Current Affairs Daily Current Affairs 22

27th January,2022 ; Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 27th January,2022

 (30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • A) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
  • Spot-Billed Pelicans Dying En Masse in Naupada Swamp (TH, pg 5)
  • B) Economic Developments: India and World
  • Trade Defence Mechanism in India (Anti-Dumping Duty, Countervailing Duty (CVD) etc.) (TH, pg 12)
  • C) International Relations
  • Who are Kurds? (TH, pg 11)
  • D) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations
  • Integrity Pact and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) (TH, pg 10)

 

A) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

  1. Spot-Billed Pelicans Dying En Masse in Naupada Swamp (TH, pg 5)
  • Context: A nematode infestation has led to mass mortality of spot-billed pelicans at Telineelapuram Important Bird Area (IBA) in Naupada swamp of Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh.

Analysis

  • Until now, in South India, the Telineelapuram IBA is the prime winter sojourn for the spot-billed pelican for breeding.
  • The same IBA is also a breeding habitat for the painted storks.
  • The nematode parasite is suspected to be transferred through fish and snails in particular, when the birds prey in the aqua ponds.
  • Only adult birds have succumbed to the infestation till date.
  • Aquaculture management practices surrounding the habitat are said to be the source for the parasite.
  • The nematode infestation would not spread from one species to another species as per the studies carried out by the experts in Karnataka State.
  • Thousands of spot-billed pelicans and a few hundred painted storks migrate from the Siberian region to breed in the Telineelapuram IBA and a majority of them prefer to stay here instead of going back home.
  • Spot-billed Pelicans are one of the most threatened (listed as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List) of the seven species of pelicans in the world. In India, they are listed in Schedule IV of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (WPA).
  • The eggs of these parasites enter the water through the faecal shedding of the definitive host:usually, waterbirds like pelicans.
  • A definitive host is a biological organism in whose body a parasite sexually multiplies and completes its life cycle.
  • Reaching this sexual maturity is very important for the continuation of the parasite’s species.
  • For example, human tapeworm makes use of humans as its definitive host.
  • The nematode infestation, resulting in blocking the intestinal passage, appears to pre-dispose the birds to become weak and then starve, unable to-ingest food.

What areNematodes?

  • Nematodes, also called roundworm, are any worm of the phylum Nematoda.
  • Nematodes are among the most abundant animals on Earth.
  • They occur as parasites in animals and plants or as free-living forms in soil, fresh water, marine environments, and even such unusual places as vinegar, beer malts, and water-filled cracks deep within Earth’s crust.
  • A great deal of research has been conducted on the parasitic forms because most of them have some medical, veterinary, or economic importance.
  • Nematodes are bilaterally symmetrical, elongate, and usually tapered at both ends.
  • The sexes are separate in most species, but some are hermaphroditic (i.e., have both male and female reproductive organs in the same individual).
  • Nematodes range in size from microscopic to 7 metres (about 23 feet) long, the largest being the parasitic forms found in whales.

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)

  • IBA is an area identified using an internationally agreed set of criteria.
  • These are globally important for the conservation of bird populations.
  • The program was developed and sites are identified by BirdLife International.
  • Currently there are over 12,000 IBAs worldwide.
  • IBAs are identified for terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments as well.
  • Legal protection only if they become part of already protected areas, so no special legal protection on being identified as an IBA.

Criteria

  • To be listed as an IBA, a site must satisfy at least one of the following criteria:
  1. Globally threatened species
  • Regular presence of a Critical or Endangered species, irrespective of population size, OR
  • Vulnerable species, more than a threshold limit.
  1. Restricted-range species
  2. Biome-restricted species
  3. Congregations

 

B) Economic Developments: India and World

  1. Trade Defence Mechanism in India (Anti-Dumping Duty, Countervailing Duty (CVD) etc.) (TH, pg 12)
  • Context: The Commerce Ministry’s investigation arm Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) has initiated an anti-dumping probe against imports of a certain type of tiles, used for covering the floors in residential and commercial buildings, from China, Taiwan and Vietnam following a complaint by domestic players.

