29 March Current Affairs
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30 March Current Affairs

GI Certification for five varieties of Indian coffee

In News:

The DPIIT has recently awarded Geographical Indication (GI) to five varieties of Indian coffee.

Coffee varieties that have received the GI recognition:

Coorg Arabica coffee: grown specifically in the region of Kodagu district in Karnataka.

Wayanaad Robusta coffee: grown specifically in the region of Wayanad district which is situated on the eastern portion of Kerala.

Chikmagalur Arabica coffee: grown specifically in the region of Chikmagalur district and it is situated in the Deccan plateau, belongs to the Malnad region of Karnataka.

Araku Valley Arabica coffee: grown in hilly tracks of Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha region. The coffee produce of Araku, by the tribals, follows an organic approach in which they emphasise management practices involving substantial use of organic manures, green manuring and organic pest management practices.

Bababudangiris Arabica coffee: grown specifically in the birthplace of coffee in India and the region is situated in the central portion of Chikmagalur district. This coffee is also called high grown coffee which slowly ripens in the mild climate and thereby the bean acquires a special taste and aroma.

Significance:

The recognition and protection that comes with GI certification will allow the coffee producers of India to invest in maintaining the specific qualities of the coffee grown in that particular region.

It will also enhance the visibility of Indian coffee in the world and allow growers to get maximum price for their premium coffee.

Some key facts related:

In India, coffee is cultivated in about 4.54 lakh hectares by 3.66 lakh coffee farmers of which 98% are small farmers.

Coffee cultivation is mainly done in the Southern States of India: Karnataka – 54%, Kerala – 19% and Tamil Nadu – 8%.

India is the only country in the world where the entire coffee cultivation is grown under shade, hand-picked and sun dried.

About GI tag:

A GI is primarily an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product (handicrafts and industrial goods) originating from a definite geographical territory.

Significance of a GI tag: Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.

Security: Once the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product.

Provisions in this regard: GI is covered as element of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under Paris Convention for Protection of Industrial Property.

At international level, GI is governed by WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In India, Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection Act), 1999 governs it.

Source: The Hindu

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

In News:

The hump-backed Mahseer, found in the waters of the Cauvery, has been added to the IUCN Red List with Critically Endangered Status.

Details:

The hump-backed mahseer is a large freshwater fish also called the tiger of the water and found only in the Cauvery river basin including Kerala’s Pambar, Kabini and Bhavani rivers.

Five other species have also made it to threatened categories: two wild orchids, the Arabian scad (a marine fish) and two wild coffee species found only in a few localities in the Western Ghats.

About IUCN red list of threatened species:

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.

It uses a set of quantitative criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species. These criteria are relevant to most species and all regions of the world. With its strong scientific base, The IUCN Red List is recognized as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity.

The IUCN Red List Categories:

The IUCN Red List Categories define the extinction risk of species assessed. Nine categories extend from NE (Not Evaluated) to EX (Extinct).

Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) and Vulnerable (VU) species are considered to be threatened with extinction.

The IUCN system uses a set of five quantitative criteria to assess the extinction risk of a given species. In general, these criteria consider:

  • The rate of population decline.
  • The geographic range.
  • Whether the species already possesses a small population size.
  • Whether the species is very small or lives in a restricted area.
  • Whether the results of a quantitative analysis indicate a high probability of extinction in the wild.

Significance:

The IUCN Red List brings into focus the ongoing decline of Earth’s biodiversity and the influence humans have on life on the planet. It provides a globally accepted standard with which to measure the conservation status of species over time.

Scientists can analyze the percentage of species in a given category and how these percentages change over time; they can also analyze the threats and conservation measures that underpin the observed trends.

Source: The Hindu

Government sets up group to monitor terror sympathizers

In News:

The home ministry has constituted a multi-disciplinary terror monitoring group (TMG) to ensure synergised and concerted action against terror financing and other terror-related activities in Jammu & Kashmir.

Details:

The group will meet on a weekly basis and submit its action taken report regularly.

Composition:

The members of TMG will comprise additional DGP, CID, in J&K police, who would also be its chairman, IGP in J&K police, additional director of Intelligence Bureau in J&K and representatives of CBI, NIA, ED, CBDT and CBIC.

Functions:

The body will take coordinated action in all registered cases relating to terror and terror financing and bring them to logical conclusion.

It will identify key persons including leaders of organisations involved in supporting terrorism in any form and take concerted action against them.

The TMG will investigate the networks of various channels used to fund terror and terror-related activities and take coordinated action to stop the flow of such funds.

The group will also take action against hardcore sympathisers amongst government employees including teachers who provide covert or overt support to terror-related activities in J&K.

