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22 Feb Current Affairs

India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy

In News:

Recently, the India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy for Sustainable Development was inaugrated jointly by both the countries. This task force was launched during Norwegian Prime Minister’s visit to India earlier in 2019.

The two countries also commenced a new collaboration on Integrated Ocean Management & Research.

Key Points:

The bilateral collaboration  intends to manage the resources in the oceans in a sustainable manner.

The India-Norway cooperation in the field of oceans is based on a shared interest in the blue economy and the sustainable use of marine resources.

Both countries also desire to advance scientific knowledge about oceans.

India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy for Sustainable Development:

The purpose of the task force is to develop and follow up joint initiatives between the two countries.

It also intends to mobilise relevant stakeholders from both Norway and India at the highest level, and ensure continued commitment and progress across ministries and agencies.

Blue Economy:

The concept was introduced by Gunter Pauli in his 2010 book- “The Blue Economy: 10 years, 100 innovations, 100 million jobs”.

It is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health.

It comprises renewable energy, fisheries, maritime transport, tourism, climate change, waste management.

It is also reflected in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 14), which calls to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Blue Economy can help to generate livelihoods, to achieve energy security, to build ecological resilience and to improve living standards of coastal communities.

India has a long coastline of 7,517 km covering nine states and two union territories – with an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 2.02 mn. sq.km.

Northern European Enclosure Dam

In News:

Scientists have proposed the construction of the Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED) enclosing all of the North Sea to protect economic regions of 15 Northern European countries from Sea-level Rise (SLR) as a result of climate change.

Key Points:

The proposed NEED aims to construct two dams of a combined length of 637 km.

The first between northern Scotland and western Norway (476 km) and the second  between France and southwestern England (161 km).

The project intends to separate the North and Baltic Seas from the Atlantic Ocean to protect Northern Europe against SLR.

The project classifies the solutions to SLR into three categories namely, taking no action, protection, and managed retreat — and categorises NEED into the second category.

NEED is expected to have the least direct impact on people’s daily lives and can be built at a reasonable cost.

It can be implemented in other regions in the world including the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Irish Sea, and the Red Sea.


In News:

Recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology has launched the “Scientific Utilization through Research Augmentation-Prime Products from Indigenous Cows” (SUTRA-PIC India).

It is one of the research programmes into indigenous cattle announced during the 2019-20 Union Budget, which aims to develop products as well as improve the genetic quality of indigenous cattle breeds.

Key Points:

It is a collaborative effort of the Department of Biotechnology, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Ministry for AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Homoeopathy) and the Indian Council of Medical Research.

The department of the Science for Equity, Empowerment and Development (SEED), under the Ministry of Science and Technology, is in charge of the programme.

It can be noted that SEED had also constituted a National Steering Committee to initiate a National Programme on “Scientific Validation and Research on Panchagavya” (SVAROP) in 2017.

The programme consists of five themes:

1) Uniqueness of Indigenous Cows,

2) Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Medicine and Health,

3) Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Agricultural Applications,

4) Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Food and Nutrition,

5) Prime-products from indigenous cows-based utility items.

The above themes aim to perform:

Scientific research on the complete characterisation of milk and milk products derived from Indian indigenous cows.

Scientific research on nutritional and therapeutic properties of curd and ghee prepared from indigenous breeds of cows by traditional methods.

Development of standards for traditionally processed dairy products of Indian-origin cows, etc.

Worldwide Education for the Future Index 2019: EIU

In News:

India ranked 35th in the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI) 2019, as per a report published by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

This year, India scored 53 and has jumped five ranks from the 40th rank with an overall score of 41.2 across categories in 2018.

Finland topped the index followed by Sweden.

Key Points:

WEFFI ranks countries based on their abilities to equip students with skill-based education.

The rankings are based on three categories:

1) Policy environment.

2) Teaching environment.

3) Overall socio-economic environment.

The report analyses the education system from the perspective of skill-based education in areas such as critical thinking, problem-solving, leadership, collaboration, creativity and entrepreneurship as well as digital and technical skills.

Among the world’s largest economies, the US, UK, France and Russia fell back in the index while China, India and Indonesia took steps forward.

Reasons for the Growth:

The report attributes India’s growth to the new national education policy introduced and published in 2019 that mentions future-oriented skills such as critical thinking, communication and entrepreneurship.

The education policy was highlighted in the Union Budget 2020 and it will come under ‘Aspirational India’ which will focus on skill-based education, a greater inflow of finance to attract talented teachers and innovate and build better labs.

A degree level full-fledged online education programme along with apprenticeship embedded degree or diploma courses in 150 higher educational institutions is also proposed which will begin by March 2021.

Worldwide Educating for the Future Index:

The index and report are commissioned by the Yidan Prize Foundation.

It was developed to assess the effectiveness of education systems in preparing students for the demands of work and life in a rapidly changing landscape.

It is the first comprehensive global index to evaluate inputs to education systems rather than outputs such as test scores and concentrates on the 15-24 age band in 35 economies.

ICRG Recommends Continuation of Pakistan in Grey List

In News:

The International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has recommended that Pakistan be retained on the “Grey List”, given the country’s failure to completely implement the 27-point action plan to check terror financing.


It needs to be noted that a recommendation by the ICRG is a precursor to the final decision at the FATF plenary session, and is usually not overturned. Since 2007, the the ICRG has analysed high-risk jurisdiction and recommended specific action to address the money laundering/terror financing risks emanating from them.

The FATF Plenary is the decision making body of the FATF. It meets three times per year. The latest meeting will conclude on 21st February, 2020 in which final decision with respect to Pakistan will be taken.

The FATF meeting is being held a week after an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan sentenced Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack and founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), to 11 years in two terror financing cases.

Pakistan’s Status on Grey List:

Pakistan needs 12 votes out of 39 (total members in the FATF) to exit the ‘Grey List’ and move to ‘White List’. To avoid ‘Black List’, it needs the support of three countries.

In the Beijing 2020 meeting, Pakistan got support from Malaysia and Turkey besides FATF current chair China.

India has lobbied with several countries, from the US to Europe, Australia to West Asian countries, to make the case for blacklisting of Pakistan.

Impact on Pakistan:

If Pakistan continues on the grey list, it would be very difficult for the country to get financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the European Union, making its financial condition even more unsteady.


The FATF plenary held in October 2019 had noted that Pakistan addressed only five out of the 27 tasks given to it in controlling funding to terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen, responsible for a series of attacks in India.

The FATF, then, strongly urged Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February, 2020.

Pakistan was placed on the grey list by the FATF in June 2018 and was given a plan of action to complete by October 2019, or face the risk of being placed on the black list with Iran and North Korea.