Current Affair-March 24, 2021

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CURRENT AFFAIRS

Permanent Indus Commission

Context: After a gap of more than two and half years Indian and Pakistani delegations began the 116th Meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission in New Delhi.

Numerous disputes were peacefully settled over the years through the Permanent Indus Commission. In a significant challenge to the treaty, in 2017 India completed the building of the Kishanganga dam in Kashmir and continued work on the Ratle hydroelectric power station on the Chenab River despite Pakistan’s objections and amid ongoing negotiations with the World Bank over whether the designs of those projects violated the terms of the treaty.  

About the Commission

  • The Permanent Indus Commission was set up under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.
  • The Commission deals with water rights on the Indus river.
  • The Indus water treaty warrants the two commissioners to meet at least once a year. Last year’s meeting scheduled to be held in March in New Delhi was cancelled due to Corona virus pandemic. The last meeting took place in Lahore in August 2018.
  • The Indian side is being led by the Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters Pradeep Kumar Saxena. The Pakistan side is being led by Syed Muhammad Meher Ali Shah.

About Indus Water Treaty

  • Indus Waters Treaty, treaty, signed on September 19, 1960, between India and Pakistan and brokered by the World Bank. The treaty fixed and delimited the rights and obligations of both countries concerning the use of the waters of the Indus River system.
  • The Treaty was signed between then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and former Pakistan President Ayub Khan. It sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers.
  • The treaty gave the waters of the western rivers—the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab—to Pakistan and those of the eastern rivers—the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej—to India.
  • It also provided for the funding and building of dams, link canals, barrages, and tube wells—notably the Tarbela Dam on the Indus River and the Mangla Dam on the Jhelum River.
  • The treaty required the creation of a Permanent Indus Commission, with a commissioner from each country, in order to maintain a channel for communication and to try to resolve questions about implementation of the treaty. A mechanism for resolving disputes was also provided.

India River System

  • The Indus River rises in the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region of China and flows through the disputed Kashmir region and then into Pakistan to drain into the Arabian Sea.
  •  It is joined by numerous tributaries, notably those of the eastern Punjab Plain—the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej rivers.
  • The Indus River system has been used for irrigation since time immemorial.
Source: The Hindu

Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs)

Context: The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cautioned investors “not to make investment decisions related to SPACs based solely on celebrity involvement”.

What is SPAC?

  • An SPAC, or a blank-cheque company, is an entity specifically set up with the objective of acquiring a firm in a particular sector.
  • The aim of  SPAC is to raise money in an initial public offering (IPO) and at this point in time, it does not have any operations or revenues.
  • Once the money is raised from the public, it is kept in an escrow account, which can be accessed while making the acquisition.
  • If the acquisition is not made within two years of the IPO, the SPAC is delisted and the money is returned to the investors.
  • A key factor that makes SPACs attractive to investors despite them essentially being shell companies, are the people sponsoring the blank-cheque company. Globally, prominent names such as former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, tennis star Serena Williams, former TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer, Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell, billionaire and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla etc. have participated in SPACs.

In India

  • In India, renewable energy producer ReNew Power last month announced an agreement to merge with RMG Acquisition Corp II, a blank-cheque company, in what became the first involving an Indian company.
  • While India has not taken an official regulatory stand on allowing the listing of SPACs here, SEBI has reportedly formed a group of experts to study the feasibility of bringing SPACs under the regulatory ambit.
  • However, the Indian regulatory framework does not allow the creation of these blank cheque companies as yet. For example, the Companies Act 2013 stipulates that the Registrar of Companies can strike off a company if it does not commence operations within a year of incorporation.

Risks

  • The boom in investor firms going for SPACs and then looking for target companies have tilted the scales in favour of investee firms. This has the potential to limit returns for retail investors post-merger.
  • Even as the SPACs are mandated to return money to their investors in the event no merger is made within two years, fineprint of several SPAC prospectuses shows that certain clauses could potentially prevent investors from getting their monies back.
  • Celebrity involvement in a SPAC does not mean that the investment in a particular SPAC or SPACs generally is appropriate for all investors.
Source: Indian Express

Parosmia

  • While loss of smell (anosmia) and taste is a well known symptom of COVID-19, some people may experience parosmia.
  • Some other unusual symptoms associated with the disease include COVID-toe and COVID-tongue, which is an inflammatory disorder that usually appears on the top and sides of the tongue.

Parosmia

  • Parosmia is a medical term used to describe a condition in which affected individuals experience “distortions of the sense of smell”.
  • A person with parosmia is able to detect certain odours, but they might experience the smell of certain things as different and often unpleasant. For instance, to someone with parosmia, coffee may smell like burnt toast.

Causes

  • It is typically experienced by those people who are recovering their sense of smell following loss from a virus or an injury.
  • It is a temporary condition and is not harmful in itself.
  • Affected individuals may have to change their eating patterns, diets and avoid foods that trigger the certain odours.
  • It is likely that parosmia manifests itself due to the damage caused to the olfactory neurons when “the delicate and complex structure in the nose is attacked by a virus.”
Source: Indian Express

Mythical King Chandraketu and Fort of Chandraketu

  • New theories suggest that while it has always been believed that Sandrocottus was the name Megasthenes used for Chandragupta Maurya, he was talking about his time spent in India with King Chandraketu. However, his historical presence remains ambiguous with several authorities believing he was entirely fictitious. No written records of such a king exists in Bengali medieval literature.
  • Chandraketugarh (Fort of Chandraketu) is often called “the city that never existed”. It was once reportedly an important coastal hub in international trade, between 4th Century BCE and 12th Century CE. However, it has since been reduced to a barren mound.
  • The archaeological site is over 2,500 years old, and is located near the Bidyadhari River, which is around 35 kilometres north east of Kolkata, in North 24 Parganas.
  • Some historians also identified Chandraketugarh as Gangaridai, one of the four places that Greek philosopher Ptolemy mentions in his work — Geographia.
  • This may suggest that the site had links with Rome and other ancient civilisations, and was part of a wide network of metal trading. The coins unearthed in excavations are telling of this.
Source: Indian Express

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