Daily Current Affairs: 18th December 2021

Topics covered

  1. The Competition Commission of India (CCI)
  2. The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021
  3. The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)
  4. Biological Diversity Act, 2002
  5. NATO 
  6. Facts for Prelims

1. The Competition Commission of India (CCI)

Context: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) froze its approval given in November 2019 to Amazon’s investment in a Future Group unit on the grounds that the U.S. e-commerce company had suppressed the scope and full details of its investment while seeking regulatory approval.

About CCI

  • It is a statutory body established under the Competition Act, 2002, tasked with ensuring a fair and healthy competition in economic activities of the country.
  • It is to act as an antitrust watchdog and ensure that there is no abuse of dominant position by a company in the market.
  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was established in March 2009 by Government of India under the Competition Act, 2002 for the administration, implementation, and enforcement of the Act.


  • Eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition
  • Promote and sustain competition
  • Protect the interests of consumers
  • Ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India
  • The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.

Composition of CCI

  • It is a quasi-judicial body.
  • Commission shall consist of a Chairperson and not less than two and not more than six other Members to be appointed .
  • They will all be appointed by the Central Government.
  • The Chairperson and members shall be a person of ability, integrity and standing and who, has been, or is qualified to be a judge of a High Court, or, has special knowledge of, and professional experience of not less than fifteen years in international trade, economics, business, commerce, law, finance, accountancy, management, industry, public affairs, administration or in any other matter.
  • The appeals from CCI goes to National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) constituted under the Companies Act, 2013.

Importance of Competition

  • In common parlance, competition in the market means sellers striving independently for buyers’ patronage to maximize profit (or other business objectives). A buyer prefers to buy a product at a price that maximizes his benefits whereas the seller prefers to sell the product at a price that maximizes his profit.
  • Competition is now almost universally acknowledged as the best means of ensuring that consumers have access to the broadest range of services at the most competitive prices.
  • Producers will have maximum incentive to innovate, reduce their costs and meet consumer demand. Competition thus promotes allocative and productive efficiency. But all this requires healthy market conditions and governments across the globe are increasingly trying to remove market imperfections through appropriate regulations to promote competition.

Criticism against CCI

  • There have been concerns regarding the validity of CCI as there have already been industry-specific regulators and if its enhanced authority may force it to infringe upon the functional terrain of other regulatory bodies including the RBI and SEBI.
  • In many cases, the penalty imposed by CCI is excessive against the backdrop of lack of defining guidelines for arriving at the appropriate amounts.


  • Once CCI manages to iron out the glitches that seeped into its functioning and start using sophisticated economic tools for investigating regulatory violations, it should be able to lead India to an era of enhanced anti-competition practices that will further enhance the country’s status as a market that is fast approaching maturity in terms of regulations.

2. The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021

Context: Forests Minister Bhupender Yadav introduced in Lok Sabha the Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Bill to ensure that the original 1972 Act complies with the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Proposed amendments

  • The amendments propose to streamline wildlife management and monitoring by setting up Standing Committees of State Boards of Wildlife.
  • These committees will function like the National Board for Wildlife which is responsible for monitoring protected areas in the country and awarding or denying permission to projects in light of its threat to wildlife.
  • In most states, State Wildlife Boards fall under the responsibility of Chief Ministers, and are therefore neglected due to the paucity of time. Once approved, the state Standing Committees will be able to take decisions on wildlife management and permissions granted for projects, without having to refer most projects to the NBWL.
  • The Ministry has also rationalised Schedules for Wildlife under the Act, bringing it down from 6 to 4 major schedules. A schedule is a categorisation of wildlife depending on how critically endangered they are. A schedule I category of wildlife (such as Tigers) are the highest protected under the Act.

Need of the amendment

  • India has been blacklisted by CITES once before, and if a second blacklisting were to happen — then India will no longer be able to trade in important plant specimens. This would affect the livelihood of a large section of Indian society that relies heavily on this trade.
  • The rationalisation needed to be done because there were many discrepancies in the schedules and they were also ambiguous.
  • Some species were listed under English names, others under scientific names, some under families while others under orders.
  • Such a categorisation was very confusing for wildlife and forest officials on the ground to implement.

