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Current Affairs 20 December 2023

  1. The Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme (IFWCS)
  2. India-Oman Joint Vision Partnership: Charting Bilateral Cooperation
  3. Dharavi Redevelopment Project
  4. Yak Domestication in Bangga, Tibet
  5. 20th Anniversary of UNCAC
  6. Internet and Mobile Association of India
  7. TEMPO Satellite
  8. Yogmaya Temple


Context:

Amid rising international concerns on deforestation and illicit trade in timber, the Government of India has launched its own national forest certification scheme – The Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme (IFWCS).

Relevance:

GS II: government policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme (IFWCS)
  2. Need for the Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme (IFWCS)
  3. Significance of the Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme (IFWCS)

Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme (IFWCS):

IFWCS aims to provide certification for sustainable forest management, including trees outside forests and a chain of custody for traceability of forest products in the supply chain.

Components of IFWCS:
  • Certification for Sustainable Forest Management:
    • Focuses on ensuring sustainable practices in forest management.
  • Sustainable Management of Trees Outside Forests:
    • Extends certification to cover sustainable management of trees in plantations.
  • Chain of Custody:
    • Guarantees traceability of forest products throughout the supply chain, from origin to market.
Potential Users of Certification:
  • Forest management units, corporations, or wood-based industries.
  • Tree growers, timber or NTFP (Non-Timber Forest Produce) traders.
  • Saw millers, exporters, or importers of wood-based and NTFP-based products.
  • Other end-user industries.
Forest Management in India:
  • Forests in India are managed based on their working plans.
  • The Indian Forest Management Standards, comprising 8 criteria, 69 indicators, and 254 verifiers, guide forest management.
  • Mandatory implementation of these standards for all forest divisions in the country.
  • While certification is not compulsory for forest divisions, adherence to standards makes them eligible.
  • Certification remains optional, dependent on specific needs and requirements.

Need for the Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme (IFWCS):

  • Global Deforestation Concerns:
    • The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) uncovered serious issues with the integrity of existing forest certifications globally.
  • Impact on International Markets:
    • The credibility concerns raised by the ICIJ investigation have affected the acceptance of Indian forest-based products in international markets.
  • High Dropout Rates Among Certified Entities:
    • The doubts surrounding forest certifications have led to high dropout rates among entities previously certified.
  • European and US Markets Significance:
    • Europe and the US, being major export markets for Indian forest-based products, particularly handicraft and furniture, have tightened import rules due to increased sensitivity around deforestation and climate change concerns.
  • Global Climate Change Commitments:
    • The Glasgow climate change conference in 2021 witnessed over 100 countries pledging to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.
  • Government’s Response:
    • In response to global concerns and commitments, the Government of India is planning to introduce its own certification scheme, IFWCS.
    • Aimed at enhancing market regulation and ensuring the credibility of Indian forest-based products in international trade.

Significance of the Indian Forest and Wood Certification Scheme (IFWCS):

  • Alternative to Foreign Certification Agencies:
    • IFWCS provides an alternative to private foreign certification agencies that have been active in the Indian market for the past two decades.
  • Enhanced Trust and Transparency:
    • The scheme aims to bring greater trust and transparency to the certification processes.
    • This ensures that the certification of forest-based products aligns with international standards.
  • Improved Acceptance in International Markets:
    • IFWCS is expected to enhance the acceptability of Indian forest-based products in international markets.
    • By addressing concerns raised by global investigations and meeting international standards, Indian products are likely to gain more credibility.
  • Government-Initiated and Backed:
    • Currently, IFWCS is a government-initiated and government-backed scheme.
    • This government involvement adds authority and reliability to the certification process.
  • Evolution into an Independent Entity:
    • While currently government-driven, there is a potential for IFWCS to evolve into an independent entity.
    • Similar to institutions like the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) or the Quality Council of India (QCI).
    • This evolution can further strengthen the autonomy and credibility of the certification scheme.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Recently, India and Oman have adopted the India Oman Joint Vision Partnership For the Future, setting the stage for bilateral cooperation and charting pathways for future collaboration between the two countries.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights of the Bilateral Meet
  2. India-Oman Relationships: A Historical Perspective
  3. Oman’s Strategic Significance for India

Key Highlights of the Bilateral Meet:

Agreements and Collaborations:

  • Signed agreements encompass various sectors, including information technology, combating financial crimes, and cultural exchanges.
  • Establishment of a Hindi chair of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) in Oman.

Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA):

  • Ongoing discussions to finalize a CEPA between the two nations.
  • Substantial progress made, with a focus on concluding the agreement promptly to enhance economic ties.

Oman-India Investment Fund:

  • Announcement of the third tranche of the Oman-India investment fund, totaling USD 300 million.
  • The fund, initially a 50:50 joint venture between SBI and the Oman Investment Authority, with tranches of USD 100 million and USD 200 million.

Collaboration in Digital Payments:

  • Exploring the potential use of India’s UPI (Unified Payments Interface) in collaboration with an Omani platform.
  • Consideration of conducting trade in Rupees, currently in the exploratory stage.

Global and Regional Discussions:

  • Exchange of perspectives on regional and global matters.
  • Addressed ongoing conflicts, specifically the Hamas-Israel situation.
  • Shared concerns about terrorism and advocated for a two-state solution to address the Palestine issue.

India-Oman Relationships: A Historical Perspective

Background:

  • Geographical, historical, and cultural ties link the two countries across the Arabian Sea.
  • Warm and cordial relations are attributed to historical maritime trade linkages.

Strategic Partnership:

  • Oman is a strategic partner of India in the Gulf region.
  • Key interlocutor at Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Arab League, and Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) fora.

Recognition of Leadership:

  • Gandhi Peace Prize 2019 awarded to Late HM Sultan Qaboos for strengthening ties and promoting peace in the Gulf region.
Defense Relations:

Joint Military Cooperation Committee (JMCC):

  • Highest forum for defense engagement.
  • Meetings have been sporadic, with the last in 2018.

Military Exercises:

  • Al Najah (Army), Eastern Bridge (Air Force), Naseem Al Bahr (Naval).
Economic & Commercial Ties:

Institutional Mechanisms:

  • Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) and Joint Business Council (JBC) oversee economic cooperation.

Trade Relations:

  • India a top trading partner for Oman.
  • 2nd largest market for Oman’s crude oil exports (2022).
  • 4th largest market for non-oil exports (2022).
  • Indian companies invested in sectors like iron and steel, cement, fertilizers, textiles.

India-Oman Joint Investment Fund (OIJIF):

  • Operational joint venture between State Bank of India and State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) of Oman.

Indian Community in Oman:

  • Around 6.2 lakh Indians, including 4.8 lakh workers and professionals.
  • Some Indian families have been in Oman for over 150-200 years.

Oman’s Strategic Significance for India:

  • Gateway to Strait of Hormuz:
    • Oman is strategically positioned at the gateway of the Strait of Hormuz.
    • The strait is crucial for India as it facilitates one-fifth of its oil imports.
  • Defence Cooperation:
    • Defence collaboration is a pivotal aspect of the India-Oman strategic partnership.
    • A Framework MOU guides defence exchanges, renewed in 2021.
    • Oman is the sole Gulf country engaging in regular bilateral exercises and staff talks with all three branches of the Indian armed forces, fostering close cooperation and trust.
  • Participation in Naval Symposium:
    • Oman actively participates in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), emphasizing regional maritime security.
  • Military Access to Port of Duqm:
    • India strategically secured access to the Port of Duqm in Oman for military and logistical support.
    • Part of India’s maritime strategy to counter Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean region.
  • Strategic Location:
    • The Port of Duqm is strategically situated on Oman’s southeastern seaboard, overseeing the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.
    • Proximity to the Chabahar port in Iran enhances strategic importance.
  • Maritime Security Roadmap:
    • Integrates with India’s proactive maritime security roadmap, which includes developments in Assumption Island (Seychelles) and Agalega (Mauritius).
    • Aligns with efforts to strengthen India’s presence and influence in the Indian Ocean region.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

Opposition-led protesters, numbering in the thousands, marched towards billionaire Gautam Adani’s Mumbai offices to express their dissent against the ₹23,000 crore Dharavi Redevelopment Project.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Dharavi
  2. Economic significance of Dharavi
  3. What is the Dharavi Redevelopment Project all about?

