News Snippet

News 1: Israel and Lebanon reach an agreement on maritime border

News 2: UN Secretary-General, PM to launch initiative on environment in Gujarat

News 3: United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC)

News 4: Chandrachud nominated as next Chief Justice of India

News 5: Meetings on labour codes fail to evolve consensus

News 6: Non-traditional livelihoods skilling of girls included in Beti Padhao scheme

News 7: IMF cuts India’s growth forecast to 6.8% this year

News 8: Open Network for Digital Commerce

News 9: The lingering monsoon

News 1: Israel and Lebanon reach an agreement on maritime border


Background:

  • Israel said on Tuesday it has reached a U.S.-brokered agreement with Lebanon to settle their long-disputed maritime border, hailing a “historic achievement” that potentially unlocks significant offshore gas production for both countries.
  • In what is being seen as a major diplomatic breakthrough, Israel announced a “historic” deal with Lebanon on Tuesday, aimed at resolving a long-running maritime border dispute over Mediterranean waters. Israel and Lebanon do not have official diplomatic relations and the two countries remain technically at war.

What the agreement is about

  • The issue is a little over a decade old, after the two countries declared overlapping boundaries in 2011 in the Mediterranean Sea. Since both countries have been technically at war, the United Nations was asked to mediate.
  • The issue gained significance after Israel discovered two gas fields off its coast a decade ago, which experts had believed could help turn it into an energy exporter, according to a BBC report from 2011.

What the agreement does

  • While Israel is already producing natural gas at nearby fields, what this agreement does is that it resolves a territorial dispute in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, in an area that Lebanon wants to explore for natural gas.
  • The gas field in question is located on the maritime boundary between the two countries and this agreement would allow both countries to get royalties from the gas. It also sets a border between the maritime waters of Lebanon and Israel for the first time.
  • According to a New York Times report, the agreement is also expected to avert the immediate threat of conflict between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, after fears of escalation if negotiations fell apart.
  • The report states that analysts hope that the agreement will create new sources of energy and income for both countries, particularly important for Lebanon, which is facing a crippling energy and financial crises.
  • It could also have a potentially wider impact: it would likely provide Europe with a potential new source of gas amid energy shortages caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

What the agreement does not address

  • The agreement does not touch on the shared land border between Israel and Lebanon, which is still disputed, but where both countries are committed to a ceasefire.
  • This border is also called the Blue Line, a boundary that was drawn up by the UN after Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000.
  • This land border is currently patrolled by the United Nations forces. According to a Reuters report, settling the land border dispute between Lebanon and Israel is much more complicated and this dispute lacks the urgency of the energy component. Also, any resolution with regard to this land border would likely depend on a broader peace deal that is not realistic anytime soon, the Reuters report said.

News 2: UN Secretary-General, PM to launch initiative on environment in Gujarat


Background:

  • United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to India next week to attend the launch of a special environmental programme, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, at the Statue of Unity in Kevadia, Gujarat.
  • The programme, which is part of the “Lifestyle for Environment” (LiFE) initiative announced by Mr. Modi in June, will be organised by the NITI Aayog.

HoM conference

  • Prior to the LiFE event, Indian Ambassadors and High Commissioners are expected to congregate in Kevadia for the annual Heads of Mission (HoM) conference.

News 3: United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC)


Background:

  • In India, technology is a tool for inclusion and not exclusion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the inaugural function of the second United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC) in Hyderabad on Tuesday.

Geospatial technology:

  • “Geospatial technology has been driving inclusion and progress. Take our SWAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas) scheme. We are using drones to map properties in villages. For the first time in decades, people in rural areas have clear evidence of ownership,” he told delegates from several countries.
  • India’s steps at building infrastructure was on the backbone of geospatial technology, Mr. Modi said adding that the South Asia satellite was facilitating connection and communication in India’s neighbourhood.
  • Ahead of the congress, Union Science Minister Jitendra Singh said that India’s geospatial economy was expected to cross ₹63,100 crore by 2025 at a growth rate of 12.8%.
  • He said geospatial technology had become one of the key enablers in socio-economic development by enhancing productivity, ensuring sustainable infrastructure planning, effective administration, and aiding the farm sector.

