GS PAPER III NEWS

RBI major concerns for Crypto currency

Why in News

The Reserve Bank of India reiterated its concerns over crypto currencies, clarifying its stance on digital assets just days after the regulator told banks to set aside a 2018 ban on trading.

Major concerns around crypto currency

  • There is no change in RBI’s position.
  • The RBI had first come out with a circular on the issue in 2018, cautioning people against investing in crypto currencies that do not have sovereign character.
  • However, the Supreme Court, in 2020, struck down the circular.
  • The RBI Governor revised notification to financial institutions was necessitated because some banks were still referring to the old circular set aside by the Apex court and this was an attempt to set the record straight.
  • The RBI had asked banks, NBFCs and payment system providers not to refer to its earlier 2018 circular in their communications to customers.
  • Some of the crypto currencies have seen a massive dip in their per unit trading prices lately, leading to erosion of investor wealth.
  • The central bank is not into investment advice, but added that one should make one’s own appraisal and do due diligence before taking a call on investing in cryptocurrencies.
  • Banks needed to ensure compliance with Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for overseas remittances as well.

Cryptocurrency

  • A cryptocurrency is decentralised digital money that works on blockchain technology, which is a database that is shared across a network of computers.
  • Bitcoin, Ethereum and dogecoin are some of the popular cryptocurrencies.
  • The Central government is yet to come out with policies on cryptocurrencies.
  • According to crypto exchanges data, around 1.5 crore Indians have invested Rs 15,000 crore in cryptocurrencies.
  • As many as 350 start-ups are operating in blockchain and crypto. Crypto exchanges such as WazirX, CoinSwitch Kuber and others have seen a huge rise in demand.
  • The government has planned a cryptocurrency and regulation of official digital currency bill, 2021 that proposes to make any dealings in digital tokens illegal but, it is yet to pass.

Blockchain technology

  • Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system.
  • It sometimes referred to as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) as it makes the history of any digital asset unalterable and transparent through decentralization and cryptographic hashing.
  • A simple analogy for understanding blockchain technology is a Google Doc. When we create a document and share it with a group of people, the document is distributed instead of copied or transferred. This creates a decentralized distribution chain that gives everyone access to the document at the same time.
  • It is a promising and revolutionary technology because it helps reduce risk, stamps out fraud and brings transparency in a scaleable way for myriad uses.

Advantages of Cryptocurrency

  • Protection from inflation: Inflation has caused many currencies to get their value declined with time. Almost every cryptocurrency launches with a fixed amount. So, as the demand increases, its value will increase which will keep up with the market and, in the long run, prevent inflation.
  • Self-governed and managed: The cryptocurrency transactions are stored by developers/miners on their hardware, and they get the transaction fee as a reward for doing so. Since the miners are getting paid for it, they keep transaction records accurate and up-to-date, keeping the integrity of the cryptocurrency and the records decentralized.
  • Secure and private: The blockchain ledger is based on different mathematical puzzles, which are hard to decode. This makes a cryptocurrency more secure than ordinary electronic transactions.
  • Currency exchanges can be done easily: Cryptocurrency can be bought using many currencies like the US dollar, European euro, British pound, Indian rupee or Japanese yen.
  • Decentralized: They are mainly decentralized. A lot of cryptocurrencies are controlled by the developers using it and the people who have a significant amount of the coin, or by an organization to develop it before it is released into the market.
  • Cost-effective mode of transaction: With the help of cryptocurrency, the transaction fees paid by a user is reduced to a negligible or zero amount.
  • A fast way to transfer funds: Transactions in Cryptocurrency are lightning-fast. This is because the verification requires very little time to process as there are very few barriers to cross.

Disadvantages

  • Can be used for illegal transactions: Cryptocurrencies can used by some to convert their illicitly obtained money through a clean intermediary, to hide its source.
  • Data losses can cause financial losses: The developers wanted to create virtually untraceable source code, strong hacking defenses, and impenetrable authentication protocols.
  • It is decentralized but still operated by some organization. Even hugely traded coins are susceptible to these manipulations like Bitcoin, whose value doubled several times in 2017.
  • Adverse Effects of mining on the environment: Mining cryptocurrencies require a lot of computational power and electricity input, making it highly energy-intensive. Major Bitcoin miners are in countries like China that use coal to produce electricity. This has increased China’s carbon footprint tremendously.
  • No refund or cancellation policy in Cryptocurrency.

