Daily Current Affairs – 13-07-2023

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    Anthropocene Epoch

    Syllabus: GS1/ Physical Geography

    In News

    • According to the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG), sediments at Crawford Lake in Canada’s Ontario have provided evidence of the beginning of the Anthropocene epoch.

    About

    • Crawford Lake near Toronto, provides a unique reference point for determining the start of the Anthropocene.
    • Sediments from the lake show an increase in the concentration of plutonium particles around 1950.
    • The presence of plutonium serves as a clear indication of human impact and supports the hypothesis of the Anthropocene era.
    • They are also proposing that it starts a new age, called Crawfordian after the lake chosen as its starting point.

    Anthropocene Working Group (AWG)

    • The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) is an interdisciplinary research group dedicated to the study of the Anthropocene as a geological time unit. 
    • It was established in 2009 as part of the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy (SQS), a constituent body of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS).
    • The group determined in 2016 that the Anthropocene epoch began around 1950 — the start of the era of nuclear weapons tests, the geochemical traces of which can be found around the world. 
    • Since then, the researchers have considered 12 sites that could provide the key piece of evidence needed to support their proposal.
    • The Holocene, which has been identified with the current warm period, corresponds with the rapid proliferation, growth and impacts of the human species worldwide.

    Earth’s Geologic Time Scale 

    • The geologic time scale provides the official framework for our understanding of Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history.
    • Geologists break down our planet’s history into eons, eras, periods, epochs and ages — with an eon being the largest chunk of time and an age the shortest.
      • For example, we currently live in the Meghalayan Age. It’s part of the Holocene Epoch, which began at the end of the last ice age 11,700 years ago, when ice caps and glaciers began retreating.
    • The Holocene is part of the Quaternary Period, the most recent division of the Cenozoic Era, which in turn is part of Phanerozoic Eon — which spans from 539 million years ago to the present.

     

    What is the Anthropocene Epoch?

    • The idea of the Anthropocene was proposed at a science conference more than 20 years ago by the late Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen. 
    • Phenomena which are associated with this epoc are global warming, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, mass-scale soil erosion, the advent of deadly heat waves, deterioration of the biosphere and other detrimental changes in the environment.

    Source: DTE

     

    Tax Rules for Online Gaming

    Syllabus: GS2/ Government Policies & Interventions

    In News

    • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, in its 50th meeting recently, decided to levy a uniform 28 percent tax on full face value for online gaming, casinos and horse-racing.

    More about the news

    • Present tax structure:
      • At present, most gaming companies were paying a tax of 18 percent applicable on the platform fees, distinguishing based on the factor of these activities being games of skill such as fantasy gaming platforms.
    • The proposed changes: 
      • The uniform levy of 28 percent tax will be applicable on following: 
        • The face value of the chips purchased in the case of casinos, 
        • The full value of the bets placed with bookmaker/totalisator in the case of horse racing, and 
        • The full value of the bets placed in case of online gaming.
    • Amendments to the GST-related laws:
      • The government will bring in amendments to the GST-related laws to include online gaming and horse racing in Schedule III as taxable actionable claims. 
      • In the context of GST, an actionable claim is defined as goods under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017. 
      • So far, lottery, betting, and gambling were classified as actionable claims. Now, horse racing and online gaming will be added.

    Implications of the decision

    • Impact on the industry:
      • The decision has been applied indiscriminately to gaming and gambling platforms. 
      • While the government has maintained that this decision is not intended to end any industry, online gaming companies have raised concerns about the impact of this move on the industry, as it is likely to affect volumes and thus the viability of gaming companies.
    • Job loss:
      • It is also criticised that the decision will wipe out the entire Indian gaming industry and lead to lakhs of job losses.

