from a local community institution, confirming their membership in the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, or Christian community.
  4. The person has to present affidavits verifying the application’s accuracy and the character of the applicant by an Indian citizen.
  5. Applicants must have adequate knowledge of a language listed in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  6. If the person is a citizen of another country, renouncing the citizenship of another country is mandatory, with an irrevocable declaration upon approval of Indian citizenship.

 

Applications are submitted electronically to the Empowered Committee through the District Level Committee notified by the Central Government, which scrutinizes and grants citizenship based on the fulfilment of criteria.

 

The citizenship application process will be conducted online, overseen by an empowered committee, which will scrutinize all applications through district-level committees.

Each state’s empowered committee, chaired by the Director of Census Operations, will include officers from various government departments and invitees (Intelligence Bureau, Post Master General, State or National Informatics Centre, along with a representative each from the Department of Home and Divisional Railway Manager as invitees).

District-level committees, led by the Senior Superintendent or Superintendent of Post, will also play a crucial role.

India-EFTA Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA)

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Indian Economy: Free Trade Agreement

  

Source: PIB

 Context: India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) signed a Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) on March 10, 2024.

 

What is EFTA?

EFTA, the European Free Trade Association, is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1960 to promote free trade among its member states, which include Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. It operates independently of the European Union (EU).

Importance of EFTA States:

The EFTA states, despite their small population of just over 14 million, wield significant economic influence. Their advanced economies rank among the world’s highest in innovation, competitiveness, and wealth creation. In 2021, they collectively traded close to over USD 1 trillion in goods and services, making them formidable players in global trade. EFTA companies are renowned world leaders in various sectors, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, machinery manufacturing, technology products, and financial services.

 

India-EFTA Trade:

What is TEPA?

The India-EFTA Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement (TEPA) is a trade agreement between India and the EFTA countries. It focuses on market access, investment promotion, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), and other trade-related aspects to enhance economic cooperation between India and the EFTA states.

 

Major Benefits for India from TEPA:

  1. Increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): TEPA aims to increase the stock of foreign direct investments by USD 100 billion in India over the next 15 years, providing a significant boost to the country’s economy.
  2. Job Creation: The agreement is expected to facilitate the generation of 1 million direct employment opportunities in India through investments from EFTA countries.
    1. Legal commitment made about promoting target-oriented investment and creation of jobs.
  3. Market Access: TEPA provides enhanced market access for Indian goods, with tariff concessions and favourable rules of origin, enabling Indian exporters to access EFTA markets more competitively.
  4. Services Sector Growth: The agreement stimulates growth in India’s services exports, particularly in key sectors like IT services, business services, personal, cultural, sporting and recreational services, and other education services.
  5. Intellectual Property Protection: TEPA ensures robust protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for Indian products and innovations, addressing concerns related to generic medicines and patents.
  6. Sustainable Development: The agreement signals India’s commitment to sustainable development, environmental protection, and inclusive growth, fostering transparency and efficiency in trade procedures.
  7. Domestic Manufacturing: TEPA encourages domestic manufacturing in sectors such as Infrastructure, Machinery, Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals, Food Processing, Transport and Logistics, Banking and Financial Services, and Insurance, supporting the “Make in India” initiative.
  8. Human Rights and Sustainable Development: For the first time, the FTA also included a chapter on commitments to human rights and sustainable development.
  9. Template for other FTA negations: E.g., TEPA can act as a model for negotiation with the European Union FTA

 

Major Benefits for EFTA from TEPA: 

  1. Market Access: EFTA members gain improved access to the Indian market
  2. Investment Opportunities: TEPA provides avenues for them to invest in various sectors and industries.
  3. Services Trade: EFTA countries benefit from better access to Indian services through provisions for digital delivery of services, commercial presence, and improved commitments for entry and temporary stay of key personnel.
  4. Intellectual Property Rights: The agreement ensures strong protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for EFTA countries in India
  5. Mutual Recognition Agreements: TEPA includes provisions for Mutual Recognition Agreements in Professional Services, allowing professionals from EFTA countries to practice in India and vice versa
  6. Enhanced Economic Integration: TEPA strengthens economic ties between EFTA countries and India

Challenges include:

  1. Economic Structure Differences: EFTA states’ focus on high-tech industries contrasts with India’s diverse economy, requiring alignment.
  2. Regulatory Hurdles: Varied regulations and standards necessitate harmonization efforts for seamless trade.
  3. Competition: EFTA’s competitiveness in key sectors demands measures for fair competition.
  4. Environmental and Social Considerations: Prioritizing sustainability and social equity is vital.

