Daily Prelims Notes 13 October 2023
- October 13, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
13 October 2023
Table Of Contents
- Principle of Comparative advantage
- P20 Summit
- What war crimes laws apply to the Israel-Palestinian conflict
- Naik Yeshwant Ghadge
- Supreme Court said that we cannot kill child and need to balance out right of unborn child
- Putin visit Kyrgyzstan first foreign visit since arrest warrant by ICC
- Government revokes nod to test new vaccines on stray dogs
- 7 judge Bench to take a call on giving priority to Money Bill case
- Large ozone hole detected over Antarctica: Is it a matter of concern?
- ‘Dhib’ & ‘Nimr’: Can Israel-Palestine’s Negev, Judaean deserts ever revive populations of world’s smallest wolf, leopard?
- Bio Hydrogen’s role in India’s green hydrogen pathway
- NASA finds proof of carbon and water in asteroid Bennu samples
- Shifting to millets increases groundwater recharge more than drip irrigation in India’s northern plains: Study
- Decline in Banks’ Outstanding Credit-Deposit Spread in India
- OECD-Tax Deal
- Overview of Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2023 Report
Section: External Sector
Context: Indian Industrial Policy doesn’t take into account India’s comparative advantage
What is Comparative advantage?
- According to the principle of comparative advantage, the gains from trade follow from allowing an economy to specialise. If a country is relatively better at making wine than wool, it makes sense to put more resources into wine, and to export some of the wine to pay for imports of wool. This is even true if that country is the world’s best wool producer, since the country will have more of both wool and wine than it would have without trade.
- A country does not have to be best at anything to gain from trade. The gains follow from specializing in those activities which, at world prices, the country is relatively better at, even though it may not have an absolute advantage in them. Because it is relative advantage that matters, it is meaningless to say a country has a comparative advantage in nothing. The term is one of the most misunderdstood ideas in economics, and is often wrongly assumed to mean an absolute advantage compared with other countries.
- India has comparative advantage in labour intensive industry but the industrial policy favours capital-intensive industry.
Section : Groupings
Context: Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will inaugurate the 9th G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit (P20) on 13 October 2023 at Yashobhoomi, New Delhi
More about the news:
What is P20 Summit:
- P20 is a congregation of Parliamentary Speakers from the Parliaments of G20 nations.
- It is a meeting which pertains to Speakers and presiding officers of the Parliament from the G20 countries and invitee nations.
- The P20 group was set up during the G20 Presidency of Canada in 2010.
- The P20 provides an opportunity to deepen the recognition of G20 member nations’ efforts and methods of international collaboration in related policies by deliberating upon emerging issues faced by the global community.
Some more details about the P20 summit 2023;
- The theme of the 9th P20 Summit is “Parliaments for One Earth, One Family, One Future.”
- There will be four high-level sessions organized during the P20 Summit, to be hosted by Parliament from October 12-14 on
- Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Showcasing Achievements, Accelerating Progress,
- Sustainable Energy Transition — Gateway to Green Future,
- Mainstreaming Gender Equality, From Women’s Development to Women-led Development
- Transformation in people’s lives through Public Digital Platforms.
- These sessions aim to facilitate discussions among G20 members and guest countries on advancing the P20’s objectives.
- The summit also highlights the “LiFE is Beautiful” initiative, promoting eco-friendly practices for a sustainable ecosystem.
- The Pan-African Parliament will take part in the P20 Summit for the first time after the African Union became a member of G20 at the New Delhi G20 Leaders’ Summit
Section: International Conventions
Context: The recent conflict between Israel and Palestinian forces since militant group Hamas’ weekend assault.
What laws govern the conflict:
- International rules for armed conflict originated from the 1949 Geneva Conventions, ratified by all UN member states.
- These rules are encompassed in the “Law of Armed Conflict” or “International Humanitarian Law,” governing the treatment of civilians, soldiers, and prisoners of war.
- The law is applicable to government forces and organized armed groups, including Hamas militants.
- The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is the primary international body for bringing charges if alleged perpetrators of atrocities are not prosecuted locally.
- The ICC can investigate crimes on its members’ territory or by their nationals when domestic authorities are “unwilling or unable” to do so.
- The ICC’s prosecutor’s office confirmed its mandate applies to potential crimes in the current conflict and is actively collecting information.
What are war crimes:
- War crimes encompass grave breaches of humanitarian laws within conflicts.
- The Rome Statute of the ICC provides the definition, which draws from the principles of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
- It centres on the principle of individual accountability for actions committed on behalf of a state or its armed forces. Illustrative examples include hostage-taking, deliberate killings, torture or inhumane treatment of prisoners of war, and the recruitment of child soldiers.
What is Criteria for War Crimes:
- International humanitarian law employs three key principles to determine whether an individual or military has committed a war crime:
- Distinction: This principle forbids targeting objectives that are likely to cause excessive harm to civilians or civilian infrastructure compared to the expected military advantage.
- Proportionality: Proportionality restricts the use of disproportionate force in response to an attack. For instance, it prohibits indiscriminate retaliation, such as bombing an entire city for the death of a single soldier.
- Precaution: Parties involved in a conflict are obligated to take measures that prevent or minimize harm to the civilian population.
What are the Geneva Conventions (1949):
- The Geneva Conventions, established in 1949 along with their Additional Protocols, represent crucial international agreements that set forth fundamental regulations to mitigate the cruelty of armed conflict.
