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Jul 20, 2024 Daily PIB Summaries

CONTENTS The Voicebox Programme Khelo India Rising Talent Identification (KIRTI) Program The Voicebox Programme Context: Recently, the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) has joined hands with Netflix India to launch an upskilling program for voice-over artists in India called “The Voicebox”. Relevance: Facts for Prelims The Voicebox Programme Overview Training Focus: The Voicebox Programme will provide Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) training for voice-over artists in multiple languages, including English, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Gujarati. Eligibility Criteria: Open to professionals with over two years of experience in the media and entertainment sector, with a preference for women, aiming to advance their voice-over skills. Funding: Sponsored by the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity, which allocates $100 million annually over five years to support underrepresented communities in the TV and film industries globally. Program Structure: Workshops: Includes structured training sessions, guest lectures, and mentoring, culminating in an assessment. Locations: The workshops will be held in seven major cities across India: New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Kochi. Participants: Each batch will accommodate up to 30 candidates, with 210 selected through preliminary screening. At least 50% of the participants will be women. Partnerships: Training Partner: Pearl Academy, a leading design institute in India, will collaborate as the Training Partner. Special Project: The top seven participants from each batch will be selected to work on Netflix’s project, “Azaadi ki Amrit Kahaniya”, contributing their voices to narrate stories about the Indian independence movement. National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) Key Facts Nature: A public sector enterprise operating under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MoIB) of India. Formation: Established in 1975 by the Government of India. Objective: Aims to plan, promote, and facilitate the organized, efficient, and integrated development of the Indian film industry. Khelo India Rising Talent Identification (KIRTI) Program Context: The Government’s ambitious Khelo India Rising Talent Identification (KIRTI) program is set to get a fresh boost under the leadership of the Union Minister for Youth Affairs. Relevance: Facts for Prelims Khelo India Rising Talent Identification (KIRTI) Program Overview Target Audience: School children aged 9 to 18 years. Objectives: Talent Identification: To discover and nurture sports talent from every corner of the country. Distraction Management: To use sports as a means to reduce addiction to drugs and excessive use of gadgets. Implementation: Initial Phase: Launched across 50 centres in India, assessing 50,000 applicants in the first phase. This assessment covers 10 sports, including athletics, boxing, wrestling, hockey, and football. Assessment Goals: Plans to conduct 20 lakh assessments nationwide throughout FY 2024-25 via notified Talent Assessment Centres. Selection Methodology: Athlete-Centric Approach: Transparent selection process driven by Information Technology. Data Analytics: Utilizes Artificial Intelligence to analyze and predict the sporting potential of aspiring athletes. Program Features: Decentralized Approach: Employs a pocket-based method to identify talent, supporting both excellence in sports and mass participation in sports as part of the broader Khelo India Scheme.

Jul 20, 2024 Daily Editorials Analysis

CONTENTS High Seas Treaty: A Crucial Step for Marine Biodiversity Protection On the Jurisdiction of the CBI High Seas Treaty: A Crucial Step for Marine Biodiversity Protection Context: Despite their importance in terms of regulation of climate patterns and maintenance of biodiversity, the high seas—areas of the ocean beyond national jurisdictions—are largely unprotected and poorly managed. The Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement addresses this issue. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the BBNJ Agreement, also known as the High Seas Treaty, is a significant international treaty aimed at conserving and sustainably using marine biodiversity in these areas. Relevance: GS1- Water Resources GS2- International Treaties & Agreements GS3- Conservation Mains Question: The Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Treaty represents a significant international effort to protect our oceans, promoting equity and cooperation among nations. Discuss the significance of high seas and the challenges associated with the implementation of the treaty. (15 Marks, 250 Words). About High Seas: The term “High Seas” refers to those portions of the ocean that are not considered part of any nation’s territorial waters or internal waters, as defined by the 1958 Geneva Convention on the High Seas. These areas lie beyond a country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends up to 200 nautical miles from its coastline and where the nation has jurisdiction over both living and non-living resources. Importantly, no single country bears responsibility for