GS PAPER III

Blue Water Operations with a Green Footprint

Why in News

With diminishing fossil energy resources there is an emerging need to ensure increased energy efficiency in every operation and process the Navy undertakes. Towards the same, the Navy has adopted a comprehensive ‘Indian Navy Environment Conservation Roadmap (INECR)’ for synergizing the aim of ‘Blue Water Operations with a Green Footprint’.

Role of Indian Navy in conservation of Environment

  • The Navy has always been committed towards environment protection and green initiatives.
  • As guardian of the seas, Navy employs a number of ships, submarines and aircrafts that have high energy intensity. With diminishing fossil energy resources there is an emerging need to ensure increased energy efficiency in every operation and process the Navy undertakes.
  • The Navy’s concerted efforts of formulation and implementation of numerous policies aimed towards energy efficiency and environmental protection have yielded good results which are evident in all Naval establishments.
  • Some of the noteworthy initiatives towards ‘Clean and Green Navy’, with all social distancing/ COVID 19 protocols in-force are:
  • Indian Navy commissioned one of its largest solar plant with a capacity of 11 MW, installed Solar Plant Capacity (SPV) at Naval Stations in line with Navy’s objective of fulfilling Govt of India’s ‘Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM)’ mission.
  • These plants are grid connected utilising the state of art single axis sun tracking technology with computerised monitoring & control.
  • 30,000 saplings have been planted towards continuous afforestation, over the course of the preceding year to mitigate an estimated 630 tonnes of CO2 / year.
  • Further, viability of setting up urban forest’s concepts such as Miyawaki forests, coastal afforestation including restoration of mangroves is being emphasised to match the theme of World Environment Day 2021- ‘Ecosystem Restoration’.
  • A mangrove plantation drive was conducted by Southern Naval Command, Kochi in association with Kerala Forest Department along the Venduruthy channel on the occasion of ‘World River Day’. Approximately 200 saplings were planted.
  • HQSNC with INS Venduruthy in the lead has always been engaged in the preservation of the environment and energy conservation which bestowed the station with the prestigious ‘Golden Peacock Environment Management Award (GPEMA) for the year 2020 in Government (Defence) sector.
  • As a part of ‘Swachhta Sewa’ campaign, Naval stations carried out cleanship drives, clearing of storm/rainwater drains, pruning of hedges and maintenance of gardens.
  • Also, as a part of ‘International Coastal Clean-up Day’ celebrations various Naval units undertook Coastal Clean-up Drives strictly adhering to COVID-19 protocol.
  • The progressive adoption of Battery-Operated E-Vehicles for transportation of men and material has marked the reduction of dependence on fossils fuels thus reducing carbon emissions.
  • Further, to reduce dependence on fossil-fuel based vehicles, units observe ‘No Vehicle Days’ regularly.
  • Towards combating oil-spill at Naval harbours, eco-friendly marine bio-remedial agents have been indigenously developed through NMRL.
  • The state-of the-art technology is unique in the maritime domain.
  • The product consists of a combination of micro-organisms and their growth stimulant, which consume various types of oils such as diesel, lubricating, dirty oils etc, thus cleaning the seawater from any oil contamination, and its consequent damage to marine ecosystem.
  • The technology has been inducted into the Indian Navy in June 2020.
  • With a view to reduce the overall carbon footprint and to bring down the effects of global warming, Indian Navy is ‘Geared Up and Committed’ to march towards pursuance of Green Initiatives, realizing the national aim, to ensure a ‘Greener and Cleaner future for our next generations’.

GS PAPER III

R II World Environment Day

Why in News

On 5th June 2021, the World celebrated, ‘World Environment Day 2021.

