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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 17 July 2021

Contents

  1. Attacks on Indians in South Africa Violence
  2. UN report on youth and agriculture, World Youth Skill Day
  3. China has a carbon market now

Attacks on Indians in South Africa Violence

Context:

Protests in South Africa began after the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma and amid escalating civil unrest in the country the Indian government raised concerns about attacks on people of Indian origin in South Africa.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Politics and Political Developments affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About recent violence in South Africa
  2. India–South Africa relations

About recent violence in South Africa

  • The unrest in South Africa, set off after the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, has not escalated to high levels so much that the South African police and the military have resorted to firing stun grenades and rubber bullets to contain the situation.
  • The former President of South Africa is serving a sentence for contempt of court, after failing to appear for a corruption inquiry.
  • Since 2020, with the lockdown and restrictions on businesses, South Africa’s economy has struggled to make a recovery – unemployment stood at a record high of 32.6 per cent in the first three months of 2021 and a survey found that nearly a sixth of the population in South Africa were hungry. 
  • India’s External Affairs Minister spoke to his South African counterpart regarding reports of arson and looting against Indians and Indian-origin South Africans.

India–South Africa relations

History

  • India-South Africa relations have grown strong since the end of apartheid in South Africa in 1994 with links between India and South Africa dating back to the period during which Mahatma Gandhi started his Satyagraha movement in South Africa for the cause of freedom and justice in South Africa over a century ago.
  • Mahatma Gandhi had commenced his political-legal career in South Africa, experimenting with civil disobedience in the 1890s and 1900s, to improve the quality of living of the Indians living there.
  • The Indian government was an outspoken critic of the apartheid-era South African government, refusing to maintain diplomatic relations.
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations after the end of apartheid in 1994. After South Africa achieved democracy in 1994, it was the Red Fort Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa, signed in March 1997 which set the parameters for a rekindled relationship.
  • The major part of the Indian origin community came to South Africa from 1860 onwards as farm labour to serve as field hands and mill operatives in the sugar and other agricultural plantations.

Recent developments

  • The Strategic Partnership between the two countries was again reaffirmed in the Tshwane Declaration (October 2006).
  • India is South Africa’s fifth-largest export destination, and fourth-largest import origin and is the second-largest trading partner in Asia.
  • In 2016 both the countries agreed to collaborate in the defence sector, especially in terms of the opportunities available for South African private sector under ‘Make in India’ initiative, energy sector, agro-processing, human resource development, and infrastructure development.
  • India and South Africa also share an extensive energy partnership in 2010, India imported 1.4 million tonnes of South African coal – making it the largest purchaser of coal from the country.
  • Ties with further solidified with South Africa’s 2011 acceptance into the BRICS group.

Click Here to read about Africa (Continent)–India relations

-Source: Indian Express


UN report on youth and agriculture, World Youth Skill Day

Context:

Every year, 15th July is observed as the World Youth Skills Day as designated by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2014.

A recent United Nations report has said that making agriculture-food systems more appealing to the youth can secure the future of global food security and nutrition.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Employment, Human Resource, Growth & Development of Indian Economy)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. 2021 World Youth Skills Day
  2. Status of skill development in India
  3. Initiatives in India for Skilling Youth
  4. About the UN report on youth and agriculture
  5. India’s Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture (ARYA) Scheme

2021 World Youth Skills Day

  • The 2021 World Youth Skills Day will again take place in a challenging context, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and with education and training systems yet to return to pre-crisis conditions.
  • The 2021 World Youth Skills Day’s theme is ‘Reimagining Youth Skills Post-Pandemic’.
  • It aims to celebrate the resilience and creativity of youth throughout the crisis and focus attention on how technical and vocational education and training (TVET) systems have adapted to the pandemic, participate in the recovery, and imagine priorities they should adopt for the post-COVID-19 world.
  • The Primary aims of celebrating World Youth Skills day is to equip young people around the world with essential skills for employment, work, and entrepreneurship while achieving the Incheon Declaration: Education 2030 and eliminating gender disparity.
  • The Incheon Declaration: Education 2030 devotes considerable attention to technical and vocational skills development, specifically regarding access to affordable quality technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions.’’

