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Important Current Affairs for CLAT-22nd May 2023

International Day for Biological Diversity 2023 observed on 22 May

Every year on May 22, the world marks the International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and encourage the preservation of the Earth’s diverse ecosystems. This significant day serves as a reminder of the crucial role biodiversity plays and emphasizes the urgency to safeguard and revive it. In 2023, particular attention is given to moving beyond mere pledges and translating them into tangible measures that actively restore and conserve biodiversity.

Theme for International Day for Biological Diversity 2023

The theme for International Day for Biological Diversity 2023 is “From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity.” This theme reflects the urgent need to move beyond commitments and translate them into tangible actions to restore and protect biodiversity.

Significance for International Day for Biological Diversity 2023

The International Day for Biological Diversity serves as a worldwide stage to emphasize the fundamental importance of biodiversity in maintaining life on our planet. Biodiversity encompasses the remarkable assortment of plants, animals, and microorganisms, along with the ecosystems they live in. It plays a vital role in providing essential services to ecosystems, including pollination, nutrient recycling, water purification, and climate regulation. Additionally, biodiversity holds cultural, aesthetic, and economic significance, supporting livelihoods and contributing to sustainable progress.

History for International Day for Biological Diversity 2023

The origin of the International Day for Biological Diversity can be traced back to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, commonly referred to as the Earth Summit, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. During this landmark conference, global leaders acknowledged the pressing need to tackle the worldwide decline of biodiversity. In response, a considerable number of nations signed and adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on May 22, 1992, setting the stage for the annual observance of this day.

Bhupender Yadav Inaugurates Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Land Management at Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education in Dehradun

In a significant step towards combating land degradation and promoting sustainable land management practices, Union Minister Bhupender Yadav inaugurated the Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Land Management (CoE-SLM) at the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) in Dehradun.

Background

The establishment of the CoE-SLM was announced by the Prime Minister of India during the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP-14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in September 2019. Recognizing the urgency and importance of addressing land degradation, the CoE-SLM aims to spearhead initiatives that contribute to Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets.

Aims of the Centre of Excellence

The Centre of Excellence on Sustainable Land Management has identified several key aims and objectives to guide its activities:

  1. Setting Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets: The CoE-SLM aims to define and implement LDN targets, which involve restoring degraded land and ensuring a balance between land degradation and restoration.

  2. Developing drought risk and early warning systems: Recognizing the critical role of early warning systems in mitigating the impact of droughts, the CoE-SLM will work towards developing robust systems that can help identify and address drought-related challenges effectively.

  3. Mainstreaming gender considerations: Gender equality and the active participation of women in sustainable land management practices are crucial. The CoE-SLM aims to promote gender considerations and ensure the meaningful involvement of women in decision-making processes related to land management.

  4. Promoting good governance of land tenure and rights: Effective governance of land tenure and rights is essential for sustainable land management. The CoE-SLM will focus on promoting good governance practices that ensure equitable access to and responsible use of land resources.

  5. Assessing the impacts of land degradation: The CoE-SLM aims to conduct comprehensive assessments to understand the impact of land degradation on greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss. These assessments will provide valuable insights for designing and implementing effective mitigation strategies.

  6. Facilitating the restoration of degraded land: The CoE-SLM will provide technical support, capacity building, and knowledge sharing to facilitate the restoration of degraded land at the national and sub-national levels. It will serve as a hub for innovative and sustainable land management practices.

  7. Promoting South-South Cooperation: Recognizing the global nature of land degradation issues, the CoE-SLM will actively engage in South-South Cooperation, fostering collaboration among countries to address land degradation challenges and share best practices in sustainable land management.

Objectives of the Centre of Excellence

To achieve its aims, the CoE-SLM has laid down specific objectives that will guide its actions:

  1. Assessing land degradation: The CoE-SLM will conduct detailed assessments to identify areas affected by land degradation, evaluate the causes and extent of degradation, and develop strategies for restoration and sustainable land management.

  2. Capacity building on sustainable land management frameworks: The Centre of Excellence will focus on enhancing the capacity of stakeholders, including policymakers, researchers, and land managers, in implementing sustainable land management frameworks aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  3. Strengthening the assessment, monitoring, and reporting of land-based indicators: The CoE-SLM will collaborate with relevant stakeholders to strengthen the assessment, monitoring, and reporting of land-based indicators outlined by the UNCCD.

