12th October Current Affairs

1.Nobel Peace Prize, 2020

News: The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the World Food Programme (WFP), a United Nations (UN) agency, for its efforts to combat hunger, bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and preventing the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

Contributions and achievements of UN WFP:

  • It helps nearly 97 million people in about 88 countries each year. WFP is a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.
  • WFP runs a logistics service that has dispatched medical cargoes to over 120 countries throughout the pandemic to help governments and health partners fighting COVID-19. It also has provided passenger services to ferry humanitarian and health workers where commercial flights were unavailable.

World Hunger Challenges:

  • One in nine people worldwide still do not have enough to eat.
  • According to an estimate, there will be 265 million starving people within a year.

World Food Programme

  • The WFP is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization focused on hunger and food security.
  • Founded in 1961, it is headquartered in Rome and has offices in 80 countries.
  • In addition to emergency food aid, WFP focuses on relief and rehabilitation, development aid, and special operations, such as making food systems more resilient against climate change and political instability.
  • It is an executive member of the United Nations Development Group, which collectively aims to fulfil the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and has prioritized achieving SDG 2 for “zero hunger” by 2030.

WFP’s Role in India

  • It has been working in India since 1963.
  • It focuses on reforms in the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and provides policy inputs, advocacy and technical assistance for improving access to food.
  • The WFP has proposed unique initiatives like Automatic Grain Dispensing Machine (Annapurti) and Mobile Storage Units for the effective implementation of TPDS. Annapurti allows beneficiaries to withdraw their food grain quota accurately and at a time of their choice through automatic grain dispensing machines.
  • WFP India has completed a pilot on rice fortification used in the government’s Mid-day Meals scheme.
  • During the pandemic, WFP India worked with the central and state governments and has also prepared a guidance note for the reopening of schools.
  • For example, it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Uttar Pradesh State Rural Livelihood Mission(SRLM) to provide technical assistance for setting up supplementary nutrition production units.

2.Monetary Policy Committee Meeting

News: The Monetary Policy Committee of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced the extension of its accommodative policy stance for the rest of this year as well as 2021-22 and forecasted a GDP revival in coming months.

Highlights of the MPC meeting

  • In the October meeting of the monetary policy committee (MPC), repo rate were kept unchanged at 4%, with a continuation of an accommodative stance.
  • It chose to ignore elevated levels of CPI inflation as transitory and maintaining focus on supporting growth.
  • It appears that the MPC would maintain a status quo on rates through this fiscal year.
  • The scope for further easing is anyways limited to 0.50%, as any more easing may affect household financial savings and endanger financial stability.

Ensuring the rate transmission

  • With unchanged repo rates, the focus of the liquidity measures announced by the RBI is to further improve transmission of previous rate cuts across a spectrum of market rates and other instruments.
  • The RBI Governor assured market participants that the large supply of government bonds in the second half along with a likely pick-up in credit demand, would be accommodated through open market purchases of government bonds.

Reducing the cost of borrowing

  • The RBI may have to buy bonds worth ₹1,000 to 1,500 billion in these operations over 2HFY21 keeping pressure on yields [which affects interest rates]. In a related move, to reduce the cost of borrowings for state governments, the RBI for the first time will buy state government bonds, as a special case for this year.

Other measures

  • The extension of enhanced Held to Maturity (HTM) limit of banks on their government bonds portfolio to March 2022, will also help improve demand for bonds.
  • A new on-tap targeted LTRO window was announced, for banks to borrow up to ₹1,000 billion from the RBI at a floating rate linked to the repo rate, and invest in corporate paper issued by specific sectors and to provide loans to them.
  • In effect, the aim of the central bank is to ensure that lower policy rates determined by the macro-economic fundamentals, are reflected in lower cost of borrowings for the Centre, states and corporates.

What is LTRO?

  • The LTRO is a tool under which the central bank provides one-year to three-year money to banks at the prevailing repo rate, accepting government securities with matching or higher tenure as the collateral.

How is it different from LAF and MSF?

  • While the RBI’s current windows of liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) and marginal standing facility (MSF) offer banks money for their immediate needs ranging from 1-28 days, the LTRO supplies them with liquidity for their 1- to 3-year needs. LTRO operations are intended to prevent short-term interest rates in the market from drifting a long way away from the policy rate, which is the repo rate.

Why is it important?

  • As banks get long-term funds at lower rates, their cost of funds falls. In turn, they reduce interest rates for borrowers. LTRO helped RBI ensure that banks reduce their marginal cost of funds-based lending rate, without reducing policy rates.
  • LTRO also showed the market that RBI will not only rely on revising repo rates and conducting open market operations for its monetary policy, but also use new tools to achieve its intended objectives.

Monetary Policy Committee

  • The Monetary Policy Committee is astatutory and institutionalized framework under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, for maintaining price stability, while keeping in mind the objective of growth.
  • The Governor of RBIis ex-officio Chairman of the committee. The committee comprises six members (including the Chairman) – three officials of the RBI and three external members nominated by the Government of India. Decisions are taken by majority with the Governor having the casting vote in case of a tie. The MPC determines the policy interest rate (repo rate) required to achieve the inflation target (4%).
  • An RBI-appointed committee led by the then deputy governor Urjit Patel in 2014 recommended the establishment of the Monetary Policy Committee.

