News: Singapore Convention on Mediation has entered into force marking a significant development in international commercial dispute resolution.
- Singapore Convention also known as the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation is an international agreement regarding the recognition of mediated settlements.
- When was it adopted? The convention was adopted in December,2018 and opened for signature in August,2019.
- Signatories: As of September 1, 2020, the Convention has 53 signatories, including India, China and the United States. Ecuador is the most recent country to ratify the Convention.
- Significance: The convention helps businesses seeking enforcement of a mediated settlement agreement across borders to apply directly to the courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty instead of having to enforce the settlement agreement as a contract in accordance with each country’s domestic process.
News: The tensions between India and China has affected trade along the Nathu La.
- Nathu La: It is a mountain pass in the Himalayas connecting Sikkim with Chumbi Valley of the Tibetan Plateau in China.
- It is one of the three open trading border posts between China and India; the others being Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh at the trisection point of Uttarakhand–India, Nepal and China.
- The pass was sealed by India after the 1962 Sino-Indian War.However, it was reopened in 2006 to shorten the travel distance to important Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region and give a boost to Indo-China trade.
- It is also one of the five officially agreed Border Personnel Meeting points between the Indian and China for regular consultations and interactions between the two armies to improve relations.
News: Defence Research and Development Organization(DRDO) has developed the P-7 Heavy Drop System.
- P-7 Heavy Drop System: It is used for para dropping military stores up to 7-ton weight class from IL 76 aircraft.It consists of a platform & specialised parachute system.
- The system has been developed indigenously and has been successfully inducted in the Army.
- IL 76: It is a military transport aircraft of Russian origin.It was designed to deliver heavy machinery to remote, poorly served areas.
News: United in Science 2020 report has been released by the UN Secretary General.
- About the report: The report aims to bring together the latest climate science related updates from a group of key global partner organizations — World Meteorological Organization(WMO), Global Carbon Project (GCP), UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO-IOC), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), UNEP and the Met Office.
- Greenhouse Gas Concentrations in the Atmosphere (World Meteorological Organization): Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have shown no signs of peaking and have continued to increase to new records.
- Global Fossil CO2 emissions(Global Carbon Project): CO2 emissions in 2020 will fall by an estimated 4% to 7% in 2020 due to COVID-19 confinement policies.The exact decline will depend on the continued trajectory of the pandemic and government responses to address it.
- Emissions Gap Report (UN Environment Programme): It showed that the cuts in global emissions required per year from 2020 to 2030 are close to 3% for a 2 °C target and more than 7% per year on average for the 1.5 °C goal of the Paris Agreement.
- State of Global Climate (WMO and UK’s Met Office): The average global temperature for 2016–2020 is expected to be the warmest on record, about 1.1 °C above 1850-1900, a reference period for temperature change since pre-industrial times and 0.24°C warmer than the global average temperature for 2011-2015.
- The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate(IPCC): Human induced climate change is affecting life-sustaining systems, from the top of the mountains to the depths of the oceans, leading to accelerating sea-level rise, with cascading effects for ecosystems and human security.
- Global Carbon Project: It is an organisation established in 2001 to quantify global greenhouse gas emissions and their causes.It’s projects include global budgets for three dominant greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide — and complementary efforts in urban, regional, cumulative, and negative emissions.
- UNESCO-IOC: It was established in 1960 as a body with functional autonomy within UNESCO.It is the only competent organization for marine science within the UN system.
Facts: The Government of Bangladesh has launched a campaign named ‘Asol Chini’ with the aim to create digital literacy to fight fake information and rumour spreading on social media.
News: Ministry of Road and Transport Highways has organized a training programme for the implementation of the Integrated Road Accident Database Project(iRAD).
- Integrated Road Accident Database Project(iRAD): It is a central accident database management system that will help in analysing causes of road crashes and in devising safety interventions to reduce such accidents in the country.
- Developed by: It has been developed by the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) and will be implemented by the National Informatics Centre.The project is being supported by the World Bank.
