Current Affairs 10th August 2023 for UPSC Prelims Exam
Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation (ACTO)
Context: The eight countries that make up the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) have recently signed the Belém Declaration during their Summit in Brazil.
About Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation (ACTO)
- Definition: The Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) is an intergovernmental organization formed in 1995 by the eight Amazonian countries which signed the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACT).
- Aim: ACTO has been founded to promote the preservation of the Amazon basin and regulate Amazonian development through international cooperation.
- Amazon Cooperation Treaty: The Amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACT) signed on July 3, 1978, gave rise to the ACTO.
- ACT aims to promote the harmonious development of the Amazonian territories in such a way that the joint actions of the Amazonian countries produce equitable and mutually beneficial results in achieving the sustainable development of the Amazon Region.
- Members: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.
- Languages: ACTO has four official languages: Dutch, English, Portuguese, and Spanish.
- Headquarters: Brasilia (Brazil)
Situation in Amazon Rainforest
- Location: The Amazon rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world that covers a huge area of South America.
- Nearly 60% of the rainforest is in Brazil, while the rest is shared among eight other countries—Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela and French Guiana, an overseas territory of France.
- The Amazon is of vital importance because people around the world, as well as locally, depend on the rainforest.
- South America’s Amazon contains nearly a third of all the tropical rainforests left on Earth.
- Despite covering only around 1% of the planet’s surface, the Amazon rainforest is home to 10% of all the wildlife species.
- The billions of trees that make up the Amazon hold vast amounts of carbon, accumulated over centuries, and every year their leaves continue to absorb carbon dioxide that would otherwise remain in the atmosphere and contribute to the rise in global temperatures.
- The trees in the Amazon also release 20 billion tonnes of water into the atmosphere per day, playing a critical role in global and regional carbon and water cycles.
- The Amazon rainforest is a crucial buffer in the global fight against climate change.
- Deforestation, the expansion of the agricultural frontier, fire, illegal timber extraction, illicit crops and unplanned settlements, remain significant threats for the Amazon.
- Also, the Amazon is emitting more carbon dioxide than it absorbs in some locations, a shift that could have an enormously negative impact on planet heating trends. If the Amazon is not protected, it will also be much harder to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The Belém Declaration
- At the recent summit of ACTO in Brazil, the member countries have signed a joint declaration called Belém declaration for ending deforestation in the Amazon.
- Belém is a city located near the mouth of the Amazon River in northern Brazil.
- Belem declaration lists unified environmental policies and measures to bolster regional cooperation.
- The joint statement said the new alliance would aim to “prevent the Amazon from reaching a point of no return”.
- The declaration also included commitments to enhance co-operation on issues like water management, health, sustainable development and common negotiating positions at global climate summits.
- The alliance would also promote the compliance of national goals, including the ones related to zero deforestation through the elimination of illegal logging, by strengthening the implementation of forest legislation.
- It is the first summit in 14 years for the eight-nation group, set up in 1995 by the South American countries that share the Amazon basin.
Context: The Defence Ministry will soon replace the Microsoft Operating System (OS) in all computers connected to the Internet with a new OS, Maya.
About Maya OS
- Definition: It is a new Operation System (OS) based on an open-source platform.
- It has the interface and all functionality like Windows and users will not feel much difference as they transition to it.
- Maya has been developed by government development agencies within six months.
- Aim: Maya aims to provide a robust defense against cyber threats by offering an interface and functionalities similar to that of Windows 0S.
- Significance: There have been increasing cyber and malware attacks on defence as well as critical infrastructure across the country.
- There have been several efforts in the past as well in the Defence Ministry to replace Windows OS with an Indian one.
- Maya OS will enhance cybersecurity across the ministry, with the ultimate goal of safeguarding sensitive defense data and critical infrastructure.
- The new OS will also contribute to India’s efforts in becoming self-reliant in the domain of technology and cybersecurity.
- The OS Maya is being installed on the computers of the Defence Ministry only and not on the rest of the Services.
- But the three other Services will soon adopt the operating system as the Navy has already cleared it and currently it is being evaluated by the Army and the Air Force.
What is an Operating System (OS)?
- An OS is a software program that acts as an intermediary between computer hardware and the computer user.
- It provides a user-friendly interface and manages the hardware and software resources of a computer system.
- In essence, an operating system enables a user to interact with a computer and run applications efficiently.
- An OS, after being initially loaded into the computer by a boot program, manages all of the other application programs in a computer.
Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)
Context: The Ministry of Finance has recently conveyed its inability to release the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) statement under Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act.
About Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)
- Definition: The Medium-term Expenditure Framework Statement is a statement presented to the Parliament under Section 3 of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, 2003.
- The MTEF Statement provides a three-year rolling target for all prescribed expenditure indicators along with details of underlying assumptions and risks involved.
- This statement is presented in the session after the one in which the Budget is presented — usually, that is the monsoon session.
- Aim: The objective of MTEF is to facilitate a closer integration between FRBM statements and the Union Budget.
- Components: MTEF essentially contains the following:
- The expenditure commitment of the government on major policy changes involving new services, new instruments of service, new schemes and programmes.
- Explicit contingent liabilities in the form of stipulated annuity payments stated over a multi-year timeframe.
- A detailed break-up of grants for creating capital assets.
- The statement provides an estimate of expenditure for various sectors, including education, health, rural development, energy, subsidies and pension, etc.
