Daily Prelims Notes 22 June 2022
- June 23, 2022
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
22 June 2022
Table Of Contents
- Humpback whales migration to Australia’s coasts from Antarctic waters.
- Record high temperatures and devastating wildfires in Europe
- Suggestions to include wetland conservation in upcoming biodiversity, climate change negotiations
- MoEF & CC’s compliance module for environmental clearance
- Anti-defection Law
- Gold refining gains ground as prices surge
- American warship fired a warning flare at an IRGC speedboat in Strait of Hormuz
- Registration norms may be relaxed for small e-commerce businesses
- CBI arrests 5 for taking bribe to exempt Biocon drug from trial
- India’s emerging twin deficit problem
- RBI puts a stop to credit lines on non-bank prepaid instruments
- Study flags emergence of drug-resistant typhoid strains
- As climate change transforms the ocean, the iconic white humpback, Migaloo has been missing for 2 years.
- Considered to be the most famous humpback whale in the world, Migaloo may be the only pure white adult humpback whale alive today.
- Migaloo is by far one of the world’s most recognisable whales, because he is completely white.
- Due to its different appearance, Migaloo has become an icon within Australia’s east coast humpback whale population.
Migaloo as a flagship whale
- The annual search for Migaloo connects people with the ocean during the colder months, and is an opportunity to learn more about the important ecological role whales play in the sea.
- Migaloo also represents the connection whales play between two extreme environments: the Antarctic and the tropics, both of which are vulnerable to climate change.
Factors affecting Migaloo:
- Earlier this year humpbacks were removed from Australia’s list of threatened species, as populations bounced back significantly after whaling ceased.
- But climate change poses a new threat, with rising sea surface temperatures may make humpback whale breeding areas too warm.
- Migaloo’s presence — or lack thereof — highlights the variations in whale migration.
- Environmental conditions, such as currents and water temperature, may also impact when and where Migaloo chooses to swim.
- Migaloo’s presence may be driven by several factors. This includes social circumstances, such as interactions with other whales (including moving between different pods) or biological needs (the desire to head north the reproduce).
- Unfortunately, Migaloo and other whales face a number of human-caused threats in the ocean every day, such as entanglement in fishing gear or collisions with ships. They also face natural threats, such as predation by killer whales.
- This year’s annual migration will last until October or November, so there’s hope to see Migaloo once again.
Subject : Environment
Section: Climate Change
- Spain, Germany, and Greece have been facing the worst of Europe’s extraordinary heat wave that has seen temperatures rising to record highs even before the official start of the summer and wildfires have ravaged all three countries.
How do forests catch fire?
- A wildfire is a major fire that breaks out unpredictably in combustible environments such as dry forests or bush, and often burns uncontrollably over a large area and length of time.
- A forest fire can be triggered by natural factors such as prolonged hot, dry weather or lightning strikes, or human carelessness.
- Wildfires require a “fire triangle” of fuel, oxygen, and heat in order to grow and spread, and can be extinguished when at least one of the three elements is removed.
- One of the reasons wildfires cause immense destruction is the speed of their spread, which depends on the weather, winds, fuel, and topography.
- High temperatures and droughts have contributed to devastating wildfires in California, Australia, Brazil, and southern Europe. Slopes, especially those that face the sun and retain more heat, are more prone to catching fire.
Forest fires in Europe:
- According to The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), 2021 was the second worst fire season for Europe since the EFFIS started keeping records of wildfires in 2000.
- 2018 saw record fires in Europe, especially in the central and northern regions of the continent.
- Droughts and heatwaves in 2017 and 2018 drove the wildfires.
Are the fires a result of climate change?
- Climate change is estimated to have made heat waves 5 to 10 times worse than they were about a century ago.
- Global warming, a man-made phenomenon, is leading to extreme weather events such as hotter temperatures, droughts, famines, rain, and floods, which disrupt natural weather cycles.
- Europe’s earliest heatwave this year sent the mercury past 40 degrees Celsius, temperatures that are expected only in July or August.
- May 2022 marked the highest level of carbon dioxide recorded in the Earth’s atmosphere, being about 420 ppm (parts per million), levels that haven’t been seen in 4 million years.
- Carbon dioxide traps heat, creating conditions for heatwaves, droughts, and fires.
- The wildfires in Greece, Spain and Germany have all been linked to hotter temperatures and low humidity caused by climate change.
