Current Affair – June 8, 2021

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CURRENT AFFAIRS

Report ‘Scientific review of the impact of climate change on plant pests’

  • The scientific review analyzed 15 plant pests and found that climate change will increase the risk of pests spreading in agricultural and forestry ecosystems, especially in cooler Arctic, boreal, temperate and subtropical region
  • The report noted that a single, unusually warm winter can be enough to assist the establishment of invasive pests.
  • The scientific review was prepared under Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention and was hosted by FAO. It is one of the key initiatives of the International Year of Plant Health, which will come to an end in June this year.

· The United Nations declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health. The Year was extended until July 1, 2021 due to the novel corona virus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The danger of pests

·  As much as 40% of the world’s agricultural crops are lost to pests each year.

  • Invasive pests cost countries at least $70 billion annually and are one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss, according to estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
  • The damage from plant pests leaves millions of people without enough food to eat, according to FAO. It adversely impacts agricultural activities and thereby, the primary source of income for rural poor communities.

Pests and climate change

  • A few pests such as fall armyworm, which feed on crops like maize, sorghum and millet and Tephritid fruit flies (that damage fruit and other crops) have already spread due to a warmer climate.

. Others, such as desert locusts (the world’s most destructive migratory pests), are expected to change their migratory routes and geographical distribution because of climate change.

  • Half of all emerging plant diseases are spread by global travel and trade, which have tripled in volume over the last decade, while weather is the second-most important factor. Such movements threaten food security in general.

Recommendations

The report outlined several recommendations to mitigate the impact of climate change on plant health:

  • When combating pests and diseases, farmers should adopt and policymakers should encourage the use of environment- friendly methods such as integrated pest management.

· To make trade safe, it is important to implement international plant health standards and norms, such as those developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPCC) and FAO. The IPPC is a plant health treaty signed by over 180 countries.

  • Need for more research as well as investment in strengthening national plant health systems and structures.
  • Policymakers and government should ensure their decisions are based on sound preparation and data. Regularly monitoring plants and receiving early warning information about emerging threats.
Source: Down-to-earth

Drug Aducanumab for Alzheimer disease

  • The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Biogen’saducanumab, the first drug to target an underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The drug is the first new approval of an Alzheimer’s drug since 2003 and the only treatment designed to slow progression of the mind-robbing disease.

Alzheimer

  • Alzheimer’s is estimated to account for at least 60% of dementia, which involves declines in memory, reasoning or thinking skills and basic ability to function.
  • Patients who are prescribed Aduhelm will likely need both cognitive testing and confirmation that their dementia is due to Alzheimer’s, through either a lumbar puncture to examine spinal fluid or through a special brain scan to confirm the presence of amyloid in the brain.

What does it do?

  • Aduhelm is designed to target amyloid beta, a protein that forms sticky deposits or plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid is thought to begin forming years before any signs of memory loss appear, making treatment as early as possible most likely to provide benefit.
  • The drug is designed to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, allowing patients to remain as self-sufficient as possible for as long as possible. It is not a cure.

Are there side effects?

Yes. In clinical trials, some patients given the highest dose of the drug experienced brain swelling, and had to be monitored. The risk was highest in patients with a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s. Headache is also a reported side effect of the drug.

Source: Indian Express

Consumer Confidence Survey – RBI

The results of the latest RBI Consumer Confidence Survey that was conducted in May.

What is this survey?

  • The RBI conducts this survey every couple of months by asking households in 13 major cities — such as Ahmadabad, Bhopal, Guwahati, Patna, Thiruvananthapuram — about their current perceptions and future expectations on a variety of economic variables. These variables include the general economic situation, employment scenario, overall price situation, own income and spending levels.
  • Based on these specific responses, the RBI constructs two indices: the Current Situation Index (CSI) and the Future Expectations Index (FEI). The CSI maps how people view their current situation (on income, employment etc.) vis a vis a year ago. The FEI maps how people expect the situation to be (on the same variables) a year from now.
  • By looking at the two variables as well as their past performance, one can learn a lot about how Indians have seen themselves fairing over the years.

What was the main finding?

  • As Chart 1 shows, the CSI has fallen to an all-time low of 48.5 in May. An index value of 100 distinguishes between positive and negative sentiment. At 48.5, the current consumer sentiment is more than 50 points adrift from being neutral — the farthest it has ever been.
  • The FEI moved to the pessimistic territory for the second time since the onset of the pandemic. However, there were two peaks (of positive consumer sentiment) in the recent past; they coincide with demonetization in 2016 and Prime Minister Mode’s re-election in 2019.

What are the factors responsible for pulling down the CSI and FEI respectively?

The RBI states that CSI is being pulled down because of falling consumer sentiments on the “general economic situation” and “employment” scenario.

What else did the RBI survey find out?

  • The RBI also collected data on spending levels, especially spending on non-essential items such as leisure travel, eating out, luxury items etc.

· Responses suggest that Indian had started curtailing spending on non-essential items quite sharply since the middle of 2018, the pandemic simply pulled the metrics into the negative territory.

