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Daily Current Affairs

: 13-10-2021 : 55 Minutes

SUBJECT : Biodiversity and Environment

Implications of a Net-zero Target for India’s Sectoral Energy Transitions and Climate Policy

In News

  • Recently, a report – titled ‘Implications of a Net-zero Target for India’s Sectoral Energy Transitions and Climate Policy’ has been released.

About the Report

  • The report is released by the independent think tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).
  • Key Findings:
    • Solar power capacity: India’s total installed solar power capacity will need to increase to 5630 gigawatts (GW) by 2070 in order to achieve net-zero emissions.
    • Land requirement: Consequently, the total corresponding land requirement for India’s power generation assets, especially solar, would be approximately 4.6 per cent.
    • Recycling: India would also need to develop the requisite recycling capacities to handle the solar PV waste generated. At present, India has 100 GW of installed renewable energy capacity, of which solar comprises 40 GW, and it aims to enhance the RE capacity to 450 GW by 2030.
    • Fuel: 
      • Coal usage: In order to achieve net-zero by 2070, usage of coal, especially for power generation, would need to peak by 2040 and drop by 99 per cent between 2040 and 2060. 
      • Crude oil consumption: Further, consumption of crude oil, across sectors, would need to peak by 2050 and fall substantially by 90 per cent between 2050 and 2070. 
      • Green hydrogen: Green hydrogen could contribute 19 per cent of the total energy needs of the industrial sector. These insights assume that hydrogen will play an integral part in this transition, while Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology would play a negligible role.
    • Economic Cost: If India were to attain net-zero emissions by 2070, then the economic cost of the transition could be around 4.1% of the GDP in the net-zero year. But, if India were to prepone the timeline to 2050, the economic cost would be much higher, around 7% in that particular year.
    • Usage: 
      • Electric or battery-driven passenger vehicles would comprise 84 per cent of all cars sold in the country. 
      • Further, 79 per cent of all trucks would run on battery-electric technology and rest on hydrogen. 
      • Households across the country would also have to use electricity as the primary cooking fuel. 
    • Wind and nuclear energy share:
      • The share of wind and nuclear energy in India’s electricity generation mix would have to increase to 1792 GW and 225 GW

Image Courtesy: TOI 

India and Net Zero Target  

  • Emission: 
    • India, as the country with the third-largest emissions, is under pressure to come up with a higher ambition of cutting CO2 emissions. 
    • India is working to reduce its emissions, aligned with the goal of less than 2°C global temperature rise. 
  • Aim to Reduce intensity: 
    • India has committed to reducing the emission intensity of its gross domestic product by 33-35% by 2030 and having 175-gigawatt renewable energy capacity by 2030 under the Paris Agreement of 2016. 
    • There is renewed pressure on India to enhance its renewable commitment under the Paris deal with 450 GW by 2030 and phase out coal.
    • But it has not favoured a binding commitment towards carbon neutrality.
  • Current scenario: 
    • Even though India is yet to commit to a net-zero target, it is the only G20 country to meet its emission reduction commitments made in the Paris Agreement. 
    • It is also a leading partner in the International Solar Alliance and has recently announced the National Hydrogen Mission to push the innovation, production, storage, and usage of green hydrogen.
    • The recent IPCC report released earlier this year has also underscored the importance of achieving net-zero globally to limit the total rise in temperatures to 1.5-2 degrees in the coming decades.

Challenges

  • Peak and net zero-gap: For vast and diverse developing countries like India, at least a thirty-year gap between peaking and the net-zero year would be critical. This will ensure a smooth transition by giving policymakers and other stakeholders sufficient time to plan and adapt to a new energy system. 
  • Energy Prices: As moving towards a net-zero future, energy prices could rise in the short run and workers that are a part of the fossil-fuel economy could lose jobs.
  • Reliance on coal: India is heavily reliant on coal. According to the International Energy Agency’s India Energy Outlook 2021, coal accounts for close to 70% of electricity generation.

Way Ahead

  • Developed countries should offer generous financial and technological support to the developing ones to help them set ambitious goals regarding emissions reduction while ensuring a just transition
  • Developed economies should significantly advance their target of achieving net-zero and not wait till 2050. This will give developing countries room to pursue a just and sustainable energy transition. 
  • Going forward, India should also co-invest and co-develop new green technologies in partnership with other countries to create new jobs and markets. Green hydrogen is one such technology that could replace coal in the industrial sector. 
  • India should invest in research and development, and become an export hub for green hydrogen and electrolysers in the coming years. 

