INDEX :

  1. Quad And Leadership Summit.
  2. Pochampally Sarees
  3. ECLGS Helps Push MSME Loan Growth
  4. Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) 
  5. Cryptocurrency
  6. Money laundering 

PIB SUMMARY: 

  1. Ease of Living Index

 

 

Quad And Leadership Summit.

#Gs-2 # IR #International Organization And Its Mandate 

Context 

  • Leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the United States will soon meet virtually for the first ever summit under the quadrilateral security arrangement. 

 View of the Indo-Pacific region 

  • The four-power security dialogue was “central” to the U.S. and the Australian point of view of the Indo-Pacific region. 
  • Australia had discussed the summit among the leaders of the “Quad” countries in recent telephone conversations. 

BIASA BASICS:

Quad & India 

  • Recently, it has been reported that the second Ministerial meeting of Quad countries will be held in Japan. 
  • Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is the informal strategic dialogue between India, USA, Japan and Australia with a shared objective to support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region, that China seeks to threaten. 

Background

  • Some issues have alarmed regional countries like India and Japan about increasing Chinese ambition –
    •  China’s unilateral claim on the Nine-Dash Line in the South China Sea; 
    • Rapid warship building its first overseas base in Djibouti; and 
    • Its surface and subsurface activities in Indian Ocean beyond the Malacca Straits.
  • In this context, the idea of Quad was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. 
  • However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it, apparently due to Chinese pressure. 
  • In December 2012, Shinzo Abe again floated the concept of Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond” involving Australia, India, Japan and the US to safeguard the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific. 
  • In November 2017, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending "Quad" Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence (especially China). 
  • Quad is criticised by China as asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). 

Thwarting China

  • The maritime space is a lot more important to China than engaging in opportunistic land grab attempts in the Himalayas. 
  • A huge chunk of Chinese trade happens via the Indian oceanic routes that pass through maritime chokepoints. 
  • In the event of any chinese aggression on borders, India by cooperation with Quad countries can potentially disrupt chinese trade. 
  • Hence, unlike in the continental sphere where India seems facing a „nutcracker like situation‟ due to China-Pakistan collusion, the maritime sphere is wide open to India to undertake coalition building, rule setting, and other forms of strategic exploration. 
Mains 2016 : South China Sea dispute and India

Emerging as a Net Security Provider 

  • There is a growing great power interest in the maritime sphere, especially with the arrival of the concept of „Indo-Pacific‟. For instance, many european countries have recently released their Indo-Pacific strategies. 
  • With India, located right at the centre of the Indo-Pacific geopolitical imagination can realise the vision of a „broader Asia‟ that can extend its influence away from geographical boundaries. 
  • Moreover, India can build around collective action in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, monitoring shipping for search and rescue or anti-piracy operations, infrastructure assistance to climatically vulnerable states, connectivity initiatives and similar activities. 
  • Further, India with Quad countries can check imperialist policies of China in Indian ocean region and ensure Security and growth for all in the region. 

Issues Related to Quad 

  • Undefined Vision: Despite the potential for cooperation, the Quad remains a mechanism without a defined strategic mission. 
  • Maritime Dominated: The entire focus on the Indo-Pacific makes the Quad a maritime, rather than a land-based grouping, raising questions whether the cooperation extends to the Asia-Pacific and Eurasian regions. 
  • India‟s Aversion of Alliance System: The fact that India is the only member that is averse to a treaty alliance system, has slowed down the progress of building a stronger Quadrilateral engagement. 

Need for formalisation 

  • Despite renewed efforts, the QUAD has faced criticism over its lack of formal structure. 
  • There have been calls for institutionalisation, a formal agreement to transform the group into a formidable anti-China bloc. 
  • A lot has changed over the years. Each member state has faced the heat of China‟s increased aggression.
  • China has grown in might and influence and is keen on picking up fights. 
  • After attempting to influence Australia‟s domestic policies, it slapped punitive tariffs on the country. 
  • It is engaged in what has become a routine border confrontation with India. 
  • China has flared up territorial disputes with Japan with regards to the Senkaku Islands and is battling a fully-fledged trade war with the United States.

