Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Treaty
GS Paper- III
Context-The Indian Ministry of Earth Science asks United Nations (UN) member countries to be committed to the protection and preservation of oceans and their biodiversity.
- Under UNCLOS, About India urges UN Member Countries to assist conservation and long-term economic growth.
- States must be determined to assist global organisations in order to reach an effective agreement on marine biodiversity conservation and sustainable usage.
- There is a need to tackle issues like as finance, intellectual property rights, and institutional processes.
- Member nations can collaborate on capacity building, maritime technology transfer, and environmental impact assessment.
- It has also requested that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea be used to encourage sustainable economic growth and the well-being of coastal communities (UNCLOS).
- India has also expressed its support for the high-level coalition pushing for the early completion of the International Legally Binding Instrument – Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) under UNCLOS.
- Acceptance of the BBNJ agreement demonstrates worldwide commitment to marine biodiversity protection and sustainable usage.
- There is a need for a legislative framework targeted at protection of vital resources for the world’s oceans, with more than 60% still unmanaged and controlled.
Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ)
- It refers to marine biodiversity located in areas outside of national jurisdiction, which encompasses more than 60% of the world’s seas.
- It is not protected by any legal structure, putting it prone to over-exploitation and deterioration.
Importance of biodiversity conservation:
- Biodiversity provides a variety of ecological services that are critical to human well-being, including as air and water purification, temperature management, pollination, and soil fertility.
- Biodiversity benefits economic activities such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and tourism, which provide livelihoods and income to millions of people worldwide.
- Many medications used to cure ailments and diseases are sourced from natural plants and animals.
- It is revered in many cultures and faiths for its aesthetic, recreational, and spiritual advantages.
- Biodiversity conservation aids in the protection of endangered species and the prevention of extinction, which can have far-reaching ecological and societal consequences.
Challenges of Biodiversity conservation:
- Human activities like as deforestation, mining, and land-use change have resulted in habitat loss and fragmentation, resulting in a fall in biodiversity.
- Climate change is generating large changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, causing ecosystems to move, species ranges to shift, and the timing of life cycle events to vary.
- Overfishing, hunting, and resource harvesting have resulted in the depletion of numerous species, with some nearing extinction.
- Pollution from industrial operations, agriculture, and urbanisation has contaminated soil, water, and air, threatening biodiversity.
- Invasive species, whether purposefully or mistakenly introduced by humans, can outcompete native species for resources, leading to their extinction.
- Despite the significance of biodiversity protection, many countries have not prioritised it, and international efforts have not always been successful owing to a lack of political will.
- Conservation activities need substantial financial resources, which are not always accessible or managed appropriately.
India’s Approach to Biodiversity Management:
- Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, India has been actively involved in the formulation of a worldwide legally enforceable mechanism for the protection and sustainable use of BBNJ (UNCLOS).
- The “Biodiversity Act of 2002,” India’s legislative framework, underlines the country’s dedication to conservation, sustainable use, and fair benefit sharing.
- India supports the formation of new institutions or the strengthening of existing ones that operate in a robust democratic manner.
- India has prioritised capacity building and the transfer of marine technology, as well as environmental impact assessment.
- United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS)
- It is a treaty that was signed in 1982 and put into force in 1994.
- It establishes a comprehensive framework for ocean usage and conservation, including recommendations for maritime boundaries, navigation, resource management, and environmental protection.
- It has been ratified by 168 nations, including India, and is one of the world’s most universally acknowledged treaties.
- It acknowledges coastal nations’ rights and obligations in their own maritime zones, including the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that extends 200 nautical miles from a country’s shore.
- UNCLOS has also served as the legal foundation for a number of international ocean-related treaties, including:
Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD)
- Agreement for the Protection of Antarctic Marine Living Resources under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
- The world community must work together to develop a legally enforceable document that addresses the conservation and sustainable usage of BBNJ.
- The agreement must also address concerns like equitable benefit sharing, capacity building, and maritime technology transfer.
- There is a need to improve scientific understanding of marine biodiversity in places outside of national authority.
- Ultimately, biodiversity protection is critical for preserving a healthy world and a sustainable future for all living things.
Source: The Hindu
Activation of the WMCC on India-China Border Affairs
Context-In Beijing, Indian and Chinese officials discuss the border situation.
- Recently, Indian and Chinese officials conducted diplomatic discussions in Beijing over the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- The Indian delegation to the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Issues (WMCC) conference was led by the external affairs ministry’s joint secretary (East Asia).
- India has pressed on the withdrawal of front-line soldiers in order to assist normalise bilateral relations.
- Once the clash on the Line of Actual Control began in May 2020, the WMCC on India-China Border Issues was activated.
- The current conference in Beijing was the body’s first in-person gathering since then.
- Following a severe fight in the Pangong lake area, the eastern Ladakh border stalemate occurred on May 5, 2020.
