Russia and India have agreed on a new mechanism which will allow payments for multi-billion dollar defence deals to be made using their own national currencies.
This mechanism was established after Indian banks with exposure to the US had suspended payments and instalments to Russia to avoid the threat of punitive sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act(CAATSA).
Further,the US administration has also been persuading India to cancel the Russian S-400 missile defence system.India had signed a $5.4 billion deal to purchase five batteries of the Russian S-400 Triumf missile system in 2018.
Russia has been struggling to maintain sales of its defence sector because of U.S. sanctions that threaten anyone who buys Russian weapons.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia,which is the second largest arms exporter after the US has suffered a 17% drop in foreign weapons deals from 2014-2018 amid declining purchases by India and Venezuela.
India also has long-time strategic ties with Russia dating back to the Soviet era in the Cold War.Despite the decline in sales,Russia still accounted for 58% of the South Asian nations arms imports from 2014-18.
The 2017 act of CAATSA requires the imposition of sanctions on persons and entities that knowingly engaged in a significant transaction with Russia’s defence or intelligence sectors.
The U.S. State Department decides whether a transaction is significant under the legislation while the 2019 National Defence Authorization Act provides for a presidential waiver from sanctions.
S-400 Triumf Missile System is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM).It is capable of engaging aircraft, UAVs,cruise missiles and has a terminal ballistic missile defense capability. It has an operational range of over 400 kms.
The S-400 Triumf is known as the SA-21 Growler by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).NATO members consider the S-400 a major threat because of its long range.
The World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes(ICSID) has imposed a penalty of $5.95 billion against Pakistan in the Reko Diq case.
The penalty was imposed on Pakistan for unlawful denial of a mining lease to a Tethyan Copper Company(TCC) for the Reko Diq project in 2011.The company had claimed 11.43 billion dollars in damages.
Reko Diq Mine is one of the world’s biggest untapped copper and gold deposits located in Balochistan,Pakistan.Reko Diq area is buried at the foot of an extinct volcano near the frontier with Iran and Afghanistan.
It has estimated reserves of 5.9 billion tons of low-grade copper and gold reserves amounting to 41.5 million oz.
ICSID is an international arbitration institution established in 1966 for legal dispute resolution and conciliation between international investors.
The ICSID is part of and funded by the World Bank Group.It is headquartered in Washington,D.C,United States.It was established by the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a PIL filed by three women seeking directions to decriminalise abortion.
The petition has argued that women should have a right to decide on reproduction and abortion.
The petition has further said that right of reproductive choice was at the core of liberty and personal autonomy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
It has further argued that the right to choose whether to conceive and carry pregnancy to its full term or to terminate is at the core of one’s privacy, personal autonomy, bodily integrity, self-determination and right to health.
The right to abortion is governed by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. The government brought the MTP Act as a “health measure”.
The Act allows women to abort foetuses up to 20-weeks-old.Up to 12 weeks it requires no reason.
Between 12 and 20 weeks the grounds for abortion are limited to a) Where continuance of pregnancy would cause risk to the life of the pregnant woman or cause grave injury to her physical or mental health and b) Where there exists a substantial risk that if the child is born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.
There is an exception to the 20 week bar if doctors certify serious risk to the pregnant women’s life in case it is continued.
According to a study by Indian Chest Society and Indian Chest Research Foundation, Ujjwala scheme has helped reduce chest congestion in rural women by 20%. The study has been published in the International Journal of Medical and Health Research.
Launched in 2016, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.
It aims to safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG.
The scheme provides free LPG connections to economically weaker families. The connections are issued in the name of women of the households.
Under the scheme, cash assistance of Rs. 1600 is given to the beneficiaries to get a deposit-free new connection. Further, interest free loan is provided to purchase stove and refill by Oil Marketing Companies.
The Union Environment Ministry has selected 12 beaches in India to compete for the ‘Blue Flag’ certification.
The 12 beaches include: Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Bhogave (Maharashtra), Ghoghla (Diu), Miramar (Goa), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Eden (Puducherry), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha), and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).
The Blue Flag certification is given to environmental- friendly, clean beaches, marinas which are equipped with amenities of international standards for tourist.
There are 33 environment and tourism-related conditions for Blue Flag Certification. Few of them include, having proper waste disposal system, availability of clean water for tourists, disabled friendly etc.
The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education) – a Copenhagen based international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation. The programme was first started in France in 1985.
Spain has the highest number of Blue Flag beaches, followed by, Greece and France. Japan and South Korea are the only countries in Asia to have Blue Flag beaches.
Society of Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM) under the Union Environment Ministry had conceived an integrated coastal management scheme named BEAMS (Beach Management Services).
The main objective of BEAMS programme is to reduce pollutants, promote sustainable development and strive for high standards in the areas of a) environmental management b) environmental education c) bathing water quality and d) safety & security services scientifically.
According to data from Sample Registration System (SRS), India’s sex ratio at birth (SRB) fell to all-time low of 896 in 2015-17 from 898 in 2014-2016. SRB is defined as the number of female babies born for every 1000 male babies.
During the 2017 SRS survey, Chhattisgarh reported the highest sex ratio at birth (961) while Haryana recorded the lowest (833).
India’s Total Fertility rate (TFR) has fell to 2.2 in 2017 from 2.3 in 2013. TFR refers to total number of children born or likely to be born to a woman in her life time if she were subject to the prevailing rate of age-specific fertility in the population.
TFR of about 2.1 children per woman is called Replacement-level fertility. This represents the level at which a population can replace itself from one generation to other without growing or declining. Delhi has the lowest TFR at 1.5.
The Infant Mortality rate (IMR) at the national level registered a marginal decline of 1 point from 34 in 2016 to 33 in 2017. IMR is the number of deaths per 1,000 live births of children under one year of age.
The Sample Registration System is the most regular source of vital statistics in India since 1964. The SRS provides information on (a) population composition, (b) fertility, (c) mortality, and (d) medical attention at the time of birth or death
The 2017 SRS Report has been compiled by the Registrar General & Census Commissioner under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
According to a study ‘Health Impact and Economic Burden of Alcohol Consumption in India’, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, deaths attributed to alcohol use would cost 1.45% of India’s GDP each year.
The study has noted that deaths in India attributed to alcohol use will lead to a loss of at least 258 million life years between 2011 and 2050. The loss of life years will amount to 75 days of life per capita by the year 2050.
The study has not called for a ban on alcohol. It has projected that India could gain 552 million ‘quality adjusted’ life years if health and economic burden of alcohol are contained
According to the recent report titled “Magnitude of Substance Use in India”, at the national level, about 14.6% of the people the ages of 10 and 75 are current users of alcohol. The report was published by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.