Analysis

  • Binding tariffs, and applying them equally to all trading partners (most-favoured-nation treatment, or MFN) are key to the smooth flow of trade in goods.
  • The WTO agreements uphold these principles, but they also allow exceptions — in some circumstances.
  • Three of these issues are:
  • actions taken against dumping (selling at an unfairly low price);
  • subsidies and special “countervailing” duties to offset the subsidies;
  • emergency measures to limit imports temporarily, designed to “safeguard” domestic industries.

Countervailing Duty (CVD)

  • It is an additional import duty imposed on imported products (by the importing country) when such products enjoy benefits like export subsidies and tax concessions in the country of their origin.
  • The objective of CVD is to nullify or eliminate the price advantage (low price) enjoyed by an imported product when it is given subsidies or exempted from domestic taxes in the country where they are manufactures.
  • The WTO permits member countries to impose countervailing duty when the exporting country gives export subsidy.

Anti-Dumping Duty

  • Dumping is a process where a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges on its own home market.
  • An anti-dumping duty is a protectionist tariffthat a domestic government imposes on foreign imports that it believes are priced below fair market value.
  • Typically, anti-dumping action means charging extra import duty on the particular product from the particular exporting country in order to bring its price closer to the “normal value” or to remove the injury to domestic industry in the importing country.
  • Anti-dumping duty is imposed on the basis of margin of dumping which can vary across countries, producers or exporters.
  • Accordingly, there are variable rates of anti-dumping duty on different exporting countries, producers or exporters. 
  • The use of anti-dumping measure as an instrument of fair competition is permitted by the WTO.
  • The WTO agreement allows governments to act against dumping where there is genuine (“material”) injury to the competing domestic industry.
  • In order to do that the government has to be able to show that dumping is taking place, calculate the extent of dumping (how much lower the export price is compared to the exporter’s home market price), and show that the dumping is causing injury or threatening to do so.
  • Disputes in the anti-dumping area are subject to binding dispute settlement before the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO.

Anti-Dumping and Customs Duty

  • Although anti-dumping duty is levied and collected by the Customs Authorities, it is entirely different from the Customs duties not only in concept and substance, but also in purpose and operation.
  • The following are the main differences between the two:
  • Anti-dumping and the like measures in their essence are linked to the notion of fair trade.
  • The object of these duties is to guard against the situation arising out of unfair trade practices while customs duties are there as a means of raising revenue and for overall development of the economy.
  • Customs duties fall in the realm of trade and fiscal policies of the Government while anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures are there as trade remedial measures.
  • Anti-dumping duties are not necessarily in the nature of a tax measure inasmuch as the Authority is empowered to suspend these duties in case of an exporter offering a price undertaking. Thus, such measures are not always in the form of duties/tax.
  • Anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties are levied against exporter/country in as much as they are country specific and exporter specific as against the customs duties which are general and universally applicable to all imports irrespective of the country of origin and the exporter.

Extent of Anti-Dumping Duty

  • Under the WTO arrangement, the National Authorities can impose duties up to the margin of dumping i.e. the difference between the normal value and the export price.
  • The Indian law also provides that the anti-dumping duty to be recommended/levied shall not exceed the dumping margin.
  • The anti-dumping duty cannot be levied retrospectively beyond 90days from the date of issue of Notification imposing duty.

Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR)

  • The Directorate General of Trade Remedies (earlier known as Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties) is a quasi-judicial body functioning under the aegis of the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, asan integrated single window agency for providing comprehensive and swift trade defence mechanism in India.
  • Earlier, the Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) dealt with anti-dumping and Countervailing Duty (CVD) cases, Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS) dealt with safeguard measures and Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) dealt with quantitative restriction (QR) safeguards.
  • The DGTR brings DGAD, DGS and Safeguards (QR) functions of DGFT into its fold by merging them into one single national entity. DGTR now deals with Anti-dumping, CVD and Safeguard measures.
  • It also provides trade defence support to our domestic industry and exporters in dealing with increasing instances of trade remedy investigations instituted against them by other countries.

