Daily Prelims Notes 20 June 2022
- June 20, 2022
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
20 June 2022
Table Of Contents
- Pakistan’s ‘truck art’
- Govt Declares ICICI Bank’s IT Resources as ‘Critical Information Infrastructure’
- Gaps in Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework
- Environmental Performance Index (EPI)
- Indian interests at the WTO Ministerial Conference
- RBI may mandate domestic processing of payment transactions
- ESI scheme to cover all districts by year end: Bhupender Yadav
Section: Art and Culture
Context: Recently a Pakistani truck driver has gone viral over social media for his truck art on Sidhu Moosewala
- Truck art began in Peshawar and Karachi in the 1950s to cater to demands of truckers who wanted to make their trucks look presentable.
- It was a localized art form which travelled the world as it got popular among the foreigners who would come to Pakistan to get their vintage vehicles decorated.
- Slowly, this unique blend of colours and murals, accompanied by localised handmade accessories got international fame.
- The space is special as it is usually reserved for Pakistani national heroes and actors/singers.
- A face that is painted on a truck symbolizes people’s immense love for that personality.
- Some drivers also get portraits of their family members painted which goes on to show how much the space matters to them.
- Presidents, Army Generals, poets, musicians and even Bollywood Actors and Actresses are painted.
- In 2019, UNESCO used this art form to create awareness on girls’ education in Kohistan district of Pakistan.
- It is just in some pockets of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) in Pakistan that truck art is still visible because people here are fond of driving trucks. Efforts are required to preserve this dying heritage.
Section: Art and Culture
- The 3,500-year-old Megalithic site is located on the banks of the river Krishna in Narayanpet district, Telangana.
- Dotted with about 80 tall stones (niluvu raallu, as locals call them), or menhirs, the five-acre site that dates back to 1500 BC, also has ‘alignment stones’.
- Menhir is the name used in Western Europe for a single upright stone erected in prehistoric times; sometimes called a “standing stone“
- As there are no inscriptions, there are two schools of thought that attempt to explain why these menhirs were erected.
- Some feel the purpose of these stones is to capture the movement of the sun to estimate time.
- As, about 500 meters away, there is another site comprising mounds of boulders and stones.
- Believed to be a burial ground, the site also has a three-foot rectangular stone, which has a ‘sky chart’ chiseled on it.
- Or they might have erected it in memory of people or certain occasions.
Subject: Science and Technology
Section: IT awareness
- The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), through a notification, declared the IT resources of the private sector lender as critical infrastructure under Section 70 of the IT Act, 2000.
- The order declares the computer resources relating to the Core Banking Solution, Real Time Gross Settlement and National Electronic Fund Transfer comprising Structured Financial Messaging Server, being Critical Information Infrastructure of the ICICI Bank, and the computer resources of its associated dependencies to be protected systems for the purpose of the said Act.
Critical information infrastructure
- The Information Technology Act of 2000 defines “Critical Information Infrastructure” as a “computer resource, the incapacitation or destruction of which shall have debilitating impact on national security, economy, public health or safety”.
- The government, under the Act, has the power to declare any data, database, IT network or communications infrastructure as CII to protect that digital asset.
- Any person who secures access or attempts to secure access to a protected system in violation of the law can be punished with a jail term of up to 10 years.
- IT resources form the backbone of countless critical operations in a country’s infrastructure, and given their interconnectedness, disruptions can have a cascading effect across sectors.
- An information technology failure at a power grid can lead to prolonged outages crippling other sectors like healthcare, banking services.
How are CIIs protected in India?
- Created in January 2014, the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) is the nodal agency for taking all measures to protect the nation’s critical information infrastructure.
- It is mandated to guard CIIs from “unauthorized access, modification, use, disclosure, disruption, incapacitation or distraction”.
- NCIIPC will monitor and forecast national-level threats to CII for policy guidance, expertise sharing and situational awareness for early warning or alerts.
- The basic responsibility for protecting the CII system shall lie with the agency running that CII.
In the event of any threat to critical information infrastructure the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre may call for information and give directions to the critical sectors
- A group of environmental scientists, ecologists and policy experts have posited that the draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework fails to account for the totality of chemical pollutants that threaten ecosystems globally.
Draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework:
- The draft agreement falls short by limiting itself to nutrients, pesticides and plastics, while many chemicals of high concern and importance are left out of the equation — including substances that are persistent and toxic, such as mercury and PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), as well as pharmaceuticals.
- The draft framework, to be discussed June 21-26 has 21 targets.
- Target 7 mentions only nutrients, pesticides and plastic waste.
