Today Current Affairs: 5th February 2022 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
In the Budget 2022-23, the government has allowed the use of surety insurance bonds as a substitute for bank guarantees in case of government procurement and also for gold imports.
- Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has also released final guidelines to ensure orderly development of surety insurance business in India.
- The IRDAI (Surety Insurance Contracts) Guidelines, 2022 will come into effect from 1st April , 2022.
- A surety bond is a legally binding contract entered into by three parties—the principal, the obligee, and the surety.
- The obligee, usually a government entity, requires the principal, typically a business owner or contractor, to obtain a surety bond as a guarantee against future work performance.
- Surety bonds are mainly aimed at infrastructure development, mainly to reduce indirect cost for suppliers and work-contractors thereby diversifying their options and acting as a substitute for bank guarantee.
- Surety bond is provided by the insurance company on behalf of the contractor to the entity which is awarding the project.
- Surety bonds protect the beneficiary against acts or events that impair the underlying obligations of the principal.
- They guarantee the performance of a variety of obligations, from construction or service contracts to licensing and commercial undertakings.
Increasing Coal Demand:
The demand for coal in the country is expected to be in the range of 1.3-1.5 billion tonnes by 2030, according to Economic Survey 2021-2022, despite the push for renewable energy.
- This is an increase of 63% from the current (2019-2020) demand of 955.26 million tonnes.
- Iron and steel production uses coal and there are not many technologies to replace the fuel immediately.
- Continued expansion of India’s economy is expected during 2022-2024, with annual average GDP growth of 7.4%, fuelled at least partially by coal.
- India’s push to domestic coal mining through both Coal India and auction of coal blocks to private companies, coal usage in India will increase as it plateaus in other parts of the world, including China.
- The central government has opened up coal mining for the private sector, claiming it as one of its most ambitious coal sector reforms.
- The government anticipates that it will bring efficiency and competition in coal production, attract investments and best-in-class technology, and help create more jobs in the coal sector.
Assam villagers are opposing the sanctuary tag for golden langur habitat.
- The Assam Forest Department had issued a preliminary notification for converting the 19.85 sq. km. patch of forest into the Kajoijana Bamuni Hill Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Kakoijana Reserve Forest is one of the better-known homes of the golden langur.
- The villagers demanded that the “conventional idea of wildlife sanctuary” be dropped and the reserve forest converted into a community forest resource “using Forest Rights Act, 2006, to ensure community co-managed system of participation for sustainable conservation.
- The villagers pointed out that the conservation efforts of the locals had helped the authorities concerned to restore the forest canopy from less than 5% to more than 70%, and the golden langur population from less than 100 to more than 600 over almost three decades.
- Scientific Name: Trachypithecus geei
- Golden langurs can be most easily recognized by the color of their fur, after which they are named.
- It has been noted that their fur changes colors according to the seasons as well as geography (region they live in).
- The color of the young also differs from adults in that they are almost pure white.
- They are highly dependent on trees, living in the upper canopy of forests. They are also known as leaf monkeys.
- Habitat: It is endemic to western Assam, India, and southern Bhutan.
- Their habitat is restricted to the region surrounded by four geographical landmarks: the foothills of Bhutan (North), Manas river (East), Sankosh river (West), and Brahmaputra river (South).
- Threats: Restricted Habitat: As mentioned above, their habitat is restricted by natural boundaries further increasing the threat of extinction.
- Habitat Fragmentation: Their habitat in Assam has fragmented drastically especially after a thrust on rural electrification and massive deforestation.
- Conservation Efforts:
- The Central Zoo Authority, New Delhi entrusted the state zoo with the project for the conservation breeding of golden langur in Assam in 2011.
- The recorded estimation in Assam in 2009 was 5,140. Census in 2020 could not be completed due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
- Protection Status:
- IUCN List of Threatened Species: Endangered
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): Appendix I
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 : Schedule I
Drone Rules, 2021:
As on 31 December 2021, nine remote pilot training organisations have been set up by entities under Government or private ownership.
- As per Drone Rules, 2021, any person who intends to obtain the authorisation to establish a Remote Pilot Training Organisation (RPTO) shall submit an application to the Director General of Civil Aviation in Form D5 on the Digital Sky Platform, along with the specified fees.
