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    Current Affairs – 21st June 2022


    • News: The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) introduced patent rules into the trading system during the 1986-94 Uruguay round of discussions in the run up to the establishment of the WTO.
    • History of WTO:
      • The WTO precursor General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), was established by a multilateral treaty of 23 countries in 1947 after World War II in the wake of other new multilateral institutions dedicated to international economic cooperation—such as the World Bank (founded 1944) and the International Monetary Fund (founded 1944 or 1945).
      • A comparable international institution for trade, named the International Trade Organization never started as the U.S. and other signatories did not ratify the establishment treaty, and so GATT slowly became a de facto international organization.
      • Well before GATT’s 40th anniversary, its members concluded that the GATT system was straining to adapt to a new globalizing world economy.
      • In response to the problems identified in the 1982 Ministerial Declaration (structural deficiencies, spill-over impacts of certain countries’ policies on world trade GATT could not manage, etc.), the eighth GATT round—known as the Uruguay Round—was launched in September 1986, in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
      • The Final Act concluding the Uruguay Round and officially establishing the WTO regime was signed 15 April 1994, during the ministerial meeting at Marrakesh, Morocco, and hence is known as the Marrakesh Agreement.
      • The GATT still exists as the WTO’s umbrella treaty for trade in goods.
      • GATT 1994 is not, however, the only legally binding agreement included via the Final Act at Marrakesh; a long list of about 60 agreements, annexes, decisions, and understandings was adopted.
    • The agreements fall into six main parts:
      • the Agreement Establishing the WTO
      • the Multilateral Agreements on Trade in Goods
      • the General Agreement on Trade in Services
      • the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
      • dispute settlement
      • reviews of governments’ trade policies
    • About World Trade Organisation (WTO):
      • The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that regulates and facilitates international trade.
      • Governments use the organization to establish, revise, and enforce the rules that govern international trade.
      • It officially commenced operations on 1 January 1995, pursuant to the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement, thus replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that had been established in 1948.
      • The WTO is the world’s largest international economic organization, with 164 member states representing over 98% of global trade and global GDP.
      • The WTO facilitates trade in goods, services and intellectual property among participating countries by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements, which usually aim to reduce or eliminate tariffs, quotas, and other restrictions; these agreements are signed by representatives of member governments  and ratified by their legislatures.
      • The WTO also administers independent dispute resolution for enforcing participants’ adherence to trade agreements and resolving trade-related disputes.
      • The organization prohibits discrimination between trading partners, but provides exceptions for environmental protection, national security, and other important goals.
      • The WTO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
      • Its top decision-making body is the Ministerial Conference, which is composed of all member states and usually convenes biennially; consensus is emphasized in all decisions.
    • About TRIPS Agreement:
      • The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international legal agreement between all the member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
      • It establishes minimum standards for the regulation by national governments of different forms of intellectual property (IP) as applied to nationals of other WTO member nations.
      • TRIPS was negotiated at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) between 1989 and 1990 and is administered by the WTO.
      • The TRIPS agreement introduced intellectual property law into the multilateral trading system for the first time and remains the most comprehensive multilateral agreement on intellectual property to date.
      • In 2001, developing countries, concerned that developed countries were insisting on an overly narrow reading of TRIPS, initiated a round of talks that resulted in the Doha Declaration.
      • The Doha declaration is a WTO statement that clarifies the scope of TRIPS, stating for example that TRIPS can and should be interpreted in light of the goal “to promote access to medicines for all.”
      • Specifically, TRIPS requires WTO members to provide copyright rights, covering authors and other copyright holders, as well as holders of related rights, namely performers, sound recording producers and broadcasting organisations; geographical indications; industrial designs; integrated circuit layout-designs; patents; new plant varieties; trademarks; trade names and undisclosed or confidential information. TRIPS also specifies enforcement procedures, remedies, and dispute resolution procedures.
    • TRIPS requires member states to provide strong protection for intellectual property rights. For example, under TRIPS:
      • Copyright terms must extend at least 50 years, unless based on the life of the author.
      • Copyright must be granted automatically, and not based upon any “formality”, such as registrations, as specified in the Berne Convention.
      • Computer programs must be regarded as “literary works” under copyright law and receive the same terms of protection.
      • National exceptions to copyright (such as “fair use” in the United States) are constrained by the Berne three-step test.
      • Patents must be granted for “inventions” in all “fields of technology” provided they meet all other patentability requirements (although exceptions for certain public interests are allowed (Art. 27.2 and 27.3) and must be enforceable for at least 20 years.
      • Exceptions to exclusive rights must be limited, provided that a normal exploitation of the work (Art. 13) and normal exploitation of the patent is not in conflict.
      • No unreasonable prejudice to the legitimate interests of the right holders of computer programs and patents is allowed.
      • Legitimate interests of third parties have to be taken into account by patent rights (Art 30).
      • In each state, intellectual property laws may not offer any benefits to local citizens which are not available to citizens of other TRIPS signatories under the principle of national treatment (with certain limited exceptions)
      • TRIPS also has a most favored nation clause.
    • About Berne Convention:
      • The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, usually known as the Berne Convention, is an international agreement governing copyright, which was first accepted in Berne, Switzerland, in 1886.
      • The Berne Convention has 179 contracting parties, most of which are parties to the Paris Act of 1971.
      • The Berne Convention formally mandated several aspects of modern copyright law; it introduced the concept that a copyright exists the moment a work is “fixed”, rather than requiring registration.
      • It also enforces a requirement that countries recognize copyrights held by the citizens of all other parties to the convention.


