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Daily Current Affairs

6-December-2023

1. Global Stocktake draft calls for phasing out fossil fuels

Topic: GS3 – climate action

Context:

  • The draft text negotiated at the UN’s annual climate summit, COP-28, includes a clause calling for the world to phase out all fossil fuels.

More information on this news:

  • The Global Stocktake (GST) draft commits signatories to an “orderly and just phase out of fossil fuels.”
  • The summit’s location in the United Arab Emirates, a petro state, and COP leadership ties to oil have influenced the language in the GST.
  • Previous climate talks mainly focused on reducing dependence on coal, but the latest draft emphasizes the need to eliminate all fossil fuels.
  • Scientific evidence highlighting the necessity of significant emission cuts to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius contributes to the inclusion of fossil fuel phase-out in the draft.

2. Glaciers shrank 1 m a year in a decade: WMO

Topic: GS3 – climate change.

Highlights of the WMO report:

  • The 2011-2020 decade, despite being the warmest in recorded history, witnessed the lowest number of deaths from extreme events, according to a report by the World Meteorological Organization.
  • Improved early warning systems, driven by advancements in forecasting and disaster management, contributed to the decrease in casualties.
  • In India, enhanced cyclone forecasting and evacuation measures resulted in better preparedness, reducing the impact of extreme events.
  • This decade marked the first since 1950 without a single short-term event causing 10,000 or more deaths.
  • The report highlights the visible recovery of the depleted ozone hole and notes that glaciers worldwide thinned by approximately 1 meter per year between 2011 and 2020.
  • Greenland and Antarctica lost 38% more ice during 2011-2020 than in the 2001-2010 period.
  • Human-caused climate change increased risks from extreme heat events, with heatwaves causing the highest number of human casualties.
  • Tropical cyclones resulted in the most economic damage.
  • Public and private climate finance nearly doubled during the decade, but it needs to increase at least seven times by the end of this decade to achieve climate objectives.
  • The report emphasizes the urgency of significant climate finance to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

3. In a first, Mizoram now has more than one woman MLA

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Context:

  • Vanneihsangi has been elected to the Mizoram Assembly on the Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) ticket.
  • Mizoram’s ‘Mandate 2023’ marks the first time in nearly 40 years that a party other than the Mizo National Front (MNF) and the Congress has come to power in the state.
  • The election also witnessed the historic event of electing more than one woman to the 40-member Assembly.

Challenges:

  • Gender stereotypes and societal norms: Deeply ingrained gender stereotypes and societal norms often discourage women from entering politics, perceiving it as a male-dominated domain. This can lead to a lack of female role models and mentors, making it more difficult for women to navigate the political landscape.
  • Discrimination and harassment: Women in politics often face discrimination and harassment, both subtle and overt. This can range from sexist remarks and exclusion from informal networks to outright violence and threats. Such a hostile environment can discourage women from continuing in politics.
  • Work-life balance: Balancing political responsibilities with family and personal life can be particularly challenging for women, who often bear the brunt of domestic caregiving duties. This can lead to burnout and make it difficult for women to dedicate the time and energy required for a successful political career.
  • Funding and resource constraints: Women candidates often face financial disadvantages compared to their male counterparts. This can make it difficult to secure campaign funds, hire qualified staff, and compete effectively in elections.

Benefits:

  • Increased representation and diversity: Greater inclusion of women in politics brings a wider range of perspectives and experiences to decision-making processes, leading to more representative and inclusive policies.
  • Enhanced policy focus on women’s issues: Women in politics are more likely to advocate for policies that address the specific needs and concerns of women, such as healthcare, education, and childcare.
  • Improved governance and accountability: Studies have shown that countries with greater female representation in politics tend to have lower corruption levels and more responsive governments.
  • Role models and inspiration for future generations: More women in politics provide positive role models for young girls and inspire them to pursue leadership roles in their communities and society.
  • Strengthened democracy and social cohesion: A more inclusive and representative political system promotes social cohesion and strengthens democratic institutions by ensuring that the voices of all citizens are heard.

