Pakistan in FATF grey list
- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) retained Pakistan in the ‘greylist’ yet again, observing that it needed to further demonstrate that investigations and prosecutions were being pursued against the senior leadership of UN-designated terror groups, which include the Lashkar-eTaiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed ( JeM), al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
- “The Pakistan Government has two concurrent action plans with a total of 34 action plan items.
- It has addressed or largely addressed 30 of the items. Its most recent action plan from June this year, which largely focused on money laundering deficiencies,
- The FATF had asked Pakistan to work on the remaining recommendation by demonstrating that terror financing investigations and prosecutions targeted leaders and commanders of UNdesignated terror groups.
- It had advised that Pakistan should continue to work to address its six strategically important deficiencies, which included enhancing international cooperation by amending the money-laundering law and demonstrating that assistance was being sought from foreign countries in implementing the UNSCR 1373 designations.
- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the Ministers of its Member jurisdictions. The FATF currently comprises 37 member jurisdictions and 2 regional organisations, representing
- The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
India and China in Himalaya region
- The winter is setting in in the icy cold deserts of Ladakh and there is no respite for Indian and Chinese soldiers who will remain deployed against each other.
- Even if it is a period of calm at the tactical level, the rarefied atmosphere, low temperatures and high altitude take their toll on both men and materiel.
- Chinese stance in recent weeks, the PLA seems singularly uninterested in ending the prolonged deployment.
- The verbal attacks have been matched by massive infrastructure construction, induction of a large quantity of modern equipment, and a sharp increase in the number of military exercises directed towards India.
- These actions are not limited to Ladakh but have also been initiated in the middle and eastern sectors of the 3,488-kilometre long Line of Actual Control (LAC)
- The PLA incursion into Barahoti in Uttarakhand in August was a significant pointer to the renewed Chinese aggression against India.
- Even though Barahoti is a disputed area between the two sides, it has been a demilitarised zone.
- Western scholars with Chinese connections point to two major drivers for the PLA’s aggressive approach against India.
- The first is its institutional interest as the ‘army of the revolution’ which is now losing its primacy to the PLA Air Force and PLA Navy when it comes to Taiwan or the South China Sea.
- With China having resolved its boundary disputes with most countries, the only major adversary available for the PLA to reassert its importance is India
- The second driver is the PLA’s view that the Indian military has been registering a greater presence on “Chinese territory” in the border areas in the last 10-12 years.
- In response to the PLA’s actions on the LAC, the Indian military has also inducted more modern military platforms and systems on the China border which has been backed by infrastructure construction.
- New Delhi is unable to generate enough resources for military modernisation.
- Ashley Tellis had calculated in 2016 that the Indian Air Force (IAF) would need about 60 fighter jet squadrons by 2020 for a serious two-front threat from China and Pakistan but is down to 30 a
- Closer ties between Washington DC and New Delhi, short of an alliance, leave the questions of actual support during a Sino-India military crisis unanswered.
100 Crore vaccination
- India has completed vaccination of 100 crore doses on October 21, 2021, in just about nine months since starting vaccination.
- India’s vaccine drive is an example of what India can achieve if the citizens and the Government come together with a common goal in the spirit of Jan Bhagidari.
- It is here that credit should be given to Indian scientists and entrepreneurs for rising to the occasion.
- It is due to their talent and hardwork that India is truly Aatmanirbhar when it comes to vaccines.
- In a country of the scale of India, it is not enough to just produce. Focus has to be on last mile delivery and seamless logistics.
- During this entire journey, the temperature has to be maintained in a particular range which is centrally monitored. For this, over one lakh cold chain equipments were utilised.
- All these efforts were complemented by a robust tech platform in CoWIN.
- It ensured that the vaccine drive was equitable, scalable, trackable, and transparent.
- India’s success in its vaccination drive has also demonstrated to the whole world that ‘democracy can deliver’
- CRPF is deployed in the highly disturbed areas of Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeast and the Left-Wing Extremist-affected States, the highest casualties (82) were seen in this force.
- The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which guards the border from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh at forbidding heights, lost 54 of its personnel, while the Border Security Force lost 47 personnel
- October 21 is observed as Police Commemoration Day as it was on this day in 1959 that a pitched battle was fought against the Chinese in Ladakh close to the border.
- Despite the onerous nature of their duties, the police are a neglected lot.
- They get paid low salaries, have a poor quality of life and are often deprived of basic facilities.
- Those who cleared recruitment exams in 2003 but joined the force in 2004 or later are not eligible for pension under the old norms. Canteen and medical facilities are dismal.