Functions

  • Conducting anti-dumping investigations and recommendation to GoI.
  • Conducting anti-subsidy/CVD investigations and recommendation to GoI.
  • Conducting safeguard investigations and recommendation to GoI
  • Handling Litigation matters before CESTAT, High Courts and Supreme Court of India.
  • Exchange of information with WTO.
  • The DGTR’s function, however, is only to conduct the anti-dumping/anti-subsidy & countervailing duty investigation and make recommendation to the Government for imposition of anti-dumping or anti subsidy measures.
  • All investigations are required to be concluded within 12 months. This period is extendable upto 18 months.
  • Such duty is finally imposed/levied by a Notification of the Ministry of Finance.
  • Thus, while the Designated Authority (in the Department of Commerce) recommends the anti-dumping duty, provisional or final, it is the Ministry of Finance, Dept. of Revenue which acts upon such recommendation within three months and imposes/levies such duty.

Minimum Level of Imports

Individual exporter

  • Any exporter whose margin of dumping is less than 2% of the export price shall be excluded from the purview of anti-dumping duties even if the existence of dumping, injury as well as the causal link is established.

Country

  • Further, investigation against any country is required to be terminated if the volume of the dumped imports, actual or potential, from a particular country accounts for less than 3% of the total imports of the like product.
  • However, in such a case, the cumulative imports of the like product from all these countries who individually account for less than 3%, should not exceed 7% of the import of the like product.

Appeal

  • The law provides that an order of determination of existence degree and effect of dumping is appealable before the Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal (CEGAT).
  • However, as per the judicial view, only the final findings/order of the Designated Authority/Ministry of Finance can be appealed against before the CEGAT.
  • Appeal cannot lie against the Preliminary findings of the Authority and the provisional duty imposed on the basis thereof.
  • The Appeal to the CEGAT should be filed within 90 days.

 

C) International Relations

  1. Who are Kurds? (TH, pg 11)
  • Context: Kurdish forces retook full control of a prison in northeast Syria where Islamic State group jihadists had been holed up since attacking it six days ago.

Analysis

Who are the Kurds and where do they come from?

  • Between 25 and 35 million Kurds inhabit the Mesopotamian plains and the highlands straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia.
  • They make up the fourth-largest ethnic group and linguistic minority in the Middle East, but they have never obtained a permanent nation state.
  • Today, they form a distinctive community, united through race, culture and language, even though they have no standard dialect.
  • They also adhere to a number of different religions and creeds, although the majority are Sunni Muslims.

What do Syria’s Kurds want?

  • Kurds make up between 7% and 10% of Syria’s population.
  • The Kurdish Parties in Syria say they are not seeking independence, but insist that any political settlement to end the conflict in Syria must include legal guarantees for Kurdish rights and recognition of Kurdish autonomy.

Kurds are at the forefront of the fight against IS.

  • The Kurds – fighting under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alongside several local Arab militias, and helped by US-led coalition airpower – have driven IS out thousands of square kilometres of territory in Syria and established control over hundreds of kilometres along the border with Turkey.
    • In mid-2013, the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) turned its sights on three Kurdish enclaves that bordered territory under its control in northern Syria.
  • The gains in Syria have, however, brought the Kurds and their allies into direct contact with Russian-supported Syrian government forces and Turkish-backed rebels, triggering clashes that have raised tensions between competing world powers.

Why is Turkey reluctant to help the Kurds battle IS?

  • There is deep-seated hostility between the Turkish state and the country’s Kurds, who constitute 15% to 20% of the population.
  • Even, Turkey’s relations with the U.S. are currently rocky over U.S. support to the Syrian Kurdish militia, the YPG, that Ankara considers a terrorist organisation because of its close relations with the secessionist PKK.
  • YPG is an acronym whose translation means People’s Protection Units. It is the home grown defense forces of the Kurdish area of Syria. It emerged after the Civil War erupted in Syria and started to spill over into Syrian Kurdistan, now known as Rojava, or Western Kurdistan.
  • The Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê‎) is a Kurdish far-left militant and political organization based in Turkey and Iraq.

