9 PM Current Affairs Brief – June 29th, 2018

Mains Test Series

Download the compilation of all summaries of all the news articles here


The deepening disconnect

The deepening disconnect


  1. SuhasiniHaider, author, analyze the postponement of the 2+2 Dialogue has come amid growing India-U.S. estrangement in South Asia.
2+2 Dialogue:

  •  India and the U.S. have decided to set up a new dialogue mechanism that would include defence and foreign ministers of the two countries.
  •   The dialogue format would be likely called “2 by 2”.
  •  The India-U.S. “2 by 2”dialogue will be on the lines of India-Japan 2+2 dialogue format.
  •  The India-U.S. “2 by 2”dialogue would replace the existing India-U.S. Strategic and Commercial Dialogue for trade and commercial issues.
  •  India and the U.S. will now have a separate dialogue on commercial issues, which will not include the foreign ministers.

Significance of “2 by 2” Dialogue 

  • The objective of this dialogue is to raise defence and security issues.
  • It is aimed at enhancing peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region by elevating strategic consultations in the dialogue.
  • The shared priorities include job creation, improving the business and investment climate and sustaining a rules-based global order.
  • The U.S. has strategic consultations in this format with key partners and allies including Australia, Japan and the Philippines.

Important Analysis:

  1. The 2+2 Dialogue between the defence and foreign ministers of India and the United States schedule for July, has been postponed.
  2. The dialogue, as the enhanced engagement between the ministers of foreign affairs and defence, was an outcome of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting last June in Washington.
  3. In the past two decades, the two sides differed on many aspects such as:

a. Since January, the U. S’s Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act against those conducting business with Russia and Iran.

b. The U.S. decision to walk out of the Iran nuclear deal have come right up against India’s interest.

c. As a result, India tightened its engagement with Russia, China and Iran.

d. Recently, the two governments have failed to make progress on signing foundational agreements:

e. Four foundational agreement includes:

  • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) agreement.
  • The Logistics Supply Agreement (LSA).
  • The Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA)
  1. The U.S’s South Asia policy, also appears to be in trouble.
  2. According to the policy accounted 10 months ago, India was to be central to the U.S.’s efforts in Afghanistan while Pakistan would be ‘put on notice’ for its support to terror groups, including those that target India.
  3. The U. S. also sought to “greylist” Pakistan at the Financial at Financial Action Task Force on terror financing.
  4. However, there are ample evidences that Mr Trump’s South Asia policy is veering towards the U.S’s Af-Pak policy of the past with the U.S. engaging Pakistan to help with Afghanistan.

U.S. –Pakistan engagement:

  1. The first indicator of this shift is the increase in U.S. –Pakistan engagement, with rapid improvement in Pakistan Afghanistan ties.
  2. In March,  then Pakistan Prime Minister, Shahid Abbasi, met U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence.
  3. Just after this meeting,  later Afghan President  Ashraf Ghani and Mr Abbasi finalized the seven-point Afghanistan Pakistan Action plan for peace and solidarity.
  4. While, the U.S.  State department has called for Pakistan to act against all groups operating in its territory, including LeT, JeM, its own military actions have left many in Delhi bemused.
  5. According to U.S. base Bureau of Investigative Journalism, American forces carried out more than 100 air and drone strikes in Afghanistan in 2017 and more than 40 in   The corresponding figure in Pakistan are 5 and 1 respectively.

Chabahar factor:

  1. There are India’s regional concerns that stem from Mr Trump’s Iran policy, which has spurred new sanctions against countries doing business in Iran .
  2. Imposed November 4 deadline to reduce oil imports from Iran to “Zero”.
  3. The impact of American restrictions will be felt in Chabahar Port, once billed as India’s gateway to Afghanistan, and a key component of its role in the U.S.’s South Asia Policy.
  4. India is made perforce to yield to the U.S. on cutting oil imports; the Iranian regime is likely to look with disfavor at India’s engagement in Chabahar as well.
  5. Conclusion:
  • Rescheduling the dialogue is crucial for both the nations
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Revise relations with Iran, Haley tells India

Revise relations with Iran, Haley tells India


  1. The U. S. envoy to the U.N. Nikki Haley raised concerns over trade with Iran during her meeting with PM Narendra Modi.

