Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- World Heritage Site
- Project 75 and INS VAGIR
- Stabilisation Fund
- Maritime Piracy Bill
- Facts for Prelims
1 . World Heritage Site
Context: Gujarat’s Vadnagar town, the iconic Sun Temple at Modhera, and the rock cut sculptures of Unakoti in Tripura have been added to the tentative list of UNCESO World Heritage Sites.
About UNESCO Tentative List
- The UNESCO tentative list is an inventory of those properties which each State Party intends to consider for nomination
- India now has 52 sites on UNESCO Tentative List.
What is World Heritage Site and how is a place declared as one?
- A World Heritage Site is a location with an outstanding universal value.
- This signifies “cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity”.
- According to the World Heritage Convention’s operational guidelines, a tentative list is an “inventory” of properties a country believes deserve to be a World Heritage Site.
- After UNESCO includes a place in the Tentative List, that country has to prepare a nomination document that will be considered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
- This will be followed by a UNESCO evaluation and an inspection by their representative.
- UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
- This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
- As of now, there are 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.
- Dholavira and Ramappa Temple are the latest addition to the list under the ‘Cultural’ category.
- ‘Ramappa Temple’, Telangana and ‘Dholavira’, Gujarat which is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2021.
- According to the organisation’s selection criteria, 32 are cultural, 7 are natural, and 1 is mixed (matching both cultural and natural characteristics).
- India has the world’s sixth-largest number of sites.
- As of July 2021, World Heritage Sites may be found in 19 of India’s 36 states and union territories, with Maharashtra holding the most sites i.e. 5.
Criteria for UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
- Human creative genius.
- Interchange of values.
- Testimony to cultural tradition.
- Significance in human history.
- Traditional human settlement.
- Heritage associated with events of universal significance.
- Natural phenomena or beauty.
- Major stages of Earth’s history.
- Significant ecological and biological processes.
- The significant natural habitat for biodiversity
Types of World Heritage SitesCultural, Natural and Mixed sites
- Cultural heritage sites include hundreds of historic buildings and town sites, important archaeological sites, and works of monumental sculpture or painting.
- Natural heritage sites are restricted to those natural areas that (1) furnish outstanding examples of Earth’s record of life or its geologic processes, (2) provide excellent examples of ongoing ecological and biological evolutionary processes, (3) contain natural phenomena that are rare, unique, superlative, or of outstanding beauty, or (4) furnish habitats for rare or endangered animals or plants or are sites of exceptional biodiversity.
- Mixed heritage sites contain elements of both natural and cultural significance.
Process of getting into the list
- The first step involves creating a detailed dossier showing the outstanding universal value of the site, besides meeting a few other criteria.
- Once the documentation is complete, it requires a push by the State party or the country where the site is located.
- The property is then evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) then provides advice on conservation of the site, and training.
- After all these steps, the World Heritage Committee evaluates the site and decides to inscribe it or send back the nomination.
2 . Project 75 and INS Vagir
Context: The fifth Scorpène-class conventional submarine, Vagir, was delivered to the Navy by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) Mumbai on December 20. It is scheduled to be commissioned into service next month.
- After Kargil war in 1999, the Indian Government approved a 30-year submarine plan. The Project – 75 was brought under this new plan.
- Under the new plan, two parallel production lines of the submarines were called for.
- One was under the already running Project – 75 and the other was under Project – 75I (Project – 75 India).
- In 2005, under Project – 75, India signed a transfer of technology contract with the French.
- Under this contract six Scorpene Class attack submarines were to be constructed at the Mazagon Dock Limited.
- Scorpene is a conventional powered submarine weighing 1,500 tonnes and can go up to depths of 300m.
- The first submarine INS Kalvari was commissioned in December 2017, second submarine INS Khanderi in September 2019, third one INS Karanj in March 2021 and the fourth one INS Vela joined service in November 2021.
- Vagir, the fifth one, was launched into water on November 12, 2020 and commenced sea trials on February 1, 2022.
- The sixth and last of the Scorpène-class submarines, Vagsheer, was launched into water in April 2022 and is expected to be delivered to the Navy by end 2023.
- Under this contract six Scorpene Class attack submarines were to be constructed at the Mazagon Dock Limited.
- Parallelly, the tender to build six more advanced conventional submarines under Project-75I is in the Request For Proposal (RFP) stage but has suffered delays.
- INS Vagir (S25) is the fifth submarine of the first batch of six Kalvari-class submarines for the Indian Navy.
- The Kalvari-class submarines have the capability of operating in a wide range of Naval combat including anti-warship and anti-submarine operations, intelligence gathering and surveillance, and naval mine laying.
