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Current Affairs

20 february 2024 current affairs

 

 

 

 

 

Anti-Satellite Weapon

why in news?

  • Russia is actively working towards a formidable new development in space technology, focusing on creating a nuclear anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon.

About Anti-Satellite Weapon:

  • It is designed to debilitate or destroy satellites that are already in orbit and operational.

Types of Anti-Satellite Weapons:

  • ASATs are broadly classified into two types namely Kinetic energy methods:
  • This involves launching a missile that intercepts and physically collides with the target satellite to destroy it. The kinetic energy ASATs physically collide with satellites and can reach altitudes. These ASATs can be ballistic missiles, drones, and other satellites.

Non-kinetic methods:

  • They use non-physical attacks such as cyber-attacks, jamming, and even lasers to blind satellites without physically destroying them. All of these attacks can be launched from the air, low orbit, or even ground installations.
  • Other ASAT capabilities include cyber-attacks on space systems, Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) explosion devices, directed energy (laser-based) weapons and targeted missiles for the destruction of satellites to sabotage the enemy's military operations.
  • There are many countries which have this capability, but only four countries — including India — have demonstrated their ASAT capabilities.

Issues:

  • These weapons generate a tremendous amount of space debris, which poses a hazard to all space operations, including civilian and commercial satellites.

India’s farm subsidies under WTO Scrutiny

why in news?

  • Recently, The Cairns Group has claimed that India’s public stockholding (PSH) program is heavily subsidized.
  • They argue that India’s farm support distorts global food prices and undermines food security in other countries. This increases pressure on India to comply with World Trade organisation (WTO) regulations regarding farm subsidies. What do the WTO regulations regarding farm subsidies say?

Objective

  • The WTO regulations on farm subsidies aims to ensure fair competition and prevent trade distortion globally.
  • These regulations impose limits on the types and levels of subsidies that member countries can provide to their agricultural sectors.

Levels of subsidies: Cairns group

  • About– It is a coalition of agricultural exporting countries that advocate for agricultural trade liberalization.
  • Established– It was established in 1986 and is named after Cairns, Australia, where the first meeting took place.
  • Member Countries– The group consists of 19 member countries, primarily from the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America, including Australia, Canada, Brazil, and Thailand, among others.
  • Objective– The Cairns Group aims to promote fair and open agricultural trade by advocating for the reduction of trade barriers, subsidies, and protectionist measures that distort global agricultural markets.

International Single Species Action Plan

why in news?

  • Recently, the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP14) adopted the Single Species Action Plan for the conservation of the Hawksbill Turtle.

About the International Single Species Action Plan:

  • It is the key instrument developed under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).
  • Purpose: It is for the purpose of implementing coordinated measures to restore migratory waterbird species to a favourable conservation status.
  • International cooperation among the species’ range states is essential for the implementation of these action plans. Agreement on the Conservation of AfricanEurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA)
  • It is an intergovernmental treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago.
  • It is developed under the framework of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • It brings together countries and the wider international conservation community in an effort to establish coordinated conservation and management of migratory water birds throughout their entire migratory range.
  • It covers 255 species of migratory water birds that are ecologically dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle.
  • The Agreement area stretches from the northern reaches of Canada and the Russian Federation to the southernmost tip of Africa, covering 119 Range States from Africa, Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia and Canada

The Agreement has three main bodies:

  • Meeting of the Parties (MOP), the governing body of AEWA;
  • Standing Committee (StC), responsible for steering the operations between sessions of the MOP;
  • Technical Committee (TC), responsible for providing scientific and technical advice.
  • The Agreement’s Secretariat (UNEP/AEWA Secretariat) based in Bonn, Germany, supports the Parties and services the bodies of the Agreement. Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals Olive Ridley Turtle and Other sea turtles

why in news?

  • The Andhra Pradesh government has recently imposed a month-long ban on fishing to prevent death of Olive Ridley turtles off Kakinada coast.

About the Olive Ridley Turtle

  • The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
  • They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
  • Habitat- They are found in warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. IUCN status- Vulnerable Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act- Schedule I)

Leatherback turtle: -

  • It is the largest of the seven sea turtle species. Habitat- It is found in all oceans except the Arctic and the Antarctic. IUCN Status- Vulnerable Indian Wildlife (Protection) ActSchedule I.
  • Loggerhead turtleHabitat- It is found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. IUCN Status- Vulnerable Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act- Schedule I.
  • Hawksbill turtleThey have a wide range, found predominantly in tropical reefs of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. Habitat- They are primarily found in tropical coral reefs. IUCN status- Critically Endangered Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act- Schedule I
  • Green turtle– It is the only herbivore among the different species of sea turtles. Habitat- They are found mainly in tropical and subtropical waters. IUCN status- Endangered Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act- Schedule I

National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)

Why in News?