Question: How has the recent Mizoram Assembly elections, where more than one woman was elected for the first time in almost 40 years, highlighted the evolving landscape of women’s inclusion in Indian politics, and what implications does this hold for broader political representation?

4. India provides $250 mn Line of Credit to Kenya

Topic: GS2 – International relations.

Context:

  • India extends a $250 million Line of Credit to Kenya for the modernization of agriculture.

More on the news:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces the initiative and highlights collaboration on joint military exercises and counter-terror projects between India and Kenya.
  • President William Samoei Ruto welcomes the Indian initiatives and emphasizes the significant role of the Indian community in Kenya as a “bridge” between the two nations.
  • Ruto notes that Indians residing in Kenya consider the country as their “first country.”
  • The Line of Credit for agriculture aims to support projects for the advancement of the sector in Kenya.

5. The journey towards a plastic-free world

Topic: GS3 – plastic pollution.

Overview:

  • The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) held its third round of negotiations in Nairobi from November 13 to 19 to develop a global treaty on ending plastic pollution.
  • The committee aimed to deliver a binding plastic treaty by 2025, as per the UN Environment Assembly Resolution 5/14.

Zero Draft Negotiations:

  • The ‘zero draft’ presented by the secretariat contained robust options for a binding treaty.
  • Core obligations, especially on critical elements like primary polymer production, chemicals of concern, and problematic plastics, faced watered-down negotiations.
  • Disagreements arose on the treaty’s objective, with some countries pushing to include economic interests and sustainable development aspects.

Industry Influence:

  • Industry presence increased by 36% at INC-3, reflecting the influence of the fossil fuels and chemicals sector.
  • Opposition to discussing a reduction in plastic production indicated industry resistance to impactful measures.

Lack of Consensus on Lifecycle and Waste Management:

  • Disagreements on where the lifecycle of plastics begins, whether at raw material sourcing or product design.
  • Some countries resisted provisions related to eliminating harmful compounds and polymers, emphasizing ‘null option’ and ‘national circumstances.’

Finance Mechanism:

  • Divergence on the financial mechanism for treaty implementation, including plastic pollution fees and carbon footprint reduction.
  • Some countries demanded the removal of financial provisions, impacting fossil fuel subsidies and environmentally unfavorable technologies.

Trade Restrictions and WTO Rules:

  • Resistance against restrictions on polymer, chemical, and plastic trade, citing concerns about national sovereignty.
  • Analysis by the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL) debunked misconceptions about WTO rules, highlighting scope for trade restrictions.

Rules of Procedure Debates:

  • Lack of consensus on rules of procedure persisted from INC-2, with demands for consensus-based decision-making.
  • Rules of procedure applied provisionally at INC-3, and the decision was deferred to INC-4, delaying progress.

Role of African Group and SIDS:

  • African Group and Small-Island Developing States (SIDS) advocated for strong binding provisions, emphasizing human rights and public health.
  • The closed-door meeting on intersessional work failed to reach a consensus, leading to a setback in making headway before INC-4.

Overall Impact and Industry Influence:

  • Industry influence, stalling tactics, and lack of consensus on critical elements like reduction in plastic production revealed challenges to a robust, binding treaty.
  • INC-3 exposed member states opposed to a strong binding treaty to address plastic pollution.

6. India announces $250 mn line of credit to Kenya in agri sector

Topic: GS2- IR

Context:

  • With the noteworthy announcement of a $250 million line of credit aimed at improving Kenya’s agricultural sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kenyan President William Samoei Ruto have improved bilateral relations between India and Kenya.
  • Following discussions on military, commerce, energy, digital public infrastructure, and healthcare, the leaders signed five agreements to promote cooperation in a range of areas, including sports, education, and digital solutions.
  • A collaborative vision document was released that included goals to improve maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean region.