- Implementation: The system will be first piloted in the six States with highest fatalities from road crashes — Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
- The IRAD mobile application enables police personnel to enter details about a road accident along with photos and videos, following which a unique ID will be created for the incident.
- Subsequently, an engineer from the Public Works Department or the local body will receive an alert on his mobile device.He or she will then visit the accident site, examine it and feed the required details, such as the road design.
- Data thus collected will be analysed by a team at IIT-M which will then suggest if corrective measures in road design need to be taken.
News: Government of India has suspended the icences of 13 non-governmental organisations(NGOs) under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010.
- Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act: It is an act of Parliament enacted in 1976 and amended in 2010 to regulate foreign donations and to ensure that such contributions do not adversely affect internal security.
- Coverage: It is applicable to all associations, groups and NGOs which intend to receive foreign donations.
- Who cannot receive foreign donations? Members of the legislature and political parties, government officials, judges and media persons are prohibited from receiving any foreign contribution.
- However, in 2017 the FCRA was amended through the Finance Bill to allow political parties to receive funds from the Indian subsidiary of a foreign company or a foreign company in which an Indian holds 50% or more shares.
- Registration: It is mandatory for all such NGOs to register themselves under the FCRA.The registration is initially valid for five years and it can be renewed subsequently if they comply with all norms.
- Purpose of Foreign contribution: Registered associations can receive foreign contributions for social, educational, religious, economic and cultural purposes.Filing of annual returns on the lines of Income Tax is compulsory.
- Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) New Rules: In 2015, the MHA notified new rules which required NGOs to give an undertaking that the acceptance of foreign funds is not likely to prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India or impact friendly relations with any foreign state and does not disrupt communal harmony.
- It also said all such NGOs would have to operate accounts in either nationalised or private banks which have core banking facilities to allow security agencies access on a real time basis.
News: The Sonamura-Daudkandi inland waterway route between India and Bangladesh has been operationalised.
- Sonamura-Daudkandi Route: It is an inland waterway route over river Gumati that was included in the list of Indo-Bangla Protocol (IBP) routes in May 2020.
- Daudkandi is in Bangladesh while Sonamura is in Tripura,India.
- Significance of the route: It will improve the connectivity of Tripura and the adjoining States with Indian and Bangladesh’s economic centers and will help the hinterland of both the countries.
- Indo-Bangladesh Protocol: It is an Inland Water Transit & Trade exists between India and Bangladesh under which inland vessels of one country can transit through the specified routes of the other country.
- The existing protocol routes are: Kolkata-Pandu-Kolkata, Kolkata-Karimganj -Kolkata, Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi, Pandu-Karimganj-Pandu among others.
- River Gumati(Gumti): It is the largest and longest river of Tripura with cumulative length of 180 km.It is also considered a sacred river and devotees converge along its banks at Tirthmukh every Makar Sankranti.
News: The Ministry of Mines has requested the Environment Ministry to exempt it from paying Net Present Value(NPV) for digging exploratory boreholes in forests.However, the Environment Ministry has refused saying that it would be ‘inappropriate’ to grant such an exemption as this was mandated by the Supreme Court.
- Net Present Value(NPV): It is a monetary approximation of the value that is lost when a piece of forest land has been razed.
- Who developed it?: It was developed by a committee led by Professor Kanchan Gupta of the Institute of Economic Growth based on the mandate of the Supreme Court.
- How is it calculated? It is calculated on the basis of the services and ecological value and there are prescribed formulae for calculating this amount which depends on the location and nature of the forest and the type of industrial enterprise that will replace a particular parcel of forest.
- Who decides NPV? The Forest Advisory Committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) decides on whether forests can be diverted for projects and the NPV to be charged.
- How are they used? They are used for conservation efforts like mitigating wildlife loss and biodiversity projects through the Compensatory Afforestation Fund.
- Forest Advisory Committee: It is a statutory body constituted by the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980.It comes under the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change(MoEF&CC).
- Purpose: It is an advisory body that considers questions on the diversion of forest land for non-forest uses such as mining, industrial projects, townships and advises the government on the issue of granting forest clearances.