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Here are the topics covered for 26th October 2023:
GS-2: Ethics Committee: Upholding Parliamentary Integrity, International Treaty on Diplomatic Relations
GS- 3: Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, Dust Suppressants in Mitigating Air Pollution
Facts for Prelims : Marsquake , Ball Lightning
Ethics Committee: Upholding Parliamentary Integrity
- The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee, which recently gained attention due to a complaint by Nishikant Dubey against Mahua Moitra, plays a vital role in maintaining the moral and ethical conduct of members of the Lok Sabha.
- This committee was established more than two decades ago as an ad hoc entity.
- The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee is responsible for overseeing the behaviour of members of the Lok Sabha and investigating cases of misconduct referred to it.
- Members of this committee are appointed by the Speaker and serve one-year terms.
- The history of ethics committees in India dates back to 1996 when the idea was first proposed during a Presiding Officers’ Conference.
- The Ethics Committee of the Rajya Sabha was established in 1997, while the Lok Sabha’s committee took longer to materialize.
- It was constituted as an ad hoc entity in 2000 and became a permanent part of the Lok Sabha only in 2015.
- The most notable case involving ethics committees was the 2005 cash-for-query scandal. Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha adopted motions to expel several MPs who were accused of accepting money in exchange for asking questions in Parliament. The Lok Sabha’s case was based on a report by a special committee, while the Rajya Sabha’s case was examined by the House Ethics Committee.
- The procedure for filing complaints with the Ethics Committee is open to any person and requires evidence of alleged misconduct along with a non-frivolous affidavit. The committee conducts a preliminary inquiry before deciding to examine a complaint and makes recommendations based on its evaluation. The report is then presented to the Speaker, who decides whether it should be considered by the House.
The Ethics Committee plays an important role in upholding the integrity of Parliament. However, it faces a number of challenges, including:
- Lack of a permanent structure: The Ethics Committee is currently an ad hoc entity, which means that its membership and mandate can change at any time. This makes it difficult for the Committee to build expertise and develop consistent procedures.
- Overlapping jurisdictions: The Ethics Committee’s mandate overlaps with that of the Privileges Committee, which is another parliamentary committee that deals with matters of misconduct by MPs. This can lead to confusion and duplication of effort.
- Lack of transparency: The Ethics Committee’s proceedings are confidential, which makes it difficult for the public to hold the Committee accountable.
- The government could consider making the Ethics Committee a permanent body with a well-defined mandate.
- The government could also consider clarifying the distinction between the jurisdictions of the Ethics Committee and the Privileges Committee.
- The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee should continue to maintain transparency in its operations, ensuring that it conducts impartial investigations and upholds ethical standards among parliamentarians.
- The committee should work on reducing the time taken to address complaints and issue recommendations. Delays in the investigation process can undermine public trust.
- In light of past cases, it’s essential for the committee to address allegations of corruption rigorously and take measures to prevent such incidents in the future.
International Treaty on Diplomatic Relations
- Recently, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) cited Article 11.1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in response to allegations raised by the Canadian Foreign Minister regarding India’s purported violation of diplomatic protocols.
- The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR) is an international treaty adopted by the United Nations Conference on Diplomatic Intercourse and Immunities in 1961. It establishes fundamental principles and terms governing how countries must treat each other’s diplomatic representatives. The VCDR is one of the most important treaties in international law, and it has been ratified by 193 countries, including India.
The VCDR contains a number of important provisions, including:
- Diplomatic immunity: Diplomats are exempt from certain laws and taxes in the host country. This is to ensure that they can fulfil their duties without fear, threat, or intimidation.
- Inviolability of diplomatic missions: Diplomatic missions are considered to be the territory of the sending country, and they are inviolable. This means that the host country cannot enter or search for a diplomatic mission without the permission of the sending country.
- Freedom of communication: Diplomats have the right to communicate freely with their government. This includes the right to send and receive encrypted messages.
steps that India and Canada can take to resolve their differences:
- Open a dialogue: India and Canada should open a dialogue to discuss their differences and find a mutually agreeable solution.
- Respect the VCDR: Both countries should respect the provisions of the VCDR. This includes respecting the immunity of diplomats and the inviolability of diplomatic missions.
- Avoid escalation: Both countries should avoid escalating the situation. This could include avoiding further retaliation and inflammatory statements.
- The VCDR is a cornerstone of international diplomacy. It provides a framework for countries to maintain friendly relations and communicate effectively with each other. The VCDR is also essential for protecting the rights and safety of diplomats.
- The recent spat between India and Canada over diplomatic protocols highlights the importance of the VCDR. Both countries should strive to resolve their differences in a way that is consistent with the provisions of the VCDR.
Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework
- The 25th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-25) recently wrapped up in Nairobi, Kenya. It put forward recommendations with the goal of easing the shift from the agreement phase to practical implementation after the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF) in December 2022.
What is the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework?
- Adopted during COP-15 of the CBD.
- Aim to achieve a world living in harmony with nature by 2050, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Includes the ‘30 by 30′ target, proposing to protect 30% of the Earth’s land and oceans by 2030.
