Daily Current Affairs for 11th Jan 2024

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EU carbon tax

Why in the news?

  • India has flagged concerns relating to sensitive and confidential trade data of its exporters getting compromised while complying with the European Union’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) — the world’s first system that imposes carbon emission tariffs on iron, steel, aluminium and cement, among other such items imported into the 27-nation bloc.

Concerns of India

  • Indian manufacturing exports in sectors such as steel, oil refining and cement align extremely favourably with global cost competitiveness benchmarks and the concerns flagged by Indian exporters pertain to sensitive trade secrets in these segments getting compromised.
  • While the CBAM is set to come into effect from 2026, the transition period requiring exporters to submit data to EU authorities began October 1, 2023.
  • The CBAM requires EU importers to submit nearly 1,000 data points and methods used in production by exporters.
  • While the EU says the data collection is aimed at ascertaining carbon emission, Indian exporters fear losing competitive edge by revealing such crucial information.
  • This assumes significance as India exports over 15 per cent of its total goods exports to the EU. In 2022-23, India exported goods worth $75 billion to the EU.
  • The move also comes at a time when India’s exports to the EU are slowing this year due to weakening demand in the west.
  • The recent crisis in the Red Sea area is also feared to have a bearing on exports of textile and agri products to the EU.
  • Trade experts have warned that data collection by the EU under the CBAM must be looked into by the government as Brussels largely aims to revive manufacturing in its territory and wipe out the trade deficit with developing countries such as India and China.
  • The government has already questioned the CBAM in the WTO and is simultaneously looking for concessions.

Negotiations with the EU 

  • Negotiations with the EU are primarily happening under the Trade and Technology Council (TTC). There is a separate track where we have agreed to discuss the challenges with the CBAM. 
  • India’s discussions under TTC assume significance as the EU has such a bilateral forum only with the US. And the first ministerial meeting took place in May last year that saw India’s commerce ministry, external affairs ministry and union minister of state for electronics and Information Technology engaging with the EU.
  • EU has agreed to include solutions regarding CBAM in the FTA under negotiations, however, the final contours of the same have not yet been agreed upon. 

Other countries that raised concern in this regard

  • India is not the only country to have flagged concerns in this regard. “The Argentinian industry and Brazilian industry associations have already flagged this to the EU.
  • They have also asked why the EU industry is not subject to parting with such information.
  • The relevant Ministry of Taiwan and Thai businesses have also flagged the same concern. Thus, globally, data privacy concerns have been a source of worry.




Republic Day tableaux

Why in the news?

How are tableaux selected?

  • Republic Day is an annual celebration to mark the adoption of the Indian Constitution and India’s transition to a democratic republic. Led by the President from the Kartavya Path in New Delhi, the parade exhibits military might and cultural heritage, which includes tableaux rolled out by States, Union Territories, Central ministries and departments.
  • The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is responsible for conducting the parade and coordinating arrangements with States and other agencies. Preparations for the ceremony, which has become synonymous with national pride and patriotism, begin months in advance. This process includes the selection and short listing of tableaux.

Who makes the selection and on what basis?

  • As per the Ministry, there is a standard procedure for selecting parade participants. Every year, months ahead of the event, the MoD invites States, UTs and departments to submit sketches or designs for tableaux on a broad theme. For instance, this year’s theme is ‘Viksit Bharat’ (Developed India) and ‘Bharat-Loktantra ki Matruka’ (India-Mother of Democracy).
  • The sketch or design must be simple, colourful, easy to comprehend and avoid statistical data and unnecessary details. Additionally, the Ministry shares basic guidelines that must be included in the proposal like the use of eco-friendly material and technology.
  • Writing or use of logos on the tableaux is not allowed except for the name of State/UT presenting, which can be in Hindi in the front, English at the back and in the regional language on the sides of the tableau.
  • The Ministry constitutes a committee of experts from the fields of arts, culture, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, and choreography, among others, to screen proposals. In the first phase, the panel carries out a basic evaluation and suggests modifications in the sketch or design.
  • Once the designs are approved post any modifications, participants present a three-dimensional model of the proposed tableau to the panel. These are examined by experts for final selection. Only shortlisted candidates are informed about the next round.



