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Current Affairs – 5 October 2021

Nord Stream 2

The Hindu

GS 2: Bilateral, regional, and global groupings and agreements involving India

Context:

  • A consensus on the Nord Stream (NS) 2 could benefit Germany and Russia but many hurdles remain.

About:

  • A 1224 km, underwater Nord Stream Pipeline 2 running from Germany to Russia across Baltic Sea has been completed recently despite controversies. It provides the shortest, economical and environment friendly route to double Russia’s gas export to Germany.
  • NS2’s manufacture began in 2016 and construction in 2018.
  • The pipeline offers stability to the strategically important energy trade because Russia’s dependence on the European Union and vice-versa are increased and this should promote realism.
  • According to Russian authorities, NS2 has the capacity to transport 55 billion cubic meters of gas each year. It can also cover the needs of about 26 million households, and restock storage inventories.
  • With the increase in European gas prices because of various reasons like severe winter, post covid economy surge, many industries and food supply chains are under stress.
  • The pipeline is intended to provide Europe with a sustainable gas supply while providing Russia with more direct access to the European gas market.

Concerns:

  • Ukraine: The pipeline has irked Ukraine, as they believe that Russia will use it as a geopolitical weapon aimed at depriving Ukraine of political traction and crucial revenue.
  • Once the pipeline is completed, Russia could bypass the existing land pipeline between Russia and Europe that runs through Ukraine and deprive the country of lucrative transit fees.
  • Ukraine whose viability is dependent on Russian fossil fuels through its territory, fears that Russia could reduce energy supplies by cutting those needed for Ukraine’s consumption.
  • Here USA seems to have ensured Ukraine that the USA will impose tougher sanctions on Russia if it continues to disregard Ukraine’s concerns.
  • To ease the tensions of Ukraine, Germany has promised assistance for the development of hydrogen energy. But Ukraine has doubts about this promise to be fulfilled.
  • Poland says that that gasline project is anti-competitive. They accused Germany of weakening the EU’s political unity and strategic coherence by giving Russia greater leverage through NS2.
  • Some European politicians accuse Russia of pressure to speed up the start of NS2. But Russian NS2 needs European certification to become operational. This is turning out to be a lengthy process.
  • USA opposes the pipeline, arguing that it would increase Moscow’s leverage over European countries.
  • The United States has just strengthened the Western Alliance by sanctioning NS2.
  • Germany supports the project as dozens of German businesses have invested in this project.
  • But Germany is yet to issue an operating licence in order to expedite the start of NS2.

 

Area Frame Establishment Survey (AFES)

Indian Express

GS 3: Economy

Context:

  • The government recently flagged off the field work for the Area Frame Establishment Survey (AFES).
  • It aims to capture employment in the informal sector and establishments having less than 10 workers.

Background

  • Recently, the Labour Ministry had unveiled results of the revamped Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) for April-June.
  • It captured the employment situation for organised sector and establishments having more than 10 workers.
  • The data on all aspects of labour is crucial and scientifically collected data is bedrock for any evidence-based policy making.

AFES:

  • The survey will be carried out by the Labour Bureau alongside the QES and the results are expected to be collated in an annual report.
  • As per the QES, organised sector employment in nine key sectors (construction, manufacturing, IT/BPO, trade, transport, education, health, accommodation & restaurant and financial services) increased to 3.08 crore this April-June from 2.37 crore in 2013-14.
    • The base year was chosen based on the sixth economic census; translating into a growth of 29% from 2013-14 or roughly an annual growth of 4% per annum.
  • Ministry also held discussions with state Labour Ministers, Labour Secretaries & Commissioners of States of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh & UTs of Chandigarh, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh regarding progress in registration of unorganized workers under e-SHRAM portal and preparedness of states/UTs on implementation of various schemes and reforms.
  • Over 2.5 crore unorganised workers have registered on the e-SHRAM portal, which is the national database on unorganised workers including migrant workers, construction workers, gig and platform workers.

 

Pandora Papers

The Hindu, Indian Express

GS 2: International Relations

Context:

  • An investigation published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) media consortium has uncovered offshore assets of heads of state.

