News snippet

News 1: PM Modi inaugurates ‘One Nation, One Fertilizer’ scheme

News 2: About 41.5 crore Indians out of multi-dimensional poverty since 2005-06

News 3: Wolf warrior diplomacy

News 4: Plant based meat and diary

News 5: ‘Public office holder can don the role of private citizen’

News 6: Hindi imposition and its discontents

News 7: How does tokenisation prevent online card fraud?

News 8: Principles of CAA can apply to Lankan Hindu Tamils, says HC judge

News 9: Pakistan likely to exit FATF’s grey list

News 10: What are the Iranian Kamikaze drones?

Other important news:

  1. IRDAI

News 1: PM Modi inaugurates ‘One Nation, One Fertilizer’ scheme


Background:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated 600 Kisan Samridhi Kendras and ‘One Nation, One Fertilizer’ scheme and said that these steps were being taken to modernise agriculture.

Fertilizer procurement:

  • The Kisan Samridhi Kendras would function as helping centres for farmers in this process, he added.
  • The amount under the scheme would be credited directly into the accounts of farmers. “There will be no mediators for this,” Mr. Modi added.
  • He said fertilizers would be rebranded as “Bharat” to help farmers and it would reduce the prices of major fertilizers as transportation cost would be regulated.

Urea production and millets

  • He said that earlier urea factories in the country were closed down to benefit importers and added that after 2014, the government took several steps and now the country was marching towards self sustenance in liquid nano urea production. “Nano urea will help farmers to address the issue of scarcity,” Mr. Modi said.
  • He added that as part of observing the Millets Year in 2023, the Centre would promote cultivation of millets. New varieties of seeds were also being produced to meet the challenges of climate change.

One nation and One Fertilizer scheme:

  • Under the new ‘One Nation One Fertilizer’ initiative, the companies are only permitted to advertise their name, brand, logo, and other pertinent product information on one-third of their bags.
  • The “Bharat” brand and ‘Pradhanmantri Bharatiya Jan Urvarak Pariyojana’ logo will have to be displayed on the remaining two-thirds of the space.

Why it matters: 

  • This is by far India’s largest fertilizer initiative–ONOF. This move by the Centre is to unify fertilizer brands across the country, regardless of the company that creates it. Under this rule, the government is mandating fertilizer producers to promote their products under the brand name ‘Bharat’.
  • According to the government release, the creation of the one brand ‘Bharat’ for all fertilizers will minimise the fertilizer’s cross-country movement, which will result in large freight subsidies. During the occasion on 17th October, the Prime Minister will introduce Bharat urea bags.

News 2: About 41.5 crore Indians out of multi-dimensional poverty since 2005-06


Background:

  • About 41.5 crore people exited poverty in India during the 15-year period between 2005-06 and 2019-21, out of which two-third exited in the first 10 years, and one-third in the next five years, according to the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) released on Monday.
  • The report produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) shows that the incidence of poverty fell from 55.1% in 2005-06 to 16.4% in 2019-21 in the country and that deprivations in all 10 MPI indicators saw significant reductions as a result of which the MPI value and incidence of poverty more than halved.

Findings of the report:

  • Improvement in MPI for India has significantly contributed to the decline in poverty in South Asia and it is for the first time that it is not the region with the highest number of poor people, at 38.5 crore, compared with 57.9 crore in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The report doesn’t fully assess the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on poverty in India as 71% of the data from the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-2021) relied upon for MPI were collected before the pandemic.
  • The global MPI constructs a deprivation profile of each household and person through 10 indicators spanning health, education and standard of living. All indicators are equally weighted within each dimension. The global MPI identifies people as multidimensionally poor if their deprivation score is 1/3 or higher.
  • Bihar, the poorest State in 2015-2016, saw the fastest reduction in MPI value in absolute terms. The incidence of poverty there fell from 77.4% in 2005-2006 to to 34.7% in 2019-2021.
  • Despite the strides made, the report notes that the ongoing task of ending poverty remains daunting.
  • India has by far the largest number of poor people worldwide at 22.8 crore, followed by Nigeria at 9.6 crore. Two-third of these people live in a household in which at least one person is deprived in nutrition. There were also 9.7 crore poor children in India in 2019-2021 — more than the total number of poor people, children and adults combined, in any other country covered by the global MPI.

