GS PAPER II NEWS

G-7 Summit

Why in News

The PM of India stated at G-7 Summit that, India is a natural ally for the G7 and its partners to defend democracy and freedom of thought from challenges arising due to authoritarianism, terrorism, disinformation and economic coercion.

Highlights of the meeting

  • The G-7 meet brought together the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, while India, Australia, South Korea and South Africa joined selected sessions as guest countries.
  • India will remain engaged with G7 and its partners on major global issues such as access to vaccines, diversification of supply chains, building economic resilience and climate action.
  • Prime Minister of India also highlighted India’s civilisational commitment to democracy, freedom of thought and liberty at “open societies and open economies”.
  • As the world’s largest democracy, India is a natural ally for the G7 and guest countries to defend these shared values from a host of threats stemming from authoritarianism, terrorism and violent extremism, disinformation and infodemics and economic coercion.
  • While highlighting the impact of digital technologies such as Aadhaar, DBT (direct benefit transfer) and JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) trinity on social inclusion and empowerment, India also pointed to “vulnerabilities inherent in open societies” and asked “tech companies and social media platforms to ensure a safe cyber environment for their users”.
  • The leaders of the G7 states and guest countries emphasised their commitment to a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific and resolved to collaborate with partners in the region.
  • India is the only G20 state on track to meet its Paris Accord commitments, and highlighted the need for climate action to include all aspects of mitigation, technology transfer, financing, climate justice and lifestyle change to provide necessary space to developing countries to grow.
  • India has closely worked with the UK, the current president of G7 and the co-president of the COP26 Summit to be held later this year, on climate action.
  • India is committed to installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030, and it will work with the UK to provide climate resilient infrastructure through a new facility under the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) to small island developing states.
  • India has also endorsed the “30 by 30” targets, which call for protecting 30% of the country’s land and 30% of oceans by 2030.
  • It is committed to achieving domestic land degradation neutrality and restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
  • At the same time, India has highlighted at the G7 the importance of recognising the different trajectories and historical responsibilities of developed and developing nations in relation to climate change.

About G-7 Summit

  • The Group of 7 (G7) is an informal group of seven countries:
  • The United States,
  • Canada,
  • France,
  • Germany,
  • Italy,
  • Japan and
  • The United Kingdom.
  • The heads of which hold an annual summit with European Union and other invitees.
  • Together the member countries represent 40% of global GDP and 10% of the world’s population.
  • Unlike other bodies such as NATO, the G7 has no legal existence, permanent secretariat or official members.
  • It also has no binding impact on policy and all decisions and commitments made at G7 meetings need to be ratified independently by governing bodies of member states.
  • The presidency of G7 meetings is held by each of the seven countries in turn, each year.
  • The country holding the presidency is responsible for organising and hosting the meeting.

Background of G-7

  • The G7 draws its roots from a meeting between the current G7 members, excluding Canada, that took place in 1975.
  • At the time, the global economy was in a state of recession due to the OPEC oil embargo.
  • As the energy crisis was escalating, US Treasury Secretary George Schultz decided that it would be beneficial for the large players on the world stage to coordinate with each other on macroeconomic initiatives.
  • After this first summit, the countries agreed to meet annually and a year later, Canada was invited into the group which marked the official formation of the G7.
  • The President of the European Commission was asked to join the meetings in 1977 and following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and a subsequent thaw in relations between the East and West, Russia was also invited to join the group in 1998.
  • Thereafter the group was named the G8 until 2014, when Russia was expelled for its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

G-7 Summit 2021

  • The UK holds the G7 presidency for 2021 and has organised the conference for this Saturday at the Carbis Bay Hotel in Cornwall.
  • This year, India, South Korea and Australia have been invited to attend the G7 summit as participating guests.
  • At the end of the summit, the UK will publish a document called a communique which will outline what has been agreed upon during the meeting.

GS PAPER II

US-China Ties

Why in News

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, in 2019, the U.S. imports 80% of its rare earth minerals from China.

Key Points

  • The expected exponential growth in demand for minerals that are linked to clean energy is putting more pressure on US and Europe to take a closer look at where the vulnerabilities are and the concrete steps these governments can take.
  • According to the U.S. Geological Survey, in 2019, the United States imported 80 percent of its rare earth minerals from China.
  • The European Union gets 98% of its supply from China. Amid the transition to green energy in which rare earth minerals are sure to play a role, China’s market dominance is enough to sound an alarm in western capitals.

