African swine fever
(GS-II: Issues related to health)
After African Swine Fever (ASF) cases were reported in a breeding farm in Sepahijala district, the Tripura government has decided to go in for mass culling of infected pigs at the farm.
About African Swine Fever (ASF):
ASF is a highly contagious and fatal animal disease that infects domestic and wild pigs, typically resulting in an acute form of hemorrhagic fever.
It was first detected in Africa in the 1920s.
The mortality is close to 100 per cent, and since the fever has no cure, the only way to stop it spreading is by culling the animals.
As of now, there is no approved vaccine, which is also a reason why animals are culled to prevent the spread of infection.
Regulatory framework for special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs)
(GS-III: Indian economy and issues related to planning and governance)
The government is reportedly considering a regulatory framework for special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).
What are SPACs?
An SPAC, or a blank-cheque company, is an entity specifically set up with the objective of acquiring a firm in a particular sector.
An SPAC aims to raise money in an initial public offering (IPO) without any operations or revenues.
The money that is raised from the public is kept in an escrow account, which can be accessed while making the acquisition.
If the acquisition is not made within two years of the IPO, the SPAC is delisted and the money is returned to the investors.
Why are they attractive?
While SPACs are essentially shell companies, a key factor that makes them attractive to investors are the people who sponsor them.
Globally, prominent names have participated in SPACs.
In March last year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued an investor alert on SPACs, cautioning investors “not to make investment decisions related to SPACs based solely on celebrity involvement”.
There may be lesser returns for retail investors post-merger.
Certain clauses could potentially prevent investors from getting their monies back.
Where does India stand?
Of the 1,145 IPOs by blank-cheque companies since 2009, 248 happened in 2020, 613 in 2021, and 58 in 2022 so far.
The gross proceeds raised by SPACs amounted to over $83 billion in 2020 and $162 billion in 2021. The number for 2022 has crossed $10 billion already.
NASA-ISRO NISAR Mission
(GS-III: Awareness in space)
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States of America to jointly realise a satellite mission named ‘NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR)’ for scientific studies of Earth.
The NISAR mission is scheduled for launch in 2023.
It is optimised for studying hazards and global environmental change and can help manage natural resources better and provide information to scientists to better understand the effects and pace of climate change.
It will scan the globe every 12 days over the course of its three-year mission of imaging the Earth’s land, ice sheets and sea ice to give an “unprecedented” view of the planet.
It will detect movements of the planet’s surface as small as 0.4 inches over areas about half the size of a tennis court.
NASA will provide one of the radars for the satellite, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers and a payload data subsystem.
ISRO will provide the spacecraft bus, the second type of radar (called the S-band radar), the launch vehicle and associated launch services.
NISAR will be equipped with the largest reflector antenna ever launched by NASA and its primary goals include tracking subtle changes in the Earth’s surface, spotting warning signs of imminent volcanic eruptions, helping to monitor groundwater supplies and tracking the rate at which ice sheets are melting.
Synthetic aperture radar:
The name NISAR is short for NASA-ISRO-SAR. SAR here refers to the synthetic aperture radar that NASA will use to measure changes in the surface of the Earth.
Essentially, SAR refers to a technique for producing high-resolution images. Because of the precision, the radar can penetrate clouds and darkness, which means that it can collect data day and night in any weather.
(GS-II: Important International Institutions)
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and her counterparts from the mostly western bloc recently walked out of a G20 finance boffins session as Russian officials began to speak.
This was a boycott — to protest Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
However, these countries were not joined by officials from at least ten other nations, including Indonesia, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia.
What’s the issue?
These countries have continued to resist Russian aggression and war crimes.
They said, Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is a grave threat to the global economy.
They demanded that Russia should not be participating or included in these meetings.
What is the G20?
The G20 is an annual meeting of leaders from the countries with the largest and fastest-growing economies.
Its members account for 85% of the world’s GDP, and two-thirds of its population.
The G20 Summit is formally known as the “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy”.
After the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-1998, it was acknowledged that the participation of major emerging market countries is needed on discussions on the international financial system, and G7 finance ministers agreed to establish the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in 1999.
The group has no permanent staff of its own, so every year in December, a G20 country from a rotating region takes on the presidency.
That country is then responsible for organising the next summit, as well as smaller meetings for the coming year.
They can also choose to invite non-member countries along as guests.
The first G20 meeting took place in Berlin in 1999, after a financial crisis in East Asia affected many countries around the world.
Full membership of the G20:
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.
Its relevance in changing times:
As globalization progresses and various issues become more intricately intertwined, the recent G20 summits have focused not only on macroeconomy and trade, but also on a wide range of global issues which have an immense impact on the global economy, such as development, climate change and energy, health, counter-terrorism, as well as migration and refugees.
The G20 has sought to realize an inclusive and sustainable world through its contributions towards resolving these global issues.