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‘Blue Flag’ Certification

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Blue Flag certification

Mains level : Blue Flag Beaches



News

  • The MoEFCC has selected 12 beaches in India to vie for a ‘Blue Flag’ certification, an international recognition conferred on beaches that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety.

Blue Flag Programme

  • The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).
  • It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined.
  • Japan and South Korea are the only countries in South and southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches.
  • Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395, respectively.

Proposed Beaches

  • These beaches are at Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Bhogave (Maharashtra), Ghoghla (Diu), Miramar (Goa), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Eden (Puducherry), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha), and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).
Swachh Bharat Mission

Maritime Anti-Corruption Network

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MACN

Mains level : Maritime security and logistics


News

  • Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), a global business network of over 110 companies working to tackle corruption in the maritime industry, has announced the launch of a Port Integrity Campaign in India.

Maritime Anti-Corruption Network

  • The MACN is a global business network working towards the vision of a maritime industry free of corruption that enables fair trade to the benefit of society at large.
  • Established in 2011 by a small group of committed maritime companies, MACN has grown to include over 100 members
  • It has become one of the pre-eminent examples of collective action to tackle corruption.
  • MACN and its members promote good corporate practice in the maritime industry for tackling bribes, facilitation payments and other forms of corruption.
  • MACN collaborates with key stakeholders, including governments and international organizations, such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), to identify and mitigate the root causes of corruption in the maritime industry.

About Port Integrity Campaign

  • The campaign aims to reduce and (in the long term) eliminate integrity issues and bottlenecks to trade during operations in Indian ports.
  • It is a collective action of MACN, the Government of India, international organizations, and local industry stakeholders.
  • The pilot of the campaign will take place in Mumbai ports (MbPT and JNPT) and will run until October this year.
  • The main activities of the campaign include implementation of integrity training for port officials and the establishment of clear escalation and reporting processes.
Port Infrastructure and Shipping Industry – Sagarmala Project, SDC, CEZ, etc.

India pledges to contribute $ 5 million to UN Palestine refugee agency

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNRWA

Mains level : Refugees issue across the world


News

India contributes for Palestine

  • India has pledged to contribute USD 5 million in 2019 to the UN Palestine refugee agency.
  • India voiced concern over the agency’s difficult financial situation due to voluntary contributions from a limited donor base and called for ensuring sustained fiscal support for its work.
  • This contribution is a mark of India’s solidarity with the Palestine refugees.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees

  • Created in December 1949, the UNRWA for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a relief and human development agency which supports more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees.
  • These along with their patrilineal descendants were fled or expelled from their homes during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War as well as those who fled or were expelled during and following the 1967 Six Day war.
  • Originally intended to provide jobs on public works projects and direct relief, today UNRWA provides education, health care, and social services to the population it supports.
  • Aid is provided in five areas of operation: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; aid for Palestinian refugees outside these five areas is provided by UNHCR.
  • The Agency currently serves 5.4 million Palestinian refugees 20 per cent of the world’s refugees.

How is UNRWA different from UNHCR?

  • UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict and is separate from UNHCR.
  • Formed in 1950, UNHCR is the main UN refugee agency, which is responsible for aiding other refugees all over the world.
  • Unlike UNRWA, UNHCR has a specific mandate to aid its refugees to eliminate their refugee status by local integration in current country, resettlement in a third country or repatriation when possible.
  • UNRWA allows refugee status to be inherited by descendants of male refugee, including legally adopted children.
Human Rights Issues

Explained: How global warming could impact jobs in India

Mains Paper 1 : Climatic Change |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the report

Mains level : Impact of climate change on Labour


News

ILO report on impact of heat stress on labour productivity and decent work

  • By 2030, India is expected to lose an equivalent of 34 million jobs as a result of global warming, says a report released by the ILO.
  • The report, ‘Working on a warmer planet: The impact of heat stress on labour productivity and decent work’ anticipates an increase in “heat stress” resulting from global warming.
  • It projects global productivity losses equivalent to 80 million full-time jobs in 2030, and the projection of 34 million jobs would make India the worst affected.

How excess heat impact?