Organ Transplant Law

Why in news?

  • Recently Delhi High Court has prescribed an ideal timeline of 6-8 weeks to complete the process of transplanting organs from living donors.
  • The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994, and Rules, 2014 are prescribed for all steps in the process of considering organ-donation applications.

About Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994

  • The law governs the transplantation of human organs and tissues in India, including the donation of organs after death. It lays down regulations governing healthcare providers and hospitals, and stipulates penalties for violations.
  • A transplant can be either from a pool of organs of deceased persons donated by their relatives or from a living person who is known to the recipient.
  • In most cases, the Act allows living donations from close relatives such as parents, siblings, children, spouses, grandparents, and grandchildren. Altruistic donations from distant relatives, in-laws, or long-time friends are allowed after additional scrutiny to ensure there is no financial exchange.
  • Living donations from close relatives involving Indians or foreigners must be accompanied by documents establishing their identities, family trees, and pictures that prove the donor-recipient relationship. Donors and recipients are also interviewed.
  • Donations from unrelated persons require documents and photographic evidence to prove their long-term association or friendship with the recipient. These are examined by an external committee to prevent illegal dealings.
  • Offering to pay for organs or supplying them for payment; initiating, negotiating, or advertising such arrangements; looking for persons to supply organs; and abetting in preparing false documents can attract a jail term up to 10 years and a fine up to Rs 1 crore.
  • The Authorisation Committee plays a critical role in the transplantation process.

What is the Authorisation Committee?

  • The Authorisation Committee oversees and approves organ transplant procedures involving donors and recipients who are not near relatives. This approval is crucial, especially in cases where organs are donated for reasons of affection, attachment, or other special circumstances, to ensure ethical compliance and prevent illegal practices.
  • Section 9(4) says the “composition of the Authorisation Committee shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government from time to time”, and that state government and Union Territories “shall constitute…one or more Authorisation Committee consisting of such members as may be nominated by the State Government and the Union Territories…”
  • Under Section 9(5), the Committee is expected to conduct a thorough inquiry while reviewing applications for transplant approval. A crucial aspect of the inquiry is to verify the authenticity of the donor and recipient, and ensure that the donation is not driven by commercial motives.
  • Section 24 of the Act allows the Centre to make rules, subject to parliamentary approval, for carrying out the various purposes of the Act. These can relate to the manner and conditions under which a donor may authorise the removal of their organs before death, how a brain-stem death is to be certified, or the steps to be taken to preserve human organs removed from anyone, etc.

What do the 2014 Rules say?

  • Rule 7 of the 2014 Rules provides for the constitution of the Authorisation Committee and the nature of enquiry and evaluation conducted by it.
  • Rule 7(3) says the Committee must ensure there is no commercial transaction involved in cases where the donor and recipient are not near relatives.
  • But Rule 7(5) says that if a recipient is in a critical condition and needs transplantation within a week, the hospital can be approached for an expedited evaluation.
  • For living donor transplantations, Rule 10 describes the application process, which requires joint applications by the donor and recipient.
  • Rule 21 requires the Committee to personally interview applicants and determine their eligibility to donate.

What was the case before the Delhi High Court?

  • The court ruled on a plea filed by a retired Indian Air Force officer diagnosed with kidney failure in 2017. By 2019, two hospitals had advised him to get a renal (kidney) transplant.
  • However, his application seeking approval for transplantation was rejected by the Army Hospital in New Delhi due to the non-availability of a “near relative” donor in terms of Section 2(i) and Section 9(1) of the 1994 Act.
  • Section 2(i) of the Act defines a “near relative” as a “spouse, son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, grandson or granddaughter”.
  • Section 9(1) says that without the Committee’s prior approval, no human organ or tissue can be removed from a donor’s body before death and transplanted into a recipient unless the donor is a “near relative”.
  • After the petitioner was diagnosed with hypertension and chronic kidney failure at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, the transplant was planned again. But no decision was taken — and in 2020, the petitioner approached the HC seeking the transplant and/ or a direction to the Committee to grant approval.
  • In February 2021, the HC directed the Authorisation Committee to decide the petitioner’s application within two weeks. But when the matter was heard again in October 2021, the court was informed that the petitioner had passed away.

