22 August Current Affairs
August 22, 2019
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August 24, 2019
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23 August Current Affairs

Review Of SEBI (Foreign Portfolio Investors) Regulations

In News:

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has simplified the compliance requirements for foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), to make the regulatory framework more investor friendly.

Key aspects of revised regulations include: 

To simplify the registration process and to bring about ease in compliance requirements  for FPIs, the broad based eligibility criteria for institutional foreign investors has been done away with.

On reviewing the risk profiling of the FPIs, it is decided that the FPIs may be re-categorized into two categories, instead of the present requirement of three categories.

Registration for multiple investment manager  (MIM)  structures  has  been simplified.

Considering that the central banks are relatively long term, low risk investors directly/ indirectly managed by the Government, the central banks that are not the members of BIS (Bank for International Settlement) shall also be eligible for FPI registration.

The entities established in the international financial services center (IFSC) be deemed to have met the jurisdiction criteria for FPIs.

FPIs shall be permitted for off-market transfer of securities which are unlisted, suspended or illiquid, to a domestic or foreign investor.

Offshore funds floated by Indian Mutual Funds shall now be permitted to invest in India after obtaining registration as FPI.

The requirements for  issuance  and  subscription of Offshore  Derivative Instruments (ODIs) have been rationalized.

Kutch Desert

In News:

A team of Indian and French researchers have concluded that the hot arid desert of Kutch was once a humid sub-tropical forest with a variety of birds, freshwater fish and possibly giraffes and rhinos.

About:

Their conclusions are based on the discovery of a tranche of vertebrate fossils from nearly 14 million years ago in a geological period known as the Miocene.

The fossils, consisting mostly of ribs, and parts of teeth and bones, were unearthed from Palasava village of Rapar taluk in Kutch, Gujarat.

Overall, the fossil finds from Palasava suggest that a rich diversity of fauna and flora sustained in warm, humid/wet, tropical to sub-tropical environmental conditions during the Middle Miocene (about 14 Mya).

Geological changes eventually closed off the salt-flats’ connection to the sea and the region turned into a large lake, eventually becoming salty wetlands.

Significance:

The findings showed Kutch to be a potential treasure trove of mammal fossils with possible continuity to vertebrate fossils in the Siwalik, spanning Pakistan to Nepal.

The findings point to clues on how mammals dispersed between Africa and the Indian subcontinent when part of India was in the Gondwanaland supercontinent that existed nearly 300 million years ago.

Miocene?

The Miocene is the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago (Ma). The Miocene is preceded by the Oligocene and is followed by the Pliocene.

Illegal Trade In Tiger

In News:

A new report by Traffic, an environmental NGO has quantified the illegal global trade in tigers and tiger parts over a 19-year period between 2000 and 2018.

Key findings: 

Although Tigers are listed in Appendix I of CITES, which bans all commercial international trade for member countries, recent years have revealed an increase in tiger captive breeding to fuel demand for various tiger products.

Overall, 2,359 tigers were seized from 2000 to 2018 across 32 countries and territories globally. These occurred from a total of 1,142 seizure incidents.

Apart from live tigers and whole carcasses, tiger parts were seized in various forms such as skin, bones or claws.

On average, 60 seizures were recorded annually, accounting for almost 124 tigers seized each year.

The top three countries with the highest number of seizure incidents were India, followed by China and Indonesia.

India is the country with the highest number of seizure incidents (463, or 40% of all seizures) as well as tigers seized (625).

In terms of various body parts seized, India had the highest share among countries for tiger skins (38%), bones (28%) and claws and teeth (42%).

NISHTHA

In News:

Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister launched NISHTHA to build capacities of 42 Lakh government teachers across the country.

About: 

Full name: National Mission to improve Learning Outcomes at the Elementary level (NISHTHA).

What is it? NISHTHA is the world’s largest teachers’ training programme of its kind in the world.

Objective: To motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students.

Features: Under it, teachers will develop their skills on various aspects related to Learning Outcomes, School Safety and Security, ICT in teaching-learning including Artificial Intelligence, Environmental Concerns and School Based Assessment in a joyful learning manner.

Coverage: It aims to build the capacities of around 42 lakh participants covering all teachers and Heads of Schools at the elementary level in all Government schools, faculty members of SCERTs, DIETs as well as Block Resource Coordinators and Cluster Resource Coordinators in all States/UTs.

Strategy: Training will be conducted directly by 33120 Key Resource Persons (KRPs) and State Resource Persons (SRP) identified by the State and UTs, who will in turn be trained by 120 National Resource Persons identified from NCERT, NIEPA, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS), CBSE and NGO.

Iron Age Settlement At Phupgaon

In News:

The recent excavation carried out by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Maharashtra’s Phupgaon has revealed evidence of an Iron Age settlement in the Vidarbha region.

Location: 

The team of ASI took up an intensive survey in the region between Chandur Bazar to Dariyapur of Purna basin at Phupgaon, Amravati district of Maharashtra.

The site is situated in the vast meander of the river Purna, a major tributary of Tapi, which used to be a perennial river, but at present is completely dried-up due to the dam construction in the upper stream.

