14th December 2020

Climate Ambition Summit 2020

Recently, the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 marks the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on the Climate Change.

  • The Climate Ambition Submit 2020 was co-convened by the United Nations, the UK COP Presidency and France, in partnership with Chile and Italy.
  • The summit aims to bring together leaders to make new commitments to tackle climate change and deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • The Summit is a major step on the road to the next UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).
  • The Summit will provide leaders with a global platform to showcase commitments to tackle climate change which will be under the three pillars of the Paris Agreement:mitigation, adaptation and finance commitments.

Commitments made under Climate Ambition Summit 2020

  • The United Kingdom pledged to double its climate finance contribution to USD 15.5 billion over the next five years.
  • The European Investment Bank announced a goal of 50% of investments going toward the climate and environment sectors by 2025.
  • China’s commitment to lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by over 65% from 2005 levels by 2030 and the EU’s commitment to reduce GHG emissions by at least 55% from 1990 levels by 2030.
  • The ambitious commitments will take the shape of new Nationally Determined Contributions, Long-Term Strategies setting out a pathway to net zero emissions.
  • It also called for climate finance commitments to support the most vulnerable and ambitious adaptation plans and underlying policies.


Handicraft and GI Toys exempted from Quality Control Order 

Recently, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has released the Toys (Quality Control) Second Amendment Order, 2020.

  • It exempts goods manufactured & sold by artisans registered with Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), from use of Standard Mark under licence from Bureau of Indian Standards, as per Scheme1 of Schedule-II of BIS (Conformity Assessment) Regulations, 2018.
  • The Amendment Order 2020 also exempts products registered as Geographical Indications from following Indian Toy Standards & compulsory use of Standard Mark licence from Bureau as per Scheme 1 of Schedule-II of BIS (CA) Regulations, 2018.
  • The notification issued by the department says that nothing in this Order shall apply to goods or articles manufactured and sold by Registered proprietor and Authorised user of a product registered as Geographical Indication by the Registrar of Geographical Indications, Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (CGPDTM).

Significance of exemption of Handicraft and GI Toys

  • It is aimed at framing a comprehensive plan in order to boost production & sale of indigenous toys across the country.
  • The order aims to bring forward the synergized efforts of the GoI, states and the stakeholders to promote ‘Team up for toys’ vision keeping quality standards of the indigenous toys as the priority.

Quality Control Order for toys

  • The Quality Control Order shall apply to (Toys) Product or material designed or clearly intended for use in play by children under 14 years of age or any other product as notified by the Central Government from time to time.
  • The order shall apply to Toys as they are initially received by the children and, in addition, this shall apply after a toy is subjected to reasonably foreseeable conditionsof normal use and abuse unless specifically noted otherwise.


Swadhinata Sarak 

Recently, Bangladesh Foreign Minister has said that the ‘Swadhinata Sarak’ between Bangladesh and India will be opened on 26 March 2021.

  • The road remains functional on the Indian side while it will be connected through Mujibnagar, Meherpur district in Bangladesh.
  • The Chilahati-Haldirbari rail link which was active till 1965 will be inaugurated during the summit meeting between the two Prime Ministers.

farmers are justified in protesting against the new farm laws is in the news?

Recently, the opposition has provided reasons justifying the protests of the farmersagainst the new farm laws.


  • It is an undisputed fact that there was no consultation undertaken by the central government at the time of promulgating the ordinances and subsequently while pushing the bills through the Parliament.
  • The Union government has by-passed the federal structure by legislating on subjectsthat exclusively fall within the domain of the state government under the state list of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
  • The global experience across agricultural markets demonstrates that corporatisation of agriculture without a concomitant security net in the form of an assured payment guarantee to the farmers, results in the exploitation of farmers at the hands of big business.
    • It poses a significant challenge to small and marginal farmers who constitute 86 per cent of our agricultural class.
    • The present laws alter the bargaining landscape in favour of the corporate playersto the detriment of the farmers.
  • The primary cause for concern is the systematic dismantling of the APMC mandis, which have stood the test of time and have provided farmers the remuneration to keep themselves afloat.
    • The market fee collected by the APMC mandis is used for the development of rural infrastructure, link roads and storage facilities.
  • The shifting of trade to avoid payment of any levy/market fee by private players and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will eventually witness the redundancy of the APMC mandis, leaving the farmers at the mercy of the corporate sharks.
  • The new farm laws expressly exclude the jurisdiction of the civil court, leaving the farmers remediless and with no independent medium of dispute redressal mechanism.