Critical Milestones

  • Following are the 12 critical milestones for the 2040 peaking–2070 net-zero scenario with no commercial availability of CCS but hydrogen being commercially available:
  • Power sector
    • Coal-based power generation must peak by 2040 and reduce by 99 per cent between 2040 and 2060
    • Solar-based electricity generation capacity must increase to 1689 GW by 2050 and 5,630 GW by 2070
    • Wind-based electricity generation capacity much increase to 557 GW by 2050 and 1792 GW by 2070
    • Nuclear-based electricity generation capacity must increase to 68 GW by 2050 and 225 GW by 2070
  • Transport sector
    • The share of electric cars in car sales must reach 84 per cent by 2070
    • The share of electric trucks in freight trucks must total 79 per cent by 2070, the rest being fuelled by hydrogen
    • The share of biofuel blend in oil for cars, trucks, and airlines must touch 84 per cent by 2070
  • Industrial sector
    • Coal use in the industrial sector must peak by 2040 and reduce by 97 per cent between 2040 and 2065
    • Hydrogen share in total industrial energy use (heat and feedstock) must increase to 15 per cent by 2050 and 19 per cent by 2070
    • The industrial energy intensity of total GDP must decline by 54 per cent between 2015 and 2050 and by a further 32 per cent between 2050 and 2070
  • Building sector
    • The intensity of electricity use in the building sector with respect to total GDP must decline by 45 per cent between 2015 and 2050 and by another 2.5 per cent between 2050 and 2070
  • Refinery sector
    • Crude oil consumption in the economy must peak by 2050 and decrease by 90 per cent between 2050 and 2070.

Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW)

  • It is an India-based, independent and globally engaged policy research organisation.
  • It is one of Asia’s leading not-for-profit policy research institutions.
  • Founded: In 2010
  • Working: CEEW uses data, integrated analysis, and strategic outreach to explain – and change – the use, reuse, and misuse of resources.
  • Funding: Sources such as donations and grants from private and philanthropic foundations, multilateral organisations, corporations, and public institutions. 


Source: IE

SUBJECT : Polity & Governance

Backlogs in RTI

In News

  • As per the report Performance of Information Commissions in India, 2021, over 2.55 lakh appeals and complaints were pending on 30 June 2021 with 26 information commissions.

Key Findings

Issue of Pendency:

  • The report highlights the delays in disposing of cases due to both shortage of personnel and inefficient operations.
  • Based on the present strength, twelve State Information Commissions plus the Central Information Commission (CIC) would need at least a year to dispose of their appeals. 
  • The estimated time required for disposal of an appeal/complaint in the central information commission (CIC) is calculated at one year and 11 months.

Penalties Imposed:

  • In over 95 per cent of the cases, the commissions did not impose penalties where they were imposable. 
  • An assessment of the functioning of the transparency watchdogs revealed that 21 out of 29 commissions in the country did not hold a single hearing during the first three stages of the national lockdown imposed in 2020.

Vacant Positions: 

  • 6 out of 165 posts of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are vacant in states and at the centre.
  • In States such as Jharkhand, the State Information Commission has been completely defunct for 18 months. 
  • The commissions of Meghalaya and Tripura have also been defunct for seven and three months respectively and at least three more commissions are headless.

Other Concerns:

  • The appointment of retired bureaucrats as commissioner, casual attitude by public information officers while rejecting RTI application, and RTI e-filing are still rare facilities in states.

Image Courtesy: TH

Right to Information

  • The right to information is a fundamental right under Article 19 (1) of the Indian Constitution. 
  • In 1976, in the Raj Narain vs the State of Uttar Pradesh case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Right to information will be treated as a fundamental right under Article 19. 
    • The Supreme Court held that in Indian democracy, people are the masters and they have the right to know about the working of the government.
  • Thus the government enacted the Right to Information Act in 2005 which provides machinery for exercising this Fundamental Right.

Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005

  • An Act to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities.
  • It replaced the former Freedom of Information Act, 2002.
  • Functioning of Right to Information Act
    • A three-tier structure for enforcing the right to information has been set up under the RTI Act 2005.
    • Public Information Officers
      • The first request for information goes to the Assistant Public Information Officer and Public Information Officer, designated by the Public Authorities.
      • These Officers are required to provide information to an RTI applicant within 30 days of the request.
    • Appellate Authority:
      •  It caters to the appeals against decisions of the Public Information Officer.
    • State Information Commission or the Central Information Commission (CIC): 
      • Their major function is to listen to appeals against the order of the Appellate Authority.
      • These Information Commissions consist of a Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and up to 10 Information Commissioners(ICs).
    • Political parties:
      • The Central Information Commission (CIC) had held that the political parties are public authorities and are answerable to citizens under the RTI Act.
      • But in August 2013 the government introduced a Right To Information (Amendment) Bill which would remove political parties from the scope of the law.
      • Currently, no parties are under the RTI Act and a case has been filed for bringing all political parties under it.
    • Recently, the RTI Amendment Bill 2019 was presented to make certain changes.
    • For Amendment in the RTI, Please go through this link.
  • Significance
    • The RTI Act, 2005 did not create a new bureaucracy for implementing the law. Instead, it tasked and mandated officials in every office to change their attitude and duty from one of secrecy to one of sharing and openness.
    • It carefully and deliberately empowered the Information Commission to be the highest authority in the country with the mandate to order any office in the country to provide information as per the provisions of the Act. 
    • And it empowered the Commission to fine any official who did not follow the mandate.
    • Access to information can empower the poor and the weaker sections of society to demand and get information about public policies and actions, thereby leading to their welfare. It showed an early promise by exposing wrongdoings at high places, such as in the organisation of the Commonwealth Games, and the allocation of 2G spectrum and coal blocks.
    • Right to information opens up government’s records to public scrutiny, thereby arming citizens with a vital tool to inform them about what the government does and how effectively, thus making the government more accountable.
    • Improves decision making by the public authority by removing unnecessary secrecy.

Way Forward

  • Filling up the vacancies in Information commissions will definitely help clear the RTI backlogs.
  • Constitutional Status to CIC and ICs: The constitutional status will give RTI and CIC proper sovereign backing to function in an autonomous way. 
  • Awareness Campaigns: Any empowerment or transparency drive is incomplete without the involvement of stakeholders which can be ensured by mobilising NGOs and Citizens.
  • Protection to RTI Activists: There have been incidents of attacks on RTI activists and they too should be given enough protection for whistleblowing against the corrupt.

Source: TH

SUBJECT : Polity & Governance

Rajasthan Compulsory Registrations of Marriage Amendment Bill, 2021

In News

  • Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed recently by the Rajasthan Assembly.
    • The Bill was opposed by the opposition, civil societies, women’s organisations and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
    • It was alleged to legitimise child marriage. 
    • Petitions have been filed in the High Court and the Supreme Court.

Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages (Amendment) Bill, 2021

  • The Amendment Bill, 2021 amends Section 8 of the Rajasthan Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act, 2009.
    • Section 8 deals withDuty to submit Memorandum”. 
    • The Act itself defines Memorandum as the Memorandum for registration of marriage.”
  • Prior to the amendment, Section 8 read: 
    • (1)“The parties, or in case the parties have not completed the age of 21 years, the parents or as the case may be, guardian of the parties, 
      • shall be responsible to submit the memorandum 
      • within a period of 30 days from the date of solemnization of the marriage 
      • to the Registrar within whose jurisdiction the marriage is solemnized or both or any of the parties resides.
    • (2) A memorandum, which is not submitted within the time limit specified in sub-section (1), may be submitted at any time on payment of penalty as may be prescribed.”
  • After the amendment, which changes a key aspect in the age prescribed, Section 8 now reads: 
    • “The parties to the marriage, or 
      • in case the bridegroom has not completed the age of 21 years and/or the bride has not completed the age of 18 years, the parents or, as the case may be, guardian of the parties 
      • shall be responsible to submit the memorandum, in such manner, as may be prescribed, 
      • within a period of 30 days from the date of solemnization of the marriage 
      • to the Registrar within whose jurisdiction 
        • the marriage is solemnized, or 
        • the parties to the marriage or either of them are residing for at least 30 days before the date of submission of the memorandum.”
    • Sub-section 2 has been amended to permit eligible parties- even if one or both are deceased- to submit the memorandum.
  • In a nutshell, it amended the 2009 law on mandatory registration of marriages to include child marriages too.

Rationale Behind the Amendment

  • The state government has termed the amendment a “technical” one and puts the following points in favour
    • Parity with Central Legislation:
      • The amendment would bring the age in line with central legislation which recognises the age of 18 as the majority for a girl and 21 for a boy. 
    • Faster Annulment of Child Marriage:
      • Registration of child marriages would help in their faster annulment.
    • Help to Child Widows:
      • It will also help the government reach out to more victims, particularly widows.