- These conventions provide safeguards for non-combatants i.e civilians, medical personnel, humanitarian workers and individuals who are no longer able to participate in combat i.e injured, sick, and shipwrecked military personnel, as well as prisoners of war.
- The First Geneva Convention protects wounded and sick soldiers on land during war.
- The Second Geneva Convention protects wounded, sick and shipwrecked military personnel at sea during war.
- The Third Geneva Convention applies to prisoners of war, including a wide range of general protections such as humane treatment, maintenance and equality across prisoners, conditions of captivity, questioning and evacuation of prisoners, transit camps, food, clothing, medicines, hygiene and right to religious, intellectual, and physical activities of prisoners.
- The Fourth Geneva Convention protects civilians, including those in occupied territory. The other Geneva Conventions were concerned mainly with combatants rather than civilians.
- Two Protocols of 1977: Additional to the four 1949 Geneva Conventions were adopted in 1977. They strengthen the protection of victims of international (Protocol I) and non-international (Protocol II) armed conflicts and place limits on the way wars are fought.
- In 2005, a third Additional Protocol was adopted creating an additional emblem, the Red Crystal, which has the same international status as the Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems.
Section: Modern History
Context: V.C Yeshwant Ghadge Sundial Memorial” unveiled at Montone, Perugia in Italy
More about the news:
- India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh paid tribute at the VC Yeshwant Ghadge Sundial Memorial in Montone, Italy.
- The memorial commemorates the Indian soldiers’ participation in the campaign to liberate Italy during World War II, shedding light on a shared military history often overlooked until Italy recently opened this memorial earlier this year.
Who was Yashwant Ghadge:
- Naik Yeshwant Ghadge was an Indian war hero who served during World War II’s Italian campaign (1943-45).
- He epitomizes the forgotten Indian heroes of the war.
- Ghadge, at the age of 23, single-handedly captured an enemy post in Montone, Italy.
- He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest military honour.
What was the Italian campaign of World War II
- Naik Ghadge sacrificed his life during World War II’s Italian campaign, which pitted the Allied Forces against the Axis Powers (Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan).
- The Allies aimed to liberate Italy and began their counterattack with the invasion of Sicily in 1943.
- While the Fascist Italian regime fell quickly, fierce German resistance persisted along defensive lines spanning the Italian mainland, including the area where Naik Ghadge lost his life, situated between the Trasimene/Albert Line and the vital Gothic Line.
What are some of the heroism of Indian soldiers in the war
- The Indian Army, led by the British during World War II, provided more than 2.5 million soldiers to support the Allied cause.
- Around 50,000 Indian soldiers took part in the Italian campaign, and sadly, 5,782 lost their lives.
- Indian forces, including the 4th, 8th, and 10th Indian Divisions, as well as the 43rd Independent Gurkha Infantry Brigade, formed the third-largest group of Allied troops in Italy.
- They made significant contributions to crucial battles such as Monte Cassino and the breach of the Gothic Line, receiving recognition for their professionalism and their impact on the campaign.
Context: Supreme Court said that we cannot kill child and need to balance out right of unborn child
More about the news:
- The Supreme Court deliberated on a woman’s request for a Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP).
- The judges emphasized the need to respect a woman’s rights but also balance them with the rights of the unborn child.
- They discussed the ethical dilemma of terminating a pregnancy at 26 weeks, considering the potential risks to the child’s health.
- The court urged the woman to consider waiting for a few more weeks for the child’s better chances of being healthy and offered State care if needed.
What are the abortion law in India:
- Abortion was initially illegal in India, resulting in imprisonment or fines under Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code.
- To address this, the Shantilal Shah Committee was formed in 1964. to assess the necessity of abortion regulations.
- This led to the introduction of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in 1971, legalizing and regulating abortions.
- Now abortions in India are regulated by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971.
- Under the law section 3 of the MTP Act 1971, the doctor can perform an abortion in the following conditions:
- If the pregnancy would be harmful to the life of the patient or affects her physical or mental health. The doctor will need to consider the circumstances of the patient to figure out if the pregnancy will harm her mental health, on a case to case basis.
- If there is a good chance that the child would suffer from physical or mental abnormalities which would leave him or her seriously handicapped.
- If pregnancy occurred as a result of a failure of contraception only applicable to married women.
- If pregnancy is a result of sexual assault or rape.
Condition for termination of pregnancy:
- If the pregnancy has not exceeded 12 weeks, only one doctor is needed to sign-off.
- If the pregnancy has exceeded 12 weeks and is below 24 weeks, two doctors are needed.
- The gestation period does not matter if a doctor feels that an immediate abortion must be conducted to save the life of the patient.
- The doctor who determines if it is necessary to perform an abortion and performs it needs to be a ‘registered medical practitioner’ under the law.
- In January 2020, the Union Cabinet approved amendments to the MTP Act, allowing women to seek abortions as part of reproductive rights and gender justice.
- The amendment raised the upper limit of MTP from 20 weeks to 24 weeks for women including rape survivors, victims of incest, differently-abled women and minors.
Section: International organisation
Context: Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Kyrgyzstan on his first foreign trip since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged war crimes.
More about the news:
- Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Kyrgyzstan, marking his first foreign trip after an ICC warrant for alleged war crimes.
- His two-day visit includes a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States, amid concerns of declining Russian influence in the region.
- Putin emphasized Russia’s trade partnership with Kyrgyzstan and highlighted growing trade.
- Putin is also set to attend ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of Russia’s airbase near Kant.
- The ICC had issued a warrant against Putin for alleged deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.