    • News: Last week’s violent protests over India’s newly unveiled Agnipath recruitment scheme for the armed forces were among the worst India has seen.
    • About Agneepath Scheme:
      • Agneepath Scheme is a recruitment process launched by the central government wherein selected candidates will be enrolled as Agniveers for four years period in Indian Armed Forces.
      • On completion of the four-year period, Aginveers will go to the society as a disciplined, dynamic, motivated, and skilled workforce for employment in other sectors to pursue their career in the job of their choice.
      • Agneepath Scheme is a step that is initiated for the recruitment of 46,000+ Agniveers to the Indian Army, Indian Navy and India Air Force.
      • The entry through Agneepath Scheme would be done for a period of 4 years initially. During these 4 years, the recruits would be trained by the armed forces in the skills required.
      • The Agnipath recruitment scheme is a transformative initiative that will provide a youthful profile to the armed forces.
      • Women will also be inducted into the armed forces under the new scheme.
    • About Tooth to Tail Ratio:
      • The tooth-to-tail ratio (T3R), in military jargon, is the amount of military personnel it takes to supply and support (“tail”) each combat soldier (“tooth”). While both “tooth” and “tail” soldiers may find themselves in combat or other life-threatening situations, “tooth” soldiers are those whose primary function is to engage in combat. The ratio is not a specific measure but rather a general indication of a force’s might in relation to the resources it devotes to supply, upkeep, and logistics.


    • News: countries around the world will come together to celebrate the eighth year of the International Day of Yoga.
    • India’s main event in 2022: The main event in India will be held in Mysuru, Karnataka.
    • Theme for 2022: “Yoga for Humanity”
    • About International Day of Yoga:
      • The International Day of Yoga has been celebrated annually on June 21 since 2015, following its inception in the United Nations General Assembly in 2014.
      • Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice which originated in India.
      • June 21 is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and shares a special significance in many parts of the world.
    • About Summer Solstice:
      • The summer solstice, also known as estival solstice or midsummer, occurs when one of Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern).
      • For that hemisphere, the summer solstice is when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky (for areas outside of the tropics) and is the day with the longest period of daylight.
      • Within the Arctic circle (for the northern hemisphere) or Antarctic circle (for the southern hemisphere), there is continuous daylight around the summer solstice. On the summer solstice, Earth’s maximum axial tilt toward the Sun is 23.44°.
      • The summer solstice occurs during summer.
      • This is the June solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the December solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.


    • News: The finance ministry is working to expand and relaunch the Banks Board Bureau (BBB) by bringing in more representatives from the insurance sector.
    • Need:
      • The move aims to legally empower the body to recommend candidates for public sector insurers, and accelerate top-level hiring at all state-run financial institutions.
      • The revamp is, in part, pushed by a Delhi high court order last year, which observed that the bureau was not a competent body to recommend appointments at PSU general insurers, and held that circulars enabling BBB to select general managers and directors of PSU insurers were not legally valid.
    • About Banks Board Bureau:
      • Banks Board Bureau (BBB) is an autonomous body of the Government of India tasked to Search and Select apposite personages for Board of Public Sector Banks, Public Sector Financial Institutions and Public Sector Insurance Companies and recommend measures to improve Corporate Governance in these Institutions.
    • The mandate of the Bureau includes:
      • To recommend the selection and appointment of Board of Directors in Nationalised Banks, Financial Institutions and Public Sector Insurance Companies (Whole Time Directors and Chairman);
      • To advise the Central Government on matters relating to appointments, confirmation or extension of tenure and termination of services of the Directors of mandated institutions;
      • To advise the Central Government on the desired management structure of mandated institutions, at the level of Board of Directors and senior management;
      • To advise the Central Government on a suitable performance appraisal system for mandated institutions;
      • To build a data bank containing data relating to the performance of mandated institutions and its officers;
      • To advise the Central Government on the formulation and enforcement of a code of conduct and ethics for managerial personnel in mandated institutions.
      • To advise the Central Government on evolving suitable training and development programs for managerial personnel in mandated institutions
      • To help the banks in terms of developing business strategies and capital raising plan and the like;
      • Any other work assigned by the Government in consultation with Reserve Bank of India.