- The discussions were “open and productive,” but there was little sign of a breakthrough.
- Following the severe confrontation in the Galwan Valley in 2020, relations between the two countries deteriorated drastically.
- Earlier, military and diplomatic negotiations aided the disengagement process in 2021 on the north and south banks of Pangong Lake, as well as in the Gogra region.
Major friction points along the India-China border
- Depsang Plains: Located in the far north of Ladakh, this area has suffered Chinese intrusions in the past.
- Demchok: This region in eastern Ladakh has been the site of boundary disputes between India and China.
- Pangong Lake: A key flashpoint between the two countries, with Chinese soldiers seeking to disrupt the status quo on the region’s Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- Gogra and Hot Springs: These two places in eastern Ladakh have experienced frequent standoffs between Indian and Chinese soldiers.
- Arunachal Pradesh: China claims this northeastern Indian state as part of its territory, and it has been a major source of disagreement between the two nations.
Importance of Peace for India and China
- Improved relations between India and China, two of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies, can help boost trade and investment.
- India and China are two big Asian nations whose interactions have a substantial influence on regional stability.
- A stable relationship between the two nations is critical for border security and avoiding confrontations or misunderstandings.
- India and China are both key geopolitical entities whose harmonious coexistence is required to establish a more stable and predictable international environment.
Challenges of India-China peace process:
- After multiple rounds of negotiations, the two parties have unable to establish a permanent settlement to the border issue, particularly along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
- India and China are both large regional powers with conflicting regional interests, resulting in strategic competition in areas such as commerce, infrastructure development, and influence in neighbouring nations.
- Because India is a democracy and China is a one-party state, there is a lack of mutual trust and understanding between the two countries.
- Both countries’ military buildup near the border has heightened tensions and made the peace process more difficult.
- Historical conflicts, such as the Sino-Indian War of 1962, continue to have an impact on ties between the two nations.
- Geopolitical concerns, such as the United States’ growing engagement in the area, have further complicated the India-China peace process.
- To solve these hurdles and create mutual trust and understanding, the India-China peace process would require ongoing efforts from both sides.
- Further conversations through military and diplomatic channels are required, as is active implementation of the key understanding established by the leaders of the two nations to further calm the border situation.
- Ultimately, peace between India and China is critical for both nations’ economic, political, and strategic interests, as well as regional and global stability.
Source: Indian Express
R&D Expenditure And The Perils of Inadequate Data
GS Paper- III
Context- As compared to large countries, India’s R&D expenditure-to-GDP ratio of 0.7% is much lower than the global average of 1.8%. The fundamental factor is the business sector’s poor investment in R&D.
Overview: R&D spending in India
- While the business sector accounts for around two-thirds of gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) in leading countries, it accounts for only 37% in India. Yet, there is evidence that India’s GERD numbers are overestimated.
- According to the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States’ 2022 infobrief on Foreign R&D by US-based multinational companies (MNCs), $9.5 billion (649.7 billion) was spent on R&D in India in 2018, which climbed to $9.8 billion (690.2 billion) the following year.
- MNCs from other prominent nations are also investing in R&D in India.
- Nevertheless, the latest Research and Development Statistics, published by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in 2020, predict 60.9 billion R&D spending by foreign MNCs in 2017-18, which is just around 10% of what US corporations have acknowledged spending in India on R&D.
What is Gross Domestic Expenditure On R&D (GERD)?
- The entire investment (current and capital) on R&D carried out by all resident enterprises, research institutes, university and government laboratories, and so on in a country is described as gross domestic spending on R&D.
- It includes R&D sponsored from outside the country, but excludes R&D done outside the country.
- This metric is calculated as a percentage of GDP in USD constant prices using the 2015 base year and Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs).
- It is frequently used to gauge a country’s level of innovation and technical growth.
Issues with the current system
- The DST’s National Science and Technology Management Information System (NSTMIS) is the body in charge of compiling GERD statistics in India.
- Information on R&D is more easily gathered by the government sector, higher education sector, and public sector firms. The difficulty is in gathering data from the private company sector.
- There are two major issues that render official R&D estimates woefully insufficient.
- The strategy utilised to identify R&D performing businesses does not encompass all R&D performing firms.
- According to one survey, just 11% of 298 enterprises receiving foreign funding for R&D (2004-16) were registered with DSIR. Just 3.5% of India’s currently active registered businesses are covered by Prowess. Prominent firms in emerging technological fields, such as SigTuple Technologies, may not be featured in both databases.
- Companies who believe government incentives are insufficient or that are concerned about sharing important information with the DSIR may be hesitant to register with the DSIR. 2. It may be difficult for R&D enterprises in services such as software and R&D services to fulfil the need of having distinct infrastructure for R&D in order to differentiate it from their regular operation. Moreover, many of the firms undertaking R&D in emerging technological domains may fall within the service category.
