Daily Prelims Notes 22 September 2023
- September 22, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
22 September 2023
Table Of Contents
- RBI introduces Basel-III capital framework for All India Financial Institutions
- SEBI eases norms for large firms tapping debt market
- RBI directions on willful defaulter
- CCI to unveil ‘leniency plus’ draft norms soon
- Households liabilities at ₹8.2lakh crore in FY23
- Bharat Biotech’s TB vaccine candidate on the verge of entering phase-III trials
- Half the global population not fully covered by essential health services: Report
- Sudan conflict fallout: Over 1200 children have died in country amid healthcare crisis, says UN
- Violations and poor management threaten Gujarat sanctuaries: CAG
- UN General Assembly 2023: Political declaration on pandemics approved, critics call it ‘rhetoric’
- Sustainable tourism: Carrying capacity assessment can be a tool for protecting hilly areas
- A light-bulb moment for the Indian fan market
- Women’s reservation Bill gets Parliament seal
- Not must to link Aadhaar with voter list
- India Pakistan attended a crucial meet in Vienna for the Indus Water row
- India suspends visa service in Canada
Section: Monetary Policy
Context: The RBI has introduced norms on the Basel III capital framework, fund raising, exposure guidelines, and norms on classification and valuation of investment portfolios for All India Financial Institutions (AIFIs), which will come into effect from April 2024.
What are All India Financial Institutions (AIFIs)?
India has five AIFIs regulated by the central bank, namely the Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank), the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NaBFID), the National Housing Bank (NHB), and the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI).
Why there is need for Basel-III capital framework?
As the Indian economy grows, AIFIs are increasingly being seen as key institutions to promote the flow of direct or indirect credit to the economic sectors they cater to. It has been decided, therefore, to extend the Basel III Capital framework to the AIFIs
- AIFIs will be required to maintain a minimum total capital of 9 per cent by April 2024, wherein minimum tier-I capital will need to be at 7 per cent and common equity tier-I (CET-1) capital at 5.5 per cent. For NHB, the implementation date will be July 2024, given that its accounting year is July–June.
- All financial subsidiaries, except those engaged in insurance and non-financial activities (both regulated and unregulated), will need to be fully consolidated for the purpose of capital adequacy, the RBI said, adding that this will ensure an assessment of capital adequacy at the group level, taking into account the risk profile of assets and liabilities of the subsidiaries.
- The central bank has capped AIFIs’ investments in capital instruments of banking, financial, and insurance entities at 10 per cent of their capital funds. AIFIs will not be allowed to acquire a fresh stake in a bank’s or AIFI’s equity shares if the acquisition leads to its holding exceeding 5 per cent of the investee’s equity capital.
- Further, AIFIs’ equity investment in a single entity cannot exceed 49 per cent of the equity of the investee. While AIFIs can hold this entire 49 per cent stake as a pledgee, if the acquisition is against AIFI’s claims, the stake will need to be brought below 10 per cent within three years.
- AIFIs need to evaluate their capital adequacy relative to their risks and consider the potential impact on earnings and capital from economic downturns, it said, adding that an AIFI’s capital planning process “should incorporate rigorous, forward-looking stress testing”.
The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision:
- It was established by the Central Bank governors of the Group of Ten countries in 1974.
- The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision is an organization made up of 45 members, comprising central banks and bank supervisors from 28 jurisdictions.
- It is the primary global standard setter for the prudential regulation of banks.
- Additionally, it provides a forum for regular cooperation on banking supervisory matters.
- It doesn’t have any formal authority over banks due to their decisions having no legal force, the members work together to achieve the mandate set out by it.
- The Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision (GHOS) overseeing the Basel Committee . This group sets out the general agenda and approves the committee’s charters.
- The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) issues Basel Norms for international banking regulations.
- The goal of these norms is to strengthen the international banking system by coordinating banking regulations around the world.
- The Basel Committee has currently issued three guidelines to achieve its goal: Basel I, II, and III.
- Basel I
- It was introduced in 1988.
- It was almost entirely concerned with credit risk.
- It established the capital and risk-weighting structure for banks.
- The required minimum capital was set at 8% of risk-weighted assets (RWA).
- RWA refers to assets with varying risk profiles. For example, an asset backed by collateral would be less risky than a personal loan with no collateral.
- Capital is divided into two categories: Tier 1 capital and Tier 2 capital.
- Tier 1 capital is the bank’s core capital because it is the primary measure of the bank’s financial strength. The majority of core capital is made up of disclosed reserves (also known as retained earnings) and paid-up capital. It also includes non-cumulative and non-redeemable preferred stock.
- Tier 2 capital – It is used as supplemental funding since it is less reliable than the first tier.It consists of undisclosed reserves, preference shares, and subordinate debt.
- In 1999, India adopted the Basel 1 guidelines.
- Basel II
- In 2004, Basel II guidelines were published by BCBS.
- These were the refined and reformed versions of Basel I accord.
- The guidelines were based on three parameters, which the committee calls it as pillars.
- Capital Adequacy Requirements: Banks should maintain a minimum capital adequacy requirement of 8% of risk assets
- Supervisory Review: According to this, banks were needed to develop and use better risk management techniques in monitoring and managing all the three types of risks that a bank faces, viz. credit, market and operational risks.
- Market Discipline: This needs increased disclosure requirements. Banks need to mandatorily disclose their CAR, risk exposure, etc to the central bank.
