Essential Facts (Prelims) – August 25 & 26, 2019

Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs)

Category: Economy

  • Anything alternate to traditional form of investments gets categorized as alternative investments.
  • Generally, investments in stocks or bonds or fixed deposits or real estates are considered as traditional investments.
  • In India, alternative investment funds (AIFs) refer to any privately pooled investment fund, (whether from Indian or foreign sources), which are otherwise not coming under the jurisdiction of any regulatory agency in India.
  • Thus, the definition of AIFs includes venture Capital Fund, hedge funds, private equity funds, commodity funds, Debt Funds, infrastructure funds, etc.,while, it excludes Mutual funds.

Clouded leopards

Category: Ecology

  • Named after the cloud-shaped patterns on its skin, these medium-sized cats are typical rain-forest dwellers but can also be found in the drier forests of Southeast Asia.
  • In India, the Dampa tiger reserve in Mizoram was chosen as the study site. Dampa has been much in the news lately as one of the tiger reserves where tigers were estimated to be zero as part of the latest all India tiger estimation exercise.
  • An interesting find was that Dampa had one of the highest population densities of clouded leopards.
  • In 2018, India added clouded leopards to its Recovery Programme for Critically Endangered Species to aid more research and strengthen conservation efforts.
  • It was also noted that when the closed-canopy forest cover declined by just 35%, the clouded leopard detection dropped by 25%. This shows that clouded leopard presence was positively associated with forest cover and rain, suggesting that deforestation and reduction in rainfall patterns as a result of climate change may negatively influence clouded leopard distributions.

CSIR to certify air quality monitoring instruments

Category: Environment

  • The Union Environment Ministry has tasked the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Physical Laboratory (NPL) with certifying air quality monitoring instruments.
  • This is in anticipation of a rising demand by States — against the backdrop of the National Clean Air Campaign — for low cost air quality monitoring instruments that can monitor levels of nitrous oxides, ozone and particulate matter.
  • The Centre in January launched a programme to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20%-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.

IMF report flags several delays in India’s data reporting

Category: International

  • According to the IMF’s “Annual Observance Report of the Special Data Dissemination Standard for 2018”, India failed to comply with multiple requirements prescribed in the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) — a practice mandatory for all IMF members — whereas comparable economies comprising the BRICS grouping of Brazil, China, South Africa and Russia have maintained a near impeccable record in the same period.
  • The IMF launched the SDDS initiative in 1996 to guide members to enhance data transparency and help financial market participants with adequate information to assess the economic situations of individual countries. India subscribed to the SDDS in 1996.
  • The yearly observance report for each member country lists the compliances and deviations from the SDDS under each data category for that year.
  • There are over 20 data categories which IMF considers for this report to capture a nation’s economic health including national accounts (GDP, GNI), production indices, employment, and Central government operations.
  • The report lists three types of deviations from the SDDS. The first deals with delays in data dissemination. The second occurs when member countries do not list a data category in their Advance Release Calendars (ARC) despite the category being mandated by the SDDS. The third deviation occurs when data is not disseminated at all for a particular period.
  • An “X” entry reflects “data not being disseminated”. In 2018, in at least nine data categories, India has not disseminated data. None of the other BRICS countries’ reports records missing data for the period.