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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 18 September 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Food Systems Summit 2021
  2. NCRB report: A status check on crimes in the country
  3. WTO’s agri pact tilted against developing countries

Food Systems Summit 2021

Context:

UN Food Systems Summit will take place during the UN General Assembly in New York on September 23, 2021.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice, GS-II: International Relations (Important International Institutions and their reports), GS-III: Agriculture (Food Security)

 

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the UN Food Systems Summit
  2. Expected Objectives and Outcomes of the UN Food Systems Summit
  3. Recent report on Food systems by three UN agencies

About the UN Food Systems Summit

  • The UN Food Systems Summit 2021 has brought together all UN Member States and constituencies around the world to bring about tangible, positive changes to the world’s food systems.
  • It will seek to set the stage for global food systems transformation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
  • The UN Secretary-General will convene the Food Systems Summit with the aim of maximizing the co-benefits of a food systems approach across the entire 2030 Agenda and meeting the challenges of climate change.
  • The Summit aims to provide a platform for ambitious new actions, innovative solutions, and plans to transform food systems and leverage these shifts to deliver progress across all of the SDGs.

Expected Objectives and Outcomes of the UN Food Systems Summit

  1. Raise awareness of food systems’ centrality to the entire sustainable development agenda, and the urgency of transforming food systems, particularly in the wake of a global pandemic;
  2. Align stakeholders around a common understanding and narrative of a food system framework as a foundation for concerted action, making food and food systems a more widespread issue for advocacy and action to achieve the 2030 Agenda;
  3. Recognize the need for inclusivity and innovation in food systems governance and action;
  4. Motivate and empower stakeholders who support food systems transformation through the development of improved tools, measurement, and analysis; and
  5. Catalyze, accelerate, and enlarge bold action for the transformation of food systems by all communities, including countries, cities, companies, civil society, citizens, and food producers.

Recent report on Food systems by three UN agencies

  • Recently, three UN agencies — Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) — released A multi-billion-dollar opportunity: Repurposing agricultural support to transform food systems.
  • The report analysed countries’ support to farmers and the consequent adverse impacts on food prices, environment, global warming and farmers, specifically smallholders.   
  • From the perspective of general wellbeing, the rise of industrial food production and consumption are two key issues defining the epidemics of non-communicable diseases. The UN report attributed these to the very farmer support system that countries had adopted.
  • According to the report: Currently, countries pump in $540 billion a year as support to farmers. This is expected to triple by 2030 to $1.759 trillion. Yet 87% of this support, approximately $470 billion, is price distorting and environmentally and socially harmful.
  • Three important conclusions in the report:
    1. most of the support was targeted at a few commodities thus not benefiting all farmers.
    2. the support was for the most emission-intensive sectors like sugar and the beef production chain.
    3. the current support systems had invariably helped corporates more than producers.
  • One of the important way forwards suggested by the report is that shifting to more nature-positive, equitable and efficient agricultural support, we can improve livelihoods and at the same time, cut emissions, protect and restore ecosystems and reduce the use of agrochemicals.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine


NCRB report: A status check on crimes in the country

Context:

According to the latest data on ‘Crime in India’ released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), communal riots registered an increase of 96% in 2020 over 2019.

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice and Governance (Issues related to women, Issues related to development, Issues related to Gender, Issues related to minorities)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Highlights of the report
  2. Environment Related Offences
  3. About NCRB

Highlights of the report

Increase

  • According to the report Delhi is the most unsafe city for women as more than 10,000 cases of crimes against women were registered in the capital in 2020.
  • Communal riots registered an increase of 96% in 2020 over 2019 – with Delhi alone registering the highest cases of communal riots in 2020. Uttar Pradesh (UP) did not record a single case of communal violence in 2020.
  • Caste riots saw an increase of close to 50%, agrarian riots 38% and riots during ‘andolan/morcha’ increased by 33%.
  • The rate of cyber crime (incidents per lakh population) also increased from 3.3% in 2019 to 3.7% in 2020.

