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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB: 15 JUNE 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

Relevant articles from PIB:

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

Kimberley Process

 

What to study?

For prelims: About the Kimberly process, previous chair, conflict diamonds.

For mains: How does the Kimberley Process work?

 

 

Context: The Intersessional meeting of Kimberley Process (KP) is being hosted by India in Mumbai.

India is currently the Chair of Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) since 1st January 2018. It was handed Chairmanship by the European Union during KPCS Plenary 2018, which was held in Brussels, Belgium.

India is founding member of KPCS.

 

What is the Kimberley Process?

The Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme that regulates trade in rough diamonds. It aims to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds, while helping to protect legitimate trade in rough diamonds.

The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) outlines the rules that govern the trade in rough diamonds.

The KP is not, strictly speaking, an international organisation: it has no permanent offices or permanent staff. It relies on the contributions – under the principle of ‘burden-sharing’ – of participants, supported by industry and civil society observers. Neither can the KP be considered as an international agreement from a legal perspective, as it is implemented through the national legislations of its participants.

 

What are Conflict diamonds?

“Conflict Diamonds” means rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments.  It is also described in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

 

Who is involved?

The Kimberley Process (KP) is open to all countries that are willing and able to implement its requirements. The KP has 55 participants, representing 82 countries, including the European Union and its Member States counting as a single participant. KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds.

In addition, the World Diamond Council, representing the international diamond industry, and civil society organisations, such as Partnership-Africa Canada, participate in the KP and have played a major role since its outset.

 

How does the Kimberley Process work?

  • The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free’ and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade.
  • Under the terms of the KPCS, participating states must put in place national legislation and institutions; export, import and internal controls; and also commit to transparency and the exchange of statistical data.
  • Participants can only legally trade with other participants who have also met the minimum requirements of the scheme, and international shipments of rough diamonds must be accompanied by a KP certificate guaranteeing that they are conflict-free.

 

Rough diamond trading under the KPCS:

As per the Scheme, each shipment of rough diamonds being exported and imported by crossing an international border be transported in a tamper proof container and accompanied by a validated Kimberley Process Certificate. The shipment can only be exported to a co-participant country in the KPCS. No uncertified shipments of rough diamonds are permitted to enter a participant country.

 


 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

Global Peace Index 2019

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: GPI- criteria, rankings and key findings.

 

ContextGlobal Peace Index is released by Australian think tank Institute for Economics & Peace. The GPI was founded by Steve Killelea, an Australian technology entrepreneur and philanthropist.

  • The report covers 99.7 per cent of the world’s population and uses 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources to compile the index.
  • This year’s report includes new research on the possible effects of climate change on peace.

 

It ranks countries according to their level of peacefulness based on three thematic domains:

  1. The level of societal safety and security.
  2. The extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict.
  3. The degree of militarisation.

 

Performance of India:

  • India’s rank has slipped five places to 141 this year.
  • India’s neighbours: In South Asia, Bhutan topped the index with 15th rank, followed by Sri Lanka 72, Nepal 76 and Bangladesh 101. The neighbouring country Pakistan has been ranked 153rd on the index.
  • India together with Philippines, Japan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan are the nine countries with the highest risk of multiple climate hazards. The country has the 7th highest overall natural hazard score.
  • India, the US, China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia are the top five countries with the largest total military expenditure.
  • According to the report, South Asia’s score for every indicator in ongoing conflict is less peaceful than the global average, with four out of six deteriorating last year. Only deaths from internal conflict improved, with fewer fatalities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India than the year prior.
  • The score for internal conflicts fought had the highest rating at five in both India and Pakistan. China, Bangladesh, and India, score in the bottom half of the GPI and have significant exposure to climate hazards, with 393 million people in high climate hazard areas.

 

Performance of other countries:

  • Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world, a position it has held since 2008.
  • It is joined at the top of the Global Peace Index (GPI) by New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, and Denmark.
  • Afghanistan is now the least peaceful country in the world, replacing Syria, which is now the second least peaceful. South Sudan, Yemen, and Iraq comprise the remaining five least peaceful countries.