- Basel II norms in India and overseas are yet to be fully implemented though India follows these norms.
- Basel III
- In 2010, Basel III guidelines were released.
- These guidelines were introduced in response to the financial crisis of 2008.
- The guidelines aim to promote a more resilient banking system by focusing on four vital banking parameters viz. capital, leverage, funding and liquidity.
- Capital: The capital adequacy ratio is to be maintained at 12.9%. The minimum Tier 1 capital ratio and the minimum Tier 2 capital ratio have to be maintained at 10.5% and 2% of risk-weighted assets respectively. In addition, banks have to maintain a capital conservation buffer of 2.5%. Counter-cyclical buffer is also to be maintained at 0-2.5%.
- Leverage: The leverage rate has to be at least 3 %. The leverage rate is the ratio of a bank’s tier-1 capital to average total consolidated assets.
- Funding and Liquidity: Basel-III created two liquidity ratios: LCR and NSFR.
- The liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) will require banks to hold a buffer of high-quality liquid assets sufficient to deal with the cash outflows encountered in an acute short term stress scenario as specified by supervisors. The goal is to ensure that banks have enough liquidity for a 30-days stress scenario if it were to happen.
- The Net Stable Funds Rate (NSFR) requires banks to maintain a stable funding profile in relation to their off-balance-sheet assets and activities. NSFR requires banks to fund their activities with stable sources of finance (reliable over the one-year horizon). The minimum NSFR requirement is 100%.
Section: Capital market
In News: SEBI eases norms for large firms tapping debt market
- SEBI eases norms for large corporates tapping debt market in addition to raising threshold for defining large corporates, removes penalty, provides incentives
- A number of relaxations to large corporates (LCs) for meeting their financing needs from the debt market:
- Earlier SEBI had mandated LCs to meet 25 per cent of their financing needs from the debt market, with an aim of deepening the corporate bond market in India.
- SEBI decided to raise the monetary threshold for defining LCs. This will effectively will reduce the number of entities qualifying as LCs. SEBI release did not specify the quantum of the threshold, a consultation paper last month had proposed to raise the threshold for the outstanding long-term borrowings to at least ₹500 crore from the current ₹100 crore for identifying any entity as LCs.
- The SEBI board has proposed removing the penalty on LCs which are not able to raise a certain percentage of incremental borrowing from the debt market. At present, a monetary penalty of 0.2 per cent of the shortfall in the borrowed amount at the end of three years is to be levied.
- Additionally, SEBI will provide incentives and moderated disincentives for corporates to raise money from the debt market.
Why the relaxation?
- SEBI had found that about a third of the identified LCs did not raise the minimum 25 per cent of their incremental borrowing through issuance of debt securities in FY21-22.
- Tapping the debt market, is costlier than raising funds from banks and financial institutions.
Why SEBI brought mandatory bond financing?
- The measure was taken to give depth and liquidity to the bond market.
- The move would also aid investors such as insurers, pension and provident funds which are required to invest a particular percentage of their incremental receipts in corporate bonds and could be hurt by lack of supply of issuances.
Section: Monetary Policy
In News: Lenders must classify wilful defaulters within 6 months of an a/c turning NPA.
- RBI has issued a draft paper proposing revisions in the guidelines for handling wilful defaulters:
- It has expanded the scope for regulated entities that can classify borrowers as wilful defaulters.
- Broadened the definition of wilful default,
- and refined the identification process and mandates a review and finalisation on wilful default aspects within six months of an account being classified as a non-performing asset.
- The revised framework comes after the Supreme Court ruling in March 2023:
- in a case against RBI’s 2016 circular, ruled that a hearing must be allowed to borrowers before the classification of an account as fraud and that there must be no unilateral declaration of fraud by banks without a hearing
- Identification of willful defaulter:
- The RBI has proposed that lenders will need to examine the ‘wilful default’ aspect in all accounts with outstanding amount of ₹25 lakh and above and complete the process of classification as a wilful defaulter within six months of the account being classified as NPA.
- There is no such timeline in the existing regulations per the draft norms,
- Lenders may identify and classify a person as a ‘wilful defaulter’ after examining of the evidence by an Identification Committee, which will then issue a show-cause notice to concerned person for submissions.
- The Identification Committee will then make a proposal to the review committee and an opportunity will need to be provided to the defaulter to present against the proposal within a reasonable time.
- Further, a non-whole-time director, including an independent director/ nominee director, will not be considered as wilful defaulter unless it is conclusively established that the wilful default was undertaken with their consent or connivance or they were aware of the default.
- Restrictions on willful defaulter:
- No additional credit facility shall be granted by any lender to a wilful defaulter or any entity with which a wilful defaulter is associated Credit facility
- The bar on additional credit facility will be effective for up to one year after the name of the wilful defaulter has been removed from the List of Wilful Defaulters (LWD) by the lender,
- No credit for floating of new ventures can be given for 5 years. Wilful defaulters will also not be eligible for restructuring of credit facility. Further, lenders can initiate legal and criminal proceedings and demand penal charges where applicable
Section: National Income
In News: CCI to unveil leniency plus draft norms soon to tackle cartels.
- CCI to soon unveil draft of game changing Leniency Plus norms in relationship to anti-competitive activity of cartelisation.
- Companies under scrutiny to be offered incentives to spill the secrets of multiple cartels
- This is being seen as an industry friendly move.
