Daily Current Affairs: 28 Jul 2021
Dholavira in Gujarat on UNESCO World Heritage list
(Topic- GS Paper I Art and Culture–, Source- Hindu)
Why in the news?
- The Harappan city of Dholavira of Gujarat has recently been named the 40th Indian site on UNESCO's World Heritage list.
- It is the first site of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) in India to get the tag.
- The site had been on UNESCO’s tentative list since 2014.
About the Dholavira
- It is located on a hillock near present-day Dholavira village in Kutch district, from which it gets its name.
- It was discovered in 1968 by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi.
- The site’s excavation between 1990 and 2005 under the supervision of archaeologist Ravindra Singh Bisht uncovered the ancient city, which was a commercial and manufacturing hub for about 1,500 years before its decline and eventual ruin in 1500 BC.
- It is one of the most remarkable and well-preserved urban settlements in South Asia dating from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BCE (Before Common Era).
- After Mohen-jo-Daro, Ganweriwala and Harappa in Pakistan and Rakhigarhi in Haryana of India, Dholavira is the fifth largest metropolis of IVC.
- The site has a fortified citadel, a middle town and a lower town with walls made of sandstone or limestone instead of mud bricks in many other Harappan sites.
Unique features of the Dholavira site.
- Archaeologist Bisht cites a cascading series of water reservoirs, outer fortification, two multi-purpose grounds — one of which was used for festivities and as a marketplace — nine gates with unique designs, and funerary architecture featuring tumulus — hemispherical structures like the Buddhist Stupas— as some of the unique features of the Dholavira site.
- Recently, Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro Park of Spain have been added to UNESCO's World Heritage List.
About the Paseo del Prado
- The Paseo del Prado Boulevard includes several monuments and enclosures that are of historical and artistic interest.
- Since 2015 it has been protected as a Cultural Heritage Monument.
Parque del Buen Retiro
- Retiro Park or simply El Retiro is one of the largest parks of the city of Madrid, Spain.
- The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century when it became a public park.
China’s sea claims have no basis says the U.S.
(Topic- GS Paper II- International Relation –, Source- Hindu)
Why in the news?
- Recently, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said that Beijing's expansive claims in the South China Sea have "no basis in international law", aiming at China's growing assertiveness in the hotly contested waters.
- China claims almost the entirety of the resource-rich sea and was accused by the United States this week of efforts to "intimidate and provoke others" by parking its vessels near the Whitsun Reef.
- China’s claim to the sea is based both on the Law of the Sea Convention and its so-called nine-dash line.
- This line extends for 2,000 Km from the Chinese mainland, encompassing over half of the sea.
- Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have competing claims to various islands and features in the area.
- The US is playing a very important role in mending the dispute because it has wide-ranging security commitments in East Asia and is allied with several of the countries bordering the South China Sea, such as the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. It is also impacting the US.
- There is a debate in international law about the type of land territory that can generate rights to an exclusive economic zone.
- Taiwan, which has been in dispute with China over sovereignty issues since 1949.
- This dispute has meant Taiwan is not formally recognised as a state by most countries and is therefore not a signatory to the Law of the Sea Convention, nor legally entitled to claim territory but Taiwan occupies one of the islands.
- No code of conduct in the region poses more threats to the area.
US and China relationships
- The U.S.-China relationship has deteriorated over a range of issues from cybersecurity and tech supremacy to human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
- India has a commercial interest in the South China Sea (SCS) region but it follows the policy of not involving itself in the disputes between sovereign nations.
- India has been concerned about the security of its trade flows and energy interests in the South China Sea.
- Further, India is using its Buddhist legacy to make a strong bond with the Southeast Asian region.
- India has also deployed its navy with Vietnam in the South China Sea for protection of sea lanes of communication (SLOC), denying China any space for assertion.
- India is a member of the QUAD (India, US, Japan, Australia) makes China susceptible to India's stand because the grouping is considered, by the world, to be a type of containing mechanism for China.
Commission of Inquiry
(Topic- GS Paper II- Governance, Source- Indian Express)
Why in the news?
- The West Bengal government has recently set up a Commission of Inquiry into the alleged surveillance of phones using the Pegasus spyware developed by the Israeli cyber-intelligence company NSO Group.
About the Commission
- The Commission, comprising former Supreme Court Justice Madan B Lokur and former Calcutta High Court Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya, will look into the alleged breach of privacy of several individuals —journalists, activists, businesspersons, police officials, politicians — both in the government and the opposition.