Status of skill development in India

  • India is one of the youngest nations in the world with more than 54% of the total population below 25 years of age.
  • India’s workforce is the second largest in the world after China’s. While China’s demographic dividend is expected to start tapering off by 2015, India will continue to enjoy it till 2040.
  • However, India’s formally skilled workforce is approximately 2% – which is dismally low compared to China (47%), Japan (80%) or South Korea (96%).
  • To leverage our demographic dividend more substantially and meaningfully, the Government launched the “Skill India” campaign along with “Make in India”.

Initiatives in India for Skilling Youth

  1. A Department of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was created under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in 2014 and was subsequently upgraded to full-fledged ministry.The role of the Ministry involves coordinating and evolving skill development frameworks, mapping of existing skills and certification, industry-institute linkages among others.
  2. Draft National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015: The objective of the Policy is to meet the challenge of skilling at scale with speed, standard (quality) and sustainability. It aims to provide an umbrella framework to all skilling activities being carried out within the country, to align them to common standards and link skilling with demand centres.
  3. Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY): This is a flagship outcome-based skill training scheme aimed at benefiting 24 lakh youth. A monetary reward is provided to trainees on assessment and certification. The steering Committee for PMKVY is responsible for providing directions for implementation.
  4. Skill Management and Accreditation of Training Centres (SMART): SMART centers provide a single window IT application that focuses on the accreditation, grading, Affiliation and Continuous monitoring of the Training Centres (TC) in the skill ecosystem.
  5. Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood (SANKALP): SANKALP is a Centrally sponsored scheme of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) with the primary focus on district-level skilling ecosystem through convergence and coordination.
  6. Aatamanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM): Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) launched ‘Aatamanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM)’ portal to help skilled people find sustainable livelihood opportunities in 2020.  Through ASEEM, agencies, employers, and job aggregators who are looking for a skilled workforce in the specific sectors will have access to the required details of the availability of skilled workforce and formulate their hiring plans.

About the UN report on youth and agriculture

  • Youth aged between 15 and 24 years accounted for 16% of the world’s population in 2019 and young people were concentrated in Asia, Central and Southern Asia.
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that 440 million youth from the African continent would enter the labour market between 2015 and 2030.
  • Food systems are the largest employers, particularly in developing countries. Yet, they often do not provide decent and meaningful work or adequate livelihood opportunities, nor maintain a balance between the needs and rights of different generations.
  • Agri-food systems, if made more appealing and equitable to youth, are a large, untapped reservoir of employment opportunities.
  • As almost 88% of the world’s 1.2 billion youth live, particularly in Africa, where over 70% of youth subsist on USD 2 per day or less – youth engagement and employment in sustainable agri-food systems is a worthy goal to be realized.

India’s Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture (ARYA) Scheme

  • In order to realize the importance of rural youth in agricultural development, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has initiated a programme on “Attracting and Retaining of Youth in Agriculture (ARYA)”.
  • The Objectives of the ARYA Project are to attract and empower the Youth in Rural Areas to take up various Agriculture, allied and service sector enterprises and to enable the Farm Youth to establish network groups to take up resource and capital-intensive activities.
  • The Scheme is implemented through Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVK-Farm science centres) by training youth in taking up agriculture’s allied and supplementary activities such as poultry farming, dairying, fisheries, goat rearing, mushroom production and other similar activities which keep the rural youth attached to agriculture, either directly or indirectly.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine


China has a carbon market now

Context:

China’s national carbon market, the world’s largest emissions trading system, will begin its online trading in July 2021.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of Environment, Agreements and Treaties on Conservation of Environment and Ecology)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Carbon Trading and Carbon Market
  2. About Carbon credits
  3. About Kyoto Protocol
  4. Advantages of Carbon Trading
  5. About China’s National Carbon Market

