August 10, 2022

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS (JULY 02, 2022)

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THE GOVERNANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

QS BEST STUDENT CITIES RANKINGS 2023

THE CONTEXT: The QS Best Students Cities Rankings 2023 was published recently. In the ranking, London has been ranked as the best city.

THE EXPLANATION:

The QS Best Student Cities ranking showcases the best urban destinations for international students, based on a diverse range of indicators grouped into six key categories.

The six key categories are:

  • University rankings
  • Student mix
  • Desirability
  • Employer activity
  • Affordability
  • Student’s voice

WORLD CITIES

  • London was ranked best for students, who are looking to study abroad in terms of university standards, affordability and student facilities.
  • London is followed by Seoul and Munich in second and third place.
  • Zurich and Melbourne have been ranked fourth and fifth places.
  • Buenos Aires took the top spot in Latin America. It has been ranked 23rd

INDIAN CITIES

  • India’s highest-ranked student city is Mumbai. At the global level, it has been ranked at 103rd. Mumbai was scored for affordability. However, it struggles with student mix and desirability.
  • Mumbai is followed by Bengaluru at 114 ranks. Chennai and Delhi made their entries in the list and have been ranked at 125th and 129th places, respectively.

Arab Region

  • The best student city in Arab Region is Dubai. It has been ranked 51st place, globally.

VALUE ADDITION:

About QS Best Student Cities Ranking

  • Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) is a leading global career and education network for ambitious professionals looking to further their personal and professional development
  • The QS Best Student Cities Ranking provides independent data related to factors that are relevant to students taking their study decisions. Factors include standard of university, affordability, and quality of life, besides the views of previous students who have studied in that destination. It ranks around 140 cities worldwide.

All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE)

  • International students account for only a small fraction of overall students in India. as per the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19, the number of international students who were enrolled in Indian universities was just 47,427.
  • India has aimed to attract 200,000 international students by 2023, which is four times the current total.

UN-HABITAT WORLD CITIES REPORT 2022

THE CONTEXT: Recently, the United Nations published its report titled “Habitat World Cities Report 2022”.

THE EXPLANATION:

MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REPORTS

  • The UN-Habitat World Cities Report 2022 highlights that, rapid urbanisation in India was delayed temporarily due to covid-19 pandemic.
  • The urban population in India is estimated to reach 675 million in 2035. It will be the second-highest figure, behind China’s one billion.
  • After covid-19 pandemic, the global urban population is growing again. It will grow by another 2.2 billion by 2050.
  • India’s urban population is likely to reach 675,456,000 in 2035, as compared to 483,099,000 in 2020.
  • The percentage of the population in urban areas of India will be 43.2 per cent, by 2035.

Global Scenario

  • Urban Population in China is estimated to reach at 1.05 billion in 2035.
  • The urban population in Asia will increase to 2.99 billion in 2035.
  • Big economies such as China and India account for a large share of the world’s population. Development trajectories across these countries have influenced global inequality.
  • In the last two decades, India and China experienced rapid urbanisation and economic growth. As a result, the number of people living in poverty was reduced.

Natural Growth in Population

  • As per the report, in lower-income countries, existing urban populations continue to increase naturally with increasing birth rates. The urban population is expected to grow from 56 per cent of the world’s total in 2021 to 68 per cent by 2050.

Impact of covid-19 pandemic

  • As per the report, large-scale flight from major cities to smaller towns, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, was the short-term response. It will not hinder the course of global urbanisation.

Urban poverty and inequality

  • According to the report, urban poverty and inequality are the most intractable and highly complex problems. Overcrowded slums in Mumbai, Nairobi, Rio de Janeiro, chronic homelessness in London etc highlight that, tackling urban poverty and inequality are key priorities to building inclusive and equitable urban futures.

VALUE ADDITION:

About UN Habitat:

  • The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN–Habitat) is the United Nations agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development.
  • It was established in 1978 as an outcome of the First UN Conference on Human Settlements and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat I) held in Vancouver, Canada in 1976.
  • It is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
  • UN-Habitat reports to the United Nations General Assembly.
  • It has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

WHAT IS MEANT BY DUMPING?

THE CONTEXT: Recently, India’s optical fibre industry has seen unfair competition from cheap imports from China, Indonesia and South Korea. These countries have been dumping their products in India at rates lower than the market price.

THE EXPLANATION:

What is dumping?

  • The World Trade Organisation defines dumping as “an international price discrimination situation in which the price of a product offered in the importing country is less than the price of that product in the exporting country’s market”.
  • Therefore, dumping is, in general, a situation of international price discrimination this unfair trade practice has a negative impact on international trade.
  • Simply put, when the goods are exported by a country to a foreign country at a price lower than the price it charges in its own home market is called dumping.

IS DUMPING REALLY LEGAL?

  • Dumping is legal under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules if the foreign country can reliably show the negative effects the exporting firm has caused its domestic producers. In order to protect domestic producers from dumping, countries use tariffs and quotas.
  • To ensure dumping activities do not affect the domestic market, the Indian government has imposed anti-dumping duties against an exporter who causes any material or substantial injury to a domestic industry in India. The anti-dumping law in India is the Customs Tariff Act, 1975, which was amended in 1995.

What do we understand by the term “anti-dumping” as a concept?

  • The WTO Agreement does not regulate the actions of companies engaged in “dumping”. Its focus is on how governments can or cannot react to dumping — it disciplines anti-dumping actions, and it is often called the “Anti-dumping Agreement”.
  • Anti-dumping is a protectionist tariff, imposed by a domestic government on foreign imports that are at a price lower than the price it normally charges in its own home market.
  • Anti-dumping duty is imposed as a remedy to the distortive trade which arises due to the dumping of goods. This tool of fair competition is permitted by the WTO.
  • From a long-term perspective, anti-dumping duties can reduce the international competition of domestic companies producing similar goods.

Note: There is a difference between Anti-dumping duty and Countervailing duty.

  • Countervailing duty is a customs duty on those goods that have received some kind of government subsidy, whether in the originating or exporting country.
  • Anti-dumping duty is a form of customs duty on imports. It actually provides protection against the dumping of goods at prices substantially lower than the normal value.

What is the WTO’s provision of sunset review related to Anti-Dumping Duty?

  • Unless revoked earlier, the validity of anti-dumping duty is for five years from the date of imposition. It can be extended for a further period of five years through a sunset or expiry review investigation.
  • Simply put, it is a valuation of the need for the continued existence of a program or an agency.

Which authority in India administers trade remedial measures like anti-dumping?

  • Directorate General of Trade Remedies, the apex national authority under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry administers all trade remedial measures.
  • Trade remedial measures include anti-dumping, countervailing duties and safeguard measures.

RBI’S FINANCIAL STABILITY REPORT 2022

THE CONTEXT: Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released its bi-annual Financial Stability Report (FSR).

THE EXPLANATION:

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REPORT:

  • On NPA: The asset quality of the banking system has improved with the gross non-performing assets (GNPA) ratio declining from 7.4 per cent in March 2021 to a six-year low of 5.9 per cent in March 2022.
  • Reason: Banks have reduced the GNPA ratio through recoveries, write-offs and reduction in slippages.
  • Provisioning coverage ratio (PCR): It improved to70. 9 per cent in March 2022 from 67.6 per cent a year ago.
  • PCR is the percentage of funds that a bank sets aside for losses due to bad debts. A high PCR can be beneficial to banks to buffer themselves against losses if the NPAs start increasing faster.
  • Buffer to withstand shocks: According to the RBI’s report, banks, as well as non-banking financial institutions, have sufficient capital buffers to withstand shocks, and support from it during Covid helped banks arrest their GNPA ratio.

Concerns Raised:

  • Global spillover: US rate increase and the threat of recession; Ukrain crisis; Oil price rise.
  • Risks of Fintech: The report cautioned that the advent of fintech has exposed the banking system to new risks such as safeguarding of data privacy, cyber security, consumer protection, competition and compliance with AML (anti-money laundering) policies.
  • The Indian fintech industry —is amongst the fastest growing Fintech markets in the world.
  • India has the highest fintech adoption rate globally (87 per cent), receiving funding of $8.53 billion during 2021-22.
  • The risk from BigTechs (big technology firms): They can scale up rapidly and pose a risk to financial stability, which can arise from increased disintermediation of incumbent institutions.
  • Moreover, complex intertwined operational linkages between BigTech firms and financial institutions could lead to concentration and contagion risks and issues relating to potential anti-competitive behaviour.
  • Cryptos a ‘clear danger’: RBI Governor termed cryptocurrencies as a “clear danger” and anything that derives value based on make-believe, without any underlying, is just “speculation under a sophisticated name”.
VALUE ADDITION:

Provision coverage ratio (PCR)

·         The Provisioning Coverage Ratio is the percentage of bad assets that the bank has to provide for from their own funds. In other words, it is the ability of banks to service their debt and meet their financial obligations such as interest payments or dividends.

·         The higher the coverage ratio, the easier it is to make interest payments on debt or pay dividends.

THE ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

INDIA’S LARGEST FLOATING SOLAR POWER PROJECT COMMISSIONED

THE CONTEXT: India’s largest floating Solar Power Project is now fully operational. NTPC declared Commercial Operation of the final part capacity of 20 MW out of 100 MW Ramagundam Floating Solar PV Project at Ramagundam, Telangana.