  • The report defines heat stress as heat in excess of what the body can tolerate without suffering physiological impairment.
  • It generally occurs at temperatures above 35°C, in high humidity.
  • Excess heat during work is an occupational health risk and restricts workers’ physical functions and capabilities, work capacity and thus, productivity.
  • The report makes its projections based on a global temperature rise of 1.5°C by the end of the century, and also on labour force trends.
  • These projections “suggest that in 2030, 2.2 per cent of total working hours worldwide will be lost because of higher temperatures, a loss equivalent to 80 million full-time jobs.
  • This is equivalent to global economic losses of US$2,400 billion,” says the report.
  • The ILO says this is a conservative estimate, assuming that the global mean temperature does not rise more than 1.5°C.

The India projection

  • The region projected to lose the most working hours is southern Asia, at 5% in 2030, corresponding to around 43 million jobs, respectively.
  • A third of the southern Asian countries have already incurred losses greater than 4%.
  • India, which lost 4.3% of working hours in 1995 because of heat stress, is projected to lose 5.8% of its working hours in 2030, which corresponds to 34 million jobs.
  • The impact of heat stress on labour productivity and decent work’ anticipates an increase in “heat stress” resulting from global warming.

Losses in India

  • The report projects losses in working hours as 9.04% in agriculture (in shade), 5.29% in manufacturing, 9.04% in construction, and 1.48% in services.
  • Although most of the impact in India will be felt in the agricultural sector, more and more working hours are expected to be lost in the construction sector, where heat stress affects both male and female workers,” the report says.
  • There is little data in the country to corroborate trends of climate change and employment.
  • However, that there has been no direct job loss at present, with distressed workers switching from one vulnerable sector to another.

Global Scenario

  • Globally, the two sectors projected to be hit worst are agriculture and construction, with agriculture worse affected.
  • The ILO says 940 million people around the world work in the agricultural sector, which is projected to account for 60% of working hours lost due to heat stress by 2030.
  • In construction, an estimated 19% of global working hours is likely to be lost.
  • In addition to the massive economic costs of heat stress, we can expect to see more inequality between low and high income countries and worsening working conditions for the most vulnerable, as well as displacement of people.
  • To adapt to this new reality appropriate measures by governments, employers and workers, focusing on protecting the most vulnerable, are urgently needed.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Japan resumes commercial whaling after 31 years

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IWC

Mains level : Mandate of IWC


News

  • Japan has resumed commercial whaling after 31 years, meeting a long-cherished goal of traditionalists that’s seen as a largely lost cause.
  • Japan’s six-month notice to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission took effect.

Background

  • Some countries under the umbrella of scientific research are continuously killing the whales and selling meat and producing whale oil, which has brought various whales under the category of endangered species and are vanishing day by day.
  • Japan, Iceland and Norway are some of the countries recorded with largest number of commercial whaling.
  • Japan was an IWC member since 1951.

Reasons for Japan’s Withdrawal

  • Japan has been practicing commercial whale hunting for past 30 years under a scientific programme, granted as an exception under the IWC ban.
  • Small-scale whaling is traditional in some parts of Japan, but whale meat was only ever popular in the postwar period.
  • Japan has used whales not only as a source of protein but also for a variety of other purposes.
  • Engagement in whaling has been supporting local communities, and thereby developed the life and culture of using whales.

Why whale meat?

  • Whale meat was an affordable source of protein during the lean times after World War II, with consumption peaking at 223,000 tons in 1962.
  • But whale was quickly replaced by other meats.
  • Whale meat consumption was down to 6,000 tons in 1986, a year before the commercial whaling moratorium imposed by the IWC.

Back2Basics

International Whaling Commission (IWC)

  • The IWC is an Inter-Governmental Organisation set up by the terms of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) signed in Washington, D.C in 1946.
  • It aims to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry.
  • The main duty of the IWC is to keep under review and revise as necessary the measures laid down in the Schedule to the Convention which govern the conduct of whaling throughout the world.
  • The body is the first piece of International Environmental Legislation established in 1946.
  • Commercial whaling was banned by the IWC in 1986 after some species were almost driven to extinction.
  • 89 countries have the membership of in IWC and all the member countries are signatories to this convention.
  • India is a member state of the IWC.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Explained: How US coined ‘Indo-Pacific’ to redefine geo-politics

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Significance of Indo-Pacific Region


News

What is Indo-Pacific?