Criticism of the Amendment

  • Compulsory Registration may legitimise Child Marriage:
    • Critics say compulsory registration of child marriage would legitimise it.
  • Hurdle in future Marriage Annulments:
    •  Activists have also said the marriage certificate might in fact, contrary to government claims, become a hurdle in getting an annulment later.
    • The courts could cite the lack of a marriage certificate as a reason to not grant an annulment.
  • Registration mandatory even in Previous Act:
    • So there is no actual change in act except for an explicit mention of ages of bride and grooms.

Legality and Registration of Child Marriage: Prohibition of Child Marriage Act

  • Child Marriages are not Illegal:
    • Child marriages are not illegal per se, although there is a legal framework to prevent them.
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act gives only a rollback option:
    • The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, allows a child marriage to be annulled by either the bride or the groom who was a minor at the time of marriage when they attain the age of majority.
    • So essentially, it gives them an option to roll back the marriage as if it never happened. 
  • No Annulment if both want to honour marriage:
    • If the parties do not wish to annul the marriage, it would be considered a legitimate marriage. 
    • This shield is given to essentially ensure the rights of minor girls in access to the marital home, marital property and ensure the legitimacy of offspring.
  • Few Exceptions:
    • Child marriages under certain conditions however are considered void automatically.
      • This could be where the minor is forced, kidnapped for marriage, or is married for the purpose of human trafficking.

How does the law strive to prevent child marriage?

  • Under Section 9, Prohibition of the Child Marriage Act
    • male adults shall be punished with imprisonment up to 2 years and/or a fine of Rs 1 lakh for marrying a minor girl. 
  • Under Section 10 
    • “Whoever performs, conducts, directs or abets any child marriage shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment 
      • which may extend to 2 years and shall be liable to fine which may extend to 1 lakh rupees 
      • unless he proves that he had reasons to believe that the marriage was not a child marriage.” 
  • This enables the police to arrest not just the adult groom or parents facilitating a child marriage, but anyone who participates in solemnising such a marriage.

Judicial Verdicts regarding Child Marriage 

  • Independent Thought v Union of India (2017): Marital Rape in Child Marriage
    • In this case, the SC refused to extend the protection of marital rape to child marriages. 
    • The court held that intercourse with a minor girl, even under marriage, would amount to rape.
    • While marital rape is not punished under the law, intercourse with a minor is considered rape.
  • Seema vs Ashwini Kumar (2006): Registration of Marriage
    • The Supreme Court ruled that registration of marriage must be made compulsory.
    • Some states such as Karnataka and Uttarakhand have similar provisions for registering and recording child marriages.
  • Kerala HC judgement, 2019
    • In 2019, the Kerala High Court also ruled that there is no bar in the law to register a child marriage, upholding a 2008 government circular framing rules for such registration.

Conclusion and Way ahead

  • The arguments above clarify that neither registration nor present Prohibition of the Child Marriage Act prohibits child marriage.
  • To amend the legislation along with creating awareness is the need of time.
  • There are many socio-economic benefits of late marriage that must be conveyed to the masses.

Source: IE

SUBJECT : International Relations

G-20 Summit on Afghanistan

In News

  • Recently, an extraordinary meeting of G20 leaders on Afghanistan was held under Italy’s Presidency of the G20.

About

  • G20 held the first Afghan meeting after the Taliban takeover.
  • The summit was convened by Italy and was chaired by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
  • The US President, Indian Prime Minister and many European leaders took part in the summit.
  • This meeting comes less than three weeks before the formal G20 leaders summit in Rome on Oct. 30-31, which is due to focus on climate change, the global economic recovery, tackling malnutrition and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Points

  • Global:
    • The Group of 20 is determined to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
    • The G20 leaders called on the Taliban to tackle militant groups operating out of the country. 
    • The future humanitarian programs should focus on women and girls, and that safe passage should be given to those Afghans who wished to leave the country.
    • There was unanimous agreement among the participants about the need to alleviate the crisis in Afghanistan, leaving millions at risk of severe hunger.
    • This was the first multilateral response to the Afghan crisis. Thus, multilateralism is coming back, with difficulty, but it is coming back.
  • India:
    • The Prime Minister of India called on the international community to forge a unified response based on UNSC Resolution 2593 to bring about desired changes to the situation in Afghanistan. 
    • He also stated that Afghanistan’s territory must not become a source of radicalisation and terrorism, regionally or globally.
    • India also pressed for “urgent and unhindered” humanitarian assistance to Afghan citizens and underlined the need for having an inclusive administration that includes women and minorities.
    • India has contributed to promoting socio-economic development and capacity building of youth and women in Afghanistan over the last two decades.
    • India conveyed support for the important role of the UN in Afghanistan and called for a renewed backing of the G-20 for the message contained in the UNSC resolution on Afghanistan.