Concerns Over Missing Indians Addressed: Commitment to Counter-Terrorism Cooperation

  • During the conversation, India voiced worries on two of its residents who vanished in Kenya in July of the previous year: Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan and Zaid Sami Kidwai.
  • Following allegations that the people were murdered by the defunct Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) squad, there were indications indicating kidnapping.
  • Together with resolving this matter, both nations took a united stand against terrorism, recognizing it as the greatest threat to humankind.
  • With an emphasis on defense cooperation, military drills, capacity building, and connecting defense businesses, the leaders committed to further up efforts in counterterrorism cooperation.

Economic Collaboration and Investment Opportunities: Indian Origin Population as a Pillar

  • Kenya offered Indian enterprises land for farming under a cooperative concept as part of an exploration of economic cooperation.
  • Kenya’s side indicated interest in India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and invited Indian businesses to make investments in fields such as manufacturing, renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, agriculture, and green mobility.
  • The strength of the over 80,000 individuals of Indian descent living in Kenya was highlighted by Prime Minister Modi, who saw them as an essential cornerstone of bilateral relations.

Shared Vision for Development: Concessional Lines of Credit and Defense Cooperation

  • Kenya’s gratitude for India’s concessional lines of credit in areas like electricity, textiles, and small- and medium-sized business (SMEs) support was emphasized in the joint statement.
  • Citing the recently inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Goa Shipyard Ltd and Kenya Shipyard Ltd, the leaders underlined the significance of defense cooperation.
  • The same development objective spans multiple sectors, indicating a dedication to cultivating a dependable and devoted collaboration between the two countries.

7.22 nations pledge to triple nuclear installed capacity by 2050, India not a part of pact

Topic: GS3- Environment

Context:

  • 22 nations, led by the US and comprising the UK, France, Japan, Canada, South Korea, and Ukraine, made a commitment to tripling the world’s nuclear installed capacity by the year 2050 during the COP28 conference.
  • A “global aspirational goal” that acknowledges the contribution of nuclear energy to keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels and guaranteeing net-zero transitions is what this pledge seeks to accomplish.

India’s Stance on Nuclear and Renewable Energy Commitments

  • India chose not to participate in the nuclear energy pledge and corresponding commitment to treble renewable energy capacity, in contrast to the worldwide trend.
  • This choice is consistent with India’s stance that it will not form alliances outside of the COP process.
  • In regards to environmental agreements and pledges, India has remained independent.

Nuclear Energy’s Role in Net Zero and Climate Mitigation

  • Despite being regarded as clean, nuclear energy is not renewable.
  • Currently, 31 countries have deployed 370 GW of active nuclear power capacity, accounting for around 10% of the world’s total electricity production.
  • By 2050, this amount would reach at least 1,000 GW due to the tripling of nuclear energy capacity.
  • Studies show that substantial and ongoing investment in nuclear energy is necessary to achieve worldwide net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • Nuclear power stations do not release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

India’s Nuclear Expansion Plans and Net-Zero Goal

  • Anil Kakodkar, the former head of India’s Atomic Energy Commission, stressed that in order for India to meet its net-zero target by 2070, it must quickly grow its nuclear energy sector.
  • India did not sign up for the global pledge at COP28, but according to Kakodkar, the country’s 6,780 MW installed nuclear power is expected to triple to roughly 22 GW by 2032.
  • Nonetheless, he emphasized that India must go even farther, citing projections that indicate the nuclear sector will grow 100 times by 2070.

Considerations for India’s Participation and Potential Benefits

  • While there is a misconception that renewable energy sources can satisfy all of the demand for clean energy, Kakodkar pointed out that nuclear energy will become increasingly important as this demand rises.
  • He said that India might have benefited from joining the international coalition at COP28, as it might have improved its position as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and allowed for cooperation on reactor construction and nuclear supply chains.
  • In order to explore the role of nuclear energy in lowering the use of fossil fuels, improving energy security, and promoting economic development, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced a Nuclear Energy Summit to be held in Brussels in March of the following year.