Rare Earth Minerals

  • Rare earth minerals with names like neodymium, praseodymium and dysprosium are crucial to the manufacture of magnets used in industries of the future like wind turbines and electric cars.
  • They are already present in consumer goods such as smartphones, computer screens and telescopic lenses.
  • Others have more traditional uses, like cerium for glass polishing and lanthanum for car catalysts or optical lenses.
  • The U.S. Senate passed a law aimed at improving American competitiveness that includes provisions to improve critical minerals supply chains, following a similar executive order issued by President of the US.
  • U.S. aims to boost production and processing of rare earths and lithium, another key mineral component, while “working with allies and partners to increase sustainable global supply and reduce reliance on geopolitical competitors”.

Boosting U.S. Production

  • The best hope for boosting American production can be found at the Mountain Pass mine in California.
  • Once one of the major players in the sector, the mine suffered as China rose and ate up its market share, aided by Beijing’s heavy government subsidies.
  • China is expected to remain dominant for some time to come, but Schafer said that if recycling is scaled up, “20 to 30% of Europe’s rare earth magnet needs by 2030 could be sourced domestically in the EU from literally zero today.”
  • The desire to accelerate rare earth production comes amid a shortage of semiconductors, which are essential for the computing and automotive industries and mostly manufactured in Asia.
  • The scarcity “has caused global manufacturers to think about their supply chain in a new way, and think about vulnerabilities.”
  • Several European automotive and wind power firms are already in contact with the company.

GS PAPER II

One Nation One Ration Card Scheme

Why in News

The Supreme Court stated that ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ scheme makes food security “portable” and is tailored for migrant labourers.

Key Points

  • One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC) plan aims to empower all National Food Security Act migrant beneficiaries to access food grains from any Fair Price Shop (FPS) of their choice anywhere in the country by using their same/existing ration card with biometric authentication.
  • The courtroom had requested the federal government to element its schemes to offer food to migrant employees hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Despite the multitude of COVID-19 related challenges in the past year, a total of 32 States/UTs covering around 69 crore NFSA beneficiaries, i.e., 86% NFSA population in the country, were swiftly brought under the ONORC plan by December 2020.

Inter-State migration

  • The ONORC was a part of know-how reforms in Targeted Public Distribution System within the nation.
  • With rising inter-State migration from villages and rural cities to massive cities, the hassle was to make sure that migrant employees and their households bought assured entry to vitamin through nationwide portability of ration playing cards underneath the Food Security Act.
  • Although the facility of ONORC shall equally benefit all 80 crore NFSA beneficiaries to lift their food grains from any FPS of choice, it primarily aims to enable migratory NFSA beneficiaries who frequently travel in search of better opportunities or for any other reasons, to access the Public Distribution System (PDS).”
  • Beneficiaries can elevate their entitled foodgrains from any digital level of sale (ePoS) enabled FPS within the nation by portability.
  • The nationwide portability of ration playing cards underneath ONORC was carried out in May 2019. In August 2019, the inter-State portability of ration playing cards was began in 4 States.
  • By January 2020, a complete of 12 States have been seamlessly built-in underneath single ONORC cluster on the nationwide stage.

‘Onus is on States’

  • The integration of remaining four States/UT of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and West Bengal is expected to be achieved, depending upon the technical readiness of these States to implement the portability of ration cards.
  • The onus on implementing ONORC is on these States.
  • The Supreme Court had just lately pulled up the West Bengal authorities for delay in implementation of the ONORC plan within the State.

National Food Security Act

  • It was enacted in 2013 by an Act of the Parliament.
  • The National Food Security Act 2013 aims to provide subsidized food grains to the needy one.
  • It includes the Midday Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services scheme and the Public Distribution System.
  • The act also recognizes maternity entitlements.
  • The Midday Meal Scheme and the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme are universal in nature whereas the PDS will reach about two-thirds of the population (75% in rural areas and 50% in urban areas).

