Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- IPCC Report : Climate Change and Land
- Prevention of Money Laundering Act
- Lunar Library
- Dixon Plan
- Facts for Prelims : Heracles Inexpectatus, Virat-e-Khalsa, Samjhauta Express
1 . CITES
Context : India has submitted proposals regarding changes to the listing of various wildlife species in the CITES secretariat meeting, scheduled later this month in Geneva, Switzerland.
- 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 their survival.
- The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need.
- Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
- Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
- Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade. Changes to Appendix III follow a distinct procedure from changes to Appendices I and II, as each Party’s is entitled to make unilateral amendments to it.
How New Species are added into the CITES list
- The Conference of the Parties (CoP), which is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention and comprises all its Parties, has agreed on a set of biological and trade criteria to help determine whether a species should be included in Appendices I or II. At each regular meeting of the CoP, Parties submit proposals based on those criteria to amend these two Appendices. Those amendment proposals are discussed and then submitted to a vote. The Convention also allows for amendments by a postal procedure between meetings of the CoP, but this procedure is rarely used.
- Changes to Appendix III follow a distinct procedure from changes to Appendices I and II, as each Party’s is entitled to make unilateral amendments to it.
About the Proposal
- The proposals submitted are regarding changes in the listing of the smooth-coated otter, small-clawed otter, Indian star tortoise, Tokay gecko, wedgefish and Indian rosewood.
- The country seeks to boost the protection of all the five animal species as they are facing a high risk of international trade.
- For the Indian rosewood, the proposal is to remove the species from CITES Appendix II. The species covered by CITES are listed in three appendices on the degree of protection they require.
- India is among the parties proposing the re-listing of the star tortoise from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I. The species faces two threats: loss of habitat to agriculture and illegal harvesting for the pet trade.
- With regard to the two otter species, India, Nepal and the Philippines have proposed that the listing be moved from CITES Appendix II to Appendix I for the more endangered species. A similar proposal has been made to include the Tokay gecko in Appendix I.
2 . IPCC Report
Context : A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released Thursday presents the most recent evidence on how the different uses of land — forests, agriculture, urbanisation — are affecting and getting affected by climate change.
- The Geneva-based IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.
- It was created “to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation options”.
- This is the first time that the IPCC, whose job it is to assess already-published scientific literature to update our knowledge of climate change science, has focused its attention solely on the land sector. It is part of a series of special reports that IPCC is doing in the run-up to the sixth edition of its main report, blandly called the Assessment Reports, that is due around 2022.
- Last year, the IPCC had produced a special report on the feasibility of restricting global rise in temperature to within 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times. These reports were sought by governments to get a clearer picture of specific aspects of climate change.
Details of the Report
- The current report talks about the contribution of land-related activities to global warming — how the different uses of land, like agriculture, industry, forestry, cattle-rearing, and urbanisation, was affecting emissions of greenhouse gases.
- An important part of the report talks about the manner in which even existential activities like food production contributes to global warming and is also affected by it. The global food production system could account for 16 to 27 per cent of GHG emissions
- The report says that if pre-production activities like cattle rearing and post-production activities like transport, energy and food processing, is taken into account, then food production could contribute as much as 37 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions every year.
- It points out that nearly 25 per cent of all food produced is either lost or wasted. And even the decomposition of the waste releases emissions.
- The global rise in temperature has been much faster over land than over the entire planet.
- This additional warming over land could have led to increased frequency, intensity and duration of heat-related events such as heat waves.
Land Climate Link
- Land use, and changes in land use, have always been an integral part of the conversation on climate change. That is because land acts as both the source as well as a sink of carbon.
- Activities like agriculture and cattle rearing, for example, are a major source of methane and nitrous oxide, both of which are hundreds of times more dangerous than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
- At the same time, soil, trees, plantations, and forests absorb carbon dioxide for the natural process of photosynthesis, thus reducing the overall carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere.
- This is the reason why largescale land use changes, like deforestation or urbanisation, or even a change in cropping pattern, have a direct impact on the overall emissions of greenhouse gases.
Land, oceans, forests
- Land and ocean together absorb nearly 50 per cent of greenhouse gases emitted every year through natural processes in the carbon cycle. The importance of land, or ocean, as a carbon sink, thus cannot be overstated in the global fight against climate change. That is why afforestation, and reduction in deforestation, are vital approaches in a global strategy to combat climate change.