SWAMITVA scheme (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas):

  • Launch – 24th April 2020
  • Type: Central Sector Scheme
  • Objective: To promote a socio-economically empowered and self-reliant rural India. The Scheme has the potential to transform rural India using modern technical tools of mapping and surveying.
  • It paves the way for using the property as a financial asset by villagers for availing loans and other financial benefits.

News 4: Chandrachud nominated as next Chief Justice of India


Background:

    • Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit nominated Justice D.Y. Chandrachud as his successor in a brief meeting held at the Supreme Court judges’ lounge in the presence of all judges of the court on Tuesday.
  • Chief Justice Lalit’s recommendation to the government would start the process for appointment of Justice Chandrachud as the 50th Chief Justice of India.

What is the collegium?

  • The collegium system of appointing judges evolved through three significant verdicts of the Supreme Court, known as the First, Second, and Third Judges Cases. The Constitution of India does not mention the collegium system; however, these three cases established that the collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India will have primacy in the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
  • The Supreme Court collegium is headed by the CJI and comprises four other senior-most judges of the court. This collegium makes recommendations to the government for appointment of judges to the SC and of Chief Justices of High Courts, and the transfers of HC judges.
  • A separate three-member collegium, headed by the CJI and comprising the two senior-most judges of the SC makes recommendations for appointment of judges to HCs.

What is a 5+1 collegium?

  • Given the order of seniority, a potential CJI will enter the Chandrachud collegium only in May 2023. However, Justice Khanna will be the sixth member of the collegium from November 9, 2022 itself.
  • This happened earlier in 2007 — when then CJI K G Balakrishnan took the top office, the collegium he headed did not have a potential CJI candidate. Justice S H Kapadia, who was next in line to be CJI, was invited to the collegium as the sixth member.

News 5: Meetings on labour codes fail to evolve consensus


Background:

  • In an apparent indication that the implementation of the four labour codes will be delayed further, a majority of the Central trade unions, during their recent discussions with Union Labour Minister Bhupender Yadav, have urged the Centre to withdraw the four codes.

Labour codes:

  • The four Codes, namely, the Code on Wages, 2019, the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 and the Code on Social Security, 2020 have been notified in Gazette of India.
  • Labour Code (Wage Code), 2019: Right to Minimum Wages – Wage security, social security and health security to 50 crore workers, covering organized and unorganized sectors.
  • Social Security Code, 2020: Social Security for everyone to secure the right of workers for insurance, pension, gratuity, maternity benefit etc.
  • Occupational, Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code (OSH Code): to provide better and safe environment along with occupational health and safety to workers at the work place. The security of interests of workers engaged in factories, mines, plantations, motor transport sector, bidi and cigar workers, contract and migrant workers has been ensured.
  • Industrial Relations (IR) Code, 2020: Towards End to Disputes

News 6: Non-traditional livelihoods skilling of girls included in Beti Padhao scheme


Background:

  • Expanding the mandate of the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme, the Central government on Tuesday announced the inclusion of skilling of girls in non-traditional livelihood (NTL) options in its flagship programme.
  • The scheme will now also focus on increasing the enrolment of girls in secondary education, particularly in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects. Women have been historically under-represented areas such as technology.

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao:

  • Launch: 2015
  • It was initiated as a tri-ministerial effort of Ministries of Women and Child Development, Health & Family Welfare and Human Resource Development. From 2021-22, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Ministry of Minority Affairs have also been added as partners.
  • Since 2021-22, the scheme is subsumed into Mission Shakti – Sambal sub-scheme.