About Dharavi

  • Dharavi, infamous as one of the world’s largest slums, is located in the heart of India’s financial capital – Mumbai.
  • A city within a city, it is one unending stretch of narrow dirty lanes, open sewers and cramped huts.
  • While the land (area of 535 acres) is owned by the government, the houses are maintained by individuals.
  • The Dharavi slum came into being in 1884. It was originally inhibited by fisherfolk when the area was still creeks, swamps.
  • It became attractive to migrant workers from South Mumbai and others when the swamp began to fill in due to natural and artificial causes.
  • The area grew as poor rural Indians migrated to urban Mumbai.
  • Today, an estimated 600,000 to 1 million people live crammed in Dharavi.
Economic significance of Dharavi
  • Dharavi stands near to India’s richest business district, the Bandra-Kurla Complex, where commercial office premiums are among the highest in the country.
  • The slum sprawl, spread over 2.8 sq.km. is home to an informal leather and pottery industry which employs over a lakh people.
What is the Dharavi Redevelopment Project all about?
  • The state had envisaged this sprawl be transformed into a cluster of high-rises with improved urban infrastructure.
  • It entailed resettling 68,000 people, including slum dwellers and those with commercial establishments.
  • The state was to provide 300-sqft houses for free to residents with proof that their slum structure was in existence before January 1, 2000.
  • The project was initially mooted in 2004, but never got off the ground due to various reasons.

When redevelopment was first proposed?

  • In 1999, the government first proposed to redevelop Dharavi.
  • Thereafter, the government of Maharashtra in the year 2003-04 decided to redevelop Dharavi as an integrated planned township.
  • An action plan for redevelopment was approved by issuing a government resolution.
  • It was decided to develop Dharavi by using land as a resource to cross-subsidie the cost of development through a sale component on the basis of the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme.
  • The government also decided to notify the whole of Dharavi as an undeveloped area and to appoint a Special Planning Authority for its development.
  • In 2011, the government cancelled all tenders and drew up a master plan.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

A recent study reveals the earliest evidence of human domestication of yaks in Bangga, a settlement in the Shannan prefecture of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China. Shannan, located along the Brahmaputra River and sharing borders with Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, serves as the archaeological site for this significant discovery.

Relevance:

GS III: Conservation

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Major Highlights of the Study
  2. Major Points Related to Wild Yaks

Major Highlights of the Study:

  • Coexistence of Domesticated Yaks and Taurine Cattle:
    • Indication of advanced animal husbandry and agricultural practices 2,500 years ago.
    • Domesticated yaks and taurine cattle found in coexistence within Bangga.
  • Surprising Presence of Taurine Cattle:
    • Presence of taurine cattle near the Indian subcontinent, where Zebus are predominant.
    • Suggested migration of taurine cattle to central and eastern Tibet from Anatolia via the Silk Route and northern Tibet.
  • Origin and Distribution of Cattle Breeds:
    • Most modern cattle breeds in Europe and temperate Asia are taurine.
    • Distinction from Zebu or humped breeds native to the Indian subcontinent and tropical Asia.
  • Unearthing Evidence of Hybrids:
    • Discovery of intentional crossings between yaks and cattle.
    • Significance in highlighting the ancient inhabitants’ nuanced understanding of animal breeding.

Major Points Related to Wild Yaks:

Habitat and Range:

  • Thrives in remote areas of the Tibetan plateau.
  • Inhabits high-elevation alpine tundra, grasslands, and cold deserts.

Distribution:

  • Native wild yak population previously found in Bhutan and Nepal.
  • Currently presumed extinct in those regions, limiting habitat to China and India.
Threats to Wild Yaks:
  • Habitat Loss:
    • Significant threat to wild yaks.
  • Genetic Hybridization:
    • Occurs with domestic yaks.
  • Poaching:
    • Poses a serious risk.
Human-Induced Challenges:
  • Disturbance from human activities and livestock.
  • Forces wild yaks to relocate, impacting populations.
Hybrid Usage:
  • Dzo (Male hybrid) and Dzomo (Female hybrid) bred by crossing cattle and yaks.
  • Utilized by communities across the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau.
Conservation Status:
  • IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable.
  • CITES: Listed in Appendix I.
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2022: Schedule I.

-Source: Down To Earth



Context:

The year 2023 commemorates the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). The G20 actively engages in global anti-corruption efforts through its Anti-Corruption Working Group, discussing relevant topics in the B20 and SAI20 dialogues within the G20 Social track.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)
  2. G-20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG)

United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC):

Inception and Activation:

  • Signed on December 9, 2003, in Mexico.
  • Entered into force on December 14, 2005.

International Anti-Corruption Day:

  • Established on December 9.
  • Proposed by the Brazilian delegation to the Convention.

Binding Multilateral Treaty:

  • Sole legally binding multilateral international anti-corruption treaty.

