The International Monetary Fund recently announced that it will distribute the Special Drawing Rights to its member countries by mid-August.
The IMF has agreed to support SDR allocation of 650 million USD. This is the largest in the history of IMF. Recently, the G20 Finance Minsters agreed to the International Monetary Fund to provide fresh SDR to its member countries. Earlier the ministers were concerned that liquidity injection could produce costly side effects if countries used the funds for irrelevant purposes.
Special Drawing Rights
The Special Drawing Right is neither a currency nor a claim on the IMF. The private entities cannot hold SDRs.
The international treaties that use Special Drawing Rights are Montreal Convention, Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims. The convention caps personal liability for damage to shops at 330,000 XDR. XDR is the unit of Special Drawing Rights.
The international organisations using Special drawing rights are as follows:
Japan External Trade Organisation
Islamic Development Bank
African Development Bank
Asian Development Bank
International Fund for Agricultural Development
The value of SDR changes every day. The IMF uses a basket of currencies to determine the SDR value, The weightage of the currencies depends on its prominence in international trade and the foreign exchange reserves of the respective nation. The weightage given to the currencies are as follows:
US Dollar: 41.73%
Chinese Renminbi: 11%
Japanese Yen: 8.33%
British Pound: 8.09%
These currencies are reviewed once in five years. The Chinese Renminbi was added to the basket in 2016.
The Facebook has recently signed a deal to buy renewable energy in India from a local firm called CleanMax. This is the first renewable project of Facebook in India.
About the project
The project is located in Karnataka.
The project capacity of 32 MW.
Under the project Facebook and CleanMax will work together to provide renewable energy into the electrical grid of India.
Facebook is to use the renewable energy purchased from CleanMax to power its data centre. The Facebook is to start the operations of the data centre in 2022.
Facebook had made similar agreements with energy providers in Singapore such as Terrenus Energy, Sunseap Group, Sembcorp industries. These projects are capable of producing 160 MW of solar power.
Data Centres in India
The revenue of Indian data centres is expected to grow at 20% year on year.
COVID-19 has increased data consumption in India by 38% as compared to the previous year.
The India data centre industry accounts to only 1% to 2% of the global share. It is expected to grow to 8.4% in 2023.
The Data Centres are mainly established for collection of data, processing of data, distribution of data and processing of data.
The data centres are set to account for 14% of carbon emissions by 2040. This is one of the main reasons why Facebook is turning towards green energy options to power its data centres.
Draft Data Centre Policy
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has released the Draft Data Centre Policy. It aims to simplify the clearances to establish data centres in India.
Flipkart recently announced that it is to acquire Cleartrip. Cleartrip is a leading online travel and technology company.
Cleartrip was founded in 2006. The company books train and flight tickets, hotel reservations and other activities in India and in middle east countries. The company has offices in Saudi Arabia, UAE, India and Egypt.
Flipkart is an E-Commerce company headquartered in Bangalore, India. It initially focused on book sale. Later it expanded to other products such as fashion, consumer electronics, home essentials, lifestyle products and groceries. Flipkart is the major competitor of Amazon’s Indian subsidiary and Snapdeal.
Till 2017, Flipkart held 39.5% of market share of E-Commerce industry of India. After acquiring Myntra it gained a dominant position in apparel segment.
Today it is described as being neck and neck with Amazon.
Flipkart also owns Phonepe.
In 2018, Walmart acquired 77% of controlling stake in Flipkart.
Founders of Flipkart
Flipkart was founded by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal. They were alumni of IIT Delhi and also former employees of Amazon.
E-Commerce in India
About 40% of Indian population used internet as of May 2020. With this, India has the second largest internet user base in world after China. However, the penetration of E-Commerce is less as compared to markets in US and France. More than 84% of US citizens use E-Commerce platforms.
The Indian E-Commerce industry is expected to grow to 200 billion USD by 2026.
The issues faced by E-Commerce industries in India are domestic trade, consumer protection, competition policy, information technology, etc.
