Rising Temperature to cut Living Standards :-
Six hundred million Indians could see a dip in living standards by 2050 if temperatures continue to rise at their current pace, according to an analysis by the World Bank.
World Bank Report Analysis :-
- Seven of the 10 severest or most vulnerable ‘hotspots’ in India would be located in Maharashtra, the rest would be in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
- In the absence of a major climate mitigation, nearly 148 million Indians will be living in these severe hotspots in 2050.
- States in the central, northern and northwestern parts of India emerge as the most vulnerable.
- Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, which are predicted to experience a decline in living standards of more than 9%, are the top two ‘hot spot’ States in India, followed by Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra.
- India’s average annual temperatures are expected to rise by 1°C to 2°C by 2050, even if preventive measures are taken along the lines of those recommended by the Paris climate change agreement of 2015 & If no measures are taken, average temperatures in India are predicted to increase by 1.5°C to 3°C.
How Economists at World Bank project this data ?
- Economists at the World Bank correlated these climate projections with household consumption data (a proxy for living standards) in Nepal, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and extrapolated it to 2050.
Economists Projections :-
- Using publicly available climate models that project how rising temperatures will affect rainfall and seasons, the researchers concluded that if emissions continued at the current pace, India could see a 1.5% decline in its GDP by 2030.
- However, were some corrective actions to be taken — like India concertedly implementing its National Action Plan on Climate Change and States implementing their domestic climate change mitigation plans — this could be halted to 1.3%.
Pakistan placed on Grey List by FATF :-
- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has placed Pakistan on the ‘grey list’ for failing to curb anti-terror financing despite Islamabad submitting a 26-point action plan.
- The decision was taken on Wednesday at the FATF’s plenary session in Paris.
- So far, there has been no formal announcement by the watchdog.
About FATF (Financial Action Task Force) :-
- The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. In 2001 its mandate expanded to include terrorism financing.
- The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
- The FATF monitors the progress of its members in implementing necessary measures, reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and counter-measures, and promotes the adoption and implementation of appropriate measures globally.
- The FATF Secretariat is housed at the OECD headquarters in Paris.
RBI Steps in as Rupee hits all time low :-
The rupee breached the 69-a-dollar mark for the first time ever in early trade on Thursday before the central bank intervened by selling dollars through state-run banks, curbing volatility in the foreign exchange market and helping the local currency trim its losses.
The rupee, which hit an intra day low of 69.09, closed at 68.79. The currency’s previous record low was 68.87 reached on November 24, 2016.
RBI Intervention :-
It is estimated that RBI have sold dollars about $700-800 million through state-owned banks to stop the sharp fall in rupee against dollar.
- Climbing crude oil prices, which would fan inflation and widen the current account deficit
- Fears of a looming global trade war and the rising U.S. interest rates have combined to exacerbate outflows from emerging markets and impacted the rupee.
The Indian currency has depreciated more than 7% this year, making it the worst performing Asian currency in the period. Currency traders expect the rupee will remain under pressure in the near term as oil prices continue to stay high and capital outflows from the emerging markets continue.
The Deepening Disconnect :-
- The 2+2, as the enhanced engagement between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence is called, was an outcome of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump’s first meeting last June in Washington.
- U.S.’s decision to put off the first ‘2+2’ dialogue with India & Exactly a year later, it is still to take off.
Differing on many fronts :-
Business Front :-
- Since January, the U.S.’s Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act against those conducting business with Russia and Iran, as well as its decision to walk out of the Iran nuclear deal have come right up against India’s interests.
Whereas India has tightened its engagement with Russia, China and Iran, with Prime Minister Modi advocating a course of “strategic autonomy”.
Bilateral trade :-
- Hardly a week goes by without the U.S. and India firing one accusation or another.
Strategic relationship :-
- Upgraded to a ‘major defence partnership’ only recently, the two governments have failed to make progress on signing foundational agreements, which in turn has held up talks on defence procurement and technology transfers.
US South Asia Policy :-
- According to the policy announced about ten months ago, India was to be central to the U.S.’s efforts in Afghanistan while Pakistan would be ‘put on notice’ for its support to terror groups, including those that target India.