About Wildlife Protection Act 1972

  • Wildlife Act 1972 preserves the country’s wild animals, birds and plants in order to ensure ecological and environmental security.
  • This act has laid down restrictions on hunting various kinds of animal species.
  • It also includes provisions related to harvesting and various other ancillary matters connected thereto.
  • It has six schedules which includes the list of endangered species, list of wild animals that are threatening to human lives, list of animals declared as vermin and list of specified trade, plants, possession etc which extend all over the India.
  • Various kinds of penalties have been laid down for the violation of the laws contained therein.

Schedules under WPA

  • It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection. 
  • Schedule I and part II of Schedule II provide absolute protection – offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
  • Species listed in Schedule III and Schedule IV are also protected, but the penalties are much lower.
  • Animals under Schedule V, e.g. common crows, fruit bats, rats and mice, are legally considered vermin and may be hunted freely.
  • The specified endemic plants in Schedule VI are prohibited from cultivation and planting.
  • The hunting to the Enforcement authorities have the power to compound offences under this Schedule (i.e. they impose fines on the offenders). 


  • CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments.
  • Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
  •  Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level.
  • For  many years CITES has been among the conservation agreements with the largest membership, with now 183 Parties.
  • CITES was first conceived of at a 1963 meeting of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on the conservation status of wild animals and plants.

What are CITES appendices?

  • There are three appendices: Appendix I, II, and III. Each denotes a different level of protection from trade.
  • Appendix I
    • It includes species that are in danger of extinction because of international trade.
    • Permits are required for import and export, and trade for commercial purposes is prohibited.
    • The Asiatic lion and tigers are two species listed as Appendix I.
  • Appendix II
    • It includes species that aren’t facing imminent extinction but need monitoring to ensure that trade doesn’t become a threat.
    • Export is allowed if the plant, animal, or related product was obtained legally and if harvesting it won’t hurt the species’ chance of survival.
    •  American alligators are listed on Appendix II, for example.
  • Appendix III
    • It includes species that are protected in at least one country, when that country asks others for help in regulating the trade. Regulations for these species vary, but typically the country that requested the listing can issue export permits, and export from other countries requires a certificate of origin.
    • While honey badgers are listed as of least concern by the IUCN, their Botswana population is on CITES Appendix III because of concerns that they would be exploited in other African countries for use in traditional medicine and as bushmeat.

3. The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)

Context: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cancelled the FCRA registration of a Vadodara-based NGO that was accused by the Gujarat police of illegally converting members of the Hindu community, funding the anti-CAA protests and for criminal activities to strengthen Islam. The registration of two other Christian NGOs — the New Hope Foundation, based in Tamil Nadu, and Holy Spirit Ministries from Karnataka were also cancelled.

About FCRA

  • Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976 (FCRA) was enacted in the year 1976 with the prime objective of regulating the acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution and foreign hospitality by persons and associations working in the important areas of national life.
  • Foreign contribution is the donation or transfer of any currency, security or article (of beyond a specified value) by a foreign source.
  • The amendment seeks to make specific changes to the FCRA law, first introduced in 2010 and whose rules were amended in 2012, 2015 and 2019.
  • The law provides the framework under which organisations in India can receive and utilise grants from foreign sources. 
  • Recent FCRA 2020 Amendment also aims to prohibit the acceptance and use of foreign contributions for activities that are detrimental to national interest and for matters connected thereto.

Grounds for Cancellation of FCRA Registration

  • If the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreign Division)  observed that mandatorily compliances have not followed then it shall make order for cancellation of Registered Associations. Following are reason that can leads to cancellation of FCRA Registration
    • Non Filing of Annual Return
    • Not working in Public Interest 
    • Not maintaining proper FCRA Account
    • Utilization of Foreign Contribution for administrative Purpose
    • Acceptance of Foreign contribution in undisclosed bank Account
    • Making of False Statement, declaration or delivering false accounts

4. Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (amendment)

Context: Environmentalists have expressed concern over amendments to the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 on the grounds that it prioritises intellectual property and commercial trade at the expense of the Act’s key aim of conserving biological resources.

About Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021

  • The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 was enacted for the conservation of biological diversity and fair, equitable sharing of the monetary benefits from the commercial use of biological resources and traditional knowledge.
  • According to the statement of objectives of Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021,
    • It seeks to reduce the pressure on wild medicinal plants by encouraging the cultivation of medicinal plants;
    • Exempts Ayush practitioners from intimating biodiversity boards for accessing biological resources or knowledge;
    • Facilitates fast-tracking of research, simplify the patent application process, decriminalises certain offences;
    • Bring more foreign investments in biological resources, research, patent and commercial utilisation, without compromising the national interest.
  • The role of state biodiversity boards has been strengthened and better clarified in the bill.
  • Violations of the law related to access to biological resources and benefit-sharing with communities, which are currently treated as criminal offences and are non-bailable, have been proposed to be made civil offences.

Need for Amendment

  • According to the bill, concerns were raised by Ayush medicine, seed, industry and research sectors urging the government to simplify, streamline and reduce the compliance burden to provide for a conducive environment for collaborative research and investments.
  • They also sought to simplify the patent application process, widen the scope of access and benefit-sharing with local communities. In most cases, this is a certain percentage of the sale price.
  • Ayush companies have been seeking relaxation of the benefit-sharing provisions.

Criticism against the Bill

  • The Biological Diversity Amendment Bill 2021 has been introduced without seeking public comments as required under the pre-legislative consultative policy
  • Legal experts have expressed concerns that easing the norms for the sector could be detrimental to ecology and go against the principle of sharing commercial benefits with indigenous communities.
  • Bill hasn’t tried to reconcile the domestic law with free prior informed consent requirements of the 2010 Nagoya Protocol on on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS). However, this has been a missed opportunity as the proposed amendments continue to marginalise biodiversity management committees (BMCs). Their powers have not been enhanced, and the proposed amendments also allow for state biodiversity boards to represent BMCs to determine terms of benefit sharing. Under the Biodiversity Act 2002, national and state biodiversity boards are required to consult the biodiversity management committees (constituted by every local body) while taking any decision relating to the use of biological resources.
  • Under the Biodiversity Act 2002, national and state biodiversity boards are required to consult the biodiversity management committees (constituted by every local body) while taking any decision relating to the use of biological resources.

What are the other concerns with the bill?

  • One of the major changes in the new bill is that registered Ayush practitioners who have been practising indigenous medicine can access any biological resource and its associated knowledge for commercial utilisation, without giving prior intimation to the state biodiversity board.
  • The main focus of the bill is to facilitate trade in biodiversity as opposed to conservation, protection of biodiversity and knowledge of the local communities.
  • The bill has excluded the term “bio-utilisation.” “Bio-utilization is an important element in the Act. Leaving out bio utilization would leave out an array of activities like characterization, inventorisation and bioassay which are undertaken with commercial motive,” 
  • The bill also exempts cultivated medicinal plants from the purview of the Act but it is practically impossible to detect which plants are cultivated and which are from the wild.
  • This provision could allow large companies to evade the requirement for prior approval or share the benefit with local communities under the access and benefit-sharing provisions of the Act.


Context: Russia on Friday unveiled proposals to contain the U.S. and NATO in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, calling for urgent negotiations with Washington as it amasses forces near Ukraine.


  • Ukraine shares borders with both the EU and Russia, but as a former Soviet republic it has deep social and cultural ties with Russia and Russian is widely spoken there.
  • Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards European institutions, and its key demand is that it never joins Nato or has the military alliance’s offensive weapons on its soil.
  • When Ukrainians deposed their pro-Russian president in 2014, Russia seized and then annexed the southern Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists captured large swathes of Ukraine’s two eastern regions collectively known as the Donbas.

What is happening now?

  • As Russia moves a large number of troops towards the border, Russia seeks assurances from the US that Ukraine will not be inducted into NATO.
  • However, US President Joe Biden has made it clear that he is not prepared to give any such assurance. This has left the countries in a stand-off, with tens of thousands of Russian troops ready to invade Ukraine at short notice, and the West not budging on Russia’s demands.

About NATO

  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an alliance of 30 countries that border the North Atlantic Ocean. The Alliance includes the United States, most European Union members, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Turkey.
  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a military alliance between the United States, Canada, and their European allies. It was formed in the wake of World War II to keep the peace and encourage political cooperation on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Member Countries

  • NATO’s 30 members are Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • Each member designates an ambassador to NATO as well as officials to serve on NATO committees and discuss NATO business. These designees could include a country’s president, prime minister, foreign affairs minister, or head of a defense department.
  • On December 1, 2015, NATO announced its first expansion since 2009, offering membership to Montenegro. Russia responded by calling the move a strategic threat to its national security. Russia is worried by the number of Balkan countries along its border that have joined NATO.

