UPSC CA: 12th September 2020

Living Planet Report 2020: WWF

Context: 

  • WWF’s has released the Living Planet Report 2020.

Key points:

  • The report has found that there has been a reduction of 68 % in the global wildlife population between 1970 and 2016.
  • 75 % of the Earth’s ice-free land surface has already been significantly altered, most of the oceans are polluted, and more than 85% of the area of wetlands has been lost during this period.

The highlights of the report are as follows:

  • The most important direct driver of biodiversity loss in the last several decades has been land-use change, primarily the conversion of pristine habitats into agricultural systems, while much of the oceans have been overfished.
  • The highest biodiversity loss due to land use change globally has been found in Europe and Central Asia at 57.9 %, then in North America at 52.5 %, Latin America and Caribbean at 51.2 %, Africa at 45.9 % and then Asia at 43 %.
  • The largest wildlife population loss, according to the Living Planet Index, has been in Latin America at an alarming 94 %
  • One of the most threatened biodiversity globally has been freshwater biodiversity, which has been declining faster than that in oceans or forests.
  • Almost 90 % of global wetlands have been lost since 1700 and global mapping has recently revealed the extent to which humans have altered millions of kilometers of rivers.
  • India, a “megadiverse country” with over 45,000 species of plants in only 2.4 % of the world’s land area, has already lost six plant species to extinction, according to the IUCN Red List.

 

India, China agree on 5-point action plan

Context:

  • External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Ministers’ meet.
  • Before their bilateral meeting, they attended a 90-minute luncheon meeting hosted by the Russian Foreign Minister – the three countries make the RIC (Russia, India, China) grouping.

Key points:

  • The meeting comes amid a fierce standoff between India and China along the Line of Actual Control, which began in May 2020 and continues, even after multiple efforts to de-escalate. Read more on the India-China Border Clash.
  • A five-point course of action has been agreed upon to disengage and reduce tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • The two Foreign Ministers agreed that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions.
  • The immediate task is to ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops in all the friction areas.

Five-point course of action:

  • Following the consensus between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping to not allow differences to become disputes.
  • Disengaging quickly to ease tensions.
  • Abiding by the existing India-China border protocols and avoiding escalatory action.
  • Continuing the dialogue between the Special Representatives, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Mr. Wang, as well as the other mechanisms.
  • Working towards new confidence-building measures (CBMs).

 

RBI targets compliance at banks with CCO norms

In News:

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has laid down guidelines for the appointment of a chief compliance officer (CCO) in banks to ensure a uniform approach with regard to compliance and risk management culture across the banking industry.

Key points:

  • The CCO should be appointed for a minimum fixed period of three years.
  • He must be appointed in the rank of a general manager or not below two levels of the rank of CEO.
  • The CCO will not have any reporting relationship with business verticals nor have any business targets.
  • The CCO shall not be given any responsibility which brings elements of conflict of interest, especially the role relating to business.
  • The RBI said that a bank should have a board-approved compliance policy, clearly spelling out its compliance philosophy, expectations on compliance culture, accountability, incentive structure and effective communication and challenges.
  • The policy should lay a special thrust on building the compliance culture. The policy will be reviewed at least once a year.
  • The compliance function will be subject to internal audit also.

 

Gujarat emerges best for start-ups again: DPIIT

In News:

  • The second edition of startup ranking of States and Union Territories has been released by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

Key points:

  • Gujarat has been categorised as the best performer in the second edition of startup ranking of states among all States and one Union Territory (UT) Delhi, barring north-eastern States and other UTs.
  • It has again emerged as the best performer in developing a start-up ecosystem for budding entrepreneurs.
  • A total of 22 States and 3 UTs participated in the exercise.
  • The ranking is based on seven broad reform areas consisting of 30 action points ranging from institutional support, easing compliances, relaxation in public procurement norms, incubation support, seed funding support, venture funding support, and awareness and outreach.
  • States have been recognised as best performers, top performers, leaders, aspiring leaders and emerging startup ecosystems.
  • The rankings are aimed at further promoting the start-up ecosystem by the Centre, States and UTs.

 

New grievance redress system unveiled in J&K

In News:

  • Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) has launched the Jammu and Kashmir Integrated Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (JK-IGRAMS).

Key points:

  • JK-IGRAMS has been unveiled in a bid to create an interface with the public and focus on governance issues in the Union Territory.
  • The system is being launched on a pilot basis in three districts — Jammu, Srinagar, and Reasi — and will gradually be rolled out in the remaining districts by October 2, 2020.
  • The move comes at a time when a sense of disconnection and alienation has been growing among the people, especially in the Kashmir Valley, ever since J&K’s special status was revoked in 2019.

 

India slips 26 places in Global Economic Freedom Index

Context: 

  • India slipped 26 places to 105 among 162 countries and territories on the index of global economic freedom, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2020 report released by the Fraser Institute in Canada.

About the report:

  • The report measures the economic freedom or the ability of individuals to make their own economic decisions in a country, by analysing policies and institutions of these countries.
  • Indicators of the report: Regulation, the freedom to trade internationally, size of government, property rights, government spending and taxation.
  • In India, the report was co-published by Delhi-based Centre for Civil Society.
  • The report measures economic freedom (levels of personal choice, ability to enter markets, security of privately owned property and rule of law, among others).

Global Highlights of the report:

  • According to the report, based on 2018 data, Hong Kong and Singapore once again topped the index, continuing their streak as first and second ranked, respectively.
  • India has been ranked higher than China, which stands at the 124th position.
  • New Zealand, Switzerland, US, Australia, Mauritius, Georgia, Canada and Ireland round out the top-10.
  • The 10 lowest-rated countries are African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Republic of Congo, Algeria, Iran, Angola, Libya, Sudan and Venezuela.
  • Other notable rankings include Japan (20th), Germany (21st), Italy (51st), France (58th), Mexico (68th), Russia (89th) and Brazil (105th).

India Specific Highlights:

  • In 2018, India ranked 54 in size of government, compared with 11 in 2017.
  • Its rank dropped to 122 in regulation from 108 during this time, while its rank in freedom to trade internationally also dropped to 137 from 131 previously.