Daily Prelims Notes 4 February 2023
- February 4, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
4 February 2023
Table Of Contents
- Products available in the Secondary Market
- Green channel
- Potential enlargement of the European Union
- Section 10 (26AAA) of the IT Act 1961
- Two years of Myanmar coup
- Sebi tweaks rules for sharp rating actions, non-cooperating issuers
- Sebi notifies stronger framework for green bonds
- Banking sector remains stable, resilient says RBI
- SC refuses to refer conversion issue to law commission
- First tourism working group G20 meeting at Rann of Kutch
- International theatre festival of Kerala
- Amazon deforestation heats up Tibet, says new study
- Activists object to food safety draft issued by FSSAI for GM crops
- Lake sediments and Paleoclimate
1. Products available in the Secondary Market
Context: Adani issue
Following are the main financial products/instruments dealt in the secondary market:
Equity: The ownership interest in a company of holders of its common and preferred stock. The various kinds of equity shares are as follows:-
An equity share, commonly referred to as ordinary share also represents the form of fractional ownership in which a shareholder, as a fractional owner, undertakes the maximum entrepreneurial risk associated with a business venture. The holders of such shares are members of the company and have voting rights.
- Rights Issue / Rights Shares: The issue of new securities to existing shareholders at a ratio to those already held.
- Bonus Shares: Shares issued by the companies to their shareholders free of cost by capitalization of accumulated reserves from the profits earned in the earlier years.
- Preferred Stock / Preference shares: Owners of these kinds of shares are entitled to a fixed dividend or dividend calculated at a fixed rate to be paid regularly before dividend can be paid in respect of equity share. They also enjoy priority over the equity shareholders in payment of surplus. But in the event of liquidation, their claims rank below the claims of the company’s creditors, bondholders / debenture holders.
- Cumulative Preference Shares: A type of preference shares on which dividend accumulates if remains unpaid. All arrears of preference dividend have to be paid out before paying dividend on equity shares.
- Cumulative Convertible Preference Shares: A type of preference shares where the dividend payable on the same accumulates, if not paid. After a specified date, these shares will be converted into equity capital of the company.
- Participating Preference Share: The right of certain preference shareholders to participate in profits after a specified fixed dividend contracted for is paid. Participation right is linked with the quantum of dividend paid on the equity shares over and above a particular specified level.
- Security Receipts: Security receipt means a receipt or other security, issued by a securitisation company or reconstruction company to any qualified institutional buyer pursuant to a scheme, evidencing the purchase or acquisition by the holder thereof, of an undivided right, title or interest in the financial asset involved in securitisation.
- Government securities (G-Secs): These are sovereign (credit risk-free) coupon bearing instruments which are issued by the Reserve Bank of India on behalf of Government of India, in lieu of the Central Government’s market borrowing programme. These securities have a fixed coupon that is paid on specific dates on half-yearly basis. These securities are available in wide range of maturity dates, from short dated (less than one year) to long dated (up to twenty years).
- Debentures: Bonds issued by a company bearing a fixed rate of interest usually payable half yearly on specific dates and principal amount repayable on particular date on redemption of the debentures. Debentures are normally secured / charged against the asset of the company in favour of debenture holder.
- Bond: A negotiable certificate evidencing indebtedness. It is normally unsecured. A debt security is generally issued by a company, municipality or government agency. A bond investor lends money to the issuer and in exchange, the issuer promises to repay the loan amount on a specified maturity date. The issuer usually pays the bond holder periodic interest payments over the life of the loan. The various types of Bonds are as follows-
- Zero Coupon Bond: Bond issued at a discount and repaid at a face value. No periodic interest is paid. The difference between the issue price and redemption price represents the return to the holder. The buyer of these bonds receives only one payment, at the maturity of the bond.
- Convertible Bond: A bond giving the investor the option to convert the bond into equity at a fixed conversion price.
- Commercial Paper: A short term promise to repay a fixed amount that is placed on the market either directly or through a specialized intermediary. It is usually issued by companies with a high credit standing in the form of a promissory note redeemable at par to the holder on maturity and therefore, doesn’t require any guarantee. Commercial paper is a money market instrument issued normally for tenure of 90 days.