What is Carbon Trading and Carbon Market

  • Carbon trading is an exchange of credits between nations designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.
  • Carbon trading is also referred to as carbon emissions trading. Carbon emissions trading accounts for most emissions trading.
  • Under the prevailing Kyoto Protocol climate agreement, carbon credits are used in market-based system of Carbon Trading.
  • Carbon trading allows countries and companies to sell their carbon credits for money.
  • Carbon markets are regulatory structures that allow, in particular, oil and gas-intensive companies or heavy industry (or, in the case of COP25, countries) to reduce their economic footprint through a series of incentives.
  • The idea behind this system is that the most polluting countries can purchase the right to pollute more from countries that have not reached their emissions limits.
  • The 1997 Kyoto Protocol turned polluting emissions into a commodity.

About Carbon credits

  • A carbon credit (often called a carbon offset) is a tradable certificate or permit.
  • One carbon credit is equal to one tonne of carbon dioxide.
  • Carbon credits are a part of attempts to mitigate the growth in concentrations of GHGs.
  • Carbon credits or carbon offsets can be acquired through afforestation, renewable energy, CO2 sequestration, methane capture, buying from an exchange (carbon credits trading) etc.
  • Carbon trading is the name given to the exchange of emission permits.
  • This exchange may take place within the economy or may take the form of international transaction.
  • Under Carbon Credits Trading mechanism countries that emit more carbon than the quota allotted to them buy carbon credits from those that emit less.
  • In Carbon trading, one credit gives the country or a company right to emit one tonne of CO2.
  • A developing nation such as India, turns out to be a seller of such credits, which eventually provides them with monetary gains.
  • Carbon credits are traded at various exchanges across the world.
  • Multi-Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) launched futures trading in carbon credits in 2009.

About Kyoto Protocol

  • The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which commits its Parties by setting internationally binding emission reduction targets.
  • The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997 and entered into force in February 2005.
  • The first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol was from 2008-2012. The Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Qatar in December 2012. The amendment includes new commitments for parties to the Kyoto Protocol who agreed to take on commitments in a second commitment period from January 2013 to December 2020 and a revised list of greenhouse gases to be reported on by Parties in the second commitment period.
  • Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of Greenhouse Gas (GHGs) in the atmosphere, the Kyoto Protocol places commitments on developed nations to undertake mitigation targets and to provide financial resources and transfer of technology to the developing nations.
  • Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

Advantages of Carbon Trading

  • Emissions trading achieves the environmental objective of reduced emission by incentivizing innovation and identifying lowest-cost solutions to make businesses more sustainable.
  • Emissions trading is better able to respond to economic fluctuations than other policy tools.
  • Determining physical actions that companies must take, with no flexibility, is not guaranteed to achieve the necessary reductions. Nor is establishing a regulated price, since the price required to drive reductions may take policy-makers several years to determine.
  • By allowing the open market to set the price of carbon allows for better flexibility and avoids price shocks or undue burdens. For example, as seen in Europe, prices will fall during a recession as industrial output, and thus emissions, fall. A centrally-administered tax does not have the same flexibility.
  • The combination of an absolute cap on the level of emissions permitted and the carbon price signal from trading helps firms identify low-cost methods of reducing emissions on site, such as investing in energy efficiency – which can lead to a further reduction in overheads. This helps make business more sustainable for the future. Imposing technology on business does not allow for creativity and can actually lead to higher costs as companies look merely to comply with regulations.
  • Emissions trading can provide a global response to a global challenge. Cap and trade provides a way of establishing rigour around emissions monitoring, reporting and verification – essential for any climate policy to preserve integrity.

About China’s National Carbon Market

  • The Chinese Carbon market will initially cover more than 2,200 companies in China’s power sector, which are responsible for 14 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • These companies were assigned emission targets in the beginning of 2021; after trading, they would be required to submit compliance to their government authorities by end of 2021.
  • Companies that over-performed and have surplus targets in hand will sell them in this market; those polluting will have to buy the surplus to submit their compliance statement.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine, The Hindu

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