Image Courtesy: Britannica

Challenges

  • Continuing Struggles: Afghanistan, already struggling with drought and severe poverty following decades of war - has recently seen its economy all but collapse, raising the spectre of an exodus of refugees.
  • Inclusive Administration: At present, it is difficult to achieve an inclusive administration in Afghanistan which includes women and minorities in order to preserve the socio-economic gains of the last 20 years and to restrict the spread of radical ideology.
  • Taliban Involvement: It is very hard to see how the world can help people in Afghanistan without involving the Taliban.
  • Ideological Differences: The Chinese President and Russian President skipped the call, suggesting differing international positions on the emergency.
  • Chinese Pressure: Ahead of the meeting, China demanded that economic sanctions on Afghanistan be lifted and that billions of dollars of Afghan international assets be unfrozen and handed back to Kabul.

Way Ahead

  • There is an urgent need for upholding human rights in Afghanistan and to ensure that Afghan territory should not be used for terrorism.
  • The efforts have to be made for a negotiated political settlement for the crisis.
  • Without a unified international response, it would be difficult to bring about the desired change in Afghanistan’s situation.
  • The time has come to enhance our joint fight against the nexus of radicalisation, terrorism and the smuggling of drugs and arms in the region.
  • Also, there is a need for direct country-to-country assistance, despite a refusal by most states to officially recognise the hardline Taliban government.

UNSC Resolution 2593

  • It was adopted on 30 August 2021, following the Fall of Kabul and the subsequent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. 
  • According to the resolution, the Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists or to plan or finance terrorist acts.
  • It reiterated the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan, including those individuals and entities designated pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999).


Source: IE

SUBJECT : Biodiversity and Environment

Draft Rules for Plastic Management

In News

  • Recently, the Environment Ministry has issued draft rules for plastic management and the notification is expected to come into force by December 6, 2021.

About

  • As of 2019, about 660,787.85 tonnes of plastic waste was produced in India annually.
  • Out of it, around 60% is reportedly recycled. 
  • Nearly 43% is packaging material and most are single-use plastic.

Draft Rules

  • Recycling: 
    • It mandates that producers of plastic packaging material collect all of their produce by 2024 and ensure that a minimum percentage of it be recycled as well as used in subsequent supply.
  • EPR Certificates: 
    • It has also specified a system whereby makers and users of plastic packaging can collect certificates — called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) certificates — and trade in them.
    • EPR is a policy approach under which producers are given a significant responsibility – financial and/or physical – for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products.
  • Not eligible to recycling: 
    • Only a fraction of plastic that cannot be recycled — such as multi-layered multi-material plastics — will be eligible to be sent for end-of-life disposal such as road construction, waste to energy, waste to oil and cement kilns, and here too, only methods prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board will be permitted for their disposal.
  • Plastic Producers: 
    • Producers of plastic will be obliged to declare to the government, via a centralised website, how much plastic they produce annually. 
    • Companies will have to collect at least 35% of the target in 2021-22, 70% by 2022-23 and 100% by 2024.
    • Plastic packaging falls into three categories
      • Rigid plastic
      • Flexible plastic packaging of a single layer or multilayer (more than one layer with different types of plastic), plastic sheets and covers made of plastic sheet, carry bags (including carrying bags made of compostable plastics), plastic sachet or pouches; 
      • Multi-layered plastic packaging, which has at least one layer of plastic and at least one layer of material other than plastic.
    • In 2024, a minimum of 50% of their rigid plastic (category 1) will have to be recycled as will 30% of their category 2 and 3 plastic.
  • Non Compliance:
    • If entities cannot fulfil their obligations, they will on a “case by case basis” be permitted to buy certificates making up for their shortfall from organisations that have used recycled content in excess of their obligation. 
    • The CPCB will develop a “mechanism” for such exchanges on a centralised online portal.
    • Non-compliance, however, will not invite a traditional fine. 
    • Instead, an “environmental compensation” will be levied, though the rules do not specify how much this compensation will be.
  • Compensation 
    • Entities that do not meet their targets or do not purchase enough credits to meet their annual target must pay a fine. 
    • Were they to meet their targets within three years, they stand to get a 40% refund. 
    • Beyond that, however, the money will be forfeited. 
    • Funds collected in this way will be put in an escrow account and can be used in collection and recycling/end of life disposal of uncollected and non-recycled/ non-end of life disposal of plastic packaging waste on which the environmental compensation is levied.

