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27 Feb Current Affairs

National Conference on Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience

In News:

Recently, the first ‘National Conference on Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (CDRR&R) – 2020’ was held in New Delhi.

The one-day conference was organised by the National Institute of Disaster Management.

Key Points:

Enhancement of human capacity in terms of a better understanding of coastal disaster risks and effective collaborative actions.

Dissemination of information related to national and local strategies for coastal disaster risk reduction and resilience as well as to develop a network mode roadmap for addressing the gaps by engaging with the institutions, researchers and experts.

Implementation of the Prime Minister’s 10-point agenda and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction 2015-30:

It was adopted at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, held from March 14 to 18, 2015 in Sendai, Miyagi, Japan.

It aims to guide the multi-hazard management of disaster risk in development at all levels as well as within and across all sectors.

It is the successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters.

World Air Quality Report 2019

In News:

India was the fifth most polluted country in 2019 and accounts for almost two-thirds of the world’s most polluted cities according to the World Air Quality Report 2019.

The report was released by the pollution tracker IQAir and Greenpeace.

The ranking is based on a comparison of PM 2.5 levels.

Key Points:

Bangladesh emerged as the most polluted country for PM 2.5 exposure followed by Pakistan, Mongolia, Afghanistan and India.

21 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are located in India with Ghaziabad in the National Capital Region ranked the world’s most polluted.

Indian cities, on average, exceed the World Health Organisation (WHO) target for annual PM 2.5 exposure by 500%.

For example, Mumbai’s annual PM 2.5 concentration is 45.3 micrograms/cubic metre, when it should be 10 micrograms/cubic metre according to the WHO.

However, national air pollution decreased by 20% from 2018 to 2019, with 98% of cities experiencing improvements.

India launched a National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) in 2019 that commits to reducing air pollution in 102 most polluted cities by a maximum of 30% by 2024.

The report, however, noted that the reduction in pollution in 2019 couldn’t be attributed to the NCAP but to the slowing of the marketplace.

According to the Economic Survey 2019-20, the economic growth rate in India is expected to slow down to 5% in 2019-20 from 6.1% in 2018-19 and 7% in 2017-18.

The Report highlights elevated air pollution levels as a result of climate change events, such as sandstorms, wildfires and pollution gains from the rapid urbanization of cities in regions such as Southeast Asia.

While some achievements have been made in air quality monitoring infrastructure globally, there are still huge gaps in access to data around the world.

It is to be noted that the World Air Quality Report is different from the State Of Global Air Report which is produced by the Boston-based Health Effects Institute (HEI).

USA President’s Visit to India

In News:

The President of the USA, Donald Trump, visited India from 24th – 25th February, 2020.

Details:

India and the USA intended to upgrade their bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership (CGSP).

The CGSP will include issues such as defence, security cooperation and revitalisation of the Indo-Pacific with quadrilateral dialogue.

Economic Relations:

(1) Free Trade Agreement (FTA):

The USA has proposed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries.

FTA will include the restoration of benefits of low or zero duty to certain Indian exports under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) and market access for each other’s agricultural products.

The Trade Policy Forum will be set up as a joint study group to facilitate smooth framing of FTA.

(2) Proposed Totalisation Agreement:

The signing of this agreement will allow Indian professionals working in the USA to get a refund of social security contribution that they make while working in the USA.

(3) Intellectual Property Rights:

India and the USA have decided to come up with a comprehensive agreement on intellectual property rights (IPR).

A comprehensive deal on the IPR front would be a major development as India has slipped to the 40th position on the US Chamber’s International IP Index, 2020.

(4) Energy Trade:

Both countries intend to come with an energy deal in the future.

India imports a significant portion of its energy needs from the US, which has only increased in the past few years. The USA is the sixth-largest oil supplier to India.

(5) Bilateral Trade:

The United States has become India’s top trading partner surpassing China.

The bilateral trade between the US and India stood at nearly 88 billion dollars in 2018-19 compared to China which was at 87.1 billion dollars.

Security and Terrorism:

(1) Cross border Terrorism:

Both the countries condemned cross-border terrorism in all its forms.

They also called on Pakistan to ensure that no territory under its control is used to launch terrorist attacks and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks.

(2) Kashmir Issue:

The USA president reiterated its offer to mediate on the Kashmir issue during the visit.

However, India stated that it is a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan and there is no scope for any third-party mediation.

(3) Cyber Security:

India and the United States recognised the need for an innovative digital ecosystem  that is secure and reliable and facilitates the flow of information and data.