Subject : Environment
Section: Climate Change
- Experts suggested wetland conservation targets for 2030 should be discussed during CoP15 (Convention on Biological Diversity to be held in Nairobi) and Conference of Parties (CoP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Need for include wetland conservation in biodiversity, climate change negotiations:
- Wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests.
- The wetlands are home to 40 percent of the world’s plants and animals.
- Every year, 200 new species are found in freshwater wetlands and are responsible for sequestering almost one third of the global soil carbon.
- Negotiations at CoP15 will focus on achieving global biodiversity targets coinciding to protect 30 percent land and sea.
- However, including wetlands into land and ocean targets fails to recognise the specific and unique characteristics of wetlands interfacing between land and water, the experts said.
Definitions of wetlands
- The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands defines wetlands as “areas of marsh, fen, peat land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters.”
- However, the Indian government’s definition of wetland excludes river channels, paddy fields and other areas where commercial activity takes place.
- The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 notified by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change define wetlands as “area of marsh, fen, peatland or water; whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters, but does not include river channels, paddy fields, human-made water bodies/ tanks specifically constructed for drinking water purposes and structures specifically constructed for aquaculture, salt production, recreation and irrigation purposes.”
- Not every Ramsar Site is a notified protected area under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Wetlands as kidney:
- Natural wetlands have often been referred to as “earth’s kidneys” because of their high and long-term capacity to filter pollutants from the water that flows through them.
- Wetlands ecosystems are vital parts of hydrological cycle, highly productive, support rich biodiversity and provide a wide range of ecosystem services such as water storage, water purification, flood mitigation, storm buffers, erosion control, aquifer recharge, microclimate regulation, aesthetic enhancement of landscapes while simultaneously supporting many significant recreational, social and cultural activities.
- Several people depend on wetlands for their livelihood as well as for food and water. Some wetlands also play a role in combatting the impacts of climate change like floods and extreme weather events. Wetlands are also amongst the earth’s top carbon stores and their conservation can help in reducing carbon emissions.
What are the threats to wetlands?
- The world has lost around 87% of natural wetlands since the 1700s and 35% have disappeared since the 1970s. India has lost nearly one-third of her natural wetlands to urbanisation, agricultural expansion and pollution over the last four decades. It is estimated that wetlands are vanishing three times faster than forests and their rate of disappearance is increasing.
- Wetlands are threatened by reclamation and degradation through drainage and landfill, pollution (discharge of domestic and industrial effluents, disposal of solid wastes), hydrological alteration (water withdrawal and changes in inflow and outflow), over-exploitation of natural resources resulting in loss of biodiversity and disruption in ecosystem services provided by wetlands.
Does India have a policy to protect wetlands?
- On an international level, India is party to the Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
- As part of the natural environment, wetlands are also protected by legislation. The Indian Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 is a legislation to provide protection and improvement of the environment, including inter-alia, wetlands. The National Environment Policy, 2006 recognises the ecosystem services provided by wetlands and emphasises the need to set up a regulatory mechanism for all wetlands so as to maintain their ecological character, and ultimately support their integrated management.
- Specific to wetlands is the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The rules serve as a regulatory framework for conservation and management of wetlands in India. In early 2020, the ministry also released guidelines to support the state governments in implementing the rules.
- A National Wetland Inventory and Assessment (NWIA)was conducted in the country using Indian remote sensing satellites during 2006-2011. Subsequently, national and state-level wetland inventory atlases were released which have spatial data on wetlands for each State and UT.
- The central government provides assistance to state governments for implementation of management plans for prioritized wetlands. The National Wetlands Conservation Programme has been in operation since 1986. Since 2013, the programme is known as National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems. The Ministry of Jal Shakti operates a scheme for Repair, Renovation and Restoration of Water Bodies.
Subject : Environment
- The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) released a notification, detailing a compliance module for projects granted environmental clearance under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006.
What is Environmental Impact Assessment?
- EIA is the management tool for identifying environmental, social and economic impacts of a project before decision-making. Thus, it seeks to ensure optimal use of natural resources within the context of sustainable development.
EIA Notification 2006
- The EIA Notification 2006 requires that projects that cause pollution, displacement, destruction of natural resources, etc, must go through a series of clearance steps according to standards and with the prior consent of a variety of statutory agencies, both at the state and central levels.
- A compliance report, under the notification, provides the status of compliance with conditions stipulated in the environmental clearance letter and is to be submitted every six months from the grant of environmental clearance to a project.
- However, according to the MoEF&CC notification, project owners often do not adhere to the timeline for the submission of compliance reports under the EIA Notification, 2006.