Significance

  • Reduces Pollution Across Ecosystems:
    • Recycling plastic instead of manufacturing it from scratch hence indirectly reduces the emission of hazardous greenhouse gases.
    • Recycling plastic means reduced the quantum of plastic waste. This in turn reduces pollution and saves a lot of animal species crucial to the food chain.  
  • Requires Less Energy and 
    • Manufacturing plastic from scratch requires much more energy compared to producing products from recycled plastic. 
    • A ton of recycled plastic saves 7,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity or about enough energy to run a household for seven months.
  • Helps Conserve Natural Resources
    • Also, the manufacturing process requires natural resources such as water, petroleum, natural gas and coal as raw materials. 
    • Hence, plastic recycling saves precious natural resources. 
    • For example, petroleum, which is crucial for making new plastic products, around 40% of petroleum consumption can be reduced by simply recycling discarded and old plastic waste.
  • Saves Fast-depleting Landfill Space
    • Proper waste management through reusing and recycling of plastics can save significant amounts of landfill space. 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space can be saved by recycling 1 ton of plastic.
  • Eases the Demand on Fossil Fuel Consumption:
    • Millions of barrels of crude oil are used to fuel the demand for plastics in a single year. 
    • Since oil is a finite natural resource, recycling plastic and recovering as much raw material as is possible, the consumption of crude oil can be reduced significantly. 
  • Promotes a Sustainable Lifestyle:
    • Business greatly impacts the lifestyle of communities in which they operate. 
    • If businesses work along with their internal and external stakeholders towards creating awareness and promoting positive impacts of plastic reuse and recycling, they are bound to bring about a sea change towards environment conservation.

Various Sources of Plastic Pollution

Image Courtesy: Data 

Steps Taken to Regulate the Manufacture of Plastic in India

  • Single-use plastics: 
    • The manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of the following single-use plastic, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commodities shall be prohibited with effect from the 1st July 2022:-
      • earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene [Thermocol] for decoration;
      • plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packaging films around sweet boxes, invitation cards,  and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 micron, stirrers.
  • Thickness of plastic bags: 
    • The permitted thickness of the plastic bags, currently 50 microns, will be increased to 75 microns from 30th September 2021, and to 120 microns from 31st December 2022.
    • Plastic bags with higher thickness are more easily handled as waste and have higher recyclability.
  • Legal Framework for Banning Plastic: 
    • Currently, the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, prohibits the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carrying bags and plastic sheets less than 50 microns in thickness in the country.
    • Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021 amend the 2016 rules.
  • Implementing Agency: 
    • The Central Pollution Control Board, along with state pollution bodies, will monitor the ban, identify violations, and impose penalties already prescribed under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986.

Initiatives to Curb Plastic Waste

  • Swachh Bharat Mission
  • India Plastics Pact
  • Project REPLAN
  • Un-Plastic Collective
  • GoLitter Partnerships Project

Way Ahead

  • Despite challenging conditions, India must not turn its backs on plastic pollution. 
  • It is vital for the government, and for the rest of the industry, to stay the course, cut the amount of plastic it uses and rapidly transition to a circular economy. 

Source: TH

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Expansion of Malabar Exercise

In News

  • The expansion of the Malabar naval exercise in the future is a possibility as Chief of US Naval Operations Admiral.

Second Phase of Malabar Exercises

  • Phase­ I of Malabar was held in August and hosted by the U.S. Navy near Guam. 
  • Phase ­II is being held between 12 to 15 October in the Bay of Bengal.
    • Phase­II would build upon the synergy, coordination and interoperability developed during Phase­I of the exercise.
    • It would also focus on advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises, seamanship evolutions and weapon firings. 
  • The 25th edition of Malabar, being conducted in 2 phases while observing all protocols during the pandemic.
  • It is reflective of the commitment of the participating countries to support a free, open, inclusive Indo­Pacific as well as a rules ­based international order.

Aim of the Malabar Exercise

  • Inter-operable Airfields, Ports and Refuelling Capabilities
    • These exercises will help in materialising the agreements regarding communications and logistics.
    • They will make the two sides more inter­ operable.

Logistics and Communication Military Cooperation Agreements with USA

  • India has signed all four foundational agreements with the USA.
    • General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)
      • It was signed a long time ago.
      • Recently, an extension to it, the Industrial Security Annex (ISA), was signed in 2019.
    • Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016, 
    • Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018 
    • Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo­Spatial cooperation (BECA) in 2020.