- Items sold through the Central Police Canteens are not exempted from GST
- There are notable variations in the ex-gratia amounts given to the next of kin of the police who are killed. While certain States like Delhi and Tamil Nadu pay ₹ 1 crore, several other States dither to pay even half that amount.
- The Centre and the States need to bring about uniformity in the amount paid.
Why in News?
- Even as the Centre investigates allegations that unauthorised genetically modified (GM) rice was exported to Europe, it is yet to decide on a research proposal from its own scientists which would allow plants to be genetically modified without the need for conventional transgenic technology.
- Scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute are in the process of developing resilient and highyield rice varieties using such gene editing techniques, which have already been approved by many countries, and they hope to have such rice varieties in the hands of the Indian farmers by 2024.
- However, the proposal for Indian regulators to consider this technique as equivalent to conventional breeding methods, since it does not involve inserting any foreign DNA, has been pending with the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee for almost two years.
- The IARI has previously worked on golden rice, a traditional GM variety which inserted genes from other organisms into the rice plant, but ended trials over five years ago due to agronomic issues
- The Institute has now moved to newer technologies such as Site Directed Nuclease (SDN) 1 and 2.
- They aim to bring precision and efficiency into the breeding process using gene editing tools such as CRISPR.
- “In this case, you are just tweaking a gene that is already there in the plant, without bringing in any gene from outside.
- When a protein comes from an outside organism, then you need to test for safety.
- But in this case, this protein is right there in the plant, and is being changed a little bit, just as nature does through mutation
What is SDN Technology?
- Several New Breeding Techniques (NBTs) have already been developed, including Site-Directed Nuclease (SDN) technology. Obtaining desired characteristics through targeted adaptations
- Three main SDN technologies currently in use include: Meganucleases, Zinc-Finger Nucleases (ZFNs) and Transcription Activator Like Effector Nucleases (TALENs).
- These technologies rely on biological molecules that have both a DNA-binding domain that recognizes a specific DNA sequence (the site direction) and a DNA cleavage activity (the nuclease), which, when added to a plant cell, result in a specific, predetermined break in the plant’s DNA.
- The plant’s natural DNA repair mechanism recognises this break and repairs the break using enzymes naturally present in the cell.
- The goal of SDN technology is to take advantage of the targeted DNA break and the host’s natural repair mechanisms to introduce specific small changes at the site of the DNA break.
- The change can either be a small deletion, a substitution or the addition of a number of nucleotides.
- Such targeted edits result in a new and desired characteristic, such as enhanced nutrient uptake or decreased production of allergens
- SDN-1 produces a double-stranded break in the genome of a plant without the addition of foreign DNA. The spontaneous repair of this break can lead to a mutation or deletion, causing gene silencing, gene knock-out or a change in the activity of a gene.
- SDN-2 produces a double-stranded break, and while the break is repaired by the cell, a small nucleotide template is supplied that is complementary to the area of the break, which in turn, is used by the cell to repair the break. The template contains one or several small sequence changes in the genomic code, which the repair mechanism copies into the plant’s genetic material resulting in a mutation of the target gene.
- SDN-3 also induces a double-stranded break in the DNA, but is accompanied by a template containing a gene or other sequence of genetic material. The cell’s natural repair process then utilizes this template to repair the break; resulting in the introduction of the genetic material.
- SDN technologies can create specific and targeted mutations in the genome of a plant, in order to obtain plants with improved characteristics.
India’s weighs ‘net zero’
- India has not entirely ruled out the possibility of agreeing to a “net zero” climate target,
- though it will not budge on demanding that developed nations make good their commitments, such as providing an annual $100 billion to developing countries for mitigating the impacts of climate change, facilitating technology transfer and putting in place a tangible market based mechanism to activate the moribund carbon credit markets,
- Ahead of the 26th meeting of the United Nations Conference of Parties (CoP) that begins in Glasgow on November 1, the focus on making the meet a success is to have all nations commit to “net zero”, or a year by when a country’s fossil fuel emissions will peak and at some point be neutralised by taking out excess carbon from the atmosphere.
- All countries doing this by 2050, scientists say, will mean a chance of restricting the average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, provided emissions fall to around 45% of the 2010 levels by 2030.
- This, however, means deep and significant cuts to fossil fuel use that can affect the development trajectory of India and other developing countries
Disaster in Kerala
- With significant land use change across topographic boundaries. Population growth, agricultural expansion, economic growth, infrastructure development — particularly road construction — and intraState migration have all led to settlement of the highlands. Kerala is experiencing high growth of residential buildings.