- However, there are enough indications that Mr. Trump’s South Asia policy is swinging towards the U.S.’s Af-Pak policy of the past with the U.S. engaging Pakistan to help with Afghanistan, and India consigned a more supplementary role.
Increasing Coordinated contacts between US & Pakistan:-
The first indicator of this shift is the increase in U.S.-Pakistan engagement, in conjunction with a rapid improvement in Pakistan-Afghanistan ties.
- In March, the then Pakistan Prime Minister, Shahid Abbasi, met U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Washington, and a few weeks later Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Mr. Abbasi finalised the seven-point Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity.
- In June, Mr. Pence spoke with caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk. Next, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, who then travelled to Kabul just ahead of the surprise Eid ceasefire between Afghan forces and the Taliban. During his visit to Kabul, General Bajwa also met the U.S. Commander for the Resolute Support Mission, General John Nicholson.
- Concurrently, the U.S. administration’s language on Pakistan with Afghanistan has softened, and Ms. Curtis said this month that the U.S. sought to “understand Pakistan’s own core security concerns and ensure that its (Pakistan’s) interests are taken into account in any peace process.”
None of these appear to be coincidental, and together point to coordinated contacts between Washington, Kabul and Islamabad-Rawalpindi.
The Chabahar factor for India :- Finally, there are India’s regional concerns that stem from Mr. Trump’s Iran policy :-
- Spurred new sanctions against all countries and companies doing business in Iran and imposed a November 4 deadline to reduce oil imports from Iran to “zero”.
- The impact of American restrictions will be felt in Chabahar Port, once billed as India’s gateway to Afghanistan, and a key component of its role in the U.S.’s South Asia policy. There is no indication so far that the Trump administration will offer any such exemptions regardless of India’s determination to go ahead with its dealings with Iran.
India-U.S. dialogue is not as robust as before, while India’s planned engagements with Russia Iran and China in the next few months may render bilateral ties yet more difficult & Rescheduling the 2+2 at the earliest opportunity, in the face of the high stakes involved for both New Delhi and Washington, is crucial.
Reducing Plastic Pollution :-
The Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016 are the sharpest prongs in India’s legal arsenal against plastic.
Most significant aspect of the Rules :-
- They strengthen the concept of ‘extended producers responsibility’ whereby plastics manufacturers and retail establishments that use plastic are legally bound to introduce a system of collecting back plastic waste.
- As an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic does not exist yet, and plastic is too ubiquitous and useful, the country has to move towards a regime where plastic waste is treated and recycled rather than engage in rhetoric about banning the product. The Rules lay down the procedure to do that.
Procedure Under the Rules :-
- The Rules direct that a plastic waste management fee be collected for establishing a waste management system through pre-registration of the producers, importers of plastic carry bags/multilayered packaging and vendors selling the same. Local bodies and gram panchayats are responsible for implementing and coordinating a waste management system.
- Producers, importers and brand owners who introduce plastic carry bags, multilayered plastic sachets, pouches or packaging in the market within a period of six months from the date of publication of these Rules need to establish a system for collecting back the plastic waste generated due to their products.
- The Rules envisage promoting the use of plastic waste for road construction, or energy recovery, or waste to oil, etc and think up ways of gainfully utilising waste and addressing waste disposal.
- The Rules also mandate an increase in the thickness of carry bags and plastic sheets from 40 to 50 micron. This would likely increase the cost of plastic bags and restrict vendors from giving away bags for free, thereby reducing waste.
- Retailers or street vendors who sell or provide commodities in plastic carry bags, or multilayered packaging, or plastic sheets or covers made of plastic sheets which are not manufactured, labelled or marked in accordance with these Rules will be fined, the Rules say.
- The 2016 Rules laid out that carry bags be explicitly priced but this was deleted via an amendment earlier this year. This amendment also provides for a centralised registration system. The Rules also lay down that any mechanism for registration should be automated and should take into account ease of doing business for producers, recyclers and manufacturers. The centralised registration system will be evolved by the Central Pollution Control Board for the registration of the producer/importer/brand owner.