International issues- October 2016

U.N. panel to examine blacklisting Azhar

  • India would apprise the [1999 resolution] 1267 Taliban/Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee that Azhar has close links to the Taliban and consequently to Al Qaeda.
  • Details being provided by the Indian govt to the UN committee –
    • Azhar, a resident of Bahawalpur in Pakistan, has been accused by Indian agencies of orchestrating several terror attacks, the latest being the attack on an Army camp in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri.
    • Azhar’s involvement in the attack on Parliament in 2001 and the Pathankot airbase attack on January 2,
    • details about his direct involvement in the September 18 attack at an Army camp in Uri, where 19 Indian Army soldiers were killed.
    • India will inform the UN Committee that elements of JeM have received training in tactics, use of weapons and psychological warfare from Pakistan
  • The Home Ministry had constituted a three-member committee to expedite the procedures required to place Azhar, former Indian Mujahideen member Shafi Armar (who is now said to be the media chief of Islamic State), and Hizbul Mujahidden chief Syed Salahuddin on the United Nations’ list of proscribed terrorists.
  • The committee was constituted in August and the Uri attacks took place on September 18.
  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing both the Pathankot and Uri attacks, is learnt to have given crucial points nailing Azhar’s direct role in the terror attacks
  • The committee was constituted after the Home and External Affairs Ministries blamed each other for the delay in sending the proposal to the 1267 Taliban/Al-Qaeda Sanctions Sommittee.
  • After China put a technical hold on designating Masood Azhar as an international terrorist in April this year, India decided to send a robust proposal to the UN Committee, the deadline for which expires on Monday.
  • China had three options now but they were not very optimistic. China can extend the technical hold, convert the hold to a block, or allow the designation (as a terrorist) to go through,

China stalls India’s proposal on Azhar

  • India was still giving “final touches” to its proposal to put Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar on the list of United Nations proscribed terrorists, when China announced that the “technical hold” on designating him a terrorist has been extended by another three months.
  • China informed the New York-based U.N. committee of its decision on the last working day of the week. India could not even submit its proposal.
  • Azhar also runs a charitable organisation, Al Rehmat Trust, as a cover for the activities of his terror outfit, JeM

Illegal business trumps Indo-Pak. legitimate trade

  • Smugglers of goods between India and Pakistan are operating through a third country such as Afghanistan and often misuse transit routes set up on the border for exchange, a study conducted by an industry body showed.
  • Smuggling of good between India and Pakistan estimated at $5 billion is almost double of the official two-way commerce and it is mostly goods exported from India to Pakistan
  • Official trade between India and Pakistan grew less than four times from 700 million in 2005-2006 to $2.67 billion in 10 years despite the Most Favoured Nation status being granted to Pakistan in 1996. At the same time informal trade grew over five times from $965 million in 2005-2006 to over $5 billion in 2015-16.
  • The smugglers carry out informal trade between Pakistan and India through the borders 
  • Also misuse of personal baggage scheme like the ‘Green Channel’ facilities at international airports or railway stations.
  • It is difficult to stop this trade because the goods are first exported to third countries like Dubai or Afghanistan before reaching its destination in Pakistan.
    • Through Afghanistan – goods are exported officially from India to Afghanistan and later on brought into Pakistan through Peshawar
    • Trading through a ‘third country,’ generally done through Dubai, is not illegal. The ‘third country’ trade also happens through agents in Singapore.Through this route, Indian exports include capital goods, textile machinery, dyes and chemicals among others, according to the Assocham study.
    • The trade between Pakistan and India via Dubai has the advantage (for the traders) that consignments are not scrutinized as much as those coming directly from either country.
    • Besides Afghanistan, other channels of informal trade include India-Dubai-Pakistan, Wagah by rail or road and Srinagar -Muzaffarabad.
  • The Assocham study is based on documents and reports from more than 50 think tanks and research organisations, including ICRIER, annual reports of the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, Lahore Journal of Economics, and Institute of South Asian Studies-National University of Singapore among others.
  • Smugglers in both the countries have developed efficient mechanisms for information flow, risk sharing and risk mitigation.The three important contributory factors towards thriving informal trade are quick realization of payments, zero documentation and little procedural hassles leading to lower transaction costs
  • There are more exports from India than imports through the smuggling route.