managing or protecting resources in the high seas. Significance of High Seas: The world’s vast and enigmatic oceans play a crucial role in maintaining the health of our planet. They regulate climate patterns, produce approximately half of the oxygen we breathe, and support a diverse array of life essential to global biodiversity. Marine ecosystems are exceptionally varied, housing numerous species, many of which remain undiscovered. Preserving this biodiversity is not only a moral imperative but also essential for practical reasons. Healthy marine ecosystems provide critical services, such as carbon storage, which helps mitigate climate change and support fisheries that millions rely on for sustenance and livelihoods. Covering about two-thirds of the ocean’s surface and 95% of its volume, these regions provide invaluable ecological, economic, social, cultural, scientific, and food security benefits. Associated Concerns: High Seas face serious threats such as pollution, overexploitation, and escalating climate change impacts. Anticipated increases in human activities, including fishing, mining, and biotechnology, pose further risks to these vulnerable areas. Despite covering nearly half of the Earth’s surface, they lack comprehensive legal frameworks to regulate these activities effectively. This regulatory gap leaves them susceptible to overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change impacts. The BBNJ Agreement: The BBNJ Agreement seeks to establish measures for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, aiming to safeguard these vital ecosystems for future generations. The BBNJ Agreement stands out for its commitment to equity, recognizing the varying capabilities of developed and developing nations in managing marine resources. It includes provisions for capacity-building and technology transfer, aiming to level the playing field and enable all countries to effectively participate in ocean governance. This approach is crucial for ensuring equitable sharing of the benefits derived from marine resources. The BBNJ Agreement embodies a global vision of stewardship where nations collaborate to safeguard the shared heritage of our oceans. It establishes frameworks for creating marine protected areas (MPAs), conducting environmental impact assessments (EIAs), and ensuring fair access to marine genetic resources (MGRs) and their associated benefits. This comprehensive approach ensures that conservation efforts are globally coordinated, scientifically grounded, and inclusive of all stakeholders. It exemplifies the effectiveness of multilateralism in tackling global challenges. Challenges Associated with the BBNJ Agreement: Despite its significant advancements, the BBNJ Agreement faces substantial challenges. Enforcing compliance across the vast and remote high seas will be complex. Effective implementation will require robust monitoring systems, international cooperation, and adequate financial resources. Furthermore, harmonizing the agreement with existing regional and sectoral bodies is essential to avoid conflicts and duplication of efforts. Conclusion: Nevertheless, the BBNJ Agreement represents a beacon of hope for addressing the environmental impacts of human activities on our planet. It demonstrates how international collaboration can lead to meaningful progress in protecting marine ecosystems and ensuring sustainable use of ocean resources for future generations. On the Jurisdiction of the CBI Context: The Supreme Court on July 10 upheld the West Bengal government’s lawsuit accusing the Union government of “constitutional overreach” for using the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register and investigate cases in the state, despite the state’s withdrawal of general consent on November 16, 2018. Relevance: GS2- Government Policies & Interventions Important Aspects of Governance Transparency and Accountability and institutional and other measures Mains Question: Does the CBI need the permission of the State to carry out investigation in its territory? Which states have withdrawn general consent to the central agency and what have been the subsequent repercussions? (15 Marks, 250 Words). More on the Judgement: A Bench of Justices B.R. Gavai and Sandeep Mehta dismissed the Centre’s preliminary objections, which argued that it was wrongly made a defendant because the CBI is an “independent agency” not controlled by the Centre. After reviewing the provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, under which the CBI operates, the Bench determined that the establishment, exercise of powers, extension of jurisdiction, and superintendence of the DSPE all lie with the Government of India. Consequently, the Court ruled that the suit has a valid cause of action and should be heard on its merits, scheduling the next hearing for August 13. What is General Consent? Under Section 6 of the DSPE Act, the CBI must obtain consent from the concerned state government before initiating an investigation within its jurisdiction. This requirement is crucial because “police” and “public order” fall under the State List in the Constitution’s seventh schedule. However, no such prior consent is needed in Union territories or railway areas. General consent is