How Does NATO Work?

  • NATO’s mission is to protect the freedom of its members and the stability of their regions. Its targets include weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and cyber-attacks.
  • A key aspect of the alliance is Article 5, which states that “an armed attack against one Ally is considered an attack against all Allies.” In other words, if someone attacks one NATO nation, all NATO nations will retaliate. The only time NATO invoked Article 5 was after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • NATO’s protection does not extend to members’ civil wars or internal coups. During a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, for example, NATO did not intervene on either side of the conflict. As a NATO member, Turkey would receive its allies’ support in the case of an attack, but not in case of a coup.
  • NATO is funded by its members. The United States contributes roughly three-fourths of NATO’s budget. Only 10 countries have reached the target spending level of 2% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Historical background

  • After World War II in 1945, western Europe was economically exhausted and militarily weak (the western Allies had rapidly and drastically reduced their armies at the end of the war), and newly powerful communist parties had arisen in France and Italy.
  • By contrast, the Soviet Union had emerged from the war with its armies dominating all the states of central and eastern Europe, and by 1948 communists under Moscow’s sponsorship had consolidated their control of the governments of those countries and suppressed all noncommunist political activity.
  • What became known as the Iron Curtain, a term popularized by Winston Churchill, had descended over central and eastern Europe.
  • Further, wartime cooperation between the western Allies and the Soviets had completely broken down.
  • Each side was organizing its own sector of occupied Germany, so that two German states would emerge, a democratic one in the west and a communist one in the east.
  • In 1948 the United States launched the Marshall Plan, which infused massive amounts of economic aid to the countries of western and southern Europe on the condition that they cooperate with each other and engage in joint planning to hasten their mutual recovery.
  • As for military recovery, under the Brussels Treaty of 1948, the United Kingdom, France, and the Low Countries—Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg—concluded a collective-defense agreement called the Western European Union. It was soon recognized, however, that a more formidable alliance would be required to provide an adequate military counterweight to the Soviets.
  • By this time Britain, Canada, and the United States had already engaged in secret exploratory talks on security arrangements that would serve as an alternative to the United Nations (UN), which was becoming paralyzed by the rapidly emerging Cold War.
  • In March 1948, following a virtual communist coup d’état in Czechoslovakia in February, the three governments began discussions on a multilateral collective-defense scheme that would enhance Western security and promote democratic values.
  • These discussions were eventually joined by France, the Low Countries, and Norway and in April 1949 resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty

6. Facts for Prelims

T.N. State song 

  • The Tamil Nadu government announced ‘Tamil Thaai Vaazhthu,’ an invocation sung in praise of Mother Tamil, as the state anthem and directed that all present during its rendition should remain standing.
  • The decision comes in the wake of the Madras High Court recently ruling that ‘Tamil Thai Vaazhthu’ is a prayer song and not an anthem.
  • “There is no statutory or executive order requiring the attendees to stand up when Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is sung. But highest reverence and respect ought to be shown to Tamil Thai Vaazhthu,” the court had said.
  • Chief Minister M K Stalin said a Government Order to this effect has been issued, mandating that all barring the differently abled persons should remain standing when the 55 second long song is sung.
  • It should be sung before start of any functions in all educational institutions, universities, government offices, public sector undertakings and other public fora in the state.
  • States including Karnataka (Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate) and Odisha (Bande Utkal Janani) have official state anthems.
  • The Tamil Thaai Vazhthu is the official song of neighbouring union territory of Puducherry as well.

 The Order of the Druk Gyalpo

  • The Order of the Dragon King (Druk Gyalpo) is the highest decoration of the Kingdom of Bhutan, awarded in recognition of a lifetime of service to the people and Kingdom of Bhutan.
  •  Bhutan has conferred its highest civilian award the “Order of the Druk Gyalpo”, also known as “Ngadag Pel gi Khorlo”, on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • This would be the latest of awards to be conferred on Modi by other countries. Last year, he received the ‘Legion of Merit by the US Government’ award of the US Armed Forces that is given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.
  • In 2019, Russia conferred its highest civilian honour ‘Order of St. Andrew’ award on Modi.

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