Mains Monthly Magazine: December 2022

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Table of Contents



Ransomware attacks in India

Relevance- GS-III- Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.


  • On November 23, e-services at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) were crippled by what is being suspected to be a ransomware attack.
  • The Delhi Police’s Intelligence Fusion & Strategic Operations have registered a case and launched investigations to identify the perpetrators, while cyber security experts are employing software tools for data recovery.
  • They have been able to retrieve a significant number of files.
  • However, pending sanitisation of the entire network and its nodes, all hospital services are currently being executed manually.
  • AIIMS has a Local Area Network comprising more than 6,500 computers supporting the institute, its hospital, centres and other departments.
  • While a probe is underway to determine if essential safety protocols were in place, measures are being taken to thwart any such attack in the future.

What is a ransomware?

  • Ransomware is a type of malicious software, used by cyber criminals, to infect a computer system by blocking access to the stored data by encrypting the files.
  • A ransom is then demanded from the owner in exchange for the decryption key.
  • While it is not yet clear as to how exactly the AIIMS computer systems were targeted, the malware may usually be injected remotely by tricking the user into downloading it upon clicking an ostensibly safe web link sent via email or other means, including hacking.
  • It can spread throughout the network by exploiting existing vulnerabilities.
  • Ransomware attacks can also be accompanied by theft of sensitive data for other sinister motives.

How serious are ransomware attacks?

  • Preliminary findings by cyber experts have indicated that at least five of the AIIMS’ servers that hosted data related to more than three crore patients were compromised.
  • In India, several cases of ransomware attacks targeting commercial and critical infrastructure have been reported in the recent past.
  • In May, Spicejet had faced such a threat, while Public Sector Undertaking Oil India was targeted on April 10.
  • Cybersecurity firm Trellix, in its third-quarter global report, has identified 25 major ransomwares in circulation.
  • According to the Interpol’s first-ever Global Crime Trend report presented at its 90th General Assembly meeting in Delhi this October, ransomware was the second highest-ranking threat after money laundering, at 66%. It is also expected to increase the most (72%).

Agencies dealing with cyber-attacks in India

  • Set up in 2004, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) is the national nodal agency that collects, analyses and circulates inputs on cyber-attacks; issues guidelines, advisories for preventive measures, forecasts and issues alerts; and takes measures to handle any significant cyber security event.
  • It also imparts training to computer system managers.
  • The National Cyber Security Coordinator, under the National Security Council Secretariat, coordinates with different agencies at the national level on cybersecurity issues, while the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre has been set up for the protection of national critical information infrastructure.
  • According to the government, the Cyber Swachhta Kendra (Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre) has been launched for detection of malicious software programmes and to provide free tools to remove the same, while the National Cyber Coordination Centre works on creating awareness about existing and potential threats.

Way Forward

  • The National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) has formulated a draft National Cyber Security Strategy, which holistically looks at addressing the issue of security of national cyberspace.
  • The preferred alternative would be to adopt a ‘citizen-centric’ approach to digital security that strives for indivisible network security, assured data privacy and the broadest possible scope of homo-centric experience.
  • Cybersecurity is not just about managing risk, it's also a strategic issue that shapes product capability, organisational effectiveness, and customer relationships.


Digital Rupee in India

Relevance- GS III- Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.


  • The Reserve Bank of India this week launched the digital rupee on a pilot basis.
  • The digital currency will be offered by a select group of public and private banks in a few major cities initially, which can be used for both person-to-person and person-to-merchant transactions.

What is the Digital Rupee

  • The digital rupee, or the e-rupee, is a central bank digital currency issued by the RBI.
  • It is similar to the physical cash that you hold in your wallet except that the e-rupee is held electronically in a digital wallet overseen by the RBI.
  • The digital rupee is recognised as legal tender by the RBI, and thus has to be accepted by everyone in the country as a medium of exchange.
    • It is, however, different from deposits that we hold in a bank.
  • Unlike deposits which are paid interest, the digital rupees in your wallet are not paid any interest by the central bank.
  • Deposits held in banks can be converted into digital rupees and vice-versa.

Need for Digital Rupee

  • The RBI believes that the digital rupee will make the rupee more attractive as a currency to users when compared to cryptocurrencies.
  • Cryptocurrencies have been viewed by many investors as alternatives to fiat currencies which progressively lose value over time due to debasement by central banks.
  • Since such a trend could threaten their sovereignty, central banks have been trying to come up with their own digital currencies.
  • The RBI also believes that the digital rupee will be easier and more economical to produce when compared to physical cash notes.
  • More importantly, transactions carried out using digital rupees, in contrast to physical transactions, are more easily traceable by authorities.

Risks associated with Digital Rupee

  • The introduction of central bank digital currencies internationally has worried many who believe that it could disrupt the banking system.
  • When interest rates offered by banks are low, people may be more prone to converting their bank deposits into digital currencies since they would not lose out much in the way of interest income by making the shift.
  • Such an event could cause the cash holdings of banks to drop and hinder banks’ capacity to create loans.
  • It should be noted that the ability of banks to create loans is influenced by the amount of cash they hold in their vaults.
    • This is because the cash position of a bank determines its ability to expand its loan book while keeping the risk of a bank run under control.
  • A rise in the use of the digital rupee could eventually free banks from having to maintain sufficient cash deposits before they expand their loan books.
  • This could happen if digital rupee deposits turn out to be considered equivalent to other forms of virtual money such as deposits created initially as loans by banks.
  • In such case, banks will be freed from the risk of bank runs which have traditionally served as a check on the unrestrained expansion of loan books.

Way Forward

  • Critics point to the power that digital currencies give central banks to supervise economic activity, and believe that this could act as a deterrent to economic growth if legitimate economic activities are deemed illegal by governments. 
  • The digital rupee rollout is being touted as a big step towards digital transformation in India. It will majorly change the way of doing business.


Decriminalisation of Offences under GST

Relevance- GS II- Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation


  • The 48th GST Council meeting was held on December 17.
  • The GST Council chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recommended to decriminalise certain offences under Section 132 of the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Act, 2017.
  • Some other recommendations, for the facilitation of trade, include an increased threshold of the amount of tax for prosecution, reducing the compounding amount in GST etc.

What was previously criminalised under GST?

