Important Current Affairs for CLAT-20th October 2022

Mallikarjun Kharge Elected As The New Congress President

Veteran Karnataka leader Mallikarjun Kharge defeated his rival Shashi Tharoor to become the first non-Gandhi Congress president in 24 years, and the first Scheduled Caste chief of the grand old organization in four decades. Kharge polled 7897 of the 9385 votes cast while Tharoor garnered a meagre 1072. Sources said 416 votes were invalid.

About The Election:

He is the first non-Gandhi to head the Congress in 24 years, after Sitaram Kesri was unceremoniously ousted in 1988 through a Congress Working Committee resolution that invited Sonia Gandhi to become the party chief. Sonia had become a primary member of the Congress only a year ago at the AICC Kolkata plenary in 1997.

Kharge’s Elevation:

Kharge’s elevation is strategic. He is a tall SC leader, a man who rose from humble beginnings and entered politics in 1972. Also, he is known in party circles to be a Gandhi yes man and is not expected to rock the boat for the first family, having already said that he would seek the counsel of Gandhis and “there was no shame in doing so.” Kharge is also the only Congress chief who has been leader of opposition in a state assembly (Karnataka); leader of the party in Lok Sabha and who is now the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha.

The veteran, however, resigned as RS leader of opposition after filing his papers for the party president’s election, in deference to the Congress’ ‘one person, one post’ rule formalised at the Udaipur Chitan Shivir in May. This was the first election for the post of Congress president in 22 years and only the fifth major contest in the party’s 137 year history. In 2000 Sonia Gandhi had trounced Jitendra Prasad garnering 7448 votes against Prasad’s 96.

What Has Been Said:

Tharoor congratulated Kharge and said that being Congress president was a “great honour amd a huge responsibility”, wishing Kharge “all success in the task”. “Our president is a party colleague and senior who brings ample leadership and experience to the table,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Under his guidance, I am confident that we can all collectively take the party to new heights.”

Neelanjan Sircar, a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research think-tank, said the change at the top was a significant step for the party. “This symbolic change of the president is a very powerful moment for the Congress,” Sircar told Reuters news agency. “Its desire to change will have to reflect in organisational change on the ground.”

Indus Waters Treaty: World Bank Appoints Chairman of Court of Arbitration

The World Bank has appointed a “neutral expert” and a chairman of the Court of Arbitration regarding the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants, in view of disagreements and differences between India and Pakistan over the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.

What The World Bank Said:

Announcing the appointments, the World Bank said that it is confident that the highly qualified experts appointed as Neutral Expert and as members of the Court of Arbitration will engage in fair and careful consideration of their jurisdictional mandate, as they are empowered to do by the Treaty.

The Appointees:

Michel Lino has been appointed as the Neutral Expert and Sean Murphy has been appointed as Chairman of the Court of Arbitration. They will carry out their duties in their individual capacity as subject matter experts and independently of any other appointments they may currently hold, the World Bank said in a statement.

What The MEA Said:

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said, “We have noted the World Bank’s announcement to concurrently appoint a Neutral Expert and a Chair of the Court of Arbitration in the ongoing matter related to the Kishenganga and Ratle projects.” “Recognising the World Bank’s admission in its announcement that ‘carrying out two processes concurrently poses practical and legal challenges’, India will assess the matter,” the statement said. “India believes that the implementation of the Indus Water Treaty must be in the letter and spirit of the Treaty.”

Indus Water Treaty:

  • The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960, by then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then Pakistani President Ayub Khan, negotiated by the World Bank.

  • The treaty establishes a cooperative mechanism for exchanging information between the two countries regarding the use of the western rivers (Indus, Jhelum, Chenab) allocated to Pakistan and the eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas, Sutlej) allocated to India.

  • The treaty also underlines provisions allowing each country to use the rivers allocated to the other for certain purposes such as irrigation and hydroelectricity.

  • The Permanent Indus Commission, which has a commissioner from each country, oversees the cooperative mechanism and ensures that the two countries meet annually (alternately in India and Pakistan) to discuss myriad issues emerging from the treaty.

Concerns About This Treaty:

  • Both countries held different positions when Pakistan raised objections regarding the technical design features of the Kishanganga (330MW) and Ratle (850 MW) hydroelectric power plants located on the tributaries of the Jhelum and the Chenab, respectively, designated as “Western Rivers”.

  • However, under Articles III and VII of the treaty, India is permitted to construct hydroelectric power facilities on these rivers (subject to constraints specified in Annexures to the Treaty).

  • Differences were also discernible when Pakistan approached the World Bank to facilitate the setting up of a court of arbitration to address the concerns related to these two projects referred to in Article IX Clause 5 of the treaty, and when India requested the appointment of a Neutral Expert referent to Clause 2.1 of Article IX on the settlement of differences and dispute of the treaty, respectively.