Multidimensional Poverty Index:

  • Released by: Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme
  • The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) was developed in 2010 and uses health, education and standard of living indicators to determine the incidence and intensity of poverty experienced by a population.
  • Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and the current cost-of-living crisis are accounted for, the data shows that 1.2 billion people in 111 developing countries live in acute multidimensional poverty. This is nearly double the number who are seen as poor when poverty is defined as living on less than $1.90 per day.


News 3: Wolf warrior diplomacy


Background:

  • With the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) 20th National Congress set to begin on Sunday (October 16), it is widely expected that Chinese President Xi Jinping will get an endorsement for a third term as President. Under Xi, China has witnessed a unique style of governance, which differs in many ways from that of more recent Chinese leaders.
  • As China’s position has undergone a change in world affairs over the years, Xi has advocated for a more intensive approach towards handling issues both domestically and internationally. The “wolf warrior” style of Chinese diplomacy particularly attracted attention.

What does wolf warrior diplomacy mean?

  • A term that gained popularity, especially after Xi became President, “wolf warrior diplomacy” is a tactic for the Chinese government to extend its ideology beyond China and counter the West and defend itself. It is an unofficial term for the more aggressive and confrontational style of communication that Chinese diplomats have taken to in the last decade.

What is the need for wolf warrior diplomacy?

  • The change in strategy has been attributed to many reasons, such as Xi’s more authoritarian tendencies as compared to earlier leaders, deteriorating US-China relations under former US President Donald Trump, the coronavirus pandemic-related accusations on China, etc.
  • According to Chinese officials, the move is simply about standing up to what they believe is Western interference. The South China Morning Post quoted China’s foreign vice-minister Le Yucheng saying in December 2020 that the term was rhetorical “tit-for-tat”.
  • As C Raja Mohan, director, of the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, wrote in The Indian Express, “The new ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’ confronts head-on any criticism of China in the public sphere. They lecture host governments and don’t always show up when ‘summoned’ by foreign offices. Delhi has been at the receiving end for a while — especially during the recent crises of Doklam and Ladakh.

News 4: Plant based meat and diary


Background:

  • Last week, meat and seafood retailer Licious forayed into the marketing of “mock” chicken and mutton under a new ‘UnCrave’ brand. Also, cricketer M S Dhoni picked up an undisclosed equity stake in plant-based meat startup Shaka Harry, and the California-based Beyond Meat — the global pioneer in the segment — partnered with India’s biggest buffalo meat exporter Allana Group to sell its products in the country.

What is plant based meat?

  • “Plant-based” refers to products that bio-mimic or replicate meat, seafood, eggs, and milk derived from animals — by looking, smelling, and tasting like them.
  • Plant-based dairy products include ice-cream that isn’t simply frozen dessert that replaces milk fat with vegetable oil. Even the proteins and other solids-not-fat ingredients are sourced from plants.

How are these made?

  • Animal meat contains protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water, just like plants. This biochemical similarity allows for finding analogues in the plant kingdom or making them through mechanical, chemical, or biological treatment of such ingredients.
  • The challenge lies in replicating muscle tissue that plants don’t have. The unique spatial arrangement of proteins in these tissues is what creates the distinct texture of animal meat.
  • That’s why plant-based mutton samosas, kebabs or keema, having a simpler texture, are easier to make than larger whole cuts of animal meat such as chicken breasts and pork chops.
  • As for plant-based dairy, the main products are milk from oats, almond, soyabean, coconut, and rice. Among these, oat milk is considered the closest to regular milk in taste and texture.
  • It is also thicker and creamier, as oats absorb more water than nuts or rice during soaking, and more of the grain gets strained for incorporation into the final product.

News 5: ‘Public office holder can don the role of private citizen’


Background:

  • High constitutional functionaries, from the President of India to government Ministers, need not depend on the state machinery to prosecute his or her defamer, the Supreme Court held in a judgment on Monday.

