PIB – 2nd Jan 2021

IFSCA becomes member of IOSCO

  • The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has become an Associate Member of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).
  • The IOSCO is the international organization that brings together the world’s securities regulators, covering more than 95% of the world’s securities markets, and is the global standard setter for the securities sector.
  • IOSCO works closely with the G20 and the Financial Stability Board (FSB) in setting up the standards for strengthening the securities markets. The IOSCO Objectives and Principles of Securities Regulation have been endorsed by FSB as one of the key standards for sound financial systems.
  • The membership of IOSCO would provide IFSCA the platform to exchange information at the global level and regional level on areas of common interests. Further, the IOSCO platform would enable IFSCA to learn from the experiences and best practices of the regulators of other well established financial centres.
  • The IOSCO’s membership is a significant milestone in connecting IFSCA with the regulators of securities markets globally and would contribute immensely towards the development and regulation of the financial products, financial services and financial institutions at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City International Financial Services Centre.

Flash Flood Guidance Services launched; the first of its kind for South Asian countries namely India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka

  • Earth System Science deals with the Earth system’s five components—Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Cryosphere, Lithosphere, and Biosphere, and their complex interactions. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) holistically addresses all the aspects relating the Earth System Science for providing weather, climate, ocean, coastal state, hydrological and seismological services. 
  • The services include forecasts, warnings and detection for various natural disasters like tropical cyclones, storm surge, floods, heatwaves, thunderstorm and lightning and earthquakes etc. MoES is also mandated to conduct ocean survey and exploration for living and non-living resources and explore all the three poles (Arctic, Antarctic and Himalayas).
  • The significant milestones accomplished in 2020, under the five major schemes are highlighted below:
  1. Atmospheric and Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems and Services (ACROSS)
  • The Flash Flood Guidance Services was launched this year, the first of its kind for South Asian countries namely India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
  • Augmented meteorological observational network in the country.
  • Established 102 new District Agro-Meteorological Field Units in 2020. 
  • Launched the mobile application ‘Mausam’ on July 27, 2020.
  • Worked towards establishing an Atmospheric Research Test Bed (ART): The ART programme is a highly focused observational and analytical research effort that will compare observations with model calculations in the interest of accelerating improvements in both observational methodology and monsoon prediction models.
  • Developed a method for probabilistic forecasting of the disease incidences in extended range time scale (2–3 weeks in advance) over India. It is based on an unsupervised pattern recognition technique that uses meteorological parameters as inputs that can be applied to any geographical location over India. Based on this system, operational forecasts will be prepared from the 2021 monsoon season.
  • Developed a very high-resolution (400 m) operational air quality prediction system to predict extreme air pollution events in Delhi and issue timely warnings to take necessary steps as per the newly designed Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) of Government of India. 
  • Established MMDRPS (multi-mission meteorological data receiving and processing system) for INSAT-3D, INSAT-3DR and INSAT-3DS satellites through an MoU with M/s Antrix Corporation, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). 
  • Upgraded global and regional data assimilation (DA) system to incorporate scientific and technological advancements. The new DA system has the capability to assimilate some of the cloud-affected satellite microwave observations. 

2.  Ocean Services, Modelling, Application, Resources and Technology (O-SMART)

  • Disseminated advisories of Potential Fishing Zone continuously from January to November 2020. The advisories were issued in smart-map and multilingual texts every day, subject to availability of satellite data, fishing-ban, and adverse sea-state.
  • Launched Small Vessel Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVAS) to provide ocean state information to small fishing vessels that ply the coastal waters of India.
  • Achieved certificate of recognition and certificate of appreciation for ’tsunami ready’ by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)-UNESCO.
  • Launched Digital Ocean, an innovative web-application project to manage ocean data. It provides a dynamic framework to efficiently integrate and manage heterogeneous ocean data along with advanced visualisation (including 3D and 4D animations) and analysis tools. 
  • Prepared a coastal water quality index map for Andhra Pradesh coast based on data from cruise conducted in August 2020.
  • Analysed shoreline change rate for the entire Indian coast using Indian satellite images and field measurements.  
  • Developed an integrated flood warning system for Mumbai (iFLOWS-Mumbai) in collaboration with the Disaster Management Department, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). 
  • Moored six deep-sea buoys to provide open ocean data to be disseminated in real-time to Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad and IMD to be used for tsunami early warning.
  • Completed the indigenisation of drifting buoy with Indian National Satellite System (INSAT)communication. The technology licensing agreement has been signed with two Indian industries under the NRDC for commercialisation.

