Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - December 16, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Handicraft and GI Toys exempted from Quality Control Order

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • Centre has exempted Handicraft and Geographical Indications toys from Quality Control Order.
  • Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade mentioned this exemption in Toys (Quality Control) Second Amendment Order, 2020.

Objective

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry has devised a comprehensive action plan to boost production and sale of indigenous toys across the country.

Highlights

  • Quality control order was issued by the Department for standardization and quality adherence of Toys and the order will come into effect from 1st January next year.
  • This order aims to bring forward the synergized efforts of the centre, states and the stakeholders to promote ‘Team up for toys’ vision keeping quality standards of the indigenous toys as the priority.

Source: AIR News.

Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure (SASCE) scheme was announced under AatmaNirbhar Bharat package 2.0.
  • Under this centre will offer Rs. 12,000 crore special interest-free 50-year loan to states, exclusively for capital expenditure.

Background

  • Scheme is aimed at boosting capital expenditure by State Governments who are facing difficult financial environment due to shortfall in tax revenue arising from COVID-19 pandemic.
  • State GST revenues declined 30% in April-August period in the corresponding year-ago period.

About the scheme

  • The scheme has three parts:
    • Part-I covers north-eastern region.
    • Part-II covers for all other States not included in Part-1.
    • Part-III is aimed at pushing various citizen-centric reforms in States.
  • This amount will be available to those States who carry out at least 3 out of the 4 reforms: One Nation One Ration Card; Ease of doing Business Reform; Urban Local Body/ Utility Reform and Power Sector Reform.
  • Capital expenditure is money spent on the acquisition of assets like land, buildings, machinery, equipment, as well as investment in shares.
  • It has a higher multiplier effect, enhancing future productive capacity of the economy, and results in a higher rate of economic growth.

Source: AIR News.

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Climate Ambition Summit 2020 held virtually

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Context

  • The United Nations, United Kingdom and France co-hosted the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 which was held virtually recently.
  • The Summit marked the five years of the adoption of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Background

  • The summit aims to bring together leaders to make new commitments to tackle climate change and deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • The United Kingdom pledged to double its climate finance contribution to USD 15.5 billion over the next five years.

Highlights

  • The European Investment Bank announced a goal of 50% of investments going toward the climate and environment sectors by 2025.
  • It also called for climate finance commitments to support the most vulnerable and ambitious adaptation plans and underlying policies.
  • According to Indian Prime Minister, India is not only on track to achieve its Paris Agreement targets, but to exceed them beyond expectations.
  • India has reduced emission intensity by 21% over 2005 levels.
  • Solar capacity has grown from 2.63 GigaWatts in 2014 to 36 GigaWatts in 2020.
  • Renewable energy capacity is the fourth largest in the world.
  • It will reach 175 GigaWatts before 2022.
  • India has also set new target of 450 GigaWatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
  • On the world stage, India has pioneered two major initiatives: (1) The International Solar Alliance; (2) Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

Source: The Hindu.

IFSCA notifies International Financial Services Centres Authority (Bullion Exchange) Regulations, 2020

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

In the Union Budget 2020, Union Minister of Finance Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman had made an announcement for setting up an International Bullion Exchange at the International Financial Services Centre in GIFT City, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Background

Subsequently, the Government of India had notified the bullion spot delivery contract and bullion depository receipt (with bullion as underlying) as Financial Products and related services as Financial Services under the International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) Act, 2019.

Highlights

  • IFSCA has been entrusted with the responsibility of operationalization of this Exchange.
  • In this regard, International Financial Services Centres Authority (Bullion Exchange) Regulations 2020 were approved by the Authority in its meeting held on October 27, 2020.
  • The said regulations have been notified and published in the Gazette of India.
  • The regulations inter alia cover the Bullion Exchange, Clearing Corporation, Depository and Vaults.
  • The regulations are divided into the 16 chapters.
  • First half of the regulation deals with the Exchange and Clearing Corporations while the second half pertains to the Vaults and Depositories and related provisions.

Source: Indian Express.

Indian companies adhere to diversity requirements

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Context

  • Nasdaq is pushing for the more than 3,000 companies listed on its U.S. stock exchange to make their boardrooms less overwhelmingly male and white by hiring directors that better reflect the country’s diverse population.
  • The company filed a proposal with the Securities and Exchange Commission that, if approved, would require all companies on the exchange to disclose the breakdowns of their boards by race, gender and sexual orientation. 

Background

  • Companies that do not comply could be delisted, or kicked off the exchange.
  • The proposal would also require most Nasdaq-listed companies to have at least two diverse directors or, if they cannot meet the mandate, to explain why not.

