G20 Meeting in Saudi Arabia
Recently, the ministers and central bankers from the world’s largest economies participated in G20 meeting held in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).
It was presided by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the first Arab nation to hold the G20 presidency.
The 2020 G20 Presidency will focus discussions, forums, working groups and Ministerial Meetings under the theme of “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All”.
1) Global Economy:
The global economic growth remains slow and downside risks due to the geopolitical and remaining trade tensions, and policy uncertainty.
Though the economic growth is expected to increase in 2020 and 2021 due to loose monetary policy and an easing of trade tensions.
2) IMF’ Views at the Meeting:
It projects a “V-shaped, rapid recovery” for the global economy, but it warns about the uncertainty around the spread of the coronavirus (COVID 19).
The IMF also warned about other risks including rising debt levels in some countries as well as climate change.
3) Demand for Global Taxation System:
It discussed ways to achieve consensus on a global taxation system for the digital era by the end of 2020.
It aims to allow governments to tax digital companies where they do business, rather than where they are registered for tax purposes.
India has also demanded closer collaboration between international revenue agencies to investigate tax affairs of offenders who cross borders for escaping tax investigation.
The G20 is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The G20 membership comprises a mix of the world’s largest advanced and emerging economies, representing about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of global gross domestic product, 80% of global investment and over 75% of global trade.
The G20 operates as a forum and not as an organisation. Therefore, it does not have any permanent secretariat or management and administrative structure.
The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.
One nation holds the Chair every year, known as ‘G20 Presidency’. Argentina chaired the G20 summit of 2018 and Japan for 2019.
Kawal Tiger Reserve
Kawal Tiger Reserve is located at Adilabad district in Telangana state of India.
The Government of India declared Kawal wildlife sanctuary as Tiger Reserve in 2012.
The Kawal wildlife sanctuary was established in 1965 and later declared as the Protected Area (PA) in 1999 under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Flora: Dry Deciduous Teak Forests mixed with Bamboo.
Fauna: Mammal species that have been sighted include tiger, leopard, gaur, cheetal, sambar, nilgai, barking deer, chowsingha, sloth bear.
The River Kadam (a tributary of Godavari) flows through this area.
The area is increasingly getting threatened by growing human encroachments, rampant poaching, illegal wood felling and habitat loss.
SERB Women Excellence Award- 2020
Dr Niti Kumar, a senior scientist from the CSIR- Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow has received SERB Women Excellence Award-2020.
Award will be conferred by the President of India during National Science Day (NSD) celebrations on 28th February, 2020. The theme for the NSD 2020 is ‘Women in Science’.
SERB Women Excellence Award is a one-time award given to women scientists below 40 years of age and who have received recognition from national academies such as Young Scientist Medal, Young Associate etc.
The women researchers will be supported by a research grant of 5 lakhs per annum for 3 years by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Ministry of Science and Technology.
Niti Kumar’s research group is trying to understand the protein quality control machinery in human malaria parasite for exploration of alternative drug targets for malaria intervention.
Dr. Niti Kumar has many awards and recognitions in her credit including, Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award (DBT-IYBA, 2015), INSA Medal for Young Scientist (2010) by Indian National Science Academy, etc.
Olive Ridley Turtles
Preparations are almost done at the Rushikulya rookery on the Odisha coast to welcome and protect olive ridley turtles during mass nesting.
Olive Ridley Turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world, inhabiting warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
These turtles, along with the Kemps ridley turtle, are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada (mass-nesting event when thousands of turtles come ashore at the same time to lay eggs on the same).
They are carnivores.
The coast of Odisha in India is the largest mass nesting site for the Olive-ridley, followed by the coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica.
Vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
Listed in Appendix I of CITES.
Under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Unfriendly fishing practices: The accidental killing of adult turtles through entanglement in trawl nets and gill nets due to uncontrolled fishing during their mating season around nesting beaches.
