Why in News
German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited India from 31st October - 1st November 2019 for the fifth round of Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC).
- Intergovernmental Consultations (IGC) are held at the level of Head of Governments which allows for a comprehensive review of cooperation and identification of fresh areas of engagement.
- India is amongst a select group of countries with which Germany has such a dialogue mechanism.
- It is a unique mechanism which has helped deepen the bilateral relations between India and Germany in several fields such as new and advanced technology, smart cities, inland waterways, environmental protection etc.
- Pacts signed in fields such as space, civil aviation, maritime technology, medicine, education, agriculture and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- Cooperation in Defence
- India has invited Germany to take advantage of opportunities in defence sector in the upcoming defence corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
- The countries agreed to work on bilateral and multilateral platforms to counter terrorism and extremism.
- Stand on International Issues
- To continue cooperation to expedite reforms in the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
- Stressed on restoring full functioning of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute settlement system and reforming the organisation without undermining its fundamental principles such as Special & Differential Treatment etc.
- Climate Change
- Agreed to provide financial support to climate initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Germany expressed its readiness to provide 1.1 billion dollar to India for green urban mobility.
- Economic Sector
- To deepen efforts to restart negotiations between the European Union (EU) and India on the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).
- Science and Technology
- To conduct joint research on the development and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
- To identify best possible approaches on cyber security.
India - Germany Ties
- India and Germany have a 'Strategic Partnership' since 2001.
- Germany is India's largest trading partner in Europe.
- India and Germany are members of G-4 along with Brazil and Japan. The G4 nations support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.
- Both countries are also members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Why in News
- Recently, the Meghalaya Cabinet has approved amendments to the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA) 2016.
- The ordinance makes registration on entry mandatory for visitors who intend to spend more than 24 hours in the state of Meghalaya.
- This will require non-resident visitors to register themselves on the lines of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Mizoram.
- The amendment comes in the backdrop of demands by civil society and political leaders, that people excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam might try to enter Meghalaya.
- In the original Act the focus was on registration and documentation of tenants but the amendments will extend similar rules to all non-state residents visiting or living in the state.
Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA) 2016
- The act aims to ensure the security of the tenants as well as the safety and security of the citizens of the state.
- It provides for verification and regulation the tenants residing in rented houses in the state.
- It also establishes District Task Force and Facilitation Centres for effective enforcement of various laws for the safety and security of the citizens.
Inner Line Permit
- Inner Line Permit is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected/restricted area for a limited period.
- It is a special permit required by “outsiders” from other regions of the country to enter the three states (Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Mizoram).
- It is based on the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act (BEFR), 1873.
- This act was enacted during the British era to protect the British interests from the hill tribals who used to invade the British subjects
- An imaginary line known as the inner-line was created to divide between the two communities so that neither party could go beyond the line without a permit from the appropriate authorities.
Why in News
- Recently, the 29th meeting of environment ministers from the BASIC nations (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) was held in Beijing, China.
- A statement was issued calling for a comprehensive implementation of the Paris Agreement (2015).
- Apart from laying emphasis on Paris agreement, the group of ministers also called on the developed nations to deliver on their commitment to provide $100 billion climate finance to the developing countries.
- The developed world under the Copenhagen Accord (established during the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-15) had promised $100 billion per year from 2012 to 2020.
- This fund is known as the Green Climate Fund.
- Green Climate Fund aims to help the developing and least developing countries to mitigate climate change issues as the Paris agreement comes into effect.
- However, only about $10-20 billion has been contributed so far.
- The meeting is in accordance with the principles of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC).
- Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR–RC) is a principle within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that acknowledges the different capabilities and differing responsibilities of individual countries in addressing climate change.
- The Group also underlined the importance of a full, effective and sustained implementation of the UNFCCC, its Kyoto Protocol (1997-2012) and its Paris Agreement.
Why in News
The manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) was recorded at a 2-year low in October 2019. The score has decreased from 51.4 in September 2019 to 50.6 in October 2019.
Definition: PMI is an indicator of business activity- in the manufacturing and services sectors.
Calculation of PMI
- It is a survey-based measure that asks the respondents about changes in their perception about key business variables as compared with the previous month.
- It is calculated separately for the manufacturing and services sectors and then a composite index is constructed.
- The latest composite PMI decreased to 49.8 in September 2019 from 52.6 in August 2019.
- The PMI is a number from 0 to 100.
- PMI above 50 represents an expansion when compared to the previous month;
- PMI under 50 represents a contraction, and
- A reading at 50 indicates no change.
- If PMI of the previous month is higher than the PMI of the current month (as is the case mentioned above), it represents that the economy is contracting.
- The PMI is usually released at the start of every month. It is, therefore, considered a good leading indicator of economic activity.
Purpose: To provide information about current and future business conditions to company decision-makers, analysts, and investors. As the official data on industrial output, manufacturing and GDP growth comes much later, PMI helps to make informed decisions at an earlier stage.
- Recently, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority- EPCA declared a public health emergency in New Delhi as pollution levels entered the ‘severe plus’ category.
- An Air Quality Index (AQI) above 500 falls in ‘severe plus’ category. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the overall AQI score of New Delhi crossed 500 mark.