- According to the first draft that was shared in July 2021, the aim is to “reduce pollution from all sources to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions and human health, including by reducing nutrients lost to the environment by at least half, and pesticides by at least two thirds and eliminating the discharge of plastic waste.”
- The modified text released in March 2022 after the negotiators met in Geneva suggests that this reduction of nutrition should be “significant” and highlighted that chemicals, particularly pesticides which are harmful to biodiversity are reduced
- “The irrefutable evidence of chemical pollutants found in every ecosystem of the world, including remote Arctic, Antarctic and Himalayan ecosystems, should compel negotiators of the new biodiversity framework to include these as threats to global biodiversity,” according to experts.
- The criticism came at a time when it has become evident that China is dragging its feet on finalising the decision on the final date of the CoP15.
- China is one of the 17 mega-biodiversity countries in the world, and has nearly 10 percent of all plant species on Earth. The country is currently president of the CoP but is yet to announce the final date of the meet. Experts fear that this delay would be detrimental to global biodiversity.
- The first part of the meeting took place virtually in October 2021.
- A study published on June 3 revealed that 44 percent of Earth’s land area needs to be conserved to safeguard biodiversity.
- The current global target, set more than a decade back, is to conserve at least 17 percent of terrestrial areas through protected areas and other site-based approaches for improving the status of biodiversity and ecosystems. The post 2020 framework has indicated in target 3 that nations should conserve 30 per cent of their land.
- In March, the International Food Policy Research Institute released a report to show that protecting biodiversity is crucial for availability of food.
- Shifting diets, increasing crop and livestock productivity, and limiting agricultural land expansion would help achieve global biodiversity, food security and climate mitigation goals by 2050.
Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework’ for CoP15:
- The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, to be held in Kunming, China in August 2022, was supposed to take place in 2020 but was postponed due to the global pandemic.
- The overarching goals of the draft post 2020 framework — to protect the elements of biodiversity at all levels (genetic, species and ecosystem), sustainability and human well-being in the use of biodiversity and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of biodiversity.
- The latest Environmental Performance Index (EPI) placing India last among all 180 assessed countries.
Environment Performance Index:
- The EPI, a biennial index, was started in 2002 as Environmental Sustainability Index by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network.
- Using 40 performance indicators across 11 issue categories, EPI ranks 180 countries on climate change performance, environmental health, and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy targets.
- With a paltry score of 18.9, India’s 180th ranking comes after Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Myanmar — the bottom five together make up the poorest performing countries for environmental health.
- India has also scored low on rule of law, control of corruption and government effectiveness, according to EPI.
Issues with EPI
- The assessment has become controversial for prioritizing the flow of greenhouse gases from countries while reducing the emphasis on the stock of carbon dioxide from industrialized countries that is warming the globe.
- Evidently, if countries were assigned a penalty for the stock of CO2 in the atmosphere, rather than measure their mitigation actions over a decade, India would fare much better.
- Less controversially, the EPI dwells on performance on air quality, waste management and ecological conservation measures.
- The EPI ranking and scores have been rejected by the Union Government as based on “unfounded assumptions”, “surmises” and “unscientific methods.”
- India is under pressure to raise its ambition and commitment towards the more ambitious 1.5° Centigrade goal for temperature rise under the Paris Agreement, going beyond the less rigorous target of well below 2°C.
- Within the overall climate score, India does better in sub-metrics such as growth rates for black carbon, methane and ﬂuorinated gases, and greenhouse gas emissions based on their intensity and per capita volumes.
- The Index rates the country low on projected green house gas (GHG) emissions for mid-century, a target for Net Zero emissions.
- The EPI report estimates that China, India, the United States, and Russia are expected to account for over 50% of global residual greenhouse gas emissions.
Claims and low PARI score
- The country has protested that the new India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021 was not factored in as part of the biodiversity metric.
- On the face of it, India scores abysmally low on some of the Ecosystem Vitality variables, such as Marine Protected Areas (0.3 of a possible 100) and Protected Areas Representativeness Index, or PARI (0.5), Terrestrial Biome Protection (TBM) – National (1.2) and TBM – Global (2.1). Wetland loss prevention is among the best scores for India, at 62.
- Given the many biomes that exist in the country, the low PARI score puts pressure on the Government to defend its claim that the EPI scores for biodiversity health are faulty due to weaknesses in collecting species and habitat data.
Biome protection, air quality:
- Although the scores and rank could be contested, there is little doubt that India’s air is widely seen as among the foulest.
- Data for 2019, when economic activity was unfettered by COVID-19, attribute 1.67 million deaths during the year from air pollution.