- Treasury Bills: Short-term (up to 91 days) bearer discount security issued by the Government as a means of financing its cash requirements.
Keeping in view the needs of the market and the best practices in other jurisdictions, the Commission, vide notification dated August 13, 2019, amended Competition Commission of India (Procedure in regard to the transaction of business relating to combinations) Regulations, 2011, and introduced an automatic system of approval for combinations through a ‘Green Channel’ route.
Under this process, a combination is deemed to have been approved upon filing the notice in the prescribed format and acknowledgement thereof, subject to Commission’s finding that the combination falls under the ‘Green Channel’ scheme. This system would significantly reduce time and cost of transactions.
The ‘Green Channel’ is expected to sustain and promote speedy, transparent and accountable review of combination cases, strike a balance between facilitation and enforcement functions and create a culture of compliance and support economic growth.
3. Potential enlargement of the European Union
Subject : International Relations
- There are eight recognised candidates for membership of the European Union: Turkey (since 1999), North Macedonia (2005), Montenegro (2010), Serbia (2012), Albania (2014), Moldova (2022), Ukraine (2022), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (2022).
- Kosovo (whose independence is not recognised by five EU member states) and Georgia formally submitted applications for membership in 2022 and are considered potential candidates by the European Union.
- Montenegro and Serbia, the most advanced candidates, are expected to join earlier than the others.
- Due to multiple factors, talks with Turkey are at an effective standstill.
- Any country that satisfies the conditions for membership can apply for EU membership.
What is the Copenhagen Criteria?
- The Copenhagen Criteria refers to the conditions that candidate countries must meet before they can be part of the European Union.
- The criteria had been established in 1993 by the Copenhagen European Council, and later strengthened in 1995 by the Madrid European Council.
- Copenhagen Criteria also refer to the rules defined by the European Council in 1993 in Denmark, Copenhagen, which determines whether a country is qualified to join the European Union.
- In order to become a member of the EU, the three criteria that must be achieved are:
- Stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.
- The existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the union.
- The ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of political, economic & monetary union.
Criteria for Membership
- The European community always monitors the progress of candidate states that have applied for the EU accession.
- Three documents are used to define the European Union membership criteria. These include:
- Article 49 of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty
- The 1993 declaration the European Council in Copenhagen (includes political, legislative, and economic policies)
- Framework for negotiations with specific conditions for every candidate country.
Candidate country status
- Candidate country status is conferred by the European Council on the basis of an opinion from the European Commission, drawn up following an application for membership of the European Union (EU) by the country concerned.
- Candidate country status does not give an automatic a right to join the EU.
- The Commission scrutinises the application in the light of the accession criteria (Copenhagen criteria), while the accession process starts with the European Council decision to open accession negotiations.
- Depending on their circumstances, a candidate country may be required to institute a reform process to bring their legislation in line with the EU acquis and to strengthen their infrastructure and administration if necessary.
- The accession process is based on the pre-accession strategy, which provides instruments such as financial aid.
- Accession and membership of the EU depends on the progress made by the candidate country, which is regularly assessed and monitored by the Commission.
4. Section 10 (26AAA) of the IT Act 1961
Section: Fiscal Policy
- On January 13, the Supreme Court held that the benefit of tax exemption provided in Section 10 (26AAA) shall be extended to all Sikkimese people. (Association of Old Settlers of Sikkim vs Union of India)
- Before this judgment, the tax exemption excluded “old Indian settlers”, who had permanently settled in Sikkim before the merger of the state into the Indian union on April 26, 1975, even if their names were recorded in the register maintained under the Sikkim Subjects Regulations, 1961, read with the Sikkim Subject Rules, 1961 (also referred to as the “Register of Sikkim Subjects”).
- Also, the court struck down the provision (an article or clause that introduces a condition) to Section 10 (26AAA), which excluded Sikkimese women who had married non-Sikkimese men after April 1, 2008, from the benefit of tax exemption, as violative of Articles 14, 15, and 21 of the Constitution.