Decrease

  • The number of cases registered for crimes against women, children and senior citizens, theft, burglary, robbery and dacoity, among others, dropped by about 2 lakh (from 2019 to 2020). However, Murder registered a marginal increase of 1%.
  • 2020 also saw a significant drop in cases related to Offences against the State, with a drop of 27% over 2019. (UP, however, was the only major state to record an increase in Offences Against State mostly due to the large number of ‘Damage to Public Property’ cases registered by the state primarily during the anti- CAA (Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019) protests.

Environment Related Offences

  • Cases under the ‘environment-related offences’ category increased by 78.1% in the country in 2020.
  • Environment-related offences include violations of the Forest Act, the Forest Conservation Act, the Wild Life (Protection) Act, The Environmental (Protection) Act, the Air & the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, Noise Pollution Acts and the National Green Tribunal Act.  
  • Tamil Nadu reported the country’s highest number of environment-related crimes. In 2020, the state registered 42,000+ cases, which was more than three times the number of cases registered in 2019.
  • Four-fifths of the environment-related crimes were registered under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act.
  • Violations of noise pollution control laws of both the Union and state governments formed the second-highest number of environment-related cases.
  • Under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, there were 672 cases, with UP having the highest number (185) of cases, followed by Rajasthan with 151 cases.
  • Under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986, the country reported 992 cases, with UP again having the highest number of cases at 841.

About NCRB

  • NCRB was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators based on the recommendations of the Tandon Committee to the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Task force (1985).
  • Subsequently, NCRB was entrusted with the responsibility for monitoring, coordinating and implementing the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) project in the year 2009. The project connects 15000+ police stations and 6000 higher offices of police in the country.
  • NCRB launched National Digital Police Portal. It allows search for a criminal / suspect on the CCTNS database apart from providing various services to citizens like filing of complaints online and seeking antecedent verification of tenants, domestic helps, drivers etc.
  • The Bureau has also been entrusted to maintain National Database of Sexual Offenders (NDSO) and has also been designated as the Central Nodal Agency to manage technical and operational functions of the ‘Online Cyber-Crime Reporting Portal’ through which any citizen can lodge a complaint as an evidence of crime related to child pornography, rape/gang rape.
  • NCRB also compiles and publishes National Crime Statistics i.e. Crime in India, Accidental Deaths & Suicides and also Prison Statistics

-Source: The Hindu, Down to Earth Magazine


WTO’s agri pact tilted against developing countries

Context:

Commerce and Industry Minister of India, while addressing the G-33 Virtual Informal Ministerial Meeting, said that the Agreement on Agriculture at the WTO is riddled with deep imbalances, which favour the developed countries and have tilted the rules against many developing countries.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Important International Institutions, Protectionism, Government Policies & Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is G-33?
  2. About the Agreement on Agriculture at WTO
  3. World Trade Organization (WTO)
  4. Functions of WTO
  5. Structure of WTO

What is G-33?

  • The G-33 is a forum of developing countries formed during the Cancun ministerial conference of the WTO, to protect the interest of the developing countries in agricultural trade negotiations.
  • India is a part of the G33, which is a group of 47 developing and least developed countries.
  • It was created in order to help group countries which were all facing similar problems.
  • The G33 has proposed special rules for developing countries at WTO negotiations, like allowing them to continue to restrict access to their agricultural markets.

About the Agreement on Agriculture at WTO

  • The Agreement on Agriculture at the WTO  is aimed to remove trade barriers and to promote transparent market access and integration of global markets.
  • The WTO’s Agriculture Committee oversees implementation of the Agreement and provides a forum for members to address related concerns.