 

D) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations

  1. Integrity Pact and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) (TH, pg 10)
  • Context: The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has again modified the criteria for the nomination of Independent External Monitors (IEM) in government bodies, months after it had issued a revised standard operating procedure for adoption and implementation of the ‘Integrity Pact’ clause, which is meant to prevent corruption in public procurement.
  • As the apex integrity institution, the Commission is mandated to fight corruption and to ensure integrity in public administration.

Analysis

Background

  • CVC is conceived to be the apex vigilance institution to promote integrity in the governance processes by:
  • Creation of a credible deterrence against corruption through prompt enforcement of anti-corruption laws and regulations
  • Undertaking effective preventive measures to minimize the scope of corruption.
  • Raising public awareness to inculcate ethical values and reduce society’s tolerance towards corruption.
  • The Central Vigilance Commission was set up by a Government Resolution in 1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance.
  • It was accorded the status of independent statutory authority through the Central Vigilance Commission Act,2003.
  • The Commission shall consist of: A Central Vigilance Commissioner – Chairperson and not more than two Vigilance Commissioners as Members.
  • They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal on the recommendation of a three member committee consisting of the Prime Minister as its head, the Union Minister of home affairs and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
  • They hold office for a term of four years or until they attain the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier.
  • After their tenure, they are not eligible for further employment under the Central or a state government.
  • The salary, allowances and other conditions of service of the Central Vigilance Commissioner are similar to those of the Chairman of UPSC and that of the vigilance commissioner are similar to those of a member of UPSC.

Roles & Functions (important ones only)

  • Exercise superintendence over the functioning of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) insofar as it relates to the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988; or an offence under the Cr.PC for certain categories of public servants.
  • Give directions to the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) for superintendence insofar as it relates to the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • Review the progress of investigations conducted by the DSPE into offences alleged to have been committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 or an offence under the Cr.PC
  • Exercise superintendence over the vigilance administrations of the various Central Government Ministries, Departments and Organizations of the Central Government.
  • Tender advice to the Central Government and its organizations on such matters as may be referred to it by them
  • CVC has all the powers of a Civil court while conducting any inquiry.

Commission’s Jurisdiction under CVC Act

  • Members of All India Service serving in connection with the affairs of the Union and Group A officers of the Central Government.
  • Officers of the rank of Scale V and above in the Public Sector Banks.
  • Officers in Grade D and above in Reserve Bank of India, NABARD and SIDBI.
  • Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers of E-8 and above in Schedule ‘A’ and ‘B’ Public Sector Undertakings.
  • Chief Executives and Executives on the Board and other officers of E-7 and above in Schedule ‘C’ and ‘D’ Public Sector Undertakings.
  • Managers and above in General Insurance Companies.
  • Senior Divisional Managers and above in Life Insurance Corporations.
  • Other Officers drawing salary of Rs.8700/- p.m. and above on Central Government in Societies and other Local Authorities.

What is ‘Integrity Pact’ (IP)?

  • In the year 2007, the CVC recommended implementation of a concept called ‘Integrity Pact’ (IP) in respect of all major procurements.
  • The IP essentially envisages an agreement between the prospective vendors/bidders and the buyer committing the persons/officials of both parties not to exercise any corrupt influence on any aspect of the contract.
  • The IP, in respect of a particular contract, shall be operative from the date IP is signed by both the parties till the final completion of the contract.
  • IP is to be implemented through Independent External Monitors (IEMs) appointed by the organisation.
  • The main role and responsibility of Independent External Monitors (IEMs)is to resolve issues raised by an intending bidder regarding any aspect of the tender which allegedly restricts competition or indicates bias towards some bidders.
  • IEMs are expected to examine process integrity and not expected to concern themselves with fixing of responsibility on officers.
  • The IEMs would examine all complaints received by them and give their recommendations/views to the CEO of the organisation (and to the CVO in case of suspicion of serious irregularities).
  • The recommendations of IEMs are advisory in nature and not legally binding.
  • The role of IEMs and CVO are separate and would remain unaffected by each other.