- Comprises four goals for 2050 and 23 targets for 2030.
- To ensure that all people benefit equitably and fairly from the contributions of biodiversity, and to eliminate poverty and reduce inequalities.
- To bend the curve of biodiversity loss, and to bring nature back into recovery by 2030.
- To mainstream biodiversity across all sectors of society and the economy, and to ensure that the financial flows and incentives needed are aligned with biodiversity.
- To enhance the capacity and resilience of nature and people to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
About Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA):
- The Convention on Biological Diversity, in Article 25, establishes an open-ended intergovernmental scientific advisory body known as the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA). Its purpose is to offer timely advice related to the Convention’s implementation to the Conference of the Parties (COP) and its other subsidiary bodies when relevant.
- The recent SBSTTA-25 meeting in Nairobi, Kenya primarily focused on establishing a mechanism to monitor progress and addressed the implications of assessments by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR6), among other topics.
Recent SBSTTA-25 Meeting Highlights:
- IPBES Report: Emphasized the role of invasive species in driving plant and animal extinction.
- Discussions on the Methodological Assessment Report on Diverse Values and Valuation of Nature and the Thematic Assessment Report on Sustainable Use of Wild Species provided insights into the intricate relationship between biodiversity and invasive species.
- IPCC AR6 Findings: Pointed out that climate change is the primary driver of biodiversity loss and highlighted biodiversity’s potential to support climate adaptation, resilience, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction.
- Experts recognized that biodiversity loss, climate change, ocean acidification, desertification, land degradation, invasive alien species, and pollution are interconnected crises.
- They finalized 15 key points for presentation at COP16 of the Convention on Biological Diversity to address pressing challenges.
- Aligned with global initiatives like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
- Emphasized leveraging the efforts of multilateral agencies, such as the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, to enhance scientific and technical guidance for implementing the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
Dust Suppressants in Mitigating Air Pollution
- Air pollution is a major problem in many cities around the world, including Delhi, India. Dust-related pollution is a significant contributor to air quality problems, especially in dry and arid regions.
- Dust suppressants are chemicals that are applied to roads and other surfaces to reduce the amount of dust that is generated. They typically work by binding to soil particles and making them heavier and less likely to be blown into the air.
- The recent attention to dust suppressants as a potential solution to reduce dust-related pollution is a welcome development. Dust suppressants have the potential to make a significant improvement in air quality in Delhi and other cities.
- The government should take steps to promote the use of dust suppressants. This could include providing financial assistance to cities to purchase and apply dust suppressants. The government could also develop and implement standards for the application and maintenance of dust suppressants.
- In addition to dust suppressants, there are a number of other technological interventions that can be used to reduce air pollution. These include ionization technology for pollution reduction, wind augmentation and air purifying units (WAYU), medium/large-scale smog towers, and indigenous photonic systems for air quality monitoring.
- The government is also taking a number of other steps to combat air pollution, such as the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), BS-VI vehicles, Turbo Happy Seeder (THS), Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), Dashboard for Monitoring Air Quality, National Air Quality Index (AQI), and Graded Response Action Plan (Delhi).
- By combining these technological interventions and government initiatives, it is possible to make significant progress in reducing air pollution in Delhi and other cities.
- Dust suppressants are a promising potential solution to reduce dust-related pollution in Delhi and other cities. The CPCB study has shown that they can effectively reduce dust concentrations by up to 30%.
- However, there are some challenges that need to be addressed before dust suppressants can be widely deployed. One challenge is the cost of dust suppressants. Another challenge is the need to develop and implement effective application and maintenance procedures.
Fact for Prelims :
- A Marsquake is a seismic event that occurs on Mars. Marsquakes are caused by the same forces that cause earthquakes on Earth, such as tectonic plate movement and volcanic activity. However, Marsquakes are much less common than earthquakes on Earth, and they are typically much smaller.
- Scientists study Marsquakes to learn more about the interior structure of Mars. Marsquakes can also be used to study the Martian atmosphere and magnetic field.
- Marsquakes are typically shallower than earthquakes on Earth.
- Marsquakes are more likely to occur in the southern hemisphere of Mars.
- Marsquakes are more likely to occur near the Tharsis Montes volcanoes.
- Rare and unexplained phenomena are described as luminescent, spherical objects that vary from pea-sized to several meters in diameter.
- Though usually associated with thunderstorms, the observed phenomenon is reported to last considerably longer than the split-second flash of a lightning bolt and is a phenomenon distinct from St. Elmo’s fire.
- Ball lightning can be any colour, but is commonly reported as yellow, orange, or red.
- It can appear to float in the air, move slowly or quickly, and even change direction suddenly. Ball lightning can last for a few seconds to several minutes.
- It can be accompanied by a hissing or buzzing sound.
- One theory is that it is caused by a concentration of plasma, which is a state of matter in which atoms are stripped of their electrons.
- Another theory is that it is caused by a microwave cavity, which is a region of space where microwaves can be trapped and amplified.