  • In geographical terms, the Indo-Pacific refers to the two oceans — the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean — between the east coast of Africa, and the American west coast and all the countries with a coast on it.
  • It has been in currency among scholars of international relations and geo-politics since the first decade of this century as an economic and a strategic region.
  • However, its widespread use began after an October 2017 speech on US-India relations by former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who spoke of an India-US partnership in the interests of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”, as India was more reliable than China.

Why use the term?

  • This move is redefining the region away from China’s economic and strategic dominance.
  • India’s resistance at the height of the tensions over several issues – the Doklam military standoff, the CPEC running through PoK, and more generally over the entire Chinese BRI.
  • The adoption of the term appeared to challenge India to play a larger role in the region, for instance in the Quad.

More focus on India

  • US emphasizes to collaborate with India to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is increasingly a place of peace, stability, and growing prosperity — so that it does not become a region of disorder, conflict, and predatory economics.
  • It also seemed to put India squarely in the middle of this region, challenging it to a larger role in the region, for instance in the Quad, or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue that informally brings together for strategic talks and military exercises.
  • The “Indo-Pacific” has evoked mixed reactions in the Indian strategic community, with some cautioning that such positioning should not aggravate Delhi’s tensions with Beijing.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pacific Island Nations

WHO launches its first guidelines on self-care interventions for health

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Self Care

Mains level : Importance of Self Care



News

  • The WHO has launched its first guidelines on self-care interventions for health.
  • This is in response to an estimate that by 2035 the world will face a shortage of nearly 13 million healthcare workers.
  • Currently at least 400 million people worldwide lack access to the most essential health services.

What is Self-Care?

  • Explaining what self-care means, the WHO says that it is the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider.
  • Self-care interventions represent a significant push towards new and greater self-efficacy, autonomy and engagement in health for self-careers and caregivers.
  • WHO noted that self-care is also a means for people who are negatively affected by gender, political, cultural and power dynamics, including those who are forcibly displaced, to have access to sexual and reproductive health services, as many people are unable to make decisions around sexuality and reproduction.

About the guidelines

  • In its first volume, the guidelines focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • Some of the interventions include self-sampling for human papillomavirus (HPV) and sexually transmitted infections, self-injectable contraceptives, home-based ovulation predictor kits, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) self-testing and self-management of medical abortion.
  • These guidelines look at the scientific evidence for health benefits of certain interventions that can be done outside the conventional sector, although sometimes with the support of a health-care provider.
  • They do not replace high-quality health services nor are they a shortcut to achieving universal health coverage.

Autonomy and engagement

  • It adds that self-care interventions represent a significant push towards new and greater self-efficacy, autonomy and engagement in health for self-careers and caregivers.
  • People are increasingly active participants in their own health care and have a right to a greater choice of interventions that meets their needs across their lifetime, but also should be able to access, control, and have affordable options to manage their health and well-being.
  • The guidelines, meanwhile, will be expanded to include other self-care interventions, including for prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases.
  • WHO is establishing a community of practice for self-care, and will be promoting research and dialogue in this area during the self-care month between June 24 and July 24.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

India’s non-permanent membership of UNSC

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNSC

Mains level : India's bid for UNSC's permanent membership


News

  • India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council has been endorsed unanimously by the Asia Pacific group, which comprises 55 countries, including Pakistan.

How is a non-permanent member nominated?

  • Each year, the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members out of a total of 10, for a two-year term.
  • These 10 seats are distributed among the regions thus: five for African and Asian countries; one for Eastern European countries; two for Latin American and Caribbean countries; two for Western European and other countries.
  • Of the five seats for Africa and Asia, three are for Africa and two for Asia; there is an informal understanding between the two groups to reserve one for an Arab country.
  • The Africa and Asia Pacific group takes turns every two years to put up an Arab candidate.
  • The 55-member Asia-Pacific Group gets to nominate one of its members for the June 2020 elections to a non-permanent seat on the UNSC.

Why it’s special?

  • The endorsement means that India has a “clean slate” candidature – that is there is no other contestant from the group – for the elections that will be held for five non-permanent members next year, for the 2021-22 terms.
  • The development is particularly significant given that Pakistan and China, both countries with which India has had diplomatic challenges at the UN, supported the move.
  • Afghanistan, a potential contender, withdrew its nomination to accommodate India’s candidacy based on the “long-standing, close and friendly relations” between the two countries.