No TCS on LRS transactions upto Rs 7 lakh via international debit, credit cards from July 1, 2023

The Indian government has recently announced a relaxation in the Tax Collected At Source (TCS) rules for international transactions made using debit or credit cards. Starting from July 1, 2023, individuals conducting international transactions up to Rs 7 lakh will be exempt from the 20 percent TCS levy. This exemption will also exclude these transactions from the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) limits of $250,000 per annum.

Background and Rationale

The government’s decision to relax the TCS rules on international transactions aims to alleviate the burden on individuals conducting small transactions and avoid procedural ambiguities that may have arisen from recent amendments to the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). It is important to note that this relaxation applies only to transactions made by individuals and does not extend to transactions charged to institutional or corporate credit cards.

Exclusion of Small Transactions from TCS and LRS Limits

Under the new rules, any individual using their international debit or credit cards for transactions up to Rs 7 lakh per financial year will be excluded from the LRS limits and will not attract any TCS. This exemption aims to prevent the imposition of taxes on small transactions and provide relief to individuals who frequently travel abroad or engage in other permissible international expenditure.

Continuation of Beneficial TCS Treatment

The existing beneficial TCS treatment for education and health payments will continue unaffected by the new relaxation. This ensures that individuals making payments for education and healthcare purposes will not be subjected to the TCS levy, regardless of the transaction amount.

Importance of Accountability

While the government has relaxed the TCS rules for small transactions, Finance Secretary TV Somanathan emphasized the need for accountability in larger transactions exceeding the LRS limits. The intention is to ensure that individuals comply with the prescribed limits and to implement taxation measures for significant transactions under the LRS scheme. This step is seen as a reasonable approach to maintaining transparency and preventing misuse of funds.

Expert Opinions and Suggestions

Former Secretary of Finance, SC Garg, welcomed the withdrawal of international credit card spending from the LRS scheme and suggested further rationalization of the LRS policy. Tax experts have also commented on the relaxation, noting that the exemption provides relief but some business travelers may seek higher limits. It is advised that individuals familiarize themselves with the revised rules and explore alternative options for international transactions to mitigate any concerns.

INS TARKASH and INS SUBHADRA Arrive in Saudi Arabia, Kickstarting AL-MOHED AL-HINDI 2023 Naval Exercise

Marking a significant milestone in the growing defense cooperation between India and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the INS TARKASH and INS SUBHADRA have arrived at Port Al-Jubail to commence the second edition of the naval exercise, ‘AL-MOHED AL-HINDI 2023.’ The visit of these Indian naval ships signifies the beginning of the harbor phase, highlighting the deepening defense ties and promoting regional stability in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf region.

I. INS TARKASH: A State-of-the-Art Stealth Frigate Commissioned on November 9, 2012, INS TARKASH is a state-of-the-art stealth frigate belonging to the Talwar class. This vessel is equipped with advanced weapon-sensor technology and possesses the capability to address threats in all dimensions. Its design incorporates stealth technologies and a specialized hull for reduced radar cross-section. The ship showcases a range of naval systems of Indian origin and derives its name from the Sanskrit word ‘Tarkash,’ meaning “Quiver of Arrows,” symbolizing its agility and versatility. INS TARKASH has actively participated in humanitarian missions, including the evacuation of Indian nationals from Yemen in 2015 (Operation Raahat) and Sudan in April 2023 (Operation Kaveri).

II. INS SUBHADRA: A Versatile Patrol Vessel Accompanying INS TARKASH is the INS SUBHADRA, a patrol vessel of the Sukanya class. This vessel has served as a test bed for the Dhanush ship-launched ballistic missile, showcasing its versatility and contribution to India’s naval capabilities.

AL-MOHED AL-HINDI 2023

AL-MOHED AL-HINDI 2023 Naval Exercise

Enhancing Defense Cooperation The second edition of the naval exercise, AL-MOHED AL-HINDI 2023, kicked off with the arrival of INS TARKASH and INS SUBHADRA at Port Al-Jubail. The exercise encompasses a series of joint exercises conducted on land and at sea by the Indian and Saudi Arabian navies. This collaboration aims to enhance maritime security, promote information sharing, and foster greater interoperability between the two naval forces. The warm welcome extended to the Indian ships by officials of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, Border Guards, and the Indian Embassy further highlights the cordial relations between the two countries.

