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Daily Current Affairs : 22-Feb-2020

Major Topics Covered :


  1. PAKISTAN RETAINED ON GREY LIST OF FATF

  2. STERLISATION TARGETS IN MADHYA PRADESH

  3. SUTRA-PIC

  4. NAMASTE TRUMP

  5. IRAN PLACED IN BLACK LIST OF FATF

  6. NATURAL GAS PRICING

  7. 13th CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES ON CONSERVATION OF MIGRATORY SPECIES OF WILD ANIMALS (CMS COP13)


PAKISTAN RETAINED ON GREY LIST OF FATF

Why in News?

  • Pakistan has been retained in the “Grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force for another four months with a stern warning to complete the 27 point action plan by June 2020 of face the risk of being blacklisted.


Highlights

  • Pakistan needs to continue to work on eight specific areas including

  • Identifying and investigating” all terror-financing activities in the country,

  • Freezing the funds of all designated terrorists and

  • Prosecutions resulting in “effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions” against all terror entities.

  • Tightening terror financing laws.

  • Improving banking security norms.

  • Shutting down funding to UNSC designated terrorist organisations such as Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed

  • In November 2019, Pakistan was cleared of only four points out of 27.

  • Pakistan is amongst the 12 countries on the grey list that are being reviewed for actions to stop terror financing and money laundering.

Meaning of Grey list and Black list :

  • Grey List (Official name - Compliance document) : It contains those countries that have deficiencies in their AML/CFT regimes but have committed to address these loopholes.

  • Black list (Official name – Public statement) : The countries that failed to live up to their commitments of addressing the loopholes in the AML/CFT regime.

Impact :

  • Economic Impact:

  1. IMF : Pakistan’s $6 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) could be threatened. It will become difficult for Pakistan to get foreign loans from IMF, WB or ADB.

  2. International Bond Market : Grey-listing could also lead to a downgrade in Pakistan’s debt ratings, making it more difficult to tap into the international bond markets.

  3. Cost of Doing Business : It can dry up the foreign investment in the country and increase the countries cost of doing business by manifolds. No company wants to be doing business with a country that has possible ties with terrorist funding activities or lacks a process that prevents such activities.

  4. Annual Loss : Pakistan faces an estimated annual loss of $10 billion if it stays in the greylist; if blacklisted, its already fragile economy will dealt with a powerful blow.

  5. Global Reputation:

  6. Being in the blacklist is not good for any countries reputation.


Source : FATF website and Hindu


STERLISATION TARGETS IN MADHYA PRADESH

Why in news?

  • MP Government rescinded its order to health workers that warned male multi-purpose health workers (MPHWs) of no pay and compulsory retirement if they failed to mobilise at least one man for sterilisation in 2019-20.


Highlights :

  • As per National Family Health Survey – 4 just 0.5% of men opted for the sterilisation procedure in Madhya Pradesh.

  • Even though India is in significant need of population control but the law is being criticised as “Emergency part 2” for its draconian provision.

  • However, the data suggests that around 1.35 lakh women went sterilisation in eight months until December, just 1254 men opted for vasectomy. This raises the question of the inequality and the continuance of patriarchal values.

Source : Hindu



SUTRA-PIC
  • Why in news? 400 scientists have petitioned the Department of Science and Technology to withdraw a proposal that solicits research into indigenous cows.


Highlights :

  • SUTRA-PIC : Scientific Utilisation Through Research Augmentation-Prime Products from Indigenous Cows


Aim :

  • Perform scientific research on the complete characterization of milk and milk products derived from Indian indigenous cows;

  • Scientific research on nutritional and therapeutic properties of curd and ghee prepared from indigenous breeds of cows by traditional methods;

  • Development of standards for traditionally processed dairy products of Indian-origin cow


Themes –

  • Uniqueness of Indigenous Cows

  • Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Medicine and Health

  • Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Agricultural Applications

  • Prime-products from Indigenous Cows for Food and Nutrition

  • rime-products from Indigenous Cows-based Utility Item.


Funding and Ministry : It is being funded by multiple scientific ministries, however, SUTRA PIC is being led by Department of Science and Technology (DST)


Criticisms :

  • The key concern raised by the researcher is that the programme the belief that indigenous cows had “special” and “unique” qualities and this opened the possibility of money being “wasted to investigate imaginary qualities derived from religious scriptures”.

  • The programme is being criticised as being unscientific as it doesn’t encourage fair comparison with other cow breeds around the world or other bovine species within India.


