News Analysis

27th February, 2024 (Tuesday)

1Prevention of Money Laundering ActGS.2: Indian Polity & Governance
2Granting Permanent Commission to Women OfficersGS.2: Social Justice – Women
3WTO Agreement on AgricultureGS.3: Indian Economy & Agriculture
4Bitcoin Halving – CryptocurrencyGS.3: Science & Technology
5EU’s Carbon Border TaxGS.3: Indian Economy: External Sector
6Amrit Bharat Stations SchemeGS.3: Infrastructure – Schemes in News


Syllabus: GS.2: Indian Polity & Governance

Why it’s in the News: The state of Tamil Nadu is engaged in a legal battle with the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) regarding the latter’s investigation into alleged illegal sand mining. Tamil Nadu government challenged the ED’s jurisdiction under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to investigate sand mining activities.

About the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002

  • Money laundering presents a global challenge, including in India, where the government enacted the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in 2002.
  • The PMLA, effective from July 1, 2005, aims to prevent and control money laundering, defining it as concealing or disguising proceeds of crime.
  • Historical Context
    • Money laundering has historical roots dating back to ancient times but gained prominence in the 20th century with organized crime. In India, the Hawala system has been a prevalent method.
  • Defining Money Laundering
    • The PMLA defines money laundering as directly or indirectly engaging in concealing, possessing, acquiring, or projecting proceeds of crime.
  • Key Provisions of the PMLA
    • Reporting Obligations: Entities like banks are required to report suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) norms.
    • Punishment: Offenders face imprisonment ranging from three to seven years, with increased penalties for larger sums.
    • Property Attachment and Confiscation: The Act allows for the attachment and confiscation of properties involved in money laundering.
    • International Cooperation: Provisions enable cooperation with other countries in investigating and prosecuting money laundering offenses.
  • Challenges in Implementation
    • Despite its importance, implementing the PMLA faces challenges such as resource constraints, a complex legal framework, low conviction rates, the burden of proof lying with the prosecution, and political interference.
  • Conclusion
    • Despite challenges, the PMLA remains crucial in combating money laundering in India.
    • Compliance with reporting obligations and cooperation with enforcement agencies are essential for its effective implementation.


Syllabus: GS.2: Government Interventions in Social Sector

Why in News: Supreme Court urges Indian Coast Guard to grant permanent commissions to women officers. Chief Justice asserts equality, criticizes patriarchal stance, rejects 10% quota proposal. Case adjourned for policy formulation.

Landmark Judgements: Granting Permanent Commission to Women Officers

  • The Supreme Court has made historic rulings allowing women officers in the Indian Armed Forces to receive Permanent Commission, enabling them to serve until retirement.
  • This marks a departure from the earlier Short Service Commission, which had a limited tenure of 10 or 14 years.
  • Evolution of Women’s Role in the Armed Forces
    • Historical Context: Women’s involvement traces back to 1888 with the Indian Military Nursing Service, predominantly in medical roles.
    • Expansion of Roles: In 1992, women were inducted as Short Service Commission (SSC) officers, broadening into non-medical domains like aviation, logistics, law, and engineering.
    • Combat Roles: Notably, combat roles opened up in 2015 for the Air Force, later expanding to the Navy, albeit with some exclusions in ground combat units.
  • Supreme Court Judgements
    • Delhi High Court 2010: Granted Permanent Commission to women SSC officers in the Army and Air Force.
    • Supreme Court Rulings (2020):
      • Army (February 17): Criticized gender stereotypes, affirming equality and dignity for women in granting Permanent Commission.
      • Navy (March 17): Extended Permanent Commission rights to women SSC officers.
  • Significance of the Judgements
    • Equal Opportunities: Women SSC officers now eligible for Permanent Commission on par with male counterparts.
    • Command Appointments: Emphasized constitutional right to equality in considering women for command roles, subject to service needs and performance.
    • Consequential Benefits: Entitlements include promotions and financial benefits for women granted Permanent Commission.
  • The Way Forward
    • Societal Change: Calls for shifting societal attitudes and norms to view women as equals, not just in supporting roles.
    • Leadership Role: Urges military leadership to spearhead cultural transformation towards gender equality.
    • Remaining Challenges: Advocates for broader inclusion of women in all combat roles and tackling issues like sexual harassment.


