Daily Current Affairs and MCQs for UPSC - November 20, 2020 (The Hindu, Economic Times, PIB)

Statehood to Puerto Rico

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • For the third time in ten years, the United States territory of Puerto Rico has voted in favour of statehood, and thus be treated at par with the current 50 states of the country.
  • On November 3, the same day US voters chose Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the US election, a majority of Puerto Ricans voted yes in a non-binding referendum for full statehood while rejecting the ‘no’ option– which would have signalled approval for continuing their current commonwealth status or for starting the process of becoming an independent country.

Background

  • At the same time, another part of the US – the country’s capital city, Washington, D.C.– has also for years been clamouring to become a full state.
  • In June this year, the Democratic party-controlled lower chamber of the US Congress acknowledged this demand, and passed a bill that could potentially make D.C. the 51st US state.

About Puerto Rico

  • The Spanish-speaking island, slightly smaller than the Indian state of Tripura, is located in the Caribbean Sea, about 1,600 km southeast of the US state of Florida.
  • Since its discovery by the explorer Christopher Columbus in 1493, Puerto Rico was a part of the Spanish Empire for over 4 centuries until 1898, when it was annexed by the United States.
  • In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship, but the island itself was never made a full state, and continues to remain a “US territory”, along with Guam, North Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands.
  • Like its counterparts, Puerto Rico gets only one member in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the US Congress– but who has no voting power. Puerto Ricans also cannot vote in US presidential elections.
  • Proponents of statehood argue that Puerto Rico–whose population at 31 lakhs is more than 21 US states, and whose residents have served in all the wars that the US has been involved in since World War I– should have rights at par with the other 50 states.
  • However, not everyone is entirely on board. Since the 19th century, the island has had an ongoing independence movement– first against Spain and then the US– whose adherents believe that Puerto Rico should be a sovereign nation.
  • At the same time, many also want Puerto Rico to continue as a commonwealth– the status of the island since 1952.

Source: Indian Express.

RCEP and India

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests.


Context

  • 15 countries solidified their participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
  • Even as India opted to stay out after walking out of discussions last year, the new trading bloc has made it clear that the door will remain open for India to return to the negotiating table.

About RCEP

  • Described as the “largest” regional trading agreement to this day, RCEP was originally being negotiated between 16 countries — ASEAN members and countries with which they have free trade agreements (FTAs), namely Australia, China, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and India.
  • The purpose of RCEP was to make it easier for products and services of each of these countries to be available across this region. Negotiations to chart out this deal had been on since 2013, and India was expected to be a signatory until its decision last November.

Highlights

  • On November 4, 2019, India decided to exit discussions over “significant outstanding issues”.
  • According to a government official, India had been “consistently” raising “fundamental issues” and concerns throughout the negotiations and was prompted to take this stand as they had not been resolved by the deadline to commit to signing the deal.
  • Its decision was to safeguard the interests of industries like agriculture and dairy and to give an advantage to the country’s services sector.
  • According to officials, the current structure of RCEP still does not address these issues and concerns.

Source: PIB.

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Peru

Focus: GS2.

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


Context

  • Peru’s fifth president in five years, Manuel Merino, was forced out of power, just five days after taking office, as massive protests swept the South American country.
  • Peru is a country in western South America.
  • Its Capital is Lima.

About Peru

  • It lies wholly in the Southern Hemisphere, its northernmost extreme reaching to 1.8 minutes of latitude or about 3.3 kilometres (2.1 mi) south of the equator.
  • It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the south and west by the Pacific Ocean.
  • Peru is a megadiverse country with habitats ranging from the peaks of the Andes mountains vertically extending from the north to the southeast of the country to the tropical Amazon Basin rainforest in the east with the Amazon river.
  • The country forms part of The Pacific Pumas, a political and economic grouping of countries along Latin America’s Pacific coast that share common trends of positive growth, stable macroeconomic foundations, improved governance and an openness to global integration.

Source: Indian Express.

Lonar lake in Maharashtra and Keetham lake in UP added to Ramsar sites

Focus: GS3.

