Current Affairs 26th February, 2019

PAPER – 1

Topics Covered

1. Awards, Memorials and Titles

Gandhi Peace Prize

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What to read?

Prelims – About the Prize in detail

President of India, will present the Gandhi Peace Prize for the years 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018 on 26th Feb, 2019 at Darbar Hall, Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will also attend the award Ceremony to felicitate the awardees.

Awardees

1. Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari for the year 2015.

2. Akshaya Patra Foundation and Sulabh International for the year 2016 (Jointly).

3. Ekal Abhiyan Trust for the year 2017.

4. Sh Yohei Sasakawa for the year 2018.

About the award

  • Gandhi Peace Prize for Social, Economic and Political transformation through Non-violence was instituted in the year 1995. The Award comprises an amount of Rs. One Crore and a Citation.

  • The Award may be divided between two persons / institutions who are considered by the Jury to be equally deserving of recognition in a given year. Work by a person since deceased cannot be the subject of an Award.

  • If, however, his death occurred subsequent to a proposal having been submitted to the Jury in the manner stipulated in the Code of Procedure, then a Posthumous Award may be made.

The Jury shall comprise of the following persons

1.

Prime Minister of India

Chairman (ex-officio)

2.

Chief Justice of India

Member (ex-officio)

3.

Leader of the Opposition recognized as such in the Lok Sabha or where there is no such Leader of Opposition then, the Leader of the single largest opposition party in that House

Member (ex-officio)

4.

Eminent person

Nominated Member

5.

Eminent person

Nominated member


Note

  • This annual award is given to individuals, associations, institutions or organizations who have worked selflessly for peace, non-violence and amelioration of human sufferings particularly of the less-privileged section of society contributing towards social justice and harmony.

  • The Award is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, language, caste, creed or gender.

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  • Normally, contributions made during ten years immediately preceding the nomination are considered.  Older contributions may also be considered if their significance has not become apparent recently.


PAPER – 1 AND PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Geography – Physical Features

2. Conservation of Environment

Warming imperils clouds that deter ‘hothouse’ conditions

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What to read?

Prelims – What is meant by Hothouse Earth Condition?

Mains – Observations of the researchers

Marine clouds that protect us from hothouse Earth conditions by reflecting sunlight back into space could break up and vanish if CO2 in the atmosphere triples, researchers warned.

Hothouse Earth Condition

"Hothouse Earth" refers to a situation where the earth loses its equilibrium state when the temperature increase beyond 2 degree C of pre-industrial level (currently 1 C above). At this stage a whole host of causes might put in motion a feedback loop which exacerbates one situation over another and temperature, climate, currents, ice all get out of control.

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Causes

1. Fossil fuel burning

2. Permafrost thaw (0.9 C)

3. Carbon sinks weakening (0.25 C)

4. Forest dieback (0.11 C) - boreal and amazon forest

Main Observations of the researchers

  • Stratocumulus clouds cover about 20% of subtropical oceans, mostly near western seaboards such as the coasts of California, Mexico and Peru. When they disappear, Earth warms dramatically, by about eight degrees Celsius (in addition to the global warming that comes from enhanced greenhouse concentrations alone)

  • A temperature increase of that magnitude would melt polar ice and lift sea levels tens of metres.

  • The last time the planet was that hot, some 50 million years ago during the Eocene Epoch, crocodiles roamed the Arctic.

  • Since manmade global warming began, CO2 concentration in the air has gone up nearly 45%, from 285 to 410 parts per million (ppm).

  • Even half that much warming would overwhelm humanity's capacity to adapt, scientists say. A barely one-degree increase since the mid-19th century — mostly in the last 50 years — has been enough to worsen heatwaves, droughts, and flooding, along with cyclones engorged by rising seas.

  • International Collaboration to combat Global Warming and UN report

    • The 2015 Paris climate treaty enjoins nations to cap the rise in temperatures at “well below” 2C.

    • A major UN report published in October 2018, however, showed that even a 2C hike over the preindustrial benchmark will have dire impacts, such as the demise of shallow-water coral reefs that sustain a quarter of marine biodiversity.


    PAPER – 2

    Topics Covered

    1. India – Bilateral Relations

    Revoking Pakistan's MFN status

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    What to read?

    Prelims – What it means for a nation with MFN status?

    Mains – Implications in Indo – Pakistan relationship after withdrawal of the Most Favoured Nation Status

    India’s decision to withdraw the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Pakistan means that India will not treat Pakistan on an equal footing in trade as is expected of fellow members of the World Trade Organisation. The move comes after the attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir.

    MFN status

    • Most Favoured Nation is a treatment accorded to a trade partner to ensure non-discriminatory trade between two countries vis-a-vis other trade partners.

    • The importance of MFN is shown in the fact that it is the first clause in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Under WTO rules, a member country cannot discriminate between its trade partners. If a special status is granted to a trade partner, it must be extended to all members of the WTO.

    MFN allows for some exemptions as well

    • Right to engage in Free Trade Agreements: This means members can participate in regional trade agreements or free trade agreements where there is discrimination between member countries and non-member countries.

    • Members can give developing countries special and differential treatment like greater market access. This special concession are in different forms like reduced tariff rates from developing country imports, concessions that allows developing countries to give subsidies to their production sectors etc.

    • These are subject to strict conditions

    Pros of MFN

    • MFN status is extremely gainful to developing countries. The clear upsides are access to a wider market for trade goods, reduced cost of export items owing to highly reduced tariffs and trade barriers. These essentially lead to more competitive trade.

