27th January Current Affairs

1.Climate Adaptation Summit 2021

News: The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in his addressed to the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021.

Some of the key highlights of PM’s speech:

India is committed to:

  • not just meet our Paris Agreement targets, but exceed them;
  • not just arrest environmental degradation but reverse it; and,
  • not just create new capacities but make them an agent for global good.

India’s efforts till now:

  • Targeting 450 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity by 2030.
  • Promoting LED lights and saving 38 million tons of carbon-di-oxide emissions annually.
  • To restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
  • Providing clean cooking fuel to 80 million rural households.
  • Connecting 64 million households to piped water supply.
  • The International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure show the power of global climate partnership and to call upon the Global Commission on Adaptation to work with CDRI to enhance infrastructure resilience globally.

Climate Adaptation Summit 2021

  • The climate adaptation summit was hosted by the Netherlands government on January 25, 2021. The summit was held online and it is being called “CAS Online”. The summit was built on the advances of the UN Climate Action Summit. The summit also showcased the pioneering solutions of the climate emergency and sustaining momentum through UNFCCC’s COP26.
  • CAS will help in delivering the action and inspire the change to help the societies build back better.
  • The organizers of the summit also called for major new funding for agricultural research.
  • They also expanded the access to farmer advisory services, risk management and financial services.

Objectives:

  • The summit was organized with the aim of realizing the transitions which is required for a climate-resilient world. The summit focuses on securing the new investments in o

2.National Voters Day

News: The Prime Minister has appreciated the Election Commission on National Voters Day on 25th January.

National Voters Day 

Theme 2021 “Making Our Voters Empowered, Vigilant, Safe and Informed”

Background:

  • 25th January is the foundation day of the Election Commission of India(ECI) which came into existence in 1950. This day was first celebrated in 2011 to encourage young voters to take part in the electoral process. No doubt it is the day to celebrate the right to vote and also the democracy of India. Election Commission’s main objective is to increase the enrolment of voters, especially the eligible ones.

Details:

  • The Honourable Union Minister for Law and Justice, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, launched the e-EPIC programmeand distribute e-EPICs.
  • It is a digital version of the Elector Photo Identity Card that can be accessed through the Voter Helpline App and websites.

National Voters’ Day: Significance

  • India is a democratic country. Every citizen has the basic right to vote.
  • He or she has the right to select his leader to whomever they think is capable of leading the nation, solve the problems of common people, bring about change, etc.
  • National Voters Day is a significant root of India as the future of the country lies in the leader that we choose.

3.Padma Awards

News: This year the President has approved conferment of 119 Padma Awards including 1 duo case (in a duo case, the Award is counted as one) as per list below. The list comprises 7 Padma Vibhushan, 10 Padma Bhushan and 102 Padma Shri Awards.  29 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 10 persons from the category of Foreigners/NRI/PIO/OCI, 16 Posthumous awardees and 1 transgender awardee.

About Padma Awards:

  • Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely,
  1. Padma Vibhushan,
  2. Padma Bhushan and
  3. Padma Shri.
  • The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.
  • ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service;
  • ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and
  • ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field.
  • The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year.

Padma Vibhushan (7)

SNNameFieldState/Country
Shri Shinzo AbePublic AffairsJapan
Shri S P Balasubramaniam

(Posthumous)

ArtTamil Nadu
Dr. Belle Monappa HegdeMedicineKarnataka
Shri Narinder Singh Kapany

(Posthumous)

Science and EngineeringUnited States of America
Maulana Wahiduddin KhanOthers- SpiritualismDelhi
Shri B. B. LalOthers- ArchaeologyDelhi
Shri Sudarshan SahooArtOdisha

 

Visit this link to know the awardees of Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri – https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1692337

 4.National level surveys on geophysical mapping

 News: To expedite exploration activities in the country, Geological Survey of India (GSI), has embarked upon an ambitious scheme to complete some major National level surveys by 2024: National Geochemical Mapping (NGCM), National Geophysical Mapping (NGPM), National Aero Geophysical Mapping Program (NAGMP).