 

Key observations:

  • While global peacefulness improved for the first time in five years, as per the index findings, the world remains less peaceful than a decade ago.
  • Since 2008 global peacefulness has deteriorated by 3.78 per cent.
  • State sponsored terror has declined markedly over the last decade, with 62 countries improving their scores while only 42 deteriorated. However, incarceration shows the opposite trend with 95 countries increasing the incarceration rate compared to 65 that improved.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

Asia Media Summit

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: AMS summit and AIBD.

 

Context16th Asia Media Summit 2019 was organised in Siem Reap province, Cambodia to deliberate on many issues pertaining to media & broadcasting industry.

 

About the AMS Summit:

It is an annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) Kuala Lumpur.

Scope: The Summit would encourage regional and bilateral dialogue and cooperation to respond to challenges to the broadcasting sector in the region. It would provide a unique opportunity for broadcasters in the Asian region to share their thoughts on software and hardware aspects of Broadcasting. There are also opportunities for networking, facilities for business to business meetings and prospective translation of these meetings into trade and economic relations after the summit.

Participants: Participants would represent organizations like Ministries responsible for Information and Broadcasting in the Asian region, International Organizations UNESCO, FAO, UN; Regulators; Radio and Television broadcasting companies both national/ public and private broadcasters; Television channels and networks, Institutes/Academies of Communication, Media Research; Community Radio groups; Press and Media, and broadcast equipment manufacturers.

 

About AIBD:

The Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) was established in 1977 under the auspices of UNESCO. It is hosted by the Government of Malaysia and the secretariat is located in Kuala Lumpur.

 

Founders:

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) are founding organisations of the Institute and they are non-voting members of the General Conference.

The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) is a founding organisation of the Institute and is a non-voting member of the General Conference.

 

Membership

Full membership of the AIBD is confined to sovereign states and they are invited to designate the broadcasting authority of the country to be the beneficiary. The AIBD currently has 26 Full Members (countries), represented by 34 organisations, and 67 Affiliate Members (organisations) with a total membership of 101 representing 48 countries and regions and over 50 partners in Asia, Pacific, Europe, Africa, Arab States and North America.

 

Role and mandate: 

It is a unique regional inter-governmental organisation servicing countries of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) in the field of electronic media development. It is mandated to achieve a vibrant and cohesive electronic media environment in the Asia-Pacific region through policy and resource development.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Paper 3:

Topics covered:

Awareness in space.

 

Spitzer telescope

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features and objectives of the telescope.

 

Context: Spitzer space telescope of NASA will be retired on January 30, 2020. Spitzer is going to shut down permanently after about 16 years of exploring the cosmos in infrared light. By 2020, Spitzer space telescope will have operated for more than 11 years beyond its prime mission.

 

Key achievements:

  • Launched into solar orbit on August 25, 2003, Spitzer was initially scheduled for a minimum 2.5-year primary mission. But the space telescope has lasted far beyond its expected lifetime.
  • Spitzer’s discoveries extend from our own planetary backyard, to planets around other stars, to the far reaches of the universe. And by working in collaboration with NASA’s other Great Observatories, Spitzer has helped scientists gain a more complete picture of many cosmic phenomena.
  • Spitzer has logged over 106,000 hours of observation time in the past 15 years. It has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes.
  • The space telescope also assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, among other accomplishments.

 

About Spitzer:

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope was launched in 2003 to study the universe in the infrared. It is the last mission of the NASA Great Observatories program, which saw four specialized telescopes (including the Hubble Space Telescope) launched between 1990 and 2003.

The goal of the Great Observatories is to observe the universe in distinct wavelengths of light. Spitzer focuses on the infrared band, which normally represents heat radiation from objects. The other observatories looked at visible light (Hubble, still operational), gamma-rays (Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, no longer operational) and X-rays (the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, still operational.)

  • Spitzer’s highly sensitive instruments allow scientists to peer into cosmic regions that are hidden from optical telescopes, including dusty stellar nurseries, the centers of galaxies, and newly forming planetary systems.
  • Spitzer’s infrared eyes also allows astronomers see cooler objects in space, like failed stars (brown dwarfs), extrasolar planets, giant molecular clouds, and organic molecules that may hold the secret to life on other planets.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

 

NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: OSIRIS-Rex mission and facts on asteroid bennu.