Goal:

Celebrate the Girl Child & Enable her Education

The objectives of the Scheme are as under:

  • To prevent gender biased sex selective elimination
  • To ensure survival and protection of the girl child
  • To ensure education and participation of the girl child
  • To increase girl’s participation in the fields of sports

Target:

BBBP scheme aims to achieve the following:

  • Improvement in the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) by 2 points every year,
  • Improvement in the percentage of institutional deliveries or sustained at the rate of 95% or above,
  • 1% increase in 1st Trimester ANC Registration per year, and
  • 1% increase in enrolment at secondary education level and skilling of girls/women per year.
  • To check dropout rate among girls at secondary and higher secondary levels.
  • Raising awareness about safe menstrual hygiene management (MHM)

Target group

Primary : Young and newly married couples and expecting parents, Adolescents (girls and boys) and youth, Households and communities

Secondary : Schools and AWCs, Medical doctors/ practitioners, private hospitals, nursing homes, diagnostic centres etc. Officials, PRIs/ULBs, frontline workers, Women Collectives and SHGs, civil society organizations,  media, industry, religious leaders


News 7: IMF cuts India’s growth forecast to 6.8% this year


Background:

  • The world, including India, will experience an overall slowdown in the next year owing to the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, tightening monetary conditions globally, the highest inflation in decades, and lingering effects of the pandemic, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Statistics:

  • India is projected to grow at 6.8% in the current fiscal year, following 8.7% growth in fiscal year that ended March 31 as per figures released in the IMF’s October 2022 World Economic Outlook: Countering the Cost-of-Living Crisis at the start of the World Bank IMF Annual Meetings here.
  • Growth rate for this year for India has been revised downward by 0.6 percentage points relative to the IMF’s June 2022 forecast, following a weaker output in the second quarter, and subdued external demand, the IMF said. The forecast for the next fiscal year remains unaltered at 6.1%.
  • “India has been doing fairly well in 2022 and is expected to continue growing fairly robustly in 2023,” the IMF’s chief economist, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas said at a press briefing in Washington on Tuesday morning.

Inflation above target

  • IMF has projected 6.9% consumer price inflation this year and 5.1% next year.
  • The IMF expects inflation in India to return to the inflation tolerance band… in fiscal year 2023-24, “and additional monetary tightening is going to ensure that that happens”, IMF economist Daniel Leigh said at the briefing.
  • For the world as a whole, growth will slow down from 6.0% in 2021 to 3.2% in 2022 and 2.7% in 2023. This is reflective of a U.S. GDP contraction in first half of 2022, a Euro Area contraction in second half, extended COVID-19 outbreaks in China and a property sector crisis.

News 9: Open Network for Digital Commerce


Background:

  • The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), which is a government-backed project aimed at enabling small merchants and mom-and-pop stores in parts of the country to access processes and technologies that are typically deployed by large e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart, is expected to extend beta testing in Delhi after having commenced services in Bengaluru.

What is ONDC?

  • It is an initiative aimed at promoting open networks for all aspects of exchange of goods and services over digital or electronic networks. ONDC is to be based on open-sourced methodology, using open specifications and open network protocols independent of any specific platform.
  • It is being developed as a counter to the current stranglehold of two big players in the Indian e-commerce market, which is largely dictated by Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart.

How does ONDC work?

  • The ONDC platform lies in the middle of the interfaces hosting the buyers and the sellers. So far, the buyer side interface is being hosted by Paytm, whereas the seller side interface is being hosted by other players like GoFrugal, etc.
  • When a buyer searches for an item on the Paytm app, from where ONDC has gone live, the app will connect to the ONDC platform, which will connect it to seller side interfaces that will list all the companies from where you can buy the particular item.
  • On ONDC, there will be several other backend partners such as logistics service providers, enterprise resource planners, e-commerce store hosting service providers, etc.

What are the challenges ONDC aims to address?