What did the court decide, and why?

  • Despite the petitioner’s passing, the court proceeded with the case.
  • The Centre argued that the Committee took its decision within a week of receiving all documents, as prescribed by the 2014 Rules.
  • But counsel for petitioner contended there is no timeline for the Committee to conduct interviews, which leads to a delay in deciding cases. If the Committee indefinitely adjourns hearings without meeting donors, recipients, and their families, the applications remain undecided, causing prolonged suffering to the patients, the counsel submitted.
  • The court agreed, and ruled that everything from conducting interviews to processing forms and decision-making is to be done within fixed timelines, and not in an “expanded or elastic” manner. Such urgency is in fact, reflected in provisions like Rule 23(3), which requires a final decision to be taken within 24 hours of the meeting.
  • Despite this, the court found an absence of timelines under Rules 21 and 23 in holding pre-transplantation interviews by the Authorisation Committee, leading to delays.
  • In some cases, as in the present case, the recipient has in fact passed away awaiting the decision of the Authorisation Committee.
  • The non-adherence to timelines has resulted in extended waiting periods of 2 to 3 years in some cases before a decision is made, which contradicts the intent as also the letter and spirit of the 1994 Act and the 2014 Rules.
  • It suggested that after 4-6 weeks of receiving the application, the Committee can schedule interviews within 2 weeks, during which it will facilitate meetings of family members of the donors and recipients and conduct more than one interview.
  • However, the entire process, from submission to decision, ought not to ideally exceed 6 to 8 weeks.



World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2024

Why in news?

About the report

  • Joblessness and the jobs gap have both fallen below pre-pandemic levels but global unemployment will rise in 2024, the report noted and maintained that growing inequalities and stagnant productivity are causes for concern.
  • In India, real wages are “positive” compared to other G20 countries.
  • The report said the macroeconomic environment deteriorated significantly over 2023.
  • Ongoing geopolitical tensions as well as persistent and broadening inflation triggered frequent and aggressive moves by central banks.
  • Monetary authorities in advanced and emerging economies implemented the fastest increase in interest rates since the 1980s, with significant global repercussions.
  • China, Turkey and Brazil slowed down considerably, causing adverse impact on global industrial activity, investment and trade.
  • On a positive note, the report said, despite the economic slowdown, global growth in 2023 was modestly higher than anticipated, and labour markets showed surprising resilience.
  • On the back of strong jobs growth, both the unemployment rate and the jobs gap have declined below pre-pandemic values.
  • The global unemployment rate in 2023 was 5.1%, a modest improvement on 2022.
  • The global jobs gap also saw improvements in 2023, but, at close to 435 million, remained elevated.
  • The labour market participation rates had largely also recovered from their pandemic lows.
  • Although the imbalances eased somewhat in 2023, concerns are rising that these labour market imbalances are structural, rather than cyclical, in nature.
  • Real wages declined in the majority of G20 countries as wage increases failed to keep pace with inflation.
  • Moreover, in 2023, the numbers of workers living in extreme poverty – earning less than US$2.15 per day per person in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms – grew by about one million globally.
  • Only China, the Russian Federation and Mexico enjoyed positive real wage growth in 2023.
  • The strongest wages gains were in China and the Russian Federation, where labour productivity growth was among the highest in G20 countries in 2023.
  • Real wage growth in India and Turkey was also positive, but the available data refer to 2022 relative to 2021.
  • As the cyclical factors impacting on labour markets have slowly been absorbed, structural issues in labour market adjustment have become more pressing. Job retention schemes – such as those put in place in many advanced economies – proved essential to prevent firms and workers losing valuable experience and skills.
  • Falling living standards and weak productivity combined with persistent inflation create the conditions for greater inequality and undermine efforts to achieve social justice.



India as a pillar of stability: Prime Minister Modi

Why in news?