  • Pakistan, invoking Article VII Clause 2 on future cooperation, raised objections on the construction and technical designs of the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai hydropower plants located on Marusudar river, a tributary of the Chenab, in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir.

  • India has raised concerns on issues such as Pakistan’s blockade of the Fazilka drain, which resulted in water contamination in the border areas, referent to Article II Clause 3 and Article IV Clause 4 and 6 of the treaty.

Ookla Report: India Drops Down in Rankings for Mobile, Fixed Broadband Speeds Globally

India drops three spots in the Global Ranking for median mobile speed. It went from 115th to 118th in June from May. According to the Ookla Speedtest Global Index report, India’s median mobile download speed has decreased from 14.28 Mbps in May to 14.00 Mbps in June.

Key Points related to the drop of India from the Global Ranking for median mobile speed

  • India improved its global ranking in June for the median download speeds on fixed broadband by going three spots forward from 75th to 72nd.

  • In May, the overall fixed median download speed in India was 47.86 Mbps as compared to 48.11 Mbps in June.

  • Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index compares Speedtest data from around the world each month.

  • Data comes from hundreds of millions of tests that real people use Speedtest for the Global Index.

  • In the overall global median mobile speed, Norway is in the top spot and was joined by Chile.

  • The second spot is bagged by Singapore in terms of overall global fixed broadband speeds.

  • In June, Papua New Guinea and Gabon registered the highest growth for mobile download speeds and fixed broadband speeds.

  • India gained three spots in the Global Ranking on median mobile download speed in May.

Pakistan May Take Out off FATF Grey List

Pakistan is likely to exit the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after it was placed in the infamous category since 2018 for failing to check money laundering and terrorist financing, a media report said.

FATF Meeting & Its History With Pak:

The Paris-based global watchdog on money laundering and terrorist financing said that the first FATF Plenary under the two-year Singapore Presidency of T. Raja Kumar will take place on October 20-21.

Pakistan was included in the increased monitoring list in June 2018 for deficiencies in its legal, financial, regulatory, investigations, prosecution, judicial and non-government sector to fight money laundering and combat terror financing considered serious threat to global financial system.

Pakistan has made high-level political commitments to address these deficiencies under a 27-point action plan. But later the number of action points was enhanced to 34. he country had since been vigorously working with FATF and its affiliates to strengthen its legal and financial systems against money laundering and terror financing to meet international standards in line with 40-recommendations of the FATF.

What Are Its Repercussions:

With Pakistan’s continuation on the grey list, it had increasingly become difficult for Islamabad to get financial aid from the IMF, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Union, thus further enhancing problems for the cash-strapped country.

A 15-member joint delegation of the FATF and its Sydney-based regional affiliate — Asia Pacific Group— paid an onsite visit to Pakistan from August 29 to September 2 to verify the country’s compliance with the 34-point action plan committed with the FATF.

What Is Financial Action Task Force (FATF):

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog.

  • The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society.

  • As a policy-making body, the FATF works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.

The FATF has developed the FATF Recommendations, or FATF Standards, which ensure a coordinated global response to prevent organized crime, corruption, and terrorism.

Functions of FATF:

  • The FATF reviews money laundering and terrorist financing techniques and continuously strengthens its standards to address new risks, such as the regulation of virtual assets, which have spread as cryptocurrencies gain popularity.

  • The FATF monitors countries to ensure they implement the FATF Standards fully and effectively and holds countries to account that does not comply.

Its Secretariat is located at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) headquarters in Paris.

FATF Lists:

Grey List:

  • Countries that are considered to be supporting terror funding and money laundering are put on the FATF grey list.

  • This inclusion serves as a warning to the country that it may enter the blacklist.

  • Greylisting means FATF has placed a country under increased monitoring to check its progress on measures against money laundering and terrorism financing.

  • The “grey list” is also known as the “increased monitoring list”.

Countries in Grey List:

As of March 2022, there are 23 countries on the FATF’s increased monitoring list (officially referred to as “jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies”):

  • Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, Myanmar, Philippines, South Sudan, Uganda, and Yemen.

Black List:

  • Countries are known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs) are put on the blacklist.

  • These countries support terror funding and money laundering activities.

The Financial Action Task Force revises the blacklist regularly, adding or deleting entries.

Member States Of FATF:

There are about 39 countries and other non-country entities that are part of the FATF. In South America, those countries include Argentina and Brazil. In North America, FATF countries include Canada, the United States, and Mexico. In Europe, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom are included within FATF. The European Commission is a non-country entity in Europe that is also a member of the FATF. In Asia, China, Hong Kong (which some consider being autonomous from China, though China disputes this claim), India, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Turkey are members of the FATF. Indonesia, also in Asia, is not a member but is considered an observer. The Gulf Cooperation Council, which consists of small, oil-producing countries in the Persian Gulf, is a non-country entity in Asia that is a member of the FATF. Australia and New Zealand are members on the Australian continent, and South Africa is the only country in Africa that is a member.