- Earlier, the project proponent would submit the compliance report as a hard copy to regulatory agencies and upload the same on MoEF&CC’s environmental clearance portal called ‘Parivesh’.
PARIVESH web portal:
- Parivesh is a web based, role-based workflow application which has been developed for online submission and monitoring of the proposals submitted by the proponents for seeking Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ Clearances from Central, State and district level authorities.
- It automates the entire tracking of proposals which includes online submission of a new proposal, editing/updating the details of proposals and displays status of the proposals at each stage of the workflow.
New Compliance module for environmental clearance:
- The module streamlines the compliance and monitoring process and avoids any delays in submission of the compliance reports to regulatory authorities.
- The ministry’s notification makes it mandatory to submit the compliance report online to bring more efficiency and transparency in the compliance and monitoring regime.
- The ministry has made a provision of uploading environmental conditions in an online form against which, compliance status can be submitted by the project proponent.
- Compliance data from the portal can then be directly used by the regulators for project monitoring.
- The ministry, in its new notification, has made it mandatory to submit a ‘self-declaration’ justifying the status for various parameters. Earlier, it was manually impossible to check such a large number of incoming files, the proponent was able to escape scrutiny.
- The provision ensures that the compliance report is not successfully submitted without the required proof of compliance.
- The anti-defection law punishes individual Members of Parliament (MPs)/MLAs for leaving one party for another.
- Parliament added it to the Constitution as the Tenth Schedule in 1985. Its purpose was to bring stability to governments by discouraging legislators from changing parties.
- The Tenth Schedule – popularly known as the Anti-Defection Act – was included in the Constitution via the 52nd Amendment Act, 1985 and sets the provisions for disqualification of elected members on the grounds of defection to another political party.
- It was a response to the toppling of multiple state governments by party-hopping MLAs after the general elections of 1967.
- However, it allows a group of MP/MLAs to join (i.e. merge with) another political party without inviting the penalty for defection. And it does not penalise political parties for encouraging or accepting defecting legislators.
- As per the 1985 Act, a ‘defection’ by one-third of the elected members of a political party was considered a ‘merger’.
- But the 91st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2003, changed this and now at least two-thirds of the members of a party have to be in favour of a “merger” for it to have validity in the eyes of the law.
- The members disqualified under the law can stand for elections from any political party for a seat in the same House.
- The decision on questions as to disqualification on ground of defection are referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, which is subject to ‘Judicial review’.
- However, the law does not provide a time-frame within which the presiding officer has to decide a defection case.
Grounds of Disqualification:
- If an elected member voluntarily gives up his membership of a political party.
- If he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party or anyone authorized to do so, without obtaining prior permission.
- As a pre-condition for his disqualification, his abstention from voting should not be condoned by his party or the authorized person within 15 days of such incident.
- If any independently elected member joins any political party.
- If any nominated member joins any political party after the expiry of six months.
- Range of Provisions:
- The provision was not limited to confidence motions or money bills (which are quasi-confidence motions).
- It applies to all votes in the House, on every Bill and every other issue.
- It even applies to the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils, which have no say in the stability of the government.
- Therefore, an MP (or MLA) has absolutely no freedom to vote their judgement on any issue.
- It makes the MP neither a delegate of the constituency nor a national legislator but converts them to be just an agent of the party.
- Eroding Legislatures:
- The MP becomes just another number to be tallied by the party on any vote that it supports or opposes.
- The drafting committee believed that India needed a government that was accountable, even at the cost of stability. The anti-defection bill weakens the accountability mechanism.
- Inducing Instability:
- The political system has found ways to topple governments.
- One way is by reducing the total membership through resignations.
- The Constitution was amended to ensure that any person disqualified for defecting cannot get a ministerial position unless they are re-elected; the way around this has been to resign rather than vote against the party.
- In other instances, the Speaker — usually from the ruling party — has delayed taking a decision on the disqualification.
- This has led to strange situations such as members who continue to be part of the main Opposition party becoming Ministers.
- The Supreme Court has tried to plug this by ruling that the Speaker has to take the decision in three months, but it is not clear what would happen if a Speaker does not do so.
- India has emerged as the world’s fourth-largest gold recycler with the organized refining capacity increasing to an estimated 1,800 tonnes against 300 tonnes in 2013.
- The informal sector accounts for an additional 300-500 tonnes.
- The scale of unorganized refining has fallen as the government has tightened pollution regulations resulting in the closure of many local melting shops.