Strengthening Regional Stability

The arrival of INS TARKASH and INS SUBHADRA in Saudi Arabia and the commencement of the naval exercise mark a significant step towards strengthening defense ties between India and Saudi Arabia. The cooperation between the two nations serves to contribute to regional stability in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf region. The AL-MOHED AL-HINDI 2023 naval exercise plays a crucial role in building trust, fostering collaboration, and promoting a secure maritime environment in the region.

New Karnataka CM, Siddaramaiah, Sworn In as Chief Minister

Siddaramaiah was sworn in for his second term as the Chief Minister of Karnataka, alongside Deputy CM D K Shivakumar and eight politicians as ministers. The ministers were inducted after the Congress party‘s sweeping Assembly poll victory in Karnataka. The ceremony took place at Bengaluru’s Kanteerava stadium and was attended by thousands of people.

New Karnataka CM, Siddaramaiah, Sworn In as Chief Minister: Key Points

  • Among the ministers were G Parameshwara, Priyank Kharge, KH Muniyappa, MB Patil, Satish Jarkiholi, Ramalinga Reddy, KJ George and BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan.

  • Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Tamil Nadu CM M.K. Stalin, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, and other notable political figures were present at the event, while Tamil superstar Kamal Hassan, Kannada actors Shivaraj Kumar and Duniya Vijay, actress-politicians Ramya and Umashree, and film producer V. Rajendra Singh Babu also attended.

  • Rahul Gandhi, who played a pivotal role in the Congress victory, called it a triumph of “love over hatred”.

  • Siddaramaiah, who previously served as Chief Minister from 2013 to 2018, has been appointed for a second term. Shivakumar, his former Minister, will continue as the party’s Karnataka state president until the next parliamentary elections.

  • One of the first challenges for Siddaramaiah will be selecting a balanced Cabinet that includes representatives from multiple communities and generations of legislators, with many contenders vying for the 34 ministerial positions available.

  • The government is set to put in place five guarantees, such as free power, financial assistance for youth and women, and free public travel for women on buses.

Several notable leaders, including Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar, have been invited to the swearing-in ceremony, and extensive security measures will be in place for the event. Siddaramaiah has also been appointed the new leader of CLP and met with Karnataka Guv to negotiate his claim to form the government.

Meri LiFE, Mera Swachh Seher Campaign Gains Momentum

The “Meri LiFE, Mera Swachh Shehar” campaign, launched by Union Minister Shri Hardeep S. Puri on 15th May 2023, has gained significant momentum across urban India. With the aim of transforming waste into wealth, this nationwide campaign encourages cities to establish Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (RRR) Centres. These centers serve as one-stop collection points where citizens can contribute items such as clothes, shoes, old books, toys, and used plastic for reuse or recycling. Since its inception, thousands of RRR Centres have been set up, fostering a spirit of sustainability and better living.

Meri LiFE, Mera Swachh Seher Campaign Gains Momentum

Ministry, Launch Year, and Implementing Body

The “Meri LiFE, Mera Swachh Shehar” campaign was launched by the Union Minister, Shri Hardeep S. Puri, in May 2023. The campaign is led by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, in collaboration with local authorities, NGOs, and citizens across the country.

Objectives

The primary objective of the campaign is to promote the adoption of the 3R mantra (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) in urban India. By setting up RRR Centres, the campaign aims to create a convenient and accessible avenue for citizens to deposit their old and unused items, which can then be repurposed or recycled. Additionally, the campaign seeks to raise awareness about sustainable practices, encourage responsible consumption, and reduce the burden on landfills.

Goal

The overarching goal of the “Meri LiFE, Mera Swachh Shehar” campaign is to foster a culture of sustainability and waste management in urban areas. By encouraging citizens to actively participate in the collection drives and utilize the RRR Centres, the campaign strives to minimize waste generation, promote resource conservation, and contribute to a cleaner and greener environment.

Vision

The campaign envisions cities across India becoming hubs of sustainable living, where citizens embrace the principles of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle as part of their daily lives. By integrating these practices into the urban sanitation ecosystem, the vision is to create a circular economy that minimizes waste, maximizes resource utilization, and ensures the well-being of both present and future generations.