Findings:  

A total of 9 trenches were taken for excavations, which brought to light the house remains and other associated features like hearth, post-holes and artefacts.

The excavation also exposed antiquities like beads of agate-carnelian, jasper, quartz and agate were collected in large quantity. Iron, Copper objects have also been collected from all the trenches. Large quantity of graffiti marks had been observed on the potsherds.

Chronologically, the site could be placed between 7th C BCE and 4th C BCE.\

Significance:

The excavation indicates the presence of sedentary (permanent) settlement, belonging to the Iron Age of Vidarbha.

The finding from Phupgaon indicates its contemporaneity with other Iron Age settlements of Vidarbha like Naikund, Mahurjhari, Bhagimori and Thakalkat.

SARAL

In News:

SARAL – ‘State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index’ was recently launched.

Details:

The Index evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development.

SARAL is the first of its kind index to provide a comprehensive overview of state-level measures adopted to facilitate rooftop solar deployment.

About the index:

SARAL has been designed collaboratively by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Ernst & Young (EY).

SARAL currently captures five key aspects:

  • robustness of policy framework
  • implementation environment
  • investment climate
  • consumer experience
  • business ecosystem

Significance of the index:

It encourages each state to assess the initiatives taken so far, and what it can do to improve its solar rooftop ecosystem.

This will help states to channelize investments that can eventually help the sector grow.

In addition, such an exercise is likely to create a more conducive environment for solar rooftop installations, encourage investment and lead to accelerated growth of the sector.

Key findings:

Karnataka has been placed at the first rank.

Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have got 2nd, 3rd and 4th rank respectively.

What is rooftop solar?

Rooftop solar installations — as opposed to large-scale solar power generation plants — can be installed on the roofs of buildings. As such, they fall under two brackets: commercial and residential. This simply has to do with whether the solar panels are being installed on top of commercial buildings or residential complexes.

What are the benefits?

Rooftop solar provides companies and residential areas the option of an alternative source of electricity to that provided by the grid.

While the main benefit of this is to the environment, since it reduces the dependence on fossil-fuel generated electricity, solar power can also augment the grid supply in places where it is erratic.

Rooftop solar also has the great benefit of being able to provide electricity to those areas that are not yet connected to the grid — remote locations and areas where the terrain makes it difficult to set up power stations and lay power lines.

What is the potential for rooftop solar in India?

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has pegged the market potential for rooftop solar at 124 GW. However, only 1,247 MW of capacity had been installed as of December 31, 2016. That is a little more than 3% of the target for 2022, and 1% of the potential.

Way ahead:

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set a target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, of which 100 GW solar power is to be operational by March 2022, of which 40 GW is expected to come from grid connected solar rooftops.

To achieve our rooftop solar targets, it is important to develop an ecosystem that ensures information symmetry, access to financing and clear market signals.

CITES — Washington Convention

In News:

A resolution calling for Japan and the European Union (EU) to close their legal domestic ivory markets was not adopted at the ongoing 18th Conference of Parties (CoP18) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva on August 21, 2019.

Background:

Currently, EU regulations afford too many opportunities for criminals to pass off ivory from poached elephants as antiques and export to other markets around the world.

Legal ivory markets and a lack of action against large illegal markets in certain countries continue to provide opportunities for criminal syndicates to traffic ivory.

About Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES):

It is an International agreement to regulate worldwide commercial trade in wild animal and plant species.

It restricts trade in items made from such plants and animals, such as food, clothing, medicine, and souvenirs.

It was signed on March 3, 1973 (Hence world wildlife day is celebrated on march 3).

It is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Secretariat— Geneva (Switzerland).

CITES is legally binding on state parties to the convention, which are obliged to adopt their own domestic legislation to implement its goals.

Classifications:

It classifies plants and animals according to three categories, or appendices, based on how threatened. They are.

Appendix I: It lists species that are in danger of extinction. It prohibits commercial trade of these plants and animals except in extraordinary situations for scientific or educational reasons.

Appendix II species: They are those that are not threatened with extinction but that might suffer a serious decline in number if trade is not restricted. Their trade is regulated by permit.

Appendix III species: They are protected in at least one country that is a CITES member states and that has petitioned others for help in controlling international trade in that species.

Nitrate exposure’s impact

In News:

A new World Bank report looks at the impact of water pollution worldwide.

Details:

In that one aspect covered is the long-term impact of ‘Nitrate’ exposure experienced during infancy. Short-term exposure has almost negligible effect on adult height, but cumulative exposure over the first 3 years of life has considerable impact.

Nitrate pollution is caused by the overuse of nitrogenous fertilisers to boost yields. It can be harmful if they leach into water or air.

In India, the Green Revolution of the 1960s kick-started the use of synthetic fertilisers. An infant girl who has been exposed to nitrate levels above the safety threshold in the first 3 years experiences a 1-2cm decrease in her adult height.

Female adult height in India has increased by approximately 4cm over the last century. A 1-2 cm loss means that nitrate exposure in infancy can wipe out almost half of this gain in height.

The report also found  that nitrate levels in groundwater aquifers exceeded permissible levels in more than 50% of the districts across 19 states.

 

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