8. India’s CO2 emission may register biggest rise for 2nd yr: study

Topic: GS3- Environment

Context:

  • According to the yearly analysis by the Global Carbon Project, India is predicted to top major economies in the biggest growth of carbon dioxide emissions for the second year in a row.
  • The analysis, presented at the annual climate change conference, shows that if current emission rates continue, there is a 50% possibility that the world might continuously surpass the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold in the next seven years.
  • There have already been breaches on a daily or weekly basis, and during the next five years, at least one annual breach is expected.

India’s Emission Growth Surpasses China:

  • India’s carbon dioxide emissions are predicted to rise by 8.2 percent in 2023, which is more than twice the growth that is forecast in China, where emissions are set to rise by 4 percent this year.
  • Even though China accounts for 31% of the world’s CO2 emissions, its emissions are around four times more than India’s.
  • Nevertheless, China’s emissions would climb more in absolute terms in 2023 than India’s.
  • India’s high electricity demand which cannot be met by the amount of new renewable capacity is the main cause of the country’s rising emission levels. Information demonstrates that from 2022, India’s CO2 emissions have surpassed those of the EU.

Factors Contributing to China’s Emission Growth:

  • One reason for China’s rising emissions is that the country took longer than expected to recover from the major Covid-19 lockdowns.
  • According to the report, India’s emissions are predicted to climb by 233 million tonnes over the previous year, with 176 million tonnes coming from coal-fired power plants.

Global Emission Trends and Concerns: New Record in Carbon Emissions

  • According to the report, global CO2 emissions will rise by 1.1 percent from the previous year to a record-breaking 36.8 billion tonnes.
  • All fossil fuels oil, gas, and coal are predicted to have higher emissions; oil is predicted to have the largest increase, at 1.5%.
  • Though this is less than the 22 countries that saw a fall in emissions last year, emissions are still expected to decline in 26 countries, or around 28% of global emissions.

Implications and Urgency for Action: Breaching Temperature Thresholds

  • According to the report, there is a chance that current CO2 emission levels will surpass the carbon budget that needs to be used to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next seven years.
  • Within 15 years, breaking the 1.7-degree Celsius barrier is also a worry.
  • After achieving worldwide net-zero emissions, a significant increase in the removal of carbon dioxide would be required to bring global temperatures back below these levels.

9.One-third of India’s coastline vulnerable to erosion: minister

Topic: GS3- Environment

Context:

  • A National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) study indicates that more than one-third of India’s coastline is susceptible to erosion.
  • The research, which used multispectral satellite imagery and field surveys to collect data throughout the 1990–2018 timeframe, found that 39.6% of the Indian coastline is unstable, 26.9% is undergoing accretion (growth), and 33.6% of the coastline is being eroded.
  • In response to a question in the Lok Sabha, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, the Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, delivered the findings.

Impact on Habitat and Livelihood:

  • Both natural and human activity affect coastal alterations.
  • Fishermen’s habitat and means of subsistence are threatened by the retreating coastline, which results in a loss of area for boat parking, net mending, and fishing operations.
  • The study found that different parts of India’s coastline are eroding to different degrees as a result of human activity or natural reasons.

State-wise Vulnerability and Beach Erosion Findings: NCSCM Study

  • The National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM) studied beaches that were eroding state-by-state.
  • Of the 116 beaches assessed in Andhra Pradesh, 35 are at risk of erosion, with the other beaches experiencing accretion.
  • Of the 50 beaches in Goa that were surveyed, 28 experience accretion and 22 experience erosion.
  • Thirteen out of twenty-two examined beaches in Kerala are deemed vulnerable, nine out of twenty-one in Tamil Nadu, and twenty-one out of thirty-one in Maharashtra are deemed vulnerable.
  • Out of the 18 beaches surveyed, 13 are found to be susceptible in Karnataka.