Important facts:

2. She said, Iran is a major threat to the world and Tehran’s violations of its nuclear commitments and alleged sponsorship of terrorism made it the “next North Korea”.

3. In an interview to TV channel, Ms Haley also called India to “rethink its relationship with Iran”.

4. The comments by Ms Haley appear to be a part of a concerted campaign by the U.S. to ensure that India, Iran’s second biggest oil importer after China, cut its oil trade.

5. S. State Department official had clarified that India must comply with the U.S. sanctions against Iran and bring oil imports to “zero” by its November 4 .

6. However, MEA spokesperson said this statement was not India specific and applies to all countries.

7. However, this is looking to be difficult because:

a. New Delhi had committed to raising its imports from Tehran by as much as 25% after a visit by Iranian President Roshani in Feb this year.

b. The U.S. strictures follow president Trump’s decision in May to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) multilateral nuclear deal.

c. Subsequently, bring in the countering America’s Adversaries through sanctions act (CAATSA) law that sanctions countries dealing with the Washington’s “adversaries”.

8. Earlier, External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had been more categorical about maintaining ties with Tehran by saying that “India would comply only with UN sanctions, not U.S. sanctions.”

9. On the subject of Pakistan , Ms Halely said that the Trump administration had sent tougher message on support to terror groups than in the past

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Is biodiversity treaty a hurdle to conservation research?

Is biodiversity treaty a hurdle to conservation research?


  1. According to Scientists, the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD), of which India is signatory too, is hindering biodiversity research and preventing international collaborations.

Important facts:

  1. This was revealed by scientists  in a communication published on June 28 in the journal Science, an international team of scientists-including professors at India’s Kerala Agricultural University and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE).
  2. 172 scientists from 35 countries have expressed support to a critique of the CBD.
  3. The CBD  is aimed at conserving biological diversity, sustainably using biological components and fair and equitable sharing of benefits that may arise out of the utilization of genetic resources.
  4. The latter was delineated in the Nagoya Protocol, which came into effect in 2014.
  5. Seed Treaty:
  • International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture or the “Seed Treaty”, could be used as a model of exchange of biological materials for non-commercial research.
  • Seed treaty ensures worldwide public accessibility of genetic resources of essential food and fodder.
  • Another solution may be to add an explicit treaty or annex in the CBD to promote and facilitate biodiversity research, conservation and international collaborations.
  • Under government-approved international collaborative projects, material can be exchanged freely.
  • There are also “facilitative processes” to send specimens for taxonomic identification to other countries.
  • India is one of the 196 countries that has committed to the CBD and ratified it in February 1994.


  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) , also known as Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treaty.
  • The Convention has three main goals including:

a. The conservation of biological diversity

b. Sustainable use of its components

c. The fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.

  • The Convention was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1991 and entered into force on 29 December 1993.
  • At the 2010, 10th Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October in Nagoya, Japan, the Nagoya Protocol was adopted
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Reducing plastic pollution

Reducing plastic pollution


  1. The Plastic Waste Management Rules of 2016 are the sharpest prongs in India’s legal arsenal against plastic.

Important facts:

2. Significant components of the rules are given below:

a. Strengthen the concept of ‘extended producer’s responsibility’ whereby plastics manufacturers and retail establishments that use plastic are legally bound to introduce a system of collecting back plastic waste.

b. The rules direct that a plastic waste management fee be collected through pre-registration of the producers, importers of plastic bags, for establishing a waste management system.

c. The Rules also mandate an increase in the thickness of carry bags and plastic sheets form 40 to 50 micron.

d. The Rules envisage promoting the use of plastic waste for road construction, or energy recovery, or waste to oil, etc.,

e. Local bodies and gram panchayats are responsible for implementing and coordinating a waste management system.

f. This amendment also provides for a centralised registration system.

g. The Rules also lay down that any mechanism for registration should be automated and should take into account ease of doing business for producers, recyclers and manufacturers.

h. The centralised registration system will be evolved by the Central Pollution Control Board for the registration of the producer/importer/brand owner.