 

 

Pochampally Sarees

#Gs-1 #Art And Culture 

  • Pochampalli Ikat is a saree made in Bhoodan Pochampally in Nalgonda district of Telangana.
  • The uniqueness of Pochampally sarees lies in the transfer of intricate design and colouring onto warp and weft threads first and then weave them together globally known as double ikat textiles
  • They have traditional geometric patterns in Ikat style of dyeing.
  • The intricate geometric designs find their way into sarees and dress materials.
  • The Indian government’s official air carrier, Air India, has its cabin crew wear specially designed pochampally silk sarees.

Global fame for Pochampally sarees:

  • Pochampally saree received Intellectual Property Rights Protection or Geographical Indication (GI) status in 2005.
  • It has found place in UNESCO tentative list of world heritage sites as part of “iconic saree weaving clusters of India”.
  • The kerchiefs made of silk thread have earned international fame as “Teli Rumals”.

BIASA BASICS:

Handloom sector 

  • Handloom sector is a symbol of India‟s glorious cultural heritage. 
  • India‟s soft power has long been endorsed by the handloom and handicraft space.  „Saree diplomacy‟ and „Khadi diplomacy‟ are some such examples. 
  • The textiles and handloom sector in India is the second-largest source of employment to people, after agriculture. 
  • According to the Fourth All India Handloom Census 2019-20, 31.45 lakh households are engaed in handloom, weaving and allied activities.
  • It is an important source of livelihood in the country and a key to women empowerment as over 70% of handloom weavers and allied workers are women. 

Steps Taken 

  • A social media campaign has been planned for the handloom weaving community. 
  • All the Secretaries of the States, Textile Bodies like the Central Silk Board, National Jute Board, e-commerce entities, retail companies and designer bodies have been requested to amplify the campaign. 
  • The Prime Minister has urged the people to use Indian handlooms and handicrafts and further spread awareness to others as well. 
  • The more the world knows about the richness and diversity of these products, the greater Indian artisans and weavers will benefit.
  • Under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, Handloom Export Promotion Council (HEPC) is organising a Virtual Fair, connecting more than 150 participants from different regions of the country showcasing their products with unique designs and skills. 
  • Various exquisite handloom products and numerous other Geographical Indication (GI) Tagged products will be displayed to attract the attention of international buyers.
  • Other events include the launching of a mobile app and backend website for Handloom Mark Scheme (HLM), the launching of My Handloom Portal, etc. 
  • HLM was launched in 2006 with the basic objective to brand Indian handloom products and secure a premium position for them in domestic as well as international markets. 

Handloom Export Promotion Council 

  • It is a nodal agency constituted under the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. It was incorporated as a not-for-profit company under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956. 
  • Aim: To promote the exports of all handloom products like fabrics, home furnishings, carpets, floor coverings, etc. 

 Challenges

  • Due to the Covid-19 induced lockdowns, norms of social distancing and the resultant economic turbulence, there are no handicraft and handloom exhibitions or markets. 
  • It has impacted incomes and the entire supply chains involved in handloom and handicraft, along with supplies of raw materials and unused inventory.
  • According to the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED), tribal handicraft and handloom worth Rs. 100 crore went unsold owing to the lockdown.
  • Natural calamities such as the recent Assam floods also impact the livelihoods of artisans, especially in the silk clusters of the state. 
  • The sector also faces the issues of cheap emulations, automated looms which threaten the sustenance of original arts and the timeless skills of the weavers. 
  • The Centre has abolished the All India Handicrafts Board, ending the one official forum where weavers and craftspeople could raise their voices directly and were empowered to advise the government on policy and spending. 
  • The move is in consonance with the government‟s vision of „minimum government and maximum governance‟ in the pursuit of achieving good governance, leaner government machinery and the need for systematic rationalisation of government bodies.
  • The government platforms for such direct interactions are fastly reducing which is a cause for concern.
  • The board was established in 1952 and used to advise the Ministry of Textile on development programmes for handicrafts. 

