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June 24, 2021
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June 26, 2021
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25th June Current Affairs

CCI probes Google for ‘unfair’ business practices

In News:

The Competition Commission has ordered a detailed probe against Google for alleged anti-competitive practices in the smart television operating systems market in the country.

What’s the issue?

CCI found that Google was dominant in the relevant market for licensable smart TV device operating systems in India. It also said that prima facie mandatory pre-installation of all the Google applications under Television App Distribution Agreement (TADA) amounts to imposition of unfair conditions on the smart TV device manufacturers. This is in contravention of Section 4(2)(a) of the Competition Act.

Section 4 of the Act pertains to abuse of dominant position.

About Competition Commission Of India:

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was established under the Competition Act, 2002 for the administration, implementation and enforcement of the Act, and was duly constituted in March 2009. Chairman and members are appointed by the central government.

Functions of the commission:

It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.

The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.

The Competition Act:

The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (MRTP Act) was repealed and replaced by the Competition Act, 2002, on the recommendations of Raghavan committee.

The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.

What is Delta Plus, a variant of coronavirus with K417N mutation?

In News:

The Health Ministry has categorised Delta Plus variant of coronavirus as a ‘variant of concern’. It has been detected in many states.

What is a ‘variant of concern’?

It is one for which there is evidence of:

  1. An increase in transmissibility.
  2. More severe diseases that require hospitalisation or death.
  3. A significant reduction in neutralisation by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination.
  4. Reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.

In the case of the Delta Plus variant, the Health Ministry identified three characteristics — increased transmissibility; stronger binding in receptors of lung cells; and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.

How do variants of a virus emerge and why?

Variants of a virus have one or more mutations that differentiate it from the other variants that are in circulation.

Essentially, the goal of the virus is to reach a stage where it can cohabitate with humans because it needs a host to survive.

Errors in the viral RNA are called mutations, and viruses with these mutations are called variants. Variants could differ by a single or many mutations.

What is a mutation?

A mutation means a change in the genetic sequence of the virus.

In the case of SARS-CoV-2, which is an Ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus, a mutation means a change in the sequence in which its molecules are arranged.

A mutation in an RNA virus often happens when the virus makes a mistake while it is making copies of itself.

Variants of Concern so far:

‘Variants of concern’ include B.1.1.7 or Alpha first identified in the UK, B.1.351 or Beta first identified in South Africa, and B.1.427 or Epsilon first identified in the US.

Earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had identified the Delta variant or B.1.617.2, first found in India, as a ‘variant of concern’.

How can a variant of concern be controlled?

They require appropriate health actions like increased testing or “research to determine the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments against the variant”.

Based on the characteristics of the variant, additional considerations may include the development of new diagnostics or the modification of vaccines or treatments.

Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) programme

In News:

Bhutan’s Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) programme launched in partnership with India.

Details:

This programme is expected to be of about 24 months’ duration.

The focus of the programme will be in the area of International Taxation and Transfer Pricing.

Benefits of the programme:

Through this India in collaboration with the UNDP and the TIWB Secretariat aims to aid Bhutan in strengthening its tax administration by transferring technical know-how and skills to its tax auditors, and through sharing of best audit practices.

About TIWB Programme:

It is a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The objective of the TIWB Initiative is to enable sharing of tax audit knowledge and skills with tax administrations in developing countries through a targeted, real time “learning by doing” approach.

TIWB is focused on promoting hands-on assistance by sending Experts to build audit and audit-related skills pertaining to specific international tax matters and the development of general audit skills within developing tax administrations.

Climate crisis to hit sooner than feared

In News:

A landmark draft report was recently released by the UN’s climate science advisers. The report has not yet been officially released. It is, however, designed to influence critical policy decisions.

Highlights of the report:

Climate change will fundamentally reshape life on Earth in the coming decades, even if humans can tame planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Impacts: Species extinction, more widespread disease, unliveable heat, ecosystem collapse, cities menaced by rising seas — these and other devastating climate impacts are accelerating and bound to become painfully obvious by 2050.

Concern: Dangerous thresholds are closer than once thought, and dire consequences stemming from decades of unbridled carbon pollution are unavoidable in the short term.

Food insecurity: Tens of millions more people are likely to face chronic hunger by 2050, and 130 million more could experience extreme poverty within a decade if inequality is allowed to deepen.

In 2050, coastal cities on the “frontline” of the climate crisis will see hundreds of millions of people at risk from floods and increasingly frequent storm surges made more deadly by rising seas.

Water scarcity: Some 350 million more people living in urban areas will be exposed to water scarcity from severe droughts at 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming — 410 million at two degrees Celsius.

About the Scientific Advisory Board of the United Nations Secretary-General:

The UN Secretary-General announced the creation of the Scientific Advisory Board on 24 September 2013, during the inaugural meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

Composition: It will comprise renowned scientists representing various fields of natural, social and human sciences.

The central function of the Board will be to provide advice on science, technology and innovation (STI) for sustainable development to the UN Secretary-General and to Executive Heads of UN organizations.