- Pakistan to stay on FATF grey list
- India becomes chair of ILO governing body
- Centre borrows Rs. 6,000 cr. for GST compensation
- Toxic haze engulfs Delhi as air nears ‘severe’ zone
- Remembering the Rani of Jhansi Regiment
- India’s Anti-tank Missile Nag test-fired
PAKISTAN TO STAY ON FATF GREY LIST
Focus: GS-II International Relations
Why in news?
Global terror financing watchdog FATF decided to keep Pakistan on its “grey list” till February of 2021.
India’s nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan failed to meet the conditions needed for unfettered access to international funds, according to reports.
- In a statement, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) urged Pakistan to complete an internationally agreed action plan by February 2021.
- Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has now largely addressed most of the action items, however, now all action plan deadlines have expired.
- The outstanding items are very serious deficiencies that still have to be repaired.
- With Pak continues to remain in the grey list, it has become increasingly difficult for it to get financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Union, exacerbating problems for the cash-strapped country.
More about the situation
- To avoid the blacklist, Pak has needed the support of three other countries and it has been consistently backed by China, Turkey and Malaysia to dodge the label.
- However, the country needs 12 votes out of 39 to exit the grey list and move to the white list.
- As of this year, there are only two countries on the FATF’s black list – North Korea and Iran.
Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
- The Financial Action Task Force (on Money Laundering) (FATF) is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.
- In 2001, its mandate was expanded to include terrorism financing.
- FATF is a “policy-making body” that works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
- FATF monitors progress in implementing its Recommendations through “peer reviews” (“mutual evaluations”) of member countries.
- Since 2000, FATF has maintained the FATF blacklist (formally called the “Call for action”) and the FATF greylist (formally called the “Other monitored jurisdictions”).
- The objectives of FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
- FATF greylist is officially referred to as Jurisdictions Under Increased Monitoring.
- FATF grey list represent a much higher risk of money laundering and terrorism financing but have formally committed to working with the FATF to develop action plans that will address their AML/CFT deficiencies.
- The countries on the grey list are subject to increased monitoring by the FATF, which either assesses them directly or uses FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs) to report on the progress they are making towards their AML/CFT goals.
- While grey-list classification is not as negative as the blacklist, countries on the list may still face economic sanctions from institutions like the IMF and the World Bank and experience adverse effects on trade.
- FATF Blacklists is Officially known as High-Risk Jurisdictions subject to a Call for Action.
- FATF blacklist sets out the countries that are considered deficient in their anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism regulatory regimes.
- The list is intended to serve not only as a way of negatively highlighting these countries on the world stage, but as a warning of the high money laundering and terror financing risk that they present.
- It is extremely likely that blacklisted countries will be subject to economic sanctions and other prohibitive measures by FATF member states and other international organizations.
Effects of FATF
- The effect of the FATF Blacklist has been significant, and arguably has proven more important in international efforts against money laundering than has the FATF Recommendations.
- While, under international law, the FATF Blacklist carried with it no formal sanction, in reality, a jurisdiction placed on the FATF Blacklist often found itself under intense financial pressure.
- FATF makes sure funds are not easily accessible by terror organisations that are causing crimes against humanity.
- FATF has helped to fight against corruption by ‘grey-listing’ countries that do not meet Recommended Criteria and this helps to cripple economies and states that are aiding terrorist and corrupted organisations.
-Source: The Hindu, Livemint
INDIA BECOMES CHAIR OF ILO GOVERNING BODY
Focus: GS-II International Relations
Why in news?
India assumed the role of chair of the International Labour Organisation’s governing body for the period of October 2020 till June 2021 – taking up the role after a gap of 35 years.
International Labour Organization (ILO)
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency whose mandate is to advance social justice and promote decent work by setting international labour standards.
- It was the first specialised agency of the UN.
- The ILO has 187 member states: 186 of the 193 UN member states plus the Cook Islands are members of the ILO.