Plans of Future Expansion

  • Cyber Warfare:
    • Cyber would be among an area that is being discussed to be refined in terms of working together as well as high ­end operations.
    • It may be deployed in the air, on the sea and under the sea.
  • Inclusion of UK:
    • After the AUKUS Pact, UK may also be invited to join the Malabar.
    • Although any decision on it will have to be taken by the four Quad member countries.

For more details on QUAD, please refer to the link.

Source: TH

SUBJECT : Facts in News

GI Tags to Karuppur kalamkari Paintings & Kallakurichi Wood Carvings

In News

  • Recently, 3 products from Tamil Nadu namely Karuppur Kalamkari Paintings, Kanyakumari Clove and Kallakuruchi wood carvings have received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.

Key Points

  • About Kalamkari:
    • The Karuppur Kalamkari Paintings are done in Thanjavur region. 
    • These are traditional dye-painted figurative and patterned clothes. 
    • They are made for temples like ceiling cloth, cylindrical hangings, umbrella covers and chariot covers. 
    • Thanjavur tradition of Kalamkari had canopies, umbrella covers, thombai (cylindrical hangings), and ‘thoranams’ (door hangings) comprising of motifs of yazhi, peacock, swan, flowers, and images of deities. They are used in temples and mutts.
    • Background of Kalamkari: Artisans from Sikkalnaikkanpettai near Kumbakonam has been practising this traditional art form for many generations. 
      • Artisans enjoyed royal patronage in times of yore. 
      • Presently, this traditional art form is practised at Karuppur in Udayarpalayam taluk of Ariyalur district as well as in villages around Sikkalnaikkapettai and Tiruppanandal in Thanjavur district.

Image Courtesy: IE

  • Kallakurichi Wood Carvings:
    • These carvings are done for designs and ornaments. These are indigenous to Madurai region.
    • It is done using pens, palm stems, date trees, brushes made of bamboo sticks and coconut tree stems.
    • This certificate was issued the Geographical Indications Registry on the basis of an application filed by Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation (Poompuhar).

  • Kanyakumari Clove:
    • Known for its rich aromatic content, with a volatile oil content of 21%(normal 18%)resulting in 86% of Eugenol.
    • India has a total of 1100 tonnes of clove, Tamil Nadu accounts for 1000 tonnes with 65% coming from Kanyakumari.
    • The hilly regions of western ghats rich in Black soil are known for the unique nature of cloves.

Geographical Indication (GI) Tag

  • GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • It is a part of the intellectual property rights that comes under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
  • In India, Geographical Indications registration is administered by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act of 1999. 
  • The Geographical Indications Registry is located in Chennai.
  • Items Covered: Agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts, and industrial products.
  • Benefits:
    • Prevents unauthorised use of a Registered Geographical Indication by others.
    • It provides legal protection to Indian Geographical Indications which in turn boost exports.
    • It promotes the economic prosperity of producers of goods produced in a geographical territory.


Source: IE

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Vision Plan (2021-2031) for Indian Zoos

In News

  • Union Environment Minister released the Vision Plan (2021-2031) for Indian zoos by Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to upgrade them to global standards and strengthening of Central Zoo Authority.
    • The exhaustive 10 years vision plan has been arrived at after a very stringent data mining and stakeholder consultive process and is expected to give a direction towards ex-situ conservation approaches in India.

Objective

  • The vision document is committed to making CZA and Indian zoos a greater force for conservation by providing unparalleled animal care, cutting edge research, and immersive visitor experiences that strike meaningful chords with people of all ages.

Central Zoo Authority (CZA)

  • It is the statutory regulatory body for zoos in India. It was established in 1992.
  • Objective: To complement and strengthen the national effort in the conservation of the rich biodiversity of the country, particularly the fauna as per the National Zoo Policy, 1998.
  • Functions: It enforces minimum standards and norms for the upkeep and healthcare of animals in Indian zoos.
    • Every zoo in the country is required to obtain recognition from CZA for its operation.
    • It can also de-recognise zoos.


Source: AIR

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Saraswati River

In News

  • Recently, the Haryana government proposed to spend Rs 215 crore on the construction of a dam meant for the revival of the Saraswati river.

About the Project

  • As proposed by the state government, the dam, with a capacity of 224-hectare metres, will be constructed on Haryana’s border with Himachal Pradesh. 
  • A portion of the Som river water would be diverted to the dam from where it would flow into the stream of the Saraswati river starting from Adi Badri (Yamunanagar) to Guhla Cheeka in the Kaithal district.
    • Adi Badri is a place in the foothills of the Shivalik range, 90 km east of Kurukshetra.