World Environment Day (WED) 2021

  • The theme of World Environment Day 2021 is ‘Reimagine. Recreate. Restore’ and its focal point is ecosystem restoration.
  • The World Environment Day 2021 is hosted by Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan plans to expand and restore the country’s forests through a ‘10 billion Tree Tsunami ‘spread over five years. Through this Pakistan is contributing to the Bonn Challenge, a global effort linked to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
  • In 2020, the World Environment Day was celebrated with the theme Time for Nature: Explore nature around Iconic spots’ and it was hosted by Germany.
  • During the event, Prime Minister released the “Report of the Expert Committee on Road Map for ethanol blending in India 2020-2025”.
  • To commemorate World Environment Day, Government of India is releasing E-20 Notification directing Oil Companies to sell ethanol blended petrol with percentage of ethanol up to 20% from 1st April 2023; and BIS Specifications for higher ethanol blends E12 & E15.
  • These efforts will facilitate setting up of additional ethanol distillation capacities and will provide timelines for making blended fuel available across the country.
  • It will help increase consumption of ethanol in the ethanol producing states and the adjoining regions, before the year 2025.
  • Prime Minister launched a Pilot Project of E 100 dispensing stations at three locations in Pune.
  • Prime Minister also interacted with farmers to gain insight on their first-hand experience, as enablers under the Ethanol Blended Petrol and Compressed Biogas Programmes.

Ecosystem Restoration

  • Ecosystem restoration means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact.
  • Healthier ecosystems, with richer biodiversity, yield greater benefits such as more fertile soils, bigger yields of timber and fish, and larger stores of greenhouse gases.
  • Restoration can happen by actively planting or by removing pressures so that nature can recover on its own.
  • Between 2021-2030, the restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems could generate US$9 trillion in ecosystem services.
  • Restoration could also remove 13 to 26 gigatons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
  • The economic benefits of such interventions exceed nine times the cost of investment, whereas inaction is at least three times more costly than ecosystem restoration.
  • All kinds of ecosystems can be restored, including forests, farmlands, cities, wetlands and oceans.

Bonn Challenge

  • The Bonn Challenge is a global effort was hosted and launched by Germany and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Bonn on 2 September 2011.
  • It was launched to restore 150 million hectares of the world’s degraded and deforested lands by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030.
  • The Bonn Challenge is an implementation vehicle for national priorities such as water and food security and rural development.
  • It aids countries contribute to the achievement of international climate change, biodiversity and land degradation commitments.

World Environment Day (WED)

  • The World Environment Day is observed on June 5 every year to remind people about the importance of nature.
  • The day is celebrated across the world to inform people that nature should not be taken for granted and must be respected for its values.
  • In 1972, the UN General Assembly designated 5 June as World Environment Day (WED).
  • The first celebration, under the slogan “Only One Earth” took place in 1974.
  • In the following years, World Environment Day has developed as a platform to raise awareness on the problems facing our environment such as air pollution, plastic pollution, illegal wildlife trade, sustainable consumption, sea-level increase, and food security, among others.
  • Furthermore, World Environment Day helps drive change in consumption patterns and in national and international environmental policy.

GS PAPER III

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) hospitality sector aid

Why in News

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has opened a separate On­tap Liquidity Window to help mitigate the adverse impact of the second wave of the pandemic on certain contact intensive sectors.

Key Points

  • Under the scheme, banks can provide fresh lending support to
  • Hotels and restaurants;
  • Entities related to tourism like travel agents, tour operators and adventure or heritage facilities;
  • Aviation ancillary servicesground handling and supply chain; and
  • Others including private bus operators, car repair services, rent­a­car service providers, event/conference organisers, spa clinics, and beauty parlours/salons.
  • The move would provide liquidity of ₹15,000 crore till March 31, 2022, with tenors of up to three years.
  • Banks will be permitted to park their surplus liquidity up to the size of the loan book created under this scheme with the RBI at a rate which is 40 basis points (bps) higher than the reverse repo rate.
  • The hospitality sector welcomed the decision. This is the first significant sign indicating that the government has taken note of the severe effect that the pandemic has had on the hospitality industry and the huge economic impact it will have on the sector as well as the nation.
  • Infusing liquidity would provide support to cash strapped businesses without which the industry couldn’t have survived.
  • However, the tenure should be for at least five years as a duration of three years would not be sufficient to recover from the turbulence the industry faces.

GS PAPER III

INS Sandhayak Decommissioned

Why in News

Recently, INS Sandhayak has been decommissioned from Indian Navy.