- The SC verdict extended the benefit of income-tax exemption beyond the categories of Sikkimese defined in the Explanation to Section 10 (26AAA).
Section 10 (26AAA)
- This section describes the income that does not form a part of the total income while calculating the tax for an individual, also known as “exempted income”.
- Under the Explanation to Section 10 (26AAA), the definition of ‘Sikkimese’ is confined to
(i) individuals “whose name is recorded in the register maintained under the Sikkim Subjects Regulation, 1961 read with the Sikkim Subject Rules, 1961, immediately before the 26th day of April 1975;
(ii) the 73,000-odd individuals whose names were included in the Register of Sikkim Subjects by virtue of Government of India Orders of August 1990 and April 1991; and
(iii) “any individual whose name does not appear in the Register of Sikkim Subjects, but it is established beyond doubt that the name of such individual’s father or husband or paternal grandfather or brother from the same father has been recorded in that register”.
- Section 10 (26AAA) was inserted into the IT Act, 1961 by the Finance Act, 2008 with retrospective effect from April 1, 1990, the date on which the IT Act was made applicable in Sikkim.
Subject : International Relations
Sections: India’s neighbours
- India and Myanmar relationship officially got underway after the Treaty of Friendship was signed in 1951, after which the foundation for a more meaningful relationship was established during Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s visit in 1987.
- India and Myanmar have traditionally had much in common, with cultural, historical, ethnic, and religious ties, in addition to sharing a long geographical land border and maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.
Geo-Strategic Location of Myanmar:
- Myanmar is geopolitically significant to India as it stands at the center of the India-Southeast Asia geography.
- Myanmar is the only Southeast Asian country that shares a land border with northeastern India, stretching some 1,624 kilometers.
- The two countries also share a 725-km maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.
- Irrawady river that flows from north to south through Myanmar (Burma). It is the country’s largest river and most important commercial waterway.
Confluence of Two Foreign Policy Doctrines:
- Myanmar is the only country that sits at the intersection of India’s “Neighborhood First” policy and its “Act East” policy.
- Myanmar is an essential element in India’s practice of regional diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific and serves as a land bridge to connect South Asia and Southeast Asia.
- Myanmar is the member of both Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is an organization of East Asian nations as well as Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) which bridges South and South-East Asia.
Indian Projects in Myanmar
- India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway
- A number of infrastructure projects are underway. This includes the Trilateral Highway which will eventually connect India to Thailand through Myanmar.
- Kaladan Multimodal Project
- The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project was jointly identified by the India and Myanmar to create a multi-modal mode of transport for shipment of cargo from the eastern seaport of India to Myanmar and to the North-Eastern part of India through Myanmar.
- This project connects Sittwe Port in Myanmar to the India-Myanmar border, is expected to contribute to the economic development of the North-Eastern States of India.
- It is also an alternate route to India’s North-East bypassing the Siliguri Corridor.
- Projects in Rakhine State
- India had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Myanmar for improving the socio economic condition of the people belonging to Myanmar’s Rakhine state under the aegis of Rakhine State Development Programme.
6. Sebi tweaks rules for sharp rating actions, non-cooperating issuers
Subject : Economy
Concept : Financial markets
- The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has tweaked the framework around ‘sharp rating actions’ and also fine-tuned the policy for dealing with non-cooperating issuers for credit rating agencies (CRAs).
- SEBI tweaked its operational circular on credit rating agencies (CRAs), asking them to have a detailed policy by March-end in respect of non-submission of crucial information, including quarterly financial numbers, by the issuers.
- Also, the detailed policy should contain methodology in respect of assessing the risk of non-availability of information from the issuers, including non-cooperative issuers and the steps to be taken under various scenarios in order to ascertain the status of non-cooperation by the issuer company.
- Further, CRAs will have to follow a uniform practice of three consecutive months of non-submission of no-default statement (NDS) as a ground for considering migrating the ratings to INC (issuers not cooperating) and need to tag such ratings within 7 days of three consecutive months of non-submission of NDS.