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


Context

  • India has added two more Ramsar sites.
  • They are Lonar lake in Maharashtra which is the only crater lake of the country while the other is Sur Sarovar, also known as Keetham lake in Agra of Uttar Pradesh.

Background

  • Wetlands are the world's natural water filters and one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet.
  • The Ramsar Convention signed on 2nd February, 1971, is one of the oldest inter-governmental accord signed by member countries to preserve the ecological character of their wetlands of international importance.

Highlights

  • The aim of the Ramsar list is to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits.
  • Wetlands declared as Ramsar sites are protected under strict guidelines of the convention.

Source: AIR News.

IIT Guwahati formulates efficient “pincer” catalytic systems that transform biomass wastes into valuable chemicals

Focus: GS3.

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Context

  • A research team of IIT Guwahati has formulated efficient “pincer” catalytic systems that transform biomass wastes into valuable chemicals.
  • Tiny amounts of these “pincer catalysts” repeatedly convert large amounts of industrial waste such as glycerol into lactic acid and hydrogen.

Highlights

  • Official sources said that such catalysts also efficiently convert bioethanol, a low-energy density fuel, into high-energy density butanol.
  • The conversion of valuable intermediates such as glycerol and ethanol, produced during the processing of biomass, into industrially useful chemicals has elicited much interest worldwide.

Source: AIR News.

MIB requests compliance of policy on FDI in digital media within a month

Focus: GS2.

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Context

  • Information and Broadcasting Ministry has requested compliance of policy on FDI in digital media within a month.
  • The Ministry issued a public notice to facilitate eligible entities involved in uploading and streaming of news and current affairs through digital media, to comply with the decision of Government, which had permitted 26 per cent FDI under Government approval route.

Background

  • The entities having foreign investment below 26 per cent may furnish intimation to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting within one month.
  • They have to provide details of the company, entity and its shareholding pattern along with the names and addresses of its Directors and shareholders. 

Highlights

  • The names and address of Promoters and Significant Beneficial Owners. Permanent Account Number and the latest audited or unaudited Profit and Loss Statement and Balance Sheet along with the Auditor report.
  • The Ministry said, entities which, at present, have an equity structure with foreign investment exceeding 26 per cent will give similar details to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting within one month.
  • It said, any entity which intends to bring fresh foreign investment in the country has to seek prior approval of the Central Government,  through the Foreign Investment Facilitation Portal of DPIIT.
  • The Ministry said, every entity has to comply with the requirements of citizenship of Board of Directors and of the Chief Executive Officers.
  • The entities are required to obtain security clearance for all foreign personnel likely to be deployed for more than 60 days in a year by way of appointment, contract or consultancy or any other capacity for functioning of the entity, prior to their deployment.

Source: AIR News.

DIPAM inks agreement with World Bank

Focus: GS3.                                

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


Context

  • Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, DIPAM signed an agreement with World Bank.
  • Under the agreement, World Bank is to provide advisory services to DIPAM for asset monetization.

About DIPAM

  • DIPAM is mandated with facilitating monetization of non-core assets of government CPSEs under strategic disinvestment or closure and enemy property of value of Rs. 100 crore and above.
  • DIPAM has a framework for monetizing non-core assets.
  • The World Bank advisory project, approved by the Finance Minister, is aimed at analyzing public asset monetization in India and benchmarking its institutional and business models against international best practices as well as supporting development of operational guidelines and capacity building for their implementation.

Source: AIR News.

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Test your Knowledge

  1. Consider the following statements with reference to ICRISAT:
  • ICRISAT is an international organization which conducts agricultural research for rural development.
  • It is headquartered in Patancheru (Hyderabad, Telangana).
  • It was founded in 1972 by a consortium of organisations convened by the Ford and the Rockefeller foundations. Its charter was signed by the FAO and the UNDP.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

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

Solution: D

  1. The Prime Minister unveiled ‘Statue of Peace’ to mark the 151st Birth Anniversary celebrations of:

    A. Jainacharya Shree Vijay Vallabh Surishwer Ji Maharaj
    B. Indrabhuti Gautama
    C. Bhadrabahu
    D. Sudharma Swami

Solution: A

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