Eligibility

  • Age of IEMs should not be more than 70 years at the time of appointments/extension of tenure.
  • A person cannot be appointed as IEM in more than three organisations at a time.
  • A maximum of three IEMs would be appointed in any organisation.
  • A person who is either serving or has served from the same organisation cannot be appointed as IEM in that organisation.

Have you heard about Integrity Index?

  • The Integrity Index for public organisations is an initiative of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) which will be based on bench marking of governance processes by internal and external stakeholders.
  • The Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad is the consulting partner engaged by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to develop a generic framework for computing Integrity Index of Public organizations.
  • It is undertaking a research-based approach to create an integrity index that various organizations can use to measure themselves and which will evolve with changing needs.
  • The objective of this exercise is to define what constitutes integrity of public organisations, to identify the different factors of integrity and their inter-linkages and to create an objective and reliable tool that can measure the performance of organisations on this benchmark.
  • ‘Integrity index’: will help the Government departments in India to assess where they stand on anti-corruption measures.

Definition of Integrity (Additional Information for GS4)

  • When there is a congruence among our thoughts, words and actions, the integrity gets manifested.
  • Integrity includes but goes beyond honesty. Honesty is telling the truth- in other words, conforming our words to reality. Integrity is conforming reality to our words- in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations
  • Integrity is the basis of Trust
  • Integrity is the uprightness of character

Eradication of Corruption

The Government of India has taken several measures to combat corruption and improve probity and accountability of Government institutions, which among others, include:

  • Disbursement of welfare benefits directly to the citizens under various schemes of the Government. through the Direct Benefit Transfer initiative.
  • Implementation of E-tendering in public procurements.
  • Introduction of e-Governance and simplification of procedure and systems.
  • Introduction of Government procurement through the Government e-Marketplace (GeM).
  • An online “Probity Portal” operationalised since 2017 under which various Ministries/Departments, autonomous organizations and public sector banks etc. enter information regarding review under Fundamental Rule 56(j), cases for sanction for prosecution, implementation of rotational transfer policy and disciplinary proceedings etc.
  • Invocation of FR-56(j) and AIS (DCRB) Rules, 1958 for prematurely retiring officials whose performance has been reviewed and found unsatisfactory.
  • Discontinuation of interviews in recruitment of Group ‘B’ (Non-Gazetted) and Group ‘C’ posts in Government of India.
  • The All India Services (Disciplinary and Appeal) Rules and Central Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules have been amended to provide strict timelines in the procedure related to disciplinary proceedings.
  • The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 has been amended on 26.07.2018 to bring a paradigm shift in tackling corruption in as much as clearly criminalizing the act of giving bribe, checking big ticket corruption by creating a vicarious liability in respect of senior management of commercial organizations where the act of giving of bribe is with their consent or connivance.
  • Issue of instructions by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) asking the organizations to adopt Integrity Pact in major procurement activities
  • The institution of Lokpal has been operationalised by appointment of a Chairperson and eight Members, including four judicial Members.
  • Lokpal is statutorily mandated to directly receive and independently process complaints as regards alleged offences against public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • Enactment of Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
  • Ratification of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2011.
  • Setting up of additional Special Courts exclusively for trial of CBI cases in different states.

Do you know?             

  • Central Government has to mandatory consult the Central Vigilance Commission before making any rules or regulations governing the vigilance or disciplinary matters relating to the persons appointed to the public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or to members of the All India Services.
  • The Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) is the Chairperson and the Vigilance Commissioners are members of the Committee, on whose recommendations, the Central Government appoints the Director of Enforcement (ED).