Daily Current Affairs for 18th May 2022

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Stagflation is a combination of the words stagnation and inflation. It describes an economic condition characterized by slow growth and high unemployment (economic stagnation) mixed with rising prices (inflation).

Unemployment and inflation

    • • The idea of stagflation is closely linked to the Phillips curve which tried to establish that there was a negative empirical relationship between unemployment and inflation.
    • • According to the Philips curve, when unemployment is high, inflation is low and when unemployment is low, inflation is high.

  • • Unemployment in an economy rises when wages fail to drop quickly enough to adjust to changing economic conditions. Workers are seen as unwilling to accept a cut in their wages, thus forcing businesses to let go of some of their employees in order to adjust to higher wages instead of trying to lower wages. This can affect the overall output of an economy as fewer people are now employed.

The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Why in News: Recently MP Jairam Ramesh has expressed concerns over the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which is in final stages of consultations in the Joint Parliamentary Committee. He questioned the exemption given to AYUSH practitioners from the provisions of the law.

Highlights of the Bill

  • The Bill amends the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 to simplify compliance requirements for domestic companies.
  • Users of codified traditional knowledge and AYUSH practitioners will be exempted from sharing benefits with local communities.
  • AYUSH – Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy
  • The Bill removes research and bio-survey activities from the purview of benefit sharing requirements.
  • Benefit sharing will be based on terms agreed between the user and the local management committee represented by the National Authority.
  • The Bill decriminalizes all offences under the Act.

Key Issues and Analysis

• The term codified traditional knowledge has not been defined. A broad interpretation might exempt all local traditional knowledge from benefit sharing requirements.
• The Bill removes the direct role of local communities in determining benefit sharing provisions.
• The Bill decriminalizes offences under the Act and instead provides for a wide range of penalties. Further, the Bill empowers government officials to hold inquiries and determine penalties. Giving such wide discretion to the Govt officials is questionable.
o These changes were brought in consonance with India’s ratification of Nagoya Protocol
• Approval for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): The Act specifies that approval of NBA is required before:
o The Bill provides that approval will be required before the grant of IPR instead of before the application itself.
o The Bill specifies distinct approval processes based on the origin of the entity.
 Foreign entities as specified above will require approval from NBA whereas domestic entities will be required to register with NBA.
 Domestic entities will need approval from NBA at the time of commercialization of IPR.
o The Bill also extends the approval requirement to IPR on associated knowledge.
• Benefit sharing:
o Under the Act, NBA is required to determine terms of benefit sharing while granting approvals for various activities.
 Benefit sharing refers to requiring applicants to share monetary and non-monetary benefits with benefit claimers and local people.
o The Act makes benefit sharing provisions applicable to research, commercial utilisation, as well as bio-survey and bio-utilisation for certain entities.
o The Bill removes its applicability from research, and bio-survey and bio-utilisation.
• Offences and Penalties:
o The Bill decriminalises the offences and makes offences punishable with a penalty between one lakh rupees and Rs 50 lakh.
Concerns raised by the MP
• Exemption given to AYUSH practitioners
o The exemption could open the law for abuse.
• Artificial distinction between company and AYUSH practitioner created
o The Ministry is drawing a distinction between a registered AYUSH practitioner and a company by exempting the former from the Act.
o This may well open doors for large-scale exemptions.
• Distinction made between cultivated biodiversity and forest-based biodiversity
o An alarm raised on the distinction made in the law between cultivated biodiversity and forest-based biodiversity.
o It is not at all clear what the basis for this distinction will be and whether it can be sustained in practice.
• Diluting the authority of the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA)
o Multiple provisions of the Bill are aimed at diluting the authority of the National Biodiversity Authority.
o The appointment of 16 ex-officio officers of the Government of India is one such.
o Also, the new bill provides that the NBA approval is required only at the time of commercialisation of a patent and not at the time of application for a patent.
 Analysts believe the NBA approval at the time of commercialisation will be reduced to a formality and will become a fait accompli.
Criticisms against the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021?
• The Bill has been introduced without seeking public comments as required under the pre-legislative consultation policy.
• The Bill aims at opening up biodiversity resources to companies looking to make a profit.
• The bill has not only diluted the penalty provision by replacing imprisonment with fines in the proposed legislation, but also replaced the judge (court) with a joint secretary-level officer to determine the penalties.
• The Bill exempts cultivated medicinal plants from the purview of the Act. However, it is practically impossible to detect which plants are cultivated and which are from the wild.
Source: PRS India
The Buddhist connection of Vadnagar in Gujarat
Speaking In Lumbini on Monday, the Prime Minister said his birthplace, Vadnagar in Gujarat, was a prominent center of Buddhist learning centuries ago. “Even now, relics are being discovered there, and work on their protection is ongoing, “he said.
Archaeological findings
• The Gujarat archaeology department began excavations in Vadnagar in 2006. later, the work was taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
• Excavation is ongoing at two sites — Vadnagar-Ambha Chat, and near Ambaji Kotha lake.
• About 20,000 artefacts, some dating to the 2nd century AD, have been unearthed so far.
• Among these are an elliptical structure, a circular stupa, and a square memorial stupa 130 cm in height and measuring 2m× 2m enclosed within a wall. “It is like a platform which has a chamber in the center that resembles a Pradakshinapath.
• Bowls used by Buddhist monks have been found, along with terracotta sealings inscribed with “namassarvagyaya” (salutations to The Buddha).
• A face-shaped pendant with a tritatva (triple principle) symbol has also been found.
Mention in History:
• According to the Gujarat Tourism website , “Vadnagar is mentioned often in the Puranas and even in the travelogue of the great Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang (7th century), as a rich and flourishing town.”

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