Some facts about International Criminal Court (ICC):
- The International Criminal Court is a permanent court to prosecute serious international crimes committed by individuals.
- It tries crimes such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression.
- The court was established to fight global impunity and bring to justice criminals under international law, regardless of their rank or stature.
- It is different from the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, also at The Hague.
- The Head Quarter of ICC is in The Hague, The Netherlands
- Statute :Before the ICC became functional in 2002, its founding treaty was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998 in Rome, Italy, thereby making it the Rome Statute.
How one can become member of ICC:
- To become a member of the ICC or State party to the Rome Statute, countries have to sign the statute and ratify it under their respective legislatures.
- 123 countries are currently members of the ICC, with African countries making up the largest bloc.
- Notably, countries including India, China, Iraq, North Korea and Turkey never signed the Rome Statute.
- Others including the US, Russia, Israel and Syria signed, but never ratified
Some facts about Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS):
- The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is an intergovernmental organization formed in 1991 by former Soviet Union nations.
- It promotes cooperation in various domains, including politics, economics, environment, humanitarian, culture, and more.
- Founding members comprise Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, with other Soviet republics joining later after signing the Alma-Ata Protocol.
- Now, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) has the following countries as its members:
- 3 Founding members: Russia, Belarus & Ukraine
- 9 other members: Armenia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan.
- Headquarters of the CIS is in Minsk, Belarus
- Meetings are held periodically on a rotating basis at the CIS countries’ capitals
Section: National Organisation
A government committee tasked with animal welfare and protection has withdrawn a 2022 circular that allowed stray dogs to be used in vaccine trials.
- The Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) is a statutory body formed by the Act of the Indian Parliament under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.
- Formed in 1964, it was revived in 1998, under the committed chairpersonship of Maneka Gandhi. In the last two years, the CPCSEA has bettered the life of the animals in laboratories across India.
- This committee is composed of members of the scientific community, regulatory authorities and animal activists.
- The CPCSEA functions with a brilliant network of volunteers who liaise with the laboratories.
- For the first time in India: over 665 laboratories are registered with the CPCSEA; Institutional Animal Ethics Committees (IAECs) are constituted in every laboratory, which are only empowered to approve research project proposals that use rats, mice, guinea-pigs or rabbits.
- Every project that uses canines, ovines, bovines or non-human primates can only be conducted if approved by the panel of scientific experts constituted for this purpose; guidelines on laboratory animal care and practice have been formulated and enforced; a protocol for the production of immunobiologicals from equines has been formulated and ratified by the Supreme Court of India.
- The CPCSEA has been deliberating on alternatives and working out modalities to introduce alternatives in basic/regulatory research and education, in keeping with the international arena; the CPCSEA, to date, has rehabilitated and homed over 300 dogs, 150 equines, 200 non-human primates and several cattle, cats, birds, rabbits and mice; the CPCSEA proactively trains and guides scientific and non-scientific personnel on issues of alternatives and laboratory animal welfare; and the CPCSEA has fought legal issues on laboratory animal care and use and have had verdicts that favoured alternatives and animal welfare.
What are the Key Emerging Alternative Testing Methods?
- Organoids: Organoids are three-dimensional cellular structures that emulate specific organs of the body. These miniature organs, developed from human cells or stem cells, provide a more accurate representation of human physiology, enabling researchers to study drug interactions in a human context.
- Organs-on-Chip: Organs-on-chip are small devices lined with human cells, mimicking the blood flow and cellular interactions within the body. These chips replicate key physiological aspects and allow researchers to analyze tissue-tissue interactions and chemical signals, providing a platform for more accurate drug testing.
- 3D Bioprinting: 3D bioprinting technology enables the creation of complex human tissues and organs using patient-specific cells. This advancement allows for the development of personalized drug testing approaches, catering to individual variations in biology.
What is the Regulatory Mechanism of Clinical Trials in India?
The major legislations that govern clinical trials in India are: Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, Medical Council of India Act, 1956 and Central Council for Indian Medicine Act, 1970, Guidelines for Exchange of Biological Material (MOH order, 1997).
Prerequisites of conducting a clinical trial in India are:
- Permission from the Drugs Controller General, India (DCGI).
- Approval from the Ethics Committee established under Drugs and Cosmetics Rules.
- Mandatory registration on the ICMR maintained website.
A seven judge Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Thursday said it will “take a call” on a request from petitioners to give priority to a reference concerning the manner in which the Centre got crucial amendments passed in Parliament as Money Bills.
What is a money bill?
A money bill is a type of legislative proposal that is defined and governed by Article 110 of the Indian Constitution.
What constitutes a money bill?
Subject: A bill is considered a money bill if it exclusively deals with specific financial matters outlined in Article 110(1)(a) to (g) of the Indian Constitution. These matters include taxation, government borrowing, and the appropriation of money from the Consolidated Fund of India, among others.
Introduction in Lok Sabha: Money bills can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha, which is the lower house of India’s Parliament. They cannot originate in the Rajya Sabha, which is the upper house.
Exclusion of Rajya Sabha Consent: Unlike ordinary bills, money bills do not require the consent or approval of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States).The Lok Sabha has the exclusive authority to pass or reject money bills.
Final Decision of the Speaker: Article 110(3) of the Constitution states that if any question arises whether a bill is a money bill or not, the decision of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha on this matter shall be final.
Judicial Scrutiny: While the Constitution grants the Speaker the final authority in deciding whether a bill is a money bill, the Indian judiciary has the power to review and examine the Speaker’s decision for compliance with constitutional provisions.
- Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Amendments: In July 2022, a three-judge bench composed of Justices A. M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and CT Ravikumar upheld the PMLA and the extensive powers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED).However, they left the validity of amendments to the PMLA via the Money Bill route open for review by a larger Constitution bench. The Finance Acts passed in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019 introduced significant changes to the PMLA, raising questions about the constitutionality of their passage.
- Aadhaar Act: The Aadhaar case marked a significant challenge to the categorization of a bill as a money bill. In 2018, the Supreme Court, in a 4:1 majority, ruled in favor of the government, declaring the Aadhaar Act a valid money bill under Article 110 of the Constitution. Notably, Justice Chandrachud dissented, condemning the government’s action as a fraud on the Constitution and subterfuge.
- Tribunal Reform: In the case of Roger Matthew vs. Union of India in November 2019, the Supreme Court confronted the issue of changes in the service conditions of tribunal members introduced as a money bill in the Finance Act, 2017.While a five-judge bench deemed the law unconstitutional for impinging on judicial independence, it referred the money bill aspect to a larger constitution bench. This move also cast doubt on the correctness of the five-judge Constitution Bench’s 2018 verdict upholding the Aadhaar Act as a money bill.
The Larger Bench and Implications
- Constitutional Significance: The cases involve the interpretation of Article 110 and the determination of whether specific bills genuinely qualify as money bills. The decisions reached by the larger bench will establish crucial precedents in constitutional law.
- Clarifying Legislative Boundaries: The larger bench’s decisions will play a pivotal role in clarifying the boundaries of legislative power in India. It will provide guidance on when a bill can be categorized as a money bill and, consequently, whether it requires the consent of the Rajya Sabha.
- Impact on Challenged Legislations: The decisions of the larger bench will directly impact the validity of specific legislations challenged for being passed as money bills. For instance, in the case of amendments to the PMLA, the outcome will determine the fate of these amendments and whether they must undergo further scrutiny in both houses of Parliament.
- Judicial Review of Speaker’s Decision: The larger bench’s deliberations may provide further clarity on the extent of judicial review over the Speaker’s decision regarding the classification of bills as money bills.
The announcement of a seven-judge bench by CJI Chandrachud signals a substantial step toward addressing these concerns and providing clarity on the boundaries of this legislative process, which has far-reaching implications for India’s legal and political framework.
Section: Climate Change
- Satellite measurements over Antarctica have detected a giant hole in the ozone layer.
- Ozone hole is detected by the European Space Agency Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite under the EU’s environmental programme.
- The hole, called the “ozone-depleted area” was 26 million square kilometers (10 million square miles) in size, roughly three times the size of Brazil.
- The satellite measured trace gasses in the atmosphere in order to monitor the ozone and climate. It showed that this year’s ozone hole started earlier than usual, and had a big extension.
- Experts believe the hole in the ozone is not likely to increase warming on the surface of Antarctica.
Ozone holes grow and shrink every year:
- The ozone layer is a trace gas in the stratosphere, one of the four layers of the Earth’s atmosphere.
- It functions as a protective gas shield that absorbs ultraviolet radiation, protecting humans and ecosystems from dangerous amounts of UV.
- The size of the ozone hole over Antarctica fluctuates each year, opening each year in August and closing again in November or December.
Why is the ozone hole formed?
- The ozone hole opens up because of the rotation of the Earth causing special winds over the closed landmass of Antarctica.
- The winds create a mini climate, creating a shield over Antarctica preventing it from mixing with surrounding air. When the winds die down, the hole closes.
What caused the giant ozone hole this year?
- It could be due to the volcanic eruptions at Hunga Tongain Tonga during December 2022 and January 2023.
- Under normal conditions, gas released from a volcanic eruption stays below the level of the stratosphere, but this eruption sent a lot of water vapor into the stratosphere.
- The water had an impact on the ozone layer through chemical reactions and changed its heating rate. The water vapor also contained other elements that can deplete ozone like bromine and iodine.
Human-caused ozone holes:
- Human activities were creating huge ozone holes in the 1970s.
- Ground and satellite-based measurements detected the holes, which were caused by widespread use of chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons.
- One of the factors for ozone hole creation is the propellants we use as gasses to propel the solutions inside. These gaseous propellants contain chlorine, which is released high in the stratosphere and depletes the ozone.
Protection of ozone layer:
- The 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was an international agreement in which United Nations members recognized the fundamental importance of preventing damage to the stratospheric ozone layer.
- In 1987,TheMontreal Protocol was created to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of these harmful substances.
- The protocol was effective as the ozone holes got smaller in the decades after ozone-depleting gas emissions were controlled.
Is climate change reopening ozone holes?
- Ozone depletion is not a principal cause of global climate change.
- There are signs that rising global temperatures could be having an impact on ozone holes.
- The 2020 ozone hole opening was attributed to the wildfires of Australia.
- In 2021 it was due to the boreal forest fires.
For details of Montreal Protocol: https://optimizeias.com/ozone-layer-to-recover-in-4-decades-but-aerosol-injection-may-undo-gains-unep/
Section: Species in news
- The Israel-Hamas war is impacting the iconic wildlife of the region, including the world’s smallest wolf and leopard.
Dhib (Arabian wolf) and Nimr (Arabian leopard):
- The Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs) and the Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr) are found across the whole of the Arabian Peninsula.Dhib and Nimr are the Arabic terms for the two animals that have featured in the culture and folklore of the region’s peoples.
