Current Affairs October 21, 2021

GM in India

  • Bt cotton is the only genetically modified (GM) crop that has been approved for commercial cultivation in 2002 by the Government of India. Long term studies were conducted by ICAR on the impact of Bt cotton which did not show any adverse effect on soil, microflora and animal health.
  • However, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests, in its report on ‘Genetically modified crops and its impact on environment’, submitted to parliament on August 25, 2017, recommended that GM crops should be introduced in the country only after critical scientific evaluation of its benefit and safety, and also recommended restructuring of regulatory framework for unbiased assessment of GM crops.
  • In 2002 approval for the commercial release of Bt cotton hybrids/ varieties resistant to cotton bollworm was given.
  • Bt Brinjal resistant to brinjal shoot fly developed by M/S Mahyco in collaboration with University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad; Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore and ICAR-Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi was approved by GEAC in 2009 but due to 10 years moratorium imposed on GM crops by the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) appointed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, no further action on commercialization has been taken.
  • GM mustard Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11 (DMH 11) developed by Delhi University is pending for commercial release as GEAC has advised to generate complete safety assessment data on environmental bio-safety, especially effects on beneficial insect species. No such request is pending in the matter.
  • ICAR always promotes the science based innovative technology including research on GM crops. ‘Network Project on Transgenic in Crops’ (presently Network Project on Functional Genomics and Genetic Modification in Crops) was launched by ICAR in 2005 for development of GM crops in case of pigeonpea, chickpea, sorghum, potato, brinjal, tomato and banana for different traits and the material is in different stages of development.
  • The Government of India has very strict guidelines to test and evaluate the agronomic value of the GM crops so as to protect the interests of the farmers.
  • These guidelines address all concerns with regard to the safety of GM seeds.
  • The regulatory system for GM crops as operative in the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology (Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation; RCGM) and Ministry of Environment and Forests (Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee; GEAC) has guidelines to consider the GM crops on case-by-case basis towards testing.


Carbon market

  • Article 6 of the Paris Agreement introduces provisions for using international carbon markets to facilitate fulfilment of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by countries.
  • The success of COP26 at Glasgow hinges, to a great extent, on the conclusion of carbon markets discussions
  • Developing countries, particularly India, China and Brazil, gained significantly from the carbon market under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol.
  • India registered 1,703 projects under the CDM which is the second highest in the world.
  • Total carbon credits known as Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) issued for these projects are around 255 million which corresponds to an overall anticipated inflow of approximately U.S.$2.55 billion in the country at a conservative price of U.S.$10 per CER
  • Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, now even developing countries are required to have mitigation targets.
  • Developing countries are faced with a dilemma of either selling their carbon credits in return for lucrative foreign investment flows or use these credits to achieve their own mitigation targets
  • Accounting rules: Article 6.4 mechanism is meant to incentivise the private sector and public entities to undertake mitigation activities for sustainable development.
  • Under this mechanism, a country can purchase emission reductions from public and private entities of the host country and use it to meet its NDC targets.

Way ahead for CDM

  • For developing countries, the new market mechanism is much more than a tool for achieving mitigation targets under the NDCs.
  • Much like its predecessor, it should help promote sustainable development and assist climate change adaptation in the developing countries.
  • It should encourage private sector participation and attract foreign investments to support low carbon development.
  • If the decision regarding transition of CDM is not favourable, it could lead to a loss of billions of dollars’ worth of potential revenue to India alone
  • Share of Proceeds (SOP) to the Adaptation Fund: For developing countries, adaptation is a necessity. However, it remains severely underfunded compared to financing for mitigation activities.
  • While developing countries emphasise that the SOP must be uniformly applied to Articles 6.2 and 6.4 to fund adaptation, developed countries want to restrict its application to Article 6.4.
  • This would disincentives the Article 6.4 mechanism and limit voluntary cooperation to the cooperative approaches under Article 6.2 favoured by developed countries

New dimension of National security

  • National security concepts have, in the two decades of the 21st century, undergone fundamental changes.
  • These fundamental changes reveal that a large country, in terms of size of geography, population and GDP, will not deter any country.
  • Cyber warfare has vastly reduced the deterrent value of these sizes since cyber weapons will be available even to small island countries, and the capacity to cause devastation to a large nation by cyber warfare is within the reach of even small and poorer nations.
  • Innovations in weapons moved from stones in the prehistoric era, to bows and arrows, and later to cannons and guns in the 19th century. These were followed by aeroplanes, nuclear bombs, and intercontinental missiles in the 20th century.
  • In the 21st century, the world is moving to cyber weapons based warfare which will also immobilise current tangible advanced weapon systems in a war.
  • Therefore, in the 21st century, after cyber technology enters as an important variable in nations’ defence policies, the size of a country will cease to matter
  • Warfare, therefore, will be no more just mobilisation of weapons or be dependent on the size of the armed forces of men.
  • It will be cyber warfare. From remote controlled drones to artificial intelligence driven weapons systems, etc., will matter in the 21st century.
  • Hence, national security in the 21st century covers not merely the overt and covert operations but, more crucially, electronic operations from a remote center beyond the front lines of ground forces or air power to track enemy assets by these newly weaponized cyber instruments of technology.
  • Tracking those cyber warfare centers of the adversary will need a new national security policy.