- The Competition Commission of India will soon roll out draft regulations on the leniency plus programme
- It will be a new cartel detecting tool that would encourage com panies already under in vestigation for one cartel to report other cartels un known to the competition regulator.
- The leniency plus concept was part of the Competition Amendment Act 2023, which received Presidential assent in April 2023.
- Earlier CCi brought out the draft norms for commitment and settlement and separate norms for comprehensive changes in the combinations regulations.
- Existing leniency regime:
- Under the existing leniency lesser penalty rule framework CCI may impose a lesser penalty on a person involved in a cartel if such person has made a full and true disclosure in respect to alleged violations
- CCIs experience of enforcing leniency regime has been encouraging
- Liniency Plus:
- Now the competition watchdog is moving one step ahead with the introduction of leniency plus programme
- Under leniency plus a cartelist who is cooperat ing with CCI for leniency can disclose the existence of another cartel in an un related market in the course of original leniency proceedings in exchange for an additional reduction in penalty.
- A leniency plus regime is expected to further incentivise applicants to come forward with disclosures regarding multiple cartels thereby enabling the CCI to save time and resources on cartels investigation
- This will result in faster market corrections.
Section: National Income
In News: Household financial savings at 5 decade low as household liability rises.
|Household financial savings |
- Net financial savings of households fell to a nearly five-decade low of 5.1% of GDP in FY23, down from 7.2% in FY22.
- In addition, annual financial liabilities of households rose sharply by 5.8% of GDP compared with 3.8% in FY22.
- Meanwhile, household debt has increased. In terms of the stock of financial liabilities, household debt consequently remained sharply elevated at 37.6% of GDP in FY23, as against 36.9% in FY22.
- What explains this trend?
- This indicates that households have been largely borrowing to fulfil their consumption needs.
- Adding to these pressures, wages have not risen amid high inflation Falling or stagnant wages coupled with high inflation.
- At a time of high inflation, there has been no significant growth in real wages at the all-India level over the past eight years.
- The cost of healthcare and education is rising, most of which has to be borne privately.
- In 2021, India’s medical inflation was at 12% – the highest among all Asian countries. The cost of treatment has doubled in five years.
- In addition, the rate of education inflation has also been significantly high at 11-12%.
- What is impact of low savings?
- The latest RBI data on household assets and liabilities also raises converns about the immediate growth potential of the economy.
- The support to growth from private consumption may turn out to be weaker than anticipated, even as a private capex cycle appears to be delayed.
- combination of weak income growth and falling financial savings, led by borrowings, is unsustainable.
- This consumption led growth may not be unsustainable.
Subject: Science and technology
Context: A new Tuberculosis (TB) vaccine candidate of Bharat Biotech International is on the verge of entering phase III clinical trials.
- Two separate Phase II trials of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Vaccine (MTBVAC) of Bharat Biotech have been completed,
- With the completion of phase II trials, Bharat Biotech is now planning to take up Phase II safety/immunogenicity study of the vaccine in people living with HIV (PWHIV) The phase III trials of it will follow.
- Of the two trials, one was supported by The European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP)and was sponsored by Biofabri in infants in South Africa, while the other was sponsored by International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and supported by the US National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Defence through its Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program
- TB infects more than 20 per cent of the global population and is the second leading cause of deaths from infectious disease after Covid19. TB is a highly contagious disease where vaccines are seen as the ‘best’ solution to prevent disease, reduce transmission and combat multi-drug resistant strains.
- If successful, the collaboration between Bharat Biotech and Biofabri (which was announced last year) is expected to result in the worldwide production and the supply of the future vaccine in more than 70 countries with a high TB incidence, such as India, country with the highest TB burden in the world, with a 25 per cent of all cases.
- “MTBVAC is being developed for two purposes – as a more effective vaccine than Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) for newborns and for the prevention of TB disease in adults and adolescents, for whom there is currently no effective vaccine. It has a unique feature of preventing transmission or spread of the disease
- MTBVAC is being seen by the industry is one of the `promising’ vaccine candidates in the current global TB vaccine pipeline.
- The only currently available TB vaccine, the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG), was developed 100 years ago and has limited efficacy in preventing pulmonary TB in adults, who, along with adolescents, are the biggest spreaders of the disease.
- Apart from Bharat Biotech’s Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Vaccine, currently there is only one vaccine candidate developed by GSK along with Aeras and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI)- M72- is likely to enter phase III trials in 2024
- The development of new medicines and medical practices is at the forefront of medical research, with researchers endeavouring to find the best thing or way to manage or treat various conditions and diseases. Clinical trials are at the core of this process, especially when humans are the designated recipients of such innovation. These trials ensure that any medicine, surgical method, or, more broadly, an intervention is safe, well-tolerated, and efficacious.
- Simply speaking, in a clinical trial, investigators enrol participants who meet certain qualifying criteria, then administer the intervention being tested, and finally measure the outcomes – all according to a predetermined plan.
- Trials can test drugs, medical devices, and even procedures. They may compare a course of treatment to existing regimens or a placebo; they may be blinded or double-blinded; in fact, there are several types of clinical trials depending on the investigators’ needs.
- A clinical trial is a systematic study to generate data for discovering or verifying the clinical and pharmacological profile (including pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic) or adverse effects of a new drug on humans.