- In the northern half of their range, both animals are critically endangered.
- The Negev deserts, that dominates southern Israel till the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Judaean desert which is shared by Israel and the Palestinian West Bank — were once home to both the animals.
- The Arabian leopard is extinct in its entire northern range, including all historic distribution ranges on the Sinai Peninsula, the Negev, and the Judaean Desert. They are now restricted to Oman, Yemen, and the southern part of Saudi Arabia.
- The Arabian wolf remains the sole apex predator across most of its range since the extinction of the Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) and the near-eradication of the Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr). The only known stable population is confined to the Arava Valley and Negev Desert in Israel, where legal protection is enforced and acceptance of wolves is high.
- Top carnivores have important ecosystem functions like keeping herbivore populations in check and consuming carrion.
- Unacceptability in pastoral areas.
- Arabian wolves suppress smaller canids like jackals and foxes in the Negev and the Arava Valley.
- The Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs) is a subspecies of gray wolf native to the Arabian Peninsula—to the west of Bahrain, as well as Oman, southern Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. They are also found in Israel’s Negev Desert, Jordan, Palestine and the Sinai Peninsula.
- It is the smallest wolf subspecies, and a specialized xerocole (arid-adapted) animal that normally lives in smaller familial packs.
- Arabian wolves are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters; they consume small to medium-sized prey, from insects, reptiles and birds to rodents and small ungulates, such as young ibex and several species of gazelle (Arabian, goitered, Dorcas, and mountain gazelles).
- IUCN Red list: Endangered
- The Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr) is a leopard subspecies native to the Arabian Peninsula. It has been listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1996 as fewer than 200 wild individuals were estimated to be alive in 2006.
- The population is severely fragmented. Subpopulations are isolated and not larger than 50 mature individuals. The population is thought to decline continuously.
- The Arabian leopard is the smallest leopard subspecies. It was tentatively affirmed as a distinct subspecies by genetic analysis of a single wild leopard from South Arabia, which appeared most closely related to the African leopard.
Subject: Science and Tech
- Green hydrogen constitutes less than 1 percent of the world’s hydrogen production and usage, according to the September release of the Global Hydrogen Review 2023 by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
- To align with the organization’s Net Zero Emissions (NZE) Scenario, green hydrogen capacity must grow more than 100 times by 2030.
- In 2022, hydrogen production and utilisation were associated with over 900 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, originating from fossil fuel sources without any carbon capture, utilisation or storage.
National Hydrogen Mission (NHM):
- The Indian Union Cabinet approved the National Green Hydrogen Mission (NGHM) with a budget of ₹19,744 crore.
- The mission’s objective is to position India as a global centre for the production, utilisation and export of green hydrogen. It aspires to achieve a highly ambitious goal of developing a green hydrogen production capacity of five million tonnes per annum by 2030.
- Hydrogen, existing as a diatomic molecule (H2), is odorless, tasteless and colourless under standard conditions of temperature (25°C) and pressure (1 atm).
- Hydrogen is not readily available in its pure form as it forms compounds with other elements like oxygen and carbon.
- Green hydrogen: Hydrogen meeting specific sustainability criteria is referred to as “green” hydrogen, yet a universally accepted definition is lacking, and there is no international standard for green hydrogen.
- However, hydrogen fuel generated via renewable energy sources without any form of carbon emission is generally referred to as ‘green hydrogen’.
- The Union Ministry of New & Renewable Energy defines green hydrogen when the well-to-gate emission (encompassing water treatment, electrolysis, gas purification, drying and compression of hydrogen) not exceeding 2 kg CO2 equivalent per kg H2.
- Gray hydrogen, on average, emits 10 kg of CO2 per kg of H2 produced.
- Extraction of pure hydrogen:
- Conventional or fossil fuel based technologies include: hydrocarbon pyrolysis, steam methane reforming, auto-thermal methane reforming, dry methane reforming and partial oxidation. These hydrogen fuels are primarily utilized in refineries and fertilizer production.
- Renewable technologies: solar, wind and biomass for hydrogen generation. In these technologies hydrogen can be produced either through electrolysis or biomass-based processes, involving thermochemical or biological methods.
- The study on green hydrogen conducted by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking in Europe identified approximately 10 options for generating hydrogen from renewable resources. Among these options, biogas utilization was the least expensive and most promising.
- This is primarily because biogas, with methane as its main constituent, is the raw material for hydrogen production, thus the systemic steam reforming process does not require significant modifications.
- Advantages of Hydrogen fuel:
- Hydrogen has superior calorific value (119.93 megajoules / kg) compared to gasoline (44.5 megajoules / kg).
- Burning hydrogen results in fewer harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
Prospect for green hydrogen:
- Clear definitions are essential for hydrogen offtake mechanisms, procurement prices and the percentage blending in gas grids to enable the preparation of compressed biogas projects near refineries, fostering the adoption of appropriate infrastructure and product diversity to meet refinery demands.
- Prioritizing the establishment of worldwide hydrogen standards is important for creating high-quality fuel for export.
- Initially, the recently formed Global Biofuel Alliance, led by India, could be crucial in formulating global standards for hydrogen derived from biomass.
What is the Global Biofuel Alliance?
- Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA) was recently launched by world leaders to expedite the global uptake of biofuels, under India’s G20 presidency. The alliance brings together major biofuel producers and consumers, such as the US, Brazil, and India.
- Nineteen countries and 12 international organizations have already agreed to join or support the GBA.