Way Forward 

  • Initiatives such as the Northeast Expo 2019 must be continued digitally so that states and the Centre have more online market portals for Indian handlooms, handicrafts and forest produce, as the sectors are interlinked. 
  • The Northeast Expo 2019 through „Tea and Khadi‟ diplomacy helped in improving the trade ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) nations.
  • While the markets move online, it is equally important for the artisans to get adequately equipped and trained in operating online portals.
  • Online exhibitions through Indian embassies must be organised to make the global audience aware of the rich legacy of handlooms and to honour artisans from India. 

 

 

ECLGS Helps Push MSME Loan Growth

#GS-3 #ECONOMY #MSME 

Context

● The emergency credit line guarantee scheme (ECLGS) has helped in the credit growth for small businesses, aiding an index of growth in loans 

Credit growth has accelerated 

  • Because of the special asset-quality recognition dispensations like the moratoriums and then the Supreme Court-decided standstill, the „strength index‟ for the MSMEs will get clearer in the next few months. 
  • The latest MSME Credit Health Index indicates credit growth has accelerated, as the overall growth index inched up to 114 points, a three-point rise from 111 in June.

Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme 

  • The scheme was launched as part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan package announced in May 2020 to mitigate the distress caused by coronavirus-induced lockdown, by providing credit to different sectors, especially Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

 

  • Objective: To provide fully guaranteed and collateral free additional credit to MSMEs, business enterprises, MUDRA borrowers and individual loans for business purposes to the extent of 20% of their credit outstanding as on 29th February, 2020. ○ 100% guarantee coverage is being provided by the National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company, whereas Banks and Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) provide loans. 
  • Eligibility: Borrowers with credit outstanding up to Rs. 50 crore as on 29th February, 2020, and with an annual turnover of up to Rs. 250 crore are eligible under the Scheme. ○ On 1st August, the government widened the scope of the Rs. 3 lakh crore-ECLGS scheme by doubling the upper ceiling of loans outstanding and including certain loans given to professionals like doctors, lawyers and chartered accountants for business purposes under its ambit. 
  • Tenor of loans provided under the Scheme is four years, including a moratorium of one year on principal repayment. 
  • Interest rates under the Scheme are capped at 9.25% for Banks and Financial Institutions (FIs), and 14% for NBFCs. 
  • Present Status: As per data uploaded by Member Lending Institutions on the ECLGS portal, an amount of Rs. 2.03 lakh crore has been sanctioned under the Scheme to 60.67 lakh borrowers so far, while an amount of Rs. 1.48 lakh crore has been disbursed.

 

 

Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) 

#GS-3 #SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Context 

● The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Friday successfully carried out a flight demonstration based on Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology from Integrated Test Range Chandipur off the Odisha coast. SFDR technology 

● Successful demonstration of SFDR technology has provided DRDO with a technological advantage, which will enable it to develop long range air-to-air missiles. 

● Only a few countries had the technology.

Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) 

  • It is a missile propulsion technology jointly developed by India and Russia. 
  • It will help both India‟s surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles to perform better and enhance their strike range, making them more lethal. 
  • With it, India can have fastest long-range missiles in two categories, providing full-fledged and multi-layered aerial protection from hostile attacks. 
  • Its successful use in missiles will mark India‟s entry into select club of nations that use nextgeneration missile technology against manoeuvring targets, compromising effectiveness of conventional missiles. 

Ramjet 

  • Ramjet is a form of air-breathing jet engine that uses the vehicle‟s forward motion to compress incoming air for combustion without a rotating compressor. 
  • Fuel is injected in the combustion chamber where it mixes with the hot compressed air and ignites. 
  • A ramjet-powered vehicle requires an assisted take-off like a rocket assist to accelerate it to a speed where it begins to produce thrust. 

Difference between SFDR and Conventional Missiles 

  • SFDR propulsion technology is different from conventional solid fuelled or liquid fuelled missiles. 
  • At present lot of conventional missiles uses booster or sustainer configuration with solid or liquid propellants, which have limitations against manoeuvring target.
  • This is because terminal stage of conventional missiles cannot provide enough energy to maintain their speed in order to hit targets. SDFR technology removes this drawback by exceptionally enhancing endgame manoeuvrability of missile at terminal stage when its seeker is locked onto target. 