Scheme for Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure

Recently, all the States except Tamil Nadu have availed benefits of the newly announced scheme for “Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure”.

  • The scheme was announced by the Finance Minister on 12th October, 2020 as a part of the AatmaNirbhar Bharat package.
  • It was decided to extend a special assistance to the State Governments in respect of capital expenditure, in financial year 2020-21.
    • The capital expenditure proposals of Rs. 9,879.61 crore of 27 States have been approved by the Ministry of Finance.
  • The Scheme has three parts:
    • Part –I of the scheme covers the north-eastern region: Under this part, Rs.200 crores is allocated to 7 north-eastern States (Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura).
      • In view of higher population and geographical area, Assam has been allocated Rs.450 crores under the scheme.
    • Part-II of the Scheme is, for all other States not included in Part-I: The amount has been allocated amongst these States in proportion to their share of central tax as per the interim award of the 15th Finance Commission for the year 2020-21.
    • Part-III of the Scheme is aimed at pushing various citizen-centric reforms in the States: The amount will be available only to those States who carry out at least 3 out of the 4 reforms specified by the Ministry of Finance.
      • The 4 reforms are One Nation One Ration Card, Ease of doing Business Reform, Urban Local Body/ Utility Reform and Power Sector Reform.

Significance of the Special Assistance to States for Capital Expenditure

  • The Scheme is aimed at boosting capital expenditure by the State Governments who are facing difficult financial environment during the pandemic.
  • The capital Expenditure has a higher multiplier effect, enhancing the future productive capacity of the economy, and results in a higher rate of economy growth.
  • The capital expenditure projects have been approved in diverse sectors of economy like, Health, Rural Development, Water Supply, Irrigation, Power, Transport, Education and Urban Development.


Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman  

Recently, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has decided to launch an international prize in the field of ‘creative economy’ in the name of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

  • According to UNESCO, the international award will create a knowledge-sharing mechanism by capturing, celebrating and communicating best practice in the development of creative entrepreneurship.
  • The UNESCO has quoted that the award will recognise exceptional initiatives taken by cultural workers and organizations in the development of the creative economy.
  • The award will create an opportunity to spread the ideology of Bangabandhu in the world and inspire the cultural workers to develop the creative economy.

Creative Economy

  • Creative Economy refers to an economic activity that depends on the individual’s creativity for its economic value whether the result has in it any form of cultural value or not.
  • The Creative Economy only occurs wherever the person’s creativity is the major source of value as well as the main cause of a transaction.
  • The large entertainment sector and diverse cultural traditions form a strong backbone of creative capital.
  • The commercialization and monetization of creative works generate a chain of economic activity, and drive the production and consumption of goods and services.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

  • He was a Bangladesh politician and statesman and is also called the ‘Father of the Nation’ in Bangladesh.
  • He served as the first President of Bangladesh and then later as the Prime Minister of the country.
  • He is credited as a significant figure for gaining political autonomy for East Pakistan.
  • UNESCO has declared 2021 as ‘International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development’.
  • Currently, there are 23 UNESCO International Awards in the name of international celebrities and organisations.


San Isidro Movement 

Recently, in Cuba, a country under an authoritarian communist regime for more than six decades, a campaign by artists and activists demanding greater freedom of expression is fast grabbing the limelight.

  • The Movimiento San Isidro, or the San Isidro Movement (MSI), started in 2018 to protest state censorship of artistic works.
  • The movement started when the Cuban government sought to enforce Decree 349, a law that would have given powers to the nation’s Culture Ministry to restrict cultural activity it did not approve of.
  • The landmark 2015 deal between Cuba and the US gave crucial firepower to the movement.
    • It provided provisions which stipulated that the Cuban regime should allow its people greater internet freedoms in exchange for opening bilateral relations with Washington.


