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15th April Current Affairs

Centre seeks nod to close Italian marines case

In News:

The government has asked the Supreme Court to schedule an urgent hearing of its application to close the criminal trials pending in India against two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012.

Background:

Girone and Latorre, who were detained on the Italian ship Enrica Lexie, allegedly shot the fishermen thinking they were ‘pirates’.

What’s the case?

In a virtual hearing in August last year, the court had made it clear that it would close the criminal trial of the Marines in India only after the victims’ families were heard and paid a ‘hefty’ compensation. The court had asked the government to negotiate an ‘adequate’ compensation for the slain fishermen’s families with Italy.

What has the government said?

Eight months ago, the Centre had informed the apex court about its decision to “accept and abide” by an international tribunal’s award that the Marines should be tried in their native Italy.

The government had explained that India was bound by the award of the arbitral tribunal formed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The award was “final and without appeal” as India was a party to the UN Convention.

What had the tribunal held?

In a close 3:2 vote, the tribunal ruled that the Italian marines enjoyed diplomatic immunity as Italian state officials under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea.

Taking note of the “commitment expressed by Italy” to resume its criminal investigation into the incident, the tribunal said India must cease to exercise its jurisdiction.

G-SAP: Securities acquisition plan for market boost

In News:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has put in place a secondary market Government Security Acquisition Programme (G-SAP) 1.0 for orderly evolution of the yield curve in FY22.

Under the programme, the central bank will purchase government bonds of worth Rs 1 trillion (or one lakh crores of rupees).

Significance:

The GSAP 1.0 will provide more comfort to the bond market. As the borrowing of the Government increased this year, RBI has to ensure there is no disruption in the Indian market.

The programme will help to reduce the spread between repo rate and the ten-year government bond yield.

The G-SAP will almost serve the purpose of an OMO calendar, which had been on the bond market’s wish list for a long time.

What is OMO?

Open market operations is the sale and purchase of government securities and treasury bills by RBI or the central bank of the country.

The objective of OMO is to regulate the money supply in the economy.

It is one of the quantitative monetary policy tools.

How is it done?

RBI carries out the OMO through commercial banks and does not directly deal with the public.

OMOs vs liquidity:

When the central bank wants to infuse liquidity into the monetary system, it will buy government securities in the open market. This way it provides commercial banks with liquidity.

In contrast, when it sells securities, it curbs liquidity. Thus, the central bank indirectly controls the money supply and influences short-term interest rates.

RBI employs two kinds of OMOs:

Outright Purchase (PEMO) – this is permanent and involves the outright selling or buying of government securities.

Repurchase Agreement (REPO) – this is short-term and are subject to repurchase.

Device to diagnose dengue within an hour

In News:

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi have developed a handheld Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS)-based platform for early diagnosis of dengue and also gives dengue test results within one hour (rapid diagnosis).

The research work was funded by IMPRINT India programme of the Ministry of Education.

Need for early diagnosis:

Early diagnosis of dengue is the key to prevent deterioration of a patient’s health. However, conventional diagnostic tools like nucleic acid detection using Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) is a time-taking process and it also requires expensive equipment and reagents for the diagnosis of dengue.

What is SERS?

It is a surface-sensitive technique that enhances Raman scattering by molecules adsorbed on rough metal surfaces or by nanostructures such as plasmonic-magnetic silica nanotubes.

What is net-zero, and what are India’s objections?

In News:

In its bid to reclaim the global climate leadership, the US is widely expected to commit itself to a net-zero emission target for 2050 at the upcoming virtual Climate Leaders’ Summit convened by US President Joe Biden.

Other countries committed to net- zero:

Several other countries, including the UK and France, have already enacted laws promising to achieve a net-zero emission scenario by the middle of the century. Even China has promised to go net-zero by 2060.

The European Union is working a similar Europe-wide law, while many other countries including Canada, South Korea, Japan and Germany have expressed their intention to commit themselves to a net-zero future.

What is net-zero?

Net-zero, which is also referred to as carbon-neutrality, does not mean that a country would bring down its emissions to zero. Rather, net-zero is a state in which a country’s emissions are compensated by absorption and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Absorption of the emissions can be increased by creating more carbon sinks such as forests, while removal of gases from the atmosphere requires futuristic technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

A call for net-zero:

A very active campaign has been going on for the last two years to get every country to sign on to a net-zero goal for 2050. It is being argued that global carbon neutrality by 2050 is the only way to achieve the Paris Agreement target of keeping the planet’s temperature from rising beyond 2°C compared to pre-industrial times.

The net-zero formulation does not assign any emission reduction targets on any country.

Net-zero and the Paris agreement:

The net-zero goal does not figure in the 2015 Paris Agreement, the new global architecture to fight climate change.

The Paris Agreement only requires every signatory to take the best climate action it can.

Countries need to set five- or ten-year climate targets for themselves, and demonstrably show they have achieved them.

The other requirement is that targets for every subsequent time-frame should be more ambitious than the previous one.

What about India? What are its objections?

India, the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, after the US and China, is the only major player holding out.

India is the only one opposing this target because it is likely to be the most impacted by it.

Challenges unique to India:

  • Over the next two to three decades, India’s emissions are likely to grow at the fastest pace in the world, as it presses for higher growth to pull hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
  • No amount of afforestation or reforestation would be able to compensate for the increased emissions.
  • Most of the carbon removal technologies right now are either unreliable or very expensive.