Centre to flag H1-B visa curbs

  • During the forthcoming U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meet, New Delhi is expected to take up the Indian IT industry’s concerns about the proposed ‘Protect and Grow American Jobs Act’ that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in July.
  • The proposed legislation is also called the ‘Issa’ Bill as “the bipartisan legislation” was introduced by U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa, aiming to “stop the outsourcing of American jobs by companies abusing the H1-B visa program.

H1-B norms

  • The current H1-B norms under the (U.S.) Immigration and Nationality Act require H1-B ‘dependent’ companies (those with over 50 full-time equivalent employees of which 15 per cent or more are on H1-B visas) to submit certain documents.
  • However, firms are currently granted exemptions to ease their documentation-related troubles.
  • They need not go through the troublesome paperwork if the potential H1-B employee has an equivalent of a Master’s degree or higher and he or she is paid at least $60,000 annually.

The Issa bill

  • The ‘Issa’ Bill aims to do away with the Master’s degree exemption (as “they are easily obtained by foreign workers”) and hike the minimum annual salary threshold from $60,000 to $100,000 with an inflation adjustment.
  • The new Bill seeks to “make it much harder for firms to bring in workers at a salary that could undercut American jobs.
  • There could be further tightening of the Issa Bill as some American politicians recently claimed that it had left loopholes that the H1-B users can take advantage of.
  • Referring to the recent debate on the Bill which allowed the $100,000 minimum annual wage threshold mentioned in it included ‘cash bonuses’, some U.S. legislators said this provision could be misused as often, bonuses are conditional on some goals being achieved. This could mean that the H1-B user firms might get away with actual lower annual wages.
  • Also, some legislators have demanded a higher minimum threshold since average annual IT salaries in urban areas exceed $100,000 and could therefore lead to locals with higher salaries being replaced by foreign workers.

Concerns

 

  • The Bill is being opposed by the Indian IT sector (the main users of H1-B visas), the apex IT industry body Nasscom and the US-India Business Council (an advocacy body for boosting US-India business ties). If it becomes a law, it will kill the Indian IT industry. We are campaigning with (U.S.) Congressmen and Senators to convince them not to support the Bill. However, it is election season and logic does not prevail.
  • India had in March said it had initiated a World Trade Organisation dispute proceeding against the U.S. for increasing fees on H1-B and L-1 non-immigrant visas. The Issa Bill is a bigger issue than the (H1-B and L-1) visa fee hike

 

‘Next U.S. President will have to review Pakistan policy’

  • India’s new strategic posture of ‘offensive defence’ may have been an outcome of exasperation with Pakistan, but the fact that the U.S. shares that exasperation with its long-time ally could bolster New Delhi.
  • In its last year, the Obama administration has made that displeasure with Pakistan clear by cutting aid, which also led to the scrapping of the sale of eight F16 fighter planes as scheduled.
  • The U.S. Congress cornered the Obama administration into these decisions, but the next President — whether it is Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton — will have to review and restructure the country’s relations with Pakistan.
  • The U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan has put the burden of restraint on India so far, but with India signalling an end to that restraint, the new U.S policy will have to factor in the new Indian policy rather than dictate it, altering the correlation between the two.
  • Aa new approach is necessary — one that includes steps aimed at containing negative Pakistani behaviour, without ruling out some degree of continued engagement. They may differ in details but not on broad strategy. The difference may be in degree of sympathy and support for India
  • America’s approach towards India’s Pakistan policy has been hinged on its own policy in Af-Pak and the Middle East.Stabilising Afghanistan and avoiding the launch of another 9/11 type terrorist attack from the region is the core objective. The danger of Islamist groups getting their hands on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is America’s worst nightmare at this moment.
  • By casually using the nuclear threats, Pakistan has touched a raw nerve in the U.S. U.S. officials have responded furiously and for the same reason, the next President unlikely to “isolate” Pakistan, because that may be counterproductive. The U.S. does not want to cut ties with Pakistan and turn the country into the next North Korea or Iran

