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25th October Current Affairs

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

(GS-II: India and neighbours)

In News:

The chief of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority has accused the U.S. of sabotaging the multi-billion dollar project, the economic lifeline of Pakistan.

Background:

Pakistan is the seventh largest recipient of Chinese overseas development financing with 71 projects worth $27.3 billion under way as part of the CPEC.

About CPEC:

Launched in 2015, the CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, aimed at enhancing Beijing’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.

The 3,000 km-long China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) consists of highways, railways, and pipelines.

CPEC eventually aims at linking the city of Gwadar in South Western Pakistan to China’s North Western region Xinjiang through a vast network of highways and railways.

The proposed project will be financed by heavily-subsidised loans, that will be disbursed to the Government of Pakistan by Chinese banks.

But, why is India concerned?

It passes through PoK.

CPEC rests on a Chinese plan to secure and shorten its supply lines through Gwadar with an enhanced presence in the Indian Ocean. Hence, it is widely believed that upon CPEC’s fruition, an extensive Chinese presence will undermine India’s influence in the Indian Ocean.

It is also being contended that if CPEC were to successfully transform the Pakistan economy that could be a “red rag” for India which will remain at the receiving end of a wealthier and stronger Pakistan.

Besides, India shares a great deal of trust deficit with China and Pakistan and has a history of conflict with both. As a result, even though suggestions to re-approach the project pragmatically have been made, no advocate has overruled the principle strands of contention that continue to mar India’s equations with China and Pakistan.

National Fund to Control Drug Abuse

(GS-III: Internal security related issues)

In News:

The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has recently recommended that the National Fund to Control Drug Abuse be used to carry out de-addiction programmes, rather than just policing activities.

About the National Fund to Control Drug Abuse:

It was created in accordance with a provision of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

It had a nominal corpus of ₹23 crore.

Funding: Under the NDPS Act, the sale proceeds of any property forfeited, grants made by any person and institution, and income from the investments of the fund, go towards the fund.

Usage of the fund: The Act states that the fund would be used to combat illicit trafficking of narcotics, rehabilitating addicts, and preventing drug abuse.

World Drug Report 2021:

Around 275 million people used drugs globally in the last year. Over 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders.

Rise in the use of cannabis during the pandemic has been reported by most countries.

Non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs has also been observed in the same period.

The latest global estimates say, about 5.5 per cent of the population between 15 and 64 years have used drugs at least once in the past year.

Over 11 million people globally are estimated to inject drugs – half of them have Hepatitis C.

Opioids continue to account for the largest burden of disease-linked to drug abuse.

Major Reasons for Drug Abuse:

  • To be accepted by the peers.
  • Increasing economic stress.
  • Changing cultural values.
  • Neurotic pleasure.
  • Ineffective Policing.

Drug abuse cases and numbers in India:

According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s Crime in India 2020 report, a total of 59,806 cases were lodged under NDPS Act.

In 2019, there were 3.1 crore cannabis users and 2.3 crore opioid users.

Indian Government has taken several policy and other initiatives to deal with drug trafficking problem:

The ‘Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan’ or a ‘Drugs-Free India Campaign’ was flagged off on 15th August 2020 across 272 districts of the country found to be most vulnerable based on the data available from various sources.

Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has begun implementation of a National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR) for 2018-2025.

The government has constituted Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) in November, 2016.

The government has constituted a fund called “National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse” to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with combating illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs; rehabilitating addicts, and educating public against drug abuse, etc.

What Mauritius exiting FATF grey list means for India?

(GS-III: Money laundering related issues)

In News:

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has moved Mauritius out of its grey list.

Why is Mauritius no longer subject to FATF’s increased monitoring process?

Mauritius has strengthened the effectiveness of its anti-money laundering and terror financing process, and has addressed related technical deficiencies to meet the commitments in its action plan regarding the strategic deficiencies that the FATF identified in February 2020.

Why was it included in the list?

For several years, there have been apprehensions about Mauritius being a money laundering route for FPIs due to its limited regulatory oversight.

Implications for India:

The move would enable Indian non-banking and other financial services companies to receive foreign direct investment from funds and vehicles incorporated by international investors in Mauritius. This may indirectly lead to higher investment to India from the Island nation.

It is also expected that now there would be less scrutiny by custodian banks on the ‘beneficial ownership’ (BO) of Mauritius vehicles coming in as FPI and FDI.

Background:

Mauritius, which has been one of the largest contributors of FDI, has been recently losing out to jurisdictions like Singapore, Cayman Island, etc., partly because of amendment in the tax treaty with India and also due to it being put on the FATF grey list. Mauritius was put on the list in February 2020. After inclusion in the list, FDI inflow from Mauritius fell from Rs 57,785 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 41,661 crore in 2020-21.

International Snow Leopard Day- October 23

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

Oct 23 is recognised as International Snow Leopard Day.

Background:

The day came into being with the adoption of the Bishkek Declaration by 12 countries on the conservation of snow leopards.

About Snow Leopard:

Scientific name: Panthera uncia.

Habitat: Snow leopards live in the mountains of Central Asia.

Numbers: There are only between 3,920 and 6,390 snow leopards left in the wild.

Range extends through twelve countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Conservation Status: Snow leopards were considered endangered species until 2017 but the status was changed to vulnerable later in the year.

Conservation efforts- National level:

As per reports, India is home to about 450-500 snow leopards which can be spotted in the upper Himalayan regions of the country.

India has been conserving snow leopards and their habitats through the Project Snow Leopard (PSL).

India has also been part of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme since 2013.

For conservation, India has identified three large landscapes, namely, Hemis-Spiti across Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh; Nanda Devi – Gangotri in Uttarakhand; and Khangchendzonga – Tawang across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

Snow Leopard is in the list of 22 critically endangered species for the recovery programme of the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.

SECURE Himalaya: Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded the project on conservation of high-altitude biodiversity and reducing the dependency of local communities on the natural ecosystem. This project is now operational in four snow leopard range states, namely, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.

Community volunteer programme “HimalSanrakshak” to protect snow leopards.

Conservation efforts- International level:

In 2013, the Bishkek Declaration set a goal of protecting at least 20 snow leopard landscapes with viable snow leopard populations by 2020, and led to the formation of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP). Since then, October 23 is commemorated each year as International Snow Leopard Day.

The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme (GSLEP) was also launched on the same day to address high-mountain development issues using conservation of the snow leopard as a flagship.

Challenges to their conservation:

Increased habitat loss and degradation, poaching and conflict with communities.