  • Since the implementation of GST, there has been a significant increase in tax evasion, with numerous cases of taxpayers using multiple strategies to avoid indirect tax coming to light.
  • Tax authorities are actively using technology and data from e-way bills and GST returns to check evasion.
  • The GST law establishes stringent penalties and guidelines that taxpayers must abide by in order to ensure smooth intrastate or interstate trade of goods and to combat corruption and maintain an effective tax collection system.
  • The GST Law provides for two different types of penalties:
    • They may be both concurrent and simultaneous.
    • The department authorities have the authority to impose monetary fines and the seizure of goods as penalties for violating statutory provisions.
    • Criminal penalties include imprisonment and fines, which are also provided by GST Law but which can only be awarded in a criminal court following a prosecution.
  • Sections 122 to 131 of the CGST Act of 2017 contain provisions relating to penalties, while Sections 132 to 138 contains provisions relating to prosecution and compounding.
  • The amount of tax evaded, the amount of Input Tax Credit (ITC) improperly claimed or used, or the amount of refund improperly claimed determines the length of the prison sentence.
  • Additionally, it is observed that many non-compliances fall under both categories of penalties, prosecution, and compounding.
  • Under the CGST Act, if a group of two persons or more agree to commit an illegal act like tax evasion, fraud etc. they are held liable under the act of criminal conspiracy.

Impact of Decriminalisation

  • The GST is a novel taxation system that includes a number of globally unprecedented features.
  • The law is still developing and is in its infancy which makes the same difficult and uncertain to enforce.
  • There are instances of conflict between court decisions and rulings. The government is still working to streamline the laws.
  • In comparison to the pre-GST era, the GST compliance process with granular reporting is noticeably more onerous.
  • Imposing penal provisions in an ambiguous ecosystem significantly alters how businesses perceive risk and uncertainty, directly impacting their ability to conduct business.
    • Investors may be discouraged by the fear of criminal sanctions in small, trivial, and petty matters, even before their engagement in any business activity or investment.

Other recommended measures to facilitate trade

  • Two major recommendations include refunding unregistered persons and facilitating e-commerce for micro enterprises.
  • There was no procedure for claim of refund of tax borne by unregistered buyers in cases where the contract/agreement for supply of services, like construction of flat/house and long-term insurance policy, is cancelled and the time period of issuance of credit note by the concerned supplier is over.
    • The Council recommended amendment in CGST Rules, 2017, along with issuance of a circular, to prescribe the procedure for filing application of refund by the unregistered buyers in such cases.
  • The Council approved the amendments in the GST Act and GST Rules, along with issuance of relevant notifications, to enable the same.
  • Further, considering the time required for development of the requisite functionality on the portal as well as for providing sufficient time for preparedness by the ECOs, the Council has recommended that the scheme may be implemented from October 2023.

Way Forward

  • If the above decriminalisation of GST offences are implemented with adequate checks, then prosecution, arrest and imprisonment in GST cases would only be in the rarest of rare cases of hard, habitual, deliberate defaulters and blatant specific fraudulent practices.
  • Other minor grievances may be dealt with in other resolution mechanisms such as Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism, private ruling and mediation, faceless adjudication and appeals, etc.


Deepfake technology and the need to regulate it

Relevance- GS III- Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights


  • The Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s cyberspace watchdog, is rolling out new regulations, to be effective from January 10, to restrict the use of deep synthesis technology and curb disinformation.
  • Deep synthesis is defined as the use of technologies, including deep learning and augmented reality, to generate text, images, audio and video to create virtual scenes.
  • Deepfakes are getting harder to detect with the advancement of technology. It is used to generate celebrity porn videos, produce fake news, and commit financial fraud among other wrongdoings.
  • Under the guidelines of China’s new rules, companies and platforms using the technology must first receive consent from individuals before they edit their voice or image.

What is a deepfake?

  • Deepfakes are a compilation of artificial images and audio put together with machine-learning algorithms to spread misinformation and replace a real person’s appearance, voice, or both with similar artificial likenesses or voices.
  • It can create people who do not exist and it can fake real people saying and doing things they did not say or do.
  • The technology is now being used for nefarious purposes like scams and hoaxes, celebrity pornography, election manipulation, social engineering, automated disinformation attacks, identity theft and financial fraud.
  • Deepfake technology has been used to impersonate former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and Hollywood celebrity Tom Cruise.
  • China’s new rule aims to combat the use of deepfake for spreading disinformation.

China’s new policy to curb deepfakes

  • The policy requires deep synthesis service providers and users to ensure that any doctored content using the technology is explicitly labelled and can be traced back to its source.
  • The regulation also mandates people using the technology to edit someone’s image or voice, to notify and take the consent of the person in question.
  • When reposting news made by the technology, the source can only be from the government-approved list of news outlets.
  • Deep synthesis service providers must also abide by local laws, respect ethics, and maintain the “correct political direction and correct public opinion orientation”, according to the new regulation.

Steps taken by Other Countries

  • The European Union has an updated Code of Practice to stop the spread of disinformation through deepfakes.
  • The revised Code requires tech companies including Google, Meta, and Twitter to take measures in countering deepfakes and fake accounts on their platforms.
  • Introduced in 2018, the Code of Practice on Disinformation brought together for the first time worldwide industry players to commit to counter disinformation.
  • In July, last year, the U.S. introduced the bipartisan Deepfake Task Force Act to assist the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to counter deepfake technology.
  • The measure directs the DHS to conduct an annual study of deepfakes — assess the technology used, track its uses by foreign and domestic entities, and come up with available countermeasures to tackle the same.
  • Some States in the United States such as California and Texas have passed laws that criminalise the publishing and distributing of deepfake videos that intend to influence the outcome of an election.
  • The law in Virginia imposes criminal penalties on the distribution of nonconsensual deepfake pornography.

Laws in India

  • In India, however, there are no legal rules against using deepfake technology.
  • However, specific laws can be addressed for misusing the tech, which include Copyright Violation, Defamation and cyber felonies.
  • Section 66D of the Information Technology Act, 2000 has a provision for when a communication device or computer resource is used (with) mala fide (intention) for cheating to personate, the person can be imprisoned for up to three years and/or fined up to Rs 1 lakh.
  • Another part of the IT Act is Section 66E. Deep fake crimes also violate this Section as the person’s privacy is breached for capturing, publishing or transmitting their images in mass media.
  • Under Section 51 of the Act, using any property that belongs to another person on which the latter person has an exclusive right is in violation of the Act. There are, however, some exceptions to this. 

Way Forward

  • Along with spreading awareness about this novel technology to the masses, adequate attention should be given by the government towards the challenges posed by deepfakes, before they become a menace in India.
  • Deepfakes have a lot of potential such that they can influence the way we see the world ; however, the negative toll is heavier in this scenario.
  • Thus, there is a major need for laws in India  that regulate deepfakes and similar technology  to keep checks and controls over any potential nuisance that  can cause harm to society and mankind.


The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022

Relevance- GS II- Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation


  • The Bill amends the Energy Conservation Act, 2001 to empower the central government to specify a carbon credit trading scheme. 
  • Designated consumers may be required to meet a proportion of their energy needs from non-fossil sources.
  • The Energy Conservation Code for buildings will also apply to office and residential buildings with a connected load of 100 kilowatt or above.
  • Energy consumption standards may be specified for vehicles and ships.
  • The Bill empowers the government to establish carbon markets in India and specify a carbon credit trading scheme.

