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Current Affairs – 23 June 2021

Current Affairs (23rd June 2021)

Global Peace Index 2021

Context:

  • The 15th edition of Global Peace Index 2021 has been released.

Highlights:

  • Iceland has topped the peace index followed by New Zealand, Denmark, and Portugal.
    • Out of the 10 most peaceful countries in the world, 8 are from Europe.
  • Afghanistan is the least peaceful country in the world for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Only three out of nine regions in the world improved in the peace index. The largest improvement took place in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2020 was $14.96 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. It is equivalent to 11.6% of the world’s economic activity.
  • There was an increase in military expenditure as a percentage of GDP for the second straight year. This indicator has deteriorated in 105 countries.
  • Moreover, the average level of global peacefulness deteriorated by 0.07% in the Index. This is the ninth time in the last 13 years that global peacefulness has deteriorated.

India and its neighbouring countries:

  • India has been ranked 135th.
  • Bhutan and Nepal are the first and second most peaceful in the South Asia region. India is the 5th most peaceful country in this region.
  • Bangladesh was 91st out of 163 countries across the world, while it was at 3rd place in South Asia.
  • Pakistan witnessed the most improvement in peacefulness, with 150th rank globally and 6th in the South Asia region.

Index:

  • The Global Peace Index is released by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), an international think tank.
  • Aim: The index presents the most comprehensive analysis of trends in peace. It ranks countries according to their levels of peacefulness and identifies potential determinants of peace.
  • Coverage: The index measures the peacefulness of 163 countries and territories. It covers 99.7% of the world’s population.
  • Parameters: The index is composed of 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources. These indicators are grouped into three key domains:
    • ongoing conflict
    • safety and security and
    • militarization

 

World Investment Report 2021

Context:

  • The World Investment Report 2021 was released by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Global:

  • The global FDI flows have been severely hit by the pandemic and they plunged by 35% in 2020 to USD 1 trillion.
  • COVID-19 led lockdowns around the world slowed down existing investment projects and prospects of a recession led multinational enterprises (MNEs) to reassess new projects.
  • The pandemic boosted demand for digital infrastructure and services globally, which led to higher values of greenfield FDI project announcements targeting the ICT industry, rising by more than 22%.

Asian region:

  • China and India recorded FDI growth in 2020, the rest recorded a contraction.
  • FDI outflows from South Asia fell 12% to USD 12 billion, driven by a drop in investment from India.
  • A wider resurgence of the virus in Asia could significantly lower global FDI in 2021, given that region’s significant contribution to the total.
  • Signs of trade and industrial production recovering in the second half of 2020 provide a strong foundation for FDI growth in 2021.

India:

  • India is the fifth largest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the world.
  • In India, the FDI increased 27% to USD 64 billion (2020) from USD 51 billion (2019), due to the acquisitions in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry.
  • The second wave of the COVID-19 in India weighs heavily on the country’s overall economic activities but its strong fundamentals provide optimism for the medium term.
  • The investments from India may stabilise in 2021, supported by the country’s resumption of free trade agreement (FTA) talks with the European Union (EU) and its strong investment in Africa.

 

Consumer Protection (e-commerce) Rules 2020

Context:

  • The government has proposed changes to the Consumer Protection (e-commerce) Rules 2020.

About:

  • This proposal comes as a move to monitor deep discounts offered on e-commerce websites.
  • The government has proposed banning all flash sales.
  • The proposed amendments aim to bring transparency in the e-commerce platforms and further strengthen the regulatory regime to curb the prevalent unfair trade practices.
  • However, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs said that the conventional flash sale would not be banned, but that only predatory ones would be banned.
  • It said that certain e-commerce entities were engaging in limiting consumer choice by indulging in ‘back-to-back’ or ‘flash’ sales wherein one seller on a platform does not carry any inventory or order fulfilment capability but merely places a ‘flash or back-to-back’ order with another seller controlled by the platform.
    • This prevents a level playing field and ultimately limits customer choice and increases prices.