The National Investigation Agency recently organised a two-day virtual event with BRICS countries on “Misuse of Internet by terrorists”. India hosted the seminar as it is holding the BRICS chair for the year 2021.
About the Seminar
The seminar was held on emerging technologies and artificial intelligence, dark web and anonymisers, exploitation of social media as an arsenal, crypto currency and virtual assets, equipping law enforcement agencies.
Use of internet by the terrorists for terror financing and for radicalisation is generally referred to as Internet radicalisation. Radicalisation is Changing something. The terrorist use internet to spread use of violence against a religious, political or ideological cause. It might contain images, videos, speeches that encourage violence or hatred. This mainly affects the youth who are vulnerable in becoming radicalised.
India and Internet Radicalisation
Many youths in the western coast of India are reported in becoming victims of Internet radicalisation. The growth of internet in India is now close to 500 million and is still growing. This shows the scale of challenge in bringing Internet radicalisation under control.
Plans to contain misuse of internet by terrorists
The responses to this form of terrorism should be similar across different cultures and geographies. This why BRICS seminar is being held.
The data centres and internet resources should be redundant to mitigate impacts of major terror attacks.
The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism was formed by Twitter, Microsoft, Facebook and YouTube. More such platforms should be brought to contain internet terrorism.
The United Nations has reaffirmed to prevent internet from being misused by terrorists. The other international organisations should also come forward in taking similar actions.
On April 15, 2021, the Supreme Court ordered a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe into the role of Kerala Police officers in framing Nambi Narayanan in the 1994 Espionage Case. Nambi Narayanan was a scientist at the Indian Space Research Organisation.
When did ISRO Espionage case begin?
The case began with the arrest of Maldivian woman Mariam Rashida in 1994. She was arrested on the charges of overstaying her visa. Her arrest led to the arrest of Narayanan. Nambi Narayanan was the director of the cryogenic project lab of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Why was Nambi Narayanan arrested?
In 1994, Nambi Narayanan was charged for leaking vital defence secrets to Maldivian intelligence officers Fauzia Hassan and Mariam Rashida. He was accused of selling confidential flight test data from the experiments with satellite and rocket launches. He was arrested and he spent fifty days in jail.
In May 1996, the charges against the scientist were dismissed. It was later dismissed in Supreme Court in April 1998.
In 1999, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) passed strictures against the Kerala Government for damaging Narayanan’s career in space research. He was then given desk job at ISRO.
In 2001, the National Human Rights Commission ordered the Kerala Government to pay a compensation of Rs 1 crore. He then retired in 2001.
Narayanan’s fight for Justice
In 2013, Narayanan pushed to get justice and bring out the people involved in framing a false case on him. In 2018, the Supreme court appointed a three-member panel to probe the case. Later a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra ordered to award Rs 50 lakh compensation for the mental cruelty suffered by the scientist all these years.
In 2019, GoI conferred Padma Bhushan to Nambi Narayanan.
The Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India recently launched a mobile application to promote the mental wellbeing of the people of India. It is called the MANAS App.
About the MANAS App
MANAS stands for Mental Health and Normalcy Augmentation System.
It is a comprehensive and national digital wellbeing platform.
The MANAS integrates indigenous tools developed and researched by various national bodies and research institutions.
The MANAS app was jointly executed by NIMHANS Bengaluru, C-DAC, AFMC. However, it was mainly developed by C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing).
The app is supported with tele consultation especially for mental health related problems.
The app was launched during the 34th Foundation celebrations of C-DAC.
COVID-19 and mental health
The pandemic is increasing mental health problems. According to Practo, an integrated health care company, there has been 665% jump in the number of mental health consultations. Most of them were in the age group of 21 to 40 years.
In United States, 90% of the survey respondents of Harvard Medical School complained of frustration, worry and anxiety.
The Global economic cost of mental illness has been estimated as 16 trillion USD in the next twenty years. This is more than the cost estimated for any other non-communicable disease.
The pandemic increased isolation and loss of income. These were the two main reasons for increased mental problems due to the pandemic.
Also, COVID-19 has halted mental health care services in 93% of the world.