Government Initiatives to Combat Coastal Erosion: CRZ Notification

  • The government has taken steps to combat coastal erosion and save coastal lands.
  • With the intention of conserving and safeguarding coastal regions and marine areas while guaranteeing the security of livelihood for local populations and fishermen, the Ministry published the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) notification in 2019.
  • To protect India’s coastline from erosion and encroachment, the notification also establishes No Development Zones (NDZ) along several categories of coastal lands.

10. Govt to conduct CPR workshops across India

Topic: GS2- Health

Context:

  • The National Board of Examination, housed within the health ministry, is addressing the rising number of young people dying suddenly from cardiac arrests by adopting a proactive strategy.
  • Acknowledging the vital importance of prompt intervention, the board has made the decision to train individuals nationwide in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), with a particular emphasis on chest compressions, which maintain blood flow to vital organs even in cases where the heart is not beating properly.
  • On December 6, workshops are expected to draw between 15 and 20 lakh participants countrywide.
  • These workshops will take place at different universities, dental, medical, and nursing schools.

Objective: Saving Lives Until Medical Assistance Arrives

  • Given the rise in sudden deaths, experts from the National Board of Examinations stressed the value of CPR training.
  • The intention is to provide people the know-how and abilities to do CPR on themselves, possibly saving lives until emergency medical personnel arrive or the person gets to the hospital.
  • Although primary health workers, such as CPR-trained Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs), will initially be the focus audience for the training, there are plans to expand its reach to include additional persons.

Addressing Cardiac Arrests Among Young People: No Link to Covid-19

  • There is presently no proof linking the upsurge in cardiac arrests among youth to Covid-19.
  • Experts made it clear that the ongoing pandemic has not been linked to the rise in unexpected deaths.
  • Furthermore, a recent study by the Indian Council of Medical Research discovered no link between Covid-19 vaccinations and a higher incidence of unexpected fatalities.
  • Conversely, vaccination has been demonstrated to lower the likelihood of these incidents, offering a favorable viewpoint on immunization’s significance.

11. IISER Bhopal researchers conduct first genome sequencing of jamun

Topic: GS3- Science and Tech

Context:

  • The jamun tree (Syzygium cumini), which is well-known in India for its fruit, medicinal qualities, and aesthetic appeal, has had its genome sequenced for the first time by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER Bhopal).
  • The goal of the study is to learn more about the jamun genome’s evolution and function, which may account for the fruit’s diverse array of pharmacological characteristics.

Jamun’s Medicinal Significance and Previous Studies

  • Syzygium cumini, commonly referred to as jamun, is a member of the Myrtaceae family of plants and has long been used in Ayurveda for its therapeutic properties.
  • Prior research has demonstrated that it is a great source of iron, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
  • Ayurveda recommends jamun as a cure for a variety of health issues, with its anti-diabetic qualities being especially well-known.

Genome Sequencing Techniques and Insights

  • The research team used sequencing technology from Oxford Nanopore and 10x Genomics to understand the evolutionary and genetic underpinnings of jamun’s therapeutic properties.
  • Comparing the jamun genome to other sequenced species in the Syzygium genus, the study found that a greater proportion of coding genes arising from gene duplication events are present.
  • This suggests that the jamun species had a neopolyploidy event, which might have given rise to new functionalities.

Functional Genes and Adaptive Evolution

  • The jamun genome analysis revealed important genes in charge of its adaptive evolution.
  • The production of terpenoids, a broad class of metabolites renowned for their role in plant defense responses as well as their contribution to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics, has been linked to fourteen genes.
  • The plant’s anti-diabetic properties can be explained by the presence of glucosides, another class of metabolites that inhibits starch from being converted to sugar.
  • Moreover, the genome implies that jamun has genes that improve its ability to withstand stress from things like weeds, insects, heat stress, salt, and drought, demonstrating amazing evolutionary adaptation in the species.

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