typically given by states to facilitate the CBI’s investigation into corruption charges against Central government employees within their territories. Since 2015, several states, including Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Mizoram, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, Meghalaya, and West Bengal, have revoked their general consent, accusing the Centre of misusing the federal agency to unfairly target the Opposition. Without this general consent, the CBI cannot register new cases in these states without explicit permission from the respective state governments, according to P.D.T. Achary, former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha. What does the Case Filed by the West Bengal Government Allege? In August 2021, the West Bengal government filed an original suit under Article 131 of the Constitution, arguing that the actions of the Union government and the CBI’s involvement in the State infringed on its sovereignty. The suit noted that despite the Trinamool Congress government withdrawing general consent for CBI investigations on November 16, 2018, the agency went on to register 12 new cases. The State viewed this as “constitutional overreach” and sought to annul these cases and prevent the CBI from filing any further cases. The Constitution’s framers anticipated such conflicts between the Centre and States due to the quasi-federal structure and dual polity, granting original and exclusive jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to resolve these disputes under Article 131. For a suit to be maintainable under this provision, two conditions must be met: it must involve a dispute between the Government of India and one or more State Governments, or between multiple State Governments, and it must concern a legal question crucial to determining legal rights. In the State of Karnataka vs. Union of India (1977), the Supreme Court noted that Article 131 is a federalism feature and should be “widely and generously interpreted” to advance the intended remedy. Similarly, in State of Rajasthan & Ors. vs. Union of India (1977), the Court cautioned against a “restrictive or hyper-technical view of the State’s rights.” What was the Union Government’s Argument? Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, representing the Union government, urged the Court to dismiss West Bengal’s suit, raising preliminary objections to its maintainability. He argued that original suits under Article 131 exclusively involve the Union and States as parties. Mehta contended that since the CBI registered the cases in question and was not a defendant in the suit, it couldn’t be included because it is not a ‘State’ under Article 131. He further claimed that the CBI is an “independent agency” and does not function under the Union government’s direct control, stating that the Union does not supervise the registration of offenses, investigations, closures, filing of chargesheets, or the outcomes of cases handled by the CBI. However, Mehta later conceded that the CBI cannot initiate any investigation without express authorization from the Union government under Section 5 of the DSPE Act. On the other hand, senior advocate Kapil Sibal argued that the case went beyond the Centre’s control over the CBI to the fundamental issue of whether the agency could ignore a specific notification issued by the West Bengal government in 2018, withdrawing its consent. Sibal asserted that once a State grants and then withdraws its consent, the CBI lacks jurisdiction to exercise its powers within that State. What did the Verdict State? The Court noted that a straightforward reading of the DSPE Act provisions reveals that the Central government is significantly involved with the CBI, from its formation to its administration and the types of offenses it investigates. The author of the verdict, pointed out that under Section 4 of the DSPE Act, except for offenses under the Prevention of Corruption Act (where the Central Vigilance Commission has superintendence), the Central government holds superintendence over the DSPE in all other matters. He also reminded the Centre that Section 6 of the DSPE Act requires the State government’s prior consent for a CBI probe within its jurisdiction. While the Court acknowledged the CBI’s right to independently investigate offenses, it emphasized that this autonomy does not diminish the Centre’s administrative control and superintendence over the CBI. Consequently, the Court rejected the Solicitor General’s argument that the CBI is an “independent agency.” However, the verdict clarified that these observations were only made to address the Union government’s preliminary objections and would not affect the merits of the suit. Conclusion: According to P.D.T. Achary, allowing the CBI to initiate investigations in States that have revoked their general consent would undermine federalism, as policing is a State subject under the Constitution. This could strain Centre-State relations, as it would effectively grant the CBI the same powers as State police forces. While the Supreme Court has only addressed the preliminary objections to the maintainability of West Bengal’s suit, the final ruling on its merits will significantly impact other similar pending cases.