- The GBA aims to strengthen global biofuels trade for a greener sustainable future.
Subject: Science and Tech
Section: Space science
- Initial studies on the samples collected in space and recently brought back on earth from the asteroid Bennu under the OSIRIS-REx mission have shown evidence of high-carbon content and water-bearing clay minerals, according to a statement by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
- The practice of retrieving samples from space began in 1969 with NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, the first to land astronauts on the Moon. Many more sample-gathering missions to the Moon and beyond followed, growing in ambition with each passing decade.
- Bennu is a small near-Earth asteroid that passes close to Earth every six years.
- It is a 4.5 billion-year-old relic of our solar system’s early days.
- Bennu’s current composition was established within 10 million years of the formation of our solar system.
- The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer, better known as OSIRIS-REx, is the first United States mission to collect a sample from an asteroid. The spacecraft was launched on September 8, 2016 and the sample was collected three years ago.
- The landing site on Bennu was named: Nightingale.
- The material collected from the asteroid can help us answer big questions about the origins of life and the nature of asteroids.
- Computed topography helped the team create a three-dimensional computer model of one of the particles, highlighting its diverse interior, which provided an early glimpse of evidence of abundant carbon and water.
- NASA will preserve at least 70 per cent of the sample at Johnson Space Center in Houston for further research by scientists globally, including future generations.
Other space missions that brought back the samples to earth:
- Hayabusa-1 and 2 missions of Japan (JAXA) brought back samples from asteroids Itokawa and Ryugu, respectively.
- China’s Chang’e 5 mission brought lunar samples back in 2020.
Section: Economic Geography
- Switching from rice to pearl millet (bajra) and sorghum during the Kharif season and shifting from wheat to sorghum (jowar) in the Rabi season could lower water consumption in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) by 32 per cent and boost farmers’ profits by 140 per cent, according to a new study.
Details of the study:
- Six researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, University of Delaware, Columbia University and Yale School of the Environment analyzed crop shifting’s prospects in 124 districts of three states: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal- covering the upper, middle and lower Ganga basin in the agricultural belt of India.
- Study was conducted for cereal crops (rice, wheat, maize, bajra, sorghum and barley), which cover 52 per cent of the total crop area.
- These crops account for 50 per cent of the total water consumption in the three states of the IGP region and contribute a significant fraction of calories for the Indian population.
- Around 40 percent of irrigation water used in the Rice-Wheat Cultivation System comes from groundwater sources.
- Along with benefits in water consumption and farmers’ incomes, there is an improvement in calorie production by 39 per cent.
- There could be 55 per cent and 9 percent water savings in the Kharif and Rabi seasons, respectively, compared with present practices. The increases in profit from the proposed alternatives are 139 per cent and 152 per cent for the Kharif and Rabi seasons, respectively.
- Crop switching is much more beneficial vis-a-vis improving irrigation efficiency.
- A combination of crop switching and drip irrigation– showed the greatest improvements in net recharge at a district level and reduced groundwater depletion by 78 percent.
- Shifting from the rice–wheat system to nutri cereals provides more micronutrients and proteins than rice and wheat.
- The findings showed sorghum and bajra are the dominant crops to replace rice and wheat.
Indo-Gangetic plains (IGP):
- Stretching from Punjab in the west to West Bengal in the east, IGP is the most populated region in the country, with a population of 400 million people.
- Of the country’s total food production, 30 percent comes from these three states, which are a part of a groundwater-dominated food system- cereal production in the IGP.
Section: Monetary Policy
- According to recent data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the net interest spread between outstanding loans and deposits of banks in India has experienced a significant compression, reaching an 8-year low in August 2023.
- The spread between the weighted average lending rate (WALR) and weighted average domestic term deposit rate (WADTDR) for both fresh and outstanding rates has been dwindling. This decline in the spread, particularly impacting Net Interest Margins (NIMs), has put pressure on the banking sector.
- Private banks have consistently maintained a higher spread compared to public sector banks, leading to faster rate transmission in private banks.
- The rise in credit off-take, including the effect of the HDFC-HDFC Bank merger, has contributed to increased credit growth, especially in the personal loans segment.
- However, despite the challenges, total deposits have seen a year-on-year increase, further highlighting the evolving dynamics in India’s banking sector.
Weighted average lending rate (WALR) and weighted average domestic term deposit rate (WADTDR)
The Weighted Average Lending Rate (WALR) is a metric that represents the average interest rate at which a bank lends money to its borrowers, considering the proportion of different loans and their corresponding interest rates. It reflects the overall cost of borrowing for the bank’s customers.
On the other hand, the Weighted Average Domestic Term Deposit Rate (WADTDR) indicates the average interest rate paid by a bank on the term deposits to its customers. It considers the various types of deposits and their respective interest rates in proportion to their amounts. This rate serves as a measure of the return earned by customers on their deposits with the bank.
Both the WALR and WADTDR are significant indicators in the banking sector, offering insights into the interest rate dynamics that influence borrowing and depositing activities within the economy. They play a crucial role in assessing the profitability, competitiveness, and overall performance of banks in the financial market.
Marginal Cost of Lending Rate (MCLR):
- Implemented in April 2016 as a benchmark lending rate for floating-rate loans.
- Represents the minimum interest rate at which commercial banks can lend.
- Comprises four components: marginal cost of funds, negative carry on the cash reserve ratio, operating costs, and tenor premium.