 

 

Cryptocurrency

#GS-3 #technology 

Context 

  • There is some amount of „secrecy‟ around the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, a new regulation expected to be cleared by the Centre soon, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said. 
  • They don’t understand what is so secretive about this bill that is in the making. 
  • What makes it more strange is, not a single ecosystem player, industry representative or members of the public were consulted before its draft was prepared.  

Legitimate investments in crypto

  • India has more than 10 million buyers and sellers of cryptocurrency (mostly in bitcoins) constituting 10-15% of the global user base. 
  • Many entrepreneurs have already built their businesses around cryptocurrency and also hundreds of techies are deployed in building the required software platforms and trading infrastructure for crypto exchanges. 
  • As of now the ecosystem players have only hearsay information and there is no clarity whatsoever about what the government is planning. 
  • If the government has plans to ban crypto, why does it require a bill when it can be done through an executive order. 
  • There are hundreds of software developers working on blockchain projects in India using crypto. 
  • Besides, there are skilled graduates from technology institutes supported by well-known venture capital funds who are in the space. 
  • Also, lakhs of people have made legitimate investments in crypto. To deprive them of opportunities may have constitutional issues. 

Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 

  • With the likely scenario of India's government banning private cryptocurrencies, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is planning to introduce an official digital currency for the country.
  • An earlier government bill on cryptocurrency in 2019 reportedly sought to ban cryptocurrency and criminalise its possession in India. However, it was not introduced in Parliament. 
  • The detailed text of the bill has not been released in the public domain so far. 
  • The bill also says that there will be a regulation to help RBI create its own CBDC (central bank digital currency). 

Cryptocurrencies 

  • A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange wherein individual coin ownership records are stored in a ledger existing in a form of a computerized database.
  • It uses strong cryptography to secure transaction records, to control the creation of additional coins, and to verify the transfer of coin ownership.
  • It typically does not exist in physical form (like paper money) and is typically not issued by a central authority. 
  • Cryptocurrencies typically use decentralized control as opposed to centralized digital currency and central banking systems. 

Hues over the Bill 

  • The past year has seen a surge in the number of cryptocurrency investors in India and in trading volumes. 
  • Cryptocurrency exchanges such as CoinDCX and Coinswitch Kuber have also raised early-stage funding for their operations. 
  • The bill may spark an end to the nascent cryptocurrency industry in the country. 

Provisions of 2019 Bill 

  • The 2019 Bill defined cryptocurrency as any information, code, number or token, generated through cryptographic means or otherwise, which has a digital representation of value and has utility in business activity, or acts as a store of value or a unit of account. 
  • The 2019 Bill bans the use of cryptocurrency as legal tender or currency. 
  • It also prohibits mining, buying, holding, selling, dealing in, issuance, disposal or use of cryptocurrency. 
  • Mining is an activity aimed at creating a cryptocurrency and/or validating cryptocurrency transactions between a buyer and a seller. 
  • In particular, the use of cryptocurrency was prohibited for: 

○ use as a medium of exchange, store of value or unit of account, 

○ use as a payment system, 

○ providing services such as registering, trading, selling or clearing of cryptocurrency to individuals, 

    ○ trading it with other currencies, ○ issuing financial products related to it,

○ using it as a basis of credit, 

○ issuing it as a means of raising funds, and 

○ issuing it as a means for investment. 

Reason for banning cryptocurrencies 

  • Cryptocurrencies pose risks to consumers.  They do not have any sovereign guarantee and hence are not legal tender. 
  • Their speculative nature also makes them highly volatile.  For instance, the value of Bitcoin fell from USD 20,000 in December 2017 to USD 3,800 in November 2018. 
  • A user loses access to their cryptocurrency if they lose their private key (unlike traditional digital banking accounts, this password cannot be reset). 
  • In some cases, these private keys are stored by technical service providers (cryptocurrency exchanges or wallets), which are prone to malware or hacking. 
  • Cryptocurrencies are more vulnerable to criminal activity and money laundering.   
  • They provide greater anonymity than other payment methods since the public keys engaging in a transaction cannot be directly linked to an individual. 
  • A central bank cannot regulate the supply of cryptocurrencies in the economy. 
  • This could pose a risk to the financial stability of the country if their use becomes widespread. 
  • Since validating transactions is energy-intensive, it may have adverse consequences for the country‟s energy security (the total electricity use of bitcoin mining, in 2018, was equivalent to that of mid-sized economies such as Switzerland).

