Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - September 3, 2018

Bilateral Relations

U.S., India may not sign security pact at 2+2 meet

What

  • At the 2+2 dialogue between India and the U.S. here on September 6, an announcement could be made about an in-principle agreement between the two sides on the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), but its signing is doubtful
  • This is a similar trajectory followed when India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding.
  • The two sides announced an “in-principle” decision to conclude it during the then U.S. Secretary of Defence Ash Carter’s visit to Delhi in April 2016.
  • However, it was concluded only when the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar visited the U.S. in August that year.

Enlighten about 2+2 dialogue

  • It is a format of interaction of officials of countries.
  • Japan has applied it extensively for interaction with multiple countries.
  • India participated in 2+2 with Japan in 2012 where our Foreign and Defence Secretaries met Japanese counterparts.
  • Recently India and US had agreed to interact in the 2+2 format at the Ministers level, though the meeting could not materialise twice.
  • The advantage of this format is that many strategic matters of vital importance which fall under the domain of both the external affairs as well as defence ministries, are comprehensively covered and any issue of jurisdiction and follow up is taken care of. 2+2, as of now, is limited to external affairs and defence ministries but may be tried out by a combination of other ministries also.

Environment

Barges with fly ash set sail from Ganga to Brahmaputra

What

  • Two Assam-bound barges carrying fly ash sailed from Bihar for one of the longest hauls in India’s inland waterways via Bangladesh.
  • The two 1,000-tonne barges carrying 1,233 tonnes of bagged fly ash was flagged off at Kahalgaon in Bihar on Thursday. They are expected to reach Guwahati’s Pandu port in 20 days covering 2,085 km.

Fly ash

  • The fly ash is a by-product from the National Thermal Power Corporation’s Kahalgaon power plant.
  • Fly ash is in demand as raw material in cement and brick industry and is also used for the purpose of land filling.
  • Kahalgaon is on the banks of the Ganga, which is National Waterway 1. Pandu is on the Brahmaputra, the National Waterway 2.

Inland water ways

  • According to the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), the journey of the two barges marks the commencement of a critical integrated movement through three waterways – NW1, NW2 and Indo-Bangladesh Protocol.
  • The Ganga and the Brahmaputra meet in Bangladesh after flowing into that country as the Padma and the Jamuna.

Focal

  • In July, IWAI had launched a dedicated portal called FOCAL to connect cargo owners and shippers with real time data on availability of vessels.

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI),

  • India has an extensive network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks.
  • The total navigable length is 14,500 km, out of which about 5200 km of the river and 4000 km of canals can be used by mechanised crafts.
  • The total cargo moved (in tonne kilometres) by the inland waterway was just 0.1% of the total inland traffic in India, compared to the 21% figure for United States.
  • Cargo transportation in an organised manner is confined to a few waterways in Goa, West Bengal, Assam, and Kerala.
  • Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India.
  • Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP. It does the function of building the necessary infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration.
  • On 31st August 2018, IWAI made 13 standardised state-of-art design public for the transportation of cargo and passengers keeping in mind Ganges complex river morphology, hydraulics, acute bends, currents etc. in National Waterway - 1.
  • The first implementation will be between Varanasi-Haldia stretch in assistance and investment from World Bank.

Enlighten about National Waterways

AYUSH

AYUSH Minister to inaugurate the Fourth International Ayurveda Congress at Netherlands

What

  • The Ayush ministry will be inaugurated the Fourth International Ayurveda Congress (IAvC) at Netherlands

Organising Ministry

  • The congress will be jointly organized by International Maharishi Ayurveda Foundation, Netherlands; All India Ayurvedic Congress, New Delhi and the International Academy of Ayurveda, Pune in association with the Indian Embassy in the Netherlands.

Objective

  • The congress would focus on promotion and propagation of Ayurveda in Netherlands and its neighboring countries of Europe.

Enlighten about the ministry

  • The Ministry of AYUSH was formed on 9th November 2014 to ensure the optimal development and propagation of AYUSH systems of health care.
  • Earlier it was known as the Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homeopathy (ISM&H) which was created in March 1995 and renamed as Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in November 2003, with focused attention for development of Education and Research in Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy.