U.S. flays Pak. for threatening India with nuclear attack

  • The United States has conveyed to Pakistan that nuclear threats are not acceptable
  • The message was conveyed after Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said twice in the span of a week that his country could use tactical nuclear weapons against India

India to push for funds at climate talks

  • A day before India ratifies the Paris climate agreement, Union Environment Minister Anil Dave  confirmed that there was no link between India ratifying the deal and its membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
  • The ratification document will be submitted at the offices of the UN Secretary-General by Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, or his representative
  • It is still unclear what led India to alter its position dramatically from mere weeks ago. At the G20 summit in China last month, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya said India “wasn’t ready” in terms of the domestic actions required to ratify, or at least commit to ratify, the Paris deal within 2016.
  • At the climate talks in Morocco in November, India would stress most on trying to operationalise the $100 billion corpus — called the Green Climate Fund — committed by developed countries to aid policy, projects and technology transfer as a buffer against the impact of climate change. Only a fraction of it has been pledged so far.India will also set up a ‘pavilion’ at the climate talks in Morocco to showcase Gandhiji’s “low carbon lifestyle”.
  • India would push for developed countries to make good on their prior commitments on finance and technology. So far, we have got only $2 million of the $10 million committed this year
  • The funds will help nations work on fulfilling their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) which aim to reduce carbon emissions through a host of solutions.
  • India has already completed 12 per cent of all pre-2020 Intended National Determined Contributions (INDC), or the road map by which it will make good on its commitments to reduce carbon emissions.As part of its INDC plans, India had promised to bring down its emissions intensity, or emissions per unit of the GDP, by at least 33 per cent by the year 2030 as compared to 2005 levels.

Antonio Guterres appointed next UN Secretary-General

  • The General Assembly appointed by acclamation the former Prime Minister of Portugal, António Guterres, as the next United Nations Secretary-General, to succeed Ban Ki-moon when he steps down on 31 December.
  • Mr. Guterres, aged 67, was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. He will become the world’s top diplomat on 1 January 2017, and hold that post for the next five years.
  • Adopting a consensus resolution put forward by its President, Peter Thomson, the Assembly acted on the recommendation on the UN Security Council, which on 6 October forwarded Mr. Guterres’ name to the 193-member body as its nominee for UN Secretary-General for a five-year period, ending 31 December 2021.
  • Thanking the General Assembly for appointing him as the next Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres said he was grateful to the Member States for their trust in him as well as for the transparent and open selection process they undertook.
  • Guterres has a formidable reputation of clean governance and strict administration, having cleaned up the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as its head and having effectively led it during the greatest migration crisis facing Europe after World War II.
  • Earlier, as President of Portugal and as President of the European Council, he played an important role in finalising the Lisbon Treaty which ushered in a new and stronger European Union.
  • His strong socialist credentials helped in swinging a positive vote from Vladimir Putin, during Russian presidency of the UN Security Council under Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.
  • From India’s perspective, in a difficult international scenario and with increased tensions with Pakistan, the expectation is that the new UNSG-designate would focus on crises situations in the Middle East which are directly impacting international peace and security.
  • With his experience in UNHCR, he is also expected to play a positive role in slowing down the steady flow of migrants into Europe.
  • Finally, his election also demonstrates that despite the prevailing tensions between the Russians and Americans, they are still able to agree — if the situation warrants. This is a positive sign which the new Secretary General should use to his advantage in the interests of a multipolar and secure world

World Food Day was observed on 16th Oct

October 16th marks the celebration of World Food Day.

