Current Affairs - News Crux

Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2023

Recently, the Lok Sabha has passed the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which seeks to amend the Competition Act, 2022,

  • The bill allows the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to penalize entities engaging in anti-competitive behavior based on their global turnover, not just their annual domestic turnover.
  • While the provision is not exclusively applicable to tech companies, they are likely to be the most affected due to their global reach.
  • Tech companies typically earn smaller revenue from their India operations compared to their income in other regions such as the US and Europe.
  • The new provision may lead to unfair and punitive outcomes, according to head of competition at law firm.
  • The CCI will have greater say in mergers and acquisitions, and entities will have to seek its approval if the deal value is worth more than Rs 2,000 crore and both parties have substantial business operations in India.
  • This move could pose new challenges for global technology companies, particularly Big Tech firms.

Big Tech firms refer to large, multinational technology companies that dominate their respective industries through their size, market share, and influence. These companies typically have a significant impact on the global economy and play a major role in shaping technological innovation, digital communication, and online platforms. Some examples of Big Tech firms include Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

Foreign Trade Policy 2023-28

On March 31, 2023, Union Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister, unveiled the Foreign Trade Policy 2023-28 in New Delhi.

  • The new foreign trade policy focuses on the internationalisation of trade in rupees according to Union Commerce Minister.
  • Under this policy, the value limit for exports through courier services increased to Rs 10 lakh from Rs 5 lakh per consignment.
  • The dairy sector will be exempted from maintaining average export obligation under the new policy.
  • The Foreign Trade Policy aims to reduce transaction costs for exporters, promote new growth areas, and move from an incentive-based regime to a remission of taxes regime.
  • The policy reduces the application fee for Advance Authorization and EPCG Schemes for MSMEs.
  • The policy enables merchanting trade and extends benefits to e-commerce exports.
  • A Special Advance Authorization scheme for the clothing and apparel sector has been launched to respond to market demands and fashion trends faster.
  • India's exports grew over 70% from $435 billion in 2015-16 to nearly $760 billion in 2022-23 as per the announcement.

Air Pollution in Delhi

According to a recent report submitted by a joint committee appointed by National Green Tribunal (NGT), Delhi tops the list of six polluted spots across the Indo-Gangetic Plain in terms of annual average pollution levels.

  • The joint committee analyzed seasonal variations in PM2.5 levels for 2019 at Delhi (ITO), Amritsar, Murthal, Lucknow, Patna, and Kolkata.
  • High pollution levels in Delhi are attributed to a high concentration of pollution sources throughout the year, owing to a high population and congestion.
  • Delhi had the highest annual average PM2.5 levels at 109 µg/m3, followed by Patna and Kolkata.
  • The region has higher emissions per square kilometre area, and pollutants from Punjab and Haryana impact Delhi as well.
  • Patna had the highest PM2.5 concentration in winter, followed by Delhi. In summer and post-monsoon seasons, Delhi topped the list of six spots.
  • The NGT has directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and CPCB to enforce measures such as the use of cleaner fuel, efficient air pollution control technologies, and the Graded Response Action Plan to control pollution sources within six months.

India’s Contribution to Global Warming

According to a recent study, India ranks fifth in national contribution to global warming, with a responsibility for 0.08 degrees Celsius of warming from the 1850s through 2021.

  • The study calculates national contributions to warming due to greenhouse gases such as CO2, CH4, and N2O since the 1850s.
  • India’s emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) from 1851-2021 have resulted in 0.04°C, 0.03°C, and 0.006°C of global warming over pre-industrial levels, respectively.
  • Overall, India ranks fifth among the top 10 contributors to warming.
  • The contribution of India, China, and Brazil towards warming due to CH4 and N2O increased by 110%, 56%, and 55%, respectively, compared to CO2-related warming alone.
  • The United States topped the list of countries, with a contribution of 0.28°C (17.3%) of rise in temperature, followed by China, Russia, Brazil, and India.
  • Tracking national contributions to climate change can help understand the burden of responsibility carried by each country.
  • The researchers highlighted that CH4 and N2O emissions are more uncertain than that of fossil CO2.
  • The cause of warming also varies, with the land-use and forestry sector being a significant contributor in half the countries.
  • CO2 emissions from land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) in Brazil led to 0.04°C of warming.

‘Striving For Clean Air: Air Pollution and Public Health In South Asia’: World Bank Report

A report ‘Striving for Clean Air: Air Pollution and Public health In South Asia’ released by the World Bank has revealed that air pollution is responsible for 20 percent of premature deaths in Bangladesh.