  • Cuba, country of the West Indies, is the largest single island of the archipelago, and one of the more-influential states of the Caribbean region.
  • Cuba is situated just south of the Tropic of Cancer at the intersection of the Atlantic Ocean (north and east), the Gulf of Mexico (west), and the Caribbean Sea (south).


Innovations for a Cleaner Air

Recently, the analysis of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has provided that the monitoring trends in air pollution from 2016-2019 is irregular in most of the States in which the 102 cities that have been targeted for improving air quality.

Status of India’s Air Quality

  • Only 15 States have PM (Particulate Matter) 2.5 monitoring systems for any year and only West Bengal has an above average number of readings available at 110 each for five monitors.
    • Delhi ranks as the most polluted in PM2.5 average across all three years, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • Out of the 23 States listed in the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) only three States/Union Territories (Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab) accounted for above-average readings for all three years for PM10 monitoring.
    • Jharkhand was at the bottom of the chart with only 64 average readings per monitor, with three monitors accounted for in the State.
  • The NCAP envisages reducing air pollution levels by 20%-30% in 102 cities by 2024, based on 2017 levels of PM2.5 and PM10.

Reasons for deteriorating condition of India’s Air

  • Burning of Fossil Fuels: Most of the air pollution takes place due to the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gasoline to produce energy for electricity or transportation.
    • The release of carbon monoxide in high level indicates how much fossil fuel is burned which also emits other toxic pollutants in the air.
    • The inhaling air induced with pollutants due to the burning of natural gas and fossil fuel reduces heart’s ability to pump enough oxygen causing one to suffer respiratory illness.
  • Industrial Emission: The particulate matter 2.5 and 10, Nitrogen dioxide, Sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide are key pollutants that are emitted from industries that use coal and wood as their primary energy source for production of their goods.
    • The industrial pollution effects associated with your health can range from irritation in your eyes and throat to breathing issues, at times can even lead to chronic illness.
  • Indoor Air Pollution: The use of toxic products also called as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), inadequate ventilation, uneven temperature, and humidity level can cause indoor air pollution, whether you are in office, school or at your comfortable home.
  • Wildfires: The climate change is not just increasing wildfire but also spiking air pollution.
    • The burning of stubble and farm residue is also a major contribution to wildfirewhich causes increased PM 2.5 in the air which collides with other harmful substances like chemical gas and pollen creating smog.
  • Microbial Decaying Process: The manufacturing, chemical, and textiles industries release a large number of carbon monoxides, hydrocarbons, chemicals and organic compounds which contaminate our environment.
  • Open Burning of Garbage Waste: The exposure to open burning of garbage waste can pose serious health risk including cancer, liver issues, impairment of immune system, reproductive functions and can also affect the developing nervous system.

Challenges posed by Bad Air Quality

  • Health related concerns: The long-term exposure to outdoor and household air pollution contributed to over 1.67 million annual deaths from stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer, chronic lung diseases and neonatal diseases in India in 2019.
    • The outdoor and household particulate matter pollution also contributed to the deaths of more than 1,16,000 Indian infants in their first month of life last year.
    • India faced the highest per capita pollution exposure in the world, followed by Nepal and Niger.
  • Climate change impacts public health and welfare: The scientists warn that carbon pollution and resulting climate change are expected to lead to more intense hurricanes and storms, heavier and more frequent flooding, increased drought, and more severe wildfires.
  • Increase in common particulate pollutants: The levels of particle pollution and ground-level ozone pollution are substantially lower than in the past but the levels are unhealthy in numerous areas of the country.
  • Numerous toxic pollutants from diverse sources: The EPA’s most recent national assessment of inhalation risks from air toxics estimated that the whole nation experiences lifetime cancer risks above ten in a million.