It was established in 1979 to honour the founding date of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945.

It is observed around the world by more than 150 countries, raising awareness to issues that cause hunger and poverty.

Each year in order to highlight areas for focus and improvement, World Food Day adopts a different theme.

This year the theme is ‘Climate is changing, food and agriculture must too.’ The global goal for defeating hunger is 2030; it is a goal that cannot be reached without addressing the issue of climate change.

About Food & Agriculture Organisation

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is an agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.
  • Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy.
  • FAO is also a source of knowledge and information, and helps developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all.
  • The idea of an international organization for food and agriculture emerged in the late 19th and early 20th century, advanced primarily by the US agriculturalist and activist David Lubin. In May–June 1905, an international conference was held in Rome, Italy, which led to the creation of the International Institute of Agriculture.
  • Later in 1943, the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt called a United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture. Representatives from forty four governments gathered at The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia from 18 May to 3 June.
  • They committed themselves to founding a permanent organization for food and agriculture, which happened in Quebec City, Canada on 16 October 1945 with the conclusion of the Constitution of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • The First Session of the FAO Conference was held in the Chateau frontenac at Quebec, Canada, from 16 October to 1 November 1945.
  • The Second World War effectively ended the International Agricultural Institute, though it was only officially dissolved by resolution of its Permanent Committee on 27 February 1948. Its functions were then transferred to the recently established FAO

INDIA’S VICE PRESIDENT PAYS OFFICIAL VISIT TO HUNGARY TO ENHANCE ECONOMIC TIES

  • India and Russia have reportedly reached an agreement on the lease of a second nuclear submarine during the summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Goa
  • According to a source in the Russian defence industry, the long-discussed lease to transfer a multipurpose Project 971 nuclear submarine to India from the Russian Navy was signed in Goa.

Plan for large fleet

  • India had earlier leased an Akula-II class nuclear attack submarine (SSN) for a period of 10 years.
  • The vessel was inducted into service as INS Chakra in April 2012.
  • Since then, the government had expressed interest in leasing at least one more submarine to train Navy crew in the complex submarine operations as the nation prepares to have a large fleet of nuclear submarines.
  • India quietly inducted its first indigenously built nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), Arihant, into service in August completing its nuclear triad. Follow-on submarines are planned and at least two are in various stages of construction.
  •  An Indian team was in Russia in September to discuss the issue. The deal is believed to be worth about $2 billion.
  • Submarines of Project 97 (NATO name Akula-II) weighing 8,140 tonnes are considered one of the most silent SSNs in service.

India, Myanmar agree to enhance ties in a range of areas, including security and trade

  • India assured it of unstinted support to Myanmar as the two traditionally close neighbours agreed to enhance ties in a range of areas, including security and trade, during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Myanmar’s top leader Aung Sung Suu Kyi.
  • The two sides signed three agreements to boost cooperation in power, banking and insurance sectors, besides deciding to step up ties in areas of oil and gas, agriculture, renewable energy and health care.
  • It is Ms. Suu Kyi’s first visit to India after her National League for Democracy wrested power from the military junta in a landmark election earlier this year.
  • Ms. Suu Kyi, who could not become Myanmar’s President due to a constitutional provision but has full control over the government, holds the position of State Councillor and Foreign Minister.
  • Welcoming Ms. Suu Kyi, the Prime Minister described India as her second home.
  • Ms. Suu Kyi had done her graduation from the Delhi University.
  • In her comments, the Myanmer leader invoked Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, saying Myanmar drew huge inspiration from the two Indian leaders in its struggle for democracy.
  • The two countries agreed that close coordination to ensure security in the areas along border, and sensitivity to each other’s strategic interests, will help both neighbours.
  • Myanmar, considered one of India’s strategic neighbours, shares a 1,640-km-long border with a number of northeastern States, including the militancy-hit Nagaland and Manipur.
  • Mr. Modi said the two countries agreed to enhance engagement in several areas, including agriculture, power, renewable energy and power sector.