Jul 20, 2024 Daily Current Affairs

CONTENTS Digital Personal Data Protection Act 2023 Women’s Representation in Politics Transformation of India’s Maize Industry SEBI’s Proposal for a New Investment Product UN Water Convention Florida Carpenter Ants  Digital Personal Data Protection Act 2023 Context: Recently, the Digital Personal Data Protection Act (DPDPA) 2023 has been generally well-received by the industry due to its straightforward compliance structure. However, the requirement for verifiable parental consent before processing children’s data has caused some friction between the industry and the government. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: Salient Features of the Digital Personal Data Protection Act (DPDPA) 2023 Issues with Obtaining Parental Consent Addressing the Issue of Parental Consent Salient Features of the Digital Personal Data Protection Act (DPDPA) 2023 Empowerment of Individuals: Grants individuals rights to access, correct, and erase their personal data. Provides citizens with enhanced control over their personal information. Consent Requirement: Stipulates that personal data can only be processed with explicit consent from individuals. Organizations must present clear and specific consent forms and secure consent before collecting data. Data Localization: Mandates that certain sensitive personal data must be stored and processed within India. Aims to bolster data security and simplify the enforcement of data protection regulations. Establishment of Data Protection Board: Creates the Data Protection Board of India (DPBI) to oversee compliance and address grievances. The Board is tasked with resolving disputes and imposing penalties for non-compliance. Breach Notification: Requires organizations to inform both individuals and the Data Protection Board about any data breaches that could compromise personal information. Promotes transparency and prompt action in the event of data leaks. Penalties for Non-Compliance: Imposes substantial fines for violations to encourage adherence to data protection standards. Issues with Obtaining Parental Consent Consent Requirement for Children’s Data: Section 9 of the DPDPA mandates that data fiduciaries must obtain verifiable consent from parents or guardians before processing children’s data. Prohibits harmful data processing and ad targeting aimed at minors. Exemptions: Certain entities, such as healthcare and educational institutions, may be exempt from obtaining verifiable parental consent under specific conditions. Limited exemptions are allowed based on the particular purpose for which the child’s data is processed. Challenges in Implementation: Difficulties in age verification and defining harm to children remain significant. Issues arise when parents revoke consent or when children reach the age of consent. Storing biometric data and ensuring compatibility across devices pose practical challenges. The act lacks clear guidance on how platforms should perform age-gating. Delay in Rules Implementation: The delay in finalizing data protection rules is primarily due to unresolved issues regarding verifiable parental consent. The DPDPA requires at least 25 provisions to operationalize the act, adding to the complexity. Proposed Solutions: The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) initially considered using the DigiLocker app, but privacy and scalability concerns led to its rejection. Another suggestion was an electronic token system, but it faced practical limitations. A recent industry meeting proposed a graded approach based on risk, with the UK’s Age Appropriate Design Code (AADC) as a reference model. Addressing the Issue of Parental Consent Self-Declaration by Parents: Companies can allow parents to declare their relationship with the child during the account setup process. This method depends on the honesty of the parents and lacks a robust verification mechanism. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Implementing 2FA for parental accounts can enhance security. Parents receive a verification code via SMS or email to confirm their consent, adding an extra layer of security. Biometric Verification: Utilizing biometric methods, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, for parental consent can be both secure and privacy-conscious. Biometrics offer a high level of security by ensuring that only the authorized parent can provide consent. Proxy Consent: Allowing parents to authorize a trusted third party, such as a school or pediatrician, to verify their relationship with the child. This approach can provide additional verification and ease the process of obtaining consent. -Source: The Hindu Women’s Representation in Politics Context: The recently concluded general elections in the United Kingdom marked a historic achievement with 40% women representation in the House of Commons, underscoring significant advancements in women’s political participation globally. Contrastingly, India’s women’s representation in the Parliament remains significantly below the global average of 25%. Relevance: GS II: Polity and Governance Dimensions of the Article: Status of Women’s Representation in Indian Parliament Reasons for the Underrepresentation of Women in Politics Arguments in Favor of Women’s Reservation in Indian Parliament Measures Taken to Address Underrepresentation of Women in Indian Politics Status of Women’s Representation in Indian Parliament Current Representation: Lok Sabha: Women members make up 13.6% of the 18th Lok Sabha, an increase from 5-10% until 2004. Rajya Sabha: Women constitute 13% of its members. Election Participation: Historical Data: In 1957, only 45 women contested Lok Sabha elections. By 2024, this number had risen to 799, representing 9.5% of all candidates. Regional Insights: West Bengal: Leads with the highest number of women MPs, totaling 11. Trinamool Congress: Has the highest percentage of women MPs in the Lok Sabha at 38%. Comparison to Global Standards: India’s Standing: India ranks 143rd out of 185 countries in women’s representation in the lower house of Parliament. Global Averages: Countries like Sweden (46%), South Africa (45%), the UK (40%), and the US (29%) have higher female representation. Comparative Context: India falls behind countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Pakistan, and China in gender representation. State Legislative Assemblies: National Average: Women’s representation stands at just 9%. Highest Representation: Chhattisgarh leads with 18% women MLAs, but no state exceeds 20%. Reasons for the Underrepresentation of Women in Politics Patriarchal Norms and Gender Stereotypes: Traditional gender roles and household responsibilities often restrict women’s political participation. Disparities in education and economic opportunities, particularly in rural areas, further limit involvement. Party Dynamics: Political parties tend to avoid fielding women candidates for key positions, often assigning them to “safe” or “unwinnable” seats. The absence of internal quotas or affirmative action policies within parties restricts women’s candidacies. Electoral System Challenges: The first-past-the-post electoral system benefits established male candidates who have significant financial and organisational support. High election costs and the influence of criminalisation and money power further disadvantage women candidates. Legislative Delays: The delayed implementation of the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, which mandate one-third reservation for women in local bodies, affects the pipeline for women in politics. Repeated failure to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill, which proposed 33% reservation for women in Parliament and state legislatures, remains a major obstacle. Lack of Institutional Support: Major political parties often do not prioritize women’s political empowerment. The lack of sustained advocacy from women’s movements and civil society organizations perpetuates the status quo. Arguments in Favor of Women’s Reservation in Indian Parliament Addressing Underrepresentation: Women’s representation in the Indian Parliament is significantly lower than the global average of around 25%. Implementing a 33% reservation would help close this gap and ensure more equitable representation. Promoting Gender Equality and Inclusive Governance: Women in India face numerous barriers to political participation, including patriarchal norms, limited resources, and gender-based violence. Reservation would help mitigate these barriers and support gender-inclusive governance. Reflecting Population Proportions: Women constitute nearly 50% of India’s population but are underrepresented in political decision-making. Increasing their presence in Parliament would lead to policies that better address the unique challenges women face. Empowering Women and Strengthening Democracy: Reserving one-third of seats for women would enhance their active participation in politics, strengthen democratic processes, and foster the development of women- and children-centric policies, contributing to human development. Impact on Local Governance: Evidence shows that women representatives in local governance have been instrumental in addressing issues like child marriage, maternal health, and access to clean drinking water in many villages. Measures Taken to Address Underrepresentation of Women in Indian Politics Constitutional Amendments: 73rd and 74th Amendments (1992/1993): These amendments mandated one-third reservation for women in Panchayats and Municipalities, boosting their involvement in local governance. 106th Constitutional Amendment (2023): Proposes one-third reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. Implementation is pending the next delimitation exercise and census. Women’s Reservation Bill: Introduced in 1996, this bill aimed to reserve 33% of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. Despite multiple attempts, it has not been passed due to lack of consensus among major parties. Voluntary Party Quotas: Several political parties have implemented internal quotas for women candidates: Naam Tamilar Katchi: 50% women candidates. Lok Janshakti Party and Nationalist Congress Party: 40% each. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Biju Janata Dal: 33% each. Rashtriya Janata Dal: 29%. Samajwadi Party: 20%. All India Trinamool Congress: 25%. Government Initiatives: Programs like Mahila Shakti Kendra, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, and STEP aim to improve women’s socio-economic status, though their direct impact on political participation has been limited. Civil Society and Women’s Movements: Continuous advocacy by women’s rights groups, activists, and organizations has been instrumental in pushing for greater political representation for women. -Source: The Hindu Transformation of India’s Maize Industry Context: India’s maize industry has recently seen a significant transformation, shifting from a basic feed crop to a vital component in the fuel and industrial sectors. This change reflects a broader green revolution, reminiscent of