- In 1969, the ILO received the Nobel Peace Prize for improving fraternity and peace among nations, pursuing decent work and justice for workers, and providing technical assistance to other developing nations.
The Governing Body
- The Governing Body is the executive body of the International Labour Organization (the Office is the secretariat of the Organization) which meets three times a year.
- It takes decisions on ILO policy, decides the agenda of the International Labour Conference, adopts the draft Programme and Budget of the Organization for submission to the Conference, and elects the Director-General.
- It is composed of 56 titular members (28 Governments, 14 Employers and 14 Workers) and 66 deputy members (28 Governments, 19 Employers and 19 Workers).
- Ten of the titular government seats are permanently held by States of chief industrial importance (Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States).
ILO’s Tripartite Structure:
- Unlike other United Nations specialized agencies, the International Labour Organization has a tripartite governing structure that brings together governments, employers, and workers of 187 member States, to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
- The tripartite structure is unique to the ILO where representatives from the government, employers and employees openly debate and create labour standards.
- The structure is intended to ensure the views of all three groups are reflected in ILO labour standards, policies, and programmes, though governments have twice as many representatives as the other two groups.
The Functions of the ILO
- Creation of coordinated policies and programs, directed at solving social and labour issues.
- Adoption of international labour standards in the form of conventions and recommendations and control over their implementation.
- Assistance to member-states in solving social and labour problems.
- Human rights protection (the right to work, freedom of association, collective negotiations, protection against forced labour, protection against discrimination, etc.).
- Research and publication of works on social and labour issues.
Objectives of the ILO
- To promote and realize standards and fundamental principles and rights at work.
- To create greater opportunities for women and men to secure decent employment.
- To enhance the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all.
- To strengthen tripartism and social dialogue.
-Source: The Hindu
CENTRE BORROWS Rs. 6,000 CR. FOR GST COMPENSATION
Focus: GS-III Indian Economy
Why in news?
Kicking off its borrowing plan to meet the GST compensation shortfalls faced by States, the Centre borrowed and transferred Rs. 6,000 crore to 16 States as well as the Union Territories of Delhi and J&K.
- The government indicated that it planned to release the Rs. 6,000 crore every week to the States till the approved borrowings to meet the shortfall are met.
- As of now, 21 States had selected the Centre’s option to borrow Rs. 1.1 lakh crore out of the total Rs. 2.35 lakh crore GST compensation shortfall estimated for 2020-21.
- The Ministry on Friday said that five of these 21 States did not actually face any shortfalls in compensation receipts at this point.
- The interest on these borrowings, as well as the principal, is to be repaid from future GST cess collections, with the GST Council extending the applicability of the cess levied on sin or luxury goods over and above the highest GST rate of 28%, beyond the original deadline of June 2022.
Details of the Central Government’s options
- Under the two options put forward at the Council meeting, the first was a special window for States, in consultation with the RBI, to borrow [collectively] Rs. 97,000 crore at a reasonable interest rate.
- The second option was to borrow the entire Rs. 2.35 lakh crore shortfall under the special window.
- Compensation payment has been an issue since August 2019 with GST collections faltering.
- In the current fiscal, the compensation requirement of States has been estimated at Rs. 3 lakh crore, of which Rs. 65,000 crore would be funded from the revenues garnered by levy of cess.
The reasoning given by the Central Govt.
- “The wording of the Constitution and statutory preamble make it clear that the spirit of the law is not to compensate States for all types of revenue losses, but rather for that loss arising from GST implementation.”
- The Centre has reasoned that it is already saddled with a large borrowing requirement, given the slowdown in revenue collections due to a slump in the economy.
- While additional borrowing by the Centre influenced yields on Central Government securities (G-secs) and has other macro-economic repercussions, yields on State securities do not directly influence other yields and do not have the same repercussions.
- Hence, it is in the collective interest of Centre and States and in the interest of the nation and of all economic entities including the private sector, not to do any avoidable borrowing at the Central level when it could be done at the State level.
