Why in News?
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international watchdog monitoring money laundering, terror financing, and other threats to global financial networks, is expected to decide whether to take Pakistan off the ‘grey’ list at the end of its ongoing plenary session in Berlin.
What is the FATF?
• The FATF is an inter-governmental body that sets international standards seeking to prevent international financial crimes that aid terrorism.
• It is a policymaking body that works to generate political will in national jurisdictions for legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.
• The FATF was established in July 1989 by a G-7 Summit in Paris, initially to examine and develop measures to combat money laundering.
• After the 9/11 attacks, the FATF in October 2001 expanded its mandate to incorporate efforts to combat terrorist financing, and in April 2012, it added efforts to counter the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
• The FATF currently comprises 37 member jurisdictions and two regional organisations (European Commission and Gulf Cooperation Council).
• India has been a member of the FATF since 2010.
o It is also a member of its regional partners, the Asia Pacific Group (APG) and the Eurasian Group (EAG).
What is the grey list, and why is Pakistan on it?
• Grey listing means FATF has placed a country under increased monitoring to check its progress on measures against money laundering and terrorism financing.
• The “grey list” is also known as the “increased monitoring list”— officially referred to as “jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies”.
• As of March 2022, there are 23 countries on the FATF’s increased monitoring list — Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, Myanmar, Philippines, South Sudan, Uganda, and Yemen.
Why a country is placed into grey List?
• If in the assessment of the FATF, a country fails to prevent international money laundering and terrorist financing, then it can be placed under the Grey list.
• To be pulled out of the grey list, a country has to fulfill the tasks recommended by the FATF, for instance, confiscating properties of individuals associated with terrorist groups. If the FATF is satisfied with the progress, it removes the country from the list.
o The FATF most recently took Zimbabwe, and before that Botswana and Mauritius, off the grey list.
• In the case of Pakistan, it first entered the list in 2008, left it, and then was on it from 2012 to 2015. Since 2018, it has not left the list.
How does grey-listing impact a country?
• Although being added to the grey list does not imply any economic sanctions (unlike the black list), it signals to the global financial and banking system about increased risks in transactions with the country in question, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit.
o Pakistan’s grey-listing by the FATF from 2008 to 2019 may have resulted in a cumulative GDP loss of USD 38 billion as per a working paper by Tabadlab, an Islamad-based advisory firm.
• The major financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank are affiliated with FATF as observers, a grey-listed country “faces complications in accessing international lending instruments,”
Why in News? India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed, nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missile during night time as part of a user training trial from a test range off the
All about Prithvi-II
• Prithvi-II has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under its Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP).
• It’s a tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missile (SRBM).
• Prithvi II class is a single-stage liquid-fueled missile.
• It has a maximum warhead mounting capability of 500 kg, but with an extended range of 250 km (160 mi).
• It was initially developed for the Indian Air Force as its primary user and was later inducted into the Indian Army as well.
• It was the first missile developed under the IGMDP.
Other variants of Prithvi missile
1. Prithvi I (SS-150) – Army version, 150 km range with a payload of 1,000 kg
2. Prithvi II (SS-250) – Air Force version, 350 km range with a payload of 500 kg
3. Prithvi III (SS-350) – Naval version, 350 km range with a payload of 1,000 kg
Why in news? The Strawberry Supermoon was seen worldwide in different time zones.
The Supermoon Phenomenon
According to Nasa, the phenomenon of a Supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest to Earth which makes the satellite appear brighter and bigger than usual.
• Historically, the last full moon of June is called the “Strawberry Moon” because its appearance coincides with the ripening of June bearing strawberries that are traditionally harvested by Native American tribes of northeastern US around mid-June.
• Since in some places the enlarged moon appears red or pink in colour, its association with the strawberry became even more popular.
Significance for Indians
In India, Hindus mark the three days of the full moon in June by observing Vat Purnima. During Vat Purnima, married women observe fast and tie holy threads on Banyan trees to pray for the wellbeing of their husbands.
Hate speech, IPC Sec 295A, and how courts have read the law
Why in News?