  • An ONDC strategy paper published earlier this year has flagged the rising dominance of global players in India’s e-commerce ecosystem, pointing out that the large quantum of investment required to build competitors to the integrated solutions offered by the big players has become an entry barrier for digital marketplaces.
  • It also flagged the inability of marketplace sellers to move out of the platform ecosystem, given that the value created by these small players is stored with the larger platforms.
  • With this in mind, ONDC aims to transform the marketplace ecosystem from an operator-driven platform-centric model to a facilitator-driven interoperable decentralised network

News 10: The lingering monsoon


Background:

  • Incessant rain over Delhi and several other parts of North and Northwest India over the last few days provide further evidence of the shifting patterns in monsoon activity over the Indian subcontinent.
  • Not only has monsoon rainfall become more erratic — fewer rainy days but more intense rain — the monsoon season, earlier confined neatly to the four-month June-September period, is clearly spilling over into October now.
  • Thus, the October rainfall over North India of the kind that happened over the last few days should no longer surprise anyone. It should in fact, be increasingly seen as the norm rather than an exception.

A longer rainy season

  • In any case, rainfall in October — after the traditional date of withdrawal of the southwest monsoon — isn’t entirely unheard of. It has happened in several previous years as well. But the rain in those years was mostly caused by different, often local, atmospheric phenomena.
  • What is being witnessed in more recent years is a clear prolongation of the monsoon season. As such, the nature of rainfall is very different — it is not a short-duration heavy downpour, but sustained rain over a few days.
  • The recent spell of rainfall over Western Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Eastern Rajasthan and Delhi were a result of the interaction of monsoon winds, moving east to west, with the western disturbance wind system. Such interactions happen several times during the monsoon season.

Is it climate change?

  • Like most of the changes being witnessed in global weather patterns, the changing trends in the Indian monsoon are also being driven primarily by climate change. In line with the experience in many other parts of the world, rainfall in India is increasingly taking place in short, intense bursts. Extreme rainfall events are increasing both in intensity and frequency.
  • The extension of the monsoon season could also be seen as a consequence of global warming, said Dr Rajeevan.
  •  “Warmer ocean currents help the formation of monsoon winds. Earlier, rainfall during the monsoon season would bring down the temperature of the ocean. But possibly because of global warming, the oceans continue to remain warm even after the traditional monsoon season is over. The oceans could thus be playing a role in keeping the monsoon alive beyond the traditional period,” Rajeevan said.
  • Global warming is affecting rainfall patterns in other ways too. A warmer atmosphere has a greater capacity to hold water. When this water is finally released, it often results in a heavier downpour than would be expected otherwise. This accounts in part for the increasing instances of extreme rainfall events.

A challenge for forecasting

  • The changing patterns and increased instances of erratic monsoon behaviour is creating forecasting complications for the IMD. Once infamous for its unreliable and generic forecasts, the IMD has over the past 10-12 years, invested heavily in setting up observational equipment, upgrading computing resources, and fine-tuning weather forecast models.
  • And while it continues to battle public perception in many cases, the IMD’s forecasts are now not just far more accurate and specific, they are also impact-based and actionable.
  • The increased variability in weather systems brought about by climate change is threatening to dilute the gains made in recent years

Impact on other sectors

  • Monsoon rainfall is not just a weather phenomenon. It is a key driver of the Indian economy. A significant part of Indian agriculture still depends on monsoon rainfall for irrigation. The supply of drinking water and the generation of electricity are also linked to the monsoon.
  • Changes in the period and duration of the monsoon requires follow-up action from these sectors. Not just the preferred time of sowing of crops, but the entire cropping cycle — even the choice of crops — might need to be changed.
  • There are implications for dam management as well. Most reservoirs in the northern and central parts of the country seek to attain full capacity levels by the end of September because not much rain is expected after that. But if the monsoon consistently spills over into October, as is being predicted, this practice would need to be revised as well.

 

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