- A credit rating is an assessment of the creditworthiness of a borrower in general terms or with respect to a particular debt or financial obligation.
- A credit rating can be assigned to any entity that seeks to borrow money — an individual, corporation, state or provincial authority, or sovereign government.
What are Credit Rating Agencies?
- A credit rating agency (CRA) is a company that assigns credit ratings, which rate a debtor’s ability to pay back debt by making timely principal and interest payments and the likelihood of default.
- Credit rating agencies in India came into existence in the second half of the 1980s.
- In India, CRAs are regulated by SEBI (Credit Rating Agencies) Regulations, 1999 of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992.
- There are a total of seven credit agencies in India viz, CRISIL, CARE, ICRA, SMREA, Brickwork Rating, India Rating and Research Pvt. Ltd and Infomerics Valuation and Rating Private Limited.
- CRAs were set up to provide independent evidence and research-based opinion on the ability and willingness of the issuer to meet debt service obligations, quintessentially attaching a probability of default to a specific instrument.
- Evaluating the creditworthiness of an instrument comprises of both qualitative and quantitative assessments, making credit rating far from a straightforward mathematical calculation.
7. Sebi notifies stronger framework for green bonds
Subject : Economy
- Markets regulator Sebi on Friday strengthened the framework for green bonds by introducing the concept of ‘blue’ and ‘yellow’ bonds as new modes of sustainable finance.
- Blue bonds relate to water management and marine sector, while yellow bonds pertain to solar energy.
- These are sub-categories of green debt securities.
- These measures have been taken in the backdrop of increasing interest in sustainable finance in India as well as around the globe, and with a view to align the extant framework for green debt securities with the updated Green Bond Principles (GBP) recognised by IOSCO.
Green Bond Principles
- The Green Bond Principles (GBP) seek to support issuers in financing environmentally sound and sustainable projects that foster a net-zero emissions economy and protect the environment.
- GBP-aligned issuance should provide transparent green credentials alongside an investment opportunity.
- The GBP, updated as of June 2021, are voluntary process guidelines that recommend transparency and disclosure and promote integrity in the development of the Green Bond market by clarifying the approach for issuance of a Green Bond.
- A green bond is a fixed-income instrument designed to support specific climate-related or environmental projects.
- The phrase “green bond” is sometimes used interchangeably with “climate bonds” or “sustainable bonds.”
- Green bonds can finance various projects, most often related to renewable energy (e.g. wind, solar, hydro), recycling, and clean transportation. More specifically, examples of projects financed with green bonds include: Renewable Energy. Energy Efficiency.
- Green bonds are asset-linked and backed by the issuing entity’s balance sheet. They work just like any other corporate or government bond.
- They are used to finance projects aimed at sustainable agriculture, pollution prevention, fishery and forestry, clean water and transportation, along with environment friendly water management projects.
Current regulatory framework
- Green bonds are a form of infrastructure financing and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) had issued a concept paper on the same in 2015.
- Such instruments were covered within the ambit of general debt securities and were regulated by SEBI as such, along with the related compliances for general debt securities – i.e compliance with provisions of the Companies Act, 2013, mandatory listing as per SEBI regulations, disclosures etc.
- In the 2017 circular, SEBI proposed a definition of ‘green debt securities’ as part of its regulations.
- A debt security could be considered ‘green’ or a ‘green debt security’ if the funds raised through such issuance were to be utilized for projects/ assets categorized broadly as follows, which list could be added to / changed by SEBI from time to time.
8. Banking sector remains stable, resilient says RBI
Subject : Economy
Section: Monetary Policy and Banking
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said that as a regulator and supervisor, it maintains a constant vigil on the banking sector and on individual banks to maintain financial stability.
- The RBI said, as per its current assessment, the banking sector remains resilient and stable. It added that various parameters relating to capital adequacy, asset quality, liquidity, provision coverage and profitability are healthy.
- The RBI further added that banks are also in compliance with the Large Exposure Framework guidelines issued by it.
- The RBI has a Central Repository of Information on Large Credits database system used for monitoring purposes, where the banks report their exposure of five crore rupees and above.