According to WHO, the countries are spending less than 2% of health budget on mental health.
The Union Minister for Communication and IT and Law and Justice recently launched the “Online Grievance Management portal of NCSC”. NCSC is National Commission of Scheduled Castes.
About the Portal
The portal was launched on the occasion of 130th birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar.
The Scheduled Caste community in the country can register their complaints in the portal from any part of the country.
The portal was designed by Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Application and Geoinformatics. The institute operates under Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
National Commission for Scheduled Caste
The commission was established under Article 338 of the Constitution of India. The main objective of the commission is to investigate and monitor issues pertaining to the safeguard of Scheduled Castes in the country.
The 65th Constitution Act, 1990 amended Article 338 of the constitution. The amendment replaced the commission from its one-member system to multi-member system.
The 89th amendment of the constitution introduced in 2003 separated the National Commission for Scheduled Caste into two different commissions. One was National Commission for Scheduled Caste and the other was National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
Structure of National Commission for Scheduled Caste
The Commission consists of a chairperson, vice-chairperson and three other members. All the members of the commission are appointed by the President of India.
Functions of NCSC
To monitor and investigate all issues that are concerned with the safeguards of the Scheduled Caste people provided under the Constitution of India.
To enquire complaints that are related to deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Schedules Castes.
To advise central and state governments in planning socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes.
US President Biden recently announced that America is to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan. The new deadline announced by US coincides with the twentieth anniversary of 09/11 attacks.
On September 11, 2001, the terrorists of Al-Qaeda conducted a series of four attacks against the United States. The terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners. Two of the planes hit the World Trade Center Complexes located in Manhattan. Within an hour, the 110-storey tower collapsed. The third plane crashed into the Pentagon. Pentagon is the headquarters of US Department of Defence. The fourth plane crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania.
In February 2020, US and its NATO allies signed a deal to withdraw all troops in fourteen months if Taliban upheld all its promises.
Impact of the withdrawal
The peace processes in Afghanistan will hasten in its pace. Taliban had earlier announced that it will not attend any peace summit with Afghanistan till all the foreign forces leave the country. The summit is due to be held in Turkey in April 2021.
According to some observers, the withdrawal of US troops might compromise the political, social and humanitarian gains made since 2001.
The illicit drug trafficking in the region might increase. Afghanistan is a part of Golden Crescent.
Impact of withdrawal on India
The arrival of Taliban on the centre stage will put economic interests of India in the country of Afghanistan at stake. It will also put India under high security threat as prominence of Pakistan in Afghanistan will increase.
The five main pillars that drive India’s development partnership with Afghanistan are humanitarian assistance, economic development, infrastructure, connectivity and capacity building.
India supplied 1.1 million metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan.
India helped Afghanistan to establish the Indira Gandhi Institute of Health. It is a four hundred bed hospital that caters to the well being of children in the country.
India is funding 116 new High Impact Community Development Projects in thirty one provinces of Afghanistan.
The direct flight connectivity between India and Afghanistan was established in 2017. India is also developing Chabahar port to increase its connectivity with Afghanistan.
A 218 km road from Zaranj to Delaram is to be constructed to help move goods and services to Iran border.
The World Health Organisation, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Organisation for Animal Health laid down fresh guidelines to reduce the risk of transmission of zoonotic pathogens to humans in food production.
Suspension of trade in live caught wild animals of mammalian species for food or breeding.
To shut down food markets that sell wild animals of mammalian species.
To strengthen standards of hygiene, sanitation in traditional food markets to reduce the risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases.
To conduct risk assessment. They will provide evidence based developing regulations to control the risks of transmission of zoonotic microorganisms.
To strengthen animal health surveillance systems.
To develop and implement food safety information campaigns for stall holders, market traders, consumers and wide general public.
What is Zoonosis?
Zoonosis is an infectious disease that transfers from non-human animals to humans. These pathogens may be viral, bacterial or parasitic. They spread to humans through direct contact, water, food and environment.