- The Union government had on September 15 approved a production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for drones and drone components with an allocation of Rs 120 crore spread over three financial years.
- The ministry had on August 25 notified the Drone Rules, 2021 that eased the regulation of drone operations in India by reducing the number of forms that need to be filled to operate them from 25 to five and decreasing the types of fees charged from the operator from 72 to four.
New drone rules:
- Digital sky platform shall be developed as a business-friendly single-window online system.
- No flight permission required upto 400 feet in green zones and upto 200 feet in the area between 8 and 12 km from the airport perimeter.
- No pilot licence required for micro drones (for non-commercial use), nano drones and for R&D organisations.
- No restriction on drone operations by foreign-owned companies registered in India.
- Import of drones and drone components to be regulated by DGFT.
- No security clearance required before any registration or licence issuance.
- No requirement of certificate of airworthiness, unique identification number, prior permission and remote pilot licence for R&D entities.
- Coverage of drones under Drone Rules, 2021 increased from 300 kg to 500 kg. This will cover drone taxis also.
- Issuance of Certificate of Airworthiness delegated to Quality Council of India and certification entities authorised by it.
- Manufacturer may generate their drone’s unique identification number on the digital sky platform through the self-certification route.
- Maximum penalty under Drone Rules, 2021 reduced to INR 1 lakh. This shall, however, not apply to penalties in respect of violation of other laws.
- Drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries.
- Drone promotion council to be set up to facilitate a business-friendly regulatory regime.
Recently, Drones were used for the first time to drop explosive devices, triggering blasts inside the Air Force Station’s technical area in Jammu.
- Over the past two years, drones have been deployed regularly by Pakistan-based outfits to smuggle arms, ammunition and drugs into Indian territory.
- According to government figures, 167 drone sightings were recorded along the border with Pakistan in 2019, and in 2020, there were 77 such sightings.
- With the rapid proliferation of drone technology and exponential growth of its global market in recent years, the possibility of a drone attack cannot be ruled out even in the safest cities in the world.
- Drones are becoming security threats particularly in conflict zones where non-state actors are active and have easy access to the technology.
India’s Stand At COP-26:
The Government recently highlighted it’s stand at the COP 26 in the ongoing parliamentary session.
- It said, the announcement to intensify India’s climate action has the potential to bring investment and new technologies to support country’s transition to a clean and climate resilient economy.
- The Government of India has articulated and put across the concerns of developing countries at the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held recently in Glasgow, United Kingdom.
- India has presented the following five nectar elements (Panchamrit) of India’s climate action:
- Reach 500 GW Non-fossil energy capacity by 2030.
- 50 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
- Reduction of total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now to 2030.
- Reduction of the carbon intensity of the economy by 45 per cent by 2030, over 2005 levels.
- Achieving the target of net zero emissions by 2070.
- The mantra of LIFE- Lifestyle for Environment to combat climate change was also shared in COP 26.
- It was stated that Lifestyle for Environment has to be taken forward as a campaign to make it a mass movement of Environment Conscious Lifestyles.
- The message conveyed by India was that the world needs mindful and deliberate utilization, instead of mindless and destructive consumption.
- India has also pledged to become a ‘net zero’ carbon emitter by 2070, and announced enhanced targets for renewable energy deployment and reduction in carbon emissions.
- As a part of its overall approach, India emphasized the foundational principles of equity, and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilitie
- It also highlighted that all countries should have equitable access to the global carbon budget, a finite global resource, for keeping temperature increase within the limits set by the Paris Agreement.
- And, all countries must stay within their fair share of this global carbon budget, while using it responsibly.
- Responsibility of the developed nations: India also called on the developed countries for climate justice, and for undertaking rapid reductions in emissions during the current decade so as to reach net zero much earlier than their announced dates, as they have used more than their fair share of the depleting global carbon budget.
River Cities Alliance:
The River Cities Alliance (RCA) has been launched with the objective to provide the member cities with a platform to discuss and exchange information on aspects that are vital for sustainable management of urban rivers, sharing best practices and supporting innovation.
