Daily Current Affairs for 19th Dec 2023

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What does COP-28 mean for cities?

Why in the news?

  • The 28th Conference of Parties (COP-28) in Dubai has been described by some as being a mixed bag. Even though it could not come up with a profound statement of ending fossil fuels, at least a discussion was triggered.
  • A few ambitious delegates described it as the “beginning of the end of an era of fossil fuels”. This was an important COP owing to the Global Stock Taking (GST) over the Paris climate deals of keeping global temperatures below 1.5 degree Celsius and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Likewise, the Loss and Damage Fund was also cleared. The focus was therefore, on both mitigation and adaptation strategies.

What was discussed about cities?

  • When the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) initiated the COP in 1995, 44% of people lived in cities. Currently, 55% of the global population is urban and this is expected to reach 68% by 2050.
  • The urban world today consumes nearly 75% of primary energy and is responsible for roughly 70% of CO2 (76% of total GHG) emissions. Hence, the desired results of the Paris commitments are not possible without addressing urban issues.
  • At this year’s COP, there was a special day dedicated to a ministerial meeting on urbanisation and climate change. This meeting convened Ministers of housing, urban development, environment finance, and other portfolios; local and regional leaders, financial institutions, non-government organisations; and other stakeholders. Such moves forced some of the city representatives and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), to raise their voice and emphasise on the principle — “nothing for us without us”. This lays down the fundamental point of redefining the financial and governance architecture of COPs.
  • City representatives have been arguing for multi-level green deal governance and for revising the governance and regulation of energy and climate action. Likewise, some European city groups have been staunchly advocating for direct actions in cities.

What can be done in the Global South?

  • The cities of the Global South are far more vulnerable than their western counterparts. The city leaders are hardly empowered, the major employment is in the informal sector, adaptation is key as most cities are vulnerable to climate induced disasters and the pent up drive to attract investments to cities has further widened the gap between the rich and the poor. In most countries and in India particularly, 40% of the urban population live in slums.
  • Pollution is a major contributor in reducing life expectancies and social and economic inequities are quite inherent in their systems. So, to ensure fair participation in climate action plans and to claim loss and damage compensation, etc., there has to be a radical shift in the processes governing the cities.
  • One of the ways of achieving progress, even if that is too little, can be through creating a climate atlas of these cities, mapping them and identifying hotspots. Here, a major support system from existing financial architecture including the outcome of COPs is required.
  • During the preparation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans, cities find themselves excluded from the process of climate action plans. There is hardly any representation of city leaders and civil society groups in this process. Hence, reclaiming space at COPs and during the run up to them in respective countries should happen parallelly.
  • This does not discount the fact that some cities like Chennai are spearheading their climate action plan and have decided to meet their zero emission targets by 2050, even before the Indian national government’s stipulated time period of 2070. Though this may sound too ambitious, it qualifies the point that cities are at the forefront in reclaiming spaces in meeting climate action plans and hence should get a fair share in planning both mitigation and adaptive strategies.
  • COP-28 may have been a damp squib as many say, however, it has brought to fore the crucial question of acknowledging the interconnections, interdependencies and interconnectedness of climate action, social justice and the role of the urban world.



Visit of foreign tourists

Why in the news?

  • There has been a significant increase in the number of foreign tourists visiting India in 2023 with 7.24 million footfalls till October 31 this year as compared to 6.44 million for the corresponding period in 2022.
  • This is an increase of 55.6% as compared to last year, but the numbers still below the pre-pandemic levels.

Sharp increase in tourist arrival

  • In 2018 and 2019, India has seen 10.56 million and 10.93 million foreign tourist arrivals respectively, which dipped to 2.74 million in 2020 and further to 1.52 million in 2021, majorly due to COVID-induced lockdown.
  • There was a sharp increase in foreign footfall in 2022 as the pandemic waned. The year witnessed a foreign tourist arrival of 6.44 million, a massive jump of 321.5%.

Financial assistance in tourism sector

  • A total of Rs.5, 294.11 crore had been sanctioned under the Swadesh Darshan 2 scheme for development of tourism destinations across the country, while Rs.1,629.17 crore had been sanctioned under the Prashad scheme.

About Swadesh Darshan 2

  • Swadesh Darshan 2 is the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Tourism which provides financial assistance to the State governments and union territories and Central agencies for development of tourism infrastructure at various destinations.
  • With the mantra of ‘vocal for local’, the revamped scheme namely Swadesh Darshan 2.0 seeks to attain “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” by realizing India’s full potential as a tourism destination.
  • Swadesh Darshan 2.0 is not an incremental change but a generational shift to evolve the Swadesh Darshan Scheme as a holistic mission to develop sustainable and responsible tourism destinations.