    5.    BLACK CARBON

    • News: Union environment minister Bhupendra Yadav confirmed in the Rajya Sabha in March that the glacier has lost 0.23 sq. km in the last 15 years. He did not rule out the possibility of black carbon affecting the Gangotri glacier.
    • About Black carbon:
      • Chemically, black carbon (BC) is a component of fine particulate matter (PM ≤ 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter). Black carbon consists of pure carbon in several linked forms.
      • It is formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass, and is one of the main types of particle in both anthropogenic and naturally occurring soot.
      • Black carbon causes human morbidity and premature mortality.
      • Because of these human health impacts, many countries have worked to reduce their emissions, making it an easy pollutant to abate in anthropogenic sources.
      • In climatology, black carbon is a climate forcing agent contributing to global warming. Black carbon warms the Earth by absorbing sunlight and heating the atmosphere and by reducing albedo when deposited on snow and ice (direct effects) and indirectly by interaction with clouds, with the total forcing of 1.1 W/m2.
      • Black carbon stays in the atmosphere for only several days to weeks, whereas potent greenhouse gases have longer lifecyles, for example, carbon dioxide (CO2) has an atmospheric lifetime of more than 100 years.
      • Soil: Up to 60% of the total organic carbon stored in soils is contributed by black carbon. Especially for tropical soils black carbon serves as a reservoir for nutrients. Experiments showed that soils without high amounts of black carbon are significantly less fertile than soils that contain black carbon.


    • News: The Sanskrit proverb Munde-Munde matirbhina (as the heads differ, so does the thinking) applies to scientists too. This explains why their claims are so contradictory.
    • About Environment Preference Index:
      • The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is a method of quantifying and numerically marking the environmental performance of a state’s policies.
      • This index was developed from the Pilot Environmental Performance Index, first published in 2002, and designed to supplement the environmental targets set forth in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
      • The EPI was preceded by the Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI), published between 1999 and 2005.
      • Both indices were developed by Yale University (Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy) and Columbia University (Center for International Earth Science Information Network) in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.


    • News: Oil refineries, fertiliser companies and steel producers are likely to be asked to meet a compulsory green hydrogen purchase obligation (GHPO) in a planned national move to green energy.
    • Details:
      • The purchase obligation, part of a comprehensive green hydrogen mission to be announced shortly, will be of around 10-15% initially, and revised upwards in the next three-four years.
      • GHPO will be akin to renewable purchase obligations (RPO).
      • Oil refineries using grey hydrogen for desulphurisation, ammonia production for fertilisers and chemicals industry, and treatment of basic metals are the leading market opportunities for green hydrogen in the short-medium term.
      • Steel and nickel industries are the other key areas where there are major opportunities for the adoption of green hydrogen.
      • India is the second largest producer of steel after China and the country is expected to produce around 300 million tonnes by 2030 which provides a big opportunity for usage of green hydrogen. Production of 1 tonne of steel results in the emission of 2.3 tonne of CO2.
    • Green Hydrogen Policy:
      • The mission is also expected to list the sectors that will have to start using green hydrogen on a voluntary basis and a roadmap for sectors such as fertilizer and petrochemicals to use the green fuel mandatorily.
      • Green Hydrogen Policy’ will kick-start energy transition efforts, particularly in emission-intensive industries.
      • Green hydrogen blending with piped natural gas is another major market for boosting demand.
      • Green hydrogen/green ammonia shall be defined as hydrogen /ammonia produced by way of electrolysis of water using renewable energy; including renewable energy which has been banked and the hydrogen/ammonia produced from biomass.
      • The Centre unveiled the green hydrogen policy in February, promising cheaper renewable power, fee waiver for inter-state power transmission for 25 years for projects commissioned before June 2025, land in renewable energy parks, and mega manufacturing zones to help local industries wean themselves off fossil fuels.
      • The policy, aimed at promoting green hydrogen and green ammonia, also spoke of facilitating the ‘banking’ or storage of green power, where a green power producer can save surplus renewable power with an electricity distribution company for up to 30 days.
      • India has set a target to produce 5 million tonnes (mt) of green hydrogen by 2030. Over the next decade, the government plans to add 175 GW of green hydrogen-based energy.