Details of the Bill

  • Bill aims to put a cap on carbon emissions and consumption by big consumers, by instituting a carbon credit mechanism.
  • Under this mechanism, big consumers will have to mandatorily meet a certain portion of their energy requirements through renewable energy sources.
    • These sources of renewable energy also include green hydrogen, biomass and ethanol.
  • If the big consumers overachieve, and meet more of their energy requirements from such cleaner sources of energy, then they will be given carbon credits.
  • If they underachieve, or are unable to meet the targets, they will be either penalised for it or will have to buy carbon credits to compensate.
  • The Bill also proposes an “energy conservation and sustainable building code” for large buildings (which are connected to at least 100 kilowatt of power) including commercial and residential ones, which necessitates that renewable energy sources be used in such buildings as well.
  • The Bill also proposes to increase members in the Governing Council of Bureau of Energy Efficiency, a statutory body constituted under the Ministry of Power.

Concerns about the new Bill

  • Carbon credit trading aims to reduce carbon emissions, and hence, address climate change. The question is whether the Ministry of Power is the appropriate Ministry to regulate this scheme. 
    • A further question is whether the market regulator for carbon credit trading should be specified in the Act.
  • Same activity may be eligible for renewable energy, energy savings, and carbon credit certificates. The Bill does not specify whether these certificates will be interchangeable.
  • Designated consumers must meet certain non-fossil energy use obligation. Given the limited competition among discoms in any area, consumers may not have a choice in the energy mix.


With the aim of facilitating the achievement of COP-26 goals, significant changes were made to the 2001 Act. Currently, there is no clarity on the scope and ambit of the Carbon Credit Trading Scheme. The same energy saving measure may entitle a person to Renewable Energy Certificate, Energy Saving Certificate or Carbon Credit Certificate. It is to be seen if the certificates are made interchangeable in the future.


Remote EVM ready to help migrants vote outside States: EC

Relevance- GS II- Appointment to various Constitutional Posts, Powers, Functions and Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies


  • The Election Commission (EC) recently announced the development of a prototype of a multi-constituency remote electronic voting machine (RVM) to enable remote voting by migrant voters.
  • The machines can handle multiple constituencies from one remote booth.
  • The EC invited all recognised political parties — eight national and 57 State parties — to a demonstration of the prototype on January 16.
  • The panel has already shared a concept note with them on the legal, operational, administrative and technological challenges.

Why Remote EVM?

  • The voter turnout in General Elections of 2019 was 67.4% and the Election Commission is concerned about the issue of over 30 crore electors not exercising their franchise and also differential voter turnout in various States/Union Territories.
  • The EC noted there were multifarious reasons for a voter not opting to register in a new place of residence, thus missing out on exercising the right to vote.
  • The inability to vote due to internal migration is one of the prominent reasons to be addressed to improve voter turnout and ensure participative elections.
  • Out-migration due to the need to work, marriage, and education is predominant among the rural population in overall domestic migration.
  • Approximately 85% of the internal migration is within the States.
  • The EC said it had circulated among the political parties a concept note highlighting the challenges of defining domestic migrants, implementation of the Model Code of Conduct, ensuring secrecy of voting, facility of polling agents for identification of voters, process and method of remote voting and counting of votes and other issues.


  • Among the laws and rules that would need amendment to implement remote voting are the Representation of the Peoples Act of 1950 and 1951, the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 and the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960.
  • The definition of migrant voter will also need to be reworked with respect to retaining registration at the original place in the context of the legal construct of “ordinary residence” and “temporary absence”.
  • Also, the territorial constituency concept of remote voting and defining remoteness itself, that is an outside constituency, outside district or outside State will need to be dealt with.
  • The administrative challenges include enumerating remote voters’ self-declaration, ensuring secrecy of voting at remote locations, provision of polling agents at remote voting booths, and ensuring identification of voters to avoid impersonation.
  • Other areas to work on would include the appointment of polling personnel for remote polling stations and supervision thereof, the number of polling booths to be set up and their locations, and implementation of the Model Code of Conduct in remote locations.
  • Some of the technological challenges will be the method of remote voting, the familiarity of the voters with the multi-constituency RVM and counting of votes.


  • The initiative, if implemented, can lead to a social transformation for the migrants and connect with their roots as many times they are reluctant to get themselves enrolled at their place of work for various reasons such as frequently changing residences, not enough social and emotional connect with the issues of an area of migration, and unwillingness to get their name deleted in the electoral roll of their home/native constituencies as they have permanent residence/property.





India-U.S. exercise near LAC irks China

  • China on Wednesday said it had expressed its concern to India over the joint India-U.S. military exercise, Yudh Abhyas, being conducted in Uttarakhand, about 100 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • “The joint military exercise between India and the U.S. close to the LAC at the China-India border violates the spirit of the agreements signed between India and China in 1993 and 1996. It does not serve the mutual trust between India and China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a media briefing in Beijing.
  • China seeks to “prevent” tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) from pushing India “to partner more closely” with the U.S. and has warned American officials “not to interfere” with its relationship with India, the U.S. Department of Defence said in its latest report.
  • “Throughout the stand-off [which began in 2020], PRC officials sought to downplay the severity of the crisis, emphasising Beijing’s intent to preserve border stability and prevent the stand-off from harming other areas of its bilateral relationship with India,” the China military power report 2022, which was submitted to the U.S. Congress, said. 
  • Further, referring to the violent Galwan Valley clash of June 2020, which resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese personnel, the report said the Western Theatre Command conducted large-scale mobilisation and deployment of PLA forces.
  • “Due to the sustained military development along the LAC, the Western Theatre Command’s deployment will likely continue through 2022,” it added.
  • The report said that each country demanded the withdrawal of the other’s forces and a return to the pre-stand-off conditions, but neither China nor India agreed to the conditions.
Case Study can be Used: GS- II- India and its Neighborhood- Relations

SC seeks Centre’s response on evolving a programme to protect Great Indian Bustard