Challenge

If the government’s strategy for fast economic growth — expecting the private sector to lead India out of this trough by investing in new capacities — is to succeed, then consumer spending (especially on non-essentials) has to go up sharply. But for that to happen, household incomes have to go up; and for that to happen, the employment prospects have to brighten; and for that to happen, again, companies have to invest in new capacities.

Source: Indian Express

Mission Indradhanush

  • Immunization Programmer in India was introduced in 1978 as ‘Expanded Programme of Immunization’ (EPI) by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • In 1985, the programme was modified as ‘Universal Immunization Programme’ (UIP) to be implemented in phased manner to cover all districts in the country by 1989-90. Despite being operational for many years, UIP has been able to fully immunize only 65% children in the first year of their life.

Diseases covered

  • Go is providing vaccination free of cost against vaccine preventable diseases include:
    • diphtheria
    • pertussis
    • tetanus
    • polio
    • measles
    • severe form of childhood tuberculosis,
    • hepatitis B
    • meningitis and pneumonia (Homophiles influenza type B infections)
    • Japanese encephalitis (JE) in JE endemic districts
    • Rotavirus vaccine
    • pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and
    • measles-rubella (MR)

Mission Indradhanush

  • Launched in December 2014.
  • Goal: Ensure full immunization with all available vaccines for children up to two years of age and pregnant women.
  • The Government has identified 201 high focus districts across 28 states in the country that have the highest number of partially immunized and unimmunized children.

Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI)

  • Launched on October 8, 2017.
  • The focus of special drive was to improve immunisation coverage in select districts and cities to ensure full immunisation to more than 90% by December 2018.
  • Greater focus was given on urban areas which were one of the gaps of Mission Indradhanush.

Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 2.0

  • It was a nationwide immunisation drive to mark the 25 years of Pulse polio programme (2019-20).

· Goal: Achieve targets of full immunization coverage in 272 districts in 27 States and at block level (652 blocks) in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar among hard-to-reach and tribal populations.

  • It aimed to achieve at least 90% pan-India immunisation coverage by 2022.

Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 3.0

  • Launched in February 2021.
  • Focus on children and pregnant women who missed their vaccine doses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will have two rounds this year which will be conducted in 250 pre-identified districts/urban areas across 29 States/UTs.Each round will be for 15 days. Beneficiaries from migration areas and hard-to-reach areas will be targeted as they may have missed their vaccine doses during COVID-19

Source: PIB

G7 – Reforming Global Tax system

  • Finance Ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations on Saturday reached a landmark accord setting a global minimum corporate tax rate, an agreement that could form the basis of a worldwide deal.
  • The Group of Seven said it would back a minimum global corporation tax rate of at least 15%, and put in place measures to ensure that taxes were paid in the countries where businesses operate.

Aim

  • Ending a decades long “race to the bottom”, in which countries have competed to attract corporate giants with ultralow tax rates and exemptions.
  • Close cross border tax loopholes used by some of the world’s biggest companies.
  • Make global tax system fit for the global digital age.

Why a global minimum?

  • Major economies are aiming to discourage multinationals from shifting profits and tax revenues to lowtax countries regardless of where their sales are made.
  • Increasingly, income from intangible sources such as drug patents, software and royalties on intellectual property has migrated to these jurisdictions, allowing companies to avoid paying higher taxes in their traditional home

countries. competition on innovation, infrastructure and other attributes.

Where are the talks at?

  • The G7 talks feed in to a much broader, existing effort.
  • The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has been coordinating tax negotiations among 140 countries for years on rules for taxing cross border digital services and curbing tax base erosion, including a global cor- porate minimum tax.
  • The OECD and G20 countries aim to reach consensus on both by midyear, but the talks on a global corporate minimum are technically simpler and less contentious. If a broad consensus is reached, it will be extremely hard for any lowtax country to try and block an accord.

How would a global minimum tax work?

The global minimum tax rate would apply to overseas profits. Governments could still set whatever local corporate tax rate they want, but if companies pay lower rates in a particular country, their home governments could “topup” their taxes to the minimum rate, eliminating the advantage of shifting profits.

Items remained to be negotiated

  • The rate of global Minimum,
  • Whether investment funds and real estate investment trusts should be covered,
  • When to apply the new rate and ensuring it is compatible with U.S. tax reforms aimed at deterring erosion.

Minimum rate

  • Talks are focusing around the U.S. proposal of a minipmum global corporation tax rate of 15% above the level in countries such as Ireland but below the lowest G7 level.
  • Any final agreement could have major repercus sions for lowtax countries and tax havens.

About G7

  • The G7 (Group of Seven) is an organisation made up of the world’s seven largest so-called advanced economies. They are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States.
  • Russia joined in 1998, creating the “G8”, but was excluded in 2014 for its takeover of Crimea.

Does the G7 have any power?

  • It can’t pass any laws because it is made up of separate nations with their own democratic processes.
  • However, some decisions can have global effects.
  • For example, the G7 played crucial roles in setting up a global fund to fight malaria and Aids in 2002.
Source: The Hindu

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