- It is the only way of establishing the safety and efficacy of any drug before its introduction in the market for human use and is preceded by animal trials where the efficacy and side effects are observed in animals and an estimated drug dose is established.
Phases of Clinical Trials
- Clinical trials are carried out in four phases. Clinical trials of drugs developed in India have to undergo all four phases of trials in India.
- Phase I or clinical pharmacology trials or “first in man” study: This is the first time where the new drug is administered to a small number, a minimum of 2 healthy, informed volunteers for each dose under the close supervision of a doctor. The purpose is to determine whether the new compound is tolerated by the patient’s body and behaves in the predicted way.
- Phase II or exploratory trials: During this phase, the medicine is administered to a group of approximately 10-12 informed patients in 3 to 4 centers to determine its effect and also to check for any unacceptable side effects.
- Phase III or confirmatory trials: Purpose is to obtain sufficient evidence about the efficacy and safety of the drug in a larger number of patients, generally in comparison with a standard drug and/or a placebo as appropriate. In this phase, the group is between 1000-3000 subjects. If the results are favorable, the data is presented to the licensing authorities for a commercial license to market the drug for use by the patient population for the specified and approved indication.
- Phase IV trials or post-marketing phase: Phase of surveillance after the medicine is made available to doctors, who start prescribing it. The effects are monitored on thousands of patients to help identify any unforeseen side effects.
Regulatory Mechanism in India
- Clinical trials in India are governed by the acts:
- Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940,
- Medical Council of India Act, 1956 and
- Central Council for Indian Medicine Act, 1970.
- Prerequisites of conducting a clinical trial in India are:
- Permission from the Drugs Controller General, India (DCGI)
- Approval from respective Ethics Committee where the study is planned
- Mandatory registration on the ICMR maintained website.
Clinical trials also have phases. Vaccines developed against SARS-CoV-2 had to go through four. (Because vaccines are given to healthy people, they need to be tested more than drugs that are given to people who are ill.) Each phase was based on the trial’s objective, number of participants, and some other characteristics.
In India, the Indian Council of Medical Research maintains an online public-record system called the Clinical Trials Registry-India. All clinical trials in India are required to register themselves here.
- In a clinical trial, investigators enrol participants who meet certain qualifying criteria, then administer the intervention being tested, and finally measure the outcomes – all according to a predetermined plan.
- Trials can test drugs, medical devices, and even procedures. They may compare a course of treatment to existing regimens or a placebo; they may be blinded or double-blinded; in fact, there are several types of clinical trials depending on the investigators’ needs.
- In India, the Indian Council of Medical Research maintains an online public-record system called the Clinical Trials Registry-India. All clinical trials in India are required to register themselves here.
Section: International Organisation
- The growth of Universal Health Service Coverage (UHC) has stagnated since 2015 and financial protection for those who receive health services has worsened, according to a new report.
About the Report:
- Report jointly published by: World Health Organization and the World Bank.
- The UHC service coverage index (SCI) score was used to calculate this.
- SCI captures coverage of essential services across the entire population of a country, and is therefore a reflection of the entire health system for all individuals.
SDG goal 3: “Good Health and Well-being”:
- The target 3.8 of SDG goal 3 is: Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
UHC service coverage Index:
- Two indicators have been chosen to monitor target 3.8 within the SDG framework. Indicator 3.8.1 is for health service coverage and indicator 3.8.2 focuses on health expenditures in relation to a household’s budget to identify financial hardship caused by direct health care payments.
- Taken together, indicators 3.8.1 and 3.8.2 are meant to capture the service coverage and financial protection dimensions, respectively, of target 3.8.
- Method of measurement
- For each country, the most recent value for each tracer indicators is taken from WHO or other international agencies
- Method of estimation:
- The index is computed using geometric means of the tracer indicators.
- Preferred data sources:
- Household surveys
- Administrative data
- Special facility surveys
Key findings of the report:
- The world will not achieve universal health coverage by 2030 as planned.
- As of 2021, over half the world’s population- 4.5 billion people– was not fully covered by essential health services (SDG indicator 3.8.1).
- There has been little to no improvement in service coverage for non-communicable diseases and reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health services in the recent years.
- Out-Of-Pocket (OOP) health spending corresponds to health spending made by people, funded from their income, savings and loans. It included both formal and informal payments.
- After the Western Pacific region (376.3 million people), South-East Asia (326.2 million people) had the highest number of people recording catastrophic OOP health spending. WHO Africa region (95.1 million people) ranked third in the world on catastrophic OOP health spending.
Universal Health Coverage (UHC):
- UHC means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. It covers the full continuum of essential health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care across the life course.
WHO’s Triple Billion targets for the period 2019-2023:
- WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work aims to have 1 billion more people benefit from UHC by 2025, while also contributing to the targets of 1 billion more people better protected from health emergencies and 1 billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.
UHC in India:
- Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) was launched on 23rd September 2018, as a step towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
- The Scheme aims to cover the poorest 40% of the population covering over 50 crore Indian population with an insurance cover of 5 lakh per family per year to protect them from catastrophic health expenditure incurred in secondary and tertiary care. Further, the second pillar of Ayushman Bharat (AB-HWC) aimed to transform 1.5 lakh sub-centres and primary health centres into Health and Wellness Centres to provide affordable and quality primary care to the last mile.
