Topic 1: The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
Why in news: The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has made fresh allegations of stock manipulation against the Adani Group.
- The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) is a global network of investigative journalists with staff on six continents.
- It was founded in 2006 and specializes in organized crime and corruption.
- OCCRP works with and supports 50+ independent media outlets in Europe, Africa, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.
- Initially funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), the OCCRP network first opened an office in Sarajevo.
- The idea is to have a global network of journalists with easy communication and information-sharing so that global networks of corruption and crime can be better understood and exposed.
- The OCCRP is supported both by state and non-state institutional actors, as well as smaller individual donors.
Topic 2: Haryana’s Parivar Pehchan Patra
Why in news: A political party announced to scrap the current government’s flagship Parivar Pehchan Patra (PPP) scheme.
About Parivar Pehchan Patra
- Under the PPP, a unique eight-digit Identity number is issued to each family as a single unit.
- Any family residing in Haryana is required to enroll in the PPP to avail various government services and social security schemes.
- The PPP ID can be made through three channels:
- Common Service Centers managed by Village Level Entrepreneurs,
- SARAL Kendras managed by the state government, and
- through PPP operators registered for data collection.
- The data for a family is collected on the basis of a signed self-declaration made by an adult member.
How is the PPP different from the Aadhaar card?
- It is many times more complicated than Aadhar in its delivery.
- Aadhar primarily keeps unique identity information, whereas PPP goes far beyond to maintain socio-economic information besides the unique identity information.
- Aadhar does not verify any data except identity, but the PPP verifies every information field available with it through specific procedures.
Topic 3: International organisations and India
Why in news: As India will soon host the annual G20 summit in New Delhi, here are some other notable groupings that India is a part of and what is their mandate.
India is member of the following international organisations:
- World Bank Group
- The World Bank is a developmental institution.
- It was established with the aim of eradicating poverty and improving living standards for vulnerable people, by promoting sustainable development through loans, guarantees, risk management products, and advisory services.
- It is a specialised agency of the United Nations.
- It further includes:
- The International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) or the World Bank.
- IBRD was established in 1945 and has 189 members at present.
- Its aim is to promote sustainable development, through loans, guarantees, etc.
- The IBRD is owned by the member countries whose voting power is linked to its capital subscription based on the country’s relative economic strength.
- This forms the basis of their votes’ weightage.
- The US has the largest vote share at around 15 per cent, with India at 3.08 per cent.
- The International Development Association (IDA).
- IDA was established in 1960 and currently has 174 member countries.
- IDA is the concessional arm of the World Bank and plays a key role in supporting the Bank’s poverty reduction mission.
- IDA’s assistance is focused on the world’s 79 poorest countries, to which it provides interest-free loans or low-interest loans (known as ‘credits’) and other non-lending services.
- International Finance Corporation (IFC).
- Established in 1956, it is owned by 186 member countries, a group that collectively determines the policies.
- It works in more than 100 developing countries, allowing companies and financial institutions in emerging markets to create jobs, generate tax revenues, and improve corporate governance and environmental performance.
- Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
- In 1988, an international convention established MIGA and it now has 182 countries with its membership.
- MIGA was created to complement public and private sources of investment insurance against non-commercial risks in developing countries.
- Its mission is to promote foreign direct investment (FDI) into developing countries to help support economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve people’s lives.
- International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
- ICSID is an autonomous international institution with over 160 member States.
- This is the only World Bank institution that does not have India as a signatory to it.
- The primary purpose of ICSID is to provide facilities for conciliation and arbitration of international investment disputes.
- International Monetary Fund (IMF)
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was established along with the World Bank at the Conference of 44 nations held at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA, in July 1944.
- It was created to promote international monetary cooperation, for the balanced growth of international trade, promote exchange stability and to help establish a multilateral system of payments.
- It has 190 members at present.
- India’s current quota in the IMF is SDR (Special Drawing Rights) 13,114.4 million, giving it a shareholding of 2.63 per cent.
- The Finance Minister is the ex-officio Governor on the Board of Governors of the IMF.
- RBI Governor is the Alternate Governor at the IMF.
- Asian Development Bank (ADB)
- India became a member of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as a founding member in 1966.