U.S. hails India for relaxation of curbs on NGO

The U.S. has welcomed the partial relaxation of restrictions imposed by the Indian government on Compassion International (CI), a Christian charity based in Colorado, but added that it will continue to push for “a more welcoming environment for NGOs”.

The Home Ministry has allowed CI to disburse funds to 10 NGOs in India.

“We would certainly welcome and do welcome any actions by the government that support and strengthen civil society. I’d refer you to the Government of India with respect to any specific actions that have been taken regarding the NGOs in India. But as we — as you know, we want to see a strong, healthy, civil society throughout the world, and that certainly extends to India, which is a strong democracy. We believe that a strong and vibrant civil society only strengthens that democracy,” said State Department spokesperson Mark Toner.

Why had the Govt put CI in watch list?

  • Compassion International (CI), the US-based non-governmental organisation working in the field of child rights, was put on watch list by the Union Home Ministry
  • After this, the donors could no longer send money directly to the NGOs in India. Prior clearance from the home ministry will be required,
  • The international NGO, according to MHA, was giving funds to non-registered NGOs in India.
  • MHA received reports that the money from Compassion International was being received by Chennai-based Caruna Bal Vikas (CVB), which in turn was distributing it to non- registered NGOs. CVB is said to be Indian affiliate of CI, according to officials
  • The total number NGOs being closely monitored by the government goes up to 19. Ten of these NGOs were put on the list by the NDA government and the rest have been under watch since the time of the previous UPA regime.

India, China Hold First Ever Joint Army Exercise In Jammu And Kashmir

  • As part of the ongoing initiative to enhance interaction and cooperation between India and China on 19th Oct, under the provisions of Border Defense Cooperation Agreement, 2013, the Indian and Chinese armies today held the second joint exercise “Sino-India Cooperation 2016”. This was a sequel to the first exercise held on February 6, 2016.
  • Soldiers of Chushul Garrision from India and of Moldo Garrision from China, participated in the exercise.
  • The exercise came in the backdrop of stalemate over India’s multilateral disagreements with China over blacklisting of terrorists at the United Nations and membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
  • In 2010, China had refused to issue a visa to the Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal as part of a high-level exchange saying he “controlled” a disputed area.
  • The Army in a statement said that this is part of the ongoing initiative to enhance interaction and cooperation between India and China, under the provisions of Border Defence Cooperation Agreement 2013.

Disaster relief drill

  • During the day-long exercise on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) a fictitious situation of earthquake striking an Indian border village was painted & thereafter joint teams carried out rescue operations, evacuation and rendering of medical assistance.
  • The Indian Team for the exercise was led by Brigadier R.S. Raman and that of the Chinese was led by Senior Colonel Fan Jun.
  • The joint exercise, complements the Hand-in-Hand series of the India-China joint exercises, and the earlier HADR exercise in Sikkim as well as the effort of both the nations to enhance cooperation and maintain peace and tranquillity along the border areas.