- India’s action plan on climate change too, has a very important component on forests. India has promised that it would create an additional carbon sink of about 2.5 billion to 3 billion tonnes by the year 2032 by increasing its forest cover, and planting more trees.
What needs to be done
- Measures such as reduction in food wastage, sustainable agriculture practices and shifting of dietary preferences to include more plant-based food could reduce emissions without jeopardising food security.
3 . Prevention of Money Laundering Act
Context : The Centre has issued a notification on certain changes in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), some of which tend to treat money laundering as a stand-alone crime and also expand the ambit of “proceeds of crime” to assets that may have been derived from any other criminal activity related to scheduled offences.
Changes in the PMLA
- Under the Act, the Enforcement Directorate is empowered to conduct money laundering investigation.
- Deletion of provisos in sub-sections (1) of Section 17 (Search and Seizure) and Section 18 (Search of Persons)
- Doing away with the pre-requisite of an FIR or chargesheet by other agencies that are authorised to probe the offences listed in the PMLA schedule.
- Insertion of an explanation in Section 44.
- The jurisdiction of the Special Court, while dealing with the offence under this Act, during investigation, enquiry or trial under this Act, shall not be dependent upon any orders passed in respect of the scheduled offence, and the trial of both sets of offences by the same court shall not be construed as joint trial
- Change is in line with the intent to treat proceedings under the Act as separate from those under the scheduled offences.
- An explanation added to Section 45
- Clarifies that all PMLA offences will be cognisable and non-bailable. Therefore, ED officers are empowered to arrest an accused without warrant, subject to certain conditions.
- The scope of “proceeds of crime”, under Section 2,
- It has been expanded to empower the agency to act against even those properties which “may directly or indirectly be derived or obtained as a result of any criminal activity relatable to the scheduled offence”.
- Amendment to Section 3
- It makes concealment of proceeds of crime, possession, acquisition, use, projecting as untainted money, or claiming as untainted property as independent and complete offences under the Act. These activities have been explicitly declared to be continuing offences until such time a person is directly or indirectly “enjoying the proceeds of crime”.
- Section 72 now includes a part, giving power to the Centre to set up an Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee for inter-departmental and inter-agency coordination for operational and policy level cooperation, besides consultation with all stakeholders on anti-money laundering and counter-terror funding initiatives.
What is Money Laundering?
- The goal of a large number of criminal acts is to generate a profit for the individual or group that carries out the act. Money laundering is the processing of these criminal proceeds to disguise their illegal origin. This process is of critical importance, as it enables the criminal to enjoy these profits without jeopardising their source.
- Illegal arms sales, smuggling, and the activities of organised crime, including for example drug trafficking and prostitution rings, can generate huge amounts of proceeds. Embezzlement, insider trading, bribery and computer fraud schemes can also produce large profits and create the incentive to “legitimise” the ill-gotten gains through money laundering.
- When a criminal activity generates substantial profits, the individual or group involved must find a way to control the funds without attracting attention to the underlying activity or the persons involved. Criminals do this by disguising the sources, changing the form, or moving the funds to a place where they are less likely to attract attention.
How is money laundered?
- Initial – or placement – stage of money laundering,
- The launderer introduces his illegal profits into the financial system. This might be done by breaking up large amounts of cash into less conspicuous smaller sums that are then deposited directly into a bank account, or by purchasing a series of monetary instruments (cheques, money orders, etc.) that are then collected and deposited into accounts at another location.
- After the funds have entered the financial system, the second – or layering – stage takes place.
- In this phase, the launderer engages in a series of conversions or movements of the funds to distance them from their source. The funds might be channelled through the purchase and sales of investment instruments, or the launderer might simply wire the funds through a series of accounts at various banks across the globe. This use of widely scattered accounts for laundering is especially prevalent in those jurisdictions that do not co-operate in anti-money laundering investigations. In some instances, the launderer might disguise the transfers as payments for goods or services, thus giving them a legitimate appearance.
- Having successfully processed his criminal profits through the first two phases the launderer then moves them to the third stage – integration
- In this stage the funds re-enter the legitimate economy. The launderer might choose to invest the funds into real estate, luxury assets, or business ventures.