historical advances in wheat and rice, but driven primarily by modern innovations in the private sector. Relevance: GS III: Agriculture Dimensions of the Article: Current State of Maize Production in India Comparison of Maize’s Green Revolution with Wheat and Rice Current State of Maize Production in India Production Growth: Since the year 1999-2000, India’s maize production has more than tripled, increasing from 11.5 million tonnes to over 35 million tonnes annually. Average per-hectare yields have improved from 1.8 to 3.3 tonnes. Global Standing: According to APEDA, India ranks as the fifth largest maize producer, contributing 2.59% to global maize production in 2020. Importance in Agriculture: Maize is the third most significant cereal crop in India after rice and wheat, representing around 10% of the country’s total food grain production. Major Producing States: Key states for maize cultivation include Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. Cultivation Patterns: Maize is grown year-round, with 85% of cultivation occurring during the Kharif season. Export Data: India exported 3,453,680.58 MT of maize worth Rs. 8,987.13 crores in the 2022-23 fiscal year. Major export destinations include Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nepal, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. Usage: About 60% of maize is used as animal feed (poultry and livestock), while only 20% is consumed directly by humans. Maize serves as a primary energy source in feed, comprising 55-65% of broiler feed and 15-20% of cattle feed. Industrial Applications: Maize, with 68-72% starch content, is utilized in various industries including textiles, paper, and pharmaceuticals. Recent trends have shifted towards using maize for ethanol production, especially as a rice substitute due to food security concerns. Comparison of Maize’s Green Revolution with Wheat and Rice Pollination Differences: Maize is a cross-pollinating crop, unlike the self-pollinating wheat and rice. This characteristic makes hybrid breeding more commercially viable for maize. Private Sector Dominance: The Green Revolution in maize is largely driven by the private sector. Over 80% of maize cultivation relies on private-sector hybrids, which are high-yielding only in the first generation. Reusing these seeds doesn’t yield the same results due to their self-termination nature. Innovations in Maize Cultivation: Waxy Maize Hybrid: The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has developed India’s first “waxy” maize hybrid (AQWH-4), which has high amylopectin starch content, making it ideal for ethanol production. This hybrid contains 93.9% amylopectin compared to the normal 70% in maize. Starch Properties: The hybrid’s high amylopectin content makes the grain softer, improving starch recovery and fermentation rates. Normal maize grains have 68-72% starch with 58-62% recoverable, whereas the Pusa Waxy Maize Hybrid-1 has 71-72% starch with 68-70% recovery. Yield Potential: The hybrid offers an average yield of 7.3 tonnes per hectare, with a potential to reach 8.8 tonnes. Private Sector Contributions: The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has established a maize doubled haploid (DH) facility in Kunigal, Karnataka. This facility produces high-yielding, genetically pure inbred lines more efficiently, reducing development time from 6-8 generations to just two cropping cycles. In 2022, the facility produced and distributed 29,622 maize DH lines, which are drought-tolerant, heat-resistant, and pest-resistant. Industry Involvement: Companies such as Mahyco, Shriram Bioseed, and Advanta Seeds are key players in developing and promoting high-yield maize hybrids in India. -Source: Indian Express SEBI’s Proposal for a New Investment Product Context: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has proposed the introduction of a new asset class or product category. This initiative aims to provide investors with a regulated investment product featuring higher risk-taking capabilities while also curbing the proliferation of unregistered and unauthorised investment products. Relevance: GS III: Indian Economy Dimensions of the Article: Proposed New Asset Class About Securities and Exchange Board of India Proposed New Asset Class Overview Minimum Investment Threshold: Rs 10 lakh per investor. Distinct Nomenclature: The new asset class will have a unique name to distinguish it from traditional mutual funds (MFs), portfolio management services (PMS), alternative investment funds (AIFs), real estate investment trusts (REITs), and infrastructure investment trusts (INVITs). Investment Strategies: May include long-short equity funds and inverse exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Investors might also use systematic investment options such as: Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) Systematic Withdrawal Plan (SWP) Systematic Transfer Plan (STP) Eligibility Criteria for Asset Management Companies (AMCs) First Route: Existing MFs with: Minimum of three years of operation. Average assets under management (AUM) of Rs 10,000 crore. No regulatory action by SEBI in the past three years. These MFs can directly offer products in the new asset class. Second Route: For existing and new MFs not meeting the first route criteria: Appoint a Chief Investment Officer (CIO) with: At least 10 years of fund management experience. Managing AUM of not less than Rs 5,000 crore. Appoint an additional fund manager with: At least 7 years of fund management experience. Managing AUM of not less than Rs 3,000 