23, May 2017

1.International Day for Biodiversity Celebrated all over the Country – MAY 22- UNITED NATIONS

Source: PIB

National-Level Celbrations Held at Goa

The International Day for Biodiversity (IDB) 2017 was celebrated all over the country.

Biodiversity, the variety of all life on earth, is vital to social and economic development, and is indeed fundamental to our survival. Protecting biodiversity and halting its loss is therefore an essential investment for our collective well-being.

  • The Chief Minister inaugurated an exhibition on the theme and Green Haat, which had exhibits from 12 States including Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh besides stalls from UNDP, GIZ, Zoological Survey of India, Botanical Survey of India, Goa Forest Department, Goa State Biodiversity Board and NBA.
  • Exhibits, posters and other material highlighting the role of biodiversity in sustaining livelihoods were depicted at the exhibition. Several students and others interested participated enthusiastically in the exhibition. The dignitaries too walked through the exhibition.

2017 Theme: “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism” – let us all pledge to be mindful and conscious in reducing our biodiversity footprint, including when we travel as a tourist.

  • Diversity in species, ecosystems and landscapes attracts tourism and promotes economic growth. In turn, a well-managed tourist sector can help reduce threats to key wildlife populations, and can maintain or increase biodiversity, through tourism revenue.
  • The celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity under the theme “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism” is an opportunity to raise awareness of the important contribution of sustainable tourism both to economic growth and to the conservation of biodiversity.
  • This theme has been chosen to coincide with the observance of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and can contribute to ongoing initiatives such as the Sustainable Tourism Programme.

Why an International Day for Biological Diversity?

  • While there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations, the number of species is being significantly reduced by certain human activities.
  • The Convention on Biological Diversity is the international legal instrument for “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources” that has been ratified by 196 nations.
  • Given the importance of public education and awareness for the implementation of the Convention, the General Assembly proclaimed 22 May, the date of the adoption of its text, as the International Day for Biological Diversity by its resolution 55/201 of 20 December 2000.

Biodiversity and the Sustainable Development Goals

  • The objectives of halting biodiversity loss and promoting the sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems are included in Sustainable Development Goal Nº15.

2.The Union Minister of Finance Shri Arun Jaitley says India-Africa together can shape the future of the world

Source: PIB

The Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs said that the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Annual Meeting organized in India this year is a new chapter in India – Africa relationship.

  • India-Africa together can shape the future of the world. Opening Session of Annual meeting of African Development Bank themed on ‘Africa-India Cooperation on enhancing the High 5 Strategy’ at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
  • India-Africa partnership model is unique; the cornerstone is voluntary partnership without any imposition on partner and the partner is free to decide what is best for them.

African Development Bank:

  • The Bank has revamped the review to give greater attention to Africa’s fundamental challenges and how the Bank is addressing them.
  • The Bank is also reorganising itself to become more agile and responsive to the continent’s needs.
  • A new business model has been adopted and three new vice presidencies established: on power, energy and green growth; on agriculture, human and social development; and on the private sector, infrastructure and industrialisation.

High 5 strategy:

The African Development Bank is stepping up the pace by focusing on five priorities that are crucial for accelerating Africa’s economic transformation. The Bank calls them the “High 5s”:

  • Light up and power Africa,
  • Feed Africa,
  • Industrialise Africa,
  • Integrate Africa, and
  • Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

The High 5 priorities are an integral part of that effort:

  1. Light up and power Africa — About 635 million Africans still live without electricity and demand for energy is rising rapidly. Through the New Deal on Energy for Africa, the AfDB is working to unify efforts to achieve universal access to energy. Its new Energy Strategy aims to increase energy production and access, and improve affordability, reliability and energy efficiency.
  2. Feed Africa — More than 70% of Africans depend for their livelihoods on agriculture. If its full potential were unlocked, agriculture could vastly improve the lives of millions. The Bank is framing its agricultural operations within a business-oriented approach, based on a deeper understanding of the obstacles, potential and investment opportunities.
  3. Industrialise Africa — A persistent lack of industrialisation is holding back Africa’s economies. Over the next 10 years, the Bank will invest US $3.5 billion per year through direct financing and leveraging to implement six flagship industrialisation programmes in areas where the AfDB can best leverage its experience, capabilities and finances.
  4. Integrate Africa — Through its Regional Integration Policy and Strategy, the Bank is focusing its integration efforts not just on movement of goods and services but also on mobility of people and investment.
  5. Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa — Africa’s economic growth has not been rapid or inclusive enough to create enough jobs and improve quality of life. The Bank is committed to building up the availability of technical skills so that African economies can realise their full potential in high-technology sectors. Acknowledging the urgent need to address climate change, the Bank will nearly triple its annual climate financing to reach $5 billion a year by 2020.

AfDB

  • The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) is a multilateral development finance institution established to contribute to the economic development and social progress of African countries.
  • The AfDB was founded in 1964 and comprises three entities: The African Development Bank, the African Development Fund and the Nigeria Trust Fund.
  • The AfDB’s mission is to fight poverty and improve living conditions on the continent through promoting the investment of public and private capital in projects and programs that are likely to contribute to the economic and social development of the region

3.Key achievements of Department of Economic Affairs: Improvement in India’s Macroeconomic Stability

Source: PIB

India is one of the bright spots among the major countries in the subdued global economic context

The key initiatives of the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance taken in the past 3 years have led to Improvement in India’s Macroeconomic Stability.

  • Today, India is one of the bright spots among the major countries in the subdued global economic context. India recorded a growth of 7.9 per cent in 2015-16, as compared to 7.2 per cent in 2014-15 and 6.5 per cent in 2013-14. Predictions by expert agencies suggest that India’s growth rate is set to improve further in 2017-18.
  • In terms of the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) prepared by World Economic Forum for 138 countries, India ranked 39 in 2016-17, as compared to India’s rank in GCI of 60 (among 148 countries) in 2013-14.

4.Petroleum Minister co chairs India OPEC Institutional Dialogue at Vienna

Source: PIB

Shri Pradhan emphasised on ‘Asian Dividend rather than paying Asian Premium’

  • Stressed on work towards “Responsible Pricing” by OPEC; important for India for socio-economic and developmental reasons
  • The production cut is an attempt to arrest slide in prices; But there is chance of under investment and consumer’s needs not being met in long run

All you know about this move:

  • The Minister said that India had been and continued to be a reliable customer of OPEC countries, the only big economy where the demand for crude oil continues to rise each year.
  • About 86% if India’s import of crude oil, 70% of natural gas, 95% of LPG are from OPEC countries which informed about the increasing refining capacity of India and future expansion plans OPEC which is the expanding petrochemical sector in India.

Highlights:

  • Shri Pradhan reiterated that as a large import destination there should be no ‘Asian Premium’ on the crude supplied to India and Asian buyers. India provided timely payments and honored all its contractual commitments and demanded due acknowledgment through discount in prices for large volumes that India imports.
  • That for a long time OPEC subsidised western buyers at the cost of Asian buyers. Given the importance of Asian market for OPEC, particularly fast growing Indian market which stood by OPEC as a reliable and continued customer, Shri Pradhan emphasised on ‘Asian Dividend rather than paying Asian Premium’.
  • The Minister also stressed that the OPEC should work towards “Responsible Pricing” which is important for India for socio-economic and developmental reasons. It would allow India to provide energy to the common and marginalised people who have been deprived of access to energy so far. Higher crude prices would retard growth rate which will result in slowing down the demand of crude oil.

Renewable energy:

  • The Minister highlighted that the Energy Mix in India is undergoing major changes with renewables coming in a big way and pricing of solar energy coming down to 4 cents per unit. There is also a shift in focus to solar, wind, biomass, Electric Vehicles, Hybrid cars etc. He emphasised that the oil Industry is at a delicate cross road and higher crude prices will give a further push to renewables.
  • On the proposed plan of continued production cut by OPEC and non-OPEC countries, Shri Pradhan said that energy security was a full circle while the production cut is an attempt to arrest the slide in prices, however, it also has an inherent chance of under investment and consumer’s needs not being met in the long run, which is not in the interest of a balanced and healthy global oil and gas market.