Bilateral Relations

India and Nepal

What

  • India and Nepal have signed MoU to build strategic railway line connecting Raxaul city in Bihar, India to Kathmandu, capital of Nepal.
  • It was signed after on sidelines of 4th BIMSTEC Summit held in Nepal.
  • Raxaul-Kathmandu rail line It is expected to expand connectivity by enhancing people-to-people linkages and bulk movement of goods between both countries.
  • It help to promote economic growth and development in the region.

Enlighten about the project

  • India’s Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd. will conduct preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey of this new rail line in consultation with Government of Nepal.
  • Besides, there are also three other railway projects in pipeline between both countries viz. NautanwaBhairahawa, New Jalpaiguri-Kakarbhitta and Nepalgunj Road-Nepalgunj.
  • The signing of MoU comes two years after China agreed to construct strategic railway link with Nepal through Tibet with apparent aim of reducing Himalayan nation’s dependence on India.
  • It also comes in backdrop of recent Chinese linkages with Nepal as it took on building three highways to be completed by 2020.

International Organisations

Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)

What

  • The fourth Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit was held in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal.

Theme

  • The theme of the summit was ‘Towards a Peaceful Prosperous, and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region’.

Enlighten about the key takeaways

  • Enhancing collaboration in areas of regional connectivity, coastal shipping, space, energy, transport and tourism were focus of the summit.
  • Besides, countering terrorism, enhancing regional connectivity and boosting trade were dominant agenda of 4th BIMSTEC summit.
  • Other leaders who attended this summit are Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Myanmar President U Win Myint, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Bhutan’s Chief Justice and Chief Advisor to interim government Dasho Tshering Wangchuk.

Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC)

  • BIMSTEC is regional grouping of seven countries in South Asia and South East Asia lying in littoral and adjacent areas of Bay of Bengal constituting contiguous regional unity.
  • It was established on 6 June 1997 through Bangkok Declaration. It is headquartered in Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • The first BIMSTEC summit was held in Thailand in 1997, second in India in 2008 and the third in 2014 in Myanmar.
  • Member countries: India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka from South Asia and Myanmar, Thailand from South East Asia.

Commerce & Industry

6th East Asia Summit and 15th India-ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting held in Singapore

What

  • Commerce & Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu attended the 6th East Asia Summit- Economic Ministers’ Meeting (EAS-EMM) and 15th India-ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEM) in Singapore today. Singapore is currently holding the Chair of ASEAN.

6th East-Asia Economic Ministers’

  • The 6th East-Asia Economic Ministers’ Meeting was attended by Economic Ministers from 10 ASEAN countries and their eight dialogue partners, Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Russian Federation and the United States of America.
  • The Ministers welcomed the higher global economic growth forecast for 2018 and took note of the increasing importance of trade and investment relations among the EAS economies.
  • The 6th EAS–EMM was followed by the 15th ASEAN Economic Ministers - India Consultation.
  • The meeting attended by Economic Ministers from 10 ASEAN countries took stock of the current level of trade and economic engagement between India and ASEAN and reaffirmed the commitment to further strengthen ASEAN-India economic relations.
  • ASEAN has emerged as the second largest trade partner of India in 2017-18 with bilateral trade valued at USD 81.33 billion, comprising 10.58% of India’s total trade with the world.
  • The next ASEAN-India Business Summit will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in November 2018 with the theme “Towards Building Strategic Partnership between ASEAN and India in the Era of the 4th IR and Digital Economy” which will be followed by the 4thIndia-ASEAN Dialogue Partner Expo and Summit scheduled for 21-23 February 2019, in New Delhi.

Financial Inclusion

PM launches India Post Payments Bank A major initiative towards financial inclusion

Enlighten about the new PAYMENT BANK

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, September 1, 2018, launched a payments bank of the Department of Posts that will take banking to the doorstep of every citizen through an unmatched network of post offices and almost 3 lakh postmen and ‘Grameen Dak Sewaks’.
  • It will accept deposits of up to ₹1 lakh, offer remittance services, mobile payments and other banking services and third-party fund transfers.
  • The India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) will be like any other banks but its operations will be on a smaller scale without involving any credit risk.
  • It will carry out most banking operations like accepting deposits but won’t advance loans or issue credit cards.
  • The payments bank will accept deposits of up to Rs 1 lakh, offer remittance services, mobile payments/transfers/purchases and other banking services like ATM/debit cards, net banking and third-party fund transfers.
  • IPPB would be available through 650 branches and 3,250 access points. Deposits in any account that exceed ₹ 1 lakh would be automatically converted into post office savings account.
  • The government owns 100 per cent in the IPPB, which will offer products and services though multiple channels such as counter services, micro ATMs, mobile banking app, messages and interactive voice response.