  • While speaking at 10th edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global summit PM Modi said India has emerged as a ray of hope amid global uncertainties, and the world looks at it as a pillar of stability, a trusted friend and an engine of growth in the global economy.

What is Vibrant Gujarat Global summit?

  • It is organized by the government of Gujarat and supported by various industry associations, both at the national and international levels.
  • The summit primary objective is to promote Gujarat as an attractive investment destination and to facilitate partnerships and collaboration across different sectors.
  • It was started in 2003 when Modi was state CM.
  • 10th edition of summit features prominent industry leaders like Lakshmi mittal,MukeshAmbani,Gautam Adani, Kumar Mamgalam Birla ,Anil Agarwal ,Uday kotak.

What PM Modi spoke at the summit?

  • The world looks at India as an important pillar of stability, a trusted friend, an engine of growth in the global economy, a technology hub for finding solutions and a powerhouse of talented youth.
  • In rapidly changing world order, India is moving forward as “Vishwa mitra”.
  • India has given hope to the world that we can decide on common goals and achieve them.
  • India will become the third largest economy in the world in the next few years adding that it resolves is as big as the dreams of the people and investors.
  • Terming “one world, one family, one future” a global necessity. India is a friend in a rapidly changing world.

Guest at the global summit

  • UAE president Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the chief guest.
  • Modi ji credited UAE president for high growth of India -UAE relation.



Tshering Tobgay: Bhutan’s PM for second time

Why in news?

  • Bhutanese voters have elected Tshering Togbay to become prime minister for the second time after his party won two thirds of seats.

Bhutan election:

  • Bhutan’s liberal people Democratic Party is set to form a new government after winning in parliamentary elections.
  • The PDP won 30 seats in the 47-member parliament or National assembly with the rest of the seats going to the Bhutan Tendrel party according to the early tally of election commission.
  • The PDP was formed in 2007 by Togbay.
  • Togbay campaigned on the promise of boostinfg economy and reducing employment rates, despite the countrys constitutionally enshrined philosophy of measuring success in terms of Gross national happiness instead of gross domestic product.

Who is Togbay?

  • Mrtogbay, head of the liberal people Democratic Party served as prime minister of the Himalayan kingdom from 2013-18.
  • He is 58-year-old a former civil servant, is passionate conservation advocate who holds degree in mechanical engineering from the university of Pittsburgh and master in public administration from Harvard.
  • He was also leader of opposition in Bhutan’s first parliament when it was established in 2008.

India- Bhutan relation

  • Bhutan lies sandwiched between the globe’s two most populous countries, China and India who watched the vote with keen interest as they eye strategic contested border zone.
  • In 2017, during the doklam standoff between India and China, Bhutan played a crucial role in allowing Indian troops to enter its territory to resist Chinese incursions.
  • India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner and Bhutan’s major export destination.
  • India and Bhutan share strong cultural lies, as both countries are predominately Buddhist.



Kuki-Zo tribal bodies against status review

Why in news?

  • The indigenous Tribal leaders Forum and the zomi council steering Committee strongly condemned the move to review the scheduled tribe’s status of Kuki zo communities in Manipur amid the ongoing ethnic conflict in the state.

What is issued by the Indigenous Tribal leader’s forum?

  • A statement issued by ITLF where it referred to Meitei community to say first, they tried to become like us, now they are trying to erase our status as tribals.
  • The zomi council steering committee sent a memorandum with its objections to the prime minister.
  • The Manipur tribals forum Delhi another representative body of the Kuki zo community also endorsed the statement.

Why status is reviewed?

  • Manipur government had been asked by the center to examine a representation for delisting certain Kuki and Zo communities from the state list.
  • A committee would be formed to look into this representation which would consist of representatives of all 34 recognized STs of the state.

Difference with the government?

  • It has been blamed that this was a well-coordinated move by the Manipur government and the Meitei groups, while asserting that removing a community status from the ST list is no small task.
  • The ITLF argued that The Manipur government is now trying to push for changing the criteria in its attempt to displace and deprive Kuki- Zo tribals of their rights and their land.

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