INDIA JUMPS 21 POSITIONS TO RANK 87TH IN WEF’S GLOBAL GENDER GAP

  • India has substantially improved its rank in the Global Gender Gap index moving from 108th to 87th position within a year, according to a report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF)
  • It is ranked second in the South Asian region, next only to Bangladesh.
  •  However, the 2016 report by WEF says that in terms of “health and survival”, India still lags at 142nd rank, or third last, globally.
  • In terms of economic participation by women, India ranked 136 and in terms of education, it is at the 113th position.
  • India has closed its gender gap by 2 per cent in a year and its gap now stands at 68 per cent across the four pillars that WEF measures — economy, education, health and political representation.
  • The major improvement has been in education where “India has managed to close its gap entirely in primary and secondary education”, WEF said, adding that in the economic sphere, “much work remains to be done”. India ranks 136 in this pillar out of 144 countries.
  • On educational attainment, India was ranked at 113th place; in terms of health and survival, it was a placed at a lowly 142, while on political empowerment it was among the top 10 countries.
  • According to the WEF’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016, the prospects of global workplace gender parity slipped further, and economic parity between the genders could take 170 years after a “dramatic slowdown in progress”.
  • Globally, the leading four nations continue to be Scandinavian: Iceland (1), Finland (2), Norway (3) and Sweden (4).
  • In 2015, projections based on the Global Gender Gap Report data suggested that the economic gap could be closed within 118 years, or 2133. The latest report noted that the prospects for workplace gender equality have slipped beyond our lifetimes to 2186.
  • The report said slowdown partly down (due) to chronic imbalances in salaries and labour force participation, despite the fact that, in 95 countries, women attend university in equal or higher numbers than men.
  • In this latest edition, the report finds that progress towards parity in the key economic pillar has slowed dramatically with the gap – which stands at 59 per cent – now larger than at any point since 2008.
  • Behind this decline are a number of factors. One is salary, with women around the world on average earning just over half of what men earn despite, on average, working longer hours taking paid and unpaid work into account.
  • Another challenge is stagnant labour force participation, with the global average for women at 54 per cent compared with 81 per cent for men. Moreover, the number of women in senior positions also remains stubbornly low, with only four countries in the world having equal numbers of male and female legislators, senior officials and managers.

About World Economic Forum

  • The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Swiss nonprofit foundation, based in Cologny, Geneva. Recognized by the Swiss authorities as the international institution for public-private cooperation, its mission is cited as “committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas”.
  • The Forum is best known for its annual winter meeting for five days in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland.
  • The meeting brings together some 2,500 top business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals, and journalists for up to five days (winter) to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world.
  • Often this location alone is used to identify meetings, participation, and participants with such phrases as, “a Davos panel” and “a Davos Man”.
  • The organization also convenes some six to eight regional meetings each year in locations such as Latin America and East Asia, as well as undertaking two further annual meetings in China and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Beside meetings, the foundation produces a series of research reports and engages its members in sector specific initiatives

India Ranks 130 in World Bank’s ease of doing business

  • India has moved one rank up to the 130th position in the World Bank’s ‘ease of doing business’ ranking for 2017.
  • This marginal improvement came on the back of slight improvement in four indicators; getting electricity, enforcing contracts, trading across borders and registering property.
  • Improving India’s ranking in the report has been a key target of the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • India which had been ranked 130 in the 2016 report, was placed at 131 according to the revised rankings for last year released on 25th Oct, thus reflecting a marginal improvement.
  • India could not improve its ranking better despite reform measures that have been lauded in the report because other countries around it in the ranking list also did well last year, World Bank officials who oversaw the report said.
  • Over the past two years, the government has implemented a host of reforms to make it easier for businesses to start, operate and exit.
  • It is therefore disappointing that these achievements are not covered by the report due to methodological issues.
  • The government has engaged with the World Bank multiple times in the process, and is hopeful that they will take into account all the implemented reforms in future reports
  • Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) said that a dozen of important reforms like enactment of bankruptcy code, GST, introduction of single window system for building plan approvals and online ESIC (Employees’ State Insurance Corporation) and EPFO (Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation) registrations were not recognized by the World Bank this year.
  • The objective of the department is that in the next 3-4 years, India must come in the top 30 countries as far as ease of doing business is concerned

What is Ease of Doing Business Index?