For details of AB- PMJAY: https://optimizeias.com/ayushman-bhava-campaign-to-be-introduced-during-seva-pakhwada/
Section: Places in news
- More than 1,200 children under the age of five died in Sudan from suspected measles and malnutrition in nine camps in White Nile State between May 15 and September 14, 2023.
- The children were refugees living in nine camps in Sudan’s White Nile state, according to the UN refugee agency (UNCHR) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces since April 15, 2023 has displaced over 2.9 million people across Sudan and into neighbouring countries like the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya and South Sudan.
- The UN’s 2023 Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan launched in May remains only 30 per cent funded.
Sudan’s white Nile states:
Refugees in Sudan:
- Sudan, which has a long record of generously hosting refugees, used to be home to over 1 million refugees – the second highest refugee population in Africa – mainly from South Sudan, Eritrea, Syria, and Ethiopia, as well as the Central African Republic, Chad and Yemen.
- Um Rakuba refugee camp is in Sudan.
- The Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement in Northwestern Uganda became the largest refugee camp in the world in early 2017, with over 270,000 refugees.
Section: Protected Area
- A series of violations and other discrepancies have been threatening wildlife in Gujarat, especially in six sanctuaries managed by the state forest department, flagged the Comptroller Auditor General of India (CAG).
Six sanctuaries in Gujarat:
- Balaram Ambaji and Jessore (Banaskantha district); Jambughoda (Panchmahal district), Ratanmahal (Dahod district), Shoolpaneshwar (Narmada district) and Purna (Tapi and Dangs districts).
- They offer safe homes to sloth bears, leopards, striped hyenas, jackals, wolves, jungle cats, blue bulls, wild boars, Indian foxes, Indian hares, common langurs, reptiles, birds, barking deers, antelopes and chitals, among others.
- The National Forest Commission Report, 2006 mandates each state to devise a policy for sustainable forest management.
Bear conservation in Gujarat:
- Of the eight species of bears known worldwide, India is home to four.
- Five of the six sanctuaries host the bear population.
- The Ratanmahal sanctuary hosts sloth bears, a flagship species in the area.
Mismanagement of sanctuaries in Gujarat:
- The state hasn’t declared any Critical Wildlife Habitats — areas in national parks and sanctuaries dedicated to wildlife conservation — in the past 14 years since the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
- The forest department did not specify a mechanism for implementing the provisions of the National Wildlife Plan until September 2022; the plan came into force in 1983.
- The report stated that five of the six, except Purna Sanctuary, were highly fragmented.
- The Dantiwada range of the Jessore sanctuary was plagued with invasive species Prosopis Juliflora.
Section: International Organisation
- The United Nations member states adopted September 20, 2023 a historical political declaration to ensure that the world is better prepared for future pandemics, at a High-Level Meeting during the ongoing UN General Assembly.
About the declaration:
- Declaration title: Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response
- Aim of the declaration is to prevent catastrophic health and socio-economic impacts that were experienced during COVID-19.
- The declaration encourages, “fair, equitable, and timely sharing of benefits of pathogens with pandemic potential, including genomic sequences and information, through a multilateral system.”
- It resolved to address the global shortfall of health workers in accordance with the Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030 by investing in education and employment.
- The declaration emphasized that health workers should be protected from all forms of violence, attacks, harassment, and discriminatory practices.
- The declaration also called on member nations to take measures to counter the effect of health-related misinformation, disinformation, hate speech and stigmatisation, especially on social media platforms, on people’s physical and mental health, including vaccine hesitancy.
- The declaration emphasized the need for a Pandemic Accord.
Climate Action Summit (CAS):
- CAS organized by: United Nations Secretary- General.
- Held at: New York, USA
- Aim: To accelerate action by governments, business, finance, local authorities and civil society, and hear from “first movers and doers”.
- The design and outcomes of the Summit will be delivered on three distinct but interrelated acceleration tracks – ambition, credibility and implementation.
- China, the United States and India — who collectively account for about 42% of global greenhouse gas emissions and are the top three emitters in that order — were all absent from the CAS.
- The criteria for countries to be considered for a speaking slot at the summit were: that they would be expected to present updated pre-2030 Nationally Determined Contributions (as agreed in Glasgow); updated net-zero targets; energy transition plans with commitments to no new coal, oil and gas; fossil fuel phase-out plans; more ambitious renewable energy targets; Green Climate Fund pledges; and economy-wide plans on adaptation and resilience.
India’s transition plans:
- India last updated its climate pledges in 2022 of reducing emissions intensity — or the volume of emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) — by 45% from 2005 levels by 2030, a 10% increase from what it agreed to in 2015.
- The government committed to meet 50% of its electric power needs from renewable, non-fossil fuel energy sources — up from 40% committed at the Paris agreement.
- It is assured to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3bn tonnes of CO2-equivalent [GtCO2e] through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
- In 2021, Prime Minister of India committed to India achieving net zero by 2070.
- The scientific assessment is that India’s commitment, alongside similar commitments by G-20 economies, are insufficient to keep temperatures from keeping below 2oC by the end of the century.
- India’s low per capita emissions and contribution to the carbon already in the atmosphere has led other analysts to suggest that India has committed “more than its fair share” to keeping to the Paris-agreed limits.
Section: Sustainable development
- Tourism development is a double-edged sword, since it has positive impacts (employment, infrastructure development, revenue generation) as well as negative impacts (water pollution, air pollution, ecosystem degradation, loss of the traditional culture) on the local communities and biotic and abiotic environment, if it is not planned or managed well.