  • The report suggests that South Asian countries can reduce air pollution by working together in a coordinated manner.
  • It identifies six major airsheds in South Asia with high spatial interdependence in air quality.
  • It also states that 30 percent of air pollution in the largest cities of Bangladesh comes from India due to the predominant wind direction from the northwest to the southeast.
  • Air pollution crosses national boundaries and gets trapped in large "airsheds" shaped by climatology and geography.
  • The report emphasizes the need for a coordinated approach to reduce air pollution levels in the same airshed.
  • It also recommends that countries in the region work together to fight air pollution to get better, faster, and cheaper results.

Green Gravity

Recently, Green Gravity, an Australian renewable-energy company, has announced plans to generate electricity using gravity-based solutions in India's Kolar Gold Fields (KGF).

  • The company will haul a weighted block, weighing up to 40 tonnes, up to the top of a deep mine shaft using renewable power during the day.
  • The block's fall under gravity will power a generator via a connected shaft or rotor when backup power is required.
  • Green Gravity is testing the system in Australian mines.
  • The company plans to assess the feasibility of the KGF mines in India in the coming year.
  • The project will be funded by India's Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

First International Quantum Communication Conclave

On March 27-28, 2023, the Department of Telecom organized the First International Quantum Communication Conclave in New Delhi, in collaboration with CDOT, TSDSI, and IEEE Communications Society - Delhi Chapter.

  • The event aimed to learn about latest advancements in quantum communication technologies.
  • Experts from industries, academia, R&D centres, and government participated in this conclave.
  • Possible applications of Quantum Technologies in building a secure communication infrastructure were discussed.
  • Standards on 'Test Guide of Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) System' and 'Quantum-Safe and Classical Cryptography System' were released.
  • Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Telecom Skill Excellence Awards for 2022 were presented during the event.

State of India's Environment 2023 Report: India & the SDGs

Recently, the non-profit Centre for Science and Environment released the State of India's Environment 2023 report.

  • The report covers various subject assessments including climate change, agriculture, industry, water, plastics, forests, and biodiversity.
  • The report revealed that India is facing challenges in meeting 11 of the 17 United Nations-mandated sustainable development goals (SDGs).
  • India's rank has slipped nine spots over the past five years, ranking 121 in 2022.
  • India is behind its neighboring countries Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh, with Pakistan ranking 125.
  • The SDGs have a deadline of 2030.
  • The report shows that an alarmingly high number of Indian states have slipped in their performance of SDGs 4, 8, 9, 10, and 15.
  • SDGs 4, 8, 9, 10, and 15 pertain to quality education, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, reduced inequalities, and life on land, respectively.

Blue Economy for Sustainable Development

Recently, the G20 countries, which account for 45% of the world's coastlines and over 21% of the exclusive economic zones, have collectively committed to promoting the sustainable development of the ocean commons.

  • India's G20 Presidency prioritizes the blue economy, promoting sustainable and equitable economic development while addressing environmental challenges.
  • The G20 forum offers an opportunity for countries to share best practices, collaborate, and create innovative blue finance mechanisms.
  • The outcomes of the G20 forum on the blue economy should inform other international negotiations.
  • The international negotiations include the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • The oceans play an essential role in the world's biodiversity, climate regulation, and economic well-being of coastal communities.
  • The spirit of 'One Earth, One Family, One Future' should unite the global community for the well-being of our ocean commons.
  • The stewardship of oceans is crucial for future generations, and international cooperation is necessary to ensure their protection and conservation.

LVM3-M3/OneWeb India-2 Mission

On March 26th, 2023, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched 36 OneWeb satellites on its second commercial launch of the LVM-3 rocket. This marked the second launch that ISRO performed for OneWeb, a UK-based company.

  • The launch completed the OneWeb Constellation wherein OneWeb plans to use 588 active satellites for global connectivity.
  • The launch earned ISRO over INR 1,000 crore and increased its share of the global commercial space market.
  • India opened its space sector to private players in 2020, and the government aims to increase India's 2% share in the commercial market to 10% by 2030 through commercial launches by ISRO and private companies.
  • ISRO developed the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) to provide on-demand launch services commercially.
  • The SSLV has completed two development flights, one successful and one partially successful, and has been inducted into the ISRO fleet.
  • The revenue generated by ISRO’s commercial arm, New Space India Limited, has increased from INR 1,731 crore in 2021-22 to a projected INR 3,509 crore in 2023-24.
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