    • MFN also cuts down bureaucratic hurdles and various kinds of tariffs are set at par for all imports. It then increases demands for the goods and giving a boost to the economy and export sector.

    • It also heals the negative impact caused to the economy due to trade protectionism. This irks the domestic industry.

    • A country that grants MFN on imports will have its imports provided by the most efficient supplier. This may not be the case if tariffs differ by country.

    • Granting MFN has domestic benefits: having one set of tariffs for all countries simplifies the rules and makes them more transparent. It also lessens the frustrating problem of having to establish rules of origin to determine which country’s part of the product (that may contain parts from all over the world) must be attributed to for customs purpose.

    • As MFN clause promotes non-discrimination among countries, they also tend to promote the objective of free trade in general.

    Disadvantages of MFN

    • The main disadvantage is that the country has to give the same treatment to all other trade partners who are members of the WTO. This translates into a price war and vulnerability of the domestic industry as a result.

    • The country is not able to protect domestic industry from the cheaper imports and in this price war, some domestic players have to face heavy losses or growth restrictions.

    What does revoking MFN mean?

    Revoking it means India can levy whatever import tariffs it wants. India can now make it very expensive for Pakistan to export its goods or services to India.

    Will this hurt Pakistan?

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    So far, India has only revoked the MFN status. It has not altered the import duties on Pakistan. However, if it does hike them, then this will likely have an impact on that country.

    What is the State of MFN Status Between India and Pakistan?

    India had granted MFN status to Pakistan in 1996, a year after the formation of WTO. But Pakistan hasn’t accorded MFN status to India till now.


    Paper 2

    Topics Covered

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

    Permanent Residence Certificate

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    What to read?

    Prelims and Mains: PRC, Why is it issued, concerns associated.

    Violence erupted in Arunachal Pradesh over the issue of Permanent Residence Certificate to six non-Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes (APSTs) living in the Namsai and Changlang districts and to the Gorkhas living in Vijaynagar.

    The protests spread despite a state government assurance that they had deferred the plan to give them PRC.

    Background

    Deoris, Sonowal Kacharis, Morans, Adivasis and Mishings were demanding Permanent Residence Certificate. Most of these communities are recognised as Scheduled Tribes in neighbouring Assam. According to reports, the demand by these communities for PRC, recognising them as residents of the state, is long-standing, but is opposed by powerful groups.

    What is a Permanent Residence Certificate?

    The State Government of Arunachal Pradesh issues the domicile certificate otherwise called as Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC) to the residents of the state who stayed therein over a period. Those citizens who are not currently residing in the state but are sure of permanently staying therein can also apply for it.

    Besides the permanent residence certificate, the State also offers Temporary Residence Certificate (TRC) for those who reside in the State on a temporary basis.

    Purpose of the Certificate

    • Permanent Residence Certificate is a legal document that serves as an evidence of residence and thus must be submitted wherever a residence proof is required.

    • Permanent Residence Certificate should be produced in many situations such as admission in educational organisations, job reservation under specific quotas especially for government jobs, etc. to get local preferences.

    • To apply for ration card permanent residence certificate is a vital and mandate document.

    • To avail the provisions of various schemes of the state or to claim scholarships of the State, permanent residence certificate is essential.


    Paper 3

    Topics Covered

    1. Conservation of Environment

    Cheetah reintroduction project

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    What to read?

    Prelims and Mains: Cheetah reintroduction project and its significance, why Nauradehi sanctuary has been chosen for reintroduction.

    The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) recently told a bench of the Supreme Court that African cheetahs would be translocated in India from Namibia and would be kept at Nauradehi wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh.

    International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has given a ‘no objection’ for the translocation.

    Facts on Cheetah

    • The cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, is one of the oldest of the big cat species, with ancestors that can be traced back more than five million years to the Miocene era.

    • The cheetah is also the world’s fastest land mammal. With great speed and dexterity, the cheetah is known for being an excellent hunter, its kills feeding many other animals in its ecosystem—ensuring that multiple species survive.

    • The country’s last spotted feline died in Chhattisgarh in 1947. Later, the cheetah — which is the fastest land animal — was declared extinct in India in 1952.

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    Cheetah reintroduction programme in India

    The Wildlife Institute of India at Dehradun had prepared a ₹260-crore cheetah re-introduction project six years ago.

    • It was estimated that an amount of ₹25 crore to ₹30 crore would be needed to build an enclosure in an area of 150 sq km for the cheetahs in Nauradehi.

    • The proposal was to put the felines in the enclosure with huge boundary walls before being released in the wild.

    Why Nauradehi?

    • Nauradehi was found to be the most suitable area for the cheetahs as its forests are not very dense to restrict the fast movement of the spotted cat. Besides, the prey base for cheetahs is also in abundance at the sanctuary.

    Earlier Action plan - Withdrawn

    According to the earlier action plan, around 20 cheetahs were to be translocated to Nauradehi from Namibia in Africa. The Namibia Cheetah Conservation Fund had then showed its willingness to donate the felines to India. However, the State was not ready to finance the plan contending that it was the Centre’s project.

    Background

    The reasons for extinction can all be traced to man’s interference. Problems like human-wildlife conflict, loss of habitat and loss of prey, and illegal trafficking, have decimated their numbers. The advent of climate change and growing human populations have only made these problems worse.

    With less available land for wildlife, species that require vast home range like the cheetah are placed in competition with other animals and humans, all fighting over less space.