- It is a diesel-electric attack submarine based on the Scorpène class, designed by French naval defence and energy group Naval Group and manufactured by Mazagon Dock Limited, an Indian shipyard in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
- The submarine inherits its name from INS Vagir (S41) which served in the Navy from 1973–2001, and was named after a species of sandfish.
- The submarine is designed to operate in all theatres of operation, showcasing interoperability with other components of a Naval Task Force.
- It can launch attacks with both torpedoes and tube launched anti-ship missiles, whilst underwater or on surface.
- It can undertake multifarious types of missions i.e Anti-Surface warfare, Anti-Submarine warfare, Intelligence gathering, Mine Laying, Area Surveillance, etc.
3 . Stabilization Fund
Context: India is planning a stabilisation fund to keep prices of credits in its planned carbon market above a certain threshold, ensuring that they remain attractive for investors and that the market succeeds in cutting emissions.
What is a stabilization fund?
- A stabilization fund is a mechanism set up by a government or central bank to insulate the domestic economy from large influxes of revenue, as from commodities such as oil.
- A primary motivation is maintaining a steady level of government revenue in the face of major commodity price fluctuations (hence the term stabilization).
Stabilization Fund for Carbon Trading
- Money in the fund would be used by a market regulator to buy carbon credits if prices fell too low.
- It is to keep the carbon market credits attractive and viable for the investors.
- Consistent investor interest in credits and a floor under the price would be needed because sharp falls in the market could discourage industries from reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
- The fund would be set up by the Central Government.
- World Bank had shown interest in financing the carbon market if a stabilisation mechanism were created. The bank extended an $8 million grant to India in 2016/17.
Necessity of creating the fund
- Fluctuation in price- Beginning in 2008, prices of carbon credits in other countries slumped heavily, because of that year’s economic crisis and because governments had issued too many of them.
- Positive results around the world-
- In the European Union, a credit worth 1 tonne of carbon dioxide traded at just 5 euros in 2012, down from around 30 euros in 2008, so cutting emissions was not very rewarding.
- But creation of a market stability reserve in 2019, among other measures, has seen the price rise to between 75 and 95 euros per tonne.
India’s Carbon Market
- In creating a carbon market, a country sets a limit on emissions and then allocates a corresponding quantity of tradable permits, or credits, to emitters.
- The quantity reduces over time. If a company wants to emit more, it can buy more credits at the market price, but it will also consider whether constraining or even cutting its emissions might more profitable.
- Planning envisages the market becoming fully operational in 2026, covering 37% of the country’s emissions.
- The Indian market would cover emissions of carbon dioxide and also five other greenhouse gases valued in terms of their carbon dioxide equivalence.
- In one part of the market- the compliance market, participation would be obligatory for entities in a dozen sectors, such as oil refining, steel, aluminium and cement. Another part, the voluntary market, would be open to other entities.
- India already has a market for trading certificates in above-target energy savings. Entities in 13 sectors must participate.
- India’s carbon market is being set up in two phases. In the first phase, between 2023 and 2025, the existing energy-savings certificates will be converted to carbon credits.
4 . Maritime Anti Piracy Bill
Context: Recently, Rajya Sabha passed the Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill which the government said would provide an effective legal instrument to combat Maritime Piracy.
About the bill
- The Maritime Anti-Piracy Bill, 2022 proposes to make special provisions for repression of piracy on high seas and to provide for punishment for the offence of piracy and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- It applies to the sea beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone, which is beyond 200 nautical miles from India’s coastline.
- The Bill defines piracy as any illegal act of violence, detention, or destruction against a ship, aircraft, person, for private purposes, by the crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft.
- Bill will provide an effective legal instrument to combat maritime piracy, not only in India’s territorial waters in the Exclusive Economic Zone but also on the high seas.
- More than 90 percent of trade taking place by sea routes
- This bill would enhance India’s global credentials and strengthen maritime security.
- Maritime Piracy has reached a very high proportion, thus the bill is timely.
- Between 2008 and 2011, 27 incidents of maritime piracy took place in which 288 Indian nationals were involved.
- While in 2014 to 2022, 19 incidents of piracy happened in which 155 Indian crew members were involved.
- It l would fulfil all the expectations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which India is a signatory to, for cooperation and repression of piracy in high seas.
5 . Facts for Prelims
- The Rajya Sabha defines Rule 267, under ‘suspension of rules’, as an instance where “any member, may, with the consent of the Chairman, move that any rule may be suspended in its application to a motion related to the business listed before the Council of that day and if the motion is carried, the rule in question shall be suspended for the time being.”