- India accounts for about eight per cent of the global scrap supply.
- The import duty differential on dore (unrefined gold) over refined bullion has spurred the growth of organised refining in India.
- The share of gold dore in overall imports has increased from seven per cent in 2013 to 22 per cent in 2021.
- The expansion of the Indian refining sector has slowed in recent years as the goods and services tax (GST) eliminated the advantage enjoyed by EFZs (excise free zone) and led to a cutback in new capacity within these zones.
Strait of Hormuz
- The Strait of Hormuz is a strait between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
- It provides the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the world’s most strategically important choke points.
- On the north coast lies Iran, and on the south coast the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman.
- The strait is about 90 nautical miles (167 km) long, with a width varying from about 52 nautical miles (96 km) to 21 nautical miles (39 km).
- A third of the world’s liquefied natural gas and almost 25% of total global oil consumption passes through the strait, making it a highly important strategic location for international trade.
- The GST Council in its meeting next week is also likely to consider a proposal to relax compulsory registration norms for small businesses, which use any e-commerce platforms to sell their products. Such a move, once implemented, will help small businesses in a big way.
- First, exemption will be available up to aggregate turnover on all-India basis not exceeding the turnover, as prescribed under the law.
- In other words, small businesses having annual turnover up to ₹40 lakh and ₹20 lakh for goods and services, respectively (₹20 lakh and ₹10 lakh, respectively, in select States) will get exemption. Second, such businesses will not be required to make any inter-State taxable supply.
- Additionally, they will be required to declare PAN and the principal place of business.
- Further, composition dealers (having turnover up to ₹1.5 crore a year) may also be permitted to make supplies through an e-commerce operator.
- Businesses with annual turnover of ₹2 crore may be given an exemption from filing annual returns (GSTR 9 and 9A) for FY22.
Section: National Organisation
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested a Joint Drug Controller (JDC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) on charges of accepting a ₹4 lakh bribe from biopharmaceutical company, Biocon Biologics, for waiving off the third phase trial of Insulin Aspart Injection.
- The originator of Aspart, Novo Nordisk, promoted this insulin as an innovative product that enters the bloodstream in about 2.5 minutes to help control blood sugar at meal times.
- Novo Nordisk’s insulin injection Aspart has been available in India under the brand name Fiasp and Novorapid within the price range of Rs 678 to Rs 3,872.
- Bio-similar drugs are known for potentially reducing the price of medicines.
- Biocon, in February 2021, had announced its own bio-similar insulin Aspart named ‘Kixelle’, which had received marketing authorisation approval from the European Commission.
- A biosimilar (also known as follow-on biologic or subsequent entry biologic) is a biologic medical product that is almost an identical copy of an original product that is manufactured by a different company.
- Biosimilars are officially approved versions of original “innovator” products and can be manufactured when the original product’s patent expires.
- Unlike generic drugs of the more common small-molecule type, biologics generally exhibit high molecular complexity and may be quite sensitive to changes in manufacturing processes.
- Despite that heterogeneity, all biopharmaceuticals, including biosimilars, must maintain consistent quality and clinical performance throughout their lifecycle.
- CDSCO under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.
- The Drugs & Cosmetics Act,1940 and rules 1945 have entrusted various responsibilities to central & state regulators for regulation of drugs & cosmetics.
- CDSCO is constantly thriving upon to bring out transparency, accountability and uniformity in its services in order to ensure safety, efficacy and quality of the medical product manufactured, imported and distributed in the country.
- Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, CDSCO is responsible for approval of Drugs, Conduct of Clinical Trials, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice.
- Drug Controller General of India within CDSCO is responsible for approval of licenses of specified categories of Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera
Section: Fiscal policy
Context: The World is looking at a distinct possibility of widespread stagflation. India, however, is at low risk of stagflation, owing to its prudent stabilization policies, a report by Finance Ministry.
But, given the uncertainties, the report highlights two key areas of concern for the Indian economy: the fiscal deficit and the current account deficit (or CAD)
What is twin deficit?
- It refers to a nation’s current account deficits and a simultaneous fiscal deficit.
- It is the amount of money that the government has to borrow in any year to fill the gap between its expenditures and revenues.
- Fiscal deficit = Total Expenditure – Total revenue (Excluding the borrowings)
Impact of Fiscal Deficit:
- Higher levels of fiscal deficit implies that the crowding out of the private sector investment
- At a time when the government want to sustain a private sector investment cycle, borrowing more than what it budgeted will be counter-productive
What could be done to reduce the fiscal deficit?