Issue:

  • The rapid growth of e-commerce platforms has brought into the purview the unfair trade practices of the marketplace e-commerce entities.
  • Such platforms have been engaging in:
    • manipulating search result to promote certain sellers
    • preferential treatment to some sellers
    • indirectly operating the sellers on their platform
    • impinging the free choice of consumers
    • selling goods close to expiration

The proposed amendments:

  • Appointment of Chief Compliance Officer, a nodal contact person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies, officers to ensure compliance to their orders and Resident Grievance Officer for redressing the grievances of consumers on the e-commerce platform.
  • A framework for registration of every e-commerce entity with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) will be put in place.
  • Mis-selling has been prohibited i.e., selling goods and services by deliberate misrepresentation of information.
  • Where an e-commerce entity offers imported goods or services, a filter must be incorporated to identify the country of origin and suggest alternatives of domestic goods.
  • Provisions of fallback liability for every marketplace e-commerce entity have been provided in case a seller fails to deliver the goods or services due to negligent conduct.

 

Rare turtle in Assam

Context:

  • A major temple in Assam has signed a memorandum of understanding with two green NGOs for the long-term conservation of the rare freshwater black softshell turtle or the Nilssonia nigricans.

About the MoU:

  • This multi-stakeholder association also involves the State Zoo cum Botanical Garden and the Kamrup district administration.
  • The conservation pact aims to restock the wild with viable, self-sufficient, and genetically pure threatened turtle populations in the region.
  • Vision Document 2030 was also launched which sets in motion a plan to have an ecologically viable population of 1000 adult black softshell turtles in Assam by 2030.
  • It will help for the required improvement of husbandry of turtles kept in temple ponds and further recovery efforts for the long-term survival and existence of the turtles.
  • It will spread mass awareness on the conservation issues of all species of turtles in the region while working on threats and opportunities to strengthen the turtle population in Assam.
  • proposal was also mooted for retaining the hatchlings from eastern Assam at the Nature Discovery Centre at Biswanath Ghat run by Turtle Survival Alliance India for proper upkeep and monitoring before they are released in the wild.

Black softshell turtle

  • It is a species of freshwater turtle.
  • It is found in India (Assam) and Bangladesh.
  • It is called Bostami turtle or Mazari.
  • Until sightings along the Brahmaputra’s drainage in Assam, the black softshell turtle was thought to be “extinct in the wild” and confined only to ponds of temples in northeastern India and Bangladesh.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature has in 2021 listed the turtle as “critically endangered”.
  • It does not enjoy legal protection under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.
  • It has traditionally been hunted for its meat and cartilage, traded in regional and international markets.
  • Their shell is light and flexible. This allows them to move more easily in open water, or in muddy lake bottoms. It also allows them to move much faster on land than most turtles.

 

World Competitiveness Index

Context:

  • An annual World Competitiveness Index has been recently released by the Institute for Management Development (IMD).

Major Highlights:

  • Top 5 Performers 
    • The index was led by Switzerland, while Sweden has moved up to the second position.
    • Denmark has lost one place to rank third, the Netherlands has retained its fourth place and Singapore has slipped to fifth place (from first in 2020).
  • Asian  
    • The top-performing Asian economies are, in order, Singapore (fifth), Hong Kong (seventh), Taiwan (eighth) and China (16th).
  • BRICS nations
    • Among the BRICS nations, India is ranked second after China (16), followed by Russia (45th), Brazil (57th) and South Africa (62th)
  • Indian
    • India’s position has remained unchanged at 43 for the third year in a row.
    • India has maintained its position for the past three years but this year, it had significant improvements in government efficiency.
      • India’s improvements in the government efficiency factor are mostly due to relatively stable public finances (despite difficulties brought by the pandemic.
      •  In 2020 the government deficit stayed at 7 per cent) and to the positive feedback, it  registered among Indian business executives with respect to the support and subsidies provided by the government to the private companies
      • India’s strengths lie in investments in telecoms, mobile telephone costs, ICT services exports, remuneration in services professions and terms of trade index.
      •  India’s performance is the worst in sub-indices such as broadband subscribers, exposure to particulate pollution, human development index, GDP per capita and foreign currency reserves per capita among others.