 

Context: The US space agency NASA has announced that its asteroid probe OSIRIS-REx set a new record for the closest-ever orbit of a planetary body made by a man-made spacecraft

The recent maneuver has placed the spacecraft into an orbit 680 meters above the asteroid Bennu’s surface for about seven weeks. 

 

About the mission:

OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.

OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers program, which previously sent the New Horizons spacecraft zooming by Pluto and the Juno spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter.

 

Why was Bennu chosen?

Bennu was selected for a the OSIRIS-REx mission from over 500,000 known asteroids, due to it fitting a number of key criteria. These include:

Proximity to Earth: In order for OSIRIS-REx to reach its destination in a reasonable timeframe, NASA needed to find an asteroid which had a similar orbit to Earth.

Size: Small asteroids, those less than 200m in diameter, typically spin much faster than larger asteroids, meaning the regolith material can be ejected into space. Bennu is around 500m in diameter, so rotates slowly enough to ensure that the regolith stays on its surface.

Composition: Bennu is a primitive asteroid, meaning it hasn’t significantly changed since the beginning of the Solar System (over 4 billion years ago). It is also very carbon-rich, meaning it may contain organic molecules, which could have been precursors to life on Earth.

Additionally, Bennu is of interest as it is a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA). Every 6 years, Bennu’s orbit brings it within 200,000 miles of the Earth, which means it has a high probability of impacting Earth in the late 22nd Century.

 

Sources: toi.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

Sahitya Akademi announces winners of Bal Sahitya Puraskar, Yuva Puraskar:

Context: Sahitya Akademi, India’s national academy of letters, has announced a list of 22 winners of the Bal Sahitya Puraskar and 23 recipients of the Yuva Puraskar for this year.

While the Bal Puraskar will be conferred upon the winners on the Children’s Day, the day for the Yuva Puraskar is yet to be decided.

About Bal Sahitya Puraskar: The Awards relate to books 1st published during five years period immediately before the year Award is conferred,  which means between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2017. However, during initial 10 years (from 2010 to 2019) award may also be given to an author based on his/her total contribution to Children Literature.

About Yuva Puraskar: This Award relates to books published by an author who is 35 years of age and below as on 1st January of the year of award.

 

Akshaya Patra:

ContextAkshaya Patra, a Bengaluru-based non-profit organisation (NGO) running one of the world’s largest school meals project in India was recently awarded BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) World Service Global Champion Award for the programme.

  • Funded by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Akshaya Patra is a Bengaluru-based not-for-profit organisation that works with the government on mid-day meal schemes. It has a state-of-the-art kitchen in Vrindavan.
  • Today, Akshaya Patra is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) Mid-Day Meal Programme serving wholesome food every school day to over 1.76 million children from 14,702 schools across 12 states in India.
  • About BBC World Service Global Champion Award: It is awarded to recognise a person or project who is changing the way world produces, processes, consumes or thinks about food for the better.

 

Juneteenth:

Juneteenth is considered the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.

  • It was originally celebrated on June 19, the day that Union soldiers in 1865 told enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and they were free.
  • The celebration started with the freed slaves of Galveston, Texas. Although the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the South in 1863, it could not be enforced in many places until after the end of the Civil War in 1865.
  • The term Juneteenth is a blend of the words June and nineteenth. The holiday has also been called Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day.

 

RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM):

ContextCanada’s RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) was launched successfully into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

  • The constellation of three satellites will provide daily images of Canada’s vast territory and maritime approaches, as well as images of the Arctic, up to four times a day.
  • It will have daily access to 90 percent of the world’s surface.
  • The RCM is also equipped with an Automatic Identification System (AIS), allowing improved detection and tracking of ships, including those conducting illegal fishing.
  • The RADARSAT Constellation Mission will provide improved data for the critical services our government provides to Canadians, including monitoring climate change, protecting the health of our oceans, forests and crops; and supporting our first responders’ disaster relief efforts.