Judgment about defamation of public office holder:

  • A constitutional functionary can choose to shed the identity of his high office and don the role of a private citizen to prosecute damaging comments made about his public functions in office.
  • Justice V. Ramasubramanian, who authored the verdict, also said a political rival’s challenge to a public office holder that he would “expose” the latter’s “scam” would not amount to defamation.
  • The judgment clarified the law while refusing to accept BJP leader Manoj Tiwari’s argument that Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia could not have filed a criminal defamation complaint against him in his individual capacity but should have gone through the public prosecutor after securing prior sanction from the government. Mr. Tiwari had appealed to the Supreme Court after the Delhi High Court refused to quash a Magistrate’s summons in 2019 on Mr. Sisodia’s defamation complaint.

News 6: Hindi imposition and its discontents


Background:

  • The reported recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee on Official Language to use Hindi as the medium of instruction in Central institutions of higher education in Hindi-speaking States and regional languages in other States has once again ignited a controversy over, what is called by critics of the BJP, an attempt to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking people.

What is the backdrop to the Hindi imposition row?

  • The origin of the linguistic row goes back to the debate on official languages. In the Constituent Assembly, Hindi was voted as the official language by a single vote. However, it added that English would continue to be used as an associate official language for 15 years.
  • The Official Languages Act came into effect on the expiry of this 15-year period in 1965. This was the background in which the anti-Hindi agitation took place.
  • However, as early as in 1959, Jawaharlal Nehru had given an assurance in Parliament that English would continue to be in use as long as non-Hindi speaking people wanted it.

Why do many parties in Tamil Nadu stand against the recommendation?

  • Tamil Nadu has had a long history of agitations against “Hindi imposition”. In August 1937, in the then Presidency of Madras, the regime headed by C. Rajagopalachari, also known as Rajaji or CR, decided to make Hindi compulsory in secondary schools.
  • E.V. Ramasamy, or Periyar as he was known, who was still in the Justice Party at that time, had spearheaded an agitation against the move, marking the first such stir. A few months after CR’s resignation, the British government, in February 1940, made Hindi optional.
  • In January 1965, the second round of agitations erupted in the wake of Hindi becoming the official language of the Union government coupled with the approach adopted by the Central government towards the whole issue.
  • At different points in time, leaders, starting from Jawaharlal Nehru in the mid-1950s, assured the people of Tamil Nadu that there would be no “imposition” of Hindi. However, in recent years, be it the National Education Policy or reports of English signage on National Highways in the State getting replaced with Hindi signage, the political class of the State had overwhelmingly expressed its reservations.
  • The reiteration of the age-old assurance by the Central government coupled with the promise of the promotion of other Indian languages have barely mollified the protesters.
  • The essence of the Official Languages Act, 1963, is to provide something to each of the differing groups to meet its objections and safeguard its position. Whenever the parties in the State see any attempt to disturb this status quo, their reaction is always uniform — a virulent opposition.

What does the present proposal say?

  • If reports in sections of the media are an indication, English, as a medium of instruction in all technical and non-technical institutions, will be permitted only where it is absolutely essential, as the idea is to replace the language gradually with Hindi in those institutions.
  • While IITs, IIMs and All India Institute of Medical Sciences are considered technical institutions, Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas fall under the other category.
  • Also, the committee has recommended the removal of English as one of the languages in examinations held for recruitment to the Central services. It has stated that the requisite knowledge of Hindi among candidates should also be ensured.

What is the alternative suggested by critics of the proposal ?

  • Both Mr. Stalin and Mr. Vijayan have called for equal treatment to all the languages specified under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. 
  • The Kerala Chief Minister has specifically stated that question papers for competitive examinations should be prepared in all the languages while his Tamil Nadu counterpart has urged the Centre to promote all languages and keep open the avenues of progress in terms of education and employment equal to speakers of all languages.

News 7: How does tokenisation prevent online card fraud?


