Daily Current Affairs : 29th July 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Updated report on India’s Tiger Survey
  2. Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF)
  3. Pre Pack
  4. Child Wasting
  5. Facts for Prelims

1 . Updated report on India’s Tiger Survey


Context : Releasing an updated report on India’s Tiger Survey from 2018, which put the country’s tiger population at 2,367 — unchanged from the government’s estimate last year — Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said it was a matter of pride for India that it was a global exemplar in tiger conservation.

Background

  • The Heads of the Governments of Tiger Range countries at St. Petersburg, Russia, had resolved to double tiger numbers across their global range by 2022 by signing the St. Petersburg declaration on tiger conservation.
  • During the said meeting it was also decided to celebrate July 29 as Global Tiger Day across the world, which is since, being celebrated to spread and generate awareness on tiger conservation.
  • During Global Tiger Day 2019, it was a proud moment for India as the Prime Minister declared to the world fulfilment of India’s resolve as it had doubled its tiger numbers four years in advance to the target year highlighting resolute action taken by all concerned.

India’s Tiger Population

  • India’s tiger population now stands at 2967 which is 70 percent of the Global tiger population. A feather in India’s cap was added with the Guinness World Records recognizing the country’s efforts as the world largest camera trap survey of wildlife.
  • Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of tigers at 526, closely followed by Karnataka (524) and Uttarakhand (442). Chhattisgarh and Mizoram saw a decline in tiger population and all other States saw a “positive” increase, according to a press statement.

About the Report

  • The detailed report released today assesses the status of tigers in terms of spatial occupancy and density of individual populations across India.
  • In addition to the summary report released by the Prime Minister of India on the “Status of Tigers in India” in July 2019, this detailed report compares information obtained from the earlier three surveys (2006, 2010, and 2014) with data obtained from the 2018-19 survey to estimate population trends at country and landscape scales, patch colonization and extinction rates along with information on likely factors responsible for changes in tiger status at the fine spatial resolution of 100 km.
  • The report evaluates the status of habitat corridors connecting major tiger populations and highlights vulnerable areas that require conservation attention for each landscape. The report provides information on major carnivores and ungulates regarding their distribution and relative abundance.

The detailed report of the 4th All India Tiger Estimation is unique in the following ways;

  • Abundance index of co-predators and other species has been carried out which hitherto was restricted only to occupancy
  • Sex ratio of tigers in all camera trap sites has been carried out for the first time.
  • Anthropogenic effects on tiger population have been elaborated in a detailed manner.
  • Tiger abundance within pockets in tiger reserves has been demonstrated for the first time.

New Technologies

  • Govt is working on a programme to provide water and fodder to animals at the forest itself to deal with the challenge of human-animal conflict that was causing the death of animals.
  • For this, Lidar-based survey technology will be used for the first time. Lidar is a method of measuring distance by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor.

2 . Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF)


Context : United Kingdom, which holds the Presidency of the next UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, planned for next year, is committed to building resilience to climate change among communities and working with India on clean energy.  The Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF) with the UK and the Indian government co-investment of £240 million, is starting to mobilise private investment. BP [the oil and gas major] recently committed over £55 million ($70 million) towards this,” he said.

About Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF)

  • National Investment and Infrastructure Fund of India has partnered with the UK Government to launch the Green Growth Equity Fund (“GGEF”). 
  • NIIF and the UK Government have committed GBP 120 million each into the Fund. 
  • EverSource Capital, an equal joint venture between Everstone Group and Lightsource BP was selected as the fund manager for GGEF following an international selection process. Everstone Group is a premier multi-asset investment firm and Lightsource BP is a global market leader in renewable energy development and management.
  • It is the first investment for NIIF’s Fund of Funds.  
  • GGEF will provide investors with a vehicle to invest at scale into one of the largest and most attractive clean energy markets in the world.  
  • Everstone’s capabilities of building successful operating companies in India and Lightsource’s global renewable energy experience will provide a strong platform for EverSource Capital to successfully execute GGEF’s investment strategy.”
  • The Fund will invest in renewable energy, clean transportation, water and waste management in India as part of India’s flagship National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
  • NIIF’s investment in GGEF demonstrates the role that NIIF’s Fund of Funds can play in the infrastructure and associated sectors in India by anchoring and investing with fund managers with good track records.  The NIIF Fund of Funds will complement NIIF’s Master Fund, which will focus on investing into large-scale operating platforms for core infrastructure sectors.

About ICRG Programme

  • Infrastructure for Climate Resilient Growth in India (ICRG) is a 43-month Technical Assistance (TA) Programme commissioned by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). ICRG will provide TA to the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India and its three states, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The ICRG programme will be implemented in 103 Blocks of the states of Bihar, Odisha and Chhattisgarh selected amongst the 2500 Blocks which are under special focus of MGNREGA by the Government of India.
  • The ICRG programme is under implementation by a consortium led by IPE Global comprising of Ricardo Energy and Environment, University of Manchester and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as associates. The civil society partners for Bihar- Change Alliance, Chhattisgarh- Samarthan, Odisha- Janmukti Anusthan, SG Foundation, WOSCA(Women’s Foundation for Socio Cultural Awareness, Seba Jagat, Social Organization on Various Aspects, SG Foundation, WOSCA and Lokdrusti respectively. Besides, the programme draws technical support from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore and Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IITB), Mumbai.
  • The goal of Infrastructure for Climate Resilient Growth (ICRG) is to ensure that the poorest and the most vulnerable people are able to tackle impact of climate extremes. Through a better understanding of climate factors and building capacities of field practitioners and improving design of works being taken up, ICRG, will synergise its resources with MGNREGA in building climate resilience of the most vulnerable communities. This will be achieved by improved quality and climate resilient assets under MGNREGA

3 . Pre-Pack


Context : The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has set up a committee to look into the possibility of including what are called “pre-packs” under the current insolvency regime to offer faster insolvency resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), while maintaining business continuity and thereby preserving asset value and jobs. Slow progress in the resolution of distressed companies has been one of the key issues raised by creditors regarding the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) under the IBC with 738 of 2,170 ongoing insolvency resolution processes having already taken more than 270 days at the end of March. Under the IBC, stakeholders are required to complete the CIRP within 330 days of the initiation of insolvency proceedings.