- The RBI said it remains vigilant and continues to monitor the stability of the Indian banking sector.
Large Exposure Framework
- In order to address concentration risk and to align with internationally accepted practices, RBI has issued a circular dated December 1, 2016 on “Large Exposure Framework”.
- The salient features of the Large Exposures (LE) Framework include:
- The sum of all exposure values of a bank to a counterparty or a group of connected counterparties is defined as a large exposure, if it is equal to or more than 10 percent of the bank’s eligible capital base.
- The LE limit in respect of each counterparty and group of connected counterparties, under normal circumstances, will be capped at 20 percent and 25 percent respectively of the eligible capital base.
- The eligible capital base is defined as the Tier 1 capital of the bank as against ‘Capital Funds’ at present.
- A group of connected counterparties is identified on the basis of ‘control’ criteria. Though ‘economic dependence’ criteria had been included in the draft guidelines, the same has been excluded in the final circular based on the feedback and our assessment that ‘economic dependence’ criteria may be very difficult to implement in the Indian context.
- Banks’ exposure to Government, Reserve Bank, clearing related exposures to QCCP are excluded, at present.
- While the draft provided exemptions for interbank bank exposures from LE Framework, based on the Basel’s latest updates, we have included the interbank exposures in the LE Framework i.e., interbank exposures will be subject to LE limits and reporting.
- The LE framework will be fully applicable with effect from April 1, 2019.
Central Repository of Information on Large Credits (CRILC)
- Central Repository of Information on Large Credits (CRILC) is set up by RBI to collect, store, and disseminate credit data to lenders.
- Hence, banks will have to furnish credit information to CRILC on all their borrowers having aggregate fund-based and non-fund based exposure of Rs.5 crores and above.
- Similarly, banks are required to report, among others, the SMA (Special Mention Accounts) status of the borrower to the CRILC.
- All the financial institutions under the RBI have to separately report to CRILC.
9. SC refuses to refer conversion issue to law commission
Subject : Polity
Section : National Body
- The Supreme Court on Friday refused a plea to refer to the Law Commission of India the question whether “forcible conversion” should be made a separate offence relating to religion under the Indian Penal Code.
Law Commission of India
- The Law Commission of India is a non-statutory body constituted by the Government of India from time to time.
- The first Law Commission of independent India was established in 1955 for a three-year term.
- The first Law Commission was established during the British Raj era in 1834 by the Charter Act of 1833 and was chaired by Lord Macaulay.
- It works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice.
- The Law Commission undertakes research in law and review of existing laws in India for making reforms therein and enacting new legislations on a reference made to it by the Central Government or suo-motu.
- Apart from having a full-time chairperson, the commission will have four full-time members, including a member-secretary.
- Law and Legislative Secretaries in the Law Ministry will be the ex-officio members of the commission.
- It will also have not more than five part-time members.
- A retired Supreme Court judge or Chief Justice of a High Court will head the Commission.
What are the Important Recommendations of the Commission?
- The Law Commission in its 262nd Report recommended abolition of the death penalty for all crimes except terrorism-related offences and waging war against the state.
- Its report on electoral reforms (1999) had suggested simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly elections to improve governance and stability.
- The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 which replace the Identification of Prisoners Act,1920 was also proposed by the Law Commission of India.
- The 21st Law commission in its recommendation in 2018 said that Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is “neither necessary nor desirable at this stage”.
- Now, the center has requested the 22nd Law Commission of India to undertake an examination of various issues relating to the same.
10. First tourism working group G20 meeting at Rann of Kutch
Subject: International Relations
- For the first G20 Tourism Working Group meeting to be held in Rann of Kutch next week, India’s rural tourism and archaeological tourism potential will be projected to the world.
- Participants in the 3-day meeting (which begins on February 7) include the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Focus of the meeting:
- Rural Tourism for Community Empowerment and Poverty Alleviation.
- To improve Rural and Archaeological Tourism with suggestions from international boards and best practices.