  • The Supreme Court recently sought the government’s response about evolving a “Project Great Indian Bustard” conservation programme like the Project Tiger to bring attention to the peril faced by the critically endangered bird.
  • Project Tiger is touted by the government as one of the most successful conservation programmes for a single species in the world.
  • The court is hearing a series of petitions highlighting the numerous deaths of Great Indian Bustards due to power transmission lines criss-crossing their habitat in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  • In its order, the Special Bench, including Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, directed the Chief Secretaries of Gujarat and Rajasthan to undertake and complete a comprehensive exercise within four weeks to find out the total length of the transmission lines in question and the number of bird diverters required in the priority areas of the birds’ habitats.
  • The court was not, however, for the time being, ready to agree with the Centre’s plea to expand its expert committee formed in April 2022 to study the problem.
  • The government wanted the court to allow the Additional Secretary of the Renewable Energy Ministry and the Chief Operating Officer of Central Transmission Utility of India Ltd. to join the committee as domain experts on transmission lines.
  • Instead, the Bench said the expert committee was free to consult the firm’s officer for his expert opinion for now.
  • There are several threats that have led to the decline of the GIB populations; however, power lines seem to be the most significant.
  • There have been studies in different parts of the world where bustard populations have shown high mortality because of power lines such as Denham’s bustards in South Africa and the Great Bustard in Spain.
  • The GIBs are not great fliers and have wide sideways vision to maximise predator detection but the species’ frontal vision is narrow.
    • These birds cannot detect power lines from far and since they are heavy fliers, they fail to manoeuvre across power lines within close distances.
    • The combination of these traits makes them vulnerable to collision with power lines. In most cases, death is due to collision rather than electrocution.
    • A study by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in 2020 recorded six cases of GIB mortality due to power-line collisions in Thar from 2017-20.
  • Listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, in Appendix I of CITES, as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, the GIBs enjoy the highest protection both in India and globally.
  • The earliest estimates show the population was about 1,260 in 1969, but has declined by 75% in the last 30 years.
  • The objective of ‘Habitat Improvement and Conservation Breeding of Great Indian Bustard-an integrated approach’ is to build the captive population of the GIBs and to release the chicks in the wild.
    • The initiative is likely to take 20 to 25 years.
  • Experts, including scientists from the WII, have called for removing all overhead powerlines passing through the GIB priority/critical areas in Rajasthan; the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change too has constituted a task force.
    • Questions, however, are being raised on the slow pace of implementation.
  • While most of the population of the species is confined to the Jaisalmer Desert National Park (DNP), wildlife enthusiasts believe that more areas outside the protected area must be made suitable for the species.
  • A conservation effort like ‘Project Tiger’ may not work for a large bird of an arid region that can always fly out of the protected area. Experts are calling for community-centric conservation of the species.
Case Study can be Used: GS- III-Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

SC worried over effect of GM crops on livelihood of women farm labourers

  • The Supreme Court recently expressed concern about the plight of thousands of women agricultural labourers in rural areas traditionally engaged in de-weeding as they would be part of the human cost if the government permitted the commercial cultivation of herbicide-tolerant crops such as GM mustard.
  • In rural areas, women are experts in removing weeds. They are a part of the labour force in agriculture in India. It brings them employment.
  • Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, the lead judge on the Bench, agreed that women were an integral part of the Indian agricultural landscape from paddy fields to tea estates, across the country.
  • Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, for a petitioner, said the widespread use of herbicide-tolerant crops would encourage farmers to spray chemical weed-killers, leaving toxic chemical residue in large amounts on the crops.
  • “The Supreme Court’s own Technical Expert Committee [TEC] had said that these GM crops were not meant for agriculture in the Indian context. They may be suitable in the western context where there are large farms, but not here,” Mr. Parikh argued.
  • Advocate Prashant Bhushan submitted that India had 5,477 varieties of mustard, which would be at risk.
    • He argued that the regulatory system under the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which cleared the environmental release of Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 (DMH-11), a genetically engineered variant of mustard, was “horrendous” and riddled with conflict of interest.
  • The environmental release of the hybrid mustard variety was cleared despite warnings from the parliamentary committee and the Supreme Court’s Technical Expert Committee report calling for its ban.
  • Besides, the government had not placed the biosafety dossier on the GM crop in the public domain.
  • GM mustard, if approved for commercial cultivation, would be the first genetically modified food crop available to Indian farmers.
    • Bt Brinjal was withdrawn by the government years ago after the regulatory system was found riddled with inconsistencies.
Case Study can be Used: GS- III- E-technology in the aid of farmers

160-200 mn Indians could be exposed to lethal heat waves annually: World Bank report

  • From 2030, 160 million to 200 million people can be exposed to lethal heatwaves in India every year, and nearly 34 million Indians will face job losses due to heat stress-related productivity decline.
  • By 2037, the demand for cooling is likely to be eight times more than the current level, the World Bank has said in a report.
  • In this scenario, it is imperative for India to deploy alternative and innovative energy efficient technologies for keeping spaces cool.
  • According to the report, “Climate investment opportunities in India’s cooling sector”, this could open an investment opportunity of $1.6 trillion by 2040, besides reducing greenhouse gas emissions significantly and creating 3.7 million jobs.
  • With the demand for cooling shooting up, there will be a demand for a new air-conditioner every 15 seconds, the report said, leading to an expected rise of 435% in annual greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades.
  • Thus, there is a need to shift to a more energy-efficient pathway which could lead to a reduction in expected CO2 levels.
  • The report proposes a road map to support New Delhi’s India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP), 2019, through new investments in three major sectors: building construction, cold chains and refrigerants.
  • Adopting climate-responsive cooling techniques as a norm in both private and government-funded constructions can ensure that those at the bottom of the economic ladder are not disproportionately affected by rising temperatures.
  • The report suggests that India’s affordable housing programme for the poor, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), can adopt such changes on scale.
  • It proposed enacting a policy for “district cooling”, which could lead to the consumption of 20-30% less power than the most efficient conventional cooling solutions.
  • District cooling technologies generate chilled water in a central plant which is then distributed to buildings via underground insulated pipes.
  • This brings down the cost for providing cooling to individual buildings.
  • Apart from this, guidelines for implementation of local and city-wide urban cooling measures such as cool-roofs should also be considered.
  • “India’s cooling strategy can help save lives and livelihoods and reduce carbon emissions.
Case Study can be Used: GS- III-Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

Centre to cut funds if land is not allotted for housing scheme

  • The States unable to provide land to the landless beneficiaries of the Union government’s flagship housing scheme by December 15 will find their targets for this financial year redistributed to other States, the Centre warned recently.
  • This means that the Centre will withdraw its share of funds allocated to errant States under the Centrally sponsored Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana (PMAY-G).
  • More than a fifth of such landless beneficiaries are in Tamil Nadu.
  • The scheme was launched in April 2016 with a goal of building 2.95 crore houses for the rural poor by March 2022, with the target figure derived from the Socio-Economic Caste Census, 2011.
  • Due to the COVID pandemic, the deadline was extended by two years till March 2024.
  • As per the statistics available with the Union Ministry of Rural Development, 2.06 crore houses had been constructed till November 2022.
  • With the scheme entering its final phase, the construction of houses for at least 2.5 lakh landless beneficiaries across the country is one of the last impediments.
  • The original figure of 4.48 lakh landless beneficiaries has shrunk to 2.56 lakh since the beginning of the scheme because of financial assistance provided to purchase land.
    • However, 43% of landless beneficiaries are yet to be provided with land.
  • Tamil Nadu, with 56,709 landless beneficiaries still on the wait list, followed by Maharashtra (48,272), Assam (23,064), Odisha (19,869) and Bihar (16,943).
  • Tamil Nadu has been particularly slow in providing help — it started out with 57,680 landless beneficiaries, and has provided land to only 971 , according to Ministry data.
Case Study can be Used: GS- II-Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