Tech platforms to handle transactions

  • The IPPB will leverage tech platforms. It will use Aadhaar to open accounts, while a QR card and biometrics will drive authentication, transactions, and payments.
  • Grameen Dak Sewaks will be armed with smartphones and biometric devices to handle transactions.
  • It will offer 4 per cent interest rate on savings accounts. The IPPB has teamed up with financial services providers like the PNB and Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance for third-party products like loans and insurance.
  • The IPPB started operations in January last year with two experimental branches, one at Raipur in Chhattisgarh and the other at Ranchi in Jharkhand.
  • Deposits up to Rs. 1 lakh can be accepted by payments banks. Though they can't give loans, they may offer third-party products. IPPB will work as an agent of Punjab National Bank.
  • Seventeen crore postal savings bank (PSB) accounts will be linked with India Post Payments Bank accounts, giving an edge over private players who have had to spend a lot to acquire customers.

External Affairs

Jaipur Foot

What

  • The External Affairs Minister meets 500 beneficiaries of the India-made prosthetic limb.
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday inaugurated a ‘Jaipur Foot’ camp in Hanoi and met with 500 Vietnamese beneficiaries of the free India-made prosthetic limb.
  • Ms. Swaraj is in Vietnam on the first leg of a four-day two-nation tour, which aims at deepening India’s strategic cooperation with Vietnam and Cambodia - the key countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.

Enlighten about Jaipur Foot

  • Last month, it was announced in Jaipur that about 1,000 differently-abled people in Myanmar and Vietnam would be provided ‘Jaipur Foot’.
  • The Jaipur-based Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS) has started an artificial limb fitment camp in association with the Central government at Myanmar’s Yangon city.
  • The camp is being organised as per an agreement between BMVSS and the Ministry of External Affairs for providing 5,000 ‘Jaipur Foot’ to the needy amputees of various countries.

Factoids

Asian games – 2018 ( Jakarta ) concluded

Enlighten about the facts

UN begins talks on treaty to protect imperilled high seas It focusses on providing environmental protection to 46% of the planet’s surface

What

  • United Nations on Tuesday kicked-off talks on a 2020 treaty that would regulate the high seas, which cover half the planet yet lack adequate environmental protection.

Four sessions of talk

  • Four sessions of talks, each lasting two weeks, are planned to take place over two years, with the goal of protecting marine biodiversity and avoiding further pillaging of the oceans.
  • The negotiations will relate to spaces beyond national jurisdictions, or areas that belong to no country in particular
  • Talk will focus on “the high seas and the international zone of marine waters, or about 46% of the planet’s surface

Convention on the Law of the Sea

  • In 1982, the UN adopted the Convention on the Law of the Sea, but left the high seas free from restrictions.
  • All States enjoy the traditional freedoms of navigation, overflight, scientific research and fishing on the high seas
  • The convention took effect in 1994, without the participation of the U.S.
  • Since then, shipping routes have expanded considerably, and the resources of the ocean deep have aroused significant interest, whether by fishing or mineral extraction.
  • Marine life is already reeling from the impact of industrial fishing, climate change and other extractive industries.
  • Talks will focus on creating protected areas on the high seas, more sharing of maritime resources and technology, and research on environmental impacts.

Fishing restrictions

  • Some whale-hunting nations, like Japan, Iceland and Norway, are expected to be more cautious than others because they fear overly strict fishing restrictions.
  • The U.S. is also reticent “because they are opposed to all regulation of marine genetic resources and they did not ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Enlighten about The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

  • It is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which took place between 1973 and 1982.
  • The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.
  • The Convention, concluded in 1982, replaced four 1958 treaties.
  • UNCLOS came into force in 1994, a year after Guyana became the 60th nation to ratify the treaty.

Sources – The Hindu , PIB , Indian express