THE EXPLANATION:

    • With the operationalisation of the 100-MW Solar PV Project at Ramagundam, the total commercial operation of Floating Solar Capacity in the Southern Region rose to 217 MW. Earlier, NTPC declared Commercial operation of 92 MW Floating Solar at Kayamkulam (Kerala) and 25 MW Floating Solar at Simhadri (Andhra Pradesh).

The 100-MW Floating Solar project at Ramagundam is endowed with advanced technology as well as environment friendly features. Each block consists of one floating platform and an array of 11,200 solar modules. The floating platform consists of one Inverter, Transformer, and a HT breaker. The solar modules are placed on floaters manufactured with HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) material.

  • The entire floating system is being anchored through special HMPE (High Modulus Polyethylene) rope to the dead weights placed in the balancing reservoir bed. The power is being evacuated up to the existing switch yard through 33KV underground cables. This project is unique in the sense that a
    ll the electrical equipment including inverter, transformer, HT panel and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) are also on floating Ferro cement platforms. The anchoring of this system is bottom anchoring through dead-weight concrete blocks.
  • From an environmental point of view, the most obvious advantage is the minimum land requirement mostly for associated evacuation arrangements. Further, with the presence of floating solar panels, the evaporation rate from water bodies is reduced, thus helping in water conservation. The water body underneath the solar modules helps in maintaining their ambient temperature, thereby improving their efficiency and generation. Similarly, while coal consumption of 1,65,000 Tons can be avoided per year; Co2 emission of 2,10,000 tons per year can be avoided.

ADD TO YOUR KNOWLEDGE

  • Solar power in India is a fast-developing industry. The country’s solar installed capacity reached 12 GW as of 30 June 2020. India has the lowest capital cost per MW globally of installing solar power plants.
  • India has established nearly 42 solar parks to make land available to the promoters of solar plants. In the decade ending 31 March 2020, India expanded its installed solar power capacity by 233 times from 161 MW to 37,627 MW.
  • Rooftop solar power accounts for 2.1 GW, of which 70% is industrial or commercial. In addition to its large-scale grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) initiative, India is developing off-grid solar power for local energy needs.
  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA), proposed by India as a founder member, is headquartered in India. India has also put forward the concept of “One Sun One World one Grid” to harness abundant solar power on a global scale.

Government Initiatives:

  • The Government of India announced a massive renewable power production target of 175,000 MW by 2022, of which 100,000 MW is from solar power.
  • The Government of India is taking a number of steps and initiatives like a 10-year tax exemption for solar energy projects.
  • The National Solar Mission aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power generation.
  • Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) provide an incentive to those who generate green power by providing financial incentives for every unit of power they generate.

THE PRELIMS PERSPECTIVES

ASHADHI BIJ: THE KUTCHI NEW YEAR

THE CONTEXT: The Prime Minister has greeted everyone, especially the vibrant Kutchi community spread across the world, on the auspicious occasion of Ashadhi Bij.

THE EXPLANATION:

  • It is the Hindu New year observed in the Kutch region of Gujarat.
  • In other parts of Gujarat, Hindu New Year is observed on the day after Diwali which is Kartik Shukla Paksha 1.
  • Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi and other regional deities are worshipped on the occasion.

Significance of Kutchi New Year

  • This festival marks the beginning of rains in the Kutch region of Gujarat.
  • During Ashadhi Bij, moisture in the atmosphere is checked to predict which crop would yield better in the coming monsoon.

PT PERSPECTIVES

  • Kutch is virtually an island, as it is surrounded by the Arabian Sea in the west and the Gulf of Kutch in south and southeast. The northern and eastern parts are surrounded by the Great and Little Rann (seasonal wetlands) of Kutch.
  • The history of Kutch can be traced back to prehistoric times. There are several sites related to the Indus valley civilization in the region, and it is mentioned in Hindu mythology. In historic times, Kutch is mentioned in Greek writings during Alexander.
  • It was ruled by Menander I of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom which was overthrown by Indo-Scythians followed by the Maurya Empire and Sakas. In the first century, it was under Western Satraps followed by Gupta Empire.
  • The border with Pakistan lies along the northern edge of the Rann of Kutch, of the Sir Creek. The Kutch peninsula is an example of active fold and thrust tectonism.

THE PRELIMS PRACTICE QUESTIONS

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Q1. Consider the following statements about the Treaty on the Non- Proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT):

  1. India, Israel, and Pakistan never signed the NPT and possess nuclear arsenals.
  2. The provisions of the Treaty envisage a review of the operation of the Treaty every five years.
  3. The Treaty establishes a safeguards system under the responsibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 3 only

c) 2 and 3 only

d) 1, 2 and 3

 

ANSWER FOR 1ST JULY 2022

ANSWER: B

EXPLANATION:

A waterspout is a column of rotating, cloud-filled wind. A waterspout descends from a cumulus cloud to an ocean or a lake. Waterspouts are similar to tornadoes but are usually smaller and less intense.

 

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