- This has been reiterated by recent literature with commentary in The Lancet Planetary Health pointing out that “India has developed instruments and regulatory powers to mitigate pollution sources but there is no centralized system to drive pollution control efforts and achieve substantial improvements.
- In 93% of India, the amount of pollution remains well above WHO [World Health Organization] guidelines.”
- The national case would be stronger if policies on luxury urban emissions are aimed at helping poorer Indians.
- On transport (about 13% of emissions), prevailing high fuel and vehicular taxes could exclusively drive change and raise a green commons such as clean public transport, cycling and pedestrianization.
- The national policy of achieving Net Zero emissions by 2070 provides a longer timeline for a coal phaseout, but other areas can benefit from policies that prevent a carbon lock-in effect.
- Emissions from buildings, including embedded carbon in construction materials such as cement and steel, provide scope for reduction.
- What India needs to adopt is a rigorous dashboard approach to indicators, assigning high weight to the environment, modelled on the proposal made by Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz and Jean-Paul Fitoussi in their exploration of development beyond GDP.
- This can generate good data, identify the real beneficiaries of policies, avoid serious environmental deficits and ensure inter-generational equity in the use of natural resources. It can also curb pollution. Distorted rankings from external assessments would matter little.
Subject: International Relations
Section: International body
- On June 17, member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) wrapped up the Ministerial Conference’s twelfth outing (MC12) securing agreements on relaxing patent regulations to achieve global vaccine equity; ensuring food security, according subsidies to the fisheries sector and continuing moratoriums relevant to e-commerce, among others.
- Together they constitute what WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is referred to as the “Geneva Package.”
What is the WTO’s Ministerial Conference?
- The MC is at the very top of WTO’s organisational chart.
- It meets once every two years and can take decisions on all matters under any multilateral trade agreement.
- Unlike other organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund or World Bank, WTO does not delegate power to a board of directors or an organisational chief.
- All decisions at the WTO are made collectively and through consensus among member countries at varied councils and committees.
- This year’s conference took place in Geneva, Switzerland.
What were the debates around agriculture at the MC?
- The agreements on the subject are of particular significance to India.
- Referring to its status as a significant contributor to the World Food Programme (WFP), India had earlier stated that it had never imposed export restrictions for procurement under the programme.
- It put forth that a blanket exemption could constrain its work in ensuring food security back home.
- In such a situation, it would have to keep its WFP commitments irrespective of its domestic needs.
- Negotiators agreed that member countries would not impose export prohibitions or restrictions on food stuffs purchased for humanitarian purposes of the WFP.
- The decision would however not prevent member countries from adopting measures for ensuring domestic food security.
- Negotiators could not reach agreements on issues such as permissible public stockholding threshold for domestic food security, domestic support to agriculture, cotton, and market access.
- The central premise of the agreements was to ensure availability, accessibility and affordability of food to those in need, especially in humanitarian emergencies.
- It encouraged member countries with available surplus to release them on international markets in compliance with WTO regulations. Moreover, it instituted a work programme to come up with measures to help LDCs (least-developed countries) and NFIDCs (Not Food Importing Developing Countries) enhance their domestic food security and bolster agricultural production.
What about ﬁsheries related agreements?
- India successfully managed to carve out an agreement on eliminating subsidies to those engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
- The only exception for continuing subsidies for overfished stock is when they are deemed essential to rebuild them to a biologically sustainable level.
- Overfishing refers to exploiting fishes at a pace faster than they could replenish themselves — currently standing at 34% as per the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
- Declining fish stocks threaten to worsen poverty and endanger communities that rely on aquatic creatures for their livelihood and food security.
- Further, the agreements hold that there would be no limitation on subsidies granted or maintained by developing or least-developed countries for fishing within their exclusive economic zones (EEZ).
Current moratoriums on electronic transmissions extended
- Member countries agreed to extend the current moratorium on not imposing customs duties on electronic transmission (ET) until MC13 — scheduled to take place in December 2023. 105 countries which includes the U.S. , the U.K, Australia, China and Japan among others , had sought an extension of the moratorium, with India and South Africa being in opposition.
- Broadly, ETs consist of online deliveries such as music, e-books, films, software and video games. They differ from other cross-border e-commerce since they are ordered online but not delivered physically.
- Proponents had put forth that the moratorium would help maintain certainty and predictability for businesses and consumers particularly in the context of the pandemic.
- On the other hand, India and South Africa, citing data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (which calculates the amount of printed matter, music and video downloads, software and video games), submitted that extending duty-free market access due to the moratorium resulted in a loss of $10 billion per annum globally — 95% of which was borne by developing countries.