 

Way Forward:

Moving forward, it is crucial for strong political involvement and guidance to be provided by both India and EFTA, ensuring that TEPA is streamlined to facilitate the swift establishment of a balanced agreement that serves the interests of all parties involved.

 

Insta Links 

India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) approved

 

Prelims Links

‘Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA)’ is sometimes seen in the news in the context of negotiations held between India and (UPSC 2017)

(a) European Union

(b) Gulf Cooperation Council

(c) Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

(d) Shanghai Cooperation Organization

 

Ans: A

 

The SEZ Act, 2005 which came into effect in February 2006 has certain objectives. In this context, consider the following: (UPSC 2010)

  1. Development of infrastructure facilities.
  2. Promotion of investment from foreign sources.
  3. Promotion of exports of services only.

 

Which of the above are the objectives of this Act?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Ans: A

 

A “closed economy” is an economy in which (UPSC 2011)

(a) the money supply is fully controlled
(b) deficit financing takes place
(c) only exports take place
(d) neither exports nor imports take place

 

 

Ans: D

Sponge Iron industry

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: FE

 

Context: India’s sponge iron industry faces an ore shortage due to rampant exports of iron ore, its crucial raw material.

 

About the Sponge Iron:

  1. Definition: Sponge iron, also known as direct-reduced iron (DRI), is produced from the direct reduction of iron ore (in the form of lumps, pellets, or fines) into metallic iron through a reduction reaction (chemical process) at high temperatures.
  2. Production Process: Sponge iron is produced by removing oxygen from iron ore through a reduction process in a rotary kiln or fluidized bed reactor. This process occurs at high temperatures (typically above 1000°C) and involves the use of reducing agents such as coal or natural gas.
  3. End Use: Sponge iron serves as a crucial raw material in the steelmaking industry.
  4. Advantages: Sponge iron production offers several advantages, including lower production costs compared to traditional steelmaking methods, higher purity of the final product, and reduced environmental impact due to lower emissions of greenhouse gases.
  5. Leading Producer: India has been the world’s largest sponge iron-producing nation since 2003, with 30% of India’s steel production coming from this route.
  6. Impact of Export: The shortage of Sponge Iron in India is attributed to the high rate of iron ore exports, leaving minimal quantities for domestic use by secondary steel sector players.
  7. Export Dynamics: Iron ore exports, including pellets, almost tripled in 2023, reaching 44 MT. This surge followed the withdrawal of export duty on ores with less than 58% Fe in November 2022.
  8. Policy Objectives: The National Steel Policy 2017 aims to increase sponge iron production to 80 MTPA by 2030-31 to achieve a targeted steel production capacity of 300 MT
  9. Calls for Action: Several state-based sponge iron manufacturing associations have appealed to the Union Steel Ministry to ban all forms of iron ore exports due to the severe shortage of raw material.

SC Judgement on Rajya Sabha elections

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: Live Law

 Context: The recent Supreme Court ruling clarified that Rajya Sabha elections fall under the purview of Article 194(2) of the Constitution, recognizing its role as part of the Basic Structure of the Constitution.

It emphasized that parliamentary privileges extend beyond legislative activities, covering other powers and responsibilities of elected members, even when the house is not in session. The decision also rejected the argument that Rajya Sabha voting isn’t a legislative vote, affirming that such elections are integral to elected members’ powers and responsibilities.

Basic Structure doctrine safeguards essential constitutional features from amendment. The Rajya Sabha (constituted under Article 79 and 80), as the upper house of Parliament, represents state interests and is vital for ensuring equal representation among states.

S.R. Bommai case completes 30 years

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

What is the case about?

The S.R. Bommai case (involving 9 judge bench) refers to the legal battle initiated by S.R. Bommai, the former Chief Minister of Karnataka after his government was dismissed in 1989 under Article 356 of the Constitution. The case, which concluded in 1994, resulted in a landmark Supreme Court verdict that restricted the arbitrary dismissal of state governments by outlining specific guidelines.