Convention’s Main Areas:

  • Preventive Measures.
  • Criminalization and Law Enforcement.
  • International Cooperation.
  • Asset Recovery.
  • Technical Assistance and Information Exchange.

Scope of Coverage:

  • Encompasses various forms of corruption.
  • Includes bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, and private sector corruption.

G-20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG):

Establishment:

  • Formed in June 2010.
  • Emerged from the Toronto Summit of G-20.

Focus Areas:

  • Concentrates on sharing effective strategies to combat corruption.
  • Addresses emerging challenges, including the use of new technologies in countering corrupt practices.

Leadership:

  • Chaired by the Presidency of the G20.
  • Accompanied by a co-chair.

-Source: G20



Context:

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the representative body of nearly 600 internet firms and start-ups, recently welcomed the introduction of the Telecom Bill in Lok Sabha.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI):

Establishment:

  • Founded in 2004.
  • Registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

Nature:

  • Not-for-profit industry body.

Representation:

  • Sole organization representing the digital services industry in India.

Membership:

  • Over 500 Indian and multinational corporations.
  • Members span diverse sectors of the digital ecosystem, including both established companies and startups.

Mandate:

  • Expand and enhance the online and mobile value-added services sectors.

Unified Voice:

  • Dedicated to presenting a unified voice of the businesses it represents to government, investors, consumers, and stakeholders.

Industry Focus:

  • Addresses issues, concerns, and challenges of the Internet and Mobile economy.
  • Takes a leading role in the development of the digital ecosystem.

Representation of Sectors:

  • Encompasses sectors such as digital advertising, digital entertainment, traveltech, online gaming, digital payments, fintech, digital commerce, edtech, healthtech, agritech, big data, ML, AI & IoT, AR/VR, logistics-tech, etc.

Activities:

  • Promotes the inherent strengths of the digital economy.
  • Evaluates and recommends standards and practices.
  • Conducts research and creates platforms for members.
  • Communicates on behalf of the industry.
  • Creates a favorable business environment.

Advocacy:

  • Advocates for free and fair competition.
  • Supports progressive laws for the sector.
  • Advocates for equitable access and the best quality of services.
  • Promotes a safe and secure internet for users.

-Source: Indian Express



Context:

NASA’s new satellite TEMPO measures air pollution hourly has shown significant progress and now the space agency officials are already thinking about ways to extend its life.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

TEMPO Satellite:

Mission Focus:

  • Tropospheric Emissions Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO).

Geographical Coverage:

  • Monitors major air pollutants across North America.

Monitoring Range:

  • Extends from Canada’s oil sands to the Yucatán Peninsula.
  • Across the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

Virtual Constellation:

  • Part of a virtual constellation with South Korea’s GEMS and the European Space Agency’s upcoming satellite.
  • Aims for comprehensive air pollution monitoring over the Northern Hemisphere.

Scientific Observations:

  • Measures ozone, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, and formaldehyde levels.

Monitoring Capability:

  • Capable of hourly air quality measurements over North America during the daytime.
  • Provides resolution at the level of several square miles.

Applications:

  • Monitors effects of various sources, including rush-hour traffic, forest fires, and volcanoes.

Orbit Type:

  • Hosted in geostationary orbit.
  • In contrast to traditional low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites.

Operation Duration:

  • Designed for a 20-month operation period.

-Source: Hindustan Times



Context:

Yogmaya Temple is a historically important monument believed to be standing at the site of an ancient temple that is said to have come up during the period of the Mahabharata.

Relevance:

GS I: History

Yogmaya Temple Overview:

  • Alternative Name: Also known as Jogmaya Temple.
  • Location: Situated in Mehrauli, Delhi.
    • Proximity to the renowned Qutub Minar.
  • Construction Period: Built between 1806 and 1837.
  • Builder: Constructed by Lala Sidhu Mal, a noble in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar II.
  • Historical Context: Area known as Yoginipura in ancient Jain texts.
    • Prithviraj Chauhan associated with a Yogini temple here.
  • Significance in Akbar II’s Rule: Considered a focal point during Akbar II’s reign.
  • Deity Replica: Houses a replica of the Goddess Yogmaya, also known as the “Pure Goddess.”
  • Unique Festival: Celebrates the exclusive festival ‘Phoolwalon ki Sair.’
  • Cultural Importance: A testament to the historical and cultural richness of Mehrauli, Delhi.

-Source: Indian Express


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