The guidelines issued were in line with the concept of “One Health”. This term was first used in 2003-2004. It was associated with the emergence of SARS and Avian Influenza H5N1. SARS is Severe Acute Respiratory Disease. According to One-Health, the health of human beings is associated with the health of environment and animals.
Some of the modern-day Zoonotic diseases are Ebola, Salmonellosis. HIV was a zoonotic disease that transmitted to humans from animals. However, it has now mutated to human-only disease. Influenza, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Spanish flu are all zoonotic diseases.
Every year, the state of Himachal Pradesh celebrates Himachal Day on April 15. The day is celebrated to commemorate the creation of Himachal Pradesh.
On April 15, 1948, Himachal Pradesh was formed as the province to be administered Chief Commissioner. Later, it was made a “C” category state on January 25, 1950.
Three main types of States
The 1950 Constitution distinguished three main types of states. They were as follows:
Part A states: They were the former provinces of British India. They were ruled by the governors appointed by the president. Nine states belonged to this category. They were Bihar, Bombay, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Madras, Punjab, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
Part B states: They were the former princely states. They were governed by Rajpramukh. The system of Rajpramukh existed in India between 1947 and 1956. The Rajpramukh was appointed by the President of India. They were Jammu and Kashmir, Hyderabad, Mysore, Madhya Pradesh, East Punjab States Union, Rajasthan, Saurashtra and Travancore.
Part C states: These states included both the former chief commissioners’ provinces and the princely states. Part C states were Bhopal, Ajmer, Bilaspur, Delhi, Coorg, Cutch, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura and Vindhya Pradesh.
Formation of Himachal Pradesh
Till 1956, Himachal Pradesh was a C category state. In 1956, it was declared as a Union Territory. Later in 1970, Parliament passed the Himachal Pradesh Act. Since then, Himachal Pradesh came into existence as a full-fledged state. The official recognition of Himachal Pradesh as a state was provided on January 25, 1971.
About Himachal Pradesh
Himachal means “Snow covered area”. The official language of Himachal Pradesh is Hindi and Sanskrit.
The Agricultural Ministry of India recently signed Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft to implement a pilot project for farmer welfare.
About the Project
The project will focus on technology boosted agriculture.
It will provide smart agricultural techniques to the farmers especially during post-harvest season.
The project is to be launched in hundred villages of six states.
The six states selected for the project are Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh.
It will carry out various tasks for the betterment of farmers.
Microsoft Welfare Programmes in India
In 2019, Microsoft India launched Project ReWeave to help handloom weavers. The project aims to revive handloom weaving ecosystem in India. An E-Commerce platform was launched under the project. It will help weavers to increase their income.
Microsoft has partnered with AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) to empower educators and learners with future ready skills.
It has joined with the National Skill Development Corporation to provide digital skills to more than one lakh underserved women in India. Under the programme, Microsoft will provide a series of live training sessions and help create opportunities for women and young girls.
Agriculture in India
India ranks second in farm output in the world. More than 50% of workforce in India are employed in agriculture. They contribute 17% to 18% of GDP of India.
India exports 38 billion USD worth agricultural products. This makes India the seventh largest agricultural exporter in the world.
Though, the output of Indian agricultural sector is good, productivity is low. Agricultural Productivity is the ratio between agricultural output to input.
The Porsche has joined with Siemens Energy to produce eFuel by 2022. The project of eFuel production is called Haru Oni project. It is based in Chile due to its windy climate. The joint project aims to produce 130,000 litres of eFuel by 2022. Later this is to be increased to 550 million by 2026.
What is eFuel?
eFuel is a complex hydrocarbon. It is created based on the following process:
Water is separated into hydrogen and oxygen using wind generated electricity.
This hydrogen is then combined with the carbon dioxide filtered from the air to form methanol.
The methanol is then converted into gasoline using ExxonMobil licensed technology.
The eFuel shall be used in any cars.
The cost of production of eFuel is 10 USD per litre. Over time, this is expected to come down to 2 USD per litre.
The eFuel is a kind of Electro Fuel.