 

Important takeaways from the judgement:

  1. Clarified the scope of Article 356 of the Constitution and imposed restrictions on its use
  2. President’s Rule can only be imposed on a state’s failure of constitutional machinery and requires approval by both houses of Parliament within two months, renewable every six months.
  3. President’s power to dismiss a state government is subject to judicial review
  4. Emphasized the importance of the Assembly floor in testing the majority of a government
  5. It checked the power of Governors and upheld federalism in center-state relationships

 

Recent instances where the S.R. Bommai case principles were applied by the Supreme Court include:

  1. Goa Political Crisis (2022): The SC directed a floor test in Goa following the demise of the Chief Minister, emphasizing the Assembly’s role in proving the majority.
  2. Maharashtra Political Crisis (2019): During the turmoil, the SC stressed the need for a transparent floor test to ascertain the majority.
  3. Karnataka Political Crisis (2019): In response to MLA resignations, the SC directed a floor test to determine government legitimacy.
  4. Arunachal Pradesh Political Crisis (2016): The SC invoked Bommai principles to limit the Governor’s discretion and emphasize the Assembly’s role in proving the majority.

‘Democracy Report 2024’

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: TH

 Context: India, downgraded to an “electoral autocracy” in 2018, has further declined to become “one of the worst autocracies,” according to the ‘Democracy Report 2024’ by the V-Dem Institute.

 

About the Report:

Aspect Details
Released by V-Dem Institute at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg
Data Collection A collaborative effort involving 4,200 scholars from 180 countries
Scope Spans 1789 to 2023, covering 202 countries
Regime Types Classified into four categories using the Liberal Democratic Index (LDI)
Four types are: Liberal Democracy, Electoral Democracy, Electoral Autocracy, and Closed Autocracy
Key Findings India ranks 104 in LDI, slipped to 110 in the Electoral Democracy Index, 92 in the Liberal Component Index
The report highlighted deteriorating components of democracy, such as freedom of expression, clean elections, media independence, and civil society participation
Global Trend 42 countries and about 3 billion people affected by increasing autocratization
Regional Impact South and Central Asia second most autocratic region globally, Bhutan sole liberal democracy
Component Indices V-Dem LDI combines indicators from the Liberal Component Index (LCI) and Electoral Democracy Index (EDI)
EDI Measures fairness of elections, freedom of expression, information, association, and suffrage
LCI Emphasizes the protection of individual and minority rights against state oppression and majority rule

Yaounde Declaration

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: DTE

 Context: The Yaounde Declaration marks a significant commitment by 11 African countries to end malaria deaths, acknowledging the urgent need for action given the alarming rise in cases.

These countries, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda, collectively bear the highest burden of malaria infections and deaths globally. The declaration emphasizes the importance of addressing root causes such as changing vector behaviour, improving access to health services, and combating insecticide and drug resistance.

 

The Yaounde Declaration includes a commitment by African countries to allocate 15 per cent of annual budgets for the health sector. It aligns with the WHO’s “High burden to high impact” approach, which is built on four pillars:

  1. political will to reduce malaria deaths
  2. strategic information to drive impact
  3. better guidance, policies, and strategies
  4. coordinated national malaria response

 

IRDAI New Regulation

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IRDAI

 Context: The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) exercising powers under the Insurance Act, 1938 and IRDA Act, 1999, has framed regulations (IRDAI (Protection of Policyholders’ Interests and Allied Matters of Insurers) Regulations, 2024) consolidating 8 separate regulations into a unified framework.

The main objective: It is to protect the interests of policyholders and ensure insurers and distribution channels fulfil their obligations.

Key measures include A 30-day free-look period for policy returns, compulsory nominee information collection for life insurance, electronic policy offerings with data privacy safeguards, prevention of mis-selling and unfair practices, and establishment of grievance redressal systems in insurer offices.

 

About IRDAI:

IRDAI (HQ: Hyderabad; est 1999), safeguards insurance customers’ interests as a statutory body under the IRDA Act 1999. It operates under the Ministry of Finance, overseeing and developing the insurance industry. Its powers and functions are defined by the IRDAI Act, 1999 and Insurance Act, 1938.

IRDAI’s “Vision Insurance for All” initiative aims for comprehensive coverage by 2047, allocating states and union territories to insurers for increased penetration. In 2023, IRDAI plans to launch “Bima Trinity” – Bima Sugam, Bima Vistar, Bima Vaahaks – with insurers to streamline insurance activities.

 

About the Insurance Sector in India:

India has a low insurance penetration at 4.2% and an insurance density of $91 in 2021 (from USD 11 in 2001). India’s insurance market is forecasted to become one of the fastest-growing globally in the next decade, as per the Economic Survey. In 2023, India ranked as the 10th largest insurance market globally and is projected to climb to the 6th position by 2032.