India and UNSC

  • India has already held a non-permanent seat on the UNSC for seven terms: 1950-1951, 1967-1968, 1972-1973, 1977-1978, 1984-1985, 1991-1992 and 2011-2012.
  • It has been keen to hold the seat in 2021-22 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Independence in 2022.

Back2Basics

United Nations Security Council

  • The UNSC is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions.
  • It is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
  • The Security Council consists of fifteen members. Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members.
  • These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.
  • The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. The body’s presidency rotates monthly among its members.
India’s Bid to a Permanent Seat at United Nations

Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

Mains Paper 3 : Money-Laundering & Its Prevention |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FATF

Mains level : Global AML/CTF measures



News

  • Recently, Saudi Arabia has become the first Arab country to be granted full membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
  • Saudi had received an invitation from the FATF at the beginning of 2015 to join as an “observer member”.

FATF: Often in news

  • There is absolute possibility that Pakistan could be on its blacklist by its next plenary summit.
  • India had been pushing for Pakistan to get on the FATF blacklist for its failure to take “credible, verifiable, irreversible and sustainable measures” against terrorist activities.
  • Getting on the FATF blacklist, which currently only has Iran and North Korea on it, could severely cripple and isolate a country financially, resulting in a downgraded credit rating and denying it loans and development assistance.

Implications for Pakistan

  • Any conditionality associated with Pakistan’s loan from the IMF would not automatically have a connection to the FATF outcomes, although the IMF could choose to link the two.
  • IMF is an observer organisation to the FATF and so have complete visibility into everything that occurs within the task force, including a very detailed understanding of what the Pakistani incompetence.
  • The decision to condition fund disbursement under an IMF programme based on structural benchmarks that might be associated with the FATF is purely an IMF decision.

Back2Basics

Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

  • FATF is an inter-governmental body established by G7 in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdiction.
  • The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
  • The FATF has developed a series of Recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for combating of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
  • The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.
  • The FATF’s decision-making body, the FATF Plenary, meets three times per year.

The Blacklist and Grey list

  • FATF maintains two different lists of countries: those that have deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and combating terror finance regimes.
  • But these countries could commit to an action plan to address these loopholes, and those that do not end up doing enough.
  • The country who commits and addresses the concerns is put into grey list otherwise blacklisted.
  • Once a country is blacklisted, FATF calls on other countries to apply enhanced due diligence and counter measures, increasing the cost of doing business with the country and in some cases severing it altogether.
  • As of now there are only two countries in the blacklist, Iran and North Korea — and seven on the grey list, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria and Yemen.

India and FATF

  • India became Observer at FATF in the year 2006.
  • FATF Plenary adopted the Mutual Evaluation Report on India on 24th June 2010 and on 25th June 2010 admitted India as 34th Country Member of FATF.
  • FATF membership is very important for India in its quest to become a major player in the International finance.
  • It will help India to build the capacity to fight terrorism and trace terrorist money and to successfully investigate and prosecute money laundering and terrorist financing offences.
  • India will benefit in securing a more transparent and stable financial system by ensuring that financial institutions are not vulnerable to infiltration or abuse by organized crime groups.
  • The FATF process will also help India in co-ordination of AML/CFT efforts at the international level.

With inputs from: https://dea.gov.in/pressrelease/indias-membership-financial-action-task-force

Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism

AWaRe: A WHO tool for safer use of antibiotics

Mains Paper 2 : Health & Education |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AWARE tool by WHO

Mains level : Anti-microbial resistance



News

  • The WHO has launched a global campaign that urges countries to adopt its new online tool aimed at guiding policy-makers and health workers to use antibiotics safely and more effectively.

AWARE Tool

The tool, known as ‘AWaRe’, classifies antibiotics into three groups:

  • Access   — antibiotics used to treat the most common and serious infections
  • Watch    — antibiotics available at all times in the healthcare system
  • Reserve — antibiotics to be used sparingly or preserved and used only as a last resort

Antimicrobial resistance

  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR or AR) is the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of medication that once could successfully treat the microbe
  • The term antibiotic resistance is a subset of AMR, as it applies only to bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics.
  • Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines.
  • Bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic-resistant.
  • These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.
  • Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process.
  • A growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.
  • It leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

2019 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

Mains Paper 2 : Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SIPRI

Mains level : Progress in nuclear disarmament



News

  • A report by a think-thank has found that the worldwide total of nuclear warheads has decreased since 2018 but countries are modernizing their nuclear arsenals.