Way ahead:

  • Country has to move towards a regime where plastic waste is treated and recycled rather than engage in rhetoric about the banning the product.
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Sinking rupee

Sinking rupee


  1. Rupee weakened against the U.S. dollar.

Important facts:

  1. Rupee weakened past 69 intraday against the U.S. dollar, an all time low.
  2. The rupee, which has lost almost 8% in value since January1, is the worst performing currency in Asia this year.
  3. However, this is not the only currency to be in Doldrum.
  4. Emerging market currencies as a group have witnessed a sharp correction in their value against the dollar this year.
  5. The MSCI Emerging market index, for instance, is down about 6% since the beginning of April.
  6. Reasons for decline in Rupee:
  • Rise in international crude oil prices.
  • India’s current account deficit, which jumped to 1.9% of GDP in the fourth quarter of 2017-18 from just 0.6% a year earlier is now expected to widen to 2.5% in FY 2019.
  • The dollar index, which gauges the value of the dollar against currencies, is up about 7.5% since February.
  • The rise in global trade tensions.
  • Tightening of U.S. monetary policy.
  • Investors attracted by higher yield in the U.S. have been pulling their capital out of India.
  • Foreign portfolio investors, took out ₹29,714 crore in May, almost a doubling of outflow compared to ₹15,561 crore in April.
  • Most of the foreign fund outflow this year has come out of the bond market, which explains the steep fall in Indian bond prices.
  • The American central bank expects to raise interest rates further this year.
  1. Solutions:
  • The government, as well as the Reserve Bank of India, which recently raised domestic interest rates in response to rising external economic risk need to think some alternate mechanism to avoid crisis.
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Target incomes, not prices

Target incomes, not prices


  1. Puja Mehra, Delhi-based journalist , pointed out failure of India’s farm policy to support most vulnerable farmers

Important Analysis:

  1. The author pointed out some of the issues that were involved in the farm sector and led to crisis situation. These are given below.

a. Good rains, excessive sowing and the bumper harvest last year produced gluts in the market, leading to farm incomes crashing.

b. The Economic tools available for protecting farm incomes — the price support scheme, the price stabilisation fund and the market intervention scheme —  were  not successful in solving crisis situation.

c. Steps like quick and precise adjustment to the export and import rules could have address the price fall by diverting the excess supplies to overseas market. But this step was not taken on time.

d. MSP issue:

  • This year Budget promised that the MSP would be atleast 150% of production costs.
  • Even if the market price fall below the MSP, as they did for major kharif crops last year, the government will procure the produce on MSP.
  • If not procure, it will provide a mechanism to ensure payments, equal to the gap between the MSP and the market price.
  • The intension of assuring 50% profit margin over the cost of production is to make farming remunerative.
  • On formula for calculating production cost , farmers group and government are  yet not on the same platform.
  • Author said that simply announcing the higher MSP will not solve the problem.
  • For several crops last year, the quantities procured were small portions of the total produce. The procurement is conducted only for paddy, wheat, and sugarcane.
  • Procurement frequently take place at prices below the MSP, as a result small and vulnerable farmers do not get paid MSP at all, as they sell their produce to aggregators, not directly to mandis.
  • Depressed market prices and mounting farmer losses are a direct consequences of the malnutrition in agri- pricing policies.

e. Demand-Supply mismatch:

  • Price differential payments, projects that the MSP of paddy for the 2018-19 kharif seasons will have to be raised 11-14%, cotton 19-28%, and jowar 42-44%.
  • To respond this , farmers need to sow more jowar in the next season.
  • It will lead to increased jowar production.
  • Demand-Supply mismatch would be inevitable which would send the market prices for jowar below the announced MSP.
  • Pricing policies distort market prices and send the wrong signal to farmers on what to produce and how much.
  1. The author pointed out the following solutions for farm crisis:
  • Income support payments, paid on a per hectare basis through direct transfer.
  • Example: Telangana- has announced such payments for farmers at the rate of Rs 10,000/ha per season.
  • Fiscal space must be found for providing income support to most vulnerable farmers.
  • Proper fiscal support to farmers.
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