crore. Benefits Regulated Investment Product: Expected to offer higher risk-taking opportunities and higher ticket sizes compared to existing products. Bridging the Gap: Aims to bridge the gap between mutual funds and portfolio management services (PMS), catering to the needs of a new category of investors. Strengthening Mutual Funds: May enhance the role and position of established mutual funds and AMCs in the investment market by setting high eligibility standards. About Securities and Exchange Board of India The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is the regulator of the securities and commodity market in India owned by the Government of India. SEBI was established in 1988 and given Statutory Powers on 30 January 1992 through the SEBI Act, 1992. The SEBI is managed by its members, which consists of the following: The chairman is nominated by the Union Government of India. Two members, i.e., Officers from the Union Finance Ministry. One member from the Reserve Bank of India. The remaining five members are nominated by the Union Government of India, out of them at least three shall be whole-time members. SEBI has to be responsive to the needs of three groups, which constitute the market: issuers of securities investors market intermediaries Functions of SEBI SEBI has three functions rolled into one body: quasi-legislative, quasi-judicial and quasi-executive. It drafts regulations in its legislative capacity. It conducts investigation and enforcement action in its executive function. It passes rulings and orders in its judicial capacity. Though this makes it very powerful, there is an appeal process to create accountability. There is a Securities Appellate Tribunal which is a three-member tribunal. A second appeal lies directly to the Supreme Court. Powers of SEBI To approve by−laws of Securities exchanges. To require the Securities exchange to amend their by−laws. Inspect the books of accounts and call for periodical returns from recognised Securities exchanges. Inspect the books of accounts of financial intermediaries. Compel certain companies to list their shares in one or more Securities exchanges. Registration of Brokers and sub-brokers -Source: Indian Express UN Water Convention Context Recently, Ivory Coast joined the United Nations Water Convention, becoming the 10th African nation to do so. Relevance: GS: International Relations UN Water Convention Overview Official Name: Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. Adopted: Helsinki, 1992. Entered into Force: 1996. Purpose: A legally binding instrument aimed at the sustainable management of shared water resources, supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), preventing conflicts, and fostering peace and regional integration. History Regional Origin: Initially negotiated as a framework for the pan-European region. Global Accession: In March 2016, the Convention was opened for accession by all UN Member States. Notable Accessions: 2018: Chad and Senegal became the first African Parties. 2023: Iraq (first from the Middle East), Namibia (first from Southern Africa), and Panama (first from Latin America) joined. Key Provisions Obligations for Parties: Prevent, control, and reduce transboundary impacts. Use transboundary waters in a reasonable and equitable manner. Ensure sustainable management of shared water resources. Cooperation: Parties sharing transboundary waters must cooperate by forming specific agreements and establishing joint bodies. Framework Agreement: Does not replace existing bilateral or multilateral agreements but supports their creation and development. Significance Support for SDGs: Promotes the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs. Servicing Body: The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) services the Convention. Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) – Transboundary Rivers Shares Eight Transboundary River Basins: Black Volta Bia Tanoe Comoe Niger Sassandra Cavally Nuon Neighbours Sharing Basins: Ghana Burkina Faso Mali Guinea Liberia Sierra Leone -Source: Down To Earth Florida Carpenter Ants  Context: Recent study has revealed that Florida carpenter ants (Camponotus floridanus) perform life-saving surgeries on injured nestmates to improve their survival chances. Relevance: Facts for Prelims Florida Carpenter Ants: Medical Practices and Characteristics Medical Practices Injury Response Based on Location: Amputation: Florida carpenter ants perform amputations for injuries located higher up on their legs, specifically the femur. This involves removing the damaged body part through a surgical-like process. Cleaning: For injuries lower on the leg, such as those on the tibia, ants opt to clean the wound instead of amputating. Role of Hemolymph: Carpenter ants possess a bluish-green fluid known as hemolymph, which functions similarly to blood in vertebrates. Injuries to the higher leg regions can slow down the flow of hemolymph, facilitating more effective amputations. Sophisticated Medical System: The behavior of Florida carpenter ants in managing injuries is regarded as one of the most advanced “medical systems” in the animal kingdom, comparable to human medical practices. Physical Characteristics Appearance: Florida carpenter ants are typically reddish-brown and can grow over 1.5 cm in length. Habitat: These ants are commonly found in the southeastern United States and prefer to nest in rotting wood. Defense Mechanisms: They are known for their defensive behavior, protecting their nests from rival ant colonies. -Source: The Hindu