Background:

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has mandated the tokenisation of credit/debit cards for online merchants from October 1.
  • Till then, card details for online purchases were stored on the servers of these merchants in order to help customers avoid keying in their details every time they shopped with that merchant.

What is tokenisation?

  • As per the RBI’s FAQ on tokenisation updated late last month, tokenisation “refers to the replacement of actual card details with an alternative code called the ‘token’, which shall be unique for a combination of card and the token requestor (i.e. the entity which accepts the request from the customer for tokenisation of a card and passes it on to the card network to issue a corresponding token).”
  • So, if you use a mobile app or a website for online purchases, the merchant can, on your behalf but only with your explicit consent, raise a request for a token with the card issuing bank or the card network such as MasterCard.

Why is tokenisation necessary?

    • When you visit a restaurant, or even an ATM machine, it is possible for card thieves to clone your card with a skimmer, a gadget that quietly reads the magnetic strip at the back of your card.
    • Similarly, hackers can also break into online websites and mobile apps that store your credit card details. Such data breaches could give con artists access to millions of cards in one go which are then sold on the dark web.
    • To help lessen the chances of such fraud, some banks have mandated the use of an OTP delivered to your registered mobile number to withdraw cash at ATMs.
    • Other banks have enabled the use of their mobile app to allow cash withdrawal without the physical use of cards.
    • Some credit card-issuing banks allow limits that you can set up yourself, per day, per transaction, etc on the bank’s app. The tokenisation mandate of the RBI is a similar exercise in caution.

Findings related to fraud:

  • As per the RBI annual report 2021-22, in FY20 there were a reported 2,677 cases of card fraud via the internet involving ₹129 crore. While in FY21, the number of cases decreased to 2,545, it further increased to 3,596 cases in FY22 with the amount involved being ₹155 crore.

What are the benefits of tokenisation?

  • The RBI says that a tokenised card transaction is safer as the actual card details are not shared with the merchant.
  • Even if a hacker/scammer were to get their hands on one’s token number, they would not be able to make indiscriminate use of it.
  • He also added that the “new mandate is only for the use of credit/debit cards online. For offline merchants, users would continue to swipe the cards on the POS machines as per previously existing guidelines.”
  • Popular card network Visa further explains the concept of tokenisation through the example of a metro train ticket. It is useful only for that route and not on any other.
  • Similarly, the unique token generated for a specific site is only applicable on that site and nowhere else. And if an undesirable third-party gains access to that specfic token and shops within that specific website, the chances of identifying the party are more as their login and phone details would be with the site.
  • However, regardless of whomever you shop with, be it Amazon or Ola or Swiggy, the app should ask your permission to use your credit card details for it to tokenise your card.

News 8: Principles of CAA can apply to Lankan Hindu Tamils, says HC judge


  • One can take judicial notice of the fact that the Hindu Tamils of Sri Lanka were the primary victims of the racial strife,” said Justice G.R. Swaminathan of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court while observing that the principles of the recent amendment to the Citizenship Act (CAA) was equally applicable to them.
  • “Parliament has recently amended the Citizenship Act. The persecuted minorities from the immediate neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, now have an opportunity to get Indian citizenship. Though Sri Lanka does not fall within the said amendment, the very same principle is equally applicable. One can take judicial notice of the fact that the Hindu Tamils of Sri Lanka were the primary victims of the racial strife,” he said.

Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019:

  • The Act seeks to amend the definition of illegal immigrant for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have lived in India without documentation. They will be granted fast track Indian citizenship in six years. So far 12 years of residence has been the standard eligibility requirement for naturalisation.

Who makes the cut?

  • The legislation applies to those who were “forced or compelled to seek shelter in India due to persecution on the ground of religion”. It aims to protect such people from proceedings of illegal migration. The cut-off date for citizenship is December 31, 2014 which means the applicant should have entered India on or before that date.
  • Indian citizenship, under present law, is given either to those born in India or if they have resided in the country for a minimum of 11 years. T
  • he Bill also proposes to incorporate a sub-section (d) to Section 7, providing for cancellation of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registration where the OCI card-holder has violated any provision of the Citizenship Act or any other law in force.