What is a pre-pack?

  • A pre-pack is an agreement for the resolution of the debt of a distressed company through an agreement between secured creditors and investors instead of a public bidding process.
  • This system of insolvency proceedings has become an increasingly popular mechanism for insolvency resolution in the UK and Europe over the past decade.
  • In India’s case, such a system would likely require that financial creditors agree on terms with potential investors and seek approval of the resolution plan from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). This process would likely be completed much faster than the traditional CIRP which requires that the creditors of the distressed company allow for an open auction for qualified investors to bid for the distressed company
  • “The process needs to be completed within 90 days so that all stakeholders retain faith in the system,” said Dinkar Venkatasubramanian, partner and national leader, restructuring and turnaround services, EY adding that cases that take more than this time should be taken through the normal CIRP.
  • Venkatasubramanian also said that pre-pack would act as an important alternative resolution mechanism to the CIRP and would help lower the burden on the NCLTs.

What are the other key benefits of a pre-pack?

  • In the case of pre-packs, the incumbent management retains control of the company until a final agreement is reached.
  • Transfer of control from the incumbent management to an insolvency professional as is the case in the CIRP leads to disruptions in the business and loss of some high-quality human resources and asset value.

What are some of the drawbacks of pre-pack?

  • The key drawback of a pre-packaged insolvency resolution is the reduced transparency compared to the CIRP as financial creditors would reach an agreement with a potential investor privately and not through an open bidding process.
  • Experts said this could lead to stakeholders such as operational creditors raising issues of fair treatment when financial creditors reach agreements to reduce the liabilities of the distressed company.
  • There may be questions of whether secured lenders have been fair to other creditors while also noting that bankers themselves may hesitate to restructure liabilities outside of an open bidding process for fear of their decisions leading to investigations by agencies.
  • Unlike in the case of a full-fledged CIRP which allows for price discovery, in the case of a pre-pack the NCLT would only be able to evaluate a resolution plan based on submissions by the creditors and the investor.

What mechanisms would protect unsecured operational creditors like suppliers of goods and services?

  • The proposed pre-packaged resolution would likely be subject to approval by the NCLT. Notably, even under the CIRP financial creditors make up the committee of creditors which votes to decide the distribution of the proceeds of any resolution plan
  • Venkatasubramanian noted that as pre-packs would mostly be used for businesses that are running, the investors would likely need to maintain good relations with operational creditors.
  • “You can’t run a business without operational creditors. If you have to continue to buy from raw material providers and service providers, you have to give them a fair deal,” said Venkatasubramanian noting that operational creditors tend to get worse recoveries in cases where the company is no longer operational

4 . Study on Child Wasting


Context : The global prevalence of child wasting — lower weight for height — in 2020 could rise by 14.3%, translating into an additional 6.7 million children under the age of five suffering from it as the pandemic resulted in disruption of food systems and impeded access to healthcare services, according to a new study published in The Lancet 

About the Study

  • The study has been brought out by the Standing Together for Nutrition consortium, which comprises the International Food Policy Research Institute, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Burnett Institute, the World Bank, Results for Development (R4D), and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).

Importance

  • Wasting is a predictor of child mortality as it renders children vulnerable to infectious diseases.
  • One in ten deaths among children younger than five years in low and middle income countries is attributable to severe wasting. In India, 17% children are wasted, according to the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey of 2018. The Asia average for wasting is as low as 9.4%, according to the Global Nutrition Report 2020.

Details of the study

  • Before the pandemic, nearly 47 million children younger than five years were estimated to be affected by wasting globally. The new estimates presented in The Lancet study titled ‘Impacts of COVID-19 on childhood malnutrition and nutrition-related mortality’ bring the total figure for 2020 to 53.7 million children under five
  • It underlines that 80% of the additional number of wasted children would be in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and over half from South Asia alone. The latest estimates also suggest that there will be more than 10,000 additional child deaths per month during this period.
  • The study warns that the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to increase the risk of all forms of malnutrition. This, combined with disruption in health services and further deepening of economic and food crises, could compromise maternal and child health and mortality as well as have “intergenerational consequences for child growth and development, and life-long impacts on education, chronic disease risks, and overall human capital formation”.

What should be done

  • Urgent need to protect children’s right to nutrition in the face of COVID-19. A minimum of US$2.4 billion is needed immediately to prevent and treat malnutrition.
  • Governments need to expand social protection services to ensure access to nutritious diets, scaling-up programmes to ensure early detection of child wasting, and ensuring nutritious meals for vulnerable children through home delivery, take-home rations, and cash or vouchers, as schools remain shut.

5 . Facts for Prelims


Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR)

  • It is the largest Tiger Reserve in India.
  • The reserve spreads over five districts in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
  • The area consists mostly of the Nallamala Hills.
  • The Krishna river cuts its basin almost 200 m (660 ft) deep over a distance of 130 km (81 mi) through the reserve.