Syllabus: GS.3: Indian Economy & Agriculture

Why it’s in the News: The farmers’ demand for India’s withdrawal from the WTO agreement on agriculture reflects their discontent with the perceived adverse effects of WTO regulations on domestic agricultural policies.

About the WTO Agreement on Agriculture and Farmers’ Protests in India

  • In the backdrop of ongoing farmers’ protests in India, it is crucial to comprehend the nuances of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Agriculture, particularly the Green Box, Amber Box, and Blue Box classifications.
  • These classifications delineate the nature and impact of agricultural subsidies, reflecting their implications on global trade dynamics.
  • Here’s an elucidation of each box and its relevance to the farmers’ agitation:
  • Green Box:
    • Subsidies falling under the Green Box are considered non-distorting or minimally distorting according to the WTO.
    • These subsidies do not adversely affect trade dynamics and are permissible under the WTO agreement.
    • They are typically government-funded, not supported by consumer prices, and do not involve price support mechanisms.
    • Examples include direct income support for farmers that are decoupled from production levels and prices.
  • Amber Box:
    • The Amber Box encompasses domestic support measures that are deemed to distort production and trade.
    • WTO mandates certain members, including major agricultural economies like the United States, to reduce these trade-distorting supports.
    • Members without reduction commitments are required to maintain their Amber Box supports within specific limits relative to their production value.
  • Blue Box:
    • Subsidies categorized under the Blue Box are exempted from reduction obligations as they are linked to production-limiting programs.
    • Direct payments under production-limiting schemes, such as fixed area or yield payments, qualify for the Blue Box.
    • Livestock payments must adhere to specific criteria, such as being tied to a fixed number of animals.
    • These subsidies are an exception to the general rule of reducing subsidies linked to production and are intended to support farmers while also curbing excessive production.
  • Conclusion
    • The farmers’ demand for India’s withdrawal from the WTO’s agriculture agreement reflects concerns about its impact on domestic agricultural policies.
    • They argue that stringent WTO provisions, especially regarding Amber Box subsidies, threaten their livelihoods.
    • Addressing these concerns requires policymakers to balance trade liberalization objectives with the welfare of farmers and food security.
    • Constructive dialogue is essential to reconcile these interests and ensure the long-term prosperity of India’s agricultural sector.


Syllabus: GS.3: Science & Technology

Why it’s in the News: Bitcoin halving is a quadrennial event reducing miner rewards by 50%, tightening supply. It increases scarcity, potentially raising prices. Its impact on the market varies, with predictions uncertain. Investors’ reactions depend on their strategies and understanding of Bitcoin’s dynamics.

About Bitcoin Halving

  • Bitcoin halving is a pivotal event occurring approximately every four years, marking a 50% reduction in the reward given to miners for validating transactions. This reduction aims to preserve Bitcoin’s scarcity and regulate its supply, crucial for maintaining its value.

Analogical Explanation:

  • Visualizing Bitcoin mining akin to a contest in a grocery store, where cashiers compete to tally items, illustrates the competitive nature of mining.
  • Superior equipment enhances the chances of winning, emphasizing the economic incentives driving miners to optimize resources for profitability.

Implications for Crypto Investors

  • Bitcoin halving intensifies its scarcity, potentially increasing its value, similar to the dynamics seen with gold.
  • Investors closely monitor historical trends and market sentiments surrounding halving events, speculating on potential price surges while acknowledging market volatility.

Impact on Mining and Market Dynamics

  • Halving prompts strategic shifts among miners, with corporate entities focusing on maximizing rewards and individual traders navigating market trends.
  • Geopolitical factors, technological advancements, and market volatility significantly influence Bitcoin’s ecosystem, transcending halving events.
About Bitcoin Bitcoin, introduced in 2009 by an anonymous entity known as Satoshi Nakamoto, stands as a pioneering digital currency. Operating on a decentralized ledger called blockchain, Bitcoin transactions are recorded securely and transparently. The process of transaction verification, termed mining, involves solving intricate mathematical problems, rewarding miners with newly minted Bitcoins.