5.After 84 years, cobra lily rediscovered in Nilgiris

Source: The Hindu

Featuring a distinctive translucent spathe, it was last collected by E. Barnes in 1932 and described by C.E.C Fischer in 1933.

The incredibly rare Arisaema translucens, more commonly remembered as the cobra lily, was recently rediscovered in the western Nilgiris after 84 years. It was last collected in 1932.

Cobra lily

  • Barely a few hundred cobra lily plants are left in the wild and they can be found only in a small area measuring less than 10 square kilometres in the Nilgiris.
  • This is probably the only member of the Arisaema family to have a translucent spathe.
  • The Toda tribals of the Nilgiris have an embroidery motif known as the ‘podwarshk’, which resembles it.
  • Likely to have been quite common once, cobra lilies have vanished in the past decades along with the disappearance of the shola tree patches in which they were found. Prized for their beauty around the world, cobra lilies are at even greater risk of extinction from the commercial trade in exotic plants.

6.World’s smallest nation ratifies Solar Alliance Pact

Source: The Hindu

The world’s smallest republic, the tiny island nation of Nauru — has become the sixth country to ratify the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework pact initiated by the Indian and French Governments at the climate change summit held at Paris in 2015.

  • Five more African nations — Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia, Ghana and Djibouti — have committed to sign the pact during the ongoing meeting of the African Development bank in India.

Key facts:

  • ISA, headquartered in India, the alliance, conceived as a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to collaborate on meeting their energy needs through a common, agreed approach, will become a legal entity once at least 15 countries ratify and deposit the framework agreement.
  • India has earmarked about $2 billion to finance solar projects in Africa out of it commitment to provide $10 billion of concessional lines of credit for projects in the continent.

Union Cabinet approves ratification of International Solar Alliance

  • The Union Cabinet gave its approval to the proposal of Union Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) for ratification of International Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework Agreement by India.
  • The Agreement was opened for signature on the sidelines of 22nd Conference of Parties (CoP) meeting United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Marrakesh, Morocco.
  • The Agreement invokes the Paris Declaration on ISA and encapsulates the vision of the member nations. Till now, 25 nations have signed the Framework Agreement. World Bank and UNDP also have announced their partnership with the ISA.

ISA:

  • India launched the International Solar Alliance (ISA) at the CoP21 Climate Conference in Paris. The alliance brings together developed and developing countries, governments and industries, laboratories and institutions in a common enterprise.
  • The main aims of ISA include reducing financial risk across a larger global market, encouraging cooperation on technology, building capacity, and increasing energy access.
  • All the countries, located fully or partly between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, have been invited to join the Alliance.
  • The new body will function from the National Institute of Solar Energy in India, Gurgaon. The Union Government of India has announced that it will provide land and $30 million to form a secretariat for the Alliance, and also support it for five years

7.AFSPA gets six-month extension in Manipur

Source: The Hindu

The Manipur Cabinet has decided to extend the Disturbed Areas Act for another period of six months to facilitate the imposition of the AFSPA except in seven Assembly segments in Imphal.

  • The government had lifted the AFSPA from these segments on August 12, 2004.
  • In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, the Governor of Manipur declares the entire state of Manipur, excluding the Imphal Municipal Area, as “Disturbed Area”.

AFSPA

  • AFSPA, enacted in 1958, gives powers to the army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry.
  • The Act provides army personnel with safeguards against malicious, vindictive and frivolous prosecution.
  • Security forces can “arrest without warrant” a person, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even on “reasonable suspicion”.

What are ‘disturbed’ areas?

The state or central government considers those areas as ‘disturbed’ “by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.”

8.ISRO gets Indira Gandhi Prize for 2014

Source: The Hindu

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was on Thursday presented with the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for the year 2014.

  • The ISRO was selected for the prize in 2014 by a jury headed by Vice-President Hamid Ansari.
  • It consists of a trophy made of banded Haematite Jasper, with a portrait of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in Jaipur miniature paintings, a cash award of ₹1 crore and a citation, the IGMT said in a statement.
  • The citation read: “The International Jury… awarded the prize in recognition of its path-breaking achievements, culminating in the Mars Orbiter Mission and its contributions in strengthening international cooperation.



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