Worldwide nuclear arsenal

  • The 2019 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is part-funded by the Swedish government.
  • It said that nine nuclear-armed countries (including India) had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons at the start of 2019, which is a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons from 14,465 at the start of 2018.
  • Figures for North Korea were not added to the total on account of uncertainty.
  • The report separately counts “deployed warheads” (warheads placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces) and “other warheads” (stored or reserve warheads and retired warheads awaiting dismantlement).

Why decrease?

  • It attributed the decrease mainly to Russia and the US.
  • They together still account for over 90 per cent of all nuclear weapons.
  • They are further reducing their strategic nuclear arms pursuant to the implementation of the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START).

Back2Basics

New START Policy

  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) pact limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and is due to expire in 2021 unless renewed.
  • The treaty limits the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, well below Cold War caps.
  • It was signed in 2010 by former US President Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
  • It is one of the key controls on superpower deployment of nuclear weapons.
  • If it falls, it will be the second nuclear weapons treaty to collapse under the leadership of US President Donald Trump.
  • In February, US withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), accusing Moscow of violating the agreement.
Nuclear Diplomacy and Disarmament

World Population Prospects Report 2019

Mains Paper 1 : Population & Associated Issues |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : World Population Prospects 2019

Mains level : Demographic transition


News

  • According to ‘The World Population Prospects 2019’, by 2027, India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country.
  • Some of the key takeaways are as follows:

Global population on rise

  • The global population is projected to increase by another 2 billion people by 2050, from 7.7 billion in 2019 to 9.7 billion thirty years down the line.
  • By the end of the century, the world population is set to peak at a level of about 11 billion.

Indian Case

  • India is expected to remain the world’s most populous country with nearly 1.5 billion inhabitants, followed by China at 1.1 billion, Nigeria with 733 million, the United States with 434 million, and Pakistan with 403 million.
  • In 2019, India has an estimated population of 1.37 billion and China 1.43 billion and by 2027, India’s population is projected to surpass China’s.
  • India is also expected to add 273 million people by 2050 and will remain the most populated until the end of the century.

More in 65+ bracket

  • In India, children under age five still outnumber the over-65 population, who are projected to overtake the under-five group between 2025 and 2030.
  • By 2050, persons over age 65 will make up about one-seventh of India’s population. By then, the 15-24 group in India (13.8%), too, will outnumber the over-65 group (13.6%).
  • Children under age five are projected to constitute less than 6% of India’s population in 2050, as compared to 7% globally.

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Mains Paper 1 : Climatic Change |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNCCD, Bonn Challenge

Mains level : Desertification in India


News

  • India for the first time will host the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September 2019.

About United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

  • Established in 1994, the UNCCD is the only legally binding international agreement linking environment and development issues to the land agenda.
  • It addresses specifically the arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as the drylands, where some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and peoples can be found.
  • 2006 was declared “International Year of Deserts and Desertification”.

Desertification in India

  • India faces a severe problem of land degradation, or soil becoming unfit for cultivation.
  • A 2016 report by the ISRO found that about 29% of India’s land (in 2011-13) was degraded, this being a 0.57% increase from 2003-05.
  • At the previous edition of the COP, India had committed to restore 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by the year 2020, and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030.

The Bonn Challenge

  • Ahead of the COP-14, MoEFCC launched a flagship project, part of a larger international initiative called the Bonn Challenge, to enhance India’s capacity for forest landscape restoration (FLR).
  • The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land under restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
  • It will be implemented during a pilot phase of three-and-a-half years in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Karnataka.
  • The project will aim to develop and adapt the best practices and monitoring protocols for the country, and build capacity within the five pilot States.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

REN21’s Renewable 2019 Global Status Report

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : REN21’s Renewable 2019 Global Status Report (GSR)

Mains level : Renewable energy in India


News

  • The REN21’s Renewable 2019 Global Status Report (GSR) was recently released.

