Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - June 18, 2018

Defence

Apache helicopters

What’s the NEWS

  • The Army is a step closer to operating its own attack helicopters, with the U.S. State Department approving the sale of six Apache helicopters
  • The U.S. State Department approved the sale of six additional AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to India for the Army.
  • Right now, the Army operates only smaller Cheetah and ALH (Advanced Light Helicopters) that weigh less than five tonne.
  • At present, Air Force operates all big helicopters, including Mi-35 attack choppers
  • All bigger helicopters, including the Mi-35 attack helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft are operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
  • Under the present procurement plan, the IAF will operate 22 Apache attack helicopters, while the Army will have six of them. The IAF procurement plan was approved in 2015.

Dhanush artillery gun clears final trials

  • The indigenously upgraded artillery gun Dhanush has successfully completed final user trials and is ready for induction into the Army.
  • Dhanush is an upgraded version of the Swedish Bofors gun procured by India in the mid-1980s.
  • This was the third and final phase of user exploitation firings in which six Dhanush guns were fired in battery formation from May 31 to June 7, 2018 at the Pokhran field firing range.

Tested in all terrains

  • During the trials, the guns travelled extensively in towed/ self-propelled mode in desert and high-altitude terrains with each gun clocking over 1,000 km, demonstrating their mobility.

Enlighten about the delivery protocols by ordinance factory board (OFB)

  • The next step was the completion of general staff evaluation, after which Bulk Production Clearance (BPC) will be accorded.
  • The OFB already has an indent from the Army for 114 guns and will start supplying the guns on receipt of the BPC.
  • The OFB has already supplied six guns for battery firing during the user trials. Another 12 guns will be issued within a year on receipt of the BPC
  • The entire order of 114 guns is to be delivered within four years

United Nations

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCDD) – 17 June

What’s the NEWS

  • WDCDD is observed every year on June 17 across to world
  • Why - to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification.
  • Objective - to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels.
  • This year’s theme of WDCDD is - “Land has true value – invest in it.”

Organising agency

  • The global observance of WDCD2018 was hosted by Government of Ecuador.

Enlighten about Desertification

  • Desertification is degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas.
  • It is caused primarily by human activities and climatic variations.
  • It does not refer to the expansion of existing deserts.
  • It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one third of world‘s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use.

Enlighten about the origin of WDCDD

  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had designated June 17 as World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought in 1994 through resolution
  • It was observed for the first time in 1995.
  • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) UNCCD was adopted in June 17, 1994 and entered into force 1996.
  • It is only legally binding international agreement to address problem of desertification
  • The day is observed globally to promote public awareness on the issue, and implementation of UNCCD in those countries experiencing serious desertification or drought, particularly in Africa.
  • It seeks to address desertification and land issues specially arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas, known as drylands.
  • Goal - To protect land from over-use and drought, so it can continue to provide food, water and energy, to improve living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought.
  • UNCCD is particularly committed to bottom-up approach, encouraging participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation.
  • UNCCD collaborates closely with other two Rio Conventions, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and United UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Bilateral Relations

Assumption Island (Seychelles) Seychelles will develop military facilities at the island on its own.

What’s the NEWS

  • India-Seychelles joint project to develop naval base at Assumption Island will not move forward.
  • Seychelles will develop military facilities at the island on its own.

Why this move by Seychelles

  • Due to the growing political opposition in Seychelles to agreement that was signed with India in 2015 to develop a naval facility at Assumption Island which would have given India strategic advantage in Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Enlighten about the agreement

  • India had signed 20 years agreement in 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to that Seychelles.
  • It was meant to India’s first Naval Base project overseas and had acquired significance after China had acquired its first African naval base in Djibouti (near Horn of Africa) in November 2014.

Assumption Island

  • Assumption Island is a small island situated southwest of Seychelles main and largest island of Mahe.
  • It is situated very close to Mozambique Channel from where much Indian Ocean maritime routes pass.
  • Its location lends it strategic importance for monitoring shipping in the Mozambique Channel.

NITI Aayog

Fourth Governing Council Meeting of NITI Aayog

  • The fourth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog was held under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.
  • It was attended by 23 Chief Ministers and the Lieutenant Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, apart from Union Ministers, who are ex-officio members and special invitees.

Enlighten about the highlights

  • The Prime Minister highlighted the importance of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog as a platform to inspire cooperative federalism, stressing the need for effective center-state cooperation to advance development outcomes and achieve double-digit growth for India.
  • He called upon States to fix growth targets for their economies as the world looks towards India soon becoming a USD 5 trillion economy.
  • He advised the States to pay special attention to expanding their exports and attracting export oriented investment while organizing their investments summits and events.
  • NITI Aayog was asked to follow up with the States within three months on the actionable points ma

Enlighten about the Governing Council of NITI Aayog

  • The Governing Council of NITI Aayog comprises the Prime Minister of India, Chief Ministers of all the States and Union Territories with Legislatures and Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and four Union Ministers as ex-officio members and three Union Ministers as Special Invitees.
  • It is the premier body tasked with evolving a shared vision of national development priorities, sectors and strategies with the active involvement of States in shaping the development narrative.
  • The First Meeting was held on 8 February 2015, at which the Prime Minister laid down the key mandates of NITI Aayog such as fostering cooperative federalism and addressing national issues through active participation of the States.
  • The Second Meeting of the Governing Council took place on 15 July 2015 and the Third Meeting was held on 23 April 2017, which laid down milestones in shaping the country’s development agenda through strategy and vision documents.
  • The NITI Aayog has been mandated with fostering cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation.
  • The Governing Council, which embodies these objectives of cooperative federalism, presents a platform to discuss inter-sectoral, inter-departmental and federal issues in order to accelerate the implementation of the national development agenda, in the spirit of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat.

Sources – PIB,The Hindu, LiveMint