3.Global Nitrous Oxide pollution

News: Human emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) — a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) — increased by 30 per cent between 1980 and 2016.

What is Nitrous oxide?

  • Nitrous oxide is a dangerous gas for the sustainable existence of humans on Earth.
  • It has the third-highest concentration — after CO2 and methane — in our atmosphere among greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.
  • N2O can live in the atmosphere for up to 125 years.
  • Most N2O emissions have come from emerging countries like India, China and Brazil.

About the research

  • Nitrous oxide global concentration levels have increased from 270 parts per billion (ppb) in 1750 to 331 ppb in 2018 — a jump of 20 per cent.
  • The growth has been the quickest in the past five decades because of human emissions.
  • The research was conducted through an international collaboration between the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) and the Global Carbon Project of Future Earth, a partner of the World Climate Research Programme.

Why N2O matters?

  • N2O is also the only remaining threat to the ozone layer, for it accumulates in the atmosphere over a long period of time, just like CO2.
  • The increase in its emissions means that the climatic burden on the atmosphere is increasing from non-carbon sources as well, while the major focus of global climate change negotiations is currently centred on carbon. A major proportion of the N2O emissions in the last four decades came from the agricultural sector, mainly because of the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers.
  • The growing demand for food and feed for animals will further increase global nitrous oxide emissions.

4.NCPCR and SC

News: The Supreme Court has sought a response from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), to its request to eight States for immediate repatriation of children living in care homes with their families.

Details:

  • The NCPCR requested to Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Mizoram, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Meghalaya for repatriation. These States combinedly have 1.84 lakh children in care homes. This accounts for over 70% of the children in care homes.
  • The court is suo motu monitoring the condition and welfare of children placed in care homes across the country during the pandemic. The court questioned if the NCPCR could issue such general directions to the States without considering the education, health, safety of the children, the consent of their parents and their economical situation.
  • Repatriation ought to be considered on an individual basis for child safety. As per amicus curiae(“friend of the court” – one who assists the court advice regarding questions of law or fact ), the NCPCR direction violated the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015 since the pandemic would make a child more vulnerable to domestic abuse.
  • The NCPCR, suggested the need for a child to grow up in a familial environment. Also, in an April 2020 order, the court had directed juvenile authorities to “proactively consider whether a child or children should be kept in the child care institutions considering the best interest, health and safety concerns”.
  • Child Care Homes:The children being taken in child care homes, are not only those who are orphans/abandoned children, but also children hailing from downtrodden/financially unstable families.
  • Therefore, if there is any child who is either being brought up by a single parent or comes from a family which is not able to bring up the child properly, then that child can avail all the facilities at a care home.

About NCPCR:

  • Set up in March 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005. It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
  • Definition: The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.
  • The Commission’s Mandate isto ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Under the RTE Act, 2009, the NCPCR can:

  • inquire into complaints about violation of the law.
  • summon an individual and demand evidence.
  • seek a magisterial enquiry.
  • file a writ petition in the High Court or Supreme Court.
  • approach the government concerned for prosecution of the offender.
  • recommend interim relief to those affected.

Composition:

  • This commission has a chairperson and six members of which at least two should be women.
  • All of them are appointed by Central Government for three years.
  • The maximum age to serve in commission is 65 years for Chairman and 60 years for members.

About Child Welfare Committees:

  • As per the Section 27(1) of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act),Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) are to be constituted by State Government for every district, for exercising the powers and to discharge the duties conferred on such Committees in relation to children in need of care and protection under JJ Act, 2015.

Composition of the committees:

  • The Committee shall consist of a Chairperson, and four other members as the State Government may think fit to appoint, of whom atleast one shall be a woman and another, an expert on the matters concerning children.

Eligibility conditions:

  • Chairperson and the members shall be above the age of thirty-five years and shall have a minimum of seven years of experience of working with children in the field of education, health, or welfare activities, or should be a practicing professional with a degree in child psychology or psychiatry or social work or sociology or human development or in the field of law or a retired judicial officer.

5.SWAMITVA Scheme

News: The Prime Minister will launch the distribution of Property Cards under the SVAMITVA Scheme on 11th October, via video conferencing. The launch will enable around one lakh property holders to download their Property Cards through the SMS link delivered on their mobile phones. This would be followed by physical distribution of the Property Cards by the respective State governments.

About SVAMITVA

  • SVAMITVA stands for Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas.
  • Under the scheme, the latest surveying technology such as drones will be used for measuring the inhabited land in villages and rural areas.
  • The mapping and survey will be conducted in collaboration with the Survey of India, State Revenue Department and State Panchayati Raj Department under the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • The drones will draw the digital map of every property falling in the geographical limit of each Indian village. Property Cards will be prepared and given to the respective owners.

Benefits:

  • It will bring financial stability to the citizens in rural India by enabling them to use their property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits. It will help in creation of accurate land records for rural planning. It will help in the determination of property tax.
  • The survey infrastructure and GIS maps created can be leveraged by any department for their use.
  • It will reduce property related disputes and legal cases. It will support the preparation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plan by making use of GIS maps.