India’s achievements in rural and archaeological tourism:
- The Ladpura Khas village was nominated as the Best Rural Tourism Village by the UNWTO. In this village, the State government developed homestays in villages under the Responsible Tourism Mission of the State.
- Nagaland’s Khonoma Village will present the model of Ecotourism Management Board that develops Rural Tourism Products and promotes responsible travel.
- Dholavira – the southern centre of the Harappan Civilisation, was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2021.
- Dholavira is believed to have been occupied around 3500 BC (pre-Harappan) till around 1800 BC (late-Harappan period).
- It is the fifth largest of eight major Harappan sites, including Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, Ganeriwala, Rakhigarhi, Kalibangan, Rupnagar and Lothal.
- India will also present the innovative model of community based Astrotourism that involves rural homestays and community spaces.
- Astrotourism is any kind of tourism that involves the night sky or visiting facilities related to astronomy like observatories.
- These are completely run by villagers and provide travellers an integrated experience of stargazing along with cultural immersion in the Himalayas.
- The next tourism track meeting will be held in April in Siliguri/Darjeeling, while the third meeting will be held in May in one of the north Indian hill states, the final ministerial meeting will be held in Goa in June.
- The idea is to cover and showcase the geographical expanse of the country – with Gujarat in the West to Siliguri in the North-East, going up till the northernmost regions.
United Nations World Tourism Organisation
- The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations Specialised Agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
- It was established in 1975 with headquarters at Madrid, Spain.
- UNWTO encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize tourism’s socio-economic contribution while minimizing its possible negative impacts.
- Its membership includes 160 Member States, 6 Associate Members and many Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
11. International theatre festival of Kerala
Subject : History
Section : Art and Culture
- The International Theatre Festival of Kerala will turn Thrissur into a global stage.
- Music, art, and drama will be the central focus during this 10-day event.
- The theme for this year’s festival is ‘Humanity Must Unite’. Global events including the pandemic and the war in Ukraine will take the centre stage.
- With 10 international productions, 14 plays from across India, talks, discussions, workshops and art shows, the festival is a celebration of theatre and a unique meeting place for theatre-makers and theatre-goers.
International Theatre Festival of Kerala
- International Theatre Festival of Kerala (ITFoK) is an international theatre festival held every year in December in Thrissur city of Kerala State, India.
- The festival is organised by Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi and Cultural Department of Government of Kerala.
- The International Theatre Festival of Kerala (ITFoK) began in 2008 by Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi under the leadership of late Murali (Malayalam actor) in Thrissur city.
- From world over independent, experimental and contemporary theatre groups participate in this festival.
- The festival is held in G.Sankara Pillai Cultural Complex in Thrissur city over eight days. The main stages are Murali Outdoor Theatre and K. T. Muhammed Regional Theatre.
12. Amazon deforestation heats up Tibet, says new study
Subject : Environment
Context: There are no borders in the fight against climate change, cooperation is the key, says study published in Nature.
More on the News:
- Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest can directly influence temperatures in Tibet, which is more than 15,000 kilometres away from the tropical biome, according to a new report.
- Even modest, incremental changes in this biome might eventually result in massive, abrupt and permanent changes to the planet.
- Logging, road construction, and warming are already today stressing the Amazon rainforest, and will likely do so even more in the future — and while the Amazon region is, of course, an important Earth system element by itself.
- These are tagged ‘tipping elements’ and have certain temperature thresholds, or tipping points, beyond which even a slight change may lead to irreparable and catastrophic consequences on our plane
- Proposing a climate network approach to analyse the global impacts of a prominent tipping element, they concluded that the harsh and warmer temperatures in the Amazon correlated with rising temperatures in Tibet and the West Antarctic ice sheet.
- They have evidence that when it rained more in the Amazon, the other two regions were prone to receive less precipitation. The paper also highlighted that the snow cover on the Tibetan Plateau has been on a decline since 2008.
About Amazon Rainforest:
- Comprising about 40% of Brazil’s total area, it is bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north, the Andes Mountains to the west, the Brazilian central plateau to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
- These are large tropical rainforest occupying the drainage basin of the Amazon River and its tributaries in northern South America and covering an area of 6,000,000 square km.