The survey conducted by the NSTMIS is the key source of R&D statistics of India
- If a company does not reply to the poll, data is gathered from secondary sources such as annual reports and Prowess. Despite their technological activity, patents, and inventors, several companies do not declare R&D spending. Companies may not feel obligated to provide truthful information to Indian regulatory authorities.
- A study of documentation presented to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) by several R&D-oriented enterprises reveals that some do not declare any R&D spending despite declaring that they are involved in activities of technology creation, adoption, and adaption.
What is to be done?
- In addition to its existing technique of identifying R&D performing firms, the NSTMIS should leverage patents awarded data from both India and the United States.
- Yearly R&D estimates can be derived from mandated disclosures made by firms to the MCA.
- Technologies, such as revised income-tax return forms with interrelated parts, can be utilised to assure compliance and appropriate reporting.
- Furthermore, effective disclosure of information to regulatory bodies, including R&D spending data, should be made a mandatory component of business environmental, social, and governance (ESG) rankings.
Clear data on R&D spending is critical for identifying areas that require investment, fostering economic growth, informing policymaking decisions, tracking progress, and evaluating policy success in promoting innovation and technological advancement. To accurately represent the R&D ecosystem, India’s R&D statistics must be transformed in the near and medium term.
Source: The Hindu
Repo Rate Hike: Impact Should be Considered Before Making Decisions
GS Paper- III
Context- The RBI’s monetary policy committee (MPC) opted just a few days after the Union budget to raise the benchmark repo rate by 25 basis points at its most recent meeting. The MPC stated that measured action was required to break the persistence of core inflation. This unexpected increase in inflation is likely to complicate policy decisions for MPC members when they meet next in the first week of April.
What is Basis points we often hear about?
- A basis point is a unit of measurement for interest rates, bond yields, and other financial indicators.
- One basis point, or 0.01%, is one-hundredth of a percentage point.
- For instance, if the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) raises the repo rate by 25 basis points, the interest rate rises by 0.25%.
What does it mean?
- If the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) continues to raise the repo rate by basis points, it indicates that the central bank is tightening its monetary policy stance in order to contain the economy’s inflationary pressures.
Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)
- The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is an RBI body tasked with setting the benchmark policy interest rate (repo rate) in order to keep inflation within the designated target level.
- The RBI Act of 1934 was revised by the Finance Act of India of 2016 to create the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to increase openness and accountability in determining India’s monetary policy.
- Following each meeting, the policy is published, with each member stating his or her position.
- If inflation exceeds the authorised range for three consecutive months, the committee must report to the Government of India.
What is Inflation?
- Inflation is defined as an increase in the price of goods and services purchased by households. The rate of change in those prices is used to calculate it.
- Prices often grow with time, but they can also decline (a situation called deflation).
Current Inflationary Trends
- Retail inflation, as assessed by the consumer price index, increased to 6.52 percent in January, up from 5.72 percent in December, reversing the previous months’ falling trend.
- The consumer food price index increased to 5.94%, up from 4.19 percent the previous month, owing primarily to cereals.
- Clothing and footwear inflation, home goods and services inflation, personal care effects inflation, and education inflation remained elevated, indicating that pricing pressures remain quite broad-based across the economy.
The Reserve Bank of India’s maximum tolerance for inflation
- The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) upper tolerance limit for inflation is the greatest amount of inflation that the RBI would tolerate before intervening to bring inflation back within its target range.
- The goal range is stated in terms of CPI inflation, and the RBI has established an upper tolerance limit of 6%, a lower tolerance limit of 2%, and a centre objective of 4%. This suggests that the RBI intends to manage CPI inflation between 2-6%, with a goal of 4%.
- If inflation reaches the upper tolerance level of 6%, the RBI must take action to bring it back within the target range. To reduce inflation, the RBI employs a number of monetary policy measures, including modifying reserve requirements for banks and conducting open market operations to regulate liquidity in the financial system.
Before taking additional action, monetary policy experts Varma and Goyal recommend stopping to assess the impact of prior tightening. Despite a cumulative rise of 250 basis points, inflation is anticipated to continue over the 6% objective. Before making any judgements, the whole impact of past tightening should be assessed.
Source: Indian Express
Anti-defection Law and The Loopholes
GS Paper- II
Context– On February 17, the Election Commission of India (ECI) gave Maharashtra Chief Minister EknathShinde’s group the name ‘Shiv Sena’ and the party’s Bow and Arrow emblem, effectively recognising it as the original party formed by Babasaheb Thackeray. Anti-defection legislation is becoming more important.
Background: The most spectacular and one-of-a-kind political catastrophe
- The Maharashtra political crisis began last year when a group of 40 of the 55 Sena MLAs stepped out of the MahaVikasAghadi (MVA) coalition led by Mr. Shinde, causing a schism within the party.