What were the discussions on patent relaxations?
- Member countries agreed on authorising the use of the subject matter of a patent for producing COVID-19 vaccines by a member country, without the consent of the rights holder.
- Further, it asks member countries to waive requirements, including export restrictions, set forth by WTO regulations to supply domestic markets and member countries with any number of vaccines.
- Several LDCs have suffered in their efforts to combat the now nearly three-year-old pandemic, owing to factors such as a stressed balance of payments situation, different levels of development, financial capabilities and varying degrees of import dependence on those products.
Section: Monetary Policy
Context: Keeping in view the emerging geopolitical risks, options are being explored to ring fence domestic payment systems
What are the present guidelines regarding processing of payment transactions?
- Under current regulations, even though there is no bar on processing payments outside India, the data shall be stored only in India after processing
- The complete end-to-end transaction details should be part of the data
- If the processing is done abroad, the data should be deleted from the systems there and brought back to India in not later than one business day or 24 hours from payment processing, whichever is earlier
What is the reaction of the payment entities for this move?
- If the RBI mandates domestic processing of transactions, many multinational payment entities may find it tough to comply because if they have to start processing transactions also in India, then they may have to make more investments here which can turn the operations costly
RBI’s other measures to expand the footprint of India’s Payment systems:
- The RTGS system presently settles domestic fund transfer transactions on a gross basis. The RBI now wants the system, which runs on ISO 20022 standards to suit domestic requirements, streamlined with the internationally accepted standard for cross-border fund transfers.
- The feasibility of expanding RTGS to settle transactions in major trade currencies such as dollar, pound, euro, etc., shall be explored through bilateral or multilateral arrangements.
- The arrangements could be expected to provide real-time proceeds in foreign currencies to traders and establish the country as a major centre for international financial trades
- Payments Vision 2025 looks to establish India as a powerhouse of payments globally.
- One of the most important forward-looking initiatives is the global outreach of UPI, RTGS, NEFT and Rupay cards with internationalization, where bilateral treaties with nations especially covering the dollar, pound and euro will hugely benefit Indian residents
- National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) is a payment system that facilitates one-to-one funds transfer.
- Using NEFT, people can electronically transfer money from any bank branch to a person holding an account with any other bank branch, which is participating in the payment system
- Fund transfers through the NEFT system do not occur in real-time basis and the fund transfer settles in 23 half-hourly batches
- Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) is a payment system in which the money is credited in the beneficiary’s account in real-time and on a gross basis.
- The RTGS system is primarily meant for large value transactions that require and receive immediate clearing
Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
- It is a mobile based instant real time payment system for transferring funds between bank accounts.
- It enables bank account holders from different banks to send and receive money using only their Aadhaar unique identification number, mobile phone number, or virtual payment address without having to enter bank account details.
- Popular UPI apps are BHIM, PhonePe, Google Pay
Section: Government schemes
Context: The Union Minister for Labour and Employment, Bhupender Yadav, has said that the Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Scheme will be implemented across the country by the end of 2022.
What is the Employees’ State Insurance Scheme of India (ESIC)?
- It is a multi-faceted Social Security Scheme designed to provide socio-economic protection to ’employees’ in the organised sector
It is administered by a statutory corporate body called the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation.
- It protects employees against sickness, maternity, disablement, and death as a result of a work-related injury, as well as provides medical care to insured employees and their families
Who is eligible for ESI?
- With effect from January 1, 2017, the monthly wage ceiling for coverage of an employee is Rs. 21,000 per month
- It is the employer’s responsibility to enroll eligible employees in the ESIC program.
How are contributions made?
- The ESI Scheme is a self-funding program.
- Employer and employee contributions are primarily used to support the ESI funds, which are provided monthly at a fixed percentage of salaries received.
- State governments are also responsible for 1/8th of the cost of medical benefits
The company contributes 3.25 percent and the employee contributes 0.75 percent for all employees earning Rs 21,000 or less per month in salary, for a total share of 4 percent.
- Another notable characteristic is that an employee’s insurance number remains the same as long as he or she remains within the ESIC wage limit.
- Changing jobs will not affect an employee’s insurance status, and his or her insurance number will remain the same.
Is it mandatory for the Employer to register under the scheme?
Yes, under Section 2A of the ESI Act and Regulation 10-B, it is the employer’s legal responsibility to register their factory/ establishment under the ESI Act within 15 days of its applicability to them
Employees State Insurance Corporation:
It is a statutory body under the ownership of Ministry of Labour and Employment..
The fund is managed by the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) according to rules and regulations stipulated in the ESI Act 1948