- Data such as expenditure commitments spread across the various central ministries on salaries and pensions, major programmes, grants-in-aid for creation of capital assets, defence expenditure, interest payment and major subsidies, etc, besides other commitments of the government are considered while formulating this statement.
- Expenditure commitments for revenue and capital expenditure are shown separately.
About Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM Act), 2003
- Definition: The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM Act), 2003, establishes financial discipline to reduce fiscal deficit.
- The FRBM Act aims to introduce transparency in India’s fiscal management systems.
- The Act’s long-term objective is for India to achieve fiscal stability and to give the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) flexibility to deal with inflation in India.
- The FRBM Act was enacted to introduce more equitable distribution of India’s debt over the years.
- Features: The FRBM Act made it mandatory for the government to place the following along with the Union Budget documents in Parliament annually:
- Medium Term Fiscal Policy Statement
- Macroeconomic Framework Statement
- Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement
Convention on Cluster Munitions
Context : South Sudan became the 112th state party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.\
What are Cluster Munitions?
- Cluster munitions, or cluster bombs, are weapons that release multiple explosive submunitions, also called bomblets, into the air.
- These submunitions explode as soon as they hit the ground, killing and maiming people in the area.
- Many bomblets do not blow up instantly and remain dormant for years (also known as the dud rate). These inactive bomblets act as precarious landmines, posing a grave threat to the civilian population for a long time.
- Cluster bombs have a notorious history. They were used in the Second World War. Since then, cluster bombs have been used on multiple occasions including by the U.S. in the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
- According to the Cluster Munition Monitor, anywhere between 56,000 to 86,000 people have died in cluster munition-affected countries, since the 1960s.
- Recently, the decision by the US to send cluster bombs in July 2023, after Ukraine warned that it was running out of ammunition, has stirred up controversy.
About the Convention on Cluster Munitions
- The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) is an international treaty that prohibits all use, transfer, production, and stockpiling of cluster munitions.
- The convention further obligates countries to destroy existing stockpile of cluster munitions in their possession.
- Countries are also legally bound to develop a victim assistance programme to provide support and rehabilitation to the cluster bomb victims in their jurisdiction.
- The convention was adopted in 2008 in Dublin, and entered into force in 2010.
- As of April 2023, a total of 123 states are committed to the goal of the convention, with 111 states that have ratified it, and 12 states that have signed the convention but not yet ratified it.
- But important countries such as the U.S., Russia, China, Israel, and India have not signed the CCM. Ukraine is not a member.
CAG Report on AB-PMJAY
Context: The Comptroller and Auditor General has highlighted discrepancies in the database of Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY).
What is AB-PMJAY?
- It aims to provide health cover of Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation to the poor and vulnerable section of the population.
- It aims to improve affordability, accessibility, and quality of care for the poor and vulnerable section of the population.
About CAG Report on AB-PMJAY
- Database Errors: According to the report, in the absence of adequate validation controls, errors were noticed in beneficiary databases, such as invalid names, unrealistic date of birth, duplicate PMJAY IDs, and unrealistic size of family members in a household.
- Negligence in Following Guidelines: The report has stated that several empanelled health care providers (EHCPs) under the scheme did not adhere to the prescribed quality standards and criteria, which are key to the safety and well-being of the beneficiaries in care and minimum conditions for empanelment.
- Some of these EHCPs had a shortage of doctors, infrastructure and equipment.
- Lack of Infrastructure: EHCPs in several states and union territories did not fully adhere to criteria related to infrastructure, fire safety measures, bio-medical waste management, and pollution control and hospital registration certificate.
- In some other EHCPs, fire safety certificates expired before empanelment.
- Dead Patients Treated: The CAG report also said that patients earlier shown as “dead” continued to avail treatment under the scheme.
- The maximum number of such cases were in Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
- Linking of Mobile Number: In its audit report on Performance Audit of AB-PMJAY, the CAG has revealed that nearly 7.5 lakh beneficiaries were linked with a single cell phone number — 9999999999.
- Admissions: Data analysis suggested that the same patient could get admission in multiple hospitals during the same period of hospitalization.
- The report also noted that there was no mechanism to prevent any patient from getting admissions in different hospitals during the same period of hospitalization.
- Unrealistic Household Size: Data analysis revealed that in 43,197 households, the size of the family was unrealistic, ranging from 11 to 201 members. The presence of such unrealistic members in a household in the BIS database indicates:
- lack of essential validation controls in the beneficiary registration process, and
- the possibility that beneficiaries are taking advantage of the lack of a clear definition of family in the guidelines.
- The National Anti-Fraud Unit has sent periodic reminders to the States/UTs highlighting discrepancies in verified data.
- However, ‘Public Health’ being a state subject, the final decision in this regard vests with the State Governments.
- Pensioner Possessing PMJAY Cards: Many pensioners in Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu were found possessing PMJAY cards and availing treatment under the scheme.
- Delayed Action for Ineligible Beneficiaries: Audit observed that delayed action in weeding out the ineligible beneficiaries resulted in ineligible persons availing benefits of the Scheme and excess payment of premium to the insurance companies.
- Pending Penalties: The CAG also noted that penalties amounting to ₹12.32 crore from 100 hospitals were pending in nine States.
- Also, in Andhra Pradesh and Punjab, private hospitals were performing procedures reserved for public hospitals.