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26th November Current Affairs

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)

In News:

At the recently held 20th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government, India observed that raising bilateral issues is counterproductive to the spirit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

What’s the issue?

China and Pakistan have deliberately tried to bring bilateral issues into SCO. This violates the well-established principles and norms of the SCO Charter. Such acts are counterproductive to the spirit of consensus and cooperation that define this organisation and should be condemned.

About the SCO:

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a permanent intergovernmental international organization.

The creation of SCO was announced on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China).

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Charter was signed during the St.Petersburg SCO Heads of State meeting in June 2002, and entered into force on 19 September 2003.

It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.

The SCO’s official languages are Russian and Chinese.

The SCO Charter, sealed in 2002, calls for “peaceful settlement” of conflicts and disputes among member states.

Founding members of SCO were-

  • The Republic of Kazakhstan,
  • The People’s Republic of China,
  • The Kyrgyz Republic,
  • The Russian Federation,
  • The Republic of Tajikistan,
  • The Republic of Uzbekistan.

Background:

Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan were members of the Shanghai Five, Prior to the creation of SCO in 2001.

Shanghai Five (1996) emerged from a series of border demarcation and demilitarization talks which the four former Soviet republics held with China to ensure stability along the borders.

Uzbekistan joined the organisation in 2001, following this the Shanghai Five was renamed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

India and Pakistan became members in 2017.

Member Countries:

Now, SCO is comprised of Eight Member countries. Namely-

  • Kazakhstan
  • China
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Russia
  • Tajikistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • India
  • Pakistan

Objectives of SCO:

  • Strengthening mutual trust and neighbourliness among the member states.
  • Promoting their effective cooperation in politics, trade, the economy, research, technology and culture, as well as in education, energy, transport, tourism, environmental protection, and other areas.
  • Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region.
  • Moving towards the establishment of a democratic, fair and rational new international political and economic order.

Significance for India:

The SCO’s significance for India lies in economics and geopolitics with the Eurasian states.

SCO is a potential platform to advance India’s Connect Central Asia policy. The SCO member states occupy the huge landmass adjacent to India’s extended neighbourhood where India has both economic and security imperatives.

Importance of SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group to stabilise Afghanistan. SCO membership provides India a vital counter to some of the other groupings it is a part of.

The SCO provides the only multilateral platform for India to deal in close proximity with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Green Bonds

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

State Bank of India, the country’s largest commercial bank, has dual listed its $650 million green bonds simultaneously on the India International Exchange (India INX) and Luxembourg Stock Exchange (LuxSE). This dual listing is in line with this year’s topic of World Investor Week, ‘Sustainable Finance’, as indicated by the regulatory body International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA).

What Is a Green Bond?

A green bond is a type of fixed-income instrument that is specifically earmarked to raise money for climate and environmental projects.

These bonds are typically asset-linked and backed by the issuing entity’s balance sheet, so they usually carry the same credit rating as their issuers’ other debt obligations.​

Green bonds may come with tax incentives to enhance their attractiveness to investors.

The World Bank is a major issuer of green bonds. It has issued 164 such bonds since 2008, worth a combined $14.4 billion. In 2020, the total issuance of green bonds was worth almost $270 billion, according to the Climate Bond Initiative.

How Does a Green Bond Work?

Green bonds work just like any other corporate or government bond.

Borrowers issue these securities in order to secure financing for projects that will have a positive environmental impact, such as ecosystem restoration or reducing pollution.

Investors who purchase these bonds can expect to make as the bond matures.

In addition, there are often tax benefits for investing in green bonds.

Green Bonds Vs Blue Bonds:

Blue bonds are sustainability bonds to finance projects that protect the ocean and related ecosystems.

This can include projects to support sustainable fisheries, protection of coral reefs and other fragile ecosystems, or reducing pollution and acidification.

All blue bonds are green bonds, but not all green bonds are blue bonds.

Green Bonds Vs Climate Bonds:

“Green bonds” and “climate bonds” are sometimes used interchangeably, but some authorities use the latter term specifically for projects focusing on reducing carbon emissions or alleviating the effects of climate change.

Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana

(GS-II: Issues related to health)

In News:

Summary findings from the fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey, released recently showed a 12.3 percentage point increase over the previous edition of the survey in the coverage of health insurance to 41% of households surveyed, an indication of the impact of the government’s flagship the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), that was launched in September 2018.

Key Features of PM-JAY:

  • The world’s largest health insurance/ assurance scheme fully financed by the government.
  • It provides cover of 5 lakhs per family per year, for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization across public and private empaneled hospitals in India.
  • Coverage: Over 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable entitled families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) are eligible for these benefits.
  • Provides cashless access to health care services for the beneficiary at the point of service.
  • The National Health Authority (NHA) is the nodal agency responsible for the nationwide roll-out and implementation of the AB-PMJAY scheme.
  • This scheme is a Centrally sponsored scheme with some Central sector components.

Eligibility:

No restrictions on family size, age or gender.

All pre–existing conditions are covered from day one.

Covers up to 3 days of pre-hospitalization and 15 days post-hospitalization expenses such as diagnostics and medicines.

Benefits of the scheme are portable across the country.

Services include approximately 1,393 procedures covering all the costs related to treatment, including but not limited to drugs, supplies, diagnostic services, physician’s fees, room charges, surgeon charges, OT and ICU charges etc.

Public hospitals are reimbursed for the healthcare services at par with the private hospitals.

As per the latest economic survey:

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) contributed to improvement in many health outcomes in States that implemented the programme.

States that joined the PM-JAY, compared to those that did not, experienced greater penetration of health insurance, reduction in infant and child mortality rates, realised improved access and utilisation of family planning services and greater awareness of HIV/AIDS.

Across all the States, the proportion of households with health insurance increased by 54% for States that implemented PM-JAY while falling by 10% in States that did not.

Interpol

(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)

In News:

The Interpol has elected Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Director Praveen Sinha as a Delegate for Asia in its Executive Committee.

About the Interpol Executive Committee:

The Executive Committee has 13 members from different countries comprising the President of the Interpol, two Vice-Presidents and nine Delegates.

It supervises the execution of the Interpol General Assembly’s decisions and the administration and work of its General Secretariat.

It meets three times a year and sets organisational policy and direction.

What is Interpol?

The International Criminal Police Organisation, or Interpol, is a 194-member intergovernmental organisation.

Headquartered in Lyon, France.

Formed in 1923 as the International Criminal Police Commission, and started calling itself Interpol in 1956.

India joined the organisation in 1949, and is one of its oldest members.

Interpol’s declared global policing goals include:

Countering terrorism, promoting border integrity worldwide, protection of vulnerable communities, providing a secure cyberspace for people and businesses, curbing illicit markets, supporting environment security, and promoting global integrity.

What is the Interpol General Assembly?

It is Interpol’s supreme governing body, and comprises representatives from all its member countries.

It meets annually for a session lasting approximately four days, to vote on activities and policy.

Each country is represented by one or more delegates at the Assembly, who are typically chiefs of law enforcement agencies.

The Assembly also elects the members of the Interpol Executive Committee, the governing body which “provides guidance and direction in between sessions of the Assembly”.