- The alliance has been launched initially with 30 cities including Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Srinagar, Varanasi, Kanpur, Prayagraj etc.
- The Alliance is open to all river cities of India. Any river city can join the Alliance at any time.
As per the request received from the State Government of Bihar, Ministry of Tourism has included Punaura Dham in the Ramayana circuit of Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
- The destination of Punaura Dham has been recently included under PRASHAD Scheme of the Ministry of Tourism.
- Punaura Dham, considered to be birthplace of Goddess Sita, is spread over around 10 acres of land in Punaura village, about 5km west of Sitamarhi town.
- The shrine compound has a Ram Janki temple, a pond called Sita Kund and a hall.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): 50th Anniversary:
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022.
- UNEP Founded in 1972 following the landmark UN Conference on the Human Environment.
- UNEP was conceived to monitor the state of the environment, inform policy making with science and coordinate responses to the world’s environmental challenges.
- Major Reports: Emission Gap Report, Global Environment Outlook, Frontiers, Invest into Healthy Planet.
- Major Campaigns: Beat Pollution, UN75, World Environment Day, Wild for Life.
- Since its creation, UNEP has worked closely with its 193 Member States and other stakeholders to galvanize worldwide commitments and coordinated action to address many of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
- It also played a leading role as the docking station for 15 multilateral environmental agreements.
For the opening ceremony of Winter Olympics, China picked a final torchbearer from Xinjiang as a rebuttal to the many countries that have criticized its human rights record in the region.
- Xinjiang is a region where multiple governments suspect China is committing an ongoing genocide against Uighur/uyghur and other Muslim minorities.
- But, critics see these developments as publicity stunts.
- Various countries have called on China to “ensure full respect for the rule of law” for the Muslim Uighur community in Xinjiang.
- Credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang and that there is widespread surveillance disproportionately targeting Uighurs and members of other minorities and restrictions on fundamental freedoms and Uighur culture.
- Despite mounting evidence, China denies mistreating the Uyghurs, and goes on to insist it is simply running “vocational training” centres designed to counter extremism.
- The Uighurs are a predominantly Muslim minority Turkic ethnic group, whose origins can be traced to Central and East Asia.
- The Uighurs speak their own language, similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.
- China recognises the community only as a regional minority and rejects that they are an indigenous group.
- Currently, the largest population of the Uighur ethnic community lives in the Xinjiang region of China.
- A significant population of Uighurs also lives in the neighbouring Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
- Uighur Muslims for decades, under the false accusation by the Chinese government of terrorism and separatism, have suffered from abuses including persecution, forced detention, intense scrutiny, surveillance and even slavery.
Coal Gasification And Liquefaction:
In its endeavour to reduce emissions and control dependence on crude oil, the Centre has said four coal gasification plants will be set up on a pilot basis to understand the technical and financial viability of such projects.
- India is committed to cut consumption of coal, a primary pollutant, in power plants to half by 2030 and reduce its overall carbon footprint. Coal gasification is considered a greener alternative to burning the fossil fuel in furnaces.
- Coal gasification is the process of producing syngas, a mixture consisting carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2), natural gas (CH4), and water vapour (H2O).
- During gasification, coal is blown with oxygen and steam while also being heated under high pressure. During the reaction, oxygen and water molecules oxidize the coal and produce syngas.
- Coal liquefaction Also called Coal to Liquid (CTL) technology, it is an alternative route to produce diesel and gasoline and makes economic sense only in a world of high crude oil prices.
- The process involves gasification of coal, which in turn will produce synthetic gas (a mix of CO+H2). The synthetic gas can be liquefied to its fuel equivalent in presence of cobalt/iron-based catalysts at higher pressure and temperature.
- However, liquefied coal emits twice as much CO2 as burning oil. It also emits a large volume of SO2.
EXIM Bank has extended a line of credit (LOC) of USD 500 million to Sri Lanka for financing the purchase of petroleum products.
- EXIM Bank Established under Export-Import Bank of India Act (1981).
- It is a wholly owned Govt. of India entity.
- It extends LOCS to overseas financial institutions, regional development banks, sovereign governments and overseas entities, to enable buyers in those countries to import developmental and infrastructure projects, equipment, goods and services from India, on deferred credit terms.