Global prospects of the report

  • Renewables now supply around 26 per cent of global electricity production but the transport, cooling and heating sectors lag far behind in renewable adoption.
  • Underlining the subsidy support being given to fossil fuel, the GSR read that lack of political will and fossil fuel subsidies are threatening to derail the crucial UN 2030 Climate and Development Goals.
  • Renewable energy’s share in power consumption is increasing undoubtedly, but people would have consumed more had policy makers prioritized the sector.
  • Erratic policy decisions kept the world from using the sector to its potential in meeting climate change targets, added the report.

Indian case

  • India ranked fourth globally for new investment in renewable energy in 2018.
  • India’s new power generation capacity from solar photovoltaic panels decreased compared to 2017, according to the report.
  • However, India placed fifth, overtaking Italy, with 33 gigawatts (GW) total installed capacity.
  • The report confirmed that installed renewable power capacity was more than that of fossil fuel and nuclear power combined for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Around 100 GW of solar PV were added in 2018 which is enough to meet more than 25 per cent of electricity demand in France.

Decrease in investments

  • Lack of ambitious and sustained policies to drive decarburizing in heating, cooling and transport sectors indicates that countries are not trying to maximise the benefit of energy transition.
  • The investment has decreased 16 per cent compared to 2017. It attributes this to factors like:
  1. Land and transmission constraints,
  2. 25 per cent safeguard duty on imports from China and Malaysia
  3. Flaws in tender scheme
  4. Tax uncertainties
Renewable Energy – Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, etc.

G-20 Framework on Marine Plastic Waste  

Mains Paper 3 : Conservation, Environmental Pollution & Degradation, Eia |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : G20

Mains level : Marine Plastic Waste


News

  • Group of 20 environment ministers agreed to adopt a new implementation framework for actions to tackle the issue of marine plastic waste on a global scale.

About the Framework

  • The new framework is aimed at facilitating further concrete action on marine waste, though on a voluntary basis, after the G20 Hamburg Summit in Germany adopted the “G20 action plan on marine litter” in 2017.
  • Under the new framework, G20 members will promote a comprehensive life-cycle approach to prevent and reduce plastic litter discharge to the oceans through various measures and international cooperation.
  • They will also share best practices, promote innovation and boost scientific monitoring and analytical methodologies.

About G20

G20 – Comprehensive Notes

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[pib] Kimberley Process Certification Scheme

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kimberley Process, Conflict Diamond

Mains level : KPCS



News

  • The Intersessional meet of Kimberley Process (KP) will be hosted by India

Kimberley Process Certification Scheme

  • The Kimberley Process is a joint initiative involving Government, international diamond industry and civil society to stem the flow of 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 United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions.

Why need KPCS?

  • In 1998, certain rebel movements in Africa (Sierra Leone, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia) were selling, among other things, illegally obtained diamonds.
  • These were known as Conflict Diamonds – to fund their wars against legitimate governments.
  • With a view to find ways to stop trade in Conflict Diamonds, world’s diamond industry, UN, Governments and leading NGOs came together and in November 2002 at Interlaken, Switzerland.
  • There the final draft of the Kimberley Process measures was ratified by more than fifty countries.
  • The KPCS came into effect from 1st January, 2003 and evolved into an effective mechanism for stopping the trade in Conflict Diamonds.
  • At present, KPCS has 55 members representing 82 countries including EU with 28 members.

India and the KPCS

  • India is one of the founder members of Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
  • It is the Chair of Kimberley Process for the year 2019 with Russian Federation as Vice Chair.
  • India had earlier chaired KPCS in the year 2008.

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.

Assist this newscard with:

[pib] Kimberley Process

Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

Cabinet approves ratification of OECD’s multilateral convention to check tax evasion

Mains Paper 3 : Effects Of Liberalization On The Economy, Changes In Industrial Policy and their effects on Industrial Growth |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BEPS

Mains level : Impact of BEPS on Indian economy


News

  • The Cabinet approved ratification of a multilateral convention to implement OECD’s project on checking tax evasion.
  • The Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) was signed by the then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Paris on June 7, 2017.

Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS)

  • Firms make profits in one jurisdiction, and shift them across borders by exploiting gaps and mismatches in tax rules, to take advantage of lower tax rates and, thus, not paying taxes to in the country where the profit is made.
  • BEPS refers to this corporate tax planning strategies to “shift” profits from higher–tax jurisdictions to lower–tax jurisdictions.
  • The OECD has considered ways to revise tax treaties, tighten rules, and to share more government tax information under the BEPS project.