- To reduce the revenue expenditure (it is the money government spends just to meet its daily needs). Rationalizing revenue expenditure not only for protecting growth supportive capex but also for avoiding fiscal slippages.
- Capex” or capital expenditure essentially refers to money spent towards creating productive assets such as roads, buildings, ports etc
- Capex has a much bigger multiplier effect on the overall GDP growth than revenue expenditure
Current account deficit
The current account essentially refers to two specific sub-parts:
Import and Export of goods — this is the “trade account”.
Import and export of services — this is called the “invisibles account
- If a country imports more goods than it exports, it is said to have a trade account deficit.
- A deficit implies that more money is going out of the country than coming in via the trade of physical goods
- Similarly, the same country could be earning a surplus on the invisibles account — that is, it could be exporting more services than importing
- The net effect of a trade account and the invisibles account is a deficit, then it is called a current account deficit or CAD
Impact of Current Account Deficit (CAD):
- Increasing CAD tends to weaken the domestic currency because a CAD implies more dollars (or foreign currencies) are being demanded than rupees
- Costlier imports such as crude oil and other commodities will not only widen the CAD but also put downward pressure on the rupee
- A weaker rupee will, in turn, make future imports costlier.
- In response to higher interest rates in the western economies especially the US, foreign portfolio investors (FPI) continue to pull out money from the Indian markets, that too will hurt the rupee and further increase CAD
Fiscal slippage in simple terms is any deviation in expenditure from the expected.
- For example, if government has targeted to keep the fiscal deficit within 3.3% percent of GDP, but if it crosses that limit, it’s called ‘Fiscal Slippage’
Section: Monetary Park
Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued a notification disallowing non-bank prepaid wallets and prepaid cards from loading credit lines
What are prepaid payment instruments (PPIs)?
It is a payment instruments that facilitate the buying of goods and services, including the transfer of funds, financial services, and remittances, against the value stored within or on the instrument
PPIs are in the form of payment wallets, smart cards, mobile wallets, magnetic chips, vouchers, etc
As per the regulations, banks and NBFCs can issue PPIs
What is a credit line?
- A credit line is a preset borrowing limit that allows an individual or a business access to credit at any time, as per need.
- It can be tapped into by the customer till the limit offered is not exceeded.
- It is like a flexible loan as against a lump-sum loan where a fixed amount is borrowed
- Companies like Paytm, Amazon Pay, LazyPay, Simpl, etc offer postpaid wallets with small credit lines
Why has the RBI issued this notification?
- With credit products infiltrating the market, there is a renewed push by the regulator to clampdown in the interest of consumer safety.
- Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 (PSS Act)
- The Section 2(1) (i) of the PSS Act 2007 defines that a payment system enables payment to be affected between a payer and a beneficiary, involving clearing, payment or settlement service or all of them, but does not include a stock exchange
- It is further stated a ‘payment system’ includes the systems enabling credit card operations, debit card operations, smart card operations, money transfer operations or similar operations
- The PSS Act 2007 does not prohibit foreign entities from operating a payment system in India and the Act does not discriminate or differentiate between foreign entities and domestic entities
- All entities, whether domestic or foreign, need to obtain a licence approval or authorization from the RBI before commencing payment system operations in the country.
Subject: Science and Technology
Context: The effectiveness of antibiotics for typhoid fever is threatened by the emergence of resistant strains, according to a large genome sequencing study of the bacteria Salmonella Typhi published in The Lancet Microbe
It is a bacterial infection that can spread throughout the body, affecting many organs.
It’s caused by a bacterium called Salmonella typhi, which is related to the bacteria that cause salmonella food poisoning
It spreads through contaminated food and water.
Multi-drug-resistant (MDR) S Typhi:
When a single bacterium is resistant to more than one antibiotic it is said to be multidrug-resistant
Strains were classified as MDR if they had genes giving resistance to antibiotics ampicillin, chloramphenicol, and trimethoprim/ sulfamethoxazole.
India is considering introducing new typhoid conjugate vaccines into the national immunisation program.
Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) / Mission Indradhanush:
- It is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions and largely responsible for reduction of vaccine preventable under-5 mortality rate.
- Under UIP, immunization is providing free of cost against 12 vaccine preventable diseases
- Diseases covered are: Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Rubella, severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and Meningitis & Pneumonia caused by Hemophilus Influenza type B, Rotavirus diarrhoea, Pneumococcal Pneumonia and Japanese Encephalitis