Details:

  • GSI is also going to adopt sophisticated deep penetration geophysical techniques such as Magneto-Telluric Surveys and Deep Seismic Reflection Surveys (DSRS) in order to define the crustal architecture for deep seated mineral targeting.
  • GSI has also initiated its flagship initiative of National Geoscience Data Repository (NGDR) for collation of all the geoscience data of the country involving GSI, other national organizations with geoscience as a focused activities, all the state directorate of mines and geology, the academia engaged in research and development in the domain, the CPSEs engaged in exploration and geoscientific pursuits, and private sector agencies working in the domain.
  • It aims at integrating the collected data by GSI and the similar organizations to build a repository on the digital medium entailing multiple user access.
  • It is planned that all the stakeholders from India and across the globe who are willing to participate in the current auction regime for allocation of mineral acreages will be able to use the NGDR.
  • Further, the planned Baseline Geoscience Data Collection campaign would also lead to a huge database, which will be the primary inputs for future exploration programs.
  • GSI is in consultation with BISAG-N, a national institute under Ministry of Information & Technology for development of NGDR.

NGCM:

  • GSI envisages completion of NGCM programme by 2024 by extensive outsourcing and engaging private agencies. A total of 11.72 lakh sq.km has been completed by NGCM Programme till March 2020.
  • This also involves coverage of 7.44 lakh sq.km of accessible part of Obvious Geological potential’ (OGP) (8.13 lakh sq.km). It is an all India programme to cover the entire surface area of the country by geochemical sampling.
  • The NGCM work will generate distribution pattern of 62 elements (samples collected at 1km x 1km grid) for use in managing and developing natural resources; for application in environmental, agricultural, human health, other social concerns and to search for hidden mineral deposits.

NGPM:

  • The Program have been systematically generating basic and derived maps of Bouguer (Gravity) Anomaly and IGRF corrected magnetic total field maps of the country by conducting ground gravity and magnetic surveys in 1: 50,000 scale with an approximate observation density of one station in 2.5 sq. Km., to cover the entire country with preference to Obvious Geological Province (OGP) areas.
  • The anomaly maps derived from the processed gravity and magnetic data provides all stakeholders a framework to design exploration strategies.

NAGMP:

  • First of its kind project in the country, its objectives are to delineate concealed, deep seated structure/ litho-units capable of hosting mineralization, delineate extension of the existing mineralized zone and understating of shallow crustal architecture in the context of mineral occurrence.
  • The first phase of work involved collection of data over selected areas (12 Blocks) of Obvious Geological Potential (OGP). As of now, data acquisition over first four blocks (Blocks 1 to 4) is completed which resulted in carving out of more than 100 potential mineral exploration areas.
  • Owing to the success of the project, 10 more blocks (Blocks 13 to 22) are to be covered by multi sensor aero geophysical mapping.
  • It is for the first time that the multi-sensor aero-geophysical surveys (magnetic gradiometry and spectrometric) are being carried out by adopting such large regional scale survey parameters of 300 m traverse line spacing with aircraft flown at 80 m above ground level.

Significance of these Programmes:

  • The collation, assimilation and integration of the data generated from the above projects and further interpretation will lead to identification of more areas for mineral exploration in the country.
  • The increased investment in mineral exploration will build a robust pipeline of prospective mineral blocks for auction. This will ensure long-term viability and continuity of mining in the country taking India towards the cherished goal of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.
  • Out of the total mappable area of 3.146 million sq. km of the country, 3.119 million sq. km has been covered by Systematic Geological Mapping on 1:50,000 scale till December 2020, which accounts for approx. 99.14% coverage of the country.
  • The data generated through this mapping activity has helped to build up the knowledge database for National Geo-scientific information, which helps in boosting mineral exploration activities, and other earth science related socio-economic activities and programmes.
  • During the last decade, GSI has prioritized baseline data generation over Obvious Geological Potential(OGP) areas, which accounts for approx. 0.813 million sq. km

 5.Green Tax

 News: The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways has approved a proposal to levy a “Green Tax” on old vehicles which are polluting the environment. The proposal will now go to the states for consultation before it is formally notified. The Minister also approved the policy of deregistration and scrapping of vehicles owned by Government department and PSU, which are above 15 years in age.

Background:

  • It is estimated that commercial vehicles, which constitute about 5% of the total vehicle fleet , contribute about 65-70% of total vehicular pollution. The older fleet, typically manufactured before the year 2000 constitutes less that 1 % of the total fleet but contributes around 15% of total vehicular pollution. These older vehicles pollute 10-25 times more than modern vehicles.