3.   Polar and Cryosphere Research (PACER)

  • Completed all scientific projects and logistics operations of the 39th Indian Antarctic expedition. 
  • Conducted an expedition to the Chandra basin in the Himalayas during September-October 2020.
  • Organised the 3rd meeting of the BRICS working group on the ocean and polar science and technology. Participants deliberated upon the research programs and future activities of each BRICS country in the ocean and polar sciences,bilateral and multilateral cooperation initiatives between BRICS countries, a roadmap for the working group, priority research areas and topics for the next BRICS-(Science, Technology and Innovation) STI call, BRICS joint cruises, mutual cooperation and capacity building plans, action areas, and involvement in the United Nation’s Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development.

4.  Seismology and Geoscience Research (SAGE)

  • Located 1,527 earthquakes in and around India from January to November 2020, of which 65 events were of magnitude ≥5.0, 277 events were micro, and remaining events were small.  
  • Participated in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program(IODP)-378 expedition in the far southern Pacific Ocean from January 03 to February 06, 2020. The expedition aimed to investigate the record of Cenozoic climate and oceanography through a drilling transect.
  • Established Isotope Geochemistry Facility (IGF) at the National Centre for Earth System Science (NCESS), Kerala. It can help study the internal structure of various accessory minerals such as zircon, monazite, rutile etc. by using high-resolution imaging techniques such as scanning electron microscope and electron probe micro-analyser. 

5.  REACHOUT

  • Rolled out special proposals in earth science applications: MoES announced a special call for research proposals under the artificial intelligence/machine learning applications in Earth sciences. Nearly 200submissions were received and are currently under assessment.
  • Training to enhance the skilled global workforce in Earth sciences: The ITCOOcean(International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography) continued its operations and was recognised as a regional training centre under the UNESCO-Ocean Teacher Global Academy 2 for three years (2020 – 2023). 

6.   International collaborations

  • The MoES collaborated with several scientific international institutes to broaden the research scope in all fields of earth sciences through trans-national joint projects and developmental work. Some of the important international collaborations are highlighted below:
  • Signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA on Earth sciences and observations. 
  • Completed three projects jointly funded by the MoES and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK. The projects are under the Sustaining Water Resources (SWR) program for food, energy and ecosystem services in India.
  • Signed a letter of Intent with the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, towards ‘Integrated Ocean Management and Research Initiative’. This was a follow-up to the joint task force on the blue economy for sustainable development under an MoU signed between India and Norway in January 2019.
  • The RIMES (Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System) an international and intergovernmental institution chaired by Secretary, MoES continued to provide uninterrupted services to its Member and collaborating states. 
  • Signed an MoU with the National Centre of Meteorology, Ministry of Presidential Affairs, UAE for scientific and technical cooperation on November 23, 2020.

Central Consumer Protection Authority continues to work towards the protection of the interest and rights consumers

  • The Central Consumer Protection Authority has been established w.e.f.24th July, 2020 under section 10 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 to regulate matters relating to violation of rights of consumers, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of public and consumers and to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.
  • It can conduct investigations into violation of consumer rights and institute complaints / prosecution, order recall of unsafe goods and services, order discontinuation of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements, impose penalties on manufacturers/endorsers/publishers of misleading advertisements.
  • After its establishment, the Central Consumer Protection Authority has been taking proactive action for the protection of the interest and rights of the consumers. 
  • One of the functions of the CCPA envisaged in the Act is to review the matters relating to, and the factors inhibiting enjoyment of, consumer rights, including safeguards provided for the protection of consumers under any other law for the time being in force and recommend appropriate remedial measures for their effective implementation.
  • Observing that several advertisements are being issued during the COVID-19 pandemic to mislead and misguide the consumers relating to several consumer goods/products, the CCPA has, suo-moto, issued show cause notices to companies in the sectors like water purifier, paints, floor cleaner, apparel, disinfectant, furniture etc.
  • The action of CCPA will certainly deter the unscrupulous traders from launching misleading advertisements to exploit the sentiments of the consumers for cheap commercial profits.Notice has also been issued to Cab Aggregators for resorting to unfair trade practice with regard to refund of excess fare charged.
  • The CCPA will continue to work towards the protection of the interest and rights of the consumers. On analysis of the consumer grievances received in the National Consumer Helpline, the CCPA has recently taken up the matter of failed/cancelled transactions while using inter-banking services by the consumers like IMPS, UPI etc where money has not been refunded to the consumer or where the timeline for settlement of such claims has not been adhered to, with the sector regulator, the Reserve Bank of India with a view to protect the rights of the consumers.
  • The CCPA has also asked the Insurance Regulator, the IRDAI, to look into the delay in getting the claim amount by the consumers and take up the consumer grievances with the Insurance Companies to adhere to the timelines stipulated in the IRDAI Protection of Policyholders’ interest Regulations, 2017.