Highlights

  • That could include one board member who is female and one who is either an underrepresented racial minority or LGBTQ.
  • Foreign companies and smaller companies would have additional flexibility in satisfying this requirement with two female directors.
  • Nasdaq’s plan ups the stakes in what was already a widening push by shareholders and governments around the world for more diversity on corporate boards, which often are composed of mostly white men.
  • It’s not just a sense of fairness. Proponents say greater board diversity can improve financial performance for companies — and ultimately their stock prices — by bringing in varying opinions and voices and fostering a better understanding of employee and customer bases.
  • In its proposal, Nasdaq cited a report from the Carlyle Group investment company, which found that companies it invested in that have at least two diverse board members have nearly 12% more earnings growth per year than the average of companies that lack diversity.
  • Companies have heard the criticism and made some moves toward increased diversity, but progress has been slow.
  • Women hold just 23.1% of board seats at companies in the Russell 3000, a broad index that includes most of the U.S. stock market.
  • That’s up from about 15% in 2016, according to executive-data firm Equilar.
  • Progress in improving racial diversity on boards has been slower.
  • One difficulty is that tracking racial and ethnic diversity has been tougher than measuring gender diversity, with companies often not disclosing such data, something that Nasdaq hopes its proposal can help ameliorate.

Source: Indian Express.

San Isidro Movement

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.


Context

  • Recently, in Cuba, a country under an authoritarian communist regime for more than six decades, a campaign by artists and activists demanding greater freedom of expression is fast grabbing the limelight.
  • The Movimiento San Isidro, or the San Isidro Movement (MSI), started in 2018 to protest state censorship of artistic works.

Background

  • The movement started when the Cuban government sought to enforce Decree 349, a law that would have given powers to the nation’s Culture Ministry to restrict cultural activity it did not approve of.
  • The landmark 2015 deal between Cuba and the US gave crucial firepower to the movement.

Highlights

  • It provided provisions which stipulated that the Cuban regime should allow its people greater internet freedoms in exchange for opening bilateral relations with Washington.
  • Cuba, country of the West Indies, is the largest single island of the archipelago, and one of the more-influential states of the Caribbean region.
  • Cuba is situated just south of the Tropic of Cancer at the intersection of the Atlantic Ocean (north and east), the Gulf of Mexico (west), and the Caribbean Sea (south).

Source: Indian Express.

One-time voluntary disclosure scheme for exotic animals

Focus: GS3.                                

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Context

  • The Supreme Court of India recently upheld the order of Allahabad High court to grant immunity from investigation and prosecution if a person voluntarily declares possession or acquisition of exotic species.
  • This is applicable under the new amnesty scheme announced by the centre.

Objective

  • The initiative is aimed at addressing the issue of zoonotic diseases, improve compliance with CITES and regulate exotic species imports.
  • ‘Exotic live species’ includes animals listed under Appendices I, II and III of CITES.
  • It excludes exotic birds from the Amnesty Scheme.
  • Also, it does not include species from the Schedules of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

Highlights

  • The voluntary disclosure scheme from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is a one-time scheme that allows owners of exotic animal species to declare their stock between June and December this year.
  • This could be stock that was acquired illegally or is owned without documents.
  • Under the scheme, the Chief Wildlife Warden has to be informed about the death, new acquisition or change in possession of animals within 30 days.
  • The scheme has specified guidelines to surrender the animals to a zoo.
  • The owner of the animal will have to provide details of the acquired species, address of the facility where they are housed, their numbers, etc.

Source: The Hindu.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. With reference to Swadhinata Sarak, consider the following statements:
  • It is between India and Bhutan.
  • The road remains functional on the Indian sidewhile it will be connected through Mujibnagar, Meherpur district in Bhutan.
  • The Chilahati-Haldirbari rail linkwhich was active till 1965 will be inaugurated during the summit meeting between the two Prime Ministers.

Select the incorrect answer using the codes given below:

        A. 1 and 2 only
        B. 2 and 3 only
        C. 1 and 3 only
        D. AOTA

Solution: A

  • Recently, Bangladesh Foreign Minister has said that the ‘Swadhinata Sarak’ between Bangladesh and India will be opened on 26 March 2021.
  • The road remains functional on the Indian sidewhile it will be connected through Mujibnagar, Meherpur district in Bangladesh.

  1. Which of the following does not border Morocco?

       A. Mediterranean Sea
       B. Atlantic Ocean
       C. Algeria
       D. Mali

Solution: D

 

 

 

 

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