Need:

According to an estimate of the NIA, Pakistan-based terror groups finance terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir by generating millions in donations through their charity organisations. They have been supporting militants and funding terrorism in Kashmir.

These outfits collect donations from people in Pakistan and then pass on the money to finance terrorism in Kashmir through their overground workers. The groups collect millions of dollars in donations through crowd funding in the name of social service.

Source: The Hindu

Fiscal Council to enforce rules

In News:

Stressing on the need to have uniform rules for fiscal consolidation of States and Centre, 15th Finance Commission’s Chairman NK Singh has called for institutional mechanism like a ‘Fiscal Council’ to enforce fiscal rules and keep a check on Centre’s fiscal consolidation.

Details:

Various cesses and surcharges are becoming disproportionate proportion of overall divisible revenue. There should be some mechanism to ensure that the basic spirit of the devolution process should not be undercut by clever financial engineering or taking recourse to traditions.

There is a need for coordination between the finance commission as well as the GST Council. GST Council has no clue of what the Finance Commission is doing and Finance Commission has even lesser clue of what the GST Council is doing.

Also, for state government liabilities, Article 293 (3) provides a constitutional check over borrowings. But there is no such restriction on the Centre.

Therefore, it is time to have an alternative institutional mechanism like Fiscal Council to enforce fiscal rules and keep a check on Centre’s fiscal consolidation.

Expert committee recommendations:

In India, two expert committees have advocated the institution of such a council in recent years.

In 2017, the N.K. Singh committee on the review of fiscal rules set up by the finance ministry suggested the creation of an independent fiscal council that would provide forecasts and advise the government on whether conditions exist for deviation from the mandated fiscal rules.

In 2018, the D.K. Srivastava committee on fiscal statistics established by the National Statistical Commission (NSC) also suggested the establishment of a fiscal council that could co-ordinate with all levels of government to provide harmonized fiscal statistics across governmental levels and provide an annual assessment of overall public sector borrowing requirements.

These recommendations follow similar recommendations from the 13th and 14th finance commissions, which also advocated the establishment of independent fiscal agencies to review the government’s adherence to fiscal rules, and to provide independent assessments of budget proposals.

Way ahead:

With a complex polity and manifold development challenges, India need institutional mechanisms for prudent fiscal practices. An independent fiscal council can bring about much needed transparency and accountability in fiscal processes across the federal polity. International experience suggests that a fiscal council improves the quality of debate on public finance, and that, in turn, helps build public opinion favourable to fiscal discipline.

Source: The Hindu

Interest Rate Derivatives

In News

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has allowed non-residents to participate in the rupee interest rate derivatives market. This decision was taken with a view to deepening the rupee interest rate swap (IRS) market.

Details:

With this decision, non-residents of India can undertake rupee interest rate derivative transactions on recognised stock exchanges, electronic trading platforms and over the counter markets (OTCs).

What is an Interest-Rate Derivative?

An interest-rate derivative is a financial instrument with a value that increases and decreases based on movements in interest rates. Interest-rate derivatives are often used as hedges by institutional investors, banks, companies and individuals to protect themselves against changes in market interest rates, but they can also be used to increase or refine the holder’s risk profile.

What is an Interest Rate Swap?

An interest rate swap is a forward contract in which one stream of future interest payments is exchanged for another based on a specified principal amount. Interest rate swaps usually involve the exchange of a fixed interest rate for a floating rate, or vice versa, to reduce or increase exposure to fluctuations in interest rates or to obtain a marginally lower interest rate than would have been possible without the swap.

Source: The Hindu

Skytrax World Airport Awards 2019

In News:

Skytrax World Airport Awards lists the Best 100 Airports of the World. It has been released by the UK-based Skytrax, a consultancy firm which runs an airline and airport review and ranking site.

Details:

The Awards are based on votes of customers in a global airport customer satisfaction survey.

Top performers:

Singapore’s Changi Airport has been crowned the world’s best aviation hub for the seventh time in a row.

Indira Gandhi International Airport of New Delhi is at rank 59.

World’s highest polling station

Tashigang, a small Himachal Pradesh village has got the distinction of the highest polling station in the world.

Tashigang is located at an altitude of 15,256 feet.

It is located in Lahaul-Spiti and forms part of the Mandi Lok Sabha seat, the second largest constituency in India.

Punjab & Haryana HC bars stating of caste in proceedings

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has instructed Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh not to mention the caste of the accused, victims or witnesses in proceedings before the court.

It was noted that the caste system was profoundly illogical and was also against the basic tenets of the Constitution.

Hikikomori

Hikikomori is a psychological condition which makes people shut themselves off from society, often staying in their houses for months on end.

There are at least half a million of them in Japan. It was once thought of as a young person’s condition, but sufferers are getting older and staying locked away for longer.

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