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India- Nepal; PM visit; Neighbourhood first
- PM modi during his Nepal visit assured Nepal that it is at the top of India’s Nieghbourhood First Policy.
2. The present Indian PM has visited Nepal 3 times in his current term.
3. In Janakpur, Nepal, PM Modi said :
- Nepal and India could benefit if they cooperated and worked together for the promotion of five Ts: Tradition, Trade, Tourism, Technology and Transport
- Nepal and India not only shared border, aspirations, dreams and destination, but their happiness and challenge were also the same.
4.The Indian and Nepali PM jointly inaugurated a direct bus service between Janakpur and Ayodhya.This bus service would link Janakpur with the Ramayan Circuit.
5.The Indian PM announced a Rs100 crore package to develop Janakpur – a sacred city for Hindus in Nepal.
6.Mr Modi announced that two other circuits would be developed for the promotion of the areas related to Buddhism and Jain religion in both Nepal and India, which would help in generating employment for the youths.
7. Future plans:
- Underscored the need for linking Nepal and India through highway, I- way or Information, Railway, Trans way or electric connectivity, waterway and airway.
- Would try to connect Nepal with waterways so that Nepal will be able to export Nepali goods abroad and reap the benefits through international trade,”
- Build a railway link between Raxaul in Bihar and Kathmandu to facilitate people-to-people contact and movement of goods.
8. According to the Chief Minister janakpur province, Lal Babu Raut, the open borders between Nepal and India have been instrumental in connecting the peoples of the two countries.
Supreme Court; gender issue
- The Supreme Court has directed the Chief Justices of all high courts to set up anti-sexual harassment committees in all courts
- The directions came on a petition filed by a woman advocate who had alleged that she was assaulted by some lawyers observing a strike at the Tis Hazari district court in Delhi.
- The committees should be constituted in accordance with the mandate of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013 and Vishakha Guidelines of the Supreme Court
- The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013 requires every workplace to set up committees to probe sexual harassment complaints
Iran Nuclear deal;
1.Happymon Jacob,Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, observes that Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is bound to have serious implications for the international system, and for India.
- Immediate impact of US withdrawal from Iran Nuclear deal on various countries
- U.S will be the least affected due to its almost non-existent business contacts with Iran.
- European Union countries will be moderately affected due to the business ties with Iran.
- Countries closer to the region, especially India, would be the most affected.
- The rules based global order has been undermined by the US administration’s habit of accusing other countries for being guilty of the same.
- US’s withdrawal is unreasonable due to the following reasons:
- International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has consistently maintained that Iran has complied with the structures of the JCPOA without fail.
- Iran has also signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which prohibits it from developing nuclear weapons, and has agreed to ratify the IAEA’s Additional Protocol five years from now which will grant IAEA inspectors wide-ranging access to monitor nuclear-related activities in Iran.
- US’s argument that the provisions of the JCPOA will become less strict over the years and thus Iran will move towards nuclear-weapon capability is not a credible rationale for undoing the deal.
- USA cannot blame only Iran for its involvement in West Asian conflicts and “promotion of terrorism” as it is not the only country doing that.
- Implications of US withdrawal:
- The global non-proliferation regime has taken a direct hit from U.S’s withdrawal from the deal.
- Moral foundation of the non-proliferation regime is made up of norms, rules, persuasion and good faith. The inability of the great powers to stick to their commitment will dissuade non-nuclear weapons states from signing or abiding by new or existing agreements, protocols or regimes.
- North Korea will think twice before entering into any agreement with the untrustworthy Trump administration.
- It would create deep fissures in the Trans-Atlantic security partnership. Secondary sanctions may be imposed against those European companies which are engaged in business deals with Iran.
- The European have lost face in the global stage and their firm’s have faced financial losses.
- US’s withdrawal global security and governance architecture, and other multilateral arrangements and regimes.
- Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, might lose his standing in the country as hardliners pitch for more aggressive steps, including developing a nuclear weapon capability and more military engagement in the neighbourhood.
- Iran’s refusal to listen might prompt Israel and U.S. to carry out attacks against Iran leading to Iranian counter-strikes against American allies in the region, or even Israel.
- This would further destabilise the region.
- US has already made this error in the past.Its misguided military campaign against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq turned out to be a huge geopolitical disaster.
- Implications for India:
- A more unstable West Asia would automatically mean more difficult choices for New Delhi.
- More conflict in the region would affect the welfare and safety of Indian expatriates in West Asia, leading to a sharp decline in the remittances.