Key Points

  • INS Sandhayak was the Indian Navy’s oldest Hydrographic Survey Vessel was decommissioned at Naval Dockyard in Visakhapatnam.
  • It served the nation for 40 glorious years. The ship was decommissioned in a solemn and low-key event due to the ongoing COVID Pandemic.
  • During her 40 years of illustrious service in the Indian Navy, INS Sandhayak undertook over 200 major hydrographic surveys in Western and Eastern coasts of the Indian peninsula, the Andaman Sea, and surveys in neighboring countries including Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
  • The ship also took part in important operations like Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka (1987), Operation Rainbow for Humanitarian Assistance in the aftermath of the Tsunami in 2004 and the maiden Indo-US HADR Exercise Tiger-Triumph in 2019.

INS Sandhayak

  • INS Sandhayak (J18) is the lead ship of the Sandhayak class of survey ships.
  • The INS Sandhayak was commissioned on 14th March 1981.
  • It operates as a hydrographic survey ship in the Indian Navy, under the Eastern Naval Command.
  • The ship can analyse the level of pollution, sea level at various places, sea bed and marine wealth.
  • Sandhayak is capable of conducting shallow coastal and deep oceanic hydrographic survey and collect oceanographic and geophysical data.

GS PAPER III

Largest Green Railways

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Indian Railways on way to become “Largest Green Railways” in the world with Zero Carbon Emission.

Contribution of Indian Railways in Conservation of Environment

  • Indian Railways (IR) is working in mission mode to become the largest Green Railways in the world and is moving towards becoming a “net zero carbon emitter” before 2030.
  • Railways is guided by a holistic vision of being an environment friendly, efficient, cost effective, punctual and a modern carrier of passengers as well as freight in order to serve the growing needs of New India.
  • IR is on the way in helping the environment with steps ranging from massive electrification, water & paper conservation, to saving animals from being injured on Railway tracks.
  • Railway Electrification which is environment friendly and reduces pollution, has increased nearly ten times since 2014.
  • Capturing the economic benefits of electric traction in an accelerated manner, Railways has planned to electrify balance Broad Gauge (BG) routes by December, 2023 to achieve 100% electrification of BG routes.
  • Head-On-Generation systems, Bio-Toilets and LED lights recreate the train itself into a travel mode that’s kinder to the environment while maintaining comparable passenger comfort.
  • IR’s Dedicated Freight Corridors are being developed as a low carbon green transportation network with a long-term low carbon roadmap, which will enable it to adopt more energy efficient and carbon-friendly technologies, processes and practices.
  • IR is implementing two Dedicated Freight Corridor projects:
  • Eastern Corridor (EDFC) from Ludhiana to Dankuni (1,875 km) and
  • Western Corridor (WDFC) from Dadri to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (1,506 km). Sonnagar-Dankuni (538 km) portion of EDFC has been planned for execution on Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.

Green Certifications and implementation of Environment Management System

  • MoU signed between Indian Railways and Confederation of Indian Industry in July 2016 for facilitation of green initiatives on IR. 39 Workshops, 7 Production Units, 8 Loco Sheds and one Stores depot have been ‘GreenCo’ certified. These include 2 Platinum, 15 Gold and 18 Silver ratings.
  • Green certification mainly covers assessment of parameters having direct bearing on the environment, such as, energy conservation measures, use of renewable energy, Green House Gas emission reduction, water conservation, waste management, material conservation, recycling etc.
  • 19 Railway Stations have also achieved Green Certification including 3 Platinum, 6 Gold and 6 Silver ratings.
  • 27 more Railway Buildings, Offices, Campuses and other establishments are also Green certified including 15 Platinum, 9 Gold and 2 Silver ratings.

Indian Railways in Climate Change

  • Indian Railways has incorporated Climate Change features in its own risk assessments and disaster management protocols. As an organisation ready to manage the risks, and ask the right questions about its assets, routes & investments.
  • The Environment Sustainability Report published by IR and subsidiary units each year sets up a framework document defining strategies and focus points in the context of climate change, the issues at stake, and steps for dealing with them.
  • It helps railways to support government commitments such as the Paris agreement on climate change, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and National Disaster Management Plans.
  • Appropriate interpretation matching the Indian Railway’s own realities and ground situation suitably adapts the efforts of departmental managers in anticipating and facing up to those challenges.