Saraswati River

  • The river originated from Kapal Tirith in the Himalayas in the west of Kailash, flowed southward to Mansarovar and then turned towards the west.
  • The river flowed through Haryana, Rajasthan and North Gujarat. 
  • It also flowed through Pakistan before meeting the Western Sea through the Rann of Kutch and was approximately 4,000 km in length.
  • The river had two branches: western and eastern. 
    • The Himalayan-born Satluj “of the PAST”, which flowed through the channels of present-day Ghaggar-Patialiwali rivulets, represents the western branch of the ancient river.
    • On the other hand, Markanda and Sarsuti represented the western branch of Saraswati, known as Tons-Yamuna.
  • The confluence of the branches was near Shatrana, 25 km south of Patiala. And suddenly, it flows across the desert (Rann of Kutch) and meets the Gulf of the western sea.

Historical Evidence of the Saraswati River

  • The Sarasvati River is one of the main Rigvedic rivers mentioned in the scripture Rig Veda and later Vedic and post-Vedic texts.

Image Courtesy: Hans India

  • Book 6 of the Rig Veda includes a hymn called the ‘Nadistuti Sukta’, which sings praises of the Saraswati as being “perfect mother, unsurpassed river, supreme goddess”.
  • For 2000 years, between 6000 and 4000 B.C, the Saraswati flowed as a great river.

Source: IE

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan

In News

  • Recently, the Prime Minister paid tributes to Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan on his Jayanti.

Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan

  • About: 
    • He was born on October 11, 1902, in the remote village of Sitabdiara, Bihar.
    • Socialist/ Marxist influence: Jayaprakash Narayan went to the US for education, where he was deeply influenced by Marxist ideology.
      • However, he rejected the ultimate solution of “revolution” to bring down capitalism as being advocated by the Marxists and instead advocated Socialism.

  • Contribution to Freedom Struggle:
    • In 1929, he joined the Indian National Congress.
  • Imprisonment:
    • In 1932, he was imprisoned for a year, for participation in the civil disobedience movement.
    • In 1939, due to his opposition to Indian participation in World War II on the side of Britain, he managed to escape.
  • He played a key role in the formation of the Congress Socialist Party (1934), a left-wing group within the Congress Party.

His role in the Post-Independence Era

  • He left the Congress Party in 1948 and initiated an anti-Congress Campaign.
  • In 1952- formed the Praja Socialist Party (PSP).
  • In 1954- he started the Bhoodan Yajna Movement of Vinoba Bhave, which demanded land redistribution to the landless.
  • In 1959, he fought for “reconstruction of Indian polity” by means of a four-tier hierarchy of village, district, state, and union councils (Chaukhamba Raj).
  • Total Revolution: He started a program for social transformation named ‘Sampoorna Kranti' (total revolution) in 1974 against corruption in public life.
    •  This program targeted the Indira Gandhi Regime as she was found guilty of violating electoral laws by the Allahabad High Court.
    • The objective was to bring in a change in the existing society that is in tune with the ideals of the Sarvodaya (Gandhian philosophy- progress for all).

Accreditation 

  • He was posthumously awarded India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna (1999), for his "invaluable contribution to the freedom struggle and upliftment of the poor and downtrodden".


Source: PIB

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Debt-to-GDP Ratio

In News

  • The IMF has projected that India will grow at 9.5% and 8.5% this fiscal year and next after a contraction of 7.3% last year in its latest World Economic Outlook report.
  • India's debt to GDP ratio increased from 74% to 90% during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • It is a cause of concern.

Debt to GDP Ratio

  • The debt-to-GDP ratio is the metric comparing a country's public debt to its gross domestic product (GDP).
  • By comparing what a country owes with what it produces, the debt-to-GDP ratio reliably indicates that particular country’s ability to pay back its debts.
  • Often expressed as a percentage, this ratio can also be interpreted as the number of years needed to pay back debt if GDP is dedicated entirely to debt repayment.
  • As per FRBM Act, the Debt to GDP ratio should be around 60%.
    • 40% for Central Government
    • 20% for the State Government.

Impact of High Debt to GDP ratio on Economy

  • Crowding Out Effect.
  • Major Part of Budget going to Interest Payments.
  • Poor ratings by Credit Rating Agencies.
  • Higher Borrowing Cost.

Source: TH