- The Bank is engaged in promoting the economic and social progress of its developing member countries (DMCs) in the Asia Pacific Region.
- The main instruments that it uses to do this are loans and equity investments, providing technical assistance for development projects and programs, along with other advisory services, loan guarantees, grants and policy dialogues.
- ADB has 68 members, with its headquarters in Manila, Philippines.
- Significance for Indi:
- India holds 6.317 per cent of shares, with 5.347 per cent voting rights.
- Between 1986 and 1996, ADB provided assistance mainly for India’s national programs through central public utilities in the transport and energy sectors.
- In the mid-1990s, the ADB began to shift focus to state-level operations in the transport, power, and urban sectors.
- World Trade Organisation (WTO)
- The WTO began in 1995.
- Since 1948, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) provided the rules for a global system and was later replaced by the WTO.
- India has been a member since its inception.
- WTO also serves as a forum for its members to negotiate trade agreements and resolve the trade problems they face with each other.
- Significance for India:
- According to the Trade Promotion Council of India, India is involved in a number of trade disputes:
- most related to its concern regarding developed nations like the United States raising objections to India’s protections for its producers.
- This mechanism for resolving disputes stopped functioning in 2019, but India is seeking its re-establishment based on the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’.
- According to the Trade Promotion Council of India, India is involved in a number of trade disputes:
- International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
- The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a specialised agency of the United Nations.
- It was one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference in Rome.
- The conference was organised by the United Nations in response to the food crises of the early 1970s, when global food shortages were causing widespread famine and malnutrition.
- The Fund shall provide financing primarily for projects and programmes specifically designed to introduce, expand or improve food production systems and to strengthen related policies and institutions.
- Significance for India:
- India is its founding member and the largest recipient of IFAD investments.
- Its contributions to IFAD’s regular resources amount to over US $218.2 million.
- Projects in states such as Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Odisha range from developing women’s enterprises to programmes for Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
- The Convergence of Agricultural Interventions in Maharashtra’s Distressed Districts Programme led to partnerships with the private sector, to link farmers with input and output markets and aid contract farming arrangements with multiple market players.
- Global Environment Facility (GEF)
- Established in 1991 on the eve of the 1992 Rio Summit, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) provides grant funds to developing countries for projects and activities that aim to protect the global environment.
- This is to cover areas like biodiversity, climate change, international waters, ozone depletion, land degradation, desertification, deforestation and persistent organic pollutants.
- GEF is a global partnership among 185 member countries, international institutions, NGOs and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.
- It further assists countries in meeting their obligations under the conventions that they have signed and ratified.
- Responsibility for implementing GEF activities is shared by:
- the United Nations Development Program (UNDP),
- the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP),
- the World Bank and some other agencies.
- GEF was to serve as the financial mechanism for five international environmentalconventions:
- the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD),
- the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),
- the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs),
- the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and
- Minamata Convention on Mercury.
- African Development Bank (AfDB)
- The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) comprises:
- the African Development Bank,
- the African Development Fund and
- the Nigeria Trust Fund.
- It was established in 1963.
- India was one of the first few countries to become a non-regional member, in 1983.
- Significance for India:
- Apart from trade, India has undertaken significant investment initiatives in recent years to strengthen its strategic partnership with Africa, and has become one of the largest investors, mainly in energy, construction, ICT, and the railway and auto industries.
- India’s voting share is only 0.233 per cent.
- The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) comprises:
- Regional organisations are also international organisations, as they incorporate international membership and encompass geopolitical entities that operationally transcend a single nation-state.
- Due to India’s geographical expansion and diversity, major regional organisations that took part in its growth are:
- SAARC– South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation,
- BIMSTEC– Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation,
- BRICS– Brazil Russia India China and South Africa (recently expanded to include six new countries – Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina and Egypt).
Significance of international organisations for India and vice-versa:
- Impact on national development:
- India has served as a distinguished and often founding member of many international organisations.
- International organisations play a central role that positively or negatively impacts a nation’s political and socio-economic development.
- International organisations work towards different ends and, depending on their respective interests, states choose to join them.
- A challenge to unipolar ideology:
- In pursuit of the goal of the multilateral world order, India uses international organisations as a platform to challenge the unipolar world.