  • The ease of doing business index is an index created by the World Bank Group.
  • Higher rankings (a low numerical value) indicate better, usually simpler, regulations for businesses and stronger protections of property rights.
  • Empirical research funded by the World Bank to justify their work show that the economic growth impact of improving these regulations is strong.
  • Empirical research is needed to establish the optimal level of business regulation for example, what the duration of court procedures should be and what the optimal degree of social protection is.
  • The indicators compiled in the Doing Business project allow such research to take place. Since the start of the project in November 2001, more than 800 academic papers have used one or more indicators constructed in Doing Business and the related background papers by its authors
  • The ease of doing business index is meant to measure regulations directly affecting businesses and does not directly measure more general conditions such as a nation’s proximity to large markets, quality of infrastructure, inflation, or crime

CO2 level reaches record high in 2016: WMO

  • The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached a record-high level, ushering in a “new era of climate reality,” according to the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
  • The global average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a milestone of 400 parts per million in 2015, the first time since modern record-keeping began in 1960, according to the WMO.
  • As per the UN in 2016, the global carbon dioxide concentration rose even higher, breaking a new record
  • The rise was fuelled by El Nino, which led to droughts in tropical regions and reduced the capacity of forests and oceans to absorb carbon dioxide
  • Although carbon dioxide levels have reached 400 parts per million in the past in isolated locations and times, 2015 was the first year that the global average levels for the entire year reached the 400 parts per million mark, according to the report.
  • The WMO predicts that the carbon dioxide concentrations will stay above this threshold for the entirety of 2016 and will not dip below that level for many generations.
  • Taalas applauded the recent international agreement in Kigali, Rwanda, to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, which have been shown to eat away at the ozone layer in the atmosphere.
  • WMO and partners are working towards an Integrated Global Greenhouse Gas Information System to provide information that can help nations to track the progress toward implementation of their national emission pledges, improve national emission reporting and inform additional mitigation actions.
  • This system builds on the long-term experience of WMO in greenhouse gas observations and atmospheric modelling.
  • WMO is also striving to improve weather and climate services for the renewable energy sector and to support the Green Economy and sustainable development.
  • To optimize the use of solar, wind and hydropower production, new types of weather services are needed.

Highlights of Greenhouse Gas Bulletin

  • The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports on atmospheric concentrations  of greenhouse gases.
  • Emissions represent what goes into the atmosphere.
  • Concentrations represent what remains in the atmosphere after the complex system of interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere and the oceans.
  • About a quarter of the total emissions is taken up by the oceans and another quarter by the biosphere, reducing in this way the amount of COin the atmosphere.
  • The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin provides a scientific base for decision-making.
  • WMO released it ahead of the U.N. climate change negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco, to be held from 7 – 18 November 2016.

United Nations Day Observed on October 24

  • The United Nations or UN Day is celebrated worldwide to commemorate the foundation of United Nations Organization in 1945.
  • The day reminds the official formation of the United Nations in 1945 by a joint agreement and unanimous signing of the UN Charter by majority of its participants.
  • The UNO comprised of five permanent members at that time in its Security Council.  These permanent members were the US, UK, Soviet Union, the Republic of China, and France.
  • It is celebrated to allow the international community know the mission, aim, roles, and achievements of the UNO.
  • It is conceived of as an occasion to emphasize, honour, and reflect upon the efforts and works of the UNO and its other wings or participatory agencies.
  • Some of their significant contributions are in the areas of safeguarding human rights, supporting in areas of famine or drought, refugee settlement across the world nations, prevention and eradication of diseases, promotion of health among the underdeveloped and developing nations.
  • The Theme of This Year’s Concert Is ‘Freedom First’
  • This Year the UN Is Committed to Carrying out the Promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The UN Recently Released a Stamp Honouring Carnatic Musician MS Subbulakshmi

  • The United Nations released a postage stamp to honour Carnatic music legend MS Subbulakshmi on 3rd Oct.
  • The commemorative stamp, worth $1.20 (Rs 79 approximately), was released at a special ceremony in New York to mark India’s ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • The stamp has the iconic blue emblem of the UN alongside her picture. The first stamp was presented to Carnatic music singer Sudha Raghunathan who performed at the ceremony.
  • Subbulakshmi was the first Indian to perform at the UN when she was invited by Secretary General U Thant to the UN Day concert on October 23, 1966.
  • During the concert, she sang a hymn in English. Subbulakshmi was also the first musician honoured with the Bharat Ratna– Indian’s highest civilian honour.