Three pillars of Agreement on Agriculture:

  1. WTO calls for reduction in Domestic Support/Domestic Subsidies that distorts free trade and fair price. Under this provision, the Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) is to be reduced by 20% over a period of 6 years by developed countries and 13% over a period of 10 years by developing countries.
  2. Market access for goods in the WTO means the conditions, tariff and non-tariff measures, agreed by members for the entry of specific goods into their markets. According to WTO, Market access requires that tariffs fixed (like custom duties) by individual countries be cut progressively to allow free trade. The WTO also required countries to remove non-tariff barriers and convert them to Tariff duties.
  3. Export Subsidy on inputs of agriculture, making export cheaper or other incentives for exports such as import duty remission etc., are included under “Export Subsidies” by the WTO. According to the WTO Export Subsidies can result in dumping of highly subsidized (and cheap) products in other countries and damage the domestic agriculture sector of other countries.

Under “Domestic Support” Subsidies are categorized by WTO into:

Green Box

  • Subsidies that do not distort trade, or at most cause minimal distortion.

They are government-funded and must not involve price support.

  • They also include environmental protection and regional development programmes.
  • “Green box” subsidies are therefore allowed without limits, provided they comply with the policy-specific criteria.

Amber Box

  • All domestic support measures considered to distort production and trade (with some exceptions) fall into the amber box as all domestic supports except those in the blue and green boxes.
  • These include measures to support prices, or subsidies directly related to production quantities.

Blue Box

  • This is the “amber box with conditions”. Such conditions are designed to reduce distortion.
  • Any support that would normally be in the amber box is placed in the blue box if the support also requires farmers to limit production.
  • At present, there are no limits on spending on blue box subsidies

World Trade Organization (WTO)

  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of international trade between nations.
  • It is the largest international economic organization in the world.
  • The headquarters of the World Trade Organization is in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The WTO deals with regulation of trade in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants’ adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments.
  • The WTO prohibits discrimination between trading partners, but provides exceptions for environmental protection, national security, and other important goals.
  • Trade-related disputes are resolved by independent judges at the WTO through a dispute resolution process.
  • The WTO has 164 members (including European Union) and 23 observer governments (like Iran, Iraq, Bhutan, Libya etc.)
  • India is a founder member of the 1947 GATT and its successor, the WTO.

Origin of WTO

  • The WTO is the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was created in 1947.
  • The Uruguay Round (1986-94) of the GATT led to the WTO’s creation. WTO began operations on 1st January, 1995.
  • The Agreement Establishing the WTO, commonly known as the “Marrakesh Agreement”, was signed in Marrakesh, Morocco in 1994.

Functions of WTO

  • Trade negotiations: The WTO agreements cover goods, services and intellectual property. They spell out the principles of liberalization, and the permitted exceptions. They set procedures for settling disputes.
  • Implementation and monitoring: WTO agreements require governments to make their trade policies transparent by notifying the WTO about laws in force and measures adopted. Various WTO councils and committees seek to ensure that these requirements are being followed and that WTO agreements are being properly implemented.
  • Dispute settlement: The WTO’s procedure for resolving trade quarrels under the Dispute Settlement Understanding is vital for enforcing the rules and therefore for ensuring that trade flows smoothly.
  • Building trade capacity: WTO agreements contain special provision for developing countries, including longer time periods to implement agreements and commitments, measures to increase their trading opportunities, and support to help them build their trade capacity, to handle disputes and to implement technical standards.
  • Outreach: The WTO maintains regular dialogue with non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians, other international organizations, the media and the general public on various aspects of the WTO and the ongoing Doha negotiations, with the aim of enhancing cooperation and increasing awareness of WTO activities.

Structure of WTO

  • Structure of the WTO is dominated by its highest authority, the Ministerial Conference, composed of representatives of all WTO members, which is required to meet at least every two years and which can take decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements.
  • The General Council is composed of all WTO members and is required to report to the Ministerial Conference.
  • The General Council convenes in two particular forms:
    1. Dispute Settlement Body: To oversee the dispute settlement procedures.
    2. Trade Policy Review Body: To conduct regular reviews of the trade policies of individual WTO members.

-Source: The Hindu

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