The main principles to be followed while levying the Green Tax are:

  • Transport vehicles older than 8 years could be charged Green Tax at the time of renewal of fitness certificate, at the rate of 10 to 25 % of road tax;
  • Personal vehicles to be charged Green Tax at the time of renewal of Registration Certification after 15 years;
  • Public transport vehicles, such as city buses, to be charged lower Green tax;
  • Higher Green tax (50% of Road Tax) for vehicles being registered in highly polluted cities
  • Differential tax, depending on fuel (petrol/diesel) and type of vehicle;
  • Vehicles like strong hybrids, electric vehicles and alternate fuels like CNG, ethanol, LPG etc to be exempted;
  • Vehicles used in farming, such as tractor, harvestor, tiller etc to be exempted;
  • Revenue collected from the Green Tax to be kept in a separate account and used for tackling pollution, and for States to set up state-of-art facilities for emission monitoring

The benefits of the “Green Tax” could be:

  • To dissuade people from using vehicles which damage the environment
  • To motivate people to switch to newer, less polluting vehicles
  • Green tax will reduce the pollution level, and make the polluter pay for pollution.

6.indian Sunderbans

News: Indian Sunderbans, which is part of the largest mangrove forest in the world, is home to 428 species of birds, a recent publication of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) States.

Key Findings:

  • The report not only documents the avifauna of the Sunderbans, but also serves as a comprehensive photographic field guide, with detailed distribution and locality data for all the species from the region.
  • The Indian Sunderbans, which is part of the largest mangrove forest in the world, is home to 428 species of birds. This means that one in every three birds in the country is found in the unique ecosystem.
  • Some birds, like the masked finfoot and the Buffy fish owl, are recorded only from the Sunderbans.
  • The area is home to nine out of 12 species of kingfishers found in the country as well rare species such as the Goliath heron and the spoon-billed sandpiper.

Sundarban Biosphere Reserve

  • Sundarbans is the largest delta and mangrove forest in the world.
  • The Indian Sunderbans, which covers 4,200 sq km, comprises of the Sunderban Tiger Reserve of 2,585 sq km is home to about 96 Royal Bengal Tigers (2020) is also a world heritage site and a Ramsar Site.
  • The Indian Sunderbans is bound on the west by river Muriganga and on the east by rivers Harinbhahga and Raimangal.
  • Other major rivers flowing through this eco-system are Saptamukhi, Thakuran, Matla and Goasaba.
  • Recent studies claim that the Indian Sundarban is home to 2,626 faunal species and 90% of the country’s mangrove varieties.

7.Green Bonds

News: As per a recent study by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the cost of issuing green bonds has generally remained higher than other bonds in India, largely due to asymmetric information.

Details of RBI’s Recent Study:

  • Green bonds constituted only 7%of all the bonds issued in India since 2018. However, bank lending to the non-conventional energy (renewable energy) constituted about 7.9% of outstanding bank credit to the power sector, as of March 2020. Most of the green bonds in India are issued by the public sector units or corporates with better financial health.

Everything you need to know about Green Bonds:

  • A green bond is a debt instrumentwith which capital is being raised to fund ‘green’ projects, which typically include those relating to renewable energy, clean transportation, sustainable water management etc.
  • In 2007, green bonds were launched by few development bankssuch as the European Investment Bank and the World Bank. Subsequently, in 2013, corporates too started participating, which led to its overall growth.
  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)has put in place disclosure norms for issuance and listing of green bonds.

Benefits:

  • Green bonds enhance an issuer’s reputation,as it helps in showcasing their commitment towards sustainable development.
  • Ability to meet commitments, for signatories to climate agreements and other green commitments.
  • India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC)document puts forth the stated targets for India’s contribution towards climate improvement and following a low carbon path to progress.
  • Green bonds typicallycarry a lower interest rate than the loans offered by the commercial banks.
  • With an increasing focus of foreign investors towards green investments, it could help in reducing the cost of raising capital.
  • These green bonds have been crucial in increasing financingto sunrise sectors like renewable energy, thus contributing to India’s sustainable growth.

Challenges:

  • The average coupon rate for green bonds issued since 2015 with maturities between 5 to 10 years have generally remained higher than the corporate government bondswith similar tenure.
  • It has been themost important challenge due to the asymmetric information. High coupon rate is one of the reasons for high borrowing cost.
  • Asymmetric information,also known as “information failure,” occurs when one party to an economic transaction possesses greater material knowledge than the other party.
  • There have been serious debates about whether the projects targeted by green bond issuers are green enough because the proceeds of green bonds are being used to fund projects that harm the environment.
  • Lack of credit rating or rating guidelines for green projects and bonds.
  • Green bonds in India have a shorter tenor period of about 10 years whereas a typical loan would be for a minimum 13 years. Further Green Projects require more time to bring returns.

What are bonds?

  • A bond is a fixed income instrumentthat represents a loan made by an investor to a borrower (typically corporate or governmental).
  • Bonds traditionally paid a fixed interest rate (coupon)to investors.