The debate surrounding the comments by some political spokespersons has put the spotlight on the IPC Sec 295A which deals with criticism of or insult to religion.
What is the news?
• India does not have a formal legal framework for dealing with hate speech.
• However, a cluster of provisions, loosely termed hate speech laws, are invoked.
• There are primarily some laws to deal with offences against religions.
What is Section 295A?
• Section 295A, define the contours of free speech and its limitations with respect to offences relating to religion.
• It prescribes punishment for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its
religion or religious beliefs.
• It calls for imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to [three years], or with fine, or with both.
• It has been invoked on a wide range of issues from penalising political satire and seeking bans on or withdrawal of books to even political critique on social media.
Provisions to penalise religious offences
Section 295A is one of the key provisions in the IPC chapter to penalise religious offences. The same chapter includes offences to penalise:
1. Section 295: Damage or defilement of a place of worship with intent to insult the religion
2. Section 297: Trespassing in a place of sepulture (burial)
3. Section 298: Uttering, words, etc, with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person
4. Section 296: Disturbing a religious assembly
Origins of the law
• Colonial origins of the hate speech provisions are often criticised for the assumption that Indians were susceptible to religious excitement.
• Section 295A was brought in 1927.
• The antecedents of Section 295A lie in the communally charged atmosphere of North India in the 1920s.
• The amendment was a fallout of an acquittal under Section 153A of the IPC by the Lahore High Court in 1927 in Rajpaul v Emperor, popularly known as the Rangila Rasool case.
Frequency of use
• The state often invokes Section 295A along with 153A of the IPC, which penalises promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.
• It acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony and Section 505 of the IPC that punishes statements conducing to public mischief.
What about online hate speech?
• In cases where such speech is online, Section 66A of the Information Technology Act was invoked.
• In Shreya Singhal vs Union of India case, the Supreme Court declared Section 66A as unconstitutional on the ground that the provision was “vague” and a “violation of free speech”.
• However, the provision continues to be invoked.
Issues with such laws
• The broad, vague terms in the laws are often invoked in its misuse.
• Lower conviction rates for these provisions indicate that the process — where a police officer can arrest without a warrant — is often the punishment.
• Critics have pointed out that these laws are intended for the state to step in and restore “public order” rather than protect free speech.
Why in News? A special meeting between India and Southeast Asian Foreign Ministers opened with co-chairs India and Singapore calling for strengthening ties amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a heightened rivalry between the United States and China that threatens peace and stability in the region.
What is ASEAN?
• ASEAN is a political and economic union of 10 member states in Southeast Asia.
• It brings together ten Southeast Asian states – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – into one organisation.
• It was established on 8th August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the founding fathers of the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.
• The preceding organisation was the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) comprising of Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia.
• Five other nations joined the ASEAN in subsequent years making the current membership to ten countries.
• ASEAN is India’s 4th largest trading partner, accounting for 10.2% of India’s total trade.
• India is ASEAN’s 7th largest trading partner. Trade is back on track and registered an 8 per cent increase in 2016- 17, as compared to the previous year.
• ASEAN comprises of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Basic Philosophy in Relations:
• India wants to evolve a regional architecture based on the twin principles of shared security and shared prosperity. It emphasized on enhancing maritime security, trade and investment, education and cultural heritage among the grouping.
• India called for a deeper economic integration with the “dynamic” ASEAN region.
• The 3Cs- commerce, connectivity and culture are the important markers in India’s engagement with South East Asia.
SAGAR [Security and Growth for All in the Region]:
• It recognises the central role played by the seas and oceans around India and ASEAN region, in promoting sustainable economic progress in a secure and stable environment.
• in 1992 gave an upthrust to India -ASEAN relation and helped India in capitalizing its historical, cultural and civilizational linkages with the region.
Free Trade Agreement (FTA):
• In goods with the region in 2003 which has facilitated the bilateral trade which now stands at approximately USD 76 Billion.
• Given India’s vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), there is huge potential in this sector that remains to be realized.
• India should deepen its engagement with ASEAN on this front through developing PPP models for fisheries sectors, knowledge sharing and joint efforts to conserve and manage coastal and marine resource.