What kind of subjects can a Commission probe?
- Under Section 2(a) of the 1952 Act, Commissions set up by the central government can inquire into any matter relatable to any of the entries in List I (Union List) or List-II (State List) or List III (Concurrent List) in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, while Commissions set up by state governments can look into entries in List II or List III.
- In the Pegasus inquiry commission, the West Bengal government has cited public order and police entries. While these subjects are in the State List, an argument could also be made that the subject matter of the inquiry essentially falls under the Central List.
- Entry 31 of the Union List or List I deal with posts and telegraphs, telephones, wireless, broadcasting and other forms of communication.
Power of the Commission
- Under The Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, a Commission set up by the government shall have the powers of a civil court, while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
- The Commission has powers to summon and enforce the attendance of any person from any part of India and examine her on oath and receive evidence, and it can order requisition of any public record or copy from any court or office.
- Under Section 5 of the Act, the Commission also has the power to require any person, subject to any privilege which may be claimed by that person under any law for the time being in force, to furnish information on such points or matters that, in the opinion of the Commission, may be useful for, or relevant to, the subject matter of the inquiry.
Why has a state government set up the Commission?
- While both central and state governments can set up such Commissions of Inquiry, states are restricted by subject matters that they are empowered to legislate upon.
- If the central government set up the commission first, then states cannot set up a parallel commission on the same subject matter without the approval of the Centre.
- But if a state has appointed a Commission, then the Centre can appoint another on the same subject if it thinks that the scope of the inquiry should be extended to two or more states.
Previous Commissions of Inquiry
- In 2002, when Narendra Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister, the state government has set up a Commission of retired Justices G T Nanavati and A H Mehta to probe the Godhra train burning and the subsequent riots.
- The Commission later gave a clean chit to the state government in its report.
- In 2004, Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Union Railways Minister in the Congress-led UPA government, constituted a Commission of Inquiry on the same subject, under former Supreme Court judge U C Banerjee.
- The Banerjee Commission reported findings contrary to that of the state commission.
- However, the Gujarat High Court later held that the constitution of the Banerjee Commission was illegal, and quashed its conclusions since the state-appointed Commission was already looking into the issue.
IMF cuts emerging Asia, India growth forecasts
(Topic- GS Paper III –Economics– Source-The Hindu)
Why in the news?
- The International Monetary Fund has recently cut the 2021 economic growth forecast for emerging Asia, including India, as a spike in coronavirus cases from new variants and slow vaccinations cloud the region’s recovery prospects.
- In an update to its World Economic Outlook (WEO), the IMF forecast emerging Asia will grow 7.5% this year, down 1.1 percentage points from its projection in April.
- That was a much bigger downgrade than a 0.4 point mark-down for emerging economies across the globe.
- The IMF cut this year’s growth forecast for India by 3 percentage points to 9.5%.
- China's forecast for 2021 was revised down 0.3 points to 8.1%.
Reasons for downgrade
- Growth prospects in India have been downgraded following the severe second COVID wave during March-May and expected slow recovery in confidence from that setback.
- Similar dynamics are at work in the ASEAN-5 group where recent infection waves are causing a drag on activity.
- The downgrade, which contrasted with an upward revision in the IMF’s forecast for advanced nations, highlights the divergence emerging across countries on the pace of recovery from the pandemic’s hit.
James Webb Space Telescope
(Topic- GS Paper III- Science and Technology – Source- Indian Express)
Why in the news?
- Recently, NASA is set to launch the large infrared James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) touted as the “premier observatory” of the coming decade in 2021.
More in the news
- But before it launches, NASA has an important decision to make — whether to rename the $8.8-billion telescope.
- These considerations stem from allegations that NASA’s former government-appointed administrator James Webb, after whom JWST is named, had persecuted homosexuals when he had worked for the government.
About the James Webb Space Telescope
- It is also called Webb.
- It is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
- It will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror.
- The telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in 2021.
- It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our Solar System.
Kandla becomes the first Green SEZ
(Topic- GS Paper III – Economics, Source- Hindu)
Why in the news?
- Recently, Kandla SEZ (KASEZ) is the First Green special economic zone (SEZ) to achieve the IGBC Green Cities Platinum Rating for Existing Cities.
About the IGBC Green Cities Platinum Rating
- IGBC Platinum rating has been awarded for 'Green master planning, policy initiatives and implementation of green infrastructure by CII's Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).
- The recognition is set to pave way for all the other SEZs in the country to emulate the green initiative and efforts of Kandla SEZ.