4 . Lunar Library
Context : On February 21, an Israeli lunar lander called Beresheet (Hebrew for ‘the beginning’) began its journey to the Moon aboard a SpaceX rocket in its quest to be the first privately-funded spacecraft to land on the Moon. A month later, it was reported, Beresheet had crash-landed and was irredeemably broken except, for a curious, quirky payload called the Lunar Library.
What is Lunar Library
- The Lunar Library contains a 30 million page archive of human history and civilization, covering all subjects, cultures, nations, languages, genres, and time periods.
- The Library is housed within a 100 gram nanotechnology device that resembles a 120mm DVD. However it is actually composed of 25 nickel discs, each only 40 microns thick, that were made for the Arch Mission Foundation by Nano Archival.
- The first four layers contain more than 60,000 analog images of pages of books, photographs, illustrations, and documents — etched as 150 to 200 dpi, at increasing levels of magnification, by optical nanolithography.
- The first analog layer is visible to the naked eye. It contains 1,500 pages of text and images, as well as holographic diffractive logos and text, and can be easily read with a 100X magnification optical microscope, or even a lower power magnifying glass.
- The next three analog layers each contain 20,000 images of pages of text and photos at 1,000X magnification, and require a slightly more powerful microscope to read. Each letter on these layers is the size of a bacillus bacterium.
- Beneath the analog layers of the Library are 21 layers of 40 micron thick nickel foils. Each of the foils house a DVD master, which contain more than 100GB of highly compressed datasets that decompress to almost 200GB of content, including the text and XML of the English Wikipedia, plus tens of thousands of PDFs of books — including fiction, non-fiction, a full reference library, textbooks, technical and scientific handbooks, and more.
- The Lunar Library contains a small sample from the Bodhi tree in India, along with material on learning Hindi, Urdu and information on music. It contains leaf from the Bodhi tree and some soil from under the Bodhi seat
- Lunar library also contains thousands of tardigrades — small, multicellular animals, first found by scientists in Antarctica, and known to be extremely resilient in hostile environments. They can survive without food and water for decades. Assuming that the Lunar library has survived they could be the first living organisms splashed across the surface of the moon.
- The first microbes on the Moon are those left behind in the human faeces from the astronauts aboard the Apollo missions of 1968-1972.
5 . Dixon Plan
About Dixon Plan
- Owen Dixon, an Australian jurist chosen by the United Nations to mediate between India and Pakistan on the J&K issue, in his report of September 1950, suggested a package, which did not find acceptance from India.
- It assigned Ladakh to India, the Northern Areas and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) to Pakistan, split Jammu between the two, and envisaged a plebiscite in the Kashmir Valley. Pakistan demurred at first, but agreed. It fell through because Nehru did not accept the conditions in which the plebiscite could be held; precisely the issue on which the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) and Graham failed. They, because of their ineptness; Dixon because he lost patience.
6 . Facts for Prelims
- The remains of a super-sized parrot that stood more than half the height of an average human and roamed the Earth 19 million years ago have been discovered in New Zealand
- The parrot has been named Heracles inexpectatus to reflect its Herculean size and strength — and the unexpected nature of the discovery. .
- Judging by the size of the leg bones, the bird would have stood about one metre tall and weighed up to seven kg
- Evidence of the parrot was unearthed in fossils near St. Bathans in southern New Zealand, an area that has proved a rich source of fossils from the Miocene period which extends from about five million to 23 million years ago.
- New Zealand, home to the now-extinct flightless bird moa which was up to 3.6 metres tall with neck outstretched, is well known for its giant birds.
- Virasat-e-Khalsa is a museum of Sikhism in Punjab’s Anandpur Sahib town is all set to find a place in the Asia Book of Records for becoming the most visited museum in the Indian sub-continent on a single day.
- The Asia Book of Records has confirmed the record of ‘maximum footfall in a museum in a day’ in the name of Virasat-e-Khalsa, which will feature in the next edition of the Asia Book of Records
- With its name in the Asia Book of Records, it would be the third entry for the museum in record books. Earlier, Virasat-e-Khalsa made it to Limca Book of Records in the February 2019 edition and India Book of Records.
- The Samjhauta Express commonly called the ‘Friendship Express’, is a biweekly train that runs from the Indian capital New Delhi to Attari,on the border and then on to Lahore in Pakistan.
- The word ‘Samjhauta’ means, ‘Accord’ in both Hindi and Urdu (the national languages of India and Pakistan respectively).