‘Protect glacial-period coastal red sand dunes of Vizag’

  • The city of Visakhapatnam is blessed with a number of sites that have geological importance. One among them is the coastal red sand dunes, popularly known as Erra Matti Dibbalu.
  • The site is located along the coast and is about 20 km northeast of Visakhapatnam city and about 4 km southwest of Bheemunipatnam.
  • This site, spread across an area of about 20 sq km, was declared as a geo-heritage site by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) in 2014 and the Andhra Pradesh government has listed it under the category of ‘protected sites’ in 2016.
  • Geologists say that this site has much significance geologically, archaeologically and anthropologically and it needs to be protected for further study and evaluation.
  • Primarily this site needs to be protected to study the impact of climate change, as Erra Matti Dibbalu have seen both the glacial and the warm periods, said adviser to the Geo-Heritage Cell of INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) and former professor of Geology, Andhra University, D. Rajasekhar Reddy.
    • According to him, the site is about 18,500 to 20,000 years old and it can be related to the last glacial period.
  • Such sand deposits are rare and have been reported only from three places in the tropical regions in south Asia such as Teri Sands in Tamil Nadu, Erra Matti Dibbalu in Visakhapatnam and one more site in Sri Lanka.
    • They do not occur in equatorial regions or temperate regions due to many scientific reasons.
  • Other senior geologists from Andhra University say that the government should not allow any kind of construction, including roads and any kind of entertainment zones, including building of restaurants in the area.
  • The uniqueness of this site is that the red sediments are a part of the continuation of the evolution of the earth and represent the late quaternary geologic age.
  • With a height of up to 30 m, they exhibit badland topography with different geomorphic landforms and features, including gullies, sand dunes, buried channels, beach ridges, paired terraces, the valley in the valley, wave-cut terrace, knick point and waterfalls.
  • It is a lively scientific evolution site, which depicts the real-time effects of climate change.
  • The site also has archaeological significance, as studies of artefacts indicate an Upper Palaeolithic horizon and on cross dating assigned to Late Pleistocene epoch, which is 20,000 BC.
Case Study can be Used: GS- III-Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

After complaints, Centre set to prioritise wages for MGNREGS site supervisors

  • Heeding to persistent complaints from Mates or site supervisors that their wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) are inordinately delayed, the Union Rural Development Ministry has devised a protocol to prioritise payment to mates.
  • Under the MGNREGS, wages of unskilled workers have to be paid within 15 days and if there is a delay, the Centre has to compensate them.
  • Mates — who are the frontline supervisors of the programme — are listed as semi-skilled workers because of the specialist nature of their job.
  • Their wages come from the “material component”, 60% of which is paid by the Union government. This component is now being released erratically, caught up in bureaucratic delays and chronic fund crunch.
  • Owing to the delay, in many States, the mates have started listing themselves as unskilled workers to get the wages on time.
  • The difference in wages as compared to the unskilled workers is usually minor and they can beat the delay in the payments for semi-skilled workers, which can go up to a year.
  • The Ministry, to resolve this bind, has streamlined the process by which the attendance and wages of the mates are recorded.
  • The muster roll for mates must be issued soon after generating muster roll for unskilled workers. In the software, all other options will be disabled till this is done.
  • It is also proposed that reports on day-wise pendency in the payment to mates may also be generated.
  • Since mate payments are made under the “material component”, State governments often clear the vendor bills related to supply of raw material for the construction before clearing mates’ payments.
Case Study can be Used: GS- II-Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

In a first, Maharashtra sets up independent Ministry for Divyang

  • On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Maharashtra government inaugurated the Ministry for Divyang (differently-abled) in Mumbai, to cater to people with special physical and mental needs educationally and professionally.
  • With this, Maharashtra has become the first State to have an independent Ministry for disabled persons.
  • The State government said the Ministry will ensure the welfare of the persons with disabilities and effective implementation of various government schemes for them.
  • Chief Minister Eknath Shinde inaugurated the new Ministry, in the presence of with Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship MP Lodha, as well as the Chief Secretary and Secretary of the Department of Social Justice and Special Assistance, Relief, and Rehabilitation.
  • The Ministry will operate out of an old building in Mumbai University campus next to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, and a Minister will be appointed in the upcoming winter session of the Assembly.
  • Earlier all complaints and issues related to the disabled persons were handled by the Social Justice department headed by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • In Maharashtra, there are close to 2.5 crore disabled people, it is high time that there should be a separate Ministry for them.
  • The Ministry aims to help them with education, jobs, scholarships, health, employment, travel facilities and rehabilitation.
Case Study can be Used: GS- II-Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

OPEC+ to continue present output, despite fresh sanctions on Russia

  • Major oil-producing countries led by Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed recently to maintain their current output levels in a climate of uncertainty and ahead of fresh sanctions against Moscow coming into force next week.
  • The representatives of the 13 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) led by Riyadh decided to stick to their course agreed in October of a production cut of two million barrels per day until the end of 2023.
  • OPEC+ described its October decision to cut as one which was purely driven by market considerations, adding that it had been the necessary and the right course of action towards stabilising global oil markets.
  • The EU, G7 and Australia agreed to a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil, which will come into effect on Monday or soon after, alongside an EU embargo on maritime deliveries of Russian crude oil.
  • It will prevent seaborne shipments of Russian crude to the European Union, which account for two thirds of the bloc’s oil imports from Russia, an attempt to deprive Moscow’s war chest of billions of euros.
  • While Russia denounced the incoming price cap, threatening to suspend deliveries to any country that adopted the measure, Ukraine suggested the cap should have been set even lower.
  • For OPEC+, the big unknown in the oil equation is how heavily sanctions will hit Russian supply.
  • Amid economic gloom fuelled by soaring inflation and fears of China’s weaker energy demand due to its COVID-related restrictions, the two global crude benchmarks remained close to their lowest level of the year, far from their March peaks.
  • Since the group’s last meeting in early October, Brent North Sea oil and its U.S. equivalent, WTI, have lost more than 6% of their value.
Case Study can be Used: GS- II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