About Special Economic Zone
- It is an area in a country that is subject to different economic regulations than other regions within the same country.
- The economic regulations of SEZs tend to be conducive to and attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
About Indian Green Building Council
- It is a part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and was formed in 2001.
- To enable a sustainable built environment for all and facilitate India to be one of the global leaders in the sustainable built environment by 2025.
- It offers a wide array of services which include developing new green building rating programmes, certification services and green building training programmes.
- It is committee-based, member-driven and consensus-focused and organises Green Building Congress, its annual flagship event on green buildings.
Exercise Cutlass Express 2021
(Topic- GS Paper III –Defence, Source- AIR)
Why in the news?
- Recently, the Indian Naval Ship (INS) Talwar is participating in Exercise Cutlass Express 2021 along the East Coast of Africa.
About Exercise Cutlass Express 2021
- The exercise is an annual maritime exercise conducted to promote national and regional maritime security in East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean.
- It aims to improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity and increase interoperability between the regional navies.
- The 2021 edition of the exercise involves the participation of 12 Eastern African countries, US, UK, India and various international organisations, like the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Interpol, European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), Critical Maritime Routes Indian Ocean (CRIMARIO) and EUCAP Somalia.
(Topic- GS Paper III –Environment, Source-Indian Express)
Why in the news?
- Recently, the Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change has informed the Rajya Sabha that India generated 10,14,961.2 tonnes of e-waste last year, a massive 31.6 per cent increase from the previous year.
- The minister informed Parliament that data regarding e-waste is only available in the country from 2017-18 onwards, that too only National data.
- E-Waste is short for Electronic-Waste and the term is used to describe old, end-of-life or discarded electronic appliances.
- It includes their components, consumables, parts and spares.
- It is categorised into 21 types under two broad categories:
- Information technology and communication equipment.
- Consumer electrical and electronics.
- Laws to manage e-waste have been in place in India since 2011, mandating that only authorised dismantlers and recyclers collect e-waste.
E-waste (Management) Rules, 2016 was enacted in 2017.
- So far, the Environment Ministry has notified 21 types of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) as e-waste.
About E-Waste Management Rules, 2016
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notified the E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 in supersession of the E-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011.
- Over 21 products (Schedule-I) were included under the purview of the rule
- It included Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) and other mercury-containing lamps, as well as other such equipment.
- For the first time, the rules brought the producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), along with targets.
- Producers have been made responsible for the collection of E-waste and its exchange.
- Various producers can have a separate Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) and ensure collection of E-waste, as well as its disposal in an environmentally sound manner.
Deposit Refund Scheme
- The deposit Refund Scheme has been introduced as an additional economic instrument wherein the producer charges an additional amount as a deposit at the time of sale of the electrical and electronic equipment and returns it to the consumer along with interest when the end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment is returned.
- The role of State Governments has been also introduced to ensure the safety, health and skill development of the workers involved in dismantling and recycling operations.
- A provision of penalty for violation of rules has also been introduced.
- Urban Local Bodies (Municipal Committee/Council/Corporation) has been assigned the duty to collect and channelize the orphan products to authorized dismantlers or recyclers.
- Amendments in E-Waste Management Rules 2016
E-waste (Management) Amendment Rules, 2018
- The E-Waste Management Rules 2016 have been amended vide notification G.S.R. 261(E), dated March 22, 2018.
- The amendment in rules has been done to channelize the E-waste generated in the country towards authorized dismantlers and recyclers to formalize the e-waste recycling sector.
- The collection targets under the provision of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the Rules have been revised and targets have been introduced for new producers who have started their sales operations recently.
Some of the salient features of the E-waste (Management) Amendment Rules, 2018 are as follows:
- The quantity of e-waste collected by producers from 1st October 2016 to 30 September 2017 shall be accounted for in the revised EPR targets until March 2018.
- Separate e-waste collection targets have been drafted for new producers, i.e. those producers whose number of years of sales operation is less than the average lives of their products. The average lives of the products will be as per the guidelines issued by CPCB from time to time.
- Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) shall apply to the Central Pollution Control board (CPCB) for registration to undertake activities prescribed in the Rules.
- Under the Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) provisions, the cost for sampling and testing shall be borne by the government for conducting the RoHS test.
- If the product does not comply with RoHS provisions, then the cost of the test will be borne by the Producers.
- India’s first e-waste clinic for segregating, processing and disposal of waste from household and commercial units has been set up in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
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