Tourism carrying capacity:
- The number of international tourists was 1.46 billion in 2019 and will be more than 1.8 billion in 2030, according to the 2020 statistics of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
- According to UNWTO (1999), tourism carrying capacity is “the maximum number of people that may visit a tourist destination at the same time, without destroying the physical, economic, socio cultural environment and an unacceptable decrease in the quality of visitors satisfaction”.
- There are five major components of carrying capacity:
- Physical carrying capacity (PCC) is concerned with the maximum number of people at any destination.
- Social carrying capacity (SCC) is the perceptual, psychological or behavioral capacity of a place.
- Infrastructure carrying capacity (ICC) describes facility capacity as those man-made improvements intended to handle visitors or people’s needs, including parking lots, boat ramps, developed campgrounds, restrooms and administrative personnel.
- Environmental carrying capacity (ECC) is the number of tourists or people who can undertake activities on a site without causing degradation of the natural environment.
- Economic carrying capacity (ECC) relates to the level of acceptable changes within the local economy of a tourist destination. It is also relating to situations where a resource is simultaneously utilised for outdoor recreation and economic activity.
- In the region of Asia and the Pacific, India accounted for 28.23 per cent share of total tourist arrivals in 2021.
- Recently, this concept of tourism carrying capacity has received significant attention since the world has faced many tragedies at renowned religious destinations such as Naina Devi temple (2008) and Kedarnath temple (2013) in India and Mecca (2015) in Saudi Arabia.
Sustainable tourism and Ecotourism:
- Sustainable tourism is defined by the UN Environment Program and UN World Tourism Organization as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”
- Ecotourism is a niche segment of tourism in natural areas. The term emerged in the late 1980s.
- Ecotourism is a sustainable form of natural resource-based tourism that focuses primarily on experiencing and learning about nature, and which is ethically managed to be low-impact, non-consumptive, and locally-oriented. It typically occurs in natural areas, and should contribute to the conservation or preservation of such areas.
- Responsible Travel is a term referring to the behavior and style of individual travelers. The behaviors align with making a positive impact on the destination rather than negative ones.
Sustainable Tourism and the GSTC Criteria:
- GSTC is a USA based independent non-governmental organization that represents a diverse and global membership, including national and provincial governments, leading travel companies, hotels, tour operators, NGO’s, individuals and communities.
- The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Criteria serve as the global standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. The Criteria are used for education and awareness-raising. They’re used for policy-making, measurement and evaluation reasons and as a basis for certification.
- They are categorized in four pillars: (A) Sustainable management; (B) Socioeconomic impacts; (C) Cultural impacts; (D) Environmental impacts.
- There are two sets of Criteria
- GSTC Industry Criteria = relates to the sustainable management of the private sector travel industry, focusing currently on Hotels and Tour Operators.
- GSTC Destination Criteria = relates to sustainable management of Tourism Destinations.
Section: Sustainable development
- The Indian ceiling fan market is evolving due to policy shifts and the push for sustainable energy use.
- Inspired by India’s LED revolution, this change aims to cut energy consumption, support climate goals, and meet rising ceiling fan demand.
Energy Transition and Ceiling Fans
- India’s goal to reduce harmful emissions per unit of GDP by 45% by 2030 necessitates a sharp reduction in energy consumption.
- Households account for nearly one-third of India’s electricity consumption, and ceiling fans, used by 90% of households, contribute significantly. (Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) survey, 2020)
- The India Cooling Action Plan anticipates a growth in fan usage to a billion units by 2038, up from 500 million, due to rising incomes and temperatures.
The ‘Star Rating’ Program
- The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) introduced the Standards and Labelling (S&L) program, known as the ‘star rating’ program.
- BEE was established in 2002, under the provisions of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.
- It operates under the Union Ministry of Power.
- Mandatory Star Rating: The ‘star rating’ program became mandatory for ceiling fans in 2022, replacing the voluntary program.
- Price Barrier: ‘5-star’ rated fans are twice as expensive as unrated fans, posing a barrier to adoption.
- Demand Aggregation: Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) plans to launch a demand aggregation program to sell 10 million ‘5-star’ ceiling fans, aiming to replicate the success of the Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) program for LED lamps.
Steps to a Transformation
- Technology-Agnostic Policy: To allow demand aggregation for various fan technologies, including induction motors and brushless DC (BLDC) motors.
- Balance Between Price and Quality: To avoid lower-quality products entering the market, which could erode consumer trust.
- Boosting Domestic Manufacturing: Foster high-quality domestic manufacturing capacity for high-efficiency fans to reduce import dependence and promote export.
- Strengthening Standard and Labelling Program: Dedicate resources to strengthen the standard and labeling program, ensuring that energy-efficient fan models reach consumers and non-compliant models are removed from the market.
Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)
- It was founded in 2009.
- It is a joint venture of four national Public-Sector Undertakings:
- NTPC Limited
- Power Finance Corporation Limited
- Rural Electrification Corporation Limited
- POWERGRID Corporation of India Limited
- EESL is leading the market-related activities of the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE), one of the eight national missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change.
India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP)
- It provides a long-term vision for addressing cooling needs across various sectors, including residential and commercial buildings, cold-chain, refrigeration, transport, and industries.
- Launched in 2019, under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- Targets: by 2037-38
- 20-25% reduction in cooling demand.
- 25-30% reduction in refrigerant demand.