Source : Hindu and DST website.



NAMASTE TRUMP


Why in news?

  • Indian government is going to welcome POTUS Donald Trump through a grand gesture in Ahmedabad on February 24, 2020. His visit takes place under the shadow of acrimony over trade deals and tariffs between the two countries.


Highlights :

  • A series of MoUs will be signed between the two governments including an accord on Homeland Security that would cover the setting up of a “counter-terrorism training centre” and a research centre for cyber-security

  • An agreement on space cooperation, a medical cooperation and information sharing pact along with an accord on IPR is on the anvil. IPR has been an area of discord between the two nations.

  • The two sides are expected to upgrade their 2015 Joint Vision statement for the Indian Ocean Region and Asia-Pacific, which is now referred to as the Indo-Pacific.

  • Future plans for Afghanistan will also be discussed which is important and POTUS will be signing US-Taliban agreement on February 29, 2020. India is expected to press the U.S. to not make a complete pull-out of troops from Afghanistan.

  • Defence deals worth 3 billion dollars are expected to be linked. BECA agreement is also likely to be taken forward.

  • Several major energy accords are likely to be signed as India has stepped up purchases of U.S. oil and LNG.


Source : Hindu



IRAN PLACED IN BLACK LIST OF FATF

Why in News?

  • After urging Iran for three years to enact terrorist financing conventions, finally Iran has been placed in the black list of FATF.


Highlight :

  • Iran has been on the blacklist since 2008.

  • Provisions of Iran’s FATF Action Plan :

  • Criminalization of money laundering and terrorist financing offenses.

  • Identifying and freezing terrorist financing assets in line with relevant UNSCRs.

  • Ensuring proper AML/CFT requirements for the financial sector, including preventive measures and Customer Due Diligence (CDD).

  • Enhancing the role of Iran’s financial intelligence unit and the process for reporting suspicious transactions.

  • Ratifying and implementing the U.N Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (ICSFT).

  • Improving regulation of alternative remittance systems, wire transfers, and cash couriers.

  • Adopting legislation and procedures to provide for the freezing and confiscation of laundered property and proceeds, and property of corresponding value.

  • Iran is alleged to be financing terrorist organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.


Source : Hindu, Iran watch


NATURAL GAS PRICING

Why in news?

  • Due to the fall in global gas prices, India’s domestic gas prices are set to nearly halve to a 10-year low of $2 per million metric British thermal unit (mmBtu).


Highlights :

  • Rangarajan committee formula : It was based on the average of two prices -price at other producing destinations and the volume-weighted price of US’s Henry Hub, UK’s NBP and Japan Custom Cleared

  • Current formula used for finding natural gas prices :

  • The NDA government scrapped the Rangarajan Committee recommendations soon after it assumed office in 2014, instituting its own formula for domestic APM gas prices in India by linking them to 12-month averages of U.S., Canada, Russia and Europe prices.


Impact :

  • Lower gas prices would be bad for exploration and production (E&P) firms, while users like Indraprastha Gas Limited, Mahanagar Gas Limited and GAIL would benefit.


Source : Hindu


13th CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES ON CONSERVATION OF MIGRATORY SPECIES OF WILD ANIMALS (CMS COP13)

Why in news?

  • A committee of the CMS COP13 has adopted India’s proposal for including three species – Great Indian Bustard, Asian elephant and Bengal Florican for additional protection.


Highlights :

  • The conference is underway in Gandhinagar with the theme – “Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home.” It is for the first time that the conference is being held in India.


About CMS :

  • It is a treaty signed by 129 countries plus EU, and functions under the UNEP.

  • It works for the protection of species that migrate across frontiers and face threat of extinction or require urgent attention.

  • The text was negotiated in 1979 and the Convention entered into force on 1 November 1983 after 15 Governments had ratified it. The Secretariat that administers the Convention was established in 1984.

  • Mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and one insect are listed on the Convention’s two Appendices, including many whales and dolphins, bats, gorillas, antelopes, albatrosses, raptors, waterbirds, sharks, sturgeons, marine turtles and the Monarch Butterfly.

  • Appendices -

  • Appendix I – It lists migratory species that are endangered.

  • Appendix II – Species that require global cooperation for favourable conservation status.

  • The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the main decision-making body of the Convention.  The COP meets approximately one every three years.

Migratory species -  a migratory species is one that cyclically and predictably crosses one or more national jurisdictional boundaries.


Source : Indian Express and CMS website

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