About Prasad scheme:

  • The Prasad (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation And Spiritual Augmentation Drive) scheme focuses on developing and identifying pilgrimage sites across India for promoting religious tourism.
  • It aims to integrate pilgrimage destinations in a prioritised, planned and sustainable manner to provide a complete religious tourism experience. The growth of domestic tourism hugely depends on pilgrimage tourism.



Parliament attack: suspension of Members of Parliament

Why in news?

  • There was major security breach on the 22nd anniversary of the attack on parliament, two people jumped inside the Lok sabha chamber from the visitors’ gallery.
  • It was followed by opposition members suspended for disrupting proceedings and protest.
  • The opposition members, who had moved notices to take up the matter as adjournment motions, continued their protest after Rajyasabha and loksabha didn’t accepted the notices.
  • Even on 18th November 78 MPs were suspended which increased the mark of suspended MP to 92.

Why there is protest?

The protesting opposition MPs were demanding a statement from home minister Amit shah on last week security breach in the Lok sabha, which led to the arrest of six people.

Recent update?

  • Those suspended include the leader of the congress in the Lok sabha Adhir Ranjan chowdhury , Dravidra Munnetra kazhagam floor leader T.R Baalu, former union minister Dayanidhi maran and the Trinmmool congress leader Saugata roy.
  • In Rajyasabha 50% of the opposition strength has been depleted.

Rules for Parliament visitors

  • Rules of the House mandate security staff in the visitors’ gallery to maintain a strict vigil and ensure that the visitors do not indulge in any misbehaviour.
  • Existing rules
  • Visitors’ (“strangers” in parliamentary parlance) admission, withdrawal and removal is governed by Rule 386 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha.
  • This rule states that the admission of strangers during the sittings of the House to those portions of the House which are not reserved for the exclusive use of members shall be regulated in accordance with orders made by the Speaker.
  • Rule 387 gives the Speaker the power to withdraw “strangers” from any part of the House if he/she deems it fit.
  • A member can apply for the issue of visitors’ cards only for those who are very well known to them personally.
  • Members applying for a visitor card are also mandated to provide a certificate.
  • This certificate should say, “I know the visitor personally, and I am responsible for them. They are my relative or personal friend.”
  • To address security concerns, visitors must also carry a photo ID with them.

Duration for which passes are issued

  • The visitors’ cards are usually issued to a member for a particular day for fixed hours. However, in exceptional cases, the rules permit the issue of two cards.
  • A card is ordinarily issued only for a period of one hour.
  • These cards are not transferable and are issued subject to the holder observing the conditions endorsed thereon.
  • There is also a provision which allows members to apply for a visitor card on the same day in emergent cases when it is not possible for them to apply within the prescribed time limit.
  • There are two types of galleries – public and Speaker’s – in Lok Sabha.
  • While a member can facilitate the entry of four people on a daily basis in the public gallery, he/she is entitled to facilitate the entry of two people in the Speaker’s gallery.
  • The names of the visitors for the Speaker’s gallery need to be vetted by the Speaker.



COVID-19: Detection of new variant JN.1 in India

Why in news?

  • There is detection of the country’s first case of new JN.1 variant of covid-19 in Kerala.
  • The union health ministry has asked all states to maintain a constant vigilance over the covid-19 situation in the country in the view of the upcoming festive season and the recent surge in cases in some parts of the country.

What is COVID-19?

  • COVID-19 is the disease caused by SARS- CoV -2, the corona virus that emerged in December 2019. COVID 19 can be severe, and has caused millions of deaths around the world as well as lasting health problems in some who survived the illness.

History of COVID-19 in India

  • On January 20, the first case of corona virus was registered in Kerala.
  • On March 12, the first death from corona virus was registered in the country.
  • On March 25, lockdown announced in all over the country which kept on extending till July 2020.Afterwards cases starts declining.
  • During March 2021 it began again to and this time more disastrous than before.
  • During January 2021 the vaccination of Covid-19 started.

Why it appears in December mostly?

  • Covid-19 virus continues to circulate and its epidemiology behaviour gets settled with Indian weather conditions.
  • This coupled with circulation of other usual pathogens makes it more troublesome.
  • The states are advised to put in place requisite public health measures and other arrangements to minimise the risk of increase in transmission by adherence to maintenance of respiratory hygiene.

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