Syllabus: GS.3: Indian Economy: External Sector

Why it’s in the News: The National Green Tribunal has directed 53 cities which witnessed deterioration in their air quality to submit a complete report on the contribution of each polluting source along with measures taken to reduce pollution.

About the EU’s Carbon Border Tax or CBAM

  • Part of the EU’s “Fit for 55 in 2030 package,” the Carbon Border Tax (CBAM) is a key strategy to achieve the target of a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, as per the European Green Deal.
  • Two-Phase Implementation:
    • Transitional Phase: Starting from October 1, 2023, the CBAM aims to tax carbon-intensive products entering the EU, with a definitive phase beginning on January 1, 2026.
    • Definitive Phase: Under this phase, importers must surrender CBAM certificates corresponding to the declared emissions embedded in imports.
  • Objectives of CBAM:
    • Counter Product Substitution: Prevent EU products from being replaced by carbon-intensive imports, maintaining environmental standards and competitiveness.
    • Align with EU’s ETS: Function similarly to the EU-ETS by setting caps on GHG emissions.
    • Prevent Carbon Leakage: Replace EU-ETS allowances to deter carbon-intensive production from relocating to non-EU countries with lax regulations.
  • Assessing the Impact of EU’s CBAM on India
    • :Adverse Effects: India, among the top 8 affected countries, faces challenges in protecting industries like steel.
    • Limited Time for Action: India must swiftly formulate and implement carbon taxation measures to address CBAM implications.
  • Carbon Credit Trading System (CCTS) in India:
    • Initiative: India introduced its own CCTS in December 2022 to incentivize emission reductions and boost investments in clean energy.
    • Coupled with Green Credit Programme Rules: Designed to encourage proactive environmental actions beyond carbon reduction.
  • Navigating the Future Landscape:
    • Challenge to Principle: India has challenged CBAM under WTO provisions, emphasizing the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
    • Potential Solutions: Suggests the EU could reinvest CBAM revenues in green technologies in affected countries.
    • India needs to align its carbon taxation measures with Paris Agreement principles while safeguarding industries’ interests, emphasizing the need for swift action.


Syllabus: GS.3: Infrastructure – Schemes in News

Why it’s in the News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated approximately 2000 Indian Railways infrastructure projects, valued at over Rs 41,000 crore. A significant component of this initiative is the ambitious redevelopment of 553 railway stations under the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme.

Amrit Bharat Station Scheme:

  • Prime Minister Modi launched the redevelopment of 553 railway stations, marking an investment exceeding Rs 19,000 crore.
  • These stations, spread across 27 states and Union Territories, will undergo a transformation into vibrant ‘City Centers’, integrating seamlessly with their urban surroundings.

Modernization and Amenities

  • The revamped stations will feature modern passenger amenities, including roof plazas, aesthetically pleasing landscaping, intermodal connectivity, modern facades, dedicated kids play areas, kiosks, and food courts. Moreover, they will prioritize environmental sustainability and accessibility for persons with disabilities, drawing architectural inspiration from local culture and heritage.

About the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme

  • The Ministry of Railways introduced the Amrit Bharat Station scheme to comprehensively develop stations across the Indian Railways network. It adopts a long-term perspective, focusing on continual enhancement and facilities improvement.
  • Key Objectives and Features
    • Formulation and execution of Master Plans for station enhancement.
    • Improving access, circulating areas, waiting halls, and installing lifts/escalators.
    • Prioritizing cleanliness, free Wi-Fi, local product promotion, passenger information systems, and executive lounges.
    • Promoting multimodal integration and providing facilities for persons with disabilities.
    • Implementing sustainable solutions, ballastless tracks, and creating ‘Roof Plazas’.
    • Phased development for long-term establishment of city centers at stations.
  • Conclusion
    • The Amrit Bharat Station Scheme represents a significant step towards modernizing India’s railway infrastructure.
    • With its focus on enhancing passenger experience, promoting sustainability, and integrating stations with urban landscapes, it sets a new standard for railway development in the country.

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