Four dimensions

  • National security at its root in the 21st century will depend on mind boggling skills in four dimensions:
  • Objectives: the objective of the National Security Policy in the 21st century is to define what assets are required to be defended, the identity of opponents who seek to overawe the people of a target nation, by unfamiliar moves to cause disorientation of people
  • Priorities: In such scenarios of uncertainties about the future in the 21st century, national security priorities will require new departments for supporting several frontiers of innovation and technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells, desalination of seawater, and thorium for nuclear technology, anti-computer viruses, and new immunity creating medicines.
  • This focus on a new priority will require compulsory science and mathematics education, especially in applications for analytical subjects.
  • Strategy: The strategy required for this new national security policy will be to anticipate our enemies in many dimensions and by demonstrative but limited pre-emptive strikes by developing a strategy of deterrence of the enemy.
  • The agenda for the new strategy will be critical and emerging technologies, connectivity and infrastructure, cyber security and maritime security.
  • But, alas, India by trying to befriend nations on both sides of the divide ended up with no serious ally internationally.
  • The position of India is much like that of the bat species in the Panchatantra.

Method use

  • Resource mobilization: The macroeconomics of resource mobilization depends on whether a nation has ‘demand’ as an economic deficit or not.
  • That means, for example, if demand for a commodity or service is in deficit or insufficient to clear the market of the available supply of the same, then liberal printing of currency and placing it in the hands of consumers is recommended for the economy to recover the demand supply parity.
  • A way to increase demand is by lowering the interest rate on bank loans or raising the rates in fixed deposits which will enable banks to obtain liquidity and lend liberally for enhancing investment for production.


Coal crisis

  • The demand of coal is nearly a billion million tonnes (MT), the supply is well below 800 MT within the country.
  • When this shortage becomes acute, in terms of the availability of coal at power plants, it is sometimes called a crisis.
  • The acute shortage can be on the account of production, an increased demand or a failure of supply chain management when the stocks are sufficient at the pit head but requisite supply is not made to the power plants.
  • Coal crises keep recurring in the country primarily due to the shortage in coal production.
  • Ironically, India sits on 300 billion MT of coal and, as mentioned earlier, our annual requirement is around a billion MT per annum.
  • The immediate coal crisis is attributed to an increase in the demand for power on account of the post-pandemic economic recovery, an increase in international prices of coal, unseasonal rainfall and a mismanagement of the supply chain within the country
  • CIL has a fabulous team. It needs to be supported and not “monitored”.
  • The Union Government has an important role to play. CIL should focus on mining.
  • Government officers should interact with the States, but before that, this ongoing “war” between the Union Government and the States will have to stop.


Global tax revolution

  • For over a century now, the corporate tax system was based on the application of the twin principles of the source rule and the residence rule.
  • All that a MNC had to do to avoid high tax in a country where they did business was to get registered in a tax haven.
  • Globalisation allowed MNCs to replace fears of double taxation with the joys of double non-taxation by exploiting mismatches between the tax laws of various countries and by cutting taxable profits.
  • A digitalized world made their task easier. Tax havens came in handy for the MNCs.
  • It became easier with the rise of intangible assets, which could easily be shifted from one country to another.
  • But shifting of profits to low tax havens deprived poor countries of revenue by as much as 5% as compared to an alternative system where profits are taxed based on the current location of companies, revenues, their employees and their wage codes.
  • The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 130 countries achieved a historic agreement in June on a more stable and fairer international tax architecture.
  • As per the agreement, MNCs would no longer pay taxes in the country where they register their headquarters for tax purposes, but would pay in the country where they generate their sales.
  • A minimum global tax of 15% on profits would be introduced in all countries.
  • The OECD estimates that the proposal to levy 15% minimum tax on global corporations that do business in each country would fetch additional $150 billion per year and move taxing rights of over $100 billion in profits to different countries
  • Countries have signed the agreement, which has to be implemented from 2023.
  • But there are hurdles to cross. India would have to reconsider the equalization levy. Revenue from the equalization levy should be compared with the 15% global minimum tax.


Eu Prize

  • Imprisoned Russian Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was awarded the European Union’s top human rights prize