- MCLR is tied to the actual deposit rates, causing it to rise along with increasing deposit rates, subsequently leading to an increase in lending rates.
About Credit-Deposit Ratio: Understanding its Significance and Implications
- The Credit-Deposit Ratio (CD ratio) serves as a critical metric for assessing the health and liquidity of banks.
- It signifies the proportion of total advances made by a bank in relation to the total deposits it has accumulated.
- The formula for calculating the CD ratio involves dividing the total advances by the total deposits and then multiplying the result by 100.
Implications of CD Ratio:
- Insight into Resource Utilization: A CD ratio of 75%, for instance, indicates that three-fourths of the bank’s deposits have been channeled into loans. A lower ratio suggests that banks are underutilizing their resources, indicating poor credit growth. Conversely, a high ratio reflects heavy reliance on deposits for lending, which can pose risks, particularly in the event of unforeseen fund requirements.
- Reflection of Banking Health: The CD ratio provides valuable insights into a bank’s liquidity and overall health. It offers an understanding of the bank’s lending practices and its ability to manage asset-liability mismatches.
- Indicator of Economic Activity: The CD ratio is not merely a banking metric; it serves as a broad indicator for assessing inter-state disparities in banking development and the role of banking in economic activity. It helps in evaluating the credit market’s vibrancy within a specific region or economy.
While the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) does not mandate specific minimum or maximum levels for the CD ratio, it remains an essential tool for evaluating banking performance and its contribution to the broader economic landscape.
Understanding GDP and ICOR in India
GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, serves as a primary indicator of economic performance, reflecting the total value of goods and services produced within a countryover a specific period. However, it doesn’t account for factors like efficiency, income distribution, and institutional quality, which are crucial for sustainable growth.
ICOR, or Incremental Capital Output Ratio, evolved from the Harrod-Domar Growth Theory. It signifies the relationship between fresh investments and economic growth, indicating the additional capital required to generate a 1% higher output.
A lower ICOR implies greater capital efficiency and productivity.
Factors Impacting India’s ICOR Decline
- Economic Diversification: The shift to a services-oriented and technology-driven economy has reduced the capital intensity of economic activities, aiding a lower ICOR. Innovations like the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) showcase this trend.
- Decentralized Manufacturing: The adoption of 3D printing and other technologies in manufacturing has minimized the need for heavy capital investments in centralized factories, contributing to a declining ICOR.
- AI and Machine Learning Integration: The integration of AI and ML in various sectors, such as healthcare and agriculture, has improved efficiency and productivity, resulting in a reduced ICOR.
Limitations of ICOR as an Economic Indicator
- Informal Economy Impact: The extensive informal sector’s contributions may not be adequately captured in ICOR calculations, affecting the accuracy of the indicator.
- Price Distortions: Inflation and deflation can distort the relationship between investment and output, potentially misleading ICOR
- Infrastructure Bottlenecks: Despite the declining ICOR, persistent infrastructure bottlenecks can hinder overall economic efficiency and productivity.
- Regional Disparities: Regional variations can mask disparities, necessitating a more nuanced approach to ICOR
- Natural Resource Depletion: ICOR might not fully account for the depletion of natural resources, posing long-term sustainability challenges.
Section: International Conventions
Why in News?
- OECD Initiative: The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has introduced a new multilateral convention to address tax challenges related to the digitalization and globalization of the economy.
- Two-Pillar Solution: The convention is a part of the Two-Pillar Solution, which includes Pillar One for profit reallocation and Pillar Two for minimum tax and subject-to-tax rules.
- Consensus Achieved: The Multilateral Convention (MLC) to implement Amount A of Pillar One reflects the consensus among 138-member countries.
- Amount A of Pillar One: This component involves reallocating taxing rights to market jurisdictions for a share of the profits of the largest and most profitable multinational enterprises (MNEs), regardless of their physical presence.
- Redistribution of Taxing Rights: The MLC’s ‘Amount A’ deals with the reallocation of taxing rights over 25% of the residual profit of the most prominent MNEs to the jurisdictions where their customers are located.
Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS):
- BEPS involves tax planning strategies used by multinational enterprises to exploit gaps in tax regulations, resulting in substantial tax avoidance.
- The term “erosion” signifies the reduction or weakening of the tax base in higher-tax jurisdictions.
- Certain corporate tax havens facilitate BEPS mechanisms, allowing companies to move profits to these havens and further avoid paying taxes even within these jurisdictions.
- BEPS strategies have been attributed predominantly to American technology and life science multinationals.
- Developing countries are disproportionately affected by BEPS due to their reliance on corporate income tax, leading to annual revenue losses estimated at USD 100-240 billion.
Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan 13:
- The OECD has devised an Action Plan, known as “Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan 13,” aimed at ensuring that multinational enterprises accurately report their profits in the countries where they are earned.
Country-by-Country (CbC) Report:
- The BEPS Action 13 report (Transfer Pricing Documentation and Country-by-Country Reporting) requires multinational enterprises (MNEs) to annually report specific information for each tax jurisdiction in which they conduct business. This report is known as the Country-by-Country (CbC) Report.
Two Pillars of the BEPS Framework:
- Dealing with Transnational and Digital Companies: This pillar focuses on ensuring that multinational enterprises, especially digital companies, pay taxes in the jurisdictions where they operate and generate profits.
- Dealing with Low-Tax Jurisdictions: This pillar aims to establish a global minimum corporate tax rate, currently proposed at 15%, to prevent cross-border profit shifting and treaty shopping among low-tax countries.