- One of the tenets of India’s foreign policy, and rightly so, is confidence in the United Nations.
- On the other hand, India has availed the services of international institutions by taking loans, especially from World Bank, IMF, Asian Development Bank etc., for its development purposes.
- However, the structure of the U.N. Security Council has not been broadened since its inception despite the representations of certain nations such as India, Germany, Japan and Brazil that argue they are qualified for permanent membership.
- Formation of regional organisations:
- India has been one of the precursors of some organisations, for instance, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
- India has been diversifying its interests in the maritime domain by forming the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in order to strengthen regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean Region.
- It has also co-founded the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) to promote shared and accelerated growth through cooperation amongst regional countries.
- Representation in the International Court of Justice:
- One of the significant victories of India’s diplomacy was the re-election of Dalbir Bhandari to the post of judge in the International Court of Justice.
- The victory underscored India’s increasing importance in the changing world order, as it bolstered its diplomatic mission to seek support not only from the West but also from developing countries.
- Non-Permanent member of UNSC:
- In 2021, India managed to get its eighth two-year tenure as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
- Here India hosted United Nations Security Council members for a special meeting on counter-terrorism in 2022.
- Leadership of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation:
- India has taken over the SCO Presidency until September 2023.
- At the SCO summit in Samarkand, India emphasized the transformation of India into a manufacturing hub and the role of the SCO in the post-Covid-19 era, especially in revitalizing the economy and strengthening supply chains.
- New initiatives:
- India has played a leading role in advocating for new initiatives.
- International Millet Year:
- India’s efforts to observe an International Millet Year in 2023 were endorsed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the U.N. General Assembly.
- Formation of ISA:
- In the realm of sustainable power generation India, along with France, has initiated the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
- It is an initiative of India which is India’s first international and inter-governmental organization.
- It is aimed at the establishment of a platform where the solar resource-rich countries can come together to promote renewable and clean energy, thereby contributing to the mitigation of climate change.
- Global Solar Network project:
- It was during CoP26 that India and the United Kingdom launched the Global Solar Network Project, which the United States backed.
- Significance of G20:
- G20 is crucial for India because it brings together the P5 countries of the United Nations Security Council, all the G7 members, members of NAFTA and all BRICS members.
- During its presidency, India must narrow the existing differences in international politics and promote shared interests.
- India has to bring in highly polarized democracies and authoritarian regimes together, given that it has so far balanced its relations with both sides and can therefore act as a mediator.
- India has to deal with rising food and energy prices which are leading to political instability in major economies.
- Another responsibility rests with India, namely the addition of the African Union in the G20 group, in order to make it more inclusive and to give representation to Africa as a whole.
- Other roles played by India in international organisations:
- In addition, India has taken a leading role in institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) Conference of the Parties (CoP) summits, where India represents the interests of developing and least-developed countries.
- At the WTO India has consistently supported rules-based global trade governance.
- For protecting its geo-economic interests at the WTO, India still strongly supports higher levels of protectionist policies.
- At the same time, the country objects to any inclusion of non-trade issues.
- Since its independence, India has actively participated in international organisations and tried to make the U.N., WTO, IMF and other major international ones more inclusive by better representing the interests of developing and underdeveloped countries.
- India has sought alternatives to Western-dominated international institutions, such as the the BRICS while maintaining good relations with ASEAN, the European Union and several others.
- India needs to increase its emphasis on diplomatic sensitization so that it can more effectively engage with international organizations.
- India has been collaborating with multilateral agencies worldwide to achieve its goals and enhance its interaction and dialogue to find global solutions to political and economic problems and advance its national interest.
Topic 4: Sagar Parikrama IV
Context: Indian Navy Steps Up Preparations For Sagar Parikrama IV
- The Indian Navy signalled the formal commencement of its preparations for Sagar Parikrama IV at Goa.
- Sagar Parikrama IV will be a never-attempted-before venture and a significant step in India’s ocean sailing enterprise.
- Sagar Parikrama is an initiative to organize a sea voyage across all coastal states and union territories.
- It aims to support fishermen and address their concerns and facilitate their economic development by implementing various fisheries schemes and programs.