- Prices of crude oil would shoot up.
- In the past,U.S. war on Iraq had a debilitating impact on Indian workers and the West Asian remittances. India also had to abandon the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline in 2008 due to U.S. sanctions against Iran.
- The government’s efforts to maintain a fine balance between India’s relations with Iran on the one hand and with the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia on the other will be seriously tested in the days ahead.
- The new warmth between Iran and India could attract American ire
- Geopolitical realities are different from the last time US Sanctions were imposed. Not only US but with major regional player’s against Iran, india will not be able to make a clear choice this time.
- Chabahar port project is an important element of India’s Iran-Afghanistan-Central Asia strategy. With U.S. sanctions,India may find it hard to continue with this project.
- China might use this opportunity to bring together other countries to counter US’s action. If it does so, India might be cornered in the emerging world order.
- Mr Happymon Jacob observes that India has a lot to lose both economically and geopolitically, and it will take deft diplomacy to adapt to the changing alignments.
Cauvery Dispute; Ecology and Environment
- The riverine ecosystem of the disputed Cauvery River is in a dismal state.
- The Cauvery River originates from Talakaveri in Kodagu district, Karnataka, flows into Tamil Nadu, and reaches the Bay of Bengal at Poompuhar.
- Parts of three Indian states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka – and the Union Territory of puducherry lie in the Cauvery basin.
- Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been in a dispute for sharing of water of the Cauvery River
Major Environmental Issues:
|High temperature near the Source of the river||1. Rapid decline in forest cover due to: |
· Conversion of forest land to coffee plantations
· Developmental projects like construction of roads
· Conversion of land for real estate
According to a 2009 report there has been 28% decline in forest cover since 1977
|Declining flow of water in the Upstream||1. Loss of forest cover |
2. Change in land use from paddy cultivation to built ups (Paddy fields act as water sponges and help recharge groundwater aquifers)
3. Loss of forest cover and change in land use have led to decline in rainfall
4. During poor monsoons, coffee plantations meet water demands by drawing water from the river
|Overall decreased natural flow of water||1. Unsustainable farming practices- Indiscriminate withdrawal of groundwater |
2. Cultivation of water-intensive crop sugar cane in Cauvery-irrigated farm belts. Akravati, a major tributary of Cauvery has been completely dried up due to use of bore wells
3. Diversion of water into reservoirs by hydel power projects
|Water Pollution||1. Reduced flow of water |
2. Pesticide and fertilizers runoff from agricultural fields
|Salt-water intrusion near the mouth||1. Destruction of natural sand-bars near the mouth |
2. Excessive withdrawal of groundwater
- Recently, the looming water crisis in Bengaluru has become a major concern. The Supreme Court on February 16 gave a verdict in Karnataka’s favour and emphasized the need to ensure drinking water to Bengaluru
- Sustainable measures like recycling industrial waste water and rainwater harvesting should be properly explored as an alternative
Rohingya issue; India Myanmar
- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is on a two day trip to Myanmar.
- An agreement on assistance to the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee was signed. This committee monitors the ceasefire implementation between the government of Myanmar and ethnic militant organisations that was announced in 2015.
- An agreement on training of Myanmar Foreign Service officers was signed.
- A memorandum of understanding was signed for restoring the earthquake-damaged pagodas in the famed Buddhist tourism centre of Bagan.
- India signed a landmark land border-crossing agreement with Myanmar. This agreement will allow people from both sides to cross the border with passport and visa for health and educational needs and tourism.
- India urged Myanmar to ensure the safe return of Rohingya citizens now staying in refugee camps in Bangladesh. India underlined the need for safe, speedy and sustainable return of displaced persons to the Rakhine state.
- India is on track to complete a project to set up prefabricated housing for the Rohingya population returning from their present camps in Bangladesh.
- Myanmar government is going to implement the Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations.
Citizenship bill; Assam Accord
- The Assam government has demanded an end to protests as the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has not yet submitted its report
- The Assam government has not yet taken any stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which has been subjected to widespread protest in Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh
- Assam is presently updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Supreme Court has ordered the final list of NRC to be announced by June 30
- The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to grant citizenship to illegal migrants from Hindus, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh after six years of residence in India
- All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) has been opposing the bill, on the grounds that it would legitimize the claim of Chakma and Hajong refugees
- Chakmas are Buddhist and Hajongs are Hindu refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan (Bangladesh). They were displaced by the flooding of Kaptai Dam and religious persecution and had settled in Arunachal Pradesh in 1960s.