- Both the Uddhav Thackeray and Shinde camps claimed ownership of the Shiv Sena name and symbol, claiming to represent the true Shiv Sena.
- According to the report, the Shinde faction received roughly 76% of the votes cast for the 55 Shiv Sena candidates that won in the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections, while the Uddhav Thackeray faction received 23.5% of the votes cast.
What exactly is anti-defection legislation?
- The Anti-Defection Law, which is part of the Constitution’s Tenth Schedule, punishes MPs and MLAs who desert from their party by removing them from the legislature.
- It empowers the Speaker of the House to decide the outcome of defection procedures.
- While Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister, it was added to the Constitution by the Fifty-Second (Amendment) Act of 1985. The legislation applies to both Parliament and state legislatures.
What was the point of having this law in the first place?
Vies in your favour
- Defections create instability and lead to the fall of governments, which can have a severe influence on the country’s political and economic stability.
- The law helps to stabilise party systems by concentrating control of party leadership rather than depending on ideological cohesiveness or constituent legislator ownership.
Views against it
- Others feared that the measure will restrict free speech and the free expression of opinion by members of the legislature who are elected by the people.
- By portraying democracy as a struggle between factions rather than a system of representation and accountability, the bill essentially abolishes India’s representational system of democracy.
- The statute concentrates power in the hands of the party leadership, potentially reducing individual MPs’ capacity to serve the interests of their people.
How the law is faring today?
- The types of defections that existed before to the passage of this statute no longer exist. But, recent occurrences demonstrate that this rule needs to be strengthened.
- An previous tightening was accomplished by eliminating a divide, namely paragraph three of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. It had said that if a party splits and one-third of the lawmakers join the breakaway group, they will not be disqualified. As a result, splitting was a defence against disqualification.
- There is a very alarming tendency of interpreting paragraph four (judgement on matters of disqualification based on defection) in a specific way, despite the fact that there is no authoritative statement of law from the Supreme Court on the exact application of it.
- The goal of this anti-defection statute is thwarted because there is no timetable set in the 10th Schedule for the Speaker to resolve the matter.
In a democracy, people are the primary stakeholders; parties are only formal facilitators. Democracy requires stable parties, but controlling politicians eliminates their duty as representatives. The need of the hour is to close the system’s flaws since the ongoing cycle of instability harms the people, who are the key stakeholders in a democracy and suffer the most.
Source: Indian Express
Facts For Prelims
Context:KanakRele, a Mohiniyattam exponent and classical dance icon, died.
- Her accomplishments include:
- She was regarded as one of India’s most innovative classical dancers and a trailblazer in dance instruction.
- She gave Mohiniyattam a methodical framework, academic validity, and a lot of currency.
- In Kathakali, she popularised female roles.
- She received the first Doctorate in dance in India in 1977.
- The Government of Kerala bestowed upon her the inaugural Guru Gopinath National Puraskaram.
- Padma Shri (1989), SangeetNatakAkademi Award (1994), M. S. Subbulakshmi Prize, KalidasSamman (2006), and Padma Bhushan were among the honours bestowed upon her (2013)
What are the SansadRatna Awards?
Context: The Prime Minister of India thanked fellow Members of Parliament (MPs) who would get SansadRatna Awards in 2023.
The SansadRatna Awards:
- They were established in 2010, inspired by former President APJ Abdul Kalam’s teachings, who launched the maiden edition of the Award event in Chennai.
- They aim to recognise and honour the top-performing MPs based on their efforts in the apex legislative body.
- The jury committee, which included distinguished parliamentarians and civil society representatives, was led by the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and co-chaired by T S Krishnamurthy (Former Chief Election Commissioner of India).
- The Government of India does not bestow the awards. The Prime Point Foundation is in charge of the awards ceremony.
Environment Ministry seeks report on Kaziranga rhino estimation
Context: The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change has requested a “factual report” on the rhino population census, which will take place in March 2022 in the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.
- The material was requested after the Ministry received reports suggesting irregularities in rhino estimating in the national park.
- According to the International Rhino Foundation’s 2022 worldwide report, the overall rhino population in India and Nepal is at 4,014 Assamis is home to the biggest number of larger one-horned rhinos, with more than 90% in Kaziranga National Park.
6 Monster galaxies
Context: A recent research claims that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) identified six unusually huge first-generation galaxies produced 500-700 million years after the Big Bang.
Important aspects include:
- These galaxies call into question our present theory of galaxy formation since they should not have existed at such a young age.
- The six monster galaxies were discovered by the researchers utilising JWST’s Cosmic Evolution Early 44 Release Science programme. The programme investigates the origin of the first galaxies when the universe was only 5% of its present age.
- One of the galaxies is 30 times smaller than the Milky Way while having the same mass.