About:

  • “Pandora Papers” are based on the leak of 11.9 mn documents from 14 financial services companies.
  • The documents behind the latest investigation are drawn from financial services companies in countries, including the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland.
  • Some 35 current and former leaders are featured in the documents analysed by the ICIJ — facing allegations ranging from corruption to money laundering and global tax avoidance.
  • Over 700 Pakistanis, including some Ministers and key members of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, were among the individuals whose names were linked with the Papers.
  • The ICIJ found links between almost 1,000 companies in offshore havens. More than two-thirds of the companies were set up in the British Virgin Islands.
  • The “Pandora Papers” are the latest in a series of mass ICIJ leaks of financial documents that started with LuxLeaks in 2014, and was followed by the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers and FinCen.
  • The Panama and Paradise Papers dealt largely with offshore entities set up by individuals and corporations respectively.
Is setting up a trust in India, or one offshore/outside the country, illegal?

No.

  • The Indian Trusts Act, 1882,gives legal basis to the concept of trusts.
  • While Indian laws do not see trusts as a legal person/ entity, they do recognise the trust as an obligation of the trustee to manage and use the assets settled in the trust for the benefit of ‘beneficiaries’.
  • India also recognises offshore trusts i.e., trusts set up in other tax jurisdictions.

 

SBM-U 2.0 and AMRUT 2.0

Down to Earth

GS 2: Government policies and Interventions

Context:

  • Prime Minister has announced the second phase of Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) to make India’s cities clean.

About:

  • SBM-U 2.0 aims to make Indian cities garbage free and all urban local bodies (ULBs) open defecation free.
  • It will focus on source segregation of solid waste, utilising the principles of 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), scientific processing of municipal solid waste and remediation of legacy dumpsites.
  • The scheme has an outlay of Rs. 1.41 lakh crore.
  • It focuses to transition to a circular economy that treats solid and liquid waste as a resource.
  • It also aims 100% tap water supply in about 4,700 urban local bodies and sewerage and septage in 500 AMRUT cities.
  • AMRUT 2.0 mission will prove to be a major step towards making cities self-reliant and ensuring water security.
    • Under this mission, drinking water surveys will be conducted to provide better water services to the people.
  • AMRUT 2.0 aims to provide 100% coverage of water supply to all households in around 4,700 urban local bodies by providing about 2.68 crore tap connections and 100% coverage of sewerage and septage in 500 AMRUT cities by providing around 2.64 crore sewer/septage connections, which will benefit more than 10.5 crore people in urban areas. 

 

Global Financial Stability Report 2021

Outlook

GS 3: Indian Economy

Context:

  • Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its Global Financial Stability Report 2021.
  • According to the IMF, Crypto currency poses new challenges to financial stability and consumer protection risks remain substantial given limited or inadequate disclosure and oversight.

Global

  • Prevalence:
    • As per Global Consumer Survey in 2020, 99% of its respondents responded that they did trade in cryptocurrencies.
    • Nigeria, Vietnam, and the Philippines topped the mentioned survey.
  • Tempting Option:
    • It pointed out that for emerging markets and developing economies, adoption of cryptocurrency might be luring but they also come with a set of potential macro-financial risks, especially with respect to asset and currency substitution.

India:

  • India has seen a massive spurt in crypto users of late.
  • The number of blockchain start-ups surpassed 300 in 2021, with the daily crypto trading volume peaking between $300 -$500 million.
  • India ranks higher than China, United States, Germany, and Japan in crypto adoption.

Miscellaneous:

  • Market Value of Crypto:
    • After recurrent fluctuations, the market value of crypto assets has increased again to more than $2 trillion at the time of publishing the report.
    • This amounts to a year-to-date 170% increase.
  • Dominant and interest shift:
    • As per the report, Bitcoin remains the dominant Crypto asset.
    • Its market share fell sharply in 2021 from 70% to less than 45%.
    • The interest has shifted towards newer blockchains that use smart contracts that replace the earlier ones by enhancing scalability, interoperability, and sustainability.
  • Stable Coins:
    • Stable coin trading volumes have outpaced all other crypto assets.
    • This is primarily because of their high usability for on-spot settlements and derivatives trades on exchanges.
    • The relative price stability has shielded users from the volatility of other crypto assets.

 

Khadi National Flag

News on air

Prelim Fact

Context:

  • World’s largest Khadi national flag was installed at Leh (Ladakh) on the Gandhi Jayanti.

About:

  • It was inaugurated by Ladakh Lieutenant Governor.
  • The tricolor, which is 225-feet long and 150-feet wide, weighs around 1,000 kg.
  • The flag has been made by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and was displayed by 57 Engineer Regiment of the Indian Army.
  • The flag is the largest hand woven and hand spun Cotton Khadi Flag ever manufactured in India by the Khadi Village and Industries Commission affiliated Mumbai based Khadi Dyers and Printers.

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