- Tropical forests are closed-canopy forests growing within 28 degrees north or south of the equator.
- They are very wet places, receiving more than 200 cm rainfall per year, either seasonally or throughout the year.
- Temperatures are uniformly high – between 20°C and 35°C.
13. Activists object to food safety draft issued by FSSAI for GM crops
Subject: Science and Technology
Section : Biotechnology
Context: A notification by the food safety regulatory body of India Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) over genetically modified organisms (GMO) has received several objections from a pan-Indian citizen’s platform
More on the News:
- The FSSAI, on November 15, 2021, released a draft notification on the food safety and standards for GMOs and sought public comments for consideration by a scientific panel.
- The Coalition for a GM-Free India is an informal network of scientists, farmers, activists, environmentalists and consumers working to keep India GM Free. The group has opposed the nod to the GM mustard variety Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH-11), citing environmental concerns.
- Coalition added long term and multi-generational tests, as the animals have a short life span, also need to be part of the approval process.
- Tests such as skin irritation test of animals, mucous member irritation on animals, sub-chronic oral toxicity, sub-chronic feeding studies, alkaloid tests, and chronic toxicity and carcinogenicity studies should be added to the process.
Draft rules for GM Foods:
- No one can manufacture or sell any food products or food ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) without prior approval.
- Specify norms that labs will need to adhere to for testing GM foods.
- The proposed regulations will apply to “Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or Genetically Engineered Organisms (GEOs) or Living Modified Organism (LMOs) intended for direct use as food or for processing.”
- Genetically Modified Organisms or Genetically Engineered Organisms “shall not be used as an ingredient” in infant food products.
- Labelling norms for food products that contain 1% or more than one percent of GMO content.
- Farmers body Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) has raised objections to the FSSAI’s proposed draft regulations that weak regulations allow for backdoor entry of GMOs.
- Coalition said that there was no provision for a long term, comprehensive and independent testing regime
- Besides, it does not have provisions of independent data and public scrutiny.
14. Lake sediments and Paleoclimate
Section : Physical geography
Context: Lake sediments are useful paleoclimate proxies that provide information about the environmental changes and human-induced pressures on the ecosystem: Paleoclimate scientist Anoop Ambili.
- Paleoclimate refers to the study of past climates, primarily through the analysis of natural records such as tree rings, ice cores, lake and ocean sediments, and fossils.
- The goal of paleoclimate research is to understand the processes that have driven past climate changes, the patterns and variability of these changes, and the impact of past climate on the environment and human societies.
- Paleoclimate records can provide valuable information about long-term trends and patterns in climate, as well as past climate extremes, such as droughts, hurricanes, and glacial periods.
- This information is useful for making predictions about future climate change and its potential impacts on the environment and human populations.
Paleoclimate and Lake Sediments:
- Lake sediments are indicators of sensitive environmental Studying different lake systems in the Indian subcontinent through different years can give a paleoclimate scientist, a clear picture of anthropogenic-stressors and natural stressors over several thousand years.
- Lake sediments can provide valuable information about past climatic conditions because they accumulate in a relatively undisturbed manner over long periods of time.
- The sediment layers can contain a range of materials, including organic matter, minerals, and microfossils, that provide a record of environmental changes.
- For example, changes in the types and amounts of pollen in sediment layers can indicate changes in the types of plants growing in the area, which can in turn provide information about past temperature and precipitation patterns.
- Other indicators, such as the presence of certain types of algae or mineral layers, can also provide information about past climate conditions. By analyzing these sediment records, scientists can gain a better understanding of how past climate conditions have influenced the environment and how they may have affected human societies.
- Especially in the past 100 years, freshwater ecosystems are being shaped naturally and anthropogenically. And sadly, there is so much anthropogenic influence nowadays, in these freshwater ecosystems.
- The anthropogenic influence has taken a huge toll on the system, there is a regime shift, there is harmful algal blooms, there is so much which is happening or large-scale eutrophication, hypoxia.
- There is an urgent need for awareness among the community and social media has a huge role to play to preserve this ecosystem.