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Here are the topics covered for 16th December 2023:
GS-1: Social Stock Exchange
GS-3: G7 Russian Diamonds, Coal Transport
Facts For Prelims: Mosasaur, Free Trade Agreement
Social Stock Exchange
- A separate segment within the existing stock exchange facilitates social enterprises in raising funds from the public.
- Designed to be a platform for enterprises focusing on social initiatives, it enhances visibility and transparency in fund mobilization and utilization.
- For-profit Social Enterprises (SEs) under the main Board are open to investment by retail investors.
- In other cases, securities issued by SEs are limited to institutional and non-institutional investors.
- Social enterprises, including Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) and For-Profit Social Enterprises (FPEs), can register or be listed on the Social Stock Exchange segment.
- SEBI regulations mandate enterprises to focus on social objectives, such as addressing hunger, poverty, malnutrition, and inequality, promoting education, employability, equality, women\’s and LGBTQIA+ empowerment, environmental sustainability, protection of national heritage, art, and bridging the digital divide.
- The enterprises need to demonstrate a clear commitment to social impact to qualify for listing on the Social Stock Exchange.
- The Maldives government has decided not to renew the 2019 agreement with India allowing hydrographic surveys in its waters, originally signed during Prime Minister Modi\’s visit and President Ibrahim Solih\’s term.
About Hydrographic Survey
- Hydrographic surveys use sonar on ships to map water depth, seafloor, and coastline shape, locate obstructions, and understand water body features.
- Approximately 50% of coastal states lack hydrographic capability, and 25% have limited capabilities.
- Only 25%, including India, possess adequate hydrographic capabilities.
- There\’s significant potential for international cooperation in hydrography, especially in Asia and Africa.
- In Asia, 36% of water, and in Africa, 64% of water, are yet to be systematically surveyed, according to a UN study.
Hydrographic Survey Between India and Maldives
- India and Maldives signed multiple MOUs in 2019, one of which involved cooperation in the field of hydrography between the Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).
- India supports Maldives in establishing hydrographic facilities in the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).
- Three joint hydrographic surveys were conducted in 2021, 2022, and 2023.
- INS Darshak conducted the first survey in February-March 2021, covering 944 square km.
- Surveys aimed to update Navigational Charts/Electronic Navigational Charts for various sectors.
- Tidal observations were conducted for accurate tidal predictions.
- The objective is to enhance navigational and environmental data for mutual benefit.
- Indian Railways plans to increase coal transportation by 400 million tonnes in eight years, facing potential challenges highlighted by IEEFA, including congestion and logistical issues.
Challenges in Coal Transport
- The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) deems this goal unrealistic, citing recent trends favoring truck transport over rail.
- Challenges include the need for a rapid reversal of the current trend and potential impacts on track-renewal activities on major routes.
- Indian Railways faces congestion and logistical challenges in realizing the ambitious coal transportation plan.
- Despite the National Rail Plan forecasting a 46% rise in daily non-suburban passengers, the strain on the railway network from expanding freight and passenger capacities is a significant concern.
- The experience of the coal supply crisis underscores potential challenges in managing both increasing freight and passenger demands simultaneously.
- Nonsuburban trains are currently experiencing their slowest speeds since 2015, indicating a return of rail network congestion.
- The average speed of passenger trains, which had approached 60 km/hr in 2020 during pandemic-related service cancellations, dropped to 38.6 km/hr by September 2023.
- This decline in speed raises concerns about the rail network\’s ability to handle increased freight, especially if coal transportation is more than doubled as planned.
- The government of India expresses confidence that the G7 nations\’ decision to restrict Russian diamond entry into their markets will have minimal impact on India\’s diamond processing sector, with a solution on the horizon.
About Russian Diamonds
- Mines in Russia\’s Siberia, holding a 30 percent share, are the world\’s largest producer of rough diamonds.
- Valued at around $4 billion, these mines contribute over 90 percent of the global supply.
- Alrosa, a Russian state-owned company, is the second-largest diamond producer by revenue, producing the majority of these diamonds.
- Over 30 percent of rough diamonds mined in Russia are imported to India, with Surat being a major cutting and polishing center.
- Sanctions imposed on Alrosa in February 2022 focused on large stones, sparing small rough diamonds, which are Surat\’s specialty.
- Russia\’s contribution to total rough diamond imports in India is approximately 30 percent.
- Due to sanctions, most rough diamond imports from Russia now occur through round-tripping from third countries.
- The G7 bloc plans to reject Russian diamonds of one carat and above from March 1, 2024, with further restrictions on diamonds of half a carat or lower from September.
- These restrictions will be accompanied by traceability systems.
- Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal states that India is in contact with the EU and G7 technical teams.
- Rough Russian diamonds are generally small, and those cut and polished by India are typically less than 0.5 carats.
- The impact of the restrictions on India\’s diamond exports is expected to be less than initially anticipated.
Facts For Prelims
- Mosasaurs were large predatory marine reptiles that existed during the Late Cretaceous epoch, around 90 to 66 million years ago.
- They inhabited oceans worldwide and were some of the largest marine organisms, related to snakes and monitor lizards.
- Mosasaurs coexisted with dinosaurs, including Tyrannosaurus rex, and were among the top predators of their time.
- Similar to whales, they lived near the water\’s surface as they needed to breathe air.
- Mosasaurs, along with dinosaurs, faced extinction during the mass extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 66 million years ago.
Free Trade Agreement
- Negotiations for the India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are in the final stages.
- Efforts are being accelerated to address the remaining few contentious issues.
- FTAs are agreements between two or more nations aimed at diminishing or removing specific impediments to trade and investment.
- They are crafted to promote stronger trade and commercial relations among the participating countries.