 



Notes

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

The mysterious case of GM Brinjal cultivation

11

2

Reversing the scale of priorities

10

3

Full disclosure  

10

4

PM hits out at trade protectionism

13

5

India to impose retaliatory tariffs on 29 American goods

01

Title

1.   The mysterious case of GM Brinjal cultivation (The Hindu, Page 11)     

Syllabus

Prelims: Environment

Mains: GS Paper III  Cropping pattern; Environment and ecology

Theme

  GM crops

Highlights

Brinjal production is extensively affected by insects: Brinjal fruit and shoot borer. Use of conventional chemical pesticides damaged the environment & affected human health.
• BT Brinjal was developed to combat Brinjal fruit and shoot borer & minimizing the use of chemical pesticides.
• Mahyco, the largest seed company in India, in which Monsanto Co. has a 26% stake, developed the first BT Brinjal.
• It was approved for commercialization in India in 2009, but a moratorium on its release was issued until further, unspecified, tests were conducted. BT Brinjal was approved for commercial release in Bangladesh in 2013.

 

• In India, application of biotechnology in agriculture is being dealt with by three different Ministries/Dept.: (1) Min. of Agriculture; (2) Min. of EF&CC & (3) Department of Biotechnology, Min. of S&T.
• Development, cultivation and transboundary movement of GM crops is regulated so as to ensure the safety of animal health, human health and biodiversity. In India, such regulations are provided in the Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms (HM) Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells, 1989 under the Environment Protection Act (1986). 
• The rules cover: All activities involving research and development of products containing GMOs including
transgenic crops.
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) functions in the MOEF&CC. As per Rules, 1989, it is responsible for appraisal of activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle. 
The committee is also responsible for appraisal of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials.

 

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Title

2.  Reversing the scale of priorities (The Hindu, Page 10)     

Syllabus

Prelims: Environment

Mains: GS II – Environment and ecology

Theme

Environmental impact assessment (EIA)

Highlights

Editorial Context:
The Madras High Court in P.V. Krishnamoorthy v. The Government of India Case quashed the notifications that were issued by NHAI for acquiring land for a proposed eight-lane expressway connecting Chennai to Salem.
The Case now has gone to the Supreme Court whereby NHAI had challenged that verdict of the Madras High Court. However, for now the SC has refused the request of NHAI for a stay on the Madras High Court judgment. However, you have understand since the Case in currently within the purview of the SC, the news is still in transition.

Nevertheless, the author has said that the Madras High Court’s judgment in P. Krishnamoorthy case is well reasoned, whereby the HC has raised several questions about procedure with regards to environmental impact assessment (EIA) being carried out for developmental projects.

1st Concern:
There was a failure to obtain an environmental clearance for the project before acquiring land. Whereby, according to the government, power to acquire land under the National Highways Act, 1956, was unconditional. There was no law mandating an EIA before efforts are made to acquire private land. The Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, which required an EIA for the construction of a new highway, did not decree such an assessment for the purposes of securing the land.

2nd Concern:
Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs. Moreover, the SC in  Vellore Citizens’ Welfare Forum Case (1996) has asserted that Sustainable Development is intrinsic to India’s constitutional structure. 
However, it has been difficult to implement in practice the concept of sustainable development. Whereby what has happened is that a balance has been tried to be maintained between environment and the development project and in most cases the balance has been tilted towards development projects. So what happen is that if a development project that depletes groundwater or increases pollution but creates jobs, the project is undertaken whereby it is considered that current and even future generations would prefer a better economy rather than cleaner air or easier access to drinking water.

 

 


Conclusion:
Madras High Court in P.V. Krishnamoorthy v. The Government of India Case:
The Judgment tilts the balance in Sustainable development towards the environment. 
It has raised concerns over environmental impact of the project with cutting down of trees, poaching of animals, fragmenting forest land, apart from other environmental concerns.



 

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Title

3.  Full disclosure  (The Hindu Page 10)   

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper III – Economy

Theme

Financial disclosure by Rating agencies

Highlights

A credit rating agency is an entity which assesses the ability and willingness of the issuer company for timely payment of interest and principal on a debt instrument.
The rating is assigned to a security or an instrument. The Credit rating agencies
are regulated by SEBI.