  • The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) recently recommended the imposition of President's rule in West Bengal.

About: -

  • It is an Indian constitutional body established under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India.
  • Article 338 of the Indian Constitution deals with NCSC.
  • It was established to provide safeguards against the exploitation of Scheduled Castes and Anglo-Indian communities to promote and protect their social, educational, economic, and cultural interests, special provisions were made in the Constitution.

History:

  • The first Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was set up in August 1978.
  • Consequent to the Constitution (Eighty-Ninth Amendment) Act, 2003, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has been replaced by:
  • the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

Duties and Functions of the Commission:

  • To investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes under the Constitution or under any other law for the time being in force or under any order of the government, and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.
  • To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes. To participate and advise in the planning process of socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any state.
  • To present to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards.

Powers of the Commission:

  • The Commission shall, while investigating any matter referred to it, have the powers of a civil court trying a suit.
  • The Commission shall have the power to regulate its own procedure.
  • The Union and every State Government shall consult the Commission on all major policy matters affecting Scheduled Castes.

Structure:

  • The Commission shall consist of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, and three other Members.  The Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, and other Members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal.
  • The conditions of service and tenure of office of the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and other Members so appointed shall be such as the President may, by rule, determine. paperless office in the 17th Lok Sabha.
  • Presently, more than 97% of question notices are being given through electronic mediums.

New Parliamentary Building:

  • On September 19, 2023, the Parliament moved into a new complex. It was a historic switch over from the iconic circular building to the lion capitoltopped triangular edifice on Central Vista as the home of India’s democracy.

Starred and Unstarred Questions:

  • During the 17th Lok Sabha, 4,663 starred questions were listed, out of which 1,116 questions were answered orally. In the same period, 55,889 unstarred questions were also asked which received written answers in the House. Issues in the Functioning of 17th Lok Sabha Fewest Sittings Amongst All Full-term Lok Sabhas.
  • The 17th Lok Sabha held 274 sittings. Only four previous Lok Sabhas have had fewer sittings, all of which were dissolved before completing the five-year term. 11 out of the 15 sessions held during this Lok Sabha were adjourned early.

Deputy Speaker Not Elected for the First Time:

  • Article 93 of the Constitution requires that Lok Sabha elect a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker ‘as soon as may be’. This is the first time Lok Sabha did not elect the Deputy Speaker for its entire duration. Bills Passed within 2 weeks of.

Introduction:

  • Most Bills introduced during the term of the 17th LS (58% of the Bills) were passed within two weeks of their introduction.
  • The J&K Reorganization Bill, 2019, and the Women’s Reservation Bill, 2023 were passed within two days of introduction.
  • 35% of Bills were passed with less than an hour of discussion in Lok Sabha. Less than 20% of Bills Were Referred to Committees.
  • 16% of Bills were referred to Committees for detailed scrutiny. This is lower than the corresponding figures for the previous three Lok Sabhas Few Private Members’ Bills and Resolutions Discussed: 729 Private Members’ Bills (PMBs) were introduced in the 17th Lok Sabha, which is higher than all previous Lok Sabhas, except the 16th. However, only two PMBs were discussed. Lesser Time Spent On Budget Discussions: Over the years, the time spent on budget discussions in Lok Sabha has reduced.
  • Between 2019 and 2023, on average, about 80% of the budget has been voted on without discussion. In 2023, the entire budget was passed without discussion.

Major Security Breach:

  • On 13th December, 2023, in a major security breach coinciding with the anniversary of the Parliament attack, two persons jumped into the Lok Sabha chamber from the public gallery during Zero Hour, released yellow smoke from canisters and shouted slogans.

Increased Criminalization:

  • The increasing trend of criminalization in Indian politics refers to the growing presence and influence of individuals with criminal backgrounds in the political arena.
  • The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) reported that 43% of the elected Members of Parliament in the 17th Lok Sabha had pending criminal cases against them Impact of Decline in Functioning of Lok Sabha Undermine.

Institutional Credibility:

  • The inability of the Lok Sabha to effectively discharge its legislative responsibilities may undermine the credibility and authority of parliamentary institutions.
  • This can weaken the democratic fabric of the country and diminish the legitimacy of elected representatives.

Decreased Accountability:

  • With fewer parliamentary sessions and reduced participation from legislators, there's less scrutiny of government actions.
  • This can lead to diminished accountability as there are fewer opportunities for lawmakers to question policies, decisions, and expenditures.

Weakened Representation:

  • Parliamentary engagement is crucial for representing the diverse interests of the population.
  • When engagement decreases, certain voices may be marginalized, leading to less inclusive policymaking and legislation that may not adequately address the needs of all constituents.