Measures adopted to tackle Air Pollution

  • Implementation of ambient air quality monitoring system: There are more than 250 continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations and more than 800 ambient air quality monitoring stations operating across the country.
    • The system helps us to understand the magnitude of the challenge of air pollution.
  • Positive response from public policy for air quality: The budget allocation for air pollution increased substantially in 2020-21 from what it was in 2018-19 to ensure cleaner air in cities having populations above one million.
    • The establishment of the Commission for Air Quality Management with penal provisions against polluters in the NCR and adjoining areas is a welcome move.
    • India has an increased focus on e-mobility and it also jumped from BSIV to BSVI vehicles.
  • PUSA Bio Decomposer: The Indian Agricultural Research Institute’s PUSA Bio Decomposer, which turns crop residue into manure in 15-20 days, could become a cost-effective alternative to tackle stubble burning.
  • Nature-based solution to amplify air purification: UNDP is also promoting startup-led innovations such as a filter-less retrofit device for cutting particulate matter at source in industries and vehicles.
  • GeoAI platform for brick kilns: It is developed by UNDP in partnership with the University of Nottingham, is supporting environment regulators to identify non-complaint brick kilns from space.
    • The platform has already mapped over 37,000 brick manufacturing units across the Indo-Gangetic plains.
  • Revolution from Pollution: The Delhi-based Chakr Innovation curbs air pollution with the world’s first retro-fit emission control device for diesel generators.
    • It captures 90% of particulate matter emissions from the exhaust air without reducing energy efficiency.
  • Solar Ferry: ADITYA, India’s first solar ferry, built by NavAlt Solar & Electric Boats, brings together innovation in naval design and engineering, solar power and advanced controls.
    • It is India’s first commercially viable solar-powered ferry.
  • CleanTech for Health and Clean Air: Cellzyme Biotech from Coimbatore uses an engineered enzyme to make antibiotics at room temperature without using solvents (a main contributor to air quality).
  • Cooking with Radiant Heat: Inspired by the traditional Indian method of cooking on charcoal, the Agnisumukh manufactures commercial kitchen equipment driven by innovative, energy efficient radiant heat gas burners.
  • Biomedical Waste Management: There are microwaves now available in the Indian market to treat infectious waste and eliminate air emissions, including toxic POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants), toxic chemicals that adversely affect human health and the environment around the world.
  • System of air pollution monitoring and forecasting: The SAFAR project of the Ministry of Earth Sciences forecasts weather in now-cast and short-range scales over different parts of metropolitan cities and gives weather warnings.

Innovative steps required for a Cleaner Air

  • Mobilization of private sector participation: Businesses and enterprises need to innovate their operations and functioning, building in emission and pollution controls and reducing institutional carbon footprint to the lowest possible levels.
    • The private sector has strong potential to develop commercially viable products to combat air pollution and boost the innovation ecosystem.
    • The impact of interventions that reduce air pollution with healthcare cost, disability-adjusted life years, or economic cost could lead to diversification of funding sources for that intervention.
  • Check the Air Quality Index (AQI): The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regularly measures and reports air quality in cities and rural areas.
  • Avoid burning garbage: It has been witnessed that many people out of their laziness prefer burning the waste instead of throwing it in municipal bodies’ garbage dumping sites.
    • The government needs to take strict action against the violators with both fine and jail term.
  • All new buses zero-emission from 2025: From 2025 all new public transport buses must be zero-emission.
    • The buses will run on either electricity or hydrogen fuel, both generated from renewable sources like solar and wind, and cause significantly less air pollution.
  • Air quality around sensitive receivers: The buildings, like schools, that are designated as sensitive receivers may not be built near provincial roads and motorways.
  • Programme to meet air quality standards: The National Air Quality Cooperation Programme (NSL) aims to ensure that the Netherlands meets the European limit values on air quality.

Way Forward

  • India needs context-specific innovations not only in the technological but also in the economic, social, legal, educational, political and institutional domains given the complexity and magnitude of air pollution.
  • It is important for it to develop a single window online platform for showcasing innovations with the potential to mitigate the challenges of air pollution.
    • The need of the hour is provide an enabling ecosystem for innovations to address context-specific air pollution challenges.
  • It is also required to have a significant government support for enterprises to come up with scalable pollution abatement technologies.
  • The resources need to be allocated to support testing, certifying and scaling of innovative solutions and also to extend support for intellectual property rights protection.
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