 

 

Money laundering 

#GS-3 #INTERNAL SECURITY

Context

  • Money laundering is the processes by which large amounts that are illegally obtained is given the appearance of having originated from a legitimate source.   
  • Some crimes such as illegal arms sales, terror funding, smuggling, corruption, drug trafficking and the activities of organized crime including tax evasion produce huge money which is required to be „laundered‟ to make it look clean. 

 

Steps Taken by Government of India to Prevent Money Laundering 

  • Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance (XXXVIII of 1944): It covers proceeds of only certain crimes such corruption, breach of trust and cheating and not all the crimes under the Indian Penal Code. 
  • The Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1976: It covers penalty of illegally acquired properties of smugglers and foreign exchange manipulators and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto. 
  • Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985: It provides for the penalty of property derived from, or used in illegal traffic in narcotic drugs.
  • Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) 
  • It forms the core of the legal framework put in place by India to combat Money Laundering. 
  • The provisions of this act are applicable to all financial institutions, banks(Including RBI), mutual funds, insurance companies, and their financial intermediaries.

PMLA (Amendment) Act, 2012 

  • Adds the concept of „reporting entity‟ which would include a banking company, financial institution, intermediary etc. 

■ PMLA, 2002 levied a fine up to Rs 5 lakh, but the amendment act has removed this upper limit. 

■ It has provided for provisional attachment and confiscation of property of any person involved in such activities. 

  • Financial Intelligence Unit-IND: It is an independent body reporting directly to the Economic Intelligence Council (EIC) headed by the Finance Minister.

Global efforts to combat Money Laundering 

● The Vienna Convention: It creates an obligation for signatory states to criminalize the laundering of money from drug trafficking. 

● The 1990 Council of Europe Convention: It establishes a common criminal policy on Money Laundering. 

● G-10‟s Basel Committee statement of principles: It issued a “statement of principles” with which the international banks of member states are expected to comply. 

● The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO): It encourages its members to take necessary steps to combat Money Laundering in securities and futures markets. 

● The Financial Action Task Force: ○ It has been set up by the governments of the G-7 countries at their 1989 Economic Summit, has representatives from 

■ 24 OECD countries 

■ Hong Kong 

■ Singapore 

■ The Gulf Cooperation Council

■ The European Commission 

  • It monitores members‟ progress in applying measures to counter Money Laundering. 
  • The famous Forty Recommendations are given by FATF. 

 India is a full-fledged member of the FATF and follows the guidelines of the same. 

 IMF: It has pressed its 189 member countries to comply with international standards to thwart terrorist financing.

The United Nations office on Drugs and Crime: It proactively tries to identify and stop Money Laundering. 

 

PIB SUMMARY 

Ease of Living Index

Recently, the Ease of Living Index (EoLI) 2020 and the Municipal Performance Index (MPI) 2020 have been released by the Minister of State (Independent Charge), Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri.

Key Points

  • The EoLI rankings were released for cities with a population of more than a million, and cities with less than a million people.
  • The Ease of Living Index 2020 has been prepared by the ministry of housing and urban affairs.
  • A total of 111 cities participated in the exercise that was conducted in 2020.
  • Among Indian cities with a population of more than a million, Bengaluru has emerged as the best city on ease of living parameters among 49 million-plus cities in 2020.
  • Pune was ranked as the number two city, while Ahmedabad ranked third among 111 other cities.
  • Ahmedabad is followed by Chennai, Surat, Navi Mumbai, Coimbatore, Vadodara, Indore, and Greater Mumbai.
  • The ease of living is the lowest in Bareilly, Dhanbad, and Srinagar.
  • Shimla was ranked the highest in the EoLI ranking for cities with a population of less than a million.
  • Bhubaneswar has been ranked as the second city in less than a million population ranking while Muzaffarpur in Bihar had the lowest score.
  • The Ease of Living Index [EoLI] is an assessment tool that evaluates the quality of life and the impact of various initiatives for urban development.

 

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