- The Census records that during the decade between 2001 and 2011, the population grew by 5% whereas the number of houses grew by 19.9%
- Such a pace of construction has serious implications for the geoenvironment.
- Not only the locations for siting settlements but also the demand for construction materials, with the attendant quarrying and excavations, is altering the landscape through terracing, slope modification, rock quarrying, and the construction of roads.
- The basin characteristics of all rivers have been altered.
- This has resulted in gross disturbance of the character of the terrain evolved through weathering and formation of soil under natural vegetation cover.
- Consequently, the water absorbing capacity of the river catchment is lost, contributing to increasing surface runoff and reduction in ground water recharge.
- Road construction in hilly areas, even when cutting across the toe of the slope, is destabilising and creates conditions conducive to landslides
- The hesitancy towards the implementation of the recommendations by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, commonly known as the Gadgil Committee, on protection of the Western Ghats .
- Kerala’s achievements in human development are legion. However, it can no longer rest on its laurels in this area, ignoring the relentless assault on its natural assets.
A Clean energy transition plan
- India faces the twin challenges of meeting the aspirations of its 1.3 billion population even as it safeguards its energy security and contributes to global efforts to mitigate climate change.
- However, India has a long way to go in providing electricity security to its people since its per capita electricity consumption is still only a third of the global average
- Coal is the only fuel that India has in abundance and the geopolitics of India’s neighborhood do not permit ready access to piped natural gas.
- TPPs contributed 71% of the 1,382 billion units (BU) of electricity generated by utilities in India during FY 202021 though they accounted for only 55% of the total installed generation capacity of 382 GW (as of March 2021).
- Coal, therefore, plays a vital role in India’s ongoing efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7, which is “to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”
- While variable renewable energy (VRE) sources (primarily, wind and solar) account for 24.7% of the total installed generation capacity, as of March 2021, they contributed 10.7% of the electricity generated by utilities during FY 202021.
- However, the ramp up of VRE generation capacity without commensurate growth in electricity demand has resulted in lower utilisation of TPPs whose fixed costs must be paid by the distribution companies (DISCOMs) and passed through to the final consumer.
- The rapid growth of VRE sources in India has been largely aided by policy measures as well as financial incentives whose cost is borne by the consumer
- We have developed a timebound transition plan for India’s power sector involving the progressive retirement of 36 GW of installed generation capacity in 211 TPPs (unit size 210 MW and below) based on key performance parameters such as efficiency, specific coal consumption, technological obsolescence, and age.
- Shortfall in baseload electricity generation can be made up by increasing the utilisation of existing High Efficiency Low Emission (HELE) TPPs that are currently underutilised to accommodate VRE and commissioning the 47 government owned TPPs (total capacity of 31.6 GW) that are at an advanced stage of construction in which ₹1,77,742 crore have already been invested by government utilities.
- These TPPs have already signed power purchase agreements with the respective DISCOMs
- With the implementation of our transition plan, the total installed capacity of TPPs operated by utilities will increase from the current level of 209 GW (as of September 2021) to 220 GW by FY 202930 even after retiring 211 inefficient and obsolete TPPs that are more than 25 years old and need major sustenance capital expenditures (Capex) for life extension, modernisation, and retrofit of flue gas desulphurisation plants (FGDs).
- As per our transition plan, India’s power generation from TPPs is expected to reduce from the FY 202021 level of 71% to 57% of the total electrical energy (2,172 BU) projected to be generated by utilities during FY 202930.
- HELE TPPs minimise emissions of particulate matter (PM), SO2, and NO2, our transition plan offers operational, economic, and environmental benefits including avoidance of FGD costs in the 211 obsolete TPPs to be retired besides savings in specific coal consumption and water requirement leading to reductions in electricity tariffs and PM pollution
Rocket system along LAC
- India’s military posture in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh has added an offensive punch with the Army deploying Pinaka and Smerch long range, multi barrel rocket launch systems as well as BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles in the region.
- In a rare demonstration, the Army showcased its Pinaka and Smerch units deployed on the Arunachal Pradesh Assam
- In addition to the rocket systems, deployment of BrahMos missiles, which have a range of over 290 km, gives the Army the ability to hit targets deep inside China in case of any Chinese misadventure in this sector.
- Smerch, procured from Russia, is the longest range conventional rocket system in the Army’s inventory with a maximum range of 90 km
- Pinaka, indigenously designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, has a range of 38 km