- 25-40% reduction in cooling energy requirements.
Section: legislation in news
Context: The Women reservation bill was passed unanimously by Rajya Sabha, a day after it sailed through Lok Sabha.
What is the 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2023
- According to the Bill, as nearly as maybe, one-third including the seats reserved for women belonging to the SCs and STs of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election to the House of People i.e Lok Sabha shall be reserved for women.
- The Bill proposes a similar provision for Assemblies in the states and Delhi.
- However, the quota will not apply to the Rajya Sabha or state Legislative Councils.
- The Bill proposes to introduce new articles – 330A and 332A – in the Constitution to introduce the changes for Lok Sabha and Assemblies respectively.
- The bill makes the implementation of women’s reservation contingent upon the delimitation process and also has a sunset clause, mandating that the reservation will be for a period of 15 years from the date of commencement of the Act.
How will the Reserved Seats be Identified:
- The Bill doesn’t specify how these seats (one-third) will be identified. It only proposes the rotation of reserved seats.
- It’s important to remember that this proposed constitution amendment is enabling in nature and it will grant the government the power to enact a law for its implementation.
What is the status of reservation for Women in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Urban Local Bodies:
- Article 243D inserted by the 73rd Amendment Act 1992 of the Constitution provides for reservation of seats for SCs, STs, and women in Panchayats.
- As per the provisions of Article 243D, not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved for SCs and STs shall be reserved for women.
- According to government data, the percentage of women elected representatives in PRIs was more than 50%, in at least 18 states like Uttarakhand, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Rajasthan, MP, etc).
- The highest proportion of women representatives was in Uttarakhand (56.02%) and the lowest was in UP (33.34%). Overall, there were 45.61% women representatives in PRIs in the country.
Context: EC tells Supreme Court that it is not necessary to link Aadhaar with voter list.
More about the news:
- The Election Commission has told the Supreme Court that it is not mandatory to provide Aadhaar numbers for linking with the electoral roll, and it is considering issuing “appropriate clarificatory changes” in enrolment forms to reflect this.
- The EC told the bench of CJI that it is not mandatory under Rule 26-B of the Registration of Electors (Amendment) Rules 2022 to link Aadhaar with voter list.
What is Rule 26-B of the Registration of Electors (Amendment) Rules 2022.
- Rule 26B, dealing with “special provision for providing Aadhaar number by existing electors”, states that “every person whose name is listed in the roll may intimate his Aadhaar number to the registration officer in Form 6B in accordance with sub-section (5) of Section 23 of the Act”.
What is National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP), 2015:
- It was the programme of the Election Commission to link Aadhaar and voter IDs, in a bid to delete duplicate names.
- Apart from that, the programme also links and authenticates the Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC) data of electors with Aadhaar data.
What is Aadhaar:
- Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to every individual resident of India.
- It serves as proof of identity, which is linked to the individual’s biometric and demographic information.
- The Aadhaar programme was launched in 2009 by the UIDAI with the goal of providing a unique and verifiable identity for every resident of India.
Section: Neighbouring countries
Context: India attended a two-day meeting of the Neutral Expert proceedings in Vienna for Indus Water Row.
More about the news:
- A delegation from India, led by the secretary, Department of Water Resources, attended a meeting of the Neutral Expert proceedings in the Kishenganga and Ratle case at the permanent court of arbitration in Vienna on September 20 and 21.
- Senior advocate Harish Salve KC was present in the capacity of India’s lead counsel.
What is Indus Water Treaty:
- The Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank.
- The Indus Water Treaty was signed by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then Pakistani President Mohammed Ayub Khan in Karachi on September 19, 1960, after nine years of negotiations between the two countries.
- According to the treaty, waters of the eastern rivers — Sutlej, Beas and Ravi had been allocated to India, while the western rivers — the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab to Pakistan. However, since Indus flows from India, the country is allowed to use 20 percent of its water for irrigation, power generation and transport purposes.
- A Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty.
- The Treaty also provides an arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably.
What is the Dispute Resolution Process:
- According to Article IX of the treaty that deals with the “Settlement of Differences and Disputes”, there are three possible steps to decide on objections raised by either side.
- Working within the “Permanent Indus Commission” (PIC) of the Indian and Pakistani delegation of water experts that meet regularly.
- Consulting a World Bank-appointed neutral expert.
- Setting up a court process to adjudicate the case through the World Bank and the Permanent Court of Arbitrage (PCA).
Section: Bilateral Relations
Context: Canadian PM’s statement in the Canadian parliament alleging that Indian agents killed Pro-Khalistani Hardeep Singh Nijjar has caused India-Canada relations to plunge to a fresh low.
More about the news:
- Hardeep Singh Nijjar, leader of the Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) and wanted by the Indian government, was fatally shot outside a Surrey gurdwara in June.
- The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had placed a Rs 10 lakh reward on Nijjar in 2022 for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to assassinate a Hindu priest in Jalandhar, Punjab.
- At the G20 Summit in Delhi, the Canadian Prime Minister and Indian Prime Minister discussed Khalistani extremism.The Canadian PM raised concerns about foreign interference in Nijjar’s murder and requested India’s cooperation in the investigation.
- The Indian PM expressed deep concerns about ongoing anti-India activities by extremist elements in Canada during the meeting.
- The situation escalated when the Canadian Prime Minister accused “agents of the Indian government” in the killing and expelled the top Indian diplomat from Canada.
