Daily Current Affairs – 21-06-2023

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    International Day of Yoga

    Syllabus: GS1/Art & Culture, Literature, GS2/ India & Foreign Relations

    In News

    • Recently, people worldwide are observed the 9th International Yoga Day.

    More about the news

    • About:
      • International Day of Yoga is celebrated every year on June 21 across the world to spread awareness about the benefits of yoga for health and well-being.
    • 9th International Yoga day:
      • Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the celebrations at United Nations Headquarters in New York, US. 
      • More than 180 countries were expected to join to show their commitment towards yoga.
      • Estimated 250 million individuals were anticipated to participate in the event. 
      • Theme: The event is centred around the theme ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,’ meaning One Earth. One Future. One Family.

    More about Yoga and the International Day of Yoga

    • About Yoga:
      • Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ derives from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.
        • It emphasises the values of mindfulness, moderation, discipline and perseverance. 
      • Today it is practiced in various forms around the world and continues to grow in popularity.
      • It has also played a significant role in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of Covid-19 patients in quarantine and isolation. 
        • It is particularly helpful in allaying their fears and anxiety
    • UN’s recognition for the International Day of Yoga:
      • Proposal & Resolution: 
        • The draft resolution establishing the International Day of Yoga was proposed by India and endorsed by a record 175 member states. 
        • The proposal was first introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address during the opening of the 69th session of the General Assembly.
          • 21st June was chosen as it marks the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, which holds special significance in many parts of the world.
        • Interestingly enough, there was no opposition to the resolution. There were no negative votes when it was tabled.
      • Recognition:
        • Recognizing its universal appeal, on 11 December 2014, the United Nations proclaimed 21 June as the International Day of Yoga.
      • Aim:
        • The International Day of Yoga aims to raise awareness worldwide of the many benefits of practicing yoga.

    India’s Yoga diplomacy

    • It is often stated that, “If China has panda diplomacy, India has yoga.” 
    • Addressing global problems:
      • International Yoga Day Is aimed towards addressing global problems, and keeping in view the prime minister’s emphasis on the contribution made by yoga to health and climate change.
      • The link between yoga and health, within the broader framework of encouraging sustainable lifestyles and sustainable consumption has become a major yardstick for global assessments.
    • Worldwide presence:
      • Yoga tourism functions along the Indian Ocean coastline of Mozambique. 
      • Countries with large Indian diasporas in Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Caribbean, as well as Latin American countries like Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, where yoga schools had been nurtured by well-known Indian yoga gurus.
    • Common civilizational heritage:
      • The awareness of yoga as a common civilizational heritage has brought together countries of Central Asia, South Asia (except Pakistan) and South East Asia (except Malaysia and Brunei).

    Government Initiatives for promoting Yoga 

    • M-Yoga Application:
      • It was launched in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
      • The app will have videos of yoga training based on a Common Yoga Protocol and will be available in different languages. It will help the government in making the ‘One World, One Health’ motto successful.
    • Common Yoga Protocol:
      • In its ‘Common Yoga Protocol’ from 2019, the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) lists Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi, Bandhas and Mudras, Satkarmas, Yuktahara, Mantra-japa, Yukta-karma among popular yoga ‘sadhanas’.
    • Educational Yoga Courses:
      • The Beauty and Wellness Sector Skill Council (B&WSSC) has vocational education courses in Yoga for the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools.
      • B&WSSC is a non-profit organisation that works under the National Skill Development Corporation, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
    • Yoga Training:
      • Candidates in lakhs have been trained as yoga instructors and trainers through various skilling initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), a flagship scheme of the MSDE.
    • Fit India Movement:
      • Yoga is also a part of the Fit India Movement, a nation-wide campaign encouraging people to include physical activities and sports in their everyday lives.

    Way ahead

    • While there are many ‘international days’ and the criticism has been made by some of whether it was worth it for India to expend diplomatic capital in this manner, the effort needs to be seen in the context of what India has been doing to give meaning to some of the principles of the UN Charter.

    Source: TH

    One Nation One Helpline Initiative

    Syllabus: GS 2/Governance 

    In News

    • Recently, the decision has been taken to integrate Women Helpline, and Child Helpline with ERSS-112 (Emergency Response Support System) as part of the broader vision of One Nation One Helpline.

    Why Needed? 

    • The current system lacks interoperability with other services, including Police, Fire, and Ambulance services, which leads to the loss of precious time in distress situations.
    •  Moreover, the  Childline India Foundation (CIF) network covered only 568 districts, leaving almost 200 districts without Childline coverage.

    About Initiative

    • The Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has made the Kerala-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) the ‘total solution provider’ for the automation and integration of Childline 1098 with ERSS 112.
    • States have to ensure a dedicated 24×7 WCD (Women and Child Development) Control Room to be integrated with the ERSS 112
    • Procedure :
      • “Incoming 1098 calls will be classified as ‘emergency calls’, ‘non-emergency calls’, and ‘information calls’. 
      • All emergency calls can be forwarded from 1098 to 112 or vice versa with the switch of a button.
      • ‘Non-emergency calls’ may be transferred to the respective CHL units at DCPUs, while ‘information calls’ could be handled at the WCD Control Room itself or transferred to DCPU CHL units for providing information to the caller. 
    • Coverage: 
      • In the first phase, nine States and Union Territories will be covered 
        • Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Goa, Mizoram, Ladakh, Puducherry, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu. 
        • Other States and Union Territories will follow in a phased manner,

    Do you Know?

    • Earlier, the WCD Ministry, under the erstwhile Child Protection Services scheme, was supporting the 24×7 helpline through the Childline India Foundation (CIF) and its partner NGOs. 
      • Till now, the CIF has been rendering Childline services in 568 districts, 135 railway stations and 11 bus stands through its network of over 1,000 units.
    • CIF’s response time to children’s distress calls is about 60 minutes. 

    Emergency Response Support System (ERSS)

    • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has accepted the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee in the backdrop of the unfortunate incident of Nirbhaya in December’2012 and has approved a national project by the name of ‘Emergency Response Support System (ERSS)’, earlier referred as Nationwide Emergency Response System (NERS) with a view to introducing a Pan-India Single Emergency Response Number ‘112’ to address all kinds of distress calls such as police, fire, and ambulance, etc.
    • It is designed to address all emergency signals received from citizens through voice calls, SMS, e-mail, panic SOS signal, ERSS web portal etc.

    Source: TH

    Chashma-V nuclear Plant 

    Syllabus: GS 2/International Relations

    In News

    • Recently, China inked an agreement with Pakistan to set up a 1,200-megawatt nuclear power plant at Chashma in the Mianwali district of Punjab.

    About the project 

    • Under this project, Pakistan is getting an investment of $4.8 billion from China which “sends the message that Pakistan is a place where Chinese companies and investors continue to show their trust and faith”.
    • Pakistan’s Chashma power plants are considered a key in the production of cheap nuclear power. 
    • The nuclear power plant agreement signing as a token of increasing economic cooperation between Pakistan and China.

    Existing power plants 

    • The installed capacity of the existing four power plants is 1,330 megawatts
    • Two other nuclear power plants are also operational in Pakistan. Karachi Nuclear Power Plants (KANUPP 2 & 3 have a capacity of 2,290 megawatts).

    Impact on Pakistan 

    • Pakistan’s economy has been in a free fall mode for the last many years, bringing unbridled pressure on the poor masses in the form of unchecked inflation and making it almost impossible for a vast number of people to make ends meet.
    • Pakistan is under tremendous financial debt and is not getting multilateral loans or even bilateral assistance without the support of the IMF.
    • Only China has stood fast to help Pakistan while Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also been selectively supportive.
    • Pakistan would come out of the current economic difficulties with the help of China and other friendly countries.

    Do you know?

    • The IMF signed a deal in 2019 to provide $6 billion to Pakistan on fulfillment of certain conditions. 
      • The plan was derailed several times and the full reimbursement is still pending due to insistence by the donor that Pakistan should complete all formalities.

    India’s Stand on Projects in Pakistan 

    • India has firmly opposed the proposed participation of third nations in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), asserting that such activities are illegitimate and directly infringe on its territorial integrity.
      • CPEC consists of a number of infrastructure projects that are under construction across Pakistan and is aimed at connecting China overland with the Gulf countries by cutting through the Himalayan range in Gilgit Baltistan and the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
    • India’s firm belief that “connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency, and equality”, and that “connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

    Source:TH

     

    Coal India Ltd (CIL) under ambit of Competition    Commission of India

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy

    In News

    • Recently, the Supreme Court said Coal India Ltd (CIL), a public-sector undertaking, would come within the ambit of the Competition Act 2002.

    What was the case about?

    • In March 2017, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) had imposed a penalty of ₹591.01 crore on CIL for “imposing unfair/discriminatory conditions in fuel supply agreements (FSAs) with the power producers for supply of non-coking coal.” 
    • CIL was found to be supplying lower quality of the essential resource at higher prices and placing opaque conditions in the contract about supply parameters and quality. 
    • The regulator contended that Coal India and its subsidiaries operated independently of market forces and enjoyed market dominance in the relevant market with respect to production and supply of non-coking coal in India.

    Coal India Ltd (CIL) stand

    • Coal India argued that it operated with the principles of ‘common good’ and ensuring equitable distribution of the essential natural resource.
    • CIL had contended before the court that considering the fact that it became a monopoly under the Nationalisation Act ,1973, the provisions of the Competition Act should not apply to it.
    • The entity said that it may have to adhere to a differential pricing mechanism to encourage captive coal production (referring to mines that are handed over to companies for specific and exclusive use through lease or any other route).

    Competition Commission of India (CCI )respond:

    • The Raghavan Committee (2020) report, put up for perusal by the respondents, had observed that state monopolies were not conducive to the best interests of the nation. They could not be allowed to operate in a state of inefficiency and should instead, operate amid competition.
    • Furthermore, coal ceased to be an ‘essential commodity’ in February 2007 and the Nationalisation Act too was removed from the Ninth Schedule (laws that cannot be challenged in court) in 2017.
    • Coal constitutes about 60 to 70% of the costs for power generation companies and  this power would ultimately be used by the final consumer.Thus, irregular prices and supply of coal by CIL will have a significant bearing indirectly on consumers.

    Supreme Court’s observations:

    • The judgement reinforced the principle of “competitive neutrality” — entailing that the Competition Act equally applies to public and private sector enterprises. 
    • “Government companies, across sectors, which may be dominant in their sector of operation, would have to conduct business in a fair and non-discriminatory manner so as to not fall foul of the principles of antitrust law. This allows for a level playing field between public sector and private enterprises operating in India.” 

     

     

    About Competition Commission of India (CCI)

    • The Competition Commission of India has been established to enforce the competition law under the Competition Act, 2002.
    • It comes under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. It is a quasi-judicial body.
    • It should be noted that on the recommendations of Raghavan committee, the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (MRTP Act) was repealed and replaced by the Competition Act, 2002.
    • The Commission consists of a Chairperson and not more than 6 Members appointed by the Central Government.
    • It is the statutory duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having an adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade carried on by other participants, in markets in India as provided in the Preamble as well as Section 18 of the Act.

    Competition Act

    • The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, follows the philosophy of modern competition laws.
    • The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.

    Source: TH

    Carbon Offsetting

    Syllabus: GS3/ Environment

    In News 

    • Delta Air Lines in 2020 marketed itself as the “world’s first carbon-neutral airline”, but recently California-based Mayanna Berrin filed a lawsuit against Delta arguing that the airlines’ assertions were bogus, misleading and false.

    What does the lawsuit say?

    • The lawsuit accuses Delta of misleading customers with its sustainability pledges.
    • Criticism includes, “inaccurate accounting” of projects where reductions would have occurred regardless of carbon market involvement; failure to immediately offset emissions; relying on impermanent solutions such as building projects (like forests) that may be destroyed by natural hazards.

    Carbon Offsetting

    • It’s a slew of ways companies adopt to reduce or remove carbon emissions from the environment. Activities like planting trees, shifting to cleaner fuel and funding carbon capture techniques in theory balance out a company’s carbon emissions. 
    • For example – company A could offset its unavoidable emissions by purchasing carbon credits from company B that is in the business of, or uses, renewable energy. Company B in exchange would set up a new solar plant or a new wind farm or carry out reforestation initiatives. In this case, B benefits from clean energy and A from its reduced carbon footprint.

    Carbon Insetting

    • It focuses on doing more good rather than doing less bad within a value chain.
    • It is the implementation of nature-based solutions such as reforestation, agroforestry, renewable energy and regenerative agriculture.

    Greenwashing

    • Greenwashing is the act of making false or misleading statements about the environmental benefits of a product or practice. 
    • It can be a way for companies to continue or expand their polluting as well as related harmful behaviors, all while gaming the system or profiting off well-intentioned, sustainably minded consumers. 
    • The term was coined back in 1986 in an essay by environmentalist and then student Jay Westerveld.

    Carbon Markets

    • It is a mitigation strategy which is becoming popular with several countries to meet their nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
    • Article 6 of the Paris Agreement provides for the use of international carbon markets by countries to fulfill their NDCs.

    Carbon Credit: 

    • A carbon credit is a kind of tradable permit that, per United Nations standards, equals one tonne of carbon dioxide removed, reduced, or sequestered from the atmosphere. 

    Carbon allowances or caps

    • Caps are determined by countries or governments according to their emission reduction targets.

    Criticism against Carbon Offsetting

    • It is criticised for appealing to climate consciousness without real effort or impact. Greenpeace describes it as paying lip service to climate action.
    • One line of scrutiny is about the efficacy of offsets in general — growing evidence shows reforestation as a climate adaptation programme is ineffective and misleading. They failed to sequester the carbon in the first place, or the gains made were quickly reversed or inflated.
    • Another concern hints at the moral problem of greenwashing, where big polluters continue to use fossil fuels and opt for a cheaper route to cutting emissions by way of offsets, all while middle- and low-income nations struggle with climate realities.
    • Experts also argue it lulls people into thinking they are contributing to the environment. One 2015 working paper found that global CO2 emissions would have been 600 million tonnes lower if countries had cut pollution at the source instead of buying offsets.
    • Offset programs work only when they remove or reduce carbon emissions that wouldn’t have been eliminated otherwise, what is called “additionality”. 
    • Paying to conserve rainforests that no one was planning to cut, doesn’t amount to offsetting carbon emissions. Proving additionality is a structural challenge, for it is hard to track the genuine progress of activities on the ground.
    • Factors such as double-counting and additionality have the potential to reverse the impact of carbon markets from positive to negative. Ex. Company A pays company B for the offset project and both entities count the emissions reduced in their respective books – this is known as double counting. Similarly, company A pays company C for reforestation initiatives that were slated to happen anyway – this would be considered additionality.

    Initiatives 

    Global

    1. Clean Development Mechanism: 
    • The CDM allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2. 
    • These CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries to meet a part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
    • The CDM is the main source of income for the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund, which is financed by a 2% levy on CERs issued by the CDM.
    1. CORSIA:  
    • Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, is the first global market-based measure to reduce emissions from international aviation, minimizing market distortion, while respecting the special circumstances and respective capabilities of ICAO Member States.

    Indian

    1. PAT (Perform, Achieve and Trade), a market-based scheme, has already prevented CO2 emissions of up to 92 million tonnes during its 1st and 2nd cycles.
    2. Indian Carbon Market (ICM): with an objective to decarbonise the Indian economy by pricing GHG emissions through trading of carbon credit certificates and in compliance with Article 6.2 of the Paris Agreement.
    3. Carbon Credit Trading Scheme that is expected to be notified in June 2023 with Carbon Credit Certificates under it are expected to be available for trading by 2025.

    What is needed?

    • There is an urgent need for companies and countries alike to identify high integrity projects that adhere to robust climate methodologies.
    • While an important tool, carbon offsetting can’t be considered a substitute for direct emissions reductions. Airlines should focus on decarbonising commercial aviation, with the help of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), hydrogen, and full-electric propulsion techniques rather than making false claims.

    Source: TH

     

        Submersible vs Submarine

    Syllabus: GS3/ Science & Technology

    In News

    • A tourist submersible (Titan) went missing with five people on board during a dive to explore the wreck of the Titanic.

    What are submersibles?

    • Submersibles are small, limited range watercrafts designed for a set mission, that are built with characteristics that allow them to operate in a specific environment
    • While some submersibles are remotely-operated—essentially manually controlled or programmed robots—these usually operate unmanned.

    How are submersibles safely retrieved?

    • Submersibles always operate in conjunction with a mother ship. They are typically launched on a raft or platform which is placed into water and ultimately descends down via four electric thrusters which help it to reach speeds of 3 knots. 
    • When it returns to the surface, it must be loaded back onto the surface platform.

     Submersible vs Submarine:

    • A submersible is smaller than a submarine.
    • A submersible has very limited power reserves so it needs a mother ship that can launch it and recover it. In comparison,a submarine has enough power to leave port and come back to port under its own power.
    • Submarines can propel themselves forward through the water using propellers or jets that shoot out water. These can be powered by diesel engines, or even nuclear reactors, and do not need a support ship to launch.
    • Unlike submarines, submersibles also have a viewport and external cameras to view the outside space surrounding the vessel.

    Titan: Tourist submersible

    • The Titan was made of titanium and carbon fibre.
    • It was designed to transport five people to depths of around 4,000m in order to reach the Titanic shipwreck. 
    • It weighs around 10,432 kilograms and can also take on speeds of about 3 knots, or 5.5 kilometres per hour.

    Source: IE

    GEMCOVAC-OM

    Syllabus :GS 2/Health /GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    • Recently, the GEMCOVAC-OM vaccine got a nod from the office of the Drug Control General of India (DCGI) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

    About GEMCOVAC-OM

    • It is India’s first indigenous mRNA vaccine for the Omicron variant.
    • It is developed using the indigenous platform technology by Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd. 
    • It is supported under the Mission COVID Suraksha, implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).

    Features 

    • Like the prototype vaccine, it is a thermostable vaccine, which does not require ultra-cold chain infrastructure used for other approved mRNA-based vaccines, making it easy for deployment pan India. 
      • It could also be stored in “ordinary” refrigerators.
    • It is delivered intra-dermally using a needle-free injection device system. 
    • It has a greater safety profile than Covishield and generates more neutralising antibodies.

    Why Needed?

    • The persistent threat from long-COVID and global guidelines (from the WHO) recommend having a vaccine effective against the Omicron variant. 
    • The clinical outcome also demonstrates the need for variant-specific vaccines for desired immune response.

    Source:TH

     

    National Bank for Financing Infrastructure & Development (NaBFID)

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy

    In News

    • National Bank for Financing Infrastructure & Development (NaBFID) aims to disburse about ₹60,000 crore by the end of this fiscal, having lent ₹8,000 crore already in the first quarter..

    About NaBFID

    • National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NABFID) has been set up by way of the NABFID Act, 2021, passed by the Parliament on March 28, 2021, as the principal entity for infrastructure financing in the country. 
    • NABFID has been primarily established to support the development of long-term infrastructure financing in India including the development of the bonds and derivatives markets necessary for infrastructure financing. 
    • The entity will be regulated and supervised as an All India Financial Institution (AIFI) by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), making it the fifth sector-specific AIFI in the country. 
    • Other four AIFI are:
    1. Export – Import Bank of India (Exim Bank)
    2. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)
    3. Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)
    4. National Housing Bank (NHB)
    • The corporate office of NABFID is located in Gurugram, Haryana.
    • The constitution of the entity’s board, as stated in the NABFID Act, is as follows –

    Chairman appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the RBI 

     Managing Director appointed by the board 

    Up to three Deputy Managing Directors appointed by the board o Two directors from the Central Government 

     Up to three directors appointed by the shareholders 

     Up to three Independent Directors

    • Currently NABFID is offering 7.43% on the unsecured non-convertible debt securities of 10-year tenor. This is the largest debt issuance by a national-level institution.

     Source: TH