The Electro Fuels are the emerging class of carbon neutral fuels. They are also called Synthetic fuels. They are seen as an alternative to biofuels. They are made by storing electrical energy from renewable sources in chemical bonds of liquid of gas fuels.
Other Electro Fuels
Audi is working on E-gasoline synthetic fuel. It is a liquid iso octane fuel. It is a carbon-neutral fuel. Also, E-Gasoline is free from sulphur and benzene.
Audi is also working on E-diesel. E-diesel is also called Synthetic diesel. It is created from carbon dioxide, electricity and water with a process powered by renewable energy. This creates liquid energy carrier called blue crude (just like crude oil). The blue crude is refined to get e-diesel.
Deadly algae have killed more than 4,000 tonnes of Salmon in Chile. The algal bloom in the water reduced the amount of oxygen suffocating the salmon fishes.
More than eighteen salmon fish farms that produce 26% of world salmon have been affected.
What are the reasons for the death of the Salmons?
The presence of urea and ammonia in the salmon farms led to the algal bloom. Three different types of harmful algae were detected in eighteen farms.
Salmon Production in Chile
Chile is the second largest producer of Salmon in the world after Norway. It exported more than 4.4 billion USD of fish in 2020. Chile produces more than 26% of world Salmon.
What is Algal Bloom?
Algal Bloom is rapid increase of algal population in marine water or fresh water. It occurs due to the nutrients from phosphorous or nitrogen fertilizer run off. They create harmful effects such as blocking of sunlight. This causes depletion of oxygen level in water.
Oxygen in Water
The Dissolved oxygen in water is the most important water quality factor. A pond supporting an aquatic ecosystem will have more than 10 ppm oxygen dissolved in it. On the other hand, atmosphere has 200,000 ppm of oxygen. The oxygen concentrations below 3 ppm will stress the species of fish in the water. The oxygen concentrations below 2 ppm will kill the fishes.
Oxygen dissolves in water in two ways. One is through atmospheric contact that happens at the surface. The other primary source of dissolved oxygen is from algae. The algae add dissolved oxygen to the water by photosynthesis, thereby supporting lives in the water system. In that case, how did the algal bloom in Chile kill thousands of fishes?
How does Algal Bloom kill fishes?
During day, the algae produce oxygen through photosynthesis. While at night, in the absence of sunlight, it stops photosynthesis and starts respiring just like other organisms in the water system. Respiration is taking in Oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. Thus, during night the dissolved oxygen drops too low suffocating the fish in the water system.
Also, as the algal bloom increases, it forms thick blanket over the water surface. This prevents sunlight from penetrating the water. Thus, the second source of oxygen where the oxygen dissolves in water at the surface contacts is blocked.
New Zealand recently introduced a bill on Climate Change for financial firms. The bill is the first of its kind in the world. New Zealand has fixed 2050 as the deadline to become carbon neutral.
Key Features of the Bill
It will require the insurers, banks and investment managers to report the impacts of their funding on the effect of climate change.
It will also force the financial firms to evaluate the companies they are lending in terms of environmental impacts.
All the banks in New Zealand with total asset more than 1 billion New Zealand dollars (703 million USD) will now have to make disclosures about their asset management.
The financial firms will now have to explain how they will manage climate related risks and opportunities.
Other New Zealand Legislations on Climate Change
The New Zealand Government has lately taken several climate changes measures to lower green house gas emissions in the country. Some of them are as follows:
In 2019, the Climate Change Response Act, 2002 was amended. According to the amendment, New Zealand intended to implement climate change policies in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
Carbon Neutral Government Programme was set up to accelerate the reduction of emissions within the public sector.
New Zealand Green Investment Finance was launched to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions. The main objective of the finance is to accelerate funding of projects that have the potential to reduce emissions.
Nationally Determined Contributions of New Zealand
In 2015, New Zealand ratified the Paris Agreement. The Nationally Determined Contributions of New Zealand under the agreement are as follows:
To reduce green house gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
US Climate Change targets
More than three hundred investors and businesses have called on the Biden administration to set an ambitious climate change goal. They aim to cut US greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels. This is to be achieved by 2030.