News 9: Pakistan likely to exit FATF’s grey list


Background:

  • Pakistan is likely to exit the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) this week after it was placed in the infamous category since 2018 for failing to check money laundering and terrorist financing, a media report said on Monday.
  • Pakistan was included in the increased monitoring list in June 2018 for deficiencies in its legal, financial, regulatory, investigations, prosecution, judicial and non-government sector to fight money laundering and combat terror financing considered serious threat to global financial system, the Dawn newspaper reported.

FATF:

  • Established: 1989
  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was established in July 1989 by a Group of Seven (G-7) Summit in Paris, initially to examine and develop measures to combat money laundering
  • In October 2001, the FATF expanded its mandate to incorporate efforts to combat terrorist financing, in addition to money laundering. 
  • In April 2012, it added efforts to counter the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Headquarters: Paris, France
  • Type: Intergovernmental global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog

Objective:

  • The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society.
  • As a policy-making body, the FATF works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
  • The FATF has developed the FATF Recommendations, or FATF Standards, which ensure a co-ordinated global response to prevent organised crime, corruption and terrorism.
  • They help authorities go after the money of criminals dealing in illegal drugs, human trafficking and other crimes.  The FATF also works to stop funding for weapons of mass destruction.
  • The FATF reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and continuously strengthens its standards to address new risks, such as the regulation of virtual assets, which have spread as cryptocurrencies gain popularity.  
  • The FATF monitors countries to ensure they implement the FATF Standards fully and effectively, and holds countries to account that do not comply.
  • Members: 39 members

News 10: What are the Iranian Kamikaze drones?


Background:

  • Ukraine’s capital region was struck by Iranian-made kamikaze drones early Thursday (October 14), Ukrainian officials said. The Deputy head of the presidential office Kyrylo Tymoshenko said “critical infrastructure facilities” in the area were hit, The Associated Press reported. The extent of damage was not elaborated on by officials.

What are Kamikaze drones?

  • These are small unmanned aircraft packed with explosives that can be flown directly at a tank or a group of troops that are destroyed when it hits the target and explodes.
  • The name comes from the World War 2 era’s feared Japanese kamikaze pilots, who conducted suicide attacks by intentionally crashing their explosive filled aircraft into enemy targets.
  • The modern drone versions have the capability of surpassing traditional defences to strike their targets and are also cheaper than their larger counterparts.
  • The small lethal drones are difficult to detect on radar, and through the use of facial recognition, can be programmed to hit targets without human intervention.

What is Ukraine alleging?

  • In late September, Ukraine said it would downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran and strip the ambassador of his accreditation over Tehran’s “unfriendly” decision to supply Russian forces with drones, Reuters reported.
  • On October 7, The Guardian reported that Russia hit Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia, which holds Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, with explosive-packed kamikaze drones. The regional governor, Oleksandr Starukh, said Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones damaged two infrastructure facilities in the city.

Which countries have such drones?

  1. Some countries have admitted to using such armed drones, while others have been accused of utilising them to carry out covert attacks. According to the US military, Iranian-backed militias have used small drones in 10 attacks on US bases in Iraq this year.
  2. Azerbaijan had used small Turkish-made drones against the Armenian military in the last few years, shifting the prolonged stalemate over a disputed enclave decisively in Azerbaijan’s favour.
  3. There have been also multiple occasions where Russia has used such suicide drones to launch attacks in Ukraine following their invasion. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels also used them to blow up Saudi oil facilities in 2019.
  4. Although the US Kamikaze might be the most advanced in this class of drones, Russia, China, Israel, Iran and Turkey all have some versions of it.
  5. The US kamikaze drones are cheaper than most other drones made in the country, and come in two sizes, according to AeroVironment, the manufacturer.

Other important news


IRDAI (Insurance Regulatory Development and Authority of India):

  • Established: 1999
  • Type: Regulatory body (regulates insurance sector)
  • Ministry: Ministry of Finance
  • Headquarter: Hyderabad
  • IRDAI is a 10-member body including the chairman, five full-time and four part-time members appointed by the government of India.

 

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