About Amount A of Pillar One
- Amount A of Pillar One is a proposed solution as part of the OECD’s two-pillar approach to address the tax challenges arising from the digitalization and globalization of the economy.
- It aims to reallocate a share of profits from the largest and most profitable multinational enterprises (MNEs) to the market jurisdictions where they operate, irrespective of their physical presence.
- This serves as a means to ensure that these companies pay taxes in the countries where they generate revenue, thereby preventing profit shifting and ensuring a fair distribution of tax obligations.
- Countries offering lower tax rates and traditional tax havens might face a decline in their attractiveness if the framework is implemented.
Impact on India:
- India may need to withdraw the equalization levy imposed on multinational companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook once the global tax framework is enforced.
- India ratified the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty-Related Measures in July 2019, demonstrating its commitment to curbing BEPS.
Overview of the Multilateral Convention:
- The convention is a result of the OECD/G20 BEPS Project and aims to address base erosion and profit shifting through tax planning strategies that exploit gaps in tax regulations.
- It focuses on preventing treaty abuse and resolving disputes through the Mutual Agreement Procedure, implementing two minimum standards.
- This Convention works in conjunction with existing tax treaties, altering their application to enforce the BEPS measures effectively.
- While ensuring consistency and certainty in BEPS implementation, it also offers flexibility for countries to exclude specific tax treaties and opt-out of certain provisions through reservations.
- India introduced a 6% equalization levy on non-resident online advertisement services in 2016, later expanded to include a 2% levy on digital transactions by foreign entities accessing the Indian market.
Section: Reports and Indices
- India’s Position: India has slipped four notches to 111 out of 125 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2023. This is a decline from its position at 107 out of 121 countries in 2022.
- Child Wasting Rate: The GHI 2023 report highlights India’s child wasting rate at 18.7 percent, the highest in the world during 2018–22, indicating acute undernutrition.
- Other Health Metrics: The rate of undernourishment in India stood at 16.6 percent, while the under-five mortality rate was 3.1 percent. Additionally, the report noted that the prevalence of anaemia in women aged between 15 and 24 years stood at 58.1 percent.
- India’s GHI Score: India’s overall score in the GHI 2023 is 28.7, categorized as “serious”.
- Status of Neighbouring Countries: India’s neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan (102), Bangladesh (81), Nepal (69), and Sri Lanka (60), have fared better than India in the index.
- Government’s Reaction: The Government has criticized the GHI 2023 report, citing methodological issues and the small sample size used for calculations.
- Components of GHI Score: The GHI score is based on four component indicators, including
- undernourishment based on caloric intake,
- child stunting based on height,
- child wasting based on weight, and
- child mortality (before age five).
About Global Hunger Index (GHI):
- Purpose: The GHI is an annual publication developed as a partnership between Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels.
Inception: The first GHI report was published in 2006.
Country Ranking Method:
The GHI ranks countries based on a three-step process that involves the standardization of scores for four key indicators and their aggregation. The indicators used for the ranking include:
- Child stunting (percentage of children below five years of age with low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition)
- Child wasting (percentage of children below five years of age with low weight for their height, indicating acute undernutrition)
- Child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five)
Calculation of GHI Score:
- The GHI score is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 0 indicating no hunger and 100 representing the worst hunger situation.
- Each GHI score is derived from data spanning a 5-year period, with the 2023 GHI scores based on data from 2018 through 2022.
Key Indicators and Weightage:
- The GHI incorporates several key indicators with varying weightage, including inadequate food supply (1/3 weightage), child undernutrition (1/3), and under-five child mortality (1/3).
- Undernourishment: Measures the proportion of the population facing chronic deficiency of dietary energy intake.
- Child Stunting: Indicates low height-for-age resulting from chronic or recurrent undernutrition.
- Child Wasting: Represents children whose weight is low for their height.
- Under-5 Child Mortality Rate: Refers to the probability of dying between birth and five years of age, expressed per 1,000 live births.
India has undertaken several initiatives to combat hunger and improve nutrition across the country.
Some of these key initiatives include:
- National Nutrition Mission (NNM), POSHAN Abhiyan: Launched in 2018, this initiative aims to reduce malnutrition and stunting in children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers through a targeted approach, utilizing technology and a convergence of various programs.
- Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman scheme (PM Poshan Scheme): The existing Mid-Day Meal scheme, which provides hot meals to students, has been renamed as the National Scheme for PM Poshan Shakti Nirman. This school meal program is designed to enhance the nutritional status of school-age children, contributing to their overall well-being and development.
- Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana: A maternity benefits program that provides financial assistance to pregnant and lactating mothers to improve their health and nutrition during the maternity period.
- Food Fortification: A strategy adopted to address micronutrient deficiencies by adding essential vitamins and minerals to commonly consumed foods to improve their nutritional content.
- National Food Security Act, 2013: Legally entitles a portion of the population to receive subsidized food grains under the Targeted Public Distribution System.
- Mission Indradhanush: A health mission aimed at expanding immunization coverage for pregnant women and children to prevent life-threatening diseases.
- Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme: A government program providing a range of services such as supplementary nutrition, health check-ups, immunization, and pre-school education to children under 6 years of age and their mothers.
- Eat Right India Movement: A campaign launched by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to promote safe and healthy food choices among the public.
- Zero Hunger Program: Initiated in 2017, this program has the objective of eliminating hunger and malnutrition by 2030 through farming interventions, training, and the establishment of biofortified gardens.