- Deterioration in air quality is due to a combination of several factors:
- Local pollution produced by vehicular and industrial pollution. It got further spiked by bursting of crackers on Deepavali.
- Stubble burning in states of Punjab and Haryana: CPCB held that stubble burning contribution to pollution has gone up to 45%, resulting in the high particulate matter concentration.
- Extremely adverse weather conditions: Northwesterly winds brought high quantities of smoke from Punjab and Haryana to Delhi-NCR.
- Symptoms associated with this pollution are irritation in the eyes and throat, dry skin, skin allergies, chronic cough and breathlessness.
- Government has taken a series of incremental steps as the quality of the air deteriorates. For Example:
- Odd-even scheme: Under the scheme, vehicles with odd last digit in the registration number will ply on odd days and those with even last digit on even days
- Imposition of Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) at toll plazas.
Environment Compensation Charge
- Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) is a Supreme Court directed green tax.
- Green Taxes are one of a variety of policy measures formulated by the government to control activities that affect the environment.
- It is a type of ‘cess’ which has no legislative backup that usually accompanies the imposition of tax on public activities.
- A cess is usually imposed additionally when the state or the central government looks to raise funds for specific purposes.
- Distribution of N95 mask: A disposable N95 mask is a safety device that covers the nose and mouth and helps protect the wearer from breathing in hazardous pollutants like PM 2.5.
- Under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) schools are shut down till the air quality remains severe
- GRAP is an emergency action plan in Delhi to tackle rising air pollution.
- It was prepared by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC) after the order of Supreme Court of December 2016.
Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority
- EPCA was constituted under section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 for the National Capital Region in compliance with the Supreme Court order dated January 1998.
- It has the power suo-moto, or on the basis of complaints made by any individual, representative body or organization functioning in the field of environment.
- It takes all necessary steps to for controlling vehicular pollution, ensuring compliance of fuel quality standards, monitoring and coordinating action for traffic planning and management.
Central Pollution Control Board
- The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India is a statutory organisation under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- It was established in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974.
- The CPCB is also entrusted with the powers and functions under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
Why in News
The recent incident of, Pakistan’s denial of use of its airspace to India, has been taken up by Indian Government to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
- India sought overflight clearance from Pakistan for the Prime Minister’s aircraft to go to Saudi Arabia on 28th October, 2019.
- Pakistan cited alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir to deny the request.
International Civil Aviation Organisation
- ICAO is a United Nations (UN) specialized agency, established in 1944, which laid the foundation for the standards and procedures for peaceful global air navigation.
- The Convention on International Civil Aviation was signed on 7th December 1944 in Chicago.
- It established the core principles permitting international transport by air, and also led to the creation of the ICAO.
- Its one of the objectives is to foster the planning and development of international air transport so as to ensure the safe and orderly growth of international civil aviation throughout the world.
- India is among its 193 members.
- It is headquartered in Montreal, Canada.
Why in News
A High Level Advisory Group on Trade Policy (HLAG) headed by Surjit S Bhalla has recently suggested the government to issue ‘Elephant Bonds’. This will help India to recover up to $500 billion of black money that is stashed overseas.
- An Elephant Bond is a 25-year sovereign bond (a bond issued by a national government).
- This bond is issued to those people who declare their previously undisclosed income and are then bound to invest 50% of that amount in these securities.
- The fund gathered by the issuance of these bonds is utilized to finance infrastructure projects only.
- HLAG recommended these bonds in order to boost India’s growth by utilizing the collected money (via this mechanism) to fund infrastructure projects in the country.
- One of the key features of the proposed mechanism is that those disclosing their black money will receive immunity from all local laws including those under foreign exchange, black money laws, and taxation laws.
- This would enable people to bring their offshore undisclosed wealth into India without fear of prosecution.
- Countries like Indonesia, Pakistan, Argentina, and the Philippines have already launched their own tax amnesty schemes for persons who disclose undeclared income without the risk of prosecution.
- Tax amnesty is a limited-time opportunity for a specified group of taxpayers to pay a defined amount, in exchange for forgiveness of tax liability (including interests and penalties).
- The move is also expected to bring down the real interest rate. It will also strengthen the rupee.
- The HLAG was set up under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in the year 2018.
Why in News
Seven Indian states — Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka and Kerala -- observed their foundation day on 1st November.
- The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014 bifurcated the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh into two separate states, namely, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
- In 2000, Chhattisgarh was created out of Madhya Pradesh.
- In 1966, the State of Punjab was bifurcated to create Haryana.
- Kerala and Karnataka were formed under the States Reorganisation Act, 1956.
- Article 3 authorises the Parliament to:
- Form a new state by separation of territory from any state or by uniting two or more states or parts of states or by uniting any territory to a part of any state.
- Increase the area of any state,
- Diminish the area of any state,
- Alter the boundaries of any state,
- Alter the name of any state.
- However, Article 3 lays down two conditions:
- The Bill can be introduced in the Parliament only with the prior recommendation of the President;
- Before recommending the bill, the President has to refer the same to the state legislature concerned for expressing its views within a specified period.
- The President (or Parliament) is not bound by the views of the state legislature and may either accept or reject them, even if the views are received in time.