4th edition of the virtual Ministerial on Climate Action
•It was organised to advance discussions on implementation of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
•It was co-chaired by European Union, China and Canada
•The participating countries exchanged their views on how they are aligning economic recovery plans amid Covid-19, with the Paris Agreement.
•India highlighted that developed country parties have not fulfilled their promise for extending financial and technological support to developing countries as envisaged under UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on Zoonotic Diseases
•According to a report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), about 60% of known infectious diseases in humans and 75% of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic
•The report was released on 6th July 2020, observed as ‘World Zoonoses Day
•Zoonotic Disease is a disease that passes into the human population from an animal source directly or through an intermediary species
•The report is one of the first to focus on the environmental side of the zoonotic dimension of disease outbreaks during the Covid-19.
•There is an urgency for adoption of sustainable methods of food production and to reduce dependence on intensive systems to preserve health and ecosystems
Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)
•It is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia.
•It includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors.
•Recently, the USA has reiterated its position and asked all its allies and partners, including India, to stop transactions with Russia.
•India could also face USA sanctions for purchasing the S-400 Triumf missile defense system from Russia under the CAATSA
【USA has reiterated its position on CAATSA in the context of India’s planned jet fighter deal with Russia at an estimated Rs. 18,148 crore】
Equalisation levy on e-commerce players
•Recently, the Central government has stated that it will not extend the deadline for payment of equalisation levy by non-resident e-commerce players, even though a majority of them are yet to deposit the first installment of the tax
•The equalization levy is aimed at taxing foreign companies which have a significant local client base in India but are billing them through their offshore units, effectively escaping the country’s tax system
•The step has come in the backdrop of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) investigations into taxes adopted or under consideration by 10 nations, including India, on revenues of American digital service companies like Netflix, Airbnb etc
•The tax applies on e-commerce transactions on websites such as Amazon.com, Paypal, Google in particular
•The amendments to the Finance Act, 2020 had expanded the ambit of the equalisation levy for non-resident e-commerce operators involved in supply of services, including online sale of goods and provision of services, with the levy at the rate of 2% effective April 1, 2020.
Evidence of Lithium Production in Stars
•Recently, scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) have provided evidence for the first time that Lithium (Li) production is common among low mass Sun-like stars during their Helium (He) core burning phase
•Scientists performed a large-scale systematic investigation of the ‘He-flash’ (on-set of He-ignition at the star’s core via violent eruption), at the end of the star’s core hydrogen-burning phase.
[Hydrogen burning is the fusion of hydrogen nuclei into a helium nucleus.]
•This He-flash has been identified as the source of Li production suggesting that all low-mass stars undergo Li production
•The study challenges the long-held idea that stars only destroy lithium and indicates that there is some physical process missing in stellar theory.
National Gene Bank (NGB)
•It was notified in 1996-97 to conserve the Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) for future generations in the form of seeds, genomic resources, pollen etc
•The NGB has four kinds of facilities, namely,
1. Seed Genebank (- 18°C),
2. Cryogenebank (-170°C to -196°C),
3. In vitro Genebank (25°C),
4. Field Genebank, to cater to long-term as well as medium-term conservation.
•It stores different crop groups such as cereals, millets, medicinal and aromatic plants and narcotics, etc.
•The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway houses the world’s largest collection of seeds.
•India’s seed vault is at Chang La (Ladakh) in the Himalayas
•Recently, a Himalayan butterfly known as Golden Birdwing (Troides aeacus) has been discovered as India’s largest butterfly after 88 years.
•It has replaced an unknown specimen which a british army officer Brigadier Evans had recorded in 1932.
•With a wingspan of 194 mm, the female of the species is marginally larger than the Southern Birdwing (190 mm).