- Arunachal Pradesh is also home to Tibetan refugees who had come after 14th Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet to India in 1959
- AAPSU argues that the Citizenship Bill would violate the purpose of Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873
Mob lynching; Security
The recent instances of mob lynching in Tamil Nadu highlights the importance of understanding the underlying mob psychology and take effective measures to avoid such instances
Measures to be taken:
- Strong response from police- Police should spread the news of action taken against the guilty
- The local administration should deal with the anxiety and suspicion in local communities
- Regulation of the social media to check spread of unverified information
- Counter-information campaigns should be publicly broadcasted.
- Confidence in the police should be fostered so that locals could approach to verify information and seek protection if required
- The Indian Navy has finalised plans to incorporate contemporary cybersecurity measures
- The biannual Naval Commanders’ Conference was held from 8th to 12th May, 2018
- A new digital library is inaugurated which is available across the Navy for knowledge management and retrieval including archiving of critical data and information.
- Navy has decided to include Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence into its operational functioning.
- It has reviewed the new transition cycle to deploy ships from maintenance to operational spheres.
- The Navy also undertook a review of the Navy’s Mission Based Deployments. It is a plan for deployment of warships in the Indian Ocean region which were made operational in 2017
- Focus on projects to provide thrust to ‘Make in India’ Initiative:
- second indigenous aircraft carrier for the Navy
- Pipeline including mine counter measure vessels,
- landing platform dock,
- anti-submarine shallow water craft,
- diving support vessels
- The Indian government will challenge US’ accusation that India is under-reporting its food subsidies at the World Trade Organization (WTO)
- US had alleged that India has underreported its minimum Support Price (MSP) for rice and wheat
- US had further raised the issue that India only notifies about the national MSP but excludes state-level incentives that further increases the MSP to farmers
- Indian diplomacy has dismissed the allegations stating that the calculations are based on wrong assumptions
Economic growth; Industry
- Data released by Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that industrial output growth has slowed to a 5-month low of 4.4% in March
- The slow industrial output growth has been attributed to a fall in capital goods production and deceleration in mining activity
- The industrial growth (measured by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP)) in 2017-18 declined to 4.3 per cent, from 4.6 per cent in the previous financial year
- Manufacturing sector (contributes 78% of industrial output) grew at 4.4 percent in March as compared to 3.3 percent in the same month a year ago
- Since India meets 80% of its oil demand from imports, the present rise in oil prices pose a great challenge for India. Companies with significant transport cost might cut their expansion plans as low rural demand has affected India’s economic growth.
- The RBI is expected to hold interest rates in its next policy meeting due to rising concerns of inflation
- The India Prime Minister plans to boost infrastructure sector by investing 5.97 trillion rupees in 2018-19 fiscal year.
Inflation; oil prices
- Oil prices remained near three-and-a-half-year highs on May 11th
- Iran produces around 4 percent of global oil supplies
- The top exporter of oil is Saudi Arabia and the top producer of oil is Russia
- Since 2017, both Saudi Arabia and Russia have made efforts to withhold oil supplies to prop up prices.
- Recently, the United States has withdrawn from the Iran-Nuclear Deal and announced its plan to reimpose sanctions on Iran. This is expected to cause decrease in Iran’s oil supply. As a result, there might be disbalance in the oil market due to undersupply.
- Brent Crude figures (the international benchmark for oil prices) reached its highest ($78/barrel) since November 2014
- Many analysts expect oil prices to rise as Iran’s exports fall.
- Further, US’s withdrawal from the deal has raised the risk of conflict in the Middle East. This has heightened the concerns of instability in the oil market.
- According to analysts, OPEC and other producers have ability to react to this potential supply disruption. Along with OPEC, rising S. crude oil production may help fill Iran’s supply gap
- Nature enthusiasts have recently spotted rare Black wind-mill butterfly in Dibang Valley in the Lower Dibang District, Arunachal Pradesh which was unseen for decades.
- This butterfly has its mention only in two books: Lepidoptera Indica (1913) by Fredric Moore and The Fauna of British India (1939) by George Talbot
- Another butterfly species, the Siren butterfly was spotted in 2012 at the Daranghati Wildlife Sanctuary, Himachal Pradesh. This butterfly was spotted for the first time since 1917.
- To ensure protection from butterfly collectors, the precise location of the black wind-mill butterfly has not been disclosed.
- Collecting of butterflies for sale as dead specimens has emerged as a challenge in Himalayas and North-East India
- Both black wind and siren butterflies are listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972)