-Source: The Hindu, Times of India
TOXIC HAZE ENGULFS DELHI AS AIR NEARS ‘SEVERE’ ZONE
Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology
Why in news?
Delhi’s air quality inched perilously close to “severe” in October 2020, sparking fears that the Capital’s annual pollution ordeal during the festive season and the winter months have returned despite mitigation plans that may again come to naught as the situation is expected to worsen.
- To fight the annual crisis, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, or EPCA, implemented a series of steps on October 15 under the winter phase of what is known as the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), including banning diesel generator sets, laying stress on 13 pollution hot spots in the city, mechanised sweeping of roads and strict dust control measures at construction sites.
- Apart from the regular measures under GRAP, the Delhi government has taken additional measures to check the winter spike in pollution.
The city’s air quality index (AQI) eventually settled in the “very poor” category with a reading of 366 which was the worst in nine months according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
- Scientists attributed the bad air to calm surface wind conditions that have led to the accumulation of pollutants in the atmosphere, and variable wind direction that brought pollutants from stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana towards the National Capital Region (NCR).
- There were more than 1,200 farm fires recorded in Punjab and Haryana recently increasing the share in pollution to 17%.
- Bad air during this time of the year has been a recurring problem for Delhi and the northern plains due to a combination of factors, including meteorological changes, crop stubble burning, and festive firecracker bursting during Diwali.
National Air Quality Index (AQI)
- The National Air Quality Index (AQI) was launched in New Delhi in 2014, under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
- The Central Pollution Control Board along with State Pollution Control Boards has been operating National Air Monitoring Program (NAMP) covering 240 cities of the country having more than 342 monitoring stations.
- An Expert Group comprising medical professionals, air quality experts, academia, advocacy groups, and SPCBs was constituted and a technical study was awarded to IIT Kanpur.
- IIT Kanpur and the Expert Group recommended an AQI scheme in 2014.
- The continuous monitoring systems that provide data on near real-time basis are installed in New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad.
Understanding the scale
- There are six AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
- The proposed AQI will consider eight pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb) for which short-term (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed.
- Based on the measured ambient concentrations, corresponding standards and likely health impact, a sub-index is calculated for each of these pollutants.
- Likely health impacts for different AQI categories and pollutants have also been suggested, with primary inputs from the medical experts in the group.
-Source: Hindustan Times, Down to Earth
REMEMBERING THE RANI OF JHANSI REGIMENT
Focus: GS-I History
Why in news?
In 2020, Captain Tania Shergill became the first woman army officer to lead an all-male contingent as Parade Adjutant in the Army Day Parade while in 2019 Lieutenant Bhavana Kasturi became the first Indian woman officer to lead an all-male contingent at the Republic Day parade.
- Even as we celebrate the glass ceiling beginning to crack in the armed forces, among the last of the male bastions, we cannot overlook how slow the journey has been.
- Women have moved ahead palpably faster in other fields, but in the armed forces the journey to attain even this semblance of equality has taken over 70 years.
- Even with the grant of Permanent Commission (PC) to Women Officers in the Indian Army recently, the question of women in combat roles continues to be a fraught one.
- This resistance is surprising given that Indian history has remarkable stories to tell of women in battle roles. Women have often been at the forefront during war — whether as part of resistance movements or as soldiers on the battlefield.
Recently in news:
- In February of 2020, the Supreme Court ordered the Centre to ensure that women officers in the Indian Army are granted permanent commissions as well as certain command positions.
- The Supreme Court dismissed the Union government’s submissions that women are physiologically weaker than men as a “sex stereotype” – ruling that “To cast aspersion on their abilities on the ground of gender is an affront not only to their dignity as women but to the dignity of the members of the Indian Army”.
- The Supreme Court declared that Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers are eligible for permanent commission and command posts in the Army irrespective of their years of service.
Participation of women in struggles of our nation
- In 1857, Rani Lakshmibai, the queen of Jhansi, led a rebellion against the British.
- Like Lakshmibai, there were several other women, with fire in their hearts and weapons in their hands, heroes whose history has largely been forgotten.
- A watershed moment for women’s participation in revolt and resistance was the Swadeshi movement in the early 1900s. It was made possible because the movement did not contest women’s ‘femininity’ or their traditional role in society, at a time when most women were still restricted to the zenana or were behind the ghoonghat.
- Then, with Gandhi’s call to Satyagraha, more women broke social constraints to get actively involved in the struggle against the British Raj. While Gandhi still upheld the traditional perception of women as somehow being innately endowed with humility and as being subservient, he nonetheless encouraged women to join the freedom movement in large numbers.
- In 1930, Bengali freedom fighter Surya Sen had led a raid against the Chittagong armoury.
The Forgotten Rani of Jhansi Regiment (RJR)
- The Azad Hind Fauj, also known as the Indian National Army (INA), the fighting unit that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose famously raised, had within it the Rani of Jhansi Regiment (RJR), an all-women infantry combat unit.
- It was formed in 1943, and was among the first of its kind anywhere in the world.
- It was in 1943 that Netaji gave a widespread call for women to participate in the fight for Azad Hind.
- Indian women in British colonies across the world were roused into action and grabbed the chance to serve their country on equal terms, something long denied to them. Under the command of Captain Lakshmi Sahgal, the RJR became an important and integral part of the INA, despite the scepticism of many, including the Japanese, who had provided crucial assistance in Bose’s fight against the Raj.
- One important aspect of the RJR was its diversity: the regiment attracted women of all ages and from different educational and economic backgrounds.
- Many of these women were part of the Indian diaspora, having moved to other British colonies such as Malaya, Singapore and Burma, and were united by a burning desire to serve the country they had left behind.
Difference in Vision of Women Empowerment
Bose’s vision of women’s empowerment was vastly different from Gandhi’s.
While Gandhi wanted women to serve the country from within the traditional constructs of ‘womanhood’, Bose urged women to break not only the shackles of imperialism, but also the shackles of patriarchy.
-Source: The Hindu
INDIA’S ANTI-TANK MISSILE NAG TEST-FIRED
Focus: GS-III Internal Security Challenges
Why in news?
- The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) successfully completed the final trial of Nag anti-tank missile at Pokhran army ranges.
- The Nag trial comes after the DRDO tested the helicopter launched Stand-off Anti-Tank Missile (SANT) with beyond 10 km range from Balasore testing range in Odisha.
More about the Anti-tank Missile Nag
- Developed by Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) the Nag is a shoulder launched four-kilometre range Anti-tank missile with imaging infrared seeker will now be inducted in Indian Army.
- The NAG missile has been developed to strike and neutralise highly-fortified enemy tanks. It also has night strike capabilities.
- As a third-generation ‘fire and forget’ category system, NAG uses an imaging infra-red seeker to lock on to the target before launch.
- DRDO is currently in the final stages of the development of the helicopter-launched version of Nag ATGM, called the Helina, which has undergone successful tests in 2018.
- The final trial of Nag anti-tank missile means that the Indian Army will no longer have to import this weapon from either Israel or the US for the range of four kilometres.
- The need for anti-tank missile was sorely felt after PLA amassed artillery, rockets and tanks in occupied Aksai Chin to deter India.
- Missiles have been developed by India under ‘Integrated Guided Missile Development Program’.
IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program)
It was conceived by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to enable India attain self-sufficiency in the field of missile technology. It was approved by the Government of India in 1983 and completed in March 2012.
The 5 missiles developed under this program are:
- Prithvi: Short range surface to surface ballistic missile.
- Agni: Ballistic missiles with different ranges, i.e. Agni (1,2,3,4,5)
- Trishul: Short-range low-level surface to air missile.
- Nag: 3rd generation anti-tank missile.
- Akash: Medium range surface to air missile.
-Source: Hindustan Times