Based on the norms issued by the SEBI in November, 2018, the credit rating agencies will have to:
inform investors about the liquidity situation of the companies such as their cash
balance, liquidity coverage ratio, access to emergency credit lines, asset-liability
mismatch etc.
Further, rating agencies will have to disclose their own historical rating track record
by informing clients about how often their rating of an entity has changed over a
period of time.

 

Based on the norms issued by the SEBI in June, 2019, the credit rating agencies will have to:

The CRAs would now be required to provide their rationale for the rating.

The Disclosure of probability of default by the companies has been made mandatory for all the CRAs.
The CRAs have also been asked to disclose all the sensitive factors which could possibly trigger changes in credit ratings.
In order to improve the transparency in the ratings, the CRAs have been asked to disclose all the liquidity related parameters such as access to credit, liquidity coverage ratio, adequacy of cash flows for servicing maturing debt obligation, etc.
The adequacy of the liquidity is to be denoted in terms of standard terminologies such as Superior, Adequate, Stretched & Poor. It would address the problem of ambiguity.
The CRAs must publish information on their performance in the rating of debt instruments compares with a benchmark created by SEBI.


Remaining concerns to be addressed:

The “issuer-pays” model where the entity that issues the instrument also pays the ratings agency for its services often leads to a situation of conflict of interest.
The credit rating market in India has high barriers to entry leading to lack of
competition and hence adversely affects the interests of the investors.
The Credit rating agencies have to come up with lucrative business models which put the interests of the investors above the interests of borrowers.

 

 

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Title

4. PM hits out at trade protectionism (The Hindu Page 13)   

Syllabus

Prelims: International relations

Mains: GS Paper II – International relations

Theme

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Highlights

PM Narendra Modi speech to SCO:

 

We should have a vision to strengthen healthy co-operation in our region. The letters HEALTH can be a good template for our collaboration,
H for Healthcare Cooperation
E for Economic Cooperation
A for Alternate Energy
L for Literature and Culture
T for Terrorism free society
H for Humanitarian Cooperation

H for Healthcare cooperation:
We should emphasize SCO's 2019-2021 work plan on Healthcare. India will be happy to share its experience in the field of tele-medicine and medical tourism.

E for Economic Cooperation:
Economic cooperation is the foundation of our people's future. One-sidedness and protectionism have not done any good to anyone. We need a rule based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system focused on the World Trade Organization. This will protect the interests of all the members, and especially the developing countries. India is committed to working rapidly on making an SCO-member friendly environment for economic activities. Today we are going to sign key agreements, which will strengthen cooperation in financial matters, digitization and ICT in the SCO.

A for Alternate Energy:
India's commitment to dealing with climate change lies in our philosophy which considers the earth as our mother. Today, India is the sixth largest producer of renewable energy and the fifth largest solar power producer. We welcome the countries of the SCO in this initiative. And are ready to share our experience in developing alternative sources of energy. Today we have agreed on the concept paper of cooperation in the year 2019-21 for environmental protection under SCO.

L for Literature and Culture:
Introducing our youth to each other's literature will deepen our relations. 10 great creations of Indian literature will be translated into the language of the SCO countries. 

T for Terrorism free society:
To combat terrorism, all humanist forces should get out of their narrow realms and get together. Countries responsible for aiding, supporting and providing financial assistance to terrorists should be held accountable. SCO members should also effectively explore the capacity of SCO-RATS to eliminate terrorism.

H for Humanitarian Cooperation:
In the region India has been playing the role of First Responder in humanitarian cooperation and in disaster situations. India is happy to share our experience and expertise with the SCO countries. 

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Title

5. India to impose retaliatory tariffs on 29 American goods (The Hindu Page 01)   

Syllabus

Prelims: International relations

Mains: GS Paper II – International relations

Theme

Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Highlights

India has decided to impose retaliatory tariffs on 29 goods imported from the U.S. from June 16. The tariffs will apply to $220-290 million worth of goods and will have about the same impact as the tariffs imposed by U.S. on India in 2018.

After the imposition of tariffs by U.S., India also announced the same. However, India continued to extend the deadline since India & US were engaged in negotiations. But no resolution to the the tariffs has come out, India has now finally decided to impose tariffs on US imports.

 

News is in transition.

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