The Odisha government has made it mandatory for trawls to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), a net specially designed with an exit cover which allows the turtles to escape while retaining the catch.
However, this has been strongly opposed by the fishing communities as they believe TEDs result in loss of a considerable amount of the catch along with the turtle.
Development and exploitation of nesting beaches for ports and tourist centres.
Institutions of Eminence (IoE) Scheme
A high-level meeting to review progress of Institutions of Eminence (IoE) Scheme was held recently.
About the scheme:
Launched in order to empower the Higher Educational Institutions and to help them become world-class teaching and research institutions.
Excellence and Innovation: To provide for higher education leading to excellence and innovations in such branches of knowledge as may be deemed fit at post-graduate, graduate and research degree levels.
Specialization: To engage in areas of specialization to make distinctive contributions to the objectives of the university education system.
Global Rating: To aim to be rated internationally for its teaching and research as a top hundred Institution in the world over time.
Quality teaching and Research: To provide for high quality teaching and research and for the advancement of knowledge and its dissemination.
Incentives of the scheme:
Institutes with IOE tag will be given greater autonomy and freedom to decide fees, course durations and governance structures.
The public institutions under IOE tag will receive a government grant of ₹1,000 crore, while the private institutions will not get any funding under the scheme.
Why is it important?
Academic institutions that can impart highest quality education, generate cutting edge research, and attract the best and the brightest from across the globe can have multiplier beneficial effects for the country. So the idea of elevating the best in a sector to an eminent status by granting autonomy is a good one. But to maintain credibility, the process and the selection of these institutions should be above reproach.
Amendments in Arms Act, 1959 and Arms Rules, 2016 notified
Amendments in Arms Act, 1959 and Arms Rules, 2016 notified.
Overview– key changes:
As per the new rules, now International medallists/renowned shooters are allowed to keep additional weapons up to a total of twelve under the exempted category, which earlier was seven.
If a shooter is renowned in one event, he/she can keep maximum eight (previously it was four), if a shooter is renowned in two events he/she can keep maximum ten (previously it was seven) and if a shooter is renowned in more than two events, he/she can keep maximum twelve (previously it was seven) firearms under the exempted category.
Junior target shooters/aspiring shooters are now allowed to possess two weapons (previously one) of any category in which the person is engaged.
Apart from the above exemptions, shooters are entitled to possess two firearms as normal citizens under provisions of the Arms Act, 1959.
Similarly, by amending the provision under Rule 40 of the Arms Rules, 2016 the quantity of ammunition that can be purchased by the shooters during the year for the practice has also been increased considerably.
Through these amendments, it has also been clarified that no licence is required for Indian citizens for acquisitions, possession of small arms falling under the category of curio.
However, appropriate licence as prescribed would be required for use or to carry or transport such small arms.
Without the endorsement of such firearms in the prescribed licence of the owner, no ammunition shall be sold for their use.
About the Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2019:
It seeks to enhance the punishment for existing offences like illegal manufacture, sale, transfer, etc.; illegal acquiring, possessing or carrying prohibited arms or prohibited ammunition; and illegal manufacture, sale, transfer, conversion, import, export, etc., of firearms.
It also proposes to define new offences and prescribes punishment for them, such as taking away firearms from police or armed forces, involvement in organized crime syndicate, illicit trafficking including smuggled firearms of foreign make or prohibited arms and prohibited ammunition, use of firearms in rash and negligent manner in celebratory gunfire endangering human life, etc.
It seeks to enhance the period of arms license from three years to five years and also to issue arms license in its electronic form to prevent forgery.
Yongle Blue Hole (YBH)
Carbon more than 8,000 years old lies deep inside a yawning sinkhole in the South China Sea.
It is the deepest known marine cavern.
Located in the Xisha Islands of the South China Sea (SCS).
It measures roughly 300 metres from top to bottom.
Its waters are mostly isolated from the surrounding ocean and receive little fresh water from rainfall, making it a rare spot to study the chemistry of oxygen-deprived marine ecosystems.