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Current Affairs – 23 October 2021

FATF Retained Pakistan on ‘grey list’

The Hindu

GS 3&2: Money Laundering

Terrorism in Hinterland & Border Areas

Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests

India and its Neighbourhood

Context:

  • Due to Pakistan’s failure in fully implementing all the action points, it was once again retained on the ‘grey list’ following the conclusion of the latest FATF plenary.
  • The FATF is expected to review Pakistan’s performance on its recommendations during the next plenary and working group meetings between February 27 and March 4, 2022.
  • The FATF also announced the ‘greylisting’ of Jordan, Mali, and Turkey.
  • Botswana and Mauritius had been taken out of the grey list.

Background:

  • Pakistan was first put on the list in 2008, removed in 2009 and then again remained under increased monitoring from 2012 to 2015.
  • In June 2018, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed Pakistan on the ‘grey list’ of jurisdictions under increased monitoring. Since then, it has been presented with multiple recommendations for compliance.

What is FATF?

  • It is a global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog.
  • It lays down international standards with an objective to prevent such activities.
  • It keeps updating the standards to address emerging risks, monitors countries to ensure that they implement the recommendations fully and effectively and “holds countries to account that do not comply”.

Effect of ‘grey listing’:

  • According to the FATF, when it places a jurisdiction under increased monitoring, it means the country has committed to resolve swiftly the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframes.
  • Although no legal consequences follow grey listing, it is understood that the country’s access to international loans gets restricted.

Why was Pakistan retained in the ‘grey list’?

  • Pakistan was ‘grey listed’ in June 2018, after the FATF found multiple strategic anti-money laundering (AML)/combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) deficiencies on its part.
  • It was asked to implement the action plan for achieving 10 objectives.
  • They included demonstration of effective action against U.N.-designated terror outfits, individuals and their associates in terms of financial sanctions, asset seizures, investigation, prosecution and convictions.
  • At the October 2021 plenary, the FATF observed that Pakistan had completed 26 of the 27 action items in its 2018 plan.
  • The one remaining item was about continuing to demonstrate that terror financing investigations and prosecutions targeted senior leaders and commanders of U.N.-designated terrorist groups.
  • In response to the additional deficiencies later identified in Pakistan’s 2019 Asia Pacific Group Mutual Evaluation Report in June 2021, Pakistan had given further commitment to address the shortcomings with respect to a new action plan primarily focussed on combating money laundering.

Significance:

  • On several occasions, India has also raised the involvement of elements within Pakistan in a number of terror cases, including the 26/11 Mumbai and Pulwama attacks.
  • Perpetual containment of Pakistan on the grey list of FATF would further pressurise Pakistan to take adequate measures to prevent such terrorist attacks on India from its soil.
  • Unlike the next level “blacklist”, greylisting carries no legal sanctions, but it attracts economic strictures and restricts a country’s access to international loans.

 

Plastic Pollution in Aquatic Systems

Down to earth

GS 3: Environment and Conservation

Context:

  • From Pollution to Solution: a global assessment of marine litter and plastic pollution Report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warned that the amount of plastics in the oceans has been estimated to be around 75-199 million tonnes at present.
  • Without meaningful action, emissions of plastic waste into aquatic ecosystems are projected to nearly triple by 2040. It could more than double by 2030.

About:

  • The microbial community on plastic debris — the plastisphere — now covers the multiple biomes on Earth. From the deepest parts of the ocean to the most remote oceanic islands, plastics and microplastics are all-pervasive.
  • The report talks about the extreme pressures being exerted on the planet due to plastic pollution and the need for urgent action to offset it.
  • The report flagged that under a business-as-usual scenario and in the absence of necessary interventions, the amount of plastic waste entering aquatic ecosystems could nearly triple from 9-14 million tonnes a year in 2016 to 23-37 million tonnes a year by 2040.
  • Of the seven billion tonnes of plastic waste generated so far, an estimated 10% was recycled, 14% incinerated and the remaining 76% went into landfills, dumps and littered in the natural environment.
  • The estimated annual loss in the value of plastic packaging waste during sorting and processing alone is $80-120 billion.
  • Plastics labelled as biodegradable may take hundreds of years to degrade in the oceans; litter poses similar risks to individuals, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.
  • The main sources of marine litter and plastic pollution are land-based. Approximately 7,000 million of the estimated 9,200 million tonnes of cumulative plastic production between 1950 and 2017 became plastic waste.
  • At least three-quarters of this were discarded and placed in landfills, became part of mismanaged waste streams or was dumped and abandoned in the environment, including in the sea.
  • According to a 2019 Nature report, the mismanagement of waste from African and Asian watersheds may result in the release of millions of tonnes of litter and plastic waste into the world’s major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and eventually into the oceans.
  • Plastic can also alter global carbon cycling through its effect on plankton and primary production in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial systems.
  • Marine ecosystems — especially mangroves, seagrasses, corals, and salt marshes — play a major role in sequestering carbon.
  • The more damage humans do to oceans and coastal areas, the harder it is for these ecosystems to both offset and remains resilient to climate change.
  • The greenhouse gas emissions from plastics in 2015 were 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e).
  • This is projected to increase to approximately 6.5 GtCO2e by 2050, or 15 per cent of the global carbon budget.

 

3 New Fish Species

Down to Earth

Prelims Fact

Context:

  • The Department of Zoology of Dera Natung Government College of Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh has discovered three new species of fish of genus Aborichthys of family Nemachelidae.
  • They have been named Aborichthys uniobarensis, Aborichthys barapensis and Aborichthys palinensis.

About:

  • The three fish species are distributed in streams like Senki, Barap and Palin, which are the tributaries of Brahmaputra river system.
  • Previously, 11 species of the genus Aborichthys were discovered in the Eastern Himalayan region across a century, starting from the early 1900s.
  • Besides, three of them were outside Arunachal Pradesh — in Bhutan, Meghalaya, and West Bengal.
  • Aborichthys is an elongate and slender-bodied bottom dwelling freshwater stone loach that inhabits the moderate-to-fast flowing water of mountain rivers, streams and drainages of the Brahmaputra river basin. It is endemic to the eastern Himalaya.
  • The species is characterised by narrow oblique bars on the body with a black ocellus at the upper extremity of the caudal-fin base and rounded or truncated caudal fin.

 

Climate Change in Third Pole

Down to Earth

GS: Environment and Conservation

Context:

  • The two lakes — Chibzhang Co and Dorsoidong Co — in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region grew larger between October 1987 and 2021.
    • But much of these glaciers are retreating due to rising temperatures, accelerating ice loss and meltwater runoff.

UN’s research – June 2021:

  • Up to 2 billion people in southeast Asia can face food and water shortages even as HKH Region mountain ranges lose up to two-thirds of their ice by 2100.
  • In the future, even if global warming is kept to 1.5 degrees C above the pre-industrialization levels, warming in the HKH region is likely to be at least 0.3 degrees C higher, and in the northwest Himalaya and Karakoram at least 0.7 degrees C higher.

Third Pole:

  • The climate crisis is altering the geography of the Third Pole.
    • A study published in 2019 on the ice thickness of glaciers estimated that glaciers in the HKH may contain 27% less ice than previously suggested.
    • The region’s glaciers have been melting faster than any other part of the world due to rising temperatures, accelerating ice loss and meltwater runoff.
  • This region also accounts for the largest reserve of freshwater lakes.

 

Right to Protest

Indian Express

GS 2: Indian Constitution

Context:

  • The Supreme Court has made it clear that while the farmers have the right to protest, the public roads must not be blocked to hamper free movement.

About:

  • This comes in the backdrop of an impasse between farmers and the Government over the farm laws and the subsequent protest by the farmers to withdraw these laws.
  • In the Shaheen Bagh protests case, the Supreme Court had laid down a law stating that the right to protest should not hamper the right to movement of the public.
  • SC referred to its 2018 judgment in theMazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan vs Union of India and Another case, which dealt with demonstrations at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.
  • In Ramlila Maidan Incident v. Home Secretary, Union Of India & Ors. case (2012), the Supreme Court had stated, “Citizens have a fundamental right to assembly and peaceful protest which cannot be taken away by an arbitrary executive or legislative action”.