- Thus, it is simply the provision for a House member to request the Chairman to suspend issues listed out for discussion on a particular day in order to deliberate a separate issue.
- This rule shall not apply where specific provision already exists for suspension of a rule under a particular chapter of the Rules.
- Usually, such requests are not accepted by the chairman.
- Parliamentary records said that there were 11 instances between 1990 up till 2016 that this rule was invoked for various discussions.
- The last time the rule was used to request a discussion was in November 2016 – the issue in question being ‘demonetisation’.
Economic Activity Index
- Economic Activity Index for India is constructed from twenty-seven monthly indicators using a dynamic factor model
- Economic activity index constructed is an efficient predictor of advance quarterly GDP estimates of the NSO.
- The economic activity index can be used to gauge directional movements in GDP growth well ahead of official releases.
Dokra metal craft-
- Dokra is non–ferrous metal casting using the lost-wax casting technique. This sort of metal casting has been used in India for over 4,000 years and is still used.
- It is a form of ancient bell metal craft practiced by the Ojha metalsmiths living in states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal and Telangana.
- The name ‘Dhokra’ comes from the Dhokra Damar tribes, who are the traditional metal smiths of West Bengal.
- The Dokra artifacts are made in brass and are unique in that the pieces do not have any joints.
- The tribe extends from Jharkhand to Orissa to as far ahead to Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and even Kerala.
- Each figurine takes about a month to make.
- One of the earliest known lost wax artefacts is the dancing girl of Mohenjo-daro.
- In 2018, Dokra craft from West Bengal was presented with the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
Variant of concern & variant of interest-
- What is a Variant of Concern?
- According to the World Health Organisation, a variant of concern translates to a rise in transmissibility, an increase in fatality and a significant decrease in effectiveness of vaccines, therapy and other health measures.
- What is a Variant of Interest?
- According to WHO, a VOI is a SARS CoV-2 variant with a genetic capability that affects characteristics of the virus such as disease severity, immune escape, transmissibility and diagnostic escape.
- The world health body further confirmed that a VOI causes a consequential volume of community transmission.
- A global increase in cases poses a risk of large proportions to worldwide public health.
Anti dumping duty-
- Dumping is said to occur when the goods are exported by a country to another country at a price lower than its normal value.
- This is an unfair trade practice which can have a distortive effect on international trade.
- Anti dumping is a measure to rectify the situation arising out of the dumping of goods and its trade distortive effect.
- Thus, the purpose of anti dumping duty is to rectify the trade distortive effect of dumping and re-establish fair trade.
- The use of anti dumping measure as an instrument of fair competition is permitted by the WTO. In fact, anti dumping is an instrument for ensuring fair trade and is not a measure of protection per se for the domestic industry.
- It provides relief to the domestic industry against the injury caused by dumping.
- Often, dumping is mistaken and simplified to mean cheap or low priced imports. However, it is a misunderstanding of the term. Dumping implies low priced imports only in the relative sense (relative to the normal value), and not in absolute sense.
- Import of cheap products through illegal trade channels like smuggling do not fall within the purview of anti-dumping measures.
- Viscose is a man-made, natural polymeric cellulose or regenerated cellulose filament or staple fiber.
- It is a type of rayon. Originally known as artificial silk, in the late 19th century, the term “rayon” came into effect in 1924.
- Viscose regenerated cellulose is obtained by the viscose process.
- The name viscose was derived from the word ‘viscous’ which describe the liquid state of the spinning solution. A viscose solution is as thick as honey.
- As a manufactured regenerated cellulose fibre, it is neither truly natural (like cotton, wool or silk) nor truly synthetic (like nylon or polyester) – it falls somewhere in between.
- Chemically, viscose resembles cotton, but it can also take on many different qualities depending on how it is manufactured.
- The Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) has recently recommended the levy of anti-dumping duty (ADD) on viscose staple fibre imported from Indonesia.
Madumalai tiger reserve
- Mudumalai Tiger Reserve is located in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu state spread over 321 sq.km. at the tri-junction of three states, viz, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu
- It plays an unique role by forming part of the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, the first Biosphere Reserve in India, declared during 1986.
- It has a common boundary with Wyanad Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala) on the West, Bandipur Tiger Reserve (Karnataka) on the North, and the Nilgiris North Division on the South and East and Gudalur Forest Division on the South West, together forming a large conservation landscape for flagship species such as Tiger and Asian Elephant.
- The name Mudumalai means “the ancient hill range”. Indeed, it is as old as 65 million years when Western Ghats were formed.
- It receives an annual rainfall of about 1,420 mm (56 in) and harbours tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests.
- It is drained by the Moyar River and several tributaries, which harbour 38 fish species.