India, Germany ink migration agreement; Jaishankar defends Russian oil purchase

  • India’s consumption of Russian oil is just one-sixth of European consumption and should not be compared unfavourably, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said in his talks with visiting German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, defending the government’s decision to increase the intake of Russian oil since the war in Ukraine.
  • Ms. Baerbock’s visit coincided with the launch of an “oil price cap” plan by the G-7 and European Union countries to withdraw shipping and insurance services to countries that buy Russian oil above the price of $60 a barrel.
  • At the end of talks, India and Germany signed a comprehensive partnership on migration and mobility meant to ease travel for research, study and work for people in both countries.
    • It would be the “basis for a more contemporary partnership” to relations.
  • The two sides said they held talks on bilateral issues, including Germany’s assistance to India on renewable energy and energy transitions, as well as international issues such as their Indo-Pacific strategy, and spoke about China, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • India also spoke on cross border terrorism from Pakistsn and Germany asserted that it  believes India and Pakistan must resolve their issues bilaterally.
Case Study can be Used: GS- II-Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

World Bank raises India’s growth projection to 6.9%

  • The World Bank recently lifted its growth forecast for India’s economy this year to 6.9%, after having downgraded it to 6.5% in October, citing resilience in economic activity despite a deteriorating external environment.
  • The Bank said it revised the GDP forecast considering the strong upturn in the July-to-September quarter of 2022-23, when it grew 6.3% despite inflationary pressures and tighter financing conditions, “driven by strong private consumption and investment”.
  • The government’s focus on bolstering capital expenditure also supported domestic demand in the first half of 2022-23.
  • High frequency indicators indicate continued robust growth of domestic demand at the start of Q3 (October to December quarter).
  • “India’s economy has been remarkably resilient to the deteriorating external environment, and strong macroeconomic fundamentals have placed it in good stead compared to other emerging market economies,” said Auguste Tano Kouame, World Bank’s country director in India.
  • In response to a query on whether India was experiencing ‘jobless growth’, Mr. Kouame said that jobs are being created, but they are all in the informal sector.
  • The Bank expects the Indian economy to grow at a slightly slower 6.6% in 2023-24 as a challenging external environment and faltering global growth will affect its economic outlook through different channels.
  • The report said that a one percentage point decline in growth in the United States is associated with a 0.4 percentage point decline in India’s growth.
Case Study can be Used: GS- III- Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment

Yuan Wang 5, surveillance vessel of China, re-enters Indian Ocean

  • The Chinese research and survey vessel Yuan Wang 5 has re-entered the Indian Ocean in what coincides with a planned Indian long-range missile test on December 15 or 16.
  • In a similar incident last month, another vessel, Yuan Wang 6, entered the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) coinciding with a planned Indian missile launch, but the launch was then deferred.
  • According to the maritime vessel-tracking portal, Yuan Wang 5 had entered the IOR through the Sunda strait, off Indonesia, late in the evening of December 4.
  • While research activities are allowed on international waters as per international regulations, the data generated had a dual nature, including military, and on many occasions, the motive of the Chinese vessels seemed doubtful, defence officials had said.
  • In August, the docking of Yuan Wang 5 at Hambantota in Sri Lanka had created a major diplomatic situation between India and Sri Lanka.
  • There had been a steady rise in the deployment of Chinese research vessels in the IOR, and the general area of deployment observed was around 90-degree east ridge and southwest Indian ridge.
  • The research or survey vessels have powerful equipment for snooping and gathering a range of data.
  • The Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean began in 2008 under the garb of anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and have since maintained continuous presence in the region, even deploying nuclear attack submarines (SSN) on occasions.
  • China had since set up a military base in Djibouti and developed several dual-use ports in the IOR in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan and other countries.
Case Study can be Used: GS- II-India and its Neighborhood- Relations

Two months after notifying new norms, wait list for adoption shrinks to 644

  • The pendency in the adoption of children has come down to 644 from 905 over the last two months since the new Adoption Regulations were notified and in a total of 361 cases, adoption orders have been issued.
  • The Rules for adoption of the Juvenile Justice Act were notified on September 23 this year.
    • The new rules empower the District Magistrates to issue adoption orders.
    • Earlier, this power was exercised by the judiciary.
  • Following the issue of the notification, over 589 children were adopted till December 5, official sources in the Ministry of Women and Child Development said.
  • The sources said that among the host of reforms which the Ministry has brought about are pre- and post-adoptive counselling for prospective adoptive parents by counsellors trained with the help of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS).
  • A complete health check-up is being done through the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the child’s district before processing the adoption. Changes have also been made to the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (CARINGS) online platform for adoption.
  • In accordance with the new rules, prospective adoptive parents can now opt from their home State or region.
  • This has been mandated to ensure that the child and the family adjust well with each other, belonging to the same socio-cultural milieu.
  • Changes have also been made for children with foster families. Earlier, children placed in foster care waited for five years for adoption.
    • Now, according to the new regulations, if the child adjusts well with the foster family, it can adopt the child after two years of fostering.
Case Study can be Used: GS- II- Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

Bill to amend law on cooperative societies introduced in LS

  • A Bill to amend the Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, aimed at bringing in transparency in the sector, was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
  • Many Opposition MPs asked for the Bill to be referred to a Standing Committee for review arguing that it encroached on the rights of States.
  • The Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2022, was introduced by Minister of State (MoS) for Cooperation B.L. Verma.
  • The Bill seeks to strengthen governance, reform the electoral process, improve the monitoring mechanism, and ensure ease of doing business in multi-State cooperative societies.
  • It also aims to improve the composition of boards and ensure financial discipline, besides enabling the raising of funds in the multi-State cooperative societies.
  • In order to make the governance of multi-State cooperative societies more democratic, transparent and accountable, the Bill has provisions for setting up of Cooperative Election Authority, Cooperative Information Officer and Cooperative Ombudsman.
  • To promote equity and facilitate inclusiveness, provisions relating to representation of women and Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe members on the board of multi-State cooperative societies, have been included.
Case Study can be Used: GS- II-Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

ILO declaration urges countries to ensure labour protection

  • The 17th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting of the International Labour Organisation (APRM of ILO) set ten-point priorities of national action for the member countries to deal with the issue of dwindling wages of workers, inflation and unemployment.
  • The “Singapore Declaration”, which was adopted recently agreed that social dialogue was essential to address labour market challenges and finding solutions in crisis situations.
  • It urged the governments to ensure labour protection for all through the promotion of freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining throughout the regions, including for workers in vulnerable situations and workers in the informal economy, as enabling rights for decent work.
  • It called for closing gender gaps in the world of work through measures that increase women’s labour force participation, promote equal pay for work of equal value, balance work and responsibilities, and promoting women’s leadership.
  • The declaration also urged the governments to strengthen governance frameworks and respect for freedom of association to protect the rights of migrant workers.
Case Study can be Used: GS- II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Only one-fourth of sanctioned solar projects have taken off, says Minister