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Index Providers Regulations, 2024

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: BS

 Context: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) mandates the registration of index providers managing “significant indices” based on Indian securities to enhance transparency in financial benchmark governance.

 

What are Indices?

Indices are statistical measures used to track the performance of a group of assets or securities in a particular market. They serve as benchmarks or indicators for investors to assess the overall performance and trends of a specific segment of the market. Indices are often composed of stocks, bonds, commodities, or other financial instruments, and they provide a way to monitor the ups and downs of various sectors or the entire market.

Common examples of indices include the Sensex, Nifty 200(India); S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and NASDAQ Composite in the United States, which track the performance of large-cap stocks traded on major exchanges.

 

What does the regulation Say?

  1. The regulations require index providers like NSE Indices and Asia Index (AIPL) to register with Sebi, along with making their methodology documents public and adhering to a code of conduct.
  2. Global index providers such as MSCI, Nasdaq, and FTSE Russell may not need to register unless their indices are widely used by domestic asset managers.

Karnataka bans harmful dyes

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE

 Context: Karnataka bans harmful dyes in Gobi Manchurian, cotton candy, imposing imprisonment of up to seven years and fines of up to Rs 10 lakh for violators.

 

Chemicals banned:

Chemical Description Colour Produced
Tartrazine Can induce allergic or pseudo-allergic reactions. Yellow
Sunset Yellow Can cause allergic or pseudo-allergic reactions. Yellow
Carmoisine May lead to skin rashes and respiratory allergies. Red
Rhodamine B Considered carcinogenic; commonly used in textile dyeing and the paper industry. Pink

 

Tamil Nadu and Puducherry had previously banned cotton candy sales due to similar concerns.

Blue Leaders Alliance

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: DTE

 Context: The Blue Leaders High-Level Event on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction took place in Belgium recently.

 

What is the Blue Leaders alliance?

It is a coalition of 24 countries advocating for urgent action to address the threats facing the global ocean, including the climate crisis, overfishing, pollution, and other challenges. Key members include Belgium, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Italy etc. India is not a member, but it endorsed the treaty’s implementation at the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration in 2023

 

Aim:  Blue Leaders aim to achieve two main objectives:

  1. Establishing a new international target to safeguard at least 30% of the global ocean with highly and fully protected marine areas by 2030.
  2. Successfully concluding a new High Seas Treaty to create fully and highly protected marine areas in the high seas and enhance management of human activities outside these areas.

 

Efforts are underway to bring the BBNJ (Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction) Treaty into force by 2025, with only two countries having ratified it so far.

 

To know about BBNJ: UN adopts first ever High Seas Treaty: Click Here

Exercises in News

Mapping

Exercise Name Participating Forces Location
Exercise Cutlass Express Indian Navy, U.S. Naval Forces, multinational Seychelles
Sea Defenders-2024 Indian Coast Guard (ICG), United States Coast Guard (USCG) Port Blair (Andaman and Nicobar Islands)

 

Some other exercises between India and the US:

  1. MALABAR Exercise: A trilateral naval exercise involving the navies of India, the United States, and Japan, primarily focused on maritime security and interoperability in the Indo-Pacific region.
  2. YUDH ABHYAS: A joint military training exercise conducted annually between the Indian and US armies, focusing on enhancing interoperability and cooperation in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.
  3. Vajra Prahar: A bilateral military exercise between the Special Forces of India and the United States, focusing on enhancing counterterrorism and urban warfare capabilities.
  4. Cope India: A series of bilateral aerial exercises between the air forces of India and the United States, aimed at enhancing interoperability, combat readiness, and joint operational capabilities.
  5. Red Flag: A multinational aerial combat training exercise hosted by the United States Air Force, which often includes participation from the Indian Air Force, focusing on air combat tactics, techniques, and procedures.

 

About Seychelles

It is an island country and archipelagic state in the Indian Ocean, consisting of 115 islands. Its capital and largest city, Victoria, lies 1,500 kilometres east of mainland Africa. Seychelles is the smallest country in Africa with a population of around 100,600

About Port Blair 

It is the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a union territory of India in the Bay of Bengal. It serves as the entry point for visiting the islands and is connected to mainland India by air and sea. Port Blair is home to several museums, including the historic Cellular Jail. It also houses major naval and air bases of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard, along with the headquarters of the Andaman and Nicobar Command.

 

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