About the convention

  • The Multilateral Convention is an outcome of the OECD/G20 Project to tackle  BEPS which is resorted to by MNCs through tax planning strategies by exploiting gaps and mismatches in tax rules.
  • It helps them artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid.
  • Post this convention, 90 countries have now implemented the automatic exchange of financial account and tax information.
  • The Convention enables all signatories to meet treaty-related minimum standards that were agreed as part of the BEPS package.

Impact

  • The Convention will modify India’s treaties in order to curb revenue loss through treaty abuse and base erosion and profit shifting strategies.
  • It will ensure that profits are taxed where substantive economic activities generating the profits are carried out and where value is created.
Tax Reforms

Traffic Index 2018

Mains Paper 1 : Urbanization, Their Problems & Remedies |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the index

Mains level : Vehicular Traffic in India



News

  • A recent study has ranked Mumbai as the most traffic-congested city in the world for the second straight year, and Delhi at fourth place.

Traffic Index 2018

  • The findings published are part of the Traffic Index 2018 published by TomTom, an Amsterdam-based company.
  • It offers traffic solutions, uses location technology to collect traffic information, and has been publishing city rankings for eight years.
  • The index factors for peak hours, accidents, inclement weather, construction work and all other factors likely to cause disruptions.
  • The latest index ranks 403 cities across 56 countries, including 13 new cities.

Defining Congestion

  • For this study, congestion has been defined in terms of the additional time taken to reach a destination as opposed to when the road would have been clear of traffic.
  • Mumbai’s 2018 congestion level of of 65%, therefore, means that the extra travel time is 65% more than an average trip would take during uncongested conditions.
  • For Delhi, by the same yardstick, the extra travel time is 58% more.

Around the world

  • Nearly 75% of the cities part of the 2018 index had increased or stable congestion levels between 2017 and 2018, with only 90 cities showing measurable decreases, states the report.
  • Congestion in Jakarta, for example, decreased by 8 percentage points while that in Lima rose by the same number of points.
Roads, Highways and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

New START Policy

Mains Paper 2 : Effect Of Policies & Politics Of World On India'S Interests |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : New START pact

Mains level : Read the attached story


News

  • Russian has warned to US to withdraw the Obama-era nuclear weapons pact New START due to the US disinterest in its renewal.

New START pact

  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) pact limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and is due to expire in 2021 unless renewed.
  • The treaty limits the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, well below Cold War caps.
  • It was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
  • It is one of the key controls on superpower deployment of nuclear weapons.
  • If it falls, it will be the second nuclear weapons treaty to collapse under the leadership of US President Donald Trump.
  • In February, US withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), accusing Moscow of violating the agreement.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

India is now the lowest-cost producer of solar power

Mains Paper 3 : Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways Etc. |

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IRENA

Mains level : Solar power cost in India


News

  • India is now the lowest-cost producer of solar power globally, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018

  • The IRENA report revealed that the total installed costs of utility-scale solar PV in India is as low as $793 per kilowatt (kW) in 2018 which is 27 per cent lower than for projects commissioned in 2017.
  • Canada has the highest cost at $2,427 per kW.
  • IRENA analysed eight major solar PV markets from 2010 to 2018 which include China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.
  • From the analysis, it is concluded that costs have dropped by 80 per cent in India.

Why low-cost solar power in India?

  • Typically, the cost of hardware including inverters account for more than half of the total cost of setting up a solar PV project in India.
  • India has high solar potential that leads to improved asset utilization.
  • India imports majority of hardware for installation from China which is cheaper and helps cut the cost by a huge margin.
  • As the cost of land and labor is cheaper than the rest of the world, it also contributes to low-cost production of solar power in India.

About IRENA

  • The IRENA is an intergovernmental organisation mandated to facilitate cooperation, advance knowledge, and promote the adoption and sustainable use of renewable energy.
  • It is the first international organisation to focus exclusively on renewable energy, addressing needs in both industrialized and developing countries.
  • It was founded in 2009 & its statute entered into force on 8 July 2010 and is headquartered in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.
  • IRENA is an official United Nations observer.
Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.