  • The Union government has so far sanctioned solar projects with a capacity of nearly 39,000 MW but only a fourth have actually been commissioned so far, reveal figures presented by R.K. Singh, Minister for New and Renewable Energy, in the Rajya Sabha.
  • Under the ‘Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects’, a total of 57 solar parks of aggregate capacity of 39,285 MW were sanctioned until November-end.
  • However, only solar power projects of 10,027 MW have been commissioned in these parks.
  • Citing reasons for the shortfall, Mr. Singh said some solar parks had been cancelled due to their “slow progress”.
  • The key challenges in this scheme included hurdles in acquisition of land with clear title; a “mismatch” in the time taken to set up a project and the infrastructure to route the power produced to the grid; “environmental issues” and the halt in economic activity due to COVID-19.
  • In his reference to “environmental issues,” Mr. Singh mentioned the “Great Indian Bustard (GIB) issue”.
    • In recent years, the habitat of the GIB — a critically endangered species that number less than 200 in Rajasthan — has been encroached upon by solar power projects, particularly by transmission lines that endanger the bird.
  • The Supreme Court, last April, directed power companies to lay underground cables in solar parks in Rajasthan though few companies complied with the order.
  • The New and Renewable Energy Ministry told the Supreme Court in December 2021 that laying underground cables were impractical and would greatly raise the cost of solar power.
  • India had committed to installing 1,75,000 MW of renewable energy by 2022 of which 1,00,000 MW was to be solar power.
  • As of October 2022, 61,000 MW of solar power was installed, according to numbers presented in Parliament.
Case Study can be Used: GS- II- Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

Curbing air pollution in India needs efforts across South Asia: WB report

  • India has six large airsheds, some of them shared with Pakistan, between which air pollutants move.
  • While existing measures by the government can reduce particulate matter, significant reduction is possible only if the territories spanning the airsheds implement coordinated policies, says a report by the World Bank.
  • Using a modelling approach over South Asia as a whole, the report lays out multiple scenarios and the costs involved in reducing the average South Asian’s exposure to particulate matter.
  • Currently over 60% of South Asians are exposed to an average 35 g/m3 of PM2.5 annually.
  • In some parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) it spiked to as much as 100 g/m3 – nearly 20 times the upper limit of 5 g/m3 recommended by the World Health Organisation, says the World Bank report.
  • The six major airsheds in South Asia where air quality in one affected the other were: West/Central IGP that included Punjab (Pakistan), Punjab (India), Haryana, part of Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh; Central/Eastern IGP: Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bangladesh; Middle India: Odisha/Chhattisgarh; Middle India: Eastern Gujarat/Western Maharashtra; Northern/Central Indus River Plain: Pakistan, part of Afghanistan; and Southern Indus Plain and further west: South Pakistan, Western Afghanistan extending into Eastern Iran.
  • When the wind direction was predominantly northwest to the southeast, 30% of the air pollution in Indian Punjab came from the Punjab Province in Pakistan and, on average, 30% of the air pollution in the largest cities of Bangladesh (Dhaka, Chittagong, and Khulna) originated in India.
    • In some years, substantial pollution flowed in the other direction across borders.
  • What this means is that even if Delhi National Capital Territory were to fully implement all air pollution control measures by 2030 while other parts of South Asia continued to follow current policies, it wouldn’t keep pollution exposure below 35 g/m3.
    • However if other parts of South Asia also adopted all feasible measures it would bring pollution below that number.
  • The report analysed multiple scenarios to reduce air pollution with varying degrees of policy implementation and cooperation among countries.
Case Study can be Used: GS- III- Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

Citizenship path to be eased for 6 minority groups from 3 nations

  • The Union government is all set to ease grant of citizenship to members of six minority communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh whose passports and visas have ceased to be valid during their stay in India.
  • The Home Ministry is expected to revamp the citizenship portal to accept passports and visas with expired validity as supporting documents to process citizenship application of Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians, Buddhists and Jains from the three countries, says a government source.
  • The portal run by the Ministry currently accepts expired passports as supporting documents only for those Hindu and Sikh applicants from Pakistan and Afghanistan who entered India before December 31, 2009.
  • In 2015, the Ministry amended the Citizenship Rules and legalised the stay of migrants belonging to these six communities who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, due to religious persecution, by exempting them from the provisions of the Passport Act and the Foreigners Act even as their passports expired.
  • Though they are exempt from facing any criminal action for illegally staying in India, the online portal still does not accept the expired documents to process their applications.
  • People seeking Indian citizenship either come on long-term visas (LTVs) or pilgrim visas.
    • The LTVs given for five years are considered a precursor to citizenship.
  • The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, that intends to grant citizenship to undocumented (or illegal) migrants from these six non-Muslim communities from the three neighbouring countries is yet to come into force as the rules that govern the law are yet to be notified.
  • The CAA could have helped the documented minority migrants in fast-tracking their applications as it reduces the mandatory requirement of 11-year aggregate stay in India to five years, to be eligible for citizenship.
  • According to the Ministry’s report for 2021-22, from April to December 2021, 1,414 citizenship were granted to members of the minority groups from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Case Study can be Used: GS II-Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

COP-15 summit adopts historic biodiversity deal

  • After four years of fractious talks, nearly 200 countries, including India, approved a historic Paris-style deal on Monday to protect and reverse dangerous loss to global biodiversity, following an intense final session of negotiations at the UN COP-15 summit here in Canada.
  • Amid applause, Chinese Environment Minister Huang Runqiu, the president of the COP-15 biodiversity summit, which started on December 7, declared the Kunming-Montreal Agreement adopted.
  • The Chinese-brokered deal is aimed at saving the lands, oceans and species from pollution, degradation and climate change.
  • Monitored wildlife populations have seen a devastating 69% drop on average since 1970, according to the Living Planet Report (LPR) 2022 of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
  • One of the proposed recommendations is reducing the overall risk from pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals by at least half by 2030.
  • One of the most contentious issues in the negotiations was the finance package to support conservation efforts globally.
  • The deal commits to progressively increase the level of financial resources from all sources by 2030, mobilising at least $200 billion a year. This represents roughly a doubling from a 2020 baseline.
  • A major achievement is the commitment to $20 billion in international finance flows by 2025 and $30 billion by 2030.
  • The accord’s 23 targets include axing environmentally “destructive” farming subsidies, reducing risk from pesticides and tackling invasive species.
  • The deal is being compared by many to the landmark plan to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius under the Paris Agreement.
  • While environment groups welcomed the potentially transformative impacts the new agreement could have, many still feel that crucial details around finance and conservation are missing.
  • The UN Development Programme (UNDP) welcomed the agreement reached at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to agree on a new plan to preserve and protect nature with the new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).
Case Study can be Used: GS III- Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