- In retaliation, the Government of India summoned the High Commissioner of Canada to India and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat from India and further India suspended visa service in Canada.
- India asked Canada to cut the number of its diplomats in India.
What is the impact of Visa Suspension:
- Canadian nationals who intend to visit India, but who do not have an Indian visa yet, will be impacted.
- This group would include mainly Canadian tourists, business travellers, and students.
- Impact on Indian-origin Canadians with OCI cards
- Indian-origin Canadians who have a valid Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card, or a valid long-term visa for India, will not be impacted by the suspension of visa services.
- OCI cards allow holders lifetime entry into India, and to live and work in the country indefinitely.
- Impact on Canadians who already have a valid Indian visa
- Canadians with a valid Indian visa will not be impacted by the Indian government’s latest decision.
- As of now, their visa stands. They have not been cancelled yet.
Some details about India- Canada Consulate:
- Canada has a High Commission in New Delhi and Consulates in Chandigarh, Bengaluru and Mumbai.
- It also has Trade Commissioner Service offices – a total of eight – in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
- India has a High Commission in Ottawa and Consulates in Toronto and Vancouver.
What is the Khalistan movement:
- It is a Sikh separatist movement seeking to create a homeland for Sikhs by establishing a sovereign state, called Khalistan (‘Land of the Khalsa’), in the Punjab region.
What is the Timeline of the Khalistan Movement:
- India’s Independence and Partition:
- The origins of the movement have been traced back to India’s independence and subsequent Partition along religious lines.
- The Punjab province, which was divided between India and Pakistan, saw some of the worst communal violence and generated millions of refugees.
- Lahore, the capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s great Sikh Empire, went to Pakistan, as did holy Sikh sites including Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
- Demand for Autonomous Punjabi Suba:
- The political struggle for greater autonomy began around the time of Independence, with the Punjabi Suba Movement for the creation of a Punjabi-speaking state.
- In 1966, after years of protest, Punjab was reorganized to reflect the Punjabi Suba demand.
- The erstwhile Punjab state was trifurcated into the Hindi-speaking, Hindu-majority states of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, and the Punjabi-speaking, Sikh-majority Punjab.
- Anandpur Sahib Resolution:
- In 1973, Akali Dal, the major force in the new Sikh-majority Punjab, released a list of demands that would guide the political path among other things, the Anandpur Sahib Resolution demanded autonomy for the state of Punjab, identified regions that would be part of a separate state, and sought the right to frame its own internal constitution.
- While the Akalis themselves repeatedly made it clear that they were not demanding secession from India, for the Indian state, the Anandpur Sahib Resolution was of grave concern.
- Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a charismatic preacher, soon positioned himself as “the authentic voice of the Sikhs, in contrast to the Akali Dal’s leadership.
- It is believed that Bhindranwale was propped up by Sanjay Gandhi to stand against the Akalis for Congress’s political benefit. However, by the 1980s, Bhindranwale had grown so much that he started to become a problem for the government.
- Dharam Yudh Morcha:
- In 1982, Bhindranwale, with support from the Akali Dal’s leadership, launched a civil disobedience movement called the Dharam Yudh Morcha. He took up residence inside the Golden Temple, directing demonstrations and clashes with the police.
- The movement was geared towards the demands first articulated in the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, which addressed concerns of the state’s rural Sikh population. However, amidst growing religious polarization, sectarian violence, and Bhindranwale’s own harsh rhetoric against Hindus, Indira Gandhi’s government declared the movement tantamount to secession.
- Operation Bluestar:
- Operation Blue Star began on 1st June 1984, but due to fierce resistance from Bhindranwale and his heavily armed supporters, the Army’s operation became larger and more violent than had been originally intended, with the use of tanks and air support.
- Bhindranwale was killed and the Golden Temple was freed of militants, however it gravely wounded the Sikh community around the world.
- It also galvanised the demand for Khalistan.
- Aftermath of Operation Bluestar:
- In October 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards, triggering the worst communal violence since Partition, where over 8,000 Sikhs were massacred in massive anti-Sikh violence.
- A year later, Sikh nationalists based in Canada blew up an Air India flight killing 329 people. They claimed that the attack was to “avenge Bhindranwale’s killing”.
- Punjab saw the worst violence, becoming the hub of a long-drawn-out insurgency that lasted till 1995.
What is the timeline of Ups and Downs in Canada-India Relations:
- Bonhomie During the Cold War: During the Cold War, bonhomie developed between Ottawa and New Delhi due to their shared commonwealth status and convergent views on the importance of the UN, multilateralism, and advancing global development.
- Differences on Korean War and Indian Nuclear Programme: Differences over Cold War crises in Korea, Hungary, and Vietnam strained the relationship. India’s nuclear programme tested ties further.
- Revival of Relationship: With limited prospects for trade or security relations, there was no basis for meaningful diplomatic engagement.
- In the 1980s, Ottawa’s interest in India was rekindled by rising Indian immigration.
- Much work has gone into reviving the relationship from its lowest in 1998, following Ottawa’s rejection of India’s nuclear power status.
- Investment and trade form the heart of the relationship now, with considerable scope for growth.
- The bilateral relationship is held hostage by specific diaspora elements that harbour a deep hatred toward India, dislike India’s territorial unity and strive to balkanise it.
What is the status of India-Canada in numbers: