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Current Affairs 11 September 2023

CONTENTS:

  1. G20 Summit Concludes.
  2. Morocco earthquake toll rises above 2,100
  3. Housewives make up over 50% of India’s female suicides
  4. Japan keen to deepen defence ties with India
  5. Apple country gets ground ready for cannabis cultivation
  6. RBI, banks plan new features to boost CBDC transactions: Report

G20 Summit Concludes


Context:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded the G20 Summit in New Delhi on Sunday by handing over a ceremonial gavel to Brazil, which will assume the presidency of the bloc.

Relevance:

GS Paper – 2- Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests

Dimensions of the article:

  1. About G20
  2. G20 Summit, 2023
  3. Brazil’s Presidency

About G20:

The G20 Summit serves as an international governmental forum that plays a pivotal role in shaping and reinforcing the global economic framework and associated governance. Initially, the Group of 20 primarily focused on global macroeconomic issues and financial stability, which were its core reasons for establishment. However, over time, its agenda has expanded to encompass a wide array of concerns, including trade, climate change, sustainable development, healthcare, agriculture, energy, environmental conservation, anti-corruption efforts, and more.

Outcomes of the G20 Summit, 2023

  1. New Delhi Leaders Declaration: The country heads signed the New Delhi Leaders Declaration, which emphasizes Inclusive Growth.
  2. Global Biofuel Alliance: Member countries created the Global Biofuel Alliance, focusing on promoting the maximum use of biofuels.
  3. Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) Framework: A voluntary and suggested framework for the development, deployment, and governance of DPI was unanimously accepted by all G20 member countries.
  4. Global Digital Public Infrastructure Repository: The declaration mentions the approval of India’s plan to build and maintain a global repository where non-G20 and GG-20 countries can voluntarily share open-source mechanisms to foster a mutually beneficial ecosystem.
  5. One Future Alliance: The declaration acknowledges India’s proposal to create the One Future Alliance, a voluntary initiative aimed at building capacity, providing technical assistance, and offering funding support for implementing digital public infrastructure in low and middle-income countries.
  6. Ukraine Conflict: G20 nations recognized that states should not acquire territory through force and expressed concern for the suffering of the Ukrainian people. However, they refrained from direct criticism of Russia, marking a softening of their position compared to the previous year.
  7. African Union Membership: The 55-member African Union was granted permanent membership status in the G20, alongside the European Union, to enhance the representation of the Global South within the G20.
  8. U.S., Saudi, India Transport Corridor: Leaders from the United States, India, and Saudi Arabia announced plans to establish rail and port links connecting the Middle East, South Asia, and eventually Europe as a strategic project.
  9. Climate Change: G20 leaders agreed to aim for a tripling of global renewable energy capacity by 2030 and acknowledged the need to phase out unabated coal power. However, they did not set significant climate goals or provide concrete plans for financing the transition to green energy.

Brazil’s Presidency:

Looking ahead, Brazil is set to assume the G20 presidency on December 1, with a focus on priorities such as social inclusion, the fight against hunger, energy transition, sustainable development, and global governance reform. Brazil aims to build a fair world and a sustainable planet through initiatives like the global alliance against hunger and poverty and the global mobilization against climate change.


Morocco Earthquake Toll Rises Above 2,100


Context:

A significant seismic event (magnitude 6.8) occurred in Morocco, impacting regions that encompassed the Atlas Mountains and the renowned city of Marrakech. Earthquakes are infrequent in North Africa, and this particular one was characterized as the most powerful ever documented in the mountainous area.

Relevance:

  • GS1- Salient Features of the world’s Physical Geography
  • GS3-Disaster Management

Dimensions of the article:

  1. Location of Morocco
  2. Causes of the earthquake
  3. Impact of the earthquake

Location of Morocco:

Morocco is situated at the juncture of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates, where these enormous plates come into contact, leading to the potential for seismic events.

Morocco, located in North Africa and sharing coastlines with both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, boasts a rich tapestry of cultural influences from Berber, Arabian, and European traditions. The earthquake’s epicenter was centered in the town of Ighil, approximately 70 kilometers southwest of Marrakech.

Causes of the earthquake:

  • Earthquakes are relatively uncommon in North Africa, as the region experiences lower seismic activity along the northern edge of the African continent. The recent earthquake was unprecedented in the mountainous area, although it’s important to note that seismic events, while infrequent, are not unheard of.
  • These earthquakes are a result of the northward movement of the African plate in relation to the Eurasian plate along a complex plate boundary. In the case of the recent earthquake, the USGS attributed it to oblique-reverse faulting occurring at shallow depths within the Moroccan High Atlas Mountain range.
  • A fault is essentially a fracture or zone of fractures between two blocks of rock, allowing them to move relative to each other. Rapid movement along these faults can trigger earthquakes. During an earthquake, one side of the fault abruptly shifts concerning the other.
  • Scientists classify faults based on factors like the angle of the fault with respect to the surface (known as the dip) and the direction of the slip along the fault. Dip-slip faults involve movement along the dip plane, while strike-slip faults involve horizontal movement. Oblique-slip faults exhibit characteristics of both dip-slip and strike-slip faults. This type of faulting is common in regions experiencing compression, such as when one tectonic plate converges with another.

Impact of the earthquake:

  • The epicenter was located approximately 18.5 kilometers beneath the Earth’s surface. Hence, it was a relatively shallow earthquake.
  • This shallow depth is significant because, unlike regions accustomed to frequent seismic activity, Morocco was not well-prepared for such a disaster. While a previous earthquake in 1960, which resulted in thousands of casualties, prompted changes in construction regulations, the majority of Moroccan buildings, especially in rural areas and older cities, were not constructed to withstand such intense tremors.
  • In Marrakech, numerous buildings in the densely populated ancient city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, had collapsed. Images of the medieval city wall revealed significant cracks and sections that had simply crumbled. Rescue teams are currently engaged in efforts to locate individuals trapped under the debris. Many residents are choosing to remain outdoors due to the apprehension of another earthquake.

Housewives make up over 50% of India’s female suicides


Context:

September 10 marked the observance of World Suicide Prevention Day, an initiative that was launched in 2003 with the goals of raising awareness about the critical issue, reducing societal stigma, and increasing overall awareness.

Relevance:

Dimensions of the article:

  1. World Suicide Prevention Day
  2. Suicide among housewives-statistics
  3. Explanation of the above data

World Suicide Prevention Day:

The annual observance of this day serves to bring attention to various strategies for preventing suicide. It was initially designated on September 10, 2003, as an initiative by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). IASP and WHO collaborated to establish this day with the key message that “suicides can be prevented.”

After a successful inaugural year, WHO officially committed in 2004 to co-sponsor the event and make it an internationally recognized annual occasion. In 2011, approximately 40 countries organized awareness events to commemorate this day. IASP coordinates numerous events and programs across 60 countries to mark this important day.

Suicide among housewives-statistics:

  • For several years, the proportion of female suicides attributed to housewives has consistently exceeded 50%. Likewise, the contribution of housewives to the total number of suicides has remained at approximately 15% for an extended period.
  • States in the southern region of India that are economically more prosperous took the lead in terms of suicide rates. In 2021, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Karnataka were prominent on this list among the major states.
  • Slightly under 40% of married women in the lowest income group indicated that they could go to places like markets unaccompanied. A somewhat larger proportion of them reported having some financial autonomy, allowing them to make decisions about how to use their money.
  • Among married women in the least affluent 20% of households, 35% reported experiencing physical, emotional, or sexual violence, with fewer than 50% of them seeking assistance (primarily turning to friends and family and seldom approaching authorities). Conversely, the percentage of women who encountered violence was notably lower in more prosperous households.

Explanation of the above data:

The 2019-21 National Family Health Survey underscores the difficult situations confronting married women. These challenges encompass restricted mobility, limited financial independence, and marital dominance, along with experiencing physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from their spouses. Furthermore, the survey reveals that a significant number of women rarely seek external help and endure these infringements on their liberties silently. Additionally, the data indicates that women in the lowest income category endure higher levels of violence and possess fewer freedoms in comparison to their counterparts from more affluent households

In the southern states, where female literacy rates are relatively high, and women have greater access to mass media, there is often a clash between modern viewpoints and traditional societal norms. In contrast, resistance against traditional expectations is less pronounced in the northern states, partly because women in the north have lower levels of exposure to these contrasting perspectives.


Japan Keen to Deepen Defence Ties With India


Context:

Recently, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized that Japan views India as a crucial partner in the Indo-Pacific and is eager to foster stronger defense collaboration to enhance maritime security in the region

Relevance:

GS2- International Relations

Dimensions of are article:

  1. India-Japan ties
  2. Recent activities in India-Japan defence ties
  3. Way Forward

India-Japan ties

Economic Ties: A significant test of Japan’s reliability as a friend occurred in 1991 when Japan was among the few countries that provided financial support to India during its balance of payment crisis. In recent years, the economic relationship between Japan and India has grown consistently and become more profound. Bilateral trade volume has increased, and as of 2020, Japan ranked as India’s 12th largest trading partner. Moreover, there has been a notable rise in direct investments from Japan to India, with Japan ranking as the 4th largest investor in India in FY2020.

 

Health-Care: Recognizing the similarities and shared goals between India’s AYUSHMAN Bharat Programme and Japan’s AHWIN, both countries have engaged in consultations to identify projects that align the narrative of AHWIN with AYUSHMAN Bharat.

Investment and ODA: India has been the largest beneficiary of Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) Loans for several decades. Notably, the Delhi Metro stands as a successful example of Japanese collaboration facilitated through ODA. Additionally, Japan has provided a soft loan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency for India’s Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) project under Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP). Furthermore, Japan and India have committed to constructing a High-Speed Railways network in India, incorporating Japan’s Shinkansen System.

Defence ties:

India Japan Nuclear Deal 2016: This agreement is set to enable India to construct six nuclear reactors in southern India, thereby increasing its nuclear energy capacity tenfold by 2032.

Japan is among the select nations with which India conducts a 2+2 ministerial dialogue. The defense forces of India and Japan also coordinate various bilateral exercises, including JIMEX (naval), Malabar exercise (Naval Exercise), ‘Veer Guardian’ and SHINYUU Maitri (Air Force), and Dharma Guardian (Army).

Recently, the 7th India-Japan Defence Policy Dialogue took place in New Delhi, co-chaired by India’s Defence Secretary and Japan’s Vice Minister of Defense for International Affairs.

The Defence Policy Dialogue serves as an established mechanism for India and Japan to discuss matters related to bilateral defense cooperation. During the 7th Dialogue, discussions encompassed service-level exercises, regional security concerns, and cooperation in defense equipment and technology. Japan’s Vice Minister presented updates from their recently published National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy. Both nations welcomed the growing collaboration between their armed services, including the inaugural fighter exercise ‘Veer Guardian’ conducted by the Indian Air Force and Japanese Air Self Defence Force in January 2023 in Japan.

The Defence Secretary emphasized the need for both countries to deepen collaboration in their respective defense industries, inviting Japanese defense industries to invest in India through the ‘Make in India’ initiative. Furthermore, both sides agreed to diversify cooperation in emerging domains such as defense space and cyber.

Institutionalized Tri-Service Exchanges between Japan and India complete the triad, while Coast Guards have been engaged in regular annual exchanges since 2006. The Japan and India Vision 2025 highlights their Special Strategic and Global Partnership, emphasizing their joint efforts for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the world.

Way Forward:

Collaborating for Digital Empowerment: Both India and Japan have the opportunity to strengthen digital infrastructure by jointly promoting projects aimed at digital transformation. This cooperation can encompass various areas such as 5G technology, Open RAN, Telecom Network Security, submarine cable systems, and Quantum Communications.

Exchanging Knowledge for Disaster Risk Reduction: India stands to gain valuable insights from Japan’s experience in disaster management, particularly in formulating policies and measures to reduce disaster risks in vulnerable areas.

Towards a Multipolar Asia: By reshaping their strategic landscape in Asia, India and Japan have the potential to accelerate their emergence as global powers and work toward an open and secure Indo-Pacific.


Apple Country Gets Ground Ready for Cannabis Cultivation


Context:

Hemp refers to a botanical category of Cannabis sativa strains that are cultivated explicitly for industrial or medical purposes. While it is grown in certain regions of Himachal Pradesh, its cultivation is prohibited under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985.

Relevance:

GS2- Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the article:

  1. About Hemp
  2. Legal Provisions in India
  3. Usage of Hemp
  4. Concerns with the Cultivation of Hemp in India

 

About Hemp:

The term ‘marijuana’ from Mexico is commonly used to describe cannabis leaves or other unprocessed plant material in many countries.

Unpollinated female plants are referred to as hashish, and cannabis oil (hashish oil) is a concentrated form of cannabinoids obtained through the solvent extraction of either the raw plant material or its resin.

In India, the cultivation of cannabis has been legalized in Uttarakhand, and controlled cultivation also occurs in select districts of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.

Legal Provisions in India:

The primary legislation governing cannabis (weed or marijuana) in India is the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985. Under the NDPS Act, the sale and production of cannabis resin and flowers are prohibited, but the use of cannabis leaves and seeds is allowed. States have the authority to regulate and establish their own rules regarding cannabis.

Usage of Hemp:

  • The policy to permit hemp cultivation for medicinal, industrial, and scientific purposes would open up avenues for leveraging the medicinal qualities of cannabis in patient treatment and generating state revenue from hemp-derived products, the Minister stated.
  • Furthermore, allowing cannabis cultivation would reaffirm the government’s commitment to protecting the interests of farmers who have long advocated for the removal of the cultivation ban.
  • Cannabis has been naturally growing in Himachal Pradesh for many years, and proponents of its cultivation highlight the multifaceted utility of hemp, including its potential in phytoremediation, fiber and cloth production, medicinal applications, and its use in the pulp and paper industry.

Concerns with the cultivation of Hemp:

  • A study titled “Dynamics of drug addiction and abuse in northwest India: social, economic, and political implications” revealed that approximately 95% of drug addicts in Himachal Pradesh are primarily using cannabis and its derivatives.
  • Sandeep Bhola, a technical expert and master trainer affiliated with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the National AIDS Control Organisation, stated, “Cannabis is known to induce psychiatric symptoms in users, which can be transient, but with prolonged use, they may become persistent.
  • Cannabis use is associated with amotivational syndrome, where users lose interest and motivation to perform daily tasks. Serious psychotic symptoms can also manifest with cannabis use.”
  • It is important to note that it could potentially encourage adolescents and youth to experiment with and misuse cannabis. Although it may help some addicts transition from more harmful drugs to less harmful ones, there is a significant likelihood that it could lead to lifelong addiction.
  • Furthermore, the connection between illicit cannabis producers and suppliers, as well as politicians, is encouraging the consumption of cannabis and its derivatives. It is imperative to combat drug supply and address the socio-cultural, economic, and political influences contributing to this issue.

RBI, Banks Plan New Features To Boost CBDC Transactions: Report


Context:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is collaborating with financial institutions to incorporate fresh functionalities aimed at promoting the adoption of the central bank digital currency (CBDC), often referred to as the e-rupee. This information comes from six individuals who are knowledgeable about the situation.

Relevance:

GS3- Indian Economy

Dimensions of the article:

  1. About CBDC
  2. Status of CBDC usage in India
  3. New features planned by RBI

About CBDC:

Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) represent a digital counterpart to traditional paper currency. CBDCs are official currencies issued and supported by a central bank.

CBDCs are essentially equivalent to fiat currencies and can be exchanged on a one-to-one basis with traditional fiat currency. Unlike fiat currencies, which are not tied to the value of commodities like gold or silver, CBDCs are digital representations of the national currency.

These digital fiat currencies, also known as CBDCs, can be transacted using blockchain-backed wallets. While the concept of CBDCs drew inspiration from Bitcoin, it differs from decentralized virtual currencies and crypto assets, which are not authorized by the government and lack the status of ‘legal tender.’

Status of CBDCs in India:

Retail CBDC transactions are currently averaging approximately 18,000 per day, falling significantly short of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) target of one million daily transactions by the end of 2023.

As of June 2023, there are 1.3 million customers and 0.3 million merchants actively using CBDC.

New Features Planned by RBI:

Notably, the features of this system include the ability to conduct digital rupee transactions even when a customer is offline and the integration of the e-rupee with India’s popular Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

These sources have chosen to remain anonymous as they are not authorized to communicate with the media. The RBI has not responded to an email seeking comment.

According to two of the mentioned bankers, the RBI has been encouraging banks to make the e-rupee compatible with UPI through the use of a QR code. This interoperability will enable payments to be processed through the already widespread UPI QR codes.


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