India abstains from UNSC vote on Myanmar, calls for quiet and constructive diplomacy

  • India, along with Russia and China, abstained from a UN Security Council resolution criticising Myanmar’s military regime, and instead called for “quiet, patient” and “constructive” diplomacy with the junta.
  • The vote, which marked the first Security Council resolution on the situation in Myanmar in decades, and in particular, since the military overthrew the National Unity Government (NUG) in February 2021, demanded an end to the violence and the release of all political prisoners, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
  • The resolution (S/RES/2669 (2022)) proposed by the United Kingdom, which was passed by 12 votes, made several references to the importance of the “ASEAN” process, referring to the “five-point consensus” passed by the 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) last year.
  • India’s abstention is being criticised by human rights advocates in Myanmar as indicative of a soft position on the junta that has not only imprisoned most of the democratic leadership but has also prosecuted them on charges of treason.
Case Study can be Used: GS II-India and its Neighborhood- Relations

CPCB report shows fewer polluted river stretches, but worst ones remain unchanged

  • The number of polluted stretches in India’s rivers has fallen from 351 in 2018 to 311 in 2022, though the number of most polluted stretches is practically unchanged, according to a report from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in November but made public this week.
  • The CPCB network monitors water quality at 4,484 locations across the country.
  • Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) exceeding 3 milligrams per litre (mg/l) is identified as polluted locations.
    • Two or more polluted locations identified on a river in a continuous sequence are considered as a “polluted river stretch.”
    • A BOD less than 3 mg/l means the river stretch is fit for “outdoor bathing.”
  • Further, stretches with BOD exceeding 30 mg/l are considered “Priority 1” (P1), meaning, the most polluted and thus needing the most urgent remediation.
  • There are five such categories with “Priority 2” (P2) indicating a BOD of 20-30 mg/l and “Priority 5” (P5) indicating 3-6 mg/l.
  • The success of river-cleaning programmes are measured by the number of stretches moving from 1 to 2, 2 to 3 until those in 5 (requiring the least action) too reduce.
  • No change/slight change in P1 and 2 category of polluted river stretches indicates that further stringent actions are required for control of organic pollution from various point sources of pollution including development of infrastructure and its proper operation for treatment of wastewater before discharge into recipient water bodies.
  • While Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of “Priority 1” river stretches (6), Maharashtra had the most polluted river stretches of 55, followed by Madhya Pradesh (19), Bihar (18), Kerala (18), Karnataka (17) and Uttar Pradesh (17).
  • The CPCB, in its report, added the overall decrease in the net number of identified polluted river stretches, which have shown improvement in water quality, “could be attributed” to the efforts done for infrastructure development for pollution control.
Case Study can be Used: GS III- Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation

‘Create in India,’ says task force on gaming, animation and VFX

  • A “Create in India” campaign with an exclusive focus on content creation; an international platform for animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC) aimed at attracting foreign direct investment, co-production treaties and innovation in collaboration with international counterparts; national and regional centres of excellence for skill development; and leveraging the National Education Policy to develop creative thinking at school level.
  • These are among the recommendations in the report of a task force on AVGC promotion, submitted to the Union government.
  • The task force has proposed a national AVGC-Extended Reality Mission with a budget outlay to be created for the integrated promotion and growth of the sector.
  • A University Grants Commission (UGC)-recognised curriculum for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees has also been suggested in the report.
  • The task force has proposed standardisation of admission tests for AVGC-related courses.
  • The report has also recommended establishment of AVGC accelerators and innovation hubs in academic institutions; democratising AVGC technologies by promoting subscription-based pricing models for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), start-ups and institutions; indigenous technology development through incentive schemes and Intellectual Property (IP) creation; and setting up a dedicated production fund for domestic content creation from across India to promote the country’s culture and heritage globally.
  • India today contributes about $2.5-3 billion of the estimated $260-275 billion worldwide AVGC market.
  • According to industry experts, the Indian market that currently employs about 1.85 lakh AVGC professionals, can witness a growth of 14-16% in the next decade.
Case Study can be Used: GS II-Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

Centre mandates universal digital capturing of MGNREGS attendance

  • Digital capture of the attendance of workers employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has been made universal by the Centre from January 1.
  • The Union government, arguing for transparency and accountability in May 2021, had started a pilot project to capture attendance via a mobile application, the National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS).
  • From May 16, 2022 capturing attendance via the app was made compulsory for all worksites with 20 or more workers. This required uploading two time-stamped and geotagged photographs of the workers.
  • The job fell on the mates/supervisors, who are paid only marginally more than the unskilled workers.
  • There were widespread complaints over the lack of technical support, the necessity to own a smartphone, paying for an Internet connection, and issues with erratic Internet connectivity.
  • In the latest order, dated December 23, the Ministry has ordered that digitally capturing attendance is now mandatory for all worksites, regardless of the number of workers engaged, and will be applicable from January 1, 2023.
  • This directive comes even as many complaints and loopholes pointed out earlier by users have not been plugged yet.
  • The app-based attendance system carries forward the problem with electronic muster rolls, which replaced the paper muster rolls and was in use before the NMMS was introduced.
  • The endless conditions placed on MGNREGS workers themselves, many activists feel, is enough to dissuade them from relying on the scheme, thus failing its basic purpose.
Case Study can be Used: GS II- Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

India, Saudi Arabia discuss treaty on mutual assistance for criminal investigations

  • India and Saudi Arabia are in talks to sign a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to obtain formal assistance from each other in investigations related to criminal cases.
  • Saudi Arabia is only among a dozen other countries that does not have either an MLAT or any other bilateral agreement with India to facilitate such investigations.
  • India has so far signed MLATs with 45 countries, and is also in talks to finalise MLATs with Italy and Germany.
  • According to the Union Home Ministry, an MLAT is “a mechanism whereby countries cooperate with one another in order to provide and obtain formal assistance in prevention, suppression, investigation and prosecution of crime to ensure that the criminals do not escape or sabotage the due process of law for want of evidence available in different countries”.
  • On November 7, India held the first virtual negotiation meeting with Saudi Arabia to sign the treaty. The Indian delegation was led by officials from the Home Ministry, the Ministry of External Affairs, the CBI and the Law Ministry.
  • In the past, Saudi Arabia has deported several terror suspects on India’s request.
  • MLATs are used to send a formal request for investigation in foreign countries for collection of evidence, examination of witness and execution of orders of attachment and confiscation of assets.
  • According to the Home Ministry, in countries which are not covered by any bilateral agreement or international convention, the summons, notices and judicial processes are served on the basis of an “assurance of reciprocity”.
Case Study can be Used: GS II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests












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