• The maritime space in today’s world plays a key role not only in economic development but also in security and connectivity.
• Piracy, disputes over resources, territorial claims, terrorism, China’s increasing assertiveness, and a fractured governance system are creating instability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Example of Chinese Challenge:
• In Cambodia, many government vehicles sport the tag, “Gifted by friends from China”.
• India was instrumental in Cambodia securing freedom, but today finds it difficult to have a significant commercial presence in that country.
Further, the launch of Act East Policy in 2014 has added a new vigour to India-ASEAN relations.
Issues in ties
• Trade imbalances: In bilateral trade, there is an imbalance as the majority of ASEAN countries have strong manufacturing bases that rely on export while Indian export remains feeble.
• Nature of engagement: India still engages more with ASEAN countries on a bilateral basis rather than on a multilateral basis.
• Limited financial outreach: India’s has a limited capacity to provide development assistance and other financial relation.
• Chinese presence: ASEAN’s inclination to harness India for regional stability remains limited because of the presence of other regional powers like China.
• No strategic vision: ASEAN and India are yet to fully converge on a joint vision for the maritime domains of Asia and the world at large.
• India has cultivated strong bonds of historical and contemporary significance with the ASEAN.
• This relation can offer the region a natural recourse to peace, unlike the many conflicts that the ASEAN countries are involved in with China.
The fall in unemployment rate in the 2020-21 labour survey
Why in News? The annual report of the Periodic Labour Force Survey for July 2020 to June 2021 showed that the unemployment rate, as per usual status (reference period of last 365 days preceding the survey), eased to 4.2 per cent from 4.8 per cent in 2019-20.
The headline numbers
• The unemployment rate of 4.2 per cent in 2020-21, the lowest since the first PLFS showed an unemployment rate of 6.1 per cent in 2017-18.
• According to the report, the labour force participation rate (LFPR), or those working or seeking or available for work in the labour force, was the highest in four years at 39.3 per cent in 2020-21, as was the worker population ratio (WPR) at 36.3 per cent.
• WPR is defined as the percentage of employed persons in the population.
• The unemployment rate was higher for males in rural areas than females.
• In rural areas, the unemployment rate was 3.9 per cent in 2020-21, while that for females was 2.1 per cent.
• In urban areas, the unemployment rate for females was 8.6 per cent, while that for males was 6.1 per cent.
Rise of agricultural share, unpaid work
• The overall employment situation showed improvement, but the rise was seen in low-quality, unpaid work.
• Employment in the unpaid self-employed category continued to show an increase in 2020-21.
• Rural unpaid employment also showed increase to 21.3 per cent in 2020-21 from 20.0 per cent in the previous year, while that for urban areas increased to 6.3 per cent from 5.7 per cent.
• Unpaid self-employment for females increased to 42.8 per cent in rural areas in 2020-21 from 42.3 per cent a year ago, while that for rural males increased to 11.0 per cent from 10.4 per cent.
• In urban areas, unpaid self-employment for females showed a significant increase to 12.4 per cent in 2020-21 from 11.1 per cent in 2019-20, while that for males increased to 4.5 per cent from 4.1 per cent.
• The PLFS data shows that the share of the labour force engaged in agriculture continued to show a rise in 2020-21 — a reversal of the decades-long decline in the labour force participation in agriculture.
What does this suggest?
• This suggests that the movement of labour out of agriculture, which had gathered pace post 2004-05, seems to have been stymied by the economic slowdown and the pandemic.
• The reverse migration of labour from cities to villages would have only increased the pressure on agriculture to absorb the workers.
• The increase in share of agricultural employment was seen more for urban areas than rural areas.
Species in News
Meghalaya thick-thumbed bat
Why in News? Scientists have discovered a new species of bamboo-dwelling bat in Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya.
• The newly discovered species is small in size and has a dark brown colour with sulphur yellow belly.
• Bamboo-dwelling bats are a particular kind of bats living in the internodes of bamboos with specialised morphological characters that help them to adopt to the life inside a bamboo.
• Discovered near Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary
• This is the third species of specialist bamboo bat recorded in Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary and surrounding areas