GS PAPER III

Pyrostria laljii

Why in News

A 15­metre­tall tree that belongs to the genus of the coffee family has recently been discovered from the Andaman Islands by a team of researchers from India and the Philippines.

Key Points

  • The new species, Pyrostria laljii, is also the first record of the genus Pyrostria in India.
  • Plants belonging to genus Pyrostria are usually found in Madagascar, but the recently discovered species is new to science.
  • The tree is distinguished by a long stem with a whitish coating on the trunk and oblong obovate leaves with a cuneate base, and was first reported from the Wandoor forest in South Andaman.
  • The other places in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where the tree could be located are the Tirur forest near the Jarawa Reserve Forest and the Chidiya Tapu (Munda Pahar) forest.

Pyrostria laljii

  • Pyrostria laljii has been assessed as ‘Critically Endangered’ based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List criteria.
  • The discovery was unique as the species was a big tree and had not been recorded as a new species yet.
  • The species has been named Pyrostria laljii after Lal Ji Singh, Joint Director and Head of Office, Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre, Botanical Survey of India.
  • While the genus Pyrostria is not found in India, there are several genera from the family Rubiaceae that are common in India. These plants, including cinchona, coffee, adina, hamelia, ixora, galium, gardenia, mussaenda, rubia, morinda, have high potential for economic value.
  • Other physical features that distinguish the tree from other species of the genus is its umbellate inflorescence with eight to 12 flowers.
  • Discovered a new species of pokeweed named Rivina andamanensis. It was found growing under large trees, shaded and rocky areas, along with herbs and shrubby plants. This discovery of new species, representing the first record of the pokeweed family Petiveriaceae in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, adds one more family to the islands’ flora.

GS PAPER III

No greater risk to children from anticipated third wave

Why in News

According to a report from The Lancet COVID­19 Commission India Task Force, there is no evidence so far to conclude that children face a greater risk of infection or are at greater danger from a COVID­19 infection from an anticipated third wave.

Highlights

  • They were tasked with examining the evidence and recommending practical clinical tools and strategies for providers, and guidance for policymakers and the public to effectively address COVID 19 in children.
  • Though data from India were limited, the mortality rate amongst hospitalised COVID­19 positive children below the age of 10 (excluding neonates) was 2.4%.
  • About 40% of the children who had died had co­morbidities and 9% of all hospitalised COVID positive children presented with severe illness, all under 10 years of age.
  • These observations were similar during the two surges of COVID 19 infections in India.
  • As of May 2021, of all COVID positive cases in children globally, 0.1­1.9% resulted in hospitalization.
  • Children comprised 1.3­3.2 % of the total reported hospital admissions. Mortality was also “significantly low” at 0.1% of the total 0.47 million deaths.
  • The mortality rates have also remained the same in both years, at 0.05% of the total annual COVID­19 deaths.
  • The existing evidence says that while children have milder disease, better prognosis and low mortality in comparison to adults, those with underlying illness could be at higher risk.
  • For children with a mild infection, the experts recommend management in home isolation, if feasible, and symptomatic treatment with paracetamol.

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS­C)

  • A concern with COVID­19 and children were reports around multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS­C).
  • The manifestation of the condition mimics viral, bacterial and rickettsia infections.
  • The early signs of MIS­C included “atypical Kawasaki disease” (KD)­like presentations in younger children and gastrointestinal manifestations with abdominal pain mimicking appendicitis, diarrhoea and features resembling toxic shock syndrome, rather than acute pneumonia with respiratory symptoms, in older children.
  • Most published data suggested mild to moderate predisposition in most cases and low mortality linked with MIS­C.
  • The experts also highlight the psychological impact of the pandemic.
  • In a recent meta­analysis of 15 studies across 10 countries, describing 22,996 children/adolescents, it was reported that the behaviour/psychological state of a total of 79.4% of the children was affected negatively by the pandemic and quarantine; at least 22.5% of the children had a significant fear of COVID­19, 35.2% complained of boredom and 21.3% had sleep disturbances.

Precautions for Children for future

  • Schools ought to be reopened cautiously with options for online access as needed.
  • It is imperative to recognise as a society that in well-meaning attempt to protect young ones from disease and keep them physically safe, we do not inadvertently impair their minds by curtailing access of expression for their inherent curiosity, creativity, and joy.