Benefits and Impact

The establishment of RRR Centres under the “Meri LiFE, Mera Swachh Shehar” campaign brings numerous benefits and impacts. Firstly, it provides a convenient and organized platform for citizens to contribute their unused items, promoting decluttering and responsible disposal. Secondly, it encourages the reuse and recycling of materials, reducing the demand for new resources and minimizing environmental impact. Additionally, the campaign generates employment opportunities in waste management and recycling sectors, contributing to economic growth. Moreover, by instilling a sense of environmental responsibility, the campaign empowers individuals and communities to actively participate in sustainable practices and contribute to a cleaner and healthier society.

Funding Objectives

The campaign aims to secure funding to support the establishment and maintenance of RRR Centres across the country. The funds will be utilized to create infrastructure, develop collection systems, raise awareness, and train personnel involved in waste management and recycling initiatives. Additionally, the campaign seeks financial support to invest in research and development for innovative recycling technologies and sustainable waste management practices.

Funding Allocation

The specific funding allocation for the “Meri LiFE, Mera Swachh Shehar” campaign varies based on the needs and requirements of different cities and regions. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, in coordination with relevant authorities, allocates resources to support the establishment of RRR Centres, awareness campaigns, capacity building, and technological advancements. 7000 RRR Centres have been launched across the country so far, as lakhs of citizens participate in mega collection drives to deposit old, unused goods. From door-to-door collection with RRR on wheels to creatively setting up an RRR Centre with recycled goods, from innovative methods to disseminate information on RRR Centres to brand ambassadors participating in collection drives, the cities have ramped up their RRR initiatives.

PSU Banks’ Profit Crosses Rs 1 Lakh Crore Mark in FY23

Public sector banks (PSBs) in India have achieved a significant milestone in the financial year ended March 2023, with their cumulative profit crossing the Rs 1 lakh crore-mark. This achievement marks a remarkable turnaround for the PSBs, which had collectively reported a net loss of Rs 85,390 crore in 2017-18. The impressive profit growth can be attributed to a series of initiatives and reforms implemented by the government, supported by factors such as improved credit discipline, responsible lending, and technological advancements. Market leader State Bank of India (SBI) contributed significantly to the overall earnings.

Rapid Growth in Net Profit

PSU Banks’ Profit Crosses Rs 1 Lakh Crore Mark in FY23

Among the PSBs, Pune-based Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) witnessed the highest net profit growth in percentage terms, recording a staggering 126 percent increase to Rs 2,602 crore. It was followed by UCO Bank, which saw a net profit rise of 100 percent to Rs 1,862 crore, and Bank of Baroda, which reported a 94 percent increase to Rs 14,110 crore. In absolute terms, SBI topped the list with an annual profit of Rs 50,232 crore, showing a 59 percent increase compared to the previous financial year. Other PSBs, except for Punjab National Bank (PNB), also reported impressive annual increases in their profit after tax.

Major Contributors to Profit

Bank of Baroda emerged as one of the leading contributors to the PSBs’ overall profit, reporting an annual profit of Rs 14,110 crore. Canara Bank also made a significant contribution, recording a profit of Rs 10,604 crore. These two banks surpassed the Rs 10,000 crore mark in annual profit. Other PSBs, including Punjab and Sind Bank, Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of India, Indian Bank, and Union Bank of India, also demonstrated robust profit growth ranging from 18 percent to 61 percent.

Government Reforms and Initiatives

The success story of the PSBs’ turnaround can be attributed to the comprehensive 4R strategy implemented by the government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and financial services secretary Rajiv Kumar. The strategy included recognizing non-performing assets (NPAs) transparently, resolving and recovering them, recapitalizing the PSBs, and introducing reforms in the financial ecosystem. Over the last five financial years, the government infused an unprecedented amount of Rs 3,10,997 crore to recapitalize the PSBs, which provided crucial support and prevented any potential defaults.

Factors Driving Profitability

Improved profitability among PSBs can be attributed to several factors. Higher interest income and better management of non-performing assets or bad loans played a significant role. The government’s reforms addressed credit discipline, ensuring responsible lending practices, and improving governance within the banking sector. Technological advancements and the amalgamation of banks also contributed to the banks’ enhanced performance. The overall confidence in the banking industry remained strong, further supporting the positive growth trajectory.


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