Defence Relations:

USA and India have concluded the agreement for the purchase of 24 MH-6OR Seahawk, and six AH-64E attack helicopters.

One Year of PM-KISAN

In News:

The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare observed the 1st anniversary of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme on 24th February.

About PM KISAN Scheme:

The PM-KISAN was launched on February 24 in 2019.

All states are implementing the scheme, except West Bengal.

The PM-KISAN Mobile App developed and designed by the National Informatics Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has been launched.

The farmers can view the status of their application, update or carry out corrections of their Aadhaar cards and also check the history of credits to their bank accounts.

Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) is a Central Sector Scheme with 100% funding from the Government of India.

It is being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare.

Under the scheme, the Centre transfers an amount of Rs 6,000 per year, in three equal instalments, directly into the bank accounts of the all landholding farmers irrespective of the size of their land holdings.

It intends to supplement the financial needs of the Small and Marginal Farmers (SMFs) in procuring various inputs to ensure proper crop health and appropriate yields, commensurate with the anticipated farm income at the end of each crop cycle.

The entire responsibility of identification of beneficiary farmer families rests with the State / UT Governments.

Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project

In News:

The cost of the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project on the Mahadayi basin has risen from about ₹94 crores (2000) to ₹1,677.30 crores (2020) due to the ongoing inter-State river water dispute.

Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project:

It is undertaken by the Government of Karnataka to improve drinking water supply to the three districts of Belagavi, Dharwad, and Gadag.

It involves building across Kalasa and Banduri, two tributaries of the Mahadayi river to divert water to the Malaprabha river (a tributary of Krishna river).

Malaprabha river supplies the drinking water to Dharwad, Belgaum, and Gadag districts.

Kalasa-Banduri project was planned in 1989; Goa raised an objection to it.

The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal was set up in 2010. Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra are parties to the tribunal.

Mahadayi River:

Mahadayi or Mhadei, the west-flowing river, originates in Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary (Western Ghats), Belagavi district of Karnataka.

It is essentially a rain-fed river also called Mandovi in Goa.

It is joined by a number of streams to form the Mandovi which is one of two major rivers (the other one is Zuari river) that flows through Goa.

The river travels 35 km in Karnataka; 82 km in Goa before joining the Arabian Sea.

Elections to Rajya Sabha

In News:

The biennial elections for 55 Rajya Sabha seats will take place on March 26, 2020. The announcement was made by the Election Commission recently.

Rajya Sabha:

The Constitution provides that the Rajya Sabha shall consist of 250 members, of which 12 members shall be nominated by the President from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service; and not more than 238 representatives of the States and of the Union Territories.

How are the members elected?

Elections to the Rajya Sabha are indirect.

Members representing States are elected by elected members of legislative assemblies of the States in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.

Members representing Union Territories are chosen in such manner as Parliament may by law prescribe.

Related facts:

The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution; one-third of its members retire every second year.

According to Section 154 of the Representation of the People Act 1951, a member chosen to fill a casual vacancy will serve for the remainder of his predecessor’s term of office.

Members of a state’s Legislative Assembly vote in the Rajya Sabha elections in what is called proportional representation with the single transferable vote (STV) system. Each MLA’s vote is counted only once.

Masala Bonds

In News:

Asian Development Bank (ADB) has listed its 10-year masala bonds worth Rs 850 crore on the global debt listing platform of India INX. The proceeds would be used to support local currency lending and investment in India.

Background:

India INX is the country’s first international exchange, located at International Financial Services Centre, GIFT City in Gujarat. ADB’s masala bonds are listed on both Luxembourg exchange and India INX.

What are Masala Bonds?

They are bonds issued outside India by an Indian entity or corporate. These bonds are issued in Indian currency than local currency.  Indian corporates usually issue Masala Bonds to raise funds from foreign investors. As it is pegged into Indian currency, if the rupee rates fall, investors bear the risk. The first Masala bond was issued in 2014 by IFC for the infrastructure projects in India.

How does Masala Bonds help bond issuer?

As Masala bonds are issued directly in Indian rupees, the investor needs to bear the exchange rate risks. Rupee rate falls will not affect the issuer of Masala Bonds. In simpler words, as Masala Bonds are rupee-denominated bonds, the risk goes directly to the investor.

Who is eligible to invest in Masala bonds?

Investors from outside of India who would like to invest in Indian assets can invest in Masala bonds. Indian entities like HDFC, NTPC and Indiabulls Housing have raised funds via Masala Bonds.

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