    About Gaming

    • India mainly puts “games” into two broad categories to differentiate them. 
      • The two categories are that the game is either a Game of Chance or a Game of Skill.
      • Game of chance (Gambling): Games of chance are all those games that are played randomly. These games are based on luck. A person can play these games without prior knowledge or understanding. For instance, dice games, picking a number, etc. Such games are considered illegal in India.
      • Game of skill (Gaming): Games of skill are all those games that are played based on a person’s prior knowledge or experience of the game. A person will require skills such as analytical decision-making, logical thinking, capability, etc. Some games might also require some initial training to win. Such games are considered legal by most of the Indian states.
    • What is an online game?
      • The Indian government defines an online game as “a game that is offered on the Internet and is accessible by a user through a computer resource or an intermediary.”
    • Online gaming market in India:
      • Potential of the market: The revenue of the Indian mobile gaming industry is expected to exceed $1.5 billion in 2022, and is estimated to reach $5 billion in 2025. The industry in the country grew at a CAGR of 38% between 2017-2020, as opposed to 8% in China and 10% in the US. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15% to reach Rs 153 billion in revenue by 2024. 
      • Rising New paying users (NPUs): India’s percentage of new paying users (NPUs) in gaming has been the fastest growing in the world for two consecutive years, at 40% in 2020 and reaching 50% in 2021.
      • Rise in transaction-based games’ revenues: According to a report by EY and FICCI, transaction-based games’ revenues grew 26% in India, with the number of paying gamers increasing by 17% from 80 million in 2020 to 95 million in 2021.

    Regulations in India

    • Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) proposed an amendment to bring online gaming under the ambit of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
    • Dispute resolution mechanism:
      • A three-tier dispute resolution mechanism, similar to that prescribed under the Information Technology Rules, 2021 for online streaming services, consisting of: 
        • A grievance redressal system at the gaming platform level, 
        • Self regulatory body of the industry, and 
        • An oversight committee led by the government.
    • A self-regulatory body: 
      • Online games will have to register with a self-regulatory body, and only games that are cleared by the body will be allowed to legally operate in India.
      • It must ensure that the registered games don’t have anything which is not in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order, or incites the commission of any cognizable offence relating to the aforesaid.
    • Mandatory know-your-customer norms for verification (KYC):
      • Online gaming companies will not be allowed to engage in betting on the outcome of games, as per the proposed rules.

    Way ahead

    • Realising the potential of the online gaming sector, the State and the Union Governments should work together in consultation with industry stakeholders to draw out detailed guidelines.

    Source: IE

     

    Section 144 in Flood-prone Areas 

    Syllabus: GS2/Governance

    In News

    • The Yamuna river in Delhi has risen to an unprecedented  207.81 metres, breaching the previous all-time high of 207.49 metres set in 1978.

    About

    • Incessant rain in Delhi and surrounding areas, as well as release of water from HathniKund Barrage has has heightened the risk of flood-like conditions in low-lying areas in the vicinity of the river.
    • The Delhi Police imposed prohibitory measures under CrPC section 144 in flood-prone areas of the city.

    What is Section 144?

    • The law empowers a district magistrate, a sub-divisional magistrate or any other executive magistrate specially empowered by the state government in this behalf to issue orders to prevent and address urgent cases of apprehended danger or nuisance.
    • The magistrate has to pass a written order which may be directed against a particular individual, or to persons residing in a particular place or area, or to the public generally when frequenting or visiting a particular place or area. 
    • In emergency cases, the magistrate can pass these orders without prior notice to the individual against whom the order is directed.

    Provisions

    • The magistrate can direct any person to abstain from a certain act or to take a certain order with respect to certain property in his possession or under his management. 
      • This usually includes restrictions on movement, carrying arms and from assembling unlawfully. 
      • It is generally believed that assembly of three or more people is prohibited under Section 144.
    • For a single individual: It can be used to restrict even a single individual. Such an order is passed when the magistrate considers that it is likely to prevent, or tends to prevent, obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person.
    • Time frame: No order passed under Section 144 can remain in force for more than two months from the date of the order, unless the state government considers it necessary. Even then, the total period cannot extend to more than six months.

    When it is imposed?

    • There is no hard and fast rule about the situations in which the section can be invoked.
    • The section has been imposed in a variety of situations, from the installation of CCTV cameras to the prohibition of using a certain kind of manjha while flying kites. 
    • Recently, Section 144 was imposed in Kaziranga National Park in Assam to avoid unnecessary gatherings at animal corridors, and ensure the safety of animals during monsoon season.

    Imposition during flooding

    • Prohibitory measures under Section 144 in flood-prone areas of the city are aimed towards preventing chaos and public movement in big groups.

    Source: IE

    Nature Restoration Law

    Syllabus: GS3/ Environment 

    News

    • Members of the European Parliament (MEP) recently voted to pass the EU nature restoration law with 336 votes in favour, 300 against and 13 abstentions.

    Nature restoration law

    • The law aims to repair the 80% of European habitats that are in poor condition by 2050.
    • There will be legally binding targets for every Member State.
    • The aim is to cover at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 with nature restoration measures, and eventually extend these to all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.

    The targets proposed include

    • Reversing the decline of pollinator populations by 2030 and increasing their populations from there on.
    • No net loss of green urban spaces by 2030, a 5% increase by 2050, a minimum of 10% tree canopy cover.
    • In agricultural ecosystems, an overall increase of biodiversity, and a positive trend for grassland butterflies, farmland birds,  organic carbon.
    • Restoration and rewetting of drained peatlands under agricultural use and in peat extraction sites.
    • In forest ecosystems, overall increase of biodiversity and a positive trend for forest connectivity, forest birds and stock of organic carbon.
    • Restoring marine habitats such as seagrasses or sediment bottoms, and restoring the habitats of iconic marine species such as dolphins and porpoises, sharks and seabirds.
    • Removing river barriers so that at least 25 000 km of rivers would be turned into free-flowing rivers by 2030.

    Significance of The Nature Restoration Law

    • It is an essential piece of the European Green Deal and follows the scientific consensus and recommendations to restore Europe’s ecosystems.
    • Farmers and fishers will benefit from it and it ensures a habitable earth for future generations.
    • The law implements a landmark agreement, where member countries — including the EU — agreed to protect 30% of the world’s lands and oceans. 

    The European Green Deal

    • It is a programme aimed to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, while boosting the competitiveness of European industry and ensuring a just transition for the regions and workers affected. 
    • Initiatives announced under it are:
      • European Climate Law, enshrining the 2050 climate-neutrality target in law
      • Proposal to extend the EU Emissions Trading System
      • Carbon Border Tax
      • New industrial strategy
      • Strategy for green financing and a Sustainable Europe Investment Plan
      • Comprehensive plan to increase the EU emissions reduction target for 2030 towards 55 %
      • ‘Farm to Fork Strategy’ on sustainable food along the whole value chain
      • Biodiversity Strategy for 2030
      • New Circular Economy Action Plan; tackling microplastics
      • New Just Transition Fund
      • Proposal to turn parts of the European Investment Bank into Europe’s climate bank 
      • European Climate Pact

    Source: TH

    Facts In News

    Muslim World League

     

    Syllabus: GS2/ International Relation

    News

    • Recently, Muslim World League Secretary-General Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa was on a visit to India.

    The Muslim World League (MWL)

    • The Muslim World League (MWL) is an international NGO with members from all Islamic countries and sects.
    • Headquarters: Mecca ,Saudi Arabia
    • Founded: It was founded in accordance with a resolution adopted during the meeting of the General Islamic Conference which was held in Makkah in 1962.
    • Governance:The Office of the Secretary General  is the executive wing of the organization.It supervises the day-to-day activities and implements the policies and resolutions adopted by the Constituent Council. 

    Objectives

    • It aims to present Islam and its tolerant principles, provide humanitarian aid, extend bridges of dialogue and cooperation with all.
    • To engage in positive openness to all cultures and civilisations, follow the path of centrism and moderation.
    • To Ward off movements calling for extremism, violence and exclusion.

    Source:PIB

    U.N. Human Rights Council

    Syllabus: GS2/ International Institutions

    In News

    • India recently voted in favour of a draft resolution tabled in the UN Human Rights Council that condemns and strongly rejects recent “public and premeditated” acts of desecration of the Holy Quran.

    More on News

    • India underscored the need for holding the perpetrators of these acts of religious hatred to account in line with obligations of States arising from international human rights law.
    • Those voting in favour of the resolution included Pakistan, Qatar, Ukraine and UAE. Nations voting against the resolution included Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.

    What is Desecration?

    • It is a type of behavior that disrespects the sacredness or holiness of something. Words and actions that are offensive to a religion could be considered acts of desecration.
    • Chapter XV (Of Offences Relating To Religion) of the Indian Penal Code deals with desecration in India. 
    • The offences relating to religion can be broadly classified into three categories:
      • Defilement of places of worship or objects of great respect (Section 295 and 297).
      • Outraging or wounding the religious feelings of persons (Section 295A and 298).
      • Disturbing religious assemblies (Section 296).

    About UNHRC

    • The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe
    • It meets at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).
    • It was created by the General Assembly on 15 March 2006 by its resolution 60/251, replacing the Commission on Human Rights.
    • The 47 members of the Council are elected by the General Assembly.
    • Its mechanisms include the universal periodic review, which serves to assess the situations of human rights in all States Members of the United Nations.

    Source: TH

     

    Banks Heralding Accelerated Rural & Agriculture Transformation (BHARAT)

    Syllabus: GS3/ Agriculture, GS3/Economy

    News

    • The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare launched a campaign for banks under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund titled BHARAT.

    BHARAT 

    • The one month-long Campaign was launched with a target of Rs 7200 crore.
    • The aim of the campaign is to get active involvement and support of members of 

    commercial Banks in the public and private sector, Regional Rural Banks, Small Finance Banks, NBFCs and select cooperative Banks to promote the Scheme of Agriculture Infrastructure Fund.

    Agriculture Infrastructure Fund

    • It is a financing facility launched in 2020 for farm-gate infrastructure for farmers.
    • Under this scheme, Rs 1 lakh crore is to be disbursed by the financial year 2025-26 and the interest subvention and credit guarantee assistance will be given till the year 2032-33.

    Objectives

    • Improved marketing infrastructure to allow farmers to sell directly to a larger base of consumers and hence, increase value realization for the farmers. This will improve the overall income of farmers.
    • Investments in logistics infrastructure so that  farmers will be able to sell in the market with reduced post-harvest losses and a smaller number of intermediaries. This further will make farmers independent and improve access to the market.
    • Modern packaging and cold storage system access to allow farmers to decide when to sell in the market and improve realization.
    • Community farming assets for improved productivity and optimization of inputs.

    Achievement

    • This Scheme has resulted in creation of more than 31, 850 agri infra projects in the country with ₹24750 crore as loan amount under AIF with an outlay of ₹ 42,000 crores.

    Concluding Remarks

    • The role of infrastructure is crucial for agriculture development and for taking the production dynamics to the next level. 
    • Development of such infrastructure shall also address the vagaries of nature, the regional disparities, development of human resource and realization of the full potential of our limited land resource.

    Source:PIB

     

    NABARD Foundation Day

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy

    News

    • Union Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation addressed the 42nd Foundation Day function of NABARD.

    NABARD

    • It is an apex regulatory body for overall regulation of  regional rural banks and apex cooperative banks in India.
    • It is under the jurisdiction of  the Ministry of Finance ,Government of India.

    Objectives

    • The bank has been entrusted with “matters concerning policy, planning, and operations in the field of credit for agriculture and other economic activities in rural areas in India”. 
    • NABARD is active in developing and implementing financial inclusion.

    Background

    • NABARD was established on the recommendations of B. Sivaraman Committee in 1982 to implement the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act 1981. 
    • It replaced the Agricultural Credit Department (ACD) and Rural Planning and Credit Cell (RPCC) of RBI and Agricultural Refinance and Development Corporation (ARDC). 

    Bank Regulation

    • NABARD supervises State Cooperative Banks (StCBs), District Cooperative Central Banks (DCCBs), and Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) and conducts statutory inspections of these banks.

    Achievements of NABARD

    • Rs. 5 lakh crore has been sanctioned under the country’s Rural Infrastructure Development Fund and 41 million hectares of land has come under irrigation through NABARD.
    • 13 million metric ton capacity warehouses have been set up in the country with the finance of NABARD. 
    • NABARD has about 7000 Farmers producer Organizations (FPOs) across the country, which ensure that farmers get remunerative prices for their produce.

    NABARD is the spine of rural India

    • NABARD has provided refinancing of ₹20 lakh crore in the rural economy growing at a rate of 14% over the last 42 years.
    • NABARD has financed about 1 crore self-help groups in the country.This in turn enabled every person in the village, especially women to become self-reliant and establish themselves in society with respect.
    • A nation which has 65% of its people living in rural areas cannot prosper without a financial institution like NABARD.

    Source:PIB

     

    SAMARTH

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy

    News

    • The Empowered Committee for Scheme for Capacity Building in Textiles Sector (SAMARTH) recently empanelled 43 new implementing partners and an additional target of training around 75,000 beneficiaries is set. 

    About SAMARTH

    • It is a demand driven and placement-oriented umbrella skilling programme of the Ministry of Textiles.
    • The Scheme aims to incentivize and supplement the efforts of the industry in creating jobs in the organized textile and related sectors. 
    • In addition to the entry level skilling, a special provision for upskilling/ reskilling programme has also been operationalized under the scheme towards improving the productivity of the existing workers in Apparel & Garmenting segments. 
    • It also caters to the upskilling/ reskilling requirement of traditional textile sectors such as handloom, handicraft, silk and jute.

    Achievements of the scheme:

    • The scheme has penetrated across 28 States and 6 Union territories of the country and caters to all sections of the society including SC, ST, and other marginalized categories. 
    • Out of the skilling target of 4.72 lakh beneficiaries allocated so far, 1.88 lakh beneficiaries have been provided training. 
    • More than 85% of the beneficiaries trained so far under the scheme are women. 
    • More than 70% of the beneficiaries trained in organized sector courses have been provided placement.

    Source: PIB

     

    Atlantic menhaden

    Syllabus: GS3/Environment

    In News

    • Recently, the researchers have found the lowest reproductive number of the local population of the raptor (fish-eating bird) since the last 50 years.

    Reason

    • The study mentions the long-term decline in breeding success due to the bay-wide depletion of the bird’s favorite food — Atlantic menhaden.

    About Atlantic menhaden

    • Appearance: Menhaden are silvery in color with a distinct black shoulder spot behind their gill opening. 

    • Distribution: Brevoortia tyrannus, commonly called the Atlantic Menhaden, can be found anywhere in the western Atlantic, Nova Scotia, Canada and southward to Indian River, Florida, USA. Menhaden are also common in all salinities of the Chesapeake Bay.
      • They swim in large schools close to the water’s surface during the spring, summer, and fall.
    • Habitat: For the most part menhadens can be found at a depth of up to -20m. This puts them in the pelagic, brackish, marine area of the Atlantic Ocean.
    • Life Span: Menhaden can live to be 10 to 12 years old. Menhaden eat both phytoplankton and zooplankton. When they are well-fed, they are referred to as fatbacks or bunkers.
    • Menhaden larvae drift into estuarine environments and metamorphosize into juveniles.  The juveniles tend to stay in the estuarine environments—like the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay—for approximately a year before leaving the estuary to join adult schools. 
    • While many menhaden are migratory, others do not migrate and stay resident in their area.
    • Threat: Menhaden have been consistently overfished for more than a century for their commercial use.

    Significance

    • They play a crucial role in the ecology of coastal waters feeding bigger fish like striped bass and weakfish; marine mammals including whales and dolphins; and birds like bald eagles, great blue herons and brown pelicans. 

    • The fish are nutrient-rich, a good source of omega-3 fatty acids; they feed on both phytoplankton and zooplankton and filter huge quantities of ocean water.
    • They are a mainstay of the commercial fishing industry, caught in mass quantities to be processed into bait for crabs and lobsters, and in greater volume for so-called reduction fisheries, in which they are ground up and turned into products including fish oil and fish meal.
    • The fish is too small and oily to eat, menhaden are harvested for other purposes, including:
      • fertilizers
      • animal feed
      • human and animal supplements
      • cosmetics
      • bait.

    Concerns due to declining population of the fish

    • Degrading the ecosystem: Removal of such large quantities of fish from the bay is degrading the ecosystem in which menhaden play a central role, making it harder for species like osprey and striped bass to survive and thrive.
    • The decline threatens to disrupt coastal and marine food webs and affect thousands of fishing, whale-watching, and bird-watching businesses that menhaden help support.

    Source: IE