- Main objectives:
- to facilitate interaction with fishermen and other stakeholders so as to disseminate information of various schemes and programs being implemented by the Government
- demonstrating solidarity with all fisher folk as a spirit of Aatmanirbhar Bharat
- to promote responsible fisheries with focus on sustainable development
- protection of marine ecosystems
Topic 5: Ramon Magsaysay award
Why in news: Assam-based oncologist Ravi Kannan wins 2023 Ramon Magsaysay award
About the award:
- It was established in 1957.
- It was founded to preserve former Phillippine President Ramon Magsaysay’s example of integrity in governance and idealism in a democratic society.
- It was funded by the Rockefeller Brothers trustees with Philippine government’s agreement.
- Ramon Magsaysay was the third president of the Philippines after World War II.
- The foundation gives the prize to Asians achieving excellence in their field.
Selection and presentation
- The Award recognises and honours individuals and organisations in Asia, regardless of race, creed, gender, or nationality, who have achieved distinction and have helped others generously without aiming for public recognition.
- The trustees of the foundation annually select the awardees who are then presented with a certificate and a medal.
- The first Ramon Magsaysay Awards were given to five individuals working in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, China (Taiwan) and Sri Lanka, and a Philippine-based organisation.
Topic 6: Adopt a Heritage 2.0 programme
Why in news: The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to launch Adopt a Heritage 2.0 programme.
About Adopt a Heritage:
- The Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan scheme is an initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India.
- It was launched in 2017.
- The government invites entities, including public sector companies, private sector firms as well as individuals, to develop selected monuments and heritage and tourist sites across India.
- Development of these tourist sites calls for providing and maintaining basic amenities and advanced amenities such as:
- drinking water,
- ease of access for the differently abled and senior citizens,
- standardised signage,
- public conveniences and illumination,
- surveillance systems,
- night-viewing facilities and
- tourism facilitation centres.
- How the monuments are selected:
- The sites/monument are selected on the basis of tourist footfall and visibility.
- Who can adopt it:
- It can be adopted by private and public sector companies and individuals — known as Monument Mitras.
- It would be for an initial period of five years.
- How monument mitras are selected:
- The Monument Mitras are selected by the ‘oversight and vision committee,’ on the basis of the bidder’s ‘vision’ for development of all amenities at the heritage site.
- There is no financial bid involved.
- The corporate sector is expected to use corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for the upkeep of the site.
- The Monument Mitras, in turn, will get limited visibility on the site premises and on the Incredible India website.
- The oversight committee also has the power to terminate a memorandum of understanding in case of non-compliance or non-performance.
Topic 7: Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report for 2023
Why in news: The world’s 50 most polluted regions belong to the Northern Plains of India, showed the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report for 2023 by the University of Chicago.
- Seven states and Union territories that include Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, comprise a majority of this region.
- They also face the greatest health burden due to particulate pollution in India.
- In north India, fine particulate air pollution (particulate matter 2.5) shortens lives by eight years.
- This underscores the outsized benefits effective pollution policy would have, allowing residents of north India to gain 4.2 billion life years in total.
- Delhi is the most polluted city in India and the world.
- All of the 521.2 million people living in the Northern Plains — 38.9 per cent of India’s population — live in areas where the annual average particulate pollution level is 17.3 times higher than the WHO guideline.
- The particulate pollution in the Northern Plains is exacerbated by geological and meteorological factors.
- The AQLI’s dust and sea salt-removed PM2.5 data implies that human activity plays a key role in generating the severe particulate pollution that these residents face.
- This is likely due to the fact that the region’s population density is nearly three times that of the rest of the country, meaning more pollution from vehicular, residential and agricultural sources.
- A denser population also means more human lives are impacted by each pollution source.
- AQLI is a pollution index that translates particulate air pollution into its impact on life expectancy.
- It is developed by the University of Chicago.
- The AQLI is rooted in research that quantifies the causal relationship between long-term human exposure to air pollution and life expectancy.
- The index then combines this research with hyper-localised, satellite measurements of global particulate matter (PM2.5), yielding unprecedented insight into the true cost of pollution in communities around the world.
- The index also illustrates how air pollution policies can increase life expectancy when they meet the WHO’s guideline for what is considered a safe level of exposure, existing national air quality standards or user-defined air quality levels.