Impaired Policy Quality:

  • Meaningful parliamentary engagement typically involves robust debate, deliberation, and collaboration among lawmakers.
  • When engagement levels decrease, the quality of policymaking may suffer as a result of insufficient input, scrutiny, and analysis.

Solutions

Build a Better Image of Parliament:

  • Implement measures to enhance transparency in parliamentary proceedings, such as live broadcasting of sessions, increased access to parliamentary documents and records, and public disclosure of MPs' attendance and performance to build a better Image of Parliament.

Improve the Quality of Members:

  • Encourage political parties to adopt merit-based criteria for selecting candidates for parliamentary elections, emphasizing qualifications, experience, and commitment to public service.
  • Promote diversity and inclusivity by ensuring representation of marginalized communities and underrepresented groups.

Setting up a Constitution Committee:

  • A Constitution Committee can conduct periodic reviews of the Constitution to assess its relevance, adequacy, and effectiveness in addressing contemporary challenges and evolving societal needs.
  • This ensures that the Constitution remains a living document capable of adapting to changing circumstances. Strengthen Scrutiny Support:
  • Provide parliamentary committees with access to independent research and analytical support to aid in their scrutiny efforts.
  • This can include establishing dedicated research units within Parliament or collaborating with external research organisations to provide expertise on complex issues.

India-UAE Relations

why in news ?

  • India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed eight pacts to bolster cooperation in key areas such as investments, electricity trade and digital payment platforms.

Highlights of the Pact Signed Between India-UAE Interlinking of Digital Payment Platforms:

  • Interlinking of UPI and AANI
  • The two countries signed agreements on interlinking of digital payment platforms- UPI (India) and AANI (UAE).
  • This will facilitate seamless cross-border transactions between India and UAE, enhancing financial connectivity and cooperation.

Interlinking Domestic Debit/Credit Cards (RuPay and JAYWAN):

  • Both countries signed a pact on interlinking domestic debit/ credit cards — RuPay (India) with JAYWAN (UAE).
  • It is an important step in building financial sector cooperation and it will enhance the universal acceptance of RuPay across the UAE.
  • UAE’s domestic card JAYWAN is based on the digital RuPay credit and debit card stack.

Bilateral Investment Treaty:

  • Both Countries signed Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), which is seen to be a “Key Enabler” for further investments in both countries.
  • UAE has been a significant investor in India's infrastructure sector.
  • In 2022-2023, UAE was the fourth biggest FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) investor for India. It has committed to invest USD 75 billion in India’s infrastructure sector.

Intergovernmental Framework Agreement on India-Middle East Economic Corridor (IMEC):

  • It aims to be built to foster India-UAE cooperation, furthering regional connectivity. The IMEC was announced on the sidelines of the G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi in September 2023.

Cultural Cooperation:

  • The two countries signed a “cooperation protocol between the National Archives of the two countries” to restore and preserve archival material.
  • Both countries aimed at supporting the Maritime Heritage Complex at Lothal, Gujarat,”.

Gratitude for BAPS Temple Construction:

  • India thanked the UAE for its support in granting land for the construction of the BAPS Temple in Abu Dhabi, emphasizing the significance of the temple as a symbol of UAE-India friendship and cultural bonds.

Port Infrastructure Development:

  • Agreements signed between RITES Limited and Gujarat Maritime Board with Abu Dhabi Ports Company to enhance port infrastructure and connectivity between India and the UAE.

Bharat Mart:

  • The foundation stone of Bharat Mart, which will combine retail, warehousing and logistics facilities at Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone in Dubai, was laid by the Indian Prime Minister.
  • Bharat Mart can potentially play a key role in promoting the exports of India’s micro, small and medium sectors by providing them with a platform to reach international buyers in the Gulf, West Asia, Africa and Eurasia.

India-UAE Bilateral Relations Been So Far About:

  • India and the UAE established diplomatic relations in 1972.
  • The greater push was achieved in bilateral relations when the visit of India’s Prime Minister to the UAE in August 2015 marked the beginning of a new strategic partnership between the two countries.
  • Further, during the visit of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to India in January 2017 as the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations, it was agreed that bilateral relations were to be upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
  • This gave momentum to launch negotiations for an India-UAE comprehensive economic partnership agreement.

Economic Relations:

  • The economic partnership between India and the UAE has flourished, with bilateral trade reaching USD 85 billion in 2022-23. The UAE is India's third-largest trading partner and second-largest export destination.
  • The aim is to boost bilateral merchandise trade to above USD 100 billion and services trade to USD